Tuesday, July 31, 2007

NetJets Falcon 2000 windshield implodes at FL410

NetJetsThe crew of a certain Dassault Falcon 2000 must have had one heck of a scare last week. The aircraft, operated by NetJets, Inc., was cruising at FL410 en route from Las Vegas to Bedford, MA on the afternoon of July 26 when -- in the words of the FAA's preliminary incident report -- the "first officer's window imploded." Yikes!

The aircraft immediately descended and diverted to Syracuse Hancock, where it landed without further incident. Must have been quite a dramatic descent!

The FAA preliminary report mentions that no one was injured. No word on the status of the pilots' underlinens...

Monday, July 30, 2007

Seven perish in Moscow ATRAN An-12 freighter crash

Atran AN-12An Antonov-12 cargo plane operated by Russia's ATRAN Cargo Airlines crashed early on the morning of July 29, 2007 near Moscow's Domodedovo Airport (DME). All seven crew members perished in the accident. No one was injured on the ground.

According to the NOVOSTI, the Russian News & Information Agency, the aircraft was scheduled to to fly to Bratsk (Eastern Siberia) with a stopover in Omsk (Western Siberia). The AN-12, a four-engine turboprop freighter, took off from DME at 04:16 and went disappeared from radar screens at 04:22. It crashed about 4 km (2 miles) from the runway and burst into flames. The weather was reported to have been foggy. NOVOSTI has published a collection of photos of the devastation at the crash site.

Interfax quoted a Russian government official who said, "The plane's fuel tanks were filled to the brim. The plane caught fire after it fell, sending out flames which scorched the ground near the crash site."

ITAR-TASS reported that the bodies of the seven victims had been recovered from the accident scene, and that the flight data recorders had been found. The aircraft was completely destroyed by the crash and ensuing fire.

UPDATE August 11, 2007: I just came across an article on FlightGlobal.com that says both right-hand engines on the accident An-12 failed simultaneously, according to Russia's Interstate Aviation Committee. A reason for the powerplant failures has yet to be determined.

[Photo Source]

Saturday, July 28, 2007

NTSB Comair Flight 5191 report: Safety recommendations

NTSB logoAs promised in yesterday's post about the release of the NTSB report on Comair Flight 5191, today I'll set forth the safety recommendations from the synopsis report (just for the record). Most of the NTSB's recommendations are addressed to the FAA; one is directed to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), the labor union representing air traffic controllers in the United States.

Here are the new safety recommendations from the NTSB's synopsis report on the investigation of the Comair Flight 5191 accident investigation that are specifically related to pilots, piloting, and aircraft operation at airports:
  1. Require that all 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91K, 121, and 135 operators establish procedures requiring all crewmembers on the flight deck to positively confirm and cross-check the airplane’s location at the assigned departure runway before crossing the hold short line for takeoff. This required guidance should be consistent with the guidance in Advisory Circular 120‑74A and Safety Alert for Operators 06013 and 07003. (A-07-XX)
  2. Require that all 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91K, 121, and 135 operators install on their aircraft cockpit moving map displays or an automatic system that alerts pilots when a takeoff is attempted on a taxiway or a runway other than the one intended. (A-07-XX)
  3. Require that all airports certificated under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 139 implement enhanced taxiway centerline markings and surface painted holding position signs at all runway entrances. (A-07-XX)
  4. Prohibit the issuance of a takeoff clearance during an airplane’s taxi to its departure runway until after the airplane has crossed all intersecting runways. (A-07-XX)
  5. Revise Federal Aviation Administration Order 7110.65, “Air Traffic Control,” to indicate that controllers should refrain from performing administrative tasks, such as the traffic count, when moving aircraft are in the controller’s area of responsibility. (A-07-XX)
Previously issued recommendations reiterated in this report:
  • Amend 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Section 91.129(i) to require that all runway crossings be authorized only by specific air traffic control clearance, and ensure that U.S. pilots, U.S. personnel assigned to move aircraft, and pilots operating under 14 CFR Part 129 receive adequate notification of the change. (A-00-67)
  • Amend FAA Order 7110.65, “Air Traffic Control,” to require that, when aircraft need to cross multiple runways, air traffic controllers issue an explicit crossing instruction for each runway after the previous runway has been crossed. (A-00-68)
  • Require that all 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 operators establish procedures requiring all crewmembers on the flight deck to positively confirm and cross-check the airplane’s location at the assigned departure runway before crossing the hold-short line for takeoff. (A-06-83)
  • Require that all 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 operators provide specific guidance to pilots on the runway lighting requirements for takeoff operations at night. (A-06-84)
The rest of the recommendations are about, or specifically addressed to, air traffic controller issues. See the synopsis report for details of those.

Remember: these are NTSB recommendations, not new regulations. It is now up to the FAA whether or not to implement or otherwise act upon the recommendations.

Readers who have opinions or observations about the accident or the NTSB's report are invited to share them in the comments section below this post. Should you not wish to be identified, you are welcome to comment anonymously.

Related: Click here to view all posts on this blog about Comair Flt 5191.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Pilot error cited as cause of Comair Flight 5191 accident

Comair logoBe prepared to hear a lot about 'sterile cockpit' rules during your next recurrent training. It's one of several topics that are likely to be emphasized in the wake of the synopsis report issued today by the NTSB on completion of their investigation of the crash of Comair Flight 5191 at LEX last August 27.

You'll recall that Comair Flight 5191, a CRJ-100, crashed at Bluegrass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky after taking off from the wrong runway. Forty-nine passengers and two crew members were lost. The only survivor was the first officer, who was critically injured.

Yesterday's NTSB report about the accident blames the flight crew for the accident cites "the flight crewmembers’ failure to use available cues and aids to identify the airplane’s location on the airport surface during taxi and their failure to cross‑check and verify that the airplane was on the correct runway before takeoff" as the probable cause.

The report also concludes that "the flight crew’s nonpertinent conversations during taxi, which resulted in a loss of positional awareness and the Federal Aviation Administration’s failure to require that all runway crossings be authorized only by specific air traffic control clearances" were contributing causes.

