Flight Safety Information [November 20, 2018] [No. 235]

 Flight Safety Information
Top Flight Safety Information November 20, 2018  –  No. 235
In This Issue
Incident: Indonesia AirAsia A320 at Jogjakarta on Nov 16th 2018, hail strike
Incident: Austrian A321 at Vienna on Nov 18th 2018, fumes and smoke on board
EVAS – Cockpit Smoke Protection
Incident: Lufthansa A346 at Cali on Nov 17th 2018, language barrier with ATC
Fokker 50 – APU Fire (New Zealand)
Cessna 441 – Fatal Accident (North Dakota)
LIBIK Fire Suppression Kits for the Cabin and Flight Deck
Boeing will address concerns over the 737 Max on a conference call with airlines
Paradise Awarded Helicopter Association International Safety Accreditation
Federal Air Marshals accused of more than 200 gun mishaps
11-year-old gets through Atlanta airport security, to gate alone without boarding pass
Cyprus Airways Receives IATA Membership Certificate
Early IS-BAO Participants Reach Milestones
Wyvern Relocates and Expands Product Scope
Pilots working for airlines that transport packages for Amazon are not happy
Lockheed Martin Lands 255-Jet Fighter Order Worth $22.7 Billion
Southwest Airlines struggling to rectify onboard Wi-Fi problems
NASA to pay private space companies for moon rides
Position Available: Business Aviation Audit Programs Manager

Incident: Indonesia AirAsia A320 at Jogjakarta on Nov 16th 2018, hail strike
An Indonesia AirAsia A320-200, registration PK-AXX performing flight QZ-8448 from Denpasar to Jogjakarta (Indonesia), had deviated around weather while enroute and was descending towards Jogjakarta when the aircraft encountered hail causing the captain’s windshield to crack. The aircraft entered a hold west of Jogjakarta to prepare for the landing, then proceeded for a safe landing on Jogjakarta’s runway 09.

The occurrence aircraft remained on the ground in Jogjakarta for about 40 hours, then returned to service.


The aircraft seen after landing (Photo: Raditya Pradana):


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Incident: Austrian A321 at Vienna on Nov 18th 2018, fumes and smoke on board

An Austrian Airlines Airbus A321-100, registration OE-LBC performing flight OS-125 from Vienna (Austria) to Frankfurt/Main (Germany) with 161 passengers and 6 crew, was in the initial climb out of Vienna’s runway 29 when at about 2000 feet AGL the crew noticed a strong odour in the cockpit almost immediately followed by cabin crew reporting an acrid odour and smoke in the cabin and declared PAN. Both flight crew donned their oxygen masks, at least one cabin crew donned the smoke hood. The aircraft was vectored for a return to Vienna and landed safely on runway 34 about 15 minutes after departure. The aircraft stopped on the runway for inspection by emergency services, cabin crew reported there was no visible smoke anymore, the aircraft taxied to a remote apron, where passengers disembarked via stairs. There were no complaints by passengers about any health issue, the crew went to a hospital for precautionary checks after all passengers had disembarked.

The Aviation Herald received information that following the occurrence the left hand engine (CFM56) was immediately replaced.

On Nov 20th 2018 the airline reported the cause of the smell and light smoke was an engine detergent. The left engine had undergone specific maintenance, a compressor wash was subsequently conducted with the detergent to remove possible soiling from the compressor area. An engine run up was done, it appears however the detergent was more persistent and entered the air ducts.


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Incident: Lufthansa A346 at Cali on Nov 17th 2018, language barrier with ATC

A Lufthansa Airbus A340-600, registration D-AIHC performing flight LH-542 from Frankfurt/Main (Germany) to Bogota (Colombia), needed to divert to Cali (Colombia) due to weather in Bogota. On approach to Cali ATC instructed LH-542 to hold at MANGA, the crew was unable to find the waypoint in their FMS and queried how to spell that waypoint, ATC however could not understand that request and could not spell the waypoint. The LH crew subsequently reported they were unable to hold at MANGA. Communication remained difficult in both directions and several transmissions needed to be retransmitted (“say again”) until being understood by the respective recipient.

An Avianca Brasil (former Oceanair still using that callsign) Airbus A330-200, registration PR-OCK performing flight O6-852 from Sao Paulo Guarulhos,SP (Brazil) to Bogota (Colombia), also diverted to Cali due to weather, the crew heard the exchange between Cali Approach and LH-542 and began to translate between Spanish and English communicating with ATC in Spanish and then relaying the communication to the A340 in (clear) English and vice versa.

Colombia’s Media report that due to the language barrier separation between the two aircraft was lost resulting in a near collision, which prompted Colombia’s AeroCivil (Civil Aviation Authority) to tweet that although there was a “saturation of the control frequency” and pilots detected another aircraft in close proximity, a loss of separation did not occur and operational safety was always assured. An investigation of the occurrence was nonetheless opened to establish all details and issues.

Mode-S Transponder Data show, that the Lufthansa A340-600 entered a hold near Cali at FL240 and subsequently left the hold first landing at Cali about 6 minutes ahead of the A330. The Avianca A330 entered the hold at FL270 arriving from a different direction and after the LH had entered the hold, remained at that level until the LH had descended to FL130, then began their descent and landed safely in Cali about 6 minutes past the A340. The Mode-S data do not suggest any loss of separation at any time.


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Fokker 50 – APU Fire (New Zealand)

Date: 20-NOV-2018
Time: 07:15 a.m.
Type: Fokker 50
Owner/operator: Alliance Airlines
C/n / msn:
Fatalities: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Other fatalities: 0
Aircraft damage: Minor
Location: Auckland Airport –    New Zealand
Phase: Standing
Departure airport:
Destination airport:

The plane sustained some damage after an APU caught fire.


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Cessna 441 – Fatal Accident (North Dakota)

Date: 18-NOV-2018
Time: 23:00 LT
Type: Cessna 441 Conquest II
Owner/operator: Metro Area Ambulance Services/Bismarck Air Medical
Registration: N441CX
C/n / msn: 441-0305
Fatalities: Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities: 0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location: Morton County NW of Mandan, ND –    United States of America
Phase: En route
Nature: Ambulance
Departure airport: KBIS
Destination airport: Sloulin Field Int’l (KISN)

The aircraft impacted the terrain in Morton County northwest of Mandan, North Dakota. The three occupants, the pilot, a paramedic and a nurse, were fatally injured.
A Civil Air Patrol official says an initial investigation indicates plane might have broken up in midair at about 14,000 feet (4,300 meters) and added, “The debris on the ground also indicated that.”


