One year later: The crash of Flight 3296

A commuter airplane has crashed near the airport in a small Alaska community on the Bering Sea, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Unalaska, Alaska. Freelance photographer Jim Paulin says the crash at the Unalaska airport occurred Thursday after 5 p.m. Paulin says the Peninsula Airways flight from Anchorage to Dutch Harbor landed about 500 feet (152 meters) beyond the airport near the water. (Jim Paulin via AP)
A commuter airplane has crashed near the airport in a small Alaska community on the Bering Sea, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Unalaska, Alaska. Freelance photographer Jim Paulin says the crash at the Unalaska airport occurred Thursday after 5 p.m. Paulin says the Peninsula Airways flight from Anchorage to Dutch Harbor landed about 500 feet (152 meters) beyond the airport near the water. (Jim Paulin via AP)

Twelve months ago, on Oct. 17, 2019, PenAir Flight 3296 overran the runway while landing at the Dutch Harbor airport, resulting in one passenger killed and four others injured. Since then, Ravn Alaska, which owned PenAir along with sister companies Corvus Airlines and Hageland Aviation, declared bankruptcy and auctioned off or sold the bulk of its assets.

Company executives blamed Ravn’s failure on the coronavirus, but on the Flight 3296 anniversary, it is worth considering just what happened to PenAir in the single year it was owned by Ravn, and what we have learned since the accident that exposes problems within the company in the months leading up to the tragedy.

Soon after the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board released an investigative update detailing the flight crew’s minimal experience in the aircraft. Ravn stopped all flights of the Saab 2000 into Unalaska and Alaska Airlines dropped the lucrative Capacity Passenger Agreement (CPA) it had with Ravn. The loss of the CPA, which paid Ravn for the Unalaska flights at “predetermined rates plus a negotiated margin, regardless of the number of passengers on board or the revenue collected,” had serious financial ramifications for the company. Questions raised by the NTSB’s preliminary investigation, however, left Alaska Airlines with little choice.

According to the NTSB’s initial report, and heavily covered in the media, the pilot in command (PIC) for Flight 3296 had an estimated 20,000 hours total flight time, but only 101 hours in the Saab 2000 (the co-pilot, with 1,446 hours total time, had 147 hours in the aircraft). Under PenAir’s previous ownership by the Seybert family, PICs were required to have 300 hours minimum in the Saab 2000 before operating into Dutch Harbor. (Similar requirements have existed for other companies operating at the challenging airfield.)

Based on the PenAir Operations Manual, flight-time minimums could be waived if approved by the company Chief Pilot. While the existence of such a waiver has not been addressed publicly, one month after the accident, the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that Chief Pilot Crystal Branchaud had been replaced and no longer held a position of operational control with PenAir. The extent to which she or any other management personnel played a role in assigning the PIC to Flight 3296 will likely receive serious attention in the accident’s final report.

Another area of significant interest for investigators will be the flight crew’s decision to land in turbulent weather conditions. In the report, the NTSB stated that when Flight 3296 first attempted to land on Runway 13, the winds were at 10 knots from 270 degrees. After initiating a go-around, the winds were reported at 16 knots, gusting to 30, from 290 degrees. While on final approach the second time, the winds were 24 knots from 300 degrees, providing almost a direct tailwind. The aircraft was configured for approach with 20 degrees of flaps both times.

Aircraft landing performance standards are based on multiple factors including weight and balance, wind and runway conditions. While Flight 3296′s weight and balance has not been released, it is possible to determine a conservative estimate of its total weight from available data. According to the manufacturer, the aircraft has a basic empty weight of about 30,500 pounds (this includes the three-member crew). Adding fuel for required reserves and Cold Bay as an alternate destination (about 2,000 pounds) and weight for 39 passengers at the FAA standard for summer adults (195 lbs x 39 = 7,605 pounds), a total weight of 40,105 pounds can be calculated. This excludes any baggage that may have been onboard.

For Runway 13 at Dutch Harbor, PenAir’s company performance standards permitted a landing weight, with 20 degrees of flaps, of 40,628 pounds with zero wind, 35,402 pounds for 5 knots of tailwind and 29,955 pounds for 10 knots of tailwind. It recommended a reduction of 1,031 pounds for each additional knot of tailwind. There is thus no discernible calculation that would recommend landing on Runway 13 with the reported winds at the time of the crash at the aircraft’s approximate weight.

According to the NTSB, the flight crew reported touching down about 1,000 feet down the runway, with skid marks first appearing at about 1,840 feet. From there, the marks continued 200 feet before the aircraft crossed a grassy area, impacted the airport’s perimeter fence, crossed a ditch, hit a large rock and then crossed Ballyhoo Road. It was on the opposite shoulder of the road, over the rock seawall and nearly into the waters of Dutch Harbor, that Flight 3296 finally came to rest.

After the aircraft stopped and a desperate but ultimately unsuccessful effort was underway to save the life of passenger David Oltman, the flight crew waited with forward passengers for assistance in exiting. It was at that point, according to passenger Steve Ranney, that a brief verbal exchange occurred. “A passenger asked the captain why he landed,” explained Ranney in an email, “and he calmly said the computer showed he was within the safety margin.” According to Ranney, who was interviewed by NTSB investigators, neither the captain nor co-pilot spoke another word.

There is no onboard computer that calculates landing performance for the Saab 2000; the PIC could only have been referring to an app likely used on his company-issued iPad. “Electronic flight bags” are commonly utilized by pilots, but the use of any software for the purposes of formal flight planning in commercial operation would have to be approved by the FAA. When asked if PenAir had authorization to utilize performance calculation software, the FAA referred the question, as part of an ongoing investigation, to the NTSB. The NTSB would state only that “crew performance standards equipment procedures and a host of other factors” would be part of the investigation.

