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Reading for Pilots

Page history last edited by Béatrice H. Alves 14 years, 3 months ago


Reading for Pilots





Hi Pilots,


If you enjoy reading to build up vocabulary and keep informed, here is some food for your practice



Heathrow BA plane crash caused by 'unknown' ice fault

British Airways Boeing 777 plane lies at the foot of the Southern runway after its crash landing
Everyone on board the plane escaped without serious injury


The fault which caused a plane to crash land at Heathrow Airport was not covered by plane safety requirements at the time, an official report has said.

The British Airways (BA) Boeing 777 lost power to both engines because of restricted fuel flow, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said.

It said the crash, on 17 January 2008, was probably caused by a build-up of ice in the fuel system.

None of the 152 people on board the aircraft was seriously injured.


The report said ice had probably formed within the fuel system from water that occurred naturally in the fuel.

Read more and see what the pilot has to say about it


You can also get mire information (audio and video) here.


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Flying passengers with special medical needs

By James Wynbrandt - August 2007

Maybe you’d like to fly a wheelchair-bound relative to a family function. Or perhaps a member of your management team has contracted a bad case of the flu during a business trip. Flights with passengers like these–or anyone with a significant health issue–necessitate special planning.

“Many medical conditions require people to think before they travel,” said Jennifer Garr, manager of medical operations for Tempe, Ariz.-based MedAire, which provides medical information to flight departments and charter companies. “We assess everything from a cough to someone who just had a cast put on,” Garr said.

The demand for MedAire’s services underscores the need to consult a doctor or other health professional if a medical issue could affect a passenger’s flight. Make sure the physician understands that cabin altitudes can affect some medical conditions. If the doctor green lights the flight, consider the basic rules governing fitness to fly without an attendant: “The individual has to be able to follow commands, sit on a seat and [wear] a seat belt,” said George Martinez, director of flight programs at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based National Jets and National Air Ambulance....

Read more......

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Crash and walk away

It might be possible, especially if you’re prepared for emergencies and travel with trained flight attendants.

By David A. Lombardo - December 2007

What can you do now to increase your survival chances should the unthinkable occur on one of your flights? “Be aware and be prepared is the best advice I can give a passenger,” said Cyndee Irvine, who was a PSA Airlines flight attendant for 10 years and has been a contract flight attendant for the past decade.

Irvine said most passengers don’t understand the concept of bracing for an emergency landing to protect their back and neck.

“If you’re facing the captain, put your head down and grab behind your knees,” she advised. “If you’re facing backward, you should sit up and put your hands under your knees or thighs. If the aircraft stops abruptly, the seatback and headrest will help absorb the shock.

“There’s a trick to exiting through a small emergency exit,” Irvine continued. “You have to put one leg out first, then your body, then the other leg, so you maintain your balance. Falling, with others pushing behind you, is not an option.”

On some aircraft, the best way to use an emergency exit isn’t obvious. On the Gulfstream 550, for example, there’s often a credenza by the over-wing exit. “You have to use the ‘sit, spin, rollover and push’ maneuver,” Irvine said. “You sit on the credenza, spin so your legs go out the window, then roll over on your stomach and push out legs first.”....


Read more.........


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An Airbus can glide

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Air Transat Flight 236

by The Custodian


On August 24, 2001, Capt. Robert Piche (a pilot for the Canadian charter airline Air Transat) did something that I would have (until now) flatly told you was impossible had it been proposed.

Air Transat Flight 236, an Airbus A330 twin-engined aircraft with 304 aboard, was in transit from Toronto to Lisbon on August 21st. The A330's ETOPS rating is 120 minutes. Over the Atlantic, the crew received a warning that the right engine had developed a fuel leak. It was shut down. At this point, the aircraft is theoretically able to fly on the remaining engine for the duration of its ETOPS (120 minutes); accordingly, the aircrew declared that they were diverting to Lajes airfield in the Azores islands, approximately 150 nm away.

There were further problems, however. The fuel leak was caused by a pipe breaking inside one of the Rolls-Royce Trent 700 series engines. This leak, which was caused by a low-pressure fuel line coming into contact with one of the hydraulic lines, ended up draining the entire fuel system, perhaps due to an improperly-acting weight and balance controller or valve. In any case, thirteen minutes after the right engine was shut down, the left engine experienced flame out from fuel starvation.

