Posts Tagged ‘Airbus’

Air France pilots lost control before crash

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Air safety experts are calling for better pilot training after initial reports suggest that the Air France crash in 2009 may have been the result of pilots’ exacerbating problems after on-board warning systems were activated. Flight 447 was en route to Paris from Brazil when it went down into the Atlantic. All those on board lost their lives.

A report by French air accident body, the BEA, suggests that warning systems went off in the cockpit after the Airbus A330′s air speed indicators started producing inaccurate readings because of icing.

The pilot then appears to have tried to correct matters by pulling the aircraft’s nose up and going into a steep climb.

However, this had a negative effect on the plane’s lift and the aircraft stalled. This happens when air travelling over the surface of the wings is no longer stable enough to create lift. Usually the correct procedure in such a situation is to push the nose down and speed the plane up to re-establish stable airflow. In the case of Flight 447 it appears the pilot kept the nose up as the plane went into rapid descent.

It is not unusual for pilots to try and pull up out of a stall. This is why safety experts are calling for better training so that crew are prepared for the confusion that occurs when emergency systems start going off in the cockpit. Safety expert John Cox said many in the industry have been asking for better loss of control training for decades now.

Airlines fear Emirates expansion

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

As airlines around the globe feel the effects of rising oil prices, natural disasters and political and social unrest in North Africa and the Middle East, Dubai giant Emirates announces it intends to continue its plans to expand. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, the state-owned airline’s president, said hundreds of destinations would be added to the carrier’s roster following a 52 per cent jump in profits.

He also hinted that Emirates would be announcing new aircraft orders later this year at the Dubai Airshow. The airline already has an order with European manufacturer Airbus for 90 A380 superjumbos; a fleet which experts warn will change the face of the airline industry when deployed.

Sheikh Ahmed said he was aware that European carriers were concerned by the increasing competition that his airline was presenting, but added that the market was ready for growth and that he had the product with which to take greater market share.

European and US airlines have long been accusing Emirates of having an unfair advantage as it is essentially subsidised by the state. President Tim Clarke last year shrugged the accusations off advising rivals to put the energy they were using up running his airline down into their own businesses if they wanted to make a profit.

Tensions were caused between the UAE and Canada last year after Emirates and fellow Middle Eastern carrier Etihad were denied greater access to the territory. Lufthansa has also voiced concerns about Emirates’ expansion by requesting it be denied access to landing slots at the new airport in Berlin.

Air France flight data recorder found

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

A fourth attempt by investigators to locate the black box recorders of Air France flight 447 has resulted in success. One of the data recorders has been found, according to France’s BEA. The air accident investigation body says  it appears to be in good condition. It is hoped that information stored on the device will finally shed some light on what went wrong on 1 June 2009.

So far, experts have only been able to speculate why the Airbus A330 plunged into the Atlantic after leaving Rio de Janeiro for Paris. It is known that the airliner encountered storms and also that the pilots were being fed inaccurate information by their pitot air speed indicators. However, most agree that these factors were not enough to cause the catastrophe.

The black box recorders were manufactured by Honeywell International. Although they have been designed and tested to withstand pressures found at a depth of 20,000 feet it is not yet known if nearly two years of salt corrosion has damaged the innards.

Safety experts have said that even if there is salt damage it may still be possible to retrieve enough information to find out what went wrong in the final moments of the flight. The search will continue for other information recorders such as the cockpit voice recorder.

The plane crash was the worst in Air France’s history. The airline and manufacturer Airbus have funded the searches for the wreckage and will be keen to recover any data they can as they have both been indicted for manslaughter.

Singapore Airlines reduces Los Angeles service

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Lack of demand has caused Singapore Airlines to announce that it will be scaling back on the number of services to Los Angeles. The airline currently flies seven times a week, but as of 3 May it will temporarily be suspending its Tuesday and Wednesday schedules. An airline spokesman confirmed that the decision had been made because of a need to match passenger demand with available capacity.

