Air India Express crash kills 19 with injuries to 138.

Pilot errors
Credit: Aviation Herald

An Air India Express Boeing 737-800, operating Flt IX-1344 from Dubai to Kozhikode (Calicut) in India with 184 passengers and 6 crew, has overrun the runway and plummeted into a valley at 19:41 Local time.

According to Aviation Herald, the 737 came to a stop 50 feet below the runway.

It is understood that 19 people including both pilots died in the accident, with 138 receiving injuries with 15 of them in critical condition.

AirlineRatings.com recently downgraded Air India Express to a 3-star airline because of numerous overruns one of which was a fatal crash in May 2010.

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The chairman of India’s DGCA reported 16 people have lost their lives in the accident.

The airline said: “Air India Express flight IX 1344 operated by B737 aircraft from Dubai to Calicut overshot runway at Kozhikode at 1941 hrs tonight. No fire reported at the time of landing. There are 174 passengers, 10 Infants, 2 Pilots and 5 cabin Crew onboard the aircraft. As per the initial reports, rescue operations are ongoing and passengers are being taken to hospital for medical care. We will soon share the update in this regard.”

India’s DGCA reported: “Air India Express AXB1344, B737 Dubai to Calicut, persons on board 191, visibility 2000 meter, heavy rain, after landing Runway 10, continued running to the end of the runway and falling down in the valley and broke down in two pieces.” The DGCA has ordered an investigation.

737 at the bottom of the ravine. Credit: Aviation Herald

The runway at the airport is 10/28 and is 2845 meters/9330 feet long and features ILS approaches for both runways 10 and 28 as well as VOR approaches to both runways.

Aviation Herald says that “according to ADS-B Data the aircraft had attempted one approach to runway 28 about 20 minutes prior to the landing but had gone around from about 2700 feet.”

Then the crew apparently chose to execute an instrument approach to runway 10, which had a 12-knot tailwind and was contaminated.

Credit: BFM News @NewsBFM ·

Some information provided to AirlineRatings.com indicates that the aircraft touchdown passed the touchdown zone.

Not surprisingly the 737 could not be stopped, overran the runway, went down the steep embankment, and broke up.

The runway overrun area is only 90m and should be 240m.

 

Airbus soars through COVID-19 turbulence

united and Airbus
Image: Airbus

European aerospace giant Airbus is flying much higher through the severe COVID-19 turbulence than arch-rival Boeing.

This year Airbus has had just 67 cancellations while Boeing has suffered over 800 and deliveries are the same story with Airbus recording 245 and Boeing just 70 including military tankers for the US Air Force.

As a result, Airbus’s backlog has soared well ahead of Boeing’s at 7,539 aircraft, whereas the Seattle manufacturer’s build list has shrunk to 4,552.

Worse for Boeing, the backlog is made up of 3,595 737 MAX jets which are still grounded and while many airlines still want the troubled jet, others are using the grounding as an exit now that COVID-19 has devastated air travel.

READ: Airlineratings.com launches industry-first COVID-19 safety ratings.  

And the problems don’t end there with deliveries of its new 400-seat 777X are delayed till 2022 as airlines grapple with the pandemic.

Boeing holds over 300 orders for the 777X from blue-chip international carriers whose traffic is the worse affected by the pandemic because of closed borders.

On the flip-side Airbus’s biggest seller is the 140-220 seat A320neo family with 6,065 to build and airlines are less likely to cancel as the aircraft is essentially short-haul, perfect for domestic routes or intra-Europe.

However, the new XLR version of the A321neo has a 10-hour range.

Only military sales and cargo aircraft are bright lights for Boeing.

Last month it won a massive contract worth US$23 billion ($33b) to build 144 F-15EX fighters and there are options for another 200.

These aircraft are for the US Air National Guard and will replace early model F-15s.

The F-15 has been a stellar fighter for the US Air Force and its allies with over 100 victories and no losses in aerial combat of which the majority have been claimed by the Israeli Air Force.

The aircraft first flew in 1972 and has had eight major upgrades with 1200 built.

Boeing is also delivering 767s, 777s, and 747s as cargo planes mainly to FedEx and UPS.

Moving forward Boeing’s ability to launch an all-new aircraft has been severely impacted as its customer airlines are fighting for survival.

Prior to COVID-19, it was close to launching the twin-aisle 220-260-seat 797 to compete with Airbus’s slightly smaller single-aisle A321neo which has chalked a large number of sales.

