Thursday, December 31, 2009

Japan Airlines 'may stop international flights'

AFP - Friday, January 1

The Japanese government is discussing an option to strip debt-ridden Japan Airlines (JAL) of its international operations to enable it to survive as a domestic carrier, a newspaper reported on Thursday.
TOKYO (AFP) - – Japan Airlines (JAL) may stop flying international routes under a plan being discussed by the government to try to keep the debt-ridden company in the air, a report said Thursday.

The plan calls for rival All Nippon Airways (ANA) to take over JAL's international flights as part of what would be a drastic downsizing scheme for Asia's biggest airline, the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper said.

The scheme was apparently on the table when key cabinet officials, including Transport Minister Seiji Maehara, met on Wednesday to discuss JAL's rehabilitation programme.

The transport ministry has strongly opposed the plan to turn JAL into a domestic carrier despite growing calls for a drastic restructuring of its international operations where losses weigh heavily, the newspaper said.

"(JAL) will be a good company if it abandons international routes and concentrates on domestic flights," an unnamed JAL executive was quoted by Mainichi as saying.

Immediate confirmation of the report was not available.

In a related move, Maehara held talks with vice Prime Minister Naoto Kan and other officials Thursday and agreed that the state-run Development Bank of Japan will offer further loans to JAL.

The DBJ has already disbursed just over half of a 100 billion yen (1.08 billion dollar) credit line extended in November. "On top of the remaining 45 billion yen, (DBJ) is to expand the limit," Maehara told reporters.

Cabinet officials said they would discuss details of further loans to JAL on Sunday before making an official announcement, while local media reported that DBJ is likely to double its credit line to 200 billion yen in total.

JAL, battered by the global recession and swine flu pandemic, is scrambling to slash costs and is seeking its fourth government bailout since 2001 to keep flying in the face of mounting losses.

Shares plunged to a record low on Wednesday as media reports that bankruptcy is one option for the cash-strapped carrier spooked investors.

The Tokyo stock market was closed for a holiday on Thursday.

Local media have reported that the state-backed Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp., which is overseeing JAL's restructuring, is considering the possibility of the carrier filing for protection from creditors.

It has also been offered financial assistance by both American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, who are competing to take a minority stake in the Japanese carrier, eyeing its coveted Asian landing slots.

JAL, which lost about 1.5 billion dollars in the six months to September, has said it plans thousands of job cuts and a drastic reduction in routes as part of its efforts to return to profitability.

The global economic downturn has dealt a heavy blow to JAL's efforts to recover from a long period of financial turbulence stretching back to its privatisation more than two decades ago.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Half of stranded Air Comet passengers rescued

By Agence France-Presse, Updated: 12/26/2009
Special charter flights have rescued nearly half of the 7,000 passengers left stranded by the collapse of Air Comet, according to information released Saturday by Spain's airport authority.

Half of stranded Air Comet passengers rescued
Special charter flights have rescued nearly half of the 7,000 passengers left stranded by the collapse of Air Comet, according to information released Saturday by Spain's airport authority.

Spain suspended Air Comet's operating licence on Tuesday after the airline filed for protection from creditors and laid off all of its 666 employees.

Thousands of travellers were left stuck at airports in Spain and Latin America, and the Spanish government said Wednesday it had chartered four planes to take them to their destinations.

A 400-seat charter flight took off from Madrid's Barajas airport for Lima on Saturday, according to a spokesman for Aena, Spain's publicly-owned airport management company.

The Spanish infrastructure ministry, which is responsible for transport, said Friday the charter flights had already transported 2,905 passengers.

According to Spanish national radio, around 100 Air Comet passengers, mostly immigrant workers from Peru and Ecuador who had hoped to travel home for Christmas, were still protesting at Barajas to demand more rescue flights.

Air Comet said its troubles came to a head when a British court ordered nine of its aircraft to be impounded at the request of German bank Nordbank which said the airline had failed to make aircraft lease payments.

Saturday's edition of El Pais newspaper reported that Air Comet could have kept going temporarily through mediation between the Spanish government and Nordbank, but refused, choosing to "ditch 7,000 passengers".

Spain's Infrastructure Minister Jose Blanco confirmed the report, saying the Air Comet management had preferred to shut down operations.

The Ecuadorian government and several Spanish consumer groups are planning legal action against Air Comet for fraud.

Blanco said Saturday the airline would be "punished according to the law and the case against it".

Madrid said it expected to spend 6.3 million euros (9.0 million dollars) to transport passengers affected by the collapse of the debt-ridden airline, which focused on flights from Spain to South America.

Air Comet has a fleet of 13 planes and carried 1,500 passengers a day on flights from Madrid to South American cities including Bogota, Buenos Aires, Havana, Lima and Quito.

At the beginning of December, the airline's workers staged partial strikes before the company agreed to cover unpaid wages, which in some case went back eight months.

Air Comet is controlled by Spanish travel group Marsans, whose president Gerardo Diaz Ferran is the head of Spain's employers federation CEOE.

Ferran blamed the closure of the airline on the British court's decision -- which he called "disproportionate" -- as well as a drop in bookings due to the global economic downturn.

Friday, December 25, 2009

US plane incident was 'attempted act of terrorism'

WASHINGTON (AFP) - – A passenger aboard a trans-Atlantic flight attempted to ignite an explosive as the plane was landing in Detroit in an incident US officials called an attempted terrorist attack.

President Barack Obama was informed of the incident and ordered increased security for air travel, the White House said.

The incident was "an attempted act of terrorism," a senior US official told AFP.

The incident unfolded around noon local time (1700 GMT) on Friday aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253, enroute from Amsterdam to the US city of Detroit.

The passenger "was immediately subdued and Delta is cooperating with authorities," a spokeswoman for Northwest's parent company Delta, Susan Elliott, told AFP.

The passenger was a 23-year-old Nigerian who "definitely has terror connections," US Representative Peter King told Fox News.

King said the man attempted to light a "fairly sophisticated device" aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253, which was carrying 278 passengers and arriving from Amsterdam.

"This could have been catastrophic," said King, the senior Republican on the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee.

Obama discussed the incident in a secure conference call with his Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism Advisor John Brennan, and National Security Council chief of staff Denis McDonough, the White House said.

Obama "instructed that all appropriate measures be taken to increase security for air travel," the White House said.

"The president is actively monitoring the situation and receiving regular updates," the statement read.

Sandra Berchtold, an FBI spokeswoman in Detroit, told AFP the incident was under investigation and US media reported that the passenger had told investigators he was affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

CNN and other broadcast outlets, citing a federal bulletin, said the man told investigators he had acquired the explosive device in Yemen, along with instructions as to when it should be used.

The incident drew comparisons with the case of the "shoebomber" Richard Reid, who attempted to bomb a trans-Atlantic flight in 2001 by igniting explosives he smuggled aboard in his shoes.

In the Netherlands, anti-terrorism officials said the suspect US agents detained in Detroit was not a Dutch national or resident.

The man arrived at Amsterdam-Schiphol airport on a connecting flight, said Judith Sluiter, the spokeswoman for the Netherlands' anti-terrorism coordinator.

Sluiter however was unable to specify from which country the man had arrived to the airport but King told Fox News the man "boarded the plane in Nigeria and then connected on in Amsterdam to Detroit."

The US Transportation Security Administration said they were rescreening the plane after it landed in Detroit.

"All passengers deplaned and out of an abundance of caution the plane was moved to a remote area where the plane and all the baggage are currently being rescreened," the agency said in a statement.

"A passenger is in custody and passengers are currently being interviewed," the statement added.

Obama, on vacation in Hawaii, has not changed his schedule. "The president is actively monitoring the situation and receiving regular updates," the White House said.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Bernama - Saturday, December 19
MELBOURNE, Dec 18 (Bernama) – A Qantas jumbo jet was forced to return to Singapore when one of its engines surged, but the airline has denied reports of a fire.

Flight QF10 was less than two hours into a journey from Singapore to Melbourne when the engine surged and had to be shut down about 9.20pm (local time) Thursday, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported.

Passengers reportedly described seeing "tongues of fire" shooting from the engine and feeling the plane convulse and lose power.

But a Qantas spokeswoman said there was no fire and passengers were never at risk.

"At approximately 31,000 feet, the engine surged and the flight crew followed procedures and shut down the engine and then they returned back to Singapore. The safety of the passengers was not threatened in any way," the spokeswoman told AAP.



"According to official reports there was no fire and there was no smoke. "What they could have seen might have been a flare from the engine but definitely no fire."

The plane, carrying 354 passengers and 19 crew, returned to Singapore's Changi Airport powered by three of its four engines.

Emergency services were waiting but the plane landed without incident.

Passengers were given accommodation for the night and were expected to experience a 23-hour delay before departing for Melbourne.

