Travel Risk – Pilots don’t know what to do when things go wrong

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.

Recovered wheels of the crashed Lion Air JT-610

Rescuers recover the wheels of flight JT610 on Nov. 4.

Photographer: Fauzy Chaniago/EPA-EFE

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.

Lion Air Boeing Max 8 Aircraft Grounded At Jakarta International Airport

The cockpit of a 737 Max 8.

Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg

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 Crisis — Your Questions Answered: QuickTake

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.

Boeing Reprograms 737 System Linked to Crashes

A software update will prevent a single sensor from activating the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System. The data from both sensors will be considered.

 

“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.

U.S. Grounds All Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft After Viewing New Satellite Data

Boeing 737 Max 8 jets at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on March 13.

“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.’’

The Allied Pilots Association union at American Airlines Group Inc. also said details about the system weren’t included in the documentation about the plane.

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.

Workers Attend The Crash Site Of Ethiopian Airlines ET302 Flight To Nairobi

Wreckage recovered from the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 on Mar. 11.

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.

Reported by Bloomberg on 20 March 2019.

Travel Risk: Pilot Falls Asleep while in charge of Boeing 747

Senior China Airlines Captain has been filmed sleeping in command of Boeing 747

Video footage has emerged of a jumbo jet pilot taking a nap in the cockpit mid-flight.

The pilot is believed to be a senior officer for China Airlines, the national carrier of Taiwan. He is understood to have been flying a Boeing 747.

According to local media, he has been disciplined by China Airlines for breaching flight safety.

The pilot, with almost 20 years’ experience, was caught in the video fast asleep while the aircraft was mid-flight. It is not known when the snooze took place.

He was captured by a co-pilot, who filmed the incident and took photos. The co-pilot has also been disciplined for not waking the pilot up.

Earlier this month, a China Airlines pilot strike forced the cancellation of more than 100 flights, affecting almost 20,000 passengers, in an ongoing row about pilot fatigue.

Reported by Airlive.net on 22 February 2019.

Travel Risk – Air India Pilot (also Air India’s Operations Director) Drunk Again!

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.

Boeing 737 MAX Deliveries and Orders – which airlines to avoid after Lion Air Crash

The following graph shows total firm orders and deliveries of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft for identified customers, as of September 30, 2018.

Source: Wikipedia as of September 30, 2018.

 

The following table shows total firm orders and deliveries of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft by variant (where known) and customer, as of September 30, 2018.[5]

