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Lufthansa considers 787 and reveals 777X plans

Boeing 777
Lufthansa Boeing 777X

Lufthansa Group is considering ordering the Boeing 787 to complement its long-haul fleet according to its CEO Carsten Spohr.

“The Boeing 787 would be an alternative to ordering more A350s, for which we still have options”, said Spohr in an exclusive interview with Airlineratings.com on the sidelines of a conference organized by CAPA this week in Berlin.

“Both the A350 as well as the 787 are very well suited for thinner routes from our mega hubs, but also for our smaller hubs.”

The Lufthansa Group operates four hubs, Frankfurt and Munich in Germany as well as Zurich in Switzerland and Vienna in Austria. Some also count the Belgian capital Brussels as well, where Brussels Airlines is based, another carrier owned by Lufthansa.

“We would not operate A350s and 787s side by side at the same hub, but possibly both aircraft at different hubs”, stressed Spohr.

Read World’s Best Airlines for 2019

“The decision on if we will order further A350s or 787s for the first time will be taken in the coming months.”

Lufthansa Group is currently in negotiations with both Boeing and Airbus about further orders for long-haul aircraft. Lufthansa has already 20 Boeing 777-9s on order, the first seven of which will be delivered in late 2020, and the airline holds options for 14 further 777-9s. “These options are also part of our negotiations”, explains Spohr.

Lufthansa
AirlineRatings.com European Editor Andreas Spaeth with Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr in Berlin.

It has not been clarified where the Boeing 777s will be stationed within the Lufthansa network. “At least for the first seven aircraft to be delivered in 2020 it will be either Frankfurt or Munich”, confirms Spohr.

This first batch of 777s will be delivered without a First Class section, “because they will replace elderly aircraft that also don’t have a First Class cabin”, says Spohr.

“In general, we want to keep the share of First Class-equipped aircraft in Lufthansa’s long-haul fleet at the current 50 percent. ” Meaning that probably in 2021, Lufthansa will unveil a new First Class product, which highly likely will be providing much more privacy than the open current one.

All new 777s will have the new Business Class product on board, which for the first time will provide individual compartments for Lufthansa Business passengers, rather than the very conventional 2-2-2 seat layout in all current aircraft.

It has not yet been decided which older aircraft the incoming 777s will replace. “This decision will also be taken in the European spring of 2019”, announces Spohr. “If we want to grow more, we will replace smaller aircraft such as the Airbus A340-300s, but if we decide to want to grow less we let the 777s replace the current 747-400s.”

In general, all Lufthansa aircraft orders are for the group as a whole. “We take orders as a kind of ‘grey fleet’ where we only decide 18 months prior to delivery which airline gets new aircraft allocated”, explains the Lufthansa CEO.

While Austrian Airlines currently isn’t considered to be profitable enough to warrant investments in new aircraft, a solution has been found for Brussels Airlines.  “We have decided that second-hand A330s will replace some very old A330s, newer aircraft we leased will be arriving at Brussels Airlines in the next months.”

Lufthansa
Lufthansa is a major customer for the A350 but also sees a roll for its arch-rival the 787 in its operations.

Lufthansa as most European carriers has experienced a very bad summer of extensive flight delays. “Until October 1st we have amassed delays of a total of 16.9 million minutes, almost double as much as in 2017”, said Spohr.

Lufthansa alone had to cancel 18,000 flights in the year 2018 up until October, “equalling a two-week closure of our most important hub Frankfurt.” The underlying problem is the fragmentation of European airspace, especially unions of air traffic controllers all around Europa who are reluctant to give up national privileges, which would be necessary to create a more efficient Single European Sky, propagated by airlines and politics for decades.

Besides ATC there were many specific factors that played a role at Lufthansa. “The takeover of Air Berlin was a huge historical chance for us, but also an enormous challenge”, stressed Spohr.  “We had to integrate Air Berlin aircraft from 15 different leasing firms, where we first had to translate technical logbooks from other languages, an unbelievable bureaucracy.” Further complications were added by problems with new Airbus A320neo aircraft: “We only got half as many as intended and currently they fly only half as much every day as the should”, concedes Spohr.

