Flight Safety Information [November 28, 2018] [No. 241]

 Flight Safety Information
Top Flight Safety Information November 28, 2018  –  No. 241
In This Issue
Incident: Ikar E190 near Kazan on Nov 27th 2018, incorrect fuel indication
Incident: United B739 near Cedar Rapids on Nov 26th 2018, engine problem
HAL HJT-16 Kiran – Accident (India)
Cessna 210L Centurion II – Fatal Accident (Mexico)
Flight headed to Phoenix makes emergency landing in Cedar Rapids
EASA extends security notice for flights over Egypt Sinai Peninsula to 27 May 2019
Report: Thrust asymmetry during takeoff causes Boeing 737-800 to swerve off runway, Goa, India
NTSC Indonesia publishes preliminary report on JT610 Boeing 737 MAX 8 accident
LIBIK Fire Suppression Kits for the Cabin and Flight Deck
In Lion Air Crash, Black Box Data Reveals Pilots’ Struggle to Regain Control
Doomed Lion Air jet was ‘not airworthy’ on penultimate flight
ANA Wings searched over preflight drinking on same day JAL unit pilot found to be over limit
Air Force Push For Better Pilot Protection Upsets Competitive Landscape In Ejection Seats
Broker: Aircraft Insurance Rates To Climb 5% to 30%
Waymo taps former NTSB chair to oversee safety of self-driving ride-share fleet
Russian Banks Plan Massive Regional Airline Project
Sleepbox micro-hotel set open at Washington Dulles International Airport
Australian Air Force Inspect Aircraft with DJI Drones
Lake Aircraft attracting ‘serious interest’ from potential buyers
Putting hybrid-electric aircraft performance to the test
Airbus delivers first A330neo in Boeing 787 dogfight
Spaceflight’s 64-satellite rideshare launch takes off tomorrow on a Falcon 9
Aircraft Accident Investigation from SCSI
Boeing Announces Nearly a Quarter-Billion Dollars in Corporate Giving in 2018
International Accident Investigation Forum 2019 – Singaore – 10 – 12 April 2019
Position Available: Business Aviation Audit Programs Manager

Incident: Ikar E190 near Kazan on Nov 27th 2018, incorrect fuel indication
An Ikar Embraer ERJ-190, registration VP-BZG performing flight IK-564 from Orsk to Moscow Sheremetyevo (Russia) with 76 passengers and 5 crew, was enroute at FL340 about 100nm south of Kazan (Russia) when the crew decided to divert to Kazan due to incorrect fuel indications. The aircraft landed safely in Kazan.

Volga’s Transport Prosecution Office reported the aircraft diverted to Kazan due to an incorrect fuel indication.

Passengers reported that the electrics failed completely on board. The cabin went completely dark and “deathly silent”.

The airline reported the aircraft diverted for a technical malfunction. The passengers were rebooked onto the next flight out of Kazan.

The occurrence aircraft remained on the ground for about 8 hours, then continued to Sheremetyevo and arrived with a delay of 8 hours. The aircraft subsequently remained on the ground in Moscow for another 11 hours before returning to service.


Back to Top

Incident: United B739 near Cedar Rapids on Nov 26th 2018, engine problem

A United Boeing 737-900, registration N37437 performing flight UA-483 from Chicago O’Hare,IL to Phoenix,AZ (USA), was climbing out of Chicago when the crew stopped the climb at FL280 and decided to divert to Cedar Rapids,IA (USA) due to problems with one of the engines (CFM56). While the aircraft was on approach to Cedar Rapids emergency crews were told all the engines had been restarted. The aircraft landed safely on Cedar Rapid’s runway 27 about 33 minutes after stopping the climb at FL280, vacated the runway and stopped on the adjacent taxiway for an inspection of engines and brakes.

Passengers reported the aircraft suffered engine problems.

The airline reported the aircraft diverted due to a mechanical problem.

A replacement Boeing 737-900 registration N38459 departed Cedar Rapids about 12 hours after N37437 landed and reached Phoenix with a delay of 12.5 hours.



Back to Top

HAL HJT-16 Kiran – Accident (India)

Date: 28-NOV-2018
Time: 11:30 a.m.
Type: HAL HJT-16 Kiran
Owner/operator: Indian Air Force (IAF)
C/n / msn:
Fatalities: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities: 0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location: Bahupeta village, Alair, Yadgirigutta –    India
Phase: En route
Nature: Military
Departure airport: Hakeeempet Station
Destination airport:

The military trainer plane crashed under unknown circumstances. The pilot ejected safely.


Back to Top

Cessna 210L Centurion II – Fatal Accident (Mexico)

Date: 27-NOV-2018
Type: Cessna 210L Centurion II
Owner/operator: Private
C/n / msn:
Fatalities: Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities: 0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location: Rio Verde, Bacalar –    Mexico
Phase: Landing
Nature: Illegal Flight
Departure airport:
Destination airport:

The plane was found crashed and burnt on an illegal landing strip. Nearby, the bodies of three pilots were found. The plane had been used for transporting drugs.


Back to Top

Flight headed to Phoenix makes emergency landing in Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids (KWWL) – A flight headed to Phoenix from Chicago made an emergency landing at Eastern Iowa Airport Monday night.

United Airlines Flight 438 took off from Chicago O’Hare International Airport at 9:33 p.m.

It landed in Cedar Rapids at 10:56 p.m.

United Airlines says UA 483 made an emergency landing due to a mechanical issue. They say the aircraft landed safely and was taxied to a gate.

United says they are working to get the passengers to Phoenix this morning.

Information on the website FlightAware.com shows that the Boeing 737 dropped around 3,000 feet in about two minutes.

United Airlines Flight 438 normally runs from Buffalo to Chicago, and then on to Phoenix.


Back to Top

EASA extends security notice for flights over Egypt Sinai Peninsula to 27 May 2019

27 November 2018
Sinai Peninsula (FAA)
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) extended a security warning for the Egypt Sinai Peninsula to 27 May 2019 due to continuing concern for flight safety.
The initial EASA bulletin for Egypt was issued on November 13, 2014, and the initial version of the current bulletin CZIB-2017-09 was issued on November 27, 2017.
In the meantime, new or updated Notams have been issued by the United Kingdom, USA, Germany, and Egypt.
Most governments advise operators to avoid flying below FL250 or FL260 in this area. The Egypt Notam does not contain such a warning, but does state there may be GPS jamming around Cairo International Airport. RNAV (GNSS) approaches should not be planned at Cairo Airport
More information:


Back to Top

Report: Thrust asymmetry during takeoff causes Boeing 737-800 to swerve off runway, Goa, India

Status: Final
Date: Tuesday 27 December 2016
Time: 05:03
Type: Boeing 737-85R (WL)
Operator: Jet Airways
Registration: VT-JBG
C/n / msn: 35083/2535
First flight: 2008-02-27 (8 years 10 months)
Total airframe hrs: 36256
Cycles: 15997
Engines: CFMI CFM56-7B26
Crew: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 7
Passengers: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 154
Total: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 161
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Aircraft fate: Repaired
Location: Goa-Dabolim Airport (GOI) (   India)
Phase: Takeoff (TOF)
Nature: Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport: Goa-Dabolim Airport (GOI/VAGO), India
Destination airport: Mumbai (Bombay) Airport (BOM/VABB), India
Flightnumber: 9W2374

Jet Airways flight 2374, a Boeing 737-85R (WL), suffered a runway excursion at Goa-Dabolim Airport (GOI) in India.
The flight crew requested ATC for a pushback clearance at 04:52 local time. ATC cleared the flight to line up on runway 26 by entering Taxiway N1 and backtracking. The crew requested for an intersection departure, but this was not allowed by ATC. The starboard engine was started followed by start of port engine at 04:53.
At 05:01, as the aircraft was taxiing down th runway, ATC gave a departure clearance to the aircraft. It was cleared to Mumbai at FL220. The aircraft thereafter lined up on runway 26 after making a 180° turn at the turn pad. At 05:03, flight 2374 was cleared for take-off.
The crew completed the before take-off checklist and at 05:03 pushed the thrust levers to increase the thrust. After the Throttle Lever Angle (TLA) had passed 40%, the pilot in command pressed the TOGA button for takeoff.
As soon as TOGA was pressed, the aircraft started drifting towards the right. Within 10 to 12 seconds the aircraft went off the runway, onto the grass. The crew tried to apply brakes, rudder and use nosewheel steering to steer the aircraft. Due to heavy bumps they could not apply control effectively.
The aircraft stopped at a distance of 219 m from the runway edge and just short of perimeter road. In the process it had hit PAPI lights. The engine had hit a vertical pillar of 2.3 m in height, located at 92 m abeam the center line of runway 26. The pillar also damaged the left bottom portion of the fuselage.
The aircraft was evacuated after coming to rest. Sixteen passengers suffered minor injuries during the evacuation.