Analysts suggest that the only solution to launch a new aircraft is a major collaboration with Japanese banks and industry.

And they suggest that rather than the 797 design Boeing needs to replace the 737MAX first as the damage done to its reputation by the grounding after two fatal crashes is too severe.

The fact that most of the social media and media coverage is incorrect is irrelevant.

Southwest now a seven-star airline

Southwest

Southwest Airlines that started the low-cost air travel revolution in 1971 is now rated as a seven-star airline for safety by global rating agency AirlineRatings.com.

The world’s most respected airline rating agency, after consultation with the industry, has refined its safety rating criteria to move the focus from audits to real-world outcomes in pilot performance.

In an industry first, AirlineRatings.com has examined over 11,000 serious incident reports since 2015 to arrive at an incident rating for airlines. Incidents and crashes now account for five of the seven-star ratings.

SEE: Airlineratings.com launches world-first COVID-19 ratings

SUBSCRIBE to COVID-19 and Safety Ratings

AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas said; “Southwest’s safety record is superb and at every touchpoint passenger safety is paramount.”

“Our refined safety rating system recognizes the achievements of airlines such as Southwest that have excellent records,” said Mr. Thomas. *

“There is growing concern industry-wide at some pilot performance issues and we have evolved our rating system to put greater focus on outcomes.”

Southwest
“Your employees come first. And if you treat your employees right, guess what? Your customers come back, and that makes your shareholders happy. Start with employees and the rest follows from that.” – Southwest founder, the late Herb Kelleher.

“With Southwest, we found an extremely low incident rate and virtually none attributable to pilots.”

“That performance and its COVID-19 compliance for passengers gains Southwest the top safety rating of seven-stars,” said Mr. Thomas.

Southwest’s fleet is built around the top-selling Boeing 737-700NG.

“The 737 is the world’s most reliable aircraft,” said Mr, Thomas.

The airline is also at the forefront with COVID-19 protocols to protect crew and passengers.

Below is a video on Southwest’s deep clean of its aircraft.

*In April 2018 Southwest flight 1380 suffered a fan ban failure which resulted in the tragic loss of a passenger. The US NTSB determined that the probable cause of this accident was a low-cycle fatigue crack in the dovetail of fan blade No. 13 and thus the airline was not to blame. 

Ryanair soars to a seven-star airline

Ryanair

Ryanair one of the industry’s leading low-cost airlines is now rated as a seven-star airline for safety by global rating agency AirlineRatings.com

After consultation with the industry, the world’s most respected airline rating agency has refined its safety rating criteria to move the focus from audits to real-world outcomes in pilot performance.

In an industry first, AirlineRatings.com has examined over 11,000 serious incident reports since 2015 to arrive at an incident rating for airlines. Incidents and crashes now account for five of the seven-star ratings.

SUBSCRIBE to COVID-19 and Safety Ratings

Ryanair has had a fatality-free record since it was formed in 1985.

AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas said; “Ryanair’s safety record is superb and at every touchpoint passenger safety is paramount.”

“Our refined safety rating system recognizes the achievements of airlines such as Ryanair that have perfect fatality free records,” said Mr. Thomas.

“There is growing concern industry-wide at some pilot performance issues and we have evolved our rating system to put greater focus on outcomes.”

ryanair

“With Ryanair, we found an extremely low incident rate and virtually none attributable to pilots.”

“That performance and its COVID-19 compliance for passengers gains Ryanair the top safety rating of seven-stars,” said Mr. Thomas.

Its fleet is built around the top-selling Boeing 737-800NG.

“The 737 is the world’s most reliable aircraft,” said Mr, Thomas.

The airline is also at the forefront with COVID-19 protocols to protect crew and passengers.

Below is the airline’s instructive video on COVID-19 measures.

AirlineRatings.com launches unique COVID-19 health ratings for airlines

COVID-19

AirlineRatings.com launches unique COVID-19 health ratings for airlines to give comfort to air travelers.

Flying in this unsettled world means traveling safely is now of paramount importance and significant new services from AirlineRatings.com allow passengers to take the worry out of choosing an airline.

AirlineRatings.com answers the questions on everyone’s lips: which airlines have implemented full COVID-19 protocols and which airlines’ pilots have been trained correctly?

In two industry firsts, the world’s only safety, and product rating website is giving passengers greater peace of mind with a refined safety rating system focused on passenger health during COVID-19 and an insight into crucial flight outcomes on hundreds of carriers.

