Happy Birthday Beluga!

With its maiden flight on September 13, 1994, the popular Beluga cargo aircraft, affectionately named after the white whale because of its remarkable shape, is celebrating this week twenty years of transporting Airbus component parts between Airbus’ European manufacturing sites.

Since 1995, the fleet of five Beluga aircraft replaced the ageing Super Guppy transporters in order to supply the Airbus final assembly lines in Toulouse and Hamburg. Today, more than sixty flights are performed each week between eleven sites, carrying crucial parts for all of the Airbus programmes, including the A380*.

The Beluga fleet is operated by Airbus Transport International (ATI), an Airbus subsidiary airline, and each Beluga crew is composed of a pilot, a co-pilot and a flight engineer.

With the production start of the A350 XWB in 2012 and the production ramp-up on other Airbus programmes, the Beluga activities again will substantially increase over the next five years.

In order to accompany this challenge, Airbus launched in 2011 the Fly 10 000 project. Flight crew numbers and flight hours have grown and loading procedures have been further optimized, with the opening of new integrated loading facilities in Hamburg and Bremen in Germany and Saint-Nazaire in France. Broughton, UK and Getafe, Spain will follow soon. Fly 10,000 should allow the Beluga fleet to double its activities by 2017 (from 5,000 to 10,000 flight hours).

Six new loading hangars dedicated to Airbus' Beluga cargo carriers – the first of which opened May 2014 in Hamburg, Germany – will help these freighters increase their flight hour totals to support the company's latest production rate increases.

Six new loading hangars dedicated to Airbus’ Beluga cargo carriers – the first of which opened May 2014 in Hamburg, Germany – will help these freighters increase their flight hour totals to support the company’s latest production rate increases.

“The Beluga is an essential element of Airbus’ integrated logistics and production ‎system. It is thanks to its reliability and engagement of the Beluga teams that we can fulfil our constant pursuit of efficiency”, said Günter Butschek, Airbus Chief Operating Officer.

The Beluga is based on the twin-engine A300-600R, appreciated for its reliability and its cost-effectiveness. It is powered by General Electric CF6-80C2 engines. With its impressive dimensions (56 m long, 17 m high, a fuselage diameter of 7.71 m and a main-deck cargo volume of 1,400m3), the Beluga is the champion of its category (compared with the Antonov AN-124 or even the C-17). The Beluga can carry a maximum payload of 47 metric tonnes non-stop over a range of 1,660 km/900 nm.

*only the Vertical Tailplane and tailcone, all other A380 components being transported through the “multimodal transport system (sea, river, road).

Airbus A300-600ST (Super Transporter)

Airbus A300-600ST (Super Transporter)

Airbus 350 Fuselage

Airbus 350 Fuselage


A380 Nose Section

Airbus A300-600ST (Super Transporter), dawn departure.

Airbus A300-600ST (Super Transporter), dawn departure.

Source:  Airbus Media Room

Photos:  Airbus

Think ink: Airbus revolutionises how an airline’s livery is applied to jetliners

The application of complex, large-scale liveries on aircraft presents a considerable challenge – particularly as airlines develop increasingly artistic and complex ways to express their identities.


However, the difficulties may become a thing of the past thanks to a new method currently being developed by Airbus – which employs direct inkjet printing to deliver a broad range of production and operational improvements.
The method was developed by engineers from Airbus’ A320 Family paint shop in Hamburg, Germany, and is able to reproduce any livery design – be it a photographic motif, modern art or other complex patterns – faster and more efficiently than traditional painting processes, and with finer detail as well.

The direct printer functions much like a traditional model, using an inkjet head with nozzles that spray three basic colours (cyan, magenta and yellow) and black. Utilising a seven-square-metre bench, the inkjet head prints a design line by line, from top to bottom. After the process is completed, the aircraft component is sealed with a clear coat.

According to technology manager Matthias Otto, the advantages of direct inkjet-printed liveries are numerous. “I can create colour gradients or photo-realistic motifs that could never be achieved with paint,” he explained, and added that this new method also is capable of printing components of any size or shape. In the past, heavier printed film was used to produce complex designs, however such film is susceptible to the effects of heat, cold and high pressure, and ultimately could tear or peel.

The business case for direct printing is convincing. Compared with painting, where the design has to be built up by layer-by-layer, there are far fewer working and drying steps – greatly reducing the lead time. There also is no overspray or solvent vapour when ink is used, providing better working conditions for Airbus employees, as well as a healthier environment.

