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]

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Increase in business jet deliveries forecast for 2007 and 2008

Bombardier Challenger 605Deliveries of business jets in 2007 will reach a record high for the fourth year in a row. More than 1,000 business jets are forecast to be delivered by the end of the current year, up from 861 in 2006. But this year's record will be topped as well in 2008, when some 1,300 business jets are expected to be delivered.

A Reuters news agency report about the recent upsurge in private jet sales cites a forecast by Honeywell International, "derived from interviews with 1,400 flight departments at companies around the world, mixed with information from plane makers and an assessment of general economic conditions." Honeywell sells cockpit electronics, engines and power units for business jets, so the company has a need to keep a finger on the pulse of the market for these aircraft.

An article about the Honeywell forecast in London's Financial Times notes that while the number of executive jets purchased in the United States has declined a little, demand in many other parts of the world has increased. Quoting the Honeywell report, the Financial Times article says, "International buyers now account for about 50 per cent of the new aircraft deliveries projected over the next five years."

The aerospace companies that stand to benefit most from the surge in business jet sales include Canada's Bombardier and France's Dassault Aviation, as well as US-based companies such as Gulfstream, Cessna, and Hawker Beechcraft.

All of this is very good news for crews around the world who fly these types of aircraft.

[Photo Source]

Monday, September 24, 2007

BE 18 crashes next to Interstate-95 near Ft Lauderdale

Beechcraft Model 18Several days ago, a Beechcraft 18 crash landed near an interstate highway shortly after takeoff from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE). The pilot, identified by news media as 34 year old Robert Robertson, had just left FXE en route to Nassau in the Bahamas when the accident happened. The small cargo aircraft crashed next to I-95, just a half mile from the airport in Florida. The pilot was seriously injured. He was alone aboard the aircraft at the time of the accident.

The FAA's preliminary accident report lists damage to the aircraft as "substantial," but a photo of the wreckage that accompanied an article about the Beechcraft accident on suggests it may have been a total loss. According to FAA records, the aircraft was registered to the Monarch Air Group in Palm City, FL.

While the cause of the accident has yet to be officially determined, quoted a local official who said the pilot "told the medics [who assisted him at the accident scene] the engine cut out on take-off." The pilot reportedly radioed a mayday to air traffic control within minutes after taking off. "The aircraft wasn't gaining altitude," said a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration. "Then, it went down."

UPDATE: An article about this accident on South Florida news website states that the pilot's condition has been upgraded from 'critical' to 'serious.' He suffered suffered head, arm and leg injuries. Best wishes to him for a quick and complete recovery.

The Sun-Sentinel article also has an embedded video with TV news footage of the accident scene.

UPDATE October 11, 2007: The NTSB preliminary report about this accident has been made public. Here's the link: NTSB Identification: NYC07FA234.

[Photo Source]

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Flight attendant provisions in the FAA Reauthorization Act

Seal of the US CongressLast week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007, H.R.2881, by a vote of 267-151. The legislation includes a number of provisions of interest to flight attendants in the United States.

The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) issued a news release about the legislation that summarizes the main points that affect flight attendants.
There are several important provisions included in the FAA Reauthorization that AFA-CWA has repeatedly requested for years.

For the first time in over 30 years, a requirement for workplace safety and health protections for flight attendants was finally recognized. Flight attendants suffer numerous occupational injuries and illnesses while working aboard commercial flights at rates several times higher than those for all private industry workers, yet are not covered under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines.

The FAA Reauthorization also states that the FAA must institute a HIMS, or "Return to the Cabin" Program, that will allow flight attendants an opportunity for rehabilitation after testing positive for drug or alcohol abuse.

The House also instructed the FAA to complete studies on flight attendant fatigue and continue sampling and analyzing onboard cabin air.

The FAA must also initiate a study of actual onboard temperatures to determine if regulations are necessary to mandate standard temperatures onboard aircraft.

Protection for seniority integration in case of an airline merger was also included. This provision will help to ensure that, in the event of an airline merger, all employees are treated fairly and one group is not stapled to the bottom of the merged seniority list.

Additionally, the bill mandates that airlines must notify passengers upon ticket purchase if their aircraft is subject to pesticide spraying.
Also of interest, an amendment to the bill (H.AMDT.808) asks the Secretary of Transportation "to issue regulations requiring air carriers to provide initial and annual recurring training for flight attendants and gate attendants regarding serving alcohol, dealing with disruptive passengers, and recognizing intoxicated persons. The training must include situational training on methods of handling an intoxicated person who is belligerent."