Here are all of the 28 specific conclusions published in the NTSB synopsis report [NTSB/AAR-07/05] issued earlier today:
  1. The captain and the first officer were properly certificated and qualified under Federal regulations. There was no evidence of any medical or behavioral conditions that might have adversely affected their performance during the accident flight. Before reporting for the accident flight, the flight crewmembers had rest periods that were longer than those required by Federal regulations and company policy.
  2. The accident airplane was properly certified, equipped, and maintained in accordance with Federal regulations. The recovered components showed no evidence of any structural, engine, or system failures.
  3. Weather was not a factor in this accident. No restrictions to visibility occurred during the airplane’s taxi to the runway and the attempted takeoff. The taxi and the attempted takeoff occurred about one hour before sunrise during night visual meteorological conditions and with no illumination from the moon.
  4. The captain and the first officer believed that the airplane was on runway 22 when they taxied onto runway 26 and initiated the takeoff roll.
  5. The flight crew recognized that something was wrong with the takeoff beyond the point from which the airplane could be stopped on the remaining available runway.
  6. Because the accident airplane had taxied onto and taken off from runway 26 without a clearance to do so, this accident was a runway incursion.
  7. Adequate cues existed on the airport surface and available resources were present in the cockpit to allow the flight crew to successfully navigate from the air carrier ramp to the runway 22 threshold.
  8. The flight crewmembers’ nonpertinent conversation during the taxi, which was not in compliance with Federal regulations and company policy, likely contributed to their loss of positional awareness.
  9. The flight crewmembers failed to recognize that they were initiating a takeoff on the wrong runway because they did not cross-check and confirm the airplane’s position on the runway before takeoff and they were likely influenced by confirmation bias.
  10. Even though the flight crewmembers made some errors during their preflight activities and the taxi to the runway, there was insufficient evidence to determine whether fatigue affected their performance.
  11. The flight crew’s noncompliance with standard operating procedures, including the captain’s abbreviated taxi briefing and both pilots’ nonpertinent conversation, most likely created an atmosphere in the cockpit that enabled the crew’s errors.
  12. The controller did not notice that the flight crew had stopped the airplane short of the wrong runway because he did not anticipate any problems with the airplane’s taxi to the correct runway and thus was paying more attention to his radar responsibilities than his tower responsibilities.
  13. The controller did not detect the flight crew’s attempt to take off on the wrong runway because, instead of monitoring the airplane’s departure, he performed a lower-priority administrative task that could have waited until he transferred responsibility for the airplane to the next air traffic control facility.
  14. The controller was most likely fatigued at the time of the accident, but the extent that fatigue affected his decision not to monitor the airplane’s departure could not be determined in part because his routine practices did not consistently include the monitoring of takeoffs.
  15. The FAA’s operational policies and procedures at the time of the accident were deficient because they did not promote optimal controller monitoring of aircraft surface operations.
  16. The first officer’s survival was directly attributable to the prompt arrival of the first responders; their ability to extricate him from the cockpit wreckage; and his rapid transport to the hospital, where he received immediate treatment.
  17. The emergency response for this accident was timely and well coordinated.
  18. A standard procedure requiring 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91K, 121, and 135 pilots to confirm and cross-check that their airplane is positioned at the correct runway before crossing the hold short line and initiating a takeoff would help to improve the pilots’ positional awareness during surface operations.
  19. The implementation of cockpit moving map displays or cockpit runway alerting systems on air carrier aircraft would enhance flight safety by providing pilots with improved positional awareness during surface navigation.
  20. Enhanced taxiway centerline markings and surface painted holding position signs provide pilots with additional awareness about the runway and taxiway environment.
  21. This accident demonstrates that 14 Code of Federal Regulations 91.129(i) might result in mistakes that have catastrophic consequences because the regulation allows an airplane to cross a runway during taxi without a pilot request for a specific clearance to do so.
  22. If controllers were required to delay a takeoff clearance until confirming that an airplane has crossed all intersecting runways to a departure runway, the increased monitoring of the flight crew’s surface navigation would reduce the likelihood of wrong runway takeoff events.
  23. If controllers were to focus on monitoring tasks instead of administrative tasks when aircraft are in the controller’s area of operations, the additional monitoring would increase the probability of detecting flight crew errors.
  24. Even though the air traffic manager’s decision to staff midnight shifts at Blue Grass Airport with one controller was contrary to Federal Aviation Administration verbal guidance indicating that two controllers were needed, it cannot be determined if this decision contributed to the circumstances of this accident.
  25. Due to an on-going construction project at Bluegrass Airport, the taxiway identifiers represented in the airport chart available to the crew was inaccurate and the information contained in a local NOTAM about the closure of taxiway Alpha was not made available to the crew via ATIS broadcast or in their flight release paperwork.
  26. The controller’s failure to ensure that the flight crew was aware of the altered taxiway, a configuration was likely not a factor in the crew’s inability to navigate to the correct runway.
  27. Because of the information in the local notice to airmen (NOTAM) about the altered taxiway, a configuration was not needed for the pilots’ wayfinding task. The absence of the local NOTAM from the flight release paperwork was not a factor in this accident.
  28. The presence of the extended taxiway centerline to taxiway A north of runway 8/26 was not a factor in this accident.
The NTSB synopsis report also set forth a number of safety recommendations arising from the above conclusions, which I will post tomorrow.

Related: Click here to view all posts on this blog about Comair Flt 5191.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

NTSB: Crew to blame for Comair Flight 5191 accident

Comair logoThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has concluded its investigation of the Comair Flight 5191 accident. Comair Flight 5191, a CRJ-100, crashed on takeoff from Bluegrass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky early on the morning of August 27, 2006. Forty-nine passengers and two crew members were lost. The only survivor was the first officer, who was critically injured.

Regarding probable cause, the synopsis of the NTSB's report on the Comair 5191 accident, issued today, concludes:
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the flight crewmembers’ failure to use available cues and aids to identify the airplane’s location on the airport surface during taxi and their failure to cross‑check and verify that the airplane was on the correct runway before takeoff.