At the time this happened, the airplane was 85 nm north of its destination (and the nearest airfield), flying at 34,500 feet. When the second engine failed, generated electrical power was lost; hydraulics apparently continued to function, driven by the 'windmilling' fans of the left engine and their associated generator.

Capt. Piche and crew managed to fly the unpowered jetliner for 85 (some sources say 100+) nautical miles, and landed it at Lajes airfield on Terceira island. The landing blew eight of the ten tires on the airplane; however, it remained otherwise intact, and evacuation was complete within 90 seconds. Less than a dozen people were injured, all minor; most of those occurred during the evacuation.

Yes, you read that right; they apparently managed to glide a jetliner 85 miles. The fact that they were at 34,500 feet means that they knew what they were going to have to do; a fuel leak problem with one engine calls for the Airbus to move down to 15,000 feet or below so that outside pressure is high enough to prevent vapor lock in the fuel system which (presumably) has been compromised to outside air. The crew would have received notice of an impending imbalance in the fuel system on their left lower cockpit MFD in the form of a colored diagram of the fuel feed system appearing.

Even so, if we give them the benefit of a few thousand feet, they were at an altitude of approx. 6 miles. Traveling 85 miles means that (woohoo, math!) this particular A330 achieved a glide ratio of over 12.5:1. For comparison, a Schweizer 2-33 - a standard two-seat training sailplane - has a glide ratio (gliders call it sink rate) of around 24:1. In other words, an unpowered, ultralight all-wing airplane designed for glide only did perhaps twice as well in distance.

So, they knew they were running short of fuel; they climbed the airplane as much as they could before losing power (no doubt gaining as much airspeed as possible as well). Then they managed to glide in. Amazing.

According to records, the trip took approximately twenty minutes, which jibes well with the airplane's probable 'best glide' speed - ~215 kts - and the additional energy available from higher altitudes. Probably the most significant factor in their success was Capt. Piche's prior work experience - he had spent many of his 30 years flying time as a bush pilot, and as such, was an expert in dealing with air currents and emergencies sans runway. Still, they damn well better give that whole flight crew a massive raise.

The story doesn't quite end there, however. The investigation that followed determined that Air Transat had been lax in its maintenance inspections; the air carrier was fined CDN $250,000 by Transport Canada, and their fleet's ETOPS ratings were capped at 90 minutes. The A330s in the fleet were dropped to 60 minutes.

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Compagnie Africaine Aviation B722 at Kinshasa



Accident: Compagnie Africaine Aviation B722 at Kinshasa on Jan 2nd 2010, veered off runway on landing

By Simon Hradecky, created Saturday, Jan 2nd 2010 13:44Z, last updated Thursday, Jan 21st 2010 12:52Z


A Compagnie Africaine Aviation Boeing 727-200, registration 9Q-CAA performing a freight flight from Kinshasa to Kananga (Democratic Republic of Congo, RDC), suffered a hydraulics problem shortly after takeoff at approx 06:30L (05:30Z) prompting the crew to return to Kinshasa's Ndjili Airport. After touch down on Ndjili's runway 06 in heavy rain with water standing on the runway the airplane veered left off the runway and came to a stop with all gear collapsed and turned around by about 135 degrees at 08:00L (07:00Z). No injuries occured, the airplane received substantial damage.

RDC's Directorate General of Civil Aviation reported on Jan 6th, that the hydraulics leak with the hydraulics quantity rapidly approaching zero affected the brakes, so that the captain (68) got concerned about the ability to stop the airplane in Kananga and therefore decided to return to the longer runway at Ndjili. After touch down, the airplane could not be slowed due to a brakes failure. The left hand main gear separated having the airplane veer left off the runway, the right hand main gear collapsed throwing the airplane into a "pirouette" separating the nose gear.

A source within the airline reported on Jan 21st, that the airplane had suffered a tailskid strike on Dec 31st 2009 during takeoff from Goma (RDC) for Kinshasa, when a combination of tailwind and overload forced the crew to rotate at V1 and below Vr because of reaching the runway end. After arrival in Kinshasa the tailskid was checked, but was not replaced.


Read more

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Habsheim Crash


In the first crash of a new 'Fly-By-Wire' aircraft, the Airbus A320-100 impacted trees while performing a fly-by at an airshow and burst into flames. The crew, and Air France maintenance officials, have all been sentenced to probation for manslaughter; the Captain has been imprisoned. Evidence, including photographs, has now been exposed that an Airbus official at the scene switched the Digital Flight Data Recorder before the court hearing.

