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Earlier this week, Air Canada (AC/ACA) Flight AC33 encountered severe turbulence and was forced to divert to Honolulu, after 37 passengers sustained injuries, with 9 of the injuries being severe.

“The flight from Vancouver to Sydney encountered “un-forecasted and sudden turbulence,” Air Canada Spokeswoman Angela Mah said in a statement.

The 777, which was flying the popular Vancouver to Sydney route, encountered sudden turbulence approximately two hours southwest of Hawaii. There were 269 passengers, and 15 crew on board.

US Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor stated that the turbulence struck the plane at 36,000 feet and 966 kilometers away from Honolulu.

“As a precaution, medical personnel are on standby to examine passengers in Honolulu,” Air Canada said.

Passengers aboard the aircraft stated that the aircraft “dropped” and then “rolled sideways” causing some passengers, who were not wearing seat belts at the time, to be tossed from their seats and onto the ceiling.

Honolulu Emergency Services have stated that over two dozen people from the flight have been admitted to hospitals, with the ages of victims ranging from children to the elderly. Spokeswoman Shayne Enright said injuries included cuts, bumps, bruises, neck pain and back pain.

“We hit turbulence and we all hit the roof, and everything fell down … people went flying,” passenger Jess Smith told CBC News.

Another passenger, Llyn Williams, who was travelling back to Australia, described the cabin afterwards as frightening, with plastic lying around and oxygen masks dangling. “A lot of blood everywhere,” he said. “It was really quite scary.”

The plane made a safe return to Honolulu and landed at 1:45 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (Sydney Time).

Image Courtesy of Max Trimm / Aeronautics Online.

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On July 19, Indonesia’s Lion Air (JT/LNI) received its first Airbus A330-900 at a delivery ceremony in Toulouse. The A330-900 is the larger of the two variants of the updated A330neo. The aircraft is leased from BOC Aviation, a Singaporean lessor that now ranks as one of the largest in Asia. The airline is now the eigth A330neo operator worldwide and the first in Asia. The airline placed an order for 10 A330-900s in 2018, two of which are scheduled for delivery in 2019, with the remaining two scheduled for 2020.

Registered PK-LEI, departed France on Friday and arrived in Indonesia on Saturday at 3:50 PM local time. The aircraft is powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, developed specifically for the aircraft type. The A330neo includes quieter cabins and greater fuel effeciency compared to previous A330 variants. The A330-900 can seat a maximum of 440 passengers, and Lion Air has chosen to nearly maximize this, with a seating configuration of 436 seats installed on it’s new aircraft.

The aircraft will replace the Boeing 747-400, traditionally used on Hajj and other high-demand routes, which was retired in March. In addition to the A330neo, Lion Air’s fleet consists of the older A330-300 and over 100 Boeing 737 aircraft, which form the backbone of the airline’s network. Lion Air typically operates domestic and regional routes, with destinations across Indonesia, China and other parts of Asia.

During the A330neo delivery ceremony, Lion Air announced that it would utilize the new aircraft for long-haul non-stop flights from Indonesia. Several of these flights include popular Hajj flights between major Indonesian cities and Jeddah during the time of pilgrimage each year. Hajj flights from Indonesia can be up to 12 hours in duration.

Featured image courtesy of Airbus

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Canberra Airport (CBR/YSCB) has announced the introduction of new stores and retail opportunities, which is part of its next phase of development. The new offerings, opening in two stages in late-2019 and 2020, will introduce more than 1,000 square meters of space for stores. This will completely redevelop both the Western and Southern Concourses.

Since the full replacement of the original terminal in 2013, the airport has stood out among its counterparts in Australia, due to the fact it has expansive facilities for a relatively small-sized airport. Richard Snow, the head of Property Development at Canberra Airport cited the move as the last piece in the expansion puzzle.

The two companies, which were chosen through a tender process, will supply the retail offerings at the airport. These two companies are Airport Retail Enterprises and Australian Way Pty Ltd.

CEO John Chapman of Airport Retail Enterprises stated: “Canberra has a fantastic local food scene, and we are very pleased to be partnering with many local producers to bring this to the airport. The new terminal will become a fantastic showcase of the region’s produce.”

“We are extremely excited and privileged to be part of such a dynamic and world-class airport, and we look forward to partnering with them in this next stage in Canberra Airport’s journey.”

