Saturday, February 28, 2009

Video tribute to the crew of Colgan Air Flight 3407

This video memorializes the crew of Colgan Air Flight 3407, who perished along with 45 others when their aircraft crashed while on approach to Buffalo on February 12, 2009. Captain Marvin Renslow, First Officer Rebecca Shaw, Flight Attendant Matilda Quintero, and Flight Attendant Donna Prisco were working the flight; off-duty Captain Joseph Zuffoletto was a passenger. The video is a nice reminder that those five crew members were real people with real lives -- not just names on an accident report.

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

Hat tips to YouTube user tdonohue and Twitter user @FoxWhisperer.

RELATED: Click here to view all posts about Colgan Air Flt 3407 on Aircrew Buzz.

Friday, February 27, 2009

US Airways pilots want contract talks mediated

USAPA logoThe US Airline Pilots Association (USAPA), which represents over 5,000 US Airways pilots, has proposed that USAPA and US Airways management "jointly seek a facilitator utilizing the services of the National Mediation Board to assist the parties in reaching an agreement." US Airways management and the pilots have been engaged in contract negotiations for more than three years.

"We are in the quagmire of a seemingly endless contract negotiation that has not served our pilots or our company well. It is long past time to end the stagnation," said USAPA President Steve Bradford.

The US Airways pilots entered contract negotiations with management in November 2005 under the terms of a Transition Agreement at the time of the US Airways and America West merger. Union leaders have said repeatedly that unresolved contract issues have created "confusion, inefficiencies and severe morale problems that carry over into the airline’s operation."

At the outset of the contract negotiations, US Airways pilots were represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). In April of 2008, the pilots voted to have USAPA replace ALPA as their collective bargaining unit.

Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants have a tentative contract

Hawaiian Airlines logoFlight attendants and management at Hawaiian Airlines have reached a tentative agreement (TA) on a proposed new contract. The TA was announced yesterday by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA), which represents Hawaiian flight attendants.

"In these challenging times, Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants need a
stable contract they can count on," said Sharon Soper, AFA-CWA Hawaiian President. "We are pleased that we could work collaboratively with Hawaiian's management team to quickly reach an agreement  that provides stability for our members and our company during these turbulent times. We feel that this tentative agreement reflects the needs and concerns the flight attendants have expressed. Our members will now evaluate whether this tentative
agreement and the associated changes are in their best interests and
vote accordingly."

According to the flight attendants' union, the proposed agreement would extend the current contract for two more years and includes improved wages and bonus compensation for Hawaiian Airlines cabin crew while providing some provisions to help the company maintain its operational excellence. The tentative agreement will be sent out for membership review and a voting schedule will be determined.

UPDATE Apr. 1, 2009: Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants ratify contract

Turkish Airlines identifies crew members who died in Flight TK 1951 accident

Turkish AirlinesThree pilots and one flight attendant were among the nine fatalities in the crash of Turkish Airlines Flight TK 1951 at Amsterdam on February 25, 2009.  Turkish Airlines has officially identified the crew members who perished in the accident, as follows:
  • Hasan Tahsin ARISAN - Pilot
  • Olgay ÖZGÜR - Pilot
  • Murat SEZER - Pilot
  • Ulvi Murat ESKİN - Flight Attendant
Condolences to the families, flying partners, and friends of these Turkish Airlines crew members.

RELATED: Click here to view all posts about THY Flt 1951 on Aircrew Buzz.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Boeing employees among casualties in Turkish Airlines accident at Amsterdam

BoeingA short time ago, Boeing released the following statement to the media:
Boeing today received confirmation from the U.S. State Department that two Boeing employees have been identified as among the fatalities from this week's Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 accident in Amsterdam. Boeing extends its deepest condolences to their families, friends and colleagues. A third Boeing employee on Flight 1951 sustained injuries and remains hospitalized. The company is awaiting official notification about the condition of the fourth employee on the flight. Boeing remains committed to supporting the families of our employees through this very difficult time. Given the pending information, and at the request of some of the affected families, the specific condition of each employee on the airplane isn't being released by Boeing at this time.

"This is a very sad day for our company," Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with our colleagues' families, friends and co-workers and with the families of everyone who was on the flight."
UPDATE Feb. 27, 2009: Today Boeing confirmed that a third employee who was a passenger on Flight TK 1951 has died. The company also named all four Boeing employees who were on board the accident aircraft:
...With the consent of the affected families, Boeing confirms the names and conditions of the four Boeing employees on Flight 1951. Three employees - Ronald A. Richey of Duvall, Wash., John Salman of Kent, Wash., and Ricky E. Wilson of Clinton, Wash. - died in the crash. One employee - Michael T. Hemmer of Federal Way, Wash. - was among the injured and remains hospitalized.
Condolences to the families, colleagues and friends of those who lost their lives in the accident. Best wishes to Mr. Hemmer for a speedy and complete recovery from his injuries.

Related:  Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800 accident near Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam -, Feb. 25, 2009

410 American Airlines flight attendants face furloughs

APFA logoThe Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), the union representing cabin crew at American Airlines, has notified its membership that 410 of its most junior members are subject to furlough effective April 1, 2009. According to a message on the APFA Hotline, the union was told today by Lauri Curtis, American’s Vice President of Flight Service, that "despite the attempts over the last several months to accommodate the Flight Attendant manning overages caused by schedule reductions and reduced passenger loads, the company has been unable to sufficiently absorb the expected additional Flight Attendant headcount."

APFA said to its members, "We are extremely disappointed that the company has had to resort to this action, though are hopeful that through the contractual procedures of Overage Leaves and Partnership Flying proffers, and the re-offering of the Travel Separation Program, the overage will be reduced or eliminated through voluntary means and will thereby reduce, or eliminate, any layoffs."

The APFA leadership has been working with the airline on mitigation efforts ever since last summer when American first announced a need to reduce its flight attendant head count in conjunction with its planned capacity reduction.

The union says that Overage Leaves and Partnership Flying will be proffered again, in accordance with the contract between the flight attendants and the airline. In addition, the airline is renewing the offer of the Travel Separation Program to eligible flight attendants. The union leadership retains the hope that the number of potential furloughs can be significantly mitigated through the various voluntary methods.

On the subject of current furloughees, the APFA Hotline message goes on to say:
We know that, as uncomfortable the prospect of potential layoff is to our most junior members, it also further delays the hoped-for return to work of those presently furloughed. Recognizing this, and the ongoing uncertainty faced by our furloughees, the APFA Board of Directors has achieved and unanimously approved an extension of the recall rights of those currently furloughed Flight Attendants by an additional two years, and an offer to them of a special Travel Separation Program. These Flight Attendants will receive a letter from the Company soon with more information and instructions.
Meanwhile, contract talks between the APFA and American Airlines, which began in May of last year, are set to resume on March 10, mediated by the U.S. National Mediation Board.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800 accident near Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam

Turkish Airlines accident at AmsterdamA Turkish Airlines (THY) Boeing 737-800 aircraft (registration T-CJGE) crashed while on approach to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport this morning, February 25, 2009. THY Flight TK 1951 was arriving at Amsterdam on a scheduled passenger flight from Istanbul at the time of the accident. According to information provided by the airline, there were seven crew members and 127 passengers on board at the time of the accident.

