Boeing 787 Travel Risk raised by former quality manager at Boeing’s factory where safety was compromised

Boeing whistleblower raises doubts over 787 oxygen system

Boeing 787-8 DreamlinerImage copyright BOEING – A Boeing whistleblower has claimed that passengers on its 787 Dreamliner could be left without oxygen if the cabin were to suffer a sudden decompression.

 

John Barnett says tests suggest up to a quarter of the oxygen systems could be faulty and might not work when needed.

He also claimed faulty parts were deliberately fitted to planes on the production line at one Boeing factory.

Boeing denies his accusations and says all its aircraft are built to the highest levels of safety and quality.

The firm has come under intense scrutiny in the wake of two catastrophic accidents involving another one of its planes, the 737 Max.

Mr Barnett, a former quality control engineer, worked for Boeing for 32 years, until his retirement on health grounds in March 2017.

From 2010 he was employed as a quality manager at Boeing’s factory in North Charleston, South Carolina.

John BarnettImage copyrightJOHN BARNETT John Barnett is a former quality control engineer at Boeing.

 

This plant is one of two that are involved in building the 787 Dreamliner, a state-of-the-art modern airliner used widely on long-haul routes around the world. Despite early teething problems following its entry into service the aircraft has proved a hit with airlines, and a useful source of profits for the company.

But according to Mr Barnett, 57, the rush to get new aircraft off the production line meant that the assembly process was rushed and safety was compromised. The company denies this and insists that “safety, quality and integrity are at the core of Boeing’s values”.

In 2016, he tells the BBC, he uncovered problems with emergency oxygen systems. These are supposed to keep passengers and crew alive if the cabin pressurisation fails for any reason at altitude. Breathing masks are meant to drop down from the ceiling, which then supply oxygen from a gas cylinder.

Without such systems, the occupants of a plane would rapidly be incapacitated. At 35,000ft, (10,600m) they would be unconscious in less than a minute. At 40,000ft, it could happen within 20 seconds. Brain damage and even death could follow.

Although sudden decompression events are rare, they do happen. In April 2018, for example, a window blew out of a Southwest Airlines aircraft, after being hit by debris from a damaged engine. One passenger sitting beside the window suffered serious injuries and later died as a result – but others were able to draw on the emergency oxygen supplies and survived unharmed.

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 jet on the runway at Philadelphia International Airport after it was forced to land with an engine failure on 17 April, 2018. A catastrophic engine failure killed one person and forced an emergency landingImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionA window blew out of this Southwest Airlines aircraft after being hit by debris from a damaged engine – causing a loss of cabin pressure

Mr Barnett says that when he was decommissioning systems which had suffered minor cosmetic damage, he found that some of the oxygen bottles were not discharging when they were meant to. He subsequently arranged for a controlled test to be carried out by Boeing’s own research and development unit.

This test, which used oxygen systems that were “straight out of stock” and undamaged, was designed to mimic the way in which they would be deployed aboard an aircraft, using exactly the same electric current as a trigger. He says 300 systems were tested – and 75 of them did not deploy properly, a failure rate of 25%.

Mr Barnett says his attempts to have the matter looked at further were stonewalled by Boeing managers. In 2017, he complained to the US regulator, the FAA, that no action had been taken to address the problem. The FAA, however, said it could not substantiate that claim, because Boeing had indicated it was working on the issue at the time.

Boeing itself rejects Mr Barnett’s assertions.

It does concede that in 2017 it “identified some oxygen bottles received from the supplier that were not deploying properly. We removed those bottles from production so that no defective bottles were placed on airplanes, and we addressed the matter with our supplier”.

The all-new Boeing [787 Dreamliner making its world debut. 8 July, 2007.Image copyright BOEING – Boeing’s Dreamliner made its maiden flight in 2009 and over 800 are in service with airlines around the world

 

But it also states that “every passenger oxygen system installed on our airplanes is tested multiple times before delivery to ensure it is functioning properly, and must pass those tests to remain on the airplane.”

“The system is also tested at regular intervals once the airplane enters service,” it says.