Since May 1998, it is proven that the Flight Data Recorder was switched after the accident. The Lausanne Institute of Police Forensic Evidence and Criminology (IPSC) comes to the conclusion that the recorder presented to the Court is NOT the one taken from the aircraft after the accident.

Read more

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Pardon my French !

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Crash of Eastern Airlines Flight 401 - A burnt out light bulb leads to a major disaster


On the night of December 29th, 1972, Eastern Airlines Flight 401 took off from New York and headed towards Miami, Florida. Less than three hours later  the aircraft reached Florida. Unfortunately it did so as a scattered wreck over the marshes of Florida's Everglades. One hundred and three lives were lost. Read more.


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Direct warnings to pilots seen as key to eliminating incursions

Thursday December 3, 2009

Aviation safety experts tout a number of measures taken in recent years that have helped to mitigate the risk of runway incursions--better signage and lighting, improved training and ATC alerting systems such as AMASS--but say developing and deploying technology that enables pilots to receive direct warnings is critical if the ever-present danger of airfield collisions is to be eliminated.

"If we're trying to prevent runway incursions by relying on something outside the cockpit, we're not going to achieve what we want to," US National Transportation Safety Board Member Robert Sumwalt said this week at the FAA International Runway Safety Summit in Washington (ATWOnline, Dec. 2) "We need to put something in the cockpit."

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman noted that AMASS, which tracks runway surface and airborne movements on a 1-sec. update cycle to warn controllers of potential incursions, requires a controller to receive an alert and then relay a warning to pilots, a process that can take too long if aircraft are moving toward one another at high speeds.

Sumwalt claimed NTSB studies have indicated that "43% of runway incursions could be eliminated with a [GPS-enabled] cockpit moving map with own ship position." FAA has said it is earmarking $5 million to provide funding assistance to airlines that agree to equip cockpits with EFBs that include moving map displays. Hersman said that while the program is "commendable," it is voluntary and the level of funding is relatively low. "As a result, the program is not likely to result in widespread adoption of moving map technology," she commented.

Jern Dunn, group customer account manager for the UK's National Air Traffic Services, agreed that "the final difference [in reducing incursions] will be made with the final piece of technology. . .a warning signal needs to go [directly] to the pilot."

"There's not any one magic bullet" to eliminate incursions, Sumwalt explained. "We need to have a number of layers of defense to increase runway safety. . .Cockpit technology is one very important layer of defense" and has been the "final layer" in significantly mitigating other aviation safety risks, he said, citing the example of TCAS immediately alerting pilots to potential midair collisions.

by Aaron Karp

See the original on ATW Daily News

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Flying the Airbus A380 - Pilot Report

June 18, 2009



Airbus engineers are never satisfied, and customers of the European airframe builder should have only one response: thank goodness. While many point to the A380’s size as the achievement of which they are most proud–a maximum takeoff weight of roughly 1.2 million pounds and room for 525 passengers in typical long-haul configuration–the leviathan also incorporates radical new systems including brake-to-vacate (BTV), designed to reduce significantly the time an aircraft spends on the runway, overrun protection, and a new TCAS conflict resolution system, which the company believes will increase safety by a factor of two. 


AIN reporter Robert Mark had a rare opportunity to fly the aircraft ahead of the Paris Air Show and here he shares insights into what its new technology actually delivers.

The cockpit of the A380 is massive by any measure, with some two-and-a-half feet of space between the two pilots once they’re seated. In addition to three jump seats, we had as many as seven people moving about behind us in flight after we switched off the seatbelt signs.


With several pilots planning to try their hand at the A380, the plan was to demonstrate the brake-to-vacate to each of us, then land and switch seats during the taxi back to Runway 32L at Toulouse. Takeoff weight was calculated as 846,575 pounds, considerably below the maximum of just over 1.2 million pounds.


The engines, started two at a time, are so far aft of the cabin that the gauges are the only indication of what is happening in the back. Even with the engines running, the noise level in the A380 cockpit was no more than in a regular automobile with the windows rolled up.


Taxiing the A380 is not nearly the challenge I had anticipated. The aircraft is equipped with two video cameras, one built into the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer and another under the belly a few feet behind the nose gear. Calling up each on the pilot’s multifunction display makes it easy to use the tiller to keep the nose gear on the centerline. With the outer main gear trunnions separated by just 46 feet–a footprint only slightly wider than that of a 747-400–the pilot will find it easy to nail the centerline.


