Latest blog entries Sat, 17 Mar 2018 10:49:30 +0000 MYOB en-gb ATC Privatization Derailed

From AvWeb

By Russ Niles

Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., has announced he is no longer pursuing the separation of air traffic control from the FAA. After a couple of attempts and massive opposition from hundreds of groups with a stake in aviation, Shuster, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman, conceded Tuesday his bill doesn’t have the support to pass. “Despite an unprecedented level of support for this legislation – from bipartisan lawmakers, industry, and conservative groups and labor groups alike – some of my own colleagues refused to support shrinking the federal government by 35,000 employees, cutting taxes, and stopping wasteful spending,” Shuster wrote in a statement. Instead, he said he’ll work toward long-term funding for the FAA in a proper reauthorization bill.

Shuster proposed moving air traffic control to a nonprofit corporation run by a board of directors that most in general aviation believed would be dominated by airline interests. The initiative also had the support of President Donald Trump but Shuster could not muster enough congressional support. AOPA was the first to react and while President Mark Baker acknowledged the massive lobbying effort that helped kill Shuster’s bill, he also pledged support for Shuster’s call for stable funding for the FAA. “We look forward to working with Chairman Shuster and other leaders in Congress on a bill that improves aviation for every American and ensures our skies remain the safest in the world,” Baker said.

]]> (Mark) News Thu, 01 Mar 2018 01:45:13 +0000
“Undetectable” Defect Blamed For Engine Failure

From AvWeb

By Mary Grady

An internal defect caused an uncontained engine failure, leading to a fire, during the takeoff roll of a Boeing 767 in October 2016, the NTSB said in its probable-cause hearing on Tuesday. The subsurface defect led to cracking in a turbine disk. The cracks were undetectable using current inspection methods, the investigators found. “Even though there have been significant advances in the safety performance of passenger airplanes over the last few decades, this accident shows there are still improvements that can be made,” said NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt. “Current inspection methods – those that can fail to uncover a defect in a safety-critical component of an airliner – need a closer look.”

The American Airlines flight, bound for Miami, was on its takeoff roll at Chicago O’Hare International Airport when a turbine disk in the right engine failed, sending metal fragments through a fuel tank and wing structure. Leaking fuel fed a fire. The flight crew aborted the takeoff and stopped the airplane on the runway. All passengers and crew evacuated and survived. One passenger was seriously injured after encountering jet blast from the good engine, which was still running. The NTSB found several problems with the evacuation procedures, including a lack of communication between the flight crew and cabin crew. The airplane was damaged beyond repair.

The NTSB made one recommendation to American Airlines, one to Boeing, and seven new recommendations to the FAA. The NTSB also reiterated two recommendations to the FAA on emergency evacuations because that agency has yet to favorably act upon them. The complete accident report will be available in a few weeks. The findings, probable cause and safety recommendations, as well as Sumwalt’s prepared remarks and the PowerPoint presentations given on Tuesday, are all available online.

]]> (Mark) News Sun, 04 Feb 2018 14:29:05 +0000
Warning To Pilots To Monitor Critical Approaches

From Airline Ratings

By Geoffrey Thomas

Australia’s crash investigator has urged airlines and pilots to give heightened attention to risk areas such as understanding your aircraft systems, and adhering to cockpit monitoring and communication procedures to ensure a stabilized approach during the approach and landing phases of flight.

In a special release, related to a serious incident in Perth in 2016, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said that “unexpected events can substantially increase an already-high cockpit workload. If the criteria for safe continuation of an approach are not met, flight crew should initiate a go-around.”

The incident occurred at night on 19 February 2016, when an Indonesia AirAsia A320 was arriving from Denpasar, Indonesia. During the cruise, the captain’s flight management and guidance computer (FMGC1) had failed, and the flight crew had elected to use the first officer’s duplicate systems.

]]> (Mark) News Sun, 21 Jan 2018 19:04:38 +0000
Jet Airways Pilots Fired For Leaving Cockpit Unattended During Flight

From The Independent

By Lydia Smith

Jet Airways has fired two pilots who allegedly got into a fight and stormed out of the cockpit during a flight, leaving the controls unattended.

The Indian airline said in a statement it had “terminated services of both the cockpit crew with immediate effect”.

The staff involved, a man and a woman, were taken off flight duties following an investigation.

]]> (Mark) News Tue, 16 Jan 2018 22:30:02 +0000
Delta 747s operate final charter flights.

From Airline Ratings

By Steve Creedy

The last Boeing 747 passenger jets operated by a US airline are doing the rounds on Delta Air Lines sports charter flights before heading off to be parked in the desert on January 3.

