Thursday, January 28, 2010

Regional carrier ASA recruiting flight attendants

by B .N. Sullivan

ASA CRJ200Looks like ASA (Atlantic Southeast Airlines) is hiring flight attendants. ASA is a regional airline in the United States that provides service under contract to Delta Air Lines (as Delta Connection) and United Airlines (as United Express).

According to the job vacancy page on ASA's Web site, the airline is accepting applications for flight attendant positions at their Atlanta base from today, Jan. 28, 2010, through February 4, 2010 (so if you're interested, better hurry!).

Here's the link to information about Flight Attendant Careers at ASA. There you will find a list of the requirements, and instructions for how to apply online.

Good luck to those who apply!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 409 flight recorders located

by B. N. Sullivan

Ethiopian AirlinesAccording to Reuters, a U.S. navy vessel has located the flight recorders from Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 409, the Boeing 737-800 that crashed shortly after takeoff from Beirut earlier this week. A brief news item reporting the find quoted a security official in Lebanon who said, "The U.S. ship located the black boxes 1,300 metres underwater and 8 km west of Beirut airport."

Let's hope the recorders can be recovered now and that their contents are able to be read.

More to follow as details become available.

[Hat tip to Twitter user @SamerKaram for the link to the Reuters article.]

RELATED: Click here to view all posts about Ethiopian Airlines Flt 409 on Aircrew Buzz.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hot off the press: FAA's new report on airline safety and pilot training

by B. N. Sullivan

FAA logoToday the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a report titled Answering the Call to Action on Airline Safety and Pilot Training. It's a hefty document -- a 201-page 'pdf' file [link below].

This new report is the result of efforts undertaken in the wake of the crash last February of Continental Connection Flight 3407, a Colgan Air Bombardier Dash-8 Q400, near Buffalo, NY. During the NTSB hearing on the investigation of that accident, and subsequent congressional hearings, certain issues came to light regarding pilot training and qualifications, flight crew fatigue, and consistency of safety standards among airline operators. As a result, officials initiated "a Call to Action on Airline Safety and Pilot Training for FAA, air carriers, and labor organizations to jointly identify and implement safety improvements."

In a press release that accompanied the release of today's report, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt explained, "The report lays out our initial actions to improve and revise pilot training and to develop an effective pilot fatigue rule. We also share what we have done to begin what must be an ongoing dialogue with airlines and unions to strengthen professionalism in the aviation industry and create mentoring programs for our nation’s pilots. This report is a snapshot of our work, which is by no means finished."

Although the work is ongoing, the report issued today reviews the findings to date, and presents action plans for issues such as fatigue rulemaking, crew training, mentoring, safety oversight, etc.

Here is the link to the report: Answering the Call to Action on Airline Safety and Pilot Training - FAA, (201-page 'pdf' document)

RELATED: ALPA Congressional Testimony on Regional Air Carriers and Pilot Workforce Issues -, June 14, 2009

Monday, January 25, 2010

Update on the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 409 accident off the coast of Lebanon

by B. N. Sullivan

Ethiopian B737-800 (Boeing Photo)More information is emerging about the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 409 accident. Air traffic controllers (ATC) lost contact with the aircraft, a Boeing 737-800 (registration ET-ANB), minutes after it took off from Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut, Lebanon, en route to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Flight ET 409 departed Beirut's runway 21 at approximately 02:30 AM local time on January 25, 2010.

A debris field was located off the coast of Lebanon, indicating that the aircraft had crashed into the Mediterranean Sea. An "aggressive" search and rescue operation was initiated by the Lebanese government and military, assisted by United Nations security forces in Beirut.

The airline has confirmed that eight crew members and 82 passengers were on board Flight ET 409. No survivors have been found, however dozens of bodies have been recovered and have been taken to Rafic Hariri University Hospital, according to Lebanon's National News Agency. Ethiopian Airlines said in a press release that 14 of the deceased have been identified so far, including six Ethiopians and eight Lebanese nationals.

The Ethiopian Airlines press release also stated:
The pilot of flight ET409 was a career flight professional with over 20 years of experience flying various aircraft over the expanded network of the airline.