Probable Cause:

Probable cause of the Accident: “The PIC pressed TOGA when the thrust on no.1 engine was 40% and no.2 engine was 28% in deviation from SOP, which caused the No.1 engine thrust to increase at a faster rate than no.2 resulting in aircraft yawing towards right. In the absence of timely desired corrective actions including reject takeoff, the aircraft veered off the runway and continued to move in a semicircular arc on the undulated ground resulting in substantial damages to the aircraft.”

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: AAIB India
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 11 months
Accident number: final report
Download report:  Final report


Back to Top

NTSC Indonesia publishes preliminary report on JT610 Boeing 737 MAX 8 accident

28 November 2018
NTSC Indonesia published a preliminary report on the Lion Air B737 MAX 8 accident of October 29, showing the flight crew was struggling to maintain control after takeoff.
Lion Air flight 610 crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Indonesia, killing all 189 on board.
According to the preliminary report, the Aircraft Flight Maintenance Log (AFML) recorded that since October 26 until the occurrence date several problems occurred related to airspeed and altitude flags that appeared on the captain’s (left) Primary Flight Display (PFD) on three occasions, SPEED TRIM FAIL light illumination and MACH TRIM FAIL light illumination that occurred twice.
Several attempts were made by engineers to rectify these issues. The day before the accident the Angle of Attack (AoA) sensor was replaced by engineers at Denpasar Airport.
The flight from Denpasar to Jakarta was the flight prior to JT610.  During rotation, the stick shaker activated and an IAS DISAGREE warning showed on the captain’s PFD at 400 feet. The flight was handled by the copilot as it was determined that the captain’s PFD was unreliable. The flight crew moved the STAB TRIM (stabilizer trim) switch to CUT OUT due to three automatic nosedown trim occurrences. The crew worked checklists and continued the flight to CGK.
Based on the crew’s entry in the AFML, the engineer at Jakarta flushed the left Pitot Air Data Module (ADM) and static ADM to rectify the reported IAS and ALT disagree and cleaned the electrical connector plug of the elevator feel computer.  The aircraft was subsequently released to carry out flight JT610.
During takeoff from Jakarta, the DFDR recorded a difference between left and right Angle of Attack of about 20° which continued until the end of the recording. During rotation of the aircraft, the left control column stick shaker activated and continued for most of the flight.
After the flaps were retracted, the FDR recorded automatic aircraft nose down (AND) trim for 10 seconds followed by flight crew commanded aircraft nose up (ANU) trim. Automatic AND trim briefly stopped when the flaps were temporarily extended to 5.
In their communications with air traffic control, the flight crew asked the controller to confirm the altitude of the aircraft and later also asked the speed as shown on the controller radar display. The copilot reported experiencing a “flight control problem” and that they were flying the aircraft manually.
Last radio contact was at 06:31 local time when the captain requested the arrival controller to block altitude 3,000 feet above and below for traffic avoidance. The controller asked what altitude the pilot wanted, to which the captain responded “five thou”. The controller approved the pilot request. The FDR stopped recording within twenty seconds of the pilot’s response.
More information:


Back to Top

By Captain Shem Malmquist
We make a number of assumptions about automation, the good, the bad and the problems. I believe that it is time to put some of these to rest if we are to actually prevent future accidents. It is time for a new paradigm in how we think about automation and the types of problems that result from it. In this article I will challenge a number of assumptions that have been stated so often they are now accepted as fact. Software design has absolutely led to accidents, just perhaps not in the way most people think. Many (most?) have been missed entirely even after accidents. This article will highlight one such designed-in risk factor and offer a solution to that issue.
While the October 29 Lion Air 610 accident investigation runs its course, the release of the FAA Emergency AD immediately following the crash has opened up valuable new discussions on the role of automation. The industry is being forced to recognize that when modern airplanes crash the problem is not necessarily lack of airmanship, commonly referred to as “automation dependency,” but rather the opaqueness of the actions and logic of the automation itself. Perhaps it is time to revisit commonly held assumptions such as “automation dependency,” which essentially blames the pilot and implies pilots are complacent and, instead look at the assumptions underlying the automatic systems themselves.
The AD issued in the aftermath of the Lion Air 610 accident highlighted how the loss of a sensor for an advanced system can create very difficult scenarios. Consider the 2008 case of Qantas 72 (an Airbus A330). Here a faulty angle of attack (AoA) sensor led to the aircraft envelope protection (limit) feature attempting to prevent what the computer’s process model saw as a stall condition by rapidly lowering the aircraft pitch. Similarly, on November 5th, 2014, a Lufthansa A321 experienced a wild ride following a physical problem with the AoA probes. In another event, a Boeing 777 experienced some extreme pitch gyrations on August 1st, 2005, as a result of an erroneous angle of attack sensor, as reported by the Australian Transport Safety Board (ATSB)[i]. None of these were related to pilot competency in hand-flying. In fact, all three would have been much worse if pilots were not on board to save the day.
The focus on “stick and rudder” skills and worrying about automation dependency has been repeated so often that we accept it at face value. We emphasize the need to hand-fly more. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love to hand-fly, and will often hand-fly the airplane below RVSM (reduced vertical separation minimum) airspace if the workload permits. The regulations limit my ability to hand-fly above RVSM (flight level 290) in general. As I don’t want to overload my first officer, I will couple it up when it’s busy, which is generally IMC, or operating in complex environments (ATC procedures, metric altimetry, etc.). However, as much as I enjoy hand-flying, is it really helping me to handle things when they go wrong? I am not so sure.
First of all, I am flying the airplane in a normal state. The B-777, like other fly-by-wire (FBW) airplanes, has very consistent handling qualities. The pilot does not have to adjust for differences due to changes in CG, gross weight, flap settings, density altitude, q-factor, and a multitude of other factors that affect the way an airplane responds. FBW takes care of all that. It makes the airplane really easy to fly – as long as it’s working. Problems, such as an erroneous AoA signal can unexpectedly put the airplane in a degraded state. The handling qualities are going to be different, and, depending on the mode, the system may no longer be compensating for all those differences previously discussed. The pilot will have to do it, but is the pilot equipped to handle that, PLUS now having to hand-fly in a “complex environment”? What about those newer pilots that have little, or no experience hand-flying at the higher altitudes?
The issue here is that arguing about pilots lacking the skills to handle the aircraft when the automation fails misses the point. Accidents are not occurring due to lack of pilot skill, or certainly not at any greater rate than they ever have.   At the same time we have an argument rooted in a similar set of misconceptions, but this time from some pilots. These pilots argue that they need to exceed airplane limits to “save the day”. This debate about envelope limiting vs. protection is mostly an “Airbus vs. Boeing” debate. Both sides are wrong.
As most pilots know, airplanes such as the Airbus FBW utilize “envelope limiting” while Boeing FBW utilizes “envelope protection”. Many anti-Airbus pilots will argue that they want to be able to exceed a limit in an emergency. I am not going to enter the debate on that directly, except to point out that in 30 years of operations with FBW Airbus with hard limits I know of no accident that could have been avoided if the limits were allowed to be exceeded. There are several known cases where the hard limits prevented an accident, however.
Some will point to events such as the June 26, 1988, Habsheim, Air France A320 accident. A careful analysis of that event shows that allowing the pilots to exceed the pitch right into a stall (it was on the edge of a stall being limited from going further) would only have resulted in a very momentary “bump” in altitude, to be followed rapidly by a steep sink at a higher pitch attitude and rate into the trees. Not a great outcome, and it certainly would not have prevented the crash that actually took place. The story is similar on other events.
Of course, on the other side, there have been problems as a result of envelope limiting, the Qantas 72 example previously mentioned is a good example of one, as was the Lufthansa A321 and there have been others! So the problem with “hard limits” on flight controls is not so much that they prevent pilots from exceeding them, but that they can take an action due to erroneous data or a missed assumption that the pilot cannot override without taking unusual steps. However, going back to the “hard limit” debate, we know that some pilots have been quick to want to exceed g-load, bank, pitch or angle of attack limits even though there is no evidence to support the need to do so. It is interesting to consider, then, that as far as I know, nobody ever has expressed concern about the digital electronic controls we use for all modern jet engines. Here is another example of conventional wisdom missing a larger potential issue.
Whether we refer to it as FADEC (Full Authority Digital Electronic Control), EEC (Engine Electronic Control) or any other name, these systems limit the engines to maximum rated thrust. Apply firewall power (throttle against the stops) and the system will automatically limit it to maximum thrust, with some small exceptions. In the older engines with mechanical fuel control units we had to watch the throttle advancement to ensure we did not exceed any limitation, but it was also possible, in most circumstances, to shove the throttles forward to obtain 15% more thrust than the engine was rated for, or even more. Sure, that meant the engines might need to be inspected, or even trashed, but that thrust was available. Given the choice between hitting the ground or burning up the engines, I think all pilots would take the latter! Why has this issue not been raised?
How many accidents could have been prevented had the engine’s controller allowed the pilot to exceed the limitation? I must add a caveat that many factors are in play here, including spool up time. If the engines were not able to reach the maximum rated thrust in the time prior to the accident, they would not be able to reach a higher thrust level either. With that said, examples that come to mind to investigate are:
Habsheim. While the issue was not the pitch limit, as I discussed, 15% more thrust might well have saved the day.
Asiana at San Francisco (2013). Adding 15% more thrust there may have been just enough to miss that 13 foot sea well. That’s right, just 13 feet, and in actual fact they probably just needed less than half that.
American Airlines going into Cali (1995). The report stated that retracting the speed brakes would likely have prevented the accident. Would more thrust have been available at that altitude? Was there adequate spool-up time?
You may be able to think many more examples that are better than these, but it is possible that quite a few accidents were the result of a design decision to create software that was more focused on extending engine life than saving an airplane in an extreme situation. To reiterate, I have not done any performance analysis on any of these. Those that worked performance for these accidents should have the data on a spreadsheet and it would not be hard to calculate. It might turn out that these three accidents would still have occurred regardless of the availability of extra thrust. Focusing on that would miss the point. Rather, the point is that there clearly are times when extra thrust would be a good thing, even at the cost of an engine. Examples are EGPWS escape, windshear escape, late recognition of impending CFIT, and many more cases.
How might we design this? I would suggest looking at the MD-11, with its “FADEC bar”. It is a mechanical stop that, with an intentional extra forceful push, allows the throttles to move a bit more, a higher “throttle resolver angle” is fed into the electronic controller. The engineers were thinking correctly when they designed it. Unfortunately, the most it can do is revert the FADEC to an “alternate” mode, which essentially means that it is not relying on actual temperature and pressure, but a “default” setting.
Pushing through the FADEC bar will never result in a decrease in thrust, but could potentially increase thrust up to as much as 10%. The key word here is “could”, because depending on the actual conditions, it may already be as high as it will get. I am proposing a system like the “FADEC bar” that allows us to truly increase thrust, beyond the engine design limits. An extra 15% or more, perhaps much more. I want the ability to intentionally (and only with conscious action) push the engines well above the design limits, risking catastrophic damage – as not doing so will likely destroy the engines along with the rest of the airplane anyway. What about the engine acceleration (spool-up) profile? Could that also be modified to allow for more rapid possible acceleration under dire circumstances? While my inclination is that the spool-up time is probably a physical limitation, it does not hurt to ask the question.
There has never been a better time to start thinking about improvements to design that would afford pilots more control when they actually need it. Operating right up to the limit on angle of attack and stopping it there is an excellent use of automation where a human is just not going to be able to gain more performance, but adding in a limit that only protects the design limits is a different story. I’d also like to hear from pilots that do not like “hard limits.” Are you satisfied with engine systems that limit you artificially?

