NTSB report: Pilot felt pressure to fly Kobe Bryant to game

FILE – In this July 26, 2018, file photo, former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna watch the U.S. national championships swimming meet in Irvine, Calif. Federal safety officials are expected to vote Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, on what likely caused the helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others to crash into a Southern California hillside last year, killing all aboard. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, file)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — As helicopter pilot Ara Zobayan encountered a cloud bank and decided to try to climb out of it, he was likely worried about getting his star client, Kobe Bryant, his daughter and six others to a girls basketball tournament, federal safety investigators said.
That decision cost them all their lives, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday in releasing long-awaited findings of the Jan. 26, 2020, crash that killed all nine aboard.
The NTSB primarily blamed Zobayan for a series of poor decisions that led him to fly blindly into a wall of clouds where he became so disoriented he thought he was climbing when the craft was plunging toward a Southern California hillside.
Zobayan, an experienced pilot, ignored his training, violated flight rules by flying into conditions where he couldn’t see and failed to take alternate measures, such as landing or switching to auto-pilot, that would have averted the tragedy.
NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said the accident illustrated that even good pilots can make bad decisions.
“Here is a case where a pilot who is well regarded apparently got into a very bad situation,” Sumwalt said. “The scenario we believe happened he is flying along, he realizes that he’s sort of getting boxed in with visibility and then he must have made the decision, ‘You know what, I’m just going to punch up through these clouds and get on top.’”
The board said it was likely he felt self-induced pressure to deliver Bryant to the destination. It’s not the first time investigators have seen that happen with celebrities. Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg cited separate aircraft crashes that killed musicians Buddy Holly, Patsy Cline, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Aaliyah.
“In all of those cases you are dealing with someone of great star power status and pilots who desperately want to do a good job for the customer,” Landsberg said. “My sense is that the preponderance of the evidence, let’s call it 51%, indicate this pilot really wanted to get where he was going.”
The agency also faulted Island Express Helicopters Inc., which operated the aircraft, for inadequate review and oversight of safety matters.
When Zobayan decided to climb above the clouds, he entered a trap that has doomed many flights. Once a pilot loses visual cues by flying into fog or darkness, the inner ear can send erroneous signals to the brain that causes spatial disorientation. It’s sometimes known as “the leans,” causing pilots to believe they are flying aircraft straight and level when they are banking.
Zobayan radioed air traffic controllers that he was climbing when, in fact, he was banking and descending rapidly toward the steep hills near Calabasas, NTSB investigators concluded.
Flying under visual flight rules, Zobayan was required to be able to see where he was going. Flying into the cloud was a violation of that standard and probably led to his disorientation, the NTSB said.
There were 184 aircraft crashes between 2010-2019 involving spatial disorientation, including 20 fatal helicopter crashes, the NTSB said.
“What part of cloud, when you’re on a visual flight rules program, do pilots not understand?” Landsberg said.
NTSB member Michael Graham said Zobayan ignored his training and added that as long as helicopter pilots continue flying into clouds without relying on instruments, which requires a high level of training, “a certain percentage aren’t going to come out alive.”
Zobayan had been certified to fly using only instruments, but was no longer proficient, Sumwalt said.
The Sikorsky S-76B helicopter was flying at about 184 mph (296 kph) and descending at a rate of more than 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) per minute when it slammed into the hillside and ignited, scattering debris over an area the size of a football field. The victims died immediately.
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and six others who left Orange County that morning were headed to the game at his Mamba Sports Academy in Ventura County. The group had flown to the same destination the previous day and Zobayan had flown Bryant along that route at least 10 times in 2019.
The aircraft itself had been flown on largely direct routes between the airports in Orange and Ventura counties about two dozen times since late 2018, data shows, but the pilot took the chopper farther north because of low visibility that day.
There was no sign of mechanical failure and the pilot was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, investigators said.
The helicopter did not have so-called “black box” recording devices, which were not required, that would have given investigators a better understanding of what happened.
The NTSB report reiterated a previous recommendation to require flight data and cockpit voice recorders on choppers, but the agency only investigates transportation-related crashes. It has no enforcement powers and must submit suggestions to agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration or the Coast Guard, which have repeatedly rejected some board safety recommendations after other transportation disasters.
The NTSB report is likely to factor into litigation in the case, whether it’s admissible in court or not, said Dallas lawyer Michael Lyons.
The crash generated lawsuits and countersuits, with Bryant’s widow suing Island Express and the pilot for wrongful death on the day a massive public memorial was held almost a year ago at Staples Center, where the Lakers all-star played.
Vanessa Bryant has sued Island Express Helicopters Inc., which operated the aircraft, and its owner, Island Express Holding Corp. She said Zobayan was not properly trained or supervised and should have aborted the flight.
Zobayan’s brother, Berge Zobayan, has said Kobe Bryant knew the risks of flying in a helicopter and that his survivors aren’t entitled to damages from the pilot’s estate. Island Express Helicopters Inc. denied responsibility and said the crash was “an act of God” that it could not control.
Lawyers for Berge Zobayan and Island Express declined to comment on the NTSB findings.
Families of other victims sued the helicopter companies but not the pilot.
The others killed in the crash were Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and their daughter Alyssa; Christina Mauser, who helped Bryant coach his daughter’s basketball team; and Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton. Alyssa and Payton were Gianna’s teammates.
The companies have countersued two FAA air traffic controllers, saying the crash was caused by their “series of erroneous acts and/or omissions.”
While air traffic controllers failed to report the loss of radar contact and radar communication with the flight, which was inconsistent with their procedures, it did not contribute to the crash, the NTSB said.

