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September 4, 2010

Both crew dead as UPS jumbo crashes near Dubai airport

Filed under: Incidents — aerotowfeeq @ 12:36 pm
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DUBAI – A major disaster was averted by the pilots of a UPS 747-400 that crashed near the Emirates Road late on Friday evening when they avoided residential areas after their aircraft developed engine trouble.

Two minutes after the plane took off from the Dubai International Airport for Cologne in Germany, the plane developed an onboard crisis, and came down in a ball of fire at about 8pm near the Nad Al Sheba Military Camp close to the Global Village, just 20km from the airport.

Both pilots died and their bodies have been recovered, according to police sources. Some eyewitness reports said the jumbo jet streaking flames roared over the Emirates Road setting some cars on fire, but there is no report of any injuries on the ground.

Col Omer Al Shamsi, Deputy Director of Operations Room of the Dubai Police, said the cargo plane belonged to UPS, a US cargo company based in Sandy Springs, Georgia.

“This incident is very unfortunate and we will do everything we can to find the cause,” said Lekites of UPS. “Our thoughts go out to the crew members involved in the incident and their families.”

According to sources, both pilots were Americans and the cargo plane was carrying electronics items and toys.

Some eyewitnesses said they saw a ball of fire when the aircraft hit the ground followed by an explosion on impact close to the fencing of the military complex, 5km off the Emirates Road.

As fire engines from several emirates rushed to the scene, black smoke billowed from the crash site. Police and support agencies swiftly cordoned off the area. Only emergency vehicles were seen entering the site while traffic on the highway and operations at the airport were not directly affected.

Usually the debris from one of the largest aircraft in the world (the passenger version can seat 400 passengers) can spread over two miles or more but the soft sand in which the Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) occurred could have dramatically reduced the wreckage area and saved several lives.

The sky was engulfed in smoke and a fire raged at a distance in what appeared to be a deserted area. There was a buzz of activity in the area and over 35 police vehicles could be seen. Traffic on the road slowed as curious motorists stopped to watch the scene of the crash and the billowing smoke.

Mohammed, a construction worker and witness to the accident, noticed the aircraft losing altitude and a truck in its way had a lucky escape. He added: “Within moments there was a loud explosion and we could hear people screaming for help.” Another witness, who did not wish to be named, saw a fire as he drove along the road, while many others thought the plane was flying dangerously low.

The ‘GO’ team of the US National Transportation Safety Board, also known as Tin Kickers and considered the finest air accident investigation team in the world, is expected to arrive soon since the aircraft is a Boeing-manufactured plane.

It is too early to even hazard a guess about what happened in the 120 seconds after the takeoff, but one can record that the pilots whose names have not been disclosed showed great presence of mind in avoiding inhabited parts of Dubai, losing their lives in the process. The scenario otherwise would have been harrowing.

“We will release more information as it becomes available, in cooperation with government authorities. We will not speculate about the cause. Until then, we ask for your patience in this difficult time,’’ said Lekites of UPS.

Deputy Director of the Dubai Civil Defence, Col Ahmed Al Sayegh, said the rescue team is yet to find the Flight Recorder and the Cockpit Voice Recorder, the two pieces of key evidence in orange glow steel-reinforced boxes that record the parameters of the flight up to the very last second as well as all conversation on the flight deck with ground control and the pilots among themselves through four cockpit microphones.

Senior officials of the Dubai Disaster Committee were at the site supervising the operations by members of the Dubai Civil Defence, Dubai Ambulance, the Dubai Rescue Department and the Department of Emergency.

August 31, 2010

Flights disrupted as Indonesian volcano erupts for 2nd straight day

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Tens of thousands of people packed emergency shelters Monday after a long-dormant volcano in western Indonesia spewed clouds of hot ash and smoke more than a mile (several kilometers) into the air — an eruption that caught scientists off-guard.

The eruption of Mount Sinabung put the region on the highest alert level, and some domestic flights had to be diverted because of poor visibility.