[i] ATSB report number 200503722
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

Shem Malmquist, a 777 pilot who flies worldwide is also a veteran accident investigator who coauthored Angle of Attack, a book copublished by Flight Safety Information.   This ground breaking article on hard limits on jet engines is a story destined to trigger an important conversation in our industry.  I urge you to share this article and let us know your thoughts which we intend to publish in a future issue.   You can write directly to Shem at shem.malmquist@gmail.com

Back to Top

In Lion Air Crash, Black Box Data Reveals Pilots’ Struggle to Regain Control

Wheels from Lion Air Flight 610 were recovered from the sea this month.

Data from the jetliner that crashed into the Java Sea last month shows the pilots fought to save the plane almost from the moment it took off, as the Boeing 737’s nose was repeatedly forced down, apparently by an automatic system receiving incorrect sensor readings.

The information from the flight data recorder, contained in a preliminary report prepared by Indonesian crash investigators and released on Wednesday, documents a fatal tug of war between man and machine, with the plane’s nose forced dangerously downward over two dozen times during the 11-minute flight.

The pilots managed to pull the nose back up over and over until finally losing control, leaving the plane, Lion Air Flight 610, to plummet into the ocean at 450 miles per hour, killing all 189 people on board.

The data from the so-called black box is consistent with the theory that investigators have been most focused on: that a computerized system Boeing installed on its latest generation of 737 to prevent the plane’s nose from getting too high and causing a stall instead forced the nose down because of incorrect information it was receiving from sensors on the fuselage.

In the aftermath of the crash, pilots have expressed concern that they had not been fully informed about the new Boeing system – known as the maneuvering characteristics augmentation system, or M.C.A.S. – and how it would require them to respond differently in case of the type of emergency encountered by the Lion Air crew.

“It’s all consistent with the hypothesis of this problem with the M.C.A.S. system,” said R. John Hansman Jr., a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and director of the international center for air transportation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Boeing has said that the proper steps for pulling out of an incorrect activation of the system were already in flight manuals, so there was no need to detail this specific system in the new 737 jet. In a statement on Tuesday, Boeing said it could not discuss the crash while it is under investigation but reiterated that “the appropriate flight crew response to uncommanded trim, regardless of cause, is contained in existing procedures.”

The rapid series of steps that may have been needed to save the plane were not in the manual, and the pilots had not been trained on them.

A fuller account of problems with the sensors on the fuselage, called angle-of-attack sensors, is expected to be part of a more complete report on the crash by Indonesian investigators. But one of those sensors was replaced before the plane’s next-to-last flight, from Bali to Jakarta, after the jet experienced malfunctioning data readings, investigators say.

“The pilots fought continuously until the end of the flight,” said Capt. Nurcahyo Utomo, the head of the air accident subcommittee of the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee, which is leading the investigation.

Captain Nurcahyo said that the M.C.A.S. system had been activated and that it was a central focus of the investigation.

Details of the black box data were contained in a briefing for the Indonesian Parliament and were first disclosed publicly in the Indonesian media. The data was publicized and analyzed in a blog post by Peter Lemme, a satellite communications expert and former Boeing engineer.

Much remains unknown about the doomed flight, including why a plane that had encountered problems with sensor data was permitted to fly in the first place.

In a news conference on Wednesday, officials said that investigators concluded that the plane was not airworthy even during its second-to-last flight, and experienced enough problems early in that journey that it should have immediately returned to Bali.

But the preliminary report was notably lacking in significant details. And its language on the role that may have been played by the culture at Lion Air, which has a notoriously flawed safety record, was restrained: The report noted that “safety issues remain to be considered,” and that regulators had “issued safety recommendations” to Lion Air.

Investigators have yet to recover the cockpit voice recorder, which could provide further insight into the steps taken by the pilots and whether they followed the correct procedures.

Despite Boeing’s insistence that the proper procedures were in the handbook, also called the emergency checklist, pilots have said since the accident that Boeing had not been clear about one potentially vital difference between the system on the new 737s and the older models. In the older versions, pilots could help address the problem of the nose being forced down improperly – a situation known as “runaway stabilizer trim” – by pulling back on the control column in front of them, the pilots say.

In the latest 737 generation, called the Max, that measure does not work, they said, citing information they have received since the crash. The pilots on Lion Air Flight 610 appear to have forcefully pulled back on their control columns to no avail, before the final dive, according to the information from the flight data recorder.