The U.S. Senate will consider this legislation some time next month. If the legislation passes the Senate as well, it will be presented to President Bush for his signature.

Friday, September 21, 2007

AirTran pilots reject contract

AirTran Airways logoPilots at AirTran Airways have voted to reject a tentative labor agreement reached last month. The Reuters news agency reported that the pilots, represented by the National pilots Association, voted 788 to 496 against the contract.

An article in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the pilots' decision noted that nearly 90% of the union's roughly 1,500 members had voted. At issue, in addition to pay, were scheduling and other work rules in the proposed contract.
The result sends the airline and its union back to the drawing board after more than two years of negotiating. The National Mediation Board, which stepped into the contentious talks more than a year ago, has put any further talks on hold until after Jan. 1, the union said in a statement.

"We're disappointed that they've rejected this deal that represents more than two and a half years of work and negotiation," said AirTran spokesman Dave Hirschman. He said the airline thought it had "addressed the outstanding issues" that concerned the pilots union when it recently agreed to a modified proposal.
Adding to the tumult, AirTran pilots voted two weeks ago to recall their union's president and vice president, leaving the four remaining members of the board to run the union until new elections can be held.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Alaska Airlines to test in-flight WiFi access

Alaska Airlines logoEarlier this week, Alaska Airlines announced plans to launch inflight wireless Internet service in the spring of 2008. The system will be tested on a next-generation Boeing 737 aircraft. If the trial has a favorable outcome, Alaska will proceed to equip its entire 114-aircraft fleet with the new broadband communication system provided by a company called Row 44.

According to a news release about the new service:
The technology will provide customers with a unique entertainment and business network at 35,000 feet. Passengers with Wi-Fi-enabled devices, such as laptop computers, PDAs, smartphones and portable gaming systems, will have high-speed access to the Internet, e-mail, virtual private networks and stored inflight entertainment content.

"Bringing broadband Internet access to the skies is one of the most important things we can do to enhance the experience of both business and leisure customers," said Steve Jarvis, Alaska Airlines' vice president of sales, marketing and customer experience. "We're moving ahead with testing and ultimately plan to bring wireless broadband to our whole fleet."

Unlike air-to-ground services, Row 44's satellite-based system is designed to function over land, water and across international borders, enabling service throughout Alaska's route system in Alaska, the Lower 48 states, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico.

Customers connect to the system through wireless hotspots installed inside the aircraft cabin. A light-weight radome mounted on top of the aircraft houses an antenna, which receives and transmits signals through the Ku-band satellite system.
Alaska Airlines and Row 44 have been working together for two years to develop a cost-efficient inflight broadband solution.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

To ERJ drivers: Watch where you put your foot!

ERJ145The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) to call attention to "the possibility that a pilot of an Embraer Legacy, EMB-135 or -145 (sometimes called EMB-140 in marketing literature) might inadvertently change VHF radio frequencies or place the ATC transponder into standby mode during flight."

Quoting from FAA-SAFO 07005, issued on July 3, 2007:
Background: During an investigation the FAA discovered that crewmembers who had the simple habit of placing their shoe on the footrest just below the instrument panel could inadvertently put the ATC transponder into standby mode, or change radio frequencies without the crew's awareness.

Further, they found that pilots might not notice the corresponding indication on the Pilot Flight Display due to the white colored letters, which are not as noticeable as differently colored caution or warning indications.

Switching a transponder with a functioning traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS) to standby mode renders the TCAS ineffective, and is therefore one of the most serious consequences of a pilot’s foot inadvertently contacting the radio management unit. Two airplanes equipped with TCAS would fail to see each other if they were on a collision course. Pilots could presume TCAS was operating normally if they failed to notice the subtle TCAS OFF indication on the Pilot Flight Display.

Recommended Action: Managers of part 142 training centers where pilot training on the Embraer Legacy, EMB-135, and EMB-145 is conducted should ensure that their trainers caution pilots of this latent hazard and emphasize the importance of being careful when using the footrests provided.

Similarly, directors of safety, directors of operations, trainers, and check airmen for operators flying any of these Embraer models should immediately make this hazard known to their pilots and should make sure that it is addressed in their training programs, especially during flight training, supervised operating experience, and line checks.
Any questions regarding the content of this SAFO should be directed to the Air Transportation Division, AFS-200, at (202) 267-8116.

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New ATC tower dedicated at Dulles International Airport

Air Traffic Control Tower, Dulles AirportAir traffic controllers at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) have a new home. The new air traffic control tower at IAD officially began service yesterday, replacing the old tower that had been in service since the airport opened in 1962.

