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A Good Laugh Is Needed Sometimes



From AVWeb

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DHS Hacked Airliner Systems

By Russ Niles

The Department of Homeland Security has reportedly told a cyber security conference it was able to hack the internal systems of a Boeing 757 sitting on the ramp at Atlantic City Airport with no help from anyone on board or anywhere near the aircraft. “We got the airplane on Sept. 19, 2016. Two days later, I was successful in accomplishing a remote, non-cooperative penetration,” DHS cyber security expert Robert Hickey is quoted as saying by Avionics Today. “[Which] means I didn’t have anybody touching the airplane, I didn’t have an insider threat. I stood off using typical stuff that could get through security and we were able to establish a presence on the systems of the aircraft.” Hickey was speaking at the CyberSat Summit in Virginia Nov. 8.

How the hack was done is classified but Hickey suggested it gave the hackers comprehensive access to the aircraft’s systems. Hickey noted that newer aircraft like the Boeing 737 MAX and 787 and Airbus’s new A350 have more robust security but 90 percent of the fleet has the same vulnerabilities as that 757. Two years ago a security researcher claimed to have gained access to an airliner's flight systems through its entertainment system but those claims were never verified.

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Engine Failure Takes Out Two Engines of SA Airlink RJ85

From Aviation Voice

Airlink_1117SA Airlink Avro RJ-85, performing flight from Harare to Johannesburg with 34 passengers and 4 crew, was enroute nearing the top of descent towards Johannesburg when the #2 engine suffered an uncontained failure ejecting parts of the hot section and turbine towards the #1 engine causing the engine to fail, too.

The aircraft continued to Johannesburg, was vectored for an approach to runway 21R (runways 03 were active) while other aircraft were pulled off the approaches to runways 03 and landed without further incident, vacated onto taxiway L and taxied to the apron followed by the emergency services awaiting the aircraft.

The airline reported all passengers remained uninjured and wrote: “While en route one of the four engines suffered an uncontained failure which then caused damage to its adjacent engine. Upon assessing the damage and status of the aircraft, the crew elected to continue to Johannesburg where it landed safely under the power of its remaining two engines.

At no point was the safety of the passengers or crew in jeopardy. Airlink has notified the South African Civil Aviation Authority, which will launch an investigation into the event in order to determine its likely cause. Airlink will provide whatever technical assistance is requested by the SACAA.”

 

 

rj85engines_1117

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When Automation Fails, Qantas Pilot Employs Military Training

From AIN Online

quantas_a330

By Pete Combs

When the autopilot suddenly switched itself off aboard Qantas Flight 72 on Oct. 7, 2008, pilot Kevin Sullivan was puzzled. The Airbus A330, on a flight from Singapore to Perth, was approaching the coast of northwest Australia near the town of Exmouth. The weather was clear and the aircraft seemed to be operating normally.

The mystery was compounded by the jarring sound of the stall warning. Odd, Sullivan thought. He was in cruise configuration at 37,000 feet on a clear day. Whatever the A330 was doing, it wasn’t stalling. A moment later, Sullivan found himself staring straight ahead at the Indian Ocean and his world changed forever. The aircraft’s complex automation had malfunctioned and the only thing that stood between Qantas Flight 72 and the deep blue sea was Sullivan’s extensive experience.

“It was an aggressive pitch-down—violent, without warning,” Sullivan told AIN. “I had to brace myself on the glareshield. There are no warnings that say the airplane can maneuver violently on its own. But it did.”

Sullivan hauled back on the sidestick, pulling it almost to the stop. Nothing happened. So he reverted to his training as a high-time U.S. Navy fighter pilot. He neutralized the controls.

“I was looking at the Indian Ocean filling my windscreen. My control input was not effective. I was basically a passenger at that point, not a good place to be if you’re pilot-in-command. So I let go of the stick,” he said.

At the moment of the pitch-down, the Airbus had been holding a nose-high attitude of +2 degrees. Two seconds later, the nose had dropped -8.4 degrees. The wings sliced through the air with an audible rushing sound as the aircraft went from +1g to -.8g.

VIOLENT PITCHING

In the back of the airplane, dozens of passengers who were standing or seated without wearing their seatbelts were thrown up to and in some cases, through the carry-on bins and ceiling panels.

“What the hell just happened?” asked Sullivan’s second officer, who was flying right seat.

“That’s when the startle hit,” said Sullivan, a veteran pilot who had logged more than 17,000 flight hours. He didn’t know what happened, but he figured the A330’s computers were reacting to something. He noted a fault in one of the flight control primary computers (FCPC). Sullivan reset the FCPC, known as PRIM3.

Again, without warning, the aircraft violently pitched down. Again, Sullivan was unable to stop it by pulling back on the stick. Again, he let the stick go to neutralize the controls.

“I’m in trouble,” Sullivan remembered thinking. “I don’t know what’s happening and the airplane isn’t communicating with me. I’m getting master caution chimes. But every time they sounded, a message would flash on the computer monitor and quickly disappear. We couldn’t discern what was wrong.”

Unwilling to trust the A330’s automation anymore, Sullivan left the autopilot off. He disconnected the auto-trim and autothrottles. He declared a Pan (indicating an urgent situation that was not immediately life-threatening_ and, moments later, a Mayday.

The closest airport was a sleepy joint military/civilian field called RAAF Base Learmonth, approximately 37 kilometers south of Exmouth. Given the number and extent of injuries on board, Sullivan opted to land there rather than continue another hour-and-a-half to Perth. Exmouth had a small hospital with just two ambulances. ATC told Flight 72 the hospital would need a half-hour to prepare. That was fine with Sullivan. He needed the time to figure out how he would land his crippled A330.