Contributing to the accident were the flight crew’s nonpertinent conversations during taxi, which resulted in a loss of positional awareness and the Federal Aviation Administration’s failure to require that all runway crossings be authorized only by specific air traffic control clearances. [NTSB/AAR-07/05]
In addition to ruling on probable cause for the accident, the NTSB report also issued numerous safety recommendations for the FAA to consider -- some new, some reiterated. In summary, the safety recommendations focus on the need for:
  1. improved flight deck procedures
  2. the implementation of cockpit moving map displays or cockpit runway alerting systems
  3. improved airport surface marking standards
  4. ATC policy changes in the areas of taxi and takeoff clearances and task prioritization
A press release that announced the issuance of the NTSB's report quoted the NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker, who said, "This accident was caused by poor human performance. Forty-nine lives could have been saved if the flightcrew had been concentrating on the important task of operating the airplane in a safe manner."

The NTSB synopsis issued today will be followed at a later date by the Board's final report, which will include the Board’s rationale for the conclusions, probable cause, and safety recommendations.

Related: Click here to view all posts on this blog about Comair Flt 5191.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

NWA still short of pilots, cancellations continue

Northwest Airlines logoIt's definitely starting to sound like a case of "We told you so."

This week the news media are full of reports again about the relatively high number of cancellations of Northwest Airlines (NWA) flights in recent days. This is the second month in a row that this has happened, and the reason cited is a shortage of pilots.

The union representing NWA's pilots, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), says that if there is a shortage of pilots at Northwest, it is the airline's own fault, claiming that NWA laid off too many pilots as a cost-cutting measure during bankruptcy reorganization.

The pilots warned the airline that this would be a problem. A statement issued last month by the ALPA's NWA MEC about the understaffing problem at Northwest said, in part:
Representatives of the pilots' union forecasted the pilot shortage and advised management months in advance. Unfortunately for all NWA shareholders, this forecast was correct resulting in unnecessary hardships being placed on all NWA employees and customers.

NWA management could have prevented the staffing shortage by expeditiously recalling the 400 furloughed pilots not yet back to work. Instead, management decided to run the airline beyond redline during the summer months resulting in the current flight cancellations.

"First, management blames the weather and that didn't work, so now they are trying to blame the pilots," [NWA ALPA spokesman] Capt. Montgomery said. "It is unfortunate management continues to seek a confrontational relationship with Northwest employees."
An article in USA Today about the most recent wave of NWA flight cancellations reports:
After last month's cancellations, Northwest announced in late June that it is speeding up the recall and retraining of laid-off pilots, altering the way it schedules pilots' time each month, and adopting new procedures for accommodating affected travelers.

The airline also said it will reduce its flight schedule by 3% beginning in August to make sure its pilots don't run out of flight time before a month ends.
Northwest pilots worry that this is a case of too little, too late.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Video: So you want to be a regional airline pilot?

This video has been around for awhile -- it was first posted to YouTube by RookieJet last November -- but (sadly) its message still holds for many of the airlines it features, including the final warning that "in this biz, somebody will always do your job for cheaper."

Nice airplane photos, though!

If the video above doesn't display or play properly, you can view So you want to be a regional airline pilot? on the YouTube website.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Air Namibia cabin crew protest long work hours

Air NamibiaCabin crew at Air Namibia have petitioned their country's Ministry of Works to protest the long hours they say the airline is forcing them to work -- sometimes 48 hours at a stretch. They claim that current schedules do not give them enough time to rest between trips, and that safety is being compromised as a result.

Members of the Namibian Cabin Crew Union (NCCU) said that they took this formal action after their employer, Namibia's national flag carrier, would not listen to their concerns. NCCU claims that cost-cutting measures at Air Namibia have resulted in crews flying more hours, with a reduced number of crew members on board each flight.

An article on the AllAfrica.com news website quotes Ellaine Muinjo, President of the Namibian Cabin Crew Union, who said that Air Namibia crew do not get enough time for rest and this affects their performance. "There is no space for fatigue or mistakes. Should Air Namibia have one airline crash, then it is over for Air Namibia. As the frontline staff and the last ones to deal with Air Namibia's passengers who pay our salaries, we cannot jeopardize their safety," Muinjo said.

Air Namibia spokesman Ellison Hijarungu disputes the contentions of the cabin crew, claiming that crew rosters are optimally planned and managed.
Hijarunguru said crew flying on intercontinental routes such as Windhoek to London get an average rest of three and half hours in a specially designed and isolated crew rest area.

Once they reach their destination, he said, they are booked into upmarket hotels to rest for a minimum of 12 hours.

He said upon returning home the same crewmembers get three to four days off before their next flights.

"It remains a simple fact that no Air Namibia crew member has flown or operated and will operate for 48 hours before retiring for the mandatory rest at any given time," Hijarunguru said.
The NCCU president disagrees, saying that crew operating on overseas routes are on duty for at least 13 hours and rest "a few hours" before heading back in the opposite direction.

A related article about the Air Namibia cabin crew protest on Afriquenligne, mentioned the concern among crew members that compromising safety standards could ultimately result in the Air Namibia being blacklisted in markets such as the European Union (EU).

Air Namibia is wholly owned and operated by the Namibian government.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Video: Drag-racing B747s

Yesterday I decided to spend a little time cruising around on YouTube, just to see what's new. I never did get to the new stuff, though. I got sidetracked looking at a few older videos that I had bookmarked quite awhile ago.

This one -- posted on YouTube back in April of 2006 by cm8hadsptc -- still makes me laugh. It shows a couple of imaginary pilots drag-racing their B747s at an airport -- and turning a few doughnuts along the way, too!

In case the video doesn't display or play properly here, you can watch Digital Airline Racers on the YouTube website.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Lufthansa's economy 'Sleepers Class' idea for long-haul routes

Sleepers ClassGet a load of this: German flag carrier Lufthansa is exploring the idea of an all-sleeper configuration for economy-class cabins on long-haul flights, according to an article on FlightGlobal.com. The airline reportedly has sent an email survey to some customers asking their opinion about this concept:
The airline has generated a conceptual image of the proposed ‘Sleepers Class’ cabin, showing a possible arrangement featuring fully lie-flat bunks stacked three-high in a herringbone layout on either side of the cabin, with additional berths in a wide central aisle.

