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ATR 72-600 veers off runway on landing in thunderstorm at Taichung, Taiwan
22 April 2019

ATR 72-600 veers off runway on landing in thunderstorm at Taichung, Taiwan

EASA extends conflict zone warning for Iraqi and Syrian airspace

On April 17, 2019 the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) extended the validity of the conflict zone warnings for Iraq and Syria to 25 October 2019.

 

FAA publishes draft report on Boeing 737 MAX MCAS changes

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published a draft report from the Boeing 737 MAX Flight Standardization Board, after reviewing changes made by Boeing to the aircraft’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). Design issues of the MCAS were noted in the wake of two fatal Boeing 737 MAX 8 accidents.

The Flight Standardization Board reviewed only the training aspects related to software enhancements to the aircraft, stating the “system was found to be operationally suitable”.

The report is open to public comment for 14 days. After that, the FAA will review those comments before making a final assessment. Boeing Co. is still expected in the coming weeks to submit the final software package for certification.

 

FAA issues new Notam, prohibiting U.S. aircraft to use part of Libyan airspace

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a new Notam, prohibiting flights for certain U.S. aircraft in a specific area of the Libyan airspace.

The FAA reported that is concerned about increased tensions associated with the current conflict for control of the capital, Tripoli. Libya National Army (LNA) forces have begun operations aimed at seizing control of Tripoli, including Tripoli International Airport.  The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), with support of militias, has conducted counterattacks, including tactical airstrikes on LNA forces. LNA has declared a military zone and is threatening to shoot down aircraft operating in Western Libya. 

Both GNA and advancing LNA forces have access to advanced man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) and likely anti-aircraft artillery.  These ground-based weapon systems present a risk to aircraft, but only at altitudes below FL300.  LNA forces have tactical aircraft capable of intercepting aircraft at altitudes at and above FL300 within the self-declared military zone in Western Libya, which may present an inadvertent risk to civil aviation operations in Western Libya.  While the LNA tactical aircraft threat is likely intended for GNA military aircraft, an inadvertent risk remains for civil aviation at all altitudes due to potential miscalculation or misidentification. This risk necessitates an all-altitude flight prohibition for a specific geographic area West of 17 degrees east longitude and North of 29 degrees north latitude in the Tripoli FIR.

 

FAA extends security notice for flights over Egypt Sinai Peninsula

Sinai Peninsula (FAA)

Sinai Peninsula (FAA)

The United States FAA extended a security warning for the Egypt Sinai Peninsula by another year due to continuing concern for flight safety.

The initial Notam was issued on March 30, 2015, based on the FAA’s assessment that international civil air routes that transit the Cairo (HECC) Flight Information Region (FIR) over the Sinai Peninsula and aircraft operating to and from Sinai airports are at risk from potential extremist attacks involving antiaircraft weapons, to include Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS), small arms fire, and indirect fire from mortars and rockets targeting Sinai airports.

The FAA reports that the Islamic State in Iraq and ash-Sham in the Sinai (ISIS-Sinai), an Egypt-based affiliate of ISIS, continues to conduct attacks in northern and southern Sinai, some of which demonstrate their capability and intent to target civil aviation. Throughout 2018, ISIS-Sinai targeted Egyptian security forces and police check-points in the Sinai.

Based on this information, the FAA continues to advise U.S. airlines and operators to avoid flying below FL260 in this area.

More information:

ATSB issues report on in-flight upset involving Boeing 747-400

Following an ATSB investigation into an in-flight upset involving a Boeing 747-438 near Hong Kong in 2017, Qantas has incorporated more complex stall warning recovery events in recurrent lesson plans for its Boeing 747 flight crews.

The incident occurred in April 2017. While descending toward Hong Kong, air traffic control instructed the flight crew to hold at a waypoint. When entering the holding pattern, the aircraft’s aerodynamic stall warning stick shaker activated a number of times and the aircraft experienced multiple oscillations of pitch angle and vertical acceleration. During the upset, some passengers and cabin crewmembers struck the cabin ceiling and furnishings, sustaining minor injuries.

The ATSB found that while planning for the descent, the flight crew overwrote the flight management computer-provided hold speed. After receiving a higher than expected hold level, the flight crew did not identify the need to re-evaluate the hold speed. This was likely because they were not aware of a need to do so, nor were they aware that there was a higher hold speed requirement above flight level 200.

Prior to entering the hold, the speed reduced below both the selected and minimum manoeuvring speeds. The crew did not identify the low speed as their focus was on other operational matters. The ATSB also found that due to a desire to remain within the holding pattern, and a concern regarding the pitch-up moment of a large engine power increase, the pilot flying attempted to arrest the rate of descent prior to completing the approach to stall actions.

In addition, the pilot monitoring did not identify and call out the incomplete actions. This led to further stall warning stick shaker activations and pilot induced oscillations, which resulted in minor injuries to four cabin crewmembers and two passengers.

The ATSB found the flight crew had limited training and guidance for stall warning recovery techniques at high altitude or with engine power above idle. Inconsistencies were also found in flight crew training of the awareness of the need to re-evaluate holding speed when there are changes in altitude, especially above flight level 200.

Subsequent to the incident, Qantas provided retraining for all Boeing 747 flight crews in stall warning recovery scenarios and amended ground school lesson plans to ensure flight crews were adequately prepared to recover from stall warning activations at high altitudes or with engine power above idle.

Qantas also amended flight crew training manuals relating to hold speed selection and updated ground school lesson plans and information to ensure standardised training and holding pattern training. In addition, Qantas proactively applied these measures across its Boeing 737 and 787 fleets.

