Saturday, May 31, 2008

TACA crash in Honduras: Crew identified

TACA International Airlines logoLate last evening, TACA International Airlines identified the crew members who were on board TACA Flight TAI390, which overran the runway after landing at Tegucigalpa, Honduras on the morning of May 30, 2008. The announcement confirmed that the captain had died, along with two passengers.

Here is the exact text of News Release No. 3 posted on the TACA website on May 30, 2008 at 20:30 hrs [En español - haga clic aquí]:
In order to continue de information flow in relation to TACA’s aircraft accident, Irish registration EI-TAF, serial number 1374 manufactured operating El Salvador-Tegucigalpa route, a press conference was held tonight in Tegucigalpa. Roberto Kriete, President and CEO; Joaquin Palomo, Senior Vice-president and CFO; Julio Gomez, Flight Experience Vice-President; Armando Funes, TACA Honduras General Manager informed the following:

Since early morning, TACA has been working along with the Honduran authorities on the procedures related to the flight 390 accident.

Our crew on board flight 390 was composed of Capitan D’Antonio, Copilot Juan Artero, cabin crew Lineth Girón, José Barraza, Herchel Downs y María Salgado, of Honduran nationality. Also flight crew members Leonel Barright, Daniel Izaguirre, Paola Mena, Brendi Mejía, and Jenny Mejía where traveling on board for repositioning purposes.

Regrettably, at the moment three people where reported deceased, captain D’Antonio, of Salvadoran nationality; Mrs. Jeanne Chantal Neele, and Mr. Harry Brautigam, to which TACA extends its profound condolences.

“All TACA Family members are deeply concerned with the demise of Captain D’Antonio, who had more than 11 thousand flight hours and was part of the airline since 1993; and the demise of our distinguished passengers Chantall Nelle and Harry Brautigam”, said Kriete.

All passengers received medical care in different city hospitals, at the moment 54 people remain under their care and the rest are following proceedings to mobilize toward their intended destinations or go back to their countries of origin.

Communication efforts are being followed with the families of the affected passengers. While this process doesn’t conclude, the airline can’t share the final passenger list.

At the moment, we can inform that seventy Hondurans, seventeen Costa Ricans, two Canadians, eight Guatemalans, six American citizens, two Spaniards, two Brazilians, nine Argentineans, three Mexicans, five Nicaraguans, two Colombians, three Salvadorans, one Georgian, one German, one Italian, and one Uruguayan were on board the aircraft.

TACA operates a new generation, all Airbus fleet complying with all regulatory regulations of the IOSA, International Operating Safety Audit (IATA Flight Safety Program) as well as the respective Civil Aeronautic Authorities, including the Federal Aviation Agency, FAA.

TACA operates two daily flights at Toncontín Airport in Tegucigalpa, which remain suspended until further notice. The airline’s operations are being strengthened in San Pedro Sula, to serve our passengers traveling towards Honduras.

The TACA Family thanks the many displays of solidarity received due to this unfortunate event and ratifies its commitment to continue serving its passengers in the Americas.

At the press conference, Dario Montes, Legal Advisor for TACA; Tomasita de Ramirez, Sales Manager for TACA Honduras; and Claudia Arenas, Corporate Communications Director where also present.

TACA will keep a permanent information process in order to deliver an updated flow of information on the different situations related to the present circumstances. TACA’s news center can also be viewed at

For inquiries about passenger status an international Call Center has been activated at:

1 (404) 5216274
Condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Captain D'Antonio and the other accident victims. Best wishes to those who may have been injured for a quick and complete recovery.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Silverjet ceases operations

SilverjetSilverjet, the 'low fare business class' airline, has grounded its three leased aircraft and suspended passenger service. In a brief message on the Silverjet website, CEO Lawrence Hunt announced that from May 30, 2008, the carrier "will cease operations." Referring to Silverjet investors, Hunt's message said that "due to unforeseen circumstances, they were unable to unlock the finance that we needed."

Seeming to suggest that there still was hope for the future, Mr. Hunt's message also said, "We are working actively with new investors who are prepared to inject new funds so we can recommence operations. If we are able to achieve this, we will make an announcement as soon as possible and we hope to be able to bring you our very 'sivilised' flying experience again."

Silverjet had been in operation since January of 2007. The airline had been offering all-business-class service from London Luton to Newark and Dubai, using Boeing 767 aircraft. The airline had never made a profit. Trading of Silverjet shares on the London stock exchange was suspended late last week, a foreshadowing of today's announcement.

An article on the Times Online website about the collapse of Silverjet said:
The decision to ground all flights came after Silverjet failed to secure a $5 million (£2.5 million) loan from a Gulf investor. Thousands of passengers have been left stranded or needing to change travel plans by the operator, which flies from Luton to Dubai and New York. The Civil Aviation Authority estimated that 7,000 UK and 2,500 nonUK customers have been affected and they are not covered by the air travel industry’s insurance scheme.

Silverjet has told passengers to contact their credit card companies or travel agents to try to recover their money.
No mention was made of the fate of crew or other Silverjet employees.

The shut-down of Silverjet follows that of competitor Eos Airlines, which filed for bankruptcy protection about a month ago. Another competitor, MAXjet, filed for bankruptcy in December of 2007. Earlier this month it was announced that MAXjet's assets were being sold to a group that said it intended to operate a luxury charter service.

For the moment, privately owned French airline L'Avion is the sole independent carrier offering business-class-only trans-Atlantic flights. L'Avion operates Boeing 757-200 aircraft between Paris-Orly and Newark.

[Photo Source]

TACA International Airlines Airbus crash at Tegucigalpa, Honduras

TACA A320 accident at TegucigalpaThis morning, May 30, 2008, an Airbus A320-233 aircraft operated by TACA International Airlines, the national flag carrier of El Salvador, overran the runway at Toncontín International Airport (MHTG) in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The accident happened at about 09:45AM local time, as the scheduled passenger flight, TACA Flight TAI390, was arriving at Tegucigalpa from El Salvador International Airport (MSLP), according to a news bulletin on the TACA website. Early news media reports say there were some fatalities among the 124 and 11 crew on board, including at least one crew member (not yet confirmed by the company). Others had non-fatal injuries, although information was not made public about the number of those injured or the type of injuries.

A Miami Herald article about the accident  says:
Television images showed the Grupo TACA plane's fuselage buckled and broken apart in places. The cockpit was smashed under a billboard, and firefighters hosed down at least two cars trapped under the plane's left engine.

