Archive for the ‘airlines’ Category

Plane’s Recorders Support Hero Pilot’s Account; He’s Ready for Inauguration

January 19, 2009

The black boxes recovered from the US Airways jetliner that safely splashed down in the Hudson River last week captured thumping sounds, the sudden loss of engine power and the pilot’s calm mayday request, evidence that seems to back up the crew’s account of hitting a flock of birds shortly after take off.

The pilot, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, credited with helping save the lives of all 155 people aboard, reports that the plane has hit birds and lost both engines shortly after investigators heard “the sound of thumps and a rapid decrease in engine sounds,” National Transportation Safety Board member Kitty Higgins said.

By KAREN MATTHEWS, Associated Press Writer

Sullenberger then discussed alternate landings at New Jersey airports before deciding to attempt a river landing, she said. Ninety seconds before ditching the plane, he told passengers to “brace for impact” and informs controllers “they will be in the Hudson River,” Higgins said.

The dispatches on the cockpit voice recorder were described as “a very calm, collected exercise,” Robert Benzon, a veteran safety board investigator, said Sunday.

Said Higgins: “It was very matter of fact.”

In Washington, D.C., safety board spokesman Peter Knudson said preliminary indications from radar data of the plane’s take off Thursday from LaGuardia Airport “did not show any targets” that might be birds. But investigators will keep looking, he said.

“We are going to go and get all the electronic data necessary to get a complete picture of what was on his screen. It’s possible there was more being displayed than we initially understood. We just don’t know definitively at this point — we don’t know exactly what was shown on that radar screen,” Knudson said.

In this image taken from the website of Safety Reliability Methods, ... 
US Airways pilot Chelsey B. Sullenberger III.  He’s headed to Washington DC for Barack Obama’s inauguration….

Sullenberger, who has so far not publicly talked about the crash, has been invited to attend President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration on Tuesday, according to the mayor of his hometown, Danville, Calif. An Obama aide said Sunday evening the family had been invited, speaking on condition of anonymity because details were still being worked out.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2009011
9/ap_on_re_us/plane_splashdown

Rescue crews secure the US Airways A320 after it crashed into ...

Related:
Pilot was a ‘hero,’ but are more coming along for airlines to hire?
.
 “Miracle on the Hudson” Pilot: Older Pros Sure Worth Having
.
Hudson River Miracle: “Find That Bird”
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 Miracle Landing After Both Engines Died Simultaneously — NTSB

A worker looks into the damaged right engine of the US Airways ... 
A worker looks into the damaged right engine of the US Airways Airbus A320 that made an emergency landing Thursday in the Hudson River as the plane sits on a barge after being lifted out of the river in New York, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009.(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Miracle Landing After Both Engines Died Simultaneously — NTSB

January 18, 2009

“Miracles happen because a lot of everyday things happen for years and years and years,” she said. “These people knew what they were supposed to do and they did it and as a result, nobody lost their life.” — Kitty Higgins of the National Transportation Safety Board

By KAREN MATTHEWS, Associated Press Writer

The flight data recorder of the US Airways jet that landed in the Hudson River shows both engines lost power simultaneously, investigators said Sunday.

Information from the flight recorders on the doomed aircraft was released as investigators worked to remove its fuel. After that is completed, officials hope to move the damaged plane off the river by the end of the day.

A worker looks into the damaged right engine of the US Airways ... 
A worker looks into the damaged right engine of the US Airways Airbus A320 that made an emergency landing Thursday in the Hudson River as the plane sits on a barge after being lifted out of the river in New York, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009.(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

“Defueling is a pretty intricate operation, not without risk,” Kitty Higgins of the National Transportation Safety Board said at an afternoon briefing on the investigation.

The crippled plane, hoisted from the river late Saturday, remains on top of a barge moored to a seawall in Manhattan a few blocks from the World Trade Center site.

Higgins said the recorders showed that Flight 1549 reached a maximum altitude of 3,200 feet before losing power simultaneously in both engines before its splash-landing Thursday afternoon.

Higgins recounted excerpts from communications captured by the cockpit voice recorder beginning 90 seconds after takeoff, when the captain made a remark to the co-pilot about birds.

One second later, she said, “the sound of thumps and a rapid decrease in engine sounds” could be heard.

“The captain makes a radio call to (Air Traffic Control) calling Mayday, and reports that they hit birds, lost both engines and were returning to LaGuardia” Airport, she said.

Higgins said the accounts on the cockpit voice recorder were consistent with interviews with the flight crew. She also praised the crew.

In this image taken from the website of Safety Reliability Methods, ... 
US Airways pilot Chelsey B. Sullenberger III

“Miracles happen because a lot of everyday things happen for years and years and years,” she said. “These people knew what they were supposed to do and they did it and as a result, nobody lost their life.”

Higgins also said ice floes in the Hudson were hampering the search for the left engine, which separated from the aircraft and sank to the bottom of the river.

“The concern is… even putting down the sonar equipment and the rove vehicle, they would be damaged by the ice. It’s too dangerous for a diver,” she said.

Officials have refused to say where in New Jersey the plane would be taken when it is towed away, saying investigators wanted to do their work undisturbed.