“Canberra Airport is a stunning facility,” says AWPL Managing Director Costa Kouros.

The airport welcomed the introduction of international flights in 2016 with the beginning of flights to Singapore Changi on Singapore Airlines. Further, Qatar Airways began flights to Doha via Sydney in 2018.

Image Courtesy of Canberra Airport.

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The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Europe’s aviation authority, has detected a fault in the flight controls of the new Airbus A321neo aircraft. The authority issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) on July 17 to the aircraft’s operators. The EASA stated that an error in the aircraft’s flight control computer can lead to a loss of control of the aircraft.

The flight control computer is responsible for the control of the elevator and ailerons, and the analysis “revealed that excessive pitch attitude can occur in certain conditions and during specific maneuvers” in the Airbus A321neo, stated the EASA. However, more details are not forthcoming from the organization. As only certain A321neo aircraft are equipped with the faulty systems, only select operators must comply with the directive. Nevertheless, all operators will have to change operations manuals to ensure maximum flight safety. Those with the fault onboard their aircraft must fix it by the end of August.

The issue is reminiscent of the computer error that has caused the global grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX. The 737 groundings were caused by a fault in the aircraft’s MCAS system, which also handles flight controls.

Currently, 195 Airbus A321neo aircraft are in service across 35 airlines.

Featured image courtesy of Airbus

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Last week, Sydney Airport, (SYD/YSSY) the gateway to New South Wales, had to be evacuated, after a small battery fire broke out in Terminal 1, Sydney Airport’s international terminal.

While the fire began at 2.15pm, aviation firefighters from Air Services Australia extinguished the flames soon after.

A spokesman for Air Services Australia told News.com.au that the fire sparked an evacuation of passengers around the security screening area.

The fire was caused by a passenger’s Lithium Polymer battery that was used at a recent robotics conference in Sydney. As the passenger was passing through security with the robot, a member of the Australian Border Security staff asked him to remove a battery, and as he did, caused a small explosion and consequent fire.

Tara Moroney, a radio producer traveling to London on a Qantas flight via Singapore stated: “Firefighters and police continued to push people back, [however] no one already inside the terminal was evacuated. Shops were closed; no one was allowed to shop for about 30 minutes.”

“A security guard I spoke to said a battery had dropped and sparked a fire,” she explained.

Smoke started filling the terminal at around 2.30pm.

Sydney Airport stated in response to the fire: “Processing has recommenced at T1 International after an issue with a battery caused smoke at Departures. Thanks for your patience.”

The two major Australian international carriers, Qantas and Virgin Australia stated that passengers would be processed as quickly as possible, with no major delays to flights.

A spokesperson from Jetstar, a subsidiary of Qantas, has stated that no flights had been delayed due to the incident.

Image Courtesy of LifeFlyingBy/Twitter.

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Pakistan’s aviation authorities have issued a notice to all airlines and countries that the country’s airspace has been re-opened. Commercial flights are once again allowed to cross the airspace, saving time, fuel and money for airlines.

The airspace was closed for an extended period of time due to the Pakistani government wishing to reduce any air accidents, including recent Indian airstrikes. The closure severely impacted several airlines, including many international flights to and from India, as Pakistan is in the middle of the flight path to India. Air India, as an example, had to cancel one route as well as add fuel stops to several of its long-haul flights in order to ensure that the flights could be operated safely without utilizing Pakistani airspace. United Airlines and Air Canada both suspended several routes between North America and India due to the airspace closure. United’s routes between Newark and both Delhi and Mumbai are set to resume in late October.

As the only US-based airline to fly to India, United Airlines’ operations were greatly impacted by the airspace closure. Photo credit: Kaan Dincer / Aeronautics Online

The closure has also caused headaches for several European airlines, as Pakistan is directly in the flight path of several routes between Europe and Asia, including many popular routes to India, which have high business and leisure demand.

The airspace is once again being used for flights, although it is likely that it will not be operating at full capacity again for a while, as not all airlines have resumed flights. For example, United Airlines will not resume flights until late October, as resuming flights early would likely lead to low load factors due to all passengers having been re-booked on other airlines. However, Air India has already removed fuel stops from its North American routes that passed through Pakistan’s airspace, and flight operations at the Indian flag carrier are expected to normalize in the near future.