The stall warning continued to sound—as did the master caution and overspeed warnings. The cacophony was terribly distracting, Sullivan remembered. Ignoring them required a special effort, he added, since company policy called for a mandatory response to some of the warnings. Unable to ascertain the extent to which his aircraft was malfunctioning, Sullivan again reverted to his military training.

“In the Navy, we used a ‘high-energy’ approach in single-engine jets when we suspected airframe or engine damage due to combat,” Sullivan said. From 37,000 feet, he would pull the throttles back to idle, then approach the field in a high-angle, high-energy configuration.

Even then, the aircraft refused to cooperate, Sullivan recalled. His first officer had returned to the flight deck by this time, his nose broken in the pitch downs. The first officer tried to enter a non-precision approach to Learmonth. The computer refused to accept it.

Manual Approach and Landing

Flight 72 circled Learmonth, descending until it was abeam the field at 11,000 feet. That’s when Sullivan began his visual approach. He recalls his thoughts during the experience.

Thrust to idle.

Nose down.

We need to lose 8,000 feet to arrive at 3,000 feet for a ten-mile final.

Sullivan turned to base at 5,000 feet, constantly worried that the aircraft would again pitch down. Using the radio, the Second Officer activated the PAPI as Flight 72 turned to final.

“Speed,” warned the first officer.

“Acknowledged,” replied Sullivan. He wanted to be fast as he aimed just shy of the runway threshold.

Gear down. That worked. Good.

Flaps at configuration 2.

Trim manually.

Throttles still idle.

1,500 feet, still descending at 3 degrees, verified by the PAPI.

Threshold.

Touchdown.

From the back of the air plane, the passengers gave Sullivan and his flight crew a rousing cheer. The stall, master caution and overspeed warnings continued to sound even as Flight 72 taxied to the small terminal at RAAF Learmonth.

As medical crews rushed aboard to help the injured passengers and crew, Sullivan walked aft through the passenger cabin. He was “heartbroken” at the devastation. Images of the bruised and bloodied passengers and crew seared themselves into his brain.

Sullivan remained in command of both passengers and airplane until all of the injured had been cared for. He then shepherded the remaining passengers into the terminal. Hours later, two Qantas aircraft landed at Learmonth to fly the passengers and crew back to Perth. Only after they arrived at their original destination, said Sullivan, did he allow himself to relax.

Post-flight analysis by the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau (ATSB) showed one of the A330's three air data inertial reference units (ADIRUs) was sending faulty information to the FCPCs in spikes every 1.2 seconds. The flight control computers misinterpreted that data, causing them to react as though the aircraft was in a nose-high stall. That led to the pitch downs.

Sullivan and his crew were commended by the ATSB for their professionalism

In all, 110 passengers and eight crewmembers were injured in the pitch-down incidents—some severely.

And you can add one more casualty to the list.

Plagued by post-traumatic stress syndrome and the memory of those who were so badly hurt, Sullivan attempted several times to resume his career as a pilot. But after seven torturous years, he gave up in 2015, convinced that his future lies somewhere other than in the cockpit.

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747 Flies Final U.S. Passenger Flight

From AvWeb

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Boeing’s 747, the iconic humped two-decker jet, flew its last flight for United Airlines on Tuesday. The four-engine widebody has lost ground to more-efficient modern aircraft. A United Airlines crew flew the final trip, from San Francisco to Honolulu, tracing the same route as the first United 747 flight in 1970. “From a 1970s-inspired menu to retro uniforms for flight attendants to inflight entertainment befitting of that first flight, passengers will help send the Queen of the Skies off in true style,” United said in a news release. The 747 will remain in Honolulu, United said, and passengers on the final flight were booked to go home on a different airplane. United was the airplane’s last U.S. operator in the passenger capacity. Delta retired its last 747 on Sept. 7.

British Airways, Korean Air and a few other international airlines still fly the jets on passenger trips. Boeing will continue to produce the 747-8F, exclusively for freight operators. The freighter can carry up to 224,900 pounds, with a range of 4,120 NM, and the ability to open up the whole nose of the airplane is a key feature when loading large items.

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Canada Dropping Checks On Check Pilots?

From AvWeb

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By Russ Niles

Transport Canada might leave all pilot proficiency checks on airline pilots up to the airlines themselves, according to documents obtained by the union representing government inspection pilots. The Canadian Federal Pilots Association, which represents mostly federal government pilots, says its reading of the documents suggests airline check pilots will no longer be evaluated on their competence to assess the skills of line pilots as of next spring. The change is scheduled for April 1, 2018, for aircraft carrying 50 or more passengers.

"I think it's very, very important that people understand we are getting closer to self-regulation all the time," said union president Greg McConnell. "It's just more cutting, more dismantling of the safety net.” It’s also a shift away from international standards but the documents, obtained under a freedom of information request, appear to suggest that Canada will get away with it.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, which is based in Montreal, mandates regular pilot evaluations by the 190 member states’ regulatory agencies. But in their risk assessment document accompanying the proposal, Transport Canada staff say check pilots almost never fail their evaluations and inspection staff time would be better spent on higher risk areas of aviation. "It could be argued that Canada's experience and relative maturity with systems-based surveillance will adequately complement this shift of responsibilities ... and therefore mitigate any concerns other states or trade associations may have with response to such a departure from globally accepted practices," the risk-assessment document says. The documents also say that Transport Canada is having trouble hiring qualified inspector pilots.

