Boeing 747-8 an 787 Dreamliner – High Altitude Icing

Fifteen airlines have been warned about the risk of ice forming on Boeing’s new 747-8 and 787 Dreamliner.

The issue – affecting some types of engines made by General Electric when planes fly near high-level thunderstorms – prompted Japan Airlines to cancel two international routes.

There have been six incidents since April when aircraft powered by GE engines lost power at high altitude.

The Boeing 747-8 series and the new 787 Dreamliner are the only types of aircraft affected by the high-altitude icing issue.

The new warning was given to airlines including Lufthansa, United Airlines and Japan Airlines.

It says aircraft with the affected engines – GE’s GEnx – must not be flown within 50 nautical miles of thunderstorms that may contain ice crystals.

As a result, Japan Airlines (JAL) has decided to withdraw Dreamliners from service on the Tokyo-Delhi and Tokyo-Singapore routes.

“Boeing and JAL share a commitment to the safety of passengers and crews on board our airplanes. We respect JAL’s decision to suspend some 787 services on specific routes,” a Boeing spokesman said, according to Reuters news agency.

A GE spokesman told the agency the aviation industry was experiencing “a growing number of ice-crystal icing encounters in recent years as the population of large commercial airliners has grown, particularly in tropical regions of the world”.

He said GE and Boeing were hoping to eliminate the problem by modifying the engine control system software.

British airways use Rolls Royce engines on their Dreamliners. They are not affected by the warning, says the BBC’s Ben Geoghegan.

Despite the issues, the Dreamliner is still considered to be one of the most advanced planes in the industry and remains popular.

Boeing has received orders for more than 1,000 jets since its launch.

Last month, it announced plans to raise production of the 787 Dreamliner to 12 per month by 2016.

That would be an increase from its target for the end of this year of 10 planes a month.

Source:  Reuters

Kazan B735 Crash, a Somatogravic Illusion?

Accident investigators of Tatarstan Boeing 737-500 which crashed during a go-around on Nov 17 at Kazan airport, Russia informed that preliminary analysis of Flight Data Recorder shows that the pilots of the Tatarstan Boeing 737-500 pushed the aircraft into a steep dive during the maneuver.

The crew engaged go-around thrust after assessing the aircraft’s position relative to the runway. The autopilot was disconnected and the aircraft flown manually.

As the engines increased power the crew retracted the 737’s flaps from the 30° position to 15°. But the thrust from the underwing engines pitched the aircraft nose-up, and it climbed at a pitch of 25°.

This led the airspeed to bleed away from 150kt to 125kt, says the inquiry.

The pilots, after retracting the landing-gear, countered the climb and the loss of airspeed by pushing the control column forward – pushing the aircraft into a dive at a height of just 700m (2,300ft).

Investigators point out that the aircraft did not exceed its angle-of-attack limit, indicating that there was no stall.

During the “intense” dive the aircraft reached 75° pitch down, says the inquiry, and it slammed into the ground at over 240kt just 45s after initiating the missed approach.

Both CFM engines were functioning until the moment of impact, and there is no immediate indication of system failure.

While the flight-data recorder has generated detailed information the cockpit-voice recording mechanism was found to be missing after its container was opened. Investigators are conducting a search for the device.

The investigators are examining the airline’s pilot training procedures, assisted by Russian pilots experienced in operating the 737.

Somatogravic illusion occurs when the brain, in the absence of visual references, misinterprets the sensations caused by rapid acceleration, during a climb, as excessive pitch. This can cause pilots to react with sharp nose-down input, enough to push the aircraft into a dive at low altitude.

Tatarstan Airlines has grounded its other Boeing 737 as a precaution in the wake of the accident.  The carrier says it is “temporarily suspending” services with the twinjet following the loss of the 737-500, and all 50 occupants, on 17 November.

Tatarstan Airlines has a 737-400 in a fleet which also comprises four Airbus A319s and two Tupolev Tu-154s, as well as 15 Cessna 208 Grand Caravans.


Related Info:  Aviation Herald.

9 Skydivers Miraculous Escape Midair Collision – Video

The two aircraft were flying at approximately 12,000 feet when the trailing one hits the leader (flying slightly lower than it).  Footage clearly shows the second plane, with skydivers already in position to jump, fly right on top of the first one.

Source:  NBC News

Photo Credits:  NBC News

FAA Issues Final Rule to enhance Pilot Training

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today issued a final rule that will significantly advance the way commercial air carrier pilots are trained.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta stated: “Today’s rule is a significant advancement for aviation safety and U.S. pilot training,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “One of my first meetings as Transportation Secretary was with the Colgan Flight 3407 families, and today, I am proud to announce that with their help, the FAA has now added improved pilot training to its many other efforts to strengthen aviation safety.”