Villagers living along Sinabung’s fertile slopes in North Sumatra province started heading down the 8,000-foot (2,400-meter) volcano after it began rumbling during the weekend.

An explosion Sunday was followed by a much more powerful blast Monday, and the number of people who evacuated hit 30,000, with hastily abandoned homes and crops blanketed in gray ash. The air was thick with the smell of sulfur.

Two people died, but Priyadi Kardono of the National Disaster Management Agency said it was too early to say if the volcano was to blame.

Sinabung last erupted in 1600, and officials acknowledged that they had not been monitoring the volcano because it had been dormant for so long.

“The nearest monitoring post to Sinabung is Mount Merapi — around 400 kilometers (240 miles) to the southeast — so we were totally in the dark. We didn’t know anything until it started rumbling,” said Imam Simulingga, a government volcanologist.

He noted that there are 129 active volcanoes to watch in Indonesia, which is spread across 17,500 islands and is prone to eruptions and earthquakes because of its location within the so-called “Ring of Fire” — a series of fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and Southeast Asia.

“We’ll be watching it closely from now on,” said Surono, another government volcanologist, adding that because eruption patterns have not been observed, “we really have no idea what to expect.” “We don’t know what set it off, how long it will continue or whether we should expect pyroclastic flows or more powerful eruptions,” added Surono, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.

Monitoring a volcano can include such techniques as looking for seismic activity that indicates disturbances from rising magma, sampling gases and looking for slight degrees of uplift in land, said Lee Siebert, director of the Global Volcanism Program at the Smithsonian Institution.

He said it’s no surprise that Sinabung would erupt after 400 years of being quiet. That’s not very long by geological standards, Siebert said, noting that a volcano that has erupted within the past 10,000 years can be considered active.

Like other volcanoes along the Sumatra fault line — the meeting point of the Eurasian and Pacific tectonic plates that have pushed against each other for millions of years — Sinabung has the potential to be very destructive.

Magma forming inside the conical tip can act as a plug, allowing pressure to build up until it reaches a bursting point.

“A volcano with a long repose period could deliver a more powerful eruption,” as was the case with Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, which killed about 800 people, said Alain Bernard, a professor at the University of Brussels.

Sinabung could either go back to sleep or produce a series of blasts with increasing intensity, he said.

“A Pinatubo-size eruption is a rare event and unlikely to appear during the following days,” Bernard said. “It takes normally weeks or months.” The number of people evacuated to emergency shelters, mosques and churches reached more than 30,000 by Monday evening, said Erni Damanik with the Tanah Karo district information center.

Many wore respiratory masks to protect themselves against the soot and sulfur-choked air. Food, emergency tents and medicine were sent to the scene, officials said.

Although strong wind shifts or a powerful follow-up blast could affect air traffic in nearby Singapore and Malaysia, Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said only four domestic flights heading to the provincial capital of Medan were diverted so far.

The Eyjafjallajokul volcano in Iceland erupted April 14 and disrupted international flights for days. Pall Einarsson, geophysicist at the University of Iceland, said he saw no connection between that eruption and the one in Indonesia on Sunday.

Indonesia is home to some of the largest eruptions in recorded history.

The 1815 explosion of Mount Tambora buried the inhabitants of Sumbawa Island under searing ash, gas and rock, killing an estimated 88,000 people.

The 1883 eruption of Krakatoa could be heard 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) away and blackened skies region-wide for months. At least 36,000 people were killed in the blast and the tsunami that followed.

August 30, 2010

Vizag airport awaits Navy nod to go international

Filed under: Airports — aerotowfeeq @ 10:46 pm
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The Visakhapatnam airport is all set to go international once the Indian Navy gives its green signal as three international airlines are ready to operate flights from the industrial hub of the state.

However, highly-placed sources said the hitch is over the timings of the flights. While the international airlines – Air Arabia, Fly Dubai and Silk Airways – are asking for the night slot ie. after 11 pm till early in the morning, the airport currently functions only between 8 am and 8 pm because of the restrictions imposed by the Navy on night operations.

