Friday, February 29, 2008

UK's AAIB issues safety recommendation for Boeing 777 aircraft

AAIB logoThe U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) recently released a Special Bulletin in regard to the investigation of the British Airways Boeing 777 accident at London's Heathrow Airport last month. Included in the latest Bulletin is a safety recommendation for all operators of the Boeing 777 type aircraft.

Here's the link to the full text of AAIB Bulletin S1/2008 Special on the AAIB website. (It's a 6-page 'pdf' file.)

AAIB Safety Recommendation 2008-009 states:
Boeing should notify all Boeing 777 operators of the necessity to operate the fuel control switch to cut-off prior to operation of the fire handle, for both the fire drill and the evacuation drill, and ensure that all versions of its checklists, including electronic and placarded versions of the drill, are consistent with this procedure.
The new safety recommendation arose from the finding during the AAIB's post-accident investigation that the spar valves on both engines of the accident aircraft (a B777-236ER, registration number G-YMMM) were found to be open. The function of the spar valves is to cut off the fuel flow to the engine in the event of an engine fire or an accident. The AAIB Bulletin notes that, while this was not in any way causal to the accident, it "could have had serious consequences in the event of a fire during the evacuation."

The AAIB Bulletin gives considerable attention to the open spar valves (see pages 5 and 6 of the Bulletin), concluding that the the fire handles had been operated prior to the fuel control switches. This is contrary to the sequence recommended by Boeing. Quoting from the Special Bulletin:
Boeing had issued a Service Bulletin (SB 777-28-0025) which advised the splicing together of the wires for the fuel control switches and the fire handles to avoid the need to sequence their operation. An FAA airworthiness directive requires this SB to be completed by July 2010. This had not yet been incorporated on G-YMMM; however, had it been incorporated, the right spar valve should have closed when the fuel control switch was operated.

The evacuation checklist for the Boeing 777, issued by Boeing, shows operation of the fuel control switches to cut-off prior to operation of the fire handles. This sequence allows for both CLOSE paths to the spar valve to be exploited and increases the likelihood that the spar valves close before electrical power to the spar valves is isolated. However, if the fire handle is operated first, then only a single path is available.

The operator’s evacuation checklist, for which Boeing had raised no technical objection, required the commander to operate the fuel control switches whilst the first officer operated the fire handles, this was in order to reduce the time required to action the checklist. These actions were carried out independently, with no measure in place to ensure the correct sequencing. The evacuation drill was placarded on the face of the control column boss, directly in front of each pilot.

An evacuation checklist with the division of independent tasks between the crew leaves a possibility that the fire handles could be operated before the fuel control switches which, with fire handle to spar valve wire damage, could leave the engine fuel spar shut-off valves in an OPEN position. This occurred in this accident, and resulted in the loss of fuel from the aircraft.
Here are the links to all three reports related to this accident investigation that have been issued to date by the AAIB:
Related:  Click here to view all posts on Aircrew Buzz about British Airways Flt 038.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

AAIB: Special Bulletin on last month's British Airways accident in London

AAIB logoA Special Bulletin has been issued by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) of the U.K. Department for Transport regarding its investigation of the crash landing of a British Airways B777 at London's Heathrow Airport last month. The bulletin updates and adds to information released previously by the AAIB. The bulletin stops short of stating any conclusions about the cause of the accident, but it does imply that a partial interruption of fuel flow is the current focus of the investigation.

The latest report, AAIB Bulletin S1/2008 Special, is a 6-page 'pdf' document. Here are some highlights of information presented in the bulletin.

Weather: Temperature conditions during the flight were described in the report as "unusually cold," but remained above the freezing point for the fuel samples taken from the aircraft.