Capt. Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the American Airlines pilot union and a 737 pilot, said he could not comment on any aspect of the investigation. But, he said, “in the previous model of the 737, pulling back on the control column, Boeing says will stop a stabilizer runaway.”

Information provided to American Airlines from Boeing since the crash, Captain Tajer said, “specifically says that pulling back on the control column in the Max will not stop the runaway if M.C.A.S. is triggered. That is an important difference to know.”

Boeing said in its statement on Tuesday that the existing procedures covered the latest 737 model.

Bulletins from Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States since the crash indicate that pilots could overcome an incorrectly activated M.C.A.S. with a series of steps. First, they would have had to activate switches on the outside of the control columns in front of both the pilot and co-pilot. Those switches are for electrically controlling the trim – the angle of the stabilizers on the plane’s tail. The pilot of Flight 610 appears to have done that repeatedly to bring the nose up, but the M.C.A.S. reactivated each time, as it was designed to do, forcing the nose back down, and the pilot had to repeat the process again and again.

The stabilizer is the larger of the two surfaces on the tail wing, and is ordinarily controlled by an electrical motor. Behind the stabilizer is the elevator, activated by the control columns in front of both the pilot and co-pilot. Both can move the nose up and down.

From there, the pilots should have hit two electrical cutout switches to shut down the M.C.A.S. and turn the stabilizer movement over to manually controlled wheels at the ankles of the pilot and co-pilot – wheels connected to cables that would move the stabilizer. It is not clear whether the pilots of Flight 610 tried that procedure.

The futile struggle by the pilots to regain control can be seen in colorful jagged lines in graphs used in the preliminary report to the Indonesian Parliament, documenting the seesaw motion of the nose as the system pushed it down at least two dozen times before the plane’s fatal nose-dive.

From the moment Flight 610 took off just after dawn from the airport in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, the Max 8 jet was recording errant data from one of the two angle-of-attack sensors on the nose of the plane that records the pitch at which a plane is climbing or descending.

Angle-of-attack sensors are crucial in determining if a plane is stalling.

It is not clear whether the false data, which was on the pilot’s side of the plane, was attributable to a problem with the sensor itself or with the computer that processes the sensor’s information. But hours before the plane took off on its final flight, it had also recorded problems with an angle of attack sensor as it traveled from the resort island of Bali to Jakarta.

On that next-to-last flight, the angle discrepancy between the two sensors was 20 degrees, according to officials from Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee.

On the final flight, the discrepancy was also 20 degrees, Captain Nurcahyo said.

Plane crashes rarely can be blamed on a single, catastrophic malfunction. More often, a problem spirals out of control as maintenance crews fail to spot or address an underlying issue and then the flight crew takes a series of steps that lead to a fatal outcome. Weak government oversight can add to the mix.

The plane that crashed on Oct. 29 had experienced days of incorrect data readings, according to Indonesian officials. In fact, before the penultimate flight, engineers had replaced one of the angle-of-attack sensors.

Why the plane recorded incorrect angle-of-attack data after the sensor had been changed is not clear. Soerjanto Tjahjono, the head of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee, said that the replacement part was not new but was “serviceable” and had certification from the F.A.A. of the United States.


Back to Top

Doomed Lion Air jet was ‘not airworthy’ on penultimate flight

JAKARTA (Reuters) – A Lion Air jet that crashed into the sea off Indonesia last month was not in an airworthy condition on its second-to-last flight, when pilots experienced similar problems to those on its doomed last journey, investigators said on Wednesday.

Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) sub-committee head for air accidents, Nurcahyo Utomo, holds a model airplane while speaking next to deputy chief of KNKT Haryo Satmiko during a news conference on its investigation into a Lion Air plane crash last month, in Jakarta, Indonesia November 28, 2018. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

In a preliminary report, Indonesia’s transport safety committee (KNKT) focussed on the airline’s maintenance practices and pilot training and a Boeing Co (BA.N) anti-stall system but did not give a cause for the Oct. 29 crash that killed all 189 people on board.

KNKT investigator Nurcahyo Utomo said the agency had not determined if the anti-stall system, which was not explained to pilots in manuals, was a contributing factor.

“We still don’t know yet, if it contributed or not,” he said in response to a question. “It is too early to conclude.”

The report unveiled fresh details of efforts by pilots to steady the 737 MAX jet as they reported a “flight control problem”, including the captain’s last words to air traffic control asking to be cleared to “five thou” or 5,000 feet.

Contact with the jet was lost 13 minutes after it took off from the capital, Jakarta, heading north to the tin-mining town of Pangkal Pinang.

Information retrieved from the flight data recorder showed the “stick shaker” was vibrating the captain’s controls, warning of a stall throughout most of the flight. The captain was using his controls to bring the plane’s nose up, but an automated anti-stall system was pushing it down.

“It’s very distracting and unnerving,” former Boeing flight control engineer Peter Lemme said of the stick shaker activation.

“It’s not something you ever want to have happen as a pilot.”

Pilots flying the same plane a day earlier had experienced a similar problem, en route from Denpasar, Bali to Jakarta, until they used switches to shut off the system and used manual controls to fly and stabilise the plane, KNKT said.

“The flight from Denpasar to Jakarta experienced stick shaker activation during the takeoff rotation and remained active throughout the flight,” the committee said.

“This condition is considered as un-airworthy condition” and the flight should have been “discontinued”.

The pilots of that flight reported problems to Lion Air’s maintenance team, which checked the jet and cleared it for take-off the next morning.

After the crash, Lion Air instructed pilots to provide a “full comprehensive description” of technical defects to the engineering team, KNKT said.

In a statement, Boeing drew attention in detail to a list of airline maintenance actions set out in the report but stopped short of blaming ground workers or pilots for the accident.

The manufacturer, which has said procedures for preventing an anti-stall system activating by accident were already in place, said pilots of the penultimate flight had used that drill but noted the report did not say if pilots of the doomed flight did so.

Boeing’s statement did not make any reference to a revised anti-stall system introduced on the 737 MAX which U.S. pilots and Indonesian investigators say was missing from the operating manual.

Ukraine’s martial law provokes Russian threats
Boeing says the procedure for dealing with a so-called runaway stabiliser, under which anti-stall systems push the nose down even when the plane is not entering a stall or losing lift, had not changed between earlier version of the 737 and the newly delivered 737 MAX.

Pilots however say the control column behaves differently in certain conditions, which could confuse pilots who have flown the earlier model.

A source at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said a number of factors were ultimately likely to be cited as causes of the crash, including pilot training and maintenance. It had still to be determined how much, if at all, the plane design would be faulted, the source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Edward Sirait, chief executive of Lion Air, said he had not read the KNKT report but would comply with investigators’ recommendations.

The report provided new recommendations to Lion Air on safety on top of earlier recommendations about the flight manual that have already been implemented by Boeing.

Authorities have downloaded data from one of the black boxes found days after the crash, the flight data recorder, but are still looking for the cockpit voice recorder (CVR).

Indonesia plans to bring in a ship from Singapore able to stay in position without dropping anchor, to help with the search.

Asked what was needed from the CVR, Utomo said: “A lot. Discussions between the left and right pilots were about what? What procedures did they carry out. Were there any strange noises?”

Without it, he said there would be “a lot of guessing”.


Back to Top


A safety manager who 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.

The former 737 pilot 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, the pilot said pilots were working far too many hours.”

“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,” he said.

“It’s easy to blame people but it was the system.”

And in an extraordinary claim, the former safety manager said the airline “sent pilots for training that did not even have their instrument rating” which indicated a lack of understanding by management of what was required.

The pilot 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.)

The safety manager 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 the safety manager found in 2009.

Lion Air has denied the company cut corners and said the company’s twin priorities were growth and safety.


Back to Top

ANA Wings searched over preflight drinking on same day JAL unit pilot found to be over limit

Transport ministry officials enter the headquarters of ANA Wings Co. at Haneda airport Wednesday to begin a three-day search at the airline. | KYODO

An All Nippon Airways Co. unit was searched Wednesday, the same day that a pilot with a Japan Airlines Co. unit was found to have consumed alcohol over the company’s limit, amid a growing scandal over drinking by Japanese airline pilots.

The on-site inspection of ANA Wings Co. was conducted just a day after the transport ministry began a three-day inspection of JAL.

