Arlington, Virginia — An American Airlines mechanic appeared in a Miami court Friday after being charged with sabotaging a jetliner. The aircraft was filled with passengers and set to take-off.
At 10:30 a.m. on July 17th, American Airlines flight 2834 pulled out of gate 49 at Miami International Airport headed for the Bahamas. But pilots noticed a problem and as the plane, with 150 people aboard, moved into position on the runway, they were forced to turn around.
According to investigators, American Airlines mechanic Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, who appeared in a Florida court Friday, was seen on surveillance video tampering with the plane’s navigation systems just an hour before it was scheduled to depart. Alani, who’s worked for American since 1988, said he tried to sabotage the plane because he was upset about a stalled contract dispute between his union and American Airlines and that it had affected him financially.
Captain Laura Einsetler said had the plane taken off, it could have been catastrophic.
“It is significant. Any time we reject a takeoff, that’s a big deal,” she said.
Alani said he hoped sabotaging the plane would allow him to get overtime pay to fix it. American Airlines called it a disturbing event and said that it has been cooperating with the investigation.
Pilot Who Hitched a Ride Saved Lion Air 737 Day Before Deadly Crash
Jumpseat rider played critical role in Indonesian cockpit
Pilot actions show multiple errors required to crash 737 Max
An off-duty pilot saved the 737 Max from a crash. The next day, the same plane on flight JT610 crashed into the sea.
As the Lion Air crew fought to control their diving Boeing Co. 737 Max 8, they got help from an unexpected source: an off-duty pilot who happened to be riding in the cockpit.
That extra pilot, who was seated in the cockpit jumpseat, correctly diagnosed the problem and told the crew how to disable a malfunctioning flight-control system and save the plane, according to two people familiar with Indonesia’s investigation.
The next day, under command of a different crew facing what investigators said was an identical malfunction, the jetliner crashed into the Java Sea killing all 189 aboard.
The previously undisclosed detail on the earlier Lion Air flight represents a new clue in the mystery of how some 737 Max pilots faced with the malfunction have been able to avert disaster while the others lost control of their planes and crashed. The presence of a third pilot in the cockpit wasn’t contained in Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee’s Nov. 28 report on the crash and hasn’t previously been reported.
The so-called dead-head pilot on the flight from Bali to Jakarta told the crew to cut power to the motor in the trim system that was driving the nose down, according to the people familiar, part of a checklist that all pilots are required to memorize.
By contrast, the crew on the flight that crashed the next day didn’t know how to respond to the malfunction, said one of the people familiar with the plane’s cockpit voice recorder recovered as part of the investigation. They can be heard checking their quick reference handbook, a summary of how to handle unusual or emergency situations, in the minutes before they crashed, Reuters reported, citing people it didn’t name.
Lion Air spokesman Danang Prihantoro declined to comment on the role of a third pilot, saying, “All the data and information that we have on the flight and the aircraft have been submitted to the Indonesian NTSC. We can’t provide additional comment at this stage due the ongoing investigation on the accident.”
The Indonesia safety committee report said the plane had had multiple failures on previous flights and hadn’t been properly repaired.
Airline mechanics tried four times to fix related issues on the plane starting Oct. 26, according to the Indonesia preliminary report. After pilots reported issues with incorrect display of speeds and altitude in the two prior flights, workers in Denspasar, Bali, replaced a key sensor that is used by the Boeing plane to drive down its nose if it senses an emergency.
Flight data shows the sensor, called the “angle of attack” vane, which measures whether air is flowing parallel to the length of the fuselage or at an angle, was providing inaccurate readings after that.
However, the pilots on the harrowing Oct. 28 flight from Bali to Jakarta didn’t mention key issues with the flight after they landed, according to the report.
Their request for maintenance didn’t mention they had been getting a stall warning since about 400 feet after takeoff as a result of the faulty angle-of-attack sensor. It was still giving false readings the next morning on the flight that crashed, according to flight data.
Representatives for Boeing and the Indonesian safety committee declined to comment on the earlier flight. Boeing rose 1.1 percent to $377.59 at 12:03 p.m. in New York. The company’s market value tumbled about $28 billion through Tuesday after the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
The safety system, designed to keep planes from climbing too steeply and stalling, has come under scrutiny by investigators of the crash as well as a subsequent one less than five months later in Ethiopia. A malfunctioning sensor is believed to have tricked the Lion Air plane’s computers into thinking it needed to automatically bring the nose down to avoid a stall.
