Friday, November 30, 2007

57 perish in the crash of AtlasJet Flight KK 4203 in Turkey

AtlasJet logoAn MD-83 aircraft operated by AtlasJet, a Turkish airline, has crashed near the town of Isparta in south central Turkey. There were no survivors among the seven crew and 50 passengers on board. The aircraft was destroyed.

AtlasJet Flight KK 4203 had originated in Istanbul shortly before 01:00 AM on November 30, 2007, and was approaching Süleyman Demirel Airport at Isparta when air traffic control lost contact with the aircraft. The crash site was discovered in a mountainous region about seven miles from the Isparta airport, near a village called Keciborlu. Both the Flight Data Recorder and the Cockpit Voice Recorder were reported to have been recovered from the wreckage.

The aircraft was on lease to AtlasJet from World Focus Airlines, according to a press statement about the accident issued by the CEO of AtlasJet, Tuncay Doganer. The pilots, cabin crew chief, and a flight technician all were employees of World Focus. The other three cabin crew were AtlasJet Staff.

The airline has released the names of the crew of AtlasJet Flight 4203, who perished in the accident:

World Focus Crew





Click here for photos of the AtlasJet accident.

Condolences to the families of the crew and passengers of AtlasJet Flight KK 4203.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Aloha Airlines No. 1 flight attendant retires after 50 years

Patti Smart, Aloha Airlines No. 1 Flight AttendantPatti Smart, the Number One flight attendant at Aloha Airlines, is retiring -- reluctantly -- after more than 50 years of service. The woman nicknamed the 'Queen of Aloha' will retire this coming Friday, but she says, "There will be sparks flying from my feet as they drag me down the runway."

Ms. Smart, whose hire date was Jan. 28, 1957, reminisced about her early flying days in an article in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin:
A lot has changed since the old days, when people dressed up in hats and bow ties to fly on propeller-powered planes across the Pacific.

"You're supposed to have the same niceness, the same warmth, the same caring. But it's faster now," Smart said. "In the older days, the flights were longer so you had more time to be intimate with passengers and you got to be very good friends with them."
While she must have a million good stories to tell from those 50-plus years of flying, she did share this funny one with the newspaper reporter.
As she was serving pineapple juice to passengers, she spilled it all over her uniform. She changed into a pair of pants and washed out her skirt in the lavatory. When she tried to air-dry the skirt by letting it flap out the window in the cockpit, one of the two pilots snatched it and let it fly out the window.

"I wanted to kill those two. I wanted to get their two heads together and whack them. They were laughing and laughing," she said.

The joke didn't stop there. Another pilot on the next flight out radioed her plane and said he had caught the skirt as it went flying by.
Perhaps that incident happened while she was working on a DC-3 early in her career. She certainly has seen a lot of changes to the airline industry since then -- including the introduction of jet aircraft.

Congratulations and aloha to Patti Smart as her long career in the air comes to a close.

Click here to watch a KITV News Video about Patti Smart's final flight on Aloha Airlines.

Click here for many more photos of Patti Smart, the Queen of Aloha.

[Photo Source]

Monday, November 26, 2007

New pilot contract in place, ASA is hiring

ASA pilotsPilots at Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) have voted to ratify a new labor contract. With the new agreement firmly in place, the airline is aggressively hiring more pilots for its Atlanta hub.

According to the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the union representing ASA's pilots, 81% of the 1,239 ASA pilots who were eligible to vote did so, 83.45% of the ballots cast were in favor of the agreement.

The new collective bargaining agreement is the culmination of five years of negotiations between the union and the airline's management. ALPA announced that the terms of the new contract reflect improvements in wages, work rules, job protections, and scheduling.

Expressing his approval of the new agreement, Capt. Dave Nieuwenhuis, chairman of the ASA ALPA unit, said, "Despite many obstacles over the past five years, our pilots persevered and achieved a contract that further secures their jobs and provides overdue increases to their compensation. While we enjoyed invaluable assistance from the 41 other pilot groups in our international union and its professional staff, I cannot begin to describe the impact of the resolve and professionalism demonstrated by each and every ASA pilot."

ASA, a wholly owned subsidiary of SkyWest, Inc., operates as a Delta Connection carrier. The airline's fleet includes both 50- and 70-seat Canadair Regional Jets (CRJ) and the ATR-72.

ASA is actively recruiting pilots at the present time, hiring about 40 per month. ASA pilots are based in Atlanta and fly Delta Connection and SkyTeam codeshare flights.

[Photo Source]

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Airbus A330 depressurizes during pre-delivery test flight

Airbus logoJust five days after a pre-delivery accident destroyed an Airbus A340-600 on the ground at the Airbus facility in Toulouse, an Airbus A330-200 suddenly depressurized during a pre-delivery test flight. Seven of the 10 people on board were injured during the incident, including two who needed to be hospitalized.

The twin-engine aircraft, about to be delivered to Air Mauritius, decompressed during cruise. Following an emergency descent, the aircraft landed safely at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport.

The reason for the rapid depressurization is under investigation. The altitude at which the incident occurred has not been made public.

News reports quoted an Airbus official who said that three of the 10 people on board were on the flight deck, while the other seven were up and moving about the aircraft cabin at the time of the incident. "Those standing couldn't reach the masks and fell unconscious because of a lack of oxygen," the official said.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pilots' view of UA/DL merger rumors

ALPA logoAirline merger rumors have been running rampant over the past several days after a series of news articles suggested that 'consolidation' talks were underway between United Airlines and Delta Air Lines. It has been widely reported that hedge fund Pardus Capital Management, a shareholder in both United and Delta, has been pitching the consolidation idea to the carriers. The airlines have denied that they are in direct talks at this time, nevertheless the news headlines were enough to set off alarm bells in employee groups at both companies.

Pilots at both United and Delta are represented by the same union, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) . The ALPA Master Executive Councils (MECs) for both airline groups have issued statements addressing the merger rumors.

Captain Lee Moak, chairman of the Delta MEC, presented his organization's view in a news release:
"The Delta pilots’ union is aware of the recent overtures made by Pardus and other hedge fund managers who see value in the ‘financial transaction’ aspect of a consolidating event such as a merger, often without regard for the long-term consequences to the corporations, the employees, the traveling public, or the communities we serve.

"Many analysts have suggested that airline industry consolidation is inevitable. The Delta pilots are not opposed to a rational and sensible consolidation scenario. The ‘right’ merger opportunity could draw our support and result in a successful merger. However, we are not interested in a transaction just for transaction’s sake.

"It is crucial that all parties involved understand this very important point: that the Delta pilots will be critical participants from the beginning in any consolidation discussion and potential resultant event, not an afterthought to be considered at a later date. Any consolidating event that involves the Delta pilots will not happen without our active participation and consent."
The statement issued by the United MEC took on a similar tone. Chairman Captain Mark Bathurst said:
"The United pilots have made a significant investment in the future of our airline and have made it abundantly clear to management that we will be opposed to any transaction that does not fully recognize our sacrifices and contributions.