The Naval authorities claim it is not possible for them to operate night flights due to insufficient manpower and other logistics. “Due to this, Air Arabia, Fly Dubai and Silk Airways, which are keen to operate services from the port city to Sharjah, Dubai and Singapore are in a dilemma,” sources said.

Air Travellers’ Association of India Vizag chapter president D Varada Reddy told TOI that several private airlines are willing to operate domestic and international flights from Vizag. “Lack of night operating facilities is a major stumbling block,” he said.

The airport, which is under the control of the Indian Navy, handles 12 domestic services to cater to the needs of north coastal districts and the neighbouring districts of Orissa and some parts of Chhattisgarh. According sources, Air Arabia wants to operate its Sharjah-Vizag-Sharjah service in the early hours. The tentative schedule is that the flight would arrive from Sharjah at 4.30 am and leave Vizag at 6 am.

Fly Dubai Airlines, which has plans to run a direct flight to Dubai from Vizag, has asked for 12 am-2 pm time slot. Officials of Silk Airways, which has been evincing keen interest to operate flights since a year, visited the airport and even conducted a feasible study also. “It wants to operate the Singapore-Vizag-Singapore flight between 1 am and 2 am,” the sources averred.

However, the Navy said that it does not have sufficient skilled manpower to operate the air traffic control. Currently, 97 personnel man the Vizag airport through Navy’s INS Dega establishment. Sources said a requisition to sanction another 320 trained manpower has been sent to the civil aviation authorities.

Sources said six new flights are in the pipeline and waiting for clearance from the director general of Civil Aviation and the Navy. Spice Jet is planning to operate Chennai-Vizag-Kolkata, while Jetlite is planning Kolkata-Vizag-Kolkata flight. Jet Airways has a proposal to run Boeing-737 in Mumbai-Vizag- Mumbai and Delhi-Vizag-Delhi sectors.

The port city, which has a population of 18 lakh, has been growing rapidly with the influx of IT and industrial honchos setting up shop here. Nearly six lakh passengers fly in and fly out of the Vizag airport every year. “If we start operating international flights, the number would swell further,” Varada Reddy said.

August 29, 2010

IndiGo flight makes emergency landing

Filed under: Incidents — aerotowfeeq @ 1:59 pm
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A Delhi-bound IndiGo Airlines flight made an emergency landing at the Biju Patnaik Airport at Bhubaneswar on Saturday after it was hit by a bird minutes after take off, an airlines official said. All 140 passengers on board the 6E-260 Hyderabad-Bhubaneswar-New Delhi flight are safe, the official said.

There was also no damage to the aircraft, the official who did not want to be identified, told IANS.

The airlines are making efforts to take the passengers to their destinations by another IndiGo flight, she said.

Harmless tailpipe fire may’ve triggered panic aboard flight

Filed under: Incidents — aerotowfeeq @ 1:54 pm
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It might have been a harmless ‘tailpipe fire,’ a mild momentary flame that happens when excess fuel in the engine passes out of the exhaust when the pilot starts the engine or opens power, that triggered panic on board Chennai-bound 9W2302 at Mumbai airport on Friday, resulting in injuries to 15 passengers. Tailpipe fire usually lasts for a few seconds and does not pose a danger to the aircraft.

While a preliminary inspection has found that there was no fire in the engine, sources told TOI the ‘fire’ was first reported by a Jet Airways crew member who was travelling as a passenger, along with three of his colleagues. He was among the eight crew members who were later suspended.

”He saw the flame and mistook it for an engine fire. He told the crew on duty that there was a suspected fire in the left side engine. The crew did not react the ideal way, panicked and misinformed the commander. Some passengers who may have overheard the crew opened the over-wing exit and started jumping off,” an insider said. It, however, remains unknown when and why the captain ordered evacuation. ”Since there was no fire alert in the cockpit, the captain should have ascertained the facts before ordering evacuation. As of now, we don’t know the real reason,” said aviation expert Captain A Ranganathan.

