Also referred to as Wuhan Coronavirus, Wuhan Virus, Wuhan Pneumonia.
A new respiratory virus first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan has infected hundreds of Chinese citizens and claimed a number of lives.
The fast-spreading infection, which causes pneumonia-like symptoms, has prompted Chinese authorities to quarantine several major cities and cancel some Lunar New Year events.
Here are six maps and graphics that will help you understand what is going on.
1. Cases have been mainly in China
Hundreds of patients have been infected with the virus across China, with central Hubei province the worst-affected.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is warning the number of cases is likely to rise further, and Chinese authorities have introduced a number of measures to try to halt the virus’s spread.
Travel restrictions have been imposed on a number of cities in Hubei province and people have been asked to wear face masks in public places.
The Chinese government has also closed a number of temples, the Forbidden City and part of the Great Wall.
The growing list of restrictions comes at the beginning of a week-long holiday celebrating Lunar New Year – one of the most important dates in the Chinese calendar – when millions of people travel home.
The WHO has not yet classed the virus as an “international emergency”, partly because of the low number of overseas cases, but said it “may yet become one”.
“Make no mistake, this is, though, an emergency in China,” said WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
2. Hubei province has been particularly badly affected
More than 500 cases have been recorded in Hubei province – the centre of the virus outbreak.
Restrictions on travel are affecting at least 20 million people across 10 cities – including the capital Wuhan, where the virus emerged.
Its origins have been linked to the city’s seafood market.
Wuhan – which has a population of 11 million people – has gone into lockdown, with authorities suspending flights and train services in and out of the city.
“My university is checking every student’s body temperature every day and are offering free masks. It also has its own hospital and ambulance,” Chongthan Pepe Bifhowjit, an Indian student at the Wuhan University of Technology, told the BBC.
Videos have been circulating on social media, reportedly taken by Wuhan residents, showing long queues at local hospitals.
In a bid to tackle the increased demand for medical services, the authorities are building a new 1,000-bed hospital in the capital.
State-owned news outlet Changjiang Daily said the hospital could be ready by 3 February. A total of 35 diggers and 10 bulldozers are currently working on the site.
3. There have been some cases elsewhere
Outside China, confirmed cases have been recorded in Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Nepal, Japan, the US and France.
Other nations are investigating suspected cases, including the UK and Canada.
Many authorities have announced screening measures for passengers from China, including the major airport hubs of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Taiwan has banned people arriving from Wuhan, and the US state department warned its nationals to exercise increased caution in China.
4. The symptoms are respiratory
Coronaviruses are common, and typically cause mild respiratory symptoms, such as a cough or runny nose.
But some are more serious – such as the deadly Sars (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers).
This outbreak – known as novel coronavirus (nCoV) – is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
It seems to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough and then, after a week, leads to shortness of breath.
But in more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Most victims have been elderly people, suffering from other chronic diseases including Parkinson’s and diabetes.
Peter Piot, professor of global health and director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the “good news” was that data suggested the virus may have a lower mortality than Sars.
There was also a diagnostic test and greater global sharing of information than previously, he said.
“And that is essential because you cannot deal with a potential pandemic in one country alone.”
There is not yet a specific anti-viral treatment for the infection, so people with the virus are currently being treated for their symptoms.
5. You can do things to reduce your chances of catching it
The WHO is advising people in affected areas to follow standard procedures to reduce the chance of catching the virus.
They include hand and respiratory hygiene as well as safe food practices.
People are advised to avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections; wash hands regularly, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment; and avoid unprotected contact with farm or wild animals.
Avoiding eating raw or undercooked animal products is also advised.
Those with symptoms of coronavirus should practise “cough etiquette”, including maintaining distance, covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or the inside of an elbow, and washing hands.
The WHO has said that while there is evidence of transmission between people in close contact, such as families or those in healthcare settings, there is not yet evidence of onward transmission.
6. If a case is suspected, there are processes to follow
The Chinese government has classified the outbreak in the same category as the Sars epidemic.
This means people diagnosed with the virus in the country must be isolated and can be placed in quarantine.
Within healthcare facilities, the WHO advises staff to implement enhanced standard infection prevention and control practices in hospitals, especially in emergency departments.
The WHO advises that patients should be assessed quickly and treated for the level of severity of the disease they have – mild, moderate, or severe.
It also recommends immediately implementing infection prevention measures. These include staff wearing protective clothing and limiting patient movement around the hospital.
In the UK, family doctors – GPs – are being advised to place patients suspected of having coronavirus in isolation and avoid physical examinations.
Official guidance from Public Health England (PHE) says patients should remain in a room away from other patients and staff and be prevented from using communal toilets.
The UK government’s emergency committee, Cobra, has held a meeting to discuss the outbreak.
Reported by BBC on 25 January 2020.