Link: https://www.wavy.com/news/national/ntsb-report-pilot-felt-pressure-to-fly-kobe-bryant-to-game/

US NTSB team arrives in Indonesia to join the investigation of Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 crash

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A team from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has arrived in Indonesia’s capital to join the investigation into the crash of a Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500, the head of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee said Saturday.
The team also comprises representatives from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing and General Electric. They joined personnel from Singapore’s Transportation Safety Investigation Bureau at the search and rescue command center at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta to see some of the plane debris.
The plane lost contact with air traffic controllers minutes after taking off from Jakarta during heavy rain on Jan. 9. The jet crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 62 people on board.
Divers found parts of the cockpit voice recorder on Friday as more personnel joined the search for wreckage and victims. Investigators have already downloaded information from the plane’s flight data recorder, which was recovered earlier this week.
“There are 330 parameters and everything is in good condition. We are learning about it now,” said Soerjanto Tjahjono, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Committee.
Indonesia’s government granted a waiver allowing the NTSB team to enter the country during its coronavirus-related travel ban in which foreigners are barred from entering.
The 26-year-old Boeing 737-500 was out of service for almost nine months last year because of flight cutbacks caused by the pandemic. The airline and Indonesian officials say it underwent inspections, including for possible engine corrosion that could have developed during the layoff, before it resumed commercial flying in December.
Members of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee and investigators with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board inspect debris found in the waters around the location where a Sriwijaya Air passenger jet crashed, at the search and rescue command center in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Jan 16, 2021.Indonesia’s aviation industry grew quickly after the nation’s economy was opened following the fall of dictator Suharto in the late 1990s. Safety concerns led the United States and the European Union to ban Indonesian carriers for years, but the bans have since been lifted due to better compliance with international aviation standards.

Link: https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/airline-news/2021/01/16/boeing-crash-ntsb-investigates-indonesia-sriwijaya-air/4188460001/

