Incident: American B773 near New York on Dec 25th 2018, lavatory congregation
An American Airlines Boeing 777-300, registration N721AN performing flight AA-20 from Dallas Ft. Worth,TX (USA) to London Heathrow,EN (UK), was enroute at FL330 about 20nm west of Sydney,NS (Canada) when the crew decided to divert to New York JFK,NY (USA) after one of the toilets got clogged causing three others directly connected to become unavailable, too. Flight attendants observed “passengers congregating” in front of the remaining 8 toilets and suggested the continuation of the flight was not safe. The aircraft landed safely in New York about 1:50 hours later.
A replacement Boeing 777-200 registration N762AN reahed London with a delay of 16.5 hours.
Incident: Indigo A20N at Port Blair on Dec 23rd 2018, engine problem
An Indigo Airbus A320-200 Neo, registration VT-ITE performing flight 6E-6616 from Port Blair to Kolkata (India), was climbing out of Port Blair when the crew received a low oil pressure indication for the right hand engine (PW1127) and decided to return to Port Blair.
The airline reported flight 6E-6616 returned to Port Blair after the crew observed a #2 low oil pressure indication.
India’s DGCA is including the occurrence in their investigation of several problems on the Neo engines.
Incident: Jazz DH8D at Thunder Bay on Dec 13th 2018, unsafe gear
A Jazz de Havilland Dash 8-400, registration C-GJZD performing flight QK-8533 from Toronto,ON to Thunder Bay,ON (Canada) with 40 people on board, was on approach to Thunder Bay’s runway 25 when the crew selected the gear down but did not receive and down and locked indication for the left main gear on both primary and alternate gear display. The crew initiated a go around, performed the related checklist executing an alternate gear extension, the left main gear still did not indicate down and locked. The crew subsequently attempted to pump the landing gear down for about 30-50 times, however, without success. The crew declared emergency, shut the left hand engine down and requested emergency services on standby. The cabin was prepared for an emergency landing, passengers were briefed. The crew performed a safe single engine landing about 40 minutes after the aborted approach, the aircraft stopped on the runway and was towed to the apron.
The Canadian TSB reported maintenance replaced the proximity sensor electronic unit (PSEU) and repaired wiring at the landing gear, then performed gear swings without further fault.
Accident: Mesa CRJ9 near Austin on Dec 26th 2018, turbulence injures two
A Mesa Airlines Canadair CRJ-900 on behalf of American Airlines, registration N924FJ performing flight AA-5781 from San Luis Potosi (Mexico) to Dallas Ft. Worth,TX (USA) with 75 passengers and 4 crew, was still descending towards Dallas Ft. Worth when the crew decided to divert to Austin,TX (USA) due to weather conditions and traffic congestions at Dallas Ft. Worth Airport. During the diversion to Austin the aircraft encountered turbulence causing three people to receive injuries. The aircraft landed safely in Austin about 55 minutes after the decision to divert. A passenger and a flight attendant were taken to a hospital with turbulence related injuries, another passenger was treated at the airport.
The airline reported the crew decided to divert to Austin due to weather and traffic congestion at Dallas Ft. Worth Airport. During the diversion the aircraft encountered turbulence. The passengers were taken to hotels and were taken to Dallas the following day.
The airport reported a passenger and a flight attendant were taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Another passenger was treated at the airport.
The aircraft remained on the ground for about 17 hours before returning to service.
Mangaluru-bound aircraft grounded after smoke detected in cabin (India)
BENGALURU: A Mangaluru-bound Jet Airways flight from the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) was evacuated and grounded on Thursday morning after smoke was detected in its cabin prior to departure.
All 71 passengers on board were made to disembark and were accommodated in another aircraft.
Passengers said smoke originated from the AC vents inside the aircraft. Minister for urban development and housing UT Khader, who was in the flight, said thick fumes of smoke were seen inside the cabin. “My flight was scheduled to depart at 7am. I observed smoke coming from AC panels and there was also burnt smell.
We noticed smoke thickening and alerted the crew who then decided to change the aircraft. We were accommodated in a different aircraft which took off at 8.30am,” he told TOI.
He was on his way to Mangaluru to welcome President Ram Nath Kovind during his visit to Udupi.
Airline officials, however, denied reports of smoke in the cabin and attributed the delay to technical issues.
“Flight 9W 713 was delayed due to a technical snag while parked at bay. An alternative aircraft was immediately arranged and the flight departed with 71 guests,” said a Jet Airways spokesperson.
Though the source of the fumes is yet to be identified, sources pointed out that a few parts of the aircraft had ‘heated up’, causing the smoke.