Turkish Airlines confirms nine fatalities and 50 injured, although several news reports, quoting Dutch officials, have said approximately 80 were injured. Three crew members are said to be among the fatalities.

At the time of the accident, the aircraft was on final approach to runway 18R at Schiphol. It impacted an agricultural field approximately a mile short of the runway threshold. Eyewitnesses claimed that the aircraft hit tail first, but this has not been officially confirmed. News photos of the accident scene do, however, show very significant damage to the empennage. The fuselage of the aircraft reportedly split into three sections. There was no fire.

The Dutch Safety Board has confirmed that both the Cockpit Voice Recorder and the Flight Data Recorder have been recovered from the accident aircraft.

A list of the names of the crew and passengers on Flight TK 1951 has been made available on the Turkish Airlines website.

More information about this accident will be posted on Aircrew Buzz as it becomes available.

[Photo Source]

UPDATE Feb. 26, 2009: Aviation news website, quoting investigators from the Dutch Safety Board, is reporting that "none of the three cockpit personnel survived the accident." They were described as two pilots and an 'apprentice'.

Also reported: that approximately 10 minutes before impact, Dutch controllers instructed the 737 to proceed to the SPY navaid, around 12nm (22km) northeast of the runway and descend to 4,000ft ahead of an instrument landing system approach."

Approximately three minutes before the crash, "controllers told the crew to make a left turn, heading 210°, and cleared the flight for the approach to 18R, before instructing the pilots to contact the Schiphol tower frequency."
...the investigators have noted the apparent "very low forward speed" of the aircraft, and the fact that there are "hardly any tracks" in the field where the jet came to rest. The aircraft appears to have "hit with the tail" and left a "very short trail" of debris.
The number of those injured now stands at 86, with six of those in critical condition.

Click here to view all posts about THY Flt 1951 on Aircrew Buzz.

US Airways Flight 1549: The air traffic controller's story

U S House of RepresentativesYesterday the the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Aviation, U.S. House of Representatives, held a hearing about US Airways Flight 1549, the A320 that ditched in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009. Among those who testified was Patrick Harten, the New York TRACON air traffic controller who was handling departures from LaGuardia at the time of Flight 1549's emergency.

The crew members who were on board Flight 1549 have been interviewed by the media a number of times, and their stories about the accident have been widely circulated. Until yesterday, I don't think I had heard the air traffic controller's own riveting account of the emergency.

Mr. Harten's story, which is now part of the public record as Congressional testimony, is remarkable not only for the factual information it presents about the course of events, but also for the very personal and candid glimpse it provides into the situation of an air traffic controller who suddenly finds himself dealing with an imminent catastrophe.

Here is the complete, unedited text of Patrick Harten's written testimony, dated February 24, 2009:
Good morning Chairman Costello and Ranking Member Petri. My name is Patrick Harten.

I have been an air traffic controller at the NY TRACON and a proud member of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association for the past 10 years.

While January 15, 2009 is forever etched in my memory, it began unremarkably. I arrived at work at 12:30pm to begin my eight-hour shift.

At 3:12 PM I was assigned to work the LaGuardia (LGA) departure RADAR position. This position handles all departures from LGA airport.

At 3:25 PM, the LGA tower controller advised me that Cactus 1549 was the next departure rolling for takeoff.

It was a routine westbound departure off of Runway 4 traveling due north on a 360 degree heading and climbing to 5,000 feet.

I instructed Cactus to climb to 15,000 and turned my attention to give instructions to another aircraft under my control.

I then turned back to Cactus 1549 and instructed him to turn left to heading 270, heading the aircraft towards its destination. That is when the Captain advised me that they suffered a bird strike, lost thrust in both engines, and needed to return to LGA for an emergency landing.

When a pilot tells a controller he needs to make an emergency landing, the controller must act quickly and decisively.

I made a split second decision to offer him Runway 13, which was the closest runway to his current position and turned him left at a 220 heading so he could return to the airport.

I then immediately contacted LGA tower to ask them to stop departures and clear the runways for an emergency return.

While I have worked 10 or 12 emergencies over the course of my career, I have never worked an aircraft with zero thrust capabilities. I understood how grave this situation was.

After I gave him his instructions, the Captain very calmly stated: “We’re unable.”

I quickly vectored an aircraft that was still in my airspace and then gave 1549 a second option: land on LGA Runway 31.

Again the Captain said, “Unable.”

I then asked the Captain what he needed to do to land safely. At this point, my job was to coordinate and arrange for the pilot to be able to do whatever was necessary.

The pilot told me that he could not land on any runway at LGA, but asked if he could land in New Jersey and suggested Teterboro.

I had experienced working traffic into TEB from my time working in the EWR sector and after coordinating with the controllers in TEB, we were able to determine that Runway 1 was the best option. It was the arrival runway, and clearing it for an emergency landing would be easier and faster. It also meant that 1549 would be landing into the wind, which could have assisted the pilot in making a safe landing. I called TEB and explained the situation. The controller at TEB reacted quickly and prepared Runway 1 for the emergency landing.

I then instructed the Captain to turn right on a 280 heading to land on Runway 1.

The Captain replied: “We can’t do it.”

I replied immediately, “Which runway would you like at Teterboro?”

The captain replied: “We’re gonna be in the Hudson.”

I asked him to repeat himself, even though I heard him just fine. I simply could not wrap my mind around those words. People don’t survive landings on the Hudson River; I thought it was his own death sentence. I believed at that moment, I was going to be the last person to talk to anyone on that plane alive.

I then lost radio contact with 1549, and the target disappeared from my radar screen as he dropped below the tops of the New York City skyscrapers. I was in shock. I was sure the plane had gone down.

Less than a minute later, 1549 flickered back onto my radar scope. The aircraft was at a very low altitude, but its return to radar coverage meant that there was a possibility 1549 had regained the use of one of its engines.

Grasping at that tiny glimmer of hope, I told 1549 that it could land at EWR seven miles away on Runway 29, but I received no response. I then lost radar contact again, this time for good.

I was relieved from my position a few minutes later, as soon as it was possible. I was in no position to continue to work air traffic. It was the lowest low I had ever felt. I wanted to talk to my wife. But I knew if I tried to speak or even heard her voice, I would fall apart completely.

I settled for a hasty text message: “Had a Crash. Not ok. Can’t talk now.” When I got home, she told me she thought I had been in a car accident. Truth was I felt like I’d been hit by a bus.

It took six hours before I could leave the facility. I had to review the tapes, fill out paperwork and make an official statement.

It may sound strange, but for me the hardest and most traumatic part of the entire event was when it was over.