Authorities are also expected to search Skymark Airlines Inc. in the near future.

A male pilot of ANA Wings called in sick on Oct. 25 after drinking the night before his early morning flight, causing delays to five flights in Okinawa by up to 58 minutes. He later quit at the instruction of ANA.

During the three-day search at the airline, the ministry will interview an ANA captain who drank with the unit’s pilot on the night in question.

On Nov. 16, ANA submitted a report to the ministry detailing measures to prevent a recurrence of the incident, including the introduction of more accurate Breathalyzer tests and the distribution of portable testing devices to all flight crew.

Also on Wednesday, a male pilot at JAL unit Japan Air Commuter Co., was found with blood alcohol levels over the company’s limit, delaying the departure of a flight between Kagoshima and Yakushima island by an hour.

“We take the matter seriously as it came at a time when strict drinking measures have been called for. We deeply apologize,” the company said.

Last month, a JAL co-pilot was arrested by British police after drinking until they were around 10 times over the country’s legal limit before a London-Tokyo flight on Oct. 28.

A Skymark flight was also delayed after alcohol was detected on the breath of the plane’s American pilot on Nov. 14.

In light of these scandals, the government has started discussing tighter alcohol consumption rules for aviation crew members.

Currently, there is no Japanese law setting a legal limit on blood alcohol level for pilots, and breath tests are not even required. Airlines have their own rules and take voluntary steps to detect alcohol problems.


Back to Top

Air Force Push For Better Pilot Protection Upsets Competitive Landscape In Ejection Seats

Earlier this month, the Air Force buying command responsible for developing a next-generation ejection seat to be installed on combat aircraft issued a curious request for information. It solicited industry inputs concerning whether the safety standards the service has established are too hard to meet.

The November 6 request from the Human Systems Program Office of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center said information was needed “to help us identify and potentially mitigate areas of significant technical challenges and cost/schedule risks.” It went on to state that the government “would like to understand if industry has potential problems” in meeting performance criteria for a next-generation ejection seat set forth in an attachment, and sought an assessment of what steps offerors might be required to take to comply with the criteria.

What’s curious about the document is that one of the two likely offerors, United Technologies Aerospace Systems, had already demonstrated it could satisfy the Air Force’s specifications. It did that most recently on October 25, when it successfully ejected research dummies in a rocket-sled test simulating unusually small and unusually heavy pilots.

The Air Force wants to be able to protect a wider array of cockpit occupants when they must eject in future emergencies, because the people piloting its combat aircraft are increasingly diverse. Some are smaller women, some are heavy-set men. All will likely be wearing head gear and other equipment that exposes their bodies to potentially severe injury when they eject, unless the performance of ejection seats is improved.

United Technologies Aerospace Systems, a modest contributor to my think tank, has repeatedly expressed confidence that it can achieve Air Force safety goals with a new version of its ejection seat called ACES 5. As the seat explosively exits an aircraft, it protects occupant heads from twisting, and it restrains arms and legs from flailing. It also reduces the velocity at which ejected personnel hit the ground. These stresses have led to severe injury and even death in the past.

The headgear worn by combat pilots has become increasingly heavy and complicated. Helmet-mounted displays such as this one used on the F-35 fighter can increase the head and neck stresses associated with cockpit ejections, requiring enhanced safety features.WIKIPEDIA

Heavier head gear and a more diverse pilot population will make injuries more likely in the future — unless safety standards are raised. In fact, one former pilot told me that if pilots were to eject today wearing a heavy helmet-mounted display, they might die due to the unusual stresses imposed on their head and neck. The Air Force recognized the danger years ago, and formulated new requirements that would better enable ejection seats to protect their occupants – not just from crashes, but from the consequences of ejecting at high speed.

So why issue a request for inputs from industry if the new safety standards are essential to pilot safety? The reason, apparently, is that the other prospective offeror may not be able to meet the standards, and is seeking relief from their requirements. That company is Martin-Baker, a family-owned British company that has been active in the ejection-seat market since before World War Two.

Martin-Baker claims on its web-site that 7,591 lives have been saved worldwide using its ejection seats. However, not every survivor walks away from an ejection experience. Many pilots sustain injuries to their spinal column and extremities, some of which are permanently disabling. Being explosively ejected from an aircraft traveling at 600 nautical miles per hour is intrinsically dangerous. What worries the Air Force is that it is becoming more dangerous due to both demographic and technological trends, and ejection-seat design has not kept up.

The Air Force request for information is an opportunity for Martin-Baker to explain why more stringent safety standards may not be realistic. However, in the process, the company could end up conceding it can’t meet standards that its main competitor says are achievable. If that were the case, it would decisively favor the ACES 5 solution over any Martin-Baker alternative in the competition to select a next-generation ejection seat.

The ACES 5 seat has been piling up competitive wins recently – mostly on Air Force planes – so it seems to have an edge. Some of those wins have not been publicly disclosed, but it is known to be the Air Force’s choice for upgrading safety on the stealthy B-2 bomber, and United Technologies says ACES 5 is the only ejection seat that can meet standards established by the Air Force for its new Boeing trainer. Boeing designed the trainer to accommodate a wide range of cockpit occupants, anticipating greater demographic diversity among combat pilots both at home and abroad.

Enhanced safety features aren’t the only selling point for ACES 5. United Technologies Aerospace Systems figures that once the new ejection seat is installed in B-2 bombers, it will only take 12 man-hours over a two-day period to conduct maintenance on the seat. The current requirement for the legacy seat installed on the bombers is over a thousand man-hours requiring 65 days. The modular construction of the seat greatly enhances maintainability, and the new seat is easily installed on aircraft such as the F-15 and F-16 fighters that currently use earlier seats made by United Technologies.

Any innovation that can save money on life-cycle support is likely to be in high demand during the years ahead, given fiscal challenges that the military is expected to face. For the Air Force, though, the more important concern is delivering a higher standard of safety to pilots when they must eject from their aircraft. It is committed to providing airmen with the best warfighting technology in the world, and that includes safety features that enable them to go in harms way secure in the knowledge that everything possible has been done by their home service to protect life and limb.


Back to Top

Broker: Aircraft Insurance Rates To Climb 5% to 30%

The aircraft insurance market has swung from a soft to hard market “in just a few short months,” according to Matt Drummelsmith of Aviation Specialty Insurance. “What was once a process of sourcing competitive quotes from several carriers has now turned into a matter of hoping the incumbent carrier doesn’t pass off an unjust rate increase.”

Aircraft operators should expect to see their insurance rates rise at renewal, he said, noting universal increases ranging from 5 percent to 30 percent or more, with loss history, industry, and aircraft type among the factors affecting where policyholders will fall within that range. These increases are the result of “massive losses-in both severity and frequency-in a short stretch of time,” including the East River helicopter crash, Grand Canyon helicopter tour incident, Leicester City corporate helicopter accident, and Lion Air Boeing 737 crash this year.

“The vast majority of aviation operators are safe and accident free, which makes it a harder conversation when explaining their rate increases,” Drummelsmith explained. “However, at this point, we have an industry issue, not an individual policyholder issue. It’s like a town or community coming together to support a common cause.”


Back to Top

Waymo taps former NTSB chair to oversee safety of self-driving ride-share fleet

  • Waymo has hired Deborah Hersman, who served as chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board in the Obama administration, to be its chief safety officer.
  • Hersman will start in January.
  • The move comes just weeks before Waymo launches the country’s first autonomous ride-share service in metropolitan Phoenix.

Deborah Hersman, president and chief executive officer of the National Safety Council, at a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration conference in Arlington, Virginia, Oct. 5, 2016. 
T.J. Kirkpatrick | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Waymo, the Alphabet subsidiary on the cusp of launching the first autonomous rideshare service in the U.S., has hired a former top safety regulator to ensure the company’s fleet of robotaxis operate safely.

Deborah Hersman, who was chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board in the Obama administration, will become chief safety officer for Waymo starting in January. She will focus on ensuring the safe operation of hundreds of driverless vehicles that are expected to shuttle passengers.

“I’ve dedicated my career to promoting safety in our communities, and I’m joining Waymo because of the potential to make an even greater impact on reducing road injuries and fatalities,” Hersman said in a statement released by Waymo. Hersman has been CEO of the National Safety Council for the last four years.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik praised Hersman’s career of focusing on safe transportation. “As we begin to make our self-driving cars available to the public, safety will continue to be front-and-center of everything we do,” he said in statement.