Air India’s North America-bound flights have made fuel stops during the airspace closure, but will operate as scheduled from now on. Photo credit: Akshay Mantri / Aeronautics Online

Airlines have reported losing large amounts of money due to the airspace closure, with Indian airlines alone losing $80 million during the few months of closure.

The airspace re-opening may also provide an opportunity for airlines to launch new routes, such as British Airways’ new route to Islamabad, and other European carriers’ rumored routes to Pakistani destinations. The country has recently been working to improve its safety rating with aviation in order to promote expansion in the aviation industry, and has opened new infrastructure to promote this. While the airspace closure may have dampened demand to Pakistan, it is likely that this will spring back, and we will see new airlines launch flights to the country.

Featured image courtesy of Dale Coleman / Wikimedia Commons

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Emirates (EK / UAE), one of two major carriers in the United Arab Emirates, has announced that it will be launching flights to Mexico City. The airline will launch a daily flight to the city, which will operate via Barcelona from December 9, 2019.

Emirates’ new route will be operated daily, and will be operated with the airline’s Boeing 777-200LR aircraft, seating 302 passengers, with 38 in business class and 264 in economy. The airline’s reason for picking the smaller aircraft was its cargo capacity of 14 tons, as Mexico City has long been known for its high cargo demand. In 2018, the airline reported carrying 22,500 tons of cargo to Mexico City with its subsidiary Emirates SkyCargo. The new service aims to increase cargo capacity to the city while launching passenger services.

The flight will depart Dubai at 3:30 in the morning, arriving in Barcelona at 8:00 AM later the same day. Nearly two hours later, at 9:55 AM, the aircraft will depart for Mexico City, where it will arrive at 4:15 PM. On the return leg, the aircraft will depart Mexico city at 7:40 PM local time, arriving in Barcelona one day later at 1:25 PM. It will then depart the Spanish city at 3:10 PM and arrive back in Dubai one day later just after midnight at 12:45 AM.

Emirates chose to route the new flight through Barcelona due to the altitude of Mexico City, which makes a direct Dubai – Mexico City flight impossible, as the aircraft would not have enough room to take off fully loaded for Dubai. However, no airline currently operates direct flights between Barcelona, Spain’s second-largest city and the Mexican capital, so Emirates decided to route its new flight via Barcelona. The airline will have pick-up rights on the second leg of the flight, allowing passengers to fly exclusively between Barcelona and Mexico City. The airline currently operates two daily flights to Barcelona with the larger Boeing 777-300ER, and this flight will be added on to that schedule, making for a total of three daily flights to Barcelona, all operated by Boeing 777 aircraft.

Featured image courtesy of Federico Meraviglia / Aeronautics Online

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Frankie Wallace is a freelance journalist with an interest in aviation news and politics. Wallace graduated from University of Montana’s Journalism School and currently resides in Boise, Idaho. The views expressed in this article are solely his and do not represent those of Aeronautics Online.

When travelers board a plane, they expect a stress-free ride to their destination of choice via one of the safest methods of transportation. They have complete faith in their pilot and the staff that gets them from point A to point B. Unfortunately, there is a darkness in the airline industry that could put a damper on some of these plans: alcoholism.

Many don’t fully grasp the stress and pressure that some pilots face. They have an incredible responsibility, and sometimes they drink to dampen their worries. Although most pilots do not have an issue with alcohol, the problem still exists. The best way to combat this situation is through education and knowing where to go when someone truly needs help.

A Negative Trend

No matter what job you have, alcoholism is a dangerous disease. Alcohol becomes addictive for some because it interacts with receptors in our brains that give us a temporary feeling of pleasure. Some people crave this feeling constantly, and addiction can form.

According to recent surveys, 6.2% of people who are 18 years and over have some sort of alcohol use disorder. Alcoholism is even becoming an issue for our youth, as some studies show that over 33% of 12th graders have consumed alcohol during the course of any given month of their schooling. This is bad news.

With so many people becoming addicted to alcohol, it is inevitable that some in the airline industry would also get pulled into these negative behaviors. While some people drink outside of work, others take their addiction to the job. A report found that 7% of American workers struggle with alcohol addiction at work. No matter what type of job you have, being impaired can lead to accidents, and as a pilot, these accidents might affect not only you but also the passengers on your flight.