Boeing’s 737 Max was grounded March 13 by U.S. regulators after similarities to the Oct. 29 Lion Air crash emerged in the investigation of the March 10 crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. In the wake of the two accidents, questions have emerged about how Boeing’s design of the new 737 model were approved.
The Transportation Department’s inspector general is conducting a review of how the plane was certified to fly and a grand jury under the U.S. Justice Department is also seeking records in a possible criminal probe of the plane’s certification.
The FAA last week said it planned to mandate changes in the system to make it less likely to activate when there is no emergency. The agency and Boeing said they are also going to require additional training and references to it in flight manuals.
“We will fully cooperate in the review in the Department of Transportation’s audit,” Boeing spokesman Charles Bickers said in an email. The company has declined to comment on the criminal probe.
After the Lion Air crash, two U.S. pilots’ unions said the potential risks of the system, known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, hadn’t been sufficiently spelled out in their manuals or training. None of the documentation for the Max aircraft included an explanation, the union leaders said.
“We don’t like that we weren’t notified,’’ Jon Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said in November. “It makes us question, ‘Is that everything, guys?’ I would hope there are no more surprises out there.’’
Following the Lion Air crash, the FAA required Boeing to notify airlines about the system and Boeing sent a bulletin to all customers flying the Max reminding them how to disable it in an emergency.
Authorities have released few details about Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 other than it flew a “very similar” track as the Lion Air planes and then dove sharply into the ground. There have been no reports of maintenance issues with the Ethiopian Airlines plane before its crash.
If the same issue is also found to have helped bring down Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, one of the most vexing questions crash investigators and aviation safety consultants are asking is why the pilots on that flight didn’t perform the checklist that disables the system.
“After this horrific Lion Air accident, you’d think that everyone flying this airplane would know that’s how you turn this off,” said Steve Wallace, the former director of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s accident investigation branch.
The combination of factors required to bring down a plane in these circumstances suggests other issues may also have occurred in the Ethiopia crash, said Jeffrey Guzzetti, who also directed accident investigations at FAA and is now a consultant.
“It’s simply implausible that this MCAS deficiency by itself can down a modern jetliner with a trained crew,” Guzzetti said.
MCAS is driven by a single angle-of-attack sensor near the nose even though there are two of the sensors on the plane. Boeing is planning to alter the system to rely on both sensors to reduce the chances of a malfunction.
Biman Bangladesh Airlines Boeing 737-8E9 (WL) hijacking 1 dead
Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight 147 was hijacked by a 26-year old male passenger during the first leg of a flight from Dhaka, Bangladesh, to Chittagong and Dubai.
The aircraft, a Boeing 737-800, departed Dhaka’s Shahjalal International Airport at 11:13 UTC (17:13 local time). Some 15 minutes after takeoff the hijacker brandished a toy gun and walked up to the cockpit door. He requested to talk to the Prime Minister.
At 11:39 UTC (17:39 local) the aircraft landed on runway 11 at Chittagong. The aircraft stopped on the main apron and an evacuation was carried out. Police and commandos stormed the aircraft and killed the suspect.
Air India operations director stopped from piloting flight after failing breath tests
A senior pilot who is also director of operations for Air India, and has had responsibility for flight safety and training, said he was told by the carrier he failed two breathalyzer tests on Sunday before a flight to London from New Delhi.
It is the second time Arvind Kathpalia, who is also on the loss-making airline’s board, has been in trouble over alcohol tests. He was suspended for three months in 2017 for allegedly refusing to take breathalyzer tests.
Kathpalia told Reuters in an interview by phone that he would contest the results and claimed they were related to internal feuding within the state-owned company.
According to a description for the operation director’s job when Kathpalia got appointed in June 2017, he is responsible for flight operations, ground operations, and flight safety and training operations.
It is unclear if those remain the job specifications.
Air India declined to comment for this article.
Kathpalia failed two breathalyzer tests on Sunday and was declared unfit to fly, according to a pre-flight medical examination report for alcohol, posted on the website of news portal India Today.
Kathpalia, who denies he had been drinking, corroborated the results of the breathalyzer and said he was tested twice in a span of 20 minutes, adding that the second test’s reading was higher than the first.
“It was 1:30 in the afternoon, only a bloody stark raving alcoholic is bloody drunk at 1:30 in the afternoon,” Kathpalia said. “I am going to contest this.”
He said that at Air India “everyone is fighting with everyone,” and that he has been targeted.