NTSB: ‘Pilot impairment’ caused deadly 2017 plane crash near Boonville
Report finds pilot took cocaine, meth, other drugs
BELLANCA 17 31ATC
COOPER COUNTY, Mo. – The National Transportation Safety Board released its final analysis of a deadly 2017 plane crash in Cooper County.
The report, dated November 5, 2018, concludes that impairment of the pilot, 67-year-old Charles McCutcheon, was the main contributing factor in the crash that killed him and his passenger, 49-year-old Bryan Roth, on April 24, 2017.
Mechanical failures and weather conditions were ruled out as probable causes in the board’s report.
“Weather conditions at the time of the accident included a clear sky with no obstructions to visibility,” the report said. “Examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any anomalies that would have contributed to the accident.”
An autopsy revealed that McCutcheon suffered from coronary artery disease, however, that physiological condition was also ruled out as a probable cause of the crash because it does not affect a pilot’s judgment, vision, or decision-making.
The autopsy further revealed that McCutcheon had tissue scarring from a previous brain injury that left his optic nerve severely damage.
The Fayette man was nearly blind in his left eye, something that the NTSB said, “likely contributed to the accident.”
The biggest contributing factor, however, was the substances of which McCutcheon was found to have been under the influence.
Cocaine, methamphetamine, clonazepam, and diphenhydramine were found in the pilot’s system.
“In addition to their psychoactive effects, these drugs are potent vasoconstrictors and can cause small arteries to spasm, cutting off blood flow to portions of vital organs,” the NTSB said. “Although the pilot’s stage of intoxication with methamphetamine or cocaine at the time of the accident is unknown, it is very likely that he was impaired by the combined effects of these drugs.”
German investigators say a runway excursion by Boeing 777 that was on autoland was the fault of the pilots. The unusual incident happened in November of 2011 at Munich Airport but the report from the German BRU was just released this week. The BRU found the Singapore Airlines crew initiated the chain of events that led to the autopilot putting the aircraft on the grass. It was reported by Aerossurance on Monday. The flight was arriving from Manchester in the U.K. and was just about to touch down when an RJ85 taking off farther down the runway momentarily blocked the signal from the localizer at the opposite end. For a few seconds, nothing and no one was in control of the aircraft, which was less than 50 feet above the runway.
The widebody banked left before landing on the left main gear and veering left off the runway, even though the captain hit the go-around button on the throttle lever. The pilots were only able to gain manual control when they kicked right rudder, sending the big jet back across the runway where it finally stopped in the grass on the right side. There were no injuries and the plane wasn’t damaged. The investigation concluded the aircraft performed as designed and blamed the pilots.
The crew’s mistake occurred when they got their final weather report for the destination airport. As per their company’s procedures, the captain took over from the first officer as pilot flying because of the low visibility (1.25 NM) and ceiling (300 feet). Even though the conditions didn’t require it (they were CAT I), the captain decided to let the plane autoland but he didn’t tell controllers. The controllers were operating under CAT I procedures, which allowed them to clear the regional for takeoff ahead of the approaching 777. Had the controllers known the 777 was autolanding, the investigators said the controllers would have held the RJ85.
The timing of the events proved critical to the eventual outcome. The localizer signal was interrupted just as the 777 was about to touch down. When it banked left, the captain hit the automatic go around but not before the gear touched and caused the aircraft to reject that command. It instead went into the roll-out mode. The pilots were, however, able to manually retract the spoilers in anticipation of the go around and that likely contributed to their wild ride on the ground. The BRU recommended that flight crews be brushed up on the regs and do more sim training for localizer deviations. The mishap was caught on video.
Hanoi freezes Vietjet flight expansion after safety incidents
Vietnam probe of faulty and emergency landings comes ahead of busy Tet holiday
Budget airline Vietjet’s fleet includes 60 Airbus A320 and A321 craft. (Photo provided by Vietjet)
HO CHI MINH CITY — Vietnamese authorities have halted Vietjet Aviation’s planned increase in flights following a series of aircraft safety incidents, putting the country’s largest budget airline under supervision as the Tet holiday season nears.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam said this week it will stop adding new flights to Vietjet’s operational schedule. CAAV also will re-evaluate Vietjet’s operations at four airports: Noi Bai in Hanoi, Danang International in central Vietnam, Tan Son Nhat in Ho Chi Minh City and Cam Ranh in the south-central region.
The authority did not specify the time needed for this supervision, but sources say it could last for a month since CAAV made the announcement on Tuesday.
