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.

Singapore Airlines captain error stopped Boeing 777 climbing at 500 feet – TravelRisk

2 September 2019 incident

Singaporean Transport Safety Investigation Bureau Investigators noted that the crew had been facing several individual pressures prior to the departure and highlighted that:

    • The Singapore Airlines captain inadvertently miskeyed, typing ‘500’ rather than ‘500A’, which neither crew member noticed.
    • This error stopped the Boeing 777 aircraft climb at 500ft.
    • The pilot cross-checking process failed.
    • Time pressure resulted in the first officer’s not carrying out a habitual scan of the entries.
    • The captain called for autopilot engagement at 360ft – an early selection because he wanted to reduce workload
    • The captain “did not realise that the aircraft had stopped climbing”, says the inquiry, and had called for flap retraction believing the 777 had passed 1,000ft. Investigators state that the crew “did not verify” altitude information from the instrument displays.

SIA 777 stopped climb at 500ft after crew’s waypoint entry error

Pilots of a Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER inadvertently entered an incorrect waypoint altitude constraint prior to departure, resulting in several alerts from the ground-proximity warning system as the aircraft climbed out of Shanghai Pudong.

The take-off runway assigned had been changed from 34L to 35R which meant the aircraft’s standard departure route switched from HSN 22X to HSN 12X.

This required updating the flight-management computer with the new departure route. The first waypoint on this route, identified as PD062, did not have any speed or altitude crossing constraint which meant the field on the computer’s route display was blank.

Although this was not abnormal, the captain “preferred to have the speed constraint explicitly displayed”, says the Singaporean Transport Safety Investigation Bureau, in its inquiry into the 2 September 2019 incident.

He decided to enter the speed constraint of 250kt, as shown on the departure charts. The 777’s flight-management computer required speed constraints to have a corresponding altitude constraint, so the captain chose to enter ‘500A’ – meaning that the PD062 waypoint should be crossed at 500ft or above.

But the captain inadvertently miskeyed, typing ‘500’ rather than ‘500A’, which neither crew member noticed. This error meant the aircraft’s autopilot would limit the aircraft to 500ft ahead of the waypoint crossing.

“The first officer observed the [captain’s] inputs, as part of the cross-checking process, and accepted the inputs as correct,” the inquiry says, adding that “time pressure” resulted in the first officer’s not carrying out a habitual scan of the entries.

As the aircraft took off from runway 35R, in darkness, the captain called for autopilot engagement at 360ft – an early selection because he wanted to reduce workload, given the need for the crew to spend time converting Chinese metric altitude clearances to feet.

SIA 777 9V-SWD-c-Martin Oertle Creative Commons

Source: Martin Oertle/Creative Commons

Pilots on the 777 (9V-SWD) engaged the autopilot just after lift-off

But the autopilot selection meant the aircraft initially climbed to 750ft before descending to 500ft in compliance with the altitude constraint entered for the PD062 waypoint.

The captain “did not realise that the aircraft had stopped climbing”, says the inquiry, and had called for flap retraction believing the 777 had passed 1,000ft. Investigators state that the crew “did not verify” altitude information from the instrument displays.

As the flaps started retracting, the enhanced ground-proximity warning system activated and issued an unexpected ‘don’t sink’ alert, which startled the pilots. The captain nevertheless chose to complete the flap retraction, suggesting to the first officer that the alert might have been due to a pitch reduction resulting from a tailwind.

Nine seconds after the initial alert, the crew received a second ‘don’t sink’ warning, and a third some 9s after that.

“The flight crew then realised that the aircraft had levelled off and they needed to reinitiate a climb,” says the inquiry.

While the captain selected ‘flight level change’ mode in response, he then reverted to ‘vertical navigation’ mode. Flight-data recorder information showed this made no difference to the 777’s altitude, and the aircraft remained at 480-500ft.

Another ‘don’t sink’ caution was triggered, followed shortly afterwards by a ‘pull up’ warning, prompting the captain to disengage the autopilot, pitch the aircraft nose-up and advance the thrust levers.

The aircraft climbed to 1,780ft but, after the captain called for the autopilot to be re-engaged, started descending again towards the 500ft constraint altitude.

At this point the first officer noticed the erroneous constraint entry for the waypoint, and understood the aircraft’s behaviour, informing the captain that the entry needed to be cancelled. Once the entry was deleted, the aircraft was able to climb without further problems and the jet proceeded to Singapore.

“This occurrence is an apt reminder of the guidance given in the flight crew training manual that, when automation does not perform as expected, the flight crew should reduce the level of auto-flight and identify and resolve the condition,” says the inquiry.

“The original level of auto-flight should only be resumed after they have regained proper control of the flight path and performance level.”

Investigators noted that the crew had been facing several individual pressures prior to the departure, including weather concerns, minimum equipment list considerations, and problems downloading route information as a result of a difficult controller-pilot datalink connection.

Reported by Flightglobal on 21 April 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.

Travelrisk from Stored Aircraft because of COVID-19? Was Storage a Factor in the Boeing 737 Sriwijaya Flight 182 Crash in Indonesia?

Boeing 737 Sriwijaya Flight 182 Crashed in Indonesia Just After Takeoff on 9 January 2021.

Did the downturn of air travel caused by COVID-19 contribute to this crash?

The Sriwijaya 737 aircraft had been in storage for 9 months in Surabaya and was inspected on 14 December 2020 and since 19 December 2020 operated 132 flights.

Storage may have been a factor in the crash, aircraft must be kept operating otherwise they deteriorate. Mothballed planes pose a safety risk.

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.