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July 17: the worst day in aviation history
17 July 2017

July 17: the worst day in aviation history

The 17th of July is the worst day in aviation history with 927 fatalities in 17 airliner accidents, according to ASN data.

The average over the period 1946-2016 is 11 accidents 234 fatalities.


17 JUL 1946 Curtiss C-46 ANDESA 30
17 JUL 1948 Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina Cathay Pacific Airways 25
17 JUL 1950 Douglas C-47 Indian National Airways 22
17 JUL 1955 Convair CV-340 Braniff International Airways 22
17 JUL 1958 Curtiss C-46 Dominicana de Aviacion 2
17 JUL 1963 Curtiss C-46 Air America 6
17 JUL 1994 Yakovlev 40 Sankuru Air Service 5
17 JUL 1994 Britten-Norman BN-2B Islander Air Martinique 6
17 JUL 1995 DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 Merpati Nusantara Airlines 1
17 JUL 1996 Boeing 747-131 Trans World Airlines – TWA 230
17 JUL 1996 DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 Aerolatino 1
17 JUL 1997 Fokker F-27 Friendship Sempati Air Transport 28
17 JUL 1998 Ilyushin 78 Air Sofia 10
17 JUL 2000 Boeing 737-2A8 Alliance Air 55
17 JUL 2002 DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 Skyline Airways 4
17 JUL 2007 Airbus A320-233 TAM Linhas Aéreas 187
17 JUL 2012 Canadair CRJ-200ER SkyWest Airlines 1
17 JUL 2014 Boeing 777-2H6ER Malaysia Airlines 298

Russia notes rise in drone incidents

The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency, Rosaviatsia, notes an increase in the number of illegal drone airpace infringements.

In 2016, 41 cases were recorded, while in the first five months of 2017, there were already 28 cases (compared to 12 for the same period in 2016). It appears that the persons who were arrested following illegal drone operations, were not aware of current Russian regulations.

Rosaviatsia will co-operate with the Russian Association of operators and developers of unmanned aircraft systems to further educate drone operators.

According to Russian regulations, unmanned aircraft may not be operated above an altitude of 150 m and away from airports and heliports.


More information:

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.