This is not the only allegation levelled at Boeing regarding the South Carolina plant, however. Mr Barnett also says that Boeing failed to follow its own procedures, intended to track parts through the assembly process, allowing a number of defective items to be “lost”.

He claims that under-pressure workers even fitted sub-standard parts from scrap bins to aircraft on the production line, in at least one case with the knowledge of a senior manager. He says this was done to save time, because “Boeing South Carolina is strictly driven by schedule and cost”.

On the matter of parts being lost, in early 2017 a review by the Federal Aviation Administration upheld Mr Barnett’s concerns, establishing that the location of at least 53 “non-conforming” parts was unknown, and that they were considered lost. Boeing was ordered to take remedial action.

Since then, the company says, it has “fully resolved the FAA’s findings with regard to part traceability, and implemented corrective actions to prevent recurrence”. It has made no further comment about the possibility of non-conforming parts making it onto completed aircraft – although insiders at the North Charleston plant insist it could not happen.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) building is seen at 600 Independence Avenue in Washington, DCImage copyright GETTY IMAGES – In 2017, a review by the Federal Aviation Administration ordered Boeing to take remedial action

 

Mr Barnett is currently taking legal action against Boeing, which he accuses of denigrating his character and hampering his career because of the issues he pointed out, ultimately leading to his retirement. The company’s response is that he had long-standing plans to retire, and did so voluntarily. It says “Boeing has in no way negatively impacted Mr Barnett’s ability to continue in whatever chosen profession he so wishes”.

The company says it offers its employees a number of channels for raising concerns and complaints, and has rigorous processes in place to protect them and make sure the issues they draw attention to are considered. It says: “We encourage and expect our employees to raise concerns and when they do, we thoroughly investigate and fully resolve them.”

But Mr Barnett is not the only Boeing employee to have raised concerns about Boeing’s manufacturing processes. Earlier this year, for example, it emerged that following the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crash in March, four current or former employees contacted an FAA hotline to report potential issues.

Mr Barnett believes that the concerns he has highlighted reflect a corporate culture that is “all about speed, cost-cutting and bean count (jobs sold)”. He claims managers are “not concerned about safety, just meeting schedule”.

That’s a view which has support from another former engineer, Adam Dickson, who was involved with the development of the 737 Max at Boeing’s Renton factory in Washington state.

He tells the BBC there was “a drive to keep the aeroplanes moving through the factory. There were often pressures to keep production levels up.

“My team constantly fought the factory on processes and quality. And our senior managers were no help.”

Democratic congressman Albio SiresImage copyright GETTY IMAGES – In October, Democratic congressman Albio Sires asked Boeing’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg about production pressures with the 737 Max

 

In congressional hearings in October, Democratic congressman Albio Sires quoted from an email sent by a senior manager on the 737 Max production line.

In it, the manager complained about workers being “exhausted” from having to work at a very high pace for an extended period.

He said that schedule pressure was “creating a culture where employees are either deliberately or unconsciously circumventing established processes”, adversely affecting quality.

For the first time in his life, the email’s author said, he was hesitant about allowing his family aboard a Boeing aircraft.

Boeing says that together with the FAA, it implements a “rigorous inspection process” to ensure its aircraft are safe, and that all of them go through “multiple safety and test flights” as well as extensive inspections before they are allowed to leave the factory.

Boeing recently commissioned an independent review of its safety processes, which it says “found rigorous enforcement of, and compliance with, both the FAA’s aircraft certification standards and Boeing’s aircraft design and engineering requirements.” It said that the review had “established that the design and development of the [737] Max was done in line with the procedures and processes that have consistently produced safe airplanes.”

The first South Carolina-built Boeing 787Image copyright BOEING – Boeing’s North Charleston factory in South Carolina is one of two involved in building the 787 Dreamliner

Nevertheless, as a result of that review, in late September the company announced a number of changes to its safety structures. They include the creation of a new “product and services safety organization”.

It will be charged with reviewing all aspects of product safety “including investigating cases of undue pressure and anonymous product and safety concerns raised by employees”.

Mr Barnett, meanwhile, remains deeply concerned about the safety of the aircraft he helped to build.

