Aviation News, Headlines & Alerts
Category: <span>Air Safety</span>

MCAS At the forefront of Boeing 737 MAX Controversy

Everything that is essential to a plane’s operation should be included in pilot training. The pilot must know his tools backward and forward. What happens when that training is curtailed?

On March 19th, the US Department of Transportation announced that its inspector general will audit the 737 Max 8’s certification process. Some pilots say they know how to address problems with the 737 Max 8’s maneuvering characteristics augmentation system (MCAS) system. Pilots say the MCAS software system can (apparently) be disabled by hitting the trim switch on the control column. Difference training is required for pilots who fly the Max, but apparently (MCAS) explanations, operations, procedures related to the differences were left out of the manual. The flight manual of Boeing’s 737 Max 8 planes mentions MCAS computer system only once. If MCAS information was cut from the manual to prevent the MCAS from having to be included in 737 Max transition training, whoever cut it considered only that it would save 737 Max operators training costs, but not what it would cost in terms of human lives.

The Ironic Tragedy of Germanwings Flight 9525


Cockpit door designed to lock trouble out locks in Suicidal Pilot

Pasadena, CA — (ReleaseWire) — 04/02/2015 — As an advocate (not a lawyer) of fair compensation for the victims of plane crashes, I have been closely following the story behind the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 and the now notorious 27-year-old co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz. As is always the case, a team of expert investigators will dig out the facts to determine the most likely scenario behind the crash. That careful investigation will take a year at the very least. In this Germanwings accident, the one factor that stands out already is the role played by the pilot’s state of mind in what appears now to be his deliberate collision course with the French Alps. It is now common knowledge that the plane disintegrated on impact with the Massif des Trois-Évêchés. Imagine how horrified the families were when the transcript of the CVR (Cockpit Voice Recorder) was quickly leaked by tabloids. Journalists have been shouldering each other out of the way to get to the front of the line, “scooping” each with another “leaked” nugget. A girlfriend’s interview. A medical report here. A video there. TV commentators and newspapers from CNN and the venerable New York Times to the most scurrilous tabloids are spouting “the facts” faster than investigators can have gotten to the information. Tweeting the news as I do results in loads of source-checking, and plenty of on-going head-scratching moments while weeding out wild supposition masquerading as news in sources one would normally consider impeccable. When one source says “the plane is blue,” another says “the plane is red.” Sometimes I can determine which is the truth, but sometimes I have to leave it to readers to puzzle out.

I have been working Wrongful Death cases for some forty-seven years now. I am a consultant to attorneys across the globe who represent the families of Wrongful Death victims. Each investigation is exactly the same in terms of the emotional impact of the accident. Devastating. Whether the case may or may not end up in court, whether or not the accident catches the media’s attention, every aspect is always impossibly difficult for the families. Some accidents seem similar because they share a factor, whether it be similar weather conditions, mechanical difficulties, or a particular flaw in a particular model of plane.

Some aviation accidents personify extremes. Consider that while there is always some degree of speculation as to an accident’s cause, MH370 brought as many conspiracy theorists out of the woodwork in this past twelve months as Amelia Earhart’s disappearance has in the past 87 years. Everything seems plausible when people are desperate for an explanation. Because in this age of cell phones and satellites, there is simply no explanation for a plane to vanish, MH370 has become the “poster child” for speculation. I expect MH370 will continue to spawn new theories and will endure as a mystery until, at some point, the wreckage will be found and examined.

If I were comparing MH370 and Germanwings 9525, I could write a whole piece examining the conflict of government transparency vs. individual confidentiality, but that was not my intent today. I was just thinking of aviation safety, and how 9/11 became the catalyst for upgraded multifaceted flight deck security. One outcome of 9/11 is the impregnable, indestructible cockpit door, the brain child of countless engineering hours, security and scientific research. Passengers since 9/11 have flown safe in the knowledge that no intruder could again gain entry to the cockpit and overpower the pilot thanks to redundant enhanced security precautions and a door designed to keep the dangerous people out. Now there’s a cockpit voice recording that appears to show that same safe cockpit door is the barrier that kept the PIC from being able to save everyone aboard. Captain Patrick Sondenheimer died trying to get that door open.

The impregnable cockpit door, the terrible irony of Germanwings Flight 9525.

About Air Crash Consultants

A division of Wrongful Death Consultants, Air Crash Consultants was established to network between lawyers and their clients, bridging the gaps, especially in regard to International clients, freeing and enabling the lawyer to concentrate on higher priority commitments. Air Crash Consultant services might also be designated as an umbrella, because the company’s functions encompass a variety of problem-solving areas in support of the lawyer-client relationship as needed. Services are not limited to finding experts, developing translation teams, client support, document handling, drafting demand letters, client interviews, etc. Visit the company websites at”

NTSB Recommends More Sophisticated Flight Tracking Technologies

NTSBIn the wake of recent aviation tragedies, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued new recommendations, on January 22, aimed at enhancing the flight tracking technologies.