In 2017, Kathpalia was suspended for three months when he had allegedly refused to take breathalyzer tests before and after his flight between Bengaluru and New Delhi and back in January 2017, according to a court document available on law portal Indiakanoon.
In August last year, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association, a trade union representing pilots of the state-owned carrier, filed a court case against Kathpalia requesting stern action against him over the missed breathalyzer tests and some other behavior.
Calls made to union representatives late on Sunday were not answered.
Kathpalia was executive director of flight operations during the earlier incident.
When he was promoted to operations director it was contested by the union in its petition to the court.
The court ordered the New Delhi police to file a first information report (FIR), the first step in India’s legal system that can lead to an investigation, against Kathpalia in August this year, according to reports in major Indian newspapers.
New Delhi police officials could not immediately confirm the status of the case.
The 2017 allegation “was a complete set-up,” said Kathpalia, who said it was the result of a scheduling issue rather than his refusal to take tests.
He claims that he is under attack partly because he is an employee of the original Air India, which was India’s international carrier, while the union is from the erstwhile Indian Airlines, which was a domestic carrier. The two airlines were merged into one in 2007.
“There is a lot of animosity after the merger. The animosity exists till today. They refuse to acknowledge each other,” said Kathpalia.
Reported by Reuter’s Promit Mukherjee; Edited by Martin Howell and Andrea Ricci on 12 November 2018.
Lion Air crash fallout: DGCA alerts Boeing 737 Max pilots on malfunction issues
NEW DELHI: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)+ has asked Indian carriers using the Boeing 737 Max — Jet Airways and SpiceJet — to take corrective action on these planes facing a malfunction that could lead to a “possible impact with terrain”. The US aviation regulator, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and Boeing had issued a bulletin over last two days after analysing the crash of Lion Air’s brand new B737 Max on October 29 soon after takeoff from Jakarta, killing all the 189 people on board.
DGCA chief B S Bhullar said: “Based on initial investigation of Lion Air aircraft accident, FAA has issued Emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) (on Wednesday) and Boeing has issued bulletin (on Tuesday). Both the documents address erroneous high angle of attack (AOA) sensor input and corrective action for the same as it has a potential for repeated nose-down trim commands of horizontal stabilizer. This condition, if not addressed, could cause the flight crew to have difficulty controlling the airplane, and lead to excessive nose-down attitude, significant altitude loss, and possible impact with terrain.”
“Within 3 days after receipt of FAA AD changes to Airplane Flight Manual have to be done, for procedures which have to be followed by flight crew. DGCA has ensured that all Indian operators are aware of the FAA AD and have taken appropriate corrective action,” Bhullar added.
The DGCA had a day after the Lion Air crash reviewed theperformance of the six B737+ Max with Indian carriers, Jet Airways and SpiceJet. It had then said that these “six B737Max 8 aircraft in India have accumulated about 4,000 hours since their induction starting this June. There are no significant technical issues encountered on these aircraft.”
However with US being the original equipment manufacturer (Boeing) country, word on corrective action, if any, was awaited from Boeing and FAA by airlines and regulators. Jet and SpiceJet have ordered 225 and up to 205 B737 Max, respectively. At the moment, Jet is flying five B737 Max and SpiceJet has one.
The last flight before the crash of Lion Air’s Max 8 (registration PK-LQP) was from Bali to Jakarta on Sunday. The aircraft flight maintenance log for this flight JT 43 reported some malfunctions like its indicated airspeed (IAS) and altitude (ALT) indicators had “disagree shown after take off”. This ill-fated Max had been inducted in Lion Air fleet on August 15, 2018, and had done less than 800 hours.
The flight operation manual bulletin issued by Boeing says an erroneous AOA can cause some or all of effects like “continous or intermittent stick shaker on the affected side only; increasing nose down control forces; inability to engage auto pilot; automatic disengagement of auto pilot; IAS disagree alert; ALT disagree alert.” The Bali-Jakarta flight of the ill-fated Lion Air B737 Max had reported at least two of these factors — IAS and ALT disagree.
A Japanese pilot who was arrested at Heathrow Airport for being drunk has admitted being more than nine times the legal alcohol limit.
Katsutoshi Jitsukawa, 42, who works for Japan Airlines, was arrested on 28 October after failing a breath test.
He was found to have 189mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in his system – the legal limit for a pilot is 20mg.
The first officer pleaded guilty to exceeding the alcohol limit at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.
Japanese broadcaster NHK reported that police were alerted by the driver of a crew bus who smelled alcohol on the pilot.