The Qantas spokeswoman said the jumbo would be grounded while the engine was replaced.

The incident is being investigated.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Boeing's Dreamliner in maiden flight

Wednesday, December 16
EVERETT, Washington (AFP) - – Boeing's cutting-edge 787 Dreamliner has taken its milestone first flight that the US aerospace giant hopes will prove a "gamechanger" for the global aviation industry.

The Dreamliner's first flight, more than two years behind schedule, marked the beginning of a world-spanning flight test program expected to deliver the first airplane to Japanese launch customer All Nippon Airways (ANA) in the fourth quarter of next year, the company said.

"Today is a great day for the Boeing Company," Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, said at a news conference following the flight Tuesday.

"I assure you the 787 will be the gamechanger that it was meant to be," he said.

The mid-size, twin-aisle Dreamliner is Boeing's first new model in more than a decade. The company has based its revolutionary design on lightweight composite materials instead of aluminum to improve fuel efficiency and reduce maintenance costs. Facts: Boeing 787 Dreamliner

About half the Dreamliner is made of composite materials, such as carbon fiber-reinforced resin, compared with 12 percent for its predecessor, the Boeing 777, which made its first flight in 1994.

The Dreamliner will use 20 percent less fuel than today's airplanes of comparable size and provide airlines with up to 45 percent more cargo revenue capacity, the company said.

For passengers, the 787 means larger windows, better lighting, more storage space and cleaner, more humidified air than current airplanes, it said.

Boeing sees the 787 as the future for the industry, as well as for its commercial strategy. The 787 "will set the bar for years to come," Fancher said.

"We build things that fly so airlines can put people on board," Russ Young, a Boeing spokesman, told AFP.

The Dreamliner is an opportunity "to provide a superior flying experience at lower cost to them, which is good for their industry."

Boeing thinks the use of composites "will only grow," Young said . "It's a bold step on our part" but Boeing has done its homework and "we realize composites are ready for these kinds of applications."

Clad in Boeing test-flight blue livery, 787 emblazoned on its tail, the Dreamliner took off under overcast skies at 10:27 am (1827 GMT) at Paine Field near Boeing's Everett plant in Washington state and landed at 1:33 pm at Seattle's Boeing Field.

Chief Pilot Mike Carriker and Captain Randy Neville said they tested some of the airplane's systems and structures in the nearly three-hour flight, as on-board equipment recorded and transmitted real-time data to a flight-test team at Boeing Field.

"We smoked it," Carriker said at the news conference, calling the 787 "a great jet."

"It felt like I flew into the future of the Boeing Company."

Neville said the 787 had delivered "no surprises" and brought "back the joy of flying."

The pilots took the airplane to an altitude of 15,000 feet (4,572 meters) and an air speed of 180 knots, or about 207 miles (333 kilometers) per hour, "customary on a first flight," the company said.

The first Boeing 787 will be joined in the flight test program in the coming weeks and months by five other 787s, the company said.

Chicago-based Boeing is vying with European rival Airbus for commercial supremacy. Airbus, a unit of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, is developing a new long-haul A350 plane aimed at competing with the Dreamliner which is expected to fly in mid-2013.

Boeing launched the Dreamliner program in April 2004 and initially had planned to deliver the first airplane to ANA in the first half of 2008, a delivery now set for fourth-quarter 2010 as production problems forced the company to announce a series of delays.

The delays contributed to a 1.6-billion-dollar loss in the third quarter and Boeing has slashed this year's earnings guidance by more than a third.

Boeing says it has 840 orders on its books from 55 customers for the cutting-edge plane, which it claims is the "fastest-selling all-new jetliner in aviation history."

United Airlines announced last week it would buy 25 Dreamliners, as well as 25 A350s, with the option to buy 50 more of each aircraft.

Asked if Boeing expects phones to ring off the hook with orders after the Dreamliner's first flight, a beaming Fancher said: "Everybody's going to want to have one."

Monday, November 30, 2009

Glitch forced super-jumbo to return to New York

AFP - Tuesday, December 1

PARIS (AFP) - – An Air France A380 was forced to turn around and land in New York on Friday after problems with its navigation system, only days after the airline began flying the super-jumbo across the Atlantic.

The double-decker Airbus made a U-turn 90 minutes after take-off from New York and landed safely at Kennedy Airport in the early hours on Saturday, an Air France spokesman told AFP on Monday.

"The plane is new and is still getting into its stride. It was a minor computer problem that made navigation a little imprecise," he said.

The plane was carrying about 530 people on the New York to Paris flight when it was forced to change its flight plan. Following repairs in New York, it took off again three hours later.

It was the second time that an A380, the world's largest passenger plane, was forced to turn around in mid-flight.

A Singapore Airlines super-jumbo returned to Paris on September 27 after one of its four engines failed during a routine flight to Singapore.

The Air France spokesman described last week's problem as a "minor" glitch, and said the airline had taken immediate steps to respond to the defect.

"It was a minor glitch, but we do apply a principle of absolute caution and as soon as there is the slightest concern, we come back, we fix it and the plane takes off again," he said.

"It was a problem with the in-flight computer but it did not at all affect air speed," he added.

European plane-maker Airbus has come under scrutiny since an A330 passenger plane crashed in the Atlantic in June, killing all 228 people on board.

Investigators found the plane's air speed sensors were defective, but that the Air France crash was caused solely by the faulty monitors.

The giant plane made its maiden flight for Air France 10 days ago, taking off from Paris en route to New York with 538 passengers on board.

Air France is the first European airline to use the super-jumbo, but it made its first test flight in April 2005 and has been in service for paying customers of Singapore Airlines since October 2007.

The super-jumbo can carry 525 people in the standard three-class layout and up to 853 with all-economy seating.

Gulf-based Emirates airlines and Australia's Qantas are also flying the A380, which has enjoyed some commercial success despite initial production delays.

Singapore Airlines has ordered 19 A380s in all, and plans to have 11 carriers in service by March 2010. Air France is planning to fly 12 super-jumbos, with three others to be delivered by June.

Air France plans to begin super-jumbo flights to Johannesburg and Tokyo in the coming months.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

3 Americans die in cargo plane crash in China

By EUGENE HOSHIKO, Associated Press Writer Eugene Hoshiko, Associated Press Writer

SHANGHAI – A Zimbabwe-registered cargo plane crashed in flames during takeoff from Shanghai's main airport Saturday, killing three American crew members and injuring four others on board.

The accident closed two runways at the Pudong airport in China's largest city for several hours. More than 30 international flights were delayed, leaving about 4,000 travelers stranded on planes or in airport lounges, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The MD-11 cargo plane, operated by Zimbabwe-based Avient Aviation, was heading to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Xinhua said. Avient's chief operating officer, Simon Clarke, refused to say what cargo it was carrying.

The aircraft's tail struck the ground on takeoff, China Central Television reported, and Xinhua said the plane veered off the runway and burst into flames. Footage showed black smoke billowing from the wreckage.

Three Americans on the seven-member crew died and a fourth was injured, U.S. Embassy spokesman Richard Buangan told The Associated Press. He did not give their names, saying the embassy had not yet asked their families for permission to release the information.

Shanghai television showed what it called a 61-year-old American co-pilot in a hospital bed, conscious and saying, "Thank you" to staff and officials.

The TV report said the other crew members were from Indonesia, Belgium and Zimbabwe.

Clarke said the crash was Avient's first.

"We're trying to ascertain the facts and the circumstances," he said. "It would be premature to release any information before that."

The company's site says it is "fully trained to move most categories of dangerous goods," but it adds, "as a company policy we do not carry any arms and/or ammunition."

In March, another MD-11 cargo plane crashed and exploded while landing at Japan's largest international airport, killing its two American pilots. Xinhua said another MD-11 with Korean Air crashed shortly after takeoff 10 years ago at Shanghai's Hongqiao Airport.

The Pudong airport, located by the East China Sea, opened a cargo facility in March 2008 that officials said was aimed at making Shanghai the cargo hub of Asia by 2010.

Recent crashes in China include two Chinese air force jets colliding in June 2008 in Inner Mongolia, with both pilots parachuting to safety. In June 2006, a Chinese military plane crashed in eastern Anhui province, killing all 40 people aboard.


Associated Press writers Cara Anna in Beijing and Angus Shaw in Harare, Zimbabwe, and Paisley Dodds in London contributed to this report.

Friday, November 20, 2009

First Air France A380 reaches New York

AFP - Saturday, November 21

NEW YORK (AFP) - – The world's largest airliner, an Air France A380, touched down in New York on Friday after completing the superjumbo jet's first Atlantic crossing from Europe to the United States.

The Airbus plane, carrying 538 passengers, left Paris earlier in the day and landed at 1:07 pm (1807 GMT) at J.F. Kennedy Airport, several minutes ahead of schedule, under crisp blue skies.

