The FAA is ordering the temporary grounding of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S. territory. See PDF grounding 737 MaxThe agency made this decision as a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today. This evidence, together with newly refined satellite data available to FAA this morning, led to this decision.
The grounding will remain in effect pending further investigation, including examination of information from the aircraft’s flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders. An FAA team is in Ethiopia assisting the NTSB as parties to the investigation of the Flight 302 accident. The agency will continue to investigate.
Category: press release
Updates of Flight JT 610, Route Soekarno-Hatta, Tangerang to Pangkalpinang Handling
Updates of Flight JT 610, Route Soekarno-Hatta, Tangerang to Pangkalpinang
Source: Lion Air Releases
Information on Lion Air Flight JT-610 Route Soekarno-Hatta, Tangerang to Pangkalpinang
Oct 29, 2018, 13:31 PM by Lion Corporate
TANGERANG, BANTEN – 29 October 2018
Lion Air flight JT610 en-route to Pangkalpinang has crashed near Kerawang (S 5’49.052” E 107’ 06.628” ), 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta Soekarno Hatta International Airport at 6:20 AM.
The flight carried 178 adults, 1 child and 2 infant, including 3 crew under training and 1 technician.
The aircraft is a Boeing 737 MAX 8 with registration number PK-LQP. It is made in 2018 and started its operation at Lion Air since 15 August 2018. The aircraft was declared operationally feasible.
The aircraft is commanded by Captain. Bhavye Suneja and co-pilot Harvino with six cabin crew Shintia Melina, Citra Noivita Anggelia, Alviani Hidayatul Solikha, Damayanti Simarmata, Mery Yulianda, and Deny Maula. The captain has 6,000 flight hours and the co-pilot has more than 5,000 flight hours.
Lion Air is concerned with the incident and will work with the relevant authorities and agencies on this matter.
The number to the crisis center is 021-8082000?1 and for customer information 021-80820002.
Information will be updated from time to time on our website.
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE
Jakarta – 29 October 2018. Lion Air (flight code JT) member of Lion Air Group updated on 29 October that BASARAS (National Search & Rescue Body) has confirmed that there are 24 body bags.
The evacuation of all passengers, crew and flight JT610 that was crashed on 29 October in the sea of Karawang, West Jawa is on-going.
The airline is very concerned about the incident and will continue to render their co-operation to all parties concerned to provide firsthand information with relates to the status of affected passengers and crew. It is with the hope that the families of the passengers and crew will have the strength and fortitude to go through this challenging time and the Search and Rescue (SAR) officers’ operations to go smoothly.
Lion Air’s effort in handling JT610 has flown in 166 people of the affected families from Pangkalpinang, Bangka and 3 others from Medan, North Sumatera.
At the moment, the family members has arrived in Jakarta with accommodations provided in Hotel Ibis Cawang, East Jakarta to ease hassle of travelling to the post in Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport.
Lion Air has opened the crisis center phone line (021)-80820000 and Passengers Information phone line (021)-80820002 to support to incident.
Lion Air will continue to update accordingly.
NASA Flies Large Unmanned Aircraft in Public Airspace Without Chase Plane
Credits: NASA Photo / Carla Thomas
NASA’s remotely-piloted Ikhana aircraft, based at the agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, successfully flew its first mission in the National Airspace System without a safety chase aircraft on Tuesday. This historic flight moves the United States one step closer to normalizing unmanned aircraft operations in the airspace used by commercial and private pilots.
Flying these large remotely-piloted aircraft over the United States opens the doors to all types of services, from monitoring and fighting forest fires, to providing new emergency search and rescue operations. The technology in this aircraft could, at some point, be scaled down for use in other general aviation aircraft.
“This is a huge milestone for our Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the National Airspace System project team,” said Ed Waggoner, NASA’s Integrated Aviation Systems Program director. “We worked closely with our Federal Aviation Administration colleagues for several months to ensure we met all their requirements to make this initial flight happen.”
Flights of large craft like Ikhana, have traditionally required a safety chase aircraft to follow the unmanned aircraft as it travels through the same airspace used by commercial aircraft. The Ikhana flew in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Technical Standard Order 211 — Detect and Avoid Systems — and Technical Standard Order 212 — Air-to-Air Radar for Traffic Surveillance.
The FAA granted NASA special permission to conduct this flight under the authority of a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization on March 30. The certificate permitted Ikhana’s pilot to rely on the latest Detect and Avoid technology, enabling the remote pilot on the ground to see and avoid other aircraft during the flight.
NASA successfully worked with its industry partners to develop a standard for Detect and Avoid technologies, complied with the requirements of the FAA Technical Standard Orders, and garnered flight approval from the FAA.
The Ikhana aircraft was equipped with detect and avoid technologies, including an airborne radar developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., a Honeywell Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System, a Detect and Avoid Fusion Tracker, and an Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast capability – a surveillance technology where the aircraft determines its position via satellite navigation and periodically broadcasts this information so other aircraft can track it.
The flight took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California and entered controlled air space almost immediately. Ikhana flew into the Class-A airspace, where commercial airliners fly, just west of Edwards at an altitude of about 20,000 feet. The aircraft then turned north toward Fresno, requiring air traffic control to be transferred from the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center to the Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center. On the return trip, the pilot headed south toward Victorville, California, requiring communication control to be transferred back to Los Angles.