The move comes just weeks before Waymo launches the country’s first autonomous ride-share service in metropolitan Phoenix. The company has been testing the service for months with a limited number of passengers riding in Waymo autonomous minivans to make short trips in the Phoenix area.

Ever since Waymo, formerly known as the Google Self-Driving Car Project, start testing autonomous vehicles in 2010, critics have questioned the safety of driverless vehicles. Those questions became more pronounced as a growing number of automakers, tech firms and ride-hailing companies have joined the race to develop driverless cars. Earlier this year, an Uber test vehicle in autonomous-mode hit and killed a pedestrian just outside Phoenix. The deadly accident and video showing the Uber test vehicle failing to identify the pedestrian as she crossed the street at night sparked a national debate as to whether robotaxis are ready for public use.

Waymo is well aware of those concerns and has been emphasizing its push to ensure its vehicles are safe.

In addition to signing Hersman, Waymo has also hired its first chief commercial officer, Amee Chande, who will oversee business strategy, operations, and strategic partnerships as the company starts to monetize its work with driverless vehicles. Chande joins Waymo after serving as managing director of global strategy and operations for Alibaba Group.


Back to Top

Russian Banks Plan Massive Regional Airline Project

Russia’s two biggest financial institutions plan to fund the creation of a “monster” regional airline to fly from several airports across the country using Sukhoi Superjets and Ilyushin Il-114-300 turboprops among other locally assembled models. The banks, namely Sberbank and VTB, have advanced the plans over the past two months as a means to support local aircraft production and connect “socially important” destinations across the vast territory.

According to project initiators, creating such an airline would require bold managerial decisions and considerable financial resources, including government subsidies to support unprofitable passenger services and to help raise capital for the procurement of Russian-made airplanes in worthwhile numbers. They have already applied to Russian civil aviation authority Rosaviastiya for support, according to agency head Alexander Neradko, who further explained that planners have sought advice about how to shape the project to best serve its purpose. Neradko added that Rosaviatsiya supports the move and is ready to provide its expertise on how to form and manage the network of routes and the fleet.

VTB chairman Andrei Kostin said the new carrier could either form as a startup or from the vestiges of an existing airline. He estimated the initial investment from the banks would total some $1 billion, in the hope that the project would employ the principles of a partnership between government and private interests. While Kostin expressed a conviction that a nationwide system of regional air routes could not operate profitably without government subsidies, he also said that economies of scale favor a large operation.

The idea of a big regional airline is not new. Valery Okulov, the one-time head of Aeroflot and now an advisor with the ministry for transportation, raised the idea early this century. According to an Aeroflot analysis, the current air transportation system centered around Moscow works well for big mainline carriers. But it does not serve the nation well enough because airlines could not profitably serve hundreds of smaller cities from Moscow. The regional airline’s success would depend on bypassing the capital, meaning Russia needs more direct services and hub-and-spoke services based in other cities.

“The would-be regional airline will get a considerable boost when state subsidies are provided,” Neradko said. Such subsidies can resemble those already provided through Rosaviatsiya under existing government orders that support air routes between select regions and indigenous aircraft leasing.

According to Kostin, the project’s initiators continue to work on a concept. Initially, the airline would carry between 6 and 10 million passengers annually. As of now, it would not involve Aeroflot, which harbors its own expansion plans through the opening of four additional hubs across Russia and employing its growing Superjet fleet to feed in passengers.

Among other national goals, Russian president Vladimir Putin has targeted an increase in the share of regional traffic in the country’s air transport system to 50 percent by 2024.


Back to Top

Sleepbox micro-hotel set open at Washington Dulles International Airport

The Sleepbox Nap Lounge at Washington Dulles International Airport will offer 16 sound-proofed rooms. (Photo: Sleepbox)

If Santa needs a nap after flying around the world on Christmas Eve, he might consider setting his sleigh down at Dulles International Airport and checking into a room at the Sleepbox Nap Lounge on Concourse A.

Scheduled to open in time for the busy Christmas travel week, the staffed post-security micro-hotel will be located between gates A6 and A14 and offer 16 small, stand-alone sound-proofed rooms (with no bathrooms or showers) that can be rented, via the Sleepbox website or app, for an hour or more, or overnight.

The 8-foot-tall rooms will be “cozy” at 30 square feet for a compact size and 45 square feet for a standard size with more storage space. The beds will be premium memory foam.

Average hourly rates will start at $25 and $35 per hour for the compact and standard rooms, respectively. Twelve-hour overnight stays are capped at $120 and $150. Discounts will be offered for those downloading the Sleepbox app, which is scheduled to be available on Dec. 7, company COO Peter Chambers told Today in the Sky.

The Sleepbox Nap Lounge at Washington Dulles International Airport will offer 16 sound-proofed rooms. (Photo: Sleepbox)

Guests will need that app for making reservations but also for setting the temperature and controlling the lighting options and the wireless entertainment system in their rooms.

Dulles is the first airport to get a Sleepbox micro-hotel, but Chambers says Sleepbox is already in talks with a few other large U.S. hubs for future locations, although he wouldn’t say where just yet.

Many U.S. travelers are already familiar with the airport napping concept from Minute Suites, which rents small rooms for sleeping, working or recharging at airports in Dallas, Philadelphia, Charlotte and Atlanta. Rooms have sound-masking systems, alarm clocks, HDTV with Netflix and DirecTV, and desks with chairs. Some locations offer showers as well.

The Sleepbox Nap Lounge at Washington Dulles International Airport will offer 16 sound-proofed rooms. (Photo: Sleepbox)

At the Atlanta airport, where Minute Suites currently has two locations, the company recently announced plans to open four new locations in 2019. Sixteen suites and two showers will open on Concourse E and six suites and one shower will open on Concourse F. Two branches (on concourses T and B) will be part of a “Traveler’s Oasis” concept along with Be Relax Spa and Chiroport, which offers 15-minute chiropractic treatments that include spine adjustments and trigger-point muscle work.


Back to Top

Australian Air Force Inspect Aircraft with DJI Drones

Not that long ago military bodies were racing to distance themselves from drone industry leader DJI. The US Army grounded its use of DJI products in a move that was probably justified at the time. The Australian Defence Force quickly followed suit.

It looked as though DJI’s days as an equipment provider for sensitive military operations and government contracts were over. But the Chinese manufacturer got its act together pretty quickly: A bug bounty program was introduced – admittedly with some issues at first. Independent cybersecurity reports were commissioned; concerns have been addressed.

Given the importance of keeping sensitive data secure for businesses and organizations, it’s been a necessary journey of reputation restoration.

Australian Army soldiers launch a drone to inspect the condition of the upper surfaces of a C-17A Globemaster on the flightline at RAAF Base Amberley.

Australian Air Force Using DJI for Aircraft Inspections
And it seems to be working. The air force in Australia been using a DJI Phantom 4 to carry out inspections of its aircraft, so we can assume that those concerns are a thing of the past.

The logistics of adequately inspecting a plane in a hangar make having a view from above a gamechanger. Using a drone, engineers on the ground can take a tour of the plane and check its key components while receiving live high definition video, which can be rewatched, rewound and assessed by multiple parties.

The use of a drone for aircraft inspections proves that manned aircraft and drone pilots can actually work together to save time and money. Drones and airports don’t usually combine so well.

The Australian Airforce’s C-17A aircraft – a large military transport plane – undergo inspections every 180 days. This can now be done in less than 30 minutes with the help of a DJI drone.

The drone is able to inspect hard to access areas of the aircraft at the RAAF base in Amberley, Queensland. The C-17A’s 16.8m high vertical stabilizer would otherwise need a team relying on elevated platforms for an inspection.

Senior engineering officer squadron leader Evan Smith, said: “This helps the aircraft surface finishers to identify and track paint degradation on the upper surface of the C-17A, triage paint defects and plan remediation work”

He explained that the drone also prevents staff from being put at risk during inspections, as well as speeding up the process.

“Introducing this drone and these procedures goes further to reducing workplace health and safety risks to so far as reasonably practicable,” he said. The Army has extensive experience using this particular model, and managing the information downloaded from it which we do through a standalone laptop, and have been able to adapt Army’s practices to suit our needs.”