V1 was calculated as 127 knots, VR 130 and V2 as 136, so any decision to abort would be problematic. In this configuration, however, the A380 would fly even if two engines quit on takeoff.


The Flight Plan

The day’s flight plan called for each demo pilot to take the left seat to view a demonstration of the updated TCAS, which was programmed with enough pseudo targets to fool the A380’s conflict system and trigger the automated response. The final landing of the day was planned as an all-out maximum braking effort to demonstrate what a pilot might experience should he ignore the computer’s call of “runway too short” and “land anyway,” or possibly during an emergency arrival.

Since that effort would produce maximum brake heating, there would be only a single demonstration, with all the guest pilots observing from the jump seats.

The strangest part of flying a very large aircraft is the loss of a degree of depth perception and a relation to speed. On takeoff, I brought the thrust levers up about one quarter, to be certain the four massive Rolls-Royce Trent 900 turbofans were stabilized for acceleration. But there was precious little sense of acceleration–some force pushed me back in the seat as I moved the levers to takeoff power, but not as much as I had expected, as I steered with the tiller to remain on the runway centerline.


Despite the diminished sensation of acceleration, the A380 reached V1 in what seemed like no more than 10 seconds and rotation speed shortly thereafter. Looking out through the expansive cockpit windows, it seemed we were too slow to fly, but rotate we did with a slight pull on the side stick to reach a 15-degree pitch angle. The A380 virtually leapt off the ground. At positive rate, I called for gear up and soon we were accelerating to 200 knots for the brief demonstration flight. I tried some 30- to 40-degree-bank turns before leveling off at 3,000 feet, and was amazed at how easy the three-quarter-million-pound-plus aircraft was to maneuver with simply a few movements of my left wrist.


Now level, I punched the autopilot on so I could pay close attention to the brake-to-vacate demonstration by senior vice president of safety Claude Lelaie.

Summoning the correct page on the multifunction display is easy thanks to the trackball that rests at a comfortable position beneath the pilot’s right hand. We selected S-8 at Toulouse–2,300 meters down–as our exit point for the first time around, which meant that if I was on the mark, we would have about 7,500 feet to stop the aircraft and turn off.


The key is to set autobrakes to auto and let the system figure out the rest. The pilot is expected to add maximum reverse and keep the aircraft on the centerline but do nothing else until 10 knots, at which speed the system will automatically disconnect.

Even with the autopilot off, the A380 was extremely light and easy to control down the ILS to touchdown. Once on the ground for the first landing, I pulled the reversers out and stayed on the pedals but off the brakes. The giant aircraft slowed until I disconnected the system about 10 feet from the S-8 intersection.


Runway Overrun Protection

Another test involved trying the runway overrun protection system by creating an artificially short runway in the flight management system. On short final, the technology calculated the touchdown zone and, based on our speed, concluded we’d never get it stopped. On short final at about 200 feet, it began yelling “runway too short” in a tone that was clear in its urgency. This would be the signal for a pilot to go around.


The final landing was a maximum-performance arrival targeting the closest intersection possible at Toulouse, S-6, approximately 5,413 feet from the start of the runway. Once the A380 was programmed, another pilot this time flew to short final, crossing the fence at ref speed. After touching down, he called for maximum reverse while the A380 worked the brakes. The first five seconds were exciting as the aircraft decelerated rapidly, and everyone in the cockpit applauded as we easily made S-6. Brake temperatures never exceeded 400 degrees C. On a low-visibility landing, it would have made for an impressive demonstration as well.


As a point of reference, the A380 uses reverse thrust on only the two inboard engines because of the aircraft’s vast wingspan. Engines one and four might well be so close to the outside edges of the runway, or even hanging outside the concrete area, that Airbus worried about FOD damage to those outer powerplants when in reverse.


During the TCAS demonstration, we climbed to FL100 in the Airbus practice area near Toulouse. With the aircraft fully coupled to the flight director and autopilot, TCAS traffic targets were generated by the A380 software significant enough to allow the aircraft to follow the commands. At the first sign of traffic, the system displayed a TCAS alert light to advise the crew that, should the target become a resolution advisory (RA), it would automatically move our airplane out of the way using the autopilot and autothrottles.