U.S. announces Special Committee to review FAA’s aircraft certification process

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the establishment of an expert Special Committee to review the procedures of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the certification of new aircraft, including the Boeing 737 MAX. Air Force General (Ret.) Darren McDew, former head of the U.S. Transportation Command, and Captain Lee Moak, former President of the Air Line Pilots Association, have agreed to serve as the interim co-chairs of the Special Committee pending the appointment of other members.

The Special Committee to Review FAA’s Aircraft Certification Process is an independent body whose findings and recommendations will be presented directly to the Secretary and the FAA Administrator. The Special Committee is being formed within the structure of the Safety Oversight and Certification Advisory Committee (SOCAC). The SOCAC will provide advice and recommendations on issues facing the aviation community related to the FAA’s safety oversight and certification programs and activities.

The SOCAC will be composed of individuals representing a diverse group of stakeholders in the aviation industry. The Department is soliciting candidates to be members of the SOCAC through the Federal Register.

 

FAA updates conflict zone Notam on Pakistan airspace

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration updated the Conflict Zone Notam on Pakistani airspace, adding potential military activity due too heightened tensions in the Kashmir region.

Flynas passes IATA safety audit

Flynas passed the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA).

Flynas is an Saudi Arabian low-cost airline. It started operating flights in 2007 and currently uses two Airbus A319s; 26 A320s and two A320neos on flights to destinations in Africa, Asia and Europe.

The IOSA programme is an evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline. IOSA uses internationally recognised quality audit principles and is designed to conduct audits in a standardised and consistent manner. It was created in 2003 by IATA.  All IATA members are IOSA registered and must remain registered to maintain IATA membership.

More information:

Photo of a Flynas A320 (by Konstantin von Wedelstaedt)

List of accidents involving brand new passenger aircraft

This brand new (38 days; TT 202 hours) Boeing 737-800 crashed in September 2006

Two recent accident involving brand new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft caused a global grounding of the type over fears relating to a malfunctioning safety feature specific to the 737 MAX. How does the age of both aircraft relate to previous aircraft accidents?

Focussing on fatal aircraft accidents involving passenger flights, the ASN databases shows (for available data! *) that there was at least one aircraft that crashed within a month of having first flown. A Braniff Lockheed Electra crashed 25 days following its first flight and just 11 days after having been delivered to the airline. A subsequent accident in March 1960 under similar circumstances revealed an engine mount problem on the outboard engines that allowed propeller oscillations to be transmitted to the wings, resulting in a structural failure of the wing in flight. This finding led to operational speed restrictions of the aircraft before modifications were carried out.

Age (days) Date Aircraft type Operator Fatalities
25 1959-09-29 Lockheed L-188A Electra Braniff 34
34 1967-03-11 DHC-6 Twin Otter 100 Aeralpi 4
38 2006-09-29 Boeing 737-8EH Gol 154
52 1968-03-05 Boeing 707-328C Air France 63
69 1959-02-03 Lockheed L-188A Electra American Airlines 65
72 1960-01-19 Caravelle SAS 42
74 1961-09-23 Fokker F-27 Friendship THY 28
75 1968-04-20 Boeing 707-344C SAA 123
87 1948-01-30 Avro 688 Tudor 1 BSAA 31
90 1965-08-16 Boeing 727-22 United Airlines 30
91 2018-10-29 Boeing 737 MAX 8 Lion Air 189
94 1989-01-08 Boeing 737-4Y0 BMA 47
95 1968-11-23 DHC-6 Twin Otter 200 Cable Commuter 9
107 1961-09-17 Lockheed L-188C Electra Northwest 37
107 1962-07-19 DH-106 Comet 4C United Arab 26
118 1961-09-12 Caravelle III Air France 77
119 1962-06-22 Boeing 707-328 Air France 113
125 1977-09-08 DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 Burma Airways 25
126 1934-12-20 Douglas DC-2 KLM 7
131 2019-03-10 Boeing 737 MAX 8 Ethiopian Airlines 157

Looking at flight hours instead of age since first flight, the ASN databases shows (again, for available data! *):

Flight hours Date Aircraft type Operator Fatalities
19 1948-07-01 Fiat G.212PW ALI 8
35 1948-08-01 Latécoère 631 Air France 52
46 1968-03-05 Boeing 707-328C Air France 63
47 1926-08-18 Blériot 155 Air Union 4
51 1949-05-13 Ilyushin Il-12P Aeroflot 25
70 2002-12-23 Antonov An-140 Aeromist Kharkiv 44
92 1949-08-25 Ilyushin Il-12P Aeroflot 14
109 1960-02-26 Antonov An-10A Aeroflot 32
111 1971-05-23 Tupolev Tu-134A Aviogenex 78
111 1961-09-23 Fokker F-27 THY 28
113 1948-09-04 Lisunov Li-2 Aeroflot 6
124 1974-05-02 Yakovlev Yak-40 Aeroflot 1
124 1961-07-11 Douglas DC-8-12 United Airlines 17
128 1969-03-20 Ilyushin Il-18D United Arab 100
132 1959-09-29 Lockheed L-188A Electra Braniff 34
154 1963-04-04 Ilyushin Il-18 Aeroflot 67
164 1966-10-01 Douglas DC-9-14 West Coast Airlines 18
166 1947-12-18 Ilyushin Il-12P Aeroflot 7
188 1993-03-05 Fokker 100 Palair 83
202 2006-09-29 Boeing 737-8EH Gol 154

The LionAir Boeing 737 MAX 8 that crashed in 2018 had logged 895 flying hours; total hours for the Ethiopian aircraft has not yet been reported.

Important notes:

  • For 54% of all accidents the first flight date nor total aircraft time in flight hours are known. These lists can thus only be used as indicative.
  • For most Russian accidents just the aircraft’s flight hours are known, hence the over-representation of these accidens in the flight hours-table.