"We will protect the interests and the future of United pilots. All interested parties should understand that any plans to merge or consolidate with Delta or any other carrier will not be met with a rubber stamp from this pilot group.

"We also remind management – and Wall Street – that it is the pilots and other employees who have suffered under this management group. Interested parties need to recognize that the true assets of this corporation are the pilots and other employees and we will not sacrifice again to facilitate consolidation."
At least both pilot groups are represented by the same union, and both groups appear to be on the same page. One would think that should facilitate consolidation of the two pilot groups if a merger were to materialize -- or would that be asking too much?

Friday, November 16, 2007

New A340-600 in ground accident at Toulouse

A340-600 accident at ToulouseA brand new Airbus A340-600 aircraft was badly damaged when it ran through a blast barrier at the Airbus Saint-Martin facility at Toulouse, France. There were no fatalities, but five people were injured. The accident happened late on the afternoon of November 15, 2007.

The aircraft, which was painted in Etihad Airways livery, was undergoing pre-delivery tests on the ground at the Airbus facility at the time of the accident. According to a news release issued today by Airbus, engine-run-ups were being carried out on the A340-600, MSN 856, which was due to be delivered to Etihad in just a few days.

At the time of the accident, there were nine people on board the aircraft, including two Airbus staff, and seven employees of Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT). Five of those nine people were injured, but as of today only the two Airbus employees and one ADAT employee remained hospitalized. None of their injuries are reported to be life-threatening.

Etihad Airways confirms that there were no Etihad staff involved in the accident.

Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies is a maintenance service provider to Etihad Airways. ADAT was formerly known as GAMCO.

Click here to view a brief news video (French language) about the accident, from the TF1 network in France.

Best wishes to those injured for a speedy and complete recovery.

UPDATE November 19, 2007: is reporting that the A340-600 "had completed its engine test-runs and was exiting the test area at the time of the accident." The same article also mentions confirmation from Etihad that the aircraft was a write-off.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Encounter Restaurant reopens at LAX landmark

Encounter restaurant at Los Angeles International AirportThe Encounter Restaurant has reopened at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The restaurant, located in the Theme Building -- the familiar LAX landmark with the space age appearance -- had been closed since March. Now refurbished, the Encounter Restaurant resumed service this past Monday, November 12.

The Theme Building, with its 135-foot high parabolic arches, has been the most recognizable landmark at LAX since its opening in 1961. In 1992, the Los Angeles City Council designated the Theme Building a City Cultural and Historical Monument. Situated near the center of the airport terminal area, the building itself is still undergoing repairs.

The Theme Building and the Encounter Restaurant are on the land side of airport security at LAX. The restaurant can be reached on foot from the arrivals level of the airport terminals.

According to the Encounter Restaurant website, the operating hours are:
  • Lunch: from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM, 7 days a week
  • Dinner: Friday and Saturday ONLY, 4:00 PM to 9:30 PM
Valet parking is available. For more information and reservations, call 310-215-5151, or visit

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Emergency Airworthiness Directive issued for Boeing 737-200 by South African CAA

South African CAA logoIn the aftermath of the incident last week in which an engine of a Nationwide Airlines Boeing 737-200 separated from a wing as the aircraft took off, the South African Civil Aviation Authority has issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD) for that type of aircraft operating in South Africa. The EAD, issued on November 9, 2007, requires that all Boeing 737-200 aircraft fitted with Pratt and Whitney JT8D series engines remain grounded until "an acceptable level of safety can be demonstrated."

Compliance with the EAD entails several types of inspections of all the structures that attach the engines to the airframe, as well as to "all the engine controls, including and specific to the thrust reversers." The EAD states that all positive and negative findings must be reported in writing, and all required maintenance performed before the aircraft are certified safe for flight.

For more details, see the full South African CAA Emergency Airworthiness Directive: RSA AD No 07-002 Revision 1 ( 4 page 'pdf' file).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Taxiway collision at Opa-locka Airport

Opa-locka Airport (OPF)The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a preliminary report on the collision between two cargo aircraft on a taxiway at Opa-locka, FL (OPF) last week. No one was injured in the accident, but both aircraft sustained substantial damage. The accident occurred shortly before noon on November 6, 2007.

The aircraft involved in the accident were a twin-engine Beech E-18s, and a Cessna 208 Caravan "Cargomaster", a single engine turbo-prop. Both were operating as cargo flights under Part 135 rules. Here is an excerpt from the NTSB report, describing what happened:
The Cessna 208 flight originated from North Eleuthera, Bahamas, on November 6, 2007 at 1015, the Beech E18S, was taxiing to a fuel farm prior to departure for Nassau, Bahamas, when the collision occurred.

According to the pilot of the Cessna 208, following his landing on runway 9L, he was cleared to taxiway "Charley" to Customs and to remain on the tower frequency. After crossing taxiway "Papa", out of the corner of his eye to the left he saw the Beech E18S and tried to pull away by turning hard right, but was impacted. They egressed the airplane without injury.

According to the pilot of the Beech E18S, he did a preflight inspection of his airplane and contacted ground control for taxi instructions from the east ramp to the fuel farm. He was told to taxi on "Papa" "Echo" "Tango" to the fuel farm. After that he taxied at a slow speed because he was in a tail wheel airplane.

He never heard any instructions to hold short of any taxiways. He never heard any ground instructions to the Cessna 208.

He crossed taxiway "Charley" and then felt a large bump, he was struck on the right side of the airplane which spun it around, and he saw the Cessna 208 moving towards him. He shut both engines down, turned the magnetos off and exited the airplane thought the aft cargo door. He reported no injuries. [NTSB ID: MIA08LA014B]
According to the NTSB record, the Beech was registered to Aircap Management Company, Inc., and operated by Island Air Service. The Cessna was registered to RJR Transport Logistics LLC, and operated by Florida Air Cargo, Inc.

[Photo Source]

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Iberia Airbus A340 runway overrun at Quito

Iberia A340 accident at QuitoLate on the afternoon of Friday, November 9, 2007 an Iberia Airlines A340-600 ran off the end of a runway at Mariscal Sucre airport in Quito, Ecuador. Flight IB6463, operated by Spain's national carrier, had just arrived from Madrid, Spain with more than 330 passengers and crew on board. No one was seriously injured. The aircraft was badly damaged.

Airport officials in Quito said that one or more of the tires on the aircraft's main landing gear had burst when it touched down. As the aircraft slid down the runway, the landing gear partially collapsed. The huge aircraft came to rest in an area of grass and sand of the end of the runway on which it had landed. Photos of the aircraft show it leaning to port, resting on the nacelles of the number one and number two engines, which were badly damaged.

