Friday, November 30, 2007

57 perish in the crash of AtlasJet Flight KK 4203 in Turkey

AtlasJet logoAn MD-83 aircraft operated by AtlasJet, a Turkish airline, has crashed near the town of Isparta in south central Turkey. There were no survivors among the seven crew and 50 passengers on board. The aircraft was destroyed.

AtlasJet Flight KK 4203 had originated in Istanbul shortly before 01:00 AM on November 30, 2007, and was approaching Süleyman Demirel Airport at Isparta when air traffic control lost contact with the aircraft. The crash site was discovered in a mountainous region about seven miles from the Isparta airport, near a village called Keciborlu. Both the Flight Data Recorder and the Cockpit Voice Recorder were reported to have been recovered from the wreckage.

The aircraft was on lease to AtlasJet from World Focus Airlines, according to a press statement about the accident issued by the CEO of AtlasJet, Tuncay Doganer. The pilots, cabin crew chief, and a flight technician all were employees of World Focus. The other three cabin crew were AtlasJet Staff.

The airline has released the names of the crew of AtlasJet Flight 4203, who perished in the accident:

World Focus Crew





Click here for photos of the AtlasJet accident.

Condolences to the families of the crew and passengers of AtlasJet Flight KK 4203.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Aloha Airlines No. 1 flight attendant retires after 50 years

Patti Smart, Aloha Airlines No. 1 Flight AttendantPatti Smart, the Number One flight attendant at Aloha Airlines, is retiring -- reluctantly -- after more than 50 years of service. The woman nicknamed the 'Queen of Aloha' will retire this coming Friday, but she says, "There will be sparks flying from my feet as they drag me down the runway."

Ms. Smart, whose hire date was Jan. 28, 1957, reminisced about her early flying days in an article in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin:
A lot has changed since the old days, when people dressed up in hats and bow ties to fly on propeller-powered planes across the Pacific.

"You're supposed to have the same niceness, the same warmth, the same caring. But it's faster now," Smart said. "In the older days, the flights were longer so you had more time to be intimate with passengers and you got to be very good friends with them."
While she must have a million good stories to tell from those 50-plus years of flying, she did share this funny one with the newspaper reporter.
As she was serving pineapple juice to passengers, she spilled it all over her uniform. She changed into a pair of pants and washed out her skirt in the lavatory. When she tried to air-dry the skirt by letting it flap out the window in the cockpit, one of the two pilots snatched it and let it fly out the window.

"I wanted to kill those two. I wanted to get their two heads together and whack them. They were laughing and laughing," she said.

The joke didn't stop there. Another pilot on the next flight out radioed her plane and said he had caught the skirt as it went flying by.
Perhaps that incident happened while she was working on a DC-3 early in her career. She certainly has seen a lot of changes to the airline industry since then -- including the introduction of jet aircraft.

Congratulations and aloha to Patti Smart as her long career in the air comes to a close.

Click here to watch a KITV News Video about Patti Smart's final flight on Aloha Airlines.

Click here for many more photos of Patti Smart, the Queen of Aloha.

[Photo Source]

Monday, November 26, 2007

New pilot contract in place, ASA is hiring

ASA pilotsPilots at Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) have voted to ratify a new labor contract. With the new agreement firmly in place, the airline is aggressively hiring more pilots for its Atlanta hub.

According to the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the union representing ASA's pilots, 81% of the 1,239 ASA pilots who were eligible to vote did so, 83.45% of the ballots cast were in favor of the agreement.

The new collective bargaining agreement is the culmination of five years of negotiations between the union and the airline's management. ALPA announced that the terms of the new contract reflect improvements in wages, work rules, job protections, and scheduling.

Expressing his approval of the new agreement, Capt. Dave Nieuwenhuis, chairman of the ASA ALPA unit, said, "Despite many obstacles over the past five years, our pilots persevered and achieved a contract that further secures their jobs and provides overdue increases to their compensation. While we enjoyed invaluable assistance from the 41 other pilot groups in our international union and its professional staff, I cannot begin to describe the impact of the resolve and professionalism demonstrated by each and every ASA pilot."