In a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the NTSB said, “Recent events have highlighted that recovering flight data can be costly and difficult when an accident occurs in a remote area, outside radar coverage.” To prevent such difficulties, the NTSB has recommended installation of tamper-resistant location transmission devices in all aircrafts.

Furthermore, the NTSB called for regulations mandating that the flight data and cockpit voice recorders of all commercial airliners be equipped with low-frequency underwater beacons capable of being easily located.

Cockpit video recorders and longer lasting batteries on the beacons are also among other recommendations submitted for consideration by the FAA.

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Should Lithium Battery Transport be banned on Passenger jets?

The conversation about forbidding the transport of lithium metal batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft is based on fire risk these batteries present. Current fire control systems cannot suppress lithium metal battery fires, but the fears are that banning the transport will result in driving the shipment “underground.” What do you think should be done?

Read More
ICAO’s Dangerous Goods Panel Proposes Ban on Lithium Batteries in Passenger Planes

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ICAO’s Dangerous Goods Panel Proposes Ban on Lithium Batteries in Passenger Planes

ICAOA recent meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP), held in Montreal, discussed the proposal for banning lithium batteries as cargo in passenger air crafts.

According to the meeting report, the DGP agreed to prohibit lithium batteries in cargo, except those which are packed or contained in some equipment or are kept in the aircraft cabin by the passengers. The panel further proposed Jan. 1, 2015 as the effective date for start of prohibition.

The DGPs decision will be presented for final approval.from the Air Navigation Commission (ANC) in late April,

The report states that “the ANC may adopt the DGP’s decision but has within its prerogative, the option of amending/extending it…..The actual text of the decision, including associated consequential amendments, can be expected towards the end of May.”

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When Lady Luck Turns Away

Incidents and Accidents.

Behind every accident, there are many incidents. Accidents may be defined as involving fatalities and incidents as those many smaller events seemingly unconnected from any others. The importance of incidents has gotten little respect but for two obscure references. The industry recognized Heinrich Pyramid says “…. for every accident that causes a major injury, there are 29 accidents that cause minor injuries and 300 accidents that cause no injuries.”

A 2005 Rand Report drawing attention to NTSB databases said “…(there is) poor control of information, part of resolving more complex accidents depends upon a thorough knowledge of prior incidents, the number of major airline incidents the FAA reported in 1997 was ten times the number of major accidents, (there is) neither oversight nor an emphasis on accuracy in the collection and maintenance of NTSB records, as a result, the accuracy of most of the NTSB data sources was rated as “poor” and although the NTSB does examine a significant number of major incidents, only a small portion of the NTSB’s aviation resources are focused on incident events.”

Rand report Link >

See page 38 –40.

Key Public Databases – NTSB and FAA. Gaps Compromising Safety Assessments.

The NTSB’s most public source of records is the accident/incident database.

It is cited in the FAA Accident/Incident Data System (AIDS), Airworthiness Directives (ADs), risk/analysis studies, and in DOT/GAO Reports to congress.

In my various surveys along major safety issues (uncontained engine explosions, un-commanded rudder movements, shutdowns due to engine main bearing failures, or smoke/fire incidents, the NTSB data contains about 20 % of what is found in SDR data or other counterpart investigative agencies.

Gaps in NTSB data are further compounded by similar gaps in SDR data. From
1992 to 2002 four NTSB Safety Reccommendation Letters and the GAO had complained of such gaps. In 2010 and regarding data on windshield fires, an article said the “FAA said it was aware of 11 cases of fires in the planes over the past 20 years. However, Boeing has said it is aware of 29 incidents involving fire or smoke over the past eight years.’ Source link >
http://www.news24.com/World/News/FAA-orders-Boeing-inspection-20100710 – bottom of article.

1994. In 1994, The Department of Transportation Inspector General reported that between “46 and 98 percent of the data fields of inflight ‘service difficulty’ records are missing data.” From GAO/AIMD-95-27. 02/08/95. Data
Problems Threaten FAA Strides on Safety Analysis
Source Link >

From the House Hearing Electrical Safety. (Ref report 106-112, Thursday, October 5, 2000, Testimony of Alexis M. Stefani, assistant IG for auditing), said; “Third, of most concern to us is the health of this SDR system, itself. While the new rule (coding for wire issues) was intended to improve the data in the system, FAA must also insure that the reports that are provided to it are timely, and follow the guidance. We found, however, that the SDR system is not robust, and over the years, it has suffered from budget cuts with staffing going from twelve full-time to three full-time people. Weakness in this system reduces the reliability and usefulness of the data, and can impact FAA’s ability to do trend analysis.”
Source Link >
Page 47

From a June 8, 2006 U.S./Europe International Aviation Safety Conference, FAA’s Flight Standards Service, Jim Ballough.spoke of “FAA’s growing concern over numerous reports of smoke/fumes in cockpit/cabin and that FAA data analysis indicates numerous events not being reported.” Source Link >
http://www.faa.gov/news/conferences/2006_us_europe_conference/ See ‘Presentation
’ by Jim Ballough.
650 Records Of “Smoke In The Cockpit” A Lack of Concern.

