Thursday, August 30, 2007

Slippery when wet: Rio's Santos-Dumont airport

Santos-Dumas Airport, Rio de JaneiroPilots flying for TAM, Gol and Varig, three of Brazil's largest carriers, have been told not to land at Santos-Dumont Airport (SDU), Rio de Janeiro's domestic airport, while it is raining. An International Herald Tribune story about the landing prohibition reports that the carriers were responding to an alert from the Department for Airspace Control. Flights inbound to SDU will be rerouted to Rio's international airport.
"The note to pilots says that the runway of Santos Dumont is slippery when wet," said a TAM press officer who asked not to be identified in accordance with company policy. "So TAM ordered its pilots not to land there in the rain."
The official quoted by the Associated Press also said that TAM pilots are not to land on rainy days on the main runway at Congonhas until the grooving on that runway has been completed.

Commenting on the new rainy day rule, Flight notes that the ruling made by the Department for Airspace Control on 28 August comes as a result of the TAM A320 crash at Sao Paulo Congonhas Airport on 17 July where it sped off the runway, crashed into a gas station and exploded killing 199 people.

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Stranded passengers on diverted flights: Let them eat pizza!

pepperoni pizzaJoe Sharkey says in his On the Road column in the New York Times that the best choices for places for air passengers to be stranded are Syracuse and Albany. His choices were strongly influenced by some pizza deliveries.

His story begins with the tale of Delta Air Lines Flight 424, which was en route from Phoenix to New York's JFK airport on August 17, when it was diverted to Syracuse because of severe weather in the New York City area. That was the bad news.

The good news, according to a passenger who was on the flight, was that immediately after announcing the diversion, the captain added: “I’m not going to keep you on the plane. I’m going to pull up to a gate where you can get off, as long as you wait there in case we have to leave. I know you’ve only had cheese and crackers. So I called the Sbarro in the terminal and asked them to keep sending pizzas out until the whole plane gets fed.”

The passenger who told the story to Joe Sharkey said that tables were set up in the gate area, and flight attendants helped serve, while the pilot made repeated announcement to keep everyone informed about their prospects for getting underway again.
“Finally, he said, ‘All right, everybody back on the plane, we have a slot,’ ” [the passenger] said.

“On the plane, the flight attendants kept saying, ‘If anybody needs anything, just ask and we’ll do the best we can. We’re all in this together.’ ”

The two pilots on Flight 424 were Gary Hale and Ty Rhame. The flight attendants were David Evans, Nancy Grimshaw and Melisa Walker.

Lynn Casey, a Delta customer service agent, paid for the pizza at the Syracuse airport — and did the same thing for another flight from the West Coast that had been diverted there the same afternoon, a Delta spokeswoman said.
The same day, there was another pizza service for a different group of stranded passengers. This time it was at Albany, where a Continental Express flight en route to Newark had been diverted due to the same weather system.

In this instance, the heroes were John O’Donnell, the airport’s chief executive, and Doug Myers, the airport’s public affairs director. Having been stranded in a grounded aircraft for five hours themselves one time, they decided to put a plan in place to feed long-stranded passengers at their airport, should the situation arise.

On August 17, that plan was activated, and pizza was delivered to the Continental Express aircraft when the pilot had to return to the gate for refueling.
“We’d already heard all the talk” about stranded passengers on crowded planes for 3, 6 and even 10 hours, often without food or water, Mr. Myers said, adding,

“We decided we can’t let this kind of thing happen in Albany.”
Could this be the start of a new trend?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Recorders retrieved from Adam Air Flight 574 crash site

Adam Air logoRemember Adam Air Flight 574, the Indonesian airliner that disappeared on New Year's Day? The aircraft's flight recorders -- the so-called 'black boxes' -- finally have been recovered from the seabed where the wreckage of the Boeing 737-400 has lain since January. Both the flight data recorder (FDR) and the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) were retrieved from a depth of 1800 meters off the western coast of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

An article on Flight about the recovery of the devices quotes Indonesian National Transportation Safety Commission (NTSC) chairman Tatang Kurniadi who said that the recorders were retrieved by Phoenix International, an American marine services company.
“According to the preliminary information there is only a little bit of physical damage but it is too early to say [if data can be retrieved].”

He adds: “I hope that we will be able to get the data so that we can finish the job [investigating] as soon as possible.”

Kurniadi says the recorders will be sent to the USA for attempted data retrieval by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Adam Air Flight 574 disappeared mysteriously during a domestic flight between Surabaya, Java, and Manado, on Sulawesi island. All 96 passengers and 6 crew members were lost in the accident. Despite a huge search over a wide area, no debris was found until 10 days after the aircraft disappeared. No bodies were ever recovered.

In late January, a US oceanographic vessel reportedly located the area on the seabed where the aircraft's recording devices lay, but retrieval required specialized equipment that was not readily available at that time. Over the ensuing months, the Indonesian government and officials at privately owned Adam Air disagreed over who should bear the cost of the recovery operation. now reports that insurance underwriters are believed to have agreed to pay for the recovery costs.

Let's hope that the CVR and FDR data can be read so that the cause of this terrible accident can be determined, and the mystery solved.

Related: Click here to view all posts on this blog about Adam Air Flt 574.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Air India merger officially complete

Air India mascotThe merger between India's two state-owned airlines, first announced early this year, finally is complete -- at least as far as the legalities are concerned.

The intended merger between Air India and Indian Airlines was approved in March of this year by the government of India, and a new company called the National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL) was formed. The Certificate to Commence Business was obtained in May of 2007. Now, as a final step in the bureaucratic process, an Order of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has been issued, approving the merger of the two airlines, with NACIL as the holding company.

The newly merged carrier will operate as Air India. The Corporate Office of NACIL will be at Mumbai.

The new Air India is undergoing a corporate image makeover. A statement about the merger issued by the airline said:
It has been decided that post merger, the new entity will be known as “Air India” while “Maharaja” will be retained as its mascot. The logo of the new airline will be a red coloured flying swan with the “Konark Chakra” in orange placed inside it. The flying swan has been morphed from Air India’s characteristic logo “The Centaur” whereas the “Konark Chakra” was reminiscent of Indian’s logo.
As a part of the image makeover effort, cabin crew and ground personnel will be getting fashionable new uniforms created by one of India's most well-known designers designers, Ritu Beri.