Decision-making is always an area of particular inquiry following a commercial crash, both on the part of the flight crew and company management. As investigators moved from the aircraft to the cockpit and back to the offices of PenAir, Ravn Air Group and even the FAA, there are other events in 2019 that may have garnered interest and point to further issues within the newly acquired company.
In February last year, PenAir Flight 3298 suffered an engine loss about an hour after departing King Salmon. In a statement to ADN at the time, FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the aircraft “experienced engine trouble, so pilots shut it down.” The flight crew then returned to the village. In a subsequent Service Difficulty Report (SDR), the company reported a “right engine auto shutdown in flight, did not attempt restart. Troubleshooting in progress.” It is unknown what the final remedy was for that engine.

In July, PenAir Flight 2051 was en route from Anchorage to Dillingham when it suffered the loss of the right engine near its destination. As later detailed in a passenger complaint submitted to the FAA, the flight crew chose to turn around and fly all the way back to Anchorage on only one engine.

PenAir subsequently reported in an SDR that there was a “RT engine overtemp in cruise with auto shutdown” and that the engine was to be removed and replaced. Additionally, in a separate SDR the same day, the company reported a problem with the aircraft’s left engine, which went to “0 PU’s 5SEC.” The remedy was for that engine also to be replaced.
No mention of the problems with the left engine nor the necessary replacement of both engines was passed on to the passenger who filed the complaint. Neither was an explanation provided for the flight crew’s decision to forgo immediate landing at the nearest suitable airport (as required by federal regulation 121.565).

FAA Safety Inspector David Friend wrote to the passenger, a licensed pilot from the Bristol Bay region, that “it has been determined that the flight crew acted within the scope of all applicable Federal Aviation Regulations and associated PenAir Operations Specifications.” In a subsequent Freedom of Information Act request I submitted for a deviation of 121.565 report, the FAA responded that nothing pertaining to my request existed.

Months later, in the days after the crash of Flight 3296, Ravn announced a shift to using Dash-8 aircraft on the route and company management initiated a concerted effort to deflect blame to the Saab 2000. In an October 25 town hall meeting, CEO Dave Pflieger said Ravn would “need to go through a multifaceted process to ensure it is safe to land Saabs in Unalaska before they can return to service there.” This negative sentiment was echoed by Ravn’s new management, which acquired the PenAir and Corvus Airlines certificates along with several Dash-8 aircraft in a private sale last summer. In a July interview with KUCB, that company’s CEO, Rob McKinney, responded to questions about safe operations in rural Alaska by commenting on the crash of Flight 3296. “The Saab 2000 has a narrower margin of safety,” he asserted, “so that… potentially was a contributory cause of that unfortunate accident last year.”

Both Pfleiger and McKinney’s assessments ran sharply counter to the more than two years of accident-free flying with the aircraft under the Seyberts’ ownership, including thousands of flights into Unalaska. Further, from the time the Saab 2000s were acquired by the Seyberts and long before they were put into service, there was extensive flight testing, upgrades, modifications and certifications required for their transition to Part 121. All of this was heavily supervised by the FAA. By the time PenAir was purchased by Ravn in October 2018, there was nothing left for the Saab 2000 to prove; the aircraft simply needed the company to assign pilots who were trained how to fly it.

For now, Alaska Airlines flies scheduled service into Cold Bay, with continuing service to Unalaska provided by Grant Aviation. Alaska Central Express offers both regular cargo flights and passenger charter service and other operators, including Dena’ina Airtaxi, Alaska Air Transit, Resolve Aviation and Security Aviation also fly passenger charters. The Saab 2000s, which were leased by PenAir, have been parked at Anchorage International by their Florida-based owner since Ravn’s collapse. They will likely be relocated to the Lower 48 for maintenance and storage in the near future.

The NTSB’s final report on Flight 3296 should be released early next year. What it will reveal about problematic risk management assessments at all levels of the company is of great interest to anyone following aviation safety in Alaska. And while the detrimental fallout from the subsequent pandemic can not be ignored, it must be noted that Ravn was the only Alaska aviation company of significant size to file for bankruptcy after the virus. Further, although Ravn destroyed numerous financial, professional and customer relationships, many other companies shouldered the pieces it left behind while still continuing to navigate the current uncertain economic landscape.

The easiest thing in the world would be to dismiss PenAir’s summer engine problems and the decisions leading up to the Unalaska crash, disregard how long Ravn’s $90 million worth of unpaid bills were accruing, pay no attention to the likely sky-high fleet insurance the company was paying and simply blame everything that happened to it on the coronavirus. But just like the transparent attempt to shift responsibility of the Flight 3296 tragedy onto the aircraft, this would also require a determination to blindly ignore so many events leading up to Ravn’s demise, including its 16 accidents and incidents over the previous ten years. It is worth noting the most recent of those was not Flight 3296, but rather a gear-up landing by Hageland Aviation in Fairbanks, four months before Ravn shut down. It was easy to miss that one when the company was so loudly insisting everything was COVID-19′s fault.

Link: https://www.adn.com/opinions/2020/10/21/one-year-later-the-crash-of-flight-3296/

FAA chief will pilot Boeing’s 737 MAX in Seattle Wednesday as ungrounding nears

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Steve Dickson on Wednesday will fulfill a promise he made just months after taking command of the regulatory agency in the midst of Boeing’s 737 MAX crisis.

“I am not going to sign off on this aircraft until I fly it myself and am satisfied I would put my own family on it without a second thought,” Dickson told FAA employees last November.

