Tuesday, November 30, 2010

American Airlines Boeing 737-800 runway excursion at Montréal

by B. N. Sullivan

American AirlinesOn Tuesday evening, November 30, 2010, an American Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft went off the runway at Montréal-Trudeau Airport.  The aircraft, operating as American Airlines Flight AA802, had just arrived at Montréal after a scheduled passenger flight from Dallas-Fort Worth.  No one was injured.

WFAA-TV quoted an American Airlines spokesman, who said that after landing, the plane went off the runway into the grass.  He said only the nose wheel tires went off the runway into the grass and mud.

The American Airlines spokesman said there were six crew members and 105 passengers on board.  They deplaned using stairs.

It was raining at Montréal at the time of the incident.

UPDATE Dec 2, 2010:  The Aviation Herald, quoting NAV Canada, reports that "the airplane exited the runway at a speed of about 70 knots and came to a stop between taxiways E and B2 with all gear off the southern edge of the paved surface. At the time of occurrence there was heavy rain and winds from the south at 15 knots gusting 20 knots."

The incident aircraft's registration number is N901AN.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ilyushin IL-76 freighter crash at Karachi

by B. N. Sullivan

An Ilyushin IL-76 freighter has crashed shortly after takeoff from Karachi, Pakistan.   The aircraft, operating as Sun Way  flight MGC-4412, had just departed Karachi, bound for Khartoum, Sudan.  It crashed into a residential area and burned. Local authorities say that there were no survivors among the eight crew members on board.  Fatalities and injuries on the ground also have been reported, although the number of casualties has not been determined.

The accident happened just before 02:00 AM local time, on November 28, 2010.  Eyewitness reports suggest an engine may have been on fire prior to the crash, and that the aircraft may have been attempting to return to the airport.   The engine fire has not been confirmed by official sources.

Geo News reports that the accident site is "near Dalmia area in Gulistan-e-Johar locality."  News media say that the aircraft crashed into a building that was under construction, near residential apartments housing Pakistani Navy officers.  The crash sparked what has been described as a massive blaze.

A dramatic photo of the crash site has been posted to the MSNBC.com Photo Blog.  Geo TV aired live streaming video of the burning accident site, some of which was also broadcast by CNNRTVCHD posted this video on YouTube:

If the video does not play or display properly above, click here to view it on YouTube.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Strike ballot scheduled for Evergreen International Airlines crews

by B. N. Sullivan

Evergreen International B747Frustrated after six years of contract negotiations, the pilots and flight engineers at Evergreen International Airlines (EIA) have scheduled a strike authorization ballot, to begin on December 1, 2010.  Their union, the Air line Pilots Association (ALPA), says that they are conducting a strike ballot of the membership "to be prepared for all possible contingencies should negotiations fail."

This past April, ALPA reached a tentative contract agreement (TA) with management, but it was voted down by the crews in August.  At that time, ALPA reported that 92% of eligible Evergreen crew members participated in the ratification balloting, and 96% of those voted against accepting the TA.

According to ALPA, Evergreen crew members overwhelmingly turned down the TA in August because it fell substantially short of their goals.
The failed agreement was largely a renewal of the current collective bargaining agreement, which has been in place since 1999.  The crew members concluded that the tentative agreement was not acceptable after more than 10 years without improvements in some areas of working conditions, six years without a pay raise, and no per diem increase since the late ’90s.  After months of waiting to come back to the negotiating table since the crew members voted down a tentative agreement in August, the MEC is taking the necessary measures to secure a fair contract, including sending the ballot to authorize a strike.  The strike ballot will open on December 1 and close January 7.  If it passes, it would authorize the EIA MEC to declare a strike once the pilot group is given permission to do so by the National Mediation Board (NMB).
William Fink, MEC chairman of the Evergreen ALPA unit, said, “We certainly want a contract, not a strike.  That has been our goal since day one more than six years ago — but the new agreement must provide our members with industry-standard wages, work rules, and benefits.  We deserve no less.  This strike authorization vote will give us the means to take all legal actions to attain the goal of a fair contract.”

