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Flight Safety Information
TopFlight Safety Information


December 12, 2019 -No. 255


In This Issue
China has 'important concerns' about Boeing 737 MAX design changes: regulator
FAA's Oversight of Boeing 737 Max Jet Slammed by Lawmakers
FAA analysis predicted many more Max crashes without a fix
Incident: Singapore B744 at Auckland on Dec 11th 2019, engine pod strike during go around
Incident: Southwest B737 at Buffalo on Dec 11th 2019, flaps problems
Incident: Lufthansa A346 over Atlantic on Dec 9th 2019, hydraulic problems
Cessna 550 Citation Bravo - Ground Collision (California)
South Korean LCCs fined for safety lapses
IATA Says Air Koryo Is Safe In Spite Of EU Ban
Sea-Tac is first airport to resist federal push for facial recognition
Alaska Airlines cargo jets need an unexpected repair
New York Doors-Off Helicopter Ride Raised Concern Months Before Crash
Argus: U.S. Business Aircraft Activity Down in November
Cathay Pacific Airways offers lifeline to pilots at troubled Hong Kong Airlines
Delta updates 2020 hiring plan with expectations of record-setting year
Boeing deliveries halved in first 11 months of 2019
Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin rocket makes 12th test flight
Call for Papers - ISASI 2020
Upcoming Cranfield short courses
Safety Management Systems Certificate Program from SCSI
Safety and Investigation Training in Sydney
IATA Safety and Flight Ops Conference - Baku, Azerbaijan 31 March - 2 April, 2020

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China has 'important concerns' about Boeing 737 MAX design changes: regulator

BEIJING/SYDNEY (Reuters) - China has raised "important concerns" with Boeing Co (BA.N) regarding design changes proposed to end the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX airliner, Beijing's aviation regulator said on Thursday, declining to say when it might fly in China again.

FILE PHOTO: Aerial photos showing Boeing 737 Max airplanes parked at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, U.S. October 20, 2019. REUTERS/Gary He

The remarks broke months of public silence from China, the first country to ground the 737 MAX in March following the second deadly crash involving the model in less than five months.

"Boeing is currently upgrading its software to the 737 MAX, and it is still a work in progress. The CAAC has raised our important concerns on areas such as system reliability and safety assessment," Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) spokesman Liu Lusong told reporters at a monthly briefing.

The 737 MAX would need to be re-certified and pilots given comprehensive and effective training before it could fly in China, he reiterated.

He said the causes of two crashes that killed 346 people needed to be investigated with effective measures put in place to prevent another one.

China in April said it had set up a task force to review design changes submitted by Boeing.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will not allow the 737 MAX to resume flying before the end of 2019, its chief, Steve Dickson, said on Wednesday.

"We continue to work with the FAA, CAAC and global regulators on addressing their concerns in order to safely return the MAX to service," Boeing said in a statement on Thursday.

FAA approval would allow the 737 MAX to resume flights in the United States, but individual national regulators could keep the planes grounded pending completion of their own reviews.

"Due to the trade war, the jury is still out on when China would reintroduce the aircraft," said Rob Morris, global head of consultancy at Ascend by Cirium.

Chinese airlines had 97 737 MAX jets in operation before the model was grounded, the most of any country, according to Cirium Fleets Analyzer.

Li Xiaojin, a Chinese aviation expert, said the country's airlines and passengers were taking a hit from the grounding alongside Boeing because it had crimped aviation growth.

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FAA's Oversight of Boeing 737 Max Jet Slammed by Lawmakers

By Ryan Beene, Alan Levin, and Courtney Rozen
  • FAA chief says planemaker may still face 'enforcement action'
  • Two crashes of the Boeing jet in five months claimed 346 lives

FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson speaks during a hearing on the Boeing Co. 737 Max aircraft in Washington on Dec. 11.

Lawmakers peppered Federal Aviation Administration officials with questions about how the agency approved the now-grounded Boeing Co. 737 Max jet and kept it flying after the first of two deadly crashes despite doubts about its safety.

An internal FAA risk assessment conducted after a Lion Air flight crashed off the coast of Indonesia in October 2018, predicted another 15 of the jets would crash over the next 45 years without a fix, according to documents released by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, appearing for the first time before the committee, had refrained from criticizing the agency's actions before his swearing in in August, saying officials acted in good faith by not grounding the plane until after a second fatal accident March 10.

"The FAA failed to ask the right questions, failed to adequately question the answers they received from Boeing," Representative Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat and chairman of the committee said as he opened the hearing.

The committee's months-long investigation "has uncovered a broken safety culture within Boeing and an FAA that was unknowing, unable, or unwilling to step up, regulate and provide appropriate oversight of Boeing," DeFazio said.

But under questioning by California Democrat Julia Brownley, Dickson said he would have grounded the jetliner after its first crash had he been FAA administrator at the time. "With what I know now, yes," he said.

In the nearly six-hour hearing, the agency received some of the strongest criticism it has faced over the 737 Max crisis that grounded Boeing's best selling jetliner and has sullied the once-sterling reputation of U.S. aviation regulators.

Dickson acknowledged that improvements were needed and revealed that the agency was considering unspecified enforcement action against Boeing. Another FAA official told lawmakers that an investigation is underway of a whistle-blower's complaints about Boeing manufacturing practices.

But the agency decided a warning to pilots was sufficient to keep the plane flying. In March, an Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed after a similar failure involving its flight-control system. A total of 346 people died in the two disasters.

Boeing said Wednesday that the company and the FAA decided to "reinforce existing pilot procedures" and that releasing the warning to pilots after the Lion Air crash was sufficient to allow flights to continue until changes to the 737 Max's flight control system could be made.

