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Flight Safety Information Newsletter


TopFlight Safety Information


September 29, 2020 - No. 197


In This Issue

ARGUS - Top Quality Training Courses

Incident: ANZ A20N near Auckland on Sep 27th 2020, lightning strike

Incident: Logan E145 at Edinburgh on Sep 28th 2020, pressurization problems

Decoding of An-26 aircraft's black boxes to take 3-5 days (Ukraine)

U.S. lawmakers propose airplane certification reforms after fatal Boeing crashes

Popular Flight Tracking Website Flightradar24 Forced Offline After "Sustained" Cyber Attack

Ethiopian Airlines rides out pandemic on strength of cargo boom

Cathay Pacific pilots push for seat at table for restructuring talks

United, pilots agree on schedule reductions to avoid nearly 3,000 furloughs

Airbus's First Wide-Body Deal Since March Is for Sole Tanker-Jet

NASA schedules the first Crew Dragon operational flight for Halloween

NTSB - Essentials of Managing Communications During an Aircraft Accident or Incident Course


Graduate Research Survey

Today's Photo

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Incident: ANZ A20N near Auckland on Sep 27th 2020, lightning strike


An ANZ Air New Zealand Airbus A320-200N, registration ZK-NHB performing flight NZ-696 from Invercargill to Auckland (New Zealand), was descending towards Auckland when the aircraft received a lightning strike. The aircraft continued for a safe landing on Auckland's runway 23L.

The airline confirmed the aircraft received a lightning strike.

The occurrence aircraft is still on the ground in Auckland about 43 hours after landing.

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Incident: Logan E145 at Edinburgh on Sep 28th 2020, pressurization problems


A Loganair Embraer ERJ-145, registration G-SAJL performing flight LM-321 from Edinburgh,SC to Southampton,EN (UK) with 13 passengers, was climbing through FL210 out of Edinburgh when the crew stopped the climb, descended to FL080 and returned to Edinburgh for a safe landing about 30 minutes after departure.

The flight was cancelled.

The airline reported the aircraft returned to Edinburgh after the crew received an alert with one of the pressurization components.

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Decoding of An-26 aircraft's black boxes to take 3-5 days (Ukraine)

The process of decoding the flight recorders of an An-26 military aircraft that crashed in Chuhuiv, Kharkiv region, on September 25 will take 3-5 days. It will take two weeks to identify all the victims.

Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Oleh Urusky said this on the air of the Ukraina 24 TV channel, Ukrinform reports.

"According to preliminary data, the decoding will last 3-5 days," Urusky said.

According to him, all the wreckage of the plane has already been removed from the crash site. "They were taken to a military base ... The place is guarded, all the wreckage of the aircraft is under the control of the State Bureau of Investigation, access to them is strictly limited. The aircraft's flight recorders were also seized. Their condition is satisfactory. Yesterday [Sept. 27] aviation specialists began the process of decoding them," Urusky said.

When asked whether it is realistic to do a DNA test faster than the stated 14 days, the Deputy PM replied: "I think we will try to do it much faster."

On Friday evening, September 25, a Ukrainian Air Force military transport aircraft, An-26, crashed while trying to land at the Chuhuiv airport in Kharkiv region. There were 27 people on board of the crashed An-26: seven crew members and 20 military cadets. Twenty-five people died at the crash site, and one cadet died from burns at the hospital. One cadet is undergoing treatment.

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U.S. lawmakers propose airplane certification reforms after fatal Boeing crashes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The leaders of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on Monday introduced bipartisan legislation to reform the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) aircraft certification process in the wake of two fatal Boeing 737 MAX crashes.

The Boeing 737 MAX has been grounded since March 2019 after two crashes in five months killed 346 people. Boeing did not immediately comment.

The committee is set to vote on Wednesday on the proposed legislation that would require U.S. aircraft manufacturers to adopt safety management systems and requires an expert review panel to evaluate Boeing's safety culture and make recommendations for improvements.

The proposal, which has the backing of committee chair Peter DeFazio, a Democrat, and the top Republican Sam Graves would also require manufacturers to complete system safety assessments for significant design changes, ensure risk calculations are based on realistic assumptions of pilot response time, and share risk assessments with the FAA.