For a COVID-19 compliance star, airlines must pass four of six criteria: website information on COVID19 procedures; face masks for passengers; personal protection equipment for the crew; modified meal service; deep clean of aircraft and social distancing onboarding.

The new initiative is being been done exclusively with Skyscanner in the UK.

SUBSCRIBE now for COVID-19 and Safety Ratings.

READ: The rise and rise of Kam Air

Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas said that “it was concerning to find than many airlines did not appear to comply with the COVID-19 agreed standards for the protection of passengers and crew.”

“That is changing and our team is reviewing compliance on a weekly basis,” said Thomas.

While introducing the COVID-19 rating, AirlineRatings.com has refined its rating system to focus on serious incidents as a guide to an airline’s operational performance and pilot training.

In an industry first Airline Ratings has examined over 11,000 serious incident reports since 2015 to arrive at an incident rating for airlines. Incidents and crashes account for five of its seven-star ratings.

The review looked at all serious incidents over the past five years. Incidents such as bird strikes, lightning and weather were eliminated along with issues that were not related to the airline or pilots.

This brought the number of serious incidents down to 1,200 over five years and our team meticulously looked at each and reviewed the reports to determine responsibility.

Completion, or compliance of audits – ICAO, IOSA, EU blacklist, and FAA restricted list – make up an additional star.

Commenting Thomas said: “There is a growing concern industry-wide at some pilot performance issues and we have evolved our rating system to put greater focus on outcomes.”

“In some recent fatal crashes, the pilots have either shown total disregard for ATC instructions, ignored repeated aircraft warning systems or ignored company procedures – or, in one case, all three.”

“The Pakistan fake pilots’ license scandal has also brought into sharp focus that in some parts of the world getting a pilot’s license can be subject to abuse.”

The refined ratings, with the COVID-19 health rating, are available for a small yearly subscription of US$15.

That subscription also includes an exclusive weekly editorial from Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas delivered directly to your email inbox.

easyJet now rated a seven-star airline

easyJet
Photo: easyJet.

easyJet one of the industry’s leading low-cost airlines is now rated as a seven-star airline for safety by AirlineRatings.com

After consultation with the industry, the world’s most respected airline rating agency has refined its safety rating criteria to move the focus from audits to real-world outcomes in pilot performance.

In an industry first, AirlineRatings.com has examined over 11,000 serious incident reports since 2015 to arrive at an incident rating for airlines. Incidents and crashes now account for five of the seven-star ratings.

SUBSCRIBE to COVID-19 and Safety Ratings

Easyjet has had a fatality-free record since it was formed in March 1995.

AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas said; “easyJet’s safety record is superb and at every touchpoint passenger safety is paramount.”

“Our refined safety rating system recognizes the achievements of airlines such as easyJet, that have perfect fatality free records,” said Mr. Thomas.

“There is growing concern industry-wide at some pilot performance issues and we have evolved our rating system to put greater focus on outcomes.”

“With easyJet we found an extremely low incident rate and virtually none attributable to pilots.”

READ: The rise and rise of Kam Air

“That performance and its COVID-19 compliance for passengers gains easyJet the top safety rating of seven-stars,” said Mr. Thomas.

Easyjet’s fleet is built around the best selling single-aisle airliner the Airbus A320.

“The A320 is an outstanding platform and easyJet has 340 in service and 109 on order, said Mr Thomas.

The airline is also at the forefront with COVID-19 protocols to protect crew and passengers which can be viewed on its website here.

 

 

 

Virgin Australia slashes 3000 staff and resets a new flightpath

Virgin Australia
Happier times at Virgin Australia.

Virgin Australia is to make redundant 3000 staff, suspend international operations but retain its regional and charter division.

The airline has outlined the new Virgin Australia model to the Australian Stock Exchange.

It said it is reducing its cost base to meet uncertainty and COVID-19 market conditions but securing approximately 6,000 jobs when the market recovers with 3,000 roles impacted.

The airline will simplify its fleet to an all-Boeing 737 mainline fleet with the retention of the regional and charter fleet based in WA.

SEE the video of Tom’s excellent adventure on Qatar Airways

The airline’s Boeing 777, Airbus A330, ATR turboprops, and Tigerair Airbus A320 aircraft types will go.

However, the fate of the A320s based in Western Australia as part of the charter fleet is unclear.

Virgin Australia said the airline’s long-haul international flying is an important part of the long term plan but is suspended until global travel market recovers.