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Mexican airline interested in buying Russian MC-21 passenger jet

From RT

MC21The Mexican carrier Interjet is interested in acquiring Russian MS-21 aircraft, company president Miguel Aleman Velasco told RIA Novosti.

"We are very interested in the MC-21, because its components are lighter, it consumes less fuel… Its engines are from North America, but we hope that Russia will make its own engines, which will make the jet even lighter," he said after a meeting with the Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov.

Russia has been working on the Irkut MC-21, a twin-engine short- to medium-haul jet airliner that can carry 151 to 212 passengers depending on the model and seating configuration. The jet is designed for the mass-market travel industry to compete with Boeing's 737 and Airbus' A320.

The producer hopes the plane will replace the aging fleet of Soviet-made passenger aircraft and compete for a share of the global market, thanks to its relatively low price and higher cruising speed.

The first examples of the airliner are to be powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1400G engines, while those for the domestic market will use the new PD-14 engine.

The plane maker promises significantly more space for passengers given the MC-21 has the widest fuselage in its class. It also has extra-large windows. According to the maker, there are orders for 175 MC-21 jets, mostly from Russia’s largest carrier Aeroflot.

The MC-21 maiden flight took place in Russia's Irkutsk in May.

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FAA: Ban Laptops From Baggage Holds, Not Cabins

From AvWeb

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By Paul Bertorelli

Just months ago, government security agencies were contemplating a ban of electronic devices larger than a cellphone from airliner cabins, but this week, the FAA is calling for the opposite. In a paper filed with the International Civil Aviation Organization, the FAA said its tests show that large electronic devices such as laptops can cause fires that could overwhelm the fire suppression system airline baggage holds are equipped with. The paper said such a fire could be serious enough to result in a hull loss.

Last summer, the Department of Homeland Security was considering banning laptops from airliner cabins of inbound international flights because of what it described as potential terrorist threats. The agency encountered plenty of pushback and decided not to pursue the ban, which would have displaced laptops from the cabin to baggage holds. The FAA's proposed baggage hold ban will be on the agenda at an ICAO conference on dangerous goods to be held in Montreal next week.

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Complex Three-Engine Ferry For A380

From AvWeb

af_a380_1017

By Russ Niles

Air France plans to ferry a damaged A380 back to France from Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador on three engines but before it can do that it has to install a new engine that won't be running. The aircraft lost the front section of its No. 4 engine, including the 10-foot fan, over Greenland on Sept. 30 and made an emergency landing at the Cold War-era air force base at Goose Bay, stranding 521 passengers and crew for 12 hours until two aircraft could be dispatched to pick them up. Besides the engine, the aircraft suffered pylon and wing damage and the combination has greatly complicated the effort to repatriate the Super Jumbo.

The wrecked engine will be removed and sent to Wales for inspection by the manufacturer Engine Alliance. For balance and aerodynamic stability a new engine will be installed but because of the other damage it can’t be hooked up and made operable. While there is plenty of power from the remaining engines for takeoff (Goose Bay has 11,000 feet available) the flight planning and crew training requirements for the ferry flight are extensive. We can’t verify the information supplied by Capt. Dave Wallsworth, a British Airways A380 captain, who maintains a regular Twitter feed about his job, but by his account, the rescue mission is a monumental effort.

From Captain Dave on Twitter

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ATC Proposal Dominates NBAA

From AvWeb

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By Russ Niles

Aviation leaders presented a united front Tuesday in their resolve to kill a bill that would turn air traffic control services over to a nonprofit corporation. At the annual media breakfast at the NBAA-BACE convention being held in Las Vegas, the leaders of most general aviation groups urged delegates to flood the inboxes of their elected representatives with messages of opposition to the proposal. They were also told the bill currently in play, H.R. 2997, doesn’t have the votes to go through but that shouldn’t stop them from letting their representatives know about their opposition. A video featuring well-known aviation leaders appears below.

The main issue is the makeup of the 13-member board of directors they say is weighted toward airline representation. The fear is that access to and availability of airspace will be prioritized for airlines at the expense of general aviation. EAA Chairman Jack Pelton acknowledged that “fatigue” over the frequent call by he and his colleagues for grass-roots political support is a real factor in this current battle but he also noted the process is simple. NBAA President Ed Bolen said the process he and the others have been through in fighting the bill is an example of why the current system should be preserved. The leaders have had numerous meetings with elected officials to make their case and they’ve been received without reservation. He said if the 13-member board of directors takes over, they will be under no obligation to hear from those affected by their decisions.

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Damaged A380 Diverts To Goose Bay

From AvWeb

a380_1017By Russ Niles

Air France is facing a daunting technical challenge to repair an extensively damaged A380 at one of Canada’s most remote airports. Flight 66 from Paris to Los Angeles was almost across the Atlantic when the No. 4 engine had an uncontained failure that blew off the cowl and the crew diverted to Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador. Twitter photos show extensive damage to the engine and it appears the pylon and perhaps the wing are also affected. Passengers reported hearing a loud noise followed by vibration and an hourlong flight to Goose Bay. It's the second uncontained engine failure on an A380 but the first one, on a Qantas super jumbo in 2010, involved a Rolls-Royce engine. The engine that blew on Saturday was made by Engine Alliance, a joint venture by GE and Pratt & Whitney. The aircraft had about 520 passengers and crew on board and the airport is not equipped to handle that kind of influx so passengers were kept on the airplane waiting for other aircraft to be sent to pick them up. The A380 likely isn’t going anywhere soon.