DeFazio said Congress can "meaningfully address the gaps in the regulatory system for certifying aircraft and adopt critical reforms that will improve public safety and ensure accountability at all levels going forward."

The prospects for winning approval for the legislation this year remain unclear. On Sept. 16, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee postponed consideration of a separate bill to overhaul FAA aircraft certification.

The same day, House Transportation committee Democrats issued a report that found the 737 MAX crashes were the "horrific culmination" of failures by Boeing and the FAA and called for urgent reforms.

The House bill would extend airline whistleblower protections to U.S. manufacturing employees, require FAA approval of new workers performing delegated certification tasks for the agency and impose civil penalties against those who interfere with performance of FAA-authorized duties.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson will conduct an evaluation flight at the controls of a 737 MAX on Wednesday, a key milestone as the U.S. planemaker works to win approval to resume flights.

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Popular Flight Tracking Website Flightradar24 Forced Offline After "Sustained" Cyber Attack

One of the most popular flight tracking websites in the world has been forced offline after a series of "sustained" cyber attacks. In a series of Tweets, Flightradar24 told followers that the third attack in just two days had crashed the website for at least 10 hours as engineers scrambled to "mitigate" the attack and get the service back up and running.

"For the third time in two days, Flightradar24 is under attack. Our engineers are working to mitigate the attack as quickly as possible and we hope to be backtracking flights soon. We appreciate your patience and apologize for the inconvenience. Updates to follow in thread," the service said on Monday night.

The service remained unavailable on Tuesday morning. "Attacks on our systems continue and while we were able to bring services back for a short time, significant instability due to the sustained attacks has forced us to refocus our efforts to mitigate them," a later update explained.

It was not immediately clear why Flightradar24 was subject to a cyberattack but the website reassured visitors that private information was safe. The website sales subscription plans that unlock more detailed information about flights.

Flightradar24 wasn't able to provide an estimate on when the website would be back up and running.

In a normal day, Flightradar24 claims to welcome over two million users and has proved incredibly popular even after the COVID-19 pandemic grounded flights worldwide. The site is often used to track high-profile flights and to provide early information after a crash.

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Ethiopian Airlines rides out pandemic on strength of cargo boom

Cargo flights have helped Ethiopian Airlines remain financially viable during the pandemic

Six months since the coronavirus pandemic upended the global airline industry, Ethiopian Airlines is facing a heavy toll: more than $1 billion in lost revenue, to say nothing of 850 infected employees.

Yet Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of the state-owned airline and jewel of Ethiopia's economy, maintains the situation would have been far worse if it had not rapidly adapted to a 90 percent drop in international passenger traffic.

Africa's largest carrier pivoted in March to meet surging demand for air freight, repurposing 45 passenger jets in order to build out its cargo fleet.

"We were very quick, very fast, flexible and agile to move our forces, resources and everything to cargo," Tewolde told AFP in an interview.

"I would say that those actions have saved the airline."

So far Ethiopian has avoided seeking a bailout, laying off any full-time employees or requesting deferrals on debt payments, Tewolde said.

It even reported a profit of $44 million (37 million euros) for the first half of the year, he said, although the company declined to give details because the figures are unaudited.

The slow rebound in passenger traffic means Ethiopian remains in "survival mode", Tewolde said.

But as the industry attempts to recover, he is looking to deepen ties with other African carriers, notably beleaguered South African Airways (SAA).

"It is... an opportune time now to support other airlines because we are in a better position," he said.

- Cargo boom -

Ethiopian resorted to unorthodox tactics to exploit the pandemic-related cargo boom.

In addition to stripping out seats from 25 passenger aircraft, it enlisted 20 more planes whose seats were left in place and the cargo was secured with safety belts.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took to pitching Ethiopian's cargo services in calls with world leaders, according to several diplomats.

"Ethiopian could react with more agility than other airlines because it has always been run like a business," said Chiedza Madzima, head of operational risk at Fitch Solutions.

"There's a significant role of the state, but there's very limited state interference in the way Ethiopian Airlines is run."

The airline was further aided by the UN's decision to open a humanitarian transport hub in Addis Ababa in April.

To date Ethiopian has operated 360 cargo charters of personal protective equipment to more than 80 countries, Tewolde said.