CAAV’s move likely will affect Vietjet’s capacity expansion ahead of the Tet holiday in February, when many Vietnamese workers return to their hometown from big cities for a week around the Lunar New Year.
The agency also will suspend Vietjet executives in charge of operations, CAAV director Dinh Viet Thang said. The recent incidents constitute a “serious threat” to aviation safety, the authority said.
A Vietjet flight landed on an incorrect runway Tuesday at Cam Ranh International Airport. The aircraft reportedly departed at 11:14 a.m., then faced a “technical error” minutes later. It returned to Cam Ranh, but landed on a runway that was not ready for operations.
The incident represents a serious threat to flight safety, second only to aviation accidents in Vietnam’s classification of errors, CAAV says.
Earlier on Tuesday, another Vietjet flight headed to Ho Chi Minh City from Incheon, South Korea, made an emergency landing in Taipei because of “a technical warning in the cargo section.” The flight resumed after an examination reported no risk. The incident resulted from a false alarm, CAAV said.
A flight from Hanoi to Danang on Wednesday was forced to abort takeoff after accelerating on the runway. Passengers waited two hours before departing again.
On Nov. 29, the nose wheels of a Vietjet aircraft fell off minutes before it landed at Buon Ma Thuot Airport in Vietnam’s Central Highlands region. The aircraft was put into service two weeks before the incident. Results of an investigation into the incident are pending.
“The carrier has been in close coordination with related authorities to assess the incident and promptly support all affected passengers,” Vietjet said two days after the event.
Other incidents during Vietjet flights over the past few months caused planes to return to their airport shortly after takeoff. Initial reports typically cited false alarms tied to software installed in new aircraft delivered this year. Vietjet could not be reached for comment.
CAAV is working with Vietnamese airlines, whose fleets include the Airbus A321, for further examination of the new model. Airbus declined to comment. Vietjet’s fleet includes 60 Airbus A320 and A321 craft as of Sunday, part of the carrier’s total order of 371 aircraft from both Airbus and Boeing makers.
Vietnamese aviation has grown rapidly in the past decade, with passengers rising 12.9% this year to 106 million. This double-digit growth is expected to continue in 2019.
Local competition is intensifying, as startup Bamboo Airways recently secured an aviation license and a joint venture between AirAsia and Hanoi-based tourism business Thien Minh Group appears likely to enter the market next year, a Viet Capital Securities report says. Vietnamese airlines might face lower profits in the short and medium term.
Vietjet was granted a tax exemption for 2014 and 2015 when the company first made a profit. The carrier received a 50% tax reduction for the 2016-18 period, implying a tax rate of 10%. Its corporate tax rate will be 20% starting in 2019.
Failing to capitalize on the upcoming busy season could hamper Vietjet, which has snared 45% of the domestic market after just seven years in operation.
Vietjet shares closed at 122,000 dong on Wednesday, down 8% from Nov. 29, when Vietjet faced one of the most serious incidents this year as the nose wheels of an A321 fell off. Shares are trading at 122,000 dong in the morning session on Thursday.
Pilots Kept Losing Oxygen and the Military Had No Idea Why. Now There’s a Possible Fix.
A pilot undergoes a hypoxia training scenario at Whidbey Island in Washington in December 2011.
The United States Air Force and Navy appear to be closing in on a partial solution to a complicated set of problems that have for years caused pilots to experience adverse physiological symptoms midair, endangering them and the aircraft. Officials from both services said that by early 2019 they will replace faulty oxygen-supply systems with new hardware and software in their T-6 Texan trainer aircraft. They are also continuing to study how pilots in their trainer and combat aircraft are being affected by hypoxia – a physiological condition caused by low levels of oxygen in the bloodstream that can lead to a lack of concentration and muscle control, inability to perform delicate tasks and ultimately loss of consciousness.
Oxygen-deprivation and cockpit-pressurization problems have afflicted trainer and top-line aircraft in the Navy and the Air Force – including the F-22 Raptor, the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, the A-10 Thunderbolt, the T-45 Goshawk trainer and F/A-18 Hornet – for at least a decade. Until recently, the source of these episodes mystified military officials. Because so many different aircraft were affected, the services didn’t think they were being caused by one specific problem. In his testimony to the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee in February, Lt. Gen. Mark Nowland, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations, said that “there is no single root cause tied to a manufacturing or design defect that would explain multiple physiological event incidents across airframes or within a specific airframe.” Lawmakers, frustrated with the lack of progress made by the services, criticized Nowland for his remarks. “I could not be more disappointed by your presentation,” said Representative Michael R. Turner, an Ohio Republican and the subcommittee chairman. “There is something wrong with the systems that these pilots are relying on for their lives.” Many junior pilots, meanwhile, felt that their leaders were ignoring or playing down the episodes, because they couldn’t replicate the problem or find an easy fix.