Star Alliance member Lufthansa is considering the sleeper-cabin for specific intercontinental services – possibly overnight flights, such as those to Johannesburg, Sao Paulo and Shanghai – although the carrier says that it has not progressed to the stage of examining potential specific routes.

Under the scheme a passenger would opt to book a bed for the flight rather than a regular economy-class seat. It is unclear whether the beds would convert from a seating layout.

A spokeswoman for Lufthansa confirms that the airline is formally looking into the idea, and running a customer survey, although she adds: “Of course there’s no final decision yet. There are, as such, no certain plans whether or not to realise an idea like this.”
Looks sorta like an airborne bunkhouse or hostel to me. Would passengers like to be stowed on multiple layers like that? It might add a whole new dimension to all the jokes about pax as 'SLF' (Self-Loading Freight).

I have to admit that one of the first thoughts that popped into my head when I saw the photo was what the implications would be for an emergency evacuation. Other safety-related questions come to mind as well. Do the berths convert to upright seats for takeoff and landing? And what if a passenger fell from an upper berth during turbulence?

What do you think?

[Photo Source]

Friday, July 20, 2007

Freighter accident at Culiacan, Mexico claims nine lives

Culiacan accidentTwo pilots and a mechanic lost their lives in an aircraft accident in northwestern Mexico earlier this month. In addition to the three crew members, six people on the ground also were killed. The aircraft was destroyed. The accident occurred on the morning of July 5, 2007 at Culiacán, State of Sinaloa.

The aircraft, a North American T39A 'Sabreliner' (Mexican registration XA-TFL), was operated by Jet Paquetería (D.B.A. Domestic Cargo Operator). According to an NTSB factual report about the accident, the aircraft was departing on a cargo flight from Runway 02 at the Culiacán Airport (CUL). The pilot flying apparently lost control during the takeoff roll.
According to authorities, the pilot lost control of the twin-jet airplane following a reported failure of a tire on the right main landing gear during the takeoff roll. The airplane overran the departure end of the 7,546-foot long runway, went through the airport perimeter fence, crossed a highway, colliding with two vehicles and a wall. A post-impact fire consumed most of the airframe.
News reports about the accident say that an additional five individuals were hospitalized for burns and other injuries.

A news article (in Spanish) on Noroeste.com.mx identified the deceased crew members as Jaromir Schindler González, Roberto Daniel Aguilar, and Óscar Pulido. Another article on the same website notes that this was the third accident for Jet Paquetería since December of 2006.

[Photo Source]

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Stowaway's remains found on United plane at San Francisco

The remains of an apparent stowaway from China were found in the nosegear bay of a United Airlines Boeing 747 at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) today. The discovery was made by ramp personnel this morning during a post-flight inspection. The aircraft, operating as United Flight 858, had just arrived at SFO from Shanghai.

The San Mateo County Coroner's office was notified, and the aircraft was temporarily impounded until the remains were removed from the scene several hours later.

An article on SFGate.com about this most recent stowaway incident says that, "counting Thursday's victim, the Federal Aviation Administration has tallied 75 similar stowaway attempts on 65 flights worldwide since 1947." Fifty-nine of those attempts have ended in death.
"People think they can make it into a country by hiding in a wheel well," [FAA spokesman Ian] Gregor said. "Almost invariably they get crushed to death, freeze to death, or fall to death."
There have been several other recent instances of stowaways in the gear bays of commercial aircraft, including two discovered at U.S. airports in January of this year. This is the first such discovery at SFO in years, according to the San Jose Mercury News:
The last time a stowaway was found dead in a wheel well at San Francisco airport was 2001, when the body of a 19-year-old native of Zaire was discovered on a US Airways Flight. The flight originated in London and made a stop in Pittsburgh - where the body was not found during a post-flight inspection - before arriving in San Francisco.
An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow to determine the exact cause of unfortunate man's death.

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

AeroRepublica E-190 accident at Santa Marta, Colombia

AeroRepublica accidentAn Embraer 190 aircraft operated by AeroRepública overran the runway and went into the Caribbean Sea yesterday afternoon at Santa Marta, in northwestern Colombia. Flight 7330 had just arrived on a scheduled flight from Cali with five crew and 54 passengers on board. All were evacuated from the aircraft using emergency slides. Although several individuals (some news reports say seven, others say 6) received injuries that required medical attention, there were no fatalities.

An AFP article about the accident (plus photo) published by The Age in Australia reported a passenger's brief account of what had occurred:
One of the passengers, Antonio Jose Valencia, said the accident happened on the second landing attempt, when the plane touched down halfway down the runway.

"The runway was wet, and with all that wind the plane could not stop and went straight before turning on its side with its nose ending up in the water," he said.
FlightGlobal.com's report about the AeroRepública accident notes that the aircraft, registration number HK-4455, entered service with the airline this past January.

[Photo Source]

TAM releases names of Flight JJ 3054 crew

TAM Linhas Aereas SA has released the names of the crew members who were lost when Flight JJ 3054, an A320 arriving from Porto Alegre, crashed at São Paulo's Congonhas Airport yesterday. They are:
  • Pilots
  • Flight Attendants
In addition to the crew, these TAM employees were on board Flight JJ 3054 as passengers:
Condolences to the families of these individuals, and to the entire staff and management of TAM on this tragic loss.

For further updates in both English and Portuguese: TAM Informa

UPDATE July 18, 2007: A TAM press release lists employees, believed to have been at the cargo terminal at the time of the accident, who are missing: Marcos A. L. Curti; Antonio Gualberto Filho; Elaine Tavares da Silva; Ana Paula Camargo; Alexandre L. Catussatto; Aldeniz Pedro de Lima.

Employee Michele Dias Miranda passed away at the hospital.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

TAM Airbus A320 accident in Sao Paulo, Brazil

TAMNews media are reporting that an Airbus A320 aircraft operated by Brazilian carrier TAM has been involved in an accident at Congonhas - São Paulo International Airport (CGH). Few reliable details about what happened are available at this point, except to say that the aircraft had just landed after a domestic flight from Porto Alegre in southern Brazil, when it apparently overran the runway, crossed a highway, crashed into buildings, and caught fire.