Gary Stoller at USA Today did a good piece on “smoke in the cockpit”
reports. Of some 650 records, the FAA/NTSB has but a fraction. The story highlights included; (that the) “issue happens roughly four times a month.

Some experts say the problem is under-reported. FAA says there is “no safety benefit” to requiring systems to remove cockpit smoke. Smoke in a plane’s cockpit from electrical or other failures is reported an average of four times each month, a USA TODAY analysis finds.” Further that “In-flight fires left unattended “may lead to catastrophic failure and have resulted in the complete loss of airplanes,” the FAA warned. A flight crew “may have as few as 15-20 minutes to get an aircraft on the ground if the crew allows a hidden fire to progress without intervention.” USA Today

Source http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/30/cockpit-smoke-airline-faa/3316429/

33 records Of Insulation Blankets Fires. – How They Start.

From my catalog of 78 Records of fire from 1983 to 2012 sourced from the NTSB, AAIB (Danish & UK), French BEA, FAA’s SDR databases, and a few media reports of records of accidents and incidents of fire. There is no central repository. There are 33 records where acoustic insulation (blankets) were specifically mentioned are listed. The issues of self-igniting and flammable wire insulations and of flammable blankets were now are co-mingled.

Three modes of ignition are seen here: wire shorting/arcing, molten metal sprayed from faulting electrical relays and heating tapes. Most reports lack necessary detail, but seven incidents were seen from wires shorting/arcing.
Some involved only a few wires; one powering coal closet lights. Molten Metal (spatter) comprised another 8. More importantly, within those reports were references to another 19 (but without details) and that the NTSB said; the relays involved were not “substantially different from the receptacles used on other transport-category airplanes.”

Ignition from faulting heating tapes/ribbons was seen in another 4 reports – but there were more. In a November 14, 2002 Letter to the FAA, the Canadian Transport Safety Board (TSB) advised that; “heater ribbons are used extensively in transport category aircraft, including Boeing 707, 727, 737, 747, 757 and 767 series and Boeing (Douglas) DC-9, DC-10, and MD-11 aircraft. ” From a TSB report of such fires on 747s and a 767, four other reports were disclosed. The TSB added; “The standard Boeing 767 incorporates 26 heater ribbons. Between June 1985 and June 2002, operators of Boeing aircraft made a total of 67 reports to Boeing of heater ribbon failures where thermal degradation was evident.” From one Delta MD-88 fire in 1999, the NTSB said; “DAL conducted a fleet wide examination of their MD-88/MD-90 fleet to ascertain the condition of their static port heaters. Eight heaters were found with evidence of thermal damage on their wires and or connectors.” There are 8 ADs, and 24 additional SDRs describing burn marks or fire damage. (ref King Survey ‘History Heater Blanket/Tape Fires’.)

In 2002, the FAA concluded that “in-flight Fires In Hidden Areas are a risk to aviation safety – most hidden fires are caused by electrical problems – non-compliance with Safety Regulations have been uncovered. Fire safety problems and improvements are in various stages of correction and study” and that “it is impossible to predict the relative risk of serious fires occurring in Hidden Areas or Locations”. Source Link >

Dense, Continuous Smoke in the Cockpit.

In June 2013 a GAO Report to Congress cited but one record of ‘Dense, Continuous Smoke in the Cockpit’ (in 1973). The input came from the NTSB and the FAA. Contrary to that, a Specialist Paper by the Royal Aeronautical Society detailed seven. Only two were in the NTSB databases – but with no mention of ‘continuous smoke.’

Links > GAO-13-551R, Jun 4, 2013. FAA Oversight of Procedures and Technologies to Prevent and Mitigate the Effects of Dense, Continuous Smoke in the Cockpit.

Link > Royal Aeronautical Society – Smoke, Fire and Fumes in Transport Aircraft. Second Edition 2013, Part 1, Past History, Current Risk, And Recommended Mitigations. A Specialist Paper prepared by the Flight
Operations Group of the Royal Aeronautical Society. March 2013


In Lady Luck We Trust ? – Those ‘Lucky’ Ground Incidents.
Often heard whenever the safety of our air transportation system is questioned is that we have an enviable safety record due to the industry, the FAA and the NTSB’s efforts. That is true if only actual deaths are counted.

This boiler-plate response comes whenever issues of safety are raised, but something else is left unspoken: its conditional nature. It includes just the U.S. carriers, and is based on the records kept. However, there have been no less than 6 events where fires occurred on the ground and caused significant damage, or loss of the airframes. Fire departments intervened in five.

What if, instead, over 900 lives had been lost over the past 12 years ?
For example:

(1) Aug 8, 2000, AirTran DC-9-32 – fire and blistering of aircraft skin, 63 on board.

(2) Nov 29, 2000, a DC-9-32 by AirTran (97 on board).

(3) Same Day, Nov 29, 2000, a DC-9-82, American Airlines (66 on board) ,
blankets burned, emergency evacuation on taxiways – 97 on board”.

