Rattlesnakes and scorpions are a potential hazard and travelrisk

Snake, rattle and roll: Where A380s share accommodation with snakes and scorpions

It’s rattlesnake season in the Californian Mojave desert and Qantas engineers based at the airline’s Los Angeles hanger have added a new pre-inspection procedure to avoid the wrath of startled rattlesnakes when they carry out weekly maintenance on Qantas’ parked fleet of A380 aircraft.

The engineers are tasked with maintaining the A380s that are currently parked in deep storage, with the fleet expected to return to service when international travel demand gets back to pre-COVID levels – which could still be two years away.

While engineers are well versed in how to protect the aircraft from birds and insects nesting in crevices in the fuselage, in Victorville California, there is a different set of potential hazards the engineers need to be on the lookout for.

The desert-based airfield is a temporary home to aircraft from all around the world, with airlines from around the world storing their jets until commercial travel returns to pre COVID-19 levels.

While the dry heat and low humidity of the California desert makes it the ideal storage facility for aircraft, it is also the ideal environment for the highly venomous Mojave rattlesnakes and scorpions, both which are prone to setting up camp around the wheel wells and tyres of slumbering aircraft.

Qantas Manager for Engineering in Los Angeles, Tim Heywood, said having a team of engineers driving the two hours from LA to Victorville for regular inspections is a vital part of keeping the aircraft in top condition during their downtime. Encounters of the slithering and rattling kind are all part of the job.

“The area is well known for its feisty ‘rattlers’ who love to curl up around the warm rubber tyres and in the aircraft wheels and brakes. Every aircraft has its own designated “wheel whacker” (a repurposed broom handle) as part of the engineering kit, complete with each aircraft’s registration written on it.

“The first thing we do before we unwrap and start any ground inspections of the landing gear in particular is to walk around the aircraft stomping our feet and tapping the wheels with a wheel whacker to wake up and scare off the snakes. That’s about making sure no harm comes to our engineers or the snakes.

“Only then do we carefully approach each wheel and unwrap them before performing our pressure checks and visual inspections.

“We’ve encountered a few rattle snakes and also some scorpions, but the wheel whacker does its job and they scuttle off. It’s a unique part of looking after these aircraft while they’re in storage and it’s another sign of how strange the past year has been. These A380s would rarely spend more than a day on the ground when they were in service.”

Their work involves everything from covering the interior seats with plastic sheeting to applying protective film to the top of the rudder and on all of the cabin windows. The wheels, tyres and landing gear legs are wrapped in protective film and all inlets and orifices on the fuselage are plugged to avoid insects, birds and even bats making themselves at home.

While in hibernation, the aircraft require regular monitoring, so during their staycation in California, engineers carry out weekly, fortnightly and monthly inspections that include draining fuel tanks of water caused by condensation, rotating the wheels to avoid flat spots, check the tyre pressures, inspect the fuselage and wings for animal nests and make sure that they are still tightly wrapped up during their sleep.

Any snake that chose to ignore the wheel whacker this week would have gotten an even bigger shock. One of the A380s (VH-OQC) was woken up and took to the skies for the first time in 290 days this week, flying from Victorville to Los Angeles to undergo a gear swing procedure at Qantas’ LAX hangar. The 290 tonne aircraft was jacked up and its landing gear swung up and down

“Aircraft like these are highly technical and you can’t just land it at the storage facility, park it and walk away.  It’s really important that even when in deep storage, the aircraft are maintained to the Qantas standard.”

The engineers said watching it thunder down the runway and take off was a great moment.

“It was terrific to see the A380 in full flight once again, some of these aircraft have brand new interiors still with the plastic on the seats so we will are proud to keep them in top notch condition until the time comes for them to fly again.  We can hang up our wheel whackers at that point.”

Reported by QANTAS on 3 June 2021.

New TravelRisk – electrical issues with 737 MAX

  • Southwest is removing 30 aircraft from service.
  • American is pulling 17 of its 41-strong fleet.
  • United has grounded 16 planes.
  • A change in Boeing’s 737 MAX manufacturing process that was insufficiently vetted caused an electrical system problem.
  • In this change, fasteners were used to hold a backup electrical power unit in place, rather than rivets. Fasteners did not provide a complete electrical grounding path to the unit.