Especially vulnerable to all these burdens was Lufthansa’s low-cost arm Eurowings, facing huge problems with delays and cancellations in the peak summer season. “Eurowings has doubled in size over the last two years, it is now the third-largest European point-to-point airline behind Ryanair and EasyJet”, states Spohr.

“For me, summer 2019 will be year one of a new normality at Eurowings, our focus is on three priorities: Operational stability, getting back into the black and creating a team spirit among the workforce.” Still, Spohr is skeptical about next summer. “It will be better than 2018, but not as good as I would like it to be.”

Lufthansa has taken many measures to try to prevent another chaotic summer. “We hire 800 employees just to stabilize flight operations, we have ordered six extra Airbus A320ceos, as only these can be delivered fast enough to fill gaps next summer. We will also keep a double-digit number of backup aircraft taken from our existing fleet ready at our hubs in Düsseldorf for Eurowings as well as in Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, and Zurich.”

But Spohr is still bothered. “It is my great fear that we have planned a greater number of flights in German airspace than the current infrastructure can take. But the German government has at least assured us that the number of flights at the biggest German airports will not increase, despite the attempt by some airports to still put more flights through.”

Longest Air New Zealand flight hits Chicago running

Air New Zealand strike averted
Photo: Steve Creedy.

Air New Zealand’s first ultra-long-haul route to Chicago arrived almost an hour early on Friday, demonstrating to residents of the Windy City that Australasia is closer than they think.

The Boeing 787-9 rode the jet stream to finish the trip in just over 14 hours instead of almost 15 hours. It achieved the time savings through user preferred routes that allow it to optimize its oceanic flights to take advantage of airflows.

It was still enjoying 160kmh tailwinds as it approached Chicago.

“Essentially the Jetstream is a fast-moving body of air and obviously we like to harness that where we can to make the flight go a lot faster,’’ said first officer Al Hanley. “It’s more efficient for us as well.’’

Bookings are ahead of expectations on the three-times-weekly service and Air New Zealand chief revenue officer Cam Wallace says the airline’s aspiration is to move quickly to a daily service.

“I’m not going to put a timeline on that, but our aspiration is to get to daily as quickly as possible and the initial bookings are better than we anticipated,’’ he said.

READ: Air New Zealand’s Christmas video delights again.

Wallace said the airline is particularly pleased with its sales in Chicago, which are running at about 65 percent of the US total.

“Our expectation when we did the modeling is that we’d have more about 50 percent so we’re really encouraged by the bookings,’’ he said. “We want to get to more service, more quickly because clearly, that makes it a more efficient operation with crew and things like that.”

Chief executive Christopher Luxon is also confident in the future of the route and the airline’s  US strategy as a whole.

Air New Zealand chicago
Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon. Photo: Steve Creedy.

The route is not only Air New Zealand’s longest but also the longest from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Chicago is the Kiwi carrier’s sixth destination in North America and Luxon believes there is still plenty of untapped potential. It already flies to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hawaii, Vancouver and Houston.

He said about 34 million Americans wanted to visit New Zealand and many wanted to go to Australia as well.

“Last year we had about 341,000 that actually came – it grew about 7 percent – so it’s probably our third or fourth biggest market,’’ he said.

“But the upshot is there still a lot of opportunity sitting there with 34 million people who do research on New Zealand, understand what’s there and have it on their wish list.

“The biggest problem they have is their perception of distance and when we actually research them, many of them tell us they think it’s 41 hours to get here.

“So they obviously have a very poor sense of geography but that perceived barrier of actually coming is what gets in the way.”

Luxon lived in Chicago for six years and knows the city well. There is a catchment of about 10 million people in the Greater Chicago area and it is a mega-hub for  close Air New Zealand alliance partner, United Airlines.

This means that people coming in from Australia and New Zealand can easily find a flight to New York and other US cities on the eastern seaboard as well as Canadian destinations such as Toronto and Montreal.

For Australians, the connection from Sydney is quick and seamless and the first person to book on the flight was a Sydney-sider. Connection time is about two hours for the Boeing 777-200 Sydney-Auckland morning service that allows premium customers to travel on business premier or in premium economy all the way through.