(4) June 28, 2008, ABX 767 freighter burned through the fuselage and was destroyed at the gate, (“The risk of an in-flight fire and the propagation of a fire in those areas is essentially the same whether the airplane is equipped to fly passengers or cargo” says the FAA). Approximate 767 capacity is 190 people.

(5) July 29 2011, Egypt Air 777, fire erupted and burned a cockpit-widow
sized hole through the fuselage. Emergency services put the fire out – 291 passengers were evacuated.

(6) On October 14, 2012, a Corendon Airlines 737-800 had “substantial damage” from fire in the cockpit on the gate. 196 on board were evacuated. Had these fires broken at altitude or during the trans-oceanic crossing, all on board may have been lost.

For the sum each of these fires found in the NTSB’s accident/incident database, over 900 lives were not lost. A more honest assessment and the credit for this remarkable safety record of no fatalities was not the FAA and industry abilities to manage and ‘mitigate risks’ – but rather the kindness of Lady Luck. But what can happen when lady Luck turns away ?

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Business Jet India and SpanAir’s Planes Grounded for Violating Safety Norms

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), India, grounded two business jets belonging to Business Jet India Private Limited and Span Air for violating safety norms during its safety audit of non-scheduled operators (NSOPs).

During the inspection of the Cessna aircraft belonging to Business Jets India, the aviation regulator found that the crew on-board were not properly trained in safety and emergency procedures. The log books and the operation manuals were outdated and the lavatory had unnecessary goods which is strictly prohibited. The Business Jets India Private Limited operates three Hawker 850 XP aircrafts in addition to the Cessna Citation CJ2 aircraft in and out of India. The company is a subsidiary of Singapore-based BJETS Private Limited. Tata group also has a stake in it.

Moreover, the aviation regulator also found some significant deficiencies in the Hawker 900XP aircraft registered VT-BKL with SpanAir. It was observed that the crew were not properly trained in safety and emergency procedures, the life vest had passed its expiry date and the operations manual and the route guides were outdated. SpanAir has four more aircrafts –a seven-seater Beech Super King Air B-200; a six-seater Premier 1A, Bell 407GX and Bell 420 helicopters.

ICAO Declares Nepal as 45% Non-Compliant

CAANInternational Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has declared Nepal as 7% percent more non-compliant than the global average of 38%.

After an on-site audit during the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme , ICAO has given a non-compliance rating of 45% to Nepal.

The audit report states that this high rating is due to the negligence of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal [CAAN] in strengthening the mechanism of aviation safety oversight.

CAAN’s failure has also put Nepal in the bad books of the UN aviation watch dog.

IATA Releases 2013 Commercial Aviation Safety Performance Statistics

IATA-logoInternational Air Transport Association (IATA) has released the 2013 commercial aviation performance statistics.

According to IATA, more than 3 billion people enjoyed safe air travel last year, through 36.4 million flights. 81 air accidents happened throughout the year, out of which 16 were fatal. The total fatalities in commercial aviation accidents were 210, as compared to 414 in 2012.

Furthermore, the global Western-built jet accident rate for 2013 was 0.41 i.e. one accident per 2.4 million flights. The rate is 14.6% lower than the five year average of 0.48.

The Western-built jet hull loss rate for IATA members remained 0.30 in the year 2013, showing an improvement of 28.6% in the five year average rate of 0.32.

The Director General and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Tony Tyler has urged the governments and the aviation industry to make combined efforts in order to ensure flight safety. He said that the MH370 case has highlighted the pitfalls in flight tracking technologies. The airline industry, its stakeholders and regulators should make efforts to avoid such accidents in future.

SpiceJet Denies Violating Air Safety Rules, Defends Mid-Air Holi Celebrations


The mid-air Holi celebrations of the crew of SpiceJet, a low cost Indian airline, on Monday, March 17 resulted in a show cause notice by the Director General of Civil Aviation.

The notice states that airline has violated air safety regulations as the pilot left the cockpit unnecessarily, the dance and song performance affected the preparedness of the crew and the frequent movement of the dancing crew disturbed the center of gravity of the aircraft.

However, the airline officials maintain that the mid-air Holi celebration did not violate any air safety guidelines.  The cockpit was manned even though the co-pilot stepped out.  The Holi performance was pre-planned and five extra crew members, specially trained for this choreographed performance, were on board.  Therefore, preparedness of the crew members was not affected at all.

SpiceJet official statement said that this sort of performances are not new in the airline industry.  Several airlines celebrate special occasions for delight of the passengers.

Some media sources report that the airline has suspended the involved pilot and co-pilot.


Notice Number: NOTC5068


SAIB: CE-14-04

Flight Management Computing Systems; Navigation Database Updates – Data and Procedural Exclusions

Date: November 22, 2013

This Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin is written to inform and remind owners and operators about changes contained in manufacturers’ navigation database updates. The cyclical updates may exclude certain navigation data including approach procedures, which makes this information unavailable for selection on the aircraft flight management system or navigation equipment.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has determined that the airworthiness concern is not an unsafe condition that would warrant airworthiness directive (AD) action under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 39. The FAA continues to monitor these issues with the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

The FAA occasionally has received inquiries regarding missing data within the aircraft’s flight management system or navigation unit. In many scenarios, a pilot has attempted to select or load a particular approach, but is unable to do so and must determine an alternative in flight. This has often led to confusion and questions about how or why the data appears to be missing.