More than 2,000 gallons of jet fuel spilled out of the plane, and authorities tried to clear away hundreds of onlookers.
The Miami Herald website has a collection of photos from the accident scene at Tegucigalpa.

Click here to view a video of the accident scene, from

A short time ago the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board announced that a team had been dispatched "to assist the governments of Honduras and El Salvador in their investigation of a fatal runway overrun."
NTSB Senior investigator Robert Benzon will serve as the United States Accredited Representative. He will be accompanied by an NTSB powerplants investigator, two investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and a representative from International Aero Engines. The BEA of France is also sending an Accredited Representative and a team to participate in the investigation.

The investigation is being conducted by the Civil Aviation Authority of El Salvador (under delegation by the Government of Honduras), which will release all information
on the progress of the investigation.
TACA has identified the accident aircraft as "an A320-233 Airbus, Irish plate EI- TAF, series number 1374 built on January 4th 2001. Until May 29th it had accumulated 21,957 flight hours and 9,992 landings."

Condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of the victims.

UPDATE: Reuters news service is now reporting that 38 people were injured, and five have died as a result of the TACA accident at Tegucigalpa.

UPDATE May 31, 2008: TACA crash in Honduras: Crew identified

[Photo Source]

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Kalitta Air crash may be associated with engine fire

Kalitta Air logoAviation news website is reporting today that the rejected take-off of a Kalitta Air Boeing 747 freighter that overran a runway and broke up at Brussels several days ago may have been associated with an engine fire. The article says that the crew "rejected the take-off at about the same time as air traffic controllers observed a fire in one of the aircraft’s two right-hand engines."

Quoting "sources familiar with testimony to the investigation," reports that air traffic controllers monitoring the takeoff noticed flames from one of the right hand engines at around the same time that the crew notified ATC that they were rejecting takeoff. The article adds that it is unclear which one of the engines was affected. also reports:
Tyre marks at the end of the runway and wheel tracks across the grass, extending to the wreckage site, suggest the aircraft was deviating to the right of the centreline as it overran. Brussels Airport has three runways.

Its two parallels are longer than the accident runway, but the source states that runway 20 was always the “planned runway” for the 25 May flight.

The aircraft had been bound for Bahrain with 76t of cargo, and the source points out that runway 20 – which has a length of 2,984m (9,790ft) – was more than adequate for the type, particularly given its relatively light load.
Here is the link to the entire article: Engine fire alert preceded Kalitta 747F rejected take-off -

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Delta flight attendant union certification election results

Balloting for the election to certify the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) as the collective bargaining unit representing Delta Air Lines flight attendants was completed today, May 28, 2008. The AFA reportedly won the "vast majority" of the votes cast, however only about 40% of those eligible to vote did so. Under the rules of the National Mediation Board (NMB), which supervised the election, a majority of eligible voters must cast ballots in order for the election outcome to be certified. Since that did not happen, the AFA cannot be certified as the union representative for Delta's flight attendants at this time.

Poster in a Delta Airlines crew lounge urges flight attendants to rip up their union ballots.Management at Delta Air Lines openly opposed flight attendant unionization. The AFA has claimed that an aggressive voter suppression campaign by Delta management kept thousands from casting a vote. Tactics included the posting of signs in flight attendants' crew lounges (see photo) "encouraging them to rip up the voting information before even bothering to read about their rights."

"For months, Delta management has touted its commitment to the democratic process, yet never let up on their intimidation and coercion of voters. Their empty rhetoric cannot conceal their interference. The conditions surrounding election were neither free nor fair, as required by NMB statutes. Now it is up to the National Mediation Board to defend the Delta flight attendants’ right to an election free of interference," said AFA International President Patricia Friend in a statement issued by AFA.

Delta Air Lines put a different spin on the outcome of the union certification election. Instead of mentioning that only about 40% of those eligible cast a vote, the airline's management interpreted the non-votes as NO votes, by stating the following in a Delta Air Lines press release issued today:
Delta Air Lines has received notification from the National Mediation Board (NMB) that a decisive majority – more than 60 percent – of eligible flight attendants rejected representation by the Association of Flight Attendants/Communication Workers of America (AFA) in the representation election at Delta, and the airline will continue a direct relationship with its flight attendants.

“We are pleased that Delta’s flight attendants clearly believe that our unique culture and direct relationship are worth preserving,” said Delta CEO Richard Anderson. “Delta continues to be the best advocate for its people, and our employees recognize the benefits of working together to enhance their careers and drive successful results for themselves and our company.”

Joanne Smith, senior vice president – In-Flight Service and Global Product Development, added, “This decision was one of the biggest our flight attendants faced in their career at Delta and it arose during some challenging times in our industry. Through all of these distractions – soaring fuel costs, a softening economy and an unrelenting AFA campaign of scare tactics and inaccurate information – the professionalism of all of our flight attendants shone as they maintained an unwavering focus on safety and service. This comes as no surprise however, because that is the Delta Difference; it is what sets us apart from the rest of this industry.
Not all Delta flight attendants share management's view of the situation, as evidenced by a particularly well-written opinion piece by a Delta flight attendant in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Here is part of what she said:
To protect our future, it is critical that we have safeguards to keep management from destroying our profession —- safeguards that are detailed in a legally binding contract. Delta flight attendants want to maintain the quality of middle-class jobs that have benefited the local Atlanta economy and communities across the country for decades. We want to have a say in building and growing the world's largest airline.

What once was a "family style" environment at Delta is no more. This sad fact faces us each day. The new Delta is run by a group of executives who have only been around for nine months. People like former Northwest CEO Richard Anderson are making decisions that will affect the future of Delta flight attendants who have spent their lives building our company.

Our airline has evolved, and Delta flight attendants intend to do so as well. By becoming union members, we will actively defend our profession. We will protect our interests as we work alongside management in creating the world's largest airline.
There is another chapter to this story that has yet been told: When the Delta - Northwest Airlines merger takes place another union certification election will be held, since Northwest's flight attendants already are represented by AFA. Under the rules of the NMB, when a non-union work group merges with a union group, if 35 percent of combined workforce has union representation or signs a union card, a union election will automatically be called. That vote is expected to occur in early 2009.

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Continental Airlines Boeing 737 has a 'close encounter' with -- a rocket?

Continental Airlines B737-900ERVarious news media are reporting on an incident in which the crew of a Continental Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft saw what appeared to be a rocket (or similar projectile) pass them shortly after departure from Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport. This may have been something serious, may have been a prank, or it may come to nothing much, but it certainly is interesting. The FAA and the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force think it's interesting, too: They are investigating the incident.

