Sunday, 16 January 2022

Major airlines forced to fly ‘ghost flights’

Major airlines forced to fly empty ‘ghost flights’ to keep prized slot times.

One major airline estimates it has had to fly 18,000 ghost flights due to pressure from regulators, despite the economic and environmental consequences. Thousands of planes from some of Europe’s biggest airlines have been forced to fly empty planes in order to keep their prized departure and landing times at major airports. Europe’s second biggest carrier, Lufthansa reports it had to operate 18,000 ‘ghost flights’ over the winter, despite the polluting effects of these flights running in direct opposition to the EU’s climate goals. Around 3000 of those flights were from the carrier’s subsidiary, Brussels Airlines. This week, Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, denounced the unnecessary flights, tweeting: “The EU surely is in a climate emergency mode.” A similar plea was made by Belgium’s federal mobility minister Georges Gilkinet to the EU, arguing that the extra services were baffling from both an economic and ecological point of view. A statement from Lufthansa also called for more short-term flexibility due to severely decreased demand. “Without this crisis-related flexibility, airlines are forced to fly with planes almost empty, just to secure their slots,” it said. Under pre-pandemic rules, the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule means airlines must use at least 80 per cent of their allocated slots in order to keep their flight times, however the EU has relaxed this to 50 per cent to account for the decreased appetite in flying. From a regulatory perspective, they ensure major airlines aren’t able to hog valuable flying times, which prevents competition from smaller carriers and new airlines from emerging. Despite this, a senior spokesman for the European Commission – the executive branch of the EU – has refuted the claims of airlines being forced to operate ghost flights. Stefan De Keersmaecker quoted data and forecasts from Eurocontrol which reported initial traffic from 2022 was at 77 per cent of pre-pandemic rates. “In addition to the lower slot use rates, companies may also request a ‘justified non-use exception’ – to not use a slot – if the route cannot be operated because of sanitary measures, e.g. when new variants emerge during the pandemic,” he shared on Twitter. “EU rules therefore do not oblige airlines to fly or to keep empty planes in the air. Deciding to operate routes or not is a commercial decision by the airline company and not a result of EU rules. “On the contrary, the Commission measures allow avoiding empty flights. Because, yes, such flights are bad for the economy and the environment.” 
Here in Australia, flight slots are allocated by Airport Co-ordination Australia which divide takeoff and landing slots, however the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule has been suspended during the pandemic. The US Federal Aviation Administration has also relaxed the policy, with limits only applying to Level 3 airports like New York’s JFK and LaGuardia airports, and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington D.C.

Saturday, 15 January 2022

Silk Way West Airlines calls into Brisbane


While most of Brisbane slept last night a Silk Way West Boeing 748, with a callsign of Silk West 5862, was touching down on 01R at 12.20am from Chicago via Honolulu. Knowing it was going out today, we headed out to the airport to see this amazing looking, rare aircraft. 

It was due to leave at 2pm, then we were told 3pm and finally at 4.03pm Silk West 571 pushed back. At 4.11pm it started taxiing and got airborne, once again off 01R, at 4.16pm. This time it is heading to Hong Kong.

Below are some other shots we took while we waited.



QANTAS BOEING 737-838 VH-VXE (MSN 30899)







QANTAS BOEING 737-838 VH-VZQ (MSN 39357)




Thursday, 13 January 2022

Passenger breaches cockpit of American Airlines 737

AMERICAN AIRLINES B737-823 N965AN (MSN 29544)   File Photo

A man was arrested in Honduras on Tuesday after entering the cockpit of an American Airlines Boeing 737-800 during the boarding process. The unidentified male broke into the cockpit and damaged some cockpit controls and attempted to jump out a cockpit window before crew members intervened and police arrested him. The American Airlines Boeing 737 set to operate AA488 between San Pedro Sula-Ramon Villeda Morales Airport (SAP/MHLM) and Miami International Airport, FL (MIA/KMIA) was boarding its 121 passengers when the incident occurred.

According to ABC News, the man ran down the jetway, entered the cockpit, damaged some controls, and tried to jump out a window when pilots attempted to stop him. Footage posted on Twitter shows the man half out the window. AA488 is the 14:58 departure, one of American’s three daily flights between San Pedro Sula and Miami. The flight normally reaches Miami two and a half hours later. As a result of the damage done to the operating aircraft by the cockpit intruder, the plane was grounded in Honduras, and American Airlines sent a replacement aircraft down to collect the passengers.

No one was injured during the incident, and American Airlines praised how their crew handled the situation. In a statement, the airline said:

“We applaud our outstanding crew members for their professionalism in handling a difficult situation.”

Multiple media outlets are reporting this as a case of air rage. However, it is unclear whether it is an air rage incident or a mental health issue. While air rage is an increasing problem for airlines, successful attempts to enter aircraft cockpits are rare.