When asked whether the cancellations had been made in reaction to the rising price of jet fuel, spokesman Nicholas Ionides said that although the cost of oil was having a negative affect across the airline industry the decision to cut back on the Singapore-Los Angeles route had been made purely as a reaction to consumer demand.

The Los Angeles service is for business-class passengers and uses Airbus A345 aircraft. According to Ionides, the mid-week flights tended to receive fewer bookings than the others and this is why they have been removed.

The price of a barrel of crude is currently at a two-and-a-half year high. In its last monthly report the International Energy Agency issued a warning that the recovery of the world’s economy was at risk if the price of crude remained on the market at above $100 per barrel.

Airlines are continuing to try an offset the cost of jet fuel by handing on fuel surcharges to their passengers. British Airways recently told customers that long-haul journeys would be £10 more expensive for economy and £20 more expensive for those travelling in premium-class.

Air France crash debris located

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

French officials say that a large piece of wreckage from the Air France flight which crashed into the Atlantic in 2009 has been found. According to France’s transport minister, Nathalie Kosciusco-Morizet, some bodies have also been located and will soon be brought up to the surface for identification.

This is the fourth time investigators have searched the ocean for flight 447′s wreckage. The main aim of the latest expedition is to recover the black box flight recorders which, it is hoped, will contain vital clues as to what caused the crash. The plane came down as it was en route to Paris after taking off from Rio de Janeiro.

It is known that the plane encountered a storm and that the flight speed indicators were feeding erroneous information to the pilots. However, it is unlikely that these were the only factors involved in the Airbus ditching into the ocean. If the voice and data recorders are not located, the cause of the incident will remain speculation.

However, experts have expressed renewed hope after finding the latest piece of debris which will be brought to the surface within the next few weeks. Although those who died came from a number of different countries most were German, French or Brazilian.

The latest search mission is being funded by planemaker Airbus and Air France. Both were recently indicted on the charge of manslaughter by a French judge. Some of the families of the 228 victims claim that officials were too slow in their initial attempts to investigate the incident.

Hope for Black Box recovery in Air France search

Monday, April 4th, 2011

There is fresh hope that the black-box flight recorders belonging to an Air France passenger jet that went down in the Atlantic in 2009 might soon be recovered. A fourth search for wreckage has apparently recovered debris which belonged to flight 447, according to BEA, the French air accident agency.

The airliner crashed on 1 June as it was en route to the French capital from Rio de Janeiro. The latest search will take place over an area of around 3,900 sq miles of sea between Brazil and Africa. Specially built robots are being sent down to the sea bed which in some places is as much as four km deep.

The main aim of this, and the three previous searches, is to locate and recover the voice and data recorders which were in the plane when it went down. Without the retrieval of the information stored on the devices, there is little hope of ever being sure of what happened to cause the tragedy.

It is known that flight 447 encountered a tropical storm. It is also known that the pilots were being fed inaccurate information by their flight speed indicators because of icing. However, both events are unlikely to have been the only causes of the crash. All 228 crew and passengers on board were killed. Some 50 bodies have so far been recovered.

Chief executive of Air France-KLM, Pierre Henri-Gourgeon, said he hoped the latest discovery would finally lead to the recovery of the flight’s data recorders and a better understanding of what caused the incident.

Robots deployed to find Air France wreckage

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Special robots are on there way to some of the deepest seas on the planet as a fourth search for the wreckage of Air France 447 gets underway. The project is being jointly funded by planemaker Air Bus and Air France and will cost around $12.5 million. Although being headed up by French accident investigators BEA, the search will be conducted by experts belonging to America’s Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

The institute’s head of special projects, David Gallo, explained that the search would be difficult as much of the ocean floor to be targeted had never before been explored. He was confident however that his team would be able to locate any wreckage if it was within the 3,900 square miles they planned to concentrate on.

The main aim is to recover the voice and data recorders belonging to the Airbus A330. Without these, what exactly caused the jet to go down killing all on board is unlikely ever to be known.

The success of the operation was made particularly important last week after a French court filed manslaughter charges against both Airbus and Air France. One of the contributing causes may have been the fact that air speed indicators were issuing incorrect information to the pilots just before the accident. However, experts are united in saying this could not have been the only cause.