During the emergency itself, I was hyper-focused. I had no choice but to think and act quickly, and remain calm. But when it was over, it hit me hard. It felt like hours before I learned about the heroic water landing that Captain Sullenberger and his crew had managed. Even after I learned the truth, I could not shake the image of tragedy in my mind. Every time I saw the survivors on the television, I imagined grieving widows.

It has taken over a month for me to be able to see that I did a good job; I was flexible and responsive, I listened to what the pilot said and made sure to give him the tools he needed. I stayed calm and in control.

I return to work this week, and while it may take time for me to regain my old confidence; I know I will get there. I would like to end by personally recognizing the Captain and crew of Flight 1549 for their professionalism, skill and heroic efforts that day. I also would like to recognize the professionalism of the other controllers who helped clear the skies and the runways for 1549, as well as the engineers, who helped ensure that the aircraft itself could survive the landing in the Hudson and that those inside would be safe.

Finally, I want to thank my wife Regina. She has been my rock these past few weeks—as she always has and always will be. I couldn’t have survived this without her.

Thank you Mr. Chairman. I am prepared to answer any questions you have.
Thank you, Patrick Harten, for telling your side of the story so compellingly well.

Click here to view all posts about US Airways Flt 1549 on Aircrew Buzz.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What US Airways pilot Jeff Skiles told Congress today

U S House of RepresentativesJeffrey B. Skiles, who was the first officer on the US Airways A320 that ditched in the Hudson River last month, spoke before the U.S. House of Representatives earlier today. The occasion was a hearing held by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Aviation, regarding US Airways Flight 1549.

In his testimony, Skiles spoke of his aviation heritage -- both his parents were pilots -- and his pride in his 32 years as a pilot. He noted that he had accumulated over 20,000 hours in the cockpit, and that he had flown as Captain at US Airways in the past, and was Captain qualified on 3 different transport aircraft types.

Skiles praised his fellow crew members on Flight 1549, and the boat crews and first responders who came to their rescue. He also acknowledged the behavior of the passengers during the evacuation of the aircraft.

Then, echoing some of the same issues addressed in Capt. Sullenberger's testimony, Skiles said:
Like each and every one of my fellow professional airline pilots and flight attendants, I realize that flying a commercial airliner is a tremendous responsibility. The aftermath of this incident has brought forth in me a renewed understanding that this is a job for experienced professionals. Being an airline flight crewmember, whether pilot or flight attendant, is a serious job for serious people, and I am tremendously proud to count myself among their number. The dedication, seriousness and professionalism with which we in the aviation community approach our responsibilities can be credited for the dramatic improvement of our national aviation safety record.

The training, procedures and tenets of cockpit resource management (CRM) developed throughout the airline industry over the last 15 years, played a significant role on January 15th. Training departments industry wide are ceaselessly striving to identify future problems and develop procedures to combat them before they occur. A functional self-disclosure safety program is a valuable tool to identify and track errors. Mutually agreeable solutions to make these programs available are in the traveling public’s interest. We must work tirelessly to maintain an unrivaled commitment to safety and professionalism. However, another component of the positive result was the vast experience of the cockpit AND cabin crew.

Sully and I have over 70 years of experience and 40,000 flying hours between us. New pilots in the jet aircraft of our affiliate airlines have 300 hours. When I began at US-Airways, the Company required several thousand hours just to gain an interview for a pilot position. It is certainly in the interest of the traveling public to have experienced crews in the cockpit.

Along with Captain Sullenberger, I have concerns for the future of the Airline Pilot Profession. Experienced crews in the cockpit eventually will be a thing of the past. What this country has experienced economically in the last 8 months, we have experienced in our industry for the last 8 years, since 9-11. In the wake of these 8 years of financial turmoil, bankruptcies, layoffs, and revolving door management teams, airline piloting careers have been shattered. I personally earn half of what I once earned, AND I have lost my retirement to a PBGC promise that will pay pennies on the dollar. Many pilots like Captain Sullenberger and myself have had to split their focus from the Airline Piloting Profession and develop alternative businesses or careers. I myself am a general contractor. For the last 6 years, I have worked 7 days a week between my two jobs just to maintain a middle class standard of living.

The more than thirty thousand people who work at US Airways are proud of the work they do each day, and of their accomplishments. To many of us, the near total devaluation of our professions by our management is heartfelt. In the last several years the only constant I see is the ever increasing compensation levels of our management.

When I started in this industry there were aviation dynasties. Entire families would be employed in aviation as pilots, flight attendants, mechanics or agents. An aviation career was something people aspired to their entire childhood, as I did. Now I know of NO ONE who encourages their children to enter the airline industry.

From our perspective, it is clear that the current state of the management/ labor negotiation process is broken. Negotiations drag out for years in stagnation with little clarity for those of us who have spent our entire lives training to be on the front lines of safety for the American flying public. We aren’t asking for special privileges, but for a level playing field inside the NMB negotiating process. There is not a balance in the negotiating process and the state of the airline piloting profession is proof.

I would respectfully urge members of this subcommittee to work with other relevant committees to promote better balance between airline management and airline employees, especially in the area of creating an environment for efficient and effective negotiations inside the National Mediation Board process, thereby eliminating years of negotiating stagnation. I believe the reforms being considered by the House Judiciary committee can lead to more cooperation and less confrontation. This in turn would certainly help to rebuild an environment that will allow us to concentrate on the safety of the traveling public.

Our colleagues in this industry have rallied around our incident. While Captain Sullenberger and I generally prefer to land at airports, we are proud that the Hudson River landing displayed what well trained, professional pilots and flight attendants can do when faced with tremendous adversity. We are all very gratified and moved that our colleagues in the flying industry have seen this incident as a positive reflection of themselves and our shared profession.

We must ensure that America’s proud aviation traditions of transporting our citizens with safety and security does not fall victim to the immense challenges we face. In this, Congress has a role to play. We hope that you will take seriously the challenges that aviation professional’s face by helping us to level the playing field, and working with us to protect the airline pilot profession.

We ask that congress be a partner to the men and woman who make up the professionals who move America every day, as well as the companies who employ us. Working together we can ensure that the flight crews of the future will be the best and the brightest, and will have the experience and training necessary to ensure safe air travel to each and every passenger they carry.
Very well said, indeed.

Here is the link to the entire text of Jeffrey Skiles' written testimony (3-page 'pdf' file).

Click here to view all posts about US Airways Flt 1549 on Aircrew Buzz.

What Capt. 'Sully' Sullenberger told Congress today

U S House of RepresentativesEarlier today Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger, III -- AKA 'Sully' -- testified before the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Aviation, at the U.S. House of Representatives. The topic of the hearing was the US Airways Flight 1549 accident, but Capt. Sullenberger rightly used the opportunity to speak out about broader issues affecting airline crews in the United States, and, ultimately, passenger safety.

Capt. Sullenberger, who was the commander of the US Airways A320 that ditched in the Hudson River, praised his crew and passengers for their behavior on January 15, 2009. He also acknowledged the air traffic controllers, and gave credit to the first responders who quickly and safely rescued all who were on board Flight 1549.