Here is a summary of what has been reported by the news media. On Monday, May 26, 2008, the crew of a Continental Airlines B737-800, operating as Flight COA1544 from Houston to Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport, reported to air traffic control that they saw an object with a flaming tail and a trail of smoke flying vertically near their aircraft. The Houston Chronicle, which had the most detailed article about the 'rocket incident', quoted an FAA official who said it was not yet known how close the object came to the aircraft, or what altitude it reached.
"We don't know for sure what the object was. But we think it might be somebody doing model rocketing," said Roland Herwig, an FAA spokesman. "The pilot saw the rocket and some people saw the rocket's trail (of smoke)."
A spokeswoman for Continental Airlines told the Houston Chronicle reporter that the crew made "no diversionary maneuvers," and added that the plane was not damaged, and nobody was injured.

The working assumption seems to be that the object was a model rocket. The Houston Chronicle quoted an FAA spokeswoman in Washington D.C. who said this would not be the first time a rocket had crossed paths with an airliner. "But so far, no plane has been hit by a launched model rocket." Yeah, so far, so good.

You're going to love this part, also from the Houston Chronicle article:
Robert Morehead, an engineer who is president of the Amateur Spaceflight Association in Houston, said the FAA would only need to be notified if a rocket would be entering controlled airspace.

He said the only danger to a plane might be if the rocket is ingested by a plane's engine.

"But their engines are designed to ingest birds and not come apart," said Morehead, who lives in Clear Lake. "The real question is if the rocket would tear up the engine instead of just shutting it off."
I beg your pardon?

At first this incident reminded me a bit of the another mystery last year, when a LAN Chile A340 en route from Santiago, Chile to Auckland, New Zealand had a close encounter somewhere over the Pacific Ocean with a fiery object falling from the sky above. In that case, what at first was believed to be debris from a Russian spacecraft was later thought to be a meteor. But it seems to me that there's a bit of a difference between a random fiery object falling from the sky, and one that intentionally shoots up from the ground into commercial airspace.

If any conclusions about this latest incident are reached and made public, I will certainly report those here on Aircrew Buzz.

[Photo Source]

Monday, May 26, 2008

South African Airways pilots agree to pay concessions

South African Airways A340The pilots of South African Airways (SAA) have agreed to a number of pay concessions in order to save costs for the airline. The airline announced that it had reached "a three year salary agreement, as well as a restructuring agreement" with the pilots union, the South African Airways Pilots Association (SAAPA).

According to a press release on the South African Airways website, the salary agreement includes these key aspects:
  • For the financial year 2007/08 no increases will be applied to the current salary scales.
  • For 2008/09 and 2009/10, a local market movement formula for salary increases will apply. To determine the local market movement for South Africa, a study will be done to benchmark salary increases in comparable companies and job categories.
  • The Maintenance of Parity (MOP) agreement is suspended for three years from 1 April 2007, ending 31 March 2010 and temporarily replaced by the three year salary agreement. Within the next year the parties will negotiate a new agreement.
As a part of the restructuring agreement, SAAPA also has agreed that the overtime rate for pilots will be reduced from 1.5 times the hourly rate to 1.25 times. An article about the agreement on the website also mentioned a "drop in uniform allowance, 5% productivity rise, and having their sick leave slashed."

The article reported that 45 SAA pilots have left the airline in the past six months, quoting SAAPA official Cathy Bill who said that "of those who had left the airline only five pilots had accepted the voluntary severance packages offered to staff at the end of last year, but that the rest were disillusioned with the restructuring process."
Bill said the pilots recognised the need to cut costs, and had made suggestions for cost savings.

She hoped that the second part of the restructuring plan, expanding SAA's network and fleet, would help improve conditions for pilots.

SAA announced recently that it would be recruiting 100 pilots. "We have had co-pilots that have been waiting for promotions for 12, 13 years, and we hope with the expansion that will now finally be possible," Bill said.
Bill also said that SAA's pilots were "certainly vulnerable" to poaching from other airlines.

[Photo Source]

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Kalitta Air Boeing 747 freighter crash at Brussels

Earlier today, May 25, 2008, a Boeing 747-209F aircraft (registration number N704CK) operated by Michigan-based cargo carrier Kalitta Air, overran a runway at Brussels Zaventem Airport (EBBR) after what witnesses said appeared to be a rejected takeoff. The freighter's fuselage broke apart (see video below), but there was no fire. The five crew members evacuated the aircraft using an emergency slide. None of the crew members was injured seriously, and there were no injuries reported on the ground.

According to various news reports, Kalitta Air Flight K4-207 was departing Brussels Zaventem for Bahrain around noon local time when the accident occurred. Witnesses reported hearing a loud bang, after which the aircraft overran the end of runway 02. It was not clear whether the aircraft had completed its takeoff roll and begun to rotate prior to the overrun.

The aircraft came to rest a just inside the airfield's perimeter fence, several hundred meters beyond the threshold of the runway. The fuselage split open just aft of the wings, and photos taken at the scene appear to show another break just forward of the empennage, but this has not been officially confirmed.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has dispatched at team to assist the Belgian government in its investigation of this accident. The NTSB announced:
NTSB investigator Joe Sedor has been designated as the U.S. Accredited Representative, and he will be accompanied by technical specialist in the areas of flight operations, aircraft systems, structures, and powerplants. The U.S. team will also include technical advisors from the FAA, Boeing, and Pratt & Whitney.

The Belgian government is leading the investigation and will release all information on its progress.
Updated information about today's accident will be posted here on Aircrew Buzz as it becomes available. [Links to updates are at the end of this post, after the video.]

A collection of still photos of the Kalitta Air crash at Zaventem Airport can be found on the Belgian website Video footage of the aftermath of the accident, from

(If the video does not play or display properly above, click here to view it on


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chief pilot of Alpine Air Express killed in Montana crash

Alpine Air Express logoA Beech 1900C turbo-prop aircraft operated by cargo carrier Alpine Air Express crashed into a building and burned shortly after taking off from Billings Logan International Airport early today. Alpine Air's Chief Pilot, identified by the company as Kelly William Lynch, was piloting the aircraft and was lost in the crash. No one else was aboard the aircraft, and no one on the ground was injured, according to the FAA preliminary report about the accident.

The accident occurred on May 23, 2008, at about 1:25AM. The aircraft, operating as Alpine Air Flight 5008, was en route from Billings to Great Falls Montana, carrying about 5,000 pounds of U.S. Mail. A news article about the crash quoted a witness who said that the plane appeared to hit the ground in the lot of a rental business and skid into a construction materials building. FAA spokesman Mike Fergus added that the construction materials building and plane were destroyed by fire, and a nearby United Rentals building was damaged by debris. Fire officials confirmed the pilot's body was found in the wreckage.