The aircraft B737-800 with registration number ET-ANB involved in the accident has had its regular maintenance service as recently as December 25, 2009 at the maintenance facilities of the National carrier and was declared safe and fit to fly. reported earlier today that the aircraft had climbed to an altitude of about 9,000 ft before ATC lost contact with it. Weather data showed the presence of cumulonimbus clouds and thunderstorm activity in the area at the time of the accident.

A short time ago, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced that a team was being dispatched to Lebanon to assist that country's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) with its investigation of the accident. The team will include technical advisors from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing, the manufacturer of the aircraft.

Condolences to the families and friends of those who perished in this accident, and to Ethiopian Airlines.

[Photo Source]

UPDATE Jan 27, 2010: Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 409 flight recorders located -, Jan. 27, 2010

RELATED: Click here to view all posts about Ethiopian Airlines Flt 409 on Aircrew Buzz.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 disappears from radar after taking off from Beirut

by B. N. Sullivan

Ethiopian AirlinesAn Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 is believed to have crashed into the sea after disappearing from radar minutes after its departure from Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport. Ethiopian Flight ET 409 left Beirut shortly after 03:00 AM local time, en route to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Early reports say the aircraft had seven crew members and 85 passengers on board. [Correction: Eight crew/82 pax, per Ethiopian Airlines press release.]

Reuters is reporting that "residents on the coast [of Lebanon] saw a plane on fire crashing."

More to follow as information becomes available.

UPDATE: Ethiopian Airlines has issued a press release about the accident, confirming 82 passengers and eight crew members on board Flight ET 409. All eight crew members were Ethiopian nationals. Among the passengers, are 23 Ethiopians, 51 Lebanese, one Turkish, one French, two British, one Russian, one Canadian, one Syrian, and one Iraqi.

The accident aircraft is believed to be ET-ANB, a Boeing 737-800 manufactured in 2002, according to's ACAS data. [per Jon Ostrower, @flightblogger for]

At a press conference, Lebanese Transport Minister Ghazi al-Aridi said that the crash site had been located off the coast of the Lebanese village of Na'ameh, which is south of Beirut. Lebanese military boats and helicopters were said to be searching the area for survivors. Reuters reported that four bodies have been found.

... or click here to view all posts about Ethiopian Airlines Flt 409 on Aircrew Buzz.

Taban Air TU-154M crashes on arrival at Mashad, Iran

by B. N. Sullivan

Taban AirA Tupolev TU-154M aircraft operated by Iranian carrier Taban Air was involved in a dramatic runway accident earlier today at Mashad, Iran. The aircraft broke up and caught fire shortly after landing on runway 31R at Mashad International Airport. There were no fatalities reported among the 13 crew and 157 passengers on board, although news media are reporting that more than 40 people were hospitalized as a result of the accident.

The aircraft (registration RA-85787), operating as flight HH-6347, was arriving at Mashad from Isfahan at the time of the accident. The flight had originated the night before at Abadan, on the coast of Iran, bound for Mashad. Due to poor weather at Mashad, the aircraft diverted to Isfahan; early this morning it resumed its journey to Mashad, its scheduled destination.

Landing at Mashad in poor visibility, the aircraft may have struck its tail on the runway. News reports also suggest that the aircraft then left the runway, and during the runway excursion its landing gear collapsed and both wings separated from the fuselage. Photos from the accident scene show that the tail section of the aircraft had burned, and both the vertical and horizontal stabilizers are missing.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

United Airlines flight attendants work without pay on Haiti relief flight

by B .N. Sullivan

United Airlines logoFive United Airlines flight attendants have volunteered their time and services, working without pay on earthquake relief flights between Chicago and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The flight attendants are representatives their union, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA). The outbound flight took aid workers and supplies to Haiti. The return flight brought earthquake survivors to the United States.

"We donated our work as flight attendants on the relief flight flown by United Airlines to help call attention to the importance of supporting the relief efforts organized by the American Red Cross," said Greg Davidowitch, president of AFA-CWA at United Airlines. "We encourage United Airlines passengers to join us in supporting the American Red Cross.”