An article about the finalization of the Air India merger on notes that actual integration of the two airlines’ operations will probably take around two years to complete. The enlarged carrier will have combined fleet size of over 112 aircraft. Already faced with a pilot shortage, the airline has come up with a plan to help finance the training of new pilots.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

FAA issues emergency airworthiness directive for Boeing 737

FAA logoThe Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) for Boeing Model 737-600, -700, -700C, -800, -900, and -900ER series aircraft. The AD arose from the discovery of loose or missing parts from the main slat track downstop assemblies on these aircraft, "which could result in a fuel leak and consequent fire" if not detected and corrected.

Emergency AD No. AD 2007-18-51 was issued on August 25, 2007, and is effective immediately upon receipt.

The FAA provides this background information:
We have received reports of parts of the main slat track downstop assembly coming off the main slat track.

In one case, a nut fell into the slat track housing (referred to as “slat can”) and, during a subsequent slat retraction, the track made contact with the nut, pushing it into the wall of the can and puncturing it. That operator reported finding fuel leaking from the drain hole in the slat track housing at the No. 5 slat track position.

In another case, an initial investigation revealed that following retraction of the slats after landing on a Model 737-800 airplane, loose parts of the main slat track downstop assembly punctured the slat can, which resulted in a fuel leak and a fire that ultimately destroyed the airplane.
The emergency AD requires:
...repetitive detailed inspections of the slat track downstop assembly to verify that proper hardware is installed, one-time torquing of the nut and bolt, and corrective actions if necessary.

Corrective actions include installing a new or serviceable part; and doing a detailed inspection of the inside of the slat can for foreign object debris (FOD) and damage, and removing any FOD and repairing damage that is found.
Here is the link to the full text of FAA AD 2007-18-51 (5 page 'pdf' file).

UPDATE August 29, 2007: In a relatively unusual move, the FAA has issued another Emergency AD about the same problem, just 3 days after it issued the first. Apparently the FAA has received still more reports of parts coming off the main slat track downstop assemblies and ending up in the slatcan. So, the new EAD reduces the time for compliance from 24 days to 10 days.

Here's the link: FAA Emergency Airworthiness Directive No. 2007-18-52 - 6 page 'pdf' file

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Video: And the award goes to...

I don't know which ad agency was responsible for this Brussels Airlines TV commercial, but if they didn't win an award for it, they should have!

Don't worry that it's not in English. You definitely will get the message by the end of the video, I promise.

If the video does not play or display properly here, you can see SN Brussels Airline TVC on YouTube.

Although I had never seen it until today, apparently this video has been around for awhile. I notice that YouTube user vinko posted it in 2005! (So much to see on YouTube, so little time!)

I first saw the video on the Aviation Movies section of the forum. There are lots more great aviation videos posted there. Check it out some time.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Colgan Air pilots reject ALPA

Colgan Air logoPilots at Colgan Air have rejected a bid to unionize by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). The representation results were tallied by the National Mediation Board in Washington, D.C.

In a news release issued by the Colgan Air, airline president Mike Colgan said "We greatly respect our pilots and the choice they have made. Now, we turn our entire focus to taking advantage of the growth and opportunities we have planned, creating more jobs and prosperity for all of us here at Colgan."

Colgan Air, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Pinnacle Airlines, is currently recruiting first officers for its fleet of Beech 1900 and Saab 340 turboprop aircraft. Colgan Air operates as Continental Connection, United Express and US Airways Express.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Gulf Air increases pilot pay and benefits

Gulf Air logoPilots at Gulf Air will be getting larger paychecks soon. Captains will have their pay increased up to 50%, and first officers will receive raises of up to 70% in a plan approved by the Gulf Air board earlier this week.

According to an article in the Gulf Daily News about the new pay package for Gulf Air crews, this will give captains a basic monthly salary of BD 3,000, and first officers BD 2,100. The new pay package for pilots includes significant increases to housing and schooling allowances as well.

The Gulf Daily News reports:
It is understood that 100 to 150 pilots and first officers have resigned for better packages with rivals, since Gulf Air announced its cost-cutting recovery plan in April, to curb losses of at least $1 million a day (BD 378,000).
A new seniority system will be introduced, along with a performance appraisal system. Cabin crew pay and allowances will increase as well.

Mahmood Al Kooheji, chairman of Gulf Air, said, "We are moving ahead full steam with the realignment of Gulf Air and this improved package is our appreciation for the flight deck and cabin crews' hard work, dedication and commitment to further strengthen the Gulf Air brand."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

NTSB report on the latest LAX runway incursion

NTSB logoYou may have seen some news reports about the most recent runway incursion at LAX. The incident happened on August, 16, 2007, and involved aircraft operated by WestJet and Northwest Airlines. No one was injured, but it certainly was a close call. After a preliminary investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimates that the two aircraft may have missed each other by less than 40 feet.

Here is a description of what happened, drawn from the NTSB's preliminary incident report:
On August 16, 2007, at approximately 12:57 Pacific daylight time, a runway incursion occurred involving West Jet (WJA) 900, B737 and Northwest Airlines (NWA) flight 180, an A320, at Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, California.

WJA900 landed on runway 24R and exited at taxiway Y then changed to ground control frequency without authorization while the airplane was holding between the parallel runways.

The tower controller cleared NWA180 for takeoff from runway 24L. Meanwhile, the pilot of WJA900 contracted ground control and said, "Ground, WJA900 with you on reverse [taxiway] yankee for gate 35." The ground controller assumed that the tower controller had instructed the flight to cross runway 24L and responded, "WJA900, Los Angeles tower, taxi [via taxiway] echo to the gate."

Ten seconds later, the pilot of WJA900 confirmed that the flight was cleared to cross runway 24L. The ground controller asked who called and the pilot again asked whether or not they were cleared to cross the runway. The ground controller then realized that WJA900 had not been instructed to cross runway 24L and told WJA900 to stop.

According to the FAA and WJA, the airplane crossed the hold short line but did not enter the runway.

According to the FAA, the two aircraft missed colliding by 37 feet (wingtip of A320 to the nose of the B737) as NWA180 departed runway 24L. [NTSB Report No. OPS07IA009A]
The NTSB notes that the Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS) at LAX was operational at the time of the incident, but it is unknown whether or not it activated.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

China Airlines Flight 120 crew identified, called 'heroes' for evacuation

China AirlinesThe crew of China Airlines Flight 120, the Boeing 737-800 that burned on the ground at Naha, Okinawa earlier this week, are being called "heroes" by officials from China Airlines and the Taiwan government's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA). All 157 passengers and eight crew evacuated safely from the aircraft, moments before the it exploded. The cabin was evacuated using emergency slides. The two pilots left the burning aircraft through a cockpit window. No one was seriously injured.

