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Travel Safety Update - Europe.

Aug 2, 2009

Aeroflot-Nord, Boeing

Spatial disorientation of the pilots, particularly the captain, was one of the factors that led to the loss of an Aeroflot-Nord Boeing 737-550 that crashed on approach to Perm on 14 September 2008, killing all 88 people on board, according to the CIS accident investigator MAK. Poor training of the crew was also cited, and the investigator associated the disorientation with the different logic employed in the attitude director indicators in the 737 compared with the Tupolev Tu-134 that the crew used to fly before converting to the 737. Aeroflot-Nord was also criticised for failing to supervise the crew's duty and rest times, probably leaving them fatigued, and for its low standard of maintenance demonstrated by the fact that the crew had to set the two power levers to different positions on the throttle quadrant to obtain the same power. Jul 21, 2009

Air France, Airbus

Air France confirmed a Le Figaro report that one of its A320s flying from Rome Fiumicino to Paris Charles de Gaulle on July 13 had a "very brief six-second anomaly" in its airspeed data display that was "probably due to icing at high altitude." The aircraft was fitted with the new Thales BA probes, AF noted, adding that the crew applied the necessary procedures and the aircraft maintained its flight path with no change. The incident was reported and is being examined closely by manufacturers and authorities, AF said. Le Figaro cited an internal crew report on flight AF1905 that indicated "brutal loss of speed indications," followed by the disappearance of information measuring wind force and other factors. Malfunctions in the pitot tubes were "a factor, but not the only one" in the crash of AF447 into the Atlantic Ocean on June 1, according to French investigator BEA. The airline ordered replacement of the pitot probes across its Airbus fleet with the newest generation sensors. Both the old and new anemometric sensors used on AF's A330/A340s and A320s are made by Thales Group. The main AF pilot union, SNPL, confirmed the A320 incident. "We are aware of the incident. We are awaiting details," a spokesperson told the Associated Press. "If the problem is indeed with the pitot tubes, the SNPL union will ask Air France that planes be equipped with Goodrich sensors". Jul 30, 2009

Air France, Airbus

Airbus will help fund an extended search for flight recorders and debris of the Air France A330 that crashed into the Atlantic last month, a newspaper said Thursday. Flight AF 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed on June 1, killing all 228 people on board, but investigators have found only 4 to 5 percent of the disintegrated plane, La Tribune said. Citing Airbus CEO Tom Enders, the paper said the company would spend some EUR12 million - EUR20 million euros over at least three months to support a public investigation into the crash. Investigators have so far failed to pick up any signals emitted by the "black box" recorders. The extra financing would allow them to extend the search beyond the August 22 deadline and use two or three boats as well as at least one mini-submarine. The paper said Airbus still hoped to find the black boxes, which in some other cases had been found months after a crash. Evidence from recovered wreckage indicates the plane broke apart by impact with the water, which it struck facing downwards. Jul 30, 2009

Air France, Airbus

The European Aviation Safety Agency plans to recommend a ban on the type of speed sensor installed on the Air France Airbus jet which crashed in the Atlantic last month, a spokesman said on Thursday. A proposed ruling would also ration the number of a newer type of sensor made by same manufacturer, France's Thales, to just one per plane, he told Reuters. This means that at least two of three speed-measuring devices fitted on each jet would have to be supplied by the only other manufacturer, Goodrich (GR.N) of the United States. The ruling would apply to all Airbus A330 jets equipped with speed sensors -- known as pitot probes -- made by Thales, as well as to the broadly similar A340 airplane. Jul 30, 2009

Air France, Airbus, Thales

Airbus is urging airlines to switch most speed sensors on about 200 jets to Goodrich-made parts in the wake of the Atlantic jet disaster, anticipating a European safety order. The move affects Airbus A330 or A340 planes fitted with sensors manufactured by Thales, like the Air France A330 passenger jet which crashed en route from Brazil to Paris on June 1, killing all 228 people on board. Airlines are being urged to switch at least two thirds of the sensors -- known as pitot probes -- on each plane to parts supplied by US aerospace company Goodrich, which already supplies most of the 1,000-strong A330/A340 fleet. "We issued an AIT (Accident Information Telex) a few minutes ago recommending that A330 and A340 operators fit at least two probes supplied by Goodrich," Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath said late on Thursday. About 200 of the 1,000 A330s and sister A340s in operation are fitted with Thales sensors, Schaffrath said. No deadline has been set, though one may be imposed if, as expected, safety authorities make the move compulsory. Apparently faulty speed sensor readings due to icing may have contributed to the crash but were unlikely to be the sole cause, which remains to be identified, investigators say. With hopes fading of recovering the aircraft's cockpit recorders, the investigation has focused on a handful of error messages sent out automatically from the aircraft that raise doubts over the speed data given to the pilots. Some airlines including Air France have already said they are upgrading speed sensors, but the new guidelines mean several may also have to change suppliers. Jul 31, 2009

