How can they lose an airplane?

The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 resumed this week with three ships combing a remote region of the Indian Ocean off the western coast of Australia. Meanwhile, the NTSB – National Transportation Safety Board gathered in Washington with aviation experts from around the world to discuss ways of improving how planes are tracked while in the air and how they are located when they crash.

Malaysia Flight 370 has now been missing for seven months after dramatically changing course and vanishing without a trace approximately eight hours later. The flight left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing on March 8. Early in the flight, the plane’s transponder signal and radio went silent. Some speculate that the communications were switched off in the cockpit and remained off as the plane flew for as long as it had fuel to do so. Satellite data were used to piece together a rough flight path, but the plane and its passengers have yet to be found.

“When a flight cannot be located, an incredulous public asks: ‘How can they possibly lose a plane?’ ” NTSB’s acting chairman Christopher Hart said at the conference.

Aircrafts that crash on land can be quickly located by ELT – Emergency Locator signals. Finding an aircraft that ditch in the ocean is more difficult. Boeing estimates that ocean crashes have been occurring roughly once every year over the past 30 years. Two tragedies in recent years emphasize how challenging these crashes can be to find. In addition to Malaysian 370, Air France 447 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009. It took two years for investigators to locate the French plane’s black boxes on the ocean floor.

The potential solutions that the NTSB is considering address the challenges faced in locating ocean crash sites. The Malaysian craft used automatic dependent surveillance — broadcast, or ADS-B, which allows a plane’s movement to be monitored by land-based radio towers. The system is expected to soon allow tracking by satellite too, which increases coverage into open ocean waters.

Other options under consideration involve live streaming of cockpit and flight recorder data as a plane proceeds along its route. Current recorders capture either the most recent one or two hours of data, and officials say this can be increased to up to 20 hours. Black box pinger batteries may be improved to last 90 days instead of the standard 30. Finally, the kind of black box used in some military aircraft, ones that detach from a ditching plane and float on their own, could be repurposed for commercial use.

“This system could be deployed today,” said Richard Hayden, whose company builds the devices.

Source: Daily Digest News.

Malaysia Airlines, or an Airline Fighting to Keep Their Employees.

Malaysia’s beleaguered flag carrier will be paying each employee RM2,000 as a token of gratitude for standing by the airline despite its financial losses made worse by the loss of two Boeing planes this year.

The Edge Financial Daily reported today that Malaysia Airlines (MAS) chairman Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof announced the ex-gratia payment two days before the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations and that all 19,577 staff can expect the payment as early as next month.

“The management, in consultation with the government, has agreed to give RM2,000 in ex-gratia payment to all staff,” an unnamed industry source was quoted saying.

According to the report, the payment is expected to total RM39 million and will drive MAS — already reeling from the loss of MH370 in March and more recently MH17 — further into the red.

The report cited Maybank Investment Bank Bhd airline analyst Mohshin Aziz as saying MAS only has cash in hand of RM500 million, adding that the amount would see the airline only through another 200 days.

According to Mohshin, the airline has a cash flow of RM3.25 billion as at March 31, but as much as RM2 billion was derived from forward ticket sales while another RM400 million was meant as aircraft deposits.

MAS has been operating at a loss of about RM5 million a day since January, he added.

The carrier posted a net loss of RM1.15 billion for financial year 2013 and is due to announce its second quarter result in August.

On July 19, MAS announced it will waive charges for customers who wanted to make amendments to their flight itineraries to any destination, including cancelling and getting a full refund.

The airline offered the waiver to those who would be traveling between July 18 and December 31 this year.

MAS has been bleeding money for the past few years but its fortunes worsened after its Boeing 777 flight MH370, carrying 239 people on board disappeared mid-flight to Beijing on March 8, while its second jumbo jet, flight MH17 was shot down over war-torn eastern Ukraine on July 17, killing all 298 people aboard.

Source:  The Malay Online

Malaysia Airlines B777-200 Crash in Ukraine

A Malaysia Airlines B777-200, flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 280 passengers and 15 crew was enroute at FL330 50 NM northwest of Donetsk (Ukraine) when suddenly dissapeared from the air traffic control radar.

Latest reports indicate that the burning wreckage was discovered near the Ukrainian – Russian border. There were no survivors. A government agency declared that the aircraft has been shoot down. The investigation continues.