China Airlines publicly identified and praised the crew members from Taiwan once they returned to their homeland after the accident. They are:
  • You Chien-kuo - captain
  • Tseng Ta-wei - first officer
  • Kang Li-mei - cabin chief
  • Cheng Hsieh-jer - flight attendant
  • Fan Jin-yao - flight attendant
  • Chang Chia-wen - flight attendant
  • Hung Kuan-lin - flight attendant
The sixth flight attendant, a Japanese national, has not been identified by name.

A spokesman for the Taiwan's CAA said, "Based on the information we have gathered, they evacuated all the passengers in accordance with the standard operation procedure, which requires that all passengers be evacuated within 90 seconds in the case of emergency."

Kudos to the crew of China Airlines Flight 120.

Related: Click here to view all posts on this blog about the China Airlines Flt 120 accident.

Allied Pilots Association co-founder passes away

Allied Pilots AssociationCaptain Richard "J.R." Lyons, one of the founders of the Allied Pilots Association (APA), passed away recently at the age of 86. APA is the union that represents pilots at American Airlines. Captain Lyons retired from American Airlines in 1980 at age 60.

Quoting from a notice about Captain Lyons' death on the APA website:
Every airline pilot today is indebted to Captain Lyons for his many years of dedicated service. The next time you’re at APA, be sure to take a look at the historical materials on display in the pilots’ lounge just off the main lobby, which is affectionately named the “The Lyons Den” in honor of Captain Lyons. Many of the items on display are from Captain Lyons’ personal collection.

Captain Lyons learned to fly in 1940 while attending the University of Michigan. He later taught acrobat programs and was a test pilot on B-24s at Willow Run.

Hired by American Airlines in late 1943, he was given company seniority in January 1944. He earned a Distinguished Service Award from American Airlines in March 1945. The Award stated: “Radioed circumstances and then landed aircraft practically out of control after being damaged in a mid-air collision over Saline, Michigan—December 24, 1944.” Captain Lyons began his union work the next year.

For many years after his retirement, Captain Lyons attended all APA Board of Directors meetings and served as a valued advisor to the union. He was a familiar and welcome sight at APA headquarters and will be remembered fondly by everyone who worked with him.
Condolences to Captain Lyons' family.

Monday, August 20, 2007

AAIU: Preliminary report on Cessna Caravan crash in Galway

AAIU logoThe Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) in Ireland has issued a preliminary accident report concerning the crash of a Cessna Caravan at Connemara, County Galway in early July of this year. The accident was fatal for the pilot and one passenger. Seven other passengers were injured. The aircraft was destroyed.

According to the AAIU preliminary report, no pre-impact damage to the aircraft has been identified thus far:
The aircraft, controls, systems and instrumentation are being examined by the AAIU. The power plant has been disassembled and no pre-impact damage was found. At this point no significant technical defects have been found, however, further investigation of the aircraft and systems is ongoing.

The Engine Monitoring Unit, an electronic device that records engine parameters, altitude and speed, was found in a damaged condition. However, data has since been recovered from the Unit and this is currently being evaluated by the AAIU. [AAIU Report No. 2007-014]
The report included observations from witnesses to the accident who said that the aircraft approached Inverin Airport at low altitude, struck a small outcrop, bounced, and cartwheeled to the left.
The left wing severed coming to rest on the right hand side of the fuselage. The engine detached and came to rest on the top of the right wing, which was still attached at the main spar point. There was no fire.

Witnesses reported the sounds of an engine increasing power shortly before impact. [AAIU Report No. 2007-014]
Weather conditions were reported to have been "overcast and dark."

A final report will be issued once the AAIU investigation has been completed.

Source: AAIU Preliminary Accident Report No. 2007-014. (3-page 'pdf' file)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

China Airlines Boeing 737-800 bursts into flames at Naha, Okinawa

China Airlines B737-800 in flamesA Boeing 737-800 aircraft operated by Taiwan's national flag carrier, China Airlines, caught fire several hours ago at Naha, Okinawa. China Airlines Flight 120 had just arrived from Taipei with 157 passengers and 8 crew members on board, according to news reports. It is not yet clear exactly what caused the fire, but the aircraft was evacuated safely. In news photos of the accident scene, a deployed evacuation slide is visible at the 1R door.

Early reports in the press suggested that several people, including some crew members, might not have escaped from the burning plane, but later statements from the Japanese Transport Ministry and China Airlines said that all 157 passengers had disembarked safely.

The CTV News quoted local broadcast journalists and a fire official at Naha who said that the two pilots and six flight attendants all made it off the burning aircraft alive, but that at least two crew members had been hospitalized. The crew were not identified by name.

CTV also quoted a Japanese Transport Ministry official who explained that "the fire started when the first engine below the main left wing exploded a minute after the aircraft entered its parking spot." (Note: I suspect that "first engine" is probably a simple translation error, and should have been "the number one engine.")

An article about the plane fire at Naha in the Sydney Morning Herald shows a dramatic photo of flames and black smoke billowing from the aircraft. The SMH article also has a link to a brief video of the accident scene.

[Photo Source]

Saturday, August 18, 2007

AtlasJet hijackers end up in custody in Turkey

AtlasJet logoEarly this morning, two men attempted to hijack an AtlasJet flight en route from Ercan International Airport in northern Cyprus to Istanbul. The MD-83 aircraft with 136 on board diverted to Antalya, a city on Turkey's Mediterranean coast where the would-be hijackers ultimately were taken into custody.

According to a report about the attempted hijacking on CNN, passengers from the flight said that two men from the back of the plane "rushed to the front and tried to break open the cockpit door." When their attempt to enter the flight deck failed, "the men began talking to the flight attendants in a mix of Arabic and English and asked to be taken to either Iran or Syria."

Passengers have told the press that the hijackers claimed they had a bomb, and that at least one of the men was armed with a knife.

News reports say that after the aircraft landed at Antalya, the pilots escaped through the cockpit windows. Some passengers and other crew members were held hostage aboard the plane for several hours after it landed.