Chicago based Flight Attendants Meg Mikesell, Paul Antuna, Kathy Browne, Tony Retkowski and Gerald Sermana recounted their experience when they returned to O’Hare International Airport:
“We were able to take part in the evacuation of orphans, families and elderly Haitians, all of whom were weary from their very horrendous experience. From darling little children to the kind woman you could imagine as your grandmother, all of these people were amazingly grateful,” Retkowski said. “I am unable to contribute a lot of money, but I was able to give my time. I hope my contributions inspire United’s passengers and others around the world to give all they can for these beautiful people. The experience of letting someone know they are cared for is an incredible reward.”
The flight attendants' union is supporting the American Red Cross with direct donations. The United Airlines Foundation has promised to match up to a total of $50,000 in donations to the American Red Cross.

Friday, January 22, 2010

American Airlines announces new round of pilot furloughs

by B. N. Sullivan

wingletAmerican Airlines announced today "the unfortunate need to furlough up to 175 of our pilots in the first half of 2010." Among those who will be laid off are previously furloughed pilots who returned to work during the past year. The airline already has 1,887 pilots on furlough.

In a message to its membership, the Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents American Airlines pilots, said that "management intends to furlough approximately 130 active pilots. Management has also indicated that the total could reach as high as 160 over the next two months." Presumably those numbers are estimates, since the airline mentioned 175 pilot furloughs in the first half of 2010, and the union specified 160.

According to APA:
The union leadership and Negotiating Committee are discussing a variety of potential furlough mitigation tools, such as voluntary leaves-of-absence and furloughs-in-stead. APA is hoping to compel management to institute early retirement incentives and other such mechanisms to minimize, if not outright eliminate, the need to furlough. Talks with management concerning these issues will continue.

Initial furlough notifications have begun and we estimate that approximately two-thirds of the furloughs will be effective at the end of February. The remaining furloughs will likely take effect at the end of March.
In a statement to the press, American Airlines said, "The impact of the economy and reduction in capacity over the last 18 months, coupled with lower than expected pilot attrition, has resulted in a pilot surplus. This was a painful but necessary decision, as this staffing adjustment will better align the size of our pilot organization with the size of our current operation."

Commenting on furlough mitigation negotiations with the pilots' union, American Airlines said:
"We are also pleased that we were able to work with the APA to move up the furlough date by one day to achieve eligibility for subsidized COBRA medical benefits for the first group of furloughed pilots.

"American values and respects the professionalism, commitment and contributions of our pilots and regrets having to make this difficult decision."
American last furloughed pilots in 2005.

[Photo Source]

ACE Air Cargo Beech 1900C accident in Alaska

by B. N. Sullivan

ACE Air CargoA Beech 1900C aircraft operated by ACE Air Cargo crashed into the sea last night at around midnight. The accident occurred shortly after the aircraft took off from Sand Point, Alaska, bound for Anchorage. Both pilots on board are missing.

Eyewitnesses told Coast Guard officials that they saw "an orange flickering off the end of the runway" at Sand Point Airport (SDP) at about the time of the crash. Sand Point is on Popof Island, off the coast of the Alaska Peninsula.

According to an article about the accident in the Anchorage Daily News, boats are searching the waters in the area near the crash. The Coast Guard sent a Jayhawk helo and a C-130 from Kodiak to assist with the search. Debris has been found, including pieces of fuselage and a seat, but there has been no sign of the pilots so far.

The company released the following statement earlier today:
ACE Air Cargo has joined the search for our Beech 1900 aircraft, that disappeared shortly after departing Sand Point, Alaska with two pilots on board yesterday evening. At this time, we are focused on the welfare of our pilots and their families and will be releasing no further information at this time. We ask that the media respect the privacy of our employees and their families at this time. More information will be released as it becomes available.

UPDATE Jan. 23, 2010: The Anchorage Daily News reported this morning that the Coast Guard has suspended its search for the two pilots.

Condolences to their families and friends, and their colleagues at ACE Air Cargo.