Recorded Data: The AAIB successfully retrieved data from the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR), the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), and the Quick Access Recorder (QAR) from the accident aircraft. The Bulletin states:
The recorded data indicates that there were no anomalies in the major aircraft systems. The autopilot and the autothrottle systems behaved correctly and the engine control systems were providing the correct commands prior to, during, and after, the reduction in thrust.
Engineering Examination: There were no indications of any pre-existing problems with any of the aircraft systems.
  • Examination of the engines indicated no evidence of a mechanical defect or ingestion of birds or ice.
  • Examination of the high pressure fuel pumps for both engines "revealed signs of abnormal cavitation on the pressure-side bearings and the outlet ports" suggesting "either a restriction in the fuel supply to the pumps or excessive aeration of the fuel," however both pumps were assessed as being still able to deliver full fuel flow.
  • Fuel samples taken from the aircraft conformed with Jet A-1 specifications and "there were no signs of contamination or unusual levels of water content."
  • "Small items of debris" were found in the right-main fuel tank, the left-main tank water scavenger inlet, the right-center tank override pump, and the left center tank water scavenge jet pump. The AAIB states that "the relevance of this debris is still being considered."
The accident investigation is ongoing. Quoting from the Special Bulletin:
Investigations are now underway in an attempt to replicate the damage seen to the engine high pressure fuel pumps, and to match this to the data recorded on the accident flight. In addition, comprehensive examination and analysis is to be conducted on the entire aircraft and engine fuel system; including the modelling of fuel flows taking account of the environmental and aerodynamic effects.
Here are the links to the three reports relating to this accident investigation that have been issued to date by the AAIB:
Related:  Click here to view all posts on Aircrew Buzz about British Airways Flt 038.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

United Airlines Airbus A320 in Jackson Hole runway excursion

United Airlines A320The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has dispatched a pair of investigators to Jackson Hole, Wyoming in response to an incident in which a United Airlines A320 aircraft veered off a runway after landing. The incident occurred on the evening of January 25, 2008 as the Airbus (registration number N442UA), arrived at Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) after a scheduled flight from Denver.

In a press advisory announcing its investigation of the incident, the NTSB says that the aircraft, operating as United Airlines Flight UA 267, "departed the right side of runway 19 during landing at Jackson Hole Airport."
The airplane departed Denver at 7:44 pm MST with the intended destination of Jackson Hole. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed during the nighttime landing. The reported weather at the airport about the time of the incident was wind calm, visibility of 10 miles, and overcast clouds at 3200 feet above the ground.

The airplane came to rest on its landing gear at about a 90 degree angle to the runway in snow about three feet deep. An initial examination of the aircraft revealed no readily visible signs of structural damage or evidence of fire.
The six crew members and 119 passengers evacuated the aircraft using emergency slides. The NTSB noted that one of the emergency slides did not deploy. According to both the NTSB advisory and the FAA preliminary report about the incident, no injuries were reported, however local news media in Jackson Hole reported that a passenger had sustained a sprained wrist during the evacuation.

An article about the incident in the Jackson Hole News & Guide pointed out that, "The incident is the fourth time an airplane has gone off the runway since December. Two weeks ago, a SkyWest CRJ700 was involved in a less serious mishap."

The Jackson Hole News & Guide article also includes comments about the incident from airport ground personnel, and quotes from passengers who were on board the flight.

The air traffic control tower at JAC was closed at the time of the accident. A news report quoted an airport official who said that first responders had to radio an incoming SkyWest flight to warn it not to land.

UPDATE - February 29, 2008: Today the NTSB released the following factual information from their ongoing investigation of the United Airlines A320 runway excursion at JAC, which occurred on February 25:
The airplane came to rest 116 feet past the end of the runway and 140 feet to the right of the runway centerline. A heavy skid mark was found on the runway associated with the inboard tire of the left main landing gear. This tire was found deflated and showed wear consistent with a skid. Upon exiting the runway, both engines ingested snow and sustained internal damage. The aircraft itself was not substantially damaged.

Examination of the left main landing gear brakes revealed that the inboard and outboard wheel speed tachometer wires were cross-connected. Such a configuration would be likely to cause the antiskid system to use the inboard wheel speed to control the outboard braking, and vice versa. In such a situation, it would be likely that when the inboard tire began to skid, the antiskid system would release the pressure on the outboard brake instead of the inboard brake.

Examination of maintenance records indicated that both main landing gear units were replaced on the incident airplane in early February 2008. The Safety Board is also investigating another United A-320 incident with similar circumstances that occurred on October 9, 2007.
The earlier incident mentioned by the NTSB was reported here on Aircrew Buzz in October.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Videos: Bumpy landings

From time to time, readers send interesting links and other information to me, and once in awhile it's something to me that I just have to share. This time it's a short video of what starts out as a crosswind landing, and ends up as a very bumpy hard landing indeed at London City Airport (LCY) by a Swiss Avro RJ. I know the runway at LCY is short, but YIKES!