On Wednesday he’ll take off from Boeing Field in a high-profile test flight intended as Dickson’s personal assurance to the public that the MAX is safe following 19 months of intense scrutiny by his agency.

It’s the clearest signal yet that the FAA is poised to unground the jet in late October or early November.

The MAX was grounded worldwide in early March 2019 after the second of two fatal accidents that together killed 346 people aboard almost-new aircraft. A series of investigations established that the pilots on the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines jets struggled against a flawed flight control system on the MAX that overcame their commands.

Since then, the FAA and international regulators have been minutely examining the fixes proposed by Boeing.

As the company girds against the new existential threat posed by the historic pandemic-driven aviation downturn, Dickson’s flight is a high-stakes moment.

For the MAX crisis that has consumed Boeing, shattering its plans for accelerated production and causing the loss of significant market share to rival Airbus, it could perhaps at last be a turning point.

Dickson tests Boeing’s fixes
Dickson’s MAX test plane is scheduled to depart from Boeing Field at about 9 a.m. and is expected to fly for about two hours. Dickson will brief reporters after landing, at a news conference around 11:30 a.m. that will be broadcast live on the FAA’s website and social-media platforms.

On Tuesday in Seattle, Dickson and FAA Deputy Administrator Dan Elwell completed the recommended new pilot training for the MAX as part of the preparation for the flight.

Dickson is a former Air Force F-15 jet fighter pilot, and as a captain with Delta Air Lines he flew the previous models of the 737 as well as other Boeing and Airbus jets. At Delta, he rose to senior vice president of flight operations, responsible for the safety and operational performance of the airline’s global fleet.

He took charge of the FAA in July 2019.

Testifying in December before the U.S. House Transportation Committee, Dickson reiterated the FAA position that “when the 737 MAX is returned to service, it will be because the safety issues have been addressed and pilots have received all the
training they need to safely operate the aircraft.”

Last December, Dickson starkly rebuked Boeing’s then-CEO Dennis Muilenburg for seeming to push for clearance to fly the MAX by the end of that month.

In August, the FAA laid out the proposed design changes on the MAX that it believes will make it safe. The proposals drew more than 200 comments from the public and aviation experts.

As the ungrounding approaches, foreign aviation regulators are lining up their own requirements and Congress is beginning to consider legislation to reform the process through which the FAA certifies airliners.

Last week, the executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Patrick Ky, said publicly that his agency expects to sign off on ungrounding the 737 MAX in November.

EASA will stipulate further changes beyond those in the FAA proposal, but Ky said those can be retrofitted after the jet’s return to service and so won’t delay the MAX’s ungrounding.

And on Monday, the House Committee on Transportation announced a bipartisan legislative proposal designed to strengthen the FAA certification process.

However, at this point ahead of the election, it’s unlikely new legislation can be passed before next year.

An FAA report detailing the required pilot training must be published, with a period for public comment.

And a multi-agency Technical Advisory Board must review the final design documentation and issue its report.

Federal Aviation Administration administrator Steve Dickson speaks to journalists at the Dubai Airshow in November 2019. Dickson will fly Boeing’s updated 737 MAX  Wednesday to assure the public the jet is now safe. (Jon Gambrell / The Associated Press)
Federal Aviation Administration administrator Steve Dickson speaks to journalists at the Dubai Airshow in November 2019. Dickson will fly Boeing’s updated 737 MAX Wednesday to assure the public the jet is now safe. (Jon Gambrell / The Associated Press) 

Link: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/faa-chief-will-pilot-boeings-737-max-in-seattle-wednesday-as-ungrounding-nears/

BEA releases final report on Air France Airbus A380 fan failure accident over Greenland

Status:Final
Date:Saturday 30 September 2017
Time:ca 09:45
Type:
Airbus A380-861
Operator:Air France
Registration:F-HPJE
C/n / msn:052
First flight:2010-08-10 (7 years 2 months)
Total airframe hrs:27184
Engines:Engine Alliance GP7270
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 24
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 497
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 521
Aircraft damage:Substantial
Aircraft fate:Repaired
Location:over southern Greenland (   Greenland)
Phase:En route (ENR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG/LFPG), France
Destination airport:Los Angeles International Airport, CA (LAX/KLAX), United States of America
Flightnumber:AF066

Narrative:
An Air France Airbus A380, operating flight 66 from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, France, to Los Angeles International Airport, California, USA, diverted to Goose Bay, Canada after suffering an uncontained GP7270 engine failure over Greenland.
The aeroplane took off at 09:50 UTC with the three pilots (the captain and two first officers, FO/1 and FO/2) in the cockpit. The cruise altitude (FL 330) was reached around 25 minutes later. The crew agreed on the division of the rest time. FO/2 took the first duty period around 30 minutes after take-off. The aeroplane changed levels several times during the cruise and then stabilized at FL370 at 11:14.
At 13:48, the crew asked Gander Oceanic to climb to FL380. The controller accepted and asked them to report when reaching FL380. The low pressure compressor and turbine rotation speed (N1) of the four engines increased from 98% to 107%.
At 13:49, the titanium fan hub of the right outer engine (No 4) separated into at least three parts. This failure was the result of the progression of a crack originating in the part’s subsurface. The central fragment of the hub stayed attached to the coupling shaft between the low pressure compressor and the low pressure turbine. The two other hub fragments were ejected, one upwards and the other downwards. The interaction between the liberated fan rotor fragments and the fixed parts of the engine caused the destruction of the engine casing and the separation of the air inlet which fell to the ground. Debris struck the wing and airframe without affecting the continuation of the flight.

