Incident: Ryanair B738 near Venice on Nov 24th 2018, cracked windshield
A Ryanair Boeing 737-800, registration EI-FOK performing flight FR-706 from Venice (Italy) to Hamburg (Germany), was climbing out of Venice when the captain’s windshield began to glow at the right upper corner followed by the captain’s windshield to crack. The crew levelled off at FL280 to run the related checklists, verified it was just the outer pane of the windshield that had cracked and decided to continue the flight in accordance with the checklists. The aircraft climbed to FL320 and landed safely in Hamburg about 90 minutes after departure.
The occurrence aircraft is still on the ground in Hamburg about 28 hours after landing.
Incident: KLM B772 at Amsterdam on Nov 25th 2018, rejected takeoff due to engine problem
A KLM Boeing 777-200, registration PH-BQC performing flight KL-641 from Amsterdam (Netherlands) to New York JFK,NY (USA), was accelerating for takeoff from Amsterdam’s runway 36L when the right hand engine (GE90) surged prompting the crew to reject takeoff at low speed (about 70 knots over ground). The aircraft slowed safely and stopped on the runway about 1000 meters/3300 feet down the runway. The crew advised they had no fire indication, just a high temperature indication, they were able to vacate the runway and hold on the taxiway. A runway inspection found no debris on the runway. The aircraft taxied to the apron.
Incident: KLM B744 at Nairobi on Nov 20th 2018, engine shut down in flight
A KLM Boeing 747-400, registration PH-BFN performing flight KL-566 (callsign KLM174) from Nairobi (Kenya) to Amsterdam (Netherlands), was climbing out of Nairobi’s runway 06 when the crew declared PAN PAN PAN reporting they had an engine failure. The aircraft stopped the climb at FL200, dumped fuel and returned to Nairobi for a safe landing on runway 06 about one hour after departure.
The occurrence aircraft remained on the ground in Nairobi for about 4 days after landing back, departed Nairobi on Nov 25th 2018 02:30L (Nov 24th 23:30Z), climbed to FL430 enroute and reached Amsterdam with a delay of 98 hours.
Incident: VivaColombia A320 at Pereira on Nov 24th 2018, runway excursion during backtrack
A VivaColombia Airbus A320-200, registration HK-5273-X performing flight VH-6769 from Pereira to Bogota (Colombia), was backtracking runway 24 for departure, when the nose wheel went past the end of the runway and became stuck on soft ground.
The flight was cancelled.
The airport needed to be closed until the aircraft can be moved back onto paved surface.
A) SKPE B) 1811241415 C) 1811242359 EST
E) AD CLSD
Incident: Juneyao A321 near Guangzhou on Nov 24th 2018, cargo smoke indication
A Juneyao Airlines Airbus A321-200, registration B-1646 performing HO-1634 from Sanya to Nanjing (China), was enroute at 10100 meters (FL331) about 110nm southwest of Guangzhou (China) when the crew received a cargo smoke indication, declared emergency and diverted to Guangzhou for a safe landing about 19 minutes later.
The indication was identified false.
A replacement A321-200 registration B-8458 departed Guangzhou 4 hours after B-1646 landed and reached Nanjing with a delay of 4.5 hours.
The occurrence aircraft is still on the ground in Guaghzhou about 9 hours after landing.
Incident: Nelson DH8C near Tauranga on Nov 23rd 2018, engine shut down in flight
An Air Nelson de Havilland Dash 8-300 on behalf of Air New Zealand, registration ZK-NEB performing flight NZ-8262 from Wellington to Tauranga (New Zealand), was descending towards Tauranga about 10-15 minutes prior to estimated landing when the crew needed to shut the right hand engine (PW123) down. The aircraft continued for a safe landing in Tauranga.
The airline reported the crew decided to shut the engine down due to indication of a possible propeller malfunction.
The aircraft was able to return to service 10 hours after landing.
PIA aircraft hits parked Shaheen Air plane in Karachi
KARACHI: A Pakistan Inter-national Airlines aircraft hit a parked plane during routine engine testing near a hangar at Karachi airport on Saturday.