Then he went on to say:
I am not only proud of my crew, I am proud of my profession. Flying has been my life-long passion. I count myself fortunate to have spent my life in the profession I love, with colleagues whom I respect and admire. But, honorable Representatives, while I love my profession, I do not like what has happened to it. I would not be doing my duty if I did not report to you that I am deeply worried about its future.

Americans have been experiencing huge economic difficulties in recent months – but airline employees have been experiencing those challenges, and more, for the last 8 years! We have been hit by an economic tsunami. September 11, bankruptcies, fluctuating fuel prices, mergers, loss of pensions and revolving door management teams who have used airline employees as an ATM have left the people who work for airlines in the United States with extreme economic difficulties.

It is an incredible testament to the collective character, professionalism and dedication of my colleagues in the industry that they are still able to function at such a high level. It is my personal experience that my decision to remain in the profession I love has come at a great financial cost to me and my family. My pay has been cut 40%, my pension, like most airline pensions, has been terminated and replaced by a PBGC guarantee worth only pennies on the dollar

While airline pilots are by no means alone in our financial struggles – and I want to acknowledge how difficult it is for everyone right now – it is important to underscore that the terms of our employment have changed dramatically from when I began my career, leading to an untenable financial situation for pilots and their families. When my company offered pilots who had been laid off the chance to return to work, 60% refused. Members, I attempt to speak accurately and plainly, so please do not think I exaggerate when I say that I do not know a single professional airline pilot who wants his or her children to follow in their footsteps.

I am worried that the airline piloting profession will not be able to continue to attract the best and the brightest. The current experience and skills of our country’s professional airline pilots come from investments made years ago when we were able to attract the ambitious, talented people who now frequently seek lucrative professional careers. That past investment was an indispensible element in our commercial aviation infrastructure, vital to safe air travel and our country’s economy and security. If we do not sufficiently value the airline piloting profession and future pilots are less experienced and less skilled, it logically follows that we will see negative consequences to the flying public – and to our country.

We face remarkable challenges in our industry. In order to ensure economic security and an uncompromising approach to passenger safety, management must work with labor to bargain in good faith. We must find collective solutions that address the huge economic issues we face in recruiting and retaining the experienced and highly skilled professionals that the industry requires and that passenger safety demands. But further, we must develop and sustain an environment in every airline and aviation organization – a culture that balances the competing needs of accountability and learning. We must create and maintain the trust that is the absolutely essential element of a successful and sustainable safety reporting system to detect and correct deficiencies before they lead to an accident. We must not let the economic and financial pressures detract from a focus on constantly improving our safety measures and engaging in ongoing and comprehensive training. In aviation, the bottom line is that the single most important piece of safety equipment is an experienced, well-trained pilot.

Despite the bad economic news we’ve experienced in recent times – despite the many challenges we face as a country – I have faith in America, in our people, in our promise. I have briefly touched upon some major problems in my industry today – but I do not believe they are intractable, should we decide to work collectively to solve them.

We all have roles to play in this effort. Despite the economic turbulence hitting our industry, the airline companies must refocus their attention – and their resources – on the recruitment and retention of highly experienced and well-trained pilots, and make that a priority that is at least equal to their financial bottom line. Jeff and I, and our fellow pilots will fly planes and continue to upgrade our education and our training, while we attempt to provide for our families. Patrick and the other talented Air Traffic Controllers will continue to guide us safely through the skies, our passengers will spend their hard-earned money to pay for their travel, and our flight attendants, mechanics, ground crews, and administrative personnel will deal with the thousands of constant details and demands that keep our planes safely in the air.

You can help us, honorable Members of Congress, to work together across party lines, and can demand – or legislate – that labor, management, safety experts, educators, technical experts, and everyday Americans join together to find solutions to these problems. We all honor our responsibilities in good faith and with respect for one another. We must keep the American commercial aviation industry safe and affordable for passengers, and financially viable for those who work in the industry day to day. And for those talented young men and women considering what to do with their lives, we must restore the narrative of a compelling career path in aviation with sufficient economic resources to once again make this vision a reality.
Bravo, Sully!

Here is the link to the entire text of Capt. Sullenberger's written testimony (3-page 'pdf' file).

Click here to view all posts about US Airways Flt 1549 on Aircrew Buzz.

US Airways Flight 1549: Congressional testimony by crew members and ATC

U S House of RepresentativesCrew members from US Airways Flight 1549, which ditched in the Hudson River in New York on January 15, 2008, testified at a hearing this morning before the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Aviation, U.S. House of Representatives. All five crew members from US Airways Flight 1549 were present at the hearings: Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger III; First Officer Jeffrey B. Skiles; and Flight Attendants Sheila Dail, Doreen Welsh, and Donna Dent. New York TRACON air traffic controller Patrick Harten, who was handling Flight 1549 at the time of the emergency also testified.

Both of the pilots from US Airways Flight 1549 submitted prepared statements to the Committee, as did Mr. Harten. Copies of their written testimony, as well as that of other witnesses at the hearings, are available for download from the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee website.

Here are the direct links to individual statements of the pilots, and the TRACON controller:
Each statement presents an important point of view. Successive posts here on Aircrew Buzz will feature excerpts from their testimony.

Click here to view all posts about US Airways Flt 1549 on Aircrew Buzz.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Aircraft separation incident blamed on San Juan CERAP controllers

NTSB logoThe U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a very brief probable cause report on an aircraft separation incident that occurred over the Atlantic Ocean, north of San Juan, Puerto Rico, in August of 2008. The NTSB's investigation of the incident concluded that "the San Juan CERAP controllers failure to ensure the two aircraft were properly separated using non-radar separation standards."

The NTSB report recounts the incident, as follows:
On August 28, 2008, at approximately 1837 Atlantic standard time, Russian Registered Transaero flight 554, a Boeing 744, and Delta Airlines flight 845, a Boeing 738, came within zero feet vertical and 1 minute lateral separation (15 minutes is required in non-radar environment) at FL330 179N San Juan, PR. Transaero 554 descended 200-300 feet due to a traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS) resolution alert. [NTSB ID: OPS08IA014B]
As reported soon after the incident here on Aircrew Buzz, the Transaero Boeing 747-400, operating as Flight TSO 554, was en route from Moscow Domodedovo International Airport to Punta Cana International Airport in the Dominican Republic. The Delta Air Lines Boeing 737-800, operating as Flight DAL 485, was en route from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New york to Piarco International Airport in Trinidad.

The San Juan CERAP (Combined En Route Radar Approach Control) is the only such facility in the Caribbean.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

AirTran Airways pilots' union seeks to merge with ALPA

AirTran Airways logoThe board of the National Pilots Association (NPA), the independent union representing the 1,700 pilots at AirTran Airways, has voted unanimously to approve a merger agreement with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). The proposed merger between the NPA and ALPA will be voted on by the full membership of the NPA between March 11 and April 10. If the membership approves the deal, the merger would go into effect on May 1, 2009.

