Saturday, March 12, 2022
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Spate of bomb threats forces landings

bomb threat

Up to five, passenger planes across the world have made forced landings are a spate of bomb threats.

The planes have been forced down in Argentina, Chile, Peru and Greece.

According to News Corp and Reuters LATAM Airlines fight 2369 that departed Lima for Santiago, Chile, was forced to land at an airport in southern Peru due to a bomb threat received by Chilean authorities, Peru’s Transportation Ministry said.

READ: Indonesia AirAsia passes a major safety audit

Giovanni Circella‏ tweeted “Everybody stuck on board – the captain just informed us of an alert for a bomb threat on our plane from Mendoza to Santiago – we will need to disembark in the runway. Hopefully, everything will be fine!
bomb threat
Onboard the LATAM aircraft. Credit: Giovanni Circella‏
He then tweeted: “Everything is Fine. What an experience! We had to disembark on the taxiway for a bomb alarm – flight LA433 from Mendoza to Santiago. We are safe, no worries!
Bomb Threat
Deplaning the LATAM aircraft. Credit: Giovanni Circella‏

 

Another, Latam flight from Mendoza in Argentina to Santiago, was also grounded.

The UK Independent says that two flights operated by Chile-based Sky Airlines bound for Rosario, Argentina, and the northern Chilean city of Calama returned to Santiago without incident.

And on Crete, a Condor Airways flight made an emergency landing at Chania airport over an alleged bomb threat on board, local media say.

The aircraft with more than 270 passengers was en route from Egypt’s Hurghada to Duesseldorf, according to Skai broadcaster.

Local military officials say the Boeing 757 jet was escorted to Chania airport by two Greek air force F-16 fighters scrambled after the pilot reported the threat, and landed without incident late Thursday.

More to come…..

Singapore Air teams with wellness experts for ultra long range flights

Singapore Airlines lauches world's longest flight
The A350-900 ULR will launch the world's longest flight

Singapore Airlines and Canyon Ranch, one of the world’s premier integrative wellness brand, have signed a partnership to enhance ultra-long-haul travel with a focus on wellness cuisines, rest and relaxation, and well-being on the world’s longest flights.

The Canyon Ranch team of experts from integrative medicine, exercise, nutrition and other disciplines including the 17th U.S. Surgeon General – has developed science-based strategies for improved sleep, exercise and stretching, as well as new, nutrition-focused menus, applied specifically to Singapore Airline’s new 18 hour 45 minutes non-stop service launching on October 11 between Singapore and New York (Newark), the world’s longest commercial flight.

The program will also extend to Singapore-US non-stop services to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

READ: Indonesia AirAsia passes major safety audit

Singapore Airlines Acting Senior VP Customer Experience, Mr Yeoh Phee Teik said “SIA is firmly committed to continually elevating our customers’ experience to be the number one in the industry. Our new partnership with Canyon Ranch builds on that commitment, as well as our strong legacy of service, tapping into their deep expertise and science-based recommendations and strategies to deliver an even more comfortable journey for our customers.”

The partnership will focus on the following components:

Wellness Cuisines – developed by Canyon Ranch chefs and nutritionists focused on nutrition and hydration (taking into consideration longer flight duration with less body movement), combined with bold flavors and textures. These wellness cuisines are offered in addition to SIA’s own meal selections and creations by its International Culinary Panel chefs.

Rest and Relaxation – which includes sleep strategies designed to help customers in all cabin classes improve the duration and quality of rest, as well as specific light settings in providing better cabin ambiance for rest and relaxation.

Guided Stretching Exercises – led by Canyon Ranch exercise physiologists, accessible via personal seatback entertainment systems to promote relaxation.

CEO of Canyon Ranch, Ms. Susan E. Docherty said “as a trailblazer in integrative wellness for four decades, collaborating with the world’s most awarded airline that has ushered customers globally for more than 70 years, our affiliation is a testimony to heritage brands that continue to innovate. We are fortunate to provide transformative wellness to guests on land, at sea and now – in the air, with a partner that is equally committed to their guests’ experience as we are.”