ASA, a wholly owned subsidiary of SkyWest, Inc., operates as a Delta Connection carrier. The airline's fleet includes both 50- and 70-seat Canadair Regional Jets (CRJ) and the ATR-72.

ASA is actively recruiting pilots at the present time, hiring about 40 per month. ASA pilots are based in Atlanta and fly Delta Connection and SkyTeam codeshare flights.

[Photo Source]

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Airbus A330 depressurizes during pre-delivery test flight

Airbus logoJust five days after a pre-delivery accident destroyed an Airbus A340-600 on the ground at the Airbus facility in Toulouse, an Airbus A330-200 suddenly depressurized during a pre-delivery test flight. Seven of the 10 people on board were injured during the incident, including two who needed to be hospitalized.

The twin-engine aircraft, about to be delivered to Air Mauritius, decompressed during cruise. Following an emergency descent, the aircraft landed safely at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport.

The reason for the rapid depressurization is under investigation. The altitude at which the incident occurred has not been made public.

News reports quoted an Airbus official who said that three of the 10 people on board were on the flight deck, while the other seven were up and moving about the aircraft cabin at the time of the incident. "Those standing couldn't reach the masks and fell unconscious because of a lack of oxygen," the official said.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pilots' view of UA/DL merger rumors

ALPA logoAirline merger rumors have been running rampant over the past several days after a series of news articles suggested that 'consolidation' talks were underway between United Airlines and Delta Air Lines. It has been widely reported that hedge fund Pardus Capital Management, a shareholder in both United and Delta, has been pitching the consolidation idea to the carriers. The airlines have denied that they are in direct talks at this time, nevertheless the news headlines were enough to set off alarm bells in employee groups at both companies.

Pilots at both United and Delta are represented by the same union, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) . The ALPA Master Executive Councils (MECs) for both airline groups have issued statements addressing the merger rumors.

Captain Lee Moak, chairman of the Delta MEC, presented his organization's view in a news release:
"The Delta pilots’ union is aware of the recent overtures made by Pardus and other hedge fund managers who see value in the ‘financial transaction’ aspect of a consolidating event such as a merger, often without regard for the long-term consequences to the corporations, the employees, the traveling public, or the communities we serve.

"Many analysts have suggested that airline industry consolidation is inevitable. The Delta pilots are not opposed to a rational and sensible consolidation scenario. The ‘right’ merger opportunity could draw our support and result in a successful merger. However, we are not interested in a transaction just for transaction’s sake.

"It is crucial that all parties involved understand this very important point: that the Delta pilots will be critical participants from the beginning in any consolidation discussion and potential resultant event, not an afterthought to be considered at a later date. Any consolidating event that involves the Delta pilots will not happen without our active participation and consent."
The statement issued by the United MEC took on a similar tone. Chairman Captain Mark Bathurst said:
"The United pilots have made a significant investment in the future of our airline and have made it abundantly clear to management that we will be opposed to any transaction that does not fully recognize our sacrifices and contributions.

"We will protect the interests and the future of United pilots. All interested parties should understand that any plans to merge or consolidate with Delta or any other carrier will not be met with a rubber stamp from this pilot group.

"We also remind management – and Wall Street – that it is the pilots and other employees who have suffered under this management group. Interested parties need to recognize that the true assets of this corporation are the pilots and other employees and we will not sacrifice again to facilitate consolidation."
At least both pilot groups are represented by the same union, and both groups appear to be on the same page. One would think that should facilitate consolidation of the two pilot groups if a merger were to materialize -- or would that be asking too much?

Friday, November 16, 2007

New A340-600 in ground accident at Toulouse

A340-600 accident at ToulouseA brand new Airbus A340-600 aircraft was badly damaged when it ran through a blast barrier at the Airbus Saint-Martin facility at Toulouse, France. There were no fatalities, but five people were injured. The accident happened late on the afternoon of November 15, 2007.