The NPA leadership is in favor of merging with ALPA in order have access to ALPA's considerable resources in support of their ongoing contract negotiations with AirTran management. AirTran and the NPA have been negotiating -- albeit off and on -- since 2004.

ALPA passed a resolution endorsing a merger with the NPA in December of 2008, after holding talks with the AirTran pilots.

Late last year, the NPA also explored merger possibilities with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, but after meetings between the leadership of both unions, it was reported that the Teamsters declined "to pursue a more official relationship" with the AirTran pilots.

AirTran recently recalled 169 pilots who had been furloughed last summer.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Video: Boeing 747 Cabin Interiors from the 1970s

Ready for some aviation nostalgia? This video showcases the interiors of Boeing 747 aircraft from the 1970s, "when flying was meant to be a memorable experience, when inflight service mattered, and when the Boeing 747 was the coolest plane to fly in..."

Airlines represented in the video: Air Canada, Air France, American Airlines, Braniff, Continental Airlines, Iberia, Japan Airlines, KLM, National Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Pan Am, SAS, TWA, and United Airlines.

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

Tip of the hat to YouTube user LakeNipissing for posting the video.

RELATED: Boeing 747 marks 40 years of flight.

Friday, February 20, 2009

First Boeing 777 Freighter delivered to launch customer Air France

Air France Boeing-777F deliveryAir France has taken delivery of the first Boeing 777 Freighter to go into service. The new B-777F, which is based on the 777-200LR Worldliner (Longer Range) passenger airplane, just received type certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) earlier this month. The delivery ceremony took place yesterday near Paine Field (see photo).

According to Boeing, the 777F is the world's longest-range freighter and features the lowest trip cost of any large freighter, with high cargo density and 10-foot (3.1-meter) interior height capability that complement the popular 747 Freighter family. The aircraft is powered by General Electric's GE90-110B1L and meets QC2 noise standards.

Providing cargo capacity normally associated with larger airplanes, the 777 Freighter can fly 4,880 nautical miles (9,038 kilometers) with a full payload of 226,700 pounds (103 metric tons), says Boeing. The new airplane is expected to progressively replace the 747-400 Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF) in the Air France Cargo fleet. Air France currently operates five 747-400ER Freighters and four 747-400BCFs.

While Air France Cargo is the launch customer for the 777F, Boeing reports that twelve customers have ordered a total of 73 of the new 777 Freighters.

[Photo Source]

2,100 Delta employees volunteer for buyouts

Delta Air Lines logoThe Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that 2,100 Delta Air Lines employees have volunteered to take buyouts as the carrier seeks to reduce its work force. The 'voluntary programs to adjust staffing' -- including early retirements and severance -- were announced by Delta in December in conjunction with its planned capacity reduction.

Last month, Delta said it was seeking to eliminate about 2,000 jobs, or about 2.7 percent of its workforce. Workers with at least 10 years of service whose age and seniority add up to at least 55 were offered a severance package that would include two weeks of pay for each year of service, plus travel privileges and health insurance for a specified period.

In a message to employees, Delta CEO Richard Anderson said, "Passengers, our customers, are not buying tickets at rates they were buying tickets a year ago. Obviously, we wish we didn't have to decrease our capacity, but we cannot fly our airplanes around at low load factors."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Colgan Air addresses speculation about Flt. 3407 accident

Colgan Air logoColgan Air and its parent company, Pinnacle Airlines Corp., appear to be losing patience with all the speculation surrounding Colgan Air Flt. 3407, the Dash-8 Q400 that crashed last week near Buffalo. They are clearly annoyed that information made public by the NTSB has spawned so much theorizing and finger pointing by the media and the public at large, long before all of the facts about the accident are known.

Over the past two days, Pinnacle and its Colgan Air subsidiary have released a press statement and a FAQ Sheet (Frequently Asked Questions) in defense of the company, its crews, and its training program. Here is the main text of the press statement, issued yesterday:
Historically, NTSB investigations are confidential and involve a thorough determination of the facts before public statements are made. Colgan Air continues to cooperate in every respect with the NTSB as it conducts the investigation. As such, we will respect the integrity of the NTSB ongoing investigation by not commenting on specifics. However, we do feel compelled to comment on public speculation about potential causes of the accident.

Here are the facts about our operations. Colgan has instilled a systemic culture of safety throughout our organization that is rooted in significant investment in crew training, systems, leadership and equipment.

Our crew training programs meet or exceed the regulatory requirements for all major airlines. Our ground and air training is designed in coordination with the aircraft manufacturer, one of the most respected providers of aviation flight training and the Federal Aviation Administration utilizing state-of the-art training devices such as full-motion simulators, among others.

In addition, Colgan has committed significant financial resources to upgrade aircraft safety, efficiency and quality in recent years. The Q400 is a sophisticated, highly capable aircraft that is designed for cold-weather operations with a long, proven history of safe operations globally.

Captain Renslow had 3,379 total hours of flight experience and was Airline Transport Pilot rated, which is the highest level of certification available. That rating, combined with 172 hours of formal training on the Q400 aircraft, qualified him fully in accordance with all applicable Federal Aviation Regulations.

We continuously review our safety policies and training procedures as part of our everyday operations. In the wake of an accident, we are even more focused on ensuring our operations remain safe and have specifically reexamined our procedures for this aircraft. We have reinforced strict adherence to all of our flight operations policies, including flying during icing conditions.
Today the company issued a 3-page document - Frequently Asked Questions – Colgan Air Flight 3407. One item on that document clearly indicates the frustration of the airline's management in the face of massive media speculation about the cause of the accident:
If the process is supposed to be private until findings are determined, why am I seeing speculation about potential causes?
  • a. Historically, NTSB investigations are confidential and involve a thorough determination of the facts before public statements are made.
  • b. It’s important not to jump to conclusions, and instead focus on what is factual and released by the investigating team at the NTSB. Currently, the only absolute fact is that we do not know the cause of this accident.
Among other things, the FAQ describes Colgan Air's crew training methods at some length, with examples to illustrate. Also delineated in the FAQ are the qualifications, training, and number of flying hours of the two pilots who perished in the crash of Flight 3407. The FAQ even presents a justification for why Colgan Air flies the Q400.

The airline is in a tough position -- prohibited from commenting on specifics related to the accident itself while the investigation still is underway, yet catching flak from the media and the general public meanwhile. It's no wonder that Colgan Air feels compelled to do what it can to defend itself via these media releases.

Everyone wants to know what happened to cause the accident, yet few are patient enough to wait for all of the facts to emerge from the course of the investigation. Thus, every new tidbit of information revealed by the NTSB evokes a new round of speculation by the media and the huge cadre of armchair investigators who are all too ready to decide probable cause based on fragments of information.

Clearly this situation is vexing for the airline. And one can only imagine how rough all of this must be for the families of the crew and passengers who died in the accident.

