Boeing C.E.O. Acknowledges 'Mistake' Over 737 Max Warning Light
Dennis Muilenburg, the chief executive, said Boeing's "inconsistent" communication with regulators and customers about a 737 Max warning light was "unacceptable."
Boeing's chief executive said on Sunday that the company made a "mistake" in how it handled a cockpit warning light on the 737 Max. Dennis Muilenburg, the executive, made the comments while addressing reporters on the eve of the Paris Air Show, one of the most important sales events for aircraft manufacturers around the world.
When Boeing began delivering the Max to airlines in 2017, the company believed that the light was operational on all the jets. But after the Max began flying that year, engineers at the company learned that the warning light would work only if a carrier had purchased a separate cockpit indicator.
Most Max customers, including Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines, did not buy the separate indicator. That left many airlines without a functional warning light.
The light alerts pilots of a disagreement between two sensors that measure which direction the plane is pointed. Preliminary investigations suggested that problems with these so-called angle-of-attack sensors contributed to the crashes of two jets, a Lion Air flight last October and an Ethiopian Airlines flight in March, in which 346 people died.
The company did not inform regulators or airlines about the problem for about a year, after conducting an internal review that determined that the issue "did not adversely impact airplane safety or operation," Boeing said in a statement last month.
Daniel K. Elwell, the acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, criticized the company for waiting so long to tell the agency about the issue in a May hearing, saying he was "not happy" with the delay. Boeing discussed the matter with the F.A.A. only after the Lion Air Flight 610 crash.
A 737 Max taking off at the airport next to Boeing's plant in Renton, Wash.
"We clearly had a mistake in the implementation of the alert," Mr. Muilenburg said on Sunday, according to The Associated Press, echoing a similar statement he made in a CBS interview last month.
Mr. Muilenburg also said the company's "inconsistent" communication with regulators and customers about the warning light was "unacceptable."
The Paris Air Show, a critical biennial sales conference for the global aerospace industry, has been a triumphant affair for Boeing in the past. In 2017, the company won 571 orders and commitments for new jets, many of them Maxes, outperforming its archrival, Airbus.
Boeing is entering this year's gathering in a weaker position, as its best-selling plane remains grounded around the globe with no set timeline for its return.
Delayed Max deliveries have weighed on the company's bottom line, contributing to a decline of $1 billion in revenue for its commercial airplanes division. Boeing chose not to offer its customary yearly sales and profits forecast in April, while announcing its worst quarterly results in years.
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Ethiopian Airlines rejects 'pilot error' claim in US
London (AFP) - A US politician who blamed pilot error for contributing to the deadly crash of a Boeing 737 Max flown by Ethiopian Airlines was "seriously misinformed", the carrier's boss has said.
Republican Sam Graves told a House of Representatives hearing last month that "facts" in investigations after crashes in both Ethiopia and Indonesia "reveal pilot error as a factor in these tragically fatal accidents".
He also said "pilots trained in the United States would have successfully handled the situation" in both incidents.
But in a BBC interview aired Monday, Ethiopian Airlines chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam said criticisms of his crew's actions were "seriously misinformed", and that Graves did not "have the facts in his hands".
"People who've made those comments should ask themselves, 'Why on earth have they grounded 380 airplanes over the world?' The facts speak for themselves," he said.
The 737 MAX 8 is currently grounded worldwide after the March crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which killed all 157 people onboard and drew scrutiny to the new Boeing model's anti-stall system.
Pilots were already worried about the safety of the model following the October 2018 crash in Indonesia of a Lion Air 737 MAX 8 that killed 189 people.
Boeing is working to submit a modified version of the aircraft's software and hopes to get the approval of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and its counterparts throughout the world.
But aviation regulators meeting last month were unable to determine when the popular jet might again be allowed to fly, causing costly headaches for airlines worldwide.
Revelations of close ties between Boeing and the FAA in testing the MAX led to a crisis of confidence among the public and airline pilots, as well as some of the other agencies that regulate civil aviation.
"We have work to do to win and regain the trust of the public," Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg conceded at the Paris Air Show on Sunday.
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Accident: ALK B733 near Basel on Jun 16th 2019, turbulence injures 10 people
An ALK Airlines Boeing 737-300, registration LZ-MVK performing flight VBB-7205 from Pristina (Kosovo) to Basel/Mulhouse (Switzerland/France) with 121 people on board, was enroute at FL340 over South Tyrol about 30 minutes prior to landing in Basel when the aircraft encountered turbulence causing injuries to 10 passengers while deviating around an isolated active thunderstorm cell. The aircraft continued for a safe landing on Basel's runway 15 about 30 minutes later.
The Airport reported 10 passengers needed to be taken to hospitals with minor injuries.
Passengers reported even seats were ripped out of their anchoring.