Sources in Jet Airways said the captain was a senior person with more than 9,000 hours of flying experience. ”Only the cockpit voice recorder can tell us when and why the captain ordered evacuation happened. Probably he was forced to do that as people started jumping out,” the insider said. Overheating of engine or fire in any part of the aircraft would flash a red light in the cockpit and set off an alarm bell, but tailpipe fire does not trigger the alert. ”Tailpipe fire seems to be the probable reason, but other probabilities are being looked into, as the flame was noticed while aircraft was taxiing. Though tailpipe fire happens mostly when engine is switched on, it has been noticed also during taxiing,” a pilot said.

August 26, 2010

Emirates flight with 278 passengers makes emergency landing

Filed under: Incidents — aerotowfeeq @ 1:18 pm
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An Airbus 330-200 aircraft of Emirates bound for Dubai made an emergency landing at the international airport here, 45 minutes after take off, on Tuesday morning following a technical snag.

The EK 523 flight, with 278 passengers on board, took off from the airport at 5.08 a.m. It returned and made a safe landing at 5.53 a.m. under full emergency measures, a top airport official said.

The authorities had informed all the agencies following a message from the pilot to the Air Traffic Control that he was returning following an alert about a ‘snag in the undercarriage’ of the aircraft in the cockpit panel.

Top officials of the airport rushed to the airport.

Shashi Tharoor, MP, and his wife, Sunanda Pushkar, were among the passengers on the flight, which was to depart at 4.35 a.m. The passengers, including Mr. Tharoor and his wife, were accommodated in city hotels by the airline.

The airline flew in another aircraft from Dubai to fly the stranded passengers. The flight EK 7007 left for Dubai with 272 passengers, including Mr. Tharoor, at 4.10 p.m. The flight was operated using a Boeing 777 aircraft, airport sources said.

The grounded aircraft of Emirates has been taxied away to a safe place and efforts are on to rectify the snag. The Airports Authority of India has sought a report from the airline.

Airport sources said the grounded aircraft was likely to leave here only on Wednesday after repairs.

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Runway lights go dark, pilots get a shocktimes news network

Filed under: Incidents — aerotowfeeq @ 1:14 pm
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KOLKATA: Pilots of two SpiceJet flights that were approaching Kolkata airport to land had a scare on Monday night when the runway lights shut down at 9.30 pm and the tarmac remained dark for eight minutes as the diesel generator back-up failed to start.

The aircraft (from Jaipur and Mumbai) were asked to hover over the city till the snag could be fixed. Two planes lined up for take-off a SpiceJet flight to Ahmedabad and an IndiGo flight to Delhi were held on the tarmac during the period.

The power problem affected other sections of the airport for nearly two hours with Singapore Airlines staff having to use their personal laptops to check in passengers. Airport officials are still puzzled over what happened as the snag disappeared just as mysteriously as it cropped up.

“Two flights were put on hold in the air and two others were detained on the ground due to problem with the runway lights on Monday night. The engineering wing is investigating why the snag happened,” airport director R Srinivasan said.

According to sources, the captain of the SpiceJet flight from Jaipur saw the runway disappear around 9.30pm and reported the matter to the air traffic control tower at Kolkata airport, which immediately alerted department heads.

On inspection, it was found that a sharp shower earlier in the evening had led to a malfunction in the sub-station which is fed by CESC. Though there was no disruption in supply, a snag in the substation led to the shutdown. The back-up supplied by a diesel generator that starts automatically in case of a power failure, refused to start on Monday night. It remained that way for eight minutes before power to the runway lights were restored. The rest of the airport remained dark and restoration happened in phases.

“It was a tough situation as runway lights flickered. Thankfully, it was beyond the busy hours and there were only two incoming aircraft. Even when the lights were restored, the pilots were not confident of a touchdown for a while fearing a blackout at the crucial moment,” an ATC official said.