An Alpine Air Express press release about the accident said that Capt. Kelly Lynch, a native of Belgrade, Montana, joined the company in July of 1996. He was promoted to captain in February of 2002, and became chief pilot in October of 2007.
Mr. Joe Etchart, Alpine Air’s Board of Directors Chairman, stated, “The Alpine family is heartsick with the loss of Kelly. Kelly personified the professional pilot. His work in training Alpine pilots, helping everyone maintain proficiency for the unforeseen emergency in an airplane was his trademark. He was a perfectionist and promoted that same attitude among his contemporaries. Kelly was a consummate professional.”

Etchart added, “Our prayers go out to Kelly’s family and friends. He was a magnificent man with the willingness and energy to do whatever he could do to help those around him. Kelly was a celebrity around Billings as a long-time member of a Barber Shop Quartet which often performed at events around the area. Kelly and his partners, the group 3 Dimes and a Nickel, evolved into the quartet Sound Barrier which became one of the noted Barber Shop Quartets in the Rocky Mountain West. His zest for fun, gleeful energy and his compassion for his fellow man were always evident.”
Condolences to Kelly Lynch's family and friends, and his colleagues at Alpine Air.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Report on Qantas Boeing 747 engine failure issued by ATSB

Australian Transport Safety Bureau logoThe Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has issued its final report on the in-flight engine failure on a Qantas Boeing 747 that occurred in February of 2007. The report, issued on May 22, 2008, concluded that a blade in the aircraft's number 3 engine had failed at its root, and had caused "considerable damage" to the high pressure section of the Rolls Royce RB211(-T) engine.

Here is the abstract from the report:
At 1200 Eastern Standard Time, on 3 February 2007, after departing Sydney Airport and while in a climb at approximately 4,000 ft above ground level, the flight crew of a Boeing 747-438 aircraft, registered VH-OJM, heard several loud bangs and felt vibration through the aircraft structure. Observing an increase in the exhaust gas temperature indication for the number-3 engine, the crew following the non-normal checklist, shut down the engine, dumped excess fuel and returned the aircraft to Sydney Airport.

A subsequent examination of the engine found that it had sustained a high pressure compressor (HPC), stage 1, blade failure. The mode of failure was known to the engine manufacturer, who had attributed it to blade tip rubbing, due to distortion of the engines high pressure case (module 41). To address the problem, the engine manufacturer had introduced service bulletin (SB), SB72-F002. The number-3 engine did not have the service bulletin embodied at the time of the failure.

Although the exact time of the blade tip rubbing and subsequent cracking could not be determined, the engine manufacturer believed that crack initiation to blade failure took approximately 50 cycles.

During the investigation, the aircraft operator experienced a subsequent failure, bringing the total number of failures of this type for the operator to five. Similar failures were reported by another aircraft operator, with 16 similar failures reported in total.

As a result of the incident, the operator accelerated its modification embodiment program and expects to have all installed engines modified by early 2010.[ATSB Aviation Occurrence Investigation – 200700356, © Commonwealth of Australia 2008.]
Here is the link to the complete report: ATSB Aviation Occurrence Investigation – 200700356 - ATSB, May 22, 2008 (12 page 'pdf' file)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

NTSB acts to prevent further Boeing 757 wing panel separation incidents

NTSB logoThe U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued three new Safety Recommendations today (Safety Recommendations A-08-22 through -24) aimed at preventing more in-flight separations of wing panels from Boeing 757 aircraft, such as the incident involving a US Airways aircraft in March of this year. In that incident a 4 foot by 5 foot panel from the upper surface of its left wing separated from the aircraft during the cruise phase of a scheduled passenger flight. The NTSB reported a month later that two of the three clips that secured the leading edge of the panel to the wing had failed due to metal fatigue.

Now the NTSB has expressed concern that "there may be other B757s with cracked and/or improperly oriented clips or lack of spacers, which could lead to support clip failure and a wing fixed trailing edge panel separation. A wing fixed trailing edge panel that separates from the aircraft in flight could impact the tail of the airplane, resulting in the potential loss of controlled flight, or could damage the windows or fuselage, resulting in possible rapid depressurization of the aircraft. Because substantial structural damage can result from an in-flight separation of the wing fixed trailing edge panel, it is imperative that operators ensure that the clips are not cracked and are oriented properly with spacers."

In light of these concerns, the NTSB recommended today, May 22, 2008, that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA):
  • Require operators of Boeing 757 airplanes to conduct a one-time visual inspection of the upper wing fixed trailing edge panel support beam clips for cracks, proper orientation, and spacers, and to replace cracked clips and reinstall any clips that are improperly oriented or that lack spacers, in accordance with Boeing Service Bulletin 757-57-0027, Revision 2, dated November 14, 1991. (A-08-22)
  • Require operators to report any cracked clips found during the one-time inspection, as requested in Safety Recommendation A-08-22, as well as the part number and orientation of the clips relative to the wing rear spar vertical stiffeners and whether spacers were present; then analyze this information to determine if repetitive inspections are required. (A-08-23)
  • Require Boeing to issue more explicit instructions and figures that clearly illustrate the correct orientation of the clips and spacers that attach the Boeing 757 panel support beam to the wing rear spar vertical stiffeners. (A-08-24)
Here is the link to the full text (with diagrams) of NTSB Safety Recommendations A-08-22 through -24 - issued May 22, 2008 (6-page 'pdf' file)

Incidentally (no pun intended), there have been two more instances of problems with loose wing panels that I know about:

On May 12, 2008, a wing panel separated from Northwest Airlines B757-200 while the aircraft was en route from Los Angeles to Detroit. The separated wing panel damaged the aircraft's horizontal stabilizer, but the crew made a safe emergency landing at Las Vegas.

Then Pacific Business News reported that on May 16, 2008, a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767-300 experienced a vibration in a wing while en route from Seattle to Kahului, Maui. The aircraft returned to Seattle where it landed safely. Once on the ground, a loose panel on the trailing edge of a wing was discovered, according to a Hawaiian Airlines spokesman.

Engine fire on Canadian North Airlines Boeing 737

Canadian North Airlines Boeing 737-200An engine on a Boeing 737-200 aircraft operated by Canadian North Airlines caught fire during approach to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan earlier today. The crew landed the aircraft safely. The five crew members and 105 passengers evacuated the aircraft without injury. The aircraft was later towed from the runway.