The ATR aircraft was undergoing some repairs at the engineering hangar while the parked plane belonged to a private airline.
Official sources said the aircraft was towed from the hangar and its engines were switched on for testing. While it was moving towards the parking area, its brakes failed and the plane hit a non-functional and parked aircraft of the Shaheen International Airlines.
However, a PIA spokesperson said that during routine engine check-up the plane “slightly hit a salvaged skeleton of aircraft parked nearby” due to which its propeller got damaged. The PIA management did not cite any reason for the incident but said an inquiry had been launched to look into the episode.
Before Fatal Lion Air Crash, Boeing’s New Jet Hit Problem in Tests
The 737 MAX-8 presented pilots with a challenge that the company thought could be solved with a system that airline pilots need not know about.
When Boeing pilots were flight testing the new MAX-8 version of the venerable 737 jet they discovered a problem that made the airplane difficult to handle when its speed dropped to a point where it was in danger of triggering an aerodynamic stall, and a loss of control that could lead to a crash.
This is revealed in new reporting by Aviation Week. The report suggests that in order to mitigate the problem Boeing introduced a new system to the flight controls – a system called Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, MCAS, that is at the center of the investigation of the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 that plunged into the Java Sea, killing all 189 people on board.
Pilots flying the more than 200 MAX-8s now in service with airlines across the world have said that they were unaware that the MCAS had been installed and were never instructed in how to use it. That would have included the Lion Air pilots. They were also, therefore, unaware of the reasons why Boeing decided to add the MCAS system.
The problems that were revealed in the test flights arose from the adoption of new engines for the MAX series of the 737. They are larger, heavier and more powerful than on earlier models of the jet.
Fixing these engines to the 737’s wings put Boeing’s engineers up against some unique and challenging problems caused by the age of the jet’s basic design, originating in the mid-1960s.
The 737 sits lower to the ground than other Boeing jets. This is because its designers wanted baggage and cargo to be hand-loaded from the tarmac without mechanical assistance, since the airplane was intended to bring jet service for the first time to many small airports not then equipped for that purpose.
This innovation swiftly became pointless as airports became better equipped and, more vitally, the 737 became the best-selling single-aisle jet in history and Boeing’s most enduring cash cow.
However, the 737’s shorter ground clearance, just 17 inches, became problematic as jet engines grew larger. This could have been countered by a new fuselage and normal length landing gear. But although Boeing introduced new wings, tail surfaces and many other upgrades the fuselage and landing gear remained fundamentally unchanged over decades.
A final crunch moment came with the MAX series. The performance of the 737 was greatly enhanced by the new engines, jointly made by General Electric and the French company Safran, providing a new sweet spot for airlines who wanted the improved economies of a small jet that could fly longer routes, often over oceans.
But those virtues were possible only with an increase in the size of the engines. The size of the MAX engines, specifically the diameter of the huge fan blades at the front, is nearly 70 inches, compared to 61 inches on the older engines, and they weigh 849 pounds more.
In order to attach the new engines and still get a safe distance between them and the ground Boeing lengthened the nose wheel by 9.5 inches and, crucially, had to move the engines, inside their bulging nacelles, further forward from the wing.
It now appears that the changes in the 737’s low-speed handling characteristics resulted from this shift in the weight of the engines, as well as the effects of their increased power.
(In response to questions from The Daily Beast, Boeing declined to confirm the details of the Aviation Week report.)
Normally the onset of an aerodynamic stall is indicated by “stick shake” – the joystick, more accurately the yoke, begins to shake and pilots are trained to instinctively increase speed and push the nose down to recover stability.
As a result of the test flights Boeing seems to have decided that the airplane itself should be able to sense this problem and cure it through its automated flight management system, using MCAS to move the horizontal stabilizer to push down the nose. What they apparently did not anticipate was the possibility that an erroneous message from another system, an angle of attack (the pitch of the wings) sensor, could initiate action by the MCAS, unknown to pilots.
Who’s really flying?