UPDATE Mar. 15, 2010: NTSB update on ACE Air Cargo Beech 1900C accident in Alaska

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

PSA Airlines CRJ-200 runway overrun at Charleston, WV

by B. N. Sullivan

accident sceneLate this afternoon, a PSA Airlines CRJ-200 aircraft overran a runway at Yeager Airport (CRW), Charleston, WV, following a rejected takeoff. The aircraft, operating as US Airways Express Flight JIA 2495, was departing on a scheduled passenger flight to Charlotte, NC, at the time of the incident. It came to a stop about 130 feet into the EMAS (Engineered Material Arresting System) area beyond the end of Runway 23 at CRW. No injuries have been reported among the three crew members and 30 passengers on board.

The incident occurred on January 19, 2010 at approximately 16:20 local time in Charleston. The reason for the rejected takeoff has not been reported., reporting on a press conference held at Yeager Airport, quoted an official who said that there were "skid marks on the runway approximately 2,000 feet long." The good news is that the EMAS, which is 425 feet in length, obviously worked as intended. The aircraft reportedly stopped "about 125 feet from the edge of the mountain." The EMAS was installed at Yeager Airport in November of 2008.

By the way, @YeagerAirport did an exemplary job of live-tweeting information about the incident and its effects on the airport's operations in real time on Twitter. The photo above also was tweeted to the Yeager Airport Twitpic page.

[Photo Source]

Monday, January 18, 2010

Japan Airlines: Imminent bankruptcy to result in loss of 15,700 jobs

by B. N. Sullivan

JAL logoJapan Airlines (JAL), which has been struggling financially for some time, is expected to file for bankruptcy tomorrow. As a part of its restructuring plan, the airline will eliminate 15,700 jobs -- one third of its work force, according the the Financial Times. The staff reductions are expected to occur over a period of up to three years, rather than all at once.

"JAL’s bankruptcy could be the largest of a Japanese group outside the financial services sector and would be one of the country’s fifth or sixth-largest," says the Financial Times.

JAL is expected to continue operations during its restructuring. The airline will cease operating more than 20 unprofitable routes.

In 2009, JAL asked pilots, cabin crew, and ground workers to volunteer for two months of unpaid leave, and even suspended part of its pilot training programs to save money. Pensions of pilots and other workers also were reduced.

Two U.S.-based carriers -- American Airlines and Delta Air Lines -- have been embroiled in a bidding war for some of JAL's routes. JAL and American are both members of the Oneworld alliance, but JAL is reportedly considering a move to SkyTeam, which would ally it more closely with Delta, which is already a member of SkyTeam.

Reuters reports:
In recent days, reports have suggested that Atlanta-based Delta, with its strong transpacific route structure, could be irresistible for JAL.

A Japanese newspaper reported on Saturday that JAL has already agreed on a tie-up with Delta.
Reuters also reported that while the Japanese government does not have an official stance on who JAL should ally with, some senior officials in the transport ministry are pushing for JAL to defect to SkyTeam.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

First NTSB report on the Royal Air Freight Learjet accident in Illinois

by B. N. Sullivan

NTSB logoThe U. S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released preliminary information regarding the fatal crash of a Learjet 35A in Illinois earlier this month. The accident, which occurred January 5, 2010, at 13:28 CST near Chicago Executive Airport (PWK), claimed the lives of both pilots on board.

According to the NTSB report, the aircraft (registration N720RA), operated by Royal Air Freight as flight RAX 988, had departed Pontiac, Michigan, at 13:35 EST. The Learjet, which was operating under Part 91 rules as a positioning flight, impacted water and terrain while maneuvering to final approach to runway 34 at PWK.

Quoting from the NTSB preliminary report:
Preliminary air traffic control communications and radar data revealed the flight was cleared for a visual approach to runway 16, followed by a right traffic, circle to land approach to runway 34. Radar data showed the airplane enter a right traffic pattern for approach to runway 34. Several witnesses observed the airplane on downwind, base leg, and enter a right turn for final approach. During the right turn to final approach, the airplane was observed to enter a 90-degree bank right turn, roll inverted, and enter a nose down descent toward terrain.
Wreckage of the accident aircraft was located in the Des Plaines River, approximately 2 miles south of the centerline of PWK's runway 34. The wreckage has been removed to a storage facility for further examination. The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) was recovered from the river and sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders laboratory for examination and readout.