Finally, under pressure from Congress to change its approach, the Air Force completed a six-month study and announced in September that it had figured out the root cause of these physiological episodes: fluctuating concentrations of oxygen tied to the oxygen-distribution system. In conjunction with the Navy, the service is developing a new oxygen concentrator for the aircraft most commonly associated with the episodes, the T-6 trainer. Air Force pilots of the trainer aircraft reported an average of eight hypoxia-related episodes per month between February and July 2018, Aviation Week reported in August.
The Air Force’s entire F-22 Raptor fleet was grounded for four months in 2011 after 12 separate incidents in which pilots of the $143 million fighter jet experienced a lack of breathable oxygen. One of those resulted in a fatal crash. By July 2012, the total number of incidents had climbed to 36. In the Navy, the greatest impact has been on its standard fighter-bomber, the F/A-18 Hornet. One report said that between 2010 and 2017, its F/A-18 Hornet pilots reported nearly 500 “physiological episodes” in flight and indicated that such problems caused four fatal Hornet crashes.
Similarly worrisome issues struck the military’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, in which the Defense Department is expected to invest $1 trillion by 2030. In May and June 2017, five F-35A pilots assigned to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona reported “hypoxia-like symptoms” while flying but managed to land their planes safely. All F-35A flights at that base were temporarily halted as a result.
An airman prepares to fly a T-6A Texan II at Vance Air Force Base, Okla., in September 2018.
Earlier in 2017, problems with the Navy’s T-45 jet caused a near revolt of instructor pilots, whose jobs are to train student aviators. On March 31, 2017, T-45 instructors canceled 51 of 129 scheduled training flights because of safety concerns about physiological episodes they had experienced in flight. The Navy responded by having senior aviators visit the three T-45 training squadrons to assure instructors and students that they were taking the problems seriously. According to an official report, those visits were “not well received at any of the three sites.” The instructors cited what they perceived as a lack of attention on the part of Navy leadership in recognizing the seriousness of the problems and a lack of urgency in correcting them. Not long after, the Navy’s Pacific Fleet set these physiological episodes as its top aviation safety priority and said it would address the problem regardless of cost or resources required. Both the Navy and Air Force have appointed high-ranking officers to lead teams to identify causes and implement fixes.
Officials from both services have pointed to two main causes of these events: flaws in the system that provides oxygenated air for pilots to breathe, and an environmental-control system that is unable to maintain the appropriate air pressure inside the cockpit. The former has resulted in episodes of hypoxia. The latter caused some pilots to suffer decompression sickness, comparable to what deep-sea divers can experience if they do not surface slowly enough for nitrogen to be removed from their bloodstream and expelled through their lungs.
In earlier decades, fighter jets carried liquid oxygen onboard for pilots flying at high altitudes. But over the past 20 years, both services have been transitioning to a system that collects air from outside the aircraft and filters nitrogen from it until it is safely breathable. The change was an attractive safety feature because liquid oxygen can be a fire hazard, and the new system offered, in theory, a functionally limitless supply of air. But the newer system also lacked sensors to monitor the air quality and had no alarm that could alert pilots to any problems. After Navy pilots reported increased physiological problems as these oxygen concentrators aged, the devices were taken apart and examined. Sailors who work on the planes found a surprising amount of wear inside, including contamination from engine exhaust. This led Navy officials to recommend that certain oxygen-system parts be regularly inspected regardless of their performance and to redesign the internal nitrogen filter.
While hypoxia is problematic, both the Air Force and the Navy point to uncontrolled cockpit-pressurization changes as a potentially greater threat to pilots than the air they breathe. Just like commercial airliners, warplanes are usually pressurized to match a constant altitude inside the aircraft no matter how high they fly. The higher up in the atmosphere a plane flies, the lower the outside air pressure is – at a certain point very low air pressures can have a negative effect on the human body, so maintaining a more or less constant pressure inside the plane is important for the health of those inside. “When you’re flying in an airliner at 38,000 feet, it pressurizes somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 feet,” said Brig. Gen. Edward L. Vaughan, who leads the Air Force’s physiological-episodes action team in the Pentagon. “Same thing with our military aircraft. The difference is military aircraft can change altitude very rapidly on purpose,” in instances where warplanes regularly train in dodging missiles or during an aerial battle.