When the traffic became an RA, the power came up and the airplane smoothly entered a climb to match the TCAS command, much faster than a pilot would. But the most important element was how smoothly the autopilot/flight director combination made the aircraft climb, and how smoothly the A380 returned to its original altitude when clear of traffic. Another TCAS demo demanded the aircraft first descend and then almost immediately climb back to avoid another aircraft beneath us. The airplane certainly performed these maneuvers more smoothly than a human could have done.


Airbus firmly believes that maneuvering a big aircraft with pilot muscle power is no longer a good use of resources–especially since Airbus computers can take much of the mental gymnastics out of the equation, giving pilots more time for big-picture decisions. BTV is sure to be in the vanguard of efforts to increase runway capacity, with runway overrun protection evolving as a valuable corollary to the thinking process in Toulouse. The notion that the autopilot can resolve TCAS conflicts better than a hand-flying pilot is so simple that one wonders why it took this long to come to fruition.   


Read the original on AIN Online

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AF 447  - Interim Report



This is taken from the Interim Report on the accident on 1st June 2009 to the Airbus A333-203 registered F-GZCP operated by Air France flight AF 447 Rio de Janeiro – Paris

This report was published by the BEA (Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile) 




On the basis of the first factual elements gathered in the course of the investigation, the following facts have been established: 


  •   The crew possessed the licenses and ratings required to undertake the flight,
  •   The airplane possessed a valid Certificate of Airworthiness, and had been maintained in accordance with the regulations, 
  •   the airplane had taken off from Rio de Janeiro without any known technical problems, except on one of the three radio handling panels, 
  •   no problems were indicated by the crew to Air France or during contacts with the Brazilian controllers,
  •   no distress messages were received by the control centres or by other airplanes,
  •   there were no satellite telephone communications between the airplane and the ground, 
  •   the last radio exchange between the crew and Brazilian ATC occurred at 1 h 35 min 15 s. The airplane arrived at the edge of radar range of the Brazilian control centres, at 2 h 01, the crew tried, without success for the third time, to connect to the Dakar ATC ADS-C system, 
  •   up to the last automatic position point, received at 2 h 10 min 35 s, the flight had followed the route indicated in the flight plan,
  •   the meteorological situation was typical of that encountered in the month of June in the inter-tropical convergence zone,
  •   there were powerful cumulonimbus clusters on the route of AF447. Some of them could have been the centre of some notable turbulence,
  •   several airplanes that were flying before and after AF 447, at about the same altitude, altered their routes in order to avoid cloud masses,
  •   twenty-four automatic maintenance messages were received between 2 h 10 and 2 h 15 via the ACARS system. These messages show inconsistency between the measured speeds as well as the associated consequences,
  •   before 2 h 10, no maintenance messages had been received from AF 447, with the exception of two messages relating to the configuration of the toilets,
  •   the operator’s and the manufacturer’s procedures mention actions to be undertaken by the crew when they have doubts as to the speed indications,
  •   the last ACARS message was received towards 2 h 14 min 28 s,
  •   the flight was not transferred between the Brazilian and Senegalese control centres,
  •   between 8 h and 8 h 30, the first emergency alert messages were sent by the Madrid and Brest control centres,
  •   the first bodies and airplane parts were found on 6 June,
  •   the elements identified came from all areas of the airplane,
  •   visual examination showed that the airplane was not destroyed in flight ; it appears to have struck the surface of the sea in a straight line with high vertical acceleration.


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Hiring and training pilots: New regulations considered in aftermath of Colgan Q400 crash

The investigation into the February crash of a Colgan Air Q400 in Buffalo that killed 50 people has cast a harsh light on pilot screening and training, leading both the US Congress and FAA to consider revising regulations, particularly in regard to regional airlines that fly an increasing percentage of US mainline carriers' domestic routes. The Air Line Pilots Assn. last week released a white paper on the issue, arguing that "many pilots in the current pool of applicants lack the level of experience that generations of pilots ahead of them had when they came into the airlines."

By Aaron Karp

In-Depth, September 28, 2009

The union said that neither airlines nor regulators in the US and Canada have "kept pace" in terms of pilot qualification requirements and training oversight. "Today's archaic regulations allow airlines to hire low-experience pilots into the right seat of high-speed, complex, swept-wing jet aircraft in what amounts to on-the-job training with paying passengers on board," ALPA said. "Investigations of recent accidents reveal that safety margins have been eroded at some carriers as a result. A complete overhaul of pilot selection and training methods is needed."