From time-to-time, avionics manufacturers may exclude procedures from the aviation database. The causes driving such removals vary, and while some data may be reinstated one cycle later, other data may remain excluded for longer periods of time.
It is important to note that each avionics manufacturer processes the aeronautical data differently, and procedures excluded on one aircraft or system may not be excluded on another. Avionics manufacturers make data exclusion information available to their customers for consideration before use of affected data in flight operations. Exclusions can frequently be found on the avionics manufacturer’s internet website or may be published in another format as part of the new database cycle.

The FAA recommends that pilots do the following:
1) Become familiar with the most appropriate location where they can find information regarding exclusions from the database that can affect their flight operations.

2) Exercise diligence in their preflight planning by staying informed about data exclusions pertaining to the type of avionics they utilize.

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About Close Calls

After making note of the Oct 31 near miss in Oslo, I remembered this 100 foot close call of two Boeing 747’s over Scotland. This occurred in late June, when a Lufthansa pilot was climbing, and a British Airways flight were 24.3nm apart on converging courses. A STCA (Short Germ Conflict Alert)

The Oslo near miss could have been prevented if the repetition protocol have been observed.

The Scotland near miss had two planes
(DLH418 Lufthansa Boeing 747-830, D-ABYC Frankfurt (FRA) – Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD))


(BAW87 British Airways Boeing 747-436, G-BNLM London-Heathrow (LHR) – Vancouver (YVR))

on a collision course 100 feet Vertical/3.9 nm Horizontal and 1100 feet Vertical/2.8nm from impact. The study of the event concluded that actions of both the pilots and the controller contributed but that the pilots avoiding ATC instructions caused the proximity issue.

The added pressure of reporting incidents such as these should help pilots and air traffic control to avoid similar events in the future. It will do so ONLY if adequate attention is paid to the mistakes, if alternative/better responses are deter mend, if the resulting studies are closely attended, and if protocol is adjusted to reduce the possibility of such problems re-occurring. On some level, the protocol worked, because these incidents were not collisions. However, they were closer than they should be. All I can say about this event is that it is a good thing that mistakes are reported.

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Sleeping Pilots

Two pilots fell asleep while flying an Airbus A330, and then tattled on themselves, blaming 5 hours sleep the night before.

Pilots are allowed naps but not at the same time. The British airline has not been identified, nor have the pilots’ names been released.

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FAA Innovations

The job of a controller is to keep planes at a safe distance from each other. The FAA has a new electronic air traffic control monitoring system that tracks controller error.

The new system has revealed serious errors made by controllers have been underestimated. The new system is augmented by electronic surveillance and controller self-reportage.

Controllers made 41 high risk errors out of a total 4,394 errors last year. That is two times the errors in 2010 and three times those in 2009.

We should consider that of 132 million flights handled, 41 serious errors is a small percentage of error. Of course, it is only a good thing that the FAA is working on reducing errors.

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The Greatest Threat to Aviation Safety

According to the people who ought to know—the NTSB, Flight Safety Foundation, Boeing—recent studies indicate that the biggest threat to aviation safety is pilots not doing go-arounds.

Excuse me?

Apparently,pilots need to recognize and respond faster to unstabilized approaches (approaches that need correction in heading, speed and/or altitude.)

Pilots tend to want to land when they come in for a landing; and surveys indicate that although airline requirements are to abort landings if their approaches are unstable, go-arounds happen proportionally less often than they should. The Director of Global Programs at Flight Safety Foundation, Rudy Quevedo, “The physics of landing mean that the plane should be centered, on the correct trajectory, the correct descent rate and the right speed.”

In George’s Point of View

This conclusion seems to me a major oversimplification of the multitude of aviation problems.

I would not presume to say that I know if weather, mechanical failures or human failures are most frequently responsible for aviation disasters. I do know that problems tend to occur together.

I know, for example, that there are countries (like India where a recent aviation school scandal revealed the licensing of pilots who cannot fly or pass flying exams.) When a pilot who couldn’t pass his flying exam has an accident, a go round would not have helped.

And as for a crash like the Boeing 777 operated by Asiana Airlines that crash landed at San Francisco International Airport–the plane flown by someone unfamiliar with the airport and the plane he was flying came in too low and hit the seawall (among other things.) How can one say that failing to make a go around was the problem–when the plane was too low and at the wrong angle even before reaching the runway.

It is easy for a statistician to say some of these accidents could have been prevented with a go-around; but in how many of these accidents was a go around actually an option? Planes hit seawalls, encounter wake turbulence, strike cables, have flat tires, flap failures, bird strikes, suffer wind shear, idiots who attempt to open doors in mid-flight, and hundreds of other problems. A go-around is not always an option.