The handful of NFL charters to airports such as Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles and New Orleans signal an end of an era for US airlines, although the plane lauded as the “Queen of the Skies” will fly on in other parts of the world.

After operating its last scheduled 747 flight between Korea and the US, Delta hosted an “All Hail The Queen” farewell tour for employees and select frequent fliers before Christmas.

]]> (Mark) News Thu, 28 Dec 2017 01:43:07 +0000
Airbus on track to fly its electric aerial taxi in 2018

From Tech Crunch

By Darrell Etherington

Airbus is looking to put its flying taxi in the air next year, confirmed CityAirbus chief engineer Marius Bebesel this week. The schedule is on track after CityAirbus conducted successful ground tests of the electric power system it’s using to propel the vehicle through the air.

The CityAirbus craft is a vertical take-off and landing craft that uses a four rotor design, and that would be able to take up to four passengers on short flights in dense urban areas, with the aim of connecting major transportation hubs including train stations and airports. It’s designed to be pilot operated at launch, but to eventually transition to being a fully autonomous vehicle once the tech catches up.

CNBC reports that Airbus is aiming to operate the craft along fixed, predetermined routes, with top air speeds of around 80 mph. They’ll be able to skip over the traffic that can dramatically increase travel times entering and exiting busy city transit points, which would theoretically also help alleviate ground congestion.

]]> (Mark) News Fri, 22 Dec 2017 02:43:09 +0000
AeroUnion Boeing 767 Engine Catches Fire in Los Angeles

From Aviation Voice

AeroUnion Boeing 767-200 freighter, performing freight flight from Los Angeles to Guadalajara with 2 crew, was in the initial climb out of Los Angeles when a crew about to taxi into position called out “engine on fire”.

Tower immediately followed advising AeroUnion of smoke coming from their right hand engine (CF6). The crew advised they would continue on runway heading, tower offered a right turn onto runways 06 or 07 on pilots discretion, the crew decided to stop climb at 1500 feet and return to runway 25L.

The aircraft joined a right downwind for 25L, tower instructed one aircraft on final for 25L to go around and another one to immediately change to approach frequency again. The 767-200 landed safely on runway 25L about 8 minutes after departure, emergency equipment checked the aircraft and reported pretty heavy smoke from the engine, the crew advised they had already discharged one bottle of fire agent.

The occurrence aircraft is still on the ground in Los Angeles about 24 hours after landing back.

]]> (Mark) News Sun, 10 Dec 2017 03:06:26 +0000
Japan Airlines Commits to Boom Supersonic Aircraft

From Airline Ratings

By Geoffrey Thomas

Japan Airlines and US-based Boom Supersonic have announced a strategic partnership to bring commercial supersonic travel to passengers with a commitment to 20, 55-passenger supersonic jets.

Through this agreement, JAL will provide its knowledge and experience as an airline to support Boom in developing the Mach 2.2 aircraft.

As part of the agreement, JAL has made a strategic investment of $10 million in Boom and is collaborating with the company to refine the aircraft design and help define the passenger experience for supersonic travel.

]]> (Mark) News Tue, 05 Dec 2017 13:07:04 +0000
First A330-300P2F Enters Service With DHL

From Aviation Tribune

DHL Express has become the first operator to take delivery of the A330-300 Passenger-to-Freighter (P2F) converted aircraft from Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW), the joint venture between ST Aerospace and Airbus.

This delivery, which took place at EFW’s freighter conversion facilities in Dresden, follows the successful completion of test flights in October and awarding of the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in November. DHL Express has firm orders for eight A330-300P2F units in total, with additional options to receive another 10.

“DHL Express is very excited to be bringing the first A330-300 P2F into commercial operation within our international air network,” said Geoff Kehr, SVP, Global Air Fleet Management, DHL Express.

“The first aircraft is scheduled to strengthen our Asia Pacific air network, bringing added capacity and increased efficiency to a market where we are seeing dynamic express volume growth.”

]]> (Mark) News Sun, 03 Dec 2017 15:06:17 +0000
ATR-72 Veered Off Runway After Captain’s Seat Moved Fully Backwards

From Aviation Safety Network

Starbow flight S9 104, an ATR 72-500, suffered a runway excursion during takeoff from Accra-Kotoka Airport in Ghana.

During take off roll from runway 21 and before reaching a speed of 70 kts, the captain's seat suddenly moved full backwards violently and shifted to the left. Whilst controlling the aircraft with the nose wheel steering, the violent seat movement led to the captain turning the tiller to the left causing the aircraft to veer off the left side of the runway. The captain could not gain control of the aircraft until it came to a stop close to the perimeter fence after efforts by the copilot to retard the power levers.

All propeller blades of the no.1 engine were damaged with some prop tips severed after impacting barbed wire at the airport perimeter fence.Five occupants sustained minor injuries.