Two fire engines met the plane with a watery salute from their hosepipes as it taxied to its gate.

Air France is the first European airline to put the giant aircraft into service, but the fourth worldwide after Singapore Airlines, Gulf-based Emirates and Qantas of Australia.

Passengers included 380 people who bought their tickets in an Air France auction to benefit disadvantaged children.

Air France will launch regular A380 flights across the Atlantic on November 23. The fleet of 12 huge planes will also serve Johannesburg, starting in February, and then Tokyo.

But major production and delivery delays mean the commercial success of the A380, the pride of Airbus and parent company EADS, has yet to be secured.

On board, passengers were treated to free champagne and, for the inaugural flight, a three-member jazz band.

"A fantastic flight," said one passenger, Bernard Boluvi, 39. "It's a very quiet and stable plane. You hardly feel the takeoff and landing."

Michel Schmitt, 45, also praised the lack of noise aboard and said the double-decker felt more roomy than other jumbos. "It doesn't feel like one big cinema, because the plane is well divided into different sectors," he said.

But Gerard Jouany, 64, a journalist specializing in aviation, said he found the plane rather cramped and emphasizing the bus aspect of Airbus. "Air France chose the most dense configuration," he said.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

UA pilot charged with being over alcohol limit

By RAPHAEL G. SATTER,Associated Press Writer - Wednesday, November 11
LONDON – A United Airlines pilot who was pulled from his trans-Atlantic flight to Chicago shortly before takeoff has been charged with having too much alcohol in his system, British police said Tuesday.

Scotland Yard said that 51-year-old Erwin Vermont Washington, of Lakewood, Colorado, was arrested after officers were called to United Airlines Flight 949, which was already full of passengers and due to leave London's Heathrow Airport just after noon on Monday.

BAA, Heathrow's operator, said the plane had been due to leave imminently. A BAA spokesman quoted by Britain's Press Association news agency added that the pilot had been reported to authorities by another member of United's staff. BAA did not immediately return a call from the AP seeking comment late Tuesday.

It was not immediately clear how much alcohol Washington was accused of having consumed. Under British law, pilots are forbidden from having any more than 20 micrograms of alcohol for each 100 milliliters of blood in their system, or .02 percent. For most average-sized men, that is the equivalent of having just had about half a glass of regular strength beer.

Scotland Yard said that Washington, who has been released on bail, would have to appear at a court in northwest London on Nov. 20. If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison, a fine, or both.

United Airlines spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said Washington, who she did not identify by name, has been removed from service pending an investigation. She said her airline had strict rules on alcohol "and we have no tolerance for violation of this well-established policy."

She declined to say how long Washington had worked for the airline.

McCarthy said that the flight was canceled and that the plane's 124 passengers were put on other flights.

Monday's incident bears a strong resemblance to the arrest in May at Heathrow of an American Airlines pilot _ also scheduled to fly a plane to Chicago _ after he failed a breath test. Airport security staff had alerted airport police about the pilot.

In January, Southwest Airlines put a pilot on leave after passengers at a security checkpoint in Columbus, Ohio, told authorities that he smelled of alcohol. The pilot ran into a restroom and changed out of his uniform jacket and called in sick.

Union leaders say pilots are under increased scrutiny by security agents and passengers because of high-profile cases involving drunk pilots.


Associated Press Airlines Writer David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Australian pilots suspended over landing gear miss

AFP - Wednesday, November 4Send IM Story Print

Australian pilots suspended over landing gear miss
SYDNEY (AFP) - – Two Australian pilots have been suspended for preparing to land a passenger plane without the correct landing gear, in what air safety investigators Wednesday labelled a "serious incident".

The Qantas flight from Melbourne was forced to do a second lap above Sydney airport on October 26 after a cockpit alarm went off as the Boeing 767 prepared to touch down, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said.

"Passing 700 feet on approach into Sydney, the crew commenced a missed approach due to the aircraft being incorrectly configured for landing," the bureau said.

ATSB air safety spokesman Ian Sangston said the "too low gear" alert sounded because the landing gear had not been lowered, but said it was too early to speculate on the cause.

Qantas said flight safety was never at risk but it had stood the pilots down pending the bureau's inquiry into whether human error was to blame.

"This is an extremely rare event, but one we have taken seriously," the airline said in a statement.

"The flight crew knew all required procedures but there was a brief communication breakdown. They responded quickly to the situation... the cockpit alarm coincided with their actions."

The incident follows the revocation last week of the licences of two US pilots who overshot their destination by some 150 miles (240 kilometres) while distracted.

Sangston said the ATSB was also investigating an incident in which the autopilot briefly disconnected on board a Jetstar flight between Japan and the Gold Coast as it passed through stormy conditions on October 29.

"My understanding is that there was some sort of problem with the information being provided to the pilots," Sangston said.

Qantas' budget offshoot Jetstar said early indications were that the Airbus A330's airspeed sensing system was momentarily impaired, and several parts had been replaced on the aircraft before it was allowed to resume flying.

The error messages were similar to those reported from an Air France Airbus A330 jet which mysteriously plunged into the Atlantic in May, taking the lives of all 228 people on board.

But Sangston said the ATSB was yet to examine the black box data from the craft or interview the crew and it was "only conjecture" to draw parallels.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Wayward pilots say they were busy using laptops

By JOAN LOWY, Associated Press Writer Joan Lowy, Associated Press Writer – 26 mins ago
WASHINGTON – Not sleeping, the pilots say. They were engrossed in a complicated new crew-scheduling program on their laptop computers as their plane flew past its Minneapolis landing by 150 miles — a cockpit violation of airline policy that could cost them their licenses.

They were so focused on the scheduling — quite a complicated matter for the pilots after Delta Air Lines acquired Northwest Airlines a year ago — that they were out of communication with air traffic controllers and their airline for more than an hour. They didn't realize their mistake until contacted by a flight attendant about five minutes before the flight's scheduled landing last Wednesday night, the National Transportation Safety Board said Monday.

By then, Northwest Flight 188 with its 144 passengers and five crew members was over Wisconsin, at 37,000 feet.

The pilots — Richard Cole of Salem, Ore., the first officer, and Timothy Cheney of Gig Harbor, Wash., the captain — denied they had fallen asleep as aviation experts have suggested, the safety board said in recounting investigators' interviews with the men over the weekend.

Instead, Cole and Cheney said they both had their laptops out while the first officer, who had more experience with scheduling, instructed the captain on monthly flight crew scheduling.

A number of aviation experts — and people wondering about their next airline flights — have been suggesting it was more plausible that the pilots had fallen asleep during the San Diego-to-Minneapolis flight than that they had become so focused on a conversation that they lost awareness of their surroundings for such a lengthy period of time.

Air traffic controllers in Denver and Minneapolis repeatedly tried without success to raise the pilots by radio. Other pilots in the vicinity tried reaching the plane on other radio frequencies. Their airline tried contacting them using a radio text message that chimes.

Authorities became so alarmed that National Guard jets were readied for takeoff at two locations and the White House Situation Room alerted senior officials, who monitored the airliner as the Airbus A320 flew across a broad swath of the mid-continent out of contact with anyone on the ground.

"It's inexcusable," said former NTSB Chairman Jim Hall. "I feel sorry for the individuals involved, but this was certainly not an innocuous event — this was a significant breach of aviation safety and aviation security."

Delta said in a statement that using laptops or engaging in activity unrelated to the pilots' command of the aircraft during flight is strictly against the airline's flight deck policies. The airline said violations of that policy will result in termination.

There are no federal rules that specifically ban pilots' use of laptops or other personal electronic devices as long as the plane is flying above 10,000 feet, said Diane Spitaliere, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman.

"I think it depends upon how it's being used," Spitaliere said.

The Air Transport Association, a trade group that represents major U.S. airlines, expects pilots to comply with federal regulations and airline policies, but hasn't taken a position on the use of electronic devices by pilots while in the cockpit, ATA spokeswoman Elizabeth Merida said.

Delta has suspended the two pilots pending an investigation into the incident. FAA is also investigating and has warned Cheney and Cole their pilot licenses could be suspended or revoked.

Pilots' schedules are tied to their seniority, which also determines the aircraft they fly. Those at the top of the list get first choice on vacations, the best routes and the bigger planes that they get paid more for flying. Following Delta Air Lines' acquisition of Northwest, an arbitration panel ruled that the pilot seniority lists at the two carriers should be integrated based on pilots' status and aircraft category.

Cheney and Cole are both experienced pilots, according to the NTSB. Cheney, 53, was hired by Northwest in 1985 and has about 20,000 hours of flying time, about half of which was in the A320. Cole, 54, had about 11,000 hours of flight time, including 5,000 hours in the A320.

Both pilots told the board they had never had an accident, incident or violation, the board said.