Alcoholism is becoming a major issue for the airline industry. It has been reported that the number of pilots that have violated alcohol regulations has risen. Between the years of 2010 and 2015 alone, one pilot per month on average was reprimanded for such violations.

So what might drive a pilot to drink? Stress is a significant reason that many people turn to alcohol, and flying a plane with 300 plus passengers can create that stress. Another reason why people drink is due to accessibility. Airports are filled with restaurants and bars that sell beer and wine. After a long flight, a pilot might decide to relax with such a beverage, but if not properly controlled, that leisurely drink can eventually bring them to a much darker place.

Real-Life Effects of Alcohol and Flight

Over the years, these ties between alcohol and aviation have become more than just hypothetical situations, and there have been some real-life incidents of pilots who took this problem too far.

In 2018, a potentially disastrous scenario was avoided when a pilot for Japan Airlines was arrested after boarding his flight with an alcohol level over 10 times the legal limit. Luckily, suspicious individuals reported the pilot, and although the plane was delayed, it made it to its destination safely.

A similar incident occurred in 2015 when a pilot in Detroit boarded a plane, intending to fly with an alcohol level of 0.081. When officers entered the plane, they found him in the cockpit, sitting sideways, and struggling with his seat. Most recently, a similar incident happened on a KLM flight out of Oslo.

Sometimes incidents like these are not caught in time, and the results have been devastating. In 2008, a Russian plane crashed, killing 88 people. After a two-year investigation, it was found that the pilot had been impaired due to alcohol. 

The effects of alcohol intoxication are well known, with negative effects that range from blurred vision to slowed reaction time, both of which are issues when operating any vehicle, especially an airplane. When incidents of pilots boarding planes while intoxicated are so common that they make the news this often, it not only puts a dark cloud over the airline industry, but it may lead passengers to have doubts about their safety — and safety should be everyone’s top priority.

Seeking Help

Luckily, unnerving incidents like those listed above can be limited due to rules set forth by the  International Civil Aviation Organization and the Federal Aviation Administration.

While the rules differ per country, in the USA, it begins with enforcing a rule that no pilot should ever have a blood alcohol concentration of over 0.04%, which is half of that allowed to drive a car. In addition, pilots must have at least eight hours between the time they have a drink and when they get in the cockpit. Also, random alcohol and breathalyzer checks are completed throughout the year.

Anyone who feels that they have a serious issue with alcohol abuse should seek help immediately with the understanding that there are many methods of recovery. One of the best things you can do after recognizing you have an issue is talking to a counselor or joining a support group. Talking to a counselor of some type can give you an idea of the next steps, whether that includes quitting cold turkey or coming up with a plan to taper off your drinking.

There are also many self-help books and smartphone apps that can help pilots stay on course. Once they begin to get the addiction under control, a pilot should replace that negative attraction with positive feelings of self-respect and pride. They should think about the awesome responsibility they have as a pilot and how their skills are helping travelers reconnect with loved ones and see new places of which they have always dreamed. It is truly an incredible profession.

Yes, alcoholism has put a tarnish on the aviation industry, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Pilots must encourage one another to take pride in their work. If you feel you have an issue with alcohol, seek the help that you require.

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

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During the announcement of its 2nd quarter earnings today, United Airlines(UA/UAL) announced that it plans to acquire 19 used Boeing 737-700 aircraft in the coming years.

It is unknown where the used 737s are coming from, but United is currently received used aircraft from China Southern Airlines which operates a fleet of 26 737-700 aircraft. United has already received a significant number of Airbus A319s and Airbus A320s from China Southern. Each one is undergoing maintenance and cabin outfitting in Lake City, Florida before joining the United fleet. Each aircraft has been spending about 3 months there before entering the fleet.

Despite the first 737-700 aircraft arriving to United in December, it will likely be April until the first used 737-700 aircraft flies revenue flights. This is due to the backlog of used aircraft already being prepared for service in Lake City.

In 2016, United ordered 65 737-700 aircraft from Boeing, but this order was later converted to an order for 737-800 and 737 MAX aircraft. The airline opted to add a couple of used 737-700s from Copa as well as several second-hand A319s and A320s in recent years.

As the American economy is still doing well, United will use the new 737-700 aircraft to continue adding mainline service to more and more cities. In the past 2 years, United has added mainline service to small airports such as Duluth, Minnesota, Redmond, Oregon, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Previously, these cities did not generate enough demand to support a mainline aircraft.