The union can ask the U.S. National Mediation Board (NMB) for arbitration at any time.  If the NMB issues a proffer of arbitration, either party can reject it.  Should that happen, a 30-day cooling-off period would begin, after which the Evergreen crews would be legally free to call the first-ever pilot strike against the carrier.

Monday, November 22, 2010

ATSB Final Report: July 2008 Qantas Boeing 747 depressurization accident

by B. N. Sullivan

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has issued a final report on the sudden decompression in flight of a Qantas Boeing 747-400 on July 25, 2008.  The accident happened during the cruise phase of Qantas Flight QF30, which was en route from Hong Kong to Melbourne.  The flight diverted to Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Manila where it landed safely.  There were no serious serious injuries to those on board, however the aircraft's fuselage ruptured over an area measuring approximately 2 x 1.5 m (6.6 x 4.9 ft).

The ATSB investigation determined that the fuselage rupture "had been induced by the forceful bursting of one of a bank of seven oxygen cylinders located along the right side of the cargo hold," i.e.one of the oxygen cylinders that provide the emergency supplementary oxygen supply for passengers.
An analysis of the damage produced by the ruptured cylinder showed that the force of the failure had projected the cylinder vertically upward into the aircraft's cabin, where it had impacted the R2 door frame, handle and the overhead panelling and structure, before presumably falling to the cabin floor and being swept out of the aircraft during the depressurisation. No part of the cylinder body was located within the aircraft, despite a thorough search.
The ATSB investigation "was unable to identify any particular factor or factors that could, with any degree of probability, be associated with the cylinder failure event."
Despite the inconclusive outcome of the investigation as to contributing factors, the associated engineering study did confirm that the cylinder type was fit-for-purpose.  There was no individual or broad characteristic of the cylinders that was felt to be a threat to the safety or airworthiness of the design.  Similarly, there was no aspect of the batch of cylinders produced with the failed item, which deviated from the type specification, or provided any indication of the increased potential for the existence of an injurious flaw or defect within that particular production lot.
In other words, in the opinion of the ATSB investigators, the rupture of the oxygen cylinder on Qantas Flight 30 was "a unique event and highly unlikely to happen again."

Here is the link to the full report: ATSB: Oxygen cylinder failure and depressurisation - 475 km north-west of Manila, Philippines, 25 July 2008, Boeing 747-438, VH-OJK

The report includes a number of photos showing the extent of the damage to the aircraft.

RELATED: Click here to view all posts about Qantas Flt 30 on Aircrew Buzz.

Friday, November 19, 2010

AirTran crew contracts: One down, still one to go

by B. N. Sullivan

AirTran Airways logoAirTran Airways pilots and flight attendants have been negotiating for years with the airline's management, hoping to achieve agreements for work contracts.  After nearly six years of negotiations, the pilots have a new labor agreement in hand, however contract talks between AirTran and its flight attendants seem to be going nowhere.


The pilots at AirTran Airways have ratified the tentative contract agreement reached last month with the airline's management.  The pilots' union, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), announced the results of the ratification vote today, noting that 86.93 percent of those who cast ballots voted in favor of the agreement.  ALPA said 93.28 percent of eligible AirTran pilots participated in the ratification vote. 

According to a statement issued by ALPA, the new pilot contract enhances pay rates, quality of life, and career protections.  Most elements of the contract will take effect on December 1, 2010.

“By approving this contract, our members have signaled that they are focused on the future and ready to close a contentious chapter in our airline’s history,” said Linden Hillman, chairman of the AirTran chapter of ALPA.  “This deal will provide real improvements in our members’ lives and allow us to concentrate on the important work of merging two great companies.”

Flight Attendants

Last month -- around the same time that the pilots announced their tentative contract agreement -- AirTran's flight attendants filed for mediation of their contract talks by the National Mediation Board (NMB).  The flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), commenced collective bargaining for a new contract in December of 2007.

AFA-CWA says that shortly after Southwest Airlines announced in September that it would acquire AirTran, AirTran management approached the union requesting an abbreviated list of the flight attendants' greatest concerns in order to expedite negotiations.