The pilots acknowledged that while they were engaged in working on their laptops they weren't paying attention to radio traffic, messages from their airline or their cockpit instruments, the board said. That's contrary to one of the fundamentals of commercial piloting, which is to keep attention focused on monitoring messages from controllers and watching flight displays in the cockpit.

"It is unsettling when you see experienced pilots who were not professional in flying this flight," said Kitty Higgins, a former NTSB board member. "This is clearly a wakeup call for everybody."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., called the incident "the ultimate case of distracted driving, only this time it was distracted flying."


AP Airlines Writer Harry R. Weber contributed to this report from Atlanta.


On the Net:

National Transportation Safety Board:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pilot who overshot airport denies crew was napping

By STEVE KARNOWSKI and BRAD CAIN,Associated Press Writers - Sunday, October 25

MINNEAPOLIS – The first officer of the Northwest Airlines jet that missed its destination by 150 miles says he and the captain were not sleeping or arguing in the cockpit but he wouldn't explain their lapse in response and the detour.

"It was not a serious event, from a safety issue," pilot Richard Cole said late Friday in front of his Salem, Ore., home. "I would tell you more, but I've already told you way too much."

Air traffic controllers and pilots had tried for more than an hour Wednesday night to contact the Minneapolis-bound flight. Officials on the ground alerted National Guard jets to prepare to chase the airliner, though none of the military planes left the runway.

The jet with 144 passengers aboard was being closely monitored by senior White House officials, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro told The Associated Press on Saturday. He didn't say if President Barack Obama was informed.

Many aviation safety experts and pilots say the most likely explanation is that the pilots fell asleep along their route from San Diego. NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said fatigue and cockpit distraction are factors that will be looked into.

"We were not asleep; we were not having an argument; we were not having a fight," Cole said, but would not discuss why it took so long for him and the flight's captain, Timothy B. Cheney, of Gig Harbor, Wash., to respond to radio calls.

"I can tell you that airplanes lose contact with the ground people all the time. It happens. Sometimes they get together right away; sometimes it takes awhile before one or the other notices that they are not in contact."

The FAA said Friday letters had been sent informing the pilots they are being investigated by the agency and it is possible their pilot's licenses could be suspended or revoked.

Investigators were in the process Saturday of scheduling interviews with the pilots, Holloway said, and audio from the cockpit voice recorder was downloaded at NTSB headquarters on Friday.

But they may not glean much from it. While new recorders retain as much as two hours of cockpit conversation and other noise, the older model aboard Northwest's Flight 188 includes just the last 30 minutes _ only the very end of the flight after the pilots realized their error over Wisconsin.

The NTSB recommended a decade ago that airlines be required to have two-hour cockpit voice recorders. The standard has been 15- to 30-minute recorders.

Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a rule requiring airplanes and helicopters seating 10 or more people to have the 2-hour audio recordings, but gave the industry time to comply. Aircraft made after March 2010 must come equipped with longer recorders, though many manufacturers have already been including them. Existing planes have until March 2012 to comply.

The FAA rule doesn't require cockpit video recordings, which the NTSB had also recommended. Pilots opposed the video recordings.

Northwest, which was acquired last year by Delta Air Lines, is also investigating the incident. Cheney and Cole have been suspended. Messages left at Cheney's home were not returned.

The pilots passed breathalyzer tests and were apologetic after the flight, according to a police report released Friday. Cheney and Cole had just started their work week and were coming off a 19-hour layover, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Saturday, citing an internal Northwest document it said was described to the newspaper.

The police report said that the crew indicated they had been having a heated discussion about airline policy.


AP Writers Joan Lowy in Washington and Amy Forliti in Minneapolis and AP Airlines Writers Joshua Freed in Minneapolis, Harry R. Weber in Atlanta and Dave Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report. Cain reported from Salem, Ore.


On the Net: tracking of Northwest Flight 188:

National Transportation Safety Board

Monday, September 28, 2009

A380 engine failure

PARIS, Sept 27 - A Singapore Airlines A380 was forced to turn round mid-flight and head back to Paris on Sunday after one of its four engines failed, the head of the airline's French operations said.

The doubledecker A380 took off from Paris at 12.30 p.m. with 444 passengers aboard and headed for Singapore, but had to turn round after 2 hours 45 minutes because of the engine problem, airline director Jerry Seah said.

The plane landed safely back in France at 5.45 p.m. (1545 GMT) and the passengers were sent to hotels as the airline tried to lay on an alternative flight for them.

Seah told Reuters he believed it was the first time the plane had suffered such a problem since it had started operating the Singapore-Paris route earlier this year.

The giant jet, built by Airbus , is designed to continue flying with only three engines, but came back to Paris as a safety precaution.

The engines on the Singapore A380s are built by Britain's Rolls Royce Group . (Reporting by Jean Baptiste Vey, writing by Crispian Balmer; editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)

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Monday, August 17, 2009

KL Low Cost Carrier Terminal

Air Asia operates a hub at the Kl LCC

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Another Plane crash in Iran

AFP - Sunday, July 26 TEHRAN (AFP) - - An Iranian airliner which overshot the runway and hurtled into a perimeter wall killing 16 people appears to have hit the tarmac too fast, an aviation official said on Saturday

"This plane should have landed at a maximum speed of 165 miles per hour but it in fact landed at around 200 mph," acting Iranian Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) director Mohammad Ali Ilkhani told state television.

He said the licence of Aria Airlines, whose plane was involved in Friday's deadly accident in the northeastern city of Mashhad, had been revoked.

The official IRNA news agency cited ICAO spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh as saying a total of 16 people were killed -- 13 crew members and three passengers.

Nine crew members were from Kazakhstan while the other four were Iranians, Jafarzadeh said. The three passengers who lost their lives were all Iranians.

"The plane was carrying 153 passengers, and 31 were wounded in the incident," Jafarzadeh said, adding that the plane belonged to Kazakhstan but was chartered to Iranian carrier Aria Airlines.

"We just heard a boom then the plane swerved to the right and then all I can remember were people praying to God," one survivor, a man with his head covered in bandages, told Iranian state run television.

An old woman, lying on bed in hospital in a gown said people from a nearby village were first on the scene.

"It took the paramedics around 20 minutes to reach us; the ordinary people came first to our aid," she said.

Mashhad, Iran's second city, is a Shiite Muslim pilgrimage destination as it was the burial place of the eighth Shiite Imam, Reza.

Iranian media reported that the managing director of Aria Airlines, Mehdi Dadpey, was among those killed in the accident.

A senior transport official said on Friday that the incoming aircraft had overshot the runway.

"Instead of landing at the beginning of the tarmac, the plane landed in the middle of the runway," the ISNA news agency quoted deputy transport minister Ahmad Majidi as saying.

"Because the tarmacs length is short, it went off the tarmac and crashed into the opposite wall.

The crash came just 10 days after another air disaster when a Caspian Airlines plane crashed near the city of Qazvin, northwest of Tehran, killing all 168 on board.

Iran has been under years of international sanctions hampering its ability to buy modern Boeing or Airbus planes and it has suffered a number of aviation disasters over the past decade.

Its civil and military fleets are made up of ancient aircraft in very poor condition due to their age and lack of maintenance.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Air crash in Iran

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press Writer – 51 mins ago

TEHRAN, Iran – An Iranian passenger plane carrying 168 people crashed a quarter-hour after takeoff Wednesday, smashing into a field northwest of the capital and shattering to pieces. State television said all on board were killed.

The impact gouged a deep trench in the dirt field, which was shown littered with smoking wreckage in footage shown on state TV. It showed a large chunk of a wing, but much of the wreckage appeared to be in small pieces, and emergency workers and witnesses picked around the shredded metal for bodies.

The Russian-made Caspian Airlines jet was heading from Tehran to the Armenian capital Yerevan near the village of Jannatabad outside the city of Qazvin, around 75 miles northwest of Tehran, state television said. It crashed at about 11:30 am, 16 minutes after taking off from Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport, TV reported.

The Qazvin emergency services director Hossein Bahzadpour told the IRNA news agency that the plane was completely destroyed and shattered to pieces, and the wreckage was in flames. "It his highly likely that all the passengers on the flight were killed," Bahzadpour said.

Iranian Civil Aviation Organization spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh told state television that 153 passengers and 15 crewmembers were on board. State TV said all were killed.

A Caspian Airlines representative told AP in Yerevan that most of the passengers were Armenians, and that some Georgian citizens were also on board. The representative spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to talk to the press.

Also among the passengers were eight members of Iran's national youth judo team, along with two trainers and a delegation chief, who were scheduled to train with the Armenian judo team before attending competitions in Hungary on Aug. 6, state TV said.

Caspian Airlines is a Russian-Iranian joint venture founded in 1993. Iran has frequent plane crashes often because of bad maintenance of its aging aircraft. Tehran blames the problem in part on U.S. sanctions that prevent Iran from getting spare parts for some planes. Caspian Airlines, however, uses Russian-made Tupolevs whose maintenance would be less impaired by American sanctions.

