Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Pilot Who Hitched a Ride Saved Lion Air 737 Day Before Deadly Crash

As the Lion Air crew fought to control their diving Boeing Co. 737 Max 8, they got help from an unexpected source: an off-duty pilot who happened to be riding in the cockpit.
That extra pilot, who was seated in the cockpit jumpseat, correctly diagnosed the problem and told the crew how to disable a malfunctioning flight-control system and save the plane, according to two people familiar with Indonesia’s investigation.  The next day, under command of a different crew facing what investigators said was an identical malfunction, the jetliner crashed into the Java Sea killing all 189 aboard. The previously undisclosed detail on the earlier Lion Air flight represents a new clue in the mystery of how some 737 Max pilots faced with the malfunction have been able to avert disaster while the others lost control of their planes and crashed. The presence of a third pilot in the cockpit wasn’t contained in Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee’s Nov. 28 report on the crash and hasn’t previously been reported. The so-called dead-head pilot on the earlier flight from Bali to Jakarta told the crew to cut power to the motor driving the nose down, according to the people familiar, part of a checklist that all pilots are required to memorize. “All the data and information that we have on the flight and the aircraft have been submitted to the Indonesian NTSC. We can’t provide additional comment at this stage due the ongoing investigation on the accident,” Lion Air spokesman Danang Prihantoro said by phone. The Indonesia safety committee report said the plane had had multiple failures on previous flights and hadn’t been properly repaired. Representatives for Boeing and the Indonesian safety committee declined to comment on the earlier flight. The safety system, designed to keep planes from climbing too steeply and stalling, has come under scrutiny by investigators of the crash as well as a subsequent one less than five months later in Ethiopia. A malfunctioning sensor is believed to have tricked the Lion Air plane’s computers into thinking it needed to automatically bring the nose down to avoid a stall.
Boeing’s 737 Max was grounded March 13 by U.S. regulators after similarities to the Oct. 29 Lion Air crash emerged in the investigation of the March 10 crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. In the wake of the two accidents, questions have emerged about how Boeing’s design of the new 737 model were approved. The Transportation Department’s inspector general is conducting a review of how the plane was certified to fly and a grand jury under the U.S. Justice Department is also seeking records in a possible criminal probe of the plane’s certification.
The FAA last week said it planned to mandate changes in the system to make it less likely to activate when there is no emergency. The agency and Boeing said they are also going to require additional training and references to it in flight manuals. “We will fully cooperate in the review in the Department of Transportation’s audit,” Boeing spokesman Charles Bickers said in an email. The company has declined to comment on the criminal probe. After the Lion Air crash, two U.S. pilots’ unions said the potential risks of the system, known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, hadn’t been sufficiently spelled out in their manuals or training. None of the documentation for the Max aircraft included an explanation, the union leaders said.
Boeing 737 Max 8 jets at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on March 13.
“We don’t like that we weren’t notified,’’ Jon Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said in November. “It makes us question, ‘Is that everything, guys?’ I would hope there are no more surprises out there.’’ The Allied Pilots Association union at American Airlines Group Inc. also said details about the system weren’t included in the documentation about the plane.
Following the Lion Air crash, the FAA required Boeing to notify airlines about the system and Boeing sent a bulletin to all customers flying the Max reminding them how to disable it in an emergency. Authorities have released few details about Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 other than it flew a “very similar” track as the Lion Air planes and then dove sharply into the ground. There have been no reports of maintenance issues with the Ethiopian Airlines plane before its crash.
Wreckage recovered from the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 on Mar. 11.
If the same issue is also found to have helped bring down Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, one of the most vexing questions crash investigators and aviation safety consultants are asking is why the pilots on that flight didn’t perform the checklist that disables the system.
 “After this horrific Lion Air accident, you’d think that everyone flying this airplane would know that’s how you turn this off,” said Steve Wallace, the former director of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s accident investigation branch.
The combination of factors required to bring down a plane in these circumstances suggests other issues may also have occurred in the Ethiopia crash, said Jeffrey Guzzetti, who also directed accident investigations at FAA and is now a consultant.
“It’s simply implausible that this MCAS deficiency by itself can down a modern jetliner with a trained crew,” Guzzetti said.
MCAS is driven by a single sensor near the nose that measures the so-called angle of attack, or whether air is flowing parallel to the length of the fuselage or at an angle. On the Lion Air flights, the angle-of-attack sensor had failed and was sending erroneous readings indicating the plane’s nose was pointed dangerously upward.