What’s at stake with new 737 MAX electrical issues

After the events of the past few years it’s no surprise that when the 737 MAX has an issue, it receives a lot of coverage. And the latest 737 MAX headlines concerning potential electrical problems are no doubt a big headache for Boeing and its operators alike. It’s bad publicity at the worst possible time for the 737 MAX, when everyone involved will have been hoping for a smooth and quiet reintroduction to service. But it also raises new questions and concerns, on top of many already existing ones, about Boeing’s manufacturing processes and corporate culture. So just what is going on here, and what’s at stake?

To be clear, this appears completely unrelated to the issues that caused two fatal crashes of the type prior to its worldwide grounding. So just how serious are these new electrical problems?

Boeing 737 MAX production manufacturing electrical issues

First: what happened exactly?

Boeing has said this is a “potential” issue that affects a certain number of 737 MAX, but not all of them. Accordingly we’ve seen many of the major operators in the US pull select planes from their fleets. Southwest is removing 30 aircraft from service. American is pulling 17 of its 41-strong fleet. And United has grounded 16 planes.

The Seattle Times published an in-depth piece on what the actual issue is last week. According to that article, a “A minor change in Boeing’s 737 MAX manufacturing process that was insufficiently vetted caused an electrical system problem.” It seems that in this change, fasteners were used to hold a backup electrical power unit in place, rather than rivets. Boeing has said that it discovered the issue while building a new MAX and that, according to the Seattle Times article, the fasteners “did not provide a complete electrical grounding path to the unit.”

Boeing 737 MAX China grounded
The 737 MAX remains grounded in China, where regulators have yet to say when they expect to re-certify the plane.

Is it serious?

While this doesn’t sound like the most serious of issues that could crop up in the manufacturing process, and presumably can be handled without too much complex rework – it’s still troubling. Something like this could be quite dangerous because it has the potential to cause all manner of electrical failures, and that’s not something you want while flying an aircraft.

So Boeing advised all operators that had taken delivery of aircraft with the improperly installed units to inspect and fix them before flying those planes again. And it seems this is not something fundamentally wrong with the 737 MAX systems. All of that is good news. And yet it is troubling, not only for the flying public who may have new concerns about the plane – but also for industry observers.

American Airlines 737 MAX
American has been making good use of its 737 MAX since reintroducing the type. It has had to ground several for inspections because of the latest issues.

The big issue: manufacturing processes

Boeing is under a lot of scrutiny at the moment for failures in its manufacturing processes in recent years that have led to quality control issues with several of its aircraft – most notably the 787 Dreamliner.

Although it’s been less noticed in mainstream press, the 787 has been beset with production issues that have led to a significant slowdown in deliveries in recent months as airframes needed to be checked and in many cases fixed before being delivered to customers. These manufacturing issues may end up costing Boeing billions to fix when all is said and done – to say nothing of the further hit to its reputation.

Boeing did recently begin delivering 787s again. And aside from this issue the 737 MAX has had a relatively smooth rollout with dozens of airlines sending them back into the skies and it being mostly a non-event outside of avgeek circles. Indeed it seems that the expected public mass anxiety about getting back on a 737 MAX was greatly exaggerated, and most people aren’t even noticing that they’re on one.

But the fundamental issues at Boeing remain an ongoing concern, and even as the company fixes aircraft problems as they come up, many are wondering just how deep these problems go, and whether we’ve now seen the end of them. This latest 737 MAX issue only feeds those concerns.

Reported by FlightRadar24 on 14 April 2021.

Travel Risk: 3 TUI Airways flights departed from the UK with inaccurate load sheets

Airline software super-bug: Flight loads miscalculated because women using ‘Miss’ were treated as children

Weight blunder led to wrong thrust used on takeoff, says UK watchdog


A programming error in the software used by UK airline TUI to check-in passengers led to miscalculated flight loads on three flights last July, a potentially serious safety issue.