During the return flight, the pilot began a gentle decent over the city of Tehachapi, California, into Class E airspace — about 10,000 feet — where general aviation pilots fly. The pilot initiated an approach into Victorville airport at 6,000 feet, coordinating in real time with air traffic controllers at the airport. After successfully executing all of these milestones, the aircraft exited the public airspace and returned to its base at Armstrong.
“We are flying with a suite of sophisticated technology that greatly enhances the safety capabilities of pilots flying large unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System,” said Scott Howe, Armstrong test pilot. “We took the time to mitigate the risks and to ensure that we, as a program, were prepared for this flight.”
Tuesday’s flight was the first remotely-piloted aircraft to use airborne detect and avoid technology to meet the intent of the FAA’s “see and avoid” rules, with all test objectives successfully accomplished.
New Mexico Students to Speak with NASA Astronaut on Space Station
Students from six schools in Alamogordo, New Mexico, will speak with a NASA astronaut living, working and doing research aboard the International Space Station at 11 a.m. EST Wednesday, Feb. 21. The 20-minute, Earth-to-space call will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Middle and high school students will travel to Alamogordo High School for the call to Expedition 54 astronaut Scott Tingle aboard the space station, posing questions about life aboard the orbital outpost, NASA’s deep space exploration plans, and doing science in space.
Tingle arrived Dec.19 and is scheduled to return to Earth in June.
The New Mexico Museum of Space History (NMMSH) has collaborated with the Alamogordo Public School and the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired for this event. NMMSH is a state museum chartered to educate the people of New Mexico and visitors in the history, science and technology of space.
Students have been preparing for the event by forming teams to design and build simple apparatuses or experiments involving fluid management, combustion, or crystal growth to compare performance in a 1g vs simulated microgravity environment. Some 1,500 students and teachers are expected to be on-site at Alamogordo High School during the downlink with 4,000 more watching virtually in school auditoriums throughout Alamogordo Public Schools.
FAA Proposes $54,000 Civil Penalty Against Interscience for Alleged Hazardous Materials Violations
WASHINGTON, DC– The U.S Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $54,000 civil penalty against Interscience of Saint-Nom-la-Breteche, France, for allegedly violating the Hazardous Materials Regulations.
The FAA alleges that on December 21, 2016, Interscience offered six plastic bottles of flammable liquid disinfectant spray to American Airlines for shipment by air from Blagnac, France, to Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
Workers at the American Airlines cargo facility at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport discovered the shipment.
The FAA alleges the package was not accompanied by a shipper’s declaration of dangerous goods and was not properly classed, described, packaged, marked, labeled or in the proper condition for shipment. The agency also alleges Interscience failed to ensure that each of its employees received required hazardous materials training, and failed to provide emergency response information with the shipment.
Interscience has 30 days from receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.
FAA Proposes $50,000 Civil Penalty Against DebMed USA for Alleged Hazardous Materials Violations
WASHINGTON, DC–The U.S Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $50,000 civil penalty against DebMed USA LLC, of Charlotte, North Carolina, for allegedly violating the Hazardous Materials Regulations.
The FAA alleges that on June 22, 2016, DebMed offered 142 lithium metal batteries to American Airlines for transportation by air from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to San Francisco, CA, in the checked baggage of a DebMed employee.
Lithium metal batteries are prohibited as air cargo on passenger aircraft and are also prohibited in checked baggage. Airline passengers may only carry uninstalled, spare lithium batteries in carry-on baggage when the batteries are for personal use in portable electronic devices.
Airline baggage is not an authorized method for companies to move lithium batteries or other hazardous materials. The rules for carrying lithium batteries and lithium battery- powered devices as an airline passenger are available on the FAA website.
FAA Press Release: New Certification Rule for Small Airplanes Becomes Effective
New Certification Rule for Small Airplanes Becomes Effective
On August 30, the final rule overhauling airworthiness standards for general aviation airplanes published in December of 2016 officially went into effect. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expects this rule will enable faster installation of innovative, safety-enhancing technologies into small airplanes, while reducing costs for the aviation industry.
With these performance-based standards, the FAA delivers on its promise to implement forward-looking, flexible rules that encourage innovation. Specifically, the new part 23 revolutionizes standards for airplanes weighing 19,000 pounds or less and with 19 or fewer passenger seats by replacing prescriptive requirements with performance-based standards coupled with consensus-based compliance methods for specific designs and technologies. The rule also adds new certification standards to address GA loss of control accidents and in-flight icing conditions.
This regulatory approach recognizes there is more than one way to deliver on safety. It offers a way for industry and the FAA to collaborate on new technologies and to keep pace with evolving aviation designs and concepts.
The new rule responds to Congressional mandates that direct the FAA to streamline approval of safety advancements for small GA airplanes. It also addresses recommendations from the FAA’s 2013 Part 23 Reorganization Aviation Rulemaking Committee, which suggested a more streamlined approval process for safety equipment on those airplanes.
The new part 23 also promotes regulatory harmonization among the FAA’s foreign partners, including the European Aviation Safety Agency, Transport Canada Civil Aviation, and Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Authority. Harmonization may help minimize certification costs for airplane and engine manufacturers, and operators of affected equipment, who want to certify their products for the global market.
This regulatory change is a leading example of how the FAA is transforming its Aircraft Certification Service into an agile organization that can support aviation industry innovation in the coming years. AIR Transformation improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the Aircraft Certification Safety System by focusing FAA resources on up-front planning, the use of performance based standards, and a robust risk-based systems oversight program, while leveraging Industry’s responsibility to comply with regulations.