News reports vary as to exactly how many souls were on board, but initial reports suggest that the number may be at least 150. Some stories also suggest that people in or near the buildings into which the aircraft crashed may have been injured, but there is no official word on casualties or survivors at this time.

There is some early video of the accident scene on the CNN website.

I will post details or new developments as they are confirmed.

UPDATE July 17, 2007: It has been confirmed by officials at TAM Linhas Aereas SA, that the flight number of the accident aircraft was TAM Flight JJ 3054 from Porto Alegre to São Paulo, and that there were a total of 170 passengers and six crew on board. TAM airlines said relatives of those who may have been aboard the flight can call the Brazil toll-free number 0800 117900 for information. The airline promises to post updates on its TAM Informa page as more when more information becomes available.

Monday, July 16, 2007

United actively recruiting new pilots

United AirlinesLast month I mentioned that United Airlines would soon begin to accept pilot applications. 'Soon' has become 'now.' A pilot recruiting page is now open on United's website.

Today United Airlines issued a press release to announce that they would begin accepting pilot applications. United intends to conduct its new pilot recruiting effort entirely on line. If you are interested, visit http://united.com/pilot.

According to the information posted on United's website, the airline is looking for applicants with a minimum experience of 1500 hours TT - Fixed Wing; 1000 hours of Multi-engine (PIC) or Military fighter/trainer (PIC); 500 hours Turbine Time. United only considers pilot time in fixed wing aircraft toward minimum qualifications. See the website for additional qualification requirements.

This is the first time that United has recruited new pilots since 2001. Once selected, new hire pilots will begin training at United's state-of-the-art Flight Training Center in Denver as early as October and will be flying by the end of the year.

Good luck to all of the applicants.

[Image Source]

Sunday, July 15, 2007

It's a bird, it'a a plane, it's... a lawn chair?!

ballonsThink of stories about spectacular balloon flights and you probably think of Steve Fossett. Think again, and meet Kent Couch, a 47 year old gas station owner from Oregon. Last weekend he 'flew' a distance of 193 miles in nine hours in his lawn chair, which was attached to 105 helium-filled balloons.

I'm not making this up!

According to a story about the incredible flying lawn chair on CNN:
With instruments to measure his altitude and speed, a global positioning system device in his pocket, and about four plastic bags holding five gallons of water each to act as ballast -- he could turn a spigot, release water and rise -- Couch headed into the Oregon sky.

Nearly nine hours later, the 47-year-old gas station owner came back to earth in a farmer's field near Union, short of Idaho but about 193 miles from home.
This was Couch's second flying lawn chair adventure. Last September he made a six-hour flight. That time he used a BB gun to pop the balloons to control his ascent -- but ended up having to parachute to the ground. This time he tried a configuration that allowed him to release some helium from the balloons without resorting to shooting them!
Couch decided to stop when he was down to a gallon of water and just eight pounds of ballast. Concerned about the rugged terrain outside La Grande, including Hells Canyon, he decided it was time to land.

He popped enough balloons to set the craft down, although he suffered rope burns. But after he jumped out, the wind grabbed his chair, with his video recorder, and the remaining balloons and swept them away. He's hoping to get them back some day.
We do hope he gets the video recorder back. Meanwhile there is some photographic documentation of the flight: Brandon Wilcox, owner of Professional Air at the Bend airport, flew a plane nearby while Couch traveled and took photos of the flying lawn chair.

File this post under "aircraft: odd."

[Photo Source]

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Dedicated airports for private jets in India: Coming soon?

business jetWe've been hearing for some time about the recent explosive growth of commercial aviation in India. There are down sides to this rapid growth, ranging from an acute shortage of pilots to serious congestion at major airports.

Contributing to the airport congestion problem is a parallel growth in the number of corporate aircraft and business jet charters in India. This trend is not likely to subside, as it reflects a worldwide increase in business aviation.

FlightGlobal.com reports that one solution to the airport congestion problem under consideration is to dedicate some airports in major cities in India solely for the use of private jets.
Industry sources say that private jets account for about 10% of the landings in Mumbai and New Delhi and 5% in Bangalore. "These occupy parking space and longer runway time to take off. So for the sake of a few passengers, thousands are held up," says [civil aviation ministry secretary K.N.] Shrivastava.

Having separate facilities for charter operators would ease the pressure on existing airports, which are already bursting at the seams trying to cope with the rapid expansion of the commercial aviation market over the past few years.

It would also be good news for private jet operators, which would benefit from lower landing and associated costs at secondary airports.

There would also be dedicated customs and immigration facilities for passengers, especially since there are no fixed-base operations in the country.
FlightGlobal.com's sources say that Juhu, on the outskirts of Mumbai, has been identified as the first location and that areas around Bangalore, Chennai and New Delhi are being considered as well. Some doubt, however, that the civil aviation ministry would be willing to allocate funds for the development of airports for this purpose, since they would benefit relatively few users. Another idea being considered would be to allow private companies with experience in business aviation to lease and operate airports dedicated to business aviation.

In any case, something needs to be done about the reported shortage of parking spaces, hangars and services for business aircraft in India. The growth trend in that sector of the industry is not likely to abate any time soon.

[Photo Source]

Friday, July 13, 2007

NTSB classifies FLL runway incursion as 'pilot deviation'

NTSBYesterday I posted a brief item here about a runway incursion incident at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) earlier this week. This morning the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a preliminary synopsis of the incident. I must say, it's a chilling report:
On July 11, 2007, at 1437 Eastern daylight time a runway incursion occurred at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport, (FLL), Fort Lauderdale, Florida between United (UAL) flight 1544, an A-320 and Delta Airlines (DAL) flight 1489, a Boeing 757. The incident occurred in day visual flight rules conditions, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds at 4,800 feet.