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By Captain Shem Malmquist
Editor’s Note: Thank you for your response to the many articles we have published in the wake of the Lion Air 610 crash. This one suggests a hopeful way forward that will benefit our industry. Captain Malmquist’s analysis offers the perspective of a veteran line pilot and accident investigator who is also the coauthor of a book we recently co-published, Angle of Attack. As always FSI welcomes your comments on this important issue.
In the wake of the October 29 Indonesian crash of a brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 that took the lives of 189 passengers, the FAA has issued Emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2018-23-51. The 737 is the most widely flown aircraft in the world, This tragedy opens an important conversation between regulators, operators and pilots.
Lion Air, an experienced 737 operator, was the launch carrier last year for the 737 MAX 8 and the MAX 9 in March. While it will take a long time to analyze the Lion Air 610 accident, the AD points out that current system architecture has created vulnerabilities.
Anyone who flies modern jet aircraft, as I do, also knows that in some ways this conversation applies to every plane and every pilot. Attempts to assign blame to anyone at any point in this investigation sidesteps a much more important issue, one that is the essential to the future of ever more automated cockpits.
The FAA says its AD was “prompted by analysis performed by the manufacturer showing that if an erroneously high single angle of attack (AOA) sensor input is received by the flight control system, there is a potential for repeated nose-down trim commands of the horizontal stabilizer[1]. This condition, if not addressed, could cause a flight crew to have difficulty controlling the airplane, and lead to excessive nose-down attitude, significant altitude loss, and possible impact with terrain[2].”
As described in the Seattle Times, “The system called MCAS, for Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, is activated when a sensor on the side of the fuselage indicates a dangerously high angle of attack (AOA), the angle between the air flow and the wing.
“If the plane is in an abnormally steep turn that puts high stress on the air frame, or when its speeds fall so low it’s about to stall, MCAS will kick in and swivel the horizontal tail to push the nose of the airplane down in an effort to avert the danger”.[3]
While the Seattle Times article incorrectly implies that the system is based on speed or “high stress on the air frame, ” the system description appears to be essentially correct. Low airspeed or a higher load factor (which can occur in a steep turn or pull up from a dive) are among the possible reasons the angle of attack can approach a stall.
Unlike other critical components such as air speed indicators or altimeters which have comparator systems that cross check each other for spurious indications and alert the pilot that there is a mismatch, pilots have no way to quickly determine if they are being misled by a faulty AOA sensor[4].
As with erroneous airspeed or altitude readings, the loss of the sensor itself leads to loss of secondary systems and/or can trigger other warning systems. Even on the most advanced state of the art aircraft there is no direct feedback to the pilots when the AOA sensor itself has failed. Pilots must quickly infer a faulty AOA sensor from other faults or indications.
Underlying this problem is the fact that a computer software system does not “fail” like a mechanical system.  It can be incorrectly coded, or it can be incorrectly designed, but the system does not “fail” like a turbine blade that rips apart in flight. Generally, what we see is that the software was coded correctly based on the requirements provided to the people coding the software but the problem lies in the requirements and specifications provided to them. If a certain scenario was not considered in the requirements it is unlikely to find its way into the final computer coding.
The AD describes an emergency scenario where a sensor reads an erroneously high AOA and the software reacts as its designers intended. The software responds to the erroneous indication in a manner similar to the way a human might react. However, all the pilot sees is the final result. How the computer came to take an action is opaque.  This makes it very difficult to crosscheck the computer’s process model (decision making process).
As Boeing and the FAA AD explain, the bad AOA sensor leads to several problems. The erroneously high indication of AOA first leads to an autopilot disconnect. The system then works to prevent a stall by adding nose-down trim.  So how does this affect the process model (mental model) for the pilots?
As Boeing and the FAA AD explain, the bad AOA sensor leads to several problems. The erroneously high indication of AOA first leads to an autopilot disconnect. The system then works to prevent a stall by adding nose-down trim.
It is standard in the Boeing aircraft that the stabilizer trim can be stopped by moving the control column in the opposite direction. Aircraft designers assume that no pilot would intentionally trim the aircraft nose up while also pushing forward on the controls to pitch the aircraft down or vice versa.
However, in the case of the B-737 MAX 8 and 9 there are reports that reversing the control column (pulling back) won’t work to stop the stabilizer trim from trimming nose-down in the scenario described in the AD. Others have discussed the rationale behind this design decision[5], but suffice to say that this would be different than what a pilot would be expecting based on previous experience on other Boeing 737 models. The erroneous AOA could trigger both an erroneous stall warning and a pitch down (due to the MCAS trimming the horizontal stabilizer).
This gets a lot more complicated when you consider how the FAA defines a stall condition for a transport category airplane (adapted from Title 14 CFR 25.201):
Full stall condition – any one, or combination, of the following:
–    A nose-down pitch that cannot be readily arrested, which may be accompanied by an uncommanded rolling motion
–    Buffeting of a magnitude and severity that is a strong and effective deterrent to further increase in angle of attack
–    The pitch control reaches the aft stop for 2 sec and no further increase in pitch attitude occurs when the control is held full aft, which can lead to an excessive descent rate
–    Activation of a stall identification device (e.g., stick pusher)
As can be seen, the condition described in the AD would present at least two of the criteria. First is the “nose-down pitch that cannot be readily arrested” (because the pilots were not previously aware that the system was intentionally doing that due to the erroneous sensor) and second is the “activation of a stall identification device,” in this case, a stick shaker, also due to the same erroneous sensor. The pilot could effectively be misled as to what is actually going on by the software system.
The AD also implies that it is possible that the trim cutout switches (guarded switches that disconnect electrical power from the trim system) may not work, stating:
“If relaxing the column causes the trim to move, set stabilizer trim switches to CUTOUT. If runaway continues, hold the stabilizer trim wheel against rotation and trim the airplane manually.”
Pilots are often our own worst enemy, with some contending that the situation should have been obvious, the aircraft attitude was nominal and airspeed normal. Such Monday morning quarterbacking suggests hindsight bias. The pilot placed in the middle of this situation does not have the benefit of knowing the outcome. They see the aircraft pitching down and are getting a stall warning.     There has been considerable emphasis on stall recovery in the wake of the Air France 447 accident. In the aftermath of that training, pilots are being trained that a stall in a transport airplane is not always apparent nor do all stalls provide the kind of cues pilots might expect based on previous experience. Simulators are not able to fully replicate a real stall in a transport airplane, hence the training emphasizes respecting the stall warning system.
Of course this creates a new quandary. Consider a crew who incorrectly believes they are in a stall situation analogous to the Air France 447 accident, with the nose attitude at a nominal state but the actual AOA is quite high. They might try to recover by pushing over. In other words, the system is tricking the pilot into believing they might be in a non-existent deep stall. Absent any flight deck indication that the information they are relying on is wrong, it would be difficult to pass judgment on a pilot that is following their training.
Perhaps we need to consider adding a flight display alert that prominently shows an AOA failure with a mismatch AOA alert. This approach would parallel similar alerts for airspeed or altitude indication failures.  Accomplishing this would be fairly straight forward. Most transport airplanes have at least two, sometimes three, AOA vanes and sensor systems. A system such as outlined by Ossmann and Joos (2017) would be one possible solution:
An advanced fault detection and diagnosis (FDD) system to monitor the triplex redundant angle of attack measurement of a commercial large transport aircraft has been presented. The FDD system incorporates signal- and model-based fault detection algorithms. Fault isolation is achieved by an individual monitoring of the three angle of attack sensors[6].
An alert would be valuable in any case. This is especially true when we consider what happened with other AOA failure events, such as occurred on the Airbus that led the system protection systems to make extreme maneuvers on Qantas 72. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qantas_Flight_72).
Such an alerting system would provide the pilots with the information they need to disconnect flight computers or other actions as appropriate. This should be combined with ensuring pilots understand all of the functionality of the system so they would recognize all a particular sensor failure might impact.
Every flight depends on pilots to “fix” problems that designers did not anticipate, be they in aircraft design, procedures or the entire system design.  Give the pilot the information and skills to do that. Give the pilot information that the system has an erroneous input via its sensing system.
How can we prevent future problem like this?  A systems approach to analysis would be a good start.  Identifying the needs up front prior to writing the requirements for the software has to happen. Implementing System Theoretic Accident Models and Processes (STAMP) would likely be the best solution we have at present.  The majority of current risk analysis methods (FTA, Bow-Tie, FMEA, FMECA, PRA,, HFACS, ARP 4761, MIL-STD-882 etc.) are just not up to the task for finding complex system interaction problems as has been described here. Nor are those methods well suited to identify problems in systems that rely on humans and software.  STAMP (see http://psas.scripts.mit.edu/home/) can provide a way forward.
Knowledge can keep you alive.
Captain Shem Malmquist is a veteran 777 captain and accident investigator. He is coauthor of Angle of Attack: Air France 447 and The Future of Aviation Safety and teaches an online high altitude flying course with Beyond Risk Management and Flight Safety Information. He can be reached at shem.malmquist@gmail.com
Copyright © Shem Malmquist 2018.