Goose Bay is a former U.S. Air Force Base used in the Cold War as a nuclear weapons staging base and it has 11,000-foot and 9,000-foot runways. These days only a small Royal Canadian Air Force helicopter squadron is based there. Only regional airlines offer scheduled service so it doesn’t have facilities to do major repairs on an A380. The airline will have to ship in the parts and create temporary facilities to fix the plane. Last February a Swiss Global Airlines Boeing 777 had to land in Iqaluit, Nunavut, due to engine problems and the airline swapped the engine in a large tent. But there was no secondary damage to the aircraft in that incident and the A380 repairs are likely to be more involved.

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US airlines say goodbye to the iconic Boeing 747

From Airline Ratings

United 747By Steve Creedy

The last US airlines operating the passenger version of the Boeing 747 are in the process of saying goodbye to the “Queen of the Skies” with United Airlines’ last flight scheduled for November 7.

Delta Air Lines and United are moving to retire the iconic US-made jumbo jet after almost four decades in service.

United’s farewell 747 flight will be from San Francisco to Honolulu and its last international 747 flight will head to Seoul, Korea, from San Francisco on October 29.

Delta will retire its fleet by the end of 2017 to replace them with Airbus A350s made by Boeing rival Airbus. Delta will take delivery of five A350s in 2017 with more coming in 2018.

Delta customers and employees have started their farewells to the big plane after the aircraft operated its final Tokyo-Narita to Honolulu flight and made a rare appearance on two domestic legs earlier this month.

United’s final flight will recreate the airline’s first 747 flight in 1970 with a seventies-inspire menu, retro uniforms and inflight entertainment “befitting of that first flight”. It will be named “Friend Ship” after the first United aircraft.

Seats on the flight went on sale through united.com September 18 but will not include those on the upper deck, giving all passengers the opportunity to enjoy a space once used for spacious bars and lounges. However, customers in first and business class will go into a draw to occupy a select number of upper-deck seats.

United will begin the final journey at 9am San Francisco time with a gate celebration featuring speeches, a Boeing 747 gallery and remarks from United employees and executives.

The flight is due to depart at 11am and arrive in Honolulu 2.45pm local time to more farewell celebrations.

The 747 OPENED UP AIR TRAVEL FOR MILLIONS

The 747 was the first widebody to sell 1500 units and was instrumental in making air travel more affordable for millions of travellers by allowing airlines to fly more people for less cost.

But giving life to the plane that changed the world was a challenge that brought Boeing, the world’s biggest aerospace company, the then-biggest engine maker Pratt and Whitney and the legendary Pan American World Airways to their knees.

Boeing was immersed in an attempt to build an ill-fated supersonic transport, dubbed the Boeing 2707, and the 747 was considered an interim solution that might carry passengers for five to 10 years until supersonic transports took over.

It was the combined dream of Pan Am founder Bill Trippe and Boeing chief Bill Allen that brought the plane to fruition.

Boeing announced plans to build a 490-seat plane in April, 1966, at a new plant in Everett, Washington.

The first Boeing 747-100, City of Everett, rolled out of the plant on September 30, 1968, and made its first flight the following February.

Pan Am operated the first commercial flight from New York to London on January 21, 1970, and Continental Airlines put it on domestic routes in June that year.

United received its first 747-100 on June 26 and made the first San Francisco-Honolulu commercial flight on July 23.

In 1985, United announced plans to acquire Pan Am’s Pacific routes as well as 11 Boeing 747SP planes. The 747SPs, regarded as sports cars of the range, were shorter and could fly higher, faster, and farther than standard 747 models.

In January, 1988 Friendship One, a Boeing 747SP owned by United Airlines, set the around-the-world air speed record of 36 hours, 54 minutes, and 15 seconds in a children’s charity flight. Passengers on the flight included astronaut Neil Armstrong, famed test pilots Bob Hoover and Lieutenant General Laurence C. Craigie, and Moya Lear, the widow of Lear Jet founder Bill Lear, as guests.

United received its first longer-range B747-400 in June, 1989.

The big jet has also been used by NASA as a carrier vehicle for the space shuttle and as a platform for an infrared telescope.

The first of two specially modified B747-200Bs was delivered in August, 1990, to take over the role of Air Force One from the Boeing 707.

Boeing has continued to produce a new, more fuel-efficient iteration of the 747, the 747-8, in both passenger and freighter versions.

But it last year hinted it may end production if it failed to receive more orders for the program.

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Horizon Cancels Route In Pilot Shortage

From AvWeb

horizon_917

By Russ Niles

Horizon Air says it can no longer fly to Colorado Springs from Seattle because it doesn’t have enough pilots. The airline, cancelled six percent of its flights in June because of its pilot shortage but this might be the first time a route has been abandoned because of it. Horizon says it faces a pilot shortage for at least another year according to a news release from the Colorado Springs Airport. The release quoted airline officials as saying shortages “are expected to continue for some time.”

 

Meanwhile, while Horizon is a subsidiary of Alaska, the parent company is shifting some of its regional capacity to Skywest Airlines and essentially allowing the independent regional carrier to compete with its own company. Skywest flies 20 new Embraer E175 jets for Alaska and while Horizon has ordered 30 similar aircraft, it only has two in the air and recently deferred delivery of six of the Brazilian airliners. Horizon flies mainly well-used Bombardier Q400 turboprops. Skywest has ordered five more E175s to use on Alaska routes and Horizon’s pilot union filed a lawsuit disputing Horizon’s deferral of its E175 delivery.