Story sourced from here

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Virgin Australia - Profit is their no 1 priority - NOT customers

Thursday afternoon I get a text from Virgin Australia saying that a storm is forecast for Brisbane and my flight might be disrupted and they suggested I take an earlier flight, well that wasn't going to happen because of work comments. So Friday afternoon, after three busy days in Sydney, it was time to go home to my family and unwind for the weekend. I arrived at the airport at 3pm for my 4pm flight which would have got me into Brisbane at 4.30pm (we are an hour behind because of DLS).

Boarding was supposed to be at 3.40pm. Even though the plane was at the gate it wasn't until 4.25pm when we finally began boarding, at 4.40 everyone was seated and we just sat there. At 4.50 pm, instead of descending into Brisbane, we pushed back from the gate, by the time we taxied out to the holding point and lined up it was just after 5pm. The climb out of Sydney was a little rough but ok. I checked Brisbane airport on Flightradar24 to see what runway they were using and to check to see if they were still getting in and they were. An hour into the flight I noticed we had been put into a holding pattern. I got on to Flightradar24 again and noticed we were out to sea and in a holding pattern along with a few other aircraft.

The seatbelt signs had come on and we were told by cabin crew we are not allowed to get up (obviously). It was 15 mins before the pilots decided to tell us what was going on, and that we would be holding for another 10- 20 minutes. Well the holding went on for an hour.

During this time we heard nothing from cabin crew or pilots. FINALLY the captain came on and said the dreaded words no passenger wants to hear... "We are returning to Sydney".

3 hours and 3 minutes after we left, at 7.53pm we arrived at the gate back in Sydney and we were told over the intercom to go to the service desk. WELL.. we obviously weren't the only flight to come back, there would have been 100 -120 people lined up when got there, and the line got bigger behind me. The shift manager for Virgin came on the intercom saying we can do nothing for you people tonight, please leave and we will contact you tomorrow, but no one left the queue. This message was repeated 3 more times and you could hear in her voice the frustration grew with each massage.. but again people power ruled and no left the queue. At 9.20 I finally got to the counter only to be told "there is no flight tonight and we don't have a forward booking for you yet" I was told in a shitty pissed off voice "Virgin will send you a new booking overnight and you will need to come back in the morning". The staff were obviously sick of saying the same thing over and over and probably coping a bit of flack because there attitude was unacceptable and non sympathetic. Virgin refused to pay for accommodation, refused to pay for dinner or even cab fares. They completely refused to accept any responsibility or liability stating it was the weather.. we are not responsible they said. Keep in mind Virgin Australia is NOT a Low Cost Carrier. A small group of us, who were talking in line, started googling accommodation places and I and another person would ring them. I even had my wife in Brisbane looking for me..The frustration and anger grew with each phone call as we heard over and over, QANTAS has booked all our rooms sorry. 😣 😤  Do you have a QANTAS voucher???
At 10.10pm (a lady from the same flight I had befriended) and I finally got a room each at $195 for the night.. With cab fare to and from the airport plus meals I was out of pocket $260.
I woke Saturday morning to find a text from Virgin saying I am rebooked on the 5pm flight tonight.
When I got to the airport I went to the service desk to see if I could possibly get on an earlier flight so I get home to my family and I was told in a sharp stern voice "NO" ... I said if I go the gate of each flight that leaves for Brisbane and see if there is a no show, can I get on the flight.. Again, without any care in the world or compassion I was told NO!!.. We don't operate that way.
I get it that the airline and the pilots acted in the way of "safety first" Friday night, what I don't get is the pure lack of willingness to help or even sympathy. I am not a pilot by any means or work for an airline but I don't understand why they couldn't refuel the plane we came in on, get fresh pilots and get 160 passengers home to Brisbane that night. They had an hours notice we were coming back.. something could have been organised.
The sad part of all this is for 12 yrs I flew Qantas doing roughly 36 flights a year, and this year I decided to give Virgin a go. I hung around the airport all day which normally would excite the hell out of me but I didn't bring my camera this time and I was with Theresa (my new friend from last night). We got down to the gate at 4.30pm for a 4.40pm boarding only to find our plane was just pulling up at gate. We didn't board until 4.55 and pushed back at 5.25pm...Late again!! and by now I am well and truly over this shit.. We got airborne at 5.35 and finally landed in Brisbane at 6pm local time. Just to fuel the anger during the flight home I was talking to the passenger next to me and he said a friend of his flew Jetstar (a Low Cost Carrier owned by QANTAS) and his mate was also put up for the night at the airlines expense.
Sorry Virgin.. I gave you a go but I will be going back to QANTAS