[1] The horizontal stabilizer is the horizontal portion of the tail. It can be adjusted to control the pitch attitude of the aircraft.
[2] Emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2018-23-51 dated November 7, 2018.
[3] https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/dispute-arises-among-u-s-pilots-on-boeing-737-max-system-linked-to-lion-air-crash/
[4] AoA is “Angle of Attack”, which is the difference between the relative wind and the chord line of the wing. In simple terms, it is the difference between the direction the wing is pointed and the direction the wing is moving. If that angle is too great the airflow will not flow smoothly around the wing and the wing will not be able to develop lift.
[5] https://leehamnews.com/2018/11/14/boeings-automatic-trim-for-the-737-max-was-not-disclosed-to-the-pilots/
[6] Ossmann, D., Joos, H. D., & Goupil, P. (2017). Enhanced Sensor Monitoring to Maintain Optimal Aircraft Handling in Case of Faults. Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, 40(12), 3127-3137.

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Boeing will address concerns over the 737 Max on a conference call with airlines

Boeing will hold a conference call with airline operators today (Nov. 20) to answer questions about the new 737 Max aircraft and its flight systems, three weeks after a Lion Air plane of the same model crashed into the sea, Bloomberg reported (paywall).

Boeing declined to comment on the call. In response to earlier queries from Quartz, it has said the 737 Max is safe, and that it is working with airlines and regulators to understand what happened to the Lion Air flight.

The invitation to airlines to partake in the call comes after Indonesian investigators focused on the role of a new anti-stall system in the Lion Air crash, which killed 189 people less than 15 minutes after take-off on Oct. 29. The anti-stall system uses data from an “angle of attack” sensor to adjust the plane’s nose down when the relation of the aircraft to oncoming wind indicates that it may not be able to maintain lift.

In certain conditions, the system can cause the nose to point down sharply and suddenly. In this case, faulty sensor data may have led the system to engage in the maneuver. Indonesia has said pilots on the flight were getting incorrect airspeed readings, which also happened on earlier flights using the same craft.

After Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration issued safety directives on dealing with the situation, pilots and airline regulators responded to say that the feature-known as Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS-wasn’t adequately publicized and that flight crews thus weren’t prepared on how to handle it, even as the aircraft is phased in by dozens of carriers.

As of the end of October, Boeing had received 4,783 orders for its 737 Max planes-dubbed the “short-haul plane of the future” because of its fuel efficiency and cabin capacity-and delivered 241 of them. More than 70 carriers have placed orders for them, including many budget carriers in Asia, and at least 40 carriers have received the craft. Just this week, Indian budget carrier SpiceJet is due to begin a Delhi-Hong Kong flight using the aircraft, while Fiji Airways plans to begin using it on flights to New Zealand in December.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week (paywall) that Southwest Airlines recently replaced two flight-control sensors, the same kind now under scrutiny on the Lion Air flight, on its 737 Max planes. It also reported that Boeing is working on a possible software fix to the safety issue.

Indonesia is due to release a preliminary report on its investigation early next week. While much still remains unclear about the crash, parents of a young doctor who died on the Lion Air flight have brought a lawsuit in the US against Boeing.

Here’s a list of airlines that have received their 737 Max’s so far:

Airline   Country   Deliveries
Southwest Airlines USA 26
Air Canada Canada 18
American Airlines USA 16
Norwegian Air Shuttle Norway 14
Lion Air Indonesia 13
Air Lease Corporation USA 12
China Southern Airlines China 12
Air China China 11
China Eastern Airlines China 11
WestJet Airlines Canada 9
Xiamen Airlines China 8
flydubai United Arab Emirates 7
United Airlines USA 7
Hainan Airlines Holding China 6
Aeromexico Mexico 5
SilkAir Singapore 5
TUI Travel PLC United Kingdom 5
Aviation Capital Group USA 4
Ethiopian Airlines Group Ethiopia 3
GOL Linhas Aereas Brazil 3
ICBC Leasing China 3
Icelandair Iceland 3
Shandong Airlines China 3
Shenzhen Airlines China 3
Turkish Airlines Turkey 3
AerCap Ireland 2
Aerolineas Argentinas Argentina 2
BOC Aviation Limited Singapore 2
Copa Airlines Panama 2
Qatar Airways Qatar 2
SpiceJet India 2
9 Air China 1
Avolon – Ireland Ireland 1
Business Jet / VIP Customer(s) USA 1
Garuda Indonesia Indonesia 1
JSC Aircompany SCAT Kazakhstan 1
Mauritania Airlines Mauritania 1
SMBC Aviation Capital Ireland 1
Travel Service Czech Republic 1


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Paradise Awarded Helicopter Association International Safety Accreditation

Paradise Helicopters, one of the leading Hawai’i helicopter tour companies, has recently earned Helicopter Association International (HAI) accreditation for Corporate and VIP Transportation.

HAI’s renowned Accreditation Program of Safety (HAI-APS) program helps helicopter operators reduce accident and incident rates by improving their safety culture. HAI developed the program
to help participating businesses “fly to a higher standard” of safety and professionalism.

In 2017, Paradise added a Bell 430 to its fleet, becoming the only Hawai’i air-tour company operating a twin-engine helicopter. The Bell 430 offers enhanced safety features for inter-island and overwater flights. PC: Paradise Helicopters

The HAI accreditation for Corporate and VIP Transportation follows Paradise’s HAI accreditation for Air Tour Operations, awarded in March 2016. Paradise was the first air-tour company in the world to earn this accreditation.

“In addition to our air-tour operations, Paradise specializes in corporate and VIP transportation, including charter experiences with our new twin-engine Bell 430 helicopter,” said Calvin Dorn, CEO of Paradise Helicopters. “Since our founding more than two decades ago, our entire team has worked to ensure the highest safety and operational standards in the world, and our multiple HAI accreditations underscore that commitment.”

In December 2017 Paradise earned the highest level of registration available from the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAOTM). The company was the first IS-BAO Stage Three operator in Hawai’i, meeting the aviation industry’s most stringent safety requirements. Paradise earned Stage Two IS-BAO registration in 2016, when the company was also selected to present its SMS at the 2016 CHC Helicopter Safety and Quality Summit in British Columbia.

The company’s safety measures include:

  • The operation of the only twin-engine helicopter (Bell 430) in Hawai’i for commercial air-tour use,allowing Paradise to further mitigate its overwater safety risk during inter-island flights;
  • The use of an integrated aircraft tracking system that provides real-time flight tracking;
  • Routine staff training on the Safety Management System, emergency response and safety risk management;
  • Oversight of operations by a full-time and highly trained Director of Safety.