Regarding the pilots, the captain was hired by Royal Air Freight in October 2003, and had accumulated approximately 7,000 total flight hours, and approximately 3,500 hours in Learjets. The first officer was hired in February 2005, and had accumulated approximately 7,000 total flight hours, and approximately 3,000 hours in Learjets.

The NTSB investigation is continuing.

Friday, January 15, 2010

US Airways Flight 1549 anniversary - All's well that ends well

by B. N. Sullivan

uh ohTime sure flies: today was the one-year anniversary of the ditching of a US Airways A320 in the Hudson River. To mark the occasion, the crew and passengers of US Airways Flight 1549 had a reunion in New York, and even took a boat ride together on the Hudson to the place where the disabled aircraft touched down on January 15, 2009.

Around the same time a Piper PA-18 towing a banner appeared on the scene. According to several news reports, the banner-tow was intended to commemorate the first anniversary of what some pundits have called the 'splash landing' in the Hudson a year ago. Unfortunately the Piper experienced a mechanical problem and ended up making a forced landing in the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island. The aircraft landed safely, and the pilot was unharmed, but now that event is being referred to in some media reports as a 'trash landing'.

I kid you not! (I couldn't possibly make up something like this...)

You may be wondering what it said on that banner. According to My Fox New York, the banner said, "If you died today would you go to heaven or hell? John 14:6."

I promise, I am not making this up. Really! You can read about it here.

About the only thing I can offer as a comment -- in regard to both the Flight 1549 accident and today's 'trash landing' -- is, "all's well that ends well."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hawaiian Airlines pilots ratify new contract

by B. N. Sullivan

Hawaiian AirlinesThe pilots at Hawaiian Airlines have a new contract. The pilots' union, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), announced today that 90 percent of eligible pilots cast ballots; of those, 83 percent voted in favor of the new contract.

ALPA called the vote " the latest sign that the airline industry and the piloting profession are recovering from the bankruptcy doldrums of the past decade."

According to ALPA, the 68-month agreement will give pilots pay increases of between four and six percent immediately, and total increases of between 15 and 22 percent over the term of the contract. The agreement also increases the company contribution to the pilots’ retirement plans, provides Hawaiian Airlines management more flexibility in pilot training and scheduling, and allows the airline to acquire or code share with a turboprop feeder airline, provided the feeder carrier does not compete with Hawaiian’s existing inter-island turbojet operation.

Hawaiian Airlines and the pilots had been in negotiations for almost three years before arriving at the new agreement. The new contract replaces one that was ratified in 2005 to help the airline emerge from bankruptcy.

Capt. Eric Sampson, chairman of ALPA's Hawaiian Airlines MEC, said, “This contract is a win-win for our members as well as the airline. It rewards our pilots for their repeated sacrifices over the years on behalf of Hawaiian, and positions our company for future success well into this new decade. We’re looking forward to working with management to upgrade our fleet and expand our aloha spirit across the Pacific, and we would like to thank the people of Hawaii for their strong support during our lengthy negotiations.”

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Catastrophic earthquake in Haiti disrupts air traffic

by B. N. Sullivan

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake occurred 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti shortly before 5:00 PM Local time on January 12, 2010. The initial quake was followed by numerous aftershocks. Early reports from the area indicate massive damage to buildings and infrastructure and innumerable casualties. In short, this appears to be a truly catastrophic natural disaster.

Air traffic between Haiti and the rest of the world has been disrupted. The last commercial flight to leave the island was American Airlines Flight AA 1908, which was reportedly boarding at Toussaint Louverture International Airport (PAP) as the earthquake struck. The aircraft managed to depart about one hour later and safely completed its scheduled flight to Miami.

The Palm Beach Post interviewed a passenger from Flight AA 1908 after he arrived in Miami. The passenger said he had been inside the terminal at PAP when the earthquake struck.
“It felt like a plane had hit the building, that’s how strong it was,” he said as he emerged from Customs tonight about 9:15 p.m. “But it turned out to be an earthquake.”