In another move, United has decided to forgo installing its new Polaris business class on 4 of its currently internationally configured 777-200ER aircraft. Instead, United will convert these aircraft to the domestic configuration with 364 seats for their final years in the fleet. These aircraft fly hub to hub routes. This summer, United’s fleet of domestically configured 777 aircraft is flying between all of United’s hubs. From the other side, this is made possible by the addition of 4 more Boeing 777-300ERs and a number of Boeing 787-9 and Boeing 787-10 aircraft into United’s fleet at the end of this year and the beginning of next year.

N210UA, one of United’s domestically configured 777-200s

On the regional side, United has begun converting some Bombardier CRJ 700 aircraft to CRJ 550 aircraft. This means that the seat count is being reduced from 70 to 50. These aircraft will have 10 first-class seats, 20 economy plus seats, and 20 economy class seats. Power outlets will also be available to all passengers on the CRJ 550, a first for any regional jet in the United States. Thus far, regional operator GoJet is having its fleet of CRJ 700s converted to the CRJ 550. It is not yet known what routes these aircraft will be flown on, but with a high number of business class and economy plus seats compared to other 50 seat regional jets, it is presumed that these aircraft will operate out of markets with significant business travel demand. These aircraft are being painted into the new livery before being put back into service.

The reduction in 70 seat aircraft will allow United to operate more Embraer E175s as a scope clause currently limits the number of large regional jets United Express may have. ExpressJet has taken delivery of 7 Embraer E175s recently with 18 more on order.

Images by Alec Mollenhauer/Aeronautics Online

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Air France (AF / AFR), France’s largest airline and flag carrier, has plans to announce that it will place a large new aircraft order by the end of July. The Air France – KLM Group is the last major airline group in Europe to not have ordered a new generation narrow-body fleet, such as the Airbus A320neo or the Boeing 737 MAX.

According to La Tribune, the new order will be announced during the group’s half-year results presentation, taking place on July 31. Air France is reportedly considering both the Airbus A220 and A320neo to replace its current aging fleet of A320 family aircraft. As it is one of the only airlines in the world to operate all four variants of the A320 family, the airline is considering the A220 and A320neo for size and range flexibility.

An aviation industry expert stated that he expects that the new order will contain 50% A220-300 aircraft and 50% A320neo aircraft. He beleives that the A220 will be used to replace the airline’s current A319 and A318 aircraft, while the A320neo will be used to replace the airline’s A320 and A321 aircraft.

Air France has also stated that it is looking to retire the remainder of its Airbus A380 superjumbo fleet. According to several sources, Ben Smith, CEO of Air France – KLM does not want the A380 to remain in the fleet due to its size, which requires a large passenger load for a profit, and its unreliability, which has cost the airline much more than smaller, more efficient aircraft in maintenance.

The airline is considering several aircraft to replace the A380, including the Boeing 787 and Airbus A330neo. The larger Airbus A350-1000 is not under consideration due to its high purchase price.

Air France is looking to replace its Airbus A380 fleet with smaller, higher-yielding aircraft.

The group’s subsidiary low-cost airline, Transavia France, is also up for fleet renewal. The airline currently operates 36 Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which will likely be replaced by the modernized Boeing 737 MAX 8, similar to Transavia Netherlands, which has already ordered the MAX and will take delivery of its first aircraft after the 737 MAX grounding is completed.

In addition to Air France’s fleet renewal, Dutch flag carrier KLM will also replace its current short-haul and medium-haul fleet. The airline currently operates 51 Boeing 737 Next-Generation aircraft, with the 737-700, 737-800 and 737-900 in its fleet. However, this fleet is aging, as the oldest aircraft is over 20 years of age, and the average fleet age for the airline’s 737s is over 12. While it took delivery of several new 737-800 aircraft in recent months, the airline is still looking for a long-term solution for its narrow-body fleet renewal.

KLM will need to replace its aging Boeing 737 Next-Generation aircraft in the near future. The Boeing 737 MAX is the most likely contender.

The airline’s most likely choice for fleet renewal is the Boeing 737 MAX family, which provides fleet commonality with the current Boeing 737 aircraft. However, it is unclear as to when the airline will place this order, or if it will at all, due to the current Boeing 737 MAX grounding.

All images are courtesy of Tim van Donselaar / Aeronautics Online

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