The Guardian said that the hijackers allowed one of the doors of the aircraft to be opened for fresh air.
Most of the passengers had escaped the plane from the rear exit at Antalya airport while the hijackers were releasing women and children. But the hijackers held some six crew and passengers for around four hours before allowing them to leave the plane and later surrendering to authorities.
TV news footage shows passengers and other crew members evacuating through emergency exits and running from the aircraft while it sat on the runway at Antalya.

Here are some links to TV footage of the incident, from YouTube:
Turkey's Transport Minister Osman Gunes, quoted by the news media, said one hijacker is Turkish, while the other is believed to be Palestinian carrying a Syrian passport.

This is the second time I've reported on the hijacking of a Turkish airliner this year. In April, a Pegasus Airlines B737 was hijacked on a flight between Diyarbakir and Istanbul.

Friday, August 17, 2007

WestJet and Northwest jets have close call at LAX

LAXIt's been all over the news today: Another close call on the ground at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) yesterday afternoon, ironically on the same day that the FAA announced new plans to improve runway safety! Fortunately a collision was avoided and no one was reported to have been injured in the incident.

According to news reports, a WestJet Boeing 737 aircraft arriving from Calgary nearly collided with a Northwest Airbus A320 that was taking off. Apparently the WestJet aircraft had landed and was taxiing. It nearly crossed an active runway into the path of the departing Northwest plane, but managed to stop just in time. Media reports say that the two aircraft came to within 50 feet of colliding.

An article on about the incident at LAX quoted FAA spokesman Ian Gregor who said that the incident "appeared to have begun when the arriving pilot prematurely switched radio frequencies from air traffic control to ground traffic control before receiving final instructions from the air traffic controller on whether to cross the runway."
Gregor said the tower air traffic controllers who handle landings also tell pilots whether they are then cleared to cross runways, and ground controllers direct planes afterward.

But the arriving pilot switched radio frequencies from air traffic control to ground traffic control before receiving final instructions, Gregor said.

The pilot then made a statement to the ground controller about using a taxi route to a gate, and the ground controller assumed the plane had already crossed the inner runway, Gregor said.

The Westjet pilot then apparently saw the Northwest jet on its takeoff roll and asked if clearance had been given, and the ground controller ordered the Westjet plane to stop, Gregor said.

At that point an automated collision avoidance alarm sounded in the tower, he said.
This incident was the seventh runway incursion at LAX this fiscal year.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Video: Airbus Beluga A300 Super Transporter in flight

You have to admit, the Airbus Beluga A300-600ST Super Transporter probably won't win any beauty contests on the ramp. Nevertheless, as this new video posted to YouTube shows, the Beluga can look quite graceful in flight.

In case the video doesn't display or play properly here, you can watch the Airbus A300 'Beluga'video on the YouTube website.

Tip of the hat to YouTube user Kimerius, who posted the video.

FAA plans for runway safety improvements

FAA logoThe U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is very concerned with the recent spate of close calls at U.S. airports, and rightly so. In an effort to address these serious aviation safety risks, a meeting was convened yesterday among more than 40 aviation leaders from airlines, airports, air traffic control and pilot unions, aerospace manufacturers, and the FAA to discuss ways to enhance safety during ground operation of aircraft, and in particular, to reduce the risk of runway incursions and wrong runway departures.

FAA Administrator Marion Blakey asked the meeting participants to consider solutions in four areas:
  • cockpit procedures
  • airport signage and markings
  • air traffic procedures
  • technology
A Fact Sheet about the meeting, issued today by the FAA, lists a five-point short-term plan arrived at by the meeting participants:
  1. Within 60 days, teams of FAA, airport operators, and airlines will begin safety reviews at the airports where wrong runway departures and runway incursions are the greatest concern. The FAA is compiling the list of 20 to 30 airports based on a variety of safety risk factors, including the record of past incursions.
  2. Within 60 days, disseminate information and training across the entire aviation industry.
  3. Within 60 days, accelerate the deployment of improved airport signage and markings at the top 75 airports, well ahead of the June 2008 mandated deadline.
  4. Within 60 days, review cockpit procedures and air traffic control (ATC) clearance procedures. This may include changing cockpit procedures to minimize pilot activities and distractions while an aircraft is moving on the ground and to make ATC instructions more precise.
  5. Implement a voluntary self-reporting system for all air traffic organization safety personnel, such as air traffic controllers and technicians.
The Fact Sheet also says that "Mid- and long-term goal areas are being pursued to address maximizing situational awareness, minimizing pilot distractions, and eliminating runway incursions using procedures and technology."

Safety during ground operations has been compromised all too frequently in recent months, not just in the United States, but at airports around the world. Here is a sampling of runway accidents and safety incidents that I have written about in this blog, just since the beginning of 2007:
That list represents some of the more well-publicized incidents. Unfortunately there have been many, many more.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

American Airlines recalls 460 furloughed TWA flight attendants

American Airlines logoAmerican Airlines (AA) is sending recall notices to 460 former TWA flight attendants who had been furloughed soon after the 2001 terrorist attacks. The new recalls are in addition to the 200 flight attendants recalled earlier this year. This will be the fifth flight attendant recall by AA since 2003.

A statement about the latest recall on the American Airlines website says that flight attendants who accept and meet all requirements will be eligible to return to service in either November or December 2007.

Lear 35A runway overrun accident at Dominica (DOM)

Lear35A Accident at DOMA Learjet 35A, registered in the United States (N500ND) to World Jet, went off the end of Runway 09 at Melville Hall Airport, Dominica (DOM) on the afternoon of August 11, 2007. The aircraft sustained substantial damage, according to an NTSB Factual Report about the accident. The two crew members and four passengers on board at the time of the accident were not injured.

The aircraft, which was operating as an international passenger air taxi flight under Part 135 rules, left the end of the runway at DOM after a reported braking failure during the landing roll out. The NTSB report says:
The PIC stated the first officer was flying the airplane and the tower cleared them to enter a left downwind.

On touchdown the FO requested spoilers, and noticed poor braking. The PIC pumped the brakes with no response. The drag chute was deployed but was not effective.

The PIC stated he took over the flight controls and applied maximum braking. The airplane continued to roll off the end of the runway, down an embankment, through a fence, and came to a stop on a road.
The flight had originated in Saint John's, Antigua Island.