Cockpit pressure can sometimes swing up or down by 2,000 feet without warning, and this is a prime suspect in causing decompression sickness. “We know that in most pilots on most days, that oscillation doesn’t result in any symptoms,” Vaughan said. “But some pilots on some days, those oscillations under a given condition result in these symptoms.”
The Navy has introduced a number of measures to combat the problems with cockpit pressurization, including outfitting F/A-18 pilots with commercially available smartwatches that contain barometric sensors to alert them of pressurization problems; this was necessary because the plane’s built-in altimeter gauge is in a position that makes it difficult to read. The Navy also started deploying hyperbaric chambers operated by specially trained medics onboard the aircraft carriers U.S.S. George H.W. Bush and U.S.S. Carl Vinson in January 2017, so that pilots could receive treatment after landing on the ship instead of having to be medically evacuated to a chamber ashore.
According to Vaughan, the Air Force has rebuilt spare oxygen concentrators for its T-6 trainer aircraft and is installing a redesigned model that incorporates sensors to alert pilots of certain problems like insufficient oxygen or particle contamination and will include software that can be rewritten as needed based on data it collects. The new design has been completed and is being delivered to T-6 squadrons. Vaughan’s team works in tandem with a similar Navy team led by Read Adm. Fredrick R. Luchtman, whom the Navy declined to make available for an interview. Neither service said whether it had a plan to address hypoxia-related symptoms in other aircraft.
The number of fatal accidents in experimental aircraft has declined for the fourth year running, according to the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). Just 44 fatal accidents were recorded for the period between Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2018, for experimental category aircraft including amateur-built, racing, exhibit-only, research and development and some types of light-sport aircraft.
“These are historic lows for fatal accident in amateur-built and experimental category aircraft,” said EAA Vice President of Advocacy and Safety Sean Elliott. “In addition, the FAA in 2010 challenged the aviation community to reduce the accident rate by 10 percent over the next decade. We are proud to say through a focus on safety, that goal was reached in just eight years, two years earlier than anticipated.”
The “not-to-exceed” goal set for the experimental category by the FAA for its 2018 fiscal year was 51 accidents. The “not-to-exceed” goal has been lowered-and successfully met-each year since 2015, when it was set at 64 accidents in the category. EAA says it has worked closely with the FAA and NTSB on recommendations to reduce fatal accidents.
Japan Airlines has reportedly asked its employees to stop drinking for the rest of 2018
In Japan, Oshogatsu, or the New Year holiday, is a family affair. People travel home for the event, visit a local shrine, and eat foods meant to bring good luck. The drinking and heavy socializing Westerners associate with the holiday come earlier, in the weeks leading up to Jan. 1. For employees of Japan Airlines (JAL), however, this season will be an exception.
The country’s flagship airline is in damage control mode, after a couple of recent scandals involving employees who indulged too much. Now the company has asked employees to refrain from drinking until the end of the year, the Japan Times reports, saying the airline has served only non-alcoholic drinks at company holiday parties.
One JAL co-pilot was detained by local police in the UK in October, when in the hour before his long-haul flight was due to depart, he appeared wobbly, with glazed eyes. His blood alcohol level was found to be well above the legal limit for pilots. The man, who had first cheated his pre-boarding alcohol test, was sentenced to 10 months in prison, and eventually fired.
Earlier this month, a flight attendant allegedly drank champagne while on duty on a flight between Japan and Hawaii. She has denied the accusation, but, Asahi reports, an empty 170 ml (5.75 oz) champagne bottle was found stashed in a garbage bin on the plane. That bottle had not been served to customers, it was determined. Plus, the crew had noticed the flight attendant making frequent trips to the bathroom.
For her mistake, JAL announced on Christmas Day that its president, Yuji Akasaka, would face a one-month 20% pay cut, and the head of cabin crew on that flight would see 10% taken from her pay. Training and periodic testing would also be stepped up.
It’s possible that JAL is simply the first Japanese airline to suffer consequences for an industry-wide alcohol problem. A recent government survey of airline incidents involving the improper use of alcohol found JAL employees “were involved in 21 of the total of 31 cases in the period from the beginning of 2017 to November this year,” the Japan Times reports. However, the airline also has been first to adopt a highly sensitive new alcohol test, the paper notes. As other airlines upgrade their tests, they too could face a similar crisis.
Meanwhile, all 32,000 employees at JAL have apparently been asked to skip the sake this season, an unusually intrusive move for any company to make. (Quartz at Work has contacted JAL for a comment and will update this post with any details.) One employee commenting on the booze ban was accepting, telling the Japan Times that the situation “can’t be helped because we caused trouble.”
In 2018, airlines set another record by flying nearly 4.5 billion passengers on nearly 45 million flights worldwide. On the surface, things were good.