For Airlines, Dry Ice in Vaccine Transport Demands Special Attention

A worker with dry ice at a Pfizer plant in Puurs, Belgium. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must be stored at minus-70 degrees Celsius.
PHOTO: OLIVIER MATTHYS/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The refrigerant needed to maintain some doses during distribution is regulated as a dangerous good for aviation transport
The large amounts of dry ice needed to speed Covid-19 vaccine candidates to pandemic-weary populations will call for special attention from airlines and safety regulators.
Dry ice, the solid form of carbon dioxide, is a critical part of plans to transport the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, which must be kept at ultracold temperatures. Pfizer expects to ship 50 million doses world-wide by the end of the year. The vaccine was the first to be authorized in the West, receiving clearance for emergency use in the U.K. last week. It is under review by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S.
Widely used as a refrigerant, dry ice is classified as a dangerous good by the International Civil Aviation Organization and the U.S. Department of Transportation because it changes to gas form as it breaks down, a process called sublimation. Shippers must use ventilated containers that allow the gas to release, to prevent pressure from building up and rupturing the packaging.
The gas can also displace oxygen in confined spaces with poor ventilation, creating a suffocation hazard, though the risk is minimal under normal cabin ventilation, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
“If oxygen levels get down below 19%, that could cause a hazard to people and animals,” said Delmer Billings, technical director for the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council, a nonprofit trade group that promotes safe transportation of hazardous materials. “If you deplete oxygen sufficiently, it could cause unconsciousness, even death,” he added.
Air carriers involved in vaccine transport efforts are asking aviation regulators to increase the amount of dry ice they are allowed to carry on flights hauling vaccines as they work with drugmakers and governments to set up distribution channels. Restrictions on the amount of the material on planes are typically based on aircraft ventilation rates and factors such as the size of the plane and whether it is used for passenger or cargo flights, said Robert Coyle, senior vice president of pharma and healthcare strategy at freight forwarder Kuehne + Nagel International AG.
On Thursday, Delta Air Lines Inc. said it had received FAA approval to double the allowed load of dry ice on its Airbus A330 and A350 wide-body jets, and six times the prior allowed load for shipments using a special suitcase-sized storage container that Pfizer designed.
Delta has done trial runs with vaccine cargoes from Europe and to Latin America, and within the U.S., all on cargo-only flights.
United Airlines Holdings Inc. secured FAA approval last month to boost its dry-ice allowance to 15,000 pounds from 3,000 pounds, for chartered cargo flights between Brussels International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport to support distribution of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine. A United spokeswoman said the airline “has effective procedures in place to ensure we safely handle all the hazardous materials we are permitted to carry on board our aircraft.”
Extremely cold with a surface temperature of about minus-78 degrees Celsius, dry ice has long been used to ship medicine, pharmaceutical products and perishable food such as meat or ice cream.
“When packaged and stored properly, it poses no risk,” said Rafael Teixeira, president of World Courier and ICS, a specialty logistics provider owned by drug distributor AmerisourceBergen Corp.
The scale of the Covid-19 vaccine distribution effort is unprecedented, involving billions of doses with strict temperature-control requirements that are expected to strain cold-chain shipping networks.
The Pfizer and BioNTech shots must be kept at minus-70 degrees Celsius—colder than the average annual temperature at the South Pole and lower than some other vaccine candidates require. Moderna Inc.’s shot, the other leading front-runner, must be shipped and stored at a below-freezing temperature that most home or medical freezers can accommodate.
Makers of dry ice are bracing for an expected demand surge. Logistics providers have been building “freezer farms” with hundreds of portable units that store pharmaceuticals at ultralow temperatures.
Plymouth, Minn.-based Pelican BioThermal LLC, which makes packaging that typically uses engineered materials to maintain temperatures, has tested and approved the use of dry ice in its systems to provide the sub-frozen temperatures needed to maintain the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines. The company is also ramping up global production of its large shipping containers that can hold full pallets of goods on rising demand from pharmaceutical companies looking to ship vaccines.
“There are a lot of investments bhttps://www.wsj.com/articles/for-airlines-dry-ice-in-vaccine-transport-demands-special-attention-11607370720eing made right now to get this done,” said Ira Smith, director of Pelican’s rental program in the Americas.

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/for-airlines-dry-ice-in-vaccine-transport-demands-special-attention-11607370720

Pesawat Citilink yang Tabrak Layang-layang Mendarat Selamat, Kru dan Penumpang Aman

pesawat-citilink-yang-tabrak-layang-layang-mendarat-selamat-kru-dan-penumpang-aman
Tim teknik Citilink Indonesia menyingkirkan layang-layang yang tertabrak pesawat yang ingin mendarat di Bandara Adisucipto, Yogyakarta. (Sumber: dok. PT Angkasa Pura I Bandara Adisutjipto via Kompas.com)

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.TV – Pesawat Citilink yang mengalami insiden menabrak layang-layang saat melakukan pendaratan di Bandara AdisuciptoYogyakarta turun dangan selamat.