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Airport Worker Hurt After Being Hit by Airliner

From Travel Pulse

American_Eagle_Flight_ 5233

By Donald Wood

An American Airlines regional flight that landed at Charlotte Douglas International Airport struck a pushback tractor as it was being taxied to the gate, leaving the driver of the vehicle injured.

According to Fox Charlotte, American Eagle Flight 5233 arrived Wednesday in North Carolina from Yeager Airport in Charleston, West Virginia, when it started to taxi to the gate. At around 4 p.m. local time, the plane struck the tug near the north side of the E terminal.

None of the thirty-one passengers and three crew members on board the plane at the time of the incident reported injuries. As for the driver of the pushback tractor, he was taken to a local hospital where he was listed in stable condition.

The airport fire department and medical personnel were called to the scene and acted quickly to get the driver out of the damaged vehicle and to the hospital.

As a result of the collision, planes near Terminal E were not permitted to move until the investigation was completed. Passengers on departing and arriving flights were told to expect delays.

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration lifted a ground stoppage at 5:26 p.m. local time and flights resumed. A short time later, the airport said it was “open and operational” on social media.

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TIRE FAILURE DAMAGES JETSTAR DREAMLINER WING

From Airline Ratings

tire_failure_917

By Steve Creedy

A Jetstar Boeing 787 was forced to return to Singapore’s Changi Airport after debris from a shredded tyre damaged a wing and caused flaps to malfunction.

The plane was headed to Melbourne with 231 passengers and 11 crew on board when the pilots received an alert that the wing flaps were not retracting evenly.

Flaps are moveable flight surfaces on the wing designed to increase lift at lower speeds during landing and take-off. The forces affecting an aircraft become unbalanced if the flaps on both wings do not deploy and retract together.

An Australian Transport Safety Bureau report into the May 13, 2017 incident found the left wing flaps were unable to move due to damage to a “torque tube” broken when debris from the tyre smashed through a panel on the underside of the wing.

The damage caused a misalignment with the right wing flaps, prompting the aircraft to shut down the flap drive system and generate a fault message.

The pilots notified air traffic control, put the jet into a holding pattern at 6000ft and decided to return to Singapore, opting not to dump fuel because of the proximity of other aircraft.

This was in accordance with procedures the Jetstar crew were following to land the aircraft safely.

“While the crew did not know about the tyre damage, the aircraft protective systems and crew actions allowed for a safe return and landing, despite the aircraft being overweight and at a higher than normal landing speed,’’ the report said.

TIRE DELAMINATION

The ATSB found the flap problem was a result of the delamination of the number 6 wheel tyre, likely at the southern end of runway 20C when the wheel was at high speed.

This gave the debris sufficient energy to penetrate the underwing panel, break the torque tube and interrupt the flap drive system.

The incident occurred before the tyre reached its expected service limit and the manufacturer concluded it had operated on an “aggressive” surface such as a grooved runway. It found the tyre experienced wear on the shoulder which led to cracking and undercutting of the tread.

The tyres had been certified as inspected according to the manufacturer’s requirements ahead of departure but no faults were recorded.

Nonetheless, Investigators said it was possible the tread was already damaged before departure.

“The arrival inspection likely occurred during daylight hours, but the aircraft may have been parked with the tyre tread positioned such that the initiation site was not visible to the inspector,’’ the report said “However, this was not confirmed by the ATSB.”

Jetstar has told its pilots and engineers to pay particular attention to the shoulder area of B787 tyres during inspections. 

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UK Study Slams Seat Spacing

From Airline Ratings

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By Geoffrey Thomas

As the US Federal Aviation Authority moves to examine spacing between airline seats, AirlineRatings.com has uncovered a 2001 UK study which warned about the safety consequences of shrinking airline seating.

The UK study “Anthropometric Study to Update Minimum Aircraft Seating Standards” was initiated by the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) under United Kingdom (UK) Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) funding and found that many economy-class passengers do not have enough space to assume the correct “brace” position for emergency landing. It also found the seats themselves are obstacles to quick emergency evacuation of the cabin.

The study’s findings into the distance between seats (seat pitch) adds significant weight to a US Court ruling forcing the US Federal Aviation Authority to look at minimum standards for seat pitch and width on commercial airliners.

The United States Court of Appeals For the District of Columbia, considered by some to be the second most influential court in the land, was responding to a petition by lobby group Flyers Rights.

The court said the consumer group contended narrower seats and closer spacing were “endangering the safety, health, and comfort of airline passengers.”

“This is the Case of the Incredible Shrinking Airline Seat,” wrote Judge Millett. “As many have no doubt noticed, aircraft seats and the spacing between them have been getting smaller and smaller, while American passengers have been growing in size.”

The fundamental rule the FAA uses before certifying an aircraft to carry passengers is the ability to evacuate all passengers within 90 seconds, in low visibility with half the exits blocked.

However, the UK study conducted by ICE Ergonomics Ltd found that cramped seating can trap and trip passengers during an emergency evacuation and it found that more space was needed for today’s overweight and taller passengers.

The study was safety-focused and did not comment on the comfort of passengers but it found that “economy-class passengers are so tightly packed together that they cannot assume a correct brace position for emergency landing”.

The study concluded that the minimum dimensions need to be expanded by at least 3 inches (7.62cm) in terms of seat pitch from about 28 inches to 31 inches. The report also said that “the current widths of typical economy class seats, and in particular the distances between the two armrests, are totally inadequate to accommodate larger bodied passengers.”

Most low-cost airlines have seat pitches between 28 and 30 inches, while traditional carriers typically offer 31 to 33 inches spacing.