The aircraft, which was painted in Etihad Airways livery, was undergoing pre-delivery tests on the ground at the Airbus facility at the time of the accident. According to a news release issued today by Airbus, engine-run-ups were being carried out on the A340-600, MSN 856, which was due to be delivered to Etihad in just a few days.

At the time of the accident, there were nine people on board the aircraft, including two Airbus staff, and seven employees of Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT). Five of those nine people were injured, but as of today only the two Airbus employees and one ADAT employee remained hospitalized. None of their injuries are reported to be life-threatening.

Etihad Airways confirms that there were no Etihad staff involved in the accident.

Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies is a maintenance service provider to Etihad Airways. ADAT was formerly known as GAMCO.

Click here to view a brief news video (French language) about the accident, from the TF1 network in France.

Best wishes to those injured for a speedy and complete recovery.

UPDATE November 19, 2007: is reporting that the A340-600 "had completed its engine test-runs and was exiting the test area at the time of the accident." The same article also mentions confirmation from Etihad that the aircraft was a write-off.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Encounter Restaurant reopens at LAX landmark

Encounter restaurant at Los Angeles International AirportThe Encounter Restaurant has reopened at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The restaurant, located in the Theme Building -- the familiar LAX landmark with the space age appearance -- had been closed since March. Now refurbished, the Encounter Restaurant resumed service this past Monday, November 12.

The Theme Building, with its 135-foot high parabolic arches, has been the most recognizable landmark at LAX since its opening in 1961. In 1992, the Los Angeles City Council designated the Theme Building a City Cultural and Historical Monument. Situated near the center of the airport terminal area, the building itself is still undergoing repairs.

The Theme Building and the Encounter Restaurant are on the land side of airport security at LAX. The restaurant can be reached on foot from the arrivals level of the airport terminals.

According to the Encounter Restaurant website, the operating hours are:
  • Lunch: from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM, 7 days a week
  • Dinner: Friday and Saturday ONLY, 4:00 PM to 9:30 PM
Valet parking is available. For more information and reservations, call 310-215-5151, or visit

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Emergency Airworthiness Directive issued for Boeing 737-200 by South African CAA

South African CAA logoIn the aftermath of the incident last week in which an engine of a Nationwide Airlines Boeing 737-200 separated from a wing as the aircraft took off, the South African Civil Aviation Authority has issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD) for that type of aircraft operating in South Africa. The EAD, issued on November 9, 2007, requires that all Boeing 737-200 aircraft fitted with Pratt and Whitney JT8D series engines remain grounded until "an acceptable level of safety can be demonstrated."

Compliance with the EAD entails several types of inspections of all the structures that attach the engines to the airframe, as well as to "all the engine controls, including and specific to the thrust reversers." The EAD states that all positive and negative findings must be reported in writing, and all required maintenance performed before the aircraft are certified safe for flight.

For more details, see the full South African CAA Emergency Airworthiness Directive: RSA AD No 07-002 Revision 1 ( 4 page 'pdf' file).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Taxiway collision at Opa-locka Airport

Opa-locka Airport (OPF)The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a preliminary report on the collision between two cargo aircraft on a taxiway at Opa-locka, FL (OPF) last week. No one was injured in the accident, but both aircraft sustained substantial damage. The accident occurred shortly before noon on November 6, 2007.

The aircraft involved in the accident were a twin-engine Beech E-18s, and a Cessna 208 Caravan "Cargomaster", a single engine turbo-prop. Both were operating as cargo flights under Part 135 rules. Here is an excerpt from the NTSB report, describing what happened:
The Cessna 208 flight originated from North Eleuthera, Bahamas, on November 6, 2007 at 1015, the Beech E18S, was taxiing to a fuel farm prior to departure for Nassau, Bahamas, when the collision occurred.

According to the pilot of the Cessna 208, following his landing on runway 9L, he was cleared to taxiway "Charley" to Customs and to remain on the tower frequency. After crossing taxiway "Papa", out of the corner of his eye to the left he saw the Beech E18S and tried to pull away by turning hard right, but was impacted. They egressed the airplane without injury.