The final rule stems in part from the tragic crash of Colgan Air 3407 in February 2009, and addresses a Congressional mandate in the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 to ensure enhanced pilot training. Today’s rule is one of several rulemakings required by the Act, including the requirements to prevent pilot fatigue that were finalized in December 2011, and the increased qualification requirements for first officers who fly U.S. passenger and cargo planes that were issued  in July 2013.

The final rule requires: 

  • Ground and flight training that enables pilots to prevent and recover from aircraft stalls and upsets.  These new training standards will impact future simulator standards as well;
  • Air carriers to use data to track remedial training for pilots with performance deficiencies, such as failing a proficiency check or unsatisfactory performance during flight training;
  • Training for more effective pilot monitoring;
  • Enhanced runway safety procedures; and
  • Expanded crosswind training, including training for wind gusts.

The FAA is focusing on pilot training for events that, although rare, are often catastrophic.  Focusing on these events will provide the greatest safety benefit to the flying public. The recent rule to boost pilot qualifications for first officers has raised the baseline knowledge and skill set of pilots entering air carrier operations. Many air carriers have also voluntarily begun developing safety management systems (SMS), which will help air carriers identify and mitigate risks unique to their own operating environments.

The FAA proposed to revise the training rules for pilots in 2009, one month prior to the Colgan Flight 3407 accident. The FAA issued a supplemental proposal on May 20, 2011, to address many of the NTSB’s recommendations resulting from the accident, and incorporate congressional mandates for stick pusher, stall recovery and remedial training.  A stick pusher is a safety system that applies downward elevator pressure to prevent an airplane from exceeding a predetermined angle of attack in order to avoid, identify, or assist in the recovery of a stall.

On Aug. 6, 2012, the FAA issued Advisory Circular (AC) Stall and Stick Pusher Training to provide best practices and guidance for training, testing, and checking for pilots to ensure correct and consistent responses to unexpected stall events and stick pusher activations.  A copy of the AC is available at online.

Air carriers will have five years to comply with the rule’s new pilot training provisions, which will allow time for the necessary software updates to be made in flight simulation technology. The cost of the rule to the aviation industry is estimated to be $274.1 to $353.7 million. The estimated benefit is nearly double the cost at $689.2 million.  The final rule is available.

Source:  FAA Press Release


8 Tips that will help you to become a better pilot

Days ago, I was talking with a friend who asked me:  If you were to give advice to others on how to become a better pilot, what would you say?

Well, the list maybe long, but I selected 8 of them, there it goes:

  • Be receptive and versatile on your way of thinking; don’t get stuck on an idea. Be willing to learn from others, even younger people has innovative suggestions that can helps us improve ourselves. Remember the old saying that in an airplane we always going to be an student.
  • Be safe, a safe flight begins at least 8 hours before we go to the airport, with adequate rest and following restrictions to alcohol usage.  Once at the airport proper planning will give you a mental picture of what to expect and how to proceed, never get into a situation where your exit is only one, that door may get closed and then you have no way out.
  • Improve your flying skills, hand fly your aircraft when conditions permit, if you have autopilot, fly manually your aircraft either after takeoff until a certain altitude or on approach to land.  Force yourself to maintain precise altitudes and speeds within small margins.  If you are a general aviation pilot, take a simulator ride and practice all those maneuvers that cannot be done on the real aircraft.
  • Read and study the causes on the accidents reports, remember the old saying “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself”.  Normally accident causes go well backward in time, study those causes and keep them in your experience backpack to avoid committing those same mistakes. 
  • Know your aircraft limitations, doesn’t matter if you don’t remember your nose wheel tire pressure, but it is important that you know by heart your aircraft limitations to avoid going beyond them. Passing your annual or six months proficiency check doesn’t mean that you are really “proficient” on your aircraft, so pay enough attention to strengthen those areas you feel you need to reinforce.
  • Improve your radio communications skills, when talking on the frequency, be precise, short and concise, use standard phraseology and state clearly your intentions, “who you are, where are you, at what time, at what altitude and where you go”.  And remember, you are not alone on the radio, so don’t make your radio communications longer than enough.  Be helpful with others, if you hear another pilot being unable to contact ATC, help him relaying his messages.
  • Improve your communications with others and accept suggestions, CRM is not just another tick in your proficiency box, is a daily exercise, a life style.  Make others clear what your intentions are and also consider their suggestions.  You don’t need to take all the credit for everything you do, give credit to others and you will feel good about yourself.

And at last, remember that owning your pilot’s license or wearing that nice airline pilot uniform also makes you gentleman, so behave accordingly.

Capt. Ivan



The Boeing 737 MAX gets even Better.