The FAA's own analysis showed the plane had unacceptable safety risks and shouldn't have been allowed to continue flying without a broader fix, DeFazio told reporters after the hearing.

"That should have rung alarm bells and it apparently didn't," he said. "We're going to be getting into that."

The risk analysis performed last December, known as Transport Aircraft Risk Assessment Methodology, was done to validate the agency's decision almost a month earlier to alert pilots to the issue while allowing the plane to continue flying, the agency said in a statement.

The analysis predicted there would be 15 fatal accidents killing 2,921 people over a 45-year period with a fleet of 4,800 of the aircraft. The results were based on what would happen if the agency had taken no action -- and at that point the FAA had not only alerted pilots but was working with Boeing to redesign the plane, according to an agency official briefed on the matter who wasn't authorized to speak about it.

A committee staffer disputed the FAA's characterization. FAA technical experts who briefed the committee last week said that the analysis had taken the initial FAA actions into account, and still predicted additional crashes over the plane's lifetime. The staffer wasn't authorized to speak to reporters and asked not to be named.

The agency also came under fire from a pair of whistle-blowers.

G. Michael Collins, a former FAA certification engineer, told the committee that the agency's safety culture has become overly deferential to industry, saying it has shifted over the last 15 years "to where the wants of applicants now often take precedent over the safety of the traveling public."

Edward Pierson, a Boeing production manager who retired in August 2018, criticized the FAA and other federal agencies for not doing more to examine the potential role that production issues may have played in the two 737 Max crashes, despite having provided them detailed information about conditions on Boeing's assembly line. He had also reported his concerns to Boeing management which he said weren't adequately addressed.

"The U.S. regulators' investigation of these crashes has been as disappointing as Boeing's insistence that it had no systemic quality or safety issues," Pierson said.

After several lawmakers cited Pierson's concerns, Earl Lawrence, the FAA's executive director of aircraft certification, said "we do have open investigations."

Enforcement Action
In addition, Dickson said the FAA may take enforcement action against Boeing for actions related to the 737 Max accidents and grounding. Dickson didn't provide details, saying only that he has expressed displeasure to high-ranking Boeing executives. He added that his chief concern at the moment is ensuring the safety of the plane as it's returned to service.

"I reserve the right to take further action and we very well may do that," he said, responding to a question from Representative Stephen Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat.

DeFazio said that committee staff recently completed a seven-hour interview with Ali Bahrami, the FAA's associate administrator for aviation safety, who said that he wasn't aware of the analysis issued after the Lion Air crash that predicted the additional 737 Max crashes without a fix.

Lawmakers quizzed the FAA on its decision to not name Boeing's faulty automation system in its emergency directive, issued days after the first 737 Max crash. The system, Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS, pushed the nose of the planes down until they crashed.

Pilot Manuals
Lawrence said the agency didn't mention MCAS because it wasn't included in Boeing's own pilot manuals and adding it to the directive would confuse pilots. The FAA issued the emergency airworthiness directive after the Lion Air plane crashed.

"In addition to failing to include MCAS in the flight manuals, training that provided actual experience in detecting, diagnosing and responding to failure conditions was not provided," said Mica Endsley, a former chief Air Force scientist called as an expert witness.

DeFazio plans to introduce legislation to address the shortcomings at the FAA that have come to light since the two 737 Max crashes. He suggested during the hearing break that the legislation would increase the number of personnel assigned to scrutinize manufacturers, though he didn't provide additional details on how a bill would do that.

"We don't just fine them for noncompliance, we say, by the way, we're going to put a lot more people on you," DeFazio said.

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FAA analysis predicted many more Max crashes without a fix

After the first crash of a Boeing 737 Max last year, federal safety officials estimated that there could be 15 more fatal crashes of the Max over the next few decades if Boeing didn't fix a critical automated flight-control system.

Yet the Federal Aviation Administration did not ground the plane until a second deadly crash five months later.

The FAA analysis was disclosed Wednesday during a hearing of the House Transportation Committee, which is investigating the FAA's oversight of Boeing and the Max.

"Despite its own calculations, the FAA rolled the dice on the safety of the traveling public and let the Max continue to fly until Boeing could overhaul its MCAS software," said Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the committee.

MCAS is the name of Boeing's flight-control system that automatically pushed the noses of the doomed planes down in response to faulty readings from a sensor.

FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson declined to call the agency's decision not to immediately ground the plane a mistake. Instead, the FAA and Boeing issued notices reminding pilots how to handle a nose-down pitch of their plane.

"Obviously the result is not satisfactory," Dickson said. "The decision did not achieve the result that it needed to achieve."

The FAA concluded that more than 2,900 people could die in Max crashes over 45 years without the software fix. It assumed the fleet would eventually grow to 4,800 planes. Fewer than 400 were flying before they were grounded in March, after the second crash. And it estimated Boeing could fix MCAS software in about seven months.

The analysis was completed several weeks after the FAA had already issued the emergency notice to pilots - the agency took no additional steps after estimating 15 future crashes.

An FAA spokesman said the analysis is one of several tools the agency uses to analyze safety issues.

A Boeing spokesman said the company's response to the first crash was "fully consistent with the FAA's analysis and established process."

Dickson said that as Boeing seeks to return the Max to flying, his agency is controlling the process and won't delegate any of that authority to Boeing.

Dickson defended the safety record of U.S. aviation while saying "what we have done in the past and what we are doing now will not be good enough in the future."

A retired Boeing production manager told the lawmakers about "alarming" conditions at Boeing's 737 factory in Renton, Washington, where two Max planes that crashed were built.

The manager, Edward Pierson, said the assembly line fell far behind schedule by mid-2018 because of cascading problems that began with late delivery of key parts. There weren't enough mechanics and other workers, he said. Yet Boeing went ahead with its plan to boost production from 47 to 52 planes a month.