AFA-CWA explains:
When presented with the union's "short list" proposal, company management responded with a counterproposal consisting mostly of existing contract language and minimal pay increases.  In addition, they failed to address the most basic work, duty and rest provisions.  AFA-CWA rejected management's proposal and filed for mediation services from the National Mediation Board the following day.
Despite AirTran's acquisition by Southwest, AirTran flight attendants will continue to work under the AirTran contract for at least another two years.  AFA-CWA points out that under the Railway Labor Act, "this future change in ownership does not negate the carrier's obligation to negotiate now with its flight attendants in good faith."

"It is incomprehensible that our flight attendants are subjected to the worst work rules of any major airline, while it is those same flight attendants' hard work that has earned AirTran numerous awards and accolades," said Alison Head, AFA-CWA AirTran President.

"Management has worked with its pilots to negotiate an acceptable contract to work under through the Southwest merger process - but refuses to offer some of the same fair work rules to its flight attendants., Ms. Head continued.  "Why would you extend fair work rules to one group of safety professionals and not to the other?"

In order to publicly demonstrate their frustrations over the stalled contract negotiations, AirTran flight attendants plan to picket outside Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport this coming Wednesday, November 24, 2010.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Crew fatigue cited in Delta Air Lines Boeing 767 taxiway landing at Atlanta

by B. N. Sullivan

A final report has been issued by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) regarding its investigation of a 2009 incident in which a Delta Air Lines Boeing 767-332ER aircraft landed on a taxiway at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL).  According to the report, crew fatigue was a major cause of the incident.

At the time of the incident, on October 19, 2009, the aircraft (registration N185DN) was arriving at Atlanta.  The aircraft was operating as Delta Flight 60, a scheduled passenger service from Rio de Janeiro (GIG) to ATL.  The NTSB report summary gives this account of what happened:
During the flight one of the three required flight deck crew members became ill and was considered to be incapacitated.  The remaining two crew members conducted the entire night flight without the benefit of a customary break period.  Throughout the flight the crew made comments indicating that they were fatigued and identified fatigue as their highest threat for the approach, but did not discuss strategies to mitigate the consequences of fatigue.  At the time of the incident, the crew had been on duty for about 12 hours and the captain had been awake for over 22 hours, while the first officer had been awake for at least 14 hours.

During the descent and approach, the flight crew was assigned a number of runway changes; the last of which occurred near the final approach fix for runway 27L While the flight was on final approach, the crew was offered and accepted a clearance to sidestep to runway 27R for landing.  Although the flight crew had previously conducted an approach briefing for two different runways, they had not briefed the approach for runway 27R and were not aware that the approach light system and the instrument landing system (ILS) were not available to aid in identifying that runway.  When the crew accepted the sidestep to runway 27R, the captain, who was the flying pilot, saw the precision approach path indicator and lined the airplane up on what he said were the brightest set of lights he could see.  During the final approach, the first officer was preoccupied with attempting to tune and identify the ILS frequency for runway 27R.  Just prior to the airplane touching down, the captain realized they were landing on a taxiway.  The airplane landed on taxiway M, 200 feet north of, and parallel to, runway 27R.

Postincident flight evaluations of the airport lighting indicated that there were a number of visual cues that could have misguided the captain to align with taxiway M instead of runway 27R while on final approach.  These cues included numerous taxiways signs along the sides of taxiway M which, from the air, appeared to be white and could be perceived as runway edge lights.  In addition, the blue light emitting diode (LED) lights used on the eastern end of taxiway M were perceived to be brighter than the adjacent incandescent lights on the airfield and the alternating yellow and green lights in the ILS critical area provided the appearance of a runway centerline.  The postincident flight evaluations indicated that when the approach lights or the ILS for runway 27R were available and used, it was clearly evident when the airplane was not aligned with the runway.
The NTSB determined the probable cause of this incident to be, "The flight crew’s failure to identify the correct landing surface due to fatigue."

Contributing causes were:
  • the flight crew’s decision to accept a late runway change,
  • the unavailability of the approach light system and the instrument landing system for the runway of intended landing,
  • the combination of numerous taxiway signs and intermixing of light technologies on the taxiway.
No one was injured in the incident.