Order date[n 1] Customer Variant Total Orders Total Deliveries
-7 -8 -9 -10 Unk
June 12, 2015 AerCap 85 15 100 2
September 29, 2016 Aerolíneas Argentinas 5 6 11 2
November 5, 2012 Aeroméxico 11 2 47 60 4
March 31, 2014 Air Canada 50 11 61 18
December 22, 2014 Air China 11 11 11
December 21, 2015 Air Europa 20 20
July 3, 2012 Air Lease Corporation 4 164 168 11
December 1, 2014 Air Niugini 4 4
September 18, 2018 Air Peace 10 10
October 31, 2012 ALAFCO 40 40
October 11, 2012 Alaska Airlines 32 32
February 1, 2013 American Airlines 100 100 15
May 9, 2016 Arik Air 8 8
December 20, 2012 Aviation Capital Group 70 10 20 100 3
September 18, 2012 Avolon 65 10 20 95
March 17, 2016 Blue Air 6 6
August 13, 2014 BOC Aviation 63 10 73 2
June 1, 2018 Boeing Capital Corporation 75 75
March 21, 2014 Business Jet / VIP Customer(s) 1 19 20 1
June 14, 2017 CALC China 15 35 50
March 14, 2014 China Development Bank 68 10 78
June 17, 2014 China Eastern Airlines 11 11 11
December 17, 2015 China Southern Airlines 50 50 11
June 19, 2013 CIT Leasing Corporation 37 37
December 3, 2013 Comair 8 8
May 30, 2013 Copa Airlines 15 46 61 1
September 27, 2016 Donghai Airlines 15 10 25
October 29, 2014 Enter Air 6 6
September 1, 2014 Ethiopian Airlines 30 30 3
March 31, 2017 Fiji Airways 5 5
December 31, 2013 Flydubai 76 50 125 251 7
September 12, 2014 Garuda Indonesia 50 50 1
September 28, 2012 GECAS 150 20 5 175 8
October 1, 2012 Gol Transportes Aéreos 105 30 135 2
June 28, 2018 Goshawk Aviation 20 20
July 16, 2014 Hainan Airlines 3 2 5 5
May 21, 2013 ICBC Leasing 2 2 2
February 12, 2013 Icelandair 9 7 16 3
June 29, 2018 Jackson Square Aviation 30 30
April 23, 2013 Jet Airways 145 75 220 5
December 11, 2014 Jetlines 5 5
August 17, 2017 Japan Investment Advisor 10 10
December 14, 2017 JSC Aircompany Scat 1 1 1
November 9, 2015 Korean Air 30 30
February 22, 2012 Lion Air[n 2] 9 4 100 138 201 13
July 1, 2016 Malaysia Airlines 15 10 25
November 18, 2016 Mauritania Airlines International 1 1 1
May 16, 2014 Nok Air 8 8
January 24, 2012 Norwegian Air Shuttle 110 110 12
May 27, 2014 Okay Airways 9 9
October 19, 2015 Oman Air 20 20
April 14, 2017 Primera Air 8 8
December 29, 2016 Qatar Airways 2 2 2
December 21, 2013 Ruili Airlines 6 30 36
November 28, 2014 Ryanair[n 3] 135 135
April 29, 2014 Shandong Airlines 3 3 3
December 30, 2018 Shenzhen Airlines 2 2 2
November 9, 2012 SilkAir 37 37 5
March 13, 2018 SkyUp Airlines 2 3 5
November 10, 2014 SMBC Aviation Capital 91 91 1
December 13, 2011 Southwest Airlines[n 4] 30 250 280 23
October 23, 2013 SpiceJet 154 154 1
February 12, 2014 SunExpress 15 17 32
July 16, 2018 TAROM 5 5
January 15, 2014 Timaero Ireland 22 22
August 6, 2013 Travel Service 8 8 1
July 9, 2013 TUI Group 54 18 72 5
May 8, 2013 Turkish Airlines 65 10 75 3
October 1, 2012 Unidentified Customer(s) 879 879
July 12, 2012 United Airlines 35 100 135 7
April 6 2018 UTair Aviation 30 30
May 22, 2016 VietJet Air 100 100
July 6, 2012 Virgin Australia 30 10 40
September 26, 2013 WestJet 23 20 12 55 8
December 21, 2013 XiamenAir 8 8 8
Total 53 2556 136 407 1631 4783 219

As of September 30, 2018

Boeing 737 Max – malfunction issues post Lion Air Crash

Lion Air crash fallout: DGCA alerts Boeing 737 Max pilots on malfunction issues

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.”

sensor

“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.

Reported by The Times of India on 8 November 2018.

Another 787 aircraft incident with Rolls-Royce engines

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

Scoot engine failure Perth
A Scoot Boeing 787.

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.

READ: Trent troubles to cost Rolls-Royce £1 billion

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.

Reported by Airline Ratings on 12 October 2018.

Drunk Singapore Airlines Pilot caught by a random Australian Government alcohol test!

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.

Reported by Channel NewsAsia on 15 September 2018.

Travel Risk of Virus: Is the aggressive strain of the virus ravaging Mecca responsible for ill passengers on Emirates Flight?

  • A particularly aggressive strain of a virus is ravaging Mecca
  • some of the passengers on the Emirates flight were recently in mecca
A plane from Dubai landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport and was held away from the terminal after several passengers on board reported feeling sick.
The Emirates Airbus A380 arrived at Terminal 4 after 13 hours in the air and was met by the Centers for Disease Control and Port Authority police. After interviews and inspections, 10 crew members and passengers were transported to a Jamaica Hospital in Queens. Nine others showed symptoms but refused medical treatment.
Emirates Flight 203 landed in New York Wednesday shortly after 9 a.m. with about 520 people on board, including rapper Vanilla Ice, who took to Twitter to document the ordeal.

The flight was direct from Dubai and did not make a stop in Mecca as the New York mayor’s office erroneously reported earlier.

Shortly before 10:30 a.m., Emirates Airlines said only about 10 passengers from Dubai had taken ill. Passengers said the number was in dozens, and the CDC issued a statement that 100 people were sick.

A government source briefed on situation said there was no evidence of a security or terror issue. Emirates‘ home office told U.S. officials it believes this incident was caused by food poisoning, but passengers also suggested a nasty flu virus could also be to blame.

