Monday, October 29, 2007

Video: History of Cathay Pacific Cabin Crew Uniforms

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

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

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

Sunday, October 28, 2007

SAS grounds all Q400 aircraft until further notice

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

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

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

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

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

[Photo Source]

Saturday, October 27, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

Singapore Airlines A380 - What's the cabin like?

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 26, 2007

First commercial Airbus A380 flight completed: Singapore Airlines Flight 380

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

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

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

[Photo Source]

Monday, October 22, 2007

Accident investigation report: Garuda Boeing 737 crash at Yogyakarta

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 21, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Photo Source]

Friday, October 19, 2007

Aer Lingus strike averted - Pilots approve Belfast deal

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 12, 2007

Egyptian carrier AMC Airlines: MD-83 accident at Istanbul

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

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

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

[Photo Source]

Thursday, October 11, 2007

United Airlines A320 damaged in runway excursion at ORD

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 08, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Photo Source]

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

Saturday, October 06, 2007

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

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

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

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

[Photo Source]

Friday, October 05, 2007

Delta Clipped Wings - 50th anniversary

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

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

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

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Pilot error: Southwest runway overrun at Midway in 2005

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Lear 35A departs IAD on closed runway, NTSB investigating

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 01, 2007

FAA changes its official definition for 'runway incursions'

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

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

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

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