Monday, August 30, 2010

Air France staff protest move to separate kids from adults

Posted: 31 August 2010 0104 hrs

PARIS: Air France cabin crew fear a new rule to protect children from paedophile passengers could expose youngsters to greater risk in the event of an accident, labour unions said Monday.

The airline issued instructions in February that unaccompanied minors must not sit next to adults unless a plane is fully booked, following complaints from parents that some had been molested in flight.

But the UNAC and Alter unions, which represent Air France cabin crew, said this rule contradicts previous advice that children must sit near responsible persons who can help them don oxygen masks if the cabin depressurises.

"This flies in the face of child safety," said Alter official Guillaume Pollard. "In an emergency or a depressurisation an adult should remain seated and fit a child's mask. How can they do this if they're across the aisle?"

A copy of the seating rules, seen by AFP, says children travelling without a parent or guardian must be given a block of seats on their own, with an adult in the next section across the aisle to keep an eye on them.

Several cabin crew, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that they suspect Air France is more concerned about the possibility of lawsuits linked to alleged child abuse than by more general in-flight safety.

Contacted by AFP, Air France would not say how many cases of alleged molestation had been reported. - AFP/fa

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

43 dead in China plane crash: state media

Posted: 24 August 2010 2345 hrs

BEIJING: A Chinese airliner crashed and burst into flames while attempting to land in northeast China on Tuesday, killing 43 people on board, state media reported.

The Henan Airlines plane overshot the runway while trying to touch down at an airport in the city of Yichun in remote Heilongjiang province, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Hua Jingwei, an official with the Communist Party in Yichun, told Xinhua that 43 bodies had been recovered from the wreckage and 53 survivors taken to hospital for treatment.

Hua said the plane broke into two pieces as it approached the runway, Xinhua reported, and some passengers were thrown out of the cabin before the jet hit the ground.

There were 91 passengers, including five children, and five crew on board, Xinhua said, citing a source at the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

The crash occurred shortly after 9:30 pm (1330 GMT) near Yichun's Lindu airport, around 40 minutes after the plane took off from Harbin, the provincial capital, Xinhua said.

Television images showed teams of firefighters using hoses to douse the blazing wreckage of the aircraft.

Wang Xuemei, the vice mayor of Yichun who oversaw the rescue efforts, said most of the survivors taken to hospital had suffered broken bones.

The aircraft was an ERJ-190 jet, Xinhua said, a passenger aircraft manufactured by Brazilian aerospace conglomerate Embraer.

A spokesman for the constructor said the company did not yet have "an official position" on the accident.

The cause of the crash was still unclear and work teams searched through the wreckage for the plane's black box flight data recorder.

But Xinhua said Chinese carriers using ERJ-190s had reported technical problems in the past and the CAAC called a workshop last June to discuss the issues.

Notes from the meeting - which involved Kunpeng Airlines, as Henan Airlines was previously known - showed that breaks of the turbine plates and flight control system errors were among the problems, Xinhua said.

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang led a team of transport, safety and security officials to Yichun to deal with the aftermath of the crash and begin investigation work, Xinhua said.

The CAAC has also sent a 20-strong group of technicians and officials to the scene, it said.

Lindu airport is in a forest around nine kilometres outside of central Yichun, a city of one million inhabitants around 150 kilometres from the border with Russia.

Henan Airlines, based in the central province of the same name, launched the Yichun-Harbin service a year ago and operated the route three times a week, Xinhua said.

The carrier is run by Shenzhen Airlines, based in the southern city of the same name.

Xinhua said CAAC records showed Tuesday's crash was China's first major air disaster in more than five years, since a China Eastern Airlines jet crashed in Baotou City in Inner Mongolia, killing 53 people on board and two on the ground.

The Yichun crash came a week after a North Korean military aircraft came down on a house in Liaoning province, also in China's northeast, killing the pilot.

- AFP/ms/de

Monday, August 16, 2010

Jetliner crashes on Colombian island; 1 killed

BOGOTA, Colombia – A Boeing 737 jetliner with 131 passengers aboard crashed on landing and broke into three pieces at a Colombian island in the Caribbean early Monday. The region's governor said it was a miracle that only one person died.

Colombian Air Force Col. David Barrero said officials were investigating reports the plane had been hit by lightning before crashing at 1:49 a.m. (3:49 a.m. EDT; 0649 GMT) while landing at San Andres Island, a resort island of 78,000 people about 120 miles (190 kilometers) east of the Nicaraguan coast.

San Andres Gov. Pedro Gallardo said 125 passengers and six crew members had been aboard, but the only person killed was Amar Fernandez de Barreto, 65. At least five people were reported injured.

"It was a miracle and we have to give thanks to God," the governor said.

Barrero, commander of the Caribbean Air Group, said by telephone from San Andres that "the skill of the pilot kept the plane from colliding with the airport."

Barrero said the 7,545-foot (2,300-meter) runway had been closed because parts of the plane were still scattered across it.

The Aires jet had left the Colombian capital of Bogota at about midnight.

Police Gen. Orlando Paez said by telephone that a group of police officers who had been waiting at the airport for the plane to take them back to the Colombian mainland aided in rescuing the victims.

(This version CORRECTS source on injured as governor sted colonel.)

Saturday, August 7, 2010