FAA Press Conference: Part 23 Rule Announcement
Revitalizing General Aviation: The New Part 23 (video)
New Part 23 for Aircraft Certification Changes for Designees (video)
FAA and Singapore Sign Aviation Safety Agreement
FAA and Singapore Sign Aviation Safety Agreement
SINGAPORE—The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) signed a milestone Maintenance Agreement Guidance (MAG) yesterday with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). The agreement allows for mutual surveillance conducted on certified repair stations located abroad for each of the agreement partners.
It provides guidance for the implementation of the previously agreed-upon. In cases where there are sufficient certificated facilities in both partner countries, MIPs may reduce the number of surveillance activities, free up inspector resources for the authorities, and reduce the regulatory burden on industry. There are 58 FAA-approved repair stations located in Singapore.
The MAG furthers the Maintenance Implementation Procedures (MIP) agreement signed by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and CAAS on February 16, 2016. That agreement was the first of its kind in Asia and reduces costs by allowing the reciprocal acceptance of Singapore and the United States’ surveillance of maintenance work.
The MIP and MAG permits reliance on each other’s surveillance systems to the greatest extent possible while maintaining safety. Agreements such as the MIP allow for greater efficiency and ultimately save valuable industry and authority resources. The FAA and the CAAS have agreed to conduct surveillance on each other’s behalf to ensure compliance with the respective regulatory requirements for maintenance and the applicable Special Conditions. Both agreements build on the 2004 U.S-Singapore Bilateral Safety Agreement (BASA) which has benefitted both countries by saving time and reducing costs in aircraft design and manufacturing.
FAA Assistant Administrator for NextGen James Eck and Executive Director for International Affairs Carey Fagan are participating in the World Civil Aviation Chief Executives Forum this week in Singapore as part of the agency’s continued collaboration with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states.
As part of the strong U.S.-Singapore bilateral relationship, the FAA and the CAAS also partner under Singapore’s Air Traffic Management Center of Excellence to expand understanding and build Air Traffic Management capacity in the region.
Egyptair Flight MS804 Almost A Year Later
Egyptair Flight MS804 (AKA EgyptAir Flight 804) was a Paris to Cairo flight that ended in the Mediterranean on May 19, 2016. Sixty-six people lost their lives: three security crew, fifty-six passengers, seven crew.
Egyptian authorities published a progress report on 28/06/16 that the BEA repaired the recorders. On 17/06 that the Technical Investigation Committee of the A320 accident studied FDR data as well as performing time correlation between FDR and CVR data and cockpit voice recordings before the occurrence of the accident where the existence of a “fire” was mentioned. That report did not determine the reason or location where that fire occurred. Smoke was reported during the flight in the bathroom and the avionics bay.
The investigation has been fraught with controversy. On 22 May, 2016, M6 (French TV) reported that a pilot told Cairo air traffic control about smoke in the cabin, and the pilot consequently made an emergency descent.
On May 20th 2016 The Aviation Herald received information from three independent channels, that ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) messages with following content were received from the aircraft:
- 00:26Z 3044 ANTI ICE R WINDOW
- 00:26Z 561200 R SLIDING WINDOW SENSOR
- 00:26Z 2600 SMOKE LAVATORY SMOKE
- 00:27Z 2600 AVIONICS SMOKE
- 00:28Z 561100 R FIXED WINDOW SENSOR
- 00:29Z 2200 AUTO FLT FCU 2 FAULT
- 00:29Z 2700 F/CTL SEC 3 FAULT
- no further ACARS messages were received.
No sooner did the report come out that the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry dismissed it as false.
One truism I have found in accident investigation is that it takes time to find the truth. Another is that facts can be misleading. Reportage from official sources moves slowly; reportage from commercial, so-called “news,” or social sources is frequently speculative, unsourced, or purely imaginary. Sometimes it is actually correct. It is difficult to tell the difference. Contradictions are a frequent finding, such as this:
- Le Figaro reported that no explosives were found on Egyptair flight MS804 French victims’ bodies. The flight crashed in the Mediterranean in 2016.
- On Dec 15th 2016 Egypt’s Civil Aviation Authority announced that forensic examination on behalf of the Accident Investigation Commission found traces of explosives with some of the human remains recovered. In accordance with Egypt law, the states prosecutor was informed, and a technical commission formed by the prosecution office opened their investigation into the crime.
How does a close reader respond to a statement that “traces of explosives were found WITH human remains?” A close reader finds more questions. With the remains is not ON the remains. But it could be either way since we are dealing with languages. In English, WITH the remains could mean a bomb was floating in the water near the bodies, or ashes, or gasoline or TNT residue. And what constitutes near? Inches? Miles? It all is relative. Or if the original report is loosely translated, did the original document use a preposition such as ON the remains? And then, there are the forensic questions. Were explosive remains washed off of bodies that were submerged in the ocean?
If the case goes to court, the court will want to know if something failed on the plane, and if so, what it was. Manufacturers of failed components are considered responsible parties. No matter what the cause, international treaty determines carrier responsibility to the victims of the crash.
The determination of failed components provides additional responsible parties. The discovery of a bomb would make airport security one of the potential responsible parties. In addition, international treaty provides guidelines for what carriers owe to the families. (Which treaty is involved depends on which treaty/treaties the involved country/countries are signatory to. If it sounds like it can get complicated, you are correct.)