FAA is in the process of reviewing an Aviation Rulemaking Committee's Sept. 1 recommendations on pilot fatigue and shortly will issue a new flight/duty-time rule that Administrator Randy Babbitt has said will reflect the latest scientific research on the issue (ATW, August). But members of Congress, ALPA and others are pushing for new legislation that also would revamp regulations for hiring and training pilots as well as sharing pilot records.

House aviation subcommittee Chairman Jerry Costello (D-Ill.)said at a hearing last week that Congress and FAA need to "closely examine the regulations regarding pilot training." Babbitt has ordered FAA investigators to review pilot training programs at all airlines and said last week he is considering issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on hiring/training. He told Congress that he will use his "bully pulpit" to push carriers and unions to do a better job of developing and enforcing "professional standards" for pilots and more extensively sharing pilot records.

While all carriers do follow basic regulations for hiring and training pilots, Babbitt said that "unfortunately, while the regulations are the same, the mentality is not the same" across the industry. He explained that he is pushing mainline airlines to mandate hiring and training standards for regional carriers that operate much of their domestic schedule. Prater told lawmakers that "codeshare and fee-for-departure agreements mean that mainline carriers exert enormous pressure on regional airlines to operate as cheaply as possible. . .Airlines outsource their routes to the lowest bidder."

US Air Transport Assn. President and CEO James May testified that mainline carriers "highly value their relationships with regional airlines" but emphasized that "the bedrock principle in civil aviation is that the entity to which the FAA has issued a certificate is solely responsible for its activities . . .That principle avoids any confusion about ultimate responsibility, an absolutely essential consideration in promoting safety. . .As separate regulated entities, regionals are independent of mainline airlines."

ALPA warned in its white paper that with regionals now flying around 50% of US domestic flights, it is increasingly common for "low-experience" pilots to be flying regional aircraft: "Flying today's complex airline aircraft in very congested and complicated airspace is a challenging undertaking by even experienced pilots. . .Low-experience pilots are hired by some airlines and expected to operate in these conditions without the benefit of learning the art of airmanship and gaining experience under the tutelage of veteran pilots over a protracted period as was historically the case. Not surprisingly, these pilots, who perform as well as their experience, knowledge, and skills will permit, often exhibit deficiencies. . .[that] ultimately impact safety."

Costello has introduced the Airline Safety and Pilot Training Improvement Act, proposed legislation that would require FAA to issue a rule "mandating that air carriers establish remedial training programs for flight crewmembers who have demonstrated performance deficiencies or experienced failures in the training."

The bill, which has bipartisan backing, additionally would force carriers to establish a "pilot mentoring program" and "modify training to accommodate new-hire pilots with different levels and types of flight experience and provide leadership and command training to pilots in command." It further would create a "Pilot Records Database" that would give carriers electronic access to "a pilot's comprehensive record," including information on a pilot's licenses, aircraft ratings, check rides, official notices of disapproval and other flight proficiency tests he or she has passed or failed. Under the legislation, mainline airlines would be forced to disclose on the front page of their websites which carrier is operating each segment of a flight for which they are selling tickets.

Regional Airline Assn. President Roger Cohen said his organization's members back establishment of "a single database of pilot records to be maintained by the FAA to enable airlines to access critical, real-time information" about pilots' records, complaining that today, "it takes weeks if not months to access" details on prospective pilots carriers are considering for hire. RAA also favors extending the background check timeframe "to the last 10 years of a pilot's flying record." Current law only allows airlines to review the last five years of such records. Cohen also recommended that Congress/FAA mandate a "more detailed analysis of check rides over the entirety of a pilot's career" so airlines are able "to ensure all pilots are up to par."


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ATR 72-600

ATR presents ATR 72-600 prototype

Friday October 2, 2009

Exactly two years after ATR announced the launch of its -600 series, the manufacturer officially presented its first ATR 72-600 prototype at a ceremony in Toulouse yesterday.

The prototype -600 (converted from an ATR 72-500) started its flight test campaign in July 2009 after being powered on in December 2008. The aircraft is fitted with new Pratt & Whitney 127M engines.

"The new -600 series has been designed to improve the performance of our aircraft in terms of fuel consumption and engine power, maximum takeoff load and reduction of maintenance costs," CEO Stephane Mayer said yesterday. ATR officials stated that development of both the ATR 72-600 and ATR 42-600 is progressing according to schedule.