Undoubtably, especially on small planes, a second or even third shot at landing will correct minor landing physics issues. It’s probably somewhat easier on a small plane than a 777, And if you ask a pilot that had a runway overrun, he will probably tell you the exact instant when he should have gone for the go-around, and knew when it was too late.

It should be noted that sometimes when the plane is on a wrong trajectory, incorrect descent rate, and wrong speed, it might not be possible to manage a go-around; there may well be a factor like a bird strike, mechanical failure, faulty flight indication, or icing crimping the physics.

It’s very easy for a guy with a pencil in his hand to say pilots should have aborted their landings at the first sign of trouble. Sometimes we should look at surveys and statistics like Mark Twain, and realize that “There are lies, damned likes and statistics.”

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Pilots’ union Denounces Five German AIrports

According to Cockpit, Germany’s pilot union, some airports have “serious safety defects.”

The union examined German airports comparing them to a strict set of standards, and came to the conclusion that Weeze, Memmingen, Lübeck, Zweibrücken, and Friedrichshafen failed safety standards on the basis of problems like bad lighting, inadequate taxi routs, etc…

The better situated airports included Berlin Schönefeld, Düsseldorf, Leipzig/Halle, Munich, and Stuttgart.

The Die Welt newspaper article has some quotes from the failing airports in response to the Cockpit, critique that sound a lot like whining.

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NTSB to Hold Forum on Safety Culture

The National Transportation Safety Board today announced that it will hold a forum addressing the importance of safety culture in transportation on September 10 and 11, 2013, in Washington, D.C.

“In our accident investigations we’ve seen instances of weak or non-existent safety cultures,” said Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “In this forum, we want to highlight what’s present in strong safety cultures as well as identify what works to build these cultures in order to more effectively prevent accidents.”

The forum will review the progress and innovations that have been made in developing safety cultures throughout the transportation community and pinpoint areas where there are opportunities for improvements. Participants — including operators, labor groups and oversight authorities — will outline their roles, responsibilities and methods for developing effective safety cultures, with emphasis on the remaining challenges and steps needed for further improvements.

The two-day forum, “Safety Culture: Enhancing Transportation Safety,” will be chaired by Hersman; all five Board Members will participate. Panelists include researchers, regulators, and leaders in both transportation and non-transportation industries.

The forum will address ways of enhancing safety by providing first-hand accounts of efforts from both transportation and non-transportation industries to develop effective safety cultures and to implement specific safety-enhancement techniques. Highlighting progress while recognizing remaining challenges, the invited panelists will discuss advances in safety culture research, and describe the roles, responsibilities, and methods for developing effective safety cultures within their industries.

The forum panels will include:

Research Perspectives on Organizational Accidents
Techniques to Enhance Organizational Safety
Non-Transportation Perspectives on Safety Culture
Organizational Leadership Perspectives on Safety Culture
Safety Culture Management and Oversight in Transportation
Companies and their Safety Culture Experiences.
There will also be a review of some recent organizational accidents that have been investigated by the NTSB. Invited panelists will include researchers, regulators, and industry leaders.

The forum will be held in the NTSB Board Room and Conference Center, located at 429 L’Enfant Plaza E., S.W., Washington, DC. The public can view the forum in person or by live webcast. Webcast archives are generally available by the end of the next day following the forum, and webcasts are archived for a period of 3 months from after the date of the event.

Organizations and/or individuals can submit input for consideration as part of the forum’s archived materials. Submissions should directly address one or more of the forum’s topic areas (identified by the panel titles) and should be submitted electronically as an attached document to: SafetyCultureForum@ntsb.gov. Input received will be entered into the public docket for this forum.

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Rx for Safe Flying

Smart general aviation pilots won’t fly if they are taking a prescription that says Do not drive or operate machinery while taking this medication. But sometimes it’s not that clear cut. Other prescription drugs and even some over-the-counter medicines can affect a pilot’s performance.

That’s why Administrator Huerta and the heads of 11 aviation associations today sent a letter to all U.S.-registered pilots urging them to be more aware of the effect both prescribed medicines and non-prescription drugs containing antihistamines can have on their skills and judgment.

The letter tells pilots to read prescription labels carefully, talk with their doctors, and then decide if the drugs they’re taking could impair their performance in the cockpit. It also advises pilots to use a personal “IM SAFE” checklist to ensure they are not impaired by Illness, Medication, Stress, Alcohol, Fatigue or Emotion – any of which could affect their flying abilities. The letter counsels pilots who have recovered from an illness and have taken a medication with impairing side effects not to fly until at least five maximum dosage intervals have passed.

While the FAA works closely with many aviation advocacy groups, the letter represents an unprecedented joint effort. “In all of my years of practicing aerospace medicine, I am not aware of any time in which so many aviation organizations have collaborated to get out the same message at the same time,” said Dr. James Fraser, the FAA’s Deputy Federal Air Surgeon. “We hope this collaborative educational effort will put a dent in pilots’ usage of impairing medications and help lower the general aviation fatal accident rate.