Perth is also a widebody market for Air New Zealand offering consistent product all the way.

The 275-seat 787-9 flying the route is a code 2 aircraft with an expanded business class (27 seats) in a herringbone 1-1 -1 configuration and premium economy (33 seats) in a 2-3-2 layout.  The economy cabin is 3-3-3.

It also had the newer TEN Rolls-Royce 1000 engines rather than the troublesome Package C engines that have prompted AirNZ and other airlines worldwide to ground planes.

The service has other obvious pluses for antipodeans: it allows them to avoid security bottlenecks in Los Angeles and gives them AirNZ’s award-winning product through to Chicago.

AirNZ has been successfully marketing its Pacific Rim strategy to Aussies for some time and 40 percent of its traffic to Buenos Aries and about 30 percent of its traffic to Houston comes from Australia.

Wallace believes at least 20 percent of traffic on the route will come from Australia, while Luxon says it could be as high as 25 to 30 percent.

“We think the access works not just for Sydney but for South Australia, Perth and Victoria as well,’’ Wallace said. “We believe this is the most convenient way for Australians to get there and we also in think in terms of the stage length of the journey,  (Auckland) works quite well in terms of the connecting point.”

Luxon is also pleased the route appears to be striking a chord with Americans.

“What we’re finding, even more so than we thought, is there’s actually very strong point-to-point traffic between Chicago and Auckland starting to build already, Luxon said.

“So the good news is it’s going really well.  We’re off to a great start and we’re ahead of our business case from the get-go, which is fantastic.”

That’s important for  New Zealand, according to Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis, who was also on the inaugural flight and is keen to strengthen tourism links between the two countries.

Davis said Americans visiting New Zealand spent $NZ1.3 billion in 2017 and this was projected to grow to $NZ2.3 billion by 2024. The US is also New Zealand’s fourth biggest trading partner and one its largest source of direct investment.

And with 60 percent of Americans traveling outside peak seasons, Davis said the new route would spread the tourism benefits across the year.

“The more links we have with each other, the more opportunities there are for business travel and for people-to-people connections,’’ Davis said.

Steve Creedy traveled to Chicago courtesy of Air New Zealand.

 

 

Stunning air-to-air of Air France 787

Air France

Air France has released a stunning film its latest Boeing 787 inflight over Southern France.

Air France partnered Daher and Airborne Films to capture the stunning air-to-air video just before the aircraft entered service.

See our Concorde tribute

Here below is the video plus below that a much longer behind-the-scenes version that shows the coordination of the flight crews.

Crash expert says new MH370 debris suggests destructive end

MH370

The new MH370 debris gives additional insight about where and how the aircraft impacted the sea according to a leading expert in the plane’s disappearance.

Victor Iannello a lead in the so-called Independent Group examining the loss of MH370 says that “in light of the past efforts to find the aircraft, there are three main possibilities that remain.”

  1. Firstly that the aircraft impacted the ocean relatively close to the 7th arc, but at a latitude further north than the area previously searched.

2. That the aircraft impacted the ocean at a latitude previously searched, but farther from the 7th arc than previously assumed.

3. Or the aircraft debris field was in the subsea area previously scanned by sonar but was either missed or misidentified.

SEE Our 15 year Concorde coverage.

Mr Iannello says that “sources close to the previous search effort believe (3) is very unlikely, as there was a thorough review of the sonar data by multiple parties with high levels of experience, and because any “points of interest” were scanned multiple times to ensure the resolution was adequate to make a determination with a high level of confidence.”

The new debris and some of the previously recovered debris also suggest that the aircraft impacted the ocean at high speed.

“That means that (2) is possible only if the aircraft first was in a rapid descent and then the pilot skillfully recovered from the rapid descent and glided some distance away from the 7th arc beyond the width of the subsea search, and then later the aircraft again descended at high speed and impacted the sea (producing the shattered debris). This sequence of dive-glide-dive is considered by many to be a very unlikely sequence of events, although it cannot be completed dismissed.”

“What is left is possibility (1). This suggests future subsea search efforts should proceed along the 7th arc, starting where the last search ended near 25S latitude and continuing farther north.”