The FLL ground controller (GC) instructed UAL1544 to taxi to runway 9L via taxiways T7, D, and B. As the flight was taxiing on taxiway D near runway 9L, the tower local controller (LC) noticed the airplane was going too fast to hold short of the runway. LC told the GC to tell UAL to stop. The GC said "UAL 1544 stop, stop, stop". The crew stopped on runway 9L, 30 feet from the centerline.

DAL1489 was inbound for landing on runway 9L when LC determined that UAL1544 was not going to hold short of the runway. LC instructed DAL1489 to go around. When the crew received the instruction, the main landing gear was on the ground. According to the crew statement, they noted the urgency in the controller's voice so they knew they had to get the aircraft airborne. FAA reported DAL1489 flew over UAL1544 by less than 100 feet.

According to the FAA, the UAL crew stated they missed the turn onto taxiway B. [NTSB ID: OPS07IA006A]
A press release I received by email from the NTSB also states:
Fort Lauderdale International Airport is not equipped with either a ground safety system such as an Airport Movement Area Safety System or Airport Surveillance
Detection Equipment.

The United crew stated that they missed the turn onto taxiway B. The FAA has classified this incident as a pilot deviation.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

FLL runway incursion on July 11, 2007

An article in the Miami Herald  reports that two aircraft came within 100 feet of colliding at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) yesterday.

According to the article, Delta Flight 1489, inbound from ATL, was on approach to FLL when a plane operated by United Airlines "missed its turn onto a taxiway and entered the runway where the other was about to land." The Delta flight executed a go-around. United Flight 1544 subsequently departed for Washington-Dulles without further incident.

The Miami Herald article notes:
The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport had three runway incursions during the 12 months that ended May 31, according to FAA records. Two were blamed on pilot error and the third was ruled an air traffic control error. Nationwide, the FAA reported 330 runway incursions in fiscal year 2006.
The FAA is investigating the incident.

UPDATE: Here is the link to the NTSB factual report on this incident: The NTSB has classified this incident as a 'pilot deviation.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Photos: Contrails, clouds, vortices and such

Bloggers Avi and Rachel Abrams, who run an eclectic blog called Dark Roasted Blend, recently posted a collection of photos that I'm sure anyone interested in aviation would enjoy. Drawn from various sources, the photos are of jet contrails, vortices, condensation clouds, and similar aviation eye candy.

Go and have a look at "Jets & Clouds" Effects. Then, as long as you're there, click on the airplanes category label near the top of the page. Lots of cool stuff to look at. Enjoy.

(And no, I don't know why they named their blog Dark Roasted Blend.)

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Glasgow airport terrorist had aviation connection

Kafeel AhmedThe man believed to have been the driver of the burning Jeep Cherokee that was intentionally crashed into the Glasgow Airport terminal building on June 30, 2007 reportedly has -- or had -- a connection to the aviation industry. The man, identified as 27-year old Kafeel Ahmed, had worked in Bangalore, India at a company called Infotech, a large outsourcing firm.

According to the New York Times, Kafeel Ahmed worked as an aeronautical engineer at Infotech between December 2005 and July 2006. Infotech's clients in the aviation industry include Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, and Pratt & Whitney. In a telephone interview with a New York Times reporter, a company spokesman declined to name the clients whose projects Mr. Ahmed worked on while employed at Infotech. It was noted that "there has been no suggestion that Mr. Ahmed did anything untoward while at Infotech."

Kafeel Ahmed, who suffered burns to over 90% of his body as a result of his actions at Glasgow, remains in critical condition at Glasgow Royal Infirmary's burn unit. He is not expected to survive.

Ahmed's 26-year old brother Sabeel, a medical doctor, is among eight suspects being detained in connection with the failed car bomb plot. According to an  article published in the International Herald Tribune, Sabeel Ahmed is being held in Liverpool.

Kafeel Ahmed's alleged accomplice in the Glasgow incident, 27-year old medical doctor Bilal Abdullah, was arrested at the scene and is so far the only suspect who has been charged. The Cambridge Evening News reported on the proceedings at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in central London this past Saturday morning, during which Bilal Abdullah was formally charged:
The court clerk told him: "The charge against you is that between January 1 and July 1 this year within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court, you unlawfully and maliciously conspired with others to cause explosions of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property in the United Kingdom."

Abdulla, 27, stood in the dock while the charge, which carries a maximum life sentence, was read out to him but had earlier failed to stand when District Judge Anthony Evans entered the room.
The Cambridge Evening News article says that Abdullah was charged under the 1883 Explosive Substances Act.

[Photo Source]

Monday, July 09, 2007

Spirit Airlines pilots claim contract violations

Spirit AirlinesPilots at Spirit Airlines are angry. They claim that the airline's management is forcing pilots to work longer hours on international routes in violation of contractual limits. Worse yet, the pilots are not being appropriately compensated.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the union representing the pilots, explains the situation for pilots at Spirit Airlines:
Spirit pilots stepped up to help the company with a concessionary contract in 2003 that was designed to allow Spirit to survive and grow. At that time the Company demanded that Caribbean and Latin American flying be treated as domestic flying, thereby allowing the company to avoid paying international overrides to pilots performing such assignments. To protect pilots from fatigue and enhance the safety of Spirit operations, the union insisted that in agreeing with the demands, the company had to follow domestic hours of service rules, which are more restrictive than international hours of service rules. This system has worked for more than three years.

Now, in the face of its self-inflicted staffing shortage, Spirit management insists that it can require pilots flying into the Caribbean or Latin America to perform additional flying pursuant to international hours of service rules, but still deny them the international override.

“This is a case of the company wishing to have its cake and it eat too,” said Captain Matt Nowell, head of Spirit ALPA unit, “but our pilots are not interested in being played for saps in this fashion and ALPA will fight this absurd violation in every forum necessary, seeking full redress for any member affected.”

Along with demanding that pilots fly additional hours under international rules while refusing to pay for it, Spirit Airlines management is also circumventing the union and its contract on the domestic front by trying to persuade Spirit pilots, who already fly more than most legacy carriers, to risk fatigue by flying more. The Spirit pilots’ contract contains specific limits on how many times you can be ordered to fly when you are not scheduled to do so (i.e. junior manned). The company is trying to persuade pilots to circumvent these limits and ALPA by offering pay incentives not negotiated with the union.
ALPA says that "it is disappointing that Spirit Airlines has followed the example of Northwest Airlines’ recent fiasco with respect to inadequate staffing and pressuring pilots to bypass contractual protections and limits."