The error occurred, according to a report [PDF] released on Thursday by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), because the check-in software treated travelers identified as “Miss” in the passenger list as children, and assigned them a weight of 35 kg (~77 lbs) instead of 69 kg (~152 lbs) for an adult.

The AAIB report attributes the error to cultural differences in how the term Miss is understood.

“The system programming was not carried out in the UK, and in the country where it was performed the title Miss was used for a child, and Ms for an adult female, hence the error,” the report says.

The Register asked TUI where the system programming was done, but the company ignored that question in its response to our inquiry.

“The health and safety of our customers and crew is always our primary concern,” a TUI spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “Following this isolated incident, we corrected a fault identified in our IT system. As stated in the report, the safe operation of the flight was not compromised.”

Potentially fatal math

Flight load miscalculations have the potential to affect aircraft handling and to create serious safety issues: the figures are used for figuring out fuel levels, altitude, takeoff thrust, and so on. The 2018 fatal crash of Cubana de Aviación Flight 972, for example, has been attributed to excessive load, as has the 1997 crash of Fine Air Douglas DC-8 cargo flight.

According to the AAIB, the software issue was first spotted on July 10, 2020, when three adult passengers identified as Miss were checked in as children. Airline personnel caught the discrepancy and proceeded to make adjustments manually.

On July 17, the developer(s) working on the check-in application “adapted a piece of software, which changed the title of any adult female from Miss to Ms automatically.”

Alas, the revised code could only convert honorifics for passengers prior to check-in. Bookings made with the title Miss that had already checked in, including those checking in online 24 hours prior to departure, could not be changed.

“On 20 July, 2020, the programmer was making enhancements to the program to improve its performance,” the report says. “This should not have stopped the program from working, but as this was a ‘fix,’ it could not be known for sure. A combination of the [TUI] teams not working over the weekend [to make manual corrections] and the ‘online’ check-in being open early on Monday 20 July, 24 hours ahead of the flight, meant the incorrectly allocated passenger weights were not corrected.”

On 21 July, 2020, three TUI Airways flights departed from the UK with inaccurate load sheets as a result of the software issue, which would not be fixed until July 24, 2020.

The first of these, and the only one detailed in the report, was TUI Airways flight BY-7226, a Boeing 737-800 with the registration G-TAWG. The plane travelled from Birmingham International Airport in the UK to Palma de Mallorca in Spain, carrying 167 passengers and 6 crew.

The 737-800 departed with a takeoff weight that exceeded the load sheet (the projected weight) by 1,244 kg (~2743 lbs) because the load sheet listed 65 children on board, compared to the 29 children expected from the flight plan – which includes the actual weight. The load sheet also varied from the flight plan due to errant baggage weight calculations.

The result of all this was that the plane used less thrust to take off than it should have – 88.3 per cent instead of 88.9 per cent given its actual takeoff weight and environmental conditions. Fortunately, this was “marginally” more than the minimal regulatory requirements – 88.2 per cent – and the flight made it to its destination safely.

It’s suggested this won’t happen again: “An upgrade of the system producing load sheets was carried out to prevent reoccurrence,” the report concludes. ®

Reported by The Register on 8 April 2021.

New TravelRisk: Safety concerns over planes returning to service during COVID-19

Planes in storage at Alice SpringsIMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES
image captionPlanes in storage at Alice Springs

Experts are warning airlines to take extra care when reactivating planes left in storage during the pandemic.

Pilot rustiness, maintenance errors and even insect nests could be potential dangers for aircraft re-entering service.

Travel restrictions have caused a huge decline in flying, with many planes put in extended storage.

As a result, there has been a spike in the number of reported problems as planes return to service.

“Every aircraft is going to have a specific set of instructions for maintenance, but it has never been done on this scale before,” said Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor of aviation magazine FlightGlobal.

Along with regulators, insurers have also expressed concern. “We’ve got people returning to work who are quite rusty, which is a big issue,” said Gary Moran, head of Asia aviation at insurance broker Aon.

Not ‘like riding a bike’

One of the most worrying problems is an increase in the number of poorly-handled landing approaches.

The number of so-called “unstabilised approaches” has sharply increased this year, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

They can result in hard landings, runway overshoots or even crashes.