The incident happened early on May 22, 2008 on Canadian North charter Flight 5T-1714. The flight was en route from Fort Mckay/Horizon Airport (CYNR) in Alberta, to Montreal, with an intermediate stop in Saskatoon. According to news reports, a problem with the number two engine developed as the aircraft approached Saskatoon, and the crew declared an emergency. The engine was said to be on fire when the aircraft landed at Saskatoon's John G. Diefenbaker International Airport. Firefighters extinguished the blaze after the aircraft was on the ground.

Transport Canada is investigating the cause of the incident.

[Image Source]

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

American Airlines to cut capacity -- and thousands of jobs

American Airlines MD-80There were plenty of news-making announcements today at the annual stockholders' meeting of AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines (AA), Inc. While most of the attention in the passenger-oriented mainstream news media focused on fare increases, fuel surcharges, and the introduction of $15 charge for the first-checked bag on AA, perhaps the most important announcement had to do with impending cuts in capacity, and the concomitant job cuts that will affect thousands of American Airlines workers.

American Airlines will reduce domestic capacity in the fourth quarter of 2008 by 11 percent to 12 percent, compared to the fourth quarter of 2007. Regional affiliate (i.e., American Eagle) capacity is expected to decline by 10 percent to 11 percent in the fourth quarter compared to fourth quarter 2007 levels. From the AMR Corp. press release:
As a result of significantly reduced flying, AMR expects to retire 40 to 45 mainline aircraft from American's fleet, the majority of which will consist of MD-80s but will also include some Airbus A300 aircraft. The capacity reductions will also result in the retirement of 35 to 40 regional jets, as well as a number of turbo-prop aircraft from AMR's regional affiliate fleet.

The capacity changes will result in workforce reductions at both American Airlines and American Eagle Airlines and could result in facility closures or facility consolidation. AMR is assessing the scope and location-specific impact of any workforce reductions resulting from the capacity reductions. In addition, AMR is assessing the impact of these capacity reductions on its overall cost outlook.
A Reuters article about the AMR annual meeting reported that when CEO Gerard Arpey was asked about the coming work force reductions at American Airlines and American Eagle, he confirmed that job cuts would run into the thousands, and that "every work group would be impacted."

At least one hundred American Airlines pilots, flight attendants, and other employees demonstrated outside the AMR Corp. headquarters in Fort Worth during the annual stockholders meeting to express their concern over the airline's current course. The demonstration was organized by the Allied Pilots Association, the union representing AA's pilots, and co-sponsored by the AA flight attendants' union, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Video Message from American Airlines Pilots

This video message is brought to you by the Allied Pilots Association, the union that represents the pilots at American Airlines who "won't be fooled again."

(If the video does not play or display properly above, click here to view it on YouTube.)

Nose gear of Air India Boeing 777 collapses at Mumbai

The nose gear of an Air India Boeing 777-200ER aircraft collapsed during a pre-flight check at Gate 48 of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai last week. According to news reports, the incident happened on the afternoon of May 16, 2008, as the aircraft was being prepared for a scheduled passenger flight from Mumbai to Dubai. Passengers for Air India Flight AI717 had not yet boarded. No one was injured.

Here is a TimesNow TV news video about the incident:

(If the video does not play or display properly above, click here to view it on YouTube.)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Engine fire on Atlantic Southeast Airlines regional jet

ASA CRJ-200 incident at BTRAn apparent fire in the number two engine of a CRJ-200 regional jet operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) prompted a rejected takeoff from Baton Rouge Metro Airport on the afternoon of May 18, 2008. All 50 passengers and four crew members on board evacuated the aircraft without injury.

The aircraft, operating as Delta Connection Flight ASQ4320, was preparing to depart from Baton Rouge for Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta when the incident occurred. The Bombardier CL-600-2B19 model aircraft (registration number N914EV) is owned by ASA, according to FAA records.

The FAA preliminary incident report attributed the rejected takeoff to an "engine problem," however several news reports quoted a Baton Rouge airport spokesman who said that the engine had caught fire. News photos and television footage showed fire-fighting equipment spraying the aircraft.

[Photo Source]

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Air Midwest to shut down passenger service

Air Midwest, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mesa Air Group, will begin shutting down its passenger services later this week. The company cites record-high fuel prices, insufficient demand and a difficult operating environment as the main factors in its decision, according to a news release issued by Mesa.

Mesa, which had been operating Air Midwest scheduled services with Beech 1900D aircraft under the Essential Air Service (EAS) program, announced the following shut down schedule:
  • Effective May 23rd, east coast operations serving Lewisburg, WV; DuBois, PA; Franklin, PA; and Athens, GA.
  • Effective May 31st, west coast operations serving Ely, NV; Merced, CA; Visalia, CA; Prescott, AZ; Kingman, AZ; and Farmington, NM.
  • Effective June 30th, central operations serving Columbia, MO; Joplin, MO; Kirksville, MO; Grand Island, NE; McCook, NE; Little Rock, AR; Hot Springs, AR; Harrison, AR; El Dorado, AR; and Jonesboro, AR
"We are extremely saddened this decision has become necessary; Air Midwest has a long and proud history and has served millions of passengers in its 43 years of operation," said Jonathan Ornstein, CEO of Mesa Air Group. "Unfortunately under the current economic conditions there was no foreseeable way to achieve sustained profitability. Even with subsidies from the DOT, Air Midwest has been unable to sustain profitability for the last several years. While this was an extremely difficult decision, and one that the company worked tirelessly to avoid, we are working diligently to minimize the impact this decision will have on Air Midwest's passengers and employees."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Asia Pacific Airlines Boeing 727 runway overrun at Pohnpei

Asia Pacific Airlines logoOn Friday, May 16, 2008, an Asia Pacific Airlines (APA) Boeing 727-200 aircraft overran the end of the runway on arrival at the island of Pohnpei, Micronesia. The aircraft (registration N319NE) came to a rest with its nosewheel in the water of a lagoon at the end of the runway at Pohnpei International Airport (PTPN) . The air cargo flight had originated at Guam, carrying U.S. Mail and mixed freight. The FAA's preliminary report about the incident noted that no one among the three crew members and two passengers on board was injured.