This decision goes to the core of a continuing debate among pilots and safety experts about how far cockpit automation should intervene between pilots and the airplane to detect and correct problems, like this one, that are directly related to retaining control in a potentially dangerous sequence of events.
Many details of a modern jet’s automation systems are buried layers down in architecture that pilots are not required to understand or even know about – unless they turn out to have a potentially dangerous role in some circumstances.
“Loss of control” is now the last remaining consistent cause of crashes. Other once fatal events like flying into unseen terrain or into undetected wind shear on approach to landing have been virtually eliminated by technology that automatically gives the airplane and pilots a new level of situational awareness.
One of several studies directed at loss of control made in the last decade, led by the Federal Aviation Administration, warned that “A high level of competency in hand-flying (both the physical and the cognitive aspects) is necessary for safe flight operations, regardless of the level of autoflight equipment installed…[italics added for emphasis].”
But the challenge to pilots becomes a lot more acute if they are unaware of a critical new system, as in the case of MCAS in the 737 MAX-8.
Aviation Week quotes a pilot who has flown three generations of the 737 who pointed out that a pilot confronted with the “stick shake” alert of an imminent stall could be unaware that the MCAS was activated. He said this was “the most insidious problem” in the new system that “makes the aircraft more difficult to control.”
Keeping a secret in the sky
Boeing president and CEO Dennis Muilenburg has pushed back against the idea that the company had intentionally withheld information about the new system in the MAX-8. In an internal memo directed to employees he said, “You may have seen media reports that we intentionally withheld information about airplane functionality from our customers. That is simply untrue. The relevant function is described in the [operations manual] and we routinely engage customers about how to operate our airplanes safely.”
This seems, at best, disingenuous. The FAA had to issue an emergency directive to airlines to update their flight manuals according to new instructions from Boeing. Muilenburg seems to be alluding to “runaway trim procedures” common to all models of the 737, a series of manual interventions required by the pilot in the event of an upset in the jet’s stability.
Another pilot with a deep knowledge of the 737’s systems told The Daily Beast that Boeing would be looking at whether the Lion Air pilots should have been able to have recovered from the problem by using the runaway trim procedure “in a timely manner.”
But, as the veteran 737 pilot pointed out to Aviation Week, if a pilot is unaware that the problem has been triggered by the MCAS, and was unaware even of that system’s existence, he may not understand the crisis he is confronting in a situation that requires a rapid series of manual actions to correct it.
These are issues that the investigation into the Lion Air crash is attempting to understand in the absence of the one of the most relevant piece of evidence: the cockpit voice recorder. This remains lying at the bottom of the Java Sea (again underlining the aviation industry’s failure to adopt real time streaming of key data to ground bases). Retrieving that data would reveal how the pilots lost control in the final minutes of the short flight on the climb out of Jakarta.
Earlier this week Boeing cancelled a conference call with airlines intended to explain its position on the MAX-8’s flight control systems. It now plans to brief airlines, region by region, next week. More than 90 airlines have ordered the jet, making a total so far of 4,783 due for delivery over the next few years. More than 10,000 737s have been produced since the first flight in 1967.
Its safety record has been outstanding. As each successive model entered service the accident rate has decreased and now stands at 9 fatal accidents for every million flights. The pressure is on Boeing to reassure the airlines – and the public – that the problems with the MAX-8 will not setback that reputation and will be swiftly understood and explained transparently.
“Boeing needs to communicate more and better – not less” Jim Corridore of the aviation research firm CFRA told the Financial Times.
A pilot told the Seattle Times: “I’ve been flying the MAX-8 a couple of times per month for almost a year now, and I’m sitting here thinking, what the hell else don’t I know about this thing?”
LION AIR CULTURE WAS BASED ON SHORTCUTS CLAIMS FORMER AUDITOR
The auditor that was commissioned to look into Lion Air’s operations between 2009 and 2011 paints a worrying picture of a “bad approach to safety” with shortcuts at all levels.
Frank Caron, a former 737 captain and now safety consultant, was brought in as Lion Air’s safety manager from 2009 to 2011 on orders from insurance companies, told AirlineRatings.com that the airline had “an average of one major engineering issue every three days, despite most of its fleet being, new.”