Pesawat dengan nomor penerbangan QZ 1107 jenis ATR 72-600 itu menabrak layangan yang memiliki lebar sekitar 50 sentimeter di bagian landing gear pada Jumat (23/10/2020) sore kemarin.

VP Corporate Secretary & CSR PT Citilink Indonesia Resty Kusandarina menjelaskan sebelum mendarat pilot sudah melakukan komunikasi serta berkoordinasi kepada pihak menara serta menyampaikan kondisi banyaknya layang-layang yang terbang di wilayah area bandara.

Namun karena layang-layang berada di landasan pacu dan sulit untuk dihindari, pilot berusaha agar mendaratkan pesawat dari Bandara Internasional Halim Perdanakusuma, Jakarta itu dengan baik.

“Seluruh kru dan penumpang telah mendarat selamat,” ujar Resty dalam pesannya, Sabtu (24/10/2020).

Resty menambahkan seteleh insiden tersebut, tim teknik Citilink Indonesia telah melakukan pemeriksaan seluruh bagian pesawat secara intensif.

Menurutnya, tidak ada kerusakan pada pesawat tersebut dan laik untuk beroperasi kembali.

“Kami sampaikan terimakasih kepada pihak bandara yang telah memberikan himbauan kepada masyarakat sekitar terhadap bahaya bermain layangan di sekitar area bandara,” ujar Resty.

Pesawat menabrak layang-layang pada pukul 16.46 WIB. Sekitar tiga menit setelah mendarat, layang-layang tersebut ditemukan di roda pesawat.

Kejadian itu tidak mengganggu lalu lintas dan jadwal penerbangan di Bandara Internasional Adisutjipto Yogyakarta.

Petugas sudah menindaklanjuti lebih dalam dan tidak ditemukan kerusakan dan kondisi pesawat dipastikan siap terbang.

Pihak bandara juga telah melakukan sosialisasi dan mengimbau agar masyarakat tidak bermain layangan di kawasan bandara karena dapat mengancam keselamatan penerbangan.

Link: https://www.kompas.tv/article/118395/pesawat-citilink-yang-tabrak-layang-layang-mendarat-selamat-kru-dan-penumpang-aman?page=all

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/

Boeing 737 MAX Dinyatakan Aman Terbang oleh Regulator Penerbangan Eropa

Boeing 737 MAX Dinyatakan Aman Terbang oleh Regulator Penerbangan Eropa

ejak insiden yang menimpa Boeing 737 MAX Lion Air dan Ethiopian, pesawat tersebut dilarang terbang di seluruh dunia. Namun, hari ini Boeing akhirnya mendapat kabar positif setelah sekian lama.

Melalui BloombergEuropean Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) atau regulator penerbangan Eropa telah menyatakan puas atas perkembangan yang dilakukan oleh Boeing untuk pesawat Boeing 737 MAX.

Meski demikian, bukan berarti Boeing 737 MAX akan segera terbang dalam waktu dekat. EASA melalui Executive Director-nya, Patrick Ky, menyatakan bahwa Boeing 737 MAX dinyatakan aman dan bisa kembali terbang sebelum tahun 2020 berakhir.

Saat ini EASA sedang menyiapkan dokumen final untuk sertifikasi kelayakan terbang yang seharusnya akan rampung bulan depan. Kemudian komentar dari publik akan dikumpulkan selama periode 4 minggu. Barulah setelah itu di bulan Desember 2020, Boeing 737 MAX bisa kembali mengudara di langit Eropa.