“Even well before the flight when we were on line getting on board (in Dubai), there were people that were obviously very sick that should not have been allowed to get on board in the first place,” said passenger Erin Sykes.

Some point to a particularly aggressive strain of the virus ravaging Mecca, where some of the passengers had recently spent time. The flight did not go to a terminal but was directed to a hardstand area as emergency medical response teams investigated the cause of the illness, a standard procedure practiced by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for such emergencies.

“Passengers who are not ill will be allowed to continue with their travel plans, and if necessary will be followed up with by health officials,” said the CDC in a statement.

Mahesh Varavooru says his wife was not one of numerous passengers who fell ill, but she did see several people vomiting during the flight.

“She was scared, obviously, because it didn’t taxi yet and she was hoping the fight was going taxi and she couldn’t get out and was the middle of runway and cops all around,” Varavooru said about his wife’s experience on the plane.

All ten patients taken to the hospital were tested for the flu. The results of that test are expected sometime Thursday. As for the rest of the people on board who may have been exposed to the mystery illness, they’ve been told to follow up with their doctor if they feel sick at all in the coming week.

Photos From The Scene

emiratesflight203atjfka Emirates Flight Held At JFK Airport After Several Reported Sick On Board

Emergency vehicles surround Emirates Flight 203 in a holding area at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on Sept. 5, 2018. (credit: CBS2)

emiratesflight203atjfkb Emirates Flight Held At JFK Airport After Several Reported Sick On Board

Emergency vehicles surround Emirates Flight 203 in a holding area at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on Sept. 5, 2018. (credit: CBS2)

emiratesflight203atjfkc Emirates Flight Held At JFK Airport After Several Reported Sick On Board

Emergency vehicles surround Emirates Flight 203 in a holding area at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on Sept. 5, 2018. (credit: CBS2)

emiratesflight203atjfkd Emirates Flight Held At JFK Airport After Several Reported Sick On Board

Emergency vehicles surround Emirates Flight 203 in a holding area at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on Sept. 5, 2018. (credit: CBS2)

Reported by CBS News on 5 September 2018.

Travel Risk: Your Airline Pilot’s Performance is impacted by Quality of Air in the Cockpit

Stale Cockpit Air May Be Dulling Your Airline Pilot’s Performance

  • New Harvard study finds pilots fail more tests with higher CO2
  • Carbon dioxide levels once thought safe are raising concern

That poorly ventilated conference room isn’t the only place with the potential for sick-air syndrome.

Airliner cockpits can also have levels of carbon dioxide elevated enough that in simulations it causes pilots to fail test maneuvers at higher rates than normal, a new Harvard University study has found.

The first-of-its-kind research suggests that current regulations aren’t adequate to assure there’s enough fresh air in airline flight decks and raises questions about whether even moderately elevated carbon dioxide levels could impact safety, said Joseph Allen, an assistant professor at Harvard’s School of Public Health and lead author of the study.

“It’s clear that the air quality in the cockpit can have an impact on performance,” Allen said. “It’s clear we haven’t been thinking about it too deeply in terms of the impact on pilot performance. Now that we know, I think we’re obligated to ask those next sets of questions and really understand it.”

In recent years, studies have shown that even an increase of a few hundred parts per million of carbon dioxide in the air we breath causes people to test lower for cognitive skills. But until the latest study, pilots and airline cockpits hadn’t been examined.

Crowded Airliners

Normal levels in the atmosphere are 400 parts per million. Concentrations of the colorless, tasteless gas can rise in poorly ventilated spaces where people exhale it — such as crowded airliners.

Carbon dioxide levels reached as high as 1,400 parts per million on five percent of airline flights the European Aviation Safety Agency tested, according to data it released last year. The average was 603 parts per million, just slightly higher than levels found in the air.

Airliners replenish oxygen in a plane at high altitudes by pulling in the thin air and pressurizing it, mostly by scooping it from the front end of jet engines.

Because earlier studies showed people performed more poorly on tests of brain function at levels as low as 1,000 parts per million, the researchers thought it would make sense to examine pilot skills and carbon dioxide.

Thirty airline pilots were recruited to fly multiple three-hour segments in a special flight simulator in which carbon dioxide levels could be manipulated. Performance on 21 maneuvers — ranging from making a steep turn to handling an emergency engine fire — decreased as carbon dioxide levels rose, according to the study. Flight examiners certified by the Federal Aviation Administration rated the pilots’ performance.