“You can buy all the latest-generation planes, but it will all be in vain if you don’t have systems in place that prioritize safety,” he said.
For instance, said Mr. Caron “pilots were working far too many hours and had two log books.”
“What I saw was an airline from the very top down, whose motto was saving money and they spent the minimum on pilot training, salaries, and management,” Mr. Caron said.
“It’s easy to blame people but it was the system.”
And in an extraordinary and deeply troubling claim, Mr. Caron said the airline “sent pilots for training that did not even have their instrument rating” (Instrument rating is required for flying at night or in clouds).
Mr. Caron added that if an aircraft had a broken part preventing it from being dispatched because it exceeds the Minimum Equipment List standard the engineers would simply swap the broken part with another aircraft. (The M.E.L. is an industry standard set by the manufacturer that outlines how many systems must be operating to dispatch an aircraft. Aircraft have multiple backups and aircraft can be dispatched with one not operating because of the redundancy built in.)
Mr. Caron also told Airlineratings.com that many aircraft incidents were covered up. “Many were kept quiet.”
“They also used to buy off air traffic controllers with free tickets to give Lion Air flights priority.”
However, since 2011, Lion Air has apparently taken stock and was able to obtain a lifting of a ban to fly to Europe and the USA and then was able to achieve the International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit (IOSA).
But after the loss of Lion Air Flight 610 on October 29, many safety consultants are asking if anything has really changed.
While the investigation is still in its early stages, the facts that have emerged paint an alarmingly similar picture to the airline that Mr. Caron found in 2009.
Lion Air has denied the company cut corners and said the company’s twin priorities were growth and safety.
Japan Airlines has tightened its rules regarding alcohol consumption by employees in the wake of series of incidents that have caused flight delays and led to the arrest of one pilot. Pilots are now banned from any alcohol consumption within 24 hours of flying a company plane and the airline is also extending its mandatory random breathalyzer tests to some ground crew members. Most airlines have a 12-hour pre-flight alcohol ban and most governments mandate eight hours. Last year the airline began using more modern breathalyzers and there was an immediate spike in flight disqualifications with more than limit of .02 percent alcohol in their blood. According to CNN, at least 19 pilots have tested positive since August of 2017, resulting in 12 flight delays. It should be noted that Japan Airlines operates more than 500 flights a day so the impact of alcohol-related incidents is statistically insignificant.
Nevertheless, a high-profile incident in which JAL pilot Katsutoshi Jitsukawa showed up for his flight from Heathrow to Tokyo in early November with blood-alcohol content of .189 prompted the airline to review its policies. It also led to the company president taking a voluntary 20 percent pay cut. “We feel deeply responsible for causing the (Jitsukawa) incident that should never have happened,” said Japan Airlines President Yuji Akasaka. JAL announced the new policies after JAL and ANA brass met with government officials earlier this week.
India’s overall aviation safety score to improve post UN body audit
NEW DELHI: India’s ranking in the overall aviation safety score given by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is set to improve significantly.
Following an audit last year, the United Nation’s aviation arm had lowered India’s “effective implementation” (EI) from 65.82% to 57.44% against world average of 62% mainly on the issue of air traffic controllers’ (ATCO) licensing. An ICAO team again audited the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) from November 12-21 to see if the shortcomings had been addressed to make flying safer, and before leaving, told the Indian authorities that the country’s EI score could rise to 74%.
The overall EI figure is arrived at as an aggregate of individual scores in eight fields like legislation, organisation, personnel licensing and airworthiness of aircraft. This score gives an overall picture of how a country is complying with global aviation safety practices under different heads.
Asked how the ICAO audit went, DGCA chief BS Bhullar said: “ICAO team have concluded their validation process of DGCA oversight system in areas of legislation, organisation, air navigation services, aerodromes and accident investigation last Wednesday (Nov 21). As per their protocol, they only share verbally the provisional outcome at the end of the exercise. Provisional result is encouraging and likely to improve our EI by about 17%. This may further go up significantly once ATCO licensing is completed by DGCA as per mandate of Ministry. These are provisional results which need to be ratified by ICAO HQ team. This process takes about three months.”