The power-on of the first new-build -600, which will be an ATR 42-600, is planned for December with flight trials starting soon after. Entry into service of the first commercial ATR 72-600s and ATR 42-600s is planned for 2011. The first airline scheduled to take delivery of the new type is Royal Air Maroc. Currently, ATR has orders for 59 -600 series aircraft comprising five 42-600s and 54 72-600s.

The company declined to reveal its investment in the -600 series. "We have the full support of our shareholders [EADS and Alenia Aeronautica each hold 50%]," Senior VP-Operations Luigi Lombardi told this website. He added that breakeven will be reached with 150 sold aircraft.

Both models of the -600 series will have the new PW127M engines, which ATR claims will provide 5% additional thermodynamic power at takeoff, as well as a new Thales avionics suite with a glass cockpit flight deck featuring five LCD screens and a new multipurpose computer. The avionics integrate an autopilot that will be CAT IIIA-certified. A two-class cabin still under development will feature larger overhead bins and improved "space perception."


by Cathy Buyck

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Boeing 787 wing flaw extends inside plane

By Dominic Gates

Seattle Times aerospace reporter


The wing damage that grounded Boeing's new composite 787 Dreamliner occurred under less stress than previously reported — and is more extensive. An engineer familiar with the details said the damage happened when the stress on the wings was well below the load the wings must bear to be federally certified to carry passengers.

In addition, information obtained independently and confirmed by a second engineer familiar with the problem shows the damage occurred on both sides of the wing-body join — that is, on the outer wing as well as inside the fuselage.


The structural flaw in the Boeing design was found in May during a ground test that bent the wings upward. Stresses at the ends of the long rods that stiffen the upper wing skin panels caused the fibrous layers of the composite plastic material to delaminate. The damage at the end of each of the 17 long stiffening rods, called stringers, on each wing's upper skin happened just beyond the aircraft's "limit load," which is the maximum load the wing is expected to bear in service.


Last week, The Seattle Times mistakenly reported that the damage occurred later in the test, just beyond "ultimate load." That is defined as 50 percent higher than the in-service limit load and is the Federal Aviation Administration's test target. The tearing at the end points of the stringers well before the wing reached ultimate load means the problem is worse than suggested in last week's story.


Because the wing test fell short of the ultimate load target, the plane could have flown only under restrictions that would have severely limited the usefulness of a test flight.

It also helps explain why Boeing canceled the first flight planned for the end of June.


The fact that there is corresponding damage on the fuselage side of the wing join adds to the complexity of any fix and the time and cost involved in implementing it.

The wings of the 787 are made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan.


Inside the fuselage, on the other side of where each wing joins the jet's body, there is a structure called the "center wing box," made by Fuji Heavy Industries, also in Japan.

This center box is constructed much like the outer wing, with composite-plastic skin panels stiffened by composite-plastic stringers. The stringers on the fuselage side mate at the wing join, fitting with those on the wing side. Because the wings are designed to transfer the loads into the fuselage box, the damage that occurred in the test was mirrored on either side of the join. Though a single fix, once designed and tested, will work on both sides of the join, mechanics performing the necessary modifications inside the airplanes already built will have to duplicate the work inside the wing and inside the fuselage.

According to the engineers, Boeing is focusing on a solution that will require mechanics to create a U-shaped cutout in the end of each upper wing-skin stringer.

This would have the effect of transferring part of the excess load into the titanium fitting at the wing-body join instead of into the wing skin. The mechanics must then fasten the reshaped stringer ends with newly designed parts to the titanium fitting. The goal is to reduce the stress-point loads enough to prevent future delamination. The delamination of the composite-plastic material isn't likely to lead to catastrophic failure of the airplane, but it would require constant monitoring and potentially costly repairs by the airlines. Any tear would have to be promptly fixed to prevent it from spreading.


The way the stringers terminate and mate at the join, the focus of the problem, is Boeing's responsibility and not that of its Japanese partners. Boeing will have to pay for the cost overruns. Engineers will have to validate Boeing's chosen solution in tests before they modify the wings and center wing boxes already built. Company spokeswoman Yvonne Leach said 10 Dreamliners have been completed, including two ground-test airplanes. About 30 more are in various stages of production.


The Dreamliner is already two years late. CEO Jim McNerney said last week that a new schedule for first flight and delivery will be ready within the next two months. Estimates by the two engineers of the minimum time needed to fix the problem suggest the plane is now unlikely to fly until next year. Until the new production timetable is announced, Wall Street analysts are unable to calculate the precise additional cost of this latest delay.