According to the pilot of the Beech E18S, he did a preflight inspection of his airplane and contacted ground control for taxi instructions from the east ramp to the fuel farm. He was told to taxi on "Papa" "Echo" "Tango" to the fuel farm. After that he taxied at a slow speed because he was in a tail wheel airplane.

He never heard any instructions to hold short of any taxiways. He never heard any ground instructions to the Cessna 208.

He crossed taxiway "Charley" and then felt a large bump, he was struck on the right side of the airplane which spun it around, and he saw the Cessna 208 moving towards him. He shut both engines down, turned the magnetos off and exited the airplane thought the aft cargo door. He reported no injuries. [NTSB ID: MIA08LA014B]
According to the NTSB record, the Beech was registered to Aircap Management Company, Inc., and operated by Island Air Service. The Cessna was registered to RJR Transport Logistics LLC, and operated by Florida Air Cargo, Inc.

[Photo Source]

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Iberia Airbus A340 runway overrun at Quito

Iberia A340 accident at QuitoLate on the afternoon of Friday, November 9, 2007 an Iberia Airlines A340-600 ran off the end of a runway at Mariscal Sucre airport in Quito, Ecuador. Flight IB6463, operated by Spain's national carrier, had just arrived from Madrid, Spain with more than 330 passengers and crew on board. No one was seriously injured. The aircraft was badly damaged.

Airport officials in Quito said that one or more of the tires on the aircraft's main landing gear had burst when it touched down. As the aircraft slid down the runway, the landing gear partially collapsed. The huge aircraft came to rest in an area of grass and sand of the end of the runway on which it had landed. Photos of the aircraft show it leaning to port, resting on the nacelles of the number one and number two engines, which were badly damaged.

Passengers and crew evacuated the aircraft using inflatable slides on the starboard side of the aircraft. An article in the Spanish language publication El País includes a video clip of passengers using the slides to evacuate. Spanish news website El Periódico de Catalunya has published a photo gallery of the A340 accident at Quito.

The accident caused the airport to be closed for some time, during which inbound international flights were reported to have been rerouted to Guayaquil. The A340 is the largest aircraft type authorized to land at Quito.

[Photo Source]

Friday, November 09, 2007

AA pilot contract negotiations break down

Allied Pilots Association logoAccording to news reports, American Airlines has rejected a contract proposal from its pilots' union, saying it was too costly. A UPI report says:
The carrier, which has its headquarters in Dallas, said the package would increase its pilots' costs by more than $1.4 billion a year and couldn't be sustained.

American's pilot cost per hour would be more than that of competitors Delta Air Lines and Continental Airlines combined, the company told the Allied Pilots Association Thursday.
For its part, the Allied Pilots Association, the union representing the 12,000 American Airlines pilots, issued a news release expressing their "disappointment" over the breakdown in negotiations, and citing management's "unwillingness to bargain in good faith" as the reason for the breakdown. In addition to pay, work rules, and retirement, negotiators had been considering the issues surrounding flow-through/flow-back provisions aimed at facilitating career advancement for American Eagle pilots while maintaining seniority protection for American Airlines pilots.

Looks like binding arbitration is now on the horizon for American Airlines and its pilots.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Nationwide Airlines Boeing 737-200 engine separates on takeoff

Nationwide Airlines B737 missing engineThis story gives a whole new meaning to the expression "lost an engine." The number two engine separated from a Boeing 737-200 shortly after rotation. The engine fell to the runway while the aircraft continued its climb-out. The aircraft returned to the field a short time later and landed safely. No one on board was injured.

The incident happened yesterday (November 7, 2007) at Cape Town, South Africa. The aircraft, operating as Nationwide Airlines Flight CE723, was taking off for a scheduled flight to Johannesburg when it literally lost an engine.

A press release about the incident on the front page of the Nationwide Airlines website claims that the engine separated after ingesting some as yet unidentified object:
It has been determined that during the take off roll an object which is yet to be defined was ingested into the engine which caused a catastrophic engine failure. The subsequent forces experienced by the engine supporting structure caused this to fail and for the number two engine to detach from the wing. The engine-to-wing supporting structure is designed to release the engine when extreme forces are applied to prevent any structural damage to the wing that may impair the aircrafts ability to fly.