In June last year, a passenger on a United Express flight departing from Los Angeles and bound for Salt Lake City left his seat while the plane was moving, pounded on the cockpit door, managed to open the service door, and jumped from the aircraft. He was promptly arrested and taken off for medical treatment.

In July, a man in St Petersburg, Florida, was on the run from police when he drove through the security gate at the US Coast Guard Station at St Petersburg Airport. He then got into a hangar, boarded a C-130, and managed to get into the cockpit before police arrested him.

In September, a passenger on a JetBlue flight from Boston to San Juan was dissatisfied because he couldn’t make an inflight phone call and subsequently charged the cockpit, shouting in Spanish and Arabic to be shot.

After seriously assaulting a flight attendant, half a dozen crew members were able to subdue the man with flex cuffs, seat-belt extenders, and other improvised items before the flight landed in San Juan, and police took the man into custody,

Story sourced from here but with additions
Passenger Breaches Cockpit Of American Airlines 737 In Honduras - Simple Flying

Remembering Air Florida Flight 90 - 40yrs today

On the 13th January 1982 at 3:59 p.m. (20:59 UTC),  Air Florida Flight 90, a scheduled domestic passenger flight from Washington National Airport (now Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport)  (DCA/KDCA) to Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, (FLL/KFLL) with an intermediate stopover at Tampa International Airport (TPA/KTPA) crashed into the Potomac River shortly after take off.  

At about 14:20 maintenance personnel began de-icing the left side of the fuselage with de-icing fluid Type II because the captain wanted to start the de-icing just before the airport was scheduled to reopen (at 14:30) so that he could get in line for departure. Fluid had been applied to an area of about 10 feet when the captain terminated the operation because the airport was not going to reopen at 14:30. Between 14:45 and 14:50, the captain requested that the de-icing operation be resumed.
The left side of the aircraft was de-iced first. 
No covers or plugs were installed over the engines or airframe openings during de-icing operations.

At 15:15, the aircraft was closed up and the jet way was retracted and the crew received push-back clearance at 15:23. A combination of ice, snow, and glycol on the ramp and a slight incline prevented the tug, which was not equipped with chains, from moving the aircraft. Then, contrary to flight manual guidance, the flight crew used reverse thrust in an attempt to move the aircraft from the ramp. This resulted in blowing snow which might have adhered to the aircraft. This didn't help either, so the tug was replaced and pushback was done at 15:35. 
The aircraft finally taxied to runway 36 at 15:38.
Although contrary to flight manual guidance, the crew attempted to deice the aircraft by intentionally positioning the aircraft near the exhaust of the aircraft ahead in line (a New York Air DC-9). This may have contributed to the adherence of ice on the wing leading edges and to the blocking of the engine’s Pt2 probes.

At 15:57:42, after the New York Air aircraft was cleared for takeoff, the captain and first officer proceeded to accomplish the pre-takeoff checklist, including verification of the takeoff engine pressure ratio (EPR) setting of 2.04 and indicated airspeed bug settings. Takeoff clearance was received at 15:58. Although the first officer expressed concern that something was 'not right' to the captain four times during the takeoff, the captain took no action to reject the takeoff. The aircraft accelerated at a lower-than-normal rate during takeoff, requiring 45 seconds and nearly 5,400 feet of runway, 15 seconds and nearly 2,000 feet more than normal, to reach lift-off speed. 
The aircraft initially achieved a climb, but failed to accelerate after lift-off. 
The aircraft’s stall warning stick shaker activated almost immediately after lift-off and continued until impact. The aircraft encountered stall buffet and descended to impact at a high angle of attack. At about 16.01, the aircraft struck the heavily congested northbound span of the 14th Street Bridge and plunged into the ice-covered Potomac River. It came to rest on the west end of the bridge 0.75 nmi from the departure end of runway 36. When the aircraft struck the bridge, it struck six occupied automobiles and a boom truck before tearing away a 41-foot section of the bridge wall and 97 feet of the bridge railings. Four persons in vehicles on the bridge were killed; four were injured, one seriously.

The airliner broke through the ice covering the river and sank. 
There were only five survivors.
In addition to those who died aboard the 737, four persons on the 14th Street Bridge were killed when the airliner struck their cars. Many people who witnessed the crash tried to help the survivors by going in to the freezing water to reach them.

The U.S. Park Police responded with a 1979 Bell 206L-1 LongRanger II helicopter, Eagle 1, (N22PP, serial number 45287) flown by Officers Donald W. Usher and Melvin E. Windsor. The pilot, Don Usher, hovered low, sometimes with the skids of the helicopter in the water, while Gene Windsor tried to reach the survivors.