A news article about the accident in the Jamaica Gleaner notes that the accident forced the closure of Melville Hall Airport, and interrupted traffic on the road where the aircraft came to a rest.

The investigation of this accident is under the jurisdiction of the Government of Dominica.

[Photo Source]

Note: Another photo of the accident scene is posted at Tip of the hat to photographer 'MR' in Dominica for the photos.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Update on the crash of Air Moorea Flight 1121

Air Moorea logoThe cockpit voice recorder (CVR) from the Air Moorea Twin Otter that crashed in French Polynesia several days ago has been located by salvage teams at a depth of 430 meters (1,410 feet). The CVR was found using an acoustic apparatus from the French civil aviation agency's investigations unit.

According to the International Herald Tribune, France will seek help from a U.S. ship to recover the device from the sunken wreckage of the plane.
The crash's cause was not immediately clear, but recovery of the recorder could help reveal what happened. The turboprops do not have black box recorders found in jets, but they do contain a device that records voice exchanges in the cabin.

Recovery would require a boat with a pulley system and unmanned underwater device that could hoist the recorder up.

The Paris office of Prime Minister Francois Fillon said French authorities were seeking help from a U.S. ship with such an apparatus that could arrive faster than a similar French vessel.
Meanwhile, Radio New Zealand International reports that a post-mortem examination performed on the pilot of Air Moorea Flight 1121 showed no sign of a heart problem. This suggests that a sudden health problem, such as a heart attack, was not the cause of the accident.

The bodies of six passengers are still missing.

Monday, August 13, 2007

FAA: Part 91 operators may use Electronic Flight Bags

FAA logoLast month the FAA issued an Advisory Circular (AC) for Part 91 operators approving "removal of paper aeronautical charts and other documentation from the cockpit through the use of either portable or installed cockpit displays (electronic flight bags (EFB))." The AC defines EFBs this way:
An electronic display system intended primarily for cockpit or cabin use. EFB devices can display a variety of aviation data (e.g., checklists, navigation charts, pilot’s operating handbook (POH)) or perform basic calculations (e.g., performance data, fuel calculations). The scope of the EFB system functionality may also include various other hosted databases and applications. Physical EFB displays may be portable (Class 1), attached to a mounting device (Class 2), or built into the aircraft (Class 3).
The AC recommends that a back-up source of information be maintained on the flight deck, but this is not required.

For further details about implementing the removal of paper from the cockpit for Part 91 operations, see: FAA Advisory Circular No. 91-78, issued on July 20, 2007. (5-page "pdf" file.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Air New Zealand may begin offering 'sleeping pods' for passengers

This is starting to sound like a trend: Last month I did a piece on Lufthansa's 'Sleepers Class' idea for economy passengers on long-haul flights. Now it looks as though Air New Zealand is considering something similar.

An article on the New Zealand news website Stuff reports that Air New Zealand is considering replacing cramped economy seats with 'sleeping pods' on its long-range aircraft. The article quotes Air New Zealand's strategic development general manager, Nathan Agnew, who said that the airline wants to introduce an entirely new type of economy cabin when it takes delivery of its fleet of Boeing 787-9 and 777-300ER long-range jets from 2010.

Referring to Cathay Pacific's planned introduction of economy seats that recline within a fixed shell, similar to business class seats, Mr. Agnew said, "We think that if you are going to do that concept why not push it to the next level, why stop there? We haven't even constrained ourselves to saying that it necessarily will be a seat. The other option is to give people a sleeping pod."
"We like it (the pod) as a concept. We are yet to evaluate whether practically it could be fitted out to an aircraft interior," Agnew said.

Cabin crew already sleep in pods during long distance flights, usually hidden away at the rear plane or in the ceiling space above the passenger cabin.

"Given that a lot of our long-haul flying is overnight, it might actually be preferable for our customers simply to have something like that rather than have a seat," Agnew said.

Because eating in a pod might be difficult, passengers may be served a meal at the airport before the flight, allowing them to immediately go to sleep once on the plane.

"We have some quite creative ways, at least conceptually, how this could work."
Mr. Agnew stressed that this idea is still a theoretical concept, not a done deed.

For more on what may be forthcoming for Air New Zealand, have a look at this Interview with Nathan Agnew in the New Zealand Herald.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Air India cabin crew to get new designer uniforms

Air India logoEarlier this year India's two main state-owned airlines were merged into one company. The new Air India is undergoing a corporate image makeover, and as a part of that effort, cabin crew and ground personnel will be getting smart new uniforms created by one of India's top fashion designers.

Designer Ritu Beri has been selected to design the new uniforms for India's national flag carrier, according to India's Economic Times:
The design of the new uniforms draw inspiration from the Sun Temple of Konark in Orissa, yet maintains a modern outlook.

The colour palette of the uniform is red, orange, black and white, with red standing for strength and orange for cultural roots.

"The endeavour is to combine our rich Indian colours and motifs from the Sun Temple with the powerful and more modern combination of black and white in the borders," a statement from Air India said.

The uniform for the female employees, both ground staff and cabin crew, would include sarees, tunics, scarves, jackets, coats, aprons and shoes, while there would be specially designed ties for the male staff.
For more information about the designer, visit Ritu Beri's website. While you are there, be sure to have a look at her Uniform Portfolio page.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Were Flybe cabin crew sickened by fumes in aircraft cabin?

FlybeTwo cabin crew members became violently ill and collapsed during a recent Flybe flight on a BAe 146 aircraft between Birmingham, England and George Best Belfast City Airport in Northern Ireland. The Transport and General Workers' Union, which represents Flybe's cabin crew, says the crew members' illness was caused by a "toxic gas" in the aircraft cabin. The union is calling for an investigation.

A news article about the incident in the Belfast Telegraph quotes union officials who say this was "the latest in a number of potentially disastrous mid-air incidents in which crew members working for various airlines have become dangerously ill during flights."
Campaigners who believe the incidents are due to deadly toxins from jet engine oil contaminating the air supply have warned that the 'fuming' incidents are putting the long-term health of crew and passengers at risk and are also in danger of causing a major air catastrophe if pilots become incapacitated.

Details have emerged in a CAA report into a terrifying episode last month on board the Flybe jet.

Passengers on board the BAe 146 plane flying into Belfast from Birmingham were completely unaware of the drama at the rear of the aircraft, and of the fears of other terrified cabin crew that they may not have been able to deal with an emergency with incapacitated staff.