Here are the links to the NTSB's final report:
RELATED:  NTSB investigating Delta Air Lines Boeing 767 taxiway landing at Atlanta - AircrewBuzz.com, Oct 21, 2009

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bombardier CRJ1000 NextGen gets European and Canadian Aircraft Type Certificates

by B. N. Sullivan

Bombardier Aerospace announced today that its new aircraft, the CRJ1000 NextGen regional jet, has been awarded Aircraft Type Certificates by both Transport Canada and the European Aviation Safety Agency. The 100-seat aircraft is the largest in Bombardier's CRJ Series of regional jets.

According to a press statement issued by Bombardier:
The CRJ1000 NextGen aircraft’s flight test program was conducted from the Bombardier Flight Test Centre in Wichita, Kansas, and the flight test aircraft accumulated approximately 1,400 flight hours in 470 test missions. The prototype CRJ1000 NextGen aircraft, serial number 19991, successfully made its inaugural flight from Bombardier’s facility in Mirabel, Québec on September 3, 2008.
“I do not think anyone 20 years ago would have envisaged how the regional jet would transform the airline industry all over the world,” said Gary R. Scott, President, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft.

“We are proud to have introduced the regional jet and we are proud of our ability to read the market and have larger and more cost-effective regional jets as the market required them. This ability has culminated in the production of the magnificent CRJ1000 NextGen regional jet.”

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Flight crew's unprofessional behavior caused PSA Airlines CRJ-200 runway overrun at Charleston, WV

by B. N. Sullivan

accident sceneThe U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued its final report on the PSA Airlines CRJ-200 runway overrun at Charleston, WV, in January of this year.  The aircraft (registration N246PS) overran a runway at Yeager Airport (CRW), Charleston, WV, following a rejected takeoff.  The NTSB report attributes the incident to the flight crew's "unprofessional behavior."

The incident flight, operating as US Airways Express Flight 2495, was departing Charleston for Charlotte Douglas International Airport, NC.  After noticing that the flaps were incorrectly configured for takeoff, the crew rejected takeoff at high speed -- well above V1.  The aircraft overran the end of the runway and came to a stop in the engineered materials arresting system (EMAS) in the runway end safety area.

There were no injuries among the three crew members and 31 passengers on board.  The aircraft's flaps, landing gear, and landing gear doors "received minor damage," according to the NTSB.

The NTSB's statement of probable cause is as follows:
(1) The flight crewmembers’ unprofessional behavior, including their nonadherence to sterile cockpit procedures by engaging in nonpertinent conversation, which distracted them from their primary flight-related duties and led to their failure to correctly set and verify the flaps;

(2) the captain’s decision to reconfigure the flaps during the takeoff roll instead of rejecting the takeoff when he first identified the misconfiguration, which resulted in the rejected takeoff beginning when the airplane was about 13 knots above the takeoff decision speed and the subsequent runway overrun; and

(3) the flight crewmembers’ lack of checklist discipline, which contributed to their failure to detect the incorrect flap setting before initiating the takeoff roll.

Contributing to the survivability of this incident was the presence of an engineered materials arresting system beyond the runway end.
Here are the links to the NTSB's final report:

RELATED: PSA Airlines CRJ-200 runway overrun at Charleston, WV - AircrewBuzz.com, Jan 19, 2010

[Photo Source]

Monday, November 08, 2010

US Airways recalling furloughees, possibly hiring new crew for 2011

by B. N. Sullivan

US Airways A320US Airways has announced plans to add 500 crew members to its active work force in 2011.  The carrier will expand its flight attendant work group by 420, and will add 80 pilots to its ranks.

The expansion will begin with the recall of furloughees.  If the positions are not filled by those currently on furlough, US Airways plans to recruit new crew members.

Following the recall, US Airways expects to have no more flight attendants on furlough.  Up to 100 pilots may remain on furlough.

In a statement to the press, US Airways President Scott Kirby said, "This is great news for our workforce and the communities we serve.  We look forward to welcoming our colleagues back to US Airways, and bringing new crew members onto the team."

US Airways plans to have both the new hires and those who are recalled flying the line by July of 2011.