Many low-cost airlines now offer extra spacing for a small cost – but find that thrifty passengers are reluctant to spend the extra required.

The CAA recommended increases in pitch and width but that went into limbo after the responsibility was taken over in September 2003 by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Airlines – and their passengers – have been squeezed by the constant demand for cheaper fares and the increased height and weight of the population.

In 2000, it was estimated by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine that airlines in the US had to use an additional 300 million gallons of fuel to carry the increasing weight of passengers.

More than one-third (36.5 per cent) of U.S. adults are now classified as obese, something that prompted the FAA on August 12, 2005, to increase the weighting of passengers.

The FAA lifted the male passenger with carry-on weighing from 185 to 200lbs for summer and 190 to 205lbs for winter.

The averages for women – who are also weighing in heavier – increased from 145 to 179lbs in summer and 150 to 184lbs in winter.

But this is not just a US problem. Downunder, The Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society has shown that the image of the lean athletic bronzed Aussie is a myth, citing a 2014-15 Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing that 63.4 per cent of Australian adults were overweight or obese (11.2 million people). This is a big jump from the 56.3 per cent in 1995.

Height is the other issue. According to R W Howard’s “Interrelating Broad Population Trends”, the world’s population has grown almost 3 inches (7cm) from 1945 to 2000 because of better nutrition and health.

According to research led by scientists from Imperial College London, the average human height has gone up in industrialized countries over the past 100 years ranging from the United Kingdom to the United States to Japan, with gains of up to 10 centimeters (4 inches).

But the gains are uneven.

The research found that South Korean women and Iranian men have the biggest increases in height over the past 100 years. Iranian men have increased by an average of 6.4 inches (16.5cm), and South Korean women by 7.95 inches (20.2cm).

The evacuation of aircraft has also come under close scrutiny for another reason – the insistence of passengers to take their carry-on baggage with them in an emergency.

Airfares would have to triple if aviation regulators were to re-certify aircraft to the reality of recent chaotic passenger evacuations that are taking up to 6 minutes – not 90 seconds.

Passengers are risking their lives, and those of fellow passengers, with the obsession of taking cabin baggage with them in an emergency.

If regulators, for instance, were to recertify the long-range Boeing 777 to the reality of what actually happens, the 550-exit limit aircraft would have to be recertified to just 183 passengers – half its typical load.

But for smaller aircraft such as the widely used A320 – and Boeing 737 – which has an exit limit of 195 and a typical configuration of 180 mostly economy passengers the impact would be devastating with a new limit of just 65.

That would mean a tripling of airfares to make the aircraft economically viable.

And authorities are already stirring. Last year, after a British Airways incident at Las Vegas the highly respected British Civil Aviation Authority issued a blunt warning to its airlines: Stop passengers taking their hand luggage off with them in an emergency evacuation.

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Ditching Pilot Charged With Fraud

From AOPA

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Texas pilot Theodore R. Wright III emerged from the Gulf of Mexico in 2012 with a story to tell.

By Jim Moore

He had ditched a Beechcraft Baron; filmed himself and his passenger treading water while awaiting rescue; and soon made the rounds on television with his video and harrowing tale of a cockpit fire, emergency descent, and water landing. Federal prosecutors say that was actually the first in a series of acts in a conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and arson by destroying two airplanes, a sports car, and a yacht.

Wright and his passenger from the 2012 Baron ditching, Raymond Fosdick, are among four men who now face decades in federal prison if convicted of all charges in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Tyler. Wright was arrested June 28, posted bond, then lost his freedom again July 5 when U.S. District Court Judge Ron Clark ordered Wright to be remanded to custody pending a trial scheduled to begin in October.

Once all four accused conspirators had been arrested by late July, the court unsealed the 25-page indictment detailing accusations against the quartet, with much of that case focused on Wright. Fosdick, who was arrested in South Carolina July 21, and Shane Gordon, who was associated with Wright in a variety of business ventures, as well as a registered charity Wright created, are accused of conspiring in various ways. Alleged conspirator Edward Delima was taken into custody in Hawaii, where prosecutors say he insured a 1998 Hunter Passage yacht (which Wright had purchased for $50,150) for $195,000, a few months before it sank at the dock.

Fosdick stands accused of participating in the first act of fraud, the Gulf of Mexico ditching, though Wright alone is named in conjunction with each overt act alleged in the federal grand jury’s indictment. According to that indictment, signed about a month before Wright's arrest, Wright prepared himself to ditch the 1966 Baron, N265Q, attending “water-landing training” in Alabama on three occasions prior to the Baron’s final flight: in April 2012, August 2012, and September 2012.

On Sept. 20, 2012, Wright and Fosdick departed Baytown, Texas, bound for Bradenton, Florida, a flight that ended in the deep water of the Gulf of Mexico, from which the aircraft was never recovered. Wright had purchased the Baron in March 2012 for $46,000, insured it for $85,000 in April 2012, and collected an $84,000 insurance payout Oct. 3, 2012.

“Hopefully we never have to do that again,” Wright told AOPA in a telephone interview on Oct. 9, 2012, offering an account of the experience coping with a purported in-flight fire that had transformed him, if briefly, into a media celebrity. His version of events at the time contrasts sharply with the version put forward more recently by federal prosecutors. According to federal court documents, Fosdick went on to sue Wright for $1 million for injuries and damages sustained in the September ditching. Fosdick settled his claim against Wright's insurance company for $100,000 in December 2013, and the proceeds were eventually divided between the two men and their lawyers.