At present, the inkjet method still is at the experimental stage. Technical Readiness Level 6 (TRL 6) was reached at the end of June, and the ink and associated processes will be qualified early in 2015. Nonetheless, the project already has become part of the A320 Final Assembly Line (FAL) benchmark initiative, with the intention to further stabilise scheduled lead times for the best-selling Airbus single-aisle jetliner family.

Source:  Airbus Media Room

FAA Bans US Based Carriers to Stop Flying over Syria

The FAA – Federal Aviation Administration, has ordered airlines based in the United States to stop flying over Syria, citing a “serious potential threat” to civil planes.

The FAA ordered last Monday to all airlines based in the United States to stop flying over Syria, citing a “serious potential threat” to civil planes, including armed groups with anti-aircraft weapons.

“Based on an updated assessment of the risk associated with such operations and the lack of any requests from operators wishing to fly in this airspace, we believe it prudent to prohibit US operators from flying into, out of and over Syria,” the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement. The FAA’s previous so-called Notice to Airmen had strongly advised US operators against flying over Syria.

“The ongoing armed conflict and volatile security environment in Syria poses a serious potential threat to civil aviation,” the new notice said. “Armed extremist groups in Syria are known to be equipped with a variety of anti-aircraft weapons which have the capability to threaten civilian aircraft.” It noted that opposition groups have already shot down Syrian military aircraft over the conflict that began nearly three and a half years ago.

The ban affects all US companies and commercial operators. The FAA has also imposed a ban on US planes over Iraq, effective Aug 8.

Syria, like Iraq, is on a path that carriers can take when traveling between Europe and the Middle East or Asia.

Source:  AFP

The Stabilized Approach.

For several years the highest percentage of incidents and accidents has occurred during the approach and landing phases. According to a Flight Safety Foundation study, 46 percent of the 250 worldwide accidents of the period 2002-2011 happened during approach, landing or go-around.

Although operators can specify different minimums criteria for deciding to continue the approach or execute a go-around, on their Approach and Landing Accident Reduction (ALAR) Briefing Note 7-1, the FSF suggests that the approach must be stabilized 1000ft. AGL on IMC and 500ft AGL on VMC. An approach is considered stabilized when:

• The aircraft is on the correct flight path.
• Only small changes on heading and pitch are necessary to maintain the correct flight path.
• The airspeed is not more than VREF + 20 IAS and not less than VREF.
• The aircraft is on the landing configuration.
• Sink rate is not more than 1000ft/min. If an approach requires a sink rate of more than 1000ft/min, should be noted on the approach briefing.
• Power/Thrust is appropriate for the actual aircraft configuration and not below the minimum required for the approach according to the AOM.
• Approach briefing and all necessary checklists have been conducted.
• Specific type of approaches are stabilized if they also fulfill the following
• ILS approaches should be flown within one dot of the localizer and glide slope.
• A category II or III approach must be flown within the expanded localizer band.
• During a Circling Approach wings should be level on final when the aircraft reaches 300ft above airport elevation.
• Unique approach conditions or abnormal conditions requiring a deviation from the above elements of a stabilized approach require a special briefing.

Stabilised Approach Gates

Stabilized Approach “Gates”

If anyone of these elements are not met by 1000ft above airport elevation on IMC or 500ft above airport elevation on VMC, requires and immediate GO-AROUND.

Contributing factors to create an unstabilised approach can be adverse weather, being placed by ATC in an uncomfortable position for the approach, runway illusions during a night approach with no vertical guidance, being high or too close to the runway during a circling maneuver.

Continuation of an unstabilized approach can lead to several situations like; cross the runway threshold too fast and/or too high, not be aligned with the runway centerline, leading to land long on the existing runway, or a runway excursion.

Build your own defenses; adhere strictly to SOP’s and if for some reason not listed here you don’t feel comfortable with the approach execute a go-around, prepare for a new approach and start again. Don’t allow anyone to rush you.
Happy Landings!!


Capt. Ivan

Recommended Reading:

AVIATION – The Invisible Highway

AVIATION: THE INVISIBLE HIGHWAY is a story about how the airplane has changed the world. Filmed in 18 countries across all 7 continents, it renews our appreciation for one of the most extraordinary and awe-inspiring aspects of the modern world. The documentary is produced and directed by Brian J. Terwilliger (“One Six Right”), narrated by Harrison Ford, and features an original score by Academy Award-winning composer James Horner. It’s scheduled for a 2015 release.

Website:  aviationtheinvisiblehighway.com

Capt. Ivan

Flying Reimagined, The Residence – By Etihad

Etihad has released a reimagined way of traveling – The Residence by Etihad.