In February 2006, a Russian-made TU-154 operated by Iran Airtour, which is affiliated with Iran's national carrier, crashed during landing in Tehran, killing 29 of the 148 people on board. Another Airtour Tupolev crashed in 2002 in the mountains of western Iran, killing all 199 on board.

The crashes have also affected Iran's military. In December 2005, 115 people were killed when a U.S.-made C-130 plane, crashed into a 10-story building near Tehran's Mehrabad airport. In Nov. 2007, a Russian-made Iranian military plane crashed shortly after takeoff killing 36 members of the elite Revolutionary Guards.

AP writer Avet Demourian in Yerevan, Armenia, contributed to this report.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Air France Crash

By GREG KELLER and EMMA VANDORE,Associated Press Writers AP - Friday, July 3

LE BOURGET, France - Air France Flight 447 slammed into the Atlantic Ocean, intact and belly first, at such a high speed that the 228 people aboard probably had no time to even inflate their life jackets, French investigators said Thursday in their first report into the June 1 accident.

Likening the investigation to a puzzle with missing pieces, lead investigator Alain Bouillard said that one month after the crash, "we are very far from establishing the causes of the accident."

Problematic speed sensors on the Airbus A330-200 jet that have been the focus of intense speculation since the crash may have misled the plane's pilots but were not a direct cause, Bouillard said, while admitting that investigators are still a long way from knowing what did precipitate the disaster.

"The investigation is a big puzzle," said Bouillard, who is leading the probe for the French accident agency BEA. "Today we only have a few pieces of the puzzle which prevents us from even distinguishing the photo of the puzzle."

The plane was flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris when it went down in a remote area of the Atlantic, 930 miles (1,500 kilometers) off Brazil's mainland and far from radar coverage.

The BEA released its first preliminary findings on the crash Thursday, calling it one of history's most challenging plane crash investigations. Yet the probe, which has operated without access to the plane's flight data and voice recorders, appears so far to have unveiled little about what really caused the accident.

The speed sensors, called Pitot tubes, are "a factor but not the only one," Bouillard said. "It is an element but not the cause," Bouillard told a news conference in Le Bourget outside Paris.

Other elements that came under scrutiny in the immediate aftermath of the crash, such as the possibility that heavy storms or lightning may have brought down the jet, were also downplayed in the BEA's presentation.

Meteorological data show the presence of storm clouds in the area the jet would have flown through, but nothing out of the ordinary for the equatorial region in June, Bouillard said, eliminating the theory that the plane could have encountered a storm of unprecedented power. Other flights through the area shortly after Flight 447 disappeared didn't report unusual weather, Bouillard said.

"Between the surface of the water and 35,000 feet, we don't know what happened," Bouillard acknowledged. "In the absence of the flight recorders, it is extremely difficult to draw conclusions."

Representatives of families of the victims said they learned little new and vowed to continue to push for more information.

Charles-Henri Tardivat, lawyer representing victims' families said now that the phase of grief had passed, he expected families to be "even more motivated in trying to get answers and there's going to be significant pressure put on the authorities to continue feeding the facts and the answers that are necessary in this case. "

A burst of automated messages emitted by the plane before it fell gave rescuers only a vague location to begin their search, which has failed to locate the plane's black boxes in the vast ocean expanse.

The chances of finding the flight recorders are falling daily as the signals they emit fade. Without them, the full causes of the tragic accident may never be known.

One of the automatic messages indicates the plane was receiving incorrect speed information from the external monitoring instruments, which could destabilize its control systems. Experts have suggested those external instruments might have iced over.

The Pitots have not been "excluded from the chain that led to the accident," Bouillard said.

Analysis of the 600-odd pieces of the jet that have been recovered indicate the plane "was not destroyed in flight" and appeared to have hit the water intact and "belly first," gathering speed as it dropped thousands of feet, he said.

He also said investigators have found "neither traces of fire nor traces of explosives."

Shortly after the crash, aviation experts indicated that fractures revealed during autopsies of the victims along with the large pieces of wreckage pulled from the Atlantic strongly suggested the plane broke up in the air. There was no immediate explanation for the apparent contradiction between the BEA's findings and those viewpoints.

Bouillard said air traffic controllers in Dakar, Senegal had never officially taken control of Flight 447 after its last radio contact with Brazilian flight controllers at 1:35 a.m., and it wasn't until up to seven hours later that flight controllers in Madrid and Brest, France, raised an alarm. He said the delay was being investigated but was not a cause of the crash.

Brazilian Air Force Col. Henry Munhoz said all required information on the plane's flight plan was passed to Senegalese air controllers.

Some members of the crash victims' families said that without a clear cause to blame the accident on, the interim report held little significance.

Marco Tulio Moreno Marques, a 43-year-old lawyer in Rio de Janeiro, lost both his parents in the crash. He did not bother watching the French investigators' public presentation, saying that without the black boxes, he was skeptical of any findings.

"I think it is difficult that they will ever find out what happened," he said. "They can say a flying saucer hit the plane, but if they don't find the black boxes we will never know for certain what happened."

Kieran Daly, editor of Air Transport Intelligence, said although investigators seem to know very little about what happened due to "a horrendous lack of evidence," it is significant that the plane landed the right way up.

"It suggests they were in some kind of flight attitude," he said.

But he warned that "without finding the black boxes it's going to be phenomenally difficult, maybe impossible, to determine what happened."

Bouillard said life vests found among the wreckage were not inflated, suggesting passengers were not prepared for a crash landing in the water. The pilots apparently also did not send any mayday calls.

He said there was "no information" suggesting a need to ground the world's fleet of more than 600 A330 planes as a result of the crash.

"As far as I'm concerned there's no problem flying these aircraft," he said.

Air France said all elements of the investigation "will be fully and immediately taken into account by the airline" and that it is continuing to cooperate with the investigators with "a commitment to total transparency with regard to the investigators, its passengers and the general public."

The black boxes _ which are in reality bright orange _ are resting somewhere on an underwater mountain range filled with crevasses and rough, uneven terrain. Bouillard said the search for them has been extended by 10 days through July 10, while his investigation would run through Aug. 15.

Bouillard said French investigators have yet to receive any information from Brazilian authorities about the results of the autopsies on the 51 bodies recovered from the site.

But a spokesman for the Public Safety Department in Brazil's Pernambuco state _ in charge of the autopsies _ denied that.

"French medical examiners are working together with Brazilian medical examiners and they have full access to all the information obtained from autopsies," the spokesman said on condition of anonymity according to department rules.

Families of the victims met with officials from BEA, Air France and the French transport ministry before the report was released. An association of families addressed a letter to the CEO of Air France, Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, demanding answers to several questions about the plane.

Investigators should have an easier time recovering debris and black boxes in the crash of a Yemeni Airbus 310 with 153 people on board that went down Tuesday just nine miles (14.5 kilometers) north of the Indian Ocean island-nation of Comoros.

Vandore reported from Paris. Associated Press writers Cecile Brisson at Le Bourget, Angela Charlton in Paris, Marco Sibaja in Brasilia, Bradley Brooks in Rio de Janeiro and Stan Lehman in Sao Paulo contributed to this report.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Yemenia crash

Reuters - Tuesday, June 30 By Ahmed Ali Amir

MORONI - An Airbus A310-300 from Yemen with 153 people on board crashed into choppy seas as it tried to land in bad weather on the Indian Ocean archipelago of Comoros Tuesday, officials said.

Two French military planes and a French ship left the Indian Ocean islands of Mayotte and Reunion to search for the Yemenia aircraft that was carrying nationals from France and Comoros.

An official from the Yemeni state carrier said the plane had 142 passengers, including three infants, and 11 crew on board. It was flying from Sanaa to Moroni, the capital of the main island of the Comoros archipelago.

"We still do not have information about the reason behind the crash or survivors," Mohammad al-Sumairi, deputy general manager for Yemenia operations told Reuters.

"The weather conditions were rough; strong wind and high seas. The wind speed recorded on land at the airport was 61 km an hour. There could be other factors," he said.

It is the second Airbus to plunge into the sea this month. An Air France Airbus A330-200 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean killing 228 people on board on June 1.

In 1996, a hijacked Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 also crashed into the sea off the Comoros islands in 1996, killing 125 of 175 passengers and crew.

"Two French military aircraft have left from the islands of Mayotte and Reunion to search the identified zone, and a French vessel has left Mayotte," said Hadji Madi Ali, director General of Moroni International Airport.


"The plane has crashed and we still don't know exactly where. We think it's in the area of Mitsamiouli," Comoros Vice-President Idi Nadhoim told Reuters from the airport.