The FAA preliminary report, referenced above, stated that damage to the aircraft was "minor" and that the nose wheel was in the water, while the rest of the aircraft was on the runway. A Pacific Magazine article about the incident reported that the aircraft was not obstructing the runway:
"The aircraft is completely off the runway and is not blocking it," said APA's Guam-based manager Robert Walker Friday night. The "closest part of aircraft to runway is probably 20 feet or so and that is the left wingtip."
Pacific Magazine mentioned that this is the second time that an aircraft has skidded off the 6,000 ft. runway at Pohnpei. In the previous accident the aircraft was destroyed and part of the runway was damaged. The runway is reportedly scheduled to be extended by an additional 800 feet later this year.

UPDATE May 23, 2008: News reports have said that the runway at Pohnpei Airport reopened on May 22, 2008. The runway had been closed after the Asia Pacific Airlines accident.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Flight attendant allegedly set fire to aircraft lavatory

newspaper iconThis is just mind boggling: Remember the recent story about the in-flight fire in a lavatory on a Compass Airlines plane? It turns out that one of the flight attendants working the flight allegedly set the fire intentionally.

When the news broke yesterday I couldn't believe it. I thought it was a sensationalized rumor. But now the Associated Press is reporting that not only has the young man been arrested, but he also has confessed to the FBI that he started the fire. In fact, he made his first court appearance yesterday, and has been ordered held without bail.

The AP article, citing court documents as a source, claims that the 19-year old flight attendant "told authorities he was upset at the airline for making him work the route." He brought a lighter on board the flight he was working. The lighter was later found inside an overhead bin. Court documents say that as "he was preparing his cart to serve the passengers, he set the cart up, went back to the lavatory and reached in with his right hand and lit the paper towels with the lighter."

A short time later an indicator was activated on the flight deck, showing smoke near the rear lavatory. A pilot alerted the flight attendant to check the lavatory. Both flight attendants then used fire extinguishers to put out the fire. Yes, that's right -- the flight attendant who allegedly started the fire then had a heroic role in extinguishing it.

The aircraft, which had been en route from Minneapolis to Regina, Saskatchewan, diverted to Fargo for an emergency landing. Fortunately no one on board the aircraft was injured.

The thoughtless bonehead flight attendant has been formally charged with setting fire aboard a civil aircraft. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Air France takes delivery of its 50th Boeing 777 aircraft

Air France Boeing 777-300EREarlier this month, Air France reached a milestone in its acquisition of Boeing 777-type aircraft. Boeing recently delivered a new B777-300ER aircraft to Air France -- the carrier's 50th B-777.

The newest aircraft is Air France's 25th B777-300ER, the world's largest long-range twin-engine jetliner. Air France also has another 25 B777-200ER aircraft in its fleet.

"This is truly a great day for Air France and Boeing," said Pierre Vellay, senior vice president of New Aircraft and Corporate Fleet Planning for Air France. "The 777 is the mainstay of our long-haul fleet and elemental to our success and future growth plans. We look forward to further integration of this exceptional airplane later this year, when Air France takes delivery of the world's first 777 Freighter."

Mr. Vellay was referring to the fact that Air France also will be the launch customer for Boeing's new B-777 Freighter, the first of which is scheduled to begin flight tests later this month. Boeing says that "with the delivery of its first 777 Freighter this year and through the operation of a single 777 platform, Air France will achieve significant synergies between its cargo and passenger business."

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

EuroManx: Another small air carrier folds

EuroManx Dash-8EuroManx, a small airline based on the Isle of Mann, ceased operations several days ago. A message posted on the EuroManx website on May 9, 2008 explained:
For the past 5 years EuroManx has focused on providing a locally based operation offering high quality schedules and services dedicated to the Isle of Man.

During this time the employees have worked hard to develop and grow the business but over the last 6 months a number of factors including rising fuel prices and reduced passenger numbers have proved to be insurmountable obstacles to the airline being able to continue to operate.
EuroManx, which had been in business since August 2002, operated Dash-8 aircraft on flights between the Isle of Man and Belfast City, Liverpool, London City and Manchester airports.

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Northwest Airlines Boeing 757 loses wing panel in flight

Northwest Airlines logoA panel separated from the right wing of a Northwest Airlines Boeing 757-200 yesterday while the aircraft was in flight. The incident happened on May 12, 2008, while the aircraft, operating as Northwest Flight NWA 322, was en route from Los Angeles to Detroit. The crew declared an emergency and diverted to Las Vegas, where the aircraft landed safely. No one was injured.

According to a preliminary report about the incident on the FAA website, the separation of the panel, which measured about 2 feet by 3 feet, caused a "hydraulic issue." After separating from the wing, the panel hit the aircraft's horizontal stabilizer.

This incident is reminiscent of another that happened in March of this year, when a wing panel separated from a US Airways Boeing 757-200 while the aircraft was flying over Maryland. A month later, the NTSB cited metal fatigue as the cause of that incident. In its factual report on the US Airways incident, the NTSB mentioned that US Airways "had inspected the wing panels on all of its 757s and found problems with wing panel fasteners on several other aircraft, which were since repaired and returned to service." The NTSB also said that they were "continuing to evaluate the design, installation, inspection and maintenance of the failed components to determine the cause of the failure and the impact on the 757 fleet."

Was yesterday's Northwest incident related? Maybe -- or maybe not -- but it does make you wonder...

Monday, May 12, 2008

AAIB: Latest Bulletin on British Airways crash investigation

AAIBThe U.K.'s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) issued a new special bulletin earlier today, with updated information about the Board's investigation of the crash landing of a British Airways Boeing 777 aircraft at London's Heathrow Airport (LHR). The accident occurred on January 17, 2008, when BA Flight 038, arriving at LHR from Beijing, landed short of runway 27L after losing power in the final stages of its approach. The newest report, AAIB Bulletin S3/2008, cites evidence of low fuel pressure in both engines of the accident aircraft, a Boeing 777-236ER (registration number G-YMMM), as leading to an uncommanded loss of power.

The report says the "reduction in thrust on both engines was the result of a reduced fuel flow" and notes that "the engine control system detected the reduced fuel flow and commanded the fuel metering valve to open fully. The fuel metering valve responded to this command and opened fully but with no appreciable change in the fuel flow to either engine."
The evidence to date indicates that both engines had low fuel pressure at the inlet to the HP pump. Restrictions in the fuel system between the aircraft fuel tanks and each of the engine HP pumps, resulting in reduced fuel flows, is suspected.
The AAIB's latest Special Bulletin on the crash of BA Flight 038 addressed several alternative explanations for the crash, ruling them out as causes. Specifically mentioned:
  • no evidence of an aircraft or engine control system malfunction
  • no evidence of a wake vortex encounter, a bird strike or core engine icing
  • no evidence of any anomalous behaviour of any of the aircraft or engine systems that suggests electromagnetic interference
  • fuel was of good quality, with no evidence of contamination or excessive water
  • no unusual deterioration or physical blockages of the fuel system and pipe work
  • spar valves and the aircraft fuel boost pumps were serviceable and operated correctly during the flight
The report did find that "the high pressure (HP) fuel pumps from both engines have unusual and fresh cavitation damage to the outlet ports consistent with operation at low inlet pressure."