(If the video does not play or display properly above, click here to view the 'very bumpy landing' video on YouTube.)

While I was on the YouTube website, I also noticed this video of a very bumpy landing, too:

(If the video does not play or display properly above, click here to view 'a very bumpy landing' on YouTube.)

A tip of the hat to the reader who sent me the link to the first video.
UPDATE Mar. 3, 2008: Did you happen to see the TV news reports of the Lufthansa A320 attempting to land at Hamburg in incredibly gusty crosswinds? If you didn't see this one, click on over to this post to view the video.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Confiscated: One hot wallet!

We've all heard the expression about money burning a hole in one's pocket, but this is over the top. Last month a screener at an airport security checkpoint confiscated a flaming wallet from a passenger. No joke! That's it in the photo at right.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website has a section where interesting stories about TSA employees are posted. That's where I found this tale about the Transportation Security Officer (TSO) who intercepted the flaming wallet.

As the TSA explains, Zigmund Piech, the Lead TSO at Burlington (VT) International Airport "observed a passenger with unusual bulges in his back pockets." During a pat-down it was discovered that the passenger was carrying two packs of playing cards and a wallet in his pockets.
Piech noticed a gasoline odor coming from the items, as did Supervisory TSO Cindy Bevins, who put the items through the X-ray. The wallet produced an unusual image and as they were examining it, burst into flames.
It turns out that the owner of the wallet claimed to be a magician, and said he uses the wallet in his act. Well, that magician is going to have to change his act, because law enforcement made the wallet disappear. That is, they confiscated it. (No surprise there!)

After the magician was relieved of the tools of his trade, he was allowed to board his flight and continue his journey. In that sense he was more fortunate than the man caught at LAX last year with a magnet in his rectum. Last I heard, that guy was facing deportation.

[Photo Source]

Thursday, February 21, 2008

ALPA launches runway safety campaign

ALPA Hold Short for Runway Safety logoJust in case you haven't yet seen it (or haven't even heard about it) I'd like to encourage all readers of Professional Pilot News to go and take a look at Hold Short for Runway Safety, a new website run by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). ALPA recently launched a campaign intended "to raise the awareness of the measures that can prevent runway hazards." The organization has launched this interesting website in support of their campaign.

The Hold Short for Runway Safety focuses on safety during ground operations. The stated goal is to prevent runway incursions, excursions, and confusion. It offers commonsense guidance for operating in the period "between getting in the cockpit and hitting Vr."

In addition to excellent background information about runway safety, runway incursions and pilot deviations, the interactive website features several runway incursion re-enactment videos, and a quiz about situational awareness through airfield signs and air traffic control instructions.

You can take an Online Runway Safety Education Program via the website and print out your certificate after completion. ALPA says, "If you are involved in a runway incursion event, this satisfies the FAA 'seminar' requirement for participation in the Runway Incursion Information Evaluation Program (RIIEP)."

Click on over to ALPA's Hold Short for Runway Safety website and get busy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Boeing delivers KLM's first Boeing 777-300ER

KLM Boeing 777-300ERThe Boeing Company recently delivered a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. The extended range passenger airliner is the first of this type for KLM, which also operates 15 Boeing 777-200ERs.

The B777-300ER is the world's largest long-range twin-engine airplane. A Boeing news release about the aircraft says that in KLM's configuration, it is capable of carrying 425 passengers in a two-class configuration with a maximum range of 14,685 kilometers (7,930 nautical miles) at a cruising speed of 0.84 Mach.

The aircraft arrived at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on February 13, 2008.

[Photo Source]

Monday, February 18, 2008

TSA to test airport employee screening methods

TSA logoThe U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that seven airports in the United States will be taking part in pilot programs to test various employee screening techniques, as required by the Omnibus Appropriations Act passed by Congress in January 2008. The seven airports are Boston's Logan International, Denver International, Jacksonville (Fla.) International, Kansas City (Mo.) International, Eugene (Ore.), Southwest Oregon Regional (North Bend, Ore.) and Craven Regional (New Bern, N.C.).

The new legislation mandates that 100% employee screening be evaluated at three airports and alternative employee screening at four other airports. A TSA news release about the airport employees screening pilot programs explains:
Use of multiple security measures will enable TSA to evaluate the most effective manner of screening airport employees. Airport employees and other employees including concession workers who have access to secure areas of the airports will be screened before they can enter those areas.