And once a vaccine is approved, Ethiopian plans to make available "at least 40 airplanes" to distribute it globally.

- Looking outward -

Ethiopian has been closely watching other African carriers' response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Ethiopian already partners with Malawian Airlines and ASKY Airlines out of its hub in Togo.

It also holds a 45-percent stake in Zambia Airways which Tewolde said he expected would launch "either in October or November".

But Tewolde lamented that African carriers currently only meet about 20 percent of the continental market's needs.

"We have been aiming to reverse this market share, meaning African airlines, indigenous African airlines, should get at least 50 percent," he said.

With that in mind, Ethiopian is in talks over the restructuring of SAA, which has survived only through years of state bailouts.

In July, SAA's creditors approved a rescue plan that would replace it with a new and competitive carrier.

Tewolde said Ethiopian had made clear to South African officials that it was "not interested in equity" or in helping SAA manage its debt.

"We told them that we can give them management expertise, technical expertise, fleet and we can work on a commercial collaboration to restart South African Airways together," he said.

"We are interested only in the restart of the new airline at the beginning of next year."

- A drawn-out crisis -

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported a 58.5-percent drop in passenger demand in Africa for 2020.

"We're unlikely to see passenger levels return to 2019 levels for the next three to four years," said Madzima.

Ethiopia never closed its borders to international travel, but closures elsewhere meant the airline missed out on its normal summer peak, and it remains cut off from "very important markets" like China, India, South Africa and Saudi Arabia, Tewolde noted.

Even for flights that are running, he said, load factors are "less than 40 percent".

"This shows the severity of the crisis and also the length of the crisis," he said.

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Cathay Pacific pilots push for seat at table for restructuring talks

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Pilots at Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd are pushing to be included in restructuring talks at the carrier and will run a newspaper advertisement to drum up public support, a union representing them told Reuters on Tuesday.

The comments come after the group this month declined to apply for more government employment subsidies for its main business units, freeing it from the condition to retain jobs tied to the grants and fuelling worries of layoffs.

"What we want is to make sure if there is some sort of decision with regards to the future of the pilots, that we will be involved in discussions on what the structure looks like," said Chris Beebe, the general secretary of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association (HKAOA).

Beebe declined to comment on whether pilots would offer concessions like temporary salary cuts or unpaid leave schemes as have been agreed at other airlines amid crumbling demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Many Cathay pilots had already participated in a company-wide voluntary unpaid leave scheme, he said.

The union will run an advertisement in the South China Morning Post on Wednesday in its push for a seat at the table for talks on the restructuring plan that is due to be announced in the fourth quarter, Beebe said.

The advertisement will highlight HKAOA-commissioned research in which most respondents said they thought the union's 2,200 members were important to the city's global reputation.

Cathay did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The carrier, which received a $5 billion government rescue package, has refrained from large-scale job cuts but has warned it is reviewing all aspects of its business model.

HKAOA represents pilots at the main brand, Cathay Pacific. Pilots at regional brand Cathay Dragon and low-cost carrier HK Express are represented by other unions.

Several employees have told Reuters on condition of anonymity that they are bracing for major job losses.

Rival Singapore Airlines Ltd has already announced plans to cut around 20% of positions, while Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd has said it will cut nearly 30% of its pre-pandemic staff.

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United, pilots agree on schedule reductions to avoid nearly 3,000 furloughs

  • United Airlines' pilots agreed to reduce their hours to avoid furloughs of close to 3,000 pilots.
  • Carriers have turned to a variety of measures to avoid involuntary furloughs such as leaves of absence and buyouts.

United Airlines' pilots approved a plan to avoid furloughs until at least June 2021, the company said Monday, marking the latest cost-cutting deal between an airline and one of its biggest labor groups during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Chicago-based carrier earlier this month said it planned to furlough 2,850 pilots, starting Oct. 1, when $25 billion in federal aid that protects airline sector jobs expires. Another 1,000 furloughs were planned for next year. It later reached a preliminary agreement with the pilots' union to reduce minimum hours, essentially spreading schedules out among pilots, and maintain pay rates, which was later approved by union members.