The occurrence aircraft departed for the return flight VBB-7206 after about 2.5 hours on the ground.
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Incident: LATAM Brazil B763 at Sao Paulo on Jun 15th 2019, unreliable airspeed
A LATAM Brazil Boeing 767-300, registration PT-MOD performing flight LA-8110/JJ-8110 from Sao Paulo Guarulhos,SP (Brazil) to Rome Fiumicino (Italy), was climbing out of Sao Paulo when the crew stopped the climb at FL240 reporting unreliable airspeed. The aircraft entered a hold at FL180 to dump fuel and returned to Sao Paulo for a safe landing on Guarulhos' runway 09R about 2 hours after departure.
The airline reported the aircraft returned to Sao Paulo for corrective maintenance.
A replacement Boeing 767-300 registration PT-MOC reached Rome with a delay of 3:15 hours.
The occurrence aircraft is still on the ground about 24 hours after landing back.
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Incident: Easyjet Europe A320 at Lyon on Jun 15th 2019, lightning strike
An Easyjet Europe Airbus A320-200, registration OE-IVM performing flight U2-4446 from Porto (Lisbon) to Lyon (France), was on approach to Lyon's runway 35R when the aircraft received a lightning strike. The aircraft continued for a safe landing on runway 35R.
The aircraft remained on the ground in Lyon for about 20 hours before returning to service.
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Accident: S7 B738 at Krasnodar on Jun 15th 2019, tail strike on balked landing
An S7 Airlines Boeing 737-800, registration VP-BNG performing flight S7-1141 from Moscow Domodedovo to Krasnodar (Russia) with 175 people on board, landed on Krasnodar's runway 05R at 01:50L (22:50Z Jun 14th) when the crew initiated a go around. The aircraft struck its tail onto the runway surface, climbed to about 700 meters, positioned for another approach and landed safely on runway 05R about 14 minutes after the go-around. There were no injuries, the aircraft sustained substantial damage however.
The aircraft is still on the ground in Krasnodar about 44 hours after landing.
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Accident: United B752 at Newark on Jun 15th 2019, hard landing
A United Boeing 757-200, registration N26123 performing flight UA-627 from Denver,CO to Newark,NJ (USA) with 166 people on board, landed on Newark's runway 22L at 12:56L (16:56Z) but bounced and touched down hard causing damage to the nose gear and forward fuselage. The aircraft came to a stop with the nose gear off the left runway edge, still on the paved surface of the runway. The passengers disembarked onto the runway via stairs.
A passenger reported the damage is even visible inside the cabin where the nose gear came up into the cabin.
Another passenger reported on Jun 16th 2019 that the aircraft touched down with the left main gear first and bounced, then the aircraft touched down very hard on the nose gear. The aircraft came to a stop with at least two of the four tyres deflated on each left and right main gear. The passenger believes the left hand main tyres deflated on first touch down causing the bounce.
The airline reported the aircraft experienced multiple flat tyres upon landing in Newark. The aircraft became disabled.
The FAA initially reported the aircraft landed on runway 22L and skidded off the left side of the pavement, the left main gear is stuck in a grassy area, later corrected their statement to state preliminary information suggests the left main tyres blew on landing and the aircraft veered to the left side of the pavement.
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Incident: PIA AT42 at Karachi on Jun 9th 2017, engine shut down in flight
A PIA Pakistan International Airlines Avions de Transport Regional ATR-42-500, registration AP-BHM performing flight PK-311 from Quetta to Karachi (Pakistan) with 41 passengers and 4 crew, was on final approach to Karachi's runway 25L when the crew needed to shut the left hand engine (PW127) down. The crew continued the approach maintaining routine communication for a safe landing on runway 25L and still maintaining routine communication vacated the runway and taxied to the apron.
On Jun 22nd 2017 Pakistan's AIB reported the occurrence was rated a serious incident and is being investigated by Pakistan's AIB. While the aircraft was on final approach to runway 25L the crew shut the #1 engine down and "landed from the same approach" and vacated the runway safely.
On Jun 15th 2019 Pakistan's AIB released theirfinal reportconcluding the probable cause of the serious incident was:
The occurrence was caused due to failure of No 30 Bearing of the engine however the exact cause of No 30 Bearing failure couldn't be established due to excessive damage.
The AIB reported the first officer noticed a flight asymmetry in the flight conditions while on final ILS approach to Karachi, the captain took control of the aircraft. A Master Caution along with an EEC and subsequent PEC light for the left hand engine occurred. The crew shut the left hand engine down and continued for a safe landing.