RELATED: Click here to view all posts about Colgan Air Flt 3407 on Aircrew Buzz.

NTSB to hold public hearing on the US Airways Flight 1549 accident

NTSB logoThe U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has announced that a public hearing will be held in conjunction with the investigation of the ditching of a US Airways Airbus A320 into the Hudson River in New York City in last month. The hearing, which will be held in Washington, DC, is expected to be scheduled for late spring or early summer.

In a press release issued a short time ago, NTSB Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker said, "Based on what we have learned so far about this accident, we know that many things went right. But no matter how many things go right, we've found that each accident presents safety issues that we can learn from - both to further our investigation, and ultimately, to make the skies even safer. This hearing will move us closer toward those goals."

The public hearing will focus on the following issues:
  • Training of crew members on emergency procedures
  • Certification requirements for the Airbus A-320 related to the structural integrity of the airframe during ditching
  • Bird ingestion certification standards for transport-category turbofan engines
  • New and developing technologies for detection of large groups of birds and procedures to avoid conflicts with birds in the general vicinity of airports
A list of those expected to testify will be released closer to the date of the hearing. The exact date has not yet been announced.

RELATED: Click here to view all posts about US Airways Flt 1549 on Aircrew Buzz.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

9/11 flight attendant Cee Cee Lyles memorialized by her home town

Cee Cee LylesCee Cee Lyles, a United Airlines flight attendant who was killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, was honored by her home town of Fort Pierce, FL, yesterday. A post office in Fort Pierce was dedicated in her memory, in a ceremony conducted by Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL), and attended by family members, community leaders, and her fellow flight attendants.

Ms. Lyles was born and raised in Fort Pierce, FL. Prior to pursuing a career as a flight attendant with United Airlines, she was a Fort Pierce police officer for six years. She died at age 33, when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field outside Shanksville, PA.

A delegation from the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), of which Cee Cee Lyles was a member, attended the ceremony in Fort Pierce.

"Today's dedication of the Fort Pierce Post Office is a wonderful way to celebrate the professionalism and the memory of our flying partner and friend," said Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA International President. "Her memory will live on through the Fort Pierce community for generations to come."

Last year, Congress passed a resolution, sponsored by Senator Martinez and Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), which officially designated the local U.S. postal facility to be named in honor of Lyles. In 2003, Fort Pierce erected a bronze statue in Liberty Garden in Veteran's Memorial Park to memorialize the United flight attendant and Fort Pierce native.

Click here to read about the life of Cee Cee Lyles, from the archives of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Singapore Airlines, unions, discuss effects of planned capacity reduction

Singapore AirlinesThe management of Singapore Airlines has been meeting with union leaders to discuss how to mitigate the potential impact of the airline's announced capacity reduction on staff. Singapore Airlines plans to reduce its capacity by 11 per cent between April of this year and March of 2010.

The current capacity reduction plan will entail the decommissioning of 17 aircraft. Earlier, Singapore Airlines had announced plans to remove only four aircraft from their fleet.

According to the airline, talks between management and Singapore Airlines' three staff unions includes discussions of accelerated clearance of leave entitlements, voluntary leave without pay, voluntary early retirement and shorter work months.

Noting that Singapore Airlines "does not have a domestic operation to soften the blow from the slump in international air traffic," CEO Chew Choon Seng said 2009 is going to be a very difficult year for the airline.

"We have already taken action such as expanding and stepping up training and re-training programmes, and we will contemplate retrenchment only as a last resort, but we do not have the luxury of time and we need to agree and act on some measures quickly so that we can push back the point of retrenchment as far as possible and improve our chances of avoiding it altogether," Mr. Chew said.

"The Company will work with the staff and the unions in forging a consensus on the action plans. Together in cooperation, we will rise to the challenges confronting us and ride out the storm," Mr. Chew said, pledging that should cuts in salary become necessary, management would be the first to take them.

Monday, February 16, 2009

NASA Tailplane Icing Video

NASAEver since last week's crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 near Buffalo, interest in aircraft icing has been heightened. The NTSB reported that shortly before the accident, the crew had discussed "significant ice build-up" on the windshield and the leading edges of the wings of the aircraft, a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400.

Some time ago, NASA produced a very worthwhile and instructive 23 minute video that provides information about ice-contaminated horizontal stabilizers. It presents a physical description of the tailplane icing problem, symptoms of ice contamination and suggested recovery procedures. NASA says this video was produced "as a result of insights gained from the NASA/FAA Tailplane Icing Program."

Here is the link to that NASA video: Tailplane Icing - on Google Video

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Storm causes several FOD incidents at Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh International AirportA storm moved through western Pennsylvania on February 12 packing what the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review described as "vicious winds" that caused problems for operations at airports in Allegheny County. 'Foreign object debris' (FOD) struck several aircraft that were either landing or attempting to take off during the storm, causing minor damage.

An article in the Tribune-Review described sustained winds of more than 50 mph, with a 92 mph gust recorded at Allegheny County Airport.
The high winds blew sand and pebbles onto the runways at Pittsburgh International Airport, forcing officials to close them for more than an hour to allow workers to clear the debris, Allegheny County Airport Authority spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny said.

Four flights were affected during the closure that lasted from 3:15 p.m. until 4:28 p.m, Jenny said. She said the runways were not damaged.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) posted preliminary incident reports this morning about four aircraft that sustained minor damage from blowing debris.
  • Air Wisconsin Flight 4025, a CL-600 (registration N442AW), was struck by debris on landing.
  • An ExpressJet Airlines Embraer 145XR (registration N12145), operating as Continental Express Flight 2035, rejected takeoff after being hit by debris.
  • The windscreen of an Embraer 145EP (registration N801HK), operating as Trans States Airlines Flight 3541, was struck by debris during takeoff roll.
  • Debris struck the windscreen of Hawker Beechcraft 400A (registration N440CT) that was preparing to take off.
Each of the aircraft taxied back to the ramp without further incident. No one was injured.

Sounds like it was definitely a rough night for flying.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Alaska Airlines flight attendants have tentative contract agreement

Alaska Airlines B737-400The flight attendants' union at Alaska Airlines announced that they have reached a tentative agreement (TA) on a proposed two-year contract extension. The TA will be circulated to the union membership and a vote will be scheduled. The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), which represents Alaska flight attendants, says that if the TA does not receive membership approval, the union will begin preparations for
traditional negotiations beginning this spring.

"We understand the benefit in having a stable labor agreement in the face of the challenging times ahead," said Kelle Wells, president of the Alaska Airlines unit of AFA. "This proposal offers pay increases for flight attendants while keeping our insurance formula and work rules intact. Our members will now evaluate whether this tentative agreement and the associated changes are in their best interests and vote accordingly."