According to an FAA Fact Sheet about the new ATC tower, it is 300 feet tall to the cab. The tower has a two-story, 16,440 square-foot base building and environmental support structure. Equipment located in the new tower includes:
  • ASDE-X
  • Enhanced Terminal Voice Switch
  • Voice Switch By-Pass
  • Digital Voice Recorder System
  • Integrated Control and Monitoring System of the Navigational Aid facilities
  • Traffic Management Advisory
  • FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure
  • Fiber Optic Transmission System
  • Motorola CM-200 radios
  • A new airfield copper cable plant
  • Other fiber optics
In order to improve communication and save money, the FAA has relocated the Contract Weather Observer as well as the Airport Surface Observing System to the new tower.

The new tower is located about one mile south of the old tower. Although no longer in operation, the old tower will remain in place.

[Photo Source]

Monday, September 17, 2007

One-Two-Go accident in Phuket, Thailand

Wreckage of One-Two-Go crash at PhuketYesterday an MD-82 aircraft operated by Thai carrier One-Two-Go crashed on landing at Phuket, Thailand. The accident happened at about 4 PM local time when the aircraft ran off the departure end of the runway during heavy rain and strong winds. The aircraft reportedly split in two on impact and caught fire. One-Two-Go Flight OG269 was arriving from Bangkok with 123 passengers and five crew on board. As of this writing, 90 have died and many are hospitalized with injuries.

The flight's Indonesian captain and Thai first officer are reported to have been among those who perished in the crash. The Bangkok Post identified the captain as Areef Mulyadi, 56, who was said to have been a pilot with two Indonesian airlines – Sempati and Star Airlines - before going to work for One-Two-Go two years ago.

A list of the names and nationalities of the survivors of Flight OG269 has been posted on the One-Two-Go website, along with a list of telephone numbers that can be used to inquire about passengers who may have been on the aircraft. The airline also has posted a full list of the names on the passenger manifest of Flight OG269.

News reports said today that the aircraft's flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder had been recovered from the wreckage. The Associated Press quoted Thai Transport Minister Theera Haocharoen who said that the devices would be sent to the United States for analysis.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has announced that a team composed of NTSB and FAA investigators, as well as representatives of Boeing, and Pratt & Whitney, will assist Thai authorities with the accident investigation.

One-Two-Go Airlines began operations in December 2003 and is the domestic subsidiary of Orient-Thai Airlines, a regional charter carrier based in Thailand. The Associated Press reported that the plane that crashed in Phuket was manufactured and put into use in 1983, and began flying in Thailand in March this year.

[Photo Source]

Thursday, September 13, 2007

US Airways recalling furloughees and hiring new pilots

US AirwaysUS Airways announced yesterday that it intends to hire 350 new pilots, with training dates to begin in November of this year. In addition, 140 furloughed pilots who are now flying with US Airways Express carriers will be moved back to mainline flying.

A US Airways press release says that "new hire pilots will move onto the airline's growing Embraer 190 fleet, which in turn will drive current pilots to other aircraft like the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 family." Positions will be filled over the next 12 to 16 months.

For more information and an on-line application, visit the US Airways Employment Opportunities web page.

Mesa flight attendants unhappy with airline's China plans

Mesa Air Group logoFlight attendants at Mesa Airlines are skeptical about management's commitment to improving the quality of life of their employees. So says the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the union representing Mesa's cabin crew.

Mesa flight attendants, among the lowest paid in the industry, have been in negotiations for over a year regarding pay increases and quality of life adjustments, among other issues. The Mesa flight attendants became more demoralized recently when the airline's management announced plans to partner with Shenzhen Airlines to form a new carrier in China.

Brian Manning, president of the Mesa AFA said, "At this time, when we have so many serious issues to address, we need to know that management is committed to our negotiations and not distracted by their legal issues. Management thinks that we should sit across the table and accept a cost-neutral agreement, yet in the meantime they are sending tens of millions of dollars over to China to start a new airline. This investment in a new airline was made possible by the hard work of flight attendants and other employees."

AFA contends that the money being used to expand the airline's business overseas has come from employees' pockets, in the form of wage concessions -- concessions the company claimed it needed to stay afloat.