SIA will be the first airline in the world to operate the A350-900ULR, with seven on firm order with Airbus. The ultra-long-range aircraft will be configured in a two-class layout, with 67 Business Class seats and 94 Premium Economy Class seats.

Non-stop flights to Los Angeles are due to begin on November 2. Together with increased Singapore-San Francisco non-stop services, SIA will link Singapore and the US with 27 weekly non-stop flights by the end of 2018, while total US frequency will increase to 53 flights per week.

Boeing’s giant factory complex just got a lot bigger

Boeing plant
Aerial View of Everett Boeing; View from South to North; includes 777X Wing Building.

Boeing’s Everett factory complex is the world’s largest building and has produced more wide-body planes – 4937 – than all other competing manufacturers combined and it has just got a lot bigger.

The new additions are two buildings for Boeing 777X construction which combine increase the factory space by another 25 percent.

Below is a video of the start of the Boeing 777X in the new wing center.

The Everett, Washington complex, is the workplace for 30,000, produces 25,000 meals a day from 20 cafeterias and its area is bigger than Disneyland.

In many ways, it is a magic kingdom. Here the world’s largest aerospace company, Boeing, has built 4937 widebody planes – the 747 Jumbo (1546), 767 (1116), 777 (1559) and 787 (716) — since 1968.

Below is an image of the first 777X under construction courtesy of Sam Chui.

 

And it has plenty more to build: 22 747s, 108 767s excluding military tankers, 429 777s and, 671 787s. Those numbers are firm orders only and Boeing holds options for hundreds more 777s and 787s.

Boeing's 777X
Boeing’s 777X-9 and 777X-8

And there are another 1,280 wide-body planes on order.

Boeing’s Everett production building is over 1km long and ½ km wide and you could fit 911 basketball courts inside.

The massive production facility has six doors, each a canvas for depicting the company’s planes.

Boeing factory doors
The factory doors on Boeing’s facility are a canvas for depicting the planes that are built there.

And what a canvas — each door is the size of an American football field.

But the factory itself is just part of a massive industrial complex that includes three huge paint hangars, sprawling flight lines, a plane delivery center that is as big as an airport terminal, office blocks, and the new 777X wing assembly plant.

The whole facility covers an area of 415 hectares.

Built in 1968, the plant doubled in size to accommodate production of the 767 in the late 1970s and was expanded again by 50 percent in 1993 to build the 777.

Recently the huge wing plant was constructed behind the main facility to build the composite wings for the 777X.

Boeing's 777s
Boeing’s 777 production line

It is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Washington State. Boeing started tours of the factory when it was building the first 747 and since then more than 3.5 million people have seen the facility.

The factory has 26 overhead cranes that cruise on 72 kilometers of networked tracks and these cranes make 45,000 lifts a month to support the building of about 20 planes a month.

Boeing's 787 production line
Boeing 787s are now produced at a rate of 7 a month at Everett and 5 a month at the company’s Charleston plant.

Painting the planes is also a feat. It takes up to seven days to paint a plane and a 747 requires 454 liters while a 787 a little less at about 370 liters.

The plant is now building the company’s newest plane, the Boeing 777X, which is a total revamp of the popular 777.

That plane, with a new wing and engine and a more spacious cabin, will be capable of new non-stop routes such as Sydney to London and Sydney to New York.

 

Indonesia AirAsia passes major safety audit

airasia
An AirAsia Airbus A320

Indonesia AirAsia, just successfully passed a major international safety audit, IOSA, that covers more than 1060 separate parameters.

The Operational Safety Audit is conducted by the International Air Transport Association and airlines that have completed the audit have a safety record almost four times better than those that have not.

The first airline to complete the audit, when it was introduced 15 years ago, was Qatar Airways.

READ: I have changed my mind, I would now fly AirAsia. 

Now 425 airlines have completed the audit, which is renewed every two years.

The completion of the audit elevates the airline from four stars to six stars out of a possible seven-star safety rating with AirlineRatings.com.

AirAsia X already is IOSA accredited and other airlines in the AirAsia Group are in the final process of completing the audit.

Indonesia AirAsia is based in Jakarta and has 18 Airbus A320s and flies to 13 destinations.