The airline is still planning to cut roughly 13,000 jobs beginning next month. American Airlines is planning to slash about 19,000 jobs. Tens of thousands of other employees across all U.S. airlines have accepted carriers' offers of buyouts or leaves of absence aimed at reducing head count.

Airlines are hesitant to furlough pilots because their training is costly and time-consuming. The deal will keep pilots on the aircraft they're trained on.

While United CEO Scott Kirby has said he doesn't expect demand to return to more than half of 2019 levels without a vaccine, he has emphasized that the carrier should be ready to take advantage of a recovery.

"While we still face a difficult path to recovery, your support of this creative and unique agreement puts us in an unparalleled position of strength when demand recovers," United's senior vice president of flight operations, Bryan Quigley, wrote in a staff note Monday. "In addition to avoiding furloughs, this agreement greatly enhances our ability to bounce back - so we can welcome more passengers and return to the 2019 levels of seat and fleet advancement more quickly."

The deal won 58% approval from United's roughly 12,000 pilots, will make deeper cuts to minimum hours of pilots who are more junior.

Airlines are fighting for new federal funds as October furloughs loom
Labor unions and airline executives are urging lawmakers to provide an additional $25 billion in aid that would preserve jobs through the end of March. Further aid has won bipartisan support in Congress and from President Donald Trump. But lawmakers so far haven't reached a new national coronavirus stimulus package that would include the aid, though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that another relief proposal is possible.

"With this agreement now solidified, we will turn our focus back to Congress to secure a much-needed CARES Act extension to keep our industry solvent until we recover from this pandemic," Capt. Todd Insler, chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association's United chapter, said in a statement.

If airlines get additional aid, the new agreement with pilots would be paused. The deal also included another early retirement option for pilots over the age of 50 with 10 or more years of experience.

United's shares ended the day up 5.1% at $35.94. Delta Air Lines, which is still negotiating with its pilots' union to avoid 1,941 furloughs, added 5.2% to $31.34, while American rose 3.8% to $12.76.

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Airbus's First Wide-Body Deal Since March Is for Sole Tanker-Jet

Airbus SE announced its first wide-body order in almost six months -- for a single aerial refueling and transport aircraft based on an old model of its A330 jet.

The A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport or MRTT was ordered by Europe's multinational procurement body on behalf of NATO and will be available to the air forces of six nations, Airbus said in a statement Monday.

The military purchase highlights the collapse in sales to airlines and leasing firms that traditionally dominate orders as the coronavirus crisis shatters travel demand. In normal times, Airbus and Boeing Co. would expect to have racked up dozens of orders for hundreds of planes over the summer.

Airbus's last twin-aisle deal, for 10 A350-900 jets, was secured on March 31. Since then, the pandemic has compelled the Toulouse, France-based company to focus more on protecting existing orders by allowing its struggling customers to defer deliveries rather than targeting up new business.

The tanker purchase comes after Luxembourg agreed to maximize participation in the shared program and means all three options for additional MRTT planes have been exercised, taking the total fleet to nine. In addition to air-to-air refueling, the jets can carry troops, cargo and be used for medical evacuation.

Airbus will announce full order and delivery figures for September next week.

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NASA schedules the first Crew Dragon operational flight for Halloween

  • SpaceX Crew-1 will take four astronauts to the ISS.

NASA and SpaceX have set a new launch date for Crew Dragon's first crewed operational flight: October 31st. The SpaceX Crew-1 mission follows the company's successful Demo-2 test flight, which flew astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS. It was the first crewed flight that launched from US soil since the final space shuttle mission on July 8th, 2011. That mission returned to Earth with Behnken and Hurley in August, a couple of months after they headed to the ISS on a Crew Dragon.

The company and the agency were originally aiming for an October 23rd launch. They decided to move it a few days later to give both ground and station teams a longer time to prepare and check for issues after a Soyuz launch on October 14th and a Soyuz departure from the ISS on October 21st. NASA explained in an announcement:

"The new target date will deconflict the Crew-1 launch and arrival from upcoming Soyuz launch and landing operations. This additional time is needed to ensure closure of all open work, both on the ground and aboard the station, ahead of the Crew-1 arrival. The increased spacing also will provide a good window of opportunity to conduct additional testing to isolate the station atmosphere leak if required. SpaceX continues to make progress on preparations of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket, and the adjusted date allows the teams additional time for completing open work ahead of launch."