Ibrahim Kassim, a representative from regional air security body ASECNA, said the plane had probably come down 5 to 10 km from the coast, and civilian and military boats had set off to search the rough waters.

"We think the crash is somewhere along its landing approach," Kassim told Reuters. "The weather is really not very favourable. The sea is very rough."

ASECNA -- the Agency for Aviation Security and Navigation in Africa and Madagascar -- covers Francophone Africa.

The town of Mitsamiouli is on the main island Grande Comore.

Interior Minister Hamid Bourhane told Reuters the army had sent small speedboats to an area between the village of Ntsaoueni and the airport.

"At the moment we don't have any information about whether there are any survivors," he told Reuters.

A medical worker in Mitsamiouli said he had been called in.

"They have just called me to come to the hospital. They said a plane had crashed," he told Reuters.

A United Nations official at the airport, who declined to be named, said the control tower had received notification the plane was coming into land, and then lost contact with it.

Yemenia is 51 percent owned by the Yemeni government and 49 percent owned by the Saudi Arabian government. Its fleet includes two Airbus 330-200s, four Airbus 310-300s and four Boeing 737-800s, according to the company Web site.

The Comoros covers three small volcanic islands, Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli, in the Mozambique channel, 300 km northwest of Madagascar and a similar distance east of the African mainland.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Air France Crash

By STAN LEHMAN,Associated Press Writer AP -

Monday, June 22 SAO PAULO - Medical examiners have identified the first 11 of 50 bodies recovered from the Air France flight that plunged into the Atlantic three weeks ago, officials said Sunday.

Five bodies were identified as Brazilian men, five as Brazilian women and one as a "foreigner of the male sex," the Public Safety Department of the northeastern state of Pernambuco said in a statement. The department did not reveal the nationality of the non-Brazilian victim.

Dental records, fingerprints and DNA samples were used to identify the bodies, the statement said. Investigators are reviewing all remains, debris and baggage at a base set up in Recife, capital of Pernambuco.

The families of the Brazilian victims and the embassy in Brazil representing the foreigner's home country have been notified, but the identities will not be publicized in keeping with the families' wishes, the statement said.

Air France Flight 447 fell into the ocean off the northeast coast of Brazil on the night of May 31, killing all 228 people aboard.

Thus far, 50 bodies have been retrieved from the ocean.

Searchers from Brazil, France, the United States and other countries are methodically scanning the surface and depths of the Atlantic for signs of the Airbus A330, which crashed after running into thunderstorms en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

Still missing are the plane's flight data and voice recorders, thought to be deep under water. French-chartered ships are trolling a search area with a radius of 50 miles (80 kilometers), pulling U.S. Navy underwater listening devices attached to 19,700 feet (6,000 meters) of cable. The black boxes send out an electronic tapping sound that can be heard up to 1.25 miles (2 kilometers) away.

Brazilian and American officials said that as of Sunday evening no signals from the black boxes had been picked up.

Without the black boxes to help explain what went wrong, the investigation has focused on a flurry of automated messages sent by the plane minutes before it lost contact. One of the messages suggests external speed sensors had iced over, destabilizing the plane's control systems.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Male International Airport

SQ451 Boeing 777-200

Malaysia Airline

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Male airport lounge

They serve sandwiches, cakes and biscuits

Monday, June 15, 2009

SQ 451 to Singapore

Stir fried noodles

Chicken and vegetables

The menu for the return flight


Waldorf salad
apple and celery salad

Main course

Cayenne pepper flavoured stewed chicken, seasonal vegetables and potatoes


Chinese stir fried egg noodles with beef and vegetables


Chocolate mousse

Saturday, June 13, 2009

SQ 452 to Male

Roast chicken

Pan fried fish

Here's the menu for dinner served on 11 June 09 in the Economy class

Smoked Salmon with Asian slaw and creamy sesame dressing

Main courses

Pan fried fish with lemon dill sauce, buttered vegetables and potatoes
Oriental roast chicken with Chinese greens and fragrant rice

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Debris likely from Air France plane found in Atlantic

AFP - Wednesday, June 3 RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - - Search aircraft found debris on Tuesday believed to be from an Air France flight that disappeared over the Atlantic with 228 people on board, but officials say what brought down the plane remains a mystery.

Brazilian air force aircraft located a seat from a plane, an orange buoy and jet fuel slicks floating 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) off Brazil's northeast coast -- in a remote stretch of the Atlantic Ocean where the flight from Rio de Janeiro bound for Paris disappeared early on Monday.

But an air force spokesman, Colonel Jorge Amaral, cautioned that no item with a serial number or other identification had yet been found that could confirm the debris was from missing Air France flight AF 447.

"The search is continuing because it's very little material in relation to the size" of the Air France Airbus A330, he said.

He added that there was no chance of survivors being found among the debris.

Brazilian navy vessels and a French ship carrying two mini-submarines were on their way to the zone. The submarines are capable of operating at depths of 6,000 meters (19,700 feet), which is also the limit aircraft black boxes can survive.

The zone's average depth is estimated between 4,000 and 5,000 meters (13,100 and 16,400 feet) but has crevasses up to 8,000 meters (26,200 feet) deep, according to Brazilian and French oceanographic experts.

Three cargo ships nearby, two Dutch-flagged and one French, have been asked to go where the debris was found and should arrive "in the next few hours," a Brazilian navy official, Lieutenant Henrique Afonso Lima, said.

If it is confirmed that all aboard flight AF 447 perished, it would be the deadliest civilian aviation accident since 2001 and the worst in Air France's 70-year history.

The possible discovery of what was left of the airliner held the promise that the enigma of what brought the plane down might be solved if its black boxes could be recovered from the bottom of the ocean.

The plane vanished Monday four hours into its 11-hour flight, as it was beyond the reach of radar midway over the Atlantic between South America and Africa, in an area known for its tropical storms .

The pilots issued no mayday. But automatic data signals -- received from the zone where the debris was discovered -- told of multiple electric and pressurization failures.

Air France suggested the four-year-old plane could have been struck by lightning -- a fairly common hazard that by itself should not knock out a modern airliner, but coupled with other problems such as violent turbulence it could be dangerous.

Other theories advanced by experts include pilot error or even the remote possibility of terrorism.

"No hypothesis is being favored at the moment," French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Tuesday.

"Our only certainty is that there was no distress call sent by the plane, but regular automatic alerts sent over three minutes indicated the failure of all systems," he said.

Air France chief executive Pierre-Henry Gourgeon said Monday the succession of data messages was a "totally unprecedented situation" and that it was "probable" the plane crashed into the ocean shortly afterwards.

More than half of those traveling in the full plane were either French or Brazilian. The others came from 30 countries, mostly in Europe.

The 216 passengers included 126 men, 82 women, seven children and a baby. The crew comprised 11 French nationals and one Brazilian.

Nineteen passengers were employees and partners of a French electrical firm who had won a holiday for hitting sales targets.

Another three were Irishwomen in their 20s who trained together as doctors, including a former member of the famed Riverdance dance troupe.

A 25-year-old descendant of Brazil's long-defunct royal family was also on the passenger manifest.

The French captain, whose name has yet to be released, was 58 and an Air France pilot since 1988 with a great deal of experience, the airline said.

Ten Brazilian aircraft have been deployed to continue searches of the Atlantic, while other aircraft from France, Spain and the United States have also been dispatched to help.

France's defense ministry has asked the United States to focus its spy satellites on the zone.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and others have held out very little hope of survivors but vowed to keep up the search for as long as necessary.

French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo, whose brief includes the transport portfolio, said that, if they so wished, relatives of the missing could be flown to the search zone to watch.

Air France and French consular officials were providing counseling and other assistance to the distraught relatives, who were being kept in hotels in Brazil and France closed to journalists.

Prayer services were to be held in Catholic and Muslim temples in Paris on Wednesday for the passengers on the doomed plane. Sarkozy was to attend the ceremony in Notre-Dame cathedral.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Macau International airport

The runway here is actually located offshore. Here is a sequence of shots showing an Air Asia plane on its way from the runway to the gates

Sunday, May 3, 2009

To Macau on Tiger Airways

This All Nippon Airways plane just landed

A Singapore Airline's Boeing 777 plane getting airborne

Cathay Pacific plane on its way to the arrival gates

A Fedex frieghter taking off

The Republic of Singapore Air Force uses the runway at Changi Airport for takeoff. Here a tanker is on its way back to Changi Air Base West after landing

A Tiger Airways plane getting ready for departure at Changi airport's budget terminal

Monday, April 6, 2009

Budget Airlines in the Middle East

DUBAI (AFP) - - Dubai appeared to shrug off a slowdown in global air travel and its own financial crisis, announcing on Monday the launch of its first budget carrier, a sister company to high-flying Emirates airline.

Flydubai will take to the skies in two months, with flights to Beirut on June 1 and to Amman on June 2, company chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum told reporters.