Virgin Australia Group CEO and Managing Director Paul Scurrah said together with Bain Capital, the plan will help to re-establish Virgin Australia as an iconic Australian airline, bringing strong competition for travelers while securing approximately 6,000 direct jobs and indirect employment for more than 30,000 Australians.

“Our aviation and tourism sectors face continued uncertainty in the face of COVID-19 with many Australian airports recording passenger numbers less than three percent of last year and ongoing changes to government travel restrictions,” said Mr. Scurrah.

READ: Virgin Galactica unveils Mach 3 spaceplane. 

“Demand for domestic and short-haul international travel is likely to take at least three years to return to pre-COVID-19 levels, with the real chance it could be longer, which means as a business we must make changes to ensure the Virgin Australia Group is successful in this new world.

“In a country as big as Australia, strong competitive airlines are critical in helping restore the economy, which is why in the face of the worst crisis our industry has ever seen, a well-capitalized Virgin Australia Group with a solid and sustainable future is a great outcome for Australians and the nation’s economy.

He warned that “even when we do see a return to pre-COVID-19 levels of travel, successful airlines will be influenced by demand and look very different than the way they did previously, requiring long-term capital, a lower cost base and be more focused on providing exceptional experiences through a combination of great people and world-class technologies.”

“Working with Bain Capital, we will accelerate our plan to deliver a strong future in a challenging domestic and global aviation market. We believe that over time we can set the foundations to grow Virgin Australia again and re-employ many of the highly skilled Virgin Australia teams.

Mr. Scurrah added that “our initial focus will be on investing in the core Virgin Australia domestic and short-haul international operation alongside our 10-million-member strong Velocity Frequent Flyer program, continuing to offer an extensive network of destinations, a domestic lounge network, and value for money for customers.”

Virgin Australia will provide customers with the value of their travel credits post-administration. To preserve value for customers with credits for bookings made prior to administration, booking dates will also be extended to 31 July 2022 for travel until 30 June 2023. Further information about the use of credits will be provided to customers in due course.

Customers and travel agents will be notified directly of any flight cancellations associated with the announcements made today. Tigerair Australia customers and those affected by any cancellations will be provided a travel credit for use on Virgin Australia operated services.

Virgin Australia to lay off staff and sideline international ops

Virigin

Virgin Australia is set to lay off between 3000 to 3500 of its 9000 staff, dump international flying and review its WA FIFO operations as it sets a new flightpath in the coronavirus-ravaged airline industry.

The highly anticipated announcement is set to be made this morning to the Australian Securities Exchange with staff and creditors to finally get clarity about the airline’s future.

Bain Capital took control of the airline early last month after a short bidding war with eight suitors after the airline went into administration due to COVID-19.

It is understood that its likely Virgin Australia Regional Airlines, based in Perth, will be retained by the group but that is subject to a final review of its operations and contribution to the group.

However, Virgin Australia’s international arm — which operates both Boeing 777-300ERs and A330s — will be sidelined for the moment.

The 777-300ERs are owned by Virgin Australia and it is not clear what their fate may be.

The domestic fleet will feature only the Boeing 737, with the A330s sent back to their owners, insiders say.

It is understood that the 737 fleet will be reduced to about 40 aircraft with the balance of 39 kept in storage.

Once the pandemic is over the airline plans to look at Boeing 787s to relaunch its international operations to Japan and the US.

The 787 is the aircraft Qantas was using for its Perth to London nonstop service.

There had been speculation that VARA would be sold off but Virgin management recently signed off new leases on two 95-seat Fokker 100s.

The remaining fleet of nine Fokkers is owned by VARA.

Fly-in, fly-out work has been strong with the Perth-based fleet, which includes six A320s, fully engaged.

Virgin Australia went into voluntary administration on April 21 with debts of A$6.8 billion.

 

Virgin Galatica unveils Mach 3 passenger plane

Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic Holdings has unveiled a 19-passenger Mach 3 high-speed aircraft design and has signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding with Rolls-Royce to collaborate in designing and developing engine propulsion technology for high-speed commercial aircraft.

The announcement follows the successful completion of its Mission Concept Review (MCR) program and authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Center for Emerging Concepts and Innovation to work with Virgin Galactic to outline a certification framework.

George Whitesides, chief space officer, Virgin Galactic said, “We are excited to complete the Mission Concept Review and unveil this initial design concept of a high-speed aircraft, which we envision as blending safe and reliable commercial travel with unrivaled customer experience.