After the failure, the aeroplane’s heading increased by three degrees to the right in three seconds, and there were vibrations in the airframe for around four seconds.
The crew perceived these variations and associated them with engine surging by analogy with the sensations reproduced in simulator sessions. An “ENG 4 STALL” ECAM message came up. The captain requested the “ECAM actions”. He engaged Autopilot 1 and indicated that he was taking the controls and would thus be Pilot Flying. He reduced engine No 4 thrust by positioning the associated lever to IDLE. The engine performed an automatic shutdown and the FO/2 confirmed the sequence by depressing the Engine 4 Master and Engine 4 fire pushbuttons, a few seconds later.

The damaged engine could not be seen from the cockpit or in the image from the camera located on the fin of the A380. A member of the cabin crew brought to the cockpit, a photo of the engine taken by a passenger with his smartphone.
FO/1 who had returned to the cockpit to help the flight crew on duty, went to the upper deck to assess the damage and take other photos. He observed damage on the leading edge slats and small vibrations in the flaps.

From the time of the failure and for around 1 min 30 s, the CAS had decreased from 277 kt to 258 kt and level flight at FL370 was maintained. The captain noticed this reduction in speed and decided to descend to the drift-down level calculated by the FMS (EO MAX FL 346) to maintain a constant speed in level flight. Observing that it was not possible to hold this level and this speed, he continued descending level by level. He selected FL 360, FL 350 then FL 330 and lastly FL 310. The level by level descent obliged the crew to stop their ECAM actions each time a descent was initiated. During level flight at FL310, the N1 rotation speeds of the three remaining engines decreased to 103%. The captain stabilized the descent to FL290 with a constant speed (CAS was 290 kt) by keeping the three engines in maximum continuous thrust (MCT). He decided to continue the descent and stabilize at FL270 in order to spare the engines to destination. The speed stabilized at 279 kt. Around five minutes after the A380 had started its descent, the controller in the Gander Oceanic control centre with which the crew were in datalink contact (CPDLC), detected the deviation from the vertical profile of the path and sent a message: “ATC NOW SHOWS YOU FL330. IS THERE A PROBLEM”.

At the same time, the control centre received an audio Mayday message from AF066, relayed by another aeroplane. One minute later, the PM replied to the CPDLC question with a MAYDAY. Direct audio communication between the flight and ATC resumed a few minutes later.

The crew decided, in agreement with Air France’s Operational Control Centre , to divert to Goose Bay airport and asked the controller for a direct route. After studying the available approaches and taking into consideration the captain’s experience and the airport’s immediate environment, the crew confirmed the selection of Goose Bay airport as the alternate airfield even though it was at a greater distance than Kangerlussuaq airport in Greenland.
The crew started the descent to Goose Bay and were cleared to carry out the RNAV GNSS RWY 26 approach. They were then cleared to land on runway 26. They configured the aeroplane for landing. On approaching the altitude of 1,000 ft, the captain disconnected Autopilot 1 and the flight director (FD) and continued the landing in manual flight. The aeroplane landed at 15:42. The taxiing phase to the stand took some time due to having to stop several times so that the airport services could collect the debris which had fallen onto the runway during the landing. At 16:22, all the engines were shut down.

Probable Cause:
Contributing factors
The following factors may have contributed to the failure of the fan hub on engine No 4:
– engine designer’s/manufacturer’s lack of knowledge of the cold dwell fatigue phenomenon in the titanium alloy, Ti-6-4;
– absence of instructions from the certification bodies about taking into accout macro-zones and the cold dwell fatigue phenomenon in the critical parts of an engine, when demonstrating conformity;
– absence of non-destructive means to detect the presence of unusual macro-zone in titanium alloy parts;
– an increase in the risk of having large macro-zones with increased intensity in th Ti-6-4 due to bigger engines, and in particular, bigger fans.
Accident investigation:

Investigating agency: BEA Status:Investigation completedDuration: 3 yearsAccident number:BEA2017-0568Download report:Final report:  https://www.bea.aero/uploads/tx_elydbrapports/BEA2017-0568.en.pdf

Link: https://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=20170930-1

UN body advises Pakistan to stop issuing pilots’ licenses: Report

United Nations logo

Advice comes after Pakistan opened a probe into allegations that many airline pilots have been issued fake credentials.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has advised Pakistan to undertake “immediate corrective actions” and suspend the issuance of any new pilot licenses in the wake of a scandal over falsified licenses, according to an official and a document seen by the Reuters news agency.

The recommendations from ICAO, a specialised agency of the United Nations that works to ensure safety in international air transport, come days after Pakistan opened a criminal probe into 50 pilots and five civil aviation officials who allegedly helped them falsify credentials to secure pilot licences.

“Pakistan should improve and strengthen its licensing system to ensure that it takes into account all necessary processes and procedures and prevents inconsistencies and malpractices before new licenses are issued and privileges of suspended licenses are re-established,” the ICAO said in a previously unreported letter to the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) last week.

A Pakistan International Airlines Airbus A320 crashed into a residential area of Karachi, Pakistan, on May 24, killing 98 people [File: Shahzaib Akber/EPA]
A Pakistan International Airlines Airbus A320 crashed into a residential area of Karachi, Pakistan, on May 24, killing 98 people [File: Shahzaib Akber/EPA]

A Pakistani aviation ministry official told Reuters that the country has not issued any new licenses since July, in the wake of the scandal.

A spokesperson for Pakistan’s aviation ministry, who is also a spokesperson for the PCAA, was not immediately available for comment on the ICAO advisory when contacted by Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera reported in July claims by Pakistani pilots that fraud and improper flight certification practices at the country’s civil aviation regulator were rampant, and that air safety has routinely been compromised by airlines through faulty safety management systems, incomplete reporting and the use of regulatory waivers.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the country’s largest airline and only major international carrier, was at the centre of most of the air safety complaints, and has denied all of the allegations.