The Boeing 737 MAX program continues to make steady development progress since reaching Firm Configuration on the 737 MAX 8 in July. Engineers have completed an assessment of the airplane’s performance confirming an additional 1 percent fuel-efficiency improvement over the 13 percent already promised to customers. 

“Program and airplane performance just continues to improve,” said Keith Leverkuhn, vice president and general manager, 737 MAX program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “We have been very disciplined in our approach and continue to realize more benefit for our customers as we retire risk on the program and get further into development.”

Airlines that will operate the 737 MAX now will realize a 14 percent fuel-efficiency improvement over today’s most fuel efficient single-aisle airplanes. At longer ranges, the improvement will be even greater.

“This recent fuel-efficiency gain will widen the performance gap in the single-aisle market, reinforcing the 737 MAX’s position as the value leader,” said Leverkuhn.

The 737 MAX will feature several new systems that will improve the management of maintenance information. For example, some Built-In Test Equipment (BITE) information will be brought into the flight deck. Today, maintenance technicians access this fault data in the forward electronic equipment bay of the airplane. By bringing this data up to the flight deck, maintenance issues can be resolved faster.

The MAX also will include an enhanced onboard network system comprised of a digital flight data acquisition unit (eDFDAU) and network file server (NFS). These systems will provide a centralized data collection system with more storage capacity, doubling the maintenance data available during flight. The system will be capable of connecting the airplane in flight to airplane operations on the ground enabling airlines to better prepare for potential dispatch issues.

“We are enhancing the capability of the 737 MAX to meet the future needs of a digital world,” said Michael Teal, chief project engineer, 737 MAX. “Recognizing that the Next-Generation 737 is already the most reliable single-aisle airplane with 99.7 percent of flights departing on time, we are being very deliberate about any changes we make to the airplane systems on the 737 MAX to make the airplane even easier to operate and maintain.”  

Some of these systems such as the eDFDAU and NFS are under development for initial delivery on the Next-Generation 737 prior to the 737 MAX. Many of these systems were tested during the 737 ecoDemonstrator program last year, showing the value they will provide to airlines operating the 737 MAX.

“Through careful testing and selective application on the Next-Generation 737 before MAX enters service, we can ensure these systems are ready to enhance the management of our customers’ fleets,” said Teal.

Engineers continue to make progress on the detailed design of the airplane. Recently the team completed the Firm Systems Definition, which defines the hardware locations for the systems on the airplane.

“Throughout the design process we’ll continue to look for opportunities to improve operational performance, schedule and cost for our customers,” said Leverkuhn. “We are on track for first delivery of the 737 MAX in the third quarter of 2017.”

Source:  Boeing Media Room

U.S. to allow expanded electronic device use on flights

Airline passengers will soon be able to use certain electronic devices throughout their entire flight after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration ended a long-standing ban on Thursday.

Mobile phone calls remain barred under Federal Communications Commission rules. But fliers will be free to keep smartphones, tablets and e-readers running in “airplane” mode.

Delta Air Lines Inc and JetBlue Corp quickly filed plans with the FAA to show that their aircraft can tolerate radio signals from electronic devices, a condition required by the regulator.

The change is likely to boost the use of gadgets such as Amazon Inc’s Kindle readers or Apple Inc’s iPad.

“Most commercial airlines can tolerate radio interference from portable electronic devices,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said at a news conference at Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C. “It’s safe to read downloaded materials, like e-books, calendars and to play games.”

Passengers will be able to connect with an airline’s WiFi network and can use Bluetooth accessories, such as wireless mouse and headphones.


A big winner from the change could be Gogo Inc, whose shares closed 4.5 percent higher. The company supplies Internet service to about 80 percent of U.S. aircraft.

The FAA’s move is “another favorable tailwind,” Gogo Chief Executive Michael Small told Reuters.

The FAA’s decision is likely to move more passengers toward “always-on” connectivity, said Jonathan Schildkraut, an analyst at Evercore Partners in New York.

“Any increase in time spent connected is viewed as a positive,” he said.

Technology fans have recently decried the “high cost to the traveling public” of passengers not having unfettered access to their mobile devices.

“More than 105 million hours of disrupted technological activity on domestic flights is projected in 2013 — an estimated 104 percent increase since 2010 – due to the FAA ban on the use of devices during takeoffs and landings,” according to a May 2013 study by the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitcan Development at Chicago’s DePaul University.

The FCC in May started deliberations on a proposal that would offer a new type of in-flight broadband service promising U.S. fliers higher Wi-Fi speeds and better connections. The proposal, which has been pushed for years by wireless equipment maker Qualcomm Inc, seeks to open up more radio airwaves for airborne Internet access.

In a statement, acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clybourn said the agency continues to study how best to promote consumers’ and businesses’ ability to use wireless devices on aircraft and elsewhere.