A month later, Wright bought a 2008 Lamborghini Gallardo with a salvage title for $76,000, insured it, and then drove it into a ditch full of water on March 9, 2014. Wright went on to collect $169,554.83 from the insurance company, a check deposited by Gordon.

Five days after the Lamborghini was flooded, Wright purchased a 1971 Cessna Citation for $190,000, and subsequently insured it for $440,000 through one of several companies Wright and Gordon were involved in as listed corporate officers. Prosecutors say Fosdick flew to Athens, Texas, to destroy the jet on Aug. 29, 2014. Excerpts from a text message conversation between Wright and Fosdick are included in the grand jury indictment:

“Just don’t look suspicious there,” Wright warned in an iMessage exchange. He offered advice to Fosdick, who reported trouble with engine start. Later, Fosdick advised he had company:

“Old man just showed up,” Fosdick wrote, drawing an expletive from Wright in reply.

Prosecutors say Fosdick left the Citation at the airport on Aug. 30, 2014, and returned Sept. 12, 2014, to finish the job. Wright offered advice on vehicle “switcheroos:”

“Do not get made in that car or it will sink us,” Wright wrote in a text conversation.

Prosecutors say Gordon communicated via phone and email with the fire marshal in Athens, making false representations about the ownership of the aircraft, along with an unmanned “co-conspirator” who came forward to claim ownership. Gordon would later file the insurance claim, and Wright and his alleged co-conspirators received a $440,000 insurance settlement for the destroyed Citation. The check was deposited Feb. 11, 2015, and endorsed by Gordon, prosecutors said. Gordon and Wright then purchased a Gates Learjet Model 35A, serial number 476, on Feb. 27, 2015.

Also in February 2015, the sailboat sank. Wright had purchased the 1998 Hunter Passage in October 2014, and, according to the indictment, “'loaned'” Delima $193,500 to buy the vessel. Delima insured it for $195,000, and Wright paid the premiums, according to court documents. On Feb. 20, 2015, “the vessel was extensively damaged due to partially sinking in a marina in Ko Olina, Hawaii,” the indictment states.

A week later, Delima and Wright had a Facebook chat, also recorded in the indictment, regarding the insurance claim for the sailboat:

“I think you and I should be on the phone together for the claim call, I pretend to be you and give them all the info, then you will hear everything so you know what to say later, and we will be on messenger if we need to communicate while we are on the phone with them,” Wright wrote.

Prosecutors say the insurance company (not named in the indictment) issued a check for $180,023.80 on July 3, 2015.

Federal prosecutors have sought the forfeiture of the Learjet and $938,554.80 in known proceeds from the various crimes. The indictment was signed May 17.

Wright has apparently deleted Facebook and Instagram accounts for which he developed a following, sharing photos and anecdotes of aeronautical exploits. The last remaining trace of the online life Wright presented to the world is a Facebook page for his purported charity, Around the World for Life, which he claimed to have created to inspire children to fly in the October 2012 telephone interview with AOPA. That interview followed appearances on Inside Edition and with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Wright said at the time that his sudden celebrity should be leveraged to help spread good words about general aviation.

“Let’s get what benefit we can out of this thing,” Wright said.

Wright’s attorney did not respond to an email seeking comment on behalf of his client, who, along with his alleged conspirators, faces a potential prison term of up to 90 years and up to $1 million in fines if convicted.

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Honeywell Launches Self-Diagnosing Sensors For Aircraft

From Aviation Voice

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Honeywell announced a new series of self-diagnosing sensors designed to improve the performance of aircraft systems and reduce maintenance costs associated with false readings.

Honeywell, a leading provider of aerospace sensors as well as propulsion engines, cockpit and cabin electronics, wireless connectivity services and logistics for the aerospace industry, is introducing Integral Health Monitoring (IHM) series proximity sensors that can detect when a sensor has been damaged or otherwise impacted.

The patented proximity sensors can be designed into a range of aircraft systems such as thrust reverser actuation systems, flight controls, aircraft doors, cargo loading systems, evacuation slide locks and landing gear.

“Aircraft operators who receive a sensor reading often cannot be sure if they have a system issue that needs to be addressed or if the sensor itself is malfunctioning,” said Graham Robinson, president of Honeywell’s Sensing and Internet of Things business, which produces more than 50,000 sensing products for a range of industries from aerospace to medical to oil and gas.

“Leveraging Honeywell’s technical expertise in the aerospace industry, we innovated a circuit that can detect whether a sensor reading is correct or the result of damage or some other problem with the sensor itself.“

The proximity sensors are configurable, non-contact devices designed to sense the presence or absence of a target in harsh-duty aircraft applications such as determining when a thrust reverser is not fully closed. The sensors can detect most internal failures and display a fault output to a pilot or maintenance worker in order to help reduce aircraft downtime and maintenance costs.

“With our health monitoring capabilities, proximity sensors can notify engineers or operators of potential issues with a system before or after the component fails,” said Robinson. “The sensor fault-detection provides mechanics on the ground with the information they need to perform inspections and repairs without a long and costly troubleshooting process.”

For example, proximity sensors in aircraft landing gear systems provide a pilot with a fault alert on landing approach to warn if the landing gear is not completely deployed. With Honeywell’s health-monitoring feature, the IHM proximity sensors can indicate if the error message was caused by the sensor itself rather than an issue with the landing gear.

Honeywell also introduced Linear Variable Differential Transformers (LVDT), which are used in engine mechanisms, pilot controls and nose-wheel steering applications, and provide next-generation aircraft with continuous position monitoring and are designed for use in harsh environments. The LVDT sensors are already being incorporated into Honeywell-manufactured aircraft systems and can support other component and system manufacturers.