Join our Guest Ambassador, Dannii Minogue as she takes you on a tour of The Residence, the only three-room suite in the sky!

Designed for up to two guests travelling together, the Residence, is available on the Etihad Airbus 380, features a living room, separate bedroom and en-suite bathroom.

Amazing Livery! – Boeing Rolls Out of Paint Shop First B787-9 for Air NZ

Today rolled out of the paint hangar the first 787-9 Dreamliner to be delivered to launch customer Air New Zealand, revealing the carrier’s new-look livery.


The airplane, painted in a distinctive black color scheme, features the iconic official New Zealand Fern Mark.
“It’s great to see the Koru and the beautiful New Zealand fern emblazoned on this aircraft. This will soon be the first 787-9 aircraft anywhere in the world to operate commercially and I think it will instill a sense of pride in Kiwis and turn heads when it touches down at airports throughout Asia and the Pacific,” said Capt. David Morgan, Air New Zealand Chief Flight Operations and Safety Officer.


This 787-9 is the first airplane to feature the distinctive black version of Air New Zealand’s new-look livery design, with the white version having been gradually rolled out across the airline’s domestic fleet in recent months.

While the majority of Air New Zealand’s fleet will eventually feature the white version, a limited number will feature the signature black version. “With the unveiling of this beautiful airplane and our continued progress in flight test, this is an exciting time for the entire 787-9 team,” said Mark Jenks, vice president, 787 Airplane Development, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “We look forward to delivering the first 787-9 to Air New Zealand.”


Air New Zealand plans to have the airplane begin service on its Auckland-Perth route later this year. Air New Zealand has 10 787-9s on order.

The 787-9 will complement and extend the 787 family. With the fuselage stretched by 20 feet (6 m) over the 787-8, the 787-9 will fly up to 40 more passengers an additional 300 nautical miles (555 km) with the same exceptional environmental performance — 20 percent less fuel use and 20 percent fewer emissions than similarly sized airplanes.


The 787-9 leverages the visionary design of the 787-8, offering passengers features such as large windows, large stow bins, modern LED lighting, higher humidity, a lower cabin altitude, cleaner air and a smoother ride.


Twenty-six customers from around the world have ordered 405 787-9s, accounting for approximately 39 percent of all 787 orders.



Source:  Boeing Media Room

Photos:  Boeing Co.

MH370 Search: Chinese Patrol Ship Picks Up a Possible Signal Coming From the Black Boxes

On what is proven to be the most difficult search in human story, last Saturday, a Chinese Patrol ship looking for signs of Malaysia Airlines MH370 has picked up signals on the frequency emitted by flight recorders.

A pinger locator deployed from the ship Haixun 01 has picked up a pulse signal on the frequency 37.5 kHz, but has not been confirmed if it comes from the black boxes of the missing airliner.

Earlier, the Australian Maritime Authority – AMSA – said in a statement that the Chinese Patrol Ship Haixun 01 has detected electronic pulse signals but “the source cannot be verified”.

Anish Patel, President of Pinger Manufacturer, Dukane Seacom said both, the Flight Data Recorder and the Voice Data Recorder would emit on the same standard beacon frequency. – ‘They are identical” He said.

The 37.5 kHz signal was detected at 4:30PM local time at a location 25 degrees south, 101 degrees east, during a period that lasted for one and a half minutes and while consistent with the frequency standard Boeing black boxes would use, it was “not exclusive” and there was a possibility the signal could be from “other equipment”.

Signal Location

Signal Location

The CCTV report report confirmed that the Haixun 01 had detected a similar signal on Friday wich lasted for 15 minutes, but the other ships around may have “disturbed” the signal at the time.

A separate report from the website of Chinese Newspaper Liberation Daily said the signal was first picked up by equipment on the patrol ship on Friday afternoon and that three team members on the ship confirmed hearing the signal.

Late Saturday, RAAF Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston (ret.) – head of the search’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre – said:  “a number of white objects on the surface were also sighted about 90 kms from the detection area.  However there is no confirmation that the objects and signals are related”.  Australian authorities are considering sending RAAF aircraft to track the area.

Meanwhile, University of Southampton oceanographer, Simon Boxal said: “a variety of things” use the same frequency as the signals reportedly detected.

“We’ve had a lot of red herrings on this whole search.  I would like to see the data confirmed, it could be a false alarm”  Mr. Boxall told CNN.

MH370 vanished 28 days ago and there are fears the beacon’s batteries might run out of power and stop sending signals.