Mr. Iannello adds that “the part recovered in Madagascar in August 2018 was the latest in a series of finds that began with the discovery of the flaperon on Reunion Island in July 2015. Because of the wide range of discovery times, and because there is an undefinable delay between when a part arrives on a beach and when it is discovered, it is difficult to use the timing and location of debris discoveries to precisely pinpoint where to search for MH370.”

“Finally, the new debris finds illustrate the critical role of independent investigators in the search for MH370, and one investigator in particular. The local communications campaign to educate residents of Madagascar about debris washing ashore was spearheaded by Blaine Gibson with the help of some of the MH370 families. Blaine has also done a commendable job of developing a local network to help recover the debris after discovery, says Mr Iannello.

For the full article go to Mr. Iannello’s excellent blog site. 

New MH370 debris proves violent and destructive end to Boeing 777

MH370

New debris from MH370 found on Madagascar proves conclusively that the Boeing 777 met a violent end and that it broke apart on impact.

Wreck hunter Blaine Gibson and some relatives of those lost in the MH370 disappearance handed over five pieces of debris yesterday collected by residents in Madagascar over the past year to Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke.

MH370
Wreck hunter Blaine Gibson with a piece of floor panel from the Boieng 777

The pieces had been collected over the past year.

See our Concorde Coverage 

READ Crash investigators analysis of MH370 find

“The debris proves two things. MH370 crashed violently and it almost certainly is in the Southern Indian Ocean,” Mr. Gibson said.

The next of kin said they want assurances from Mr. Loke that the Malaysian Government would continue efforts to find a satisfactory resolution to the mystery of MH370, which disappeared on March 8, 2014, with 239 aboard.

One piece of debris found at Sandravinany, south Madagascar, has been positively identified using a fragment of a label still attached as part of a floor panel from a Boeing 777.

“Don Thompson, one of the Independent Group investigating MH370’s disappearance, found the actual identification label for the Boeing 777,” Mr. Gibson said.

An important clue was the piece contained a portion of a placard with the identifying characters WPPS61.

Mh370
Floor panel showing a small corner of a label with number VPPS61

According to another IG member, Victor Iannello, Mr. Thompson was able to determine that the full placard number was BAC27WPPS61 and he found a similar placard on the floorboard of wreckage from MH17.

MH370
Full Boeing 777 floor panel label

“This leaves little doubt that the piece recovered from Madagascar is from MH370,” Mr Iannello said.

The other pieces, while not identifiable as being from the missing Boeing 777, are positively aircraft debris.

Mr. Gibson said that the five pieces were handed in as a result of a debris awareness campaign launched by the families of the victims of MH370.

“Some of the families went on radio in Madagascar to plead with locals to hand in pieces of debris,” he said.

“Locals tell me there are many more pieces of debris washed up but it needs to Malaysia to offer rewards.”

Mr. Gibson has been giving locals small rewards.

While the two extensive searches have not turned up the main body of wreckage, Mr Gibson believes that the main body of wreckage probably lies just outside the search area about 1800km due west of Perth.

That main body would include engines, undercarriage, wings and the bulk of the fuselage.

Malaysia has promised to resume the search but only if there is “credible” new evidence.

“Suggestions that it is the Cambodian jungle are nonsense.”

And there is a sinister side to the loss of MH370. 

Mr. Gibson – and Seven West Media – has been the subject of stalking with some Malaysian interests trying to discredit him.

A secret meeting with SWM in Perth last year was reported on in Malaysia just 30 minutes after it took place.

Mr. Gibson has even been accused of planting debris.

However, most of the debris has been handed in by locals and Mr. Gibson has simply raised awareness and been the point of focus.

 

Air New Zealand’s New Christmas Video Delights Again

Santa

Air New Zealand has done it again with a charming – and funny – video which sees the world’s naughtiest children unite in a bid to get back in Santa’s good books after the Big Man accidentally leaks his official “naughty list”.

Released today, ‘The Nicest Christmas Ever’ shows Air New Zealand flying to the rascals’ rescue, assembling an International Naughty Kids Summit to tackle the threat of empty stockings.