Typically it operates four flights a day between Bali and Perth.

The awarding of the IOSA accreditation is expected to be a major boost for the airline, particularly with Australian passengers.

The IOSA certification audit is an internationally recognized and accepted evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline.

The audit covers eight functional and operational areas: organisation and management system, flight operations, operational control and flight dispatch, aircraft engineering and maintenance, cabin operations, ground handling operations, cargo operations and security management.

AirAsia Indonesia CEO Dendy Kurniawan said, “We are committed to continuously improving our safety standards. This IOSA registration gives assurance that AirAsia Indonesia complies with a globally recognized safety benchmark and we couldn’t be more proud that the audit has confirmed our operational safety and security integrity.

Our Allstars have been preparing for the IOSA audit for the past two years, and this accomplishment would not have been possible without their hard work and support.”

AirAsia Indonesia is the second airline within the AirAsia Group to be registered with IOSA, following the success of AirAsia X Malaysia in obtaining the certification in 2014, which was renewed earlier this year. IOSA audits are conducted biannually.

IOSA was introduced to stem the increasing number of crashes in the late 1990s and into the beginning of the last decade.

 

The AirAsia Group airlines now fly to 165 destinations in 25 countries.

It has just ordered or reconfirmed orders for 100 A330s for its AirAsia X operation.

Regional airfares – expensive but cheap!

Virgin Australia

Around the world, the debate rages as to why short-haul regional airfares are so expensive.

But the reality is while they are expensive compared to long-haul flights they are cheap compared to what they cost 50 years ago.

One example is the airfare from Perth to Pt Hedland in the north of Western Australia.

In 1968 at the start of that state’s resources boom, the one-way fare was A$67.60 while the average weekly earnings were almost the same at A$62.50.

Fifty years on the cheapest fare is $351 (A$0.26/km) but the average weekly earnings have soared to $1,628, so the fare today is almost five times lower.

READ: MH370 final report a cover-up

Fueling the debate in Western Australia, and in fact across Australia and New Zealand, are firstly the cost comparisons of flying to the holiday island of Bali, Indonesia, where labor costs are seven times lower than Australia.

The other comparison made is the Australia to London airfare where the typical one-way cost is $870 which translates to just $0.06/km.

No matter where you look around globe short regional flights are much more expensive than long-range flights as the graphic below shows.

airfares

The differences underline one of the fundamentals of airlines, the substantial basic costs such as the cost of the aircraft, support, taxes, and charges.

The biggest factor in the cost of a fare is the flag-fall or backroom cost of having the plane waiting on the tarmac.

Boeing estimated in the 1990s that up to 75 percent of an airfare could be attributed to these costs that include maintenance, sales, administration and infrastructure costs.

Even the taxes and airport charges do not reflect the distance you are going to travel and when airlines have seat sales, airports rarely if ever reduce charges to assist.

And those charges can make up a significant proportion of the fare.

One WA regional airport charges A$25.80 for each arriving and departing passenger and then there is a $14.57 screening fee for a departing passenger. Airport charges in WA have accounted for up to 40 percent of some sale fares.

Fuel burn is also much higher on a short-range trip because of the extra fuel used just to reach cruising altitude. On a 600km journey of about one hour, half of the fuel load will be used in the first 15 minutes getting to cruise altitude.

The economy of scale is also a major contributor to the cost with planes such as the 365-seat Boeing 777 having vastly better economics than a short-range 162-seat Boeing 737.

Because shorter range planes such as the Boeing 737 perform up to six landings and take-offs a day the maintenance cost on the airframe and engine is comparatively much higher than say a long-range Boeing 777 which may just do one cycle a day.

An extreme example of the economy of scale and short distance is the flight from Perth to Rottnest Island off the coast. The distance is 35.2km but the one-way fare is $78 or A$2.22/km.

If you were to apply that cost to a Perth to London return flight the fare would be over $28,000!

In Western Australia, there is also a raging debate that suggests that the intra-state flights are more expensive than any other in Australia. However, as the graphic below shows that is not the case and in fact, some comparison fares are cheaper.

airfares

Qantas 787-9 sets new speed record for Perth to London non-stop

Qantas Boeiing 787
Qantas 787-9

Qantas has once set a new speed record for the Perth to London QF9 Boeing 787-9 non-stop flight slashing almost an hour off the scheduled flight time.