The AAIB investigation is continuing, with a focus on trying to determine why neither engine responded to the demanded increase in power when all of the engine control functions operated normally. No single parameter from the flight data has been identified as abnormal. The ongoing investigation centers on identifying "abnormal combinations of parameters."

Click here to download AAIB Bulletin S3/2008. (3-page 'pdf' file)

Related: Click here to view all posts about British Airways Flt 038 on Aircrew Buzz.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Actor Dennis Farina nabbed at LAX with loaded handgun

Actor Dennis FarinaVarious news media are reporting that actor Dennis Farina was taken into custody at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Sunday morning, May 11, 2008, after TSA agents at a security screening checkpoint discovered a loaded handgun in his briefcase. Mr. Farina, who was preparing to board a United Airlines flight from LAX to Chicago, claimed he forgot that the firearm was in his briefcase.

It gets worse: the loaded .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol that he forgot he had with him was not registered, nor did Mr. Farina have a permit to carry it.

Initially, Mr. Farina was taken to the LAPD Pacific station and booked for the misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon, and bail was set at $25,000. Later it was discovered that the firearm was not registered, at which point the charge was upgraded to a felony. Bail was then increased to $35,000. Mr. Farina was transferred to the LAPD Van Nuys station, according to Los Angeles TV station KTLA.

Mr. Farina should know better. Not only has he played cop and detective roles in movies and TV series, such as Law and Order, Crime Story, and Miami Vice, he used to be a law enforcement officer in real life, too. He worked for the Chicago Police Department for nearly 20 years before becoming an actor.

[Photo Source]

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Pilot shortage in India: Airlines need type-rated ex-pat pilots

Air India Boeing 777-200ERAir India has a shortage of pilots, particularly those qualified to fly Boeing 777 aircraft. In fact, this shortage of Boeing 777 type-rated pilots has caused India's national flag carrier to temporarily suspend its passenger service between Kolkata and London, a route served by Boeing 777 aircraft. An airline official in Kolkata noted that, if not remedied soon, the pilot shortage could affect Air India flights to Chicago, New York and London from Delhi and Mumbai as well.

Air India, a government-owned carrier, currently employs about 800 pilots, 117 of whom are foreigners. Since there are too few Indian nationals with the needed type ratings and command experience on the Boeing 777, Air India employs ex-pat pilots to fill the vacancies. The Careers page on the Air India website specifies a current need for more ex-pat pilots who are already qualified to fly B777-200/300 aircraft. Online applications for these positions are being accepted now.

So, how did this situation come about? According to an article about the pilot shortage in the Times of India, the current crisis began when Air India's three-year contract with 20 pilots expired this month. Another 10 pilots have just retired. Most of those pilots were Boeing 777 commanders.

An article in The Hindu quoted an Air India spokesman who said that Air India was "expediting the pace of training of pilots and three Captains were turning out every month to fly B-777 aircraft." The carrier also sends young pilots for training to flying schools in the U.S., but this does little to fill the immediate need for experienced aircraft commanders. Thus, the airline is seeking qualified pilots from abroad.

Pilot poaching is another issue that comes into play. The article in The Hindu elaborates:
Some of the senior commanders told The Hindu that despite an unwritten “no-poaching” pact among airlines in the country as many as 31 pilots left JetLite, formerly Air Sahara, and now acquired by Jet Airways as its low-cost arm, over the past two months, and joined Kingfisher Airlines, which is an on a expansion spree after its promoter Vijay Mallya acquired a stake in Air Deccan.

“All these pilots who were operating Boeing 737 will be able to fly wide bodied jets like A-340 after a brief spell of training on simulators. The same pool of trained pilots could have been available to Air India for its B-777 fleet as it would have required just four sessions on simulators. As a majority of pilots are on contracts, there is no question of overtaking anyone’s seniority,” industry sources said.
The Hindu notes that private carriers in India employ ex-pat pilots, too. Jet Airways employs about 100 foreign pilots, IndiGo has 84 foreigners as pilots and Paramount Airways has 11, while cargo carrier Blue Dart has 10 foreign pilots, according to the Civil Aviation Ministry. In addition, some 900 of the 2,500 pilots employed in the civil aviation sector are foreigners. About five per cent are above 60 years and are from the U.S. The retirement age for pilots in India is now 65.

[Photo Source]

Friday, May 09, 2008

Union allocates multi-million dollar 'war chest' to pilots at Continental and United Airlines

ALPA logoThis week, the Executive Board of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the largest pilots' union in North America, passed a resolution authorizing the allocation of $5 million each to the ALPA units at United Airlines and Continental Airlines as a 'war chest' to help them respond to "the increasing assaults on their rightful role in helping to shape events that affect their careers and their airlines." The authorization was announced by ALPA’s president, Capt. John Prater, in a news release issued on May 8, 2008.

Capt. Prater explained that the intention of the move by the ALPA Executive Board is to put "massive resources in the hands of our union leaders when they need such support."

The money will come from ALPA's Major Contingency Fund (MCF), an $80 million cash reserve designated to provide pilot groups the resources they need to respond to "extraordinary threats to the profession and to their careers." ALPA's news release included statements by the chairmen of the ALPA Master Executive Council (MEC) at each of the two airlines.

Capt. Jay Pierce, chairman of the Continental MEC, said, "Access to the monies from the ALPA Major Contingency Fund will provide us with the additional resources needed to secure an improved contract for our pilots. As we enter contract negotiations under the Railway Labor Act, we will be well positioned to battle for the advancements we're seeking through increased compensation, strengthened work rules, and other long-needed improvements. The Continental pilots have given more than $200 million in concessions each year since April 2005 to help secure the future of Continental. It's time that we have security for our own futures."

United MEC chairman, Capt. Steve Wallach, noted, "The United pilots were the first major contributors to the Major Contingency Fund in 1985. This is the first time we have tapped into the fund, and we recognize the foresight of the pilots who realized the need for an MCF in battles that benefit the entire industry. United pilots have always taken the lead to ensure the long-term viability and survival of our airline, and the use of the MCF is another step in that direction."