A postflight inspection revealed the magnetic chip detector was covered with metallic particles, abnormal sounds were heard from accessory gear box and irregular movement of the accessory gear box was noticed. The engine was removed and sent to the manufacturer for a tear down examination. The AIB wrote: "During tear down examination of the engine, it was established that the event was a result of failure of No. 30 bearing which is installed on tower shaft of Accessory Gear Box (AGB). Owing to this failure, drive from the engine was lost which lead to IFSD due stopping of all driven components (Oil & Fuel Pumps etc)."
The magnetic chip detector (Photo: AIB):
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Incident: MAP AT72 at Manaus on Jun 14th 2019, smoke in cabin
A MAP Linhas Aereas Avions de Transport Regional ATR-72-200, registration PR-MPY performing a flight from Manaus,AM to Tupinambaran,AM (Brazil), was climbing out of Manaus when smoke developed on board. The crew returned to Manaus for a safe landing, the passengers rapidly deplaned. Smoke exited the open doors.
The airline reported the smoke emanated from one of the air conditioning systems.
Smoke exiting the open doors:
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Incident: British Airways A321 at Sofia on Jun 15th 2019, fumes in cockpit
A British Airways Airbus A321-200, registration G-EUXG performing flight BA-890 from London Heathrow,EN (UK) to Sofia (Bulgaria) with 177 people on board, was on approach to Sofia's runway 09 already cleared for the ILS approach and descending through 9000 feet when the crew donned their oxygen masks, declared PAN PAN reporting fumes in the cockpit and continued for a landing on runway 09 without further incident about 10 minutes later. The crew advised they'd vacate the runway and stop on the parallel taxiway to "sort themselves out".
The aircraft is still on the ground in Sofia about 6 hours after landing and did not depart for the return flight BA-891 so far.
A replacement A321-200 registration G-EUXE was dispatched to Sofia to perform the return flight BA-891.
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Accident: MAP AT42 at Manaus on Jun 15th 2019, emergency return ends in gear up landing
A MAP Linhas Aereas Avions de Transport Regional ATR-42-300, registration PR-MPN performing flight PAM-5914 from Manaus,AM to Carauari,AM (Brazil) with 34 passengers and 4 crew, was climbing out of Manaus when the crew needed to decide to return to Manaus due to a technical problem (so far unknown). The aircraft landed on Manaus' runway 11 with all gear up. Two people received minor injuries as result of the evacuation, the damage to the aircraft is being assessed.
The airline reported the aircraft needed to return to Manaus due to a mechanical break down, the crew followed all procedures and performed a successful emergency landing. Two people received minor injuries due to the rush to leave the aircraft.
Brazil's CENIPA have opened an investigation.
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Boeing seeking to reduce scope, duration of some physical tests for new aircraft - sources
PARIS (Reuters) - Boeing Co engineers are reducing the scope and duration of certain costly physical tests used to certify the planemaker's new aircraft, according to industry sources and regulatory officials.
Several Boeing 777X aircraft are seen in various stages of production during a media tour of the Boeing 777X at the Boeing production facility in Everett, Washington, U.S., February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson
But the strategy could be at risk if regulators and U.S. lawmakers probing two deadly Boeing plane crashes require even more rigorous safety tests before certifying new aircraft as passenger-worthy.
As Boeing kicks off the year-long flight testing process on its new 777X, its engineers will cut hours off airborne testing by using computer models to simulate flight conditions, and then present the results to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as part of the basis for certification, according to two people with direct knowledge of the strategy.
Reuters could not determine when Boeing decided to move forward with the plan to cut back on physical tests or the extent to which it planned to reduce them for the 777X.
For Boeing's proposed twin-aisle jetliner, known internally as NMA, Boeing's Test & Evaluation group is developing the technology to replace costly and labor intensive physical safety tests used for decades - such as using machines to bend the wings to extreme angles and shaking the fuselage until it cracks - with computer modeling, according to three people with knowledge of the matter, including an FAA official.
Such work for the NMA is in the conceptual phase, though Boeing's goal is to expand "certification by analysis" as "extensively as they possibly can" to slash development costs, one of the people told Reuters. Doing so enhances a finely balanced business case for launching NMA, which would be the first aircraft fully developed in the digital age.
Boeing spokesman Paul Bergman declined to comment on the company's testing strategy for the 777X or the NMA, but said the planemaker was "looking holistically at our design and certification processes" following the 737 MAX crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia, which together killed 346 people.
"This includes participating in ongoing independent government reviews and establishing a new board committee to review our end-to-end design and certification processes," Bergman said.
When asked whether the FAA would allow Boeing to eliminate an array of physical tests for NMA and 777X, FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said the agency "makes determinations on a case-by-case basis, relying on data and decades of experience in certifying aircraft."
Current regulations allow planemakers to use physical testing and analysis to demonstrate compliance.