He said passengers panicked.

The airline officials told the passengers to wait, but most those who had been scheduled to fly decided not to, he said.

“The airport building itself, was badly damaged, cracked,” he said. The lights went out.

When the flight finally took off, he looked down on the area surrounding the airport.

“I saw buildings that fell down,” he said. “There were some lights still on, but not everywhere. You could see helicopters flying to give help.”
The Wall Street Journal quoted an American Airlines spokeswoman who said that the PAP airport, which was damaged by the earthquake, was closed Tuesday night(Jan. 12) and would remain closed Wednesday (Jan. 13). She also said that 176 passengers had originally been scheduled to board Flight AA 1908, but that the majority "chose to stay behind" after the quake struck. In the end, only 49 passengers and 11 crew members flew to Miami on the Boeing 767 aircraft.

Spirit Airlines, which also flies between the U.S. and Haiti, issued a statement a short time ago, saying:
Spirit has cancelled Wednesday's flights between Fort Lauderdale and Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and will reinstate service as soon as the airport is open.

Spirit is currently reaching out to first-responder organizations and other early-stage disaster relief resources/agencies in order to assist with transporting medical and other professionals, as well as equipment to Port-au-Prince as soon as we are able to operate flights to that airport in an effort to assist as much as possible until the U.S. government and larger relief and humanitarian organizations can gear up what is expected to be a major relief effort.
Several news reports have mentioned that the control tower at PAP was destroyed.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

United Airlines Airbus A319 accident at Newark

by B. N. Sullivan

UA 634A United Airlines Airbus A319 made an emergency landing at Newark-Liberty International Airport (EWR) this morning after its right main landing gear failed to deploy properly. The aircraft (registration N816UA) landed on its left main gear and nose gear, and came to a rest with its right wingtip touching the ground, according to news reports. The five crew members and 48 passengers on board evacuated the aircraft on the runway using emergency slides. No injuries have been reported.

According to a report about the accident by the Aviation Safety Network, the A319-131 aircraft, operating as United flight UAL 634 from Chicago-O'Hare International Airport to Newark, aborted its first approach to EWR after receiving an unsafe gear indication:
The flight was expected to land at Newark about 09:00 local time. While on finals, about 08:54 the crew apparently experienced problems getting the undercarriage down and locked. The crew carried out a missed approach and climbed to an altitude of 2000 feet. The flight circled the area West of the airport before a new approach was carried out to runway 04L.
Two photos from the scene were posted to Twitpic by @NYCinvestigates (Jim Hoffer), including the one above, which shows the accident aircraft resting on its number two engine nacelle.

UPDATE Jan. 11, 2010: The New York Daily News reports that the aircraft was removed from the runway at about 5:45 AM this morning.
"There was only minor damage," said FAA spokesman Jim Peters, adding that the right engine covering and wing will need repairs.
Moritz Loew, a director with MSNBC, was a passenger on United flight UA 634 and he wrote an account of his experience on the MSNBC blog, Field Notes. It's an interesting read: A funny thing happened on the way home from CES. He praises both the pilots and flight attendants for the great job they did in keeping everyone safe, so we'll just have to forgive him for saying the A319 was "dumping fuel" while in the holding pattern after the go around. (Wink.)

[Photo Source]

Friday, January 08, 2010

United Airlines flight attendants demonstrate at 17 airports

by B .N. Sullivan

AFAYesterday, United Airlines flight attendants braved the winter cold to demonstrate at 17 airports across the United States, Europe and Asia to protest their employer's "failure to negotiate a new contract on time." In accordance with the existing contract between United and the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), negotiations began on April 6, 2009, with the intention of getting a new collective bargaining agreement in place as soon as possible. According to the AFA leadership, "United has shown no interest in discussing improvements or reaching a new contract unless we agree to concessionary demands."

Greg Davidowitch, president of the AFA Master Executive Council at United Airlines said, "Flight attendants are angry because management seems only interested in delaying a new contract, refusing to discuss any improvements."