[Photo Source]

UPDATE Mar. 12, 2009: Alaska Airlines flight attendants ratify contract extension

The Flight Attendants from Colgan Air Flight 3407

On February 12, 2009, a Dash 8 Q400 aircraft operated by Colgan Air crashed into a house while on approach to Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Continental Connection Flt. CJC 3407, was arriving at Buffalo from Newark Liberty International Airport at the time of the accident. There were no survivors among the 49 people on board. One person on the ground also perished in the accident.

Among those who lost their lives in the accident were the two flight attendants: Matilda Quintero, 57, and Donna Prisco, 52. They had been flight attendants for less than a year. Both had joined Colgan Air on May 28, 2008. They trained together and had become good friends.

Matilda Quintero

Matilda Quintero, a breast cancer survivor, lived in Woodbridge, NJ with her 90 year old mother, and one of her two grown daughters. Her other daughter also lived in the area. Her husband passed away in 1998.

An article about Matilda Quintero in the Democrat and Chronicle quoted her boyfriend, Jim Ferris, who said, "She wished she had a chance to show what she could do, to save lives. She was proud of what she learned. She used to say her job was not just about serving drinks and meals."

Donna Prisco

Donna Prisco was a stay-at-home mom of four until last year when she went to work for Colgan Air, fulfilling a lifelong dream of becoming a flight attendant. She resided in Randolph, NJ with her husband, three sons and daughter. Her daughter also works for Colgan Air.

An article about Donna Prisco in the New Jersey newspaper, the Star-Ledger, quoted Ms. Prisco's sister who said, "She wanted to go back to work and do something for herself. She said, 'I'd do this job for free.' She just loved it."

A pilot from Canada told the Edmonton Sun he recalled flying with Matilda Quintero and Donna Prisco.
"I remember flying with Donna and Matilda on a flight in early November," said John, who did not want his last name used. "We were sitting on the ground for several hours in Toronto on a ground delay program into Newark. The passengers were starting to get angry with the long wait but the women did an amazing job serving the passengers and joking with them to keep them calm."

"I instantly recognized their names because these two were so exceptional. Commuting pilots don't always remember the names of flight attendants that serve on their flight. It saddens me to hear that such a good crew of flight attendants and pilots died in this crash."
Sincere condolences to the families, flying partners and friends of those who perished in the Colgan Air accident.

RELATED: Click here to view all posts about Colgan Air Flt 3407 on Aircrew Buzz.

Friday, February 13, 2009

NTSB Briefing on Colgan Flt 3407 Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder

A short time ago, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board presented initial factual findings obtained from the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) retrieved from the wreckage of the Colgan Air Dash 8 Q400 that crashed near Buffalo last night. Speaking at a press briefing, NTSB Member Steven Chealander said that information yielded by both the FDR and the CVR was of "excellent quality."

Chealander said the last 30 minutes of the CVR recorded that the crew of the accident aircraft briefed an ILS approach to runway 23 at Buffalo; and briefed weather of three miles visibility with snow and mist. At an altitude of about 16,000 feet they reported hazy conditions and requested a descent to 12,000 ft. Soon after, they were cleared by ATC to descend to 11,000 feet.

The crew "discussed significant ice build-up" on the windshield and the leading edges of the aircraft's wings. Just prior to those comments, the FDR indicated that airframe de-ice was selected 'on'.

One minute before the recordings ended, the crew extended the landing gear, and 20 seconds after that, 'flaps 15' was selected. Within 15 seconds of the flaps command, the flight director indicated a "series of severe pitch and roll excursions." Shortly thereafter -- and just before the end of the recording -- the crew "attempted to raise the landing gear and the flaps," said Chealander.

Since this is very early in the investigation, Chealander declined to elaborate or engage in any interpretation of the factual information presented.

Here is the video of the entire press briefing, which was held earlier today at the Buffalo Marriott Niagara, Amherst, NY, courtesy of MSNBC TV.

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

RELATED: Click here to view all posts about Colgan Air Flt 3407 on Aircrew Buzz.

Dash 8 crashes on approach to Buffalo, no survivors

Colgan 3407, BUFA Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft operated by Colgan Air has crashed while on approach to Buffalo Niagara International Airport. The aircraft reportedly crashed into a house, and a fire ensued. There are no survivors among the 49 on board. One person on the ground also is reported to have been killed.

The accident happened last night, February 12, 2009, at about 22:20 local time as the aircraft, operating as Continental Connection Flt. CJC 3407, was arriving at Buffalo from Newark Liberty International Airport. The aircraft (registration N200WQ) disappeared from radar during an instrument approach to Buffalo.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) dispatched a team of investigators to the scene early this morning.

Colgan Air has released the names of the crew members on board Flight 3407, all of whom perished:
  • Marvin Renslow, Captain, joined Colgan on September 9, 2005
  • Rebecca Shaw, First Officer, joined Colgan on January 16, 2008
  • Matilda Quintero, Flight Attendent, joined Colgan on May 28, 2008
  • Donna Prisco, Flight Attendent, joined Colgan on May 28, 2008
Capt. Joseph Zuffoletto, an off-duty crew member who joined Colgan on September 19, 2005, also was on board.

Condolences to the families, colleagues, and friends of all those who lost their lives.

[Photo Source]

UPDATE: The NTSB has retrieved the flight recorders from the accident scene, and transferred them to NTSB headquarters in Washington, DC.

UPDATE Feb. 16, 2009:
Colgan Air has released the names of the passengers who were on board Flight 3407 (one page 'pdf' file).

RELATED: Click here to view all posts about Colgan Air Flt 3407 on Aircrew Buzz, or choose from the list below.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Smithsonian confirms Canada Goose remains in downed US Airways A320

Canada Geese (Branta canadensis)The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced today that the bird remains found in both engines of the US Airways A320 that ditched in the Hudson River last month were indeed those of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis). The identification was made by the Smithsonian Institution's Feather Identification Laboratory, "through DNA analysis as well as through morphological comparisons in which feather fragments were compared with Canada Goose specimens in the museum's collections."

In a press release, the NTSB said:
A total of 25 samples of bird remains have been examined as of today. Additional analysis will be conducted on samples
received from the NTSB to attempt to determine if the Canada Geese were resident or migratory. While no determination has been made about how many birds the aircraft struck or how many were ingested into the engines, an adult Canada Goose typically ranges in size from 5.8 to 10.7 pounds, however larger individual resident birds can exceed published records.

The accident aircraft was powered by two CFM56-5B/P turbofan engines. The bird ingestion standard in effect when this engine type was certified in 1996 included the requirement that the engine must withstand the ingestion of a four-pound bird without catching fire, without releasing hazardous fragments through the engine case, without generating loads high enough to potentially compromise aircraft structural components, or without losing the capability of being shut down. The certification standard does not require that the engine be able to continue to generate thrust after ingesting a bird four pounds or larger.
US Airways Flight 1549 was en route from New York-LaGuardia to Charlotte when it encountered the geese shortly after departure. The bird strike resulted in a loss of thrust in both of the aircraft's engines. The aircraft was successfully ditched in the Hudson River, and all 150 passengers and five crew members on board were rescued.

