Friday, July 30, 2010

FAA says Mexico not in compliance with ICAO safety standards

by B. N. Sullivan

Earlier today, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released the following statement regarding aviation safety standards in Mexico:
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced that Mexico is not in compliance with international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), following an assessment of the country’s civil aviation authority. As a result, the United States is downgrading Mexico from a Category 1 to Category 2 rating.

As part of the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program, the agency assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that operate or have applied to fly to the United States and makes that information available to the public. The assessments determine whether or not foreign civil aviation authorities are meeting ICAO safety standards, not FAA regulations. With the IASA Category 2 rating, Mexican air carriers cannot establish new service to the United States, although they are allowed to maintain existing service.

While Mexico has been responsive to the FAA’s findings and has made significant improvements in recent months, it was unable to fully comply with all of the international safety standards. However, under the leadership of Director General Hector Gonzalez Weeks, Mexico continues to make progress. The FAA is committed to working closely with the Mexican government and providing technical assistance to help Mexico regain its Category 1 rating.

A Category 1 rating means the country’s civil aviation authority complies with ICAO standards. A Category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with international standards, or that its civil aviation authority – equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters – is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping or inspection procedures.

Countries with air carriers that fly to the United States must adhere to the safety standards of ICAO, the United Nations’ technical agency for aviation that establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance.

IASA information is
Today's safety downgrade will prevent U.S.-based carriers from engaging in code-sharing relationships with Mexican carriers.

Airblue Airbus A321 crash at Islamabad, Pakistan

by B. N. Sullivan

An Airbus A321-200 aircraft operated by Pakistani carrier Airblue crashed in the hills outside Islamabad earlier this week, killing all on board.  Airblue Flt ED 202 was inbound to Islamabad (ISB) from Karachi (KHI) at the time of the accident, which happened on July 28, 2010 at about 09:45 AM local time.

According to Airblue, the aircraft (registration AP-BJB) was preparing to land at Islamabad (ISB) "during poor weather and thick fog."   The aircraft impacted terrain in an area known as the Margalla Hills, north of Islamabad. There were no survivors among the six crew members and 146 passengers on board.

A statement on the Airbus website provided these details about the aircraft:
The aircraft involved in the accident, registered under AP-BJB, was MSN (Manufacturer Serial Number) 1218, initially delivered from the production line in 2000. The aircraft is leased to airblue in January 2006. The aircraft had accumulated approximately 34,000 flight hours in some 13,500 flights. It was powered by IAE V2533 engines. At this time no further factual information is available.
Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority has announced that the flight data recorders have been recovered from the aircraft wreckage.

Condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in this accident.

Here is a video clip about the accident from ITN News [Note: This video was produced before it was known that there were no survivors.]

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

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lufthansa MD-11 freighter accident at Riyadh

by B. N. Sullivan

A Lufthansa Cargo MD-11 freighter (registration D-ALCQ) crashed while landing at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on the morning of July 27, 2010.  Operating as Lufthansa Cargo Flt LH 8460, the aircraft was arriving at Riyadh's King Khalid International Airport (RUH) from Frankfurt, Germany (FRA).  The aircraft left the runway after touchdown, broke apart, and burst into flames.  The two crew members on board survived the accident.

According to a statement on the Lufthansa Cargo website, the accident occurred at 11:38 AM local time.  The 39 year-old captain and 29 year-old first officer evacuated the aircraft using the emergency slide.  They were hospitalized after the accident.

Lufthansa reported that the accident aircraft, which was carrying 80 tonnes of cargo, was flying from Frankfurt to Hong Kong, and was scheduled for en route stopovers in Riyadh and Sharja.  The aircraft had undergone a C-Check (comprehensive maintenance check) on June 22, 2009, and an A-Check immediately prior to the Frankfurt to Riyadh.  The accident aircraft had logged 10,073 take-offs and around 73,200 flying hours, according to the company.

Some news reports about the accident mentioned that the crew  had received a fire indication and declared an emergency while on approach, but this has not been officially confirmed by either the company or the Saudi aviation officials.

Saudi Arabia's General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) is in charge of the investigation.  Experts from Lufthansa Cargo, and a team from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have been dispatched to Riyadh to assist the Saudi GACA with the investigation.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Does this merge make my archive look fat?

by B. N. Sullivan

The redesign and reorganization of Aircrew Buzz is nearly complete. If you are reading this on the blog's site, you already will have noticed the new appearance. (If you are reading this via the RSS feed, I invite you to click through to the site and have a look.)

Content from my two other aviation news blogs, Professional Pilot News and Cabin Crew News, has  been merged into Aircrew Buzz. That's right, all the content from all three blogs now lives in one place -- right here -- and that's why the Aircrew Buzz archive looks like it gained some bulk!  Going forward, I will be posting all aviation news for crews only on Aircrew Buzz.

The blog was redesigned not just to give it a fresher look, but also to make the site more user-friendly. The goal is to help visitors to the site quickly find what they are looking for.  If you look at the sidebar, you'll see links that yield pre-sorted batches of posts.

Crew News

Some posts on Aircrew Buzz are inherently more interesting to pilots than cabin crew, and vice versa.  Now you can choose to view all crew news; or only the posts of interest to pilots; or only those of interest to cabin crew.  How this works: As a part of the blog's reorganization, all posts now bear tags that can direct them to separate streams for pilots or cabin crew.  Some posts go to both, of course, such as those about a major accident.

Industry Sectors

You can now choose to view all posts relevant to one particular sector of the aviation industry, e.g., airlines, air cargo, business aviation.  Again, as with the crew news topics, there is some overlap.  For example, information about a given aircraft type may be of interest to both freight pilots and passenger airline pilots.

Labor Issues

You can select and view all posts about labor issues, or quickly find only those about a particular issue of interest, say, furloughs.

Aircraft Info

You can quickly find news and information about new aircraft models or types; type-specific safety issues; flight deck and cabin features, and so on.  The listings are organized by the name of the airframer, e.g., Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, etc.


There is a (long) list of air carrier names in the sidebar.  Names are arranged alphabetically, but are not sorted by industry sector.  There is a separate list for Former Carriers -- those that no longer operate, either because they were acquired by/merged with another carrier (think TWA or Northwest Airlines), or because they ceased operations for one reason or another.

Coming Very Soon

The menu bar under the Aircrew Buzz header will have tabbed pages where you can quickly find links to the blog's most popular posts; posts about high-profile accidents and investigations; and popular videos.

The refurbished Aircrew Buzz is still being tweaked here and there, but the bulk of the redesign work is complete.  Now I can start posting news again!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Aircrew Buzz will be back soon!

For some reason, I guess I thought no one would notice or really care if Aircrew Buzz took an unannounced break. Not so.

I've been receiving quite a few messages via email, Twitter, and the blog's contact form asking a) if I'm okay, and b) when there will be some new material posted to Aircrew Buzz.

Well, I am okay (but thanks for asking). I just needed to take some time away from blogging in order to focus my full attention on some other things.  You know... the kinds of things that pay the bills!

During the hiatus, and behind the scenes,  Aircrew Buzz is undergoing a redesign and reorganization.  I'm hopeful that the redesign will be complete at about the same time that I am free and can begin posting here again.  Meanwhile, thanks so much for your concern, and for your patience.

By the way, I am still finding a little time each day to tweet some aviation news headlines on Twitter.  Even if you're not on Twitter or you don't follow me there, you can still look at the page with my feed:

Again, thanks!  See you soon. ;-)