The country’s aviation minister has said that almost a third of all licensed Pakistani pilots had obtained their certifications fraudulently.

A troubled record
His comments came weeks after a PIA passenger jet crashed in May in the southern city of Karachi, killing 98 people.

Pakistan has had a troubled aircraft safety record, with five significant commercial or charter airliner crashes in the last 10 years alone, killing 445 people.

In the same period, there have been numerous other non-fatal safety incidents, including engines shutting down in mid-flight or on takeoff, landing gear failures, runway overruns and on-the-ground collisions, according to official reports and pilot testimony.

In 2019, Pakistan’s aviation industry registered 14.88 accidents per million departures, according to the ICAO, far above the global average of 3.02.

The Montreal-based agency’s recommendations come ahead of an ICAO audit to assess the country’s aviation safety management systems.

The ICAO audit, originally scheduled for November this year, has been moved to June, effectively giving the PCAA more time to work on reforms, the official said.

An ICAO representative declined to comment to Reuters on specific details of the advice to Pakistan, but said in an email that ICAO is “helping Pakistan to recognise concerns, and if they do not take swift action on them we will actively notify other countries about them.”

The pilot scandal has tainted Pakistan’s aviation industry and hurt PIA, which has been barred from flying into Europe and the United States.

In addition to revoking the licenses of 50 pilots, Pakistan has also suspended another 32 pilots for a year.

Link: https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2020/9/25/un-body-advises-pakistan-to-stop-issuing-pilots-licenses-reporthttps://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2020/9/25/un-body-advises-pakistan-to-stop-issuing-pilots-licenses-report

Thieves steal business jet in Mexico, crash in Guatemala

MEXICO CITY (AP) – Thieves stole a business jet from an airport in central Mexico, flew it to Venezuela, apparently loaded it with drugs and then flew to Guatemala where the plane crashed, authorities said Thursday.

Prosecutors in Guatemala said a total of four bodies were found around the site where the BAE 125 jet crashed and burned Wednesday.

The dead could not be immediately identified, but drugs and weapons were found in the burned wreckage of the craft, which authorities referred to as a Hawker 800.

The bizarre round-trip illicit flight began Tuesday in the city of Cuernavaca, just south of Mexico City. The plane had arrived there on Aug. 10 and was parked at a private hangar.

Mexico’s Civil Aviation Agency said three people asked permission to fuel up the jet, purportedly in order to perform maintenance checks on the plane. Then, without permission, they taxied to a runway and took off, without having filled a flight plan.

Authorities tracked the plane as it flew south.

The Guatemalan army said the plane made a stop in Venezuela before entering Guatemala, which borders Mexico. It crashed for unknown reasons.

The drugs found on the plane could theoretically have been aboard since it left Mexico, but there would be little reason to move drugs toward Venezuela, which is a major transit hub for South American cocaine. It was much more likely the drugs were loaded aboard in Venezuela.

Link: https://wtop.com/latin-america/2020/09/thieves-steal-business-jet-in-mexico-crash-in-guatemala/

House Report Condemns Boeing and F.A.A. in 737 Max Disasters

Here I share Final Committee Report – The Design, Development and Certification of the Boeing B737 Max from MAJORITY STAFF OF THE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE (The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastucture), USA Congress

A committee’s Democrats say two fatal crashes were a “horrific culmination” of engineering flaws, mismanagement and oversight lapses.

A congressional report released on Wednesday followed an 18-month investigation of two Boeing 737 Max crashes that killed 346 people.
A congressional report released on Wednesday followed an 18-month investigation of two Boeing 737 Max crashes that killed 346 people.Credit…Lindsey Wasson for The New York Times

The two crashes that killed 346 people aboard Boeing’s 737 Max and led to the worldwide grounding of the plane were the “horrific culmination” of engineering flaws, mismanagement and a severe lack of federal oversight, the Democratic majority on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said in a report on Wednesday.

The report, which condemns both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration for safety failures, concludes an 18-month investigation based on interviews with two dozen Boeing and agency employees and an estimated 600,000 pages of records. The report argues that Boeing emphasized profits over safety and that the agency granted the company too much sway over its own oversight.

“This is a tragedy that never should have happened,” said Representative Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon, the committee chairman. “It could have been prevented, and we’re going to take steps in our legislation to see that it never happens again.”

Republicans on the committee, without issuing their own report, also called for safety improvements. But Representative Sam Graves of Missouri, the committee’s top Republican, said that while change was needed, congressional action should be based on expert recommendations, “not a partisan investigative report.”

The report was issued as the F.A.A. appeared close to lifting its March 2019 grounding order for the Max after evaluating data from test flights this summer and proposing changes to the jet. F.A.A. clearance could lead aviation authorities elsewhere to follow suit and allow the plane to fly again as soon as this winter.

Even as it strives to get the Max back into service, Boeing is contending with other challenges, including the deep downturn in air travel because of the coronavirus pandemic, and quality concerns about its 787 Dreamliner.

The congressional report on the Max identified five broad problems with the plane’s design, construction and certification. First, the race to compete with the European rival Airbus and its new A320neo led Boeing to make production goals and cost-cutting a higher priority than safety, the Democrats argued. Second, the company made deadly assumptions about software known as MCAS, which was blamed for sending the planes into nose dives. Third, Boeing withheld critical information from the F.A.A. Fourth, the agency’s practice of delegating oversight authority to Boeing employees left it in the dark. And finally, the Democrats accused F.A.A. management of siding with Boeing and dismissing its own experts.