SEE: Tom’s excellent adventure on Qatar Airways

“We are pleased to collaborate with the innovative team at Rolls-Royce as we strive to develop sustainable, cutting-edge propulsion systems for the aircraft, and we are pleased to be working with the FAA to ensure our designs can make a practical impact from the start. We have made great progress so far, and we look forward to opening up a new frontier in high-speed travel.”

Rolls-Royce North America chairman and chief executive Tom Bell said that Rolls is “excited to partner with Virgin Galactic to explore the future of sustainable high-speed flight.”

“Rolls-Royce brings a unique history in high-speed propulsion, going back to the Concorde, and offers world-class technical capabilities to develop and field the advanced propulsion systems needed to power commercially available high-Mach travel.”

The Mission Concept Review included representatives from NASA, and is an important program milestone at which the Virgin Galactic high-speed team confirmed that, based on the research and analysis work completed, its design concept can meet the high-level requirements and objectives of the mission.

Earlier NASA signed a Space Act Agreement with Virgin Galactic to collaborate on high speed technologies.

The parameters of the initial high-speed aircraft design include a targeted Mach 3 certified delta-wing aircraft that would have the capacity for 9 to 19 people at an altitude above 60,000 feet and would also be able to incorporate custom cabin layouts to address customer needs, including Business or First-Class seating arrangements.

Virgin Galactic said that the design philosophy of the aircraft is geared around making high speed travel practical, sustainable, safe, and reliable while making customer experience a top priority.

It said that it is designing the aircraft for a range of operational scenarios, including service for passengers on long-distance commercial aviation routes.

The aircraft would take off and land like any other passenger aircraft and be expected to integrate into existing airport infrastructure and international airspace around the world.

 

Boeing battens down for the long-haul

Boeing
777X on its first flight

Boeing has faced many challenges in its 100 plus year history that have brought the company to the brink but nothing comes close to the impact of COVID-19.

Last week the US aerospace giant posted a 2nd quarter loss of US$2.39 billion and US$3.03 billion for the 1st half of 2020.

While the company has an operating cash flow of US$5.3 billion, cash and marketable securities of US$32.4 billion and a backlog of $409 billion, including more than 4,500 commercial aircraft the burning question is how many of those will be actually delivered, and when.

In a personal email, Boeing President David Calhoun told workers that the “challenges we face as a company are still unfolding.”

“The reality is the pandemic’s impact on the aviation sector continues to be severe. Though some fliers are returning slowly to the air, their numbers remain far lower than 2019, with airline revenues likewise reduced.”

He told staff that “while there have been some encouraging signs, we estimate it will take around three years to return to 2019 passenger levels.”

Making matters far worse for Boeing is its best-selling 737 MAX is still grounded and probably will not get the tick to fly passengers till October – and that is if they will get on board.

The problem for Boeing is that there is so much negative misinformation about the MAX in social and the wider tabloid media that as the truth slowly emerges about the aircraft and the two crashes it is barely recognizable.

Boeing has almost 400 737 MAXs in storage and recently restarted production and now plans a slower build-up of production than previously planned, with a gradual increase to 31 per month by the beginning of 2022.

That is far cry from two years ago when the production was moving toward almost 60 a month and the company had orders for over 5,000.

Many have now been canceled – mainly because of the downturn in traffic.

Thus, Mr Calhoun has warned workers that “unfortunately, it’s become clear that we need to make further adjustments based on the prolonged impact of COVID-19.”

Other production rates will plummet with high yield 787 and 777X models taking a big hit with the 787 dropping to a six month low from a high of 14 and the 777X down to just two a month next year while delaying delivery to airlines to 2022.

And sadly, the iconic 747 production is to end in 2022, while the 767 continues as a freighter and a tanker for the US Air Force.

Boeing has already laid off 10 percent of its workforce and Mr. Calhoun says more layoffs are inevitable.

“Regretfully, the prolonged impact of COVID-19 causing further reductions in our production rates and lower demand for commercial services means we’ll have to further assess the size of our workforce,” he told workers.

On the bright side, the company’s strength in the supply of military fighters such as the F-15 and F-18 and its space business gives it some stability.

The severe downturn means that new designs that Boeing planned to build are now in deep freeze and the aerospace giant may have to enter new collaborative ventures with the Japanese to resurrect them.

One – the 250-seat 797 – was of particular interest to airlines. This design, which Boeing called the New Mid-Size Airplane was to be a twin-aisle design with seating in the economy zone of 2-3-2 and range of around 10 hours.

Airlines were clamoring for Boeing to proceed before COVID-19 and it was expected to be launched this year.

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