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Saturday, June 29, 2013

FAA quirks - Unsolvable Americanistic standoff with the world?

The Federal Aviation Administration audits civil aviation authorities of other countries on compliance to ICAO rules and guidelines, as well as oversight capability and activity. However something continues to irk me throughout these years. The FAA continue to audit and even slap 'sanctions' in form of country categories based on compliance to ICAO, but did they ever slap themselves?

Remember the fuss on the change the FAA imposed for the phraseology from "position and hold" to "line up and wait" to be inline with the rest of the world? I recall many American pilots saying it's ridiculous and unnecessary, some even said the change would compromise safety! If they want to talk about safety, let's not forget the JFK controllers who are famous for being "cruel" to international airlines with crew who can go about talking to ATC in English in other countries, by doing their fast talking non-ICAO compliant English, with the famous "do you understand English" insult thrown in the radio frequency. Yet American pilots complain about going to countries where ATC can use other language over the radio, such as Spanish, French, and Russian, citing it reduces collective situational awareness and therefore such a practice should be stopped.

Here's my not so serious viewpoint: Why not start by stopping these FAA standard phrases over American airspace and use ICAO compliant phrases, then we can all talk!
Image taken from: http://www.facebook.com/cleared4takeoff



Of course, the above is not entirely accurate, but then I'm sorry if you think I was being 100% serious!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Lion Air 737-800 undershoots and ends up in the water

Lion Air flight LNI/JT904 flying from Bandung to Denpasar today ended up short of the runway and in the water this afternoon (13-Apr-13). The aircraft involved was PK-LKS, the aircraft is a Boeing 737-8GP with the possible serial number 38728, formerly used by Malindo Air for proving flights, the aircraft's first flight was 5 February 2013. The aircraft have only been in service with Lion Air Indonesia for less than since 28 March 2013 and appears to be a definite write off. The aircraft is also one of the few (if not the only) in Lion Air Indonesia's fleet that has a full In-Flight Entertainment on every seat by Panasonic.

PK-LKS ends up in the water short of the runway. Note the
perimeter fence is intact. (Source: Unknown via Twitter)
Contrary to initial media reports that stated the aircraft had overran the runway and ended up in sea, the aircraft never made it to the runway and instead of overshooting, it undershot the runway.

Weather at the time:
WADD 130730Z 15006KT 110V270 9999 FEW017CB SCT017 30/25 Q1007 NOSIG
(0730UTC/1530LT), Wind 150° at 6 knots varying from 110° to 270°, visibility more than 10 kilometers, few Cumulonimbus cloud at 1700ft, Temperature 30°C, Dew Point 25°C, Pressure 1007 milibars).

The Airport Ground Chart for Denpasar Bali (DPS). Note the geography for the western and eastern ends of the airport differ greatly.

Based on weather info at the time, and from ADS-B recordings of the flights preceeding and after the accident aircraft, the runway in use was runway 09. Overunning this runway would mean it should have crossed a major road and ended up in mangrove swamps and not in clear seas just off a runway!

Instrument Approach Chart for DPS 09
Based on ADS-B recordings, the following flights made their approaches for 09.

From 0550UTC:
- GIA439 KOEDPSCGK landed at runway 09.
- MAS851 KULDPS landed at runway 09.
- OZW251 PERDPS landed at runway 09.
- JST110 PERDPS landed at runway 09.

Following JST110 was LNI904. After LNI904 ended up in the water, VOZ4145 (SYDDPS) went around to 2000ft, and climbed to 3000ft and on hold at waypoint KUTA.
AWQ8497, held at 4000 at waypoint KUTA.
EVA255, held at 7000 at waypoint KUTA.
Possibly a CTV891 held at 5000 or 6000 at waypoint KUTA.
ADS-B recording of JT904 unfortunately was not enturely reliable, but it did show that VOZ4145 went around behind it.

Despite the past number of accidents and incidents at Lion Air, a significant safety improvements have been made over the past 5 years resulting in a huge drop in the number of mishaps per 10,000 departures for the airline.