“Based on my years of experience and past history of plane accidents, I believe it’s just a matter of time before something big happens with a 787,” he says.

“I pray that I am wrong.”

Reported by BBC News on 6 November 2019 by

American Airlines mechanic accused of trying to sabotage flight in Miami

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.

Reported by CBS News on 6 September 2019.

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.

Travel Risk: Inflight Depressurisation causes Ryanair flight to plummet 28,000 feet

Ryanair flight FR7312 from Dublin to Dublin to Zadar, Croatia was forced to make an emergency landing at Germany’s Frankfurt-Hahn airport after the plane’s cabin lost pressure.

33 passengers hospitalized after Ryanair flight plummets almost 30,000 feet

Over 30 passengers were hospitalized, with some complaining about bleeding from their ears, after a Ryanair flight plummeted 28,000 feet in less than 10 minutes on Friday, according to authorities and flight tracking software.

“I can safely say it was the most terrifying thing I ever experienced,” passenger Roxanne Brownlee told ABC News.

A spokesperson from Ryanair said an “inflight depressurization” on the plane, which was carrying 189 people, from Dublin, Ireland, to Zadar, Croatia, caused oxygen masks to deploy. The plane made an emergency landing at Frankfurt-Hahn Airport in Germany.

“The oxygen masks just fell down in front of us — we were given no context, there was no announcement,” said Brownlee. “We were all kind of scrambling trying to put the oxygen masks on and people were screaming, crying and shouting.”

When the plane began to plummet, Brownlee and another passenger, Sara Sihelnik, said they had no updates from the hostesses or captain.

“It was that moment we were plummeting that we were thinking, ‘This is it, we’re going to die,’” said Brownlee.

Once the plane arrived at the airport, 33 people were taken to the hospital “to be treated for headaches and earaches and nausea,” according to authorities. Sky News reported that some people complained they were bleeding from their ears.

Brownlee and Sihelnik described the treatment they received after landing as “disgraceful.”

“They brought in about 100 burgers, for 189 of us there. They said elderly and families with small children can sleep on cots in the basement, the rest of us was just sort of left floating around,” said Brownlee. “So we were all awake upwards of 36 hours of the entire ordeal — just completely exhausted, shattered and I would just say shocked with the treatment that we received from Ryanair.”

The flight path shows the plane falling thousands of feet in altitude.Courtesy of FlightRadar24.com

According to a Ryanair spokesperson, “Customers were provided with refreshment vouchers and hotel accommodation was authorised, however there was a shortage of available accommodation.”

On Saturday, another Ryanair flight took a majority of the passengers to their destination in Croatia. Out of the 33 people admitted to the hospital, 22 were released and bused to Croatia because they were told not to fly.

Reported by ABC News on 15 July 2018.

Ryanair is Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers, according to the International Air Transport Association. It flies in 37 countries and carried 130 million passengers last year.

Pilot smoking an e-cigarette causes Air China flight to plunge 6,500 meters

‘Vaping’ pilot caused Air China plane to plunge 6,500m

Air China AirbusImage copyright: REUTERS

A co-pilot smoking an e-cigarette on an Air China flight caused the plane to start a rapid emergency descent, investigators have said.

They say he tried to hide the fact that he was smoking but accidentally shut off the air-conditioning, causing oxygen levels to fall.

The crew on Tuesday’s flight from Hong Kong to the city of Dalian released oxygen masks and brought the plane more than 6,500m (21,000ft) lower.

It later returned to cruising altitude.

An initial probe by China’s Civil Aviation Administration in China has shown that the co-pilot tried to turn off a fan to stop smoke reaching the passenger cabin without telling the captain, but turned off the air-conditioning unit instead.

Passengers say they were told to fasten their seat belts as the plane had to descend.

Aircraft passengers with oxygen masks droppedImage copyright: WEIBO Image caption: People posted images online of the dropped oxygen masks on the flight

 

The regulator’s safety officer Qiao Yibin said the crew had to perform emergency measures, dropping oxygen masks until they could figure out the problem.