"By June 2018, I had grown gravely concerned that Boeing was prioritizing production speed over quality and safety," Pierson said in prepared remarks. "I witnessed a factory in chaos and reported serious concerns about production quality to senior Boeing leadership months before the first crash" and again before the second crash.

Pierson said he told his bosses at Boeing that they should shut down the assembly line to deal with safety and quality-control issues, but no action was taken. Executives didn't mention the problems in financial reports.

Pierson, who retired last year, said he wrote to Dickson and other officials. He said he has been interviewed by the Justice Department - it is conducting a criminal investigation of Boeing - but the FAA never responded. Earl Lawrence, the FAA's executive director of aircraft certification, said the agency is investigating and has interviewed Renton production workers.

Boeing hopes airlines will be able to use the plane again early next year after the company completes fixes to flight-control software and computers. Dickson has insisted that the FAA has no timetable for granting that approval.

DeFazio praised Dickson's recent comments but was harshly critical of the agency and Boeing.

The FAA "failed to do its job. It failed to provide the regulatory oversight necessary to ensure the safety of the flying public," DeFazio said.

Published reports indicate that FAA officials knew very little about MCAS, which has been implicated in the October 2018 crash of a Max off the coast of Indonesia and the March 2019 crash of another Max in Ethiopia. In both crashes, investigators say, a faulty sensor caused MCAS to push the nose of the plane down and pilots were unable to regain control. In all, 346 people died.

Regulators around the world grounded the plane after the second crash.

Several relatives of passengers who died in the crashes attended Wednesday's hearing.

Dickson suggested that FAA will not delegate key review work to Boeing this time.

"The FAA fully controls the approvals process for the flight control systems and is not delegating anything to Boeing," Dickson said in his written testimony. "The FAA will retain authority to issue airworthiness certificates and export certificates of airworthiness for all new 737 Max airplanes manufactured since the grounding."

He said the plane will only return to flying after all safety issues have been addressed and pilots have received enough training to fly the plane safely.

DeFazio and other lawmakers have indicated they may offer legislation to overhaul the way the FAA certifies new aircraft. Dickson said that the FAA can do better, but the safety record of U.S. aviation - no deadly crashes of a U.S. airliner since 2009 - shows that the FAA's oversight is working.

"The system is not broken," he said.

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Incident: Singapore B744 at Auckland on Dec 11th 2019, engine pod strike during go around

A Singapore Airlines Cargo Boeing 747-400, registration 9V-SFO performing freight flight SQ-7298 (dep Dec 10th) from Sydney,NS (Australia) to Auckland (New Zealand), was on final approach to Auckland's runway 05R when the crew initiated a go around form very low height, the #1 engine pod (PW4056, outboard left hand) struck the ground. The aircraft climbed to 5000 feet, positioned for another approach to runway 05R and landed on runway 05R without further incident about 13 minutes after the go around.

The occurrence aircraft is still on the ground in Auckland about 32 hours after landing.

The aircraft had suffered another #1 engine pod strike in Sydney 2 weeks earlier, seeIncident: Singapore B744 at Sydney on Nov 28th 2019, engine pod strike during go around.

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Incident: Southwest B737 at Buffalo on Dec 11th 2019, flaps problems

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700, registration N757LV performing flight WN-1389 from Orlando,FL to Buffalo,NY (USA) with 71 passengers and 5 crew, was on approach to Buffalo's runway 23 when the crew initiated a go around advising they had flaps problems. The crew subsequently requested emergency services on stand by for the landing, positioned for another approach to runway 23 and landed safely at normal speed about 15 minutes after the go around.

The aircraft remained on the ground for about 3 hours, then was able to perform the next sector to Baltimore,MD (USA) arriving there with a delay of about 2 hours.

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Incident: Lufthansa A346 over Atlantic on Dec 9th 2019, hydraulic problems

A Lufthansa Airbus A340-600, registration D-AIHB performing flighht LH-404 from Frankfurt/Main (Germany) to New York JFK,NY (USA), was enroute at FL380 over the Atlantic Ocean about south of Greenland (Greenland) when the crew decided to return to Germany due to problems with a hydraulic system. The aircraft diverted to Cologne/Bonn due to the night curfew and landed safely in Cologne about 8 hours after departure.

The passengers were bussed to Frankfurt and rebooked onto other flights.

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Cessna 550 Citation Bravo - Ground Collision (California)

Date: 10-DEC-2019
Time: 19:30:00 UTC
Cessna 550 Citation Bravo
Owner/operator: JJK Acquisitions LLC
Registration: N238JP
C/n / msn: 550-1024
Fatalities: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities: 0
Aircraft damage: Minor
Location: Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT/KFAT) -United States of America
Phase: Taxi
Nature: Unknown
Departure airport: Fresno Yosemite International Airport, CA (FAT/KFAT)
Destination airport:
The jet collided with a parked vehicle while taxiing for takeoff at Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT/KFAT).

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South Korean LCCs fined for safety lapses

South Korea's Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) has imposed fines totaling W810 million ($682,000) on Jeju Air, T'way Air and Air Seoul for flouting safety rules.

Three incidents involved Jeju Air. In February, during takeoff and landing of flight 8401 between Seoul Incheon and Qingdao, the aircraft's braking system malfunctioned and the crew failed to comply with operating procedures. This incident alone drew a fine of W600 million, while the captain and first officer were each suspended for 30 days.

In a second incident, Jeju Air was rapped for losing communication with air traffic control due to operational error on the pilot's part. This happened in July, on board flight 2305 between Seoul Incheon and Manilla.

Separately, two captains and two first officers were each suspended for 30 days for taking off from Gimpo airport without air traffic control's permission, on a domestic service to Jeju.