Related:
Pilot was a ‘hero,’ but are more coming along for airlines to hire?
.
 “Miracle on the Hudson” Pilot: Older Pros Sure Worth Having
.
Hudson River Miracle: “Find That Bird”

Rescue crews secure the US Airways A320 after it crashed into ...

Pilot was a ‘hero,’ but are more coming along for airlines to hire?

January 18, 2009

There’s no question that landing a plane with no power on a river in the middle of a city safely is an extraordinary feat.

Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III, whose smoothly water landing in the Hudson River helped ensure all 155 people aboard US Airways Flight 1549 could walk to safety rightly deserves his status as an instant hero.

But aviation safety experts are adamant that what happened Thursday afternoon was not simply a “miracle” but a product of years of disciplined training, invaluable experience, cutting edge engineering and an aviation culture that rigorously and regularly reviews and updates safety related procedures and engineering.

That’s helped flying to become one of the safest modes of transportation in the United States. For the last two consecutive years there have been no fatalities in commercial aviation despite some potentially lethal incidents, like Thursday’s water landing.

“How do you make a miracle? There are two things and the first isn’t that glamorous: It’s the systems analysts who’ve helped us get much better at understanding what causes accidents and do what needs to be done — in designing aircraft and training people — to prevent them,” says William Voss, president and CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to improving aviation safety. “And then there’s glamorous bit we saw yesterday: That kind of extraordinary sense of confidence, training, and skill that makes this system so safe. We still haven’t given that away.”

Captain Sullenberger is a veteran of that aviation culture in which safety has been a major preoccupation. But there’s also growing concern within some aviation circles that the airlines recent economic turmoil will make flying a less attractive career to people like Sullenberger.

He began his career as an Air Force fighter pilot, and became a captain when flying for American carriers was still a high-status, high income job. The crack training he received enabled him to become an expert and start an aviation consulting business called Safety Reliability Methods, Inc. as well as to work with both the National Transportation Safety Board and the United States Air Force in working on accident investigations. He is currently a visiting scholar at the University of California’s Berkeley’s Center for Catastrophic Risk Management.

All of that experience and training served him well in the moment of crisis.

“He did a fantastic job and made all the right choices. He’s a really instinctive, well-trained pilot,” says Richard Golaszewski, executive vice president of GRA Inc., aviation consultants in Jenkintown, Pa. “But there were a lot of things that happened long before that: Design rules that say how long a plane has to float, training of the flight attendants and pilots. Ditching is something they train for.”

Mixed with all of the accolades for Capt. Sullenberger, there’s also some concern that the past 8 years of economic turmoil at the airlines during which pilot pay and benefits have been slashed will make it more difficult to attract people of Sullenberger’s abilities.

“We still have some exceptionally trained and qualified crews,” says a veteran pilot for a major airline who’s not authorized to speak with the press. “But the fear is that in the future, because of the loss of quality of life and pay and turmoil that you’re not going to attract people of that same caliber. For now at least we’re enjoying the experience of people who chose it as a profession when it was still a highly coveted job.”

Analysts note there has also been long-term trend of fewer military-trained pilots entering the commercial aviation world. Some contend that’s because the job is now less attractive and they worry that this has led to a diminution in the skill and type of training pilots get. But others strongly disagree and say it’s just a question of numbers. After the Vietnam War there were simply fewer military pilots being trained, and so fewer people like Capt. Sullenberger were joining the major airlines.

By Alexandra Marks
Christian Science Monitor

“There’s absolutely no evidence I know of to suggest that the people coming from the civilian ranks aren’t as qualified as military pilots,” says Clint Oster, an aviation economist at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Read the rest:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/011
6/p25s30-usgn.html

Airlines set to lose $5 billion in 2008

December 9, 2008

Global airlines look set to return total losses of $5.0 billion in 2008 and are heading for $2.5 billion of losses in 2009, industry body IATA said on Tuesday.

The 2008 figure was slightly less than the deficit of $5.2 billion which IATA — the International Air Transport Association — predicted in September, due mainly to the rapid decline in fuel prices, and is lower than the 2009 figure of $4.1 billion it had forecast previously.

“The outlook is bleak. The chronic industry crisis will continue into 2009 with $2.5 billion in losses. We face the worst revenue environment in 50 years,” said IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani.

Reuters

A Qantas aircraft (left) is parked near British Airways jets ... 
A Qantas aircraft (left) is parked near British Airways jets at Heathrow airport. Qantas on Monday said that a proposed merger with British Airways was not guaranteed and could stumble over the European carrier’s merger talks with a Spanish airline and its pension fund liabilities.(AFP/File/Chris Ratcliffe)

Air cargo traffic, which makes up 35 percent of goods traded internationally, is continuing its decline, he said.

The 7.9 percent decline in air cargo in October, the fifth consecutive month of increasingly severe drops, was a clear indication that “the worst is yet to come” for airlines and the slowing global economy, according to the Geneva-based body.

North American airlines are expected to be the only region making a profit in 2009, but only of some $300 million, less than 1 percent of revenue, it said.

IATA’s forecasts for 2009 were all based on an average price of $60 a barrel for oil.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081209/bs_nm/us_airlines_iata;_ylt=ArSlX
c5M_cABcnNlk4pIWWis0NUE