Flight AF447 was en route to Paris from Rio de Janeiro when it hit a violent electrical storm. Previous searches have cost around $28 million.

Lufthansa grows profits but predicts tough year ahead

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Lufthansa, one of Europe’s largest airline groups, has confirmed operating profits for 2010 of €876 million. The company’s chief executive, Christoph Franz, said that although the results were encouraging, the year ahead was likely to throw up a number of challenges. He explained that revenues through 2012 would continue to grow as long as there was no adverse affect on business from unforeseeable events and the spiralling price of oil.

He added that no airline was immune to the rising cost of jet fuel and that a hike in air traffic tax was hitting travellers across Europe where it hurt. He went on to say that competition within Europe and on routes to and from Asia and the US was also becoming much tougher. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks and political unrest were also something to be factored in, Franz said.

Lufthansa managed to declare a profit which is five times the figure announced for 2009 despite losses at a number of subsidiaries. Bmi has declared a €145 million loss and Austrian Airlines a €66 million loss. Lufthansa has defended the performance by saying that both carriers are continuing to implement restructuring measures.

Germanwings was also down by €39 million. However, Lufthansa said the carrier was continuing to grow. One of the group’s successes was Swiss which announced a €298 million operating profit.

Lufthansa pointed to a number of improvements over the past year including the re-introduction of internet services, a brand new Europa cabin and a fleet of Airbus A380 superjumbos.

Radiation levels in Japan monitored by airlines

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Airlines from around the globe are assuring passengers that they will keep a close eye on the situation in Japan as most continue to operate scheduled services. One of the main fears is that levels of radiation in the atmosphere could become dangerous following explosions at one of the country’s nuclear power plants.

German carrier Lufthansa said it had already checked several planes returning from Tokyo for high radiation levels but admitted that all of its aircraft had been declared safe. The airline said that because of disruption and backlogs at Tokyo’s main airport it would now be flying to either Nagoya or Osaka.

Lufthansa spokesman, Thomas Jachnow, said that by avoiding Narita airport customers would be assured of a more stable schedule. He also confirmed that the airline had replaced the Airbus A380 which usually flies between Frankfurt and Tokyo with a smaller Airbus A340-600. He explained that the reduced capacity would be sufficient for the time being.

Other European carriers including Air France, British Airways, Alitalia and Swiss have said that although they will continue to fly as per schedule they were continuing to monitor events in Japan including potential nuclear reactor leaks. All advised that customers check before leaving their homes for the airport in case the current situation suddenly changes.

The US Federal Aviation Administration said it was working closely with the authorities in Japan to ensure that air travel remains safe. The Japanese aviation authority currently has restrictions in place to keep civilian aircraft away from the damaged nuclear facility in Fukushima.

Emirates pushes ahead with recruitment drive

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Emirates said it plans to increase the number of cabin crew it employs around the world by 4,000 between 2011 and 2012. The airline has announced that it already employs more than 12,000 stewardesses and stewards and that the most recent recruitment drive is part of wider expansion plans.

The carrier currently flies a fleet of 152 planes and has a further 200 aircraft on order with various manufacturers. Currently flying a fleet of 15 Airbus A380s, Emirates has announced orders for another 75 double-decker superjumbos. The aircraft is the largest passenger plane currently taking to the skies.

Emirates is looking to recruit more German speaking staff to its ranks while at the ITB in Berlin. It will be at the world’s largest travel fair until 13 March where it has its giant globe stand. Visitors to the fair will be able to experience what it is like to travel on an Emirates A380 because there are replicas of the Onboard Lounge and the airline’s new Onboard Shower and Spa.

Tim Clarke, Emirates’ president, said the rotating stand was now more impressive than ever. He added that it was something to be admired and that it brought some of the best of what the A380 had to offer passengers to the heart of Berlin.

Emirates fist started flying the superjumbo in 2008 and since then some four million passengers had experienced the ultra-quiet jet. The fleet is supported by a cabin crew staff of 2,000 and 300 pilots. The airline flies to 111 destinations around the world.