Passengers and crew evacuated the aircraft using inflatable slides on the starboard side of the aircraft. An article in the Spanish language publication El País includes a video clip of passengers using the slides to evacuate. Spanish news website El Periódico de Catalunya has published a photo gallery of the A340 accident at Quito.

The accident caused the airport to be closed for some time, during which inbound international flights were reported to have been rerouted to Guayaquil. The A340 is the largest aircraft type authorized to land at Quito.

[Photo Source]

Friday, November 09, 2007

AA pilot contract negotiations break down

Allied Pilots Association logoAccording to news reports, American Airlines has rejected a contract proposal from its pilots' union, saying it was too costly. A UPI report says:
The carrier, which has its headquarters in Dallas, said the package would increase its pilots' costs by more than $1.4 billion a year and couldn't be sustained.

American's pilot cost per hour would be more than that of competitors Delta Air Lines and Continental Airlines combined, the company told the Allied Pilots Association Thursday.
For its part, the Allied Pilots Association, the union representing the 12,000 American Airlines pilots, issued a news release expressing their "disappointment" over the breakdown in negotiations, and citing management's "unwillingness to bargain in good faith" as the reason for the breakdown. In addition to pay, work rules, and retirement, negotiators had been considering the issues surrounding flow-through/flow-back provisions aimed at facilitating career advancement for American Eagle pilots while maintaining seniority protection for American Airlines pilots.

Looks like binding arbitration is now on the horizon for American Airlines and its pilots.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Nationwide Airlines Boeing 737-200 engine separates on takeoff

Nationwide Airlines B737 missing engineThis story gives a whole new meaning to the expression "lost an engine." The number two engine separated from a Boeing 737-200 shortly after rotation. The engine fell to the runway while the aircraft continued its climb-out. The aircraft returned to the field a short time later and landed safely. No one on board was injured.

The incident happened yesterday (November 7, 2007) at Cape Town, South Africa. The aircraft, operating as Nationwide Airlines Flight CE723, was taking off for a scheduled flight to Johannesburg when it literally lost an engine.

A press release about the incident on the front page of the Nationwide Airlines website claims that the engine separated after ingesting some as yet unidentified object:
It has been determined that during the take off roll an object which is yet to be defined was ingested into the engine which caused a catastrophic engine failure. The subsequent forces experienced by the engine supporting structure caused this to fail and for the number two engine to detach from the wing. The engine-to-wing supporting structure is designed to release the engine when extreme forces are applied to prevent any structural damage to the wing that may impair the aircrafts ability to fly.

We are currently working with authorities and investigators to establish what exactly the unidentified object was.
According to a news article about the incident on South Africa's, the commander of Nationwide Flight CE723 was Captain Trevor Arnold. The Independent Online quoted a passenger who had been on the flight who said that after the plane had come to a stop surrounded by fire engines, the captain walked into the cabin, and all the passengers cheered.

Congratulations to the Capt. Arnold and F/O Daniel Perry for their outstanding airmanship. Well done!

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Two female pilot cadets at Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways female cadet pilotsMeet two history-makers: Salma Mohammad Al Baloushi (left) and Aisha Hassan Al Mansouri, the first female cadet pilots at Etihad Airways. The two women currently are undergoing initial pilot training at the Horizon Flight Academy at Al Ain, UAE.

The cadet pilots must complete 930 classroom hours and 205 hours of flying in single and multi-engine aircraft, after which they will be eligible to become entry-level first officers at Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates.

An article about the two women in the Gulf News recounts how they came to be interested in flying as a career.
Salma said: "I was studying to be a nurse, but something just didn't feel right. I didn't have a real passion for what I was doing and that made studying to become better hard work. It made me stop and look at life and I decided to follow my childhood dream of becoming a pilot. I am hard-working and have found a passion in life again."


Aisha was inspired to become a pilot after a zero gravity experience at the Al Ain Airshow. She said: "I loved being up in the sky and knew instantly that I wanted to become a pilot. My family is so proud of what I am doing."
The two women were recruited as a part of Etihad's program to hire more Emirati nationals.

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

ABX Air pilots reject contract proposal

ABX Air DC-9Pilots at cargo airline ABX Air, Inc. have overwhelmingly rejected the company's latest contract proposal, according to a news release about the ballot issued by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 1224, the union representing the ABX pilots.

The union reports that nearly 90% of the 578 eligible crew members participated in the balloting. Of those, 98.8% voted to reject the contract.
"We took this vote to demonstrate to ABX Air management that what they are offering is unacceptable to the crewmembers and does not adequately fulfill the quality-of-life needs of our members and their families," said Capt. Dave Ross, president of Local 1224.

Among the major deficiencies in the ABX offer are compensation, retirement, management flying, and staffing and assignment issues. The offer included a side letter regarding operations in Asia for All Nippon Airways.

Tensions are high at the cargo carrier as the company has failed to adequately staff the airline, resulting in management's abuse of an emergency staffing system used to staff regularly scheduled flights.

"The scheduling abuses have multiplied over the last year," said Ross. "The results of today's vote make clear that our members demand a contract that will allow them to provide for their families and not be subjected to the abuse of emergency staffing for non-emergency situations."
Last spring, All Nippon outsourced some cargo operations to ABX Air.

Mediated negotiations between ABX Air and Local 1224 will begin next week under the auspices of the National Mediation Board in Washington, D.C.

[Photo Source]

Monday, November 05, 2007

Four GIRjet crew arrested in Chad are free, three remain in custody

GIRjet logoOn October 25, 2007, the crew of a Boeing 757 aircraft operated by Spanish charter carrier GIRjet were arrested in Abéché, a town in eastern Chad. The two pilots and five cabin crew, all reported to be of Spanish nationality, were accused as accessories in an alleged child kidnapping operation.

The aircraft on which they were working was chartered by a French charity called L'Arche de Zoe (Zoe's Ark) to airlift 103 children from Chad to France. Apparently the operation was illegal, however it is unlikely that the crew were aware of this fact.

A news report on said:
On Tuesday, Spanish Minister of Justice Mariano Fernández Bermejo reported that "every possible effort is being made to convince officials in Chad that the Spanish nationals had nothing to do with the attempt to remove the children from the country," because they had merely been contracted by the French NGO and were not even informed of the identity, ages or conditions of the passengers.
In a dramatic move, French President Nicolas Sarkozy flew to the Chadian capital N'Djamena yesterday and obtained the release of three French journalists and four of the GIRjet cabin crew, all women. The women were repatriated to Spain, according to news reports. The male cabin crew member and both pilots are still being held in Chad.

Earlier today the French airline pilots' association SNPL, the union that represents Air France pilots, issued a statement that defends the imprisoned crew and calls for a boycott of Chad airports unless the remaining GIRjet crew members are released and repatriated within eight days.

Along with the rest of the aviation community, I am hoping that the government of Chad will soon release the crew members who are still detained. I will post any new developments regarding the crew as they become available.