Brian Manning said, "Management insists that there be no improvements in the flight attendant contract because improvements cost money. For years they have insisted that their employees take concessions as if the company is failing. But then they announce that they have formed a $65 million airline in China. The money that Mesa management has used to expand their airline, in ways that are not beneficial to flight attendants, comes from the pockets of their employees. It is time that this shameful practice stops."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Grounded: All Bombardier Q400 aircraft with at least 10,000 cycles

SAS Q400 accident at VilniusToday Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier requested that all Q400 turboprop aircraft with at least 10,000 cycles be grounded for inspection. Bombardier officials say this is "a precautionary measure" until the cause of a series of recent accidents can be determined. The grounding order affects 60 of the 160 Q400 aircraft presently in service around the world.

This action has so far resulted in the cancellation of several hundred flights worldwide. The Associated Press reported today that SAS grounded its 27 Bombardier turboprops of the same make, and Austrian Airlines Group said it grounded eight planes. Horizon Air, the largest North American operator of the Q400, grounded 19 of its aircraft.

The Q400 has been involved in two similar accidents in the space of three days.

This past Sunday, the right main landing gear of a SAS Q400 collapsed shortly after the aircraft touched down at Aalborg, Denmark. An Associated Press article about the Aalborg accident reported these details:
The plane tilted to the right and the wing hit the ground, sending the aircraft spinning on the runway.

One propeller broke loose and sliced through the cabin, but did not hit any of the passengers, police said.

Firefighters quickly put out a fire in the right engine before the 69 passengers and four crew members were evacuated, SAS said. Five passengers received minor injuries while evacuating, the airline said.
The flight was arriving from Copenhagen.

Earlier today there was a similar accident involving another SAS Q400. Today's accident occurred at Vilnius, Lithuania. An International Herald Tribune article about the Vilnius accident says that the aircraft, with 52 people on board, "skidded off the runway, one wing smashing into the ground, after its right-side landing gear failed to lower during an emergency landing."
The crew made all passengers sit on the left side of the plane for fear that the right propeller might break into pieces and puncture the right side of the cabin, said Kestutis Auryla, head of the Lithuanian Civil Aviation Administration.

Though the right propeller was switched off 10 seconds before touchdown, the right wing still hit the ground, causing a shower of sparks but no fire, he said.

The Q400 turboprop eventually came to a stop in a patch of grass next to the airport's main landing strip after turning 90 degrees. All 48 passengers and four crew were evacuated safely, he said.
The aircraft had been en route from Copenhagen to Palanga, Lithuania when it diverted to Vilnius for an emergency landing.

An article about the Q400 in the Wall Street Journal notes that the aircraft has been one of Bombardier's best sellers in recent years, as its fuel efficiency has attracted airlines grappling with rising oil prices. The manufacturer now has 90 Q400s in its backlog and 126 on conditional orders or options.

[Photo Source]

Monday, September 10, 2007

Oman Air seeks young Omanis to train as pilots

Oman Air pilotsOman Air is seeking young Omani nationals who are interested in learning to be airline pilots. Mr. Amar Nasser, the Divisional Manager for Human Resource and Administration, said in a press release issued by Oman Air that his airline is "all set to select and recruit a new group of 15 young dynamic school leavers as Cadet Pilots."

The most recent class of nine Omani Cadet Pilots graduated from initial training in the UK and are now undergoing further training in Oman. The next class of Cadet Pilots will train in Australia for an initial 15 month before being accepted as Second Officers and then progressing to the final of four-month phase of training, after which they become First Officers.

The closing date to apply for the next Pilot Cadet class is September 15. Contact Oman Air for further information.

[Photo Source]

Sunday, September 09, 2007

How you can help to find Steve Fossett

Google Earth logoAviation legend and adventurer Steve Fossett has been missing for nearly a week. Search teams in multiple aircraft have been scanning rugged terrain in Nevada ever since it was learned that Mr. Fossett had not returned from his flight last Monday. The searchers have found no sign of Fossett or the light aircraft he had been flying, a single-engine Super Decathlon.

Now an additional search method has been organized, and you can participate. is hosting a KML file, which is being used in conjunction with Google Earth to search the area where Steve Fossett and the aircraft may be located. Anyone with a computer can join in the search.

Volunteers are needed to help review satellite imagery of the area where Fossett disappeared and flag potential areas of interest. Here is the link to the instructions for how to search for Steve Fossett on Amazon's Mechanical Turk web site. Aviation news outlet AVweb has provided a page with additional tips and tricks for the search, by editor Jennifer Whitley.