TSA currently deploys a layered approach to airport employee security that includes random and roving screening, checkpoint screening for certain populations and “surge" inspections. Random screening ensures that at any time airport employees may encounter security on the airport grounds. In addition, TSA has made strides in improving the airport employee badging process. TSA requires all badged airport employees to have a clear security threat assessment before a badge can be issued and audits are underway at airport badging offices across the country to verify adherence to this measure.
Three types of screening programs will be tested and evaluated.
  • 100 Percent Perimeter Screening - Boston's Logan Airport
    • 100 percent employee and vehicle screening at airport perimeter entrances
    • Use of biometric access control
  • 100 Percent Checkpoint Screening - Jacksonville; Craven Regional
    • 100 percent physical employee screening from the public area to the secure area (known as SIDA)
  • Enhanced Security Screening - Denver; Kansas City; Eugene; Southwest Oregon Regional
    • Random screening
    • Behavior detection programs
    • Employee security awareness training
    • Deployment of portable screening equipment
    • Use of biometric access control (Denver only)
Each screening pilot program will last for ninety days. TSA is required to report to Congress before Sept. 1, 2008 on the cost and effectiveness of the pilot programs at each airport.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

ASTAR Air Cargo pilots reach contract agreement

ASTARA tentative contract agreement between ASTAR Air Cargo and its pilots has been announced. The agreement, which is subject to ratification by the pilots, was the culmination of several years of negotiations between the freight carrier and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the union representing the pilots.

Contract negotiations, which began in 2005, have at times been contentious. Since April of 2006, negotiations between the pilots and ASTAR management have been conducted with the assistance of the National Mediation Board. ASTAR pilots have not had a pay raise since 2002.

A media release about the ASTAR contract issued by ALPA describes the new contract terms this way:
Under the terms of the agreement, the ASTAR crewmembers will receive retro pay and more than 20% in pay increases over the course of the 4-year agreement. In addition, the pilots will receive furlough protections and a commitment by the company to secure new aircraft. The same minimum credit per day was retained.
Regarding the new agreement, Captain Earl Smith, chairman of the ASTAR crewmembers, said, "I am pleased that we have reached a tentative agreement that offers ASTAR Air Cargo crewmembers improvements in job security, growth, pay increases, and retro compensation. Most of all, this tentative agreement, if approved by the pilot membership, will give ASTAR crewmembers a new and well deserved combination of job security and economic advancement."

ASTAR Air Cargo operates 44 aircraft from its hub in Wilmington, OH. It provides scheduled and charter services on a contract basis to DHL Worldwide Express, the U.S. military and the United States Postal Service.

UPDATE March 6, 2008: ASTAR pilots have ratified the new labor contract. According to a news release issued by ALPA, nearly 89 percent of the 427 eligible crewmembers voted, with 93 percent voting in favor of the agreement.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Belavia CRJ-100 crashes on takeoff in Armenia

A Bombardier CRJ-100 aircraft operated by Belavia, the national airline of Belarus, crashed on takeoff as it was departing the Armenian city of Yerevan, en route to Minsk, Belarus. All of the 18 passengers and three crew members on board Belavia Flight B2-1834 survived, although many suffered burns and other injuries. The aircraft, which caught fire as it hit the ground, was destroyed.

The accident happened on February 14, 2008, at 04:15 local time at Yerevan's Zvartnots Airport. According to news reports, the aircraft rolled to the left just after rotation, and fell to the ground completely inverted.

Yerevan's Zvartnots Airport was closed for several hours after the accident, and several incoming flights were said to have been diverted to Gyumri. The airport reopened later the same day.

An article on the website quoted Artyom Movsesian of Armenia’s Civil Aviation Department, who said that members of the accident aircraft's crew told him that "the plane gravitated leftwards during the takeoff and that they had trouble keeping it on the runway. " Government officials from both Armenia and Belarus will participate in the accident investigation, assisted by representatives of Bombardier Inc., the Canadian company that manufactured the aircraft.