Malaysia Airlines has confirmed the accident.Malaysia Airlines have confirmed an incident, the aircraft did not enter Russian Airspace so far, about two hours after the estimated entry into the airspace. At 15:40Z Malaysia Airlines tweeted: “Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace.

Capt. Ivan

Air NZ Captain Locks Himself in the Cockpit

Two Air New Zealand pilots hav been suspended after a mid-air drama developed when the Captain locked the First Officer out of the cockpit.

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The incident occurred on a B777-200, flight NZ176 from Perth to Auckland on May 21, the aircraft was carrying 303 passengers plus crew.

The captain locked himself inside of the cockpit and did not respond to requests to open the locked door during a period of two minutes, alarming crew.

Apparently an argument developed between the pilots because of a departure delay originated when the First Officer was called for a random drug and alcohol test.

“This departure delay frustrated the captain who prides himself on operational efficiency,” Air New Zealand’s manager of operational integrity and safety, Errol Burtenshaw, told AFP in a statement Sunday.

This incident has sparked calls for a third crew member to be added to flight decks so no one is ever alone in the cockpit.

Air NZ spokeswoman Marie Hosking said the first officer and crew became concerned after the captain did not respond to three requests over two minutes from a cabin crew member to open the cockpit door.

The first officer eventually used an alternative method to access the cockpit. For security reasons, the airline would not say how.

“Naturally, cabin crew operating the flight were concerned about the inability to contact the captain and became quite anxious,” said the national carrier’s operational integrity and safety manager Errol Burtenshaw.

They were offered the support of the company’s employee assistance programme after the flight.

Both pilots were stood down — the captain for two weeks and the first officer for a week, and given counselling and additional training.

“Both pilots have learned a valuable lesson around the need to communicate better with peers.”

He said the captain did not respond or open the door because he was approaching a navigational waypoint and in his cockpit monitor saw a cabin crew member rather than the first officer ringing.

The airline provided a report on the incident to the Civil Aviation Authority. Spokesman Mike Richards said it was satisfied with Air NZ’s actions.

Aviation commentator Peter Clark said the incident showed it was time all airlines put a third crew member in the cockpit. “After [the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight] MH370 there’s definitely questions being asked about whether there should be more than two people on the flight deck.”

Clark said there was no excuse for the Air NZ captain to not immediately respond to calls, given the MH370 mystery and the fate of other flights, including an Ethiopian Airlines flight hijacked by its asylum-seeking co-pilot this year.

“You can push a button and say ‘I’m busy’ … two minutes is an eternity when people reflect on MH370. The transponder can be turned off, the flight co-ordinates changed, the plane depressurised.

“It shouldn’t have happened.”

Source: The New Zealand Herald

Photos: Air NZ

 

 

Asiana Flight 214 Crash – NTSB Animation

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the flight crew’s mismanagement of the airplane’s descent during the visual approach, the pilot flying’s unintended deactivation of automatic airspeed control, the flight crew’s inadequate monitoring of airspeed, and the flight crew’s delayed execution of a go-around after they became aware that the airplane was below acceptable glidepath and airspeed tolerances. Contributing to the accident were; (1) the complexities of the autothrottle and autopilot flight director systems that were inadequately described in Boeing’s documentation and Asiana’s pilot training, which increased the likelihood of mode error; (2) the flight crew’s nonstandard communication and coordination regarding the use of the autothrottle and autopilot flight director systems; (3) the pilot flying’s inadequate training on the planning and executing of visual approaches; (4) the pilot monitoring/instructor pilot’s inadequate supervision of the pilot flying; and (5) flight crew fatigue which likely degraded their performance.

On July 6, 2013, about 1128 Pacific daylight time, a Boeing 777-200ER, Korean registration HL7742, operating as Asiana Airlines flight 214, was on approach to runway 28L when it struck a seawall at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), San Francisco, California. Three of the 291 passengers were fatally injured; 40 passengers, 8 of the 12 flight attendants, and 1 of the 4 flight crewmembers received serious injuries. The other 248 passengers, 4 flight attendants, and 3 flight crewmembers received minor injuries or were not injured. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. Flight 214 was a regularly scheduled international passenger flight from Incheon International Airport, Seoul, Korea, operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 129. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed.