About Paradise Helicopters
Founded in 1997, Paradise Helicopters is a leading provider of unique air tours and bespoke charters in Hawai’i. The award-winning company is widely recognized for its industry-leading safety practices and exclusive tours. A wide selection of tours are offered from Kapolei West O’ahu and Turtle Bay Resort on O’ahu, through the Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, and from Hilo and Kona on the Island of
Hawai’i; custom charters are available statewide; and specialty flights on an authentic WWII aircraft are available through Pearl Harbor Warbirds on O’ahu.

About HAI
For more than 70 years, Virginia-based Helicopter Association International (HAI) has provided support, services and set the industry safety guidelines for the international helicopter community. HAI members safely fly more than 5,000 helicopters some 2.3 million hours each year. Visit rotor.org.


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Federal Air Marshals accused of more than 200 gun mishaps

Federal Air Marshals accused of gun mishaps

(CNN)When a passenger found a federal air marshal’s loaded service weapon in the bathroom during a trans-Atlantic flight last year, the blunder became headline news. It sparked public outrage, prompted an investigation and led to calls for reform.

But the misplaced gun debacle was hardly an isolated incident, according to documents recently obtained by CNN.

The Transportation Security Administration’s Office of Inspection has documented more than 200 cases of air marshals allegedly misusing firearms or misbehaving with guns between roughly 2005 and 2017, according to records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The cases ranged from seemingly mundane issues, such as improper storage of weapons, to situations in which air marshals allegedly jeopardized public safety.

A 2013 case described an air marshal mistakenly firing his weapon inside a hotel room and damaging a television in an adjoining room.

More than 70 of the incidents relate to lost, misplaced or stolen weapons. At least three of those cases involved air marshals forgetting their firearms in airplane bathrooms. Two others involved weapons misplaced in airports.

On one occasion, an air marshal allegedly left his gun inside a Bed Bath & Beyond store in Totowa, New Jersey. In another, an investigation was launched after police found a “range bag” containing a gun box and ammunition in a school park.

At least 13 of the cases involved alcohol, including a 2012 case in which an armed air marshal allegedly flew on a plane while drunk and another in 2014 in which an agent was accused of being intoxicated during a firearms training session.

The TSA touts federal air marshals as elite officers who receive extensive firearms training that surpasses the standards within many other law enforcement agencies. In a statement to CNN, Thomas Kelly, a spokesman for the air marshals, said the cases involved less than 1% of its workforce.

“All reports of misconduct are taken seriously and fully investigated. When those investigations validate any misconduct, TSA takes swift disciplinary actions,” said Kelly, who added, “we are proud of the highly skilled and trained Federal Air Marshals (FAMs) who keep our skies safe every day.”

The documents from TSA’s Office of Inspection, which audits and inspects TSA operations, do not stipulate whether the allegations of misconduct were substantiated, or whether the air marshals involved were disciplined. The records also did not identify the employees by name.

TSA has investigated 35 incidents in which air marshals were alleged to have unintentionally or inappropriately discharged or brandished weapons between 2007 and 2017. Of those, 27 incidents were substantiated and resulted in disciplinary action, while eight were cleared with no action taken.

TSA did not share the number and outcome of investigations of other types of alleged misconduct involving firearms described in the documents.

How the cases compare to rates of misconduct with firearms within other law enforcement agencies is unclear because the total number of air marshals is classified. However, former air marshals say any mishap with a firearm is unacceptable because of the unique sensitivity of aviation security.

“When you’re in an airport around thousands of people or in an airplane that’s essentially a small tube 30,000 feet in the air, you have to be incredibly accurate. You can’t make mistakes,” said Henry Preston, a former air marshal and training instructor who retired in 2014.

Preston and four other former air marshals reached by CNN said they observed inconsistencies in “recurrent training” during their time with the Federal Air Marshal Service, such as disagreements among instructors on how to enforce marksmanship and safety standards.

Air marshals are required to undergo recurrent training that includes quarterly marksmanship evaluations and annual off-range safety courses, but a 2016 report by the Government Accountability Office found the air marshal service did not have complete and timely data on the extent to which its officers completed that training. Kelly, the air marshal spokesman, said TSA has implemented the GAO’s recommendations on how to better evaluate air marshal training.

Three of the cases in the documents obtained by CNN related to misconduct during firearms training.
In 2013, for example, an air marshal instructor “committed egregious safety violations” by allegedly throwing a handful of expired simulation ammunition into an open fire during a training exercise, according to the records. The ammunition exploded and flying debris hit one staff member in the face, the documents state.
Daniel Kowal, a current supervisory air marshal and section chief at the agency’s training facility near Atlantic City, New Jersey, said that while any case of misconduct is embarrassing, the Federal Air Marshal Service prides itself on rigorous firearms training and strives for zero errors.

“When we hear incidents like this, we immediately convene a panel to address them and we look at what was the underlying cause, what happened, if and when the training failed, how and why did it fail, and how do we plug that gap,” Kowal said.

In addition to recurrent training, all air marshals must first go through a 16-week training course that starts with basic law enforcement techniques, taught in New Mexico, and ends with more advanced weapons-handling and other skills taught at the Atlantic City facility, where CNN observed training in action.
Kowal said air marshals must achieve a minimum marksmanship score of 255 out of 300, which he described as the highest firearms qualification standard in federal law enforcement, and he said air marshals have an average individual score of about 283.

Brian Borek, who represents air marshals as agency president at the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, told CNN some field offices do an excellent job with recurrent training, while disparities exist at others because of limitations on size, resources and personnel. He said that doesn’t make them less effective, “just different and limited.”

“These challenges are not unique to FAMS agency, however. This exists at all large-scale organizations. This in no way translates to the readiness or skill set of air marshals. They are the best in the world,” Borek said.
The incidents of misconduct with firearms adds to a history of controversies that have plagued the Federal Air Marshal Service. Several former air marshals reached by CNN said that in addition to inconsistencies in recurrent training, grueling hours, low morale and even alcoholism affect the mission-readiness of many air marshals.

“There are systemic problems within the culture that affect the men and women doing the job,” said Clay Biles, a former air marshal who wrote a book about the agency, titled “Unsecure Skies.”

In 2012, a commissioned study conducted by the Division of Sleep Medicine of Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School found that 75% of air marshals flying domestic missions were sleep-deficient. The study stated air marshals suffering from fatigue have increased risk of “self-injury” and “greater incidence of serious errors.”

In 2015, CNN reported that 10 federal air marshals had killed themselves since 2002, and representatives of the Air Marshal Association said job stress contributed to those deaths. At least two of the cases in the TSA Office of Inspection documents obtained by CNN involved alleged suicides by air marshals.

The New York Times reported in April that the TSA has had to monitor whether air marshals show up for their flights sober. The TSA said its Office of Inspection makes quality assurance visits to ensure mission readiness.
Some government reports have indicated money spent on some air marshal programs would be more effective in funding other forms of aviation security. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general found that the air marshal service’s “contribution to aviation transportation security is questionable.”
A document obtained by CNN in August showed a TSA proposal to reduce the federal air marshal program that would save the agency nearly $39 million per year.

John Mueller, a political science professor at Ohio State University who has assessed the efficiencies of various forms of aviation security, argues that the costs of air marshals outweigh their benefits. He recommends training and arming more pilots to resist hijackers and adding secondary cockpit barriers.