Dessie Henderson, senior organiser of the Transport and General Workers' Union in Belfast, says it's just one of an increasing number of 'fuming' incidents which are feared to be leaving airline staff and passengers facing possible long-term health problems due to so-called "aerotoxic syndrome".
Mr. Henderson went on to say, "There have been numerous incidents and they can't continue to go unexplained when the health and safety of the cabin crews and the passengers on board the planes are at stake. If these incidents are down to organophosphates, then that is what the airlines need to be carrying out checks for, to see if their staff and our members have been exposed to it."

While declining to comment on the specific incident, a spokesman for Flybe said that all of the company's aircraft are manufactured and maintained to the highest industry standards.
"Any incidents involving sickness experienced by cabin crew, flight crew or passengers are taken very seriously by the company, with appropriate medical support always provided.

"The statistically very small occurrences of on-board sickness indicate that our systems and processes are robust and more than meet all CAA regulatory demands.

"Flybe are at the leading edge of co-operative joint research in this area and are comfortable that our expertise marks us out as industry leaders."
The UK The Government's Committee on Toxicity is said to be examining the threat from contaminated cabin air.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Air Moorea Twin Otter crashes shortly after takeoff

MooreaA Twin Otter turboprop aircraft with 20 people on board, operating as Air Moorea Flight 1121, has crashed in French Polynesia. News reports about the accident say that the scheduled inter-island flight had just taken off from Temae Airport (MOZ) on the island of Moorea, en route to Papeete, Tahiti when it crashed into the sea. The accident occurred today shortly after noon, local time.

The aircraft was reported to have come down about a mile off the coast of the island, beyond the lagoon. News reports say there are no signs of survivors, but that 14 bodies had been recovered, including that of the pilot. The French navy is continuing to search for possible survivors and other victims.

None of the victims have been identified by authorities in French Polynesia, however Radio Fiji is reporting that two senior staff of the European Union delegation based in Suva, Fiji were among the plane's passengers:
Michele Gache and Jean Pierre Tierard were on an official business trip inspecting a water purification project on Moorea Island.

EU Communications Officer and first counselor for the Suva delegation Florimond Van-der-Velde confirmed to Radionews the two were working for the European Union in Suva for the past three years.
Air Moorea is wholly owned by Air Tahiti. The airline has been in business for about 35 years. This was its first accident.

UPDATE August 11, 2007: The pilot of Air Moorea Flight 1121 who died in the accident has been identified by the airline as Captain Michel Santurenne, who had 3,500 hours of flight time. Born on September 6, 1954, he would have celebrated his 53rd birthday next month.

Captain Santurenne's body has been recovered, along with those of 13 passengers. The search continues for the six still missing.

A full list of passengers' names has not yet been released. Those seeking official information about the Air Moorea accident should visit the press release page on the Air Tahiti website.

[Photo Source]

For the billionnaire who has everything - The Biz Blimp

AEROSCRAFT ML866While cruising around the aviation news websites this morning, I came upon an article about a curious new airship described as a 'Biz-Blimp' on (ANN). The ANN story asks:
Are you a successful businessperson, who wants to travel in comfort... and make a statement like no other on the airport ramp? Perhaps, then, a business jet isn't for you; not even one of those new-fangled VLJs. No, what you may desire instead is a corporate airship.

So I clicked on through to the website of Worldwide Aeros Corporation (Aeros, for short), the company that is about to launch this airship as a specialized alternative to the business jet. The California-based company specializes in manufacturing FAA-certified lighter-than-air craft for many applications. One of those is the Aeroscraft ML866, pictured above.

Featuring a floor area of well over 5,000 square feet, the Aeroscraft ML866 can be customized to include amenities such as a gourmet galley, entertainment area and sleeping quarters with elegant washrooms and showers, according to the manufacturer. Alternatively, the airship could be configured as an Airborne Business Center:
Equipped with the latest state-of-the-art technology suite, the Aeroscraft ML866 can be configured to serve as a high-tech airborne conference center. Business amenities include the functionality of a Computerized Office; Video-Conferencing Capability; Communication Package; Conference Room; Transformable Interior; Personal State Room.
The imagination runs wild...

The airship is 210 ft long, and about 95ft wide. It can reach a maximum speed of 155mph, cruising at 0 - 120mph, and can operate at altitudes up to 12,000ft. Its maximum range is 3,100 miles.

The airship, billed as a 'private air yacht,' will be introduced next month at the National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA) 60th Annual Meeting and Convention in Atlanta. It's sure to be a top attention-getter at the NBAA event.

For more photos, visit the Aeroscraft ML866 Gallery on the manufacturer's website.

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Five killed in New Mexico medevac crash identified

Southwest Medevac King AirA Beechcraft King Air E90 aircraft operated by Southwest Medevac crashed shortly after take-off from Ruidoso, New Mexico on August 5, 2007. All five people on board were killed, and the aircraft was destroyed. The cause of the crash is unknown at this time.

A Houston Chronicle article about the medevac accident reports:
The plane arrived at the Sierra Blanca Regional Airport near Ruidoso about 8:30 p.m. Sunday after a short flight from Roswell, according to, a flight-tracking Web site. Earlier in the day, the plane had flown roundtrip between Roswell and Lubbock, Texas.

The plane left the airport later on a flight to University of New Mexico Hospital, and crashed almost immediately in Devil's Canyon in the Lincoln National Forest, said Peter Olson, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety.

The search began early Monday, and the plane was spotted about 5:15 a.m., Olson said,

New Mexico National Guard and state police helicopters helped locate the wreckage.
A memorial page on the Southwest Medevac website identifies the pilot of the aircraft as Ricky Byers, 56, of Dimmitt, Texas. The two other crew members were nurse Brian Miller, 44, of Roswell, NM, and paramedic Deanna Palmer, 40, of Prescott Valley, AZ.

The two passengers, who also perished, were the patient, 15-month-old Lilly Smith, and her mother Tracy Smith.

Condolences to the families of the crew and passengers who were lost in this accident.

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Piaggio P180 Avanti lands gear up at White Plains

Piaggio P180 AvantiOn the morning of August 3, 2007, an Avantair Piaggio P180 Avanti aircraft landed gear up at Westchester County Airport (HPN), White Plains, New York. According to the preliminary incident data filed today by the FAA, crew reported that the aircraft's main gear could not be extended. No one was injured, and damage to the twin turboprop aircraft was listed as "minor."