The flight was vectored for a visual approach to runway 28L and intercepted the final approach course about 14 nautical miles (nm) from the threshold at an altitude slightly above the desired 3° glidepath. This set the flight crew up for a straight-in visual approach; however, after the flight crew accepted an air traffic control instruction to maintain 180 knots to 5 nm from the runway, the flight crew mismanaged the airplane’s descent, which resulted in the airplane being well above the desired 3° glidepath when it reached the 5 nm point. The flight crew’s difficulty in managing the airplane’s descent continued as the approach continued. In an attempt to increase the airplane’s descent rate and capture the desired glidepath, the pilot flying (PF) selected an autopilot (A/P) mode (flight level change speed [FLCH SPD]) that instead resulted in the autoflight system initiating a climb because the airplane was below the selected altitude. The PF disconnected the A/P and moved the thrust levers to idle, which caused the autothrottle (A/T) to change to the HOLD mode, a mode in which the A/T does not control airspeed. The PF then pitched the airplane down and increased the descent rate. Neither the PF, the pilot monitoring (PM), nor the observer noted the change in A/T mode to HOLD.

As the airplane reached 500 ft above airport elevation, the point at which Asiana’s procedures dictated that the approach must be stabilized, the precision approach path indicator (PAPI) would have shown the flight crew that the airplane was slightly above the desired glidepath. Also, the airspeed, which had been decreasing rapidly, had just reached the proper approach speed of 137 knots. However, the thrust levers were still at idle, and the descent rate was about 1,200 ft per minute, well above the descent rate of about 700 fpm needed to maintain the desired glidepath; these were two indications that the approach was not stabilized. Based on these two indications, the flight crew should have determined that the approach was unstabilized and initiated a go-around, but they did not do so. As the approach continued, it became increasingly unstabilized as the airplane descended below the desired glidepath; the PAPI displayed three and then four red lights, indicating the continuing descent below the glidepath. The decreasing trend in airspeed continued, and about 200 ft, the flight crew became aware of the low airspeed and low path conditions but did not initiate a go-around until the airplane was below 100 ft, at which point the airplane did not have the performance capability to accomplish a go-around. The flight crew’s insufficient monitoring of airspeed indications during the approach resulted from expectancy, increased workload, fatigue, and automation reliance.

Public information from NTSB Docket DCA13MA120

Free Aircraft Tracking Service Launched After MH370 Tragedy

Inmarsat said its new service would be offered to all 11,000 commercial passenger aircraft that are already equipped with Inmarsat satellite connections, comprising virtually 100 per cent of the world's long-haul commercial fleet. (Tomasz Bartkowiak/Reuters)

Inmarsat said its new service would be offered to all 11,000 commercial passenger aircraft that are already equipped with Inmarsat satellite connections, comprising virtually 100 per cent of the world’s long-haul commercial fleet. (Tomasz Bartkowiak/Reuters)

The British satellite communications company that pointed the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 to the Indian Ocean is offering a free and basic tracking service to its customers, which include most of the world’s airlines.

Inmarsat said the service would be offered to all 11,000 commercial passenger aircraft that are already equipped with Inmarsat satellite connections, comprising virtually 100 per cent of the world’s long-haul commercial fleet.

“This offer responsibly, quickly and at little or no cost to the industry, addresses in part the problem brought to light by the recent tragic events around MH370,” Inmarsat CEO Rupert Pearce told the Associated Press.

The company made the announcement before United Nations aviation officials gathered in Montreal on Monday to discuss better tracking of aircraft in the highest-level response yet to safety concerns raised by the disappearance of Flight MH370.

The Boeing 777 with 239 people on board was en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8 when it disappeared. The plane automatically sent signals to a satellite belonging to Inmarsat after the plane’s transponder and its communication systems had shut down — but researchers were unable to find the plane before the batteries in the black box flight recorder shut down.

Inmarsat said it anticipated the adoption of further safety measures following the loss of MH370.

The company said it would also offer both an enhanced position reporting facility and a ‘black box in the cloud’ service that would stream historic and real-time flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder information when a plane deviates from its course. These would not be free.

The United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is hosting this week’s talks in Montreal to discuss what can be done with current technology and what standards need to be set for new technology as globalization brings a steady increase in intercontinental air traffic.

The May 12-13 meeting at ICAO headquarters brings together 40 nations and representatives of aviation regulators, airports, airlines, air traffic controllers, pilots and radio experts.

“For the general public it has become unthinkable that a flight can simply disappear,” the European Union said in a paper presented in advance of the two-day talks.