The new record time was set on July 20 and was just 16 hours 23 minutes instead of the scheduled 17 hours 20 minutes.

The non-stop flight to London, launched in March, is now consistently at least 45 minutes better than scheduled.

Qantas 787 smashing speed records

The times have gradually been getting better as the strong northern winter winds have given way to a lighter summer pattern.

The inbound QF10 from London to Perth is also setting record times of 15.45 minutes also stripping an hour off the published time.

The average speed for the QF10 journey is about 936km/h with ground speeds topping out at over 1120km/h.

The typical cruise speed for a 787 is 900km/h.

READ: MH370 final report a coverup

According to Flightradar24 the Qantas Perth to London and return service is now consistently beating the published schedule in both directions.

WATCH: Qantas 787 Quokka inflight

Qantas has orders and price rights for 45 787s.

At the Boeing factory the 6th, VH-ZNF, is in pre-delivery, while VH-ZNH and VH ZNG the 774 and 778th 787s will be delivered later this year.

The airline has firm orders for another 6 to be delivered later in 2019.

It has announced new routes including Melbourne to San Francisco, Brisbane-LA-New York and Sydney/Melbourne and Brisbane to Hong Kong.

These services just replace A380s or 747s

The next all new route is thought to be Sydney to Chicago.

According to travel agents, the Perth to London nonstop is proving popular and it is difficult to get premium seats.

Supporting the pilots of the nonstop flight is the high-tech Qantas integrated operations center at the airline’s Mascot headquarters.

Multi-disciplinary experts in areas such as load control, engineering, weather forecasting, catering, flight planning, dispatch and customer service monitor the operations, plan flights and are ready to leap into action when something goes amiss.

Qantas chief technical pilot Alex Passerini said key issues with the London flight include avoiding headwinds, because they made a significant difference to the flight time, and negotiating the complicated patchwork of air traffic control regions run by various countries.

The airline has its own weather forecasters who monitor conditions up to seven days before the flight and keep a closer watch once it is 72 hours away.

 

 

Starry Starry night from a 747

747

A pilot has captured a dramatic photo of a starry starry night and three planets over the Algerian desert from his Boeing 747.

Christiaan van Heijst, a Dutch pilot with freight airline flying Boeing 747s explains that he was about to start a night crossing of the African continent from north to south, flying over the Algerian desert.

Speaking with Airlineratings.com Christiaan said that “far ahead is the bright band of countless stars that form the milky way and if that was not enough, we’re treated to a rare view on three planets in the same view.”

“The unmistakably orange-glowing Mars straight ahead, Jupiter to the right and Saturn, hiding among the stars of the Milky Way.”

“To add some extra depth I’ve decided to switch on the landing lights that form two strong beams of light that probe the sky ahead,” Christiaan said.

“With flights like these, I’m once again reminded of the fact that I am very privileged to see the world (and beyond) from this perspective.”

In the photo above Christiaan asks: “Have you ever seen the world being illuminated only by the tender touch of starlight? No moon and no lights from the ground, but just the light from the billions of stars above.”

“It is not easy nowadays to get views like these since there is nearly always some sort of artificial light source nearby from a town, city, highway or anything else, that spoils the dim darkness of night.”

“This is a shot I wanted to take for such a long time; no moon, a full milky way core (only visible for roughly 5 months a year) at the right side of our plane, a night flight over a remote part of the planet and no ground-pollution. Even planet Mars is visible just to the left of the milky way.”

“To let our eyes adjust to the total darkness, we dimmed all the lights in the cockpit nearly completely, turned down the displays and enjoyed the nocturnal view that unfolded ahead and around us. Flying over a dark and remote corner of the Congo in the depths of Africa, there were no lights to spoil the illusion of being suspended in a dimensionless void.
On the left, my colleague is leaning forward with his nose pressed against the curved windshield, counting the meteorites and silently enjoying the same view I try to capture on camera.”