The aircraft involved, a Boeing 737-222, registered as N62AF, was manufactured in 1969 and started its life with United Airlines under the registration N9050U.
It was sold to Air Florida in 1980. The aircraft was powered by two Pratt & Whitney JT8D-9A turbofan engines, and had recorded over 27,000 hours before the crash.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Covid Isolations Cancels 80 flights at Sydney Airport

Nearly 80 flights arriving and departing from Sydney Airport were cancelled on Tuesday, as Omicron forces aviation staff into isolation.

The disruption is affecting domestic and international flights from airlines including Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar, Cathay, Fly Pelican and Delta.

The news comes a day after Virgin formally announced it would slash its flight capacity for January and February by 25 per cent and place its recently resumed sole international service to Fiji on hold.

On Tuesday, 78 flights were cancelled at Sydney, 47 at Melbourne and 48 at Brisbane, with NSW alone recording 220,816 COVID cases this week.

The high numbers have led to a string of changes to get employees back to work by both state and federal governments, including allowing asymptomatic close contacts in frontline industries to return to work if they’re asymptomatic, switching PCR tests for over-the-counter antigen tests and mandating a third booster shot.

It follows Virgin on Monday announcing it would significantly cut its capacity for the rest of summer. Chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka said the measures will not impact the business or its customers long-term.

“One thing we have learnt from the last two years is that we need to keep adapting as circumstances change. So, we will continue to do that, and have made some temporary changes to our network to manage the current environment,” Hrdlicka said.

“We do know that as we make the shift to living with COVID-19, there will continue to be changes in all our lives and we look forward to continuing to connect our guests with their families, friends, colleagues.

“We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused to any guest impacted by the changes to our flight schedule during this time.”

The suspended routes are:
  • Adelaide-Darwin
  • Adelaide-Cairns
  • Adelaide-Sunshine Coast
  • Coffs Harbour-Melbourne
  • Hamilton Island-Melbourne
  • Sydney-Townsville
  • Melbourne-Townsville
  • Gold Coast-Launceston
  • Gold Coast-Hobart
  • Sydney-Fiji

Customers with existing bookings on impacted services will be “re-accommodated”, according to Virgin, and the airline encourages affected customers to reach out for more information.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

Pushback tow tug catches fire at Mumbai airport

A pushback tow tug caught fire at Mumbai airport earlier yesterday.
The aircraft tug was on-site to push back Air India flight AI-647 from Mumbai to Jamnagar, which had 85 passengers on board.
The incident occurred around 1 pm, according to NDTV. Video's of the blaze has gone viral on social media. A video of the incident shows fire extinguishers on the site, trying to put out the flames.

According to a statement by Mumbai airport’s Public Relations Officer, the fire was brought under control in 10 minutes. “All operations are normal,” the statement read, adding that no person sustained any injuries due to the incident. Air India commented that no damages were sustained due to the fire. The airlines added that it was “checking with the airport ground handler for more information”. No official reason has been given regarding how the vehicle caught fire. According to a Times of India report, the tow tug had returned after refueling and was being attached to the aircraft when it burst into flames.

Sunday, 9 January 2022

Aircraft catches fire at Hangzhou Xiaoshan International airport

A fire has broken out in the cabin of a cargo plane at Hangzhou Xiaoshan international airport:

A Russian airline cargo plane, a Tupolev Tu-204-100C, suddenly caught fire in the cabin during the launch process, and after receiving the on-site aircraft maintenance notice, Hangzhou airport organized fire, medical, public security and other departments to rush to the scene.

At 4:40 A.M. the Aeroflot cargo plane, which was due to fly from Hangzhou-Xiaoshan International Airport (HGH/ZSHC), China to Novosibirsk-Tolmachevo Airport (OVB/UNNT), Russia, suddenly burst into flames inside the cabin.
After receiving the emergency call and nature of the emergency, Hangzhou airport immediately started the emergency procedure, with fire and first aid rushing to the scene within two minutes and successfully securing the area and rescuing the 8 crew members on board. 
8 Fire services attended to the fire, but could not prevent the fire from spreading through the entire fuselage. The fuselage eventually fractured just behind the wings and broke into 3 pieces causing damaged beyond repair.

According to the manifest information, the cargo plane was loaded with about 20 tons of general cargo and about 26 tons of aviation fuel. at present, the relevant dangerous situations have been successfully eliminated, and the relevant departments are further investigating the specific causes of the fire.

Aircraft Information:
Airline: Aviastar-TU (Flying for Cainiao)
Code: 4B/TUP
Aircraft: Tupolev TU 204-100C
Registration: RA-64032
Serial Number: 1450742264032
Engines: 2 Soloviev PS-90A
First Flew: 18/07/2002 (19 years 6 months)