Referring to air marshals, Mueller said, “They deliver about 5 cents or maybe 10 cents of benefit for every dollar that’s spent on them. There are much less expensive security measures, which could replace them and save lots of money.”


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11-year-old gets through Atlanta airport security, to gate alone without boarding pass

The 11-year-old made it to the airport on a bus. He made it through the security checkpoint. He even made it all the way to the gate before trying to sneak on a Delta Air Lines flight with a family – on his own and without a ticket.

That’s what authorities say happened Friday afternoon at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport after the boy left his Clayton County home.

Now, the Transportation Security Administration is trying to figure out how he got through security without a boarding pass, right before a busy holiday travel period.

After the screening, a TSA officer asked the boy where his parents were, the TSA said in a statement to AJC.com.

“At that point he left the checkpoint. We alerted the ATL Department of Aviation and then worked with the airport and police to be sure he was located,” the TSA said.

Channel 2 Action News reported that the boy tried to blend in with a family to board a plane, but the family said they didn’t know him. The boy reportedly took off, but officers eventually found him.

By around 5 p.m., “Atlanta Police got a call from Delta Air Lines employees that an unaccompanied 11-year-old had tried to board one of their planes without a boarding pass,” according to Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos. “Officers spoke with the boy to make an effort to locate his family.”

A TSA spokeswoman told Channel 2 the boy didn’t have to show identification at security because he’s a minor. She also said he was not a security threat because he was screened at the checkpoint.


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Cyprus Airways Receives IATA Membership Certificate

Cyprus Airways has received a certificate from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for successfully becoming a member.

“We are extremely proud to receive the certificate of our IATA membership and to officially join the IATA family,” Natalia Popova, Chief Commercial Officer of Cyprus Airways, said.

Executives of the airline accepted the certificate during a ceremony held in Madrid during IATA’s recent “Wings of Change Europe”event.

“The membership will enable Cyprus Airways to collaborate with other international member airlines for codeshare and interline agreements and provide a seamless travel experience through an extended global network to travelers to and from Cyprus,” Popova added.

Cyprus Airways launched flights in June 2017. In July 2018, the company successfully completed the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registration, a pre-requisite for an IATA membership, after a rigorous audit program that certified the company´s compliance with internationally approved aviation safety standards.

In October 2018, Cyprus Airways became a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

“Cyprus Airways plays a vital role, connecting Cyprus with key markets in Europe as well as the Middle East. We look forward to further collaborative work with Cyprus Airways in the future,” said IATA Regional Vice President for Europe Rafael Schvartzman.

The airline’s long-term goal is to contribute to the increase of tourism in Cyprus, while at the same time broaden the horizon of local travelers.


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Early IS-BAO Participants Reach Milestones

The International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) recently held a reception honoring 17 business aircraft operators who have reached major milestones in participation in the International Standard for Business Aviation Operations (IS-BAO).

The voluntary, safety management system-based program is the global code of industry best practices. Launched in 2002, the first IS-BAO adopters have now reached their 15th anniversaries. Seventeen operators that achieved the 15-year and 10-year milestones, including IBM, Shell Aircraft Ltd., and Boeing Executive Flight Operations, received certificates of recognition from IS-BAO program director Bennett Walsh at the event.

“These operators are industry leaders as well as pioneers in their adoption of the global IBAC safety standard, and we commend them for their commitment to excellence and safety,” noted IBAC director general Kurt Edwards. “I am sure the management and staff of these companies are very proud of their flight operations’ pledge to professionalism and their continued dedication to a safety culture.”


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Wyvern Relocates and Expands Product Scope

Business aviation safety audit provider Wyvern has introduced several changes to the company. The first is physical, with the relocation of its headquarters from Yardley, Pennsylvania, to Boston-area Laurence G. Hanscom Field Airport. With that move the company has added four new staff members for a total of 30 employees.

Known for its Wingman Safety Audit program, Wyvern is now offering safety management system (SMS) certification for non-commercial operators and MRO locations, as well as Part 135 charter providers. It has also expanded its mission statement from “elevating aviation safety worldwide,” to “elevating safety and security worldwide,” indicating a move to provide consulting to markets beyond its 1991 aviation origins.

The company has also unveiled two products: a safety leader training course, which aims to develop future leaders in safety risk management; and its flight leader program, which continually monitors client operations as opposed to visiting them once every two years during a formal audit.


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Pilots working for airlines that transport packages for Amazon are not happy – and many are considering quitting, a survey found

Prime Air plane
Some pilots feel “disenfranchised,” according to one captain. Stephen Brashear / Stringer / Getty Images

Amazon Air relies on cargo airlines like Atlas Air and ABX Air to transport its packages.
But pilots from those airlines say they’re getting fed up with pay and benefits that they say are below industry standards.

A survey of pilots at those carriers, conducted by the Teamsters Local 1224 union of the Airline Professionals Association, found that 60% of respondents said they plan to leave their current airline.

Pilots working for the group of airlines responsible for making Amazon Air deliveries aren’t happy, a recent union survey found.

And a lot of them are considering leaving the airlines that Amazon Air relies on, according to a recent survey from the Teamsters Local 1224 union of the Airline Professionals Association.

The survey, which wrapped up on Monday and featured responses from more than 1,200 pilots, found that 60% said they plan to leave their current airline. The survey was sent out to all 2,170 crew members at Atlas Air, Southern Air, and ABX Air, via email.

These pilots don’t work for Amazon directly.

Amazon Air is a brand that operates through cargo airline subsidiaries of Atlas Air Worldwide and the Air Transport Services Group, including Atlas Air and ABX Air.

As part of the arrangement between these companies and the tech giant, pilots from these airlines operate Amazon Air’s branded aircraft in order to make deliveries. Those airlines also cater to DHL, a division of the German logistics company Deutsche Post DHL. Southern Air, which is a subsidiary of Atlas Air Worldwide, flies exclusively for DHL.

prime air
“They have to start all over again at the carrier they go to,” Captain Robert Kirchner told Business Insider. Ted S. Warren / AP Images

Switching airlines can set back a pilot’s career
This isn’t the first rumble from the pilots, though. There have been a number of strikes and protests. But the fact that so many pilots are considering quitting is still striking, according to Captain Robert Kirchner, Atlas pilot and executive council chairman of Teamsters Local 1224.

That’s because the airline industry operates on a seniority-based system, he said.

“When a captain leaves here after 10 or 15 years, he or she is leaving 15 years behind,” Kirchner told Business Insider. “They have to start all over again at the carrier they go to.”

Kirchner said that even though a captain “may be the most experienced person at the airline,” they must start from the bottom when they join a new carrier. Moving around can therefore be detrimental to a pilot’s career.

Kirchner said that quitting an airline could amount to a “big sacrifice” and that he’s seen captains with 18 years of experience walk away from Atlas.

“If you’re a doctor or a business person, then you can go to another company and get your current job or higher,” he said. “In the airline industry, you can’t do that. There’s less pay, you don’t get the schedules you want, you don’t get the vacation you want, until you start getting higher up.”

atlas air
The survey indicated that morale is low among pilots at ABX Air, Atlas Air, and Southern Air. Michael Sohn / AP Images

Pilots are feeling ‘disenfranchised’
He said that Atlas’ partnership with Amazon brought about an expansion that the airline couldn’t keep up with. Amazon, which owns a 20% stake in Atlas and is one of its most important clients, could fix the problem by telling the airline to up its standards, according to Kirchner.