Besides Administrator Huerta, signatories to the letter include executives from the Aircraft Electronics Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, American Bonanza Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, National Association of Flight Instructors, National Air Transport Association, National Business Aviation Association, Society of Aviation Flight Educators and the U.S. Parachute Association.

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Yemenia Spotless Record? Really?

I glance at a lot of news sites, mostly skimming just to make sure the facts are the same across the board, and I don’t usually stop and make comments about one particular site, or other. I’m usually focused on the message, not the messenger.

But once in a while, I come across erroneous content.

What should I do when I come across a site that posts an article that says up till the crash in the Comoros, Yemenia Airlines had an unblemished record?

What world is that staff reporter living in? Who gave them that information? Because it’s wrong.

Today’s Yemenia was formerly Yemen Airlines and Yemen Arab Airlines and Yemen Airways. (There may be more DBA names I’m leaving out.)

This airline, rebranded over and over, has had at least 11 crashes and a couple of hijackings thrown in (1973 and 1975.) Just take a look at the actual record.

And there were EU Safety sanctions in JUL 2008: EU safety action (Safety deficiencies noted by ramp inspections in several countries; Yemenia took corrective actions.); on JUL 2009: EU safety action (The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) suspended the maintenance organisation approval EASA.145.0177 issued to Yemenia Yemen Airways, due to unresolved safety deficiencies.) On JUL 2009: EU safety action (The authorities of France suspended the certificates of airworthiness of the aircraft of type Airbus A310 registered in France (F-OHPR and F-OHPS) and operated by the carrier.) On NOV 2009: EU safety action (Member States will verify systematically the effective compliance of Yemenia with the relevant safety standards through the prioritisation of ramp inspections to be carried out on aircraft of this carrier.)

The EU is right to be so demanding. Yemenia Airlines has a dangerous record, no matter what the airline is called. Lack of safety is the reason the airline has been on the EU blacklist. Don’t the people of Yemen deserve a safe carrier?

(See below)

Hijacks first:

  • 14-SEP-1994——Alyemda (Merged with Yemenia—— Boeing 737-2R4C Hijacker(s) demanded to be taken to Saudi Arabia. Duration of the hijacking: less than 1 day.