It has been nearly a year since the accident, and though some things may be believed in the court of public opinion to be one way or another, questions remain unanswered. How grievous and how difficult for the families that must wait so long to find out what brought about this tragedy that took their loved ones.
Aviation Industry: Time for a Black Box Upgrade
Woodland Hills, CA — (ReleaseWire) — 07/07/2016 –No one is saying that aircraft tracking doesn’t need an overhaul. It does. Examination of plane crash events demands it.
Aviation experts have been asking for pinger battery improvements since a month after the crash of Air France 447 on 1 June 2009, when the pinger battery ran down in July. Air France 447 was not recovered from the ocean floor until May 2011, nearly two years after it was lost. Debris from the accident was recovered in the interim, but if the pinger had been louder, or the battery designed to last longer, then there’s a good chance that the plane would have been discovered sooner. One of the outcomes of this terrible event was a determination to design a pinger system with longer lasting batteries. EASA amended requirements for flight recorders and underwater locating devices in its 2013-26 amendment(RMT.0400 & RMT.0401 (OPS.090(A) & OPS.090(B)) — 20.12.2013) but implementing these requirements takes a prohibitively long time.
Aviation experts have been asking for better tracking technology since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on 8 March 2014 while flying from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia, to Beijing Capital International Airport in China. Because this plane departed from its planned route, finding where it came down has been a unique challenge. Inmarsat’s satellite communications network concluded that the flight continued until at least 08:19 and flew south into the southern Indian Ocean. Triangulation of Inmarsat’s satellite communications has been the only credible source searchers depend on to develop the search area.
Aviation experts have been suggesting the blackbox be water-activated (or have water-activated duplicates) with flotation of some kind so the blackbox can be found faster. More recently, aviation experts have wondered about EgyptAir Flight 804 which crashed into the Mediterranean Sea on 19 May 2016. It was known fairly precisely where it came down, and yet salvage and rescue units were unable to be on the scene in time to help any survivors—if survivors there had been. We will never know because no one was there. And while tracking the location of the blackbox fell within the thirty day battery limit, if the technology had more power, it could have been located sooner. Finding the wreckage sooner means less money spent on the search, and a shorter time for the families agonizing over their losses.
So here is what is new: Inmarsat provides SwiftBroadband service for plane’s inflight Wi-Fi on many aircraft. Immarsat is developing a streaming system described as a “blackbox in the cloud.” This streaming system they are working on will allow crucial data to be streamed off a plane on the occasion of specified trigger events like a course deviation or disappearance from radar.
One only need consider a few factors to realize that a cloud-based system is a crucial development that current technology can easily handle. We need only to look at the cost of the search for a missing plane. According to France and Brazil, those two countries spent more than $40 million over two years to recover the black boxes from Air France Flight 447. Bloomberg reported the recovery cost of Air France 447 was $100 million. According to the South China Post, the cost of the (as yet unfound) MH370 will be as much as ten times more than AF447. Like the expense of MH370’s search, the cost of finding EgyptAir Flight 804 is still ongoing.
Even when Inmarsat’s streaming system will be available, the aviation industry is going to be resistant, mostly because it is going to be costly. Is this a cost that we must afford? I think it is.
Let me know your thoughts on this crucial topic at https://twitter.com/GeorgeHatcher
Nasa Begins the ACT-America campaign
WASHINGTON, July 6, 2016— NASA’s airborne experiment to improve scientists’ understanding of the sources of two powerful greenhouse gases and how they cycle into and out of the atmosphere begins now.The Atmospheric Carbon and Transport–America, or ACT-America campaign will measure concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane in relation to weather systems. The study will gather real-time measurements from research aircraft and ground stations.
“Carbon dioxide and methane are the two most important long-lived greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” said Ken Davis, ACT-America principal investigator from Pennsylvania State University, University Park. “We have a very difficult time inferring important sources and sinks of these gases, including uptake of carbon dioxide by the biosphere, and emission of methane from a variety of human and biological sources. We hope to improve our ability to measure those sources and sinks today, which should enable improvements in the management and simulation of future climate.””
ACT-America employs new gen data analysis systems to convert regional observations of greenhouse gas concentrations and the meteorological conditions. The information will help scientists interpret long-term greenhouse gas observations.
The ACT-America campaign will bridge the gap between satellite and ground observations, look how weather patterns contribute the sources and sinks of greenhouse gases. The campaign team includes researchers and flight crews collecting data in the air, and scientists on the ground synthesizing that information into computer models. The first flights will be based out of NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, and Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia. Subsequent flights this summer will be based in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Shreveport, Louisiana.
ACT-America team members and the two NASA research aircraft will be available to the media at an event at Langley on Friday, July 15, from 9 to 11 a.m. EDT. This summer’s flights are the first of five field campaigns planned during the study. NASA collects data from space, air, land and sea to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future.
For more information about ACT-America, go to: http://act-america.larc.nasa.gov
MAK says the FlyDubai Pilots got into a fatal nosedive and couldn’t get out
The Interstate Aviation Committee investigation of the Boeing 737-800 registered A6-FDN operated by FlyDubai has updated their report. The information below is directly from that report.
Mak indicated in a press release that two dimensional aircraft mockups and selected assemblies and units were examined to check the longitudinal control system operability. The units were delivered to the Interstate Aviation Committee, their condition assessed. Operation reports of weather, wreckage, Air Traffic Control, avionics, powerplants, structures and systems were prepared and reviewed.