A spokesperson for Amazon Air told Business Insider referred questions about the working environment at Atlas Air, Southern Air, and ABX Air to the airlines themselves, and said that the company was pleased with the carriers’ performance and ability to scale.

But Kirchner described an atmosphere of frustration and apathy among pilots.

“A lot of the pilots coming in here, because of that, feel disenfranchised and aren’t committed to the business or to the company,” Kirchner told Business Insider. “They say, ‘I’m only going to stay for a couple of years until I get my qualifications up. And then I’m going on to FedEx, UPS, United.'”

He said that Atlas currently has a “tremendous turnover rate” because the airline offers salaries and benefits that pilots say are beneath the industry standard. He said that 72% of Atlas pilots have been with the carrier for less than five years.

When asked in the survey if they felt that morale was high among their fellow pilots, 86% of ABX pilots, 76% of Atlas pilots, and 51% of Southern pilots said they “strongly disagreed.”

“I’ve had crew members on my flights, and they’ll just come out and tell me that they really don’t care,” Kirchner said. “‘I don’t care about this company. I don’t care if it survives. I don’t care if Amazon’s packages get to where they’re supposed to go. I just don’t care.’ And that’s a sad situation.”

A spokesperson at Atlas Air Worldwide said that the company valued its pilots right to express their opinions.

“The commentary from the pilot union, however, is part of an overall campaign to put public pressure on the company with respect to our next labor contract,” the spokesperson said. “The union’s campaign has included the dissemination of false and/or misleading statements.”

A spokesperson for Air Transport Services did not immediately return Business Insider’s request for comment.

amazon air
“There’s nothing like experienced employees,” Kirchner said. Ted S. Warren / AP Images

Pilots worry about their airlines’ ability to recruit and retain talent
The survey also found that 80% of the pilots strongly disagreed when asked if they were happy with their pay and benefits, while 91% said they felt their airline’s pay and benefits didn’t meet industry standards.

Kirchner said that in 2015, about 100 pilots quit Atlas. That number jumped to 198 in 2017. This year, Kirchner estimated that the number would approach 300.

“They tried to hire 379 pilots in 2018,” he said. “They only got 285 to show up to class, which is unheard of in the industry.”

At ABX, Atlas, and Southern, 81% to 87% of pilots reported that they strongly agreed that they were worried about their carrier “being able to recruit and retain experienced pilots.”

In the survey, 65% of respondents said they’d been asked to fly on their off-days in the past year. And Kirchner said that Atlas pilots receive fewer vacations than pilots at their competitors to start with.

“We’ve never seen this much flying on days off at the airline, which is further proof of how short they are in the pilot ranks,” Kirchner said.

Kirchner said that he didn’t believe that the situation at Atlas Air or Air Transport Services would erode industry standards across the board. He singled out UPS and FedEx for providing their pilots with appropriate compensation and time off. And in the survey, 83% to 74% of respondents said they’d like to fly for FedEx or UPS.

“There’s nothing like experienced employees,” Kirchner said. “Companies like Amazon and DHL need on-time, reliable service – and we’re already seeing that deteriorate. As long as they keep turning a blind eye to this, the problem is going to get worse and worse and worse.”

Here’s the full statement from Atlas Air Worldwide:

“We value the service of our pilots and appreciate their right to express their opinions. The commentary from the pilot union, however, is part of an overall campaign to put public pressure on the company with respect to our next labor contract.

The union’s campaign has included the dissemination of false and/or misleading statements. It also included an illegal slowdown that the union was ordered to stop a year ago by the U.S. federal court in Washington, D.C. That injunction remains in place today.

As background, our business has grown substantially over the past several years, during which we have not only created hundreds of new pilot jobs but have also met our customer demands with highly reliable service. As our business continues to grow and develop, with opportunities to expand in existing and new markets, we continue to provide pilots opportunities for ongoing career growth and advancement.

We will continue to address work rules, pay and time off with our pilots as we work through our contract negotiations. We remain committed to negotiating one competitive collective-bargaining agreement for all of our pilots in accordance with the terms of our existing labor agreements, which recognizes our pilots’ valued contributions.”


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Lockheed Martin Lands 255-Jet Fighter Order Worth $22.7 Billion

The strangest part: The average selling price of the F-35 appears to have gone up.

Let the shareholders rejoice: Lockheed Martin’s (NYSE:LMT) F-35 Lightning II fighter jet contracts are getting bigger — and bigger.

In September, Reuters reported on a Pentagon deal to buy what it called at the time “the biggest batch yet” of Lockheed Martin’s joint strike fighter — 141 fighter jets valued at $11.5 billion. To win such a big order, Lockheed lowered its average F-35 cost to $81.6 million. With engine and other incidental costs factored in, flyaway costs were a bit higher. Lockheed’s F-35B variant flyaway cost $115.5 million, its F-35C cost $107.7 million, and the F-35A ended up at $89 million. Still, as Lockheed noted at the time, this contract offered the “lowest per-aircraft price in program history,” which undoubtedly helped Lockheed seal the deal.

Big as that sale was, however, the contract Lockheed just won easily eclipses it.


In a mammoth deal announced Wednesday, the Pentagon awarded Lockheed a contract to sell 255 new F-35 fighter jets for $22.7 billion — $89 million per plane averaged across all three models. These will include:

  • 64 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing fighters for the U.S. Air Force.
  • 26 short takeoff/vertical landing F-35Bs for the U.S. Marine Corps.
  • 16 carrier-variant F-35Cs for the U.S. Navy.
  • 131 F-35As and 18 F-35 Bs to be delivered to U.S. allies abroad.

What it means to investors (and taxpayers)

Why buy so many F-35s, and why buy so many at once? The answer to the first question is that, over the next five or so decades, the U.S. military and its allies abroad plan to buy more than 3,000 F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin. This week’s contract doesn’t cover even one-tenth of total global demand for the stealth fighter jet — and over time, investors should expect these contracts to get even bigger.

As for why the Pentagon decided to commission production of more than 250 planes all in one go, that’s because — as any Costco shopper can tell you — items are often cheaper when bought in bulk. When Lockheed gets a big order for F-35s, it’s able to run its factories at full capacity, negotiate volume discounts from its suppliers, and wring other efficiencies of scale from its manufacturing process. All these factors add up to savings for Lockheed Martin — savings it can then pass along to its customers.

Speaking of savings, though, you may be wondering: If Lockheed Martin charged $89 million for an F-35A two months ago, and if this week’s $22.7 billion deal also works out to $89 million per plane, then where are the savings?

The answer is a bit complex. For one thing, in the September contract, $89 million referred to the “F-35A unit price including aircraft, engine, and fee.” That’s how a deal that actually averaged “$81.6 million” per plane ended up costing the Pentagon $89 million, $107.7 million, and $115.5 million, respectively, for individual F-35 variants.

It’s probably the devil in the details at work here, again, that explains why a much larger contract — which should offer even greater production efficiencies and drive prices down further — is actually resulting in a higher average cost per plane than what we saw in September. Nearly a quarter of the F-35s on order this time around will be pricier B and C variants, raising the average cost across all F-35s on order. That’s probably one factor pushing up the average cost.