Boeing 737 MAX 8 milik Garuda Indonesia. Foto oleh Ikhwan Hidayat

Boeing 737 MAX Dituntut Lebih Baik

Meski sudah dinilai layak terbang, namun EASA nampaknya tidak akan puas dengan perkembangan saat ini. Kedepannya, EASA juga mengharapkan perkembangan lanjutan untuk Boeing 737 MAX. Spesifiknya, sistem sensor sintetis ketiga akan dipasang untuk meningkatkan level keamanan dari pesawat tersebut.

Pada insiden terjatuhnya pesawat Lion Air & Ethiopian, sistem sensor angle-of-attack (AOA) pada kedua pilot mengalami malfungsi. Sensor sintetis ketiga tersebut akan menjadi fitur back-up yang membantu pilot untuk melihat apakah pesawat mengarah ke atas atau ke bawah.

Disebutkan bahwa perlu waktu 2 tahun untuk mengembangkan sensor tambahan tersebut, yang mana akan diwajibkan pada varian terbesar Boeing 737 MAX 10 yang akan mulai beroperasi di tahun 2022.

Penutup

Regulator penerbangan Eropa telah memberikan lampu hijau untuk pesawat Boeing 737 MAX. Kemungkinan besar kita bisa melihat pesawat tersebut mulai terbang di langit Eropa sebelum tahun 2021. Melihat perkembangan positif tersebut, tidak menutup kemungkinan pesawat tersebut akan turut mendapat sertifikasi & kembali terbang juga di benua lain.

Ketika kembali terbang, saya cukup percaya bahwa Boeing 737 MAX akan menjadi salah satu jenis pesawat teraman. Wajar saja mengingat banyaknya uji coba dan regulasi baru yang harus dipenuhi oleh Boeing. Meski masih ada keraguan, saya pribadi tidak masalah untuk terbang di pesawat tersebut.

Link: https://pinterpoin.com/boeing-737-max-aman-terbang-eropa/

How to Fix Plane Certification

In this Monday, June 29, 2020 file photo, a Boeing 737 MAX jet heads to a landing at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle, USA.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, file

After being grounded in March 2019 following two fatal crashes, the Boeing 737 MAX is expected to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly again later this fall. Investigations pointed to a problem with the aircraft’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. This automated control system was designed to stabilize the plane and compensate for the more powerful engines used on the 737 MAX compared to previous versions. The FAA’s certification of the plane has come under fire because manufacturers can speed up the process by having only enhancements to a preapproved aircraft reviewed and certified. Ronnie R. Gipson Jr., an expert in aviation law and visiting professor at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, whose work was cited in the House Committee on transportation and infrastructure’s report on this issue, explains what happened and ways to improve these safety regulations.


What are the criticisms of the FAA certification process stemming from the 737 MAX crashes?
The process for the certification of a transport category aircraft is a very involved and costly process. The aircraft manufacturers that go down this path have to be committed to spending hundreds of millions of dollars. It starts with an initial design, and the aircraft that is produced is then subjected to dynamic flight testing for compliance with all of the Federal Aviation Administration regulations. Once the airplane satisfies all those requirements, the aircraft is given an original type certificate by the FAA. The aircraft manufacturer is then allowed to produce aircraft and sell them. 

As time goes on, technology advances and the manufacturer identifies ways to improve on that original design. So the manufacturer goes back to the FAA and says, “We want to take this initial design that we have and amend it because we made some changes.” At this point, the aircraft manufacturer files what’s called an amended type certificate application for a derivative aircraft from the baseline aircraft. For example, the original type certificate for the first 737 design was submitted to the FAA in 1967. That original design has had multiple derivative aircraft approved by the FAA, with the 737 MAX being the 13th version. In the amended type certification process, the regulatory authority focuses only on what’s changed.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the FAA just doesn’t have the manpower to oversee all the tests that go with an amended type certificate approval. Therefore, the FAA reviews most of the critical changes related to safety and delegates the noncritical changes for review to the manufacturers – in this case to a body in Boeing which consists essentially of Boeing employees.


And that’s what happened here. MCAS wasn’t necessarily presented as a change in the design impacting control in flight. As a result, the MCAS was not a priority for the FAA in the amended certificate approval process. The MCAS capabilities and what it was supposed to control were never fully revealed. That’s really where the problem started. It was with the narrative that was being presented to the FAA, and the lack of oversight in the amended type certificate process. The result was that the MCAS system that was initially presented to the FAA at the beginning of the amended type certificate process was not the same system that ended up in the aircraft (view chart in gallery).