“An aircraft should be permanently tracked, even beyond radar coverage, and in case of an accident it should be immediately located,” the paper said.

The EU paper also warned that some existing satellite-based cockpit systems could also be vulnerable to cyberattacks.

The International Air Transport Association, which represents nearly all long-haul airlines, said in April that it would set up a special task force on the issue of tracking.

Officials say that jets can be tracked with hardware available for less than $100,000 and updates can be transmitted using existing technology, though the cost depends on the frequency of updates.

Other more simple options include embedding GPS tracking devices in aircraft, but these could require safety certification and there are no common safety standards.
Plane-tracking discussed since 2010

Regulators have been discussing since 2010 how to improve communications with passenger jets over oceans and remote areas after an Air France plane crashed into the Atlantic a year earlier, but they have so far failed to agree on a co-ordinated international approach to the problem.

However, worldwide alarm at the failure to find MH370 in more than two months since it vanished en route to Beijing has pushed the issue to the top of the aviation agenda.

Regular flight-tracking was one of the key recommendations of French investigators after the loss of Air France 447.

Aviation experts say previous attempts to reach agreement on tracking and other reforms in the aftermath of Air France 447 have been delayed by uncertainties over the cost and control of infrastructure and reluctance to rely on “monopoly” providers.

Recent EU decision-making has also had to overcome wrangling among manufacturers, regulators and pilots.

But officials are now more optimistic that the aviation industry will take the lead with the help of a common strategy between regulators.

Source:  Reuters

 

Why the Official Explanation of MH370’s Demise Doesn’t Hold Up

From  Ari N. Schulman Executive Editor of The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society

A map showing satellite communications company Inmarsat's global subscriptions. (Reuters)

A map showing satellite communications company Inmarsat’s global subscriptions. (Reuters)

Investigators searching for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight were ebullient when they detected what sounded like signals from the plane’s black boxes. This was a month ago, and it seemed just a matter of time before the plane was finally discovered.

But now the search of 154 square miles of ocean floor around the signals has concluded with no trace of wreckage found. Pessimism is growing as to whether those signals actually had anything to do with Flight 370. If they didn’t, the search area would return to a size of tens of thousands of square miles.

Even before the black-box search turned up empty, observers had begun to raise doubts about whether searchers were looking in the right place. Authorities have treated the conclusion that the plane crashed in the ocean west of Australia as definitive, owing to a much-vaunted mathematical analysis of satellite signals sent by the plane. But scientists and engineers outside of the investigation have been working to verify that analysis, and many say that it just doesn’t hold up.

A Global Game of Marco Polo
Malaysia Airlines flights are equipped with in-flight communications services provided by the British company Inmarsat. From early on, the lynchpin of the investigation has been signals sent by Flight 370 to one of Inmarsat’s satellites. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of this lonely little batch of “pings.” They’re the sole evidence of what happened to the plane after it slipped out of radar contact. Without them, investigators knew only that the plane had enough fuel to travel anywhere within 3,300 miles of the last radar contact—a seventh of the entire globe.

Inmarsat concluded that the flight ended in the southern Indian Ocean, and its analysis has become the canonical text of the Flight 370 search. It’s the bit of data from which all other judgments flow—from the conclusive announcement by Malaysia’s prime minister that the plane has been lost with no survivors, to the black-box search area, to the high confidence in the acoustic signals, to the dismissal by Australian authorities of a survey company’s new claim to have detected plane wreckage.

Although Inmarsat officials have described the mathematical analysis as “groundbreaking,” it’s actually based on some relatively straightforward geometry. Here’s how it works: Every so often (usually about once an hour), Inmarsat’s satellite sends a message to the plane’s communication system, asking for a simple response to show that it’s still switched on. This response doesn’t specify the plane’s location or the direction it’s heading, but it does have some useful information that narrows down the possibilities.

You can think of the ping math like a game of Marco Polo played over 22,000 miles of outer space. You can’t see the plane. But you shout Marco, and the plane shouts back Polo. Based on how long the plane takes to respond, you know how far away it is. And from the pitch of its voice, you can tell whether it’s moving toward you or away from you—like the sound of a car on the highway—and about how fast.

This information is far from perfect. You know how far the plane was for each ping, but the ping could be coming from any direction. And you how fast the plane is moving toward or away from you. It could also be moving right or left, up or down, and the speeds would sound the same. The task of the Inmarsat engineers has been to take these pieces and put them together, working backwards to reconstruct possible flight paths that would fit the data.