Like the MAX, the NMA and 777X - which Boeing is racing to deliver in 2020 - are centerpieces in Boeing's duel with Airbus SE and will influence how Boeing decides to manufacture and certify an eventual 737 MAX replacement. How quickly and at what cost the new planes are delivered to customers is critical to not just Boeing's bottom line, but also the U.S. Congressional budget.
In February 2018, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg touted the company's "streamlining certifications" effort at an industry conference, saying it was "an item we want to keep on the leading edge."
While Boeing declined to elaborate on what Muilenburg meant by "streamlining," people familiar with the matter said it includes lobbying for more limited direct FAA oversight and expanding the use of digital analysis over costlier physical testing to show regulatory compliance.
Like Boeing, Airbus and other manufacturing heavyweights are working to seize technological leaps in computerized engineering methods and tools that bridge the real and virtual world, and improve factory floor efficiency. Airbus declined to comment.
Five people familiar with the matter said Boeing believes that new technology and decades of testing experience have rendered some physical tests redundant for demonstrating safety.
For example, when vibrating a fuselage on an enormous platform to expose weaknesses - known as fatigue testing - the vast majority of the time the tool itself breaks instead of the airframe, according to a person with knowledge of past tests. Such work is costly and has reliably confirmed engineers' expectations, he added.
The strategy to streamline plane certifications faces hurdles in the coming months as the FAA and other global regulators investigate whether Boeing's processes are flawed after the MAX crashes, and as the Chicago-based planemaker seeks to reassure the flying public that its jetliners are safe.
Teal Group aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia said the probes may trigger push-back against digital certification, even if there is no evidence it is unsafe.
"A headlong rush right now might not be best from an optics standpoint," Aboulafia said.
The FAA declined to speculate on potential post-probe certification changes, but said it will "consider any and all recommendations that might help improve the process."
Boeing's internal review has uncovered nothing that caused it to shift its certification approach, Muilenburg and Boeing CFO Greg Smith told journalists in recent weeks.
Under current regulations, Boeing employees act as the FAA's eyes and ears and complete much of the detailed certification work.
For example, as Boeing works to certify the 777X, engineers were catching glitches using a scaled-down cockpit mockup known internally as 'airplane zero' in a Seattle-area lab as recently as February. But an FAA official with knowledge of the matter said that Boeing has not issued reports directly to external FAA officials as of early this month.
That contrasts with Boeing's original 777 development in the 1990s, when the FAA required Boeing to build a cockpit replica to conduct tests designed to weed out safety risks lurking in the 777 designs, and granular results were reported directly to the FAA for months, the official said.
Despite advances in computing power, some experts argue old-school physical tests are categorically better because they can produce unpredictable results, said one industry certification expert.
"Test has changed for the company from being a place of discovery to being mostly to validate what we thought we knew," said Rick Ludtke, a former Boeing 737 MAX engineer.
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WHEN AN AIRCRAFT GOES MISSING
By Mike Hodges, Air Safety Investigator, NTSB Office of Aviation Safety
On August 9, 2008, a privately-owned Cessna 182E airplane was reported overdue near Juneau, Alaska. The NTSB immediately started monitoring search efforts being conducted by the US Coast Guard, the Alaska State Troopers, the Civil Air Patrol, and a host of good Samaritans. The search area was expansive and included remote inland fjords, coastal waterways, and steep mountainous terrain. In an effort to start gathering information that was potentially relevant to the accident, we interviewed other pilots flying in the area, as well as Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Flight Service Station personnel to better understand weather conditions at the time the airplane disappeared. After an extensive but unsuccessful search, search-and-rescue activities were suspended on August 20, 2008.
For all aviation accidents such as this one, when initial search-and-rescue activities are suspended and no wreckage is found, the NTSB issues a preliminary report, available to the public in an aviation accident database that can be accessed through our website. If the wreckage is not located within 180 days from the initial date of disappearance, we complete a final report with a probable cause statement of "undetermined." The final report includes all pertinent information that was initially gathered at the time the aircraft was reported missing. If the wreckage is eventually located after the initial 180 days, we reopen and complete the investigation.
On October 25, 2017, I was the on-call air safety investigator for the NTSB Alaska Regional Office. Alaska State Troopers notified me that a deer hunter had discovered airplane wreckage on Admiralty Island, about 15 miles south of Juneau, Alaska. We eventually determined that it was the missing Cessna 182E. So, 9 years after the airplane went missing, we reopened the case.
In Juneau, I met with an aviation safety inspector from the FAA, an Alaska State Trooper, and members of Juneau Mountain Rescue. As with most remote aircraft accidents in Alaska, traveling to the scene requires an airplane or helicopter because there are no roads. The NTSB chartered a commercial, float-equipped Cessna 206 airplane, and we flew to Young Lake on Admiralty Island in the Tongass National Forest-the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world.