At 700 parts per million, pilots were 69 percent more likely to correctly perform the maneuvers compared to when they were breathing carbon dioxide at 2500 parts per million. At 1,500 parts per million, they were 52 percent more likely to pass compared to the higher level.

The study was published Wednesday in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology.

Allen, who is also co-director of Harvard’s Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, took pains to say that air travel is extremely safe. There has been only one passenger death on a U.S.-registered airline in more than nine years and there’s never been any evidence linking routine carbon dioxide levels to a crash.

Buffalo Crash

However, several of the few recent fatal accidents that have occurred involved puzzling lapses in pilot performance, according to accident investigation agencies. One example was when a captain on a Colgan Air flight made a series of abrupt maneuvers in 2009 near Buffalo, causing a perfectly good commuter plane to plunge to the ground, killing 50.

One of the maneuvers the pilots in the study were tested on was a simulated engine emergency, which was similar to the real situation on April 17 when debris from a jet on a Southwest Airlines Co. killed a passenger, Allen said.

At the very least, Allen said, regulation agencies like the FAA might want to study the issue and compare the growing research on the effects of carbon dioxide with the existing U.S. regulations on aircraft design.

“The goal is to optimize conditions for a safe flight,” he said, “and the air in the cockpit has to be a part of that conversation.”

Current U.S. regulations governing aircraft air quality allow for concentrations of carbon dioxide were drafted in 1996 before its effects on human performance were known. It allows more than 10 times the levels found in the atmosphere, or 5,000 parts per million.

According to the limited data available, the air in most aircraft is below that ceiling. But there are indications that carbon dioxide can spike. Tests of air in aircraft passenger cabins show carbon dioxide levels typically climb to 2,000-2,500 parts per million during loading and unloading, when a plane’s ventilation system is operating at lower capacity.

“There’s virtually no information on the air quality in the cockpit. It’s the one place where it seems we really would want to know about the most,” Allen said.

Published by Bloomberg on 8 August 2018.

A study is needed on air in the passenger cabin.

Travel Risk: Bed Bug Bites on Air India flights

Air India grounded 2 of its planes after passengers complained of being covered in gruesome bedbug bites after flights

AIR INDIA Boeing 787-8 lands at Frankfurt airport.

AIR INDIA Boeing 787-8 lands at Frankfurt airport.
shutterstock/Vytautas Kielaitis
  • Air India grounded two aircraft operating between Mumbai and Newark after passengers complained of being bitten by bedbugs on two flights last week.
  • Passengers posted pictures and vented their frustrations on Twitter.
  • The airline said that affected aircraft have been fumigated and its upholstery overhauled.

Air India temporarily grounded two aircraft operating between Mumbai and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey after passengers complained of being bitten by bedbugs last week.

Business class passengers on board Flight 144 reported bedbug bites on two separate segments last week.

Air India was not immediately available for comment on the matter. However, in a statement to NBC News, the airline said that it is “deeply concerned with a few reports of ‘bugs’ causing inconvenience to its esteemed passengers.”

“The issue has been viewed seriously and every possible step is being taken to closely inspect and further strengthen our system at every level to ensure that such isolated incidents of passenger discomfiture do not affect our consistent performance,” the airline added.

While the origin of the insects on the plane is not yet known, Air India has worked to exterminate them from its aircraft.

“Experienced experts have carried out extensive service on the aircraft from fumigation to overhaul of the upholstery, seat covers, carpets etc to ensure that passengers keep enjoying their in-flight experience with us as always without any complaint of inconvenience,” the airline said in a statement.

Two aircraft used to operate the Mumbai-Newark route were grounded one day each, an airline official told the Hindustan Times.

Multiple Air India passengers took to Twitter to express both their frustration and disgust of being bitten by the insects while flying.

“Just arrived in New York on Air India 144 business class with family. All our seats infested with bed bugs,” one passenger complained.

Another passenger wrote that his wife and three children were on Air India 144 from Newark to Mumbai and “have bedbug bites all of their body.”

“Is this what we paid $10,000 for?” the passenger complained.

Air India, which is India’s national airline, has been looking for a buyer since being put up for sale by the Indian government in March.

The airline hasn’t turned a profit since 2007 and has 27,000 employees along with $5 billion in debt. While a deadline has been extended to facilitate a purchase, a buyer has yet to emerge.

Reported by Business Insider on 26 July 2018.