READ: The World’s Best Airlines 

Knowing that Santa is always watching, the delegation of little darlings pledges better behavior – but when talks stall with the US representative, it falls to New Zealand to save the season.

More than 300 children of Air New Zealand employees auditioned to take part in the clip, with 17 selected to star as extras alongside the airline’s ground and cabin crew. Santa makes an appearance, as well as “Noel” the elf from last year’s Air New Zealand Christmas video.

Air New Zealand General Manager Global Brand and Content Jodi Williams says the airline has a reputation for poking fun and wanted to inject some Kiwi humour into Christmas celebrations.

“From childhood memories of writing to Santa, through to the drama of a festive tech fail, the heartwarming video plays on silly season moments in a very Kiwi way.

“Showcasing our people is a hallmark of Air New Zealand’s brand campaigns and it was fantastic to be able to share the limelight with more of the Air New Zealand family this time.”

The video follows Air New Zealand’s ‘A Very Merry Mistake’ from Christmas 2017 which shared Santa’s struggle to decipher the New Zealand accent. This campaign attracted 13 million views and won the Global Content award at the PRWeek Global Awards in London.

 

AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief on CNN’s coverage of Lion Air crash

CNN Lion air
AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas

AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief has once again been interviewed by CNN for its superb ongoing coverage of the Lion Air tragedy.

You can see the CNN story and video here.

Read: Questions raised about Lion Air maintenance

 

 

 

 

 

American, China Southern in big move to strengthen ties

American miami boost
Photo: American Airlines

American Airlines and China Southern have wasted no time cozying up to each other in the wake of the Chinese carrier’s decision to quit SkyTeam.

The airlines announced Wednesday they were taking steps to strengthen their partnership with a significant expansion of codeshare cooperation and the launch of reciprocal frequent flyer benefits and lounge access.

The expansion, which is pending regulatory approvals,  will see American codesharing to 20 destinations beyond Beijing and Shanghai.

China Southern will have its code on flights to 21 US ports beyond Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco SFO) and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).

The Guangzhou-based Chinese carrier flagged it would strengthen its alliance with American when it announced its decision to quite the SkyTeam alliance from January 1.

READ: Skyteam reassures customers over China Southern departures.

SkyTeam had been seen as a drag on the relationship between China Southern and American, which last year sealed a $US200 million deal that included a 2.76 percent stake in China’s biggest carrier.

The move fuelled speculation the Chinese carrier would join the rival oneworld alliance founded by American, although China Southern hinted it was looking at bilateral and multilateral alliances.

The airlines launched a reciprocal codeshare in January to give each better access to the other’s domestic market.

That gave American’s passengers access to 14 cities beyond Beijing Capital Airport (PEK)  and this will now be expanded to another five destinations beyond the Chinese capital.

They are Urumqi Diwopu International Airport (URC),  Guiyang Longdongbao International Airport (KWE),  Guilin Liangjiang International Airport (KWL), Haikou Meilan International Airport (HAK) and Sanya Phoenix International Airport (SYX).

There are also new codeshare services from Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) to nine cities.

They are Sanya Phoenix  airport, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN), Shenyang Taoxian International Airport (SHE), Changsha Huanghua International Airport (CSX), Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport (SZX), Dalian Zhoushuizi International Airport (DLC), Harbin Taiping International Airport (HRB), Changchun Longjia International Airport (CGQ) and Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport (CGO)

China Southern currently codeshares with American to six cities but will expand this to a host of additional flight from beyond LAX, SFO and JFK.

From LAX,  codeshare destinations will include Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu (HNL), McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas (LAS), San Jose International Airport (SJC), Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Orlando International Airport (MCO), Portland International Airport (PDX), Denver International Airport (DEN), Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) and Tucson International Airport (TUS).

From SFO, they add LAX, JFK, Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), Miami International Airport (MIA) and Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT).

Destinations from JFK are LAX, BOS, MCO, MIA, DFW, Raleigh/Durham International Airport (RDU), San Diego International Airport (SAN) and  Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix (PHX).

The airlines will also begin codesharing on each other’s flights between the U.S. and China.