Contract negotiations between Spirit Airlines and the pilots' union have been underway for more than 10 months.

[Photo Source]

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight deck

B787 flight deckThe long-awaited Boeing 787 Dreamliner debuts today. If you've been wondering what the flight deck will be like, Boeing tells us that it will be very similar to the Boeing 777 -- at least from an operational standpoint.
...Pilots who fly the 777 will need only five days of training to be ready to fly the 787. Airlines that use "mixed fleet flying," scheduling pilots to fly more than one kind of airplane, will find that the 777 and 787 are effectively configured for such operations.
But "similar" doesn't mean "identical." Check out these features:
The new flight deck features much larger display screens than previously seen in airplanes. The five 12-by-9.1-inch screens offer 546 square inches of display space -- twice that of the Boeing 777 -- allowing pilots access to more information.

Other key features of the new 787 flight deck are the dual head-up displays (HUDs) and dual electronic flight bag. Boeing has offered HUDs and electronic flight bags on other models but with the 787 they are standard features. HUDs display information on clear screens mounted at eye level so the pilots can see flight data while looking out the windows. Electronic flight bags are the digital equivalent of the pilot's flight bag and include maps, charts, manuals and other data.


The 787 offers new information formats including an airport moving map for safer ground taxi operations and a vertical situation display to give a graphic rendering of approaching terrain profiles.
(And how about those space-age looking seatbacks??)

If you'd like a print of the photo of the B787 Dreamliner flight deck above, you can order one from Boeing -- but you'll have to wait a bit for delivery since it's temporarily out of stock.

Meanwhile, here's another article about the Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight deck, with a close-up photo to look at.

[Photo Source]

Boeing 787 Dreamliner debuts today

Today is one of those days that airplane enthusiasts around the world have been waiting for. The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner will roll out of the Boeing plant at Everett, Washington for the first time.

The event is scheduled to take place a few hours from now. You can watch a live broadcast of the event on satellite TV, or on line via a special page on the Boeing website.

For a look at last minute preparations (with photos) for the 787's debut, have a look at Randy's Journal, a blog written by Randy Tinseth who is Boeing's marketing vice president for Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Seattle.

[Photo Source]

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Emirates recruiting cabin crew worldwide

Emirates cabin crewEmirates Airlines, based in Dubai, is the fastest growing airline in the world. According to a recent article in the International Herald Tribune about Emirates' expansion plans, the airline will take delivery of one new Boeing or Airbus plane a month for the next five years. Among these will the 55 super-jumbo A380s that have been ordered.

All of this rapid expansion means increased job opportunities for crew at Emirates. If you are thinking about seeking employment as cabin crew with a large international carrier, you may want to consider Emirates. In order to qualify, you must have at least a high school education, and have fluency in both written and spoken English. You must be at least 21 years of age at the time of application. All Emirates cabin crew are based in Dubai.

This month Emirates will be holding recruitment sessions in Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Egypt, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore and Slovakia. Visit the Cabin Crew page of the Emirates recruiting website for more information, or to submit your application on line.

[Photo Source]

Friday, July 06, 2007

NTSB investigation: Cessna Citation crash into Lake Michigan

NTSBThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued its first update on the crash of a medical flight into Lake Michigan on the afternoon of June 4, 2007. The two crew members and four passengers who were on board the Cessna Citation II 550 were lost when the aircraft crashed into Lake Michigan shortly after departure from General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The accident aircraft was operated by Marlin Air.

The new NTSB advisory provides the following details about the flight:
A review of air traffic control (ATC) voice communications and recorded radar data revealed that the flight crew reported an emergency and their intention to return to MKE shortly after takeoff. During those communications, one of the flight crew members reported that they had experienced a runaway trim. In a later transmission, a pilot was heard telling the other pilot to hold the airplane's controls so that he could pull circuit breakers.

Initial examination of the radar data shows the airplane departing MKE and executing a climbing right turn to a northeast heading. The airplane's initial climb lasted for approximately one minute at which time the airplane leveled off for approximately 16 seconds at a pressure altitude of 3,900 feet. The airplane then began another climb at 1,300 feet per minute. This climb lasted for about 30 seconds at which time the airplane's pressure altitude was 4,400 feet. The radar data then shows the airplane in a descending left turn for the remaining 69 seconds of the data. The average descent rate during this period was 2,260 feet per minute. The last radar return shows the airplane at 1,800 feet pressure altitude. The wreckage debris field was located less than 0.2 nautical miles southeast of the last radar return.
The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) was recovered and sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory in Washington, DC.
The CVR's case was severely damaged, but information from the accident flight could be extracted. The information indicated that the flight crew had difficulty with the directional control of the airplane shortly after takeoff. A CVR Group was formed, and a complete transcript of the 30-minute recording is being developed.
Wreckage from the aircraft was recovered from Lake Michigan and was taken to a facility near Poplar Grove, Illinois for examination.
The subsequent wreckage examination performed by the NTSB revealed pitch, roll, and yaw trim settings that were not in the neutral position. The Board will continue to assess the significance of these settings. Various flight control components and avionics units have been harvested for further testing and examination.
The NTSB advisory states that an aircraft performance study is being developed with information from the CVR, radar data, and flight control positions to describe the motions of the airplane during the accident flight. Additionally, plans are being developed to utilize a Cessna Citation II flight simulator to further explore possible failure scenarios.

The aircraft was operating as a 14 CFR Part 135 air medical flight for the University of Michigan Health System. It was en route from Milwaukee to Willow Run Airport, Ypsilanti at the time of the accident.