The agency’s “universal safety oversight audit program” (USOAP) audit last November had objected to ATCOs being employees of the same organisation that licences them, the Airports Authority of India (AAI). This, they said, was akin to an airline issuing flying licence to pilots and then making them fly its planes. Due to this the EI of the area of personnel licensing alone fell from 89.47% to 26.04%. India has now decided an external agency, DGCA, will issue licences to ATCOs.
At an EI of 57.44%, India’s score was lower than Pakistan and North Korea and just over that of small countries like Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, Vanuatu and Samoa.
“ICAO audited five areas this November – organisation, legislation, aerodromes, air navigation services and accident investigation. In the pre-departure briefing, they told us our scores in all of these will rise and very substantially in three area,” said the source.
Meanwhile, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also audited the DGCA on October 31 and November 1. The American aviation safety regulator had made about 30 observations earlier this July. “Their biggest finding in July was that some charter/private plane operators from India fly to US using aircraft and the DGCA does not have flight operations inspectors type-rated on those planes. That issue has been resolved and the FAA audit also went off very successfully for India. We will retain our category one safety ranking,” said sources.
Interested candidates should apply at the online registration portal of UPSC at upsconline.nic.in on or before December 13, 2018.
NEW DELHI: Candidates with Master’s degree in Chemistry and graduation degree in Aeronautical Engineering can apply for Scientist ‘B’ and Air Safety Officer posts, respectively. In a recent job notification, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has notified a total of 22 vacancies in both the posts. For Scientist ‘B’ post under Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation candidates need to have three years of experience in the Chemical analysis of Water samples and interpretation of relevant data. No experience is required for Air Safety Officer post.
CDS (I) 2019 Registration Ends Next Week
Interested candidates should apply at the online registration portal of UPSC at upsconline.nic.in on or before December 13, 2018. Candidates should also print the submitted online application before December 14, 2018.
Vacancies Notified By UPSC
Air Safety Officer: 16 posts under Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Civil Aviation
Scientist ‘B’: 6 posts under Central Ground Water Board, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation
Deputy Director (Safety) (Mechanical): 1 post under Directorate General Factory Advice Service, & Labour Institute (DGFASLI), Ministry of Labour and Employment
Assistant Director of Operations: 37 posts under Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Civil Aviation
UPSC has also invited applications from experienced IT professionals for recruitment to Senior Developer and Software Designer posts. Candidates with knowledge or having experience of working in areas of Web application design and development, website development, mobile application development, Oracle Database, Linux & Windows platform and knowledge of Artificial Intelligence can apply.
Judge Nixes U.S. Suit Against Malaysia Airlines, Insurer Allianz Over Plane Disappearance
A U.S. judge has dismissed nationwide litigation over the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in which victims’ families sought to hold the carrier, its insurer Allianz SE and Boeing Co. liable for the still-unexplained disaster.
U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in Washington ruled on Wednesday night that the wrongful death and product liability litigation, encompassing 40 lawsuits, did not belong in the United States.
She said the case belonged in Malaysia, which has an “overwhelming interest” in and “substantial nexus” to the March 8, 2014 disappearance of Flight MH370, a Boeing 777 heading to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board.
“At its core, this case is about the unexplained disappearance of a passenger plane operated by Malaysia Airlines as part of its national air carrier fleet following its departure from a Malaysian airport,” Jackson wrote.
“Litigation in the United States related to the Flight MH370 disaster is inconvenient,” she added.
The 61-page decision is a setback for plaintiffs from the United States, Australia, China, India and Malaysia who represented more than 100 Flight MH370 passengers, including from Japan.
The plane is believed to have crashed in the south Indian Ocean after veering far off course, but no remains or large pieces of wreckage have been found.
Flight MH370’s disappearance remains one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries.
A 495-page report from Malaysian investigators in July offered no clear answers about what happened.
The plaintiffs sued under the Montreal Convention, an international treaty governing air transportation incidents, and various U.S. state laws.