If a plane loses cabin pressure, the pilot has to bring the aircraft to a lower altitude to keep crew and passengers safe.

Once they saw that the air conditioning had been turned off, they reactivated it and brought the flight back to its normal altitude.

Authorities are reportedly investigating the cause “in greater detail”, examining both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder to determine precisely what caused the incident.

The airline promised a “zero-tolerance” approach to crew misbehaviour on Chinese social media site Weibo.

Chinese flight regulations prohibit all flight crew from smoking, and banned passengers from using e-cigarettes on board in 2006.

But there have been accusations of pilots smoking on board other Chinese flights, including in 2015 when the state-run radio spoke to passengers on a Hong Kong-Beijing flight who claimed to smell strong smoke coming from the cockpit.

Reported by BBC on 13 July 2018.

Travel Risk from Refuelling Error of Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200ER

The Singapore Transport Safety Investigation Bureau inquiry points out that: while too little fuel risks starvation, excessive fuel can result in incorrect calculations for take-off speeds, higher fuel-burn, or reduced controllability.

Refuelling crew foxed before SIA 777 turnback

Investigators have described as fortunate a refuelling error involving a Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200ER because the aircraft, unknown to the crew, departed with a large surplus of fuel rather than a deficiency.

The aircraft was being fuelled at Singapore ahead of a service to Johannesburg. Its crew had calculated the jet needed to carry 86t of fuel.

For reasons that could not be determined, the aircraft’s internal fuel-quantity indicator had registered the aircraft as a 777-200, which features a smaller centre fuel tank than the -200ER. This caused the aircraft’s instruments to under-measure the amount of fuel on board.

Although the aircraft’s cockpit and refuelling-panel indicators showed total fuel of 86t, the refuelling had taken longer than expected, and the ground personnel found that the dispenser had apparently delivered 121.5t to the aircraft.

The ground team was uncertain about the discrepancy, initially believing that the fuel-flow counter might not have been reset before the fuel was dispensed.

In order to check the quantity of fuel on the aircraft, the team’s lead technician performed a ‘magnastick’ check – a manual reading using floating gauges. This was only carried out on the centre tank, because the two wing tanks were assumed to be full as a result of the way the refuelling system was programmed.

From the lead technician’s readings, and the wing-tank assumption, the certifying technician calculated that the fuel quantity on board was 86t.

But the Singapore Transport Safety Investigation Bureau inquiry says that, despite the apparent match in the calculated figure, the magnastick readings were “grossly inaccurate”. The technicians, it says, had “limited” experience in performing the check and that the magnastick readings were “likely not correct”.

Combined with the 5.5t of fuel which had remained on the 777 from the previous flight, the uplift of 121.5t meant the aircraft departed with 127t of fuel on board – some 41t above the intended figure of 86t.

“It was fortuitous that the aircraft had been fuelled with much more fuel than it needed,” says the inquiry. “Had the magnastick reading errors been in the other [direction], the aircraft could have ended up in a fuel starvation situation in flight.”

The aircraft was fitted with a programme switch module which had been correctly configured for a 777-200ER.

But investigators believe a fault in the module – the nature of which could not be established – resulted in its incorrectly interpreting the aircraft as a 777-200, which meant that the fuel-quantity processor did not take into account eight fuel sensors in the enlarged centre tank. This meant the aircraft was under-reading the actual quantity of fuel on board.

About 1h into the flight the aircraft’s crew received an alert stating that the amount of fuel on board – based on burn-off calculations – was less than the figure on the fuel-quantity indicator, and that the discrepancy was increasing. The crew opted to turn around and return to Singapore where, after landing, the fuelling error was discovered.

The inquiry points out that, while too little fuel risks starvation, excessive fuel can result in incorrect calculations for take-off speeds, higher fuel-burn, or reduced controllability.

Investigators state that the crew did not experience handling difficulties. The aircraft involved (9V-SVC) was undamaged during the 16 April 2014 flight and none of its occupants was injured.

Reported by FlightGlobal on 26 June 2018.