Even more tellingly, the majority of the F-35s being sold in this November order are being sold abroad — and while Lockheed doesn’t highlight this fact, it’s generally been the case that F-35s sold abroad through the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Sales program retail for higher prices than what the Pentagon pays. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing for U.S. taxpayers, as it means foreign buyers may be subsidizing cheaper warplanes for us.

Whatever the reason for the apparent rise in average cost, the upshot is this: Lockheed Martin just scored a contract worth more than 40% of all the revenue it ordinarily books in a year. That revenue, moreover, will flow through Lockheed Martin’s second most profitable business division — aeronautics, which, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data, earns a 10.7% operating profit margin.

That makes this a good deal not just for U.S. taxpayers, but for Lockheed Martin shareholders as well.


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Southwest Airlines struggling to rectify onboard Wi-Fi problems

A Southwest Airlines heart will be painted on the belly of each of the carrier’s aircraft as part of the brand overhaul.

Southwest Airlines is having connectivity issues.

No, we’re not talking about the protracted effort to connect the mainland United States with Hawaii, a new route the low-fare carrier has been threatening to launch for some time.

This is a Wi-Fi connectivity problem that for months has affected a number of planes in the Southwest fleet – to say nothing of the passengers flying those planes who might have expected to have Wi-Fi connectivity while en route to their destinations – some a number of hours away from where they began their journey.

Southwest flight attendants (FAs) on the frontline were the first to suspect the Wi-Fi problems as passengers began experiencing issues with the service this past summer and looked to FAs for explanations and answers.

Southwest management formally acknowledged the problem to flight attendants in a late summer internal memo obtained by the Chicago Business Journal. The memo said in part: “As many of you are aware, our customers may currently be experiencing an inconsistent Wi-Fi product.”

Management also conceded to employees that Wi-Fi had been completely deactivated on a portion of the Southwest fleet, including 28 Boeing 737-800 aircraft, some of the newest in Southwest’s fleet.

Two months later, in a late October memo, Southwest acknowledged to flight attendants the Wi-Fi problem was still ongoing: “Your leadership teams across tech ops, engineering, maintenance operations control supply chain and marketing are working together on a resolution for these issues for our customers and employees.”

Nearly a month later there are still numerous reports of non-functioning Wi-Fi across the Southwest fleet, according to sources within the carrier’s flight attendant ranks.

Asked when Southwest expects to have the problem resolved, a spokeswoman for the carrier said Monday: “We’re working closely with our inflight Wi-Fi providers, evaluating services on specific aircraft. … Southwest is working diligently with its vendors to allocate the appropriate resources necessary to provide a product that our customers expect.”

The ongoing Wi-Fi problems come two years after Southwest announced plans to upgrade what was universally viewed as a subpar onboard Wi-Fi product. The vendors chosen for the project were Panasonic Avionics Corp. and Global Eagle Entertainment (NASDAQ: ENT).

At the time of the announcement in December of 2016, Southwest said in a memo to employees “over the next 18 months we will be phasing in improvements that exponentially increase the amount of bandwidth available to our customers.”

Added Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) in that same memo: “They (customers) will finally experience a noticeable difference.”

Southwest has its largest hub at Chicago’s Midway International Airport.


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NASA to pay private space companies for moon rides

Smaller than a compact car, Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander could put experiments on the moon for NASA.

Next month, almost a half-century since the United States last landed a spacecraft on the moon, NASA is expected to announce plans for a return. But the agency will just be along for the ride. Rather than unveiling plans for its own spacecraft, NASA will name the private companies it will pay to carry science experiments to the moon on small robotic landers.

Under a program called Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS), NASA would buy space aboard a couple of launches a year, starting in 2021. The effort is similar to an agency program that paid private space companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). “This a new way of doing business,” says Sarah Noble, a planetary scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., who is leading the science side of NASA’s lunar plans.

Scientists are lining up for a ride. “It really feels like the future of lunar exploration,” says Erica Jawin, a planetary scientist at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. She and other attendees at the annual meeting of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group in Columbia, Maryland, last week were eager to show NASA why their small experiments would be worthy hitchhikers on the landers.

Several companies, including Astrobotic, Moon Express, and iSpace, are vying to establish a commercial moon market. Buying rides to the moon from launch providers like Rocket Lab, each firm hopes to become the go-to carrier for other companies seeking to prospect the moon for rocket fuel ingredients, or to gather rocks to sell for study. But a contract with NASA is the real prize. Moon Express, for example, has designed the MX-1, a lander roughly the size and shape of Star Wars’s R2-D2. But, “We won’t pull the trigger until we know we have a CLPS award,” says Moon Express CEO Robert Richards in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The companies selected for CLPS must deliver at least 10 kilograms of payload by the end of 2021, NASA says. It is scrambling to find instruments that are ready to fly. “What do you have sitting on shelf now that you can throw onto the mission immediately?” Noble says. “We’re looking for flight spares, engineering models, student-built projects. It’s a little bit of a weird call for us.” The agency is planning to pay up to $36 million to adapt eight to 12 existing scientific instruments to the initial small landers; by the middle of next decade it aims to build a pipeline of instruments for bigger landers that might also carry rovers.

The first small commercial landers will pale in capability next to traditional NASA missions. Some will likely fail, as NASA’s science chief, Thomas Zurbuchen, has repeatedly warned. They will not survive the lunar night, 2 weeks when surface temperatures drop to −173°C. They may not be capable of landing in a specific spot. But scientists are still excited to get cameras and other instruments back to the surface of the moon, says Clive Neal, a lunar scientist at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. “It’s a great start.”

NASA is still working out destinations for the commercial landers. Earlier this year, lunar scientists compiled a list of 16 sites key to testing an emerging picture of the moon as more active volcanically and richer in water than was thought. For example, 4 years ago scientists studying the Ina caldera, a collection of smooth, small volcanic mounds on the moon’s nearside, noticed it was relatively free of craters. The observation suggested that instead of ending a billion years ago, volcanism-a sign of interior heat-persisted until a few million years ago, smoothing the landscape. If true-and some dispute the finding-it would upend theories of how the moon, and potentially the rocky planets, cool over time.

At the 2-kilometer-tall Aristarchus plateau, scientists want to study abundant volcanic ash deposits, which were created in explosive, gas-driven eruptions, a rarity on the moon. Thanks to its fine granularity, the ash could also make an excellent building block for human habitats. Samples from Marius Hills, a shield volcano that likely erupted for a substantial time, could shed light on how the moon’s endowment of water, carbon monoxide, and other volatiles evolved over time. And a look inside permanently shadowed craters at the moon’s poles could confirm whether some of its water is frozen there, says Brett Denevi, a planetary geologist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

The first small landers allow only small steps toward these science goals. But the agency could eventually support commercial robotic sample return missions, which Astrobotic and Moon Express hope to offer. “They could say, ‘I want 2 kilograms of lunar regolith from such and such location,'” says John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Returned samples could help researchers with a perennial goal: dating the moon’s old and young craters, which dictate age estimates for surfaces across the solar system.

NASA also wants to fly people back to the vicinity of the moon-but in its own spacecraft. It is building the Gateway, a small outpost, that, by 2024, would host astronauts for a couple of months at a time in a pressurized volume one-tenth the size of the ISS. The Gateway, which will cost NASA at least $3 billion for its first few sections, would not orbit the moon but, rather, would follow a weeklong loop around a distant gravitational balance point-a poor vantage for lunar observations. “We’re not 100% sure of its value for lunar science,” says Ryan Watkins, a lunar scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in St. Louis, Missouri. Noble acknowledges that the Gateway may be more valuable for studying the sun or the rest of the universe.