RELATED: Click here to view all posts about US Airways Flt 1549 on Aircrew Buzz.

Ryanair threatens 200 job cuts at Dublin

Ryanair B737-800Irish low fare carrier Ryanair announced today the intention to cut 200 jobs at Dublin, and reduce its flying schedule from that airport in order to contain costs in the face of declining passenger traffic. Ryanair blamed the "collapse" of passenger traffic at Dublin on the Dublin Airport Authority's rising fees, and "the Irish Government’s crazy decision to impose a €10 tourist tax from 30th March." The airline also plans to reduce the number of aircraft based at Dublin from 22 to 18.

Ryanair proposes to eliminate jobs among pilots, cabin crew, and engineers based at Dublin. It was unclear whether the 200 job cuts at Dublin would entail layoffs, or if those affected would be offered transfers to other bases.

According to the Irish Times, Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary told a news conference in Dublin the company would also be seeking pay cuts of up to 10 per cent among staff.

Ryanair had announced earlier that 100 jobs would be cut at Shannon. The airline plans to eliminate five routes from Shannon and reduce the number of aircraft based there from six to four from the end of March.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Midwest Airlines pilots ask for federal mediation of contract talks

Midwest AirlinesThe pilots at Midwest Airlines have petitioned the National Mediation Board (NMB) for assistance with their labor contract negotiations. According to the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents Midwest Airlines pilots, the decision to request NMB mediation came after the airline's management tried to pressure the pilots' union to agree to all concessions initially sought last summer before contract talks got underway.

Midwest pilots currently are working under a concessionary agreement reached in 2003. Their contract became amendable August 31, 2008. ALPA notes that the pilots began negotiating with management in October 2008, a month after the airline cut nearly 300 pilot jobs in a deal that outsourced much of Midwest's flying to Republic Airways.

In December of 2008, the pilots submitted what ALPA describes as "a comprehensive proposal addressing compensation, scheduling, retirement, and insurance." When face-to-face talks resumed in January, management failed to offer a counterproposal. Instead, says ALPA, "management again demanded concessions and advised the pilots that negotiations would not be productive unless they submitted a proposal providing those concessions."

Capt. Tony Freitas, incoming chairman of the Midwest Master Executive Council of ALPA, said, "While the pilots remain fully engaged in working to reach a fair, consensual agreement, Midwest management has refused to do the same. Instead, management continues to demand the same outrageous concessions that it did last July, despite several changes in the airline’s situation and operational plans."

Capt. Ken Krueger, chairman of the pilots’ Negotiating Committee, added, "We are committed to obtaining a new contract that offers some level of job security and maintains a decent quality of life for Midwest pilots. However, we have reached the point in our direct negotiations with management’s representatives where we believe that the assistance of a federal mediator is necessary to help us move this process forward."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Boeing 747 marks 40 years of flight

Almost missed this one: Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the very first flight of the Boeing 747. The world's first 'jumbo jet' first took to the skies on February 9, 1969, at Paine Field, near Everett, Washington.

Writing about the historic event in his blog, Randy Tinseth, Boeing's current marketing vice president for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said:
February 9, 1969 was cold, cloudy, and windy. In other words, a typical winter’s day in this neck of the woods. But it was also a day that changed everything.

A little before lunchtime on that date, the first 747 took flight. This 747-100, dubbed the “City of Everett” would spend the next 75 minutes flying over the Puget Sound region.
Randy's Journal has more photos of the first Boeing 747, as well as the crew for the aircraft's first flight: Pilot Jack Waddell, Co-Pilot Brien Wygle and Flight Engineer Jess Wallick.

These days, the “City of Everett” is on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Here are some more stories about the first flight of the Boeing 747 forty years ago:
[Photo Source]

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Business Jet Fracas: One man's luxury is another's livelihood

Gulfstream G550Just about two years ago, I was preparing a paper for a conference in England. The conference was about women who work in the transportation industry, and my presentation was to be about women who work as flight attendants on large cabin long-range business jets.

As I was preparing the first draft of what would become my presentation, I had a chat with some corporate flight attendants I had come to know well. I told them about the conference and asked them what issues about their jobs they thought I should raise. The immediate and spontaneous reply was, "First, tell them that we exist!!"

We laughed, but I knew exactly what they meant. At that time, most people were only vaguely aware that there was such a thing as a corporate jet, and they knew virtually nothing of the people who work in that sector of the aviation industry.

Then came the current economic crisis, and the media spectacle of corporate CEOs arriving in Washington in sleek business jets to ask the U.S. Congress for a financial bailout. Suddenly corporate aviation was thrust into the media spotlight, and -- rightly or wrongly -- business jets became emblematic of corporate greed and excess in the eyes of the general public.

Now, thanks to the recent media circus surrounding corporate jets, people certainly do know that many companies own and operate business aircraft. I would contend, however, that they still do not understand much about business aviation, and -- more to the point -- it is also painfully apparent that the mainstream media and the public at large still do not appreciate the fact that the people whose job it is to operate and maintain those aircraft even exist!

My concern is that, in the midst of all of the brouhaha about whether or not corporate executives should be flying around in private jets, the jobs of the people who work on those aircraft, maintain them, and supply them, are at risk. Every time a corporate aviation department is downsized or eliminated, dozens and dozens of livelihoods are compromised or eliminated as well.

When I think of recent and potential job losses in the business aviation sector, pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and technicians come first to mind, yet the scope of the debacle actually is much broader. I think of the schedulers, the dispatchers and flight followers. I think of the people who work at the many airports that cater to general aviation, and those employed at FBOs. I think of those who provide services related to business aviation: the fuelers, the marshallers, the cleaners, the caterers. The livelihoods of all these people are at risk.

As orders for business aircraft are canceled or deferred, there will be more layoffs among the manufacturers and dealers of those planes. Employees of companies that make components for business aircraft -- from avionics, to navigational instruments, to interiors -- will lose their jobs as well. Likewise, companies that specialize in training business aviation crews and technical personnel -- an industry within an industry -- will suffer as they lose contracts.

In short, government officials, the mainstream media, and the public at large need to be made to understand that every time a company eliminates a business aircraft from its fleet, many jobs will be lost. This is true not just for the large cabin jets that have been getting most of the bad press, but also for the smaller, less glamorous aircraft. The jobs that will be lost will not be those of a few elite executives; rather, a lot of of ordinary, hard-working folks -- many of whom already live paycheck to paycheck -- stand to lose their livelihoods.

Those of us who know business aviation from the inside may well be able to recite all of the practical reasons and economic advantages afforded by the use of corporate aircraft, yet our defense of the corporate aviation sector should not focus solely on the business case for having a company plane. Perhaps we need to do a better job of telling the world about the many, many people who work in the industry, the extent to which they contribute to the overall economy, and the devastation that the loss of their jobs will create.

Business aviation still may be a mysterious world to the average person, but the people who work in the industry should not be invisible.

[Photo Source]