DJI Providing New Tools For Aircraft Inspection
Back in October DJI released a short film showing how the company’s drones were assisting engineers at American Airlines, who are tasked with similar inspections on a regular basis.

You can watch the video below…

DJI - Mavic 2 Enterprise - American Airlines: Looking at New Tools
DJI – Mavic 2 Enterprise – American Airlines: Looking at New Tools


Back to Top

Lake Aircraft attracting ‘serious interest’ from potential buyers

Lake Aircraft parent Revo says five companies from Europe and the USA have shown “serious interest” in purchasing the light amphibious aircraft manufacturer and are now formally submitting their proposals.

Included in the sale are all of Lake’s assets, including a spare parts concern, engineering drawings, production and type certificates.

The announcement comes six months after a Chinese consortium was forced to withdraw its offer for the Kissimmee, Florida-headquartered company, for which it had signed a purchase agreement with Revo in 2015.

Revo president Armand Rivard says the deal collapsed “at the final hurdle” as the consortium were unable to complete the transaction because of China’s foreign exchange controls.

Lake Aircraft

“Hopefully, there will be fewer complications with a US or European buyer,” says Rivard, who acquired Lake in the early 1970s.

Interest in the programme has been “incredible”, with over a dozen parties expressing an interest, he says. “We have whittled it down to five companies – all involved in the aviation industry supply chain.”

He will not disclose the names or locations of the parties, but says all have expressed an interest in restarting manufacture of the piston-engined amphibian and developing a new turbine-powered derivative, which Rivard describes as “the next evolution of aircraft”.

“There are so few type certificates available to purchase today,” he says. “Producing a Part 23 amphibian from scratch will cost tens of millions of dollars, and take thousands of hours to complete, so this is the most cost- and time-efficient way of bringing a design to market.”

Lake produced seven versions of its light, piston-powered amphibian in Sanford, Maine, between 1955 and 2012, including the six-seat Renegade, Seafury and Seawolf.

Over 1,300 examples are in service worldwide, in commercial, corporate, private, utility and special-mission roles, all supported by Revo.


Back to Top

Putting hybrid-electric aircraft performance to the test

University of Illinois College of Engineering

Although hybrid-electric cars are becoming commonplace, similar technology applied to airplanes comes with significantly different challenges. Aerospace engineers are addressing some of them toward the development of a more sustainable alternative to fossil fuels to power airplanes.

This is University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign aerospace engineering doctoral candidate Gabrielle Wroblewski with Assistant Professor Phillip Ansell.
Credit: University of Illinois Department of Aerospace Engineering

Although hybrid-electric cars are becoming commonplace, similar technology applied to airplanes comes with significantly different challenges. University of Illinois aerospace engineers are addressing some of them toward the development of a more sustainable alternative to fossil fuels to power airplanes.

“Jet fuel and aviation gasoline are easy to store on an airplane. They are compact and lightweight when compared to the amount of energy they provide. Unfortunately, the actual combustion process is very inefficient. We’re harnessing only a small fraction of that energy but we currently don’t have electrical storage systems that can compete with that,” said Phillip Ansell, assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois.

Ansell said adding more batteries to fly farther may seem logical, but it works against the goal to make an aircraft as lightweight as possible. “That’s one of the big barriers we run into when designing battery-powered electrified aircraft. The current technology has very significant range disadvantages. But strong fuel-burn advantages.”

He, along with former aerospace undergraduate student, Tyler Dean, and current doctoral student Gabrielle Wroblewski, utilized a series of simulations to model the performance of hybrid-electric aircraft.

“We started with an existing twin-engine aircraft and looked at how we might create a hybrid-electric drivetrain for it using existing off-the-shelf hardware,” Ansell said. “We wanted to know how well it would perform. If I used a certain set of drivetrain components, I want to know how far the aircraft could fly, how much fuel does it burn, how fast can if climb — all of the overall flight performance changes.”

A flight-performance simulator was created to accurately represent the true flight performance of a Tecnam P2006T on a general mission to include take off, climb, cruise, descent, and landing, along with sufficient reserves to meet FAA regulations. Transition segments were incorporated into the simulation during climb and descent where the throttle setting, flap deployment, propeller rotation rate, and all other flight control variables were either set to mimic input from a typical pilot or prescribed in accordance with the aircraft flight manual.

After configuring the simulator to collect baseline performance data, a parallel hybrid drivetrain was integrated into the simulation. The researchers compared the sensitivity of range and fuel economy to the level of electrification, battery specific energy density, and electric motor power density. The same sensitivities were studied with a series hybrid-electric drivetrain.

Ansell said that, overall, a hybrid-electric drivetrain can lead to substantial improvements in fuel efficiency of a given aircraft configuration, though these gains depend strongly on the coupled variations in the degree of drivetrain electrification and the required mission range. Both of these factors influence the weight allocation of battery and fuel systems, as well as the weight scaling imposed by internal combustion engine and electrical motor components. In general, to obtain the greatest fuel efficiency a hybrid architecture should be used with as much electrification in the drivetrain as is permissible within a given range requirement.

The fuel efficiency improvements were shown to particularly shine for short-range missions, which is a good thing since range limitations serve as one of the key bottlenecks in hybrid aircraft feasibility. Though, through this study the changes in the range capabilities of the aircraft were also able to be forecast with advancements in hybrid component technologies. “For example,” Ansell said, “the propulsion system today could be configured to have 25 percent of its propulsive power come from an electric motor. However, it would only be able to fly about 80 nautical miles. Fast forward to projections for lighter battery technologies for roughly the year 2030 and the same aircraft could fly two and a half to three times as far. The range increase is nonlinear, so the largest improvements can be seen for the most immediate improvements with battery specific energy density, with gradually diminishing returns for that same proportional increase in specific energy.”

“One interesting and unexpected result we observed, however, came about when comparing the parallel and series hybrid architectures. Since the parallel architecture mechanically couples the shaft power of the engine and motor together, only one electrical machine is needed. For the series architecture, a generator is also needed to convert the engine power to electrical power, along with a larger motor than the parallel hybrid configuration to drive the propulsor. Unexpectedly, this aspect made the parallel architecture more beneficial for improved range and fuel burn almost across the board due to its lighter weight. However, we did observe that if significant improvements are made in maturing electrical motor components in the very long term, we may actually someday see better efficiency out of series-hybrid architectures, as they permit a greater flexibility in the placement and distribution of propulsors.”

The team chose to model the Tecnam P2006T using a series of performance variables found in published articles by the aircraft manufacturer. They selected that particular aircraft, in part, because NASA has been working on their X-57 aircraft, which has leading-edge propellers for high lift. “This study was being conducted for NASA, and use of this aircraft also allowed our results to be better applicable to the X-57 concept vehicle,” Ansell said. “Using our data, they will be able to have at least a ballpark idea about how the hybrid system will perform without the other distributed propulsion modifications.”

Ansell said propulsion electrification is still very much an unknown in terms of how a vehicle should be built, engineered, flown. “Our study helps inform those discussions. We looked only at battery storage systems though there are many more that can be implemented, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. This study allowed us to look at what types of advancements need to be made in motor technology, in battery technology, etc.”

The study, “Mission Analysis and Component-Level Sensitivity Study of Hybrid-Electric General Aviation Propulsion Systems,” was conducted by Tyler Dean, Gabrielle Wroblewski, and Phillip Ansell. It appears in the Journal of Aircraft.

This project was supported by NASA Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center under Small Business Technology Transfer in collaboration with Rolling Hills Research Corporation.


Back to Top

Airbus delivers first A330neo in Boeing 787 dogfight

* Planemakers vying to fill gap between single and twin-aisle jets

* Crowded market segment could be worth up to $1 trn over 20 years

* Portuguese airline TAP takes delivery of first A330neo

TOULOUSE, France, Nov 26 (Reuters) – Airbus delivered its first A330neo jet to TAP Portugal on Monday as it seeks to trump U.S. rival Boeing in the fiercely competitive battle at the lower end of the market for long-haul jets.

The face-off between the A330neo and Boeing 787 pits two generations of jetliner against each other in one of the most crowded but potentially lucrative parts of the aircraft market, predicted to represent $1 trillion in sales over 20 years.