The weather information examination has revealed that the actual weather at Rostov-on-Don Airport at the time of the accident was consistent with the weather forecast. The weather measuring equipment used for weather observations at Rostov-on-Don Airport was calibrated, operable and functional. The weather information service provided to the FlyDubai Boeing 737-800 registered A6-FDN conducting Flight FDB981 Dubai – Rostov-on-Don – Dubai that crashed while landing at Rostov-on-Don Airport was in compliance with the applicable regulations and manuals.
Preliminary Flight Data Analysis
Preliminary flight data analysis indicates the crew was approaching to land manually with autopilot disconnected, in difficult weather conditions; cloud base was at 630 meters, wind 230 degrees 13 meters per second maximum 18 meters per second, light shower rain, mist, severe turbulence on straight-on and moderate windshear.
On the initial approach at 22:42 UTC at a height of 340 meters, after getting a windshear alert, the crew decided to go around, and then continued on holding pattern waiting for improved weather conditions.
On a second, manual approach, the crew decided to go around again at a height of 220 meters 4 km before the runway, and initiated climb setting the engine to takeoff thrust. At a height of 900 m there was a simultaneous control column nose down input and stabilizer 5-degree nose down deflection, resulting in abrupt descent with negative vertical acceleration of -1g. The following crew actions to recover did not allow to avoid an impact with the ground. The impact occurred with a speed of over 600 km/h over 50 degrees nose down.
The IAC is in the process of reproducing the circumstances of the accident. Airline pilots and test-pilots from the Russian Federation, the USA and the UAE have been engaged in the investigation to assess the status and actions of the crew. The involved pilots were holding valid pilot licenses and other pertinent papers, had undergone required training and had sufficient flight experience.
Transcript of two hours of cockpit voice recorder data is being completed. The investigative team is planning to engage investigators from the UAE, the USA and Spain to proceed at the IAC laboratory with clarifying the content of the CVR transcript, translating it from English and Spanish and identifying the speakers.
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.
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FAA Receives Unleaded Fuels Proposals in Safe Fuel Initiative
FAA Receives Unleaded Fuels Proposals
The Federal Aviation Administration announced today it has received ten replacement fuel proposals from producers Afton Chemical Company, Avgas LLC, Shell, Swift Fuels and a consortium of BP, TOTAL and Hjelmco, for further evaluation in the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI). The industry-government initiative is designed to help the general aviation industry transition to an unleaded aviation gasoline. The FAA will be assessing the viability of the candidate fuels to determine which fuels may be part of the first phase of laboratory testing at the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center.
The goal is to have a new unleaded fuel by 2018.
“We’re committed to getting harmful lead out of general aviation fuel,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This work will benefit the environment and provide a safe and available fuel for our general aviation community.”
The 167,000 general aviation aircraft in the US that rely on 100 low lead aviation gasoline for safe operation are running on the only remaining transportation fuel in the United States that contains the addition of lead.
Commercial planes have never used leaded gas.
Congress authorized $6 million for the fiscal year 2014 budget to support the PAFI test program at the FAA Technical Center. PAFI was established to facilitate the development and deployment of a new unleaded aviation gasoline with the least impact on the existing piston-engine aircraft fleet.
The FAA asked fuel producers on June 10, 2013 to submit proposals for replacement fuels by July 1, 2014. The goal is to identify, select, and provide fleetwide certification for fuels determined to have the lowest impact on the general aviation fleet.
The FAA will analyze the candidate fuels in terms of their impact on the existing fleet, the production and distribution infrastructure, their impact on the environment, their toxicology and the cost of aircraft operations.
Press Release: FAA Proposes $295,750 Civil Penalty Against Skywest Airlines
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $295,750 civil penalty against SkyWest Airlines, Inc. of St. George, Utah, for allegedly violating DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations.
The FAA alleges SkyWest failed to include more than 150 safety?sensitive employees in its random drug testing pool. Further, SkyWest allegedly failed to receive verified negative drug test results for two other employees before hiring one for, and transferring the other to, safety-sensitive positions.
The FAA also alleges SkyWest subjected three employees who were not in safety-sensitive positions to post-accident drug tests that are only applicable to safety-sensitive employees, and improperly cancelled a return-to-duty test because it was not directly observed.
SkyWest is scheduled to have an informal conference with the FAA this month to discuss the matter.
FAA Proposes $547,500 Civil Penalty Against Hawaiian Airlines
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $547,500 Civil Penalty against Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. for operating a Boeing 767-300 that was not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations.
The FAA alleges Hawaiian operated the aircraft thousands of times when it was not in compliance with a July 2000 Airworthiness Directive (AD) that required inspections of certain engine thrust reverser components. The purpose of the AD was to prevent a portion of the thrust reverser from coming off in flight, which could cause a rapid decompression of the aircraft.
The AD required initial and repetitive inspections of the components to detect damage and wear, and corrective actions if necessary. It required replacement of the components with new and improved parts within four years of the AD taking effect.
During a July 2012 inspection, the FAA discovered that some of Hawaiian’s records erroneously showed the AD did not apply to one of its Boeing 767 aircraft. The FAA alleges Hawaiian operated the aircraft more than 5,000 times – mostly on passenger carrying flights – between July 2004 and July 2012 when it was out of compliance with the AD. The FAA further alleges Hawaiian operated the aircraft on 14 passenger flights after the agency alerted the carrier that some of its records erroneously indicated that the AD did not apply to the aircraft.