Christiaan is one of the world’s leading aviation photographers and his work as seen below can be found here;

You can follow Christiaan on Instagram here: @jpcvanheijst

 

 

Horizon Air plane stolen and crashes in Seattle

Q400

A Horizon Air Q400 80-seater passenger plane has been stolen from Seattle Airport by a company ground service agent Richard Russell and has subsequently crashed on Kenton Island, which lies between Tacoma and Olympia, in Washington State.

The Q400 did a loop the loop and almost crashed into Chambers Bay, and then flew further south chased by two F-15 Eagle fighter jets from the Air National Guard in Portland.

Those fighters are on 24-hour standby.

The Q400 took off from Seattle’s SeaTac Airport at about 8.30pm local time and crashed about 90 minutes later.

Air traffic controllers tried to talk Mr Russell into landing but he refused. They even got a Q400 pilot in to help with instructions.

Alaska Airlines, the parent company, confirmed that its Horizon Air Q400 “had an unauthorized takeoff from SeaTac around 8pm has gone down near Ketron Island in Pierce County, WA.”

Mr Russell worked for Horizon Air for three and a half years, handling the baggage, cleaning the plane, and was ‘tow certified,’ allowing him to drive the tractors that pull the planes. He went through a 10-year background check to get the job.”

Questions have been raised as to how he was able to start up and taxi the Q400 before taking off illegally.

A former Northwest Airlines maintenance official tells AirlineRatings.com It’s common practice for air carriers to allow their licensed mechanics to ‘run and taxi’ aircraft at busy airports. First, however,  they receive special training on the movement of aircraft on the airport. Training complete, they are authorized by the airline to  ‘run and taxi.’

It is possible that the air traffic control thought the man was a mechanic.

According to the Pierce County Sheriff’s department, the pilot was a “suicidal male.”

“He was acting alone and he is 29-year-old Pierce county residence. We are working background on him now.”

The two F-15 chased the plane, however, did not shoot down the Q400.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s department said that the “F 15s made it within a few minutes of theft of plane.

It said that the F-15 pilots kept the “Q400 out of harm’s way and people on the ground safe.”

Seattle-based The Air Current.com Editor-in-Chief Jon Ostrower said that “being able to power on and do a rudimentary preflight and engine start on a commercial airliner is not only the purview of trained airline pilots.”

He added that “in the coming days there’s very likely going to be a very, very intense public discussion about high-fidelity simulations of the Bombardier Q400 available for use on home flight simulators.”

These flight simulation programs are available for many aircraft types and replicate the real aircraft cockpit and performance in almost every detail enabling non-pilots to become extremely proficient at flying aircraft, without ever having a license.

READ: MH370 final report a “coverup”

Just before he did the barrel roll the ground service agent who stole the plane told ATC;

“I think I am going to try to do a barrel roll and if that goes well then I am going to go nose down and call it a night.”

Here is a video of the Q400 over Seattle.

And here is a video of the barrel roll;

 

 

 

MH370 final report a “cover up”

Mh370

The final report on the disappearance of MH370 is a “cover-up” of the captain’s actions according to two industry sources in Malaysia.

One source said, the “seven flight waypoints” recovered from Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s flight simulator program — flown just weeks before the plane’s disappearance and which replicated MH370’s final flight — were all from one session.

But Malaysian authorities, in the final report, found that the waypoints were from separate sessions and therefore of no significance.

“There is no question the waypoints were from one flight into the southern Indian Ocean,” the industry source said. “This is a cover-up.”

Another source, that works as a contractor to Malaysia Airlines told AirlineRatings.com that “very early on” after MH370 disappeared the airline’s operational management said, “Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah was responsible.”

Read: Bali flights operating normally after earthquakes

The final report into the disappearance of MH370 published on July 30 has been met by growing disbelief that the Malaysians have exonerated both pilots of any responsibility.

Chief investigator Kok Soo Chon said, “we are not of the opinion that it could have been an event committed by the pilot.”

In the Australian Transport Safety Bureau report into the search for MH370, a Boeing 777, issued in October it said: “In the six weeks before, the accident flight the Pilot in Command had used his simulator to fly a route, similar to part of the route flown by MH370 up the Strait of Malacca, with a left-hand turn and track into the southern Indian Ocean.”