Capt. Prater said the message to the airline industry is, "Managements that include pilots in their business planning, whether they choose a stand-alone path or decide to merge, can succeed. Those who try to exclude us will fail. We are airline pilots who are determined and committed to restoring our contracts as the foundation of our profession."

The money in the 'war chests' is to be used for "strategic preparedness, communications, and family awareness efforts" by the two ALPA units.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Flight attendants fight fire on Compass Airlines regional jet

Compass Northwest AirlinkA fire broke out in a lavatory on a Compass Airlines Embraer 175 regional jet, operating as Northwest Airlink Flight CPZ 2040 between Minneapolis-St.Paul and Regina, Saskatchewan on the evening of May 7, 2008. The aircraft diverted to Fargo, North Dakota, where it landed safely. The 72 passengers and four crew members on board were not injured.

According to news reports about the incident, the flight attendants reacted quickly to extinguish the fire. They donned Protective Breathing Equipment (PBE) [smoke hoods] and used fire extinguishers to control the fire , which was in a lavatory in the rear of the aircraft. They also moved passengers forward to an area where the smoke was not as heavy, and prepared the cabin for the emergency landing.

An article about the incident in the Calgary Herald quoted passengers who were on the flight. One man said:
"I heard the commotion, turned around. (There was) a lot of smoke, a lot of people looking really terrified. The next thing you know, the last probably eight or nine rows were running to the front of the plane because of the smoke. Next thing you know they were all sitting in the laps of the people up front ... (A flight attendant) came on (the intercom) and said, 'Electrical fire and we're going to be making an emergency landing.'"
Another passenger said:
"One of the attendants had on big headgear or something and was yelling and running up and down the aisle. Some people were getting up (to help) and they were yelled at and (told) to sit down, put their seat belts on, stay sitting ... We just kept declining fast. I was thankful the pilot, he was great. He went right down, he got us there quick."
According to various news reports, crew members and passengers were interviewed by local police and FBI agents at Fargo's airport. The cause of the fire is still being investigated. The aircraft has been taken out of service.

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Lacking growth capital, DayJet downsizes work force

DayJet Eclipse 500 VLJ aircraftYesterday, Ed Iacobucci, CEO of DayJet, announced the scaling back of the company's growth plan for 2008, including a reduction of its work force. Iacobucci attributed the need for cutbacks to "external economic factors." DayJet, based in Boca Raton, FL, operates a fleet of Eclipse 500 very light jets .

The company, which has been operating as a per-seat on-demand air taxi carrier since October of 2007, expected an additional investment of about $40 million "growth capital" in the first quarter of 2008 in order to open new markets. The new capital has not materialized. "We hired and trained a number of employees in anticipation of future growth and always planned for additional capital investment at this stage, ” said Iacobucci.

There is no plan to reduce the existing service area in the Southeast U.S. at this time, according to Iacobucci. "When the capital markets recover, then we would expect to resume the growth forecast in our original plan,” he said.

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

David Neeleman's new Brazilian airline to be named 'Azul'

David NeelemanDavid Neeleman announced today that his start-up airline in Brazil will be called Azul Linhas Aereas Brasileiras, SA -- Azul for short. Azul is the Portuguese word for blue. What a coincidence: Prior to beginning work to organize the new Brazilian carrier, Neeleman was the founder and former CEO of Jet Blue Airways in the U.S.

"Azul is a metaphor for security, serenity, loyalty, and quality -- as well as connoting flight, as the color of the sky. But we want our company to define the name, not have the name define our company," said Mr. Neeleman.

Plans for the new airline were announced in March of this year. Azul will begin operating as a domestic carrier in Brazil in January of 2009. The airline, which will be headquartered in São Paulo, will operate a fleet of Embraer 195 aircraft. Each aircraft will carry 118 passengers in a two-by-two configuration.

The new airline is seeking applicants: Click here.

[Photo Source]

Monday, May 05, 2008

Sri Lankan airline Mihin Lanka suspends operations

Mihin Lanka A320Mihin Lanka, the budget airline owned by the government of Sri Lanka, has suspended operations indefinitely. The reason, according to news reports: they have no planes!

As reported yesterday by the Sri Lankan news website The Sunday Times Online:
The carrier’s last aircraft, an Airbus A-321 taken on wet lease from BH Air, based in Bulgaria, was reclaimed by its owners on Thursday, with all the aircraft’s staff, equipment and stores. It is understood that the cash-strapped carrier, which in its first year of operation was already billions of rupees in debt, was unable to come up with the cash to renew the lease.

Mihin began operations in April last year and stopped flying a year later, at the end of last month. Mihin Lanka’s controversial CEO Sajin de Vass Gunewardena was due to leave the airline at the end of April this year.
The Sunday Times also says that Mihin Lanka has been "scouring markets in Europe and India in a bid to obtain new aircraft on a dry lease, at a lower cost."

A number of news outlets in Sri Lanka have reported that Mihin Lanka's CEO, Sajin Vaas Gunawardene, resigned several weeks ago.

A visit to the Mihin Lanka website yielded no public messages or news releases about suspension of operations, however the "Flight Information" page said " NO FLIGHTS ARE SCHEDULED FOR TODAY." The "Flight Schedule" page lists flights between Colombo and a number of destinations during the period of June 1, 2008 to October 25, 2008. Perhaps the Mihin Lanka management believes they will have some aircraft available by the first of June.

[Photo Source]

Friday, May 02, 2008

Air Jamaica flight attendants awarded retroactive pay for their work on the ground

Air Jamaica cabin crewFlight attendants who worked for Air Jamaica between 2003 and 2005 are going to be paid retroactively for duties they carried out on the ground before and after flights, according to a recent news item on Radio Jamaica. The payments were awarded by an Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT) ruling handed down in February this year, following a five-year dispute between the airline and its cabin crew.

The article quoted President-General of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) Kavon Gayle, who said, "[Payments will be made] beginning this month, May and June...this payment will also be made to flight attendants who have left the company and those whose positions were made redundant in 2005 bearing in mind that the payments are retroactive from 2003 to 2005."

More than 500 flight attendants will receive retroactive special duty allowances that Air Jamaica failed to pay them for duties carried out before and after flights.

The premise of this case is similar to another I wrote about last month. In that case a flight attendant sued Israeli carrier Arkia Airlines for pay she says is owed her for work she did while on the ground. Two cases don't exactly make a trend, but these disputes do call attention to the widespread practice of not compensating flight attendants for work they do on the ground before and after flights, much of which is directly related to flight safety. Kudos to the Industrial Disputes Tribunal for their decision in the Air Jamaica case.

[Photo Source]