As an air safety investigator working in Alaska, I often face unique challenges, whether it's a hike to a remote area to reach an accident site or a wildlife encounter. In this case, after arriving at the northern end of Young Lake, we hiked nearly 2 miles to the accident site, each of us carrying either firearms or bear spray because of the large population of brown bears on the island. We also carried satellite phones because there's no cell phone reception in the area. The wreckage was in densely-forested, steep mountainous terrain a little over a mile northwest of the north end of Young Lake, at an elevation of about 1,075 ft. mean sea level. The average tree height at the accident site was about 100 ft.
When we arrived at the site, the FAA aviation safety inspector and I documented and examined the wreckage. The cockpit and fuselage were destroyed by a postimpact fire. The wreckage of the missing airplane was confirmed via the serial number located on the airframe data plate. Time and nature had taken their toll-the heavily corroded wreckage was covered with dirt, fungus, leaves, and branches. The Alaska State Trooper recovered the remains of the two occupants.
Once the investigative and recovery activities were completed, we hiked back to Young Lake, contacted the commercial aviation operator for pickup, and returned to Juneau. Because the location was so remote, the wreckage was not recovered.
On-scene activity is just one part of our investigative process. In each investigation, we look at the roles of the human, the machine, and the environment. By learning about the factors that cause an accident, we can make recommendations to prevent similar accidents in the future. In this investigation, I reviewed the airplane's maintenance records, considered the pilot's aviation training and medical records, and examined meteorological and topographical data for the accident area. As a result of the investigation, the NTSB determined that the probable cause of the accident was the pilot's decision to continue visual flight into an area of instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in the pilot experiencing a loss of visual reference and subsequent controlled flight into terrain. The pilot's self-induced pressure to complete the flight also contributed to the crash. The final accident report can be viewed here.
If you ever happen to come across aircraft wreckage-or what you think is aircraft wreckage-no matter how old it appears to be, please notify local law enforcement and the NTSB Response Operations Center in Washington, DC. If you're able, please provide latitude and longitude coordinates of the wreckage location, along with photographs of what you found. The NTSB can then continue investigating what happened, which can help prevent future accidents from occurring. Also, importantly, family and friends of those who died in the accident may be interested in the new information. If you ever have the chance to visit the NTSB Training Center in Ashburn, Virginia, you will see an etched window on the front of the building that states the building is dedicated to the victims of transportation accidents and their families. The display also summarizes the NTSB's crucial work of improving transportation safety for our great nation: "from tragedy we draw knowledge to improve the safety of us all."
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Cognitive psychology research suggests pilots could be learning the wrong lessons from close-calls
New research provides evidence that two common cognitive biases could impact pilot's perception of past events in ways that adversely affect how they make future decisions.
The findings, which appear in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, indicate that pilots could be learning the wrong lessons from close-calls - thanks in part to an error in thinking known as an outcome bias.
"I have been involved in aviation for many years; one of my key research areas has been the role cognitive biases play in pilot decision making. In aviation, when a poor decision is made, the consequence can be catastrophic, therefore having a greater understanding of what leads to poor decisions is an important step to improve aviation safety," said study author Stephen Walmsley, who received a PhD in Aviation from Massey University.
The researchers were particularly interested in the often fatal mistake known as flying "VFR into IMC" - when pilots operating under visual flight rules inadvertently fly into low-visibility conditions that require instrument flight.
"Learning from previous poor decisions is imperative to avoid future mistake. However, what if our perception of past events is not a true reflection of what happened? This study explored cognitive biases that can influence our ability to learn from past events," Walmsley told PsyPost.
"Consistent with other professional fields, pilots were influenced by outcome and hindsight bias. Of particular interest and concern was that 'close-call' events were treated similar to positive/safe outcomes."
"Although the eventual outcome for a close call is the same as for a positive outcome, considerably more luck may be required in the close-call situation to achieve that outcome. This may limit the learning opportunity from close-call events and reinforce risky behaviour," Walmsley said.
To examine the potential impact of outcome bias, the researchers had 142 pilots read several fictional scenarios in which non-instrument rated pilots had taken off into questionable weather.
The beginning of each scenario was the same for each participant, but the researchers manipulated the outcome of the flight. In some cases, the flight was conducted without incident and the pilot landed safely. In close-calls, the pilot inadvertently entered instrument meteorological conditions but was able to safely turn around to regain visual conditions. In other cases, however, the pilot inadvertently entered instrument meteorological conditions and then crashed.
After reading each scenario, the participants were asked to rate the decision-making ability of the pilots and how much risk the pilots took.
The researchers found that the outcome of the scenarios had a significant impact on how the participants viewed decision-making and risk. Pilots who did not encounter any incidents were viewed as having better decision-making abilities and taking less risk than those who crashed - even though both hypothetical pilots took off into the same conditions.