Thursday, 14 March 2019

The U S has now grounded the Boeing 737 Max 8

Following on from yesterdays post, the U S has now followed most the world in banning the 737 Max..
President Trump announced on Wednesday that the US would temporarily ban all Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 jets from flying, following nearly every country in the world that has ordered that the airplane be grounded since the deadly crash in Ethiopia on Sunday.
More than 40 countries have grounded the 737 Max 8 after it was involved in two deadly crashes, one in Indonesia last October and the more recent one in Ethiopia. But until now, the US Federal Aviation Administration allowed the plane to fly, and the Trump administration was criticized for putting Boeing’s well-being over the safety of American passengers. On Wednesday, Trump finally bowed to pressure from the international community and US lawmakers from both parties by announcing the temporary ban.  “Boeing is an incredible company,” Trump said in a briefing to reporters. “They are working very, very hard right now, and hopefully they’ll quickly come up with the answer. But until they do, the planes are grounded.” Last October, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed off the coast of Indonesia, and all 189 passengers on board were killed. That investigation is ongoing, but it has focused on the Max 8’s stall-prevention system, apparent maintenance lapses, and potential pilot error. The cause of the Ethiopian Airlines crash last Sunday is unknown, but investigators have recovered the flight and data recorders. The Ethiopian Airlines crash killed 157 people.
In incident reports that surfaced this week, pilots had reported that the Max 8 jetliner would tilt suddenly after takeoff, among other concerns. But Boeing has said it still has confidence in the 737 Max 8. In a new statement on Wednesday, Boeing reiterated that point, while also saying it supports the decision to ground its planes. The company’s statement appears to frame it as an internal decision made in collaboration with the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board, even though Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has reportedly lobbied Trump personally to allow the Max 8 jets to continue to fly.

The airplane’s nose can tilt down suddenly during takeoff, pilots aren’t being adequately trained on the autopilot system, and the operations manual is “criminally insufficient.” These are the complaints of U S pilots in incident reports involving Boeing’s 737 Max 8 jetliner.
The reports, which were reported by multiple news outlets this week, cast a harsh light on the Max 8 jet that have been at the center of a global ban. More than 40 countries have grounded the airplane following two deadly crashes, one in Indonesia and the more recent one in Ethiopia.
In one incident, an airline pilot reported that immediately after engaging the Max 8’s autopilot, the co-pilot shouted “DESCENDING,” followed by an audio cockpit warning, “DON’T SINK! DON’T SINK!”
“I immediately disconnected the AP (Autopilot) (it WAS engaged as we got full horn etc.) and resumed climb,” the pilot writes in the report, which is available in a database compiled by NASA. “Now, I would generally assume it was my automation error, i.e., aircraft was trying to acquire a miss-commanded speed/no autothrottles, crossing restriction etc., but frankly neither of us could find an inappropriate setup error (not to say there wasn’t one).”

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Australia grounds Boeing's 737 MAX in wake of fatal crashes

Australia's aviation safety authority has banned all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from flying to or from the country in the wake of two deadly plane crashes involving the brand new aircraft in the past five months. Overnight, the European Union's Aviation Safety Agency also suspended all 737 MAX flights in Europe as a precautionary measure. It followed similar moves by several countries including China, France, the UK, Turkey, Singapore, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Malaysia. In what is a major blow for the aerospace giant Boeing and an unusual split from American aviation regulators, Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority said on Tuesday night that it was in the best interests of safety to ground the jets, operated here currently by Fiji Airways into Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.

FIJI AIRWAYS B737-MAX 8 DQ-FAB (CN 64307)    File Photo

The airline had flights using the 737 MAX scheduled for this morning and was forced by the grounding to cancel its 6.15am flight from Sydney to Nadi.
Fiji Airways said in a statement issued late on Tuesday night that it will change the aircraft type operating to and from Australian destinations, and that some schedule changes are likely. "While Fiji Airways is confident in the airworthiness of our Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft and our robust training programme, we respect CASA's position," the statement said.