An article about the Piaggio incident on the Lower Hudson Online news website says that trouble with the aircraft's landing gear was reported at around 08:00 AM local time. The aircraft landed safely about a half hour later, but then blocked the main runway for several hours.

The HPN main runway remained closed until about 11:30 AM, when the aircraft was towed away. The runway closure caused a number of commercial flights to be delayed.

Earlier this year, the main gear of another Piaggio P180 Avanti collapsed during the aircraft's landing roll at Florida's Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport.

UPDATE August 11, 2007: The EMTBravo Network has posted a set of photos of the gear up landing of this Piaggio P180 Avanti at HPN. Congratulations to the photographer for catching that spectacular series real-time of shots.

[Photo Source]

Monday, August 06, 2007

U.S. Dept. of Transportation reports decline in airline performance

US DOT logoThe U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a discouraging airline performance report today. The report says that recent on-time performance among the nation's largest air carriers is the worst in years.

The 20 airlines reporting to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) had an overall on-time arrival rate of 68.1 percent in June, down from both June 2006’s 72.8 percent and May 2007’s 77.9 percent. In other words, in June, nearly a third of domestic flights on major U.S. airlines were late.

Reasons for flight delays in June, cited in the DOT report:
  • 10.04% - late-arriving aircraft
  • 9.13% - aviation system delays
  • 8.13% - factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems
  • 1.42% - extreme weather
  • 0.09% - security reasons
The DOT acknowledges that weather "is a factor in both the extreme-weather category and the aviation-system category."
This includes delays due to the re-routing of flights by DOT’s Federal Aviation Administration in consultation with the carriers involved.

Weather is also a factor in delays attributed to late-arriving aircraft, although airlines do not report specific causes in that category.

Data collected by BTS also shows the percentage of late flights delayed by weather, including those reported in either the category of extreme weather or included in National Aviation System delays.

In June, 44.97 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, up 6.92 percent from June 2006, when 42.06 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, and up 14.78 percent from May when 39.18 percent of late flights were delayed by weather.
The same 20 airlines reported that they canceled 2.7 percent of their domestic scheduled flights in June, up from both June 2006’s cancellation rate of 1.7 percent and May 2007’s 1.1 percent.

The rate of mishandled baggage also grew: The airlines posted a mishandled baggage rate of 7.92 reports per 1,000 passengers in June, compared to 6.30 per 1,000 passengers in June of 2006, and 5.93 in May of this year.

Here's a link to the latest Air Travel Consumer Report (63 page 'pdf' file) from which the above statistics were drawn. Links to earlier reports can be found on the DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Division website.

For another interesting read, check out the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports on Taxi-Out Times. BTS statistics show that airlines reported 462 flights with taxi-out times of more than three hours in June.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Unhappy Mesa pilots jumping ship

Mesa Air GroupPilots at Mesa Air Group are jumping ship to go to work for other carriers. The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the union representing the Mesa pilots, blames the mass exodus on "pilot staffing and morale issues that are reaching critical levels and negatively impacting Mesa operations." As an expression of their displeasure, the pilots put up billboards across the country this week imploring management to address these issues.

In a news release issued a few days ago about the billboards ALPA said:
Mesa management’s unwillingness to follow the pilots’ contract has caused a mass exodus of skilled pilots making unprecedented lateral moves to other regional carriers. So far this year, nearly 400 pilots have left Mesa Air Group, creating pilot shortages which, among other things have led to flight delays and cancellations.

“Our airline has been bleeding pilots for many months but unfortunately management has been unwilling to make any significant changes to retain the kind of skilled, professional crews that are needed to service our numerous operations,” said Captain Michael Jayson, a 14-year employee and chairman of the ALPA unit at Mesa.

With increasingly low morale and unrest within the pilot group, union leaders are publicly expressing their growing concerns about the long-term viability of Mesa Air Group via billboards in its major hub cities and near corporate headquarters in Phoenix. With the following message appearing in Atlanta, Charlotte, and Phoenix, the Mesa pilots hope that management will take their concerns seriously and work with them on solutions for attracting and retaining their professional pilot force.
Mesa pilots have been leaving recently for other jobs with higher pay and benefits, and better pilot work rules. ALPA contends that on-going contract violations on the part of Mesa's management, coupled with the opportunities for better pay and working conditions at other carriers, "will continue to drive pilot attrition and discourage new pilots from joining Mesa’s operation."

Mesa Air Group pilots fly as Delta Connection, US Airways Express, United Express, Go Airlines and Mesa Airlines.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Update on TAM crash in Sao Paulo

TAM Airlines tailOver the past few days, there has been a lot of speculation in the press that pilot error was to blame for the crash of TAM Airlines Flight 3054 at São Paulo's Congonhas airport last month. The speculation began after it was revealed that the crew retarded the thrust lever for the number one engine during touchdown, but left the throttle for the number two engine in its forward position.

Some news media not specialized in aviation matters seem to have concluded that this was an illustration of pilot error. Aviation industry insiders are not so quick to assume that pilot error was the reason that a throttle was in the wrong position, noting that it was possible the pilots had shifted the throttle lever correctly but that the plane's computer had failed to respond due to a mechanical failure.

According to a report on Flight that quotes industry sources:
For reasons yet to be explained, the pilot, in the final moments before touchdown, retarded only the thrust lever for the left-hand engine – first into the ‘idle’ position, then into ‘reverse’. This action disconnected the auto-thrust, as per its design. The failure to move the right-hand engine’s thrust lever to the reverse position runs contrary to the standard operating procedure which calls for both levers to be set to ‘idle’ and then 'reverse' – even with a thruster reverser inoperative.

It is unclear why the right-hand engine thrust lever was left in position. Newly-released cockpit-voice transcripts have notably highlighted the crew’s awareness that only the left-hand engine had an operable thrust-reverser; the right-hand reverser had been deactivated. This, however, should not have made a difference to the thrust retardation procedure.

As the aircraft began to slow after touchdown the thrust being produced by the right-hand engine remained at the level it was at when the auto-thrust had disconnected. With the thrust lever forward the spoilers would not have deployed, and the auto-brake would have similarly been inhibited.

