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EASA publishes safety information on wake vortex
22 June 2017

EASA publishes safety information on wake vortex

EASA published a Safety Information Bulletin (SIB) to remind pilots and air traffic controllers about the risks associated with wake turbulence encounters at high altitude and about the applicable precautionary measures.

The bulletin was issued in the wake of an accident that occurred on January 7, 2017. A Challenger 604 corporate jet suffered a severe in-fight upset after passing through the wake of an Airbus A380 that had passed overhead with a vertical distance of 1,000 ft. The aircraft suffered a significant altitude loss after completing several rotations along the longitudinal axis. Forces exceeded the airframe certification design load limits. Nevertheless, a safe landing was made.

EASA notes that wake turbulence can persist for several minutes behind the generating airplane, naturally descending. Actual motion strongly depends on the prevailing wind and atmospheric conditions. The likelihood for an airplane to encounter severe wake turbulence generated by another airplane is very low but cannot be excluded. Typically, the so-called Heavy and Super heavy aircraft are more prone to generate stronger vortices, although there is potential for other large aircraft types as well.

EASA is continuously monitoring with interested parties the risks associated to wake encounters en-route and published the SIB to inform the community about precautionary measures.

For example, pilots are warned not to use large rudder deflections when trying to respond to a wake encounter. Also, intentional disconnection of the autopilot can complicate the recovery.

More info:

Airbus launches new fixed and deployable flight recorders

Airbus announced that it is to implement new fixed and deployable flight recorders on its passenger aircraft in collaboration with L3 Technologies.

The new devices will come in two versions: a fixed crash-protected Cockpit Voice and Data Recorder (CVDR), capable of recording up to 25 hours of voice and flight data on a single recorder; and an Automatic Deployable Flight Recorder (ADFR).

This new CVDR will be lighter, more compact, and will provide new capabilities compared with current generation of recorders, including versatile interfaces. The new CVDR answers the EASA and ICAO requirement to extend the duration of voice recording to 25 hours. The current requirement calls for a duration of two hours of voice recording. Two of these new CVDRs would be fitted on the shorter-range A320 airliners. This will greatly increase the redundancy for both voice and flight data recovery.

The other version of the new recording system – the ADFR – is aimed at longer range aircraft, with extended flight time over water or remote areas, such as the Airbus A321LR, A330, A350 XWB and A380. The ADFR will add a new capability to commercial airliners: the ability to be deployed automatically in case of significant structural deformation or water submersion. Designed to float, the crash-protected memory module containing up to 25 hours of recorded cockpit voice and flight data will be equipped with an integrated Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) to help rescue teams to rapidly locate and recover flight recorders.

The deployable ADFR will be installed in the rear of the fuselage, while a fixed CVDR will be installed near the front of the aircraft – thus greatly increasing the redundancy for both voice and flight data recovery, compared with today’s systems. The ADFR unit together with its mechanical ejection system will be designed and manufactured by Leonardo DRS  and integrated by L3 in partnership with Airbus cross-programme Engineering.

The new recording systems will be available in 2019 initially on the A350 XWB, with subsequent deployment on all other Airbus aircraft types.


Malaysia Airlines to use real-time global aircraft tracking

Malaysia Airlines will start using satellite-based real-time global aircraft tracking in 2018.

Aircraft tracking, especially over oceanic and remote airspace, has been an industry issue since the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 over the Indian Ocean on March 8, 2014. The Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data sent by aircraft can be received by ground stations, except for remote airspace were no or insuffient ground stations are available.

Progress has been made in allowing satellites to receive ADS-B data, allowing for real-time position updates globally. Aircraft connectivity company SITAOnAir is using Aireon’s Iridium NEXT satellites to provide global coverage. The first ten satellites were launched in January, 2017. Fifty-six more low-earth-orbit satellites will follow.

By incorporating this data, Malaysia Airlines’ aircraft operations center will receive real-time position updates of its airborne fleet globally.

More information:


Finland investigates laptop fire on board aircraft at Helsinki Airport

Lithium battery explosion mid-flight prompts passenger warning

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) reminds passengers using battery-powered devices that take good care of their battery powered devices during flight, following a recent incident.

On a recent flight from Beijing, China to Melbourne, Australia, a passenger was listening to music using a pair of her own battery-operated headphones.
About two hours into the flight while sleeping, the passenger heard a loud explosion. “As I went to turn around I felt burning on my face,” she said. “I just grabbed my face which caused the headphones to go around my neck….I continued to feel burning so I grabbed them off and threw them on the floor. They were sparking and had small amounts of fire. As I went to stamp my foot on them the flight attendants were already there with a bucket of water to pour on them. They put them into the bucket at the rear of the plane.”
The battery and cover were both melted and stuck to the floor of the aircraft.
Flight attendants returned to check on her wellbeing. For the remainder of the flight, passengers endured the smell of melted plastic, burnt electronics and burnt hair.

As the range of products using (lithium) batteries grows, the potential for in-flight issues increases.

The ATSB did not report the exact brand/model of the headphones but issued a more general reminder to passengers using battery-powered devices that:

  • devices should be kept in an approved stowage, unless in use
  • spare batteries must be in your carry-on baggage NOT checked baggage
  • they should locate their devices before moving powered seats
  • if a passenger cannot locate their device, they should refrain from moving their seat and immediately contact a cabin crew member.

More information:

Lithium battery power bank overheats on China Southern flight near Nanning, China

CAA U.K. issues lithium battery guidance videos for aviation personnel

The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) released three new videos with guidance for aviation personnel concerning the safe carriage of lithium batteries and emergency response actions.

Lithium batteries are used in electronics ranging from camera’s to laptops, smartphones and e-cigarettes. In specific circumstances these batteries can overheat and even burst into flames. Earlier, the U.K CAA warned operators for the fire hazard that electronic devices pose when stuck in aircraft seats.

More information:



FAA extends security warnings for Kenya and Mali airspaces

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued two new Notams, extending the security warnings for the Kenya and Mali airspaces by another year.


Lithium battery power bank fire diverts Spring Airlines flight to Shenyang, China

Japan Airlines Boeing 737-800 snowed in on runway at New Chitose Airport