Worryingly, participants treated pilots who had close-calls very similarly to pilots who did not encounter any incidents.
To examine the potential impact of hindsight bias, the researchers had another 62 pilots read about three planned cross-country flights which had yet to take place and then state their confidence regarding whether the flight would be safe/uneventful, require the pilot to turn around after encountering weather conditions, or result in a crash.
Ten days later, the participants were presented with the same three flights. This time, however, the participants were told the outcome of the flight. They were then asked to recall their initial predictions.
The participants tended to demonstrate hindsight bias for flights that ended safely and flights that ended in a crash. In other words, the participants believed they had originally assigned a higher probability to these outcomes than they actually did.
"Aviation is very safe, especially when compared to other modes of transport. Aircraft accidents are rare and when they do happen involve a range of factors. The cognitive biases highlighted in this study are unlikely by themselves to result in an accident, but can lead a pilot one step closer," Walmsley explained.
"Caution needs to be applied when generalising these findings to the wider aviation population. The study participants primarily operated smaller aircraft with limited flight experiences."
The study, "Understanding the past: Investigating the role of availability, outcome, and hindsight bias and close calls in visual pilots' weather-related decision making", was authored by Stephen Walmsley and Andrew Gilbey.
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After Deadly Midtown Crash, Lawmaker Reveals FAA Has Not Acted In 6 Years To Add Black Boxes To Helicopters
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - After a deadly helicopter crash on the roof of a Midtown high-rise, lawmakers are now calling out the FAA for not requiring common air safety equipment in all choppers.
Sen. Charles Schumer spoke briefly in Manhattan on Sunday and called on the Federal Aviation Administration to make black box technology mandatory in all helicopters.
According to the senator, the National Transportation Safety Board has been calling for the FAA to put black boxes in helicopters for six years.
"The NTSB has been asking since 2013... the report is sitting on somebody's desk... we're here to get action," Schumer said.
The senior senator from New York held a copy of the May 2013 report issued by the NTSB, calling for data recorders in choppers, which followed another helicopter wreck in 2011.
"Get your act together FAA and require every helicopter have a black box."
Pilot Tim McCormack was flying in restricted air space and in rain and fog when he crashed into a building at 787 Seventh Ave. between 51st and 52nd Streets.
The investigation into the June 10 crash is reportedly being hampered by the fact that the Agusta A109E helicopter did not have a flight data recorder on board.
"The FAA can do it with the signing of a document," Schumer added.
The pilot never asked for permission to fly through the restricted air space.
The NTSB says the flight was not required to check in with air traffic control because it flies low and it's a pilot's decision.
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EASA completes new round of MC-21 flight tests
Test personnel from the European air safety regulator have completed a second series of certification flights with the Irkut MC-21.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency had undertaken an initial set of flights with the twinjet in January this year, following a training and authorisation session the previous September.
Irkut states that a second round was carried out in June, in co-operation with federal air transport regulator Rosaviatsia.
The aircraft has been flown in various modes up to altitudes of 12,000m (39,400ft).
Irkut adds that the EASA testing involved take-off at high and low weights, with different balance configurations forward and aft.
"Operation of the integrated aircraft control system in the normal mode has been verified," it says, and pilots have examined the MC-21's performance at minimum take-off and landing speeds, and during engine-out conditions.
"Completion of the second session of certification flights by EASA testers is another step in [the certification] direction," says United Aircraft president Yuri Slyusar.
Three MC-21-300s, all with Pratt & Whitney PW1400G engines, are being used for flight tests at the Gromov institute in Zhukovsky near Moscow.
The aircraft has been flown across a spectrum of typical operating conditions up to maximum altitudes of 12,500m at speeds up to M0.89, with durations of 6.2h.
"Performance efficiency of all systems was confirmed in a wide range of speeds and altitudes," says Irkut, adding that air data calibration has been achieved.
The aircraft has undergone tests on angle-of-attack limitation and flutter, determination of minimum take-off speed, and in-flight engine and auxiliary power unit restart.
All three test MC-21s are to be presented during the upcoming MAKS Moscow air show, due to take place in August.
Irkut says a fourth flight-test aircraft, also with PW1400G engines and a passenger cabin, is having its systems installed and will join the fleet this year.
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AIR NEW ZEALAND USES DRONES FOR AIRCRAFT INSPECTIONS
A drone inspects an AIr New Zealand aircraft. Image: Air New Zealand
Drones and aircraft don't usually mix but Air New Zealand says it can use the airborne robots to drastically reduce the time it takes to inspect an aircraft.
The New Zealand carrier has teamed up with maintenance, repair and overhaul provider ST Engineering to trial the concept, called DroScan, at the MRO's provider's facility next to Singapore's Changi Airport.