In the cockpit transcript the co-pilot appears to state that the A320’s spoilers did not activate on touchdown and, as the situation develops, the pilots are heard to say that they cannot slow the aircraft. Flight-data recorder information indicates that the pilots repeatedly pressed on the brakes in a bid to stop the jet but did not retard the right-hand thrust lever.
Officials at Brazil's aviation accident investigation agency, CENIPA, have pledged to keep an open mind about the cause of the accident, saying that the investigation will cover mechanical or system failures and pilot error as well as airport infrastructure.

An English translation of the TAM Flight 3054 CVR transcript has been posted on the website, along with an interpretation of the clues to possible causes of the crash that the transcript provides.

Related: Click here to view all posts on this blog about the TAM Flt 3054 accident.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Survey findings: Air Canada pilots' morale extremely low

Air Canada Pilots Assn. logoA researcher from the John Molson School of Business at Montreal's Concordia University who conducted a survey of nearly a thousand Air Canada pilots last year found a climate characterized by extremely low morale. Dr. Martin L. Martens found that "the pilots' sense of fairness, justice and trust in executive management were unusually low and points to very poor morale and a negative working environment."
"There are hundreds of published studies that have examined justice and fairness and we're not aware of any research out there that has produced scores this low, it's extremely unusual," says Dr. Martens, whose survey polled the attitudes of 900 Air Canada pilots. "The numbers that we have are a very strong indication that the people responding (to the survey) on average do not trust the company or do not trust the senior management for whatever reason."

"This study proves what we knew all along; now we see that it's even worse than we thought," says Capt. Serge Beaulieu, spokesperson for the Air Canada Pilots Association. "Our pilots are committed to do a safe and professional job, but when we're not treated fairly, that has to affect the airline's performance."

Problems, says Beaulieu, range from day-to-day contract violations by Air Canada to a general lack of respect for employees. Beaulieu also points to problems stemming from the company's recent bankruptcy where employees gave up $6-billion in concessions over six years to stave off liquidation. Now that the company is financially healthy, he says, shareholders and executives are, "Not sharing the gain with those who shared the pain."
Dr. Martens will present his findings at an Academy of Management conference in Philadelphia on Monday, Aug. 6. For a preview of what he will present, have a look at the Backgrounder - Air Canada Pilot Workplace Climate Study.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Northwest Airlines tries to fix its pilot shortage

Northwest Airlines B747-400Looks like Northwest Airlines (NWA) is getting proactive about addressing its pilot shortage. The airline has reached an agreement with its pilots' union on issues related to the understaffing problems that have led to so many flight cancellations this summer. In addition, NWA is recalling the rest of its furloughees and recruiting new pilots.

Yesterday ALPA's Northwest MEC released a statement to announce that the pilots and NWA management had reached a Tentative Agreement (TA) "in an effort to address the staffing problem and the heavy work load NWA pilots have experienced since the signing of the bankruptcy contract."
Among other items, the TA permanently establishes a rate of 150 percent pay for every hour flown above 80 hours which encourages management to lower monthly maximums and to hire additional pilots. The TA also provides incentives for instructors, allowing additional training capacity for returning furloughees and new hires. In addition, ALPA granted the company relief in regards to the 757 crew bunk requirement for international flights.
Speaking of returning furloughees and new hires, Northwest also announced this week that it is recalling all of the rest of its laid-off pilots. Furthermore, the pilot career page on the NWA website says that the airline is now accepting pilot resumes and plans to hire approximately 250-350 pilots in the next 12 months. Here's the link to the NWA pilot position listing, with instructions for applying.

UPDATE AUGUST 10, 2007: An article in the International Herald Tribune says that more than 1,400 pilots have applied for jobs at Northwest since it began a "hiring push" on July 24.

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Legislation will expedite crew access at U.S. airports

Today leaders of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives signed a bill that has important implications for aviation security. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid signed H.R. 1, titled Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, which includes provisions that will expedite airport access through screening check points at U. S. airports for airline pilots and flight attendants.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) is one of several industry-related organizations to applaud the Congress for passing this bill. ALPA has come up with a proposal for a system that could be used to implement the new legislation. The union intends to work actively with the Transportation Security Administration on aspects of the new legislation related to airport screening of crews:
The measure includes an ALPA-backed provision which requires the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to establish a process that would give flight deck and cabin crew members expedited airport access through screening check points.

“This bill, upon the President’s signature, starts a 180-day clock for the TSA to consult with airlines, airports, and flight crew unions on how to improve airport access,” said ALPA President Capt. John Prater. “ALPA has prepared for this opportunity. We have a proposal that provides a low-cost and effective process to leverage existing technology to screen crew members, saving TSA time and money.”

Developed by a small industry working group in February 2007, ALPA’s proposal, called Crew Personnel Advanced Screening System (CrewPASS), is based on the TSA’s highly successful Cockpit Access Security System (CASS). CASS uses employee databases of participating airlines to electronically confirm the identity and employment status of pilots so that they may gain access to the jumpseats of airplanes belonging to companies other than their own.

CrewPASS would extend the CASS concept to crew portals and security screening checkpoints to electronically screen flight crew members quickly, efficiently, and effectively, thereby fixing the current security deficiency. CrewPASS would not require purchasing or issuing new identification cards, saving the industry money during the implementation process.

“ALPA's National Security Committee (NSC) and industry are moving forward with a CrewPASS prototype program and we are in the process of identifying airports with established crew portals to test the program,” Prater said. “The group is also looking at how long the prototype phase should last, how many airports should be part of the prototype program, and what infrastructure would be needed at each test site.”
ALPA's prototype CrewPASS program is a biometric-based flight crew security screening system, described in an 18-page ALPA white paper issued in May of this year.

Sections of the legislation that are aimed at strengthening aviation security include:
  • Installation of in-line baggage screening equipment
  • Aviation security capital fund
  • Airport checkpoint screening explosive detection
  • Strengthening explosive detection at airport screening checkpoints
  • Extension of authorization of aviation security funding
  • Inspection of cargo carried aboard passenger aircraft
  • Appeal and redress process for passengers wrongly delayed or prohibited from boarding a flight
  • Transportation Security Administration personnel management
  • Strategic plan to test and implement advanced passenger
    prescreening system
Congressional leaders have been calling for implementation of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission for some time. The bill now awaits the President's signature.

For those who may be interested, here is a link to H.R. 1, Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 in its entirety (276 page 'pdf' file).