Continue Reading at – The New Atlantis:  A Journal of Technology and Society

Photo Credits:  The Atlantis.

UPDATED: Boeing Statement on Malaysia Airlines MH370

Today, the Boeing Company released and statement concerning Malaysia Airlines MH370. A few days ago Malaysia PM blamed the aircraft manufacturer for the disaster, questioning the aircraft’s communication system that failed to track the missing jet and the duration of the ELT’s batteries.

Today the Boeing 777 manufacturer answered with the following statement.

“Since day one, the families and loved ones of those aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 have been in our thoughts and prayers. Our goal, along with the entire global aviation community, is to find out what happened to the airplane—and why.

Boeing is actively engaged as technical advisor to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, sharing our technical expertise and analysis with the Malaysian investigation team and supporting the ongoing search. While all updates and information must come from Malaysian authorities, we are working with all parties in hopes of bringing this to a resolution as soon as possible.

Boeing will participate in and support the effort to find effective and efficient ways to enhance global tracking of airplanes.”

Capt. Ivan

Boeing Media Room.

Australian Exploration Company Claims MH370 Wreckage Found in Bay of Bengal.

An Australian exploration Company has claimed that it found the wreckage of missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 in the Bay of Bengal.

Six weeks after its departure from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing and disappearance and after the most extensive and fruitless search on aviation history, an Adelaide based Australian exploration Company has claimed the possible wreckage of the missing airliner was found in the Bay of Bengal, 5000 kms away from current location search.

Australian GeoResonance said on Monday they have located the possible wreckage after covering 2000.000 sq/km of the possible crash zone, north of MH370 last known location. To analyze the obtained data, they used satellite imagery, images obtained from aircraft and other diverse technologies.

“The technology we use was originally designed to find nuclear warheads and submarines. Our team in Ukraine decided we should try and help” Said, the company spokesman, David Pope.

“The wreckage wasn’t there prior to the disappearance of MH370. We are not trying to say it definitely is MH370. However, it is a lead we feel should be followed up” He added.

Pavel Kursa, another GeoResonance member, mentioned that several elements usually carried by airliners were detected at the location.

“We identified chemical elements and materials that make up a Boeing 777, these are aluminium, titanium, cooper, steel alloys and other materials” said Mr. Kursa to Australian channel 7News.

malaysia-airlines-flight-mh370

Capt. Ivan

Photo Credits:  Reuters / Andrew Barr – National Post

MH370 Too Many Questions, Not a Single Response.

News from MH370 goes slowly fading from media agencies, websites and other social media. But the world seems reluctant to accept that the most modern airliner flying these days can disappear without a trace.

During these days passengers, friends and colleagues made me the same question: – Do you have any idea what could have happened with Malaysia Airlines?  The answer was always the same: – No, honestly no idea…

We live in the internet age, where as far as we know our private life is not private anymore. Where virtually there’s no place in the world that is not accessible to a human being. Constellations of satellites listen to our conversations through our phones, on the street and even inside our homes. Our emails can be read, the book you are holding in your hands can be read, if we sit outside or near a window. The Rover is scrutinizing Mars commanded by a computer from the Earth. We have traveled to the deepest pit of the oceans; we have climbed the highest mountain in the world. And the most advanced aircraft flying through the skies in the era of modern aviation disappears and nobody knows where it is?

The issue is so serious that even the president of the most powerful nation on earth traveled to Malaysia to give explanations on the matter. The world cannot accept this situation.

Since his disappearance, we heard all kinds of speculations about what might have happened to the doomed flight. All kind of experts and so called experts gave their opinion and elaborated hypothesis, even an important news agency mounted a show inside of a flight simulator of the missing plane trying to explain what could have happened. Lovers of intrigue also made their contribution, locating the lost aircraft in different places or islands with hijacked or executed passengers.

The search area is huge and a few hours ago it has been expanded even more, the cost of the search is colossal. But here’s at stake is the dignity of the human race, our brothers have been lost and the world will do everything in its power to unravel the mystery. We must speak honestly and respond that until the plane is not found and the black boxes analyzed will not know exactly what happened that night with the doomed flight.

The truth is that, in deference to the pain of the families who still retain a hope of finding their loved ones and the silent heroes that every day continue the search. We must admit that we don’t know what could have happened with MH370.

Capt. Ivan

 

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