Meanwhile, Air Seoul's cabin crew were charged with neglecting their duties, having been detained by the Ministry of Homeland Security prior to a flight.

T'way Air had a captain and first officer suspended for 15 days each, for entering the runway at Gwangju airport without permission from air traffic control during a domestic flight.

Other cases cited were misdemeanours relating to aviation medical examiners, and an air traffic controller who neglected duties.

MOLIT sayst it will continue to reinforce airline safety supervision to ensure safety in air traffic. Any violation of safety laws will be severely dealt with to prevent recurrence of similar violations.

In particular, minister Kim Hyun-mi stressed that the management of the airline industry will be difficult, but airlines will be thoroughly supervised to ensure that they do not neglect safety management such as investing in safety.

Despite its encouraging attitude towards the LCC sector, the South Korean government has tightened its grip on safety issues in recent years. MOLIT last revised its entrance requirements for start-up airlines in 2018 to improve quality and stability.

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IATA Says Air Koryo Is Safe In Spite Of EU Ban

North Korean flag carrier Air Koryo is having some mixed messages sent out about its safety as an airline. It passed the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) and is still listed on the Register as a 'safe' airline. However, the EU has banned operations by the airline to any EU member country. How does an airline end up banned with one agency and fine with another?

Air Koryo
Banned in the EU but OK'd by IATA. What's going on with Air Koryo? Photo: Fedor Leukhin via Wikimedia

The IOSA Program
IATA's Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) Program is recognized as a global standard in airline safety and operational efficiency. It is a prerequisite of IATA membership but goes a whole lot further than that. The IATA website states that some 32% of the airlines on the IOSA registry are non-IATA members, demonstrating the importance of this standard even outside of the IATA membership ecosystem.

IOSA is open to any commercial passenger or cargo operator who uses at least one two pilot multi-engine aircraft with an MTOW of 5,700kg or more. The IOSA evaluates the performance of the airline in relation to Standards and Recommended Practices (ISARPs)

According to the IATA database, Air Koryo is currently on the ISO Registry, meaning they have an active pass of the audit process. The airline's registration is good through to October 3rd 2020.

The IOSA story
The IOSA story

The EU Air Safety List
The EU ASL is described as being a list of air carriers from non-EU countries which do not meet the international safety standard. In some cases, all airlines from a particular country will be placed on the blacklist, due to being seen to have insufficient oversight from their local regulators. Currently, 109 airlines from 15 states are banned from the EU under this rule.

As well as the banned nations, a number of individual operators are either banned or have special conditions imposed on their operations. Airlines include Air Zimbabwe, Iran Aseman Airlines and, of course, Air Koryo.

Air Koryo TU 204
Air Koryo is allowed to fly its TU 204s to the EU. Photo: Pavel Adzhigildaev via Wikimedia

It's not entirely true to say that Air Koryo is completely banned. It is, in theory, allowed to operate its two Tupolev Tu-204 into the EU, having been granted flying rights in March 2010. However, the rest of its fleet is banned.

In fact, Air Koryo is not alone in being in this situation. Iran Asseman Airlines, Iran Air and Air Zimbabwe are all certified under IOSA, but are banned by the EU. So how does an airline end up on the EU banned list, when a reputable organization like IATA has certified it as safe to fly?

The IATA explanation
Speaking at today's IATA Media Days in Geneva, Gilberto Lopez Meyer, IATA's senior vice president of safety and flight operations, responded to this question in firm defense of the IATA program. He said,

"Any audit like the IOSA is a snapshot of an airline at a certain point in time. Any audit has its limitations. When we have these kinds of cases like the ones you are mentioning, we do need to ask why the airline passed the IOSA audit but it didn't pass the EU audit."

Lopez Meyer admitted that there was, on occasion, disparity between auditing agencies, commenting,

"We really have learned by experience that sometimes an airline that doesn't have a problem with us has a problem with another agency. Often it is the opposite; they are OK with the other agency but have a problem with us."

Wrapping up, Lopez Meyer made it clear that a disagreement between the agencies is not a sign of a major issue with either regulatory body. He suggested it is in fact a symptom of the limitations of audit processes in general.

"This is just a snapshot of this airline at this point in time. It's been investigated with a certain level of authority, with a certain set of questions and objectives, so it's not a perfect system. This is why we insist that cooperation between the authorities is essential."

IATA's evaluation of airlines under IOSA is conducted once every two years. As Air Koryo's status expires on the 3rd October 2020, this suggests it has been well over a year since that airline was audited. In that respect, what Mr. Lopez Meyer is saying is absolutely true; assessments must be taken in a snapshot, which may change between the times or because of the parameters used by agencies.

For now, Air Koryo will not be flying to the EU, but that doesn't mean its unsafe for operations. We'll have to see how it performs in the next IOSA audit in October 2020.

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Sea-Tac is first airport to resist federal push for facial recognition and other biometric technologies

SEATTLE - At least for now, controversial facial-recognition technology won't be installed at boarding gates at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, making the airport the first in the country to resist the rollout of a federal biometric identification program.

After hours of impassioned public comment Tuesday, much of it from people calling facial recognition intrusive and dangerous, the Port of Seattle Commission unanimously approved a moratorium on some uses of the technology.

The five-member commission, which oversees Sea-Tac, suspended the introduction of some new biometric technologies - including facial recognition - until the commission adopts "tangible, enforceable" policies to govern their use.

The commission's vote halts Delta Air Lines' plans to roll out facial-recognition cameras at its Sea-Tac boarding gates by year-end.

The moratorium, though, applies only to areas the Port controls. Nor does the suspension apply to biometric technologies used solely by Port staff - for example, fingerprints used to access secure areas.