Ben Bussey, NASA’s chief scientist for human exploration, says the agency is trying to accommodate scientists’ concerns. For example, it will prioritize equipping the station with a robotic arm, needed for mounting experiments on its exterior. And it is investigating the possibility of a reusable “tug” spacecraft that could ferry landers, samples, and instruments between the Gateway and low lunar orbit, Bussey says.

Looming over these lunar plans is the fear that they will change. Republicans in Congress proposed a moon return under former President George W. Bush, only to have the administration of former President Barack Obama emphasize a visit to an asteroid in deep space, as a stepping stone to Mars. So far, the Republican-led Congress has fully funded the agency’s moon plans: Draft 2019 spending bills contain $500 million for the Gateway and more than $200 million for NASA’s initial lander and science plans. Now, lunar scientists need to convey their support to newly empowered Democrats, Neal says. If NASA funds a couple of small landers and the program changes again, Denevi adds, “that’s just going to be another wasted decade.”


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ARGUS International, Inc. is Growing
Business Aviation Audit Programs Manager Position Available
ARGUS PROS, A division of ARGUS International,is your one-stop source for creating a superior operation within your air transportation business. We are an experienced quality and safety assurance provider and are accredited by IATA as an IOSA Audit and Training Organization. Ours is a flexible organization, committed to true team auditing for multiple standards at the domestic, regional, and international levels, as well as tailoring all the other resources and services we offer to your specific needs.
ARGUS PROS is currently seeking a Full Time BA Audit Programs Manager to join our team. This position will work at our Denver, CO location. ARGUS is an established company with an unparalleled client list and reputation. The perfect candidate will have the proven ability to work with the listed technologies in a team setting.
Responsibilities for the position will include, but not be limited to, the following:
  • Develops and maintains database of audit report quality issues.
  • Assists in development of BA forms, checklists and manuals.
  • Assists in managing various audit standards.
  • Assists Sales Department with proposals.
  • Coordinates with Audit Production the closure of Business Aviation audits.
  • Ensures current BA forms, checklists and manuals are posted on the proper web-based portal for auditor access.
  • Communicates additional resource needs to the Director Audit Program BA.
  • Supports accounting department through preparation of Reimbursable Expense Reports and training course registration payment processing.
  • Supports document management and control system through development, maintenance, and distribution of manuals, templates and documents used directly in the conduct and support of operations.
  • Monitors Flight Safety Foundation, International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), Air Charter Safety Foundation for audit program related changes.
  • Responsible for maintaining personal Lead Auditor currency.
  • Maintains auditor training and personnel records.
  • Assists with on-boarding process for new auditors.
  • Provides technical support and training to auditors in the use of various methods to include web-based applications used by the company
  • Conduct Historical Safety Reports (HSR) and Desktop Audits when required.
Minimum requirements:
  • 4-year college degree, or equivalent work experience as determined by employer
  • Five years of airline or business aviation operations or related work experience
  • Supervisory experience
  • Aviation Auditing experience
  • Advanced knowledge of MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Proficient in the use databases of Adobe Acrobat program
  • Excellent and professional written and verbal skills
  • Excellent phone and organizational skills
  • Foreign Language proficiency a plus
  • Knowledge of Safety Management Systems a plus
Why Chose ARGUS?  ARGUS is an equal opportunity employer. Full time benefits will include; 401K Match, Medical/Dental/Vision Insurance, Paid Vacation and Holidays, Flexible Schedules, Competitive Salary with casual atmosphere.
Please register to submit your cover letter and resume at:

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A Message From Flight Safety Information Editor Curt Lewis, Associate Editor Roger Rapoport and Captain Shem Malmquist
Flight Safety Information has partnered with Beyond Risk Management to create a  High Altitude Flying Course.
This course, led by Captain Shem Malmquist, an accident investigator, professor and 777 captain who flies international routes, is now underway. A key unit in this class focuses on poorly understood high altitude weather challenges that have led to fatal accidents.
Here is a comment from one of the veteran pilots now taking this course
“I have made it to the Part 121 world with what can be described as zero weather training. I have had a lot of low level weather experience flying floats but when it comes to flight levels the only knowledge is what I’m gaining from this course. The extremely basic weather theory and concept required for our ratings is outdated and barely touched on during orals. The training at my current company barely touched on the subject except that we have weather radar onboard and good luck getting it to work. A captain will show you how it works. Is this the case industry wide?”
With other pilots mirroring this comment, it is apparent to all of us that the kind of aviation meteorology course taught by professors like Debbie Schaum at Embry-Riddle University, are not offered to most pilots. In fact, pilots moving up from domestic to international routes typically have little (one day) or no training on the special challenges presented on transoceanic routes lacking radar coverage found on overland routes.   With many major airports located on oceanic coastlines, these challenges can be significant.
As Captain Malmquist prepares for the upcoming January course we would like to hear from pilots on this critical issue.   A selection of these comments will be published in a future issue of Flight Safety Information. Our long-term goal is to make sure that every pilot receives the critical meteorology training they need to do their job. Here are those questions which you can answer confidentially. Your name will not be used in future reports on this subject.
1. What weather training have you received specific to high altitude flying?
2. Do you feel that this training was all you needed?
3. Where did your training take place?   How long did it take.
4. Was this weather training provided when you began working for your airline?
5. Have you had recurrent training on weather challenges?
6. Were you retrained on a new radar system when you switched to flying a different aircraft type.
7. If you switched from domestic to international routes did you receive any training on special weather
    conditions found on transoceanic routes?
8. What manuals and instructional materials were provided? How much information did you receive? Did it
    answer all of your questions?
9. Did you receive online training? How long did it take to complete this training? Were you tested on your
10. Do you believe this training prepared you adequately for special challenges in places such as the
      intertropical convergence zone?
11. Are you confident that you fully understand weather radar? Does it always do what you want? If not,
      please describe the problems encountered.
12. Have you been in situations where better weather training would have been helpful?
13. Did a lack of training contribute to any difficulties?
14. Do you have any recommendations for better weather training? Do you think it should be provided in
      house, in a classroom setting, online or all three?
15. Are there specific low altitude weather issues that are a concern to you?
Feel free to answer any or all of these questions privately. You are welcome to combine your answers into a narrative summary.
Please let us know if you would like more information about Captain Malmquist’s course as it relates to weather training not provided by your company. You can reach us directly at rogerdrapoport@me.com or 231 720-0930 (EST 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) For more details visit http://pilot-errormovie/online-course/

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Phone: (231)720-0930 (9-6 EST) 

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(Targeting Aviation Safety & Risk Management)  
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Flight Safety Information (FSI) Newsletter has been publishing timely aviation safety news for over 25 years.  FSI has over 100,000 readers and 65,000 aviation subscribers on a globally basis.
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Curt Lewis & Associates, LLC is an international, multi-discipline technical, scientific and research consulting firm specializing in aviation and industrial safety. Our specialties are aviation litigation support (Expert Witness), aviation/airport safety programs, accident investigation and reconstruction, safety & quality assessments/audits (ISO-9001/AS-9100), system safety, human factors, Safety Management Systems (SMS) assessment/implementation & training, safety/quality training & risk management, aviation manual development, IS-BAO Auditing, technical writing & editing, airfield/heliport lighting products, patent infringement/invalidity expert testimony and Technical Support.