As a practical matter, cellphones should be kept in airplane mode during flight, the FAA’s Huerta said. Without this setting, cellphones would continue to search vainly for a signal while aloft, draining batteries.

Huerta said the guidance applies to U.S. airlines throughout their domestic and international routes.


Huerta said he sought updated guidance on the matter, since the current policy was put in place about 50 years ago.

Among those giving input to the FAA for the long-awaited decision were representatives of airlines, plane manufacturers, passengers, flight attendants and the mobile technology industry.

A committee set up to recommend how the rules should change started work in January on what was to be a 6-month project. It later got a 2-month extension to work on guidance on how airlines could assess the safety risk posted to critical flight systems.

A backer of the change, the Consumer Electronics Association on Wednesday urged the agency to ease restrictions before the busy holiday travel season. It said the FAA’s move “will bring policy on in-flight use of devices up to speed with the 21st century.”

Huerta said that in some cases of extremely low visibility, for perhaps 1 percent of all U.S. flights, some landing systems may not be able to tolerate radio interference, and in those cases passengers should follow the advice of flight crews.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA applauded the decision as it pushed for “uniform technical, operational, and training standards that will allow for the safe, managed expansion of PED usage by passengers.”

The U.S. Travel Association, an industry group, praised the move as a “common-sense, win-win” policy.

But one lawmaker warned airlines and fliers to curb their enthusiasm and focus on safety first.

“Having access to e-mail or a movie is not worth compromising the safety of any flight,” said Senator Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

Source:  Reuters

Photo:  Reuters

Buckle Up! – Virgin America Releases the Coolest Airline Safety Video ever!

Last Tuesday, Virgin America released an airline safety video on Tuesday that it is the first one entirely set to music. The results are a great and cool video.

Produced by Director Jon M. Chu, Choreographers Jamal Sims and Christopher Scott, Composer/Producer Jean-yves “Jeeve” Ducornet, Virgin America teammates, and dance stars like Todrick Hall and Madd Chadd to give our safety video a new song and dance — literally. From the exit doors to the oxygen masks, no seat belt was left unbuckled.


I started my airline career in a small Company, in the cold, distant Patagonia, a reduced group of pilots flying a bunch of turboprops; work and the weather were hard, but union was strong, for some reason still today the pilots that belonged to this defunct airline keep up an especial brotherhood.  I still remember a cold night when we were watching the world football cup, the living room of our crash pad was so cold that we gathered all together in a sofa and covered ourselves with a blanket, no distinctions, not three or four stripes.

Attracted by bigger jets and making my path on an aviation career, I moved to a bigger Company, operating several B737’s, 757’s and 767’s.  At the beginning many times I regretted my decision.  I was just another number on the seniority list, and mine was right at the bottom. Relationships with people was not easy, pilots were coming from different sources, Air Force, Navy, retired from major airlines, etc. and each one had its own way of understanding how to treat a low time Copilot.  There was a constant fight for showing who was best among military pilots coming from different origins.  Ex-Air Force Captains were good to show how fly by the seat of its pants, ex-Navy skippers were good explaining the scientific part of flight and calculations and old retired Capts were excellent showing tricks of how to get the most of our aircraft. 

It took me more than a year to fly with all the Company Captains, until that moment every flight was an appointment with a pilot I never met before.  But even having flown with some of them, when I was walking with my Captain to the Ops office and on the way we met another Captain, he completely ignored me and only talk to the other Captain.   A big Company, it was a hard way up from being a junior copilot until become a senior one.

Moving from a small, family type, airline to a major one is never easy.  People on big Companies forms reduced groups of relationships and the rest is just another work partner.  Among all these people, you may find pilots with whom you feel comfortable working with themand someothers withwhich it is noteasy to work; the challenge is to work with the not so easy ones.

Some pilots have an attitude whose sole purpose seems to be ruins Copilot’s life, many times I asked myself why some guys decided to be pilots.  But you have to work with them, keep professional and never argue with a Captain except that your own safety is in danger.  If de Captain does not do so, sometimes relax the work environment runs on your own, a good trick to deal with tough guys that worked for me a couple of times is to find what is his/her favorite topic of conversation, everyone likes to talk about something, sports, politics, family, achievements, etc.   Without being that copilot that always says “I take the fat one” you can enjoy a good time with your fellow Captain.

Being a Captain today, I can tell you that there are guys with whom I tune better at work, not because we are having fun on the cockpit, simply because together we can achieve the balance of having an enjoyable moment on that tight space that is an aircraft’s flight deck and at same time do a professional job.

We arrive here to the point where some you of will start wondering what a Captain expects from a First Officer?  Well, this is not a personal answer but once a colleague and I agree with him:  “a smile, a touch of good humor, commonsense and someone I can rely when the chips are down”.

Capt. Ivan


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