Engineers are yet to detect what led to the problem in the generator. “We check the genset daily and it functioned perfectly on Monday and Tuesday. What happened on Monday evening is a mystery. We have contacted the manufacturer so that the problem does not recur,” Srinivasan added.

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August 25, 2010

43 die in Chinese jet crash

Filed under: Incidents — aerotowfeeq @ 12:59 pm
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The Henan Airlines plane with 91 passengers and crew crashed in Heilongjiang province’s Yichun city, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

China Central Television quoted Sun Bangnan, deputy director of the Heilonjiang Public Security Department, as saying that 43 bodies had been recovered and that 49 people were rescued and taken to local hospitals.

Wang Xuemei, vice mayor of Yichun, told CCTV that three of them were in critical condition but gave no details.

The plane, which Xinhua said was Brazilian-made Embraer E-190 jet, had taken off from Heilongjiang’s capital of Harbin shortly before 9 p.m. and crashed in heavy fog during landing at the Lindu airport a little more than an hour later.

An official surnamed Qi at the Yichun No. 1 People’s Hospital said 30 people had been brought there for treatment, with most suffering broken bones.

A man who would only give his surname, Wang, at the Yichun Rehabilitation Hospital, which has burn specialists on site, said 10 survivors were transferred there with burn injuries. Another eight survivors were at the Yichun Forestry Hospital, said a duty officer surnamed Zhou. He said he did not know the nature of their injuries.

There were five children and five crewmembers on board, Xinhua cited an unnamed official with the Civil Aviation Administration of China as saying. It was not known how many of them survived.

Henan Airlines is based in the central Chinese province of the same name and flies smaller regional jets, mainly on routes in north and northeast China. Previously known as Kunpeng Airlines, the carrier was relaunched as Henan Airlines earlier this year.

Henan Airlines and many other regional Chinese airlines flying shorter routes have struggled in the past few years, losing passengers to high-speed railroad lines that China has aggressively expanded.

An American company, Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group Inc., was an original investor in Henan’s predecessor company, Kunpeng, but divested its stake last year. Mesa operates regional services in the US for Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and other carriers and is undergoing bankruptcy reorganization. Full-tilt expansion of Chinese air traffic in the 1990s led to a series of crashes that gave China the reputation of being unsafe. The poor record prompted the government to improve safety drastically, from airlines to new air traffic management systems at airports.

The last major passenger jet crash in China was in November 2004, when an China Eastern airplane plunged into a lake in northern China shortly, killing all 53 on board and two on the ground.

An MD-11 cargo plane operated by Zimbabwe-based Avient Aviation crashed during takeoff from Shanghai’s main airport last November. Three American crewmembers died while four others on board were injured.

August 23, 2010

Jet Airways plane makes emergency landing following bomb scare

Filed under: Uncategorized — aerotowfeeq @ 11:30 pm

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A bomb scare on board a Jet Airways Kuwait-Mumbai flight carrying 160 people forced it to make an emergency landing at Muscat airport on Friday but it turned out to be a hoax. Omani authorities received a tip off that a bomb might be aboard the Boeing 737-800 aircraft following which they alerted its crew.

The crew then decided to divert to Muscat where the plane landed safely at 1 am local time, about two-and-a-half hours after departure from Kuwait City.

A subsequent search of the aircraft, luggage and passengers found no trace of any explosives.

The plane later took off and landed in Mumbai at 9.40 am.

“Jet Airways flight 9W 571 from Kuwait to Mumbai today made an unscheduled landing at Muscat following a security incident on board. As a precautionary measure, the Boeing 737 landed in Muscat and a thorough check of baggage and cargo was carried out,” a spokesperson of the airline said.

“Safety is of paramount importance and every precaution is taken to ensure a high standard of operational safety,” she said.

Earlier, reports had said that it was an Air India plane which had made the emergency landing at Muscat.

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