SILK AIR B737-8SA 9V-MGO (CN 44231)       File Photo

Singapore's SilkAir also flies 737 MAX 8s into Darwin and Cairns, but was already moving those services onto older planes after Singaporean authorities grounded the MAXs earlier on Tuesday. "This is a temporary suspension while we wait for more information to review the safety risks of continued operations of the Boeing 737 MAX," said CASA' chief executive and director of aviation safety, Shane Carmody. The latest disaster involving the aircraft came on Sunday, when an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 crashed shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa enroute to Nairobi, killing 157 people. The same model of aircraft flown by Indonesian carrier Lion Air went down shortly after taking from Jakarta in October, crashing into the Java Sea and killing 189 people. Australia joins a growing list of countries that have grounded the newest variant of Boeing's long-standing and best selling single-aisle workhorse, which only entered service in 2017. Shortly after CASA's announcement, Britain's Civil Aviation Authority said it was also grounding all Boeing 737 MAXs as a precautionary measure, and also preventing any from flying over UK airspace. France, China, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Oman and Indonesia have all grounded the jet, while several airlines such as AeroMexico, Royal Air Maroc, Cayman Airways, South Korea's Eastar Jet, Norway's Air Shuttle and South Africa's Comair have chosen to pull it from service.

Below is a list of airlines that fly the 737 MAX 8 along with the status i.e. still flying or grounded

No photo description available.

Virgin Australia has 40 MAX aircraft on order, and said it was "closely watching the situation", flagging it could change its order depending on the outcome of the investigations.
"With our first aircraft delivery not due until November this year, we believe there is sufficient time to consider the outcome of the investigation and make an assessment," a Virgin spokeswoman said.

Brisbane Airport wins marketing award

Brisbane Airport has been recognised for its work in attracting new airline services with a Routes Asia airport marketing award. The award, handed out at the Routes Asia 2019 conference held in Cebu in the Philippines, recognised Brisbane Airport’s efforts in securing new passenger services.
Brisbane Airport head of aviation business development Jim Parashos noted seven new Asian carriers had launched flights to the Queensland capital over the past two years, including Air China, Hainan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Air and Philippine Airlines, while Royal Brunei Airlines and Thai AirAsia X will commence flights to Brisbane from June this year. Further, existing carriers such as Air New Zealand, Emirates, Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia had added extra services into and out of Brisbane. “It’s a long-burn process, but I think tonight is the culmination of two years of really hard work,” Parashos said in a statement on Tuesday.  “We operate in a very competitive environment, not just in South East Queensland but the whole of Australia, so you have to continue to innovate and go above and beyond for your customers. We don’t do it for the awards, but this is fantastic recognition for what we’ve achieved. “In July 2016 the Brisbane-Asia market was served with only 87 weekly flights, generating approximately 24,000 weekly one-way seats. In just three years this market will be served with 137 weekly frequencies, generating approximately 34,000 weekly one-way seats.” In addition to being the overall winner, Brisbane Airport also took out the marketing award in the over 20 million passengers category ahead of Fukuoka Airport, which was highly commended. Also, Brisbane Marketing, the city’s economic development arm, won the destination award. “Judges commended Brisbane Marketing on their cooperative approach as they partnered not only with the Brisbane Airport Corporation to secure and support their new routes, but further partnered with airlines to deliver supporting marketing activity,” Routes Asia said.
Elsewhere, Perth Airport took out a marketing award for airports with between four and 20 million annual passengers. Adelaide Airport was highly commended in this category.
“The team at Perth Airport were commended for attracting new airlines and adding capacity to existing airlines,” Routes Asia said. “Noticing a slow in growth from their local catchment area, the team turned their attention to focus on unserved inbound routes, including Tokyo Narita, London Heathrow and Hobart. “The team also worked with airlines to increase capacity on existing routes from Singapore, Doha, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.”
Brisbane Airport will be a finalist for the title of overall winner at the World Routes Marketing Awards being held in Adelaide in September.