Although black boxes beacons have a battery life of about 30 days, they have been known to continue transmitting for months longer and although the search for the missing airliner has reached its fourth week, vessels started hearing for underwater signals only in recent days.

The Pinger Locator can detect signals from the black boxes, but only 1,6 kms away.  The search for wreckage is 217.000 square kms of ocean NW of Perth.

Capt. Ivan

Photos:  AP


Avianca first Latin American airline to equip fleet with Airbus’ Runway Overrun Prevention System (ROPS)


Avianca, an all-Airbus operator, will equip 21 of its A320 Family aircraft with the Airbus Runway Overrun Prevention System (ROPS). This on-board cockpit technology increases pilots’ situational awareness during landing, reduces exposure to runway excursion risk, and, if necessary, provides active protection. Avianca, which merged with TACA in 2010, was rebranded as Avianca last year. The Colombia-based airline group is also made up of Tampa Cargo and Aerogal.

Runway excursions are the number one cause of commercial aviation accidents in the world. The patented Airbus ROPS system computes minimum realistic in-flight landing and on-ground stopping distances and compares them to available landing distances in real time. The system combines data on weather, runway condition and topography, and aircraft weight and configuration. Depending on the resulting analysis, ROPS may prompt immediate callouts and alerts for pilots, assisting the crew in the go-around decision-making process and/or the timely application of stopping means on touchdown.

In November, Airbus achieved Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification of ROPS for the Airbus A320 Family. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified ROPS on the A320ceo (current engine option) Family in August. American Airlines became the first ROPS customer for the Americas when it has elected to equip all of its A320 Family fleet with Airbus’ ROPS.

The President of Avianca, Fabio Villegas, noted that: “The incorporation of the Runway Overrun Prevention System (ROPS) in 21aircraft in Avianca’s Airbus fleet, will give pilots the information they need to take the best decisions for a safe landing in the minimum time possible. As a company this will allow us to stay at the vanguard of technology for safety.”

Avianca will be the first in the region to implement the latest cockpit technology to increase their pilots situational awareness and reduce exposure to runway excursion risk,” said Yannick Malinge, Airbus’ Senior Vice President and Chief Product Safety Officer.

Avianca based its fleet modernization and expansion programs on Airbus aircraft. In early 2012, Avianca ordered 51 A320 Family aircraft including 33 eco-efficient A320neo. In December of 2012, Avianca Cargo, formerly known as Tampa Cargo, became the first operator of the A330-200 Freighter in the region with the first of four deliveries. Avianca has ordered 190 aircraft, operates more than 100 Airbus aircraft and has a backlog of more than 60 Airbus aircraft.

ROPS was first approved by EASA on the A380 in 2009 certified for the A320 Family in 2013 and to date is currently in service or ordered on most of the worldwide A380 fleet. In 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended to the FAA that it “actively pursue with aircraft and avionics manufacturers the development of technology to reduce or prevent runway excursions and, once it becomes available, require that the technology be installed”

Source:  Airbus Media Room


Landing at the Correct Destination Airport – Are You Sure?

Is not so difficult to land at the wrong airport, especially when we wrongly think that we know the area.

With reference to past related incidents, a few days ago the NTSB issued a Safety Alert concerning landing at the wrong airport. In this issue the agency provides recommendations to avoid

Here a few tips that will help ensure that you are approaching to the right airport / runway.

1.- CHECK AND CROSSCHECK – In case of a visual approach, or visual circling maneuver, use all available resources – CRM – to positively identify the destination airport at wich you are approaching.

2.- TUNE AND IDENTIFY – Positively identify the destination airport through all available NAVAIDS like VOR; ILS; NDB; etc. And / Or verifying the correct indication / distance provided by the FMS.

3.- HEADING AND COURSE – Always set the runway in use final course prior to the approach briefing, check your heading and course deviation bar when on final approach, a runway heading that does not match the actual heading or course deviation bar fully displaced to either side is a good indication that something is wrong.

4.- SAVE THE DAY – If for some reason you are not sure that the runway in front of you is the correct one, request a landing clearance verification from the control tower on a prudent 4 to 5 NM final.

5.- GO AROUND! – Keep a perfect situational awareness on every stage of the approach and be always prepared for a go-around. In case of lack of published missed approach procedure for the stage being flown, make always the first climbing turn within the circling area, towards the landing runway.

6.- DON’T MAKE A BIGGER MISTAKE – If for some reason you are already landed at the wrong airport, don’t try to move the aircraft or taxi without assistance from airport authority.

Assess and positively execute all actions during all stages of flight.


Capt. Ivan



  •   GDL 39