UPDATE November 9, 2007: After spending two weeks in custody in Chad, the three male GIRjet crew members have been released and returned to Spain. Captain Augustin Rey, F/O Sergio Munoz, and cabin crew member Daniel Gonzalez left N'Djamena today aboard a Spanish Air Force plane bound for Madrid, according to an Agence France Presse news story.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

US Airways No. 1 flight attendant celebrates 50 years service

US Airways No. 1 Flight Attendant Bette NashToday was a special day for the Number One flight attendant at US Airways: Bette Nash celebrated 50 years of service. Ms. Nash began her flight attendant career on November 4, 1957.

Here is an excerpt from a news release issued by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) about Ms. Nash and her golden anniversary:
"Bette Nash is a walking, talking history of the evolution of our industry, and we are so fortunate to benefit from her experience each day," said Alin Boswell, fellow US Airways flight attendant and Washington, DC Local Council President for the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA). "Not only is she a great flight attendant and mentor, but she is a wonderful person who brings much joy to everyone she encounters."

Ms. Nash began her career the same year Sputnik was launched, and when air travel was an expensive luxury full of amenities. As air travel evolved into what it is today, so has the role of flight attendant. Fifty years ago, flight attendants were forced out of their job after a few short years and the average career span was less than 18 months.

In 1964, seven years after Ms. Nash began her career, the Civil Rights Act passed and with the strength and determine of AFA-CWA, for the first time flight attendants were able to challenge the discriminatory policies based on gender, age, race, weight, marital status, and pregnancy that had become commonplace in the airline industry.

"Bette's accomplishment today is the fully realized goal that AFA-CWA set out to achieve over sixty years ago," said Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA International President. "When AFA-CWA began representing flight attendants in 1945, it was the goal of our founders to turn this 'job' into a full-blown career - a career that would provide for, and support flight attendants and their families. It is a humbling moment to reflect upon Bette Nash's accomplishment and realize how far we have come as a profession. AFA-CWA congratulates and thanks Bette for her years of devoted service. We look forward to celebrating many more milestones with her in the future."
Congratulations to Bette Nash!

[Photo Source]

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Cessna Citation 650 skids off runway at ACY

Atlantic City International Airport logoLast weekend, a Cessna Citation 650 landed hard at Atlantic City International Airport (ACY) and ran off the runway into the grass. According to the FAA preliminary report about the incident, there were two crew and two passengers on board, none of whom were injured. Damage to the aircraft was listed as "substantial."

A news report about the incident published by Press of Atlantic City gave these details about what happened on October 27, 2007:
The aircraft took off at about 10:38 a.m. from Republic Airport in Farmingdale, N.Y. Shortly before 11:30 a.m., the pilot ordered an emergency landing for reasons that were not immediately clear. Federal investigators were determining the cause, FAA spokeswoman Holly Baker said.

As the jet touched down at Atlantic City International's shorter runway, the aircraft "bounced," causing damage to the landing gear, Baker said.

The pilot pulled the jet up and landed on the airport's longer, 10,000-foot runway. Baker said the jet veered off the runway's end and into a grassy area.

The jet was moved away from the runway and the airport was temporarily closed during the emergency landing, said Sharon Gordon, a spokeswoman for the South Jersey Transportation Authority, which operates the airport.

Flights began moving again after 11:40 a.m.
According to FAA records, the aircraft is registered to Northeast Air & Sea Services of Lindenhurst, New York. The news report said that the passengers on board were the president of that company and his wife, and that the wife had been treated for anxiety following the accident.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Video: History of Cathay Pacific Cabin Crew Uniforms

I've noticed that whenever I post anything in this blog about flight attendant uniforms or flight attendant history, I get a lot of positive feedback from readers. This interesting video addresses both topics, since it reviews the uniforms of Cathay Pacific cabin crew over the past 60 years. I hope you enjoy it.

If the video does not display or play properly above, click here to watch Cathay Pacific Cabin Crew/Flight Attendant Uniforms on YouTube.

Tip of the hat to YouTube user crazyroom06 for posting the video on YouTube.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

SAS grounds all Q400 aircraft until further notice

SAS Q400 turboprop aircraftScandinavian Airlines (SAS), the joint flag carrier of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, announced today that they are grounding their entire fleet of Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft "until further notice" following a third accident in less than two months.

The latest accident involving the Q400 (a.k.a. Dash-8 Q400) happened yesterday afternoon at Copenhagen when an aircraft slid down the runway on its belly after its main landing gear collapsed. Prior to landing, the crew reported problems with the main landing gear. Flight SK 2867, arriving at Copenhagen from Bergen, had 40 passengers and four crew on board. Everyone evacuated the aircraft, and no one was seriously injured.

In a public statement issued by the airline, SAS President and CEO Mats Jansson said, "Confidence in the Q400 has diminished considerably and our customers are becoming increasingly doubtful about flying in this type of aircraft. Accordingly, with the Board of Directors' approval, I have decided to immediately remove Dash 8 Q400 aircraft from service."

Jansson's deputy, John Dueholm, added, "The Dash 8 Q400 has given rise to repeated quality-related problems and we can now conclude that the aircraft does not match our passengers' requirements concerning punctuality and regularity. SAS's flight operations have always enjoyed an excellent reputation and there is a risk that use of the Dash 8 Q400 could eventually damage the SAS brand."

Last month all Bombardier Q400 with more than 10,000 cycles were grounded temporarily until their landing gear could be inspected. The action followed two accidents in Europe which entailed Q400 landing gear failures. Fortunately none of these accidents have resulted in serious injury.

[Photo Source]

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Capt. Robert Ting: PIC of Airbus A380 inaugural commercial flight

The pilot in command (PIC) of this week's inaugural commercial flight of the A380 was Singapore Airlines Captain Robert Ting. According to some news reports, Capt. Ting was treated like a rock star -- at least for the day -- as journalists interviewed him, passengers asked for his autograph, and everyone wanted him to pose for pictures.

Singapore Flight SQ 380 from Singapore to Sydney, the first commercial flight of the A380, took place yesterday. There were 455 passengers and 35 crew on board, including four pilots. Capt. Ting was in command of the historic flight.

According to Capt. Ting, the A380 handles a lot like the A340-500. Here are a few operational details about the inaugural flight, from an interview with Capt. Ting published in The Australian:
  • Takeoff weight was 468 tons. The passengers and crew accounted for just 8% of that total, with fuel making up another 28%.
  • The aircraft rotated at 154 knots. It took 40 to 45 seconds for the aircraft to rotate, using about 76% of maximum engine thrust.
  • "At max landing weight of this plane compared to the max landing weight of a Boeing 747-400, we are at a lower landing speed, 138 knots. This is mainly because of the size of the wings," said Capt. Ting.
In addition to being the PIC for the A380's first commercial flight, Captain Ting also commanded the aircraft on its delivery flight from France to Singapore earlier this month.

The 56 year old Singaporean joined Singapore Airlines in 1971, and has logged over 15,000 flying hours. Captain Ting holds eight different type ratings.