Many are already asking if the accident was caused human error or mechanical or maintenance issues. While it is still early days, the following photo was sent to me reportedly from someone on duty at the airport at the time of the accident (the two aircraft was on hold), and if genuinely taken at around the time of the accident, can explain the weather information of the wind varying from 110° to 270° with that rain cell moving eastwards south of the runway centerline, carying with it some nice downdrafts (a.k.a. windshear).

Could this rain cell be responsible as one of the cuases of the accident?
Adding to the possibility of down drafts due to rain cells, approaching runway 09 also carry a risk of visual illusion. The lack of ILS (Instrument Landing System) and approach lights for the runway (the lack of the latter due to geography and ecological reasons), with only the PAPI (Precision Approach Path Indicator) as a cue of one's incoming slope on the visual part of the approach, raises the risk of losing depth perception, which in turn increases risk of undershooting the approach.

Whatever the causes, reasons, speculation, let the National Transportation Safety Committee investigate the accident. For me personally, I suspect the windshear and or the usual unstable approach as possible causes for this accident, but we must thank the low tide at the time of the accident as it certainly contributed to the high (100%) survivability rate of this accident.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Garuda's initial 777-300ER schedules revealed


According to Airlineroute.net Garuda Indonesia plans to commence 777-300ER operations in July 2013.

Jakarta-Jeddah will be served by the 777-300ER twice daily (except for Saturday departure from Jakarta and Friday departure from Jeddah, served 1x daily) from 1 July 2013 until 19 August 2013. The regular Jakarta-Jeddah service will then be suspended for the post Eid-Al-Fitr holiday season and recommence on 20 September. The Boeing 747-400 usually serving Jakarta-Jeddah will open a new daily Surabaya-Medan-Jeddah service from 1 August until 19 August.

The 777-300ER schedule between 19 August and  to 19 September 2013:
Denpasar-Tokyo Haneda will be served daily with the 777-300ER, this route will then tag on to Denpasar-Jakarta as GA405/406.
Jakarta-Tokyo Narita will be served 6x a week with the 777-300ER and the remaining day is served by the A330-200 (CGK departure Friday, NRT departure Saturday).

For more details please go to the Airlineroute.net page by clicking this link

New American Airlines look is similar to...


When American Airlines announced it's new livery, my jaw dropped.

American Airlines' new livery
No, my jaw didn't drop because it was good. It was the contrary.

Initially I thought that USA and Cuba are suddenly going to be friends. I mean compare the new American Airlines scheme with:
An American 757... On hang on, where's my glasses. OH!
SORRY! It's a Cubana Tu-204!
I thought that was that, until I saw this today.
I definitely AGREE with the meme.
So, does this mean that the USAirways-American Airlines merger is now replaced with American-Colgan, and that the new merged entity will get fresh cash injection to get out of bankruptcy courtesy of the Castro brothers and Cubana as the major shareholder of AMR?

On a more serious note, can someone replace that tail with the new logo?

For God's Sake AA, PUT THAT EAGLE ON THE TAIL PLEASE!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Garuda returns to London in October 2013


Garuda's Vice President for Marketing, Amelia Syafrina Dewi Nasution, announced during a visit to the United Kingdom recently that Garuda is to return to London this year with a non-stop service:
"When the new service begins in october this year, this will be the first non-stop scheduled service between Jakarta and London. Schedules and fares are now being finalized, and full details will be announced before the flights go on sale in April."

4 new Boeing 777-300ERs to be delivered this year. It has been touted that the new 777-300ERs will be used for Jakarta-Amsterdam non-stop replacing the Jakarta-Abu Dhabi-Amsterdam and the A330-200 service will then be moved elsewhere later when Frankfurt gets the 777-300ER. This announcement for London non-stop will likely change those plans, however the frequency of the planned London service remains a mystery. The Boeing 777-300ER will have 184 Economy Class seats, 42 flat-bed Business Class seats and 8 First Class cabins.

This piece of news was found on the website Alternative Airlines, which is part of Flight Directors, Garuda's General Sales Agents in the United Kingdom. The news builds on December's announcement by the CEO Emirsyah Satar of the airline's plan to fly to London in late 2013 or early 2014. He cited that there is an estimated 5,000 passengers flying between Indonesia and the United Kingdom every day.