In May, a Pakistan International Airlines jet crashed after an unstabilised approach, killing 97 people, while 18 died in an Air India Express crash on landing in August, also after an unstabilised approach.

Experts say that pilots might need to be more cautious than usual as they re-enter service.

“Flying an aircraft can be quite technical. If you haven’t been doing it for a while, it’s certainly not second nature like riding a bike,” Mr Waldron added.

However, he said airlines are aware of the issue and in many cases have booked extra time for their pilots in flight simulators.

Maintenance difficulties

Aircraft in storage typically undergo a routine maintenance schedule to ensure they’re ready to return to service when business improves.

Asia Pacific Airline Storage, which has a facility at Alice Springs that stores planes for Cathay Pacific and Singapore airlines, employs more than 70 maintenance crew.

Manufacturers also give very detailed instructions about how to store their aircraft. But there have still been some reported problems.

For example, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said there has been a surge in the number of reports of unreliable airspeed and altitude readings during the first flight after a plane leaves storage.

In some cases, take-offs have had to be abandoned or the aircraft has had to return to base.

Insect nests

In many previous cases problems with airspeed readings have been due to insects or larvae in the aircraft’s pitot tubes, which are key components used to measure air speed.

These issues are well known within the aviation industry, and Mr Waldron said he thinks airline travel will remain safe.

But he added that there will be some issues, because planes have been stored for longer than before, and in some cases the planes in storage are new models, which means the potential issues are not as well documented.

Unreliable Airspeed And The Hidden Risks Of Aircraft Storage – contaminated air data systems create new Travelrisks

Covid-19 has created a lot of unknowns in our industry. Amongst the noise of statistics and global media, it is important to remain vigilant to the risks specific to aviation that the virus has created. Most of us will have heard by now that aviation itself is not inherently dangerous, but terribly unforgiving of complacency. Never has this been more important than when returning 75% of the world’s fleet from storage to the skies.

The dramatic effect that Covid-19 has had on the aviation industry has grounded an unprecedented number of aircraft. They have been placed into storage whilst the world waits to recover. The pandemic emerged without warning, and some operators were likely not prepared for what was coming.

Now travel bans are lifting, airports are reopening, and airlines are scrambling to return aircraft to the skies.

EASA recently released a disturbing Safety Information Bulletin. There has been an alarming trend in the number of aircraft experiencing unreliable speed and altitude indications during first flights after storage, caused by contaminated air data systems.

The result has been multiple rejected take offs and airborne returns. Most of the events have been caused by nesting insects in the pitot static system – even after covers were installed.

Modern flight instruments provide large amounts of information to crew with great precision, while automation makes flying transport category aircraft almost routine. Flight envelope protections and aural/tactile warnings keep us safe even in most abnormal scenarios.

At the heart of all of this is the air data computer (ADC) – a small piece of hardware that needs accurate information from outside of the aircraft to work correctly.  They are the “Achille’s heel” of modern electronic flight information systems. In a nutshell, these small computers obtain and process information from the aircraft’s pitot static system, and supply critical systems with information such as airspeed, altitude and temperature.

Like all computers, they don’t think for themselves. They are only as accurate as the information they receive. So, when the pitot static system is contaminated, they can only respond to what they sense. They can’t look out the window.

History has shown that unreliable airspeed events are dangerous:

February 6, 1996. Birgenair Flight 301, a Boeing 757, departed Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, on a routine flight. During the climb out, the Captain’s airspeed indicator began to increase dramatically. The autopilot reacted as designed, and increased pitch to reduce airspeed, while the auto-throttles reduced power.

In the meantime, the co-pilot’s ASI indicated a dangerously slow airspeed which was decreasing. Almost simultaneously, an overspeed warning was generated. The autopilot reached the limits of its programming and disengaged. The stick-shaker activated, warning the confused crew that the aircraft was flying critically close to a stall.

The Captain responded by applying full thrust. The excessively high angle of attack resulted in insufficient airflow to match demand and the left-hand engine flamed out. The right-hand engine developed full power and the aircraft entered a spin. Moments later the aircraft became inverted, before impacting the Atlantic Ocean. The three pilots had 43,000 hours of experience between them.