The existing labor contract, which became amendable on January 7, 2010, was negotiated while the airline was in bankruptcy. The flight attendants took cuts in pay and health care benefits; their work rules were revised; and their pensions were terminated.

"For too long this management has expected flight attendants to work harder for less. No more!" stated Davidowitch. "This is just the first of our public protests. Flight attendants vow to do 'Whatever It Takes' to get the contract we have earned."

United Airlines flight attendants picketed at airports in Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Tokyo-Narita and Washington, DC. They were joined by flight attendants from other airlines in a show of solidarity.

Click here to view a copy of the leaflet handed out to passengers during the demonstration: United's Running Late... With My Pay!

[Photo Source]

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority preliminary report on American Airlines Flight 331 accident in Kingston

by B. N. Sullivan

Jamaica Civil Aviation AuthorityThe Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) has released preliminary information regarding the investigation into the American Airlines Flight 331 accident at Kingston, Jamaica. The aircraft, a Boeing 737-800 (registration N977AN), overran the runway at Kingston's Norman Manley International Airport (MKJP) late on the evening of Tuesday, December 22, 2009 as it was arriving from Miami. There were no fatalities among the six crew members and 148 passengers on board, although there were some injuries.

The brief factual report (link below) notes that instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area and heavy rain was reported at the airport at the time of the accident. The aircraft was flying on an Instrument Flight Rules Flight Plan.

Quoting from the report:
According to the Norman Manley Tower Controller, as the aircraft was approaching Jamaica the Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS) for MKJP, which relays recorded airport and weather information, was broadcasting Runway 12 as the runway designated for arrivals.

The crew contacted Jamaican Air Traffic Control and requested the Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach for Runway 12. The controller advised the crew of tailwind conditions on Runway 12 and offered them a circling approach for landing on Runway 30. The crew repeated their request for Runway 12 and were subsequently cleared to land on that runway, with the controller further advising the crew that the runway was wet. The Captain, who was the pilot flying, reported that he used the Heads Up Display (HUD) during the approach and landing.

The crew reported that after descending through the cloud cover, they made visual contact with the runway at between 1000 feet and 700 feet above ground level. According to the Flight Data Recorder (FDR), the aircraft was traveling at the Vref (landing) airspeed of 148 knots, with a groundspeed of 162 knots, i.e. with a tailwind component of 14 knots, when the wheels made initial contact at about 4,000 feet down the 8,900-foot runway. The FDR further indicated that the aircraft bounced once, then settled onto the runway; the autobrakes then engaged, and reverse thrust and the spoilers were deployed.

The crew reported that at that point they felt that the aircraft did not decelerate normally, and they subsequently applied maximum manual (pedal) braking. The FDR indicates that the aircraft decelerated normally for an autobrake 3 setting.

The FDR indicates that during the landing rollout the aircraft veered to the left of centerline and departed the end of the runway at a groundspeed of 63 knots. Examination of the crash site indicates that the aircraft then exited the runway, went through the perimeter fence, crossed a road, and came to rest on a rock-strewn beach about 175 feet beyond the departure end of Runway 12 and about 40 feet from the water line.
The report goes on to describe the wreckage, stating that the aircraft's fuselage was broken into three major pieces; the right engine, right inboard aft trailing edge flap and the right main landing gear separated from the aircraft; and the left winglet "was almost broken off the wing."

Preliminary examination of the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) contents revealed no "anomalies or malfunctions with the operation of the brakes, spoilers or thrust reversers." The rate of deceleration "appears normal for a wet runway." In short, "no mechanical problems have been found with any aspect of the aircraft."

Grand Cayman was the designated alternate airport for the flight, and the aircraft "had sufficient fuel on board to reach that destination." Also noted: The aircraft was below the maximum permitted landing weight.

Investigators are evaluating runway surface conditions at the time of landing "to determine the effect of this on the braking forces."

The report also mentions that "ground-based navigation and landing aids were evaluated by a check aircraft after the accident, and were determined to be functioning normally."

The wreckage of the accident aircraft will be shipped to the U.S. where it will be held in a secure location while the investigation continues.