That means a Custom and Border Protection plan to install facial-recognition cameras at a new facility to process arriving international travelers, opening July 2020, will proceed as planned: The part of that building where the cameras will be located is controlled by the federal government.

And biometric technologies already in use at the airport - including CLEAR, a $179/year service for travelers who want to jump to the top of the TSA line - will continue operating.

The vote means the Port has committed itself to grappling with an issue that's bedeviled federal and state legislators: How to balance civil-liberties concerns over biometrics with the efficiency and convenience some say they deliver.

At the meeting, Port commissioners said they were open to the possibility that tension may be insoluble.

If the Port were to adopt a more permanent prohibition on biometrics, it would be following in the footsteps of cities like San Francisco and Somerville, Massachusetts, that have banned the use of facial recognition by city agencies.

Delta says replacing manual document checks with facial-recognition technology, which it already uses at seven other U.S. airports, speeds passenger flow. The airline says it eventually hopes to install the cameras at every point a traveler would normally have to pull out their passport and boarding pass at Sea-Tac: Check-in, bag check, TSA and boarding.

But the primary push for the spread of facial recognition to check-in terminals and boarding gates at 20 airports in the past year comes from the federal Customs and Border Protection agency, which has a congressional mandate to deploy a nationwide biometric program to identify international travelers.

The agency says facial-recognition algorithms are better than human agents at detecting some kinds of immigration fraud.

The agency has partnered with airlines and airports to screen travelers leaving the country. It's also installed its own cameras in 11 airport Customs terminals to identify arriving travelers.

No airport has sought to intervene in the program - until now.

Sea-Tac will be the first airport in the country to wrest some control over the rollout of facial recognition at airports back from the federal government and private entities, said Eric Schinfeld, the Port's federal government liaison, at Tuesday's commission meeting.

The Port joins a long list of governments at the local, state and federal levels similarly wrestling with how to mitigate the dangers of biometrics.

Technologies like facial recognition enable intrusive surveillance, which is likely to most adversely impact minority communities, representatives of groups advocating for civil liberties, privacy and the interests of Asian and Muslim Americans said at the commission meeting.

Japanese internment, said Stan Shikuma, the president elect of the Japanese-American Citizens League, was enabled by "surveillance kept by the FBI, the Office of Naval Intelligence, as well as private citizens."

And facial-recognition algorithms tend to misidentify people of color, especially women, at a higher rate than white people.

Other speakers raised concerns about data security.

"Biometric data should not be taken lightly," said Cynthia Spiess, a security researcher. "You only have one face. What is the recourse to the victims? What is the liability to the Port when a data breach happens? Because this data will be breached."

Finding a way forward has stymied federal and local authorities, port staff acknowledged at the meeting.

At the national level, Congress has been unable to pass comprehensive regulation on biometrics.

In the state Legislature, bills to regulate facial recognition died this spring because lawmakers couldn't agree on an approach to the technology.

In its resolution, the Port enumerated principles to guide the rollout of biometrics like facial recognition, including that the technology be implemented ethically, justifiably and voluntarily.

Protecting travelers' privacy and ensuring that the technology is equitable are other concerns of the Port.

Developing policy recommendations in line with those principles is the responsibility of a new working group composed of Port staff, airlines, cruise lines, technology companies and community representatives.

The working group has until the end of March to present the commission with recommendations of "tangible, enforceable" policies dictating how biometric technologies will be used.

"The recommendation could be that we don't think the technology is ready to use right now," said Commissioner Courtney Gregoire at the meeting.

The commission will vote on the policy recommendations by late June.

Until that time, a halt on the introduction of new biometric technologies is in effect.

Once the new biometric policies are passed, though, operators like CLEAR will need to prove its iris- and fingerprint-scanning terminals are compliant.

And airlines like Delta will need to show how they plan to comply before the Port permits them to install facial-recognition cameras.

In a statement, Delta said it believed its facial-recognition cameras "meet or exceed the guiding principles in the motion that the Port of Seattle adopted today."

The airline said its technology "adheres to high standards for data security and customer privacy - a responsibility Delta takes extremely seriously."

Much of the hard work to regulate facial recognition lies ahead, said Commissioner Ryan Calkins at the meeting.

Facial recognition, he said, "is neither an unmitigated good nor an unmitigated bad. The very attributes that make it so much of a benefit - convenience and customer satisfaction - make it very dangerous.

"This is only the starting point for us."

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Alaska Airlines cargo jets need an unexpected repair, delaying shipments during holiday season

An Alaska Air Cargo Boeing 737-700 freighter departs from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on Monday, Mar. 4, 2019.

With the holiday shipping season underway, Alaska Airlines said Wednesday that its three 737-700 cargo jets serving Alaska must undergo an unplanned retrofit, complicating the company's deliveries across the state. The airline quickly launched a work-around plan.

"An embargo is in place accepting any new general and priority cargo to Kodiak, Bethel, Nome, Kotzebue, Barrow and Deadhorse," said Tim Thompson, a spokesman for the airline. "We will still take Gold Streak (packages) and medical but the rest is on hold for now. Customers are being notified."

"We need to get cleared what we have, so we're not accepting anything new (in those communities)," Thompson said. "We are working overtime to clear warehouse floors as soon as possible."

Israel Aerospace Industries, the company that converted the unique jets from all-passenger service to all-freight service starting in 2017, notified the airline on Tuesday that there's a problem with the integrity of a "barrier wall" that helps protect the pilots, according to Thompson.

The wall stops freight from "moving forward towards the flight deck in the event of sudden deceleration of the aircraft," Alaska Air said in an emailed statement.

IAI is working on a plan to address the issue, Thompson said in an interview on Wednesday.

"We believe it will be short term," he said.