Singapore Airlines A380 - What's the cabin like?

The first commercial flight of the world's largest passenger airliner, the double-decker Airbus A380, took place this week . For its inaugural flight, Singapore Airlines Flight SQ 380 traveled from Singapore's Changi Airport to Sydney International Airport with 455 passengers and 35 crew on board.

The new Singapore Airlines A380 has two decks with 12 cabins in first class, 60 extra-wide seats in business class, and 399 seats in economy class. If you've been wondering what the interior of the aircraft looks like, here are some videos that will give you an armchair tour.

The first, a two and a half minute video produced by Airbus, shows the A380 cabin interior, including the premium class center aisle seats that convert to double beds:

Next is a four minute promotional video about the A380 from Singapore Airlines:

Thanks to Airbus and Singapore Airlines for providing these videos. For more information about this new aircraft, visit the Airbus A380 Navigator interactive website.

Friday, October 26, 2007

First commercial Airbus A380 flight completed: Singapore Airlines Flight 380

Singapore Airlines A380The first commercial flight by an Airbus A380 was completed yesterday when Singapore Airlines Flight SQ 380 arrived at Sydney from Singapore yesterday. The huge aircraft carried 455 passengers and 35 crew members (including four pilots), commanded by Captain Robert Ting. It took a little over seven hours for the inaugural flight between Singapore's Changi Airport and Sydney International Airport.

If you've been wondering what it was like to fly on the A380's maiden commercial flight, there are many accounts available from the journalists who were on board. Here are a few good articles, with lots of photos:
For more information about the world's largest passenger airliner, visit this interactive website provided by the aircraft's manufacturer: Airbus A380 Navigator.

If you are curious about what the double-decker cabin looks like, click here to view videos of the interior of the A380, from Airbus and Singapore Airlines.

[Photo Source]

Monday, October 22, 2007

Accident investigation report: Garuda Boeing 737 crash at Yogyakarta

Garuda Indonesia logoIndonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) has completed its investigation of the Garuda Indonesia accident at Yogyakarta (JOG) and has issued its report. The accident occurred on March 7, 2007 as Garuda Flight GA 200, a Boeing 737-400 aircraft, arrived at Yogyakarta on a scheduled flight from Jakarta. Garuda Flight GA 200 overran the runway at JOG, broke through a fence, crossed a road, and came to rest in a rice paddy. The aircraft was destroyed by fire after the crash. Among the seven crew members and 133 passengers who were on board, one flight attendant and 20 passengers died. One flight attendant and 11 passengers were seriously injured.

The NTSC's main finding, stated in a media release issued today, was that "...the flight crew’s compliance with procedures was not at a level to ensure the safe operation of the aircraft." More specifically, the reports says this about the actions of the pilot in command (PIC):
The aircraft was flown at an excessive airspeed and steep flight path angle during the approach and landing, resulting in an unstabilized approach. The PIC did not follow company procedures that required him to fly a stabilized approach, and he did not abort the landing and go around when the approach was not stabilized. His attention was fixated or channelized on landing the aircraft on the runway and he either did not hear, or disregarded the [Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS)] alerts and warnings and calls from the copilot to go around.
And says this about the co-pilot:
The copilot did not follow company procedures and take control of the aircraft from the PIC when he saw that the pilot in command repeatedly ignored the GPWS alerts and warnings. The Garuda
Simulator Pilot – Proficiency Check records showed no evidence of training or proficiency checks in the vital actions and responses to be taken in the event of GPWS or EGPWS alerts and warnings, such as ‘TOO LOW TERRAIN’ and ‘WHOOP, WHOOP, PULL UP’.
Note: See the NTSC's English Language Media Release about the GA 200 accident investigation for descriptive details about the approach and landing.

The NTSC accident report also faulted Garuda International for insufficient training of the pilots, and criticized the Ministry of Transportation's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for ineffective surveillance of Garuda, which might have identified safety deficiencies. The report noted as well that "Yogyakarta Airport’s rescue and fire fighting services vehicles were unable to reach the accident site and some did not have appropriate fire suppressant. The delay in extinguishing the fire, and the lack of appropriate fire suppressant agents, may have significantly reduced survivability."

The NTSC report includes a number of safety-related recommendations to Indonesia's DGCA, airlines, and airports. The recommendations address "flying operations procedures, training and checking, safety and regulatory oversight and surveillance, serviceability of flight recorders, and airport emergency planning and equipment."

Related: Click here to view all posts on this blog about Garuda Flt 200.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What's in your spare room? A Boeing 747 flight sim?

The Bedroom 747 simulatorJust what everyone dreams of having in their spare bedroom: A Boeing 747 flight simulator. That's it in the photo at right, and it was built by a guy called John Davis -- in the spare bedroom of his house in Coventry, England!

A reader sent me the link to an article about this home-built sim, which the reader spotted a few days ago on Gizmodo, the website devoted to cool gadgets. Some gadget!

Gizmodo says:
John Davis spent eight years and £15,000 building a Boeing 747 flight simulator in a room in his house. And now the 47-year-old's hobby has turned into such a full-time occupation that he has jacked in his job as a graphic designer to run a full-time flight simulation business from his home in Coventry, UK.
That's right. According to his 747 Simulator website, Mr. Davis offers sim rides seven days a week, for the price of £65 ($130) for one hour and £420 ($850) for six hours.

The funny thing is that although Mr. Davis has logged about 2,500 hours in his sim by now, he doesn't have an ATP license, or even a commercial license. He has a glider pilot's license.

Okay, the 'Bedroom 747' is not a full-motion sim, and the flight deck seats really are car seats. (Someone needs to tell him to at least add some sheepskin to make the seats a bit more authentic.) On the other hand, what's in your spare bedroom?

Tip of the hat to the reader who alerted me to this story, and to Addy Dugdale at Gizmodo for posting an interview with John Davis, and lots more photos.

[Photo Source]

Friday, October 19, 2007

Aer Lingus strike averted - Pilots approve Belfast deal

Aer Lingus logoEarlier this week, pilots at Aer Lingus called off a strike that could have grounded the airline's entire fleet, seriously disrupting air service between Britain and Ireland. In dispute was the airline's intention to hire pilots for a new hub in Belfast under terms that differed from terms for pilots flying out of Dublin.

The pilots' union, the Irish Airline Pilots Association (IALPA), and Aer Lingus management were able to come to an agreement at the last minute regarding the airline's plans for a new Belfast base. Today the Irish Times reports that 80% of the pilots voted in favor of the new proposals:
Under the deal agreed, pilots employed at bases outside Dublin will only be appointed on the basis of seniority.

Pilots at the Belfast operation will be recruited on local pay and conditions and similar arrangements will apply to other bases established overseas in the future.

A separate pension scheme will apply for pilots recruited for Belfast. But pilots in the Republic moving to the North on secondment will retain their existing pension scheme.