How will the recent recertification for the 737 MAX ensure that the model is now safe?
The FAA has had to backtrack and give the MCAS system the intense level of scrutiny that it deserved. The FAA has required the manufacturer to go back and make significant adjustments to the software, in addition to changes to the operator’s manual, which is what the pilots would see.


How can the certification process be improved?

I see two paths to take. First, for a transport category aircraft, regulations are changed so that the manufacturer can receive amended type certificates for only 20 years after the original type certificate has been issued by the FAA.Here’s how that would work: An aircraft manufacturer designs an aircraft for certification in the transport category and applies for the original type certificate in 2020. Once the original type certification is awarded in, say, 2025, then the manufacturer should have 20 years. That means that the manufacturer would have until the year 2045 to seek an amendment to that original type certificate. Beginning in 2046, if the aircraft manufacturer wants to make subsequent design changes, they have to start over and get a new original type certificate.The second component to resolving this problem would be to step in and review what areas the FAA can delegate oversight authority for system changes in an amended aircraft certification application review.


What are the obstacles to making these changes?

One would be money. The FAA has a budget, and these are very costly measures because the FAA will need more engineers and administrators. And for that to happen, Congress has to be prepared to spend the money to make that happen by increasing the FAA’s budget.
There’s also going to be a cost to the industry. Implementing the proposal of a 20-year cap on the validity of that original type certificate is going to impose a greater financial cost on the aircraft manufacturers of transport category aircraft. They’re not going to have as much time to get a return on their investment for the aircraft that they produce. So the aircraft are going to end up costing more, which means the airlines are going to end up paying more for those planes. And that cost is going to trickle down to the flying public in those seats.

Certification timeline of the Boeing 737 series of aircraft.US Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General

Link: https://www.mbtmag.com/home/news/21196218/how-to-fix-plane-certification

FAA chief not ready to re-approve Boeing 737 Max

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Chief Steve Dickson conducted a nearly two-hour evaluation flight at the controls of a Boeing 737 MAX on Wednesday (September 30), a milestone for the jet to win approval to resume flying after two fatal crashes. Dickson, a former military and commercial pilot, and other FAA and Boeing pilots landed shortly before 11 a.m. local time (1800 GMT) at King County International Airport – also known as Boeing Field – in the Seattle area. “I like what I saw on the flight,” Dickson told a news conference afterwards, but said he was not ready to give the jet a clean bill of health, with FAA reviews still ongoing.”We are not to the point yet where we have completed the process,” Dickson said. Dickson also told reporters he had completed the revised pilot training protocols and a session in a flight simulator. The flight was a key part of the U.S. planemaker’s long-delayed quest to persuade the FAA to lift a March 2019 grounding order triggered by 737 MAX crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed 346 people within a five-month period.

The accidents plunged Boeing into its worst-ever crisis, strained its relationship with the FAA, threw into question the U.S. regulator’s position as the standard-bearer for global aviation safety and prompted bipartisan calls in Congress to overhaul how the FAA certifies new airplanes. Dickson said; “The FAA and I in particular, will not approve the plane for return to passenger service until I’m satisfied that we’ve adequately addressed all of the known safety issues that played a role in the tragic loss of 346 lives aboard Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. Not a day goes by that I and my colleagues don’t think about the victims and their families.”

Link: https://www.yahoo.com/news/faa-chief-not-ready-approve-220113025.html

Top FAA official flies revamped grounded Boeing 737 MAX: ‘We’re in the home stretch’

https://king5.com/embeds/video/281-ceae8507-7ecc-479c-b5f1-7a447c37d9ae/iframe?jwsource=cl

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said he would fly a Boeing 737 MAX jet before it was recertified in the U.S.
SEATTLE — The head of the Federal Aviation Administration conducted a test flight of Boeing’s revamped 737 MAX jetliner on Wednesday as the agency considers whether to allow the plane to return to flight after two deadly crashes.
FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson, a pilot who flew for the military and Delta Air Lines, sat in the captain’s seat during a two-hour flight. An FAA spokesman said Boeing pilots were also on the plane when it took off from King County International Airport.