Travel Risk – aircraft cockpit window blows out during flight

Pilot lands passenger jet safely after windshield shatters
By Luo Wangshu

Sichuan Airlines Flight 3U8633 prepares to land in Chengdu with a damaged cockpit windshield (circle) on May 14, 2018. (WAN BI / XINHUA)

Captain Liu Chuanjian’s heroic actions moments after a cockpit windshield blew out on Monday, nearly pulling his co-pilot from the Airbus A319, has won him praise from flight professionals and internet readers for saving over 100 people onboard.

Liu had just leveled his aircraft at a cruising altitude of 32,000 feet when a deafening sound tore through the cockpit. He looked over and saw the right side of the windshield gone.

There was no warning sign. Suddenly, the windshield just cracked and made a loud bang. The next thing I know, my co-pilot had been sucked halfway out of the window

Liu Chuanjian,caption

“There was no warning sign. Suddenly, the windshield just cracked and made a loud bang. The next thing I know, my co-pilot had been sucked halfway out of the window,” Liu told Chengdu Economic Daily after making an emergency landing, saving the lives of all 119 passengers.

“Everything in the cockpit was floating in the air. Most of the equipment malfunctioned … and I couldn’t hear the radio. The flight was shaking so hard I could not read the gauges,” he said.

Calls to Liu’s cellphone by China Daily went unanswered on Monday evening.

Sichuan Airlines Flight 3U8633 had taken off as scheduled from southern China’s Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport at 6:26 am and was due in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region, at 9:05 am.

The windshield shattered about 7 am at least 100 kilometers into the journey. The aircraft, which had been traveling at 800 to 900 k/hr, went into a nosedive that lasted five to six seconds, according to the newspaper.

The cabin crew had been handing out breakfast to passengers when the plane pitched forward.

Passenger Zeng Jun described the scene in an interview with Chengdu Economic Daily as “too scary and too dangerous”. People were screaming, while bags and trays were flying everywhere, he said.

He recalled grabbing one of the oxygen masks that fell from overhead as a flight attendant began telling passengers to trust in the flight team. “When we finally landed, some of the women were in tears,” he said.

The co-pilot, who was pulled back into the cockpit and buckled into his chair, suffered a cut to his face and a sprained wrist, and a flight attendant received minor injures, the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s Southwest Regional Administration said.

Liu, who joined Sichuan Airlines after leaving the military in 2006, was able to right the plane quickly and made an emergency landing at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport at 7:46, about 45 minutes after the windshield blew out.

After landing, most passengers were transferred to another flight to Lhasa, but 29 passengers were sent to the hospital, one with a sprain and another with bruising, China Central TV reported.

The Airbus A319 aircraft’s flight controls were damaged in the incident happened on May 14, 2018. (SCREENSHOT OF CCTV VIDEO)

The aviation administration’s Southwest Regional Administration said the crew handled the emergency correctly.

Liu later said the accident reminded him of a similar incident with British Airways in 1990, when a windshield separated from its frame, and the captain was sucked out of the plane. With the captain pressed against the window frame for 20 minutes, the co-pilot made a safe landing.

Li Xiaohu, head of safety for the aviation administration’s Southwest Regional Administration, said an investigation has begun and the reason the windshield shattered will be looked into.

Zhang Wei, a council member of the Chinese Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics, said the broken windshield could have damaged the aircraft’s structure, causing it to be unable to fly or causing more serious problems if it does.

“The broken window in the cabin causes a loss of pressure. It leads to a loss of air in the cabin and the oxygen masks will fall,” he said.

The cockpit windshield is a very important part of an aircraft and may be the strongest glass on the craft. It consists of multiple layers and is very hard to break. This incident is very strange and only further investigation will lead to a resolution, Zhang added.

Reported by China Daily on 16 May 2018.

BACKGROUND DATA

The A319 was purchased by Sichuan Airlines in 2011 and had flown 19,912 hours.

On 10 June 1990, shortly after British Airways Flight 5390 left Birmingham Airport in England for Málaga Airport in Spain, an improperly installed windscreen panel separated from its frame, causing the plane’s captain to be blown partially out of the aircraft. With the captain pressed against the window frame for twenty minutes, the first officer managed to land at Southampton Airport with no loss of life.