But 2018 has only been an average year for safety in airline travel, according to retired airline pilot and safety expert John Cox, writing in USA Today.
Actually, Captain Cox may have been too kind. The Aviation Safety Network (ASN) stated that this year there were 16 airliner accidents that killed a total of 555 people as of December 27, 2018.
That’s a more than 900% increase over last year when just 59 people died in accidents. That led ASN to call 2017 “the safest year ever, both by the number of fatal accidents as well as in terms of fatalities.”
Of course, after 2017, for all practical purposes, there was nowhere to go but down (sorry) in terms of airline safety. But worryingly, the 555 deaths in 2018 are the highest in the last five years since 2014, when 692 died.
In 2018, plane crashes in Russia, Iran and Nepal killed 195 people in just one month, from February 11 to March 12. In the Iranian accident, the crash site (a 12,000-foot mountain) was not found for two days, yet Iranian officials reported there were no survivors of the 66 onboard before the aircraft was found. It is believed the plane was not able to de-ice its wings, but responsibility for the crash of the aging ATR-72 turboprop, which had been out of service for 7 years, is still unclear.
In another terrible accident, on May 18, 112 of 113 passengers and crew were killed when a Cubana de Aviación 737-200 crashed after takeoff from José Martí International Airport in Havana, Cuba. As with the other accidents, the cause has apparently not been officially determined; ASN classifies it as “loss of control (presumed).
But in 2018, the spotlight was on two other accidents. Each is concerning, for different reasons.
One was the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 near Jakarta, Indonesia on October 29, killing all on board. The 189 fatalities, on a brand-new Boeing 737 MAX, made it the deadliest crash of the year and accounted for more than one-third of airline deaths in 2018.
In a powerful interactive presentation, the New York Times shows how the pilots of Lion Air Flight 610 apparently got false readings from sensors, ended up fighting the automatic anti-stall systems, tried to control the plane’s stabilizers and bounced up and down two dozen times. Sadly, they lost the battle, and the plane plunged 5000 feet into the Java Sea.
At least one lawsuit has been filed in the US against Boeing on behalf of a victim of the Lion Air crash, alleging the airplane was “unreasonably dangerous.” The suit alleged that the plane’s safety system improperly engaged and pilots were not properly instructed by Boeing on how to respond.
Boeing issued an Operations Manual Bulletin in November on flight crew procedures to “address circumstances where there is erroneous input from an AOA (angle of attack) sensor.” The Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency directive to US carriers like Southwest, American, and United to follow the new instructions on dealing with possible erroneous sensor alerts in 737 MAX aircraft. The directive warns “erroneous inputs can potentially make the horizontal stabilizers repeatedly pitch the nose of the airplane downward, making the aircraft difficult to control.”
In a statement to the NY Times, Boeing said it was confident in the safety of the 737 Max. “While we can’t discuss specifics of an ongoing investigation, we have provided two updates to operators that re-emphasize existing operating procedures – the series of steps required – for these situations.”
A full investigation into the crash won’t be completed until next year.
This undated photo provided Thursday, May 3, 2018, by the National Transportation Safety Board shows damage to the leading edge of the left wing of the Southwest Airlines jet Flight1380 that made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport on April 17. Photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
The other notorious accident in 2018 was an engine failure and cowling separation on Southwest Flight 1380 near Philadelphia in April. A woman sitting in a window seat was fatally injured and almost sucked out of the aircraft. Eight other passengers were injured. However, Southwest Captain Tammie Jo Shults, one of the Navy’s first female fighter pilots, was able to land the depressurized 737 safely with a single working engine.
According to USA Today, the accident resulted in regulators “reviewing certification standards and the life limits for engine components.” Several other in-flight engine failures, thankfully, did not result in fatalities. In February, a United Boeing 777 also had to make an emergency landing after losing the engine cowling on a flight from San Francisco to Honolulu. Amazingly, the plane landed safely at its destination just 20 minutes off-schedule.
In September, the captain of an Iberia Airbus A350 flying from New York to Madrid made an emergency landing in Boston after the in-flight shutdown of one of its Rolls-Royce engines. Issues with Rolls-Royce Trent engines took many Boeing 787 Dreamliners out of service for inspections during 2018, although the company insisted that the A350’s Trent XWB was based on a different architecture than the Trent 1000 in the 787.