We are currently working with authorities and investigators to establish what exactly the unidentified object was.
According to a news article about the incident on South Africa's, the commander of Nationwide Flight CE723 was Captain Trevor Arnold. The Independent Online quoted a passenger who had been on the flight who said that after the plane had come to a stop surrounded by fire engines, the captain walked into the cabin, and all the passengers cheered.

Congratulations to the Capt. Arnold and F/O Daniel Perry for their outstanding airmanship. Well done!

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Two female pilot cadets at Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways female cadet pilotsMeet two history-makers: Salma Mohammad Al Baloushi (left) and Aisha Hassan Al Mansouri, the first female cadet pilots at Etihad Airways. The two women currently are undergoing initial pilot training at the Horizon Flight Academy at Al Ain, UAE.

The cadet pilots must complete 930 classroom hours and 205 hours of flying in single and multi-engine aircraft, after which they will be eligible to become entry-level first officers at Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates.

An article about the two women in the Gulf News recounts how they came to be interested in flying as a career.
Salma said: "I was studying to be a nurse, but something just didn't feel right. I didn't have a real passion for what I was doing and that made studying to become better hard work. It made me stop and look at life and I decided to follow my childhood dream of becoming a pilot. I am hard-working and have found a passion in life again."


Aisha was inspired to become a pilot after a zero gravity experience at the Al Ain Airshow. She said: "I loved being up in the sky and knew instantly that I wanted to become a pilot. My family is so proud of what I am doing."
The two women were recruited as a part of Etihad's program to hire more Emirati nationals.

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

ABX Air pilots reject contract proposal

ABX Air DC-9Pilots at cargo airline ABX Air, Inc. have overwhelmingly rejected the company's latest contract proposal, according to a news release about the ballot issued by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 1224, the union representing the ABX pilots.

The union reports that nearly 90% of the 578 eligible crew members participated in the balloting. Of those, 98.8% voted to reject the contract.
"We took this vote to demonstrate to ABX Air management that what they are offering is unacceptable to the crewmembers and does not adequately fulfill the quality-of-life needs of our members and their families," said Capt. Dave Ross, president of Local 1224.

Among the major deficiencies in the ABX offer are compensation, retirement, management flying, and staffing and assignment issues. The offer included a side letter regarding operations in Asia for All Nippon Airways.

Tensions are high at the cargo carrier as the company has failed to adequately staff the airline, resulting in management's abuse of an emergency staffing system used to staff regularly scheduled flights.

"The scheduling abuses have multiplied over the last year," said Ross. "The results of today's vote make clear that our members demand a contract that will allow them to provide for their families and not be subjected to the abuse of emergency staffing for non-emergency situations."
Last spring, All Nippon outsourced some cargo operations to ABX Air.

Mediated negotiations between ABX Air and Local 1224 will begin next week under the auspices of the National Mediation Board in Washington, D.C.

[Photo Source]

Monday, November 05, 2007

Four GIRjet crew arrested in Chad are free, three remain in custody

GIRjet logoOn October 25, 2007, the crew of a Boeing 757 aircraft operated by Spanish charter carrier GIRjet were arrested in Abéché, a town in eastern Chad. The two pilots and five cabin crew, all reported to be of Spanish nationality, were accused as accessories in an alleged child kidnapping operation.

The aircraft on which they were working was chartered by a French charity called L'Arche de Zoe (Zoe's Ark) to airlift 103 children from Chad to France. Apparently the operation was illegal, however it is unlikely that the crew were aware of this fact.

A news report on said:
On Tuesday, Spanish Minister of Justice Mariano Fernández Bermejo reported that "every possible effort is being made to convince officials in Chad that the Spanish nationals had nothing to do with the attempt to remove the children from the country," because they had merely been contracted by the French NGO and were not even informed of the identity, ages or conditions of the passengers.
In a dramatic move, French President Nicolas Sarkozy flew to the Chadian capital N'Djamena yesterday and obtained the release of three French journalists and four of the GIRjet cabin crew, all women. The women were repatriated to Spain, according to news reports. The male cabin crew member and both pilots are still being held in Chad.