It is here AirNZ planes undergo heavy maintenance checks and the unmanned drones developed by ST Engineering are doing a job that would previously be performed by an engineer on a boom lift.
The drone takes a planned route around the outside of an aircraft to inspect its surface and take high definition images.
The images are processed using software with smart algorithms to detect and classify defects that can be reviewed by engineers.
"Using a drone to inspect our aircraft will save time, taking around one to two hours, compared to up to six - depending on aircraft type - which means repairs can start sooner if needed, and our aircraft will be able to get back in the air more quickly,'' said Air New Zealand chief ground operations officer Carrie Hurihanganui .
"We've trialed using DroScan on a number of our aircraft undergoing maintenance inspections in Singapore now and believe using a drone will also help improve inspection quality.
"In future, there may be an opportunity to use the device in New Zealand, for example to conduct ad hoc inspections after lightning strikes."
ST Engineering Aerospace sector deputy president Jeffrey Lam said the project combined traditional aircraft engineering skills with new skills such as software and data analytics.
"Our engineers can now focus on higher value-added activities by spending their time on analyzing the defects and developing solutions for the defects rather than spending time climbing all over the aircraft to look for the defects,'' he said.
Air New Zealand and ST Engineering are also collaborating to manufacture 3D printed replacement interior parts and on data analytics to optimize maintenance activities.
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Airlines Try New Ways to Build Pilot Ranks
Olivia Mickevicius and Ahkeel Leach after a preflight equipment check at the American Airlines Cadet Academy in Mesa, Ariz., where they are training to become pilots.
By Christine Negroni
It's a conundrum bordering on a crisis for the global airline industry: More people are flying to more places, but the number of pilots is not keeping up.
"Airlines have had to go to greater lengths to recruit pilots," said Nick Leontidis, group president of civil aviation training solutions at CAE, an aviation education company. "If it took a month to recruit 50 pilots, it takes six months now."
Reports from airplane manufacturers, industry associations and pilot labor groups point to a confluence of events. Not only are more people traveling by air, but airlines now link an unprecedented number of cities - 20,000 worldwide as of 2018. Often those markets are served by smaller planes, not the jumbo jets of a decade ago that could carry 450 people or more, and that makes for more flights.
Demand for air travel is growing so quickly that 635,000 commercial pilots will be needed by 2037, according to a forecast produced by Boeing in 2018. The biggest need is in Asia, where an improving economy in China has resulted in more people traveling. More people are flying in the United States as well and, at the same time, pilots are hitting the mandatory retirement age of 65.
For aspiring airline pilots like 24-year-old Ahkeel Leach, who spent his childhood traveling between his father's home in New York and his mother's in Britain, the industry's challenge is a career opportunity. Though he had wanted to fly since he was a child, he did not know where to study or how to pay for it.
"My family, we're all immigrants. Aviation is one of those things you stick in the corner," he said. "It's a great job, but not everybody knows there are affordable avenues or has guidance to get there."
Programs that give students like Mr. Leach flying lessons, the means to pay for them and the promise of a job after graduation are new in the United States. Recently, American Airlines and JetBlue became the first United States-based carriers to offer what is called an "ab initio" training program. A Latin term for "from the beginning," it means that airlines select people with an aptitude and personality for the cockpit and teach them everything else.
"Every day I'm so excited and happy to be here and happy for the fact that someone gave me a chance to achieve my dream," Mr. Leach said from Mesa, Ariz., where he is enrolled at CAE's American Airlines Cadet Academy. Large airlines like Japan Airlines and Scandinavian Airlines that used to train their own pilots are also now partnering with companies like CAE.
Mr. Leach recently received his private pilot's license at the CAE training center, completing the first step on his way to flying for American. "Learning how to fly isn't the hardest thing to do. I'm not doing surgery on people," he said. "One of the hardest things is learning how to multitask and doing it at a high level."
The idea that only certain people will excel in the cockpit is echoed by Lufthansa, based in Germany, which for decades has trained nearly all its pilots at its school at Phoenix Goodyear Airport.
About 10 percent of Lufthansa's applicants have personality characteristics that indicate they will be successful at the airline, according to Viktor Oubaid, a psychologist at the German Aerospace Center's Department of Aviation and Space Psychology, which selects cadets for Lufthansa.
Ms. Mickevicius and Mr. Leach training in a flight simulator.
"We don't look only at cognitive and psychomotor skills, we also look at social competencies like leadership," Dr. Oubaid said. "Can you work on a team under high-pressure conditions?"
Cathay Pacific, Singapore and Ethiopian also train young people in ab initio programs. By sponsoring the training or making arrangements for them to receive tuition loans, these carriers have eliminated one of the biggest hurdles - cost.
Referred to as pilot "selection by wallet size" in a 2018 position paper by the European Cockpit Association, training costs remain a troublesome issue in much of the world.