Most recently, an Airbus A330 aircraft lost not one, but both engines in flight, but fortunately, not at the same time. According to Boarding Area, a Brussels Airlines A330-200 was flying from Kinshasha to Brussels on December 10 when the pilots received a warning from an electronic monitor that the port (left) engine had failed. They declared an emergency and descended to 27,000 feet, where the engine relit. The pilots were able to return to their 40,000 foot cruising altitude. The flight continued normally until the approach to Brussels. This time, the starboard (right) engine began to fail, relight and shut down while descending. It finally relighted as the aircraft landed. Investigators believe the rare dual-engine failure may have been caused by fuel contamination at Kinshasa airport.
The good news is that such engine shutdowns continue to prove that twin-jet aircraft can fly safely for significant periods of time on one engine. (Rigorous pilot training is also helpful.) Things have changed since FAA administrator Lyn Helms said in 1980, “It’ll be a cold day in hell before I let twins fly long haul, overwater routes.”
But with today’s clearly safer aircraft, the nearly ten-fold increase in passenger deaths from 2017 to 2018 is not acceptable. The aircraft industry, the airlines, and government regulators must work together to ensure this troubling trend does not continue into 2019.
Third prototype of China’s C919 jet completes first test flight
The third prototype of China’s home-built passenger jet C919 takes off during its first test flight at Shanghai Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China December December 28, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
BEIJING (Reuters) – A third prototype of China’s home-built C919 narrowbody passenger jet completed its first test flight on Friday, its manufacturer said, in another step forward in the nation’s push to become a global civil aerospace player.
The C919, which will compete with Boeing Co’s (BA.N) 737 and the Airbus SE (AIR.PA) A320, is widely regarded as a symbol of China’s civil aerospace ambition and President Xi Jinping’s policy of upgrading manufacturing capabilities.
In a statement on its official microblog, Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd (COMAC) [CMAFC.UL] said the plane landed safely at Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 12:45 p.m. (0445 GMT), having flown for 1 hour and 38 minutes.
The jet will next fly to the city of Xian in central China for more test flights with a focus on aircraft flutter and airspeed calibration, the company said.
The second prototype of the C919 jet conducted its first flight in December 2017, seven months after the maiden flight of the first C919.
COMAC said it is assembling a further three prototypes, and that all six will be scheduled to conduct flight tests next year.
The C919 has dozens of customers that have placed orders and commitments for 815 jets.
COMAC is aiming to obtain certification for the plane from Chinese regulators by the end of 2020, as well as Europe’s aviation safety regulator, which agreed in April to start the certification process.
Startup fined $900k for launching illegal satellites, points to future space law challenges
Swarm Technologies, Inc., a satellite startup aiming to create the world’s lowest-cost satellite network, has been fined $900,000 by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for illegally launching and deploying four unauthorized satellites into orbit in January 2018 on a commercial Indian satellite launch vehicle. The satellites in question were Swarm’s SpaceBEE vehicles, which measure one quarter the size of a traditional CubeSat, a class of small satellites measuring 10 cm in height, width, and depth. In December 2017, the FCC deemed the SpaceBEE size too small for the U.S. Air Force’s traditional technology to track with routine methods and declined a license, but the satellites were placed into orbit regardless. With satellite and rocket launch startups proliferating as space access becomes more affordable, the debate over ensuring safety in this international arena is likely expand.
Swarm requested an experimental license from the FCC in April 2017, a first step for any satellite operator to ensure compliance with current international space laws, and their plan was to launch in September 2017, although that date was later delayed. Spaceflight Industries was next hired to connect Swarm with a launch provider and ensure its integration with the rest of the rocket’s payload. After the FCC declined the license in December 2017, Swarm applied for a new license in January 2018 for satellites meeting CubeSat specifications, but the original SpaceBEEs were already loaded onto the contracted Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and subsequently launched on January 12, 2018.
When news of the SpaceBEE deployment broke, concerns over regulatory backlash spread throughout the satellite community. The FCC issued an Enforcement Advisory on April 12, 2018 warning about consequences for communications companies failing to comply with licensing requirements, including a note to launch providers on how launch activities may be impacted if an unauthorized satellite payload needs to be removed. In a decision released December 20, 2018, Swarm Technologies was ordered to pay the fine and implement a five-year compliance plan.
Since the very first satellite was successfully launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957, activities in space have been largely conducted by national governments and companies affiliated with them. However, the new space era is quickly changing that environment, rapidly opening up the beyond-Earth domain to private citizens. Billionaires like Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX, Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Blue Origin, and Richard Branson of Virgin and Virgin Galactic have mostly been the face of private/commercial space industry in recent years, but the technologies they’ve developed are also ushering in a new wave of affordable access to space, and with it, new technologies that don’t fit the traditional mold of “old space”.