Promotions to the rank of aircraft captain at bases internationally in the future will be on the basis of the existing Aer Lingus seniority list rather than by direct entry competition.
Aer Lingus has plans to open the new Belfast base in January of 2008.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Egyptian carrier AMC Airlines: MD-83 accident at Istanbul

AMC Airlines accident at IstanbulOn October 11, 2007 an MD-83 aircraft operated by Egyptian carrier AMC Airlines made an emergency landing at Atatürk International Airport in Istanbul. The aircraft's main landing gear apparently collapsed as the aircraft touched down, causing it to veer off the runway. The aircraft was destroyed in the accident, however the 156 passengers and seven crew evacuated the aircraft safely after it came to a stop. To the credit of the crew, no one was injured.

The emergency landing reportedly followed an electrical problem on board. Before diverting to Istanbul, AMC Flight 4270 had been en route from Hurghada, Egypt to Warsaw, Poland.

Turkish website has posted a collection of more than 20 photos of the AMC Airlines MD-83 accident in Istanbul. Another collection of photos of the aircraft has been posted to Airport Haber.

[Photo Source]

Thursday, October 11, 2007

United Airlines A320 damaged in runway excursion at ORD

United Airlines A320A United Airlines Airbus A320 aircraft was substantially damaged yesterday at Chicago O'Hare international Airport (ORD) when it left the runway after a hard landing. There were 122 passengers and five crew on board. Two people were injured in the incident.

According to a preliminary report on the FAA website, United Flight 628, arriving at ORD from Seattle, landed hard and blew a tire on the right main landing gear. The aircraft then left the runway briefly, but later re-entered the runway and taxied to the gate under its own power. The report states that "damage to the aircraft was substantial." A news report about the incident quoted passengers from the flight who said that they saw "significant dents in the engine" [nacelle].

While the FAA report gave no details about about the two people who were injured, some news reports said that one of the injured was a flight attendant, and the other was a passenger.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Video: Animations of runway incursion at PVD, with ATC audio

A reader sent me a link to an animation of a runway incursion that had been posted to YouTube. When I went to YouTube to view the video, I also saw a listing for another animation of the same event. Both animations include audio of communications between ATC and the aircraft that were on the ground, but neither indicated when this incident took place.

A little homework on my part revealed that the animations were of a runway incursion that took place in 1999 at T.F. Green Airport (PVD), Providence, Rhode Island. Here is a brief overview of that runway incursion from the NTSB website, followed by the two YouTube videos.

From the NTSB Board Meeting of June 13, 2000:
On December 6, 1999, at about 8:35 p.m., United Airlines flight 1448, a Boeing 757, was involved in a runway incursion on runway 5 Right at Theodore Francis Green State Airport, near Providence, Rhode Island. At the time of the incident, it was dark and the reported visibility was one-quarter mile.

After United 1448 landed on runway 5 Right, the tower controller instructed the flight crew to proceed to the terminal using taxiways November and Tango, and report crossing runway 16.

During their taxi in the fog, the flight crew became disoriented and turned onto taxiway Bravo by mistake. They then provided incorrect position reports to the tower controller. The airplane ended up at the intersection of Runway 16 and Runway 23 left. Note that Runways 23 Left and 5 Right are opposite ends of the same runway.

Shortly afterward, a Federal Express aircraft taking off from runway 5 Right passed very close to United 1448. The subsequent conversation between the tower controller and United 1448 shows continued uncertainty about the aircraft's position. For example, there will be several references to Runway 23 right while the airplane is actually on 23 left.
Here's the link to the 'official' NTSB animation of this PVD runway incursion of December 6, 1999. (You will need to use a player on your computer to view it.)

Keeping in mind that the two videos below are 'unofficial' simulations of the event, they are still worth watching.

Thanks to YouTube user B737ngdriver for the above video. The video was posted to YouTube in May of this year. If it does not display or play properly above, click here to view it on YouTube.

The next video is a bit longer, and although the depiction of the aircraft types and livery are inaccurate, it illustrates the event from a different (simulated) vantage point than the video above.

Thanks to YouTube user magnetoz, who posted the video in July of this year. If it does not display or play properly above, click here to view the runway incursion video on YouTube.

And a tip of the hat to the reader who sent me the link to the first video by email.

Full deployment of systems such as Airport Surface Detection Equipment-X (ASDE-X) and Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast System (ADS-B) can not come soon enough!

Monday, October 08, 2007

American Airlines MD-82 engine fire and emergency landing at St Louis

American Airline MD-80 aircraftYou may have heard or read news stories about an American Airlines MD-82 that made an emergency landing at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL) recently, due to an engine fire. No one was injured in the incident, but it must have been mighty tense on the flight deck of American Flight 1400 during the emergency.

The NTSB preliminary report about the MD-82 incident includes a detail not mentioned in news reports. In addition to an engine fire, there was a problem with the aircraft's nose gear as well. Here is how the NTSB report tells the tale:
On September 28, 2007, at 1316 central daylight time, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-82 (MD-82), N454AA, operated by American Airlines as flight 1400, executed an emergency landing at Lambert-St Louis International Airport (STL), St. Louis, Missouri, after the flight crew received a left engine fire warning during departure climb from the airport. The airplane sustained minor damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 121 scheduled domestic flight.

After landing, the 2 flight crew, 3 flight attendants, and 138 passengers deplaned via airstairs and no occupant injuries were reported. The intended destination of the flight was Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD), Chicago, Illinois.

Upon receiving the left engine fire warning during climb, the flight crew discharged the aircraft engine fire bottles into the affected engine.

During the visual return and single-engine approach to the airport, the nose landing gear did not extend. The flight crew then extended the nose landing gear using the emergency landing gear extension procedure.

The airplane returned and then landed on runway 30L (11,019 feet by 200 feet, grooved concrete) and was met by STL Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting Vehicles. [NTSB Report ID: CHI07MA310]
The crew would be forgiven if they required a change of underlinens after landing.

[Photo Source]

UPDATE Apr. 7, 2009: The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a report on its investigation of this accident: NTSB: American Airlines MD-82 engine fire caused by improper maintenance procedures -

Saturday, October 06, 2007

New TSA policy on remote control devices in carry-on baggage

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued a statement last week regarding additional security measures related to remote control devices in carry-on baggage taken aboard aircraft. The notice says:
In view of the period of strategic warning discussed in the National Intelligence Estimate on Homeland Security released in July, TSA is carefully monitoring information developed in the law enforcement and intelligence communities related to methods of possible attack.

While not associated with a specific threat at this time, TSA is aware that remote control toys can be used to initiate devices used in terrorist attacks. Accordingly, Transportation Security Officers have trained on this possibility and travelers may encounter additional screening when bringing remote control devices in carry-on baggage.
According to a New York Times article about the new move, "The new policy was established just days after the federal authorities in South Carolina disclosed that a college student being held on terrorism-related charges had made a video that he posted on YouTube, showing how to use a remote controlled toy as a detonator."