“These issues must be addressed by both Boeing and the F.A.A. in order to correct poor certification practices that have emerged, reassess key assumptions that affect safety and enhance transparency to enable more effective oversight,” the Democrats said in the report.

A 737 Max crashed in Ethiopia last year. Investigators blamed faulty sensors for activating software that pushed the plane’s nose down.
A 737 Max crashed in Ethiopia last year. Investigators blamed faulty sensors for activating software that pushed the plane’s nose down.Credit…Mulugeta Ayene/Associated Press

The findings are largely in line with an abundance of information uncovered by federal investigators, news reporters and the committee’s preliminary work after the crashes in Indonesia in October 2018 and Ethiopia in March 2019.

Those crashes were caused in part by the MCAS system. Because the engines are larger and placed higher than those on the plane’s predecessor, they can cause the jet’s nose to push upward. MCAS was designed to push the nose back down. In both crashes, the software was activated by faulty sensors, sending the planes toward the ground as the pilots struggled to pull them back up.

The deaths could have been avoided if not for a series of safety lapses at Boeing and “grossly insufficient” oversight at the F.A.A., the Democrats argued. Internal communications at Boeing showed that several employees raised concerns about MCAS over the years, but their concerns were either dismissed or inadequately addressed, the House report said. It also accused Boeing of intentionally misleading the F.A.A., echoing a July report from the Transportation Department’s inspector general.

That report found that Boeing had failed to share critical information with regulators about important changes to MCAS and had been slow to share a formal safety risk assessment with the agency. The inspector general also said that Boeing had chosen to portray the MCAS software as a modification to an existing system rather than a new one, in part to ease the certification process, a decision that an authorized F.A.A. representative at the company agreed with, according to the congressional report.

Debris from the crash in Indonesia in 2018. Regulators could clear the 737 Max to fly again by this winter.
Debris from the crash in Indonesia in 2018. Regulators could clear the 737 Max to fly again by this winter.Credit…Beawiharta Beawiharta/Reuters

Under federal law, the agency is allowed to delegate some oversight to manufacturers, but that practice backfired at Boeing, the congressional report found.

In 2012, for example, a Boeing test pilot took more than 10 seconds to reverse an MCAS activation, a response time that he later described as “catastrophic.” Boeing cited that finding several times over the years in internal documents, but the House report found no evidence that any of the four F.A.A. representatives at the company who knew of the finding ever passed it on to the agency. Sharing the information was not required, but the failure to do so was “inconceivable and inexcusable,” the report said.

F.A.A. management came in for severe criticism over its response to the crashes. In December, the report said, Ali Bahrami, the F.A.A.’s associate administrator for aviation safety, told committee staff members that he was unaware of an internal assessment produced after the first crash that had predicted 15 more over the lifetime of the Max fleet if MCAS was not fixed.

The report also said the agency was “inexplicably slow” in turning over records.

“The F.A.A. was actually more frustrating” than Boeing, Mr. DeFazio said on a call with reporters. “I’m not sure that we ever got all of the email chains we wanted. They claimed to have a very primitive old computer system.”

The report faulted Boeing for a lack of transparency, driven in part by a desire to play down the need for simulator training for pilots. Under a 2011 contract with Southwest Airlines, for example, Boeing had promised to discount each of the 200 planes in the airline’s order by $1 million if the F.A.A. required such simulator training for pilots moving from an earlier version of the aircraft, the 737NG, to the Max. That, the committee argued, created an incentive for Boeing to withhold critical safety information from the agency.

“This report lays bare the lie that Boeing cares about safety or the hundreds of lives they have ruined,” said Yalena Lopez-Lewis, whose husband, Army Capt. Antoine Lewis, died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash. “Boeing cut corners, lied to regulators, and simply considers this the cost of doing business.”

Democrats declined to provide details of prospective legislation, but said they were working on bipartisan reforms that could be passed before the end of the year.

“We are working closely with Republicans in the hope of coming to an agreement on a reform proposal in the very near future,” Representative Rick Larsen of Washington, the chairman of the aviation subcommittee, told reporters.

In a statement, Boeing said it had learned lessons from the crashes and had started to act on the recommendations of experts and government authorities.

“Boeing cooperated fully and extensively with the committee’s inquiry since it began in early 2019,” the company said. “We have been hard at work strengthening our safety culture and rebuilding trust with our customers, regulators and the flying public.”

The revised Max design has received extensive review, the company said, arguing that once the plane is ready to fly again, “it will be one of the most thoroughly scrutinized aircraft in history.”

The F.A.A. said in a statement that it would work with the committee to carry out any recommended changes and was already making some of its own.

“These initiatives are focused on advancing overall aviation safety by improving our organization, processes and culture,” it said.

Last month, the agency announced plans to require a number of design changes to the Max before it can fly again, including updating MCAS and rerouting some internal wiring. The proposed rule is open for public comment until next week. Barring major obstacles, the agency could lift its grounding order on the plane in the weeks or months to come, allowing Boeing to prepare the planes to fly as soon as this winter.

While hundreds of orders for the jet have been canceled, several thousand remain. In some cases, customers cannot break contracts or are otherwise deeply entwined with Boeing. Many also still want to add the Max to their fleet. A new plane can last a generation and typically requires little maintenance in the first few years of use. The Max promises substantial fuel savings, too, which can add up over several decades.