The aircraft, 9G-SBF, had only been delivered to Starbow on 22 November 2017.

]]> (Mark) News Fri, 01 Dec 2017 14:20:57 +0000
Airbus To Lead BAe 146 Electric Propulsion Demonstration

From AIN Online

Using a BAe 146 airframe, the E-Fan X demonstrator would fly with one of four engines replaced with an electric motor some time in 2020. (Image: Airbus)

By Gregory Polek

Airbus, Rolls-Royce, and Siemens will collaborate on a hybrid-electric technology demonstrator expected to fly in 2020 called the E-Fan X, the companies announced Tuesday at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London. The partners plan to replace one of the four gas turbine engines in a BAe 146 test bed with a two-megawatt electric motor. Plans call for the replacement of a second gas turbine with an electric motor once the program achieves sufficient system maturity, said Airbus.

“The E-Fan X is an important next step in our goal of making electric flight a reality in the foreseeable future,” said Airbus chief technology officer Paul Eremenko. “The lessons we learned from a long history of electric flight demonstrators, starting with the Cri-Cri, including the e-Genius, E-Star, and culminating most recently with the E-Fan 1.2, as well as the fruits of the E-Aircraft Systems House collaboration with Siemens, will pave the way to a hybrid single-aisle commercial aircraft that is safe, efficient, and cost-effective.”

]]> (Mark) News Thu, 30 Nov 2017 17:17:07 +0000
Autonomous Commercial Aircraft - Who Asked For It Technology

From Blue Hawk Aviation

In the seemingly unstoppable rollout of who-asked-for-it and what’s-next technology, automated commercial airliners seems to be a hot topic these days. To this end, a just released UBS study argues that a vast savings realized from putting pilots out of work will overcome our demonstrated reluctance to not having a Sully Sullenburger, or anyone for that matter, in the cockpit when the poop hits the fan.

Fortunately, writing for Forbes Dan Reed penned a much more cogent and ordered response to this “Wall Street knows best” report than I am able to for this blog. Read it here:

Mr. Reed argues that any lower consumer costs can only get us so far up this particular mountain because there are very significant barriers to autonomous airliners, especially when one considers that in commercial air travel, the safety “bar” is set at a zero failure rate (i.e. no fatalities). These barriers include: nowhere near ready for primetime technology, as of yet undreamed of regulatory requirements and schemes, conveniently and vastly underestimated financial barriers, and a widespread and persistent lack of consumer acceptance that will likely span generations.

The technology piece is probably the lowest of these hurdles to leap, which isn’t to say it will be anything approaching easy. In high reliability industries like commercial aviation and nuclear power generation, outright adoption of disruptive technology doesn’t just happen because a tech billionaire has a wet dream. Technological change is stepwise, and even glacial, and with very good reason. These are industries where even the smallest of human errors can result in catastrophic and outsized loss of life and property. Proponents speak as if many pieces necessary for autonomous control of aircraft are on the shelf and ready to go. Tell me how Equifax just lost the most personal information of fully half the American population to hackers, yet we are somehow ready now with AI and to harden and protect the IT, control systems, spectrum and data links needed to control and back-up an autonomous commercial airliner? There is a nice looking, slightly used CIA RQ-170 drone now owned by Iran that might tell a very different story.

]]> (Mark) News Mon, 27 Nov 2017 13:28:50 +0000
A Good Laugh Is Needed Sometimes

From AVWeb

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.

]]> (Mark) News Wed, 15 Nov 2017 04:05:22 +0000
Engine Failure Takes Out Two Engines of SA Airlink RJ85

From Aviation Voice

SA 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.”

]]> (Mark) News Sun, 12 Nov 2017 14:20:22 +0000
When Automation Fails, Qantas Pilot Employs Military Training

From AIN Online

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.”

]]> (Mark) News Thu, 09 Nov 2017 16:21:05 +0000
747 Flies Final U.S. Passenger Flight

From AvWeb

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.

]]> (Mark) News Wed, 08 Nov 2017 16:48:37 +0000
Canada Dropping Checks On Check Pilots?

From AvWeb

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.

]]> (Mark) News Wed, 01 Nov 2017 11:49:35 +0000
Mexican airline interested in buying Russian MC-21 passenger jet

From RT

The 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.

]]> (Mark) News Mon, 23 Oct 2017 18:15:22 +0000
FAA: Ban Laptops From Baggage Holds, Not Cabins

From AvWeb

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.

]]> (Mark) News Sat, 21 Oct 2017 15:27:38 +0000
Complex Three-Engine Ferry For A380

From AvWeb

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

]]> (Mark) News Sun, 15 Oct 2017 13:41:13 +0000