But the Malaysian report dismisses this and, says that “the Royal Malaysian Police Forensic Report concluded: “that there were no unusual activities other than game-related flight simulations.”

However, Flight Simulator is not a game, instead a recognized and endorsed flight training tool used by many airlines and the US military as a situation awareness flight trainer.

One of the most respected analysts of the MH370 disappearance, Independent Group member Victor Iannello has also criticised the report.

“How can Malaysian investigators ignore that the captain had the best opportunity and capability to divert the plane?” Mr. Iannello said.

“How does the compressed timeline of the diversion fit any other possibility if the diversion was intentional?”

On the flight simulator, Iannello said it was very odd that the Royal Malaysian Police concluded there were no unusual activities given the “extraordinary coincidence” that a simulated flight that included a departure from Kuala Lumpur International Airport and ended in the Southern Indian Ocean was recovered after the disappearance.

He also said the report did not mention that certain values common to the recovered seven waypoint coordinates indicated they were from the same simulation.

Airlines move to help Australia’s drought victims

doughts famrers airlines Australia
A scene in drought-affected Australia. Photo: Brent Winstone.

As “The Big Dry” continues to grip Australia, the nation’s airlines are coming to the assistance of their drought-ravaged regional customers with programs worth more than $A4 million.

The severe drought affecting regional Eastern Australia has already prompted the Federal Government to announce $A1 billion in drought relief measures as farmers struggle to cope.

The nation’s most populous state, New South Wales, has been declared 100 percent drought affected with less than 10mm of winter rain during the past month in western, north-west and central areas of the state.

Independent regional carrier Regional Express kicked off the round of donations with an announcement it would set aside $1 million for drought relief.

READ: How Hawaiian’s A321neos could benefit Australasia and Japan.

The airline has set up a Drought Relief Fund available to community groups working to alleviate the impact of the drought and will donate $A4 in travel on the Rex network for every $A1 raised by the groups.

The airline also plans to collect donations in all flights to provide cash contributions for drought relief.

“Rex’s heart is in the Country, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all residents of communities in regional Australia who are facing unimaginable hardship as they struggle to make ends meet and keep their crop and stock alive,” said Rex deputy chairman John Sharp.

“Rex has the largest network in regional and rural Australia with 60 destinations, and it behooves us to stand by our loyal regional customers in their time of greatest need.”

Australia’s biggest airline, Qantas, plans to deliver $A3 million in drought relief, including $A2 million from its own coffers..

This will include an immediate $A1 million cash donation to Rural Aid as well as initiatives by its airlines to raise another $A1 million with customers, which will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the company.

The passenger initiatives will include two special fundraising charter flights from Sydney to Tamworth and Longreach in October and allowing customers to donate frequent flyer points adding Rural Aid to the list of charity redemption partners in its rewards store.

The airline said it would also support employees who volunteer their time to Rural Aid’s Farm Rescue program and it would be placing Rural Aid barrels in lounges and gates

The farm rescue program allows people to volunteer their time to help repair farming equipment, fix homes and build fences on rural properties around Australia.

“Qantas started in the outback. Many of our staff live there and we have a lot of farming families who supply everything from beef to broccoli that we serve customers,’’ Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said. “We feel we have a duty to help these communities who are doing it so tough.”

Virgin Australia said it would be setting up collection points in airports, domestic flights and its offices to collect money for farmers.

The airline is partnering with the Australian Red Cross and from Monday passengers would be able to make a donation to the Australian Red Cross Appeal “Help Aussie Farmers” onboard its domestic flights and in the airline’s lounges.

Virgin will also be collecting donations from its 10,000 staff members.

“The Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Appeal “Help Aussie Farmers” is a great way to support farming families dealing with the impact of this severe drought,” Virgin Australia chief executive John Borghetti said.

“Funds raised through the appeal will be distributed to drought-affected communities across Australia through partners working in these communities.

“Virgin Australia flies to many destinations which are impacted by the drought, and as a proud Australian airline we want to harness the community spirit which brings us together in tough times.”

 

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