Alaska Airlines unveiled their first-ever next generation Boeing 737-700 freighter aircraft at their Anchorage cargo facility on Monday, Oct. 2, 2017.

In the meantime, starting Wednesday, Alaska Airlines launched a plan to dedicate some of its 737-800 and 737-900 passenger jets to freight service. Larger passenger jets will also haul some packages, when there's space available in the belly of the plane.

Alaska Airlines is also "working with other carriers to move stuff as quickly as possible," Thompson said.

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New York Doors-Off Helicopter Ride Raised Concern Months Before Crash

By Alan Levin | December 12, 2019

A government safety inspector who saw a popular New York City, doors-off sightseeing helicopter flight operation six months before a fatal 2018 crash called it "unorthodox," but officials thought they had no authority to regulate it and allowed it to continue, an investigation has found.

The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday concluded the Federal Aviation Administration's lack of oversight contributed to the cause of the March 11, 2018, crash in the East River that killed five. The NTSB also voted to call on the FAA to ban such open-door flights for hire until it adopts stricter standards on the use of the special harnesses passengers wear.

The Airbus SE AS350 copter went down after a tether attached to one of the passenger harnesses accidentally looped around a fuel shutoff lever and cut power, the NTSB concluded.

All of the people who paid for a flight that permits them to dangle their feet outside a chopper and take pictures died after their craft ditched into the water and flipped upside down. They couldn't escape from their harnesses, according to the NTSB. Only the pilot was able to free himself.

The operation had multiple safety issues, the NTSB investigation found. The craft sank after the pilot could only inflate one of two emergency floats because the handle was so difficult to operate, according to NTSB.

Officials at the company that sold the tickets, FlyNYON, and Liberty Helicopters Inc., which operated the flights, "intentionally exploited" a loophole allowing the flights billed as for photography to sidestep safety regulations for commercial operations, said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt.

Employees were instructed not to describe the flights as sightseeing and to keep a watch for FAA inspectors, he said.

The FAA is reviewing the NTSB recommendations and will respond within 90 days, according to an emailed statement from the agency. Since the accident, the agency imposed new restrictions on doors-off flights and began the process of writing new regulations for that segment of the industry, it said.

FlyNYON highlighted, in an emailed statement, issues the NTSB identified with the emergency floats and the design of the fuel shut-off valve. "We support the recommendations of the NTSB to the FAA to evaluate and to address these significant safety issues," the company said.

Liberty isn't able to comment as a result of litigation related to the crash, said company spokesman Jerry Eisenband.

Harnesses worn by passengers on the flight - which could only allow them to escape if they took a knife and cut a tether behind their backs - "turned a perfectly good helicopter into a death trap," Sumwalt said at the meeting in Washington. "That is a fact."

An FAA inspector who viewed the doors-off operation in October 2017 raised concerns, but others at the agency believed they had no authority to stop it, according to the investigation.

At the same time, pilots at Liberty repeatedly questioned safety of the operation but were ignored by FlyNYON and their own management, according to NTSB.

The NTSB only has the power to recommend, not regulate. It urged the FAA, which regulates the aviation industry, to ban such flights until it sets stricter rules.

The NTSB received three different opinions from FAA on the legality of such flights, which are widespread at major cities and some tourist locations.

In one legal opinion, the agency concluded that open-door flights for photography should be reserved only for people who are professional photographers, which would have prohibited the FlyNYON operation.

However, the agency concluded after the crash that such flights can continue so long as companies receive a special authorization. FlyNYON and other similar companies operate as if they are a private flights with limited regulation in spite of taking compensation. They aren't required to adhere to stricter commercial standards, the NTSB found.

"This is a loophole that one could fly a helicopter or drive a truck through," NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Lansberg said at the hearing.

The safety board recommended that the FAA close the exemption.

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Argus: U.S. Business Aircraft Activity Down in November

Business aircraft flying dipped 2.5 percent year-over-year last month in North America and the Caribbean as Part 91 and 135 activity declined, according to the latest TraqPak Aircraft Activity Report from Argus. Part 91 activity last month was down 3.4 percent from a year earlier, while Part 135 activity fell 2.9 percent during the same period.

Buffering this decline was a 2.1 percent year-over-year increase in fractional flight activity. That was solely spurred by midsize jet fractional flying, which was up 8.3 percent in November. Large jet fractional activity, conversely, plunged 18.3 percent last month, while large jet activity across all operating segments was collectively down 4.8 percent.

The only other increase in November was a 1.3 percent improvement in Part 91 light jet activity. But that was not enough to offset declines in other Part 91 aircraft categories: turboprop activity dropped 3.5 percent; midsize jet, -6.8 percent; and large-cabin jet, -5.6 percent.

Similar to Part 91, midsize jet activity led the decline in Part 135, down 5.1 percent. This was followed by light jet activity at -4.8 percent and turboprop activity at -1.3 percent. And while large-cabin jet activity dropped precipitously with fractionals, it was down just 0.1 percent at Part 135 operations.

Despite weak demand, Argus is still forecasting an overall 1.4 percent year-over-year increase for this month.

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Cathay Pacific Airways offers lifeline to pilots at troubled Hong Kong Airlines
  • Smaller carrier still in financial trouble, having just avoided going out of business at the weekend
  • City's flag carrier reveals that, with threat of redundancies in the air, it offered to take on some of Hong Kong Airlines' cockpit crew

Cathay Pacific has said it will cut capacity by 1.4 per cent in 2020, anti-government unrest in Hong Kong having depressed the appetite for travel to and from the city. Photo: Winson Wong

Cathay Pacific Airways offered to take on some pilots from a financially troubled rival if it was forced to make redundancies, the Post has learned.