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Delta flight attendants seek union representation

Delta Air Lines logoThis week, flight attendants at Delta Air Lines will formally act to seek union representation. On February 14, the flight attendants will file signed cards to this effect. If a sufficient number of signed cards are collected and verified by the U.S. National Mediation Board (NMB), an election will be called to officially determine union representation. The NMB is responsible for overseeing union representation elections in the U.S. airline industry.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, known as "AFA," has been working for some time with Delta flight attendants who favor union representation. A media release issued last week by AFA states that "a solid majority of Delta flight attendants have signed cards and eagerly await an election."

Up to now, Delta flight attendants have not been unionized. Although there has been growing dissatisfaction with pay and work rules among the rank and file, it seems that the tipping point came as Delta began engaging in merger talks with other carriers. Now a growing number of Delta's flight attendants are acknowledging the potential value of representation by a formal collective bargaining unit such as the AFA.

The AFA has opened a website -- Delta AFA -- to support the campaign by Delta flight attendants for unionization. There is a copy of the authorization card for union representation on the website, as well as a wealth of information about AFA, and about the legal rights of flight attendants in regard to collective bargaining and unionization. In addition, the website features a page with comments by individual Delta flight attendants telling why they want AFA -- definitely an interesting read!

According to reports in the news media, Northwest Airlines currently is considered to be the most likely merger partner for Delta, however officials at United Airlines also have discussed a potential merger with Delta. Flight attendants at both Northwest and United already are represented by AFA.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Pilot wins contract lawsuit vs Bombardier Flexjet

The Dallas Morning News reported that a pilot has won a lawsuit against Bombardier Flexjet. The suit involved a contract dispute between the pilot and the fractional jet operator. The court ruled last week that the pilot's contract was "unenforceable," and that Flexjet "used deceptive practices in promising pilots promotions and training."

According to the news article, Flexjet first sued the pilot back in 2005 for failing to repay a portion of his training costs when he left the company. The pilot's contract stipulated that he must repay training costs unless he remained with the company for at least 24 months. He left after 17 months.

The pilot filed a counter-suit, "arguing that Flexjet had falsely promised rapid promotions for new pilots and training that would help them get their official rating quickly on various types of corporate jets."
"These promises turned out to be lies," he said, especially the part about becoming a captain and earning more than $50,000 a year, well above the initial pay of $32,000 a year. "We were cheap labor to them."

In an interview, [the pilot] said he thought it was particularly deceptive that the company emphasized to its customers that for safety reasons both captain and co-pilot would be fully rated on the planes flown. "I flew their planes for 17 months without my type rating," he said.
The pilot was awarded no damages in his counter-suit against Flexjet, and probably will have to bear his own legal costs. According to the Dallas Morning News article, the pilot has since gone to work for NetJets.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Garuda captain arrested, charged with manslaughter

Garuda Indonesia logoCaptain Marwoto Komar, the pilot in command (PIC) of a Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-400 that crashed at Yogyakarta in March of 2007 has been arrested and charged with manslaughter. The accident occurred as Garuda Flight GA 200, with seven crew members and 133 passengers on board, arrived at Yogyakarta on a scheduled flight from Jakarta. Twenty-one people lost their lives after the aircraft overran the runway at Yogyakarta, broke through a fence, crossed a road, and came to rest in a rice paddy where it caught fire.

In October of 2007, Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) issued a report on the accident, as well as an English-language media release about their findings. The media release stated that the NTSC's main finding was that "...the flight crew’s compliance with procedures was not at a level to ensure the safe operation of the aircraft."

More specifically, the NTSC media release said this of Capt. Marwoto Komar:
The aircraft was flown at an excessive airspeed and steep flight path angle during the approach and landing, resulting in an unstabilized approach. The PIC did not follow company procedures that required him to fly a stabilized approach, and he did not abort the landing and go around when the approach was not stabilized. His attention was fixated or channelized on landing the aircraft on the runway and he either did not hear, or disregarded the [Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS)] alerts and warnings and calls from the copilot to go around.
Many in the international aviation community have expressed concern that the NTSC investigation fell short by not investigating more fully the reasons behind the actions of the captain, as well as his co-pilot, Gagam Jahman Rochman. The latter was accused of not following company procedures to "take control of the aircraft from the PIC when he saw that the pilot in command repeatedly ignored the GPWS alerts and warnings."

Upon hearing of Marwoto Komar's arrest, the Federation of Indonesian Pilots (FPI) staged a protest rally at the House of Representatives in Jakarta. The pilots, led by FPI president Manotar Napitupulu, told members of the House Commission in charge of transportation that this "criminalization of a pilot" could eventually affect flight safety. Their view is shared by many others.