Analyst Joe Campbell, of Barclays Capital, this week downgraded Boeing's stock. He cited an increased risk that the company will book a large accounting loss this year to cover the extra expense of the repeated delays. In a note to clients, Campbell estimated the total cost overrun of the Dreamliner program so far — extra startup and engineering costs, penalties owed to customers for delivery delays and contractual obligations to suppliers for engineering changes — as "in the vicinity of $11 billion." Because 850 Dreamliners have already been ordered, Campbell still believes the jet can be "highly profitable" over two decades of full production. But with that level of cost overrun, Campbell said, "Boeing is highly likely to lose large sums of money on the first 400 to 600 aircraft."

Dominic Gates


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Pilots in crashes had failed multiple tests



Pilot qualifications on regional carriers was at the center of an NTSB hearing


last month into the February crash of a turboprop near Buffalo


that killed 50 people.


The pilot at the controls when the plane plunged had failed five checks,

according to records revealed at the hearing.

By Stan Honda, AFP/Getty Images[1]

By Alan Levin, USA TODAY


In nearly every serious regional airline accident during the past 10 years, at least one of the pilots had failed tests of his or her skills multiple times, according to an analysis of federal accident records.

In eight of the nine accidents during that time, which killed 137 people, pilots had a history of failing two or more "check rides," tests by federal or airline inspectors of pilots' ability to fly and respond to emergencies. In the lone case in which pilots didn't have multiple failures since becoming licensed, the co-pilot was fired after the non-fatal crash for falsifying his job application.

Pilots on major airlines and large cargo haulers had failed the tests more than once in only one of the 10 serious accidents in this country over the past 10 years, according to a USA TODAY review of National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accident reports.

At a time when fatal aviation accidents have become increasingly rare, regional carriers have had four since 2004, compared with one by a major airline. Regional airlines fly roughly half of all airline flights, carrying about 20% of passengers.

Pilot qualifications on regional carriers was at the center of an NTSB hearing last month into the February crash of a turboprop near Buffalo that killed 50 people. The pilot at the controls when the plane plunged had failed five checks, according to records revealed at the hearing.

Three of the accidents in which pilots had repeatedly failed tests involved a single airline conglomerate, Pinnacle Airlines. The crash near Buffalo was on Colgan Air, which is owned by Pinnacle. The captain on a Pinnacle jet that crashed in 2004 after accidentally killing both engines had failed seven checks.

Pinnacle spokesman Joe Williams said the airline was not aware of all the test failures.

"I'd say this is a symptom of a larger problem in selection and certification" of pilots, said Bill Voss, president of the independent Flight Safety Foundation. A shortage of pilots this decade, prompted in part by the lower numbers of former military pilots seeking airline jobs, prompted lower minimum qualifications, Voss said.

Failing a single check during a career means little, but failing multiple times "really sends up the red flags," said Patrick Veillette, a corporate jet pilot who has written extensively on safety issues.

Regional Airline Association President Roger Cohen defended the industry's safety practices. "All of our members are flying under the exact same standards as the mainline carriers," Cohen said.

The NTSB has voiced concern about a loophole in a law requiring airlines to check pilots' records when hiring. The 1996 Pilot Records Improvement Act orders airlines to check pilot records from previous employers, but that does not cover failures that occurred while a pilot was in flight school.

Airline pilots receive dozens of written and flying tests during a career.


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Here are some reading activities on the internet you may enjoy.


Baggage handler saved by his mobile phoneComputer crash causes massive disruption in air traffic

Fossett sets new long-distance flight record

Jumbo flies across the Atlantic on just three engines

Commercial aircraft lands in Antarctica


Aircraft failed to pressurize

Aviation history quiz

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Unless you prefer to be taken to history pages this way:


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And here are some articles about almost anything related to aviation topics:


A fatal bug?  Did computers cause the Air France disaster? from the BBC Open University


Some Aviation humour

with lots of jokes such as

The probability of survival is inversely proportional to the angle of arrival. Large angle of arrival, small probability of survival and vice versa.

Northrop's Law of Aeronautical Engineering - When the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the airplane, the airplane will fly.

It's always better to be down here, wishing you were up there, than to be up there, wishing you were down here.


First electric cars, now electric planes


Statistics prove that airline pilot training is not good enough



And how about reading and writing in some forum like this one about ATC in Brazil on PPrune.


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  1. This article was taken from http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2009-06-07-regional-pilots_N.htm

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