Mary Schiavo, a lawyer for some of the plaintiffs, said in an email on Friday her clients were preparing for a June 2019 trial in Kuala Lumpur over the plane.
Malaysia Airlines, Boeing, their respective lawyers, and lawyers for other plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The carrier was insured by Allianz’s Global Corporate & Specialty SE unit, according to Wednesday’s decision. Hugo Kidston, a spokesman for the unit, declined to comment.
The case is In re: Air Crash Over the Southern Indian Ocean, on March 8, 2014, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, No. 16-mc-01184.
European Aviation Safety Agency suspends certification of GMR Aero Technic (INDIA)
GMR Aero Technic provides extensive airframe maintenance, repair, overhaul (MRO) and line maintenance services on the commercial and general aviation aircraft, as per its website.
NEW DELHI: The European Aviation Safety Agency has suspended its certification for Hyderabad-based GMR Aero Technic, which provides maintenance and overhaul services for aircraft, and the re-approval would depend on the progress made by the organisation, according to the regulator.
With the suspension of certification effective November 12, the facility would not be able to service planes that are registered in a European Union member state.
GMR Aero Technic provides extensive airframe maintenance, repair, overhaul (MRO) and line maintenance services on the commercial and general aviation aircraft, as per its website.
A GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL) spokesperson said the MRO business of GMR Aero Technic continues to operate.
When contacted, the regulator told PTI that the suspension of its certification “only affects the ability of this organisation to maintain and release to service aircraft that are registered in an European Union member state or components to be fitted on such aircraft”.
The GHIAL spokesperson said that as part of a recent routine compliance audit, EASA had raised certain observations leading to a temporary suspension of approval.
“We are working expeditiously to address the same to the satisfaction of the EASA authorities, post which we expect the certification to be reinstated,” he said in a statement issued on Sunday evening.
In the meantime, MRO business of GAT continues to operate, he noted.
Without providing specific details about the reasons for suspension, the watchdog said the move does affect other approvals held by this organisation, such as from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the privileges obtained under such approvals.
Query sent to a spokesperson of GMR Group on Friday morning remained unanswered.
As per GMR Aero Technic’s website, GoAir, SpiceJet, Jet Airways, IndiGo, Vistara, TruJet, Malaysia Airlines and Oman Air are among its customers.
“The process for getting EASA certification again depends on the progress made by the organisation,” the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said in an e-mailed response on Friday.
A query sent to domestic aviation regulator DGCA on whether it would be initiating any action in the wake of EASA certification suspension did not elicit any response.
The GHIAL also said that as a business imperative, GMR Aero Technic holds approvals and certifications from a number of international civil aviation authorities including the DGCA (India) and the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).
Located at Hyderabad international airport, GMR Aero Technic is a wholly-owned subsidiary of GMR Aerospace Engineering Ltd.
According to its website, GMR Aero Technic also provides line maintenance services for A320 aircraft of Gulf Air and Air Asia, for B787 and B767 planes of British Airways and at Kathmandu airport.
Mars landing looms for NASA; anxiety building a day out
FILE – This image made available by NASA shows the planet Mars. This composite photo was created from over 100 images of Mars taken by Viking Orbiters in the 1970s. In our solar system family, Mars is Earth’s next-of-kin, the next-door relative that has captivated humans for millennia. The attraction is sure to grow on Monday, Nov. 26 with the arrival of a NASA lander named InSight. (NASA via AP, File)
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – With just a day to go, NASA’s InSight spacecraft aimed for a bull’s-eye touchdown on Mars, zooming in like an arrow with no turning back.
InSight’s journey of six months and 300 million miles (482 million kilometers) comes to a precarious grand finale Monday afternoon.
The robotic geologist – designed to explore Mars’ insides, surface to core – must go from 12,300 mph (19,800 kph) to zero in six minutes flat as it pierces the Martian atmosphere, pops out a parachute, fires its descent engines and, hopefully, lands on three legs.
It is NASA’s first attempt to land on Mars in six years, and all those involved are understandably anxious.