Click here to listen to TSA Administrator Kip Hawley's statement on remote control toys.

[Photo Source]

Friday, October 05, 2007

Delta Clipped Wings - 50th anniversary

Delta Clipped Wings logoDelta Clipped Wings marked its 50th birthday last week with a celebration at the Delta World Headquarters in Atlanta. Established in 1957. Delta Clipped Wings is an organization of retired an active flight attendants who have completed at least 20 years of service.

There is a wonderful narrated slide show about Delta Clipped Wings on the CNN website. Featured are images of Delta flight attendant uniforms over the years, and images of flight attendants at work on various kinds of Delta aircraft. In the narration, current and former Delta flight attendants offer their views on how the job has changed over the years. Don't miss Flight Attendants: A Career Evolution.

Congratulations to Delta Clipped Wings for their 50 years of service to the community and for supporting one another as only flight attendants know how to do.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Pilot error: Southwest runway overrun at Midway in 2005

Southwest Airlines The National Transportation Board (NTSB) recently concluded its investigation of the Southwest Airlines runway overrun at Chicago Midway Airport in 2005. One person on the ground was killed, and 22 people were injured. The NTSB report cites pilot error as the primary cause of the accident.

The NTSB report specifies "the pilot's failure to use available reverse thrust in a timely manner to safely slow or stop the airplane after landing" as the probable cause. The NTSB goes on to say, "This failure occurred because the pilots' first experience and lack of familiarity with the airplane's autobrake system distracted them from thrust reverser usage during the challenging landing."

Here is a summary of the NTSB findings, quoted from a press release about the agency's report:
On December 8, 2005, Southwest Airlines (SWA) flight 1248, a Boeing 737-7H4, (N471WN), ran off the departure end of runway 31 center (31C) after landing in a snow storm at Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW), Chicago, Illinois. The airplane rolled through a blast fence, an airport perimeter fence, and onto an adjacent roadway, where it struck an automobile before coming to a stop. One occupant in the automobile was killed, one received serious injuries, and three others received minor injuries. Eighteen of the 103 persons on board the airplane received minor injuries and the airplane was substantially damaged.

As outlined in the Board's report, the investigation revealed that as the crew neared their destination the pilots received mixed braking action reports for the landing runway. The flight crew used an on-board laptop performance computer (OPC) provided in the cockpit of SWA's airplanes to calculate expected landing distance. They entered multiple scenarios including wind speed and direction, airplane gross weight at touchdown and reported runway braking action. Observing OPC indications that they would stop before the end of the runway with either fair or poor braking action, they decided that they could safely land at MDW.

However, as stated in the report, the accident pilots were not aware that stopping margins displayed by the OPC for poor runway conditions were in some cases based on a lower tailwind component than that which was presented. Also, the accident pilots were not aware that the stopping margins computed by the SWA OPC incorporated the use of thrust reversers for their model aircraft, the 737-700, which resulted in more favorable stopping margins. Therefore, the Safety Board concluded in the report that had the pilots known this information, the pilots might have elected to divert to another airport.

Contributing to the accident were Southwest Airlines' failure to provide its pilots with clear and consistent guidance and training regarding company policies and procedures related to arrival landing distance calculations; programming and design of its on board performance computer, which did not present critical assumption information despite inconsistent tailwind and reverse thrust assessment methods; plan to implement new autobrake procedures without a familiarization period; and failure to include a margin of safety in the arrival assessment to account for operational uncertainties.

Contributing to the accident was the pilot's failure to divert to another airport given the reports that included poor braking action and a tailwind component greater than 5 knots.

Also, contributing to the severity of the accident was the absence of an engineering materials arresting system (EMAS), which was needed because of the limited runway safety area beyond the departure end of runway 31C.
Click here to view the NTSB animation of the landing runway overrun accident at Midway Airport, Chicago, Illinois on December 8, 2005.

One outcome of the investigation of this accident is that the NTSB has issued "a new urgent safety recommendation that calls on the FAA to immediately require operators to conduct arrival landing distance assessments before every landing based on existing performance data, actual conditions, and incorporating a minimum safety margin of 15 percent." Additional recommendations to the FAA in the NTSB report include the following:
  • Require all Part 121 and 135 operators to ensure that all on board electronic devices they use automatically and clearly display critical performance calculation assumptions.
  • Require all Part 121 and 135 operators to provide clear guidance and training to pilots and dispatchers regarding company policy on surface condition and braking action reports and the assumptions affecting landing distance/stopping margin calculations, to include use of airplane ground deceleration devices, wind conditions and limits, air distance, and safety margins.
  • Establish a minimum standard for operators to use in correlating an airplane's braking ability to braking action reports and runway contaminant type and depth reports for runway surface conditions worse than bare and dry.
  • Develop and issue formal guidance regarding standards and guidelines for the development, delivery, and interpretations of runway surface condition reports.
The Synopsis Report on the Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 accident is available on the NTSB website now. The final report will be posted there in several weeks.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

ADS-B: Next step toward the Next Generation air transport system

FAA logoYesterday the FAA announced a formal proposal to require "all aircraft flying in the nation’s busiest airspace to have satellite-based avionics by 2020, enabling air traffic controllers to track aircraft by satellites using a system known as Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B)." The proposed requirements for equipping aircraft with ADS-B systems is designed to enable the transition to the Next Generation satellite-based air transportation system.

The ADS-B system is said to be ten times more accurate than current radar technology. As explained in an FAA Fact Sheet about ADS-B issued earlier this year:
ADS-B works by having aircraft transponders receive satellite signals and using transponder transmissions to determine the precise locations of aircraft in the sky.

The system converts that position into a unique digital code and combines it with other data from the aircraft’s flight monitoring system — such as the type of aircraft, its speed, its flight number, and whether it is turning, climbing, or descending.

The code containing all of this data is automatically broadcast from the aircraft’s transponder once a second.

Aircraft equipped to receive the data and ADS-B ground stations up to 200 miles away receive these broadcasts. ADS-B ground stations add radar-based targets for non-ADS-B-equipped aircraft to the mix and send all of the information back up to equipped aircraft — this function is called Traffic Information Service-Broadcast (TIS-B). ADS-B ground stations also send out graphical information from the National Weather Service and flight information, such as temporary flight restrictions — this is called Flight Information Service-Broadcast (FIS-B).

Pilots see this information in their cockpit traffic display screens. Air traffic controllers will see the information on displays they are already using, so little additional training will be needed. ADS-B signals are transmitted once per second, providing a more accurate tracking system for pilots and controllers.
One of the advantages of the ADS-B system over current radar-based systems is that both pilots and controllers will be able to see the same real-time displays of air traffic.
  • Pilots will have much better situational awareness because they will know where their own aircraft are with greater accuracy, and their displays will show them all the aircraft in the air around them.
  • Pilots will be able to maintain safe separation from other aircraft with fewer instructions from ground-based controllers.
  • At night and in poor visual conditions, pilots will also be able to see where they are in relation to the ground using on-board avionics and terrain maps.
ADS-B also should help to reduce the risk of runway incursions since "both pilots and controllers will see the precise location on runway maps of each aircraft and even equipped ground vehicles, along with data that shows where they are moving," according to the FAA.

