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Posts Tagged ‘FAA’

American Airlines today announced that after reviewing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) policy on raft capacity (which mentions that the rafts on the plane should accommodate for all passengers, crew and lap children), they found that the Boeing 767 fleet was not following the policy. So, temporarily all flights using the plane will be restricted to 228 instead of earlier capacity of 236 (both number includes the crew of 11). The airline did add that it was never safety concern, since the the seat cushions could be used as flotation devices instead of the raft.

It seems that the Hudson river landing of flight 1549 had caused the self check.

The airline is going to add additional rafts to the planes for permanent solution.

What it means the passenger?

For long term, the airline might restrict the number of seats that it can sell and for the current flights, the flights which are sold between above capacity and capacity-8 might be looking for volunteers to fly some other flight, if all passengers show-up.

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Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has “toughened a requirement that Boeing 737 pilots be reminded not to
ignore a cabin pressure warning horn, ordering pre-flight briefings as
well as changes in manuals.
” The reasoning for this new “airworthiness directive” is due to the Helios Airways Boeing 737-300 crash on August 14th 2005 that resulted in 121 deaths.

The directive affects all Boeing 737 models!

Read the Directive here at FAA.gov wesbsite.

Summary

We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all Boeing Model
737 airplanes. This AD requires revising the airplane flight manual to
include a new flightcrew briefing that must be done before the first
flight of the day and following any change in flightcrew members, and
to advise the flightcrew of this additional briefing. This AD results
from continuing reports that flightcrews have failed to recognize and
react properly to the cabin altitude warning horn. We are issuing this
AD to prevent failure of the flightcrew to recognize and react properly
to a valid cabin altitude warning horn, which could result in
incapacitation of the flightcrew due to hypoxia (lack of oxygen in
body) and consequent loss of airplane control.

Justification

We are issuing this AD to prevent failure of the flightcrew to
recognize and react to a valid cabin altitude warning horn, which could
result in incapacitation of the flightcrew due to hypoxia (lack of
oxygen in body) and consequent loss of airplane control. This action
follows related rulemaking action we took in response to a report
resulting from the investigation by the Air Accident Investigation and
Aviation Safety Board of Greece into the August 14, 2005, Helios
Airways accident near Athens, Greece. This action affects the entire
fleet of Boeing Model 737 airplanes (nearly 5,000 airplanes worldwide);
these airplanes have a very high utilization rate. Because of our
requirement to promote safe flight of civil aircraft and thus the
critical need to assure that the flightcrew recognizes and reacts
properly to a valid cabin altitude warning horn and the compliance time
involved with this action, this AD must be issued immediately.

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Earlier in the year, a Go! flight (Flight 1002 at 10 am on February 13th 2008) from Honolulu to Hilo overshot their landing target by 15 miles at 21,000 feet. The air controllers tried to contact the cockpit crew repeatedly but had no response for 17 minutes. It was found out that both the pilots (Captain Scott Oltman and First Officer Dillon Shepley) had fallen asleep. Both the captain and first officer on the flight were fired by the Airline and FAA suspended their licences for 60 days and 45 days respectively. Also, the Captain Oltman was “diagnosed with “severe obstructive sleep apnea” which causes people to
stop breathing repeatedly in their sleep, preventing a restful night
“.


Some interesting facts –

  • It is interesting that a lot of well known UK newspapers are covering this story, though I couldn’t find many of US newspapers covering it.
  • Does it really matter now, since they have already been fired from the airline?
  • I do agree that a pilot snoozing on a commerical airline is a big secuirty risk. And both pilot snoozing off is even bigger.
  • But with the cockpit being enclosed with no contact to rest of passengers, wouldn’t it get a little boring? 

It would be interesting to know commerical pilots’ view on difference on how they feel from pre-2001 to post-2001 with reinforced cockpit doors with almost no contact with any passenger.

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Recently Qantas was in news for it’s airplanes being in problems (here and here) esp. the hole in fuselage of a Boeing 747-400.