Earlier today the French airline pilots' association SNPL, the union that represents Air France pilots, issued a statement that defends the imprisoned crew and calls for a boycott of Chad airports unless the remaining GIRjet crew members are released and repatriated within eight days.

Along with the rest of the aviation community, I am hoping that the government of Chad will soon release the crew members who are still detained. I will post any new developments regarding the crew as they become available.

UPDATE November 9, 2007: After spending two weeks in custody in Chad, the three male GIRjet crew members have been released and returned to Spain. Captain Augustin Rey, F/O Sergio Munoz, and cabin crew member Daniel Gonzalez left N'Djamena today aboard a Spanish Air Force plane bound for Madrid, according to an Agence France Presse news story.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

US Airways No. 1 flight attendant celebrates 50 years service

US Airways No. 1 Flight Attendant Bette NashToday was a special day for the Number One flight attendant at US Airways: Bette Nash celebrated 50 years of service. Ms. Nash began her flight attendant career on November 4, 1957.

Here is an excerpt from a news release issued by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) about Ms. Nash and her golden anniversary:
"Bette Nash is a walking, talking history of the evolution of our industry, and we are so fortunate to benefit from her experience each day," said Alin Boswell, fellow US Airways flight attendant and Washington, DC Local Council President for the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA). "Not only is she a great flight attendant and mentor, but she is a wonderful person who brings much joy to everyone she encounters."

Ms. Nash began her career the same year Sputnik was launched, and when air travel was an expensive luxury full of amenities. As air travel evolved into what it is today, so has the role of flight attendant. Fifty years ago, flight attendants were forced out of their job after a few short years and the average career span was less than 18 months.

In 1964, seven years after Ms. Nash began her career, the Civil Rights Act passed and with the strength and determine of AFA-CWA, for the first time flight attendants were able to challenge the discriminatory policies based on gender, age, race, weight, marital status, and pregnancy that had become commonplace in the airline industry.

"Bette's accomplishment today is the fully realized goal that AFA-CWA set out to achieve over sixty years ago," said Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA International President. "When AFA-CWA began representing flight attendants in 1945, it was the goal of our founders to turn this 'job' into a full-blown career - a career that would provide for, and support flight attendants and their families. It is a humbling moment to reflect upon Bette Nash's accomplishment and realize how far we have come as a profession. AFA-CWA congratulates and thanks Bette for her years of devoted service. We look forward to celebrating many more milestones with her in the future."
Congratulations to Bette Nash!

[Photo Source]

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Cessna Citation 650 skids off runway at ACY

Atlantic City International Airport logoLast weekend, a Cessna Citation 650 landed hard at Atlantic City International Airport (ACY) and ran off the runway into the grass. According to the FAA preliminary report about the incident, there were two crew and two passengers on board, none of whom were injured. Damage to the aircraft was listed as "substantial."

A news report about the incident published by Press of Atlantic City gave these details about what happened on October 27, 2007:
The aircraft took off at about 10:38 a.m. from Republic Airport in Farmingdale, N.Y. Shortly before 11:30 a.m., the pilot ordered an emergency landing for reasons that were not immediately clear. Federal investigators were determining the cause, FAA spokeswoman Holly Baker said.

As the jet touched down at Atlantic City International's shorter runway, the aircraft "bounced," causing damage to the landing gear, Baker said.

The pilot pulled the jet up and landed on the airport's longer, 10,000-foot runway. Baker said the jet veered off the runway's end and into a grassy area.

The jet was moved away from the runway and the airport was temporarily closed during the emergency landing, said Sharon Gordon, a spokeswoman for the South Jersey Transportation Authority, which operates the airport.

Flights began moving again after 11:40 a.m.
According to FAA records, the aircraft is registered to Northeast Air & Sea Services of Lindenhurst, New York. The news report said that the passengers on board were the president of that company and his wife, and that the wife had been treated for anxiety following the accident.