Still, Boeing warned in January that the grounding would cost more than $18 billion. And that was before the severe downturn in travel caused by the pandemic. Last month, Boeing said it would expand the 10 percent cut to its work force announced in April. And the company said last week that deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner, a large twin-aisle jet used for long-distance flights, had been slowed by new quality concerns.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/16/business/boeing-737-max-house-report.html

Helikopter Milik PT NUH Hilang Kontak dalam Penerbangan dari Nabire Papua

DSCF0056
Foto helikopter jenis Bell 212 dengan registrasi PK-USS dari weblog
https://donibrahimovic.wordpress.com/2016/08/07/catatan-perjalanan-carstensz-pyramid/

Jayapura – 

Satu unit helikopter milik PT National Utility Helicopters (NUH) dilaporkan hilang kontak ketika terbang dari Bandara Nabire, Papua. Kepala Bandara Nabire, M Nafiq menjelaskan, helikopter yang membawa tiga orang itu hilang kontak sejak pukul 10.16 WIB atau 12.06 WIT.

“Kita masih cek di lokasi, sudah ada sinyal emergency yang keluar. Tapi sinyal emergency itu bisa sengaja dihidupkan atau karena tabrakan, itu yang kita belum tahu,” ujar Nafiq saat dihubungi, Kamis (17/9/2020).

Nafiq belum bisa memastikan dimana titik sinyal darurat yang dikeluarkan oleh helikopter PT NUH itu. Titik koordinatnya juga belum diketahui.

“Tadi kita sudah berangkatkan satu pesawat untuk mengecek lokasi itu, hanya cuaca mendung jadi kita tidak tahu apa bisa terlihat atau tidak. Kalau belum bisa, kita tunggu besok pagi atau siang kalau cuacanya bagus karena sekarang mendung, awannya rendah sekali. Kalau dipaksakan malah membahayakan yang nyari karena itu daerah pegunungan,” sambung Nafiq.

Menurut dia, helikopter tersebut bisa saja melakukan pendaratan darurat karena kondisi cuaca atau ada gangguan pada mesin pesawat. Nafiq mengatakan hal itu biasa dilakukan apabila helikopter membutuhkan lahan terbuka untuk mendarat.

“Heli itu biasanya kalau ada tempat terbuka saat cuaca buruk dia mendarat sementara, karena mungkin dia tidak sempat kasih tahu dia nyalakan sinyal daruratnya supaya stationnya tahu dia ada di posisi itu, semoga itu yang terjadi,” tutur Nafiq.

Hely bell 212 milik PT NUH, menurut Nafiq tengah mengangkut kargo berupa bahan makanan. Rute penerbangan heli tersebut ada di sekitar Nabire hingga Paniai.

“Di dalam heli ada tiga orang dan infonya mereka bawa kargo bahan makanan. Heli itu terbang di satu area pegunungan, jadi dia mampir-mampir, satu hari itu dia terbang di area itu,” kata Nafiq.

Dari informasi yang didapat, heli milik PT NUH terbang dari Nabire menuju kawasan Baya Biru, Kabupaten Paniai.

Link : https://news.detik.com/berita/d-5177045/helikopter-milik-pt-nuh-hilang-kontak-dalam-penerbangan-dari-nabire-papua

Historia Bisnis: Saat Singapore Airlines & KLM Kepincut Garuda Indonesia (GIAA)

Pilot dan kru pesawat memberi penghormatan terakhir kepada pesawat Garuda Boeing 747-400 di Hanggar 4 GMF Aero Asia, Tangerang, Banten, Senin (9/10). PT Garuda Indonesia secara resmi mempensiunkan pesawat Boeing 747-400 terakirnya setelah beroprasi selama 23 tahun sejak 1994. Pelepasan pesawat ini juga menandai berakhirnya operasional penerbangan haji tahun 2017. JIBI/Bisnis - Felix Jody Kinarwan
Di tengah pandemi virus corona atau Covid-19, Garuda Indonesia, emiten bersandi saham GIAA yang melantai di bursa hampir satu dekade silam, masih terus bergelut untuk memperbaiki kinerja keuangannya.

Bisnis.com, JAKARTA — PT Garuda Indonesia (Persero) Tbk. (GIIA) memang baru melantai di bursa pada Februari 2011 atau belum sampai satu dekade silam, tetapi jangan salah, emiten pelat merah atau BUMN itu sejatinya sudah berencana ‘terbang’ di bursa internasional sejak 1992.

Kala itu, Garuda Indonesia mengincar dana US$1 miliar dari target pelepasan saham atau initial public offering (IPO) di bursa internasional pada 1995. Nilai raihan dana tersebut jika dirupiahkan kira-kira setara Rp2 triliun dengan asumsi nilai tukar rupiah kala itu sekitar Rp2.000 per dolar AS.

Kini, jika dirupiahkan, target dana IPO Garuda itu kira-kira setara Rp14 triliun dengan asumsi nilai tukar rupiah Rp14.000 per dolar AS.

Nah, pada Rabu, 26 Agustus 1992 atau 18 tahun silam, Bisnis Indonesia pernah menurunkan artikel berjudul SIA & KLM Berniat Beli Saham Garuda di Bursa di halaman muka.

Kala itu, Managing Director Singapore Airlines (SIA) Cheong Choong Kong mengatakan tidak tertutup kemungkinan perusahaannya membeli sebagian saham Garuda jika jadi masuk bursa internasional pada 1995.

“SIA mempertimbangkan untuk membeli saham Garuda, tetapi apa benar Garuda akan go public ke bursa internasional?” katanya di Singapura, kala itu.

UN’s ICAO to conduct another audit of India’s air safety readiness

airlines, flights, aviation, plane, runway, airport
“We changed the system and now DGCA has almost completed licensing all 2,500 ATCO officials,” the official said.