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Music video: 'Ooo I wanna get you out of Teterboro...'

by B. N. Sullivan

A pilot in my family turned me on to this terrific music video -- written, performed and produced by his friend,  Mike Wagner.  The catchy lyrics are set to an old Beach Boys song, and the video is very entertaining.
Out in New Jersey(s)
There’s a place called Teterboro
That’s where everybody goes
To be a part of it all

Lots of jets on the ramp
Loaded up waiting to start engines
They’ll be there for an hour
Before they even have the chance
Down in Teterboro
You can find the rest of the Teterboro lyrics on Mike's blog, and you can find a link to download an audio-only version there, too.

If the video does not play or display properly above, click here to view it on YouTube.

Kudos to Mike Wagner for doing such a great job with the video, and thanks to Pat Sullivan for sending it to me.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Flight attendant union calls on TSA to fully implement CrewPASS

by B. N. Sullivan

AFA-CWA logoThe Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) has once again called upon the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to fully implement CrewPASS, an identification credential for aviation workers that promotes expedited screening of those who most frequently pass through airport security.

In a press statement issued yesterday, Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA International President, said, “TSA has devoted many resources to enhancing aviation security but, as recently announced screening procedures take effect, it is flight attendants who are adversely affected by lengthy airport security lines.

“Flight attendants are subject to extensive background checks so there is no reasonable explanation why this highly vetted group of aviation employees continues to be exposed to lengthy airport security lines which may affect their ability to report to the aircraft on time.  AFA-CWA supports a multi-layered aviation security system and we urge the TSA to continue work on improving airport security screening effectiveness.”

For years, AFA-CWA has been urging TSA to devote serious resources to the appropriate development and full implementation of an aviation workers’ identification credential that will promote expedited screening of those who most frequently must pass through airport security.  This credential could employ biometrics, such as fingerprints, to quickly screen flight attendants and others.  This would ultimately allow TSA to focus on more effective screening of the hundreds of airport vendors and thousands of aircraft passengers who daily pass through the screening checkpoints.


Monday, November 01, 2010

Pilots at Air Wisconsin begin contract negotiations

by B. N. Sullivan

Contract negotiations have begun between the Air Wisconsin pilots' union and the management of Air Wisconsin Airlines Company (AWAC).  Air Wisconsin pilots are represented by the Air line pilots Association (ALPA).

According to ALPA:
After more than two years of meticulous planning that included the development of a comprehensive strategic plan and a multifaceted communications program, the Air Wisconsin pilots exchanged openers with management as outlined in the Railway Labor Act (RLA)—the federal statute that governs contract negotiations in the airline industry. The RLA sets the rules for collective bargaining, representation, and grievance processing in the airline and railroad industries. Section 6 is the provision of the RLA that defines how airline management and the union can start and continue collective bargaining to amend applicable working conditions.

“Our opener is very extensive and includes improvements to nearly every section of the contract,” said Capt. Mark Lockwood, chairman of the Air Wisconsin pilots’ Negotiating Committee. “We have surveyed the pilot group twice and spent countless hours speaking with our fellow pilots. The overwhelming sentiment that we have heard is that the pilots want more of Air Wisconsin’s earnings, not less.” As a result, the Master Executive Council recently launched the “MORE” campaign to kick off the start of negotiations.
“We are very optimistic about achieving a quality contract that compensates our pilots for the high level of productivity that has supported Air Wisconsin’s growth,” said Capt. Joe Ellis, chairman of the Air Wisconsin pilots’ chapter of ALPA.

ALPA notes that despite the recession and current economic climate, AWAC continues to make money, has recalled furloughed pilots, and has begun hiring new pilots.

“Air Wisconsin has long been the ‘go-to’ airline, the airline of choice, and the airline that set the bar for our sector of the industry,” said Capt. Ellis. “It’s no secret that even though our pilots provided deep concessions nearly eight years ago, through the subsequent mismanagement of our airline, Air Wisconsin’s reputation has plummeted. Our pilots have made a clear statement that they expect real change—change that will restore our company as a place where employees are proud to answer the question, ‘Who do you fly for?’”