Dickson and Deputy Administrator Dan Elwell, the FAA’s top two officials, addressed media questions Wednesday morning about the flight and where the FAA stands as several more milestones remain to be worked through before the 18-month-old grounding is lifted.
During the press conference, Dickson said he wanted to be clear that his test flight Wednesday was separate from the official certification process underway by the FAA. Last year, Dickson said he would personally fly the 737 MAX and not sign off on its return until he was “comfortable putting his family on it.”

Dickson said Wednesday he took the same training that the Joint Operations Evaluation Board recently looked at during their work at the London Gatwick Airport, followed by a session in a 737 MAX simulator.
“It was important to me to experience firsthand the training and the handling of the aircraft so I can have the most complete understanding possible as we move forward with this process,” said Dickson.
The crew put the jet through repeated changes in direction, speed and altitude as it headed east over the Cascade Range into central Washington state, according to data from tracking site Flightradar24.com.
“I like what I saw [during the flight], said Dickson. “Its been a constructive week. That doesn’t mean I don’t have some debrief items for the Boeing team and FAA team. I have some observations that I’m going to share with them. That’s going to be incorporated into the process going forward.”

The MAX has been grounded since March 2019 following two deadly crashes. The crashes have been blamed on an automated anti-stall system that pushed the noses of the planes down based on faulty readings from sensors. Boeing hopes to win FAA approval later this year for changes it has made to flight-control software and computers.
“Not a day goes by that I and my colleagues don’t think about the victims and their families and our solemn responsibility to get this right,” Dickson said Wednesday.
The FAA won’t approve passenger service for the 737 MAX until the known safety issues that played a role in the two deadly crashes have been “adequately addressed.”
“We’re in the home stretch, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to take shortcuts to get it done by a certain date,” said Dickson.

In Washington, the House Transportation Committee approved legislation to change the way the FAA certifies new planes, including the agency’s reliance on employees of Boeing and other aircraft makers to perform key safety analysis.
The bill would not eliminate the FAA’s use of private-sector employees to review their own companies’ planes – lawmakers believe it would be too expensive for FAA to do the work, and that the aerospace companies have more technical expertise. Instead, the bill would give FAA approval over picking private-sector employees who perform safety analysis and allow civil penalties for companies that interfere with their work. Boeing whistleblowers complained of pressure to approve systems on the MAX.

The bill would also require plane manufacturers to tell the FAA, airlines and pilots about automated systems that can alter a plane’s path. Top FAA officials and most pilots did not know about the anti-stall system on the MAX, called MCAS, until after the first crash, in October 2018 in Indonesia. Less than five months later, another MAX crashed in Ethiopia. In all, 346 people died.
“Safety has to be the primary role for the FAA, and that’s one of the concerns we had in our investigative report, that Boeing and the FAA were too close, and that needs to be separated,” said Rep. Rick Larsen, the Washington state Democrat who is chair of the Aviation Subcommittee.
“Those crashes were the inevitable culmination of stunning acts of omissions within Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration,” said committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.
Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., a staunch defender of the FAA, said the agency represents “the gold standard” in aviation regulation but the crashes show the need for improvement.

The committee approved the bill by what appeared to be a unanimous voice vote. Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Mich., left the meeting after complaining that lawmakers had only one day to read the bill, which he called an “absurd” rush for such a complex, technical subject.
The measure, based on recommendations from U.S. and international regulators and safety investigators, goes next to the full House. Its fate is uncertain, however. A similar bill was pulled from consideration in a Senate committee on Sept. 16, and Congress is rushing to adjourn so that lawmakers can go home and campaign for re-election.

Link: https://www.king5.com/article/tech/science/aerospace/boeing/boeing-737-max-test-flight-faa-stephen-dickson/281-9be0a501-a174-49b6-9800-bca40f150a0b

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/