The International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations (IFALPA), an advocacy group representing more than 100,000 pilots in more than 95 countries worldwide, issued a statement expressing concern over the arrest of Marwoto Komar, citing concerns that echo those of the FPI. Here is an excerpt from the IFALPA statement:
IFALPA believes that the circumstances of the accident as set forth in the final report of the Indonesian investigation authority leaves many serious questions concerning the crew actions prior to the accident. Central to these concerns are the underlying reasons for the reported behavior of Captain Marwoto Komar. Experienced pilots have considerable difficulty in attempting to explain what is reported in the context of normal airline operations.

The Federation believes that the explanations proffered by the report do not square with the collective experience of our members. The Federation has continually maintained that the report, while final, is in fact incomplete and that additional investigation into the underlying pathology of the crew actions is required to make certain that the factors contributing to the observed actions are fully identified. Unless this is done, there is little possibility that aviation safety in the area of
crew performance can be improved by the lessons of this accident. Clearly, a criminal prosecution at this time may well foreclose further investigation for safety purposes.

IFALPA is firmly of the belief that the criminalisation of individuals involved in accidents and incidents does little to improve air safety. Furthermore, IFALPA strongly insists that the principles recommended in Attachment E of ICAO Annex 13, which hold that there should be no criminal liability without intent to do harm, be the standard to which the crew is held. The Federation demands that any Indonesian criminal proceeding respect both these principles and the concept of due process.

The Federation expects that Captain Marwoto Komar will be released without the need to post a monetary bond as he has agreed to fully cooperate with the police investigation and clearly poses no danger to society. He remains a professional
who was involved in an unfortunate tragedy.

IFALPA will continue to closely monitor the criminal proceedings with the aim of ensuring that the judicial process in Indonesia is fundamentally fair and impartial for all crewmembers.
An article on the Australian news website reports that Marwoto Komar's attorneys had requested that he be released from detention on bail, but that the request had been denied. The article quoted the Yogyakarta Police Chief, who said, "The letter from the suspect's lawyers has been accepted, but bail is not granted yet because we still need him for the investigation."

Aircrew Buzz will continue to follow this story, and details of new developments will be posted here as they become available.

Related: Click here to view all posts on Aircrew Buzz about Garuda Flt 200.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

No NMB intervention in American Airlines pilot contract talks for now

Allied Pilots AssnLast month, the Allied Pilots Association (APA), the union representing the pilots at American Airlines, requested National Mediation Board (NMB) involvement in the ongoing negotiations for a new pilots' contract. The airline had opposed Federal intervention at this point. Last week the NMB denied the pilots' request, at least for now.

APA announced in a press release that "The NMB informed APA that it has not yet docketed the case or assigned a mediator." APA President, Captain Lloyd Hill expressed disappointment with this decision.
Hill noted that APA presented management with a comprehensive set of contractual proposals late last year. Management then requested a recess in the negotiations of several weeks to study APA’s proposals. Since the parties’ return to the bargaining table weeks ago, Hill described management as being more interested in delaying the bargaining process than in moving forward.

“APA plans to continue negotiating with management in an effort to move beyond the current stalemate,” Hill said. “If that proves unsuccessful during the next few bargaining sessions, we hope that the NMB will immediately docket our case and proffer mediation services.

“We respect the NMB’s view, as stated in its response to APA, that ‘mediation is most productive when the parties have narrowed the issues in direct negotiations.’ However, it appears our negotiations are not following a typical pattern, considering the fact that management has been unresponsive throughout 18 months of bargaining — a process that they chose to initiate,” he said.
Management at American Airlines initiated negotiations with the pilots' union more than 18 months ago by triggering the “early-opener” provision in the pilots’ contract. APA claims the airline's management has not provided any comprehensive proposals to the union throughout the talks.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano Boeing 727 crash lands in Bolivia

Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano B727 accident siteA Boeing 727-200 aircraft (registration number CP-2429) operated by Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano crash landed in a swamp in eastern Bolivia after experiencing engine failure. The crash site is located several miles from the airport at which the aircraft was about to land. The aircraft was severely damaged, but all of the more than 150 people on board survived the crash. There were some reports of injuries to a number of passengers and crew members.