He had been due to be part of a crew flying a Japan Airlines (JAL) flight JL44 to Tokyo but failed a breath test 50 minutes before the departure time.
The Boeing 777 aircraft took off after a 69-minute delay.
JAL issued an apology and pledged to “implement immediate actions to prevent any future occurrence”, adding that “safety remains our utmost priority”.
The drink-drive limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 80mg, compared to 20mg for pilots.
Jitsukawa was remanded in custody and will be sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on 29 November.
In June, British Airways pilot Julian Monaghan was jailed for eight months for being caught on duty with 86mg of alcohol in his system. He had turned up for work at Gatwick Airport after drinking three double vodkas.
Rolls Royce still have no idea why their Trent 1000 engines that power the 787 aircraft are failing!
SCOOT DREAMLINER SUFFERS ENGINE FAILURE ON APPROACH TO PERTH
Australian safety investigators are probing another Boeing 787 engine failure, this time on a Scoot flight coming into the West Australian capital of Perth.
The aircraft, registered 9V-OJE, was descending into Perth Airport on October 11 when the right engine suffered an uncommanded shutdown.
The flight crew continued the approach and the aircraft landed safely about 7:20 pm local time.
“As part of the investigation, the ATSB will interview relevant persons, obtain engineering reports and review operational procedures,’’ an Australian Transport Safety Bureau spokesman said.
“A report will be released at the conclusion of the investigation.
“However, should a safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify those affected and seek safety action to address the issue.”
Scoot confirmed flight TR16 encountered a “technical issue” in its right engine prior to landing in Perth and said passengers were told of the situation over the aircraft’s public address system.
“For customers of the return flight TR17 bound for Singapore, hotel accommodation was provided for them as necessary,” it said. “Where possible, arrangements were also made to fly customers out on partner airline flights to minimize inconvenience.
“Safety is of utmost importance to Scoot and we will spare no effort to ensure the safety and well-being of our customers. Scoot apologizes for the inconvenience caused.”
The airline did not reveal the nature of the engine problem but Scoot’s Dreamliners are powered by the Trent 1000 engine that has caused problems for airlines globally and is set to cost manufacturer Rolls-Royce £1 billion.
Premature corrosion and fatigue cracking of intermediate compressor blades in some versions of the engine have led to flight cancellations and aircraft groundings
Airlines have faced increased inspections, range restrictions and delays in getting engines repaired. Some, including Air New Zealand, have had to lease aircraft to replace out-of-service 787s.
The problems in about 380 engines known as “package C” have caused several engine failures and numerous unscheduled engine removals after inspections have found cracked blades.
The European Aviation Safety Agency and Rolls earlier this year reduced the number of cycles between required inspections to address the premature wear.
The US Federal Aviation Administration followed by reducing the maximum flying time affected 787s are allowed to be away from a suitable emergency airport — known as ETOPS — from 330 minutes to 140 minutes.
Rolls-Royce is redesigning the compressor blades but said last month that some blades were wearing out faster than expected and this could “cause additional short-term disruption” affecting 30 to 40 engines.
It has also launched a “precautionary” redesign of the intermediate pressure turbines for older package B Trent 1000 engines and newer TEN engines.
Singapore Airlines flight from Melbourne cancelled after pilot failed alcohol test
SINGAPORE: A Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight from Melbourne to Wellington was cancelled on Saturday morning (Sep 15) after the pilot failed an alcohol test.
Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority had conducted a random drug and alcohol test on all crew members before the flight, and the pilot “did not pass the test due to having higher than suitable blood alcohol limit”, said an SIA spokesperson in response to Channel NewsAsia’s queries.
“The pilot in question has been suspended from all operations until an investigation is undertaken,” SIA added.
Flight SQ247 was scheduled to depart Melbourne at 7am local time on Saturday and arrive in Wellington at 12.20pm.
The return flight SQ248 on Saturday was also cancelled, said SIA.
Some passengers affected by the flight cancellation took to social media to express their frustrations, saying that they were not informed for several hours about alternative arrangements such as booking a new flight.
“Probably my most frustrating experience in an airport … just left the Melbourne airport after 6h waiting,” said one passenger on Twitter.
“We sincerely apologise to those affected by the cancellation of these flights. However, the safety of our customers and crew is our highest priority,” said the SIA spokesperson.
“We are currently working with those customers whose travel has been inconvenienced to find suitable alternate travel arrangements as soon as possible,” SIA added.