The UN’s aviation watchdog International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has decided to conduct another safety audit of India’s air safety readiness.

The audit, which was pre-planned, assumes significance as it comes in the aftermath of the Air India Express crash in which 20 people were killed, including the pilot and the co-pilot, and several others were injured when the flight from Dubai with 190 people onboard overshot the runway at Calicut airport and fell into a valley.

“An ICAO team was supposed to come for an audit in November, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic and border closures, the audit has been postponed to January. ICAO team will check safety aspects of airlines, airports, ground handling firms, regulatory bodies to ascertain that they are upto the international standards,” said an official aware of the development.

ICAO had carried out the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme for India in November 2017, followed by a second audit in February 2018. The audit result showed that the country’s score declined to 57.44 per cent from 65.82 per cent earlier, placing India below Pakistan, Nepal and many other nations.

However, subsequently, the civil aviation ministry and aviation regulator DGCA took steps, following which the score improved to 74.

ALSO READ: Covid-19-hit aviation industry requires $5 bn to stay afloat: CAPA

During its audit, ICAO looks at eight areas. These include primary aviation legislation and civil aviation regulations, civil aviation organisation, personnel licensing and training, aircraft operations and airworthiness of aircraft.

The outcome of the audit score is crucial for Indian airlines as it could impact their international expansion plans.

During its audit in 2012, ICAO had placed India in its list of 13 worst-performing nations. This triggered an audit by US aviation regulator, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2014, which downgraded the country’s ranking, citing a lack of adequate regulatory oversight.

Indian airlines were not allowed to add new routes to the US or sign commercial agreements with US airlines during this period. The rating were restored one year later.

“Naturally when there has been an accident where lives were lost, an ICAO audit is significant, but we are well prepared. The accident investigation is also taking its own course and by the time ICAO is here, it will be completed. We are also keeping ICAO updated about the progress in investigation,” the official said.

The primary issue pointed out during the 2017 and 2018 audit by ICAO was to make DGCA licensing authority for ATC officers. Earlier, Airports Authority of India (AAI), which is also ATC service provider, had been licensing ATCOs. ICAO considered it a conflict of interest for the service provider to be its regulator as well. In fact, India was the only big aviation market where the safety regulator did not have authority to license ATC officers

“We changed the system and now DGCA has almost completed licensing all 2,500 ATCO officials,” the official said.

Link: https://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/icao-to-conduct-another-safety-audit-of-india-s-air-safety-readiness-120082501484_1.html

NTSB: Lawmaker in plane crash flew despite vision problems

An Alaska state lawmaker who was involved in a July midair collision that killed seven people was piloting his plane even though his medical flight certification was denied eight years ago because of vision problems, a federal agency reported Tuesday.

Alaska State Troopers identified the pilot as state Rep. Gary Knopp, 67, of Kenai, who was flying a Piper PA-12 when it collided with a de Havilland DHC2 shortly after both planes had taken off in the area of Soldotna, Alaska, on the evening of July 31.

Both airplanes crashed, killing Knopp, the other pilot and five passengers who were being flown to a remote lake for a fishing trip. The de Havilland was flown by a local pilot and carried a guide from Kansas and four people from South Carolina.

The National Transportation Safety Board, in a preliminary report on the crash issued Tuesday, wrote that a witness to the crash told investigators the northbound Piper hit the westbound de Havilland on the left side of the fuselage toward the back of the aircraft.

The unidentified male witness said he saw what he believed was the de Havilland’s left wing separate from the aircraft, and the airplane went into an uncontrolled spin toward the ground, the report said. Investigators found dark green paint from the Piper on the rear fuselage of the de Havilland, according to the report.

The crash occurred around 8:30 a.m. at about 1,175 feet with clear skies up to 8,500 feet, the report stated. The de Havilland, which was equipped with floats to land on water, took off from a nearby lake about the same time as Knopp’s plane left the Soldotna Airport.

The NTSB wrote that information on file with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Civil Aeromedical Institute showed that Knopp was denied medical certification in June of 2012 by the Alaska Regional Flight Surgeon because of vision problems. The denial was appealed and upheld a month later.

Knopp’s plane also had an invalid registration number, the NTSB said. The plane had a valid number that was registered to Knopp, but a different number was on the plane’s exterior. That number had been reserved by Knopp but was not valid, the report said.

Troopers said six of the seven people were pronounced deceased at the scene of the accident. The seventh person died while being transported to a hospital.

Besides Knopp, troopers identified the other six people killed as pilot Gregory Bell, 57, of Soldotna; guide David Rogers, 40, of Kansas; and Caleb Hulsey, 26; Heather Hulsey, 25; Mackay Hulsey, 24, and Kirstin Wright, 23, all of South Carolina.

Bell was one of the owners of High Adventure Air Charter in Soldotna, which offers bear viewing adventures, fishing and hunting trips and glacier tours, according to its website.

The two planes collided about 2 miles northeast of the Soldotna Airport, the FAA statement said after crash.

The FAA sent two investigators to the crash site, which is about 150 miles (241 kilometres) southwest of Anchorage.

Knopp, a Republican, left the House GOP caucus and served in a coalition of Democrats, independents and GOP lawmakers that comprised the House Majority. That left the remaining House Republicans in the minority.

Knopp was first elected to the state House in 2016. He served for years before that on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.

He was born in Whitefish, Montana, and moved to Alaska in 1979. He eventually settled in Kenai and worked as a general contractor.

His hobbies included flying, diving, hunting, golfing “and enjoying life in general at home on the Peninsula,” according to his legislative biography.

Link: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/ntsb-lawmaker-plane-crash-flew-204624896.html