Hong Kong's flag carrier said it had contacted Hong Kong Airlines' (HKA) management team in recent weeks and was greeted with a positive response, as it looks to replace retiring cockpit crews and recruit pilots for future expansion.

HKA narrowly avoided going out of business over the weekend, after satisfying the city's airline licensing authority that it had raised enough cash to carry on.

Chris Kempis, Cathay Pacific's director of flight operations, revealed the offer to take on staff on the sidelines of a company event on Monday.

Cathay not planning to ground planes or offer unpaid leave amid protest woes
"We approached the management of Hong Kong Airlines and said if you are looking at a system were you to make some pilots redundant we will be interested in helping you with that redundancy," he said.

"We had a direct communication with the management, not the pilots, and they said they would be interested should it occur. Luckily it hasn't occurred."

The offer provides a glimpse of a possible lifeline for concerned HKA employees in future, but it is said to be specific to cockpit crew.

Kempis - who sits on Cathay's top management team - said the carrier had recruited 406 pilots in 2019. Of those, eight came from Hong Kong Airlines, during earlier efforts by the cash-strapped company to encourage its pilots to seek employment elsewhere.

Kempis declined to say how many had applied from HKA, but said it was "a fair number".
Ongoing anti-government protests in the city, and the consequent dip in visitors, have hit both airlines badly. Between August and October, 2.3 million fewer people flew in, out and through Hong Kong International Airport than during the same period last year.
Cathay Pacific said earlier that it would cut capacity by 1.4 per cent in 2020 - rather than grow it by 3.1 per cent, as planned - as the unrest had depressed the appetite for travel to and from the city, leading to a steep drop in the number of bookings.

But it might have an opportunity to avoid a contraction, one analyst said, with HKA drastically cutting the number of flights it operates, and looking to end all long-haul flights by next February.

Recent adjustments to our network and operation have resulted in a surplus of pilots. As a responsible airline, we have been working out deals with other airlines to benefit our crew.

Hong Kong Airlines spokeswoman
Brendan Sobie, an independent analyst from Sobie Aviation, said: "For the short term other airlines which have had to cut capacity to [and from] Hong Kong - Cathay Pacific Group and foreign airlines - will be able to restore capacity, possibly to normal levels."
HKA said discussing staffing was normal in the course of business.

"It is common for airlines to talk to each other on transfer opportunities," a spokeswoman said. "Recent adjustments to our network and operation have resulted in a surplus of pilots. As a responsible airline, we have been working out deals with other airlines to benefit our crew."

In a previously unreported development, HKA offered aircrew a permanent transfer to Cathay, to become first officers and fly Boeing 747 freighter aircraft. It also offered to waive the usual three-month notice period.

In a Cathay Pacific briefing document seen by the Post, HKA pilots were told they could earn an annual minimum of HK$825,000 and up to HK$1.81 million as captain.

Globally, demand for pilots is rising as airlines expand. Some 250,000 pilots are needed worldwide in the next decade, industry estimates suggest.

As of mid-November, HKA employed 562 pilots, having shed 80 since the start of 2019. The airline currently flies 27 planes, down from 39 in January. Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, by comparison, employ more than 3,800 pilots.

The number of pilots at HKA is likely to decrease further, but it is unclear by how much, as the number of large widebody jets shrinks in favour of smaller, single-aisle jets that carry half as many passengers. An effort by HKA to offload pilots in April yielded some success.

Kempis welcomed the carrier's recent reprieve. "I'm glad Hong Kong Airlines got a cash injection and to continue operating is a good thing," he said. "They're an important player in the market."

HKA still faces demands to pay creditors, its financial troubles far from over. A court filing made available on Wednesday revealed it had allegedly "failed, neglected, and/or refused to settle" a payment of more than US$34.5 million to Alafco Irish Aircraft Leasing Sixteen, due on December 6.

The alleged debt, according to the claim filed to the High Court on Tuesday, stemmed from an order made by the Queen's Bench Division of the Commercial Court of the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales on November 22.

Alafco is now seeking US$34.26 million plus £190,000 and interest until payment, pursuant to the court order.
The Kuwaiti aircraft lessor is listed as leasing two Airbus A350-900 planes to HKA, which has not flown that model since October 20.

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Delta updates 2020 hiring plan with expectations of record-setting year

Delta said it expects to hire more than 8,000 pilots over the next decade to staff the thousands of daily flights it operates around the world as other aviators approach mandatory retirement age.

Delta says it's set for a record-breaking hiring spree.

Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL) on Wednesday said it plans to hire and train more than 1,300 pilots in the next year as part of its largest single-year hiring event in more than two decades. Delta also bumped its initial hiring plan for flight attendants in 2020, from roughly 1,000 flight attendant job openings to at least 2,500 - the largest for a single year in the airline's 95-year history.

The Atlanta-based carrier said the increases come as it expects to fly a record number of customers on more flights than ever. The plan is part of a broader effort to onboard more than 8,000 pilots in the next decade to backfill current pilots who are reaching the mandatory retirement age, 65.

The airline said pilots hired in the next year will fill positions across a broad range of mainline fleet types at Delta crew bases that include Atlanta, New York, Minneapolis, Detroit and Seattle.

Over the past few years, the Delta's pilots union has argued the airline should significantly improve pilot compensation and work rules that were slashed during bankruptcy. Negotiations for a new contract between the airline and its pilots kicked off earlier this year.

Wednesday's announcements follows CEO Ed Bastian's comments in October that the company is expanding its workforce this year and next by at least 12,000 people in "all categories."

Atlanta Business Chronicle reported in July on how Delta is putting a larger emphasis on diversity and inclusion its workplace and recruiting efforts. That includes its annual "Dream Flight" and Propel, the airline's new career path program that aims to develop the next generation of pilots.

Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) in August unveiled its own new program, Destination 225°, that provides several pathways for people to ultimately become first officers for the Dallas-based airline.

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Boeing deliveries halved in first 11 months of 2019

FILE PHOTO: A Boeing logo pictured during EBACE in Geneva

(Reuters) - Boeing Co <BA.N> delivered less than half as many planes in the first 11 months of 2019 as in the same period a year earlier, the planemaker said on Tuesday, as it continued to struggle with the grounding of its best-selling 737 MAX jets.

Deliveries totaled 345 aircraft in the 11 months ended November, compared to 704 last year and were also less than half the number delivered by European rival Airbus in the same period.

Customers typically pay over the bulk of the money for a new jetliner on delivery, making it a crucial metric for the world's big two jetliner producers.

The company did see a boost in orders around last month's Dubai airshow, bringing the number of orders net of cancellations or conversions this year to 56 at the end of November from 45 a month earlier.

After an accounting adjustment, Boeing's net total for orders this year improved marginally to -84 airplanes from -95 a month earlier.

The orders included what Boeing called a "conversion" by China Aircraft Leasing Group of 8 MAX orders into two 787 Dreamliners.

The company also said it had booked 30 orders for the 737 MAX aircraft, including an order for 10 Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes from Turkey's SunExpress <THYAO.IS> and another 20 MAX planes from another unidentified customer. Reuters had reported last month that an unnamed airline had signed a firm order for 10 Boeing 737 MAX 7 planes and 10 Boeing MAX 10s.

The 737 MAX has been grounded since March after two fatal crashes that killed 346 people. Federal officials say the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is not expected to authorize the plane to fly until January at the earliest, citing a number of steps yet to be completed.

Boeing is racing to complete a software upgrade and complementary training protocols required to return the 737 MAX to commercial service.

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Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin rocket makes 12th test flight

This still image taken from a Blue Origin video shows Blue Origin's sub-orbital New Shepard rocket landing in western Texas on December 11, 2019 (AFP Photo/HO)

Washington (AFP) - Blue Origin, the space company owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, launched the 12th crewless test of its New Shepard rocket on Wednesday, pushing the first flights with passengers to 2020.

The 60-foot-long (18-meter) suborbital rocket reached an altitude of 65 miles (105 kilometers), according to preliminary information, crossing the internationally recognized boundary of space known as the Karman line.

A capsule affixed to its summit will one day carry six astronaut passengers on a trip that lasts a total of 10 minutes and at a cost of half a million dollars.

The rockets, tested since 2015, are re-usable, unlike those from the early spaceflight era. The one which flew on Wednesday had already completed five previous launches.

The booster fired its engines and made a controlled, upright landing back on Earth, while the capsule floated down to the ground minutes later aided by three parachutes, touching down in a cloud of dust.

The company had targeted late 2019 for its first flights with passengers on board, but that goal now appears all but impossible.

The other company engaged in the race for space tourism is Virgin Galactic, founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, which hopes to carry passengers to the boundary of space in a plane-shaped vessel that is dropped from a Boeing 747 jumbo jet at a high altitude.

Virgin has also said it is targeting 2020 for its first scheduled flights.

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Call for Papers - ISASI 2020

Montreal Sheraton, Montreal PQ

September 1 - 3, 2020

With "20/20 Vision for the Future" as our theme, the ISASI 2020 Committee is inviting interested individuals to submit abstracts for papers that address the future of aircraft accident investigation.

Presentation topics that support the theme may include, but are not limited to:
  • Recent accident/incident investigations of interest.
  • Novel investigation techniques for aircraft, helicopter, and drone accidents.
  • Data investigation methods, techniques and future developments.
  • Airport investigation methods and techniques
  • Future investigator selection criteria and training needs.
  • Future of aircraft data capture and retrieval and protection of safety information.
  • Future developments in underwater wreckage recovery.
  • Future evolution of Family Assistance.
We are also interested in papers that address the challenges surrounding the recent 737 Max accidents. While it is not our intent to discuss the accidents themselves, we are hoping to generate thought and discussion on the impact the accidents have had on to the industry as a whole and how it has affected the travelling public.

Presentations must be in English and should be 25 minutes long. There will be an additional 5 minutes for questions at the end of each presentation.

Abstracts should include the author's current CV [1 page only please] and be sent to [email protected]
Important dates:

March 20th, 2020 - Last date for receipt of abstracts.

May 8th, 2020 - Presenters informed of acceptance and provided with additional instructions.

May 22nd, 2020 - Draft program for the 2019 Seminar Technical Program will be published.

July 10th, 2020 - Last date for receipt of completed paper and PowerPoint presentation. Any papers not received by this date will be removed from the program and replaced by another speaker.

If you have questions related to the paper topics or any other inquiries about the program, please contact the ISASI 2020 Program Chair at [email protected]

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Upcoming Cranfield short courses

The Cranfield Safety and Accident Investigation Centre (CSAIC) is helping to improve safety and shape the future of the transport industry.

We offer an extensive range of continuing professional development (CPD) short courses in accident investigation, safety management, human factors and airworthiness.

Our upcoming short courses for 2020 include:

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Curt Lewis & Associates, LLC is an international, multi-discipline technical, scientific and research consulting firm specializing in aviation and industrial safety. Our specialties are aviation litigation support (Expert Witness), aviation/airport safety programs, accident investigation and reconstruction, safety & quality assessments/audits (ISO-9001/AS-9100), system safety, human factors, Safety Management Systems (SMS) assessment/implementation & training, safety/quality training & risk management, aviation manual development, IS-BAO Auditing, technical writing & editing, airfield/heliport lighting products, patent infringement/invalidity expert testimony and Technical Support.