The legal foundation for current space laws is the 1967 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, i.e., the “Outer Space Treaty”. Under this Treaty and subsequent treaties and laws arising from it, states, or nations, rather, are responsible for any space activities conducted by their own nationals, meaning a regulatory process that must be enforced. Where access to space was once expensive and difficult, the significantly lowered threshold has brought in a field full of players ready to take their shot at participating in the coming space economy and maybe, as seen with Swarm Technologies, even take a few risks to get there.
While the illegal launch of Swarm’s satellites was caught rather quickly (first by the community of amateur space trackers) and action was taken to penalize it, what’s to stop nations in the future from lowering standards to attract private customers? As stated in the FCC’s Enforcement Advisory, “Satellites authorized by an administration other than the United States do not require any FCC approval if Earth station operations are exclusively outside the United States.” Pressure from the international community to comply with treaties will only work to the extent that 1) the penalties deter the profit potential from the industry; 2) the international community agrees the activity is actually unsafe; and 3) the resistance to reforming regulations to permit the activity in question is deemed justified. Innovation, especially out of Silicon Valley, has a history of breaking rules to bring about significant change; however, some would argue that space isn’t the place for that approach.
The problem seems to be a simple matter of ethics: Don’t launch things into space that aren’t safe for Earth’s occupants. But according to the FCC, Swarm’s proposed satellites were merely “below the size threshold at which detection by the Space Surveillance Network (SSN) can be considered routine.” The licensing issue seemed to generally only be safety-related because of the satellites’ irregularity, not from the lack of actual tracking capability, something that is only going to increase as more players enter the new space arena.
Another point worth consideration is that Swarm’s SpaceBEE satellites are actually trackable using the same SSN network the FCC cited in its rejection of Swarm’s license request, and live tracking is ongoing via an independent tracking service called LeoLabs. According to Dr. Sara Spangelo, one of the co-founders of Swarm Technologies, the satellites are equipped with radar retro-reflector technology, something developed by a US-Navy research and development lab, which makes their radar signature as bright as a CubeSat. The FCC has also granted the company a temporary experimental authorization to test the previously-illegal satellites’ orbital and tracking data. Thus, the question for the future is not so much whether the safety concerns are valid, but whether preventative rules will be waived where newer technology can demonstrate their compliance outside traditional standards.
Helicopter Association International (HAI) is dedicated to providing its members with services that directly benefit their operations, and to advancing the international helicopter community by providing programs that enhance safety, encourage professionalism and economic viability while promoting the unique contributions vertical flight offers society. HAI has more than 3,800 member organizations and annually produces HAI HELI-EXPO®, the world’s largest trade show and exposition dedicated to helicopters.
Position: Deputy Director of Safety
Overview: The Deputy Director of Safety is responsible for supporting the association’s existing aviation safety programs and developing new safety initiatives to benefit HAI’s membership.
Essential Functions of the Position Include, but Are Not Limited To:
Providing auxiliary support to the Director of Safety
Serving as the HAI safety representative on various industry, government, and international boards, task forces, and meetings
Providing feedback for the association’s response to proposed safety-related regulations and legislative initiatives
Collecting, researching, and analyzing safety and accident data for subsequent statistical reporting
Developing and implementing new HAI industry safety initiatives
Routinely interacting with aviation related agencies and organizations in support of the rotorcraft industry
Supporting all aspects of HAI’s accreditation programs (IS-BAO & HAI APS) that assist helicopter operators in reducing incidents and accidents, while improving industry safety culture
Providing safety supervision for flight activities at the association’s annual trade show and exposition, HAI HELI-EXPO®
Responding to requests for rotorcraft safety assistance from HAI members and the general public
Serving as staff liaison for assigned HAI committees
Contributing content for use in HAI’s printed and electronic publications
Making safety presentations on behalf of HAI as necessary
Other duties as assigned
The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed. They are not intended to be an exhaustive list of all duties and responsibilities.
Desired Qualifications for the Position Include:
College or advanced degree related to aviation safety and/or management
Five or more years of related helicopter safety background, training, and experience
Certificated helicopter pilot and/or maintenance technician
Previous experience with helicopter or other aviation-related organization
Prior international experience preferred
Experience with auditing protocols and accreditation programs
A passionate commitment to the promotion of helicopter safety
Highly motivated, able to work independently and in a team environment
Excellent written and verbal communication skills with prior experience in creating and delivering written proposals and public presentations
Research, data analysis, and report writing experience
Proficiency with the Microsoft Office Suite
Detail oriented, self-starter, with strong organizational and time management skills
Ability to travel
The above qualifications are representative, but not all-inclusive, of the experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the position.