The company's website listed Dubai-Beirut-Dubai fares starting from 170 dollars, compared to the standard return ticket price of 1,800 dirhams (490 dollars) with Emirates.

"We are committed to bringing a new option to the market and to growing the region's budget air travel business," said Sheikh Ahmed, also chairman of Emirates.

"This will benefit our economy, our people, and tourism business as a whole."

Despite a global economic slowdown whose effects are being felt in the oil-rich Gulf, Sheikh Ahmed said: "There is a lot of potential in this region... and we have a lot to do."

The Gulf emirate first announced the establishment of flydubai in March 2008, with a start-up capital of 250 million dirhams (67 million dollars).

"We set the date long time ago. We never really thought of delaying (the launch)... we think that the market is there," Sheikh Ahmed told AFP.

Flydubai will operate two next-generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft on the Beirut and Amman routes, and have four aircraft by the end of the year, he said.

Dubai owns the largest Middle East carrier, Emirates, and has the busiest airport in the region which handled more than 37 million passengers in 2008, a nine percent increase from 2007.

The new airline will be based at Dubai Airport. It was first expected to use Dubai's al-Maktoum International airport, but the new hub is running behind schedule and is now expected to open in 2010 instead of this year.

It joins an increasing number of budget airlines in the region.

The neighbouring emirate of Sharjah operates Air Arabia, while Kuwait's Jazeera Airways operates from Dubai and Kuwait, Bahrain Air flies from the neighbouring Gulf archipelago, and Nas from oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

Air Arabia is the Middle East's first and largest no-frills carrier, which carried 3.6 million passengers in 2008 and saw annual profit surged 35.6 percent to 138.9 million dollars.

"Nobody can stop competition. It will always be there, whether in your home ground and anywhere else," Sheikh Ahmed told AFP.

Dubai's once-booming economy was hard-hit by the global economic crisis, which tightened the noose on finance available for Dubai businesses, especially the massive real estate sector -- once the main engine of growth.

The central bank of the United Arab Emirates came to Dubai's help in February by subscribing to 10 billion dollars in bonds issued by the emirate to finance a foreign debt burden exceeding 74 billion dollars.

But Middle East air travel appears to be bucking a global slowdown, as the region's carriers saw a rise of 0.4 percent in international traffic in February, compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

IATA reported a sharp decline in air travel in February, as global passenger numbers nosedived 10.1 percent from the year before while freight traffic fell by 22.1 percent.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

US Airways 1549 Hudson crash landing

Quoted from Wikipedia

US Airways Flight 1549 was a commercial passenger flight from New York City's LaGuardia Airport bound for Charlotte, North Carolina that ditched in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009. All 155 on board survived.

While in the flight's initial climb out about two minutes after taking off at 3:25 p.m. EST (20:25 UTC), the Airbus 320 struck a flock of Canada Geese[6] at about 3,000 feet resulting in an immediate loss of thrust from both engines. When the pilots concluded that their airliner would be unable to safely reach any airfield from their altitude and location near the George Washington Bridge, they turned south and headed down the river looking for a place to ditch. After gliding for about eight miles in essentially unpowered flight, the aircrew set the airliner down intact in mid-river at 3:31 pm near the USS Intrepid Museum (Pier 86, North River) in midtown Manhattan. All 150 passengers and 5 aircrew safely evacuated the cabin and were rescued from the partially submerged plane by the crews of nearby commercial and rescue watercraft.

The entire crew of Flight 1549 was later awarded the Master's Medal of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators. The award citation read, "This emergency ditching and evacuation, with the loss of no lives, is a heroic and unique aviation achievement

The downed US Airways Flight 1549 floating on the Hudson River
Incident summary
Date January 15, 2009 (2009-01-15)
Type Multiple bird strikes, controlled ditching
Site Hudson River between New York City near 48th Street and Port Imperial at Weehawken, New Jersey, United States
Passengers 150[1]
Crew 5
Injuries 78[2] (mostly minor)
Fatalities 0
Survivors 155 (all)
Aircraft type Airbus A320-214
Operator US Airways
Tail number N106US

While in the flight's initial climb out about two minutes after taking off at 3:25 p.m. EST (20:25 UTC), the Airbus 320 struck a flock of Canada Geese[6] at about 3,000 feet resulting in an immediate loss of thrust from both engines. When the pilots concluded that their airliner would be unable to safely reach any airfield from their altitude and location near the George Washington Bridge, they turned south and headed down the river looking for a place to ditch. After gliding for about eight miles in essentially unpowered flight, the aircrew set the airliner down intact in mid-river at 3:31 pm near the USS Intrepid Museum (Pier 86, North River) in midtown Manhattan. All 150 passengers and 5 aircrew safely evacuated the cabin and were rescued from the partially submerged plane by the crews of nearby commercial and rescue watercraft.

The entire crew of Flight 1549 was later awarded the Master's Medal of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators. The award citation read, "This emergency ditching and evacuation, with the loss of no lives, is a heroic and unique aviation achievement."

The captain was Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, 57, a former fighter pilot who had been an airline pilot since leaving the Air Force in 1980. He is also a safety expert and a glider pilot. The first officer was Jeffrey B. Skiles, 49.[17][20][21] The flight attendants were Donna Dent,[22] Doreen Welsh, and Sheila Dail.

The aircraft was an Airbus A320-214 (US Registry: N106US), powered by two GE Aviation/Snecma-designed CFM56-5B4/P engines manufactured in France and the U.S.[25] One of 74 A320s then in service in the US Airways fleet,[26] it was built by Airbus Industrie with final assembly at its facility at AĆ©roport de Toulouse-Blagnac in France in June, 1999. Delivered to the carrier on August 2, 1999, the airliner was registered to Wells Fargo Bank Northwest, NA, as owner/lessor[27] with AIG listed as the lead insurer.[28]

The mechanical energy of the two engines is the primary source of routine electrical power and hydraulic pressure for the aircraft flight control systems.[30] The aircraft also has an auxiliary power unit (APU), which can provide backup electrical power for the aircraft, including its electrically powered hydraulic pumps; and a ram air turbine (RAT), a type of wind turbine that can be deployed into the airstream to provide backup hydraulic pressure and electrical power at certain speeds.[30] According to the NTSB, both the APU and the RAT were operating as the plane descended into the Hudson, although it was not clear whether the RAT had been deployed manually or automatically.[30]

The Airbus A320 also has a "ditching" button that closes valves and openings underneath the aircraft including the outflow valve, the air inlet for the emergency Ram Air Turbine, avionics inlet, extract valve and flow control valve. It is meant to slow flooding in a water landing.[31] The flight crew did not activate the "ditch switch" during the incident

At 3:27:36,[34] using the call sign "Cactus 1539 [sic]",[36][37] the flight radioed air traffic controllers at New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON)[38] "Hit birds. We lost thrust in both engines. Returning back towards LaGuardia." Passengers and cabin crew later reported hearing "very loud bangs" in both engines and seeing flaming exhaust, then silence from the engines and the odor of unburned fuel in the cabin.[8][39][40] Responding to the captain's report of a bird strike, controllers gave Sullenberger a heading to return to LaGuardia and told him that he could land to the southeast on Runway 13 (heading 135.5°).[38] Sullenberger responded that he was unable.[38] Unofficial radar returns show that the flight reached at most 3,200 feet (980 m) before beginning its descent.

FlightpathSullenberger asked if they could attempt an emergency landing in New Jersey, mentioning Teterboro Airport (Bergen County, New Jersey) as a possibility;[41][38][42] air traffic controllers quickly contacted Teterbero and gained permission for a landing on runway 1.[41] However, Sullenberger told controllers that "We can't do it",[33] and that "We're gonna be in the Hudson," making clear his intention to bring the plane down on the Hudson River due to a lack of altitude.[43] Air traffic control at LaGuardia reported seeing the aircraft pass less than 900 feet (270 m) above the George Washington Bridge.[44] About 90 seconds before touchdown, the captain announced, "Brace for impact,"[44] and the flight attendants instructed the passengers, via the PA system, how to brace themselves and keep their heads down.[45]

The plane ended its six-minute flight at 3:31 pm with an unpowered ditching while heading south at about 150 miles per hour (130 kn; 240 km/h) in the middle of the North River section of the Hudson River roughly abeam 50th Street (near the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum) in Manhattan and Port Imperial in Weehawken, New Jersey. The pilot in command said in an interview on CBS television that his training was to choose a ditching location near operating boats so as to maximize the chance of rescue. The location was near three boat terminals: two used by ferry operator NY Waterway on either side of the Hudson River and a third used by tour boat operator Circle Line.[13][46] The ditching location was approximately 40°46′10″N 74°00′17″W / 40.769498°N 74.004636°W / 40.769498; 74.004636Coordinates: 40°46′10″N 74°00′17″W / 40.769498°N 74.004636°W / 40.769498; 74.004636.[47] After coming to a stop in the river, the plane began drifting southward with the current.[48]

Immediately after the plane came to a stop, the captain issued the order to evacuate and the three flight attendants began evacuating the passengers through the four emergency window exits over the wings and into the inflatable, floating slides deployed from the two front passenger doors. Two flight attendants were in the front, one in the rear. Each flight attendant in the front opened a door and inflated a slide. One rear door was opened by a panicked passenger, causing the aircraft to fill more quickly with water. The flight attendant in the rear attempted to close the rear door, but was not successful, she told CBS News.[51] She also urged passengers to move forward by climbing over seats to escape the rising water within the cabin. One passenger was in a wheelchair. After the plane had been evacuated, the captain twice walked the length of the cabin to confirm that no one remained inside before becoming the last person to leave his plane.Evacuees, some wearing life-vests, waited for rescue on the partly submerged slides, knee-deep in icy river water. Others stood on the wings or, fearing an explosion, swam away from the plane.