American will place its AA code on China Southern flights from LAX to Shenyang and Guangzhou.

“We are very pleased with the progress we have made so far in our newly formed relationship with the largest airline in Asia,” American Airlines president Robert Isom said in a statement.

“We look forward to building on our successes with a significant expansion of our codeshare cooperation and the addition of reciprocal frequent flyer benefits and lounge access.

“With the opening of Beijing Daxing International Airport in 2019, and the ability to cooperate fully with China Southern, we are incredibly excited about American’s future in the Chinese market.”

China Southern assistant president Zhan Ling said the strengthened relationship would help both airlines extend networks and meet passenger demands through sharing resources.

He said the American relationship was an important move in China Southern’s initiatives to build new international relationships.

“Our cooperation is market- and passenger-oriented, founded on a win-win relationship,’’ he said.

All Nippon Airways to launch Perth direct flights

All Nippon Airways

All Nippon Airways is set to increase its Australian footprint by launching nonstop flights between Tokyo and Perth.

An industry source in Tokyo has confirmed that All Nippon Airways is expected to announce within weeks that it will start direct flights between Perth and Tokyo next year.

The daily service, understood to be operated by Boeing 787-9s, is expected to bring an additional 70,000 Japanese visitors to Western Australia every year.

Read: The World’s Best Airlines for 2019.

See: Magnificent tribute to Concorde

AirlineRatings.com understands from the source that the airline may launch the flights as early as April, although no flights are yet available for booking.

The airline’s former president and chief executive, Osamu Shinobe, expressed interest in Perth as a destination three years ago.

Mr Shinobe told media at a Star Alliance conference in Chicago in November 2015 that the airline wanted to fly to other Australian destinations after the re-launch of a Sydney service that had been axed in 1999.

At the time he said that a “surge in economic activity between Australia and Japan” had tipped the scale in favor of Australia as a destination and Perth was next on the airline’s radar.

Neither WA Tourism Minister Paul Papalia nor Perth Airport Chief Executive Kevin Brown would comment because the deal is at a sensitive stage.

It is understood, however, from the Tokyo source that All Nippon Airways’ management has approved the deal.

The service is a big win for the State Government, which has made tourism a high priority.

Mr Papalia, Premier Mark McGowan, and Mr. Brown have all visited Tokyo to lobby for the service.

They have been assisted in Tokyo by Australia’s ambassador, former WA premier Richard Court.

As well as inbound Japanese tourists there has been a very high level of interest from West Australians in the service, which will connect to 50 domestic destinations in Japan.

Qantas withdrew from the Tokyo-Perth route in 2011 because the airline was using the Boeing 767 and it was on the route as it was at the limit of its economic range.

All Nippon Airways, which was formed in 1953, is Japan’s biggest airline with a fleet of 232 aircraft and with another 81 on order.

It is understood that the airline will use the 787-9 on the Perth route. These aircraft have various configurations seating between 215 and 395 seats.

The aircraft to be used for Perth is likely to have 40 business class, 14 premium economy and 192 economy seats for a total of 246 seats.

All Nippon Airways was the launch airline for the Boeing 787.

 

Questions raised about maintenance of Lion Air flight

INdonesia
Photo: Lion Air

Questions have been raised about Lion Air maintenance procedures and work done on a crucial angle of attack sensor the airline’s logs say was replaced and tested ahead of last month’s fatal flight.

They come after Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee released a preliminary report on the October 29 fatal crash of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 that confirmed the aircraft experienced problems on four previous flights.

See: Dispelling the myths about flying. 

The report also appears to confirm that the pilots in the fatal crash of the doomed plane did not follow the same procedures as a Lion Air crew that landed the same plane safely the night before after experiencing a similar problem.

The problems on the four previous flights occurred in the three days before Boeing 737 MAX 8 slammed into the sea with 189 people on board after leaving Jakarta.

READ Lion Air aware of new 737 flight system.

The report confirmed that the captain on Denpasar-Jakarta flight on October 28 discussed maintenance done on the plane with an engineer and was told the angle of attack sensor had been replaced and tested.