The accident occurred on February 1, 2008. According to press reports, the chartered flight had departed from La Paz, Bolivia and was en route to Cobija, in northern Bolivia, when it encountered severe weather. The flight diverted to the town of Trinidad. While the aircraft was on approach to Trinidad, its engines reportedly shut down, and it crash landed several miles short of the airfield.

News photos taken at the crash scene show the aircraft's fuselage essentially intact, however at least one wing had separated. There were no reports of fire.

The exact cause of the accident is unknown, however a preliminary report on the Flight Safety Foundation's Aviation Safety Network website -- usually a reliable source -- states:
The 727 departed La Paz on a domestic service to Cobija (CIJ). Bad weather at the destination forced the crew to divert to Trinidad (TDD). Reports indicate that the crew carried out a forced landing in an Amazon jungle clearing just short of the airport, possibly as a result of fuel exhaustion.
Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano, formerly Bolivia's state-owned airline, was privatized more than 10 years ago and has been operating most recently as a charter carrier. A number of news reports indicate that the accident flight was operating as a charter for Transporte Aéreo Militar, a Bolivian airline.

[Photo Source]

Monday, February 04, 2008

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 loses cabin pressure during cruise

Singapore Airlines aircraft tailsA Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200 aircraft en route to Beijing from Singapore reportedly lost cabin pressure approximately 90 minutes after departure, and had to return to Singapore's Changi Airport. The aircraft, which had 232 passengers and 13 crew on board, landed safely. There were no reports of injuries.

The incident occurred this past Saturday, February 2, 2008, while Singapore Airlines Flight SQ802 was at an altitude of 36,000 ft., say news reports. According to an article about the incident on Channel NewsAsia, the aircraft first made a rapid descent first to 32,000 ft, and then to 10,000 ft, at which point the situation stabilized. Cabin oxygen masks deployed during the descent.

Passengers were accommodated on other aircraft to continue their journey to Beijing.

Friday, February 01, 2008

NTSB investigating American Airlines Boeing 757 safety incident

Shattered American Airlines B757 cockpit windshieldThe U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating an incident that caused an American Airlines Boeing 757-200 aircraft to make an emergency landing after the cockpit filled with smoke. The incident occurred on January 30, 2008 while the aircraft, operating as American Airlines Flight AA 1738, was en route from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Philadelphia with 139 passengers and seven crew members on board. The crew declared an emergency and diverted to West Palm Beach, FL where the aircraft landed safely.

A preliminary report about the incident posted to the FAA website on February 1, 2008 noted that six individuals who had been on board the flight "were transported to the hospital with unknown injuries." The NTSB subsequently reported that the six who were hospitalized had suffered smoke inhalation. All six have been released from the hospital, and no other injuries were reported.

The NTSB has issued an advisory announcing the commencement of an investigation into the cause of this incident. This brief summary of the event was released:
According to reports from the crew, while at cruise altitude over the Atlantic Ocean, smoke began emanating from the window heating system connected to the first officer's windshield. The crew donned oxygen masks and smoke goggles and diverted to Palm Beach International Airport. During the descent to land, the inner pane of the first officer's windshield shattered. The crew continued the descent and landed without further incident.

The digital flight data recorder (DFDR) was downloaded and sent to the NTSB laboratories in Washington. The affected windshield, which remained in one piece, and the heating unit were removed from the aircraft and will undergo a detailed analysis.
The photo on this page, which shows the shattered windshield, was made available by the NTSB.

While the exact cause of this incident is still under investigation, the NTSB points out that "five events between 2004 and 2006 in which smoke, and in some cases fire, were reported to have originated from window heating systems in B-757 aircraft."
Based on these incidents, in September 2007 the NTSB issued two Safety Recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) asking the agency to require the installation of redesigned window heating systems in all Boeing 747, 757, 767, and 777 series aircraft. These Safety Recommendations have yet to be implemented by the FAA.
To read the full text of those Safety Recommendations, click here: NTSB Safety Recommendations A-07-49 and -50. (3 page 'pdf' file)

[Photo Source]

NOTE: For an interesting personal account (with photos) of a similar incident last year in which a B757 cockpit windshield shattered during cruise, read Pop Goes the Window, by an airline pilot who writes a blog called Captain's Log.