A Mud Dauber Wasp entering the pitot tube of a 737.

The cause of the accident was a blockage of a single pitot tube. The likely culprit was the black and yellow mud dauber – a small wasp known to nest in artificial cylindrical structures. The aircraft hadn’t flown in 20 days.

The threat of similar events is greatly increased by improper storage techniques and rushing to return to service.

Getting aircraft flying again is a complex process and presents major risks. It is up to operators to ensure adequate procedures are in place to accomplish it safely. They must anticipate the difficulties and rapid adaptation to internal procedures that this entails.

Don’t know where to start? We don’t blame you. Thankfully, EASA has published guidance which can help mitigate some of these risks. Here is a brief rundown of their recommendations:

  • Assemble your A-team. Everyone needs to be onboard. Flight operations, CAMOs, maintenance organisations, type certificate holders and aviation authorities are your first port of call. Find out what needs to be done for each individual tail number and communicate with human resources for manpower, supply chain for the tools, and flight ops for hangar spacing and crewing. Think about who you need to talk too and get started early.
  • Similar aircraft stored in similar conditions will invariably behave in the same way. Safe return to service begins with good data. It is vital that defects are reported and linked. If a nest is found in an aircraft’s pitot tube, the odds are there will be many more. The data needs to be analysed, and operating procedures (such as additional checks) need to be changed to reflect it.
  • Storage Procedures. It is possible that aircraft were not fully stored in accordance with manufacturer procedures. Implement a rock-solid audit programme to make sure things are being done properly. EASA recommend extra inspections, ground runs and flight testing of at least ten percent of aircraft before release to service.
  • Storage Environment The storage environment presents significant hazards to airworthiness. Insects, sand, salt, dust and humidity can all damage aircraft. There may not have been enough protective covers to go around. Was there biocide in the fuel? Is it even useable? It is advised that extra checks be carried out on aircraft parts that are susceptible to contamination, particularly pitot/static systems. Get additional support to add those inspections.

Jet Fuel contaminated with bacterial growth.

  • Remote Storage This presents unique challenges. Engineering services may be limited, and staff may become overwhelmed with the large number of aircraft waiting to become airworthy. You may need to send additional manpower or require ferry permits to move aircraft around. Is enough equipment on hand to complete extra checks?

A Boeing 777 in deep storage in the Australian outback.

  • Time. Nothing happens in a day. Commercial time pressure is a major risk factor. Getting an airplane airworthy can cause delays and rushing has a profound effect on safety. Plan ahead and make sure your deadlines are realistic. Communicate them with your staff to ensure confidence.
  • Inappropriate decision making. This is hazardous, particularly with unfamiliar procedures. Storage on this scale has never happened before and answers may not be in existing manuals. Key personal may not be immediately available to help. Remind staff not to act alone and create a team responsible for making decisions in this challenging scenario
  • Limited staff experience. Remember that this has never happened before and you may need the help of staff who are new to your organisation. Make sure they are aware of internal procedures that they need to know beforehand. It is a good idea to properly supervise them and assess their work.

Big teams: It takes a lot of people to get aircraft back in the air.

  • The elephant in the room. Covid-19. The virus has changed the way we can work. Staff can’t move around as freely and there may be restrictions on how many people can work together. You may need to plan ahead and establish isolated teams who work remotely if practical.
  • Overdue maintenance. Airworthiness directives, MELs, routine maintenance, inspections, ground runs, test flights. There is a lot to do. Start with comprehensive airworthiness reviews of each individual tail number.
  • They will be under the same pressure that you are. Communicate with them ahead of time and check their availability.
  • Pilot training. It is likely they are uncurrent, and operating aircraft which have just come out of long-term storage. Simulator training should be relevant to the challenges they will face in the current operating environment. Consider critical systems vulnerable to damage in storage and the affect that these might have on the first flight. In other words, expect the unexpected and provide them with the ability to react quickly and with confidence.

Reported by the Ops Group on 21 August 2020.

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

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.

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.

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.