Full list of awards
Overall winner: Brisbane Airport
Over 20 million passengers
Winner: Brisbane Airport
Highly Commended: Fukuoka Airport
Between four and 20 million passengers
Winner: Perth Airport
Highly Commended: Adelaide Airport
Under four million passengers
Winner: Sihanouk International Airport
Highly Commended: Langkawi International Airport
Destination winner: Brisbane Marketing

Full story sourced from here

Monday, 11 March 2019

China grounds entire domestic fleet of Boeing 737 Max Jets

I was only talking to some colleagues this morning about the Ethiopian crash and I mentioned airlines around the world would probably ground their 737 MAX

China has grounded its fleet of Boeing Co. 737 Max 8 jets after a plane operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed on Sunday, intensifying scrutiny on the best-selling model which has been involved in two deadly accidents in five months. Local carriers have until 6 p.m. local time to ground the 96 737 Max jets that they operate, according to Chinese government statements. The order came a day after a 737 Max run by Ethiopian Airlines plunged to the ground on its way to Kenya, killing all 157 people on board. A blanket grounding in one of the world’s biggest and influential travel markets is a blow to Boeing’s reputation -- and a potential threat to the Chicago-based planemaker’s finances with China’s move raising the prospect other markets could follow suit. Chinese airlines accounted for about 20 percent of 737 Max deliveries worldwide through January, according to the company’s website.

China Southern Airlines has 16 737 MAX.
Air China has 14
China Eastern Airlines has 13 
Xiamen Airlines has 9
Hainan Airlines has 7
Shandong Airlines has 6
Shenzhen Airlines has 5

The crash of a Boeing Co. 737 Max operated by Ethiopian Airlines rattled confidence in the U.S. manufacturer’s best-selling jet with the second deadly accident for the model in five months. The latest crash raises fresh concerns about the safety of the 737 Max, less than two years after the popular narrow-body entered commercial service. A Lion Air plane of the same model plunged into the Java Sea off the coast of Indonesia on Oct. 29, killing 189 passengers and crew. A preliminary report indicated that pilots struggled to maintain control following an equipment malfunction. In what may be a sign of trouble ahead if other nations follow suit, China asked domestic airlines to temporarily ground 737 Max jets, citing an unidentified industry participant. Boeing didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has taken no such action and says it is “closely monitoring developments.”

Main part of the story sourced from here:

Ethiopian Airlines plane crash - killing all on board

As mentioned last night in the previous blog, news was breaking of an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft crash. Unfortunately none of the 157 people on board the brand new Ethiopian Airlines plane have survived.
The aircraft, a Boeing 737 MAX 8, took off from Addis Ababa-Bole Airport (ADD/HAAB) on runway 07R at 08:38am local time (05:38 GMT) bound for Nairobi-Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO/HKJK), and lost contact with air traffic controllers six minutes later. It crashed near Bishoftu, southeast of the Ethiopian capital, killing all 149 passengers and 8 crew members on board. It is still not immediately clear what caused the crash of the plane, which had been delivered to the airline in November last year. According to Ethiopian Airlines' CEO Tewolde Gebremariam, the pilot, who had been working for the carrier since 2010, sent out a distress call shortly after take-off and was given clearance to return by ATC. Tewolde also said that the "brand-new airplane" had flown 1,200 hours and had arrived from Johannesburg earlier that morning. Ethiopian state media said more than 30 nationalities were on board flight ET 302.
They included
32 Kenyans,
18 Canadians,
9 Ethiopians,
8 each from China, the United States and Italy;
7 each from France and Britain;
6 from Egypt;
4 each from India and Slovakia, among others.
Foreign governments said tourists, business people, doctors, and a Kenyan football official were among the dead.
The last major accident involving an Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane was a Boeing 737-800 that exploded after taking off from Lebanon in 2010, killing 83 passengers and seven crew members.

The Boeing 737-8 MAX is the same type of plane as the Indonesian Lion Air jet that crashed last October, 13 minutes after the take-off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.

Boeing said it was "deeply saddened" by the accident and would provide technical assistance to find out why its aircraft crashed. "A Boeing technical team is prepared to provide technical assistance at the request and under the direction of the US National Transportation Safety Board."
An aviation analyst and pilot, said the pilot's distress call signalled that the plane may have gone down due to a "controllability issue" than an explosion.
"That may lead me to believe that the problem wasn't imperatively serious," he told Al Jazeera from New Jersey. "Typically in major disasters when crashes happen, when there are explosions, usually there is no communication from the pilots," he added.
"The pilots are so focused on that catastrophic event, that they don't have time to call air traffic control.  The fact that there was a call made to air traffic control, in this instance, makes us believe that it was a controllability issue - that they were struggling for control.

Aircraft Information.
Airline: Ethiopian Airlines
Code: ET/ETH
Aircraft: B737-8 MAX
Registration: ET-AVJ
Serial Number: 62450
Engines: 2 x CFMI LEAP-1B
First Flew: 30/10/2018
Age: 4 Mths