The mission will take NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, as well as JAXA's Soichi Noguchi, to the ISS. There will stay there for six months. SpaceX delivered the Crew Dragon spacecraft that will be used for this flight to Cape Canaveral in Florida back in August. The capsule will launch on top of a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Halloween at around 2:40AM Eastern time.

NASA says it's in the final stages of the data reviews needed for the company's certification following Demo-2. It will broadcast a series of media briefings to provide updates about the certification process and to talk about the Crew-1 mission starting on September 29th, 11 AM Eastern.

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NTSB - Essentials of Managing Communications During an Aircraft Accident
or Incident Course


Essentials of Managing Communications During an Aircraft Accident or Incident


Airports Council International - North America (ACI-NA)


The course will teach participants what to expect in the days immediately following an aviation accident or incident and how they can prepare for their role with the media. It is a condensed virtual version of Managing Communications During an Aircraft Accident or Incident course (PA302).

ID Code


Dates and Tuition

October 22-23, 2020

$750 early registration, by September 21, 2020
$850 late registration, between September 22 and October 17, 2020

We are no longer accepting offline payments.

Note: payment must be made at time of registration.


Day 1: 12:00pm - 4:00pm ET

Day 2: 12:00pm - 3:30pm ET




OPEN. Applications are now being accepted.

Apply to Attend

Click here to register




  • How the National Transportation Safety Board organizes an accident site and what can be expected in the days after an aviation disaster from the NTSB, FAA, other federal agencies, airline, airport, media and local community
  • Strategies for airline and airport staff to proactively manage the communication process throughout the on-scene phase of the investigation
  • How the NTSB media relations specialists coordinate press conferences and release of accident information and what information the spokespersons from the airport and airline will be responsible to provide to the media
  • Making provisions for and communicating with family members of those involved in the accident
  • Questions and requests likely encountered from the airlines, airport staff, family members, disaster relief agencies, local officials and others

Performance Results

Upon completion of this course the participant will be able to:

  • Be better prepared to respond to a major aviation disaster involving a flight departing from or destined for participant's airport
  • Demonstrate greater confidence in fielding on-scene questions about the many aspects of the investigation and its participants, including what types of specific information may be requested
  • Identify the appropriate communications roles for the various organizations involved in an accident investigation
  • Be more productive in the first few hours after an aviation disaster by understanding which tasks are most important and why
  • Perform job responsibilities more professionally and with greater confidence given the knowledge and tools to manage the airport communications aspect of a major aviation disaster

Who May Attend

This course istargetedto who, in the event of an aviation disaster, will need to provide a steady flow of accurate information to media outlets and/or other airport, federal or local authorities.

  • Communications professionals representing airports, airlines, business aviation operators and others in the aviation community
  • Potential participants in an NTSB investigation: Investigative and safety personnel employed by airframe, engine or component manufacturers, airlines, civilian and military agencies, and related labor unions
  • Investigators from the NTSB and other accident investigation authorities/commissions worldwide
  • Members of the academic community attending for research purposes (on a space-available basis)


Area hotels and restaurants


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More Information

Email[email protected]or call (571) 223-3939

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Graduate Research Survey


Stress and Wellbeing for Global Aviation Professionals


Dear colleagues,


I am inviting you to participate in a research project on wellbeing in the aviation industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. This situation has affected aviation professionals around the world, and this research seeks to identify wellbeing strategies that work across professions, employers, families, and nations.


All responses to this survey are anonymous. The findings of this research will inform future work by the USC Aviation Safety and Security Program and the Flight Safety Foundation to improve wellbeing for aviation professionals during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.


The survey should take approximately 10 minutes to complete. Please click or copy the link below to access the survey, and please share it with any interested colleagues.


This research will support a treatise towards a Master of Science in Applied Psychology degree at the University of Southern California's Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. The researcher is also on the staff of the USC Aviation Safety and Security Program.


Thank you, and please contact us with any questions,


Daniel Scalese - Researcher

[email protected]


Michael Nguyen - Faculty Advisor

[email protected]




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Cessna - 340



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