Additionally, the FAA alleges Hawaiian failed to keep required records of the status of the AD for the aircraft in question.
Hawaiian has requested an informal conference with the FAA to discuss the matter.
FAA Announces the Republic of the Philippines’ Aviation Safety Rating
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced that the Republic of the Philippines complies with international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and has been granted a Category 1 rating.
The country previously held a Category 1 rating until January 2008, when it was downgraded to a Category 2. A Category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority – equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters – is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record keeping or inspection procedures.
The return to Category 1 status is based on a March 2014 FAA review of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines. A Category 1 rating means the country’s civil aviation authority complies with ICAO standards. With the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) Category 1 rating, the Republic of the Philippines’ air carriers can add flights and service to the United States and carry the code of U.S. carriers.
As part of the FAA’s IASA program, the agency assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that have applied to fly to the United States, currently conduct operations to the United States or participate in code sharing arrangements with U.S. partner airlines and makes that information available to the public. The assessments determine whether or not foreign civil aviation authorities are meeting ICAO safety standards, not FAA regulations.
In order to maintain a Category 1 rating, a country must adhere to the safety standards of ICAO, the United Nations’ technical agency for aviation that establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance.
Press Release: FAA Installs Equipment for NextGen Aircraft Tracking System
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration today announced the completion of a nationwide infrastructure upgrade that will enable air traffic controllers to track aircraft with greater accuracy and reliability, while giving pilots more information in the cockpit. This upgrade is a key improvement in the Next Generation Air Transportation System.
“This upgrade is an important step in laying the foundation for the NextGen system, which provides controllers a much more precise view of the airspace, gives pilots much more awareness and information, and as a result strengthens the safety and efficiency of our system,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This state-of-the-art satellite system is already providing controllers with visibility in places not previously covered by radar.”
The nationwide installation of the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) radio network supports a satellite-based surveillance system that tracks aircraft with the help of GPS. This provides more accurate aircraft location information than the current radar system.
NextGen refers to a set of initiatives being implemented by the FAA in collaboration with the aviation community to ensure that the United States has the safest, most efficient airspace possible for decades to come. In addition to ADS-B, NextGen improvements are already delivering benefits that include more efficient air traffic procedures that save time and fuel and reduce emissions.
“The installation of this radio network clears the way for air traffic controllers to begin using ADS-B to separate equipped aircraft nationwide,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said. “It will also provide pilots flying aircraft equipped with the proper avionics with traffic information, weather data and other flight information.”
Of the 230 air traffic facilities across the country, 100 are currently using this system to separate traffic. It is expected to be connected and operating at all 230 facilities by 2019. All aircraft operating in controlled airspace must be equipped with ADS-B Out avionics that broadcast the plane’s location, by Jan. 1, 2020.
With the upgraded surveillance and broadcast system and aircraft equipped with ADS-B Out transponders, aircraft positions on controller screens update almost continuously, compared to every 4.7 seconds or longer with radar.
ADS-B also enables more accurate tracking of airplanes and airport vehicles on runways and taxiways, increasing safety and efficiency. The new system significantly improves surveillance capability in areas with geographic challenges like mountains or over water. Airplanes equipped with ADS-B In, which is not currently mandated, will give pilots information through cockpit displays about location in relation to other aircraft, bad weather and terrain, and temporary flight restrictions.
In addition to the operational benefits of ADS-B, each one of the 634 ground stations installed by Exelis of McLean, Va., is substantially smaller than a radar installation – resulting in less impact to the environment and less cost to maintain.
$51,651 Civil Penalty Proposed Against AAA Services
The Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration’s proposes a penalty of $51,651 against All American Aviation Services, LLC for FAA drug and alcohol testing regulation violations. All American allowed eight employees in sensitive positions without securing their drug and alcohol testing records, and failed to abide by follow-up testing procedures on two marijuana-positive testees.
One employee who tested positive was excluded from the random testing program, and one employee who failed a test failed to provide the return to duty test result.
The discrepancies came to light during a March 2013 inspection where the company’s antidrug and alcohol misuse prevention program was audited.
Malaysia Airlines Media Statement
Released at 12: 30 p.m. local time
Tan Sri Md Nor Md Yusof, Chairman of Malaysia Airlines
As you will be aware, last night the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najjib Razak, announced new evidence regarding the disappearance of MH370 on 8th March.
Based on this evidence, the Prime Minister’s message was that we must accept the painful reality that the aircraft is now lost and that none of the passengers or crew on board survived.
This is a sad and tragic day for all of us at Malaysia Airlines. While not entirely unexpected after an intensive multi-national search across a 2.24 million square mile area, this news is clearly devastating for the families of those on board. They have waited for over two weeks for even the smallest hope of positive news about their loved ones.
This has been an unprecedented event requiring an unprecedented response. The investigation still underway may yet prove to be even longer and more complex than it has been since March 8th. But we will continue to support the families – as we have done throughout. And to support the authorities as the search for definitive answers continues. I will now ask our Group Chief Executive¸ Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, to provide you will with fuller details of our support for the families.
Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, Group Chief Executive Officer, Malaysia Airlines
I stand before you today not only as the Group Chief Executive Officer of Malaysia Airlines, but also as a parent, as a brother, as a son. My heart breaks to think of the unimaginable pain suffered by all the families. There are no words which can ease that pain. Everyone in the Malaysia Airlines family is praying for the 239 souls on MH370 and for their loved ones on this dark day. We extend our prayers and sincere condolences.
We all feel enormous sorrow and pain. Sorrow that all those who boarded Flight MH370 on Saturday 8th March, will not see their families again. And that those families will now have to live on without those they love. It must be remembered too that 13 of our own colleagues and fellow Malaysians were also on board.
And let me be very clear on the events of yesterday evening. Our sole and only motivation last night was to ensure that in the incredibly short amount of time available to us, the families heard the tragic news before the world did. Wherever humanly possible, we did so in person with the families or by telephone, using SMS only as an additional means of ensuring fully that the nearly 1,000 family members heard the news from us and not from the media.
Ever since the disappearance of Flight MH370 Malaysia Airlines’ focus has been to comfort and support the families of those involved and support the multi-national search effort. We will continue to do this, while we also continue to support the work of the investigating authorities in the Southern Indian Ocean.
Like everyone else, we are waiting for news from those authorities. We know that while there have been an increasing number of apparent leads, definitive identification of any piece of debris is still missing. It is impossible to predict how long this will take. But after 17 days, the announcement made last night and shared with the families is the reality which we must now accept. When Malaysia Airlines receives approval from the investigating authorities, arrangements will be made to bring the families to the recovery areas if they so wish. Until that time, we will continue to support the ongoing investigation. And may I express my thanks to the Government and all of those involved in this truly global search effort.
In the meantime, Malaysia Airlines’ overwhelming focus will be the same as it has been from the outset – to provide the families with a comprehensive support programme. Through a network of over 700 dedicated caregivers, the loved ones of those on board have been provided with two dedicated caregivers for each family, providing care, support and counsel. We are now supporting over 900 people under this programme and in the last 72 hours, we have trained an additional 40 caregivers to ensure the families have access to round-the-clock support.
In addition, hotel accommodation for up to five family members per passenger, transportation, meals and others expenses have been provided since 8th March and that will continue.
Malaysia Airlines has already provided initial financial assistance of USD 5,000 per passenger to the next of kin. We recognize that financial support is not the only consideration. But the prolonged search is naturally placing financial strain on the relatives. We are therefore preparing to offer additional payments as the search continues.
This unprecedented event in aviation history has made the past 18 days the greatest challenge to face our entire team at Malaysia Airlines. I have been humbled by the hard work, dedication, heartfelt messages of concern and offers of support from our remarkable team. We do not know why, and we do not know how this terrible tragedy happened. But as the Malaysia Airlines family, we are all praying for the passengers and crew of Flight MH370.
FAA Issues Final Rule to Improve Helicopter Safety
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today issued a final rule that requires helicopter operators, including air ambulances, to have stricter flight rules and procedures, improved communications, training, and additional on-board safety equipment. The rule represents the most significant improvements to helicopter safety in decades and responds to government’s and industry’s concern over continued risk in helicopter operations.
“This is a landmark rule for helicopter safety,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These improvements will better prepare pilots and better equip helicopters, ensuring a higher level of safety for passengers and crew.”
All U.S. helicopter operators, including air ambulances, are required to use stricter flying procedures in bad weather. This will provide a greater margin of safety by reducing the probability of collisions with terrain, obstacles or other aircraft.
Within 60 days, all operators will be required to use enhanced procedures for flying in challenging weather, at night, and when landing in remote locations. Within three years, helicopter air ambulances must use the latest on-board technology and equipment to avoid terrain and obstacles, and within four years, they must be equipped with flight data monitoring systems.
“This rule is a significant advancement in helicopter safety,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “This rule will help reduce risk and help pilots make good safety decisions through the use of better training, procedures, and equipment.”
Under the new rule, all Part 135 helicopter operators are required to:
- Equip their helicopters with radio altimeters.
- Have occupants wear life preservers and equip helicopters with a 406 MHz Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) when a helicopter is operated beyond power-off glide distance from the shore.
- Use higher weather minimums when identifying an alternate airport in a flight plan.
- Require that pilots are tested to handle flat-light, whiteout, and brownout conditions and demonstrate competency in recovery from an inadvertent encounter with instrument meteorological conditions.
In addition, under the new rule, all air ambulance operators are required to:
- Equip with Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems (HTAWS).
- Equip with a flight data monitoring system within four years.
- Establish operations control centers if they are certificate holders with 10 or more helicopter air ambulances.
- Institute pre-flight risk-analysis programs.
- Ensure their pilots in command hold an instrument rating.
- Ensure pilots identify and document the highest obstacle along the planned route before departure.
- Comply with Visual Flight Rules (VFR) weather minimums, Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations at airports/heliports without weather reporting, procedures for VFR approaches, and VFR flight planning.
- Conduct the flight using Part 135 weather requirements and flight crew time limitation and rest requirements when medical personnel are on board.
- Conduct safety briefings or training for medical personnel.
Since August 2004, the FAA has promoted initiatives to reduce risk for helicopter air ambulance operations (See FAA Fact Sheet). While accidents did decline in the years following that effort, 2008 proved to be the deadliest year on record with five accidents that claimed 21 lives. The FAA examined helicopter air ambulance accidents from 1991 through 2010 and determined 62 accidents that claimed 125 lives could have been mitigated by today’s rule. While developing the rule, the FAA considered 20 commercial helicopter accidents from 1991 through 2010 (excluding air ambulances) that resulted in 39 fatalities. From 2011 through 2013, there were seven air ambulance accidents resulting in 19 fatalities and seven commercial helicopter accidents that claimed 20 lives.