Qantas Airways faced another embarrassment on concerns of airworthiness of its Boeing 737-400s as according to a US FAA directive “to
carry out maintenance around the planes’ pressure bulkhead because of
concerns they could crack
” . As a result the airlines grounded 6 of the Boeing 737s resulting in 2 canceled flights.

From The Australian

Qantas executive general manager of engineering David Cox said the airline was verifying that the work had been done correctly.

“We have a process that we run continually that just goes back and
trawls through work that’s been done and does another check to make
sure everything’s been done exactly as it should be,” he said. “The
guys have found an irregularity. Whenever we get that situation, we
have to make sure we have 100per cent (done the work), and if it
affects an in-service aircraft we withdraw that aircraft from service
until we’re sure.”

Mr Cox said the airline decided to withdraw the six aircraft from
service and would return them to flying only when it was 100per cent
sure of what it was dealing with. Qantas had advised CASA of the issue.

Mr Cox said the airline detected a record-keeping anomaly on average once a year.

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Couple of weeks back on July 5th 2008, it was Cayman Air’s Boeing 737 and LAN Chile’s Boeing 767. Last week it was like “Déjà vu” – On Friday July 11th 2008, after an aborted landing on another runway, Delta Airlines’ flight 123 (Boeing 767 flying from Shannon Ireland) crossed flight path of a Comair’s flight 1520 (Bombardier CRJ900) that was taking off. The airplanes came within 600 feet of each other vertically and half-mile horizontally. These distances are very small especially with respect to the typical airplane landing and take off speeds of 185+ miles per hour.

As a result – “The FAA moved quickly to change takeoff and landing procedures at JFK on
perpendicular runways — the kind of runways involved in both incidents.

From Associated Press

Barrett Byrnes, who president of the controllers union at the JFK
tower, said controllers have long sought the procedure changes.

“The
FAA put out an order to JFK to no longer use that approach. That’s
exactly what we wanted to happen,” Byrnes said. “We’ve been trying to
change that for the last 12, 13 years. It’s been an accident waiting to
happen.””

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National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that it is investigating a near collision that happened over the weekend over New York’s JFK Airport between a Cayman Airways Flight 792 (Boeing 737) and a Linea Aerea Nacional de Chile (LAN-Chile) Flight 533 (Boeing 767) that came within 100 feet vertically of each other.

From NTSB website

“The Cayman Airways flight, on approach to runway 22L, was executing a
missed approach and conflicted with the Linea Aeroea Navional de Chile
flight that was departing runway 13R. Tower controllers intervened to
attempt to resolve the conflict, assigning both aircraft diverging
headings. The closest proximity of the two aircraft has not yet been
determined. At the time of the incident, the weather was VFR with 6
miles visibility and haze.”

Though FAA seems to be denying but investigating the report!

From MSNBC

“”As of this time, we have no report of any such encounter,” FAA
spokeswoman Lynn Tierney said Monday. But as a precaution, “We are
pulling the tapes” to determine what, if anything, took place.”

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In 2004, due to pressure from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airlines at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, nation’s second busiest airport, had to limit the number of landings from 100 to 88 per hour. FAA on Monday June 16th 2008 announced that it s going to remove the cap saying that “new runways will reduce congestion at the airport”.

Currently due to record high fuel prices, most of the airlines are cutting back capacity and hence the lift does not seem to benefit any airline. At worse, other airlines like Virgin America and Southwest Airlines which still have a growth plan might end up back filing the capacity cuts.


American Airlines is Disappointed

From Dallas News

“We had asked to
keep the caps on another year in order to see if that action would make
O’Hare operate with acceptable dependability for an extended period
before the FAA increased the number of operations.”


Any Good for the Passengers?
From Chicago Tribune

Yet, to the likely dismay of weary air travelers, the decision is
unlikely to lead to less crowded planes or fewer flight delays, despite
the opening of a new runway in November that Chicago contends will
boost the airport’s capacity.”

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