6 more held over 1st seizure of homemade bomb in HK
HONG KONG – Six more people, including two students, were arrested on Wednesday in connection with a homemade pipe bomb seized by police – the first one found in Hong Kong.
The day before, police had defused a handmade bomb containing 40 grams of explosives in a subdivided flat in Mong Kok and arrested four people.
At a public briefing on Wednesday, police said they arrested six more suspects, all males aged from 17 to 23 years, in different districts. The suspects included two students, a kindergarten teacher, a barista and two unemployed people.
They were arrested on suspicion of manufacturing explosives, possessing dangerous substances, and illegal assembly. Police believe they are members of a radical group with a low profile, adding that they intended to use the bomb to attack police officers or vandalize police facilities by detonating the device at a mass public event.
Police said it is the first time that a homemade pipe bomb had been found in Hong Kong. This type of bomb, often used overseas to attack government facilities, could cause serious injuries even death after exploding into small pieces.
The police reiterated that making explosives with the intent to endanger life or property is a serious crime punishable by up to 20 years’ imprisonment.
Reported by China Daily Hong Kong on 16 January, 2020.
Top 10 Travel Risks for 2020: 5 already happening
FAA Proposes $5.4 Million Civil Penalty Against The Boeing Co.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $5.4 million civil penalty against The Boeing Co. for allegedly installing nonconforming slat tracks on approximately 178 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which Boeing subsequently presented as ready for airworthiness certification.
This proposed civil penalty is in addition to a previously proposed civil penalty of more than $3.9 million against Boeing for allegedly installing the same nonconforming components on approximately 133 Boeing 737 NG aircraft. The FAA sent that letter to Boeing in early December.
Slat tracks are located on the leading edge of a Boeing 737’s wings and are used to guide the movement of panels known as slats. These panels provide additional lift during takeoff and landing.
The FAA alleges that Boeing failed to adequately oversee its suppliers to ensure they complied with the company’s quality assurance system. The agency contends that this failure resulted in the installation of slat tracks that were weakened by a condition known as hydrogen embrittlement that occurred during cadmium-titanium plating.
The FAA further alleges that Boeing knowingly submitted aircraft for final FAA airworthiness certification after determining that the parts could not be used due to a failed strength test.
The agency alleges that the affected slat tracks were processed by Southwest United Industries (SUI), a third-tier supplier to Boeing… Between June 29, 2018, and July 1, 2018, SUI subsequently shipped the parts to Spirit AeroSystems, Inc. (Spirit), which then delivered the parts to Boeing.
The FAA also alleges that SUI notified Kencoa Aerospace, LLC, on July 6, 2018, that a batch of slat tracks had failed a quality test indicating the presence of hydrogen embrittlement. Kencoa passed that information to Spirit on or about Aug. 3, 2018.
The FAA alleges that Spirit informed Boeing of the situation on or about Sept. 11, 2018, and subsequently proposed that Boeing accept the parts as delivered. On Oct. 9, 2018, Boeing rejected that proposal and instructed Spirit to submit a Notice of Escapement. Spirit filed that notice on Feb. 14, 2019, according to documents.
The FAA further alleges that from Aug. 16, 2018, through Oct. 9, 2018, Boeing certified as airworthy approximately 13 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft potentially equipped with those slat tracks. Between Oct. 10, 2018, and Mar. 10, 2019, Boeing certified an additional 165 potentially affected 737 MAX aircraft as airworthy.
The FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) on Aug. 15, 2019, mandating inspections of the affected aircraft that were proposed in a June 24, 2019 Boeing service bulletin. The AD specified various actions based on the ability to identify the slat tracks.
The FAA alleges that Boeing failed in this instance to maintain its quality system to ensure suppliers adhered to Federal Aviation Regulations.
Boeing has 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.
Reported by Air Transport News on 11 January 2020.
FAA Proposes $3.92 Million Civil Penalty Against Southwest Airlines
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $3.92 million civil penalty against Southwest Airlines for allegedly operating multiple aircraft on commercial flights with incorrect calculations of weight and balance data.
The FAA alleges that between May 1, 2018, and August 9, 2018, Southwest operated 44 aircraft on a total of 21,505 flights with incorrect operational empty weights, and center of gravity or moment data. This weight-related information is used along with other data in determining how many passengers and how much fuel can be safely carried, as well as where cargo must be located.
The FAA alleges that Southwest’s operation of these aircraft was contrary to the airline’s approved weight-and-balance program and FAA-issued operations specifications.
Southwest has 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.
Reported by Air Transport News on 11 January 2020.
Boeing whistleblower raises doubts over 787 oxygen system
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.”
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  Max was done in line with the procedures and processes that have consistently produced safe airplanes.”
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
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.
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
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.
Reported by Bloomberg on 20 March 2019.
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.