Before they opened their cadet schools, American and JetBlue partnered with financial institutions to provide loans of up to $90,000, which would cover training. The loans are gradually paid back once pilots are working.
"The cadet academy gets people right out of high school, with no job, no credit, and how do they get a loan in their name to go down this road?" said David Tatum, director of pilot recruiting and development for American.
"We believe there are people interested in this career who don't have the means or don't see the pathway or because it was a huge investment and there was no certainty in the end," said Warren Christie, JetBlue's senior vice president of Safety Security and Fleet Operations.
Because ab initio training gets applicants outside of the traditional streams of military aviators and young people with economic backgrounds that allowed for private flying lessons, it is expected to draw from a larger pool of applicants.
Airlines are not the only entities getting into training. Airplane manufacturers are as well. So many new airplanes have been sold that the commercial fleet is expected to grow by a third, to 37,000 aircraft in the next decade, according to a CAE analysis. Airbus predicts that 36,500 passenger aircraft will be delivered by 2037. Every airplane in an airline's fleet requires 10 to 16 pilots, and Boeing says investing in their training supports "the full life cycle of an aircraft."
Airbus also started ab initio training in partnership with flight schools in Mexico and France and plans to train 200 pilot cadets each year.
Airlines hope that larger pool will include women, who now represent a tiny minority of pilots.
"The industry has not been able to attract females, so on a global basis it's just 5 percent females in the cockpit," said Jack Netskar, president of the International Federation of Air Line Pilots and a captain for SAS. "They have a job to do," he said of those recruiting pilot cadets.
Olivia Mickevicius, 24, of Alexandria, Va., is one example. With a father who had flown helicopters in the military, she was interested in becoming a pilot and was working to raise the money for flying lessons when she learned about the cadet programs offered by JetBlue and American.
"I don't think the field is very diverse yet," she said. But between meetings with her American Airlines mentor, a female pilot who formerly worked with NASA, and other women from around the world who are also training in Mesa, Ms. Mickevicius was starting to understand the change of which she is a part.
"They need to bring women pilots into schools and show them the really cool things you can do," she said. "In the future, I do want to go into the community and show girls that this is a viable career path."
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American Airlines now offers satellite-based Wi-Fi access across its mainline fleet
American Airlines, the world's largest airline by fleet size and passenger traffic, has finished rolling out satellite-based broadband Wi-Fi to its entire mainline narrowbody fleet of over 700 aircraft (that is, the Boing 737s and Airbus A319 and 320 that typically fly the company's domestic routes). All of these satellite-equipped planes also offer access to 12 free channels of live TV that you can stream to your personal device, including on international flights where this hasn't traditionally been an option.
Unless you are comfortably sitting in business class and sipping on your pre-departure champagne, modern air travel isn't exactly a fun or relaxing experience, no matter the reason for your travel. If you need to get work done on a flight, though, having access to fast and reliable Wi-Fi can often make a huge difference.
Today's announcement from American follows a similar announcement from last year, after the airline finishing bringing the same system to all of its widebody fleet. At this time last year, though, American had only brought this same system to a meager 13 percent of its narrowbody planes.
One thing worth noting is that it's my understanding is that American isn't counting some of its oldest MD-83s in this count. These will never get a Wi-Fi upgrade because they are currently being phased out for more modern jets.
As for the technology that powers all of this, American Airlines is betting on satellite-based systems that use either Gogo 2Ku or ViaSat Ka. Unlike some of the earlier ground-based systems, satellite systems have the obvious advantage of offering a larger coverage area (including over oceans) and more consistent connectivity. These new satellite-based systems also allow for significantly faster connections. Among American's competitors, Delta is currently in the process of updating most of its fleet to satellite-based systems, too, while the situation at United remains a bit complicated.
"Elevating the travel experience is one of our top goals at American and we've been working hard to provide our customers with the same level of entertainment and connectivity options they enjoy in their own living rooms," said Kurt Stache, Senior Vice President for Marketing, Loyalty and Sales for American. "In less than two years, we completed broadband internet installation on our entire mainline fleet and we will continue setting new standards in the industry to show our customers we value the time they spend with us."
Soon, American will also bring power outlets to every seat in its mainline fleet, as well as its two-class regional fleet. Since American, just like most of its competitors, is also removing most of its in-seat entertainment systems in favor of personal device entertainment that is streamed to your phone or tablet, it is also now bringing tablet holders to most of its narrowbody fleet as well.
Unlike some of its competitors, American doesn't offer free Wi-Fi access to chat apps - or even free Wi-Fi in general. Still, if you are an American loyalist, you'll be happy to see that the airline now offers a consistent Wi-Fi product that is clearly a step up from some of the legacy systems that are still in use by some of the other carriers.
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