When the plane took off from Denpasar, however, a stick shaker designed to warn of an impending aerodynamic stall activated and at 400ft the captain noted that an indicated airspeed (IAS) disagree warning was showing on the primary flight display.

He also noticed that the aircraft was automatically trimming nose down and after this happened three times the co-pilot, who was flying the aircraft, commented that the control column as too heavy to hold back.

The pilot then moved to shut down the automatic trim system by moving the STAB TRIM switches to the cut-out position.

This was in accordance with the runaway stabilizer non-normal checklist in the 737 MAX Flight Crew Operations Manual and was the procedure that was the subject a Boeing bulletin and a US Federal Aviation Administration emergency airworthiness directive.

The co-pilot then continued the flight with manual trim and without auto-pilot to land safely in Jakarta.

However, the report noted that three non-normal checklists performed by the crew did not contain instructions to land at the nearest suitable airport.

There have been questions about why the aircraft was allowed to continue to fly and why,  if it had been fixed, it was still malfunctioning.

Manufacturer Boeing noted in a statement the report did not include records as to the installation or calibration of the new sensor nor whether it was new or refurbished.

“Although the report states that the pilot was satisfied by the information relayed by the engineer that the AOA sensor had been replaced and tested, on the subsequent flight the pilots again experienced problems with erroneous airspeed data, and also experienced automatic nose down trim,” Boeing said.

After reaching Jakarta, the captain informed an engineer about the aircraft problem and entered indicated airspeed and altitude disagree as well as feel differential pressure (on the control column in the flight log. He also reported it through an electronic reporting system

The engineer flushed the left pitot air data module (ADM) and static port ADM to rectify the altitude disagree problem and performed a ground test.

There is no suggestion the the angle of attack sensor from the October 28 flight was replaced or repaired.

When Lion Air Flight 610 took off from Jakarta on October 29, the pilots again faced a stick shaker on rotation which continued throughout the flight.

The pilots also faced a difference between left and right angle of attack readings of about 20 degrees that again continued throughout the flight.

The co-pilot asked an air traffic controller to confirm the attitude of the aircraft and asked for the speed as shown on the radar display. He reported there was a flight control problem.

When the flaps retracted, the report said, the flight data recorder showed automatic nose down trim for 10 seconds followed by a nose up response from the flight crew.

This stopped when the flaps extended but began again when they were once more retracted and continued for the rest of the flight with the crew repeatedly commanding nose-up trim to counter the automatic system.

At one stage, the captain advised air traffic control that the aircraft’s altitude could not be determined because all the instruments were giving different readings.

Although not mentioned in the report, the downward trim was due to to a flight control law,  the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS),  added to the 737 MAX to help pilots cope with a stall.

The main intent of MCAS is to make the MAX respond to a stall in a way pilots would find consistent with other 737 models.

It is essentially software that helps push down the nose if the aircraft’s computers detect a high angle of attack.

There has been controversy among US pilots about whether Boeing flagged the feature sufficiently.

However, it is disabled if the crew follow the runaway stabilizer protocols followed by the crew on the October 28 flight.

Yet there is no mention, as Boeing pointed out, of the crew following the same procedure as their counterparts the previous night.

“Data from the flight data recorder summarized in the report also makes clear that, as on the previous flight, the airplane experienced automatic nose down trim,’’  the manufacturer said.

“In response, the flight crew repeatedly commanded nose up trim. This sequence repeated for the remainder of the flight, during which the flight crew was able to maintain control of the airplane for approximately ten minutes.

“Unlike as is stated with respect to the prior flight, the report does not state whether the pilots performed the runaway stabilizer procedure or cut out the stabilizer trim switch.’’

The search for the cockpit voice recorder continues and the committee told Lion Air, which has taken a number of safety actions,  to improve aspects of its safety culture.

It said that parts of the operation manual relating to discontinuing a flight when there is problem be implemented “to enable the pilot to make a proper decision to continue the flight”

It also said that all operations documents be properly filled out and documented after the weight and balance sheet for the flight said there were five flight attendants when there were six.

Preliminary reports deal with facts surrounding an accident and an analysis will not come until the full report.

 

 

 

 

 

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