Please help in this effort to locate Steve Fossett. The more eyeballs we have scanning the satellite images of the terrain, the more likely it is that someone will discover something to facilitate the search and rescue effort.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Four in Switzerland convicted for 2002 crash

Skyguide logoFour employees of Skyguide, the Swiss air traffic control firm, have been found guilty of manslaughter for their role in failing to prevent a mid-air collision in 2002 that killed all 71 people aboard both aircraft. BBC News reports:
Three of the four managers convicted were given suspended prison terms and the fourth was ordered to pay a fine.

Another four employees of the Skyguide firm were cleared of any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors had said a "culture of negligence" at the firm contributed to the mid-air collision, which killed mostly Russian children.
The collision between a Bashkirian Airlines Tupolev 154M passenger jet and a B757 cargo aircraft operated by DHL occurred on the evening of July 1, 2002 in Swiss airspace. The accident came to be known as the Überlingen air disaster, since much of the wreckage came down in Überlingen, Germany. Many of the passengers on the airliner were Russian children on a holiday trip to Spain.

During the trial, it was confirmed that a single air traffic controller had been in charge of 15 aircraft at the time of the accident. That air traffic controller was later stabbed to death by the father of two of the children who were killed in the crash.

As the BBC News story points out, it is significant that the four Skyguide employees acquitted were all air traffic controllers, not managers. The BBC reporter covering the court proceedings says that "this shows the judges backed the prosecution's view that the managers at Skyguide were responsible for introducing negligent, potentially dangerous working practices."

In a statement about the court judgment on the Skyguide website, Francis Schubert, interim CEO of Skyguide says, "It is extremely difficult to rule in legal terms on such a complex accident and assign responsibility. We, for our part, are convinced that this tragedy is attributable primarily to systemic causes in the interplay between people, technology and procedures. Skyguide has learnt the lessons from this tragic event, and has done everything to ensure that an accident of this kind cannot happen again."

Mr. Schubert's statement also expresses condolences "to all the bereaved." Skyguide is reported to have provided financial compensation to some of the families.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Google Earth Flight Simulator

Looking for a way to pass some time at your layover hotel? Got your laptop with you? Check this out: The newest version of Google Earth now has a flight simulator included with it.

This new embedded feature of Google Earth was discovered by Marco Gallotta, a student in South Africa. You can read more about that in Marco's Blog.

Then watch these YouTube videos: First, an introduction, posted by YouTube user insided.

Then spend a few more minutes with an example of flying with the new Google Earth 4.2 Flight Simulator mode, posted by YouTube user gearthblog.

Okay -- now you're set to jet! Have fun.

Tip of the hat to Marco Gallotta for discovering this new gem hiding inside Google Earth, and to insided and gearthblog for posting their videos on YouTube.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Breaking News: Aviation legend Steve Fossett is missing

Steve FossettA search is underway in Nevada for legendary aviator Steve Fossett, who has not been seen since yesterday morning when he took off in a light plane from an airstrip at a ranch about 70 miles southeast of Reno. Mr. Fossett, 63, was flying alone in a single engine aircraft, which AVweb identifies as a Citabria Super Decathlon.

Numerous aircraft are searching over a wide area for Fossett and his plane. He apparently did not file a flight plan, and no one seems to know exactly where he was headed. Various news reports have said that he had enough fuel for about four or five hours of flight.

Steve Fossett was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in July. He holds many aviation records, piloting balloons and gliders, as well as powered aircraft.

I'll post any new developments to this story here, keeping fingers crossed meanwhile that Mr. Fossett is safe and will be found soon.

[Photo Source]

Monday, September 03, 2007

First 'ding' for the A380

A380The new Airbus A380 'superjumbo' has suffered its first ding. The incident happened over the weekend at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport. The aircraft was preparing to depart on a demonstration flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, and was being pushed back from its parking space when the winglet on the tip of one of the behemoth's wings hit the door of a Thai Airlines maintenance hangar. No one was injured in the incident.

The Thai News Agency reports these details:
Terry Lutz, the aircraft’s captain said the accident could have resulted from miscommunication between the pilots and ground staff. The damage would not pose any effect on the plane's safety and potential because the damaged winglet was removed before the plane took off.

He said the damage would not affect the plane's aerodynamic system and the safety of passengers.

Edouard Ullmo, Airbus sales executive vice president for Asia-Pacific and Africa, said the accident was minor and could happen anywhere in the world.

However, he said test flights in Vietnam, Hong Kong and South Korea would continue as planned although the plane would fly without left wing.
According to the Thai News Agency, several prominent personalities were among the passengers on board, including Royal Thai Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Chalit Phukphasuk, senior Thai Airways officials, and a number of journalists.