The proposed compliance date for equipping aircraft with ADS-B technology is 2020.

UPDATE October 17, 2007: Here is some interesting follow-up information on the ADS-B. Today Vincent Capezzuto, the FAA's Director of Surveillance and Broadcast Services Program Office, testified before the U.S. Congessional Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Aviation on Nextgen, regarding the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Contract.

Click here to read Mr. Capezzuto's testimony about ADS-B.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Lear 35A departs IAD on closed runway, NTSB investigating

NTSB logoThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating an incident in which a Lear 35A took off from a closed runway at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD). No one was injured, and there was no damage to the aircraft. FAA records show that the aircraft is registered to National Jets, Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Here is a summary of what happened, according to the NTSB Advisory about the IAD incident, issued today:
On September 12, 2007, about 3:13 a.m. EDT, the Dulles tower controller cleared a Learjet 35 (N66NJ) for takeoff from a closed unlit runway. Earlier in the evening, runway 19R was closed for surveying and the runway lights were turned off. The tower controller instructed N66NJ to taxi into position and hold, then cleared it for takeoff. The departure controller at Potomac Terminal Radar Approach Control, located in Warrenton, Virginia, noticed the radar target depart runway 19R and asked the tower controller if the runway was open, and was told no.

The closure was advertised on the automated terminal information service and the tower controller placed an X on the tower's ground radar display as a reminder of the closure. The closure also was annotated on the tower status display.
The NTSB Advisory noted that there was only one controller in the cab of the ATC tower at the time of the incident. The second controller assigned to the shift was on break.

The FAA has classified this incident as an operational error, however by the ICAO definition just adopted by the FAA this month, the incident would be classified as a runway incursion.

Monday, October 01, 2007

FAA changes its official definition for 'runway incursions'

FAA logoToday the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a change to its definition for what constitutes a runway incursion. Effective immediately, the FAA will use the same definition for runway incursions as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), as set forth in a new Fact Sheet:
The biggest difference between the two definitions is that ICAO defines a runway incursion as any unauthorized intrusion onto a runway, regardless of whether or not an aircraft presents a potential conflict. For the FAA, an incident without an aircraft in potential conflict — such as an unauthorized aircraft crossing an empty runway — was defined as a “surface incident” and not a runway incursion.

The new definition means that some incidents formerly classified as surface incidents will now be classified as C or D category runway incursions, which are low-risk incidents with ample time and/or distance to avoid a collision.

The FAA has always tracked surface incidents, in addition to runway incursions. The new definition simply means that certain less severe incidents will be classified differently. All incidents tracked in the past will continue to be tracked.

The classification of the most serious kinds of runway incursions, Categories A and B, remains unchanged. The total number of Category A and B incursions has fallen from 53 in fiscal year 2001 to 31 in FY 2006. A and B incursions are on track for another drop in FY 2007, with 24 recorded through Sept. 9.
The FAA made this change so that the same definition for runway incursions will apply worldwide. The hope is that the use of a single definition will help in the search to determine common factors that contribute to these incidents.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Delta and United awarded new USA-China routes

US DOT logoU.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Mary Peters announced earlier this week that two new direct air routes between the United States and China have been awarded to to Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. Beginning in 2008, Delta will fly the Atlanta - Shanghai route, and United will begin direct service between San Francisco and Guangzhou. These awards represent final decisions by the DOT, according to a news release issued by the Department.
Peters also proposed awards for four new daily flights to begin in 2009: American Airlines for Chicago-Beijing service, Continental Airlines for Newark-Shanghai service, Northwest Airlines for Detroit-Shanghai service, and US Airways for Philadelphia-Beijing service. Final decisions of these proposed awards will be made in the near future after further public comment.

Secretary Peters said the announcement today is the result of an agreement signed in July with the Chinese government to open up airways between the two countries and double the number of daily flights allowed between the U.S. and China over the next five years. The agreement also allows for new cargo flights operating to and from the U.S. and China.

By increasing competition, allowing more flight options, and reducing costly stops and layovers, these new direct routes are expected to lower fares and increase convenience for both business and leisure passengers to travel to China, Secretary Peters said.
An article in Aviation Week about the new China routes notes that United, Delta and Northwest had argued for an additional weekly flight, but they were all unsuccessful. Maxjet's application for the 2009 new entrant award also was denied.

In addition to awarding the new routes, the DOT also changed existing rules regarding their sale or transfer. Previously, airlines had been prohibited from selling or transfering their routes to another carrier for a period of one year after the award. The DOT announced that it is extending this restriction to five years, however the new five-year rule would not apply apply in the case of airline mergers or acquisitions.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

ASTAR Air Cargo pilots authorize strike

ASTAR Air Cargo pilotsPilots at ASTAR Air Cargo have authorized their union to call a strike, with 97% of members voting. The ASTAR pilots are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).

The freight carrier's management and the pilots' union have been in contract negotiations since early 2005. More recently the parties have been working through the National Mediation Board (NMB) to try to reach an agreement, but ALPA says the parties still remain far apart on wage and compensation issues.

ASTAR pilots have not had a pay raise since 2002. A recent ALPA news release says, "ASTAR pilots want pay raises similar to what ASTAR management has provided itself. Pilots are also seeking job protection and retroactive pay."

Terms of the pilots' strike authorization would allow a strike or other work action whenever the NMB releases both sides from the talks.

Management at ASTAR Air Cargo disagrees with the pilots' view that contract talks have reached an impasse. A press release issued by ASTAR quotes Doug McKeen, Senior Vice President of Employee Relations and Communications, who called the strike authorization a "standard tactic in airline labor negotiations."

McKeen said "Negotiations between ASTAR and its pilots are currently ongoing under the exclusive control of the National Mediation Board and the mediator assigned by the National Mediation Board." He went on to say:
"Under the Railway Labor Act, the law that governs airline labor negotiations, the pilots may not initiate a strike and management may not pursue a lockout without first obtaining a release from the National Mediation Board. To date, the mediator has not advised the parties that they are at impasse, a step required before a release may occur, nor have the parties received any indication that a release is imminent in the near or distant future. Given these circumstances, the pilots have no authority to strike at this time. To be clear: if the pilots were to initiate a strike or other illegal activity outside this process, the Company would pursue all legal remedies."
ASTAR Air Cargo operates 44 aircraft from its hub in Wilmington, OH. It provides scheduled and charter services on a contract basis to DHL Worldwide Express, the U.S. military and the United States Postal Service.

[Photo Source]