The estimated cost of the final rule in present value for the air ambulance industry is $224 million with a total benefit of $347 million over 10 years. The cost for other commercial operators is $19 million with a total benefit of $83 million over 10 years. There is no cost for any operators to use new Class G airspace weather minimums for visual flying but the benefit is $147 million over 10 years.
The rule responds to the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 and National Transportation Safety Board recommendations.
The final rule is on display at the Federal Register.
Media Availability with NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman
NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman will take questions from the media after today’s investigative hearing on the crash of UPS Airlines Flight 1354, which crashed on approach to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport on Aug. 14, 2013.
Date/Time: Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014 at 5:45 p.m.EST
Location: Hearing Room A/B, next to the NTSB Boardroom where the hearing is taking place.
Address: 429 L’Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 20594
Participant: NTSB Board Chairman Hersman
Revised Safety Rating for India
India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has been notified that the US is downgrading its aviation safety ranking, based on failure to meet the standards of the ICAO. The International Civil Aviation Organization regulates technical, training, inspection, records, airworthiness, and operations standards. The safety downgrade is partially due to a September FAA audit which found 33 DGCA deficiencies including too few experts, maintenance deficits and poor documentation.
India’s being lowered to safety category II means that there will be consequences affecting Air India and Jet Airways Indian flights.
See the release below:
Press release: FAA Announces Revised Safety Rating for India
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced that India has been assigned a Category 2 rating under its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program, based on a recent reassessment of the country’s civil aviation authority. This signifies that India’s civil aviation safety oversight regime does not currently comply with the international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO); however, the United States will continue to work with India’s Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGCA) to identify the remaining steps necessary to regain Category 1 status for India. With a Category 2 rating, India’s carriers can continue existing service to the United States, but will not be allowed to establish new service to the United States.
India achieved a Category 1 rating, signifying compliance with ICAO standards, in August 1997. A December 2012 ICAO audit identified deficiencies in the ICAO-set global standards for oversight of aviation safety by India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Subsequently, the FAA began a reassessment of India’s compliance with ICAO standards under the FAA’s IASA program, which monitors adherence to international safety standards and practices. The FAA has consulted extensively with the DCGA and other relevant Indian government ministries during its evaluation, including consultations in India in September and early December, and meetings this week in Delhi.
“U.S. and Indian aviation officials have developed an important working relationship as our countries work to meet the challenges of ensuring international aviation safety. The FAA is available to work with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to help India regain its Category 1 rating,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
The Government of India has made significant progress towards addressing issues identified during the September 2013 IASA assessment. On January 20, the Government of India took further steps to resolve outstanding issues when the Indian Cabinet approved the hiring of 75 additional full-time inspectors. The United States Government commends the Indian government for taking these important actions, and looks forward to continued progress by Indian authorities to comply with internationally mandated aviation safety oversight standards.
Additional Background on the FAA’s IASA Program:
As part of the FAA’s IASA program, the agency assesses on a uniform basis the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that operate or have applied to operate to the United States and makes that information available to the public. The assessments determine whether or not foreign civil aviation authorities are meeting ICAO safety standards, not FAA regulations.
A Category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority – equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters – is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping or inspection procedures.
Countries with air carriers that fly to the United States must adhere to the safety standards of ICAO, the United Nations’ technical agency for aviation that establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance.
NTSB to Hold Investigative Hearing Into August 2013 UPS A300 crash in Birmingham, Ala.
NTSB to Hold Investigative Hearing Into August 2013 UPS A300 crash in Birmingham, Ala.
Jan. 30, 2014
WASHINGTON – The National Transportation Safety Board has scheduled an investigative hearing on February 20 into the crash of a UPS Airbus A300-600 on approach to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Ala., on Aug. 14, 2013.
The two flight crew members were killed and the airplane was destroyed when it impacted the ground less than a mile short of Runway 18. The cargo flight had originated from Louisville, Ky. Runway 18 was being used because the main runway at the airport was closed for repairs at the time of the airplane’s arrival.
The one-day hearing will examine:
• Execution of non-precision approaches, including initial and recurrent training, adherence to standard operating procedures, and proficiency
• Human factors issues associated with effective crew coordination and resource management applicable to this accident, including decision-making, communication, fatigue and fitness for duty, as well as monitoring and cross-checking, policies, standard operating procedures, guidance, and training provided to UPS crewmembers.
• Dispatch procedures, including the training, evaluation, roles and responsibilities of UPS dispatchers and the limitations of dispatch-related software.
The investigation is ongoing and this hearing will develop additional facts to support the investigation. The hearing will be held in the NTSB Board Room and Conference Center in Washington, D.C. A detailed agenda and a list of attendees will be forthcoming.
Parties to the hearing will include the Federal Aviation Administration, UPS, Airbus, the Independent Pilots Association and the Transport Workers Union. The accredited representative from the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile (BEA) will participate on the technical panels.
The determination of the probable cause of the crash will be released when the investigation is complete. Just prior to the start of the hearing, the public docket will be opened. Included in the docket are photographs, interview transcripts and other documents.