  • 25 August 1973——a Yemen Airlines Douglas DC-6 was hijacked during a passenger flight from Ta’izz to Asmara. The perpetrator forced the pilots to divert the aircraft with fifteen other passenger and six crew members on board to Kuwait Airport, for which a refueling stop at Djibouti Airport turned out to be necessary. In Kuwait, the hijacker surrendered to local police forces.
  • 23 February 1975——a Yemen Airlines DC-3 was hijacked during a flight from Al Hudaydah to Sana’a and forced to land at an airport in Saudi Arabia. There, the aircraft was stormed and the perpetrator overpowered.
  • 27-AUG-1993——Alyemda (Merged with Yemenia)—— Boeing 737-2R4C An Alyemda Boeing 737 aircraft was hijacked during a domestic flight from Riyan Airport (RIY) to Al Ghaydah Airport The hijacker, a Yemeni soldier who reportedly was armed with a handgun and a hand grenade, demanded to be taken to either Kuwait or Oman. The pilot convinced the hijacker that a refueling stop was necessary.
  • 20-JAN-1983——Alyemda (Merged with Yemenia)—— Boeing 707-300 Three hijackers forced the aircraft to land at Djibouti. After the aircraft landed a gun battle erupted inside the aircraft and two passengers were reportedly wounded. The hijackers subsequently surrendered and were taken Into custody by Djibouti authorities. The hijackers were convicted of air piracy in Djibouti and reportedly sentenced to six months In prison. This was suspended.
  • 22-AUG-1972——Alyemda (Merged with Yemenia)—— Douglas DC-6 Three passengers hijacked the Alyemda plane en route between Beirut (BEY) and Cairo. The flight diverted to Nicosia (NIC), Cyprus. The hijackers said that they belonged to a group named the Eagles of National Unity in South Yemen. After a three hour refueling stop the airplane continued to Benghazi (BEN), Libya. The hijackers surrendered to Libyan authorities.
  • 15-AUG-1985——Alyemda (Merged with Yemenia)—— Boeing 707-336C Climbing through FL230, water inadvertently spilled on the autopilot panel and the crew had to disengage the autopilot because the stabilizer trim wheel started to rotate. Control was lost as the plane pitched up and down. Control was regained at 1000 feet and an emergency landing was carried out at Aden.
  • 09-MAY-1982——Alyemda (Merged with Yemenia)—— DHC-7-103 A Dash 7 passenger plane, operated by Alyemda, crashed into the sea some 2 km from the Aden International Airport (ADE), Yemen. Of the 49 occupants, 23 were killed. The pilot had reported the runway in sight at a distance of 9 nautical miles (17 km) and was cleared to report on final for runway 26. The wind was reported 240 degrees at 5 knots. The aircraft reported short final, was sighted by the tower and cleared to land, then lost altitude andcrashed in the sea.
  • 26-JAN-1982——Alyemda (Merged with Yemenia)——The Boeing 707 was flying a cargo of military supplies from Libya to Damascus when it was attacked by an Iraqi or Israeli fighter plane. The crippled freighter managed to land at Damascus, but was considered damaged beyond repair.
  • 01-MAR-1977——Alyemda (Merged with Yemenia)—— Douglas C-47A-25-DK 7O-ABF Crashed into the sea off Aden. 19 fatalities, 19 aboard
  • 17-SEP-1975——Alyemda (Merged with Yemenia)—— Douglas DC-3 Nose, front fuselage and propellers where damaged following a heavy landing. Aviation News reported the accident happened on Sept. 16
  • 3 November 1958——a Yemen Airlines Douglas C-47 Skytrain #YE-AAB crashed near in Italy, killing eight people on board. The aircraft had been on a flight from Rome Ciampino Airport to Yemen with a planned stopover at Belgrade, carrying the Yemenite Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs.
  • 19 March 1969——a Yemen Airlines C-47 (registered 4W-AAS) crashed near Ta’izz during a post-maintenance test flight, killing the four occupants. It turned out that the elevator of the aircraft did work properly. Repair work had been done on that part, because it had been damaged some days earlier in a ground collision.
  • 16 September 1971——a Yemen Airlines C-47 (registered 4W-ABI) crashed near Rajince, Serbia when it encountered severe icing conditions, killing the five people on board. The aircraft had been on a multi-stopover flight from Yemen to Europe and had just departed Belgrade Airport.
  • 1 November 1972——a Yemen Airlines Douglas DC-3 (registered 4W-ABJ) was destroyed in a crash-landing at an airfield near Beihan.
  • 13 December 1973——a Yemen Airlines DC-3 (registered 4W-ABR) crashed near Ta’izz.
  • 14 November 1978——a Yemen Airlines C-47 (registered 4W-ABY) was damaged beyond repair in a heavy landing at an airfield near Ma’rib.
  • 26 June 2000——a Yemenia Boeing 737-200C, registered 7O-ACQ, was damaged beyond repair when it veered off the runway upon landing at Khartoum International Airport following a cargo flight from Yemen. Despite their plans to carry out a runway 36 approach, the crew landed straight-in on runway 18. The aircraft departed the side of the runway. The nose gear collapsed as it contacted obstructions.
  • 21 January 2001——a Yemenia Flight 448, a Boeing 727-200 with 91 passengers and 10 crew on board, was hijacked 15 minutes into a flight from Sana’a to Ta’izz by an Iraqi man. The plane was forced to land at Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport, where the perpetrator was overpowered by the crew.
  • 1 August 2001——a Yemenia Boeing 727-200 (registered 7O-ACW) was damaged beyond economic repair when it overran the runway upon landing at Asmara International Airport following a flight from Sana’a with 107 passengers and four crew on board, none of whom were significantly injured.
  • 30 June 2009——a Yemenia Flight 626 from Sana’a to Moroni, Comoros crashed into the sea shortly before landing. Of the 142 passengers and eleven crew that had been on the Airbus A310-300 with the registration 7O-ADJ,[23] only a 12-year-old girl, Bahia Bakari, was recovered, alive and conscious, although suffering from extreme tiredness and hypothermia, cuts to her face and a fractured collar-bone.

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Least safe commercial jets

An Airline Ratings study points out these planes as the least safe commercial jets to fly: LET 410, Ilyushin 72, Antonov AN-12, Twin Otter, CASA. This might be one of those cases where certain facts can’t be separated. How can statistics separate the effect of the planes being flown in third world countries with the least safe airports? How can one separate the fact of the Twin Otter’s heavy usage in Nepal, home of some of the worlds most dangerous airports?

The same study indicates Boeing’s 777, 717, 787 and 767/757, the Airbus A380 and A340, the Embraer 135/145, and CRJ 700/1000 as the safest planes.

While 137 airlines were deemed safest, only these carriers score top marks for both safety and service: Air New Zealand, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad, EVA Air, Korean Air, Qantas, Royal Jordanian, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.

British Airways, Flybe, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa and Aer Lingus were considered safe but had lesser marks for service. The full spectrum of the rated airlines is located here: http://www.airlineratings.com/ratings.php

Door Locks Out Air India Captain

On May 13/14, 2013 the cockpit door of one of Air India’s planes locked the captain out while he was using the toilet. The co-pilot and trainee pilot had to land the plane in Bhopal for ground maintenance engineers to fix the problem.

On May 13, the flight took off from Delhi for Bangalore.

Air India’s official statement was that the captain couldn’t return to the cockpit because the door was locked and that all efforts to open it, even from inside, failed during Tuesday’s flight from New Delhi to the southern Indian city of Bangalore.

The airline claims that no one was endangered during the “unscheduled landing.” No doubt the passengers watching the pilot attempting–and failing–to open the cockpit door would disagree. Apparently there was some degree of panic among the passengers. This is just one in a long series of air safety issues from Air India.

After the plane landed at 5.55pm, ground maintenance engineers did fix the door. The flight continued to Bangalore at 8.45 pm, and made a safe landing at at 8.45 pm.

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