The FDNY sent four marine units and rescue divers.[60] On land, FDNY declared a level III (All Hands) emergency and mobilized their Major Emergency Response, Logistical Support Units and had 35 ambulances ready for patients coming off the flight.[61][62] About 140 FDNY firefighters responded to docks near the crash.[60] The NYPD sent squad cars, helicopters, vessels, and rescue divers from the Aviation Unit and Harbor Unit.

The downed plane being recovered from the Hudson River during the night of January 17.At 4:55 p.m. (21:55 UTC) fire crews began to stand down. At 5:07 p.m. (22:07 UTC), Doug Parker, CEO of US Airways, issued an official statement during a press conference in Tempe, Arizona, in which he confirmed that the flight had been involved in an accident.[70]

The flight crew, particularly Captain Sullenberger, were widely praised for their actions during the incident including by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Governor David Paterson who opined, "We had a 'Miracle on 34th Street.' I believe now we have had a 'Miracle on the Hudson'."[66][71][72][73] Outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush said he was "inspired by the skill and heroism of the flight crew," and he also praised the emergency responders and volunteers.[74] Then President-elect Barack Obama said that everyone was proud of Sullenberger's "heroic and graceful job in landing the damaged aircraft," and thanked the plane's crew (which he invited to attend his inauguration as President in Washington, D.C., five days later) and those on the scene in New York who helped ensure the safety of all 155 people aboard.[75] [76]

Following the rescue, the plane remained afloat though partially submerged, and was quickly moored to a pier near the World Financial Center in Lower Manhattan, roughly 4 miles (6 km) downstream from where it had ditched.[45] The left engine had detached from the plane during the ditching and was recovered several days later from the river bottom, 65 feet (20 m) below the surface.[77] The right engine was initially thought to have detached, but was later found to be still attached to the aircraft although much of its nacelle was missing.[78] On January 17, the aircraft, which was written off,[79] was removed from the Hudson River and placed on a barge.[33][80][81] The aircraft was then moved to New Jersey for examination.[82]

[edit] Accident investigation
Shortly after the event, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said that the plane may have been hit by birds.[83] A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Go Team (typically comprising specialists in fields relating to the incident), led by Senior Air Safety Investigator Robert Benzon, was dispatched to New York.[84] The preliminary report of the incident, published on January 16, states that the aircraft went down following a bird strike.[85] This conclusion, and the simultaneous loss of thrust in both engines, was confirmed by preliminary analysis of the Cockpit Voice Recorder and the Flight Data Recorder which were both recovered from the airframe by the NTSB when it was lifted out of the river on January 18.[50]

The next day, reports surfaced that the same airplane and same flight had experienced a similar but less severe compressor stall on January 13. During that flight, passengers were told they might have to make an emergency landing.[86][87] However, the affected engine was restarted and the flight continued to Charlotte. The NTSB later reported that this engine surge had been caused by a faulty temperature sensor, which was replaced, and that the engine was undamaged by the event, which allowed the plane to return to service.[88]

Feather found in left (#1) engineOn January 21, the NTSB noted that organic debris, including a single feather, as well as evidence of soft-body damage, was found in the right engine.[89][90] The left engine was recovered from the river on January 23 and, like the right engine, was missing a large portion of its housing.[91] On initial examination the NTSB reported that while missing obvious organic matter, it too had evidence of soft body impact, and "had dents on both the spinner and inlet lip of the engine cowling. Five booster inlet guide vanes are fractured and eight outlet guide vanes are missing." Both engines were to be sent to the manufacturer's Cincinnati facility for teardown and examination.[92] On January 31, the plane was moved to a secure storage facility in Kearny, New Jersey, for the remainder of the investigation. The NTSB confirmed that bird remains had been found in both engines,[88][93] and through DNA testing were later identified as Canada Geese (Branta canadensis). The typical weight of these birds is well above the threshold the engines were designed to withstand on impact.

Flight 1549 is the fifth take-off/departure phase accident involving a commercial air carrier at LaGuardia since the field opened in 1939 which resulted in the write off of the accident aircraft.[96] Of those, it is also the third involving the hull loss of a US Airways/USAir plane.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

'Horrifying' year for SAS ends with losses, layoffs
AFP - Wednesday, February 4STOCKHOLM (AFP) - - Beleaguered Scandinavian carrier SAS, which slumped into the red for 2008, said Tuesday it would step up restructuring, lay off thousands, sell subsidiaries and cut 40 percent of its routes.

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - - Beleaguered Scandinavian carrier SAS, which slumped into the red for 2008, said Tuesday it would step up restructuring, lay off thousands, sell subsidiaries and cut 40 percent of its routes.


The airline reported a net loss of 6.32 billion kronor (590 million euros, 760 million dollars) in 2008, after a profit of 636 million kronor in 2007 and a loss of 2.77 billion kronor in the fourth quarter.

The news sent the share price crashing down almost 17 percent to 35.80 kronor on the Stockholm stock exchange.

"Horrifying," said chief executive Mats Jansson of the company's losses at a press conference.

"2008 will probably go down in history as one of the most challenging and turbulent years that the entire aviation industry has ever experienced," he said earlier in a press release.

Already weakened in 2007 by technical problems which led to the grounding of its short-haul Dash-Q400 planes, SAS in 2008 faced plummeting demand due to the global economic downturn and a deadly crash in Madrid.

A plane operated by Spanair, an SAS unit, crashed in August in the Spanish capital, killing 154 people.

Out of SAS' 6.32-billion-kronor loss last year, 4.89 billion was attributable to Spanair which the Scandinavian company finally sold to a consortium of Spanish investors last week for a single euro.

To overcome its dire financial difficulties, SAS said Tuesday it would launch a new restructuring programme involving a share issue to raise 6.0 billion kronor and a fresh 14-plane reduction in its fleet.

An additional 3,000 employees would also be laid off while a further 5,600 workers would be taken off its books through outsourcing.

The restructuring programme has already received the thumbs-up from the Swedish, Danish and Norwegian governments, which together control 50 percent of the airline, as well as from its major private shareholders.

The carrier at the end of 2008 employed 24,635 people, having announced the lay-off of 2,500 workers in August. It had also cut back on its fleet by 33 aircraft, 15 of which belonged to Spanair.

Some 40 percent of the company's routes will be cut and a number of subsidiaries, including British Midlands, Estonian Air, Air Greenland and Skyways airlines, will be sold, SAS said.

Jansson, who has headed the company since January 2007, said the plan unveiled Tuesday would help streamline operations and save 4.0 billion kronor between 2009 and 2011.

The programme, he said, "will lead to SAS becoming a more focused and less complex company.

"SAS's market position remains strong. Our brand stands for quality, reliability and stability," he said, stressing that "in light of the fundamental crisis that is going on around the world, the losses remain at a manageable level."

Jansson also said the airline aimed to refocus its business on the Nordic market, which he said remained fairly healthy and showed potential for growth.

Swedish Industry Minister Maud Olofsson hailed the plan and said she had faith in SAS' management. Despite the dire news, she said she did not believe the company was on the verge of bankruptcy.

"I wouldn't say that. But there is a lot of competition in the airline industry and each company needs to run a very efficient operation to be profitable," she told news agency TT.

Unions representing both SAS's cabin crew and pilots said meanwhile they supported management's restructuring plan.

"We think it's good, it's a return to the old SAS and a smaller company that hopefully can be competitive," a union representative for SAS cabin crew, Pelle Gustafsson, told TT.

SAS, established in 1946 and today comprising SAS Denmark, SAS Norway and SAS Sweden, as well as low-cost airlines Blue 1 and Wideroe, has a 40 percent share of the northern European civil aviation market.

Germany's leading airline Lufthansa has long been mentioned as a rescuer for the Scandinavian company, which carried more than 29 million passengers last year, not including Spanair.

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