The two pilots lost in the accident have been identified as Dennis Hoyes, 65, and Bill Serra, 59. (Links go to their obituaries in the Detroit News.) The four passengers were part of a University of Michigan organ transplant team. Condolences to their families and friends.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Fatal Cessna Caravan crash in Galway, western Ireland

A Cessna Caravan has crashed in western Ireland at about 2:45PM local time, after reportedly "missing the runway" at Aerphort na Minna in Connemara in County Galway. The airport is on the Atlantic coast, about 25 km west of the city of Galway. According to the BBC, local authorities at the scene have confirmed that two of the people who were on board have died. At least two others are reported to be in serious condition at Galway Regional Hospital.

The single engine aircraft, a Cessna 208D registered in the United States, reportedly had eight passengers and one pilot on board, and was making a return trip from Inishmaan, an island off the Galway coast. The Irish Times is reporting that the cockpit of the aircraft was completely destroyed by the impact, and that a number of people had to be cut from the wreckage by rescuers. Nevertheless, three people were reported to have been able walk away from the crash.

An article about the Galway crash, published by the International Herald Tribune, notes that "Ireland's weather forecasters, Met Eireann, said winds were gusting up to 70kph (45mph) Thursday."

The airport was closed immediately after the accident. Crash investigators from the Air Accident Investigative Unit of the Department of Transport have arrived at the scene.

Here is a link to a photo of the intact aircraft taken in January of 2006 and posted on Airliners.net.

UPDATE July 6, 2007: Authorities in Ireland have released the names of the two who perished in the Caravan crash yesterday. They are Matthew Masterson of Dublin, who was the pilot, and Paul McNamee of County Galway, who was a passenger. Condolences to their families and friends.

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Continental pilots to begin contract talks

Continental Airlines logoRepresentatives of Continental Airlines and its pilots' union met earlier this week to sign a Protocol Agreement, as a first step toward new contract negotiations. According to the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the union representing Continental's pilots, the agreement outlines the schedule, location and agenda for talks about the non-economic contract issues. Without the agreement, discussions on changes to the current contract would not have started until April 2008.

ALPA issued these comments about the Protocol Agreement in a press release:
“We’re encouraged to see Continental’s management take this forward thinking approach in working with its pilots,” said Capt. Jay Pierce, chairman of the union’s Negotiating Committee. “By agreeing to start talking about the non-economic portions of our contract now, we will help to ensure that we have plenty of time to thoroughly discuss and refine all areas of the contract. Starting the process now allows us an opportunity to address issues that otherwise might get less attention.”

Added Capt. Tom Donaldson, chairman of the Continental Master Executive Council, the governing body of the Continental pilots’ union, “Continental Airlines management has shown that it is interested in working with its pilots in a way that other airlines are not. Working with employee groups and not against them is one of the best ways, we believe, of contributing to an airline’s success.”

“Open, honest and direct communication with our pilots, and all of our work groups, is part of our culture at Continental,” said Capt. Fred Abbott, vice president flight operations. “We look forward to continuing and even strengthening the mutually beneficial, cooperative relationship we already have with our pilots.”
The union had asked the airline in May to begin contract discussions early so that the process can be completed by the contract’s amendable date, Dec. 31, 2008.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Dominican Republic safety rating raised by FAA

Dominican RepubllicThe U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced today that "the Dominican Republic complies with international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), following a reassessment of the country’s civil aviation authority on April 27, 2007."

Quoting from an FAA press release:
The Dominican Republic’s safety rating was raised from Category 2 to Category 1. A Category 1 rating means the country’s civil aviation authority complies with ICAO standards. A Category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority — equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters — is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, recordkeeping or inspection procedures.

As part of the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program, the agency assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that operate or might be authorized to fly to the United States and makes that information available to the public. The assessments determine whether or not foreign civil aviation authorities are meeting ICAO safety standards, not FAA regulations.

With the IASA Category 1 rating, Dominican carriers could apply to operate their own aircraft to the United States, which they currently do not. Countries with air carriers that fly to the United States must adhere to the safety standards of ICAO, the United Nations’ technical agency for aviation that establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance.
[Photo Source]

Monday, July 02, 2007

All Indonesian airlines banned by EU

EUAll 51 airlines registered in Indonesia -- including national flag carrier Garuda -- have been banned by the European Union (EU) from its airspace due to safety concerns. The ban, which was announced late last week, will go into effect on July 6, 2007.

A Reuters article about the EU ban quotes Nadjib Riphat Kesoema, Indonesian ambassador to the EU, who said Indonesian airlines were safe and he hoped the EU would rethink its decision at a meeting of air safety experts in October.
"It is our commitment and our determination to have safety in our civil aviation," he told Reuters. "We hope that the European Union can also give us the opportunity to improve."

But the EU official said Indonesian authorities initially ignored warnings of the ban and came to Brussels too late to avert it. "When they finally showed up, they even could not tell us how many planes their carriers operate."
Since no Indonesian carriers fly to Europe at present, so some may think that the newly announced ban has no meaning. Think again. Reuters points out some practical implications of the ban for European travelers:
Tourist agencies across the 27-nation EU will be obliged to inform customers that Indonesian airlines are on the blacklist if they continue to sell package tours involving their services on the Indonesian archipelago of over 17,000 islands.

Travelers who have already bought holidays involving the use of Indonesian carriers will be able to give them up and claim reimbursement, or expect travel agents to offer them an alternative, safe airline.
For its part, Indonesia has just signed an agreement with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), under which "Indonesia pledged to enact laws to support effective safety oversight, to ensure the required level of financial and human resources, and to correct shortcomings identified during internal and external audits," according to a Reuters article published today on Airwise.com.
"Indonesia must act quickly and decisively to regain the confidence of the world aviation community and the traveling public," ICAO president Roberto Kobeh Gonzales told the conference on the resort island.

Gonzales said part of the problem stemmed from recent exponential growth of airlines and passengers in Indonesia.

"This has exerted tremendous financial, technical, legal and political pressure on your ability to keep pace with the demands of a rapidly expanding market," he said.
Transport safety in Indonesia has been in the spotlight this year, after a series of accidents -- most notably the loss of an Adam Air flight on New Year's Day, and the crash of a Garuda flight at Yogyakarta -- exposed systematic shortcomings in aviation safety practices.

Several months ago, The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a strongly worded statement regarding what the FAA saw as Indonesia's non-compliance with established air safety standards.