Airbus said its upgraded A330neo, seating 250-298 passengers, would dovetail with the European planemaker’s hot-selling A321neo narrowbody jet, which seats about 200, in the race to address a gap between single-aisle and twin-aisle jets.

Boeing is weighing up proposals to develop a new-generation jet carrying 220-270 passengers in a development analysts say could severely hurt the A330, the most profitable Airbus series.

The European planemaker is attempting to close its jaws around the same part of the market through a combination of the A330-800neo and the smaller A321neo, industry strategists say.

Sales of the A330neo have fallen short of expectations in the face of heavy competition from Boeing’s 787, but the head of Airbus twin-aisle marketing predicted that it would hold its ground in the same way as the current A330 has done after Boeing was hit by production delays on the 787.

Despite weighing more than Boeing’s 787 because of its metal structure, Airbus says the A330neo saves airlines money because of a more efficient wing.

Boeing, however, says the lightweight composite design of its 787 wins on economics despite its higher sticker price.

The aircraft delivered to TAP Portugal on Monday is the 298-seat A330-900neo, the larger of two versions developed by Airbus and one that dominates the tally of 242 aircraft on order.

The smaller A330-800neo took its first flight this month.

Airbus launched the revamped A330neo series in 2014 after failing to win as many orders as it had hoped for the A350-800, the smallest version of its own new-generation composite jet, the A350, which competes with most 787s and the larger 777.

The first A330neo delivery was delayed by setbacks at Britain’s Rolls-Royce, which recently rescheduled deliveries of the Trent 7000 engine as it focuses on resolving difficulties with a sister engine that powers some Boeing 787s.

Leasing company Avolon financed the first TAP A330neo, with Singapore-based BOC Aviation involved in helping the Portuguese airline to finance progress payments ahead of Monday’s delivery.


Back to Top

Spaceflight’s 64-satellite rideshare launch takes off tomorrow on a Falcon 9

Seattle-based launch coordinator Spaceflight is gearing up for its biggest operation yet: Smallsat Express, deploying a staggering 64 separate satellites from 34 different clients – all from a single Falcon 9 rocket. It’s quite an endeavor, but the company believes that this kind of jam-packed “space bus” is the best way to make satellite deployment cheap and easy – relatively speaking, anyway.

Spaceflight, started in 2011, has under its belt plenty of launches from a variety of providers. But demand has been so intense that after taking up a handful of slots on this or that rocket, they finally decided to take the next logical step: “Why not buy our own Falcon?”

That’s how founder Curt Blake explained it to me when I visited the company’s modest office in Westlake, a mile or so from downtown Seattle. Unfortunately, he said, they happened to make that investment just before another SpaceX rocket exploded on the launch pad. That rattled everyone, but ultimately the cost-benefit equation for wholesale rideshare like this makes too much sense.

“There have been lots of shared launches before, but not on this scale,” he said. Dozens deployed, but not 64. The number was actually even higher originally, but some clients had to back out relatively late in the game. That’s one of the downsides of a major shared launch: an inflexible timeline. If 9 out of 10 of the passengers are ready to go, they can’t sit and wait while the last one gets their ducks in a row; the next favorable launch time might be months off.

Spaceflight, like other launch coordinators, does a bunch of things for their clients: help navigate the red tape and schedule things, of course – but perhaps most importantly for a launch of this scale, it works with everyone to create a payload that can launch scores of satellites ranging in size from breadbox to cooler.

That payload, Blake said, is known at SpaceX as the “FrankenStack.” A “stack” is the components in the rocket’s payload that actually do stuff, and Spaceflight had to make this one from scratch. They learned a lot, Blake noted, and had to invent a lot in order to cram all those satellites in there.

The FrankenStack, which you can see at right, is rather like a giant wedding cake, with layers of different satellite deployment hardware. After all, these satellites are all going to different places, different orbits, different directions. You can’t just get up there and hit the “release” button.

At the very bottom, or rather above the cone that attaches to the rocket stage, is the MPC, or multi-payload carrier, which has a variety of large items on four shelves, including ones that need to be launched along the FrankenStack’s path, as opposed to perpendicular. Above that is the hub and cubesat portion, also called the upper free flier, because it will detach from the MPC and go its own way.

If all goes well, there will be 64 more little stars in the sky by the end of tomorrow. Watch the live stream of the launch on SpaceX’s site starting at about 10 AM.


Back to Top

Back to Top

Boeing Announces Nearly a Quarter-Billion Dollars in Corporate Giving in 2018

Includes more than $55 million in new grants to support charitable partners
Grant dollars will fund programs in 2019 and beyond
CHICAGO, Nov. 19, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Boeing [NYSE: BA] corporate giving will exceed $230 million in 2018, driven by $55 million in new charitable grants, as well as increases in business and employee contributions.
The new $55 million charitable grants package will support 443 nonprofit organizations in 47 countries, funding programs through 2019 and beyond. Included in the package is $13 million for veterans’ recovery and rehabilitation programs and workforce transition services – representing an increase in charitable giving of more than 70 percent over 2017.
Also included is a $1.1 million investment in the National Archives Foundation to underwrite the annual display of the Emancipation Proclamation. The ten year commitment will also fund education programs related to the history of the Proclamation and efforts to preserve the important historical document for future generations.
Boeing’s corporate giving is amplified by its employee gift match programs. Earlier this year, the company increased gift match levels following the enactment of U.S. tax reform. Over the past five years, employee gifts matched by the company have increased 30 percent.
“Our people have unique skills and an unwavering passion for making a difference in the world, both through our products and services and the ways we give back to our communities,” said Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing chairman, president and chief executive officer. “When that’s combined with our professional networks, partnerships and financial resources, we have the potential to drive positive, lasting change across the globe in important areas such as STEM learning and veterans’ support.”
Anchored by local and regional employee engagement activities, Boeing corporate giving is focused on increasing access to globally competitive STEM learning in underserved and underrepresented communities; improving technical workforce skills; and supporting military families and veterans. Boeing investments also address unique local challenges critical to communities where the company operates.
U.S. grants will support a range of nonprofits, including FUSE, which focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts and math learning programs for Chicago-area K-12 students; Homes for Our Troops, which provides housing and support for severely injured, post-9/11 veterans and their families; and FamilyForward, which works to improve the health, development and overall well-being of youth living in St. Louis.
Boeing also will support several international nonprofits, including the Nettur Technical Training Foundation, which encourages disadvantaged youth and young adults to pursue aviation maintenance careers in India; The Air League, which provides aviation and flight school scholarships for wounded veterans in the United Kingdom; and OISCA International, which assists with coastal forest restoration efforts in the Tohoku region of Japan.
A full list of Boeing’s grant partners can be found here.
About The Boeing Company
Through purposeful investments, employee engagement and thoughtful advocacy efforts, Boeing and its employees support innovative partnerships and programs that align with the company’s strategic objectives, create value and help build better communities worldwide.
Chicago-based Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. A top U.S. exporter, the company supports airlines and U.S. and allied government customers in more than 150 countries.
See how Boeing is making a difference for Our Future, Our Heroes and Our Homes by visiting the 2018 Boeing Global Engagement Portfolio at Boeing.com/community.
Engage with us on social @Boeing with #BoeingInspires.
Jason Capeheart
Boeing Communications
Office: +1 312-544-2568

Back to Top

Back to Top

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:

Back to Top

Phone: (231)720-0930 (9-6 EST) 

Back to Top

Pan Am Flying Boat Cutaway



Flight Safety Information (FSI) Newsletter has been publishing timely aviation safety news for over 25 years.  FSI has over 100,000 aviation readers on a globally basis.


Banner Ads and Push-Ads are Available.


For advertising information and reasonable rates, please contact:

Advertising@curt-lewis.com  or  

Call:  (817)845-3983


CL&A Logo

                                                      Contact Information
“Flight Safety Information” is a free service of:
Curt Lewis, PhD, CSP, FRAeS, FISASI
(Targeting Aviation Safety & Risk Management)  
PH:  817-845-3983
Fax: 682-292-0835
Twitter: curtllewis01
Skype:  curt.lewis2
 View our profile on LinkedIn  Follow us on TwitterLike us on Facebook
Free Subscription:  sign up for Flight Safety Information at  www.fsinfo.org
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.
For advertising information, please contact:  Advertising@curt-lewis.com
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.