Link to the JCAA report: American Airlines Flight 331 Accident Update, Jan. 5, 2010 - 4-page 'pdf' file

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Photo: Boeing 787 in flight over Seattle

Boeing 787-7 (Boeing photo)
by B. N. Sullivan

This may be one of the best photos yet of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner: here she is in flight over Seattle. It was posted earlier this week on Randy Tinseth's blog, Randy's Journal. (Randy, in case you don't know, is vice president, marketing, for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.)

Randy said:
"I can’t think of a better way to kick off the year than with some spectacular air-to-air photos of the continuing flight testing of the 787 Dreamliner."
I have to agree.

This photo shows "ZA001 bathed in sunset light over downtown Seattle."

Visit Randy's Journal for more photos, including downloadable enlargements.

[Photo Source]


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Two killed in Royal Air Freight Learjet 35A crash in Illinois

by B.N. Sullivan

A Learjet 35A operated by Royal Air Freight crashed early this afternoon, January 5, 2010, near Wheeling, IL. The aircraft (registration N720RA), operating as flight RAX 988, had departed Pontiac-Oakland County International Airport (PTK) in Michigan and was on approach to runway 34 at Chicago-Executive Airport (PWK) at the time of the accident. A CNN report about the accident quoted a firefighting official at the scene who said that both crew members on the Learjet had perished. The aircraft was completely destroyed.

News reports about the accident say that the aircraft had been cleared to land at PWK, and was on final approach when it crashed into a wooded area just south of the airport. News photos from the accident scene show aircraft wreckage along the banks of the Des Plaines River.

Fox News has posted several photos of the accident scene on its Web site.

Royal Air Freight is a Part 135 carrier based in Waterford, MI.

Condolences to the families and friends of the deceased pilots.

Related: First NTSB report on the Royal Air Freight Learjet accident in Illinois

Mesa Air Group files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

by B. N. Sullivan

Mesa Air GroupCiting an "untenable financial situation" due to leases on aircraft it no longer needs or wants, Mesa Air Group has filed voluntarily for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Mesa CEO Jonathan Ornstein said the move will allow Mesa to "eliminate excess aircraft."

"In addition" said Ornstein, "this action will give us the opportunity to reach a more timely conclusion in the litigation with Delta Air Lines in which Mesa is currently seeking damages in excess of $70 million."

Mesa sued Delta Air Lines after the latter canceled a lucrative contract.

In a statement to the press Mesa claimed that they "will continue to operate as normal, without interruption" during the financial restructuring. No layoffs were announced, however fleet reductions usually are accompanied by work force downsizing as well, so who knows what may be in store later in the year for crews and other Mesa employees.

Meanwhile, Mesa's press release specified (among other things) that the company is "seeking authority from the Court... to continue to pay employee salary and benefits," stating that it has ample liquidity to support itself during the bankruptcy process.

Mesa operates as Delta Connection, US Airways Express and United Express under contractual agreements with Delta Air Lines, US Airways and United Airlines, respectively, and independently as Mesa Airlines and go! Mokulele. The latter is not included in Mesa's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

UPDATE Jan. 6, 2010: The Mesa Air Group (MAG) unit of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) has released the following statement regarding Mesa's bankruptcy filing:
“While we are not surprised by the company’s bankruptcy filing, it is a sad day for all of us as MAG pilots. Our company experienced tremendous growth since it began operating in 1982.

Unfortunately, the steady decline in the U.S. economy has had a tremendous impact on our partners and our company and MAG was forced to declare bankruptcy to eliminate excess aircraft. The bankruptcy process will allow our company to restructure its fleet and debt so that it meets the flying needs of our partners and remains competitive for future business opportunities.

“MAG has some of the lowest costs in the industry. Labor expenses are clearly not the problem, and the company indicated that they plan to honor the existing collective bargaining agreement with their pilots. The union will continue working to protect our pilots’ rights under this agreement.

“We have an extremely dedicated pilot group and are strongly committed to seeing our airline succeed. MAG pilots offer its partners and their customers quality service and proven performance, and we are committed to maintaining the same level of excellence for passengers traveling on our aircraft.”