For both new sensors, Honeywell offers design engineering support and a standard design platform in which the engineering work is performed upfront to provide an off-the-shelf solution to speed up customer design cycle times.

Honeywell sensors and switches have been used on commercial, business and military aircraft for more than 30 years and can be found in a range of applications such as engines, fuel pumps, exit doors, landing gear, cargo doors, cabin controls and auxiliary power units.

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Would You Take a Pilotless Flight?

From Travel Pulse

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Pilotless planes may be the ultimate catch-22.

By Patrick Clark

According to new research from UBS, a transition to pilotless commercial flights could save the aviation industry billions of dollars. However, it turns out that only a fraction of travelers would be willing to board an automated flight.

The new UBS report determined that the airline industry could save as much as $35 billion per year by doing away with traditional human pilots. It also found that only 54 percent of people would agree to take a pilotless flight, including just 17 percent of travelers from the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Australia.

"The technologies in development today will enable the aircraft to assist and back up the pilot in all the flight phases, removing the pilot from manual control and systems operations in all types of situations," said the UBS report, according to CNN.

Though the technology necessary to enable pilotless flights is still years away, there are numerous hurdles the industry would have to clear in order to make it happen.

Remote-controlled planes could exist by 2025, but automated commercial flights likely aren't possible until beyond 2030. Additionally, the industry would likely face significant backlash from pilot unions and have to overcome strict air traffic laws.

Currently, pilots spend only a few minutes manually flying aircraft. However, they are constantly monitoring and adjusting the aircraft's systems while on autopilot.

Even if the savings of cutting out pilots were passed down directly to passengers, it's unlikely they would be significant enough to sway disconcerted travelers to board a pilotless flight. According to CNN, airfare would be 11 percent cheaper in the U.S.

Nonetheless, if there's a potential driving force behind pilotless flights, it's the daunting number of new pilots needed to operate new aircraft as well as fill the void left by soon-to-be retiring pilots.

CNN Money reported commercial and cargo airlines around the world will need 637,000 new pilots between 2017 and 2036. U.S. pilot retirements are also expected to spike in the next decade, increasing demand for human pilots in the event that automated flights don't become reality.

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Air Canada Flight Misses By Four Feet

From AvWeb

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By Geoff Rapoport

New flight recorder data says Air Canada flight 759 (ACA759), an Airbus A320, descended as low as 59 feet above ground level and the 55-foot tall 787 on taxiway C before beginning to climb out on its go-around—coming potentially as close as 4 feet from a collision. At four minutes to midnight on July 7, ACA759, which had been cleared to land on Runway 28R at San Francisco International, instead lined up on taxiway C, on which three aircraft were holding for takeoff. After prompting by the one of the pilots of United flight 1 (UA1), the first in line for takeoff on taxiway C, who was well positioned to see that ACA759 was not headed towards a runway, the tower controller instructed ACA759 to go-around. After advancing the thrust levers at 85 feet above ground level, the aircraft continued to sink to a minimum altitude of 59 feet, before overflying at least two more aircraft. Altitude figures in the NTSB report are likely based on the A320’s radar altimeter, according to an A320 pilot who spoke with AVweb about the incident. The extent to which the accuracy of the radar altimeter may have been influenced by extremely close proximity to aircraft underneath has not yet been reported by the NTSB.


According to initial interviews with the flight crew, the both pilots appear to have been confused by the absence of lighting on runway 28L, which had been closed for construction. Its lights were turned off at the time of the incident, and a 20.5-foot wide flashing X had been placed near the threshold. The Air Canada pilots reporting believing that runway 28R was actually 28L and they therefore believed that taxiway C was runway 28R. According to the NTSB, the pilots “did not recall seeing aircraft on taxiway C but that something did not look right to them.” At 0.7 miles from the runway, the Airbus crew had asked the tower to confirm there were no aircraft on 28R and that they were cleared to land. The NTSB only learned of the incident two days after the fact, at which point the cockpit voice recorder had been over-written by subsequent flights.

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Plane Nearly Ran Out Of Fuel After Pilots Forgot To Bring Up Landing Gear

From The Telegraph

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By Hugh Morris

Two pilots have been suspended from duty after their aircraft, carrying 99 passengers, nearly ran out of fuel because they forgot to retract the landing gear after take-off.

Air India Flight AI676 was en route to Mumbai from Kolkata on July 22 but was forced to divert to Nagpur when the crew became alarmed by the speed at which the aircraft was losing fuel thanks to the additional drag created by the extended wheels.

An unidentified source told the Times of India that the “brand new Airbus A320”, one of the most fuel efficient aircraft in existence, had struggled to climb after take-off, prompting the pilots to settle on an altitude of 24,000 feet as opposed to a usual cruising height of 35,000 feet. The source, who made a point of saying that both pilots were women, said it flew like this at 230 knots - as opposed to around 500 knots - for about an hour-and-a-half, while the extended landing gear dragged heavily on the aircraft.

At this point, 90 minutes into a two-and-a-half-hour flight, the crew requested permission to divert to Nagpur as their fuel would have run out before reaching Mumbai.

“When preparing to land, they decided to lower the landing gear. At this point they realised that the wheels had been out all the while from Kolkata,” said the source.

A playback of the flight from FlightRadar24.com shows it failing to reach an altitude higher than 24,000 feet but put the aircraft’s speed at just over 300 knots.

A spokesperson for Air India told the Times of India the pilots have been “de-rostered” and the airline is investigating.

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