NASA’s top science mission official, Thomas Zurbuchen, confided Sunday that his stomach is already churning. The hardest thing is sitting on his hands and doing nothing, he said, except hoping and praying everything goes perfectly for InSight.
“Landing on Mars is one of the hardest single jobs that people have to do in planetary exploration,” noted InSight’s lead scientist, Bruce Banerdt. “It’s such a difficult thing, it’s such a dangerous thing that there’s always a fairly uncomfortably large chance that something could go wrong.”
Earth’s success rate at Mars is 40 percent, counting every attempted flyby, orbital flight and landing by the U.S., Russia and other countries dating all the way back to 1960.
But the U.S. has pulled off seven successful Mars landings in the past four decades. With only one failed touchdown, it’s an enviable record. No other country has managed to set and operate a spacecraft on the dusty red surface.
InSight could hand NASA its eighth win.
It’s shooting for Elysium Planitia, a plain near the Martian equator that the InSight team hopes is as flat as a parking lot in Kansas with few, if any, rocks. This is no rock-collecting expedition. Instead, the stationary 800-pound (360-kilogram) lander will use its 6-foot (1.8-meter) robotic arm to place a mechanical mole and seismometer on the ground.
The self-hammering mole will burrow 16 feet (5 meters) down to measure the planet’s internal heat, while the ultra-high-tech seismometer listens for possible marsquakes. Nothing like this has been attempted before at our smaller next-door neighbor, nearly 100 million miles (160 million kilometers) away.
No experiments have ever been moved robotically from the spacecraft to the actual Martian surface. No lander has dug deeper than several inches, and no seismometer has ever worked on Mars.
By examining the deepest, darkest interior of Mars – still preserved from its earliest days – scientists hope to create 3D images that could reveal how our solar system’s rocky planets formed 4.5 billion years ago and why they turned out so different. One of the big questions is what made Earth so hospitable to life.
Mars once had flowing rivers and lakes; the deltas and lakebeds are now dry, and the planet cold. Venus is a furnace because of its thick, heat-trapping atmosphere. Mercury, closest to the sun, has a surface that’s positively baked.
The planetary know-how gained from InSight’s $1 billion, two-year operation could even spill over to rocky worlds beyond our solar system, according to Banerdt. The findings on Mars could help explain the type of conditions at these so-called exoplanets “and how they fit into the story that we’re trying to figure out for how planets form,” he said.
Concentrating on planetary building blocks, InSight has no life-detecting capability. That will be left for future rovers. NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, for instance, will collect rocks for eventual return that could hold evidence of ancient life.
Because it’s been so long since NASA’s last Martian landfall – the Curiosity rover in 2012 – Mars mania is gripping not only the space and science communities, but everyday folks.
Viewing parties are planned coast to coast at museums, planetariums and libraries, as well as in France, where InSight’s seismometer was designed and built. The giant NASDAQ screen in New York’s Times Square will start broadcasting NASA Television an hour before InSight’s scheduled 3 p.m. EST touchdown; so will the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The InSight spacecraft was built near Denver by Lockheed Martin.
But the real action, at least on Earth, will unfold at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, home to InSight’s flight control team. NASA is providing a special 360-degree online broadcast from inside the control center.
Confirmation of touchdown could take minutes – or hours. At the minimum, there’s an eight-minute communication lag between Mars and Earth.
A pair of briefcase-size satellites trailing InSight since liftoff in May will try to relay its radio signals to Earth, with a potential lag time of under nine minutes. These experimental CubeSats will fly right past the red planet without stopping. Signals also could travel straight from InSight to radio telescopes in West Virginia and Germany. It will take longer to hear from NASA’s Mars orbiters.
Project manager Tom Hoffman said he’s trying his best to stay outwardly calm as the hours tick down. Once InSight phones home from the Martian surface, though, he expects to behave much like his three young grandsons did at Thanksgiving dinner, running around like crazy and screaming.
“Just to warn anybody who’s sitting near me … I’m going to unleash my inner 4-year-old on you, so be careful,” he said.
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.
4-year college degree, or equivalent work experience as determined by employer
Five years of airline or business aviation operations or related work 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.
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