Air France, Airbus, Thales

An Air France flight from Rome to Paris earlier this month briefly lost its speed readings due to faulty sensors, pilots said Tuesday, in the latest safety scare involving speed sensors. Several problems with speed sensors, or pitot tubes, made by Thales have been reported since 2008, and investigators are looking to see if they played a role in last month's fatal crash of an Air France A330. A spokesman for France's SNPL national pilot union, Erick Derivry, said the union would ask Air France to see whether the latest incident was similar to those previously reported. If it was, the union would ask the airline to replace its Thales sensors on its Airbus fleet with models manufactured by Goodrich. Air France replaced an earlier Thales model on its planes with a more recent version following the June crash of one of its Airbus A330s. All 228 people aboard died when the Rio de Janeiro to Paris flight crashed into the sea. But the latest incident on July 13 occurred with a new model, the company said. The SNPL spokesman said a calculator that converts pressure into a speed reading might also have to be replaced. In June, under pressure from another pilots' union after the crash, Air France changed all pitot tubes on its A330 and A340 planes, having already changed them on its A320s. Jul 29, 2009

Airbus

In an initial statement on the loss of an Airbus A320 during a post-maintenance test flight out of Perpignan in southern France on 27 November 2008, the French investigator BEA has commented on the lack of regulations and guidance applying to non-revenue flights like acceptance checks. The agency comments that there is no guidance about constraints that should be applied, nor about the skills that would be required by the crew operating the flight. This, says the BEA, can lead to the "improvisation" of test routines, and to crews carrying them out during inappropriate flight phases. Jul 21, 2009

ATR, EASA

EASA issued an emergency airworthiness directive requiring ATR 42 and ATR 72 operators to inspect or replace within 10 days cockpit forward side windows that have accumulated more than 2,000 flight cycles. The AD, which enters effect today, follows a recent incident during which the left forward side glass window on an ATR 72-212 "blew out" during a ground pressure test, EASA stated. Jul 22, 2009

Bombardier

Bombardier said Friday that Transport Canada, US FAA and EASA granted final approval to adjust the line maintenance intervals for CRJ700/705/900 NextGen and Q400 aircraft from 400 flight hr. to 600 flight hr. "Previous schedules required CRJ700/705/900 and Q400 aircraft to undergo line maintenance checks every 2.2 months on average," the company said. "Under the new revisions, the intervals are extended to 3.3 months." It said that as a result, operators will experience reduced direct maintenance costs over the life of the aircraft. Jul 20, 2009

British Airways

British Airways has told its check-in staff to look out for passengers showing symptoms of the H1N1 virus and to alert doctors who could bar them from boarding a flight, the airline said Sunday. The directive was issued in the past "couple of weeks", a spokeswoman for the airline said, explaining that it was part of efforts to limit the spread of swine flu. Calling the measures "standard practice" for a medical situation, the spokeswoman said only a handful of people had so far been turned away from boarding British Airways flights as a result of the medical checks. Virgin Atlantic has also adopted similar measures, according to the Sunday Times newspaper. A group of 52 British school children and their teachers were quarantined in Beijing on Saturday after four pupils were admitted to hospital infected with the virus. Another four pupils have since had to be admitted for treatment. The group arrived in China last week for a culture and study tour. But shortly after arrival at Beijing airport, four of the students -- all believed to be teenagers -- were admitted to hospital showing symptoms of swine flu infection. British authorities confirmed this week that 29 Britons infected with the H1N1 virus had died, with officials making plans for up to a third of the population to fall ill. In total there are an estimated 55,000 new cases of swine flu in Britain a week, although in the vast majority of cases the symptoms are mild. The pandemic has killed around 430 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Jul 20, 2009

Croatia

Croatian police said three people were injured, two of them tourists, when a bomb exploded on the waterfront in the central Adriatic port town of Sibenik. Two Austrian tourists, whose yacht was moored in the Sibenik marina, were slightly hurt, while a 62-year-old Croatian street sweeper suffered severe injuries, the Vecernji List Online reported Tuesday. Croatian police gave the names of the Austrians as Huan Guenter Felix, 48, and Monike Felix, 19. No further details were immediately available. Jul 21, 2009

EasyJet, Boeing

Meanwhile the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch, commenting about a serious incident that occurred during an EasyJet Boeing 737-700 post-maintenance test flight, noted that an informal verbal debrief - rather than a written one - by the crew to the maintenance organisation about a pitch trim imbalance led to the elevator balance tabs being adjusted in the wrong direction, making the problem worse. In the subsequent test flight the crew partially lost control of the aircraft during a manual reversion check with the hydraulic power to the control actuators switched off, but managed to regain control when it was restored. The UK Civil Aviation Authority has since said it intends to publish an airworthiness communication "relating to the co-ordination between operators and maintenance organisations surrounding the conduct of maintenance check flights". Jul 21, 2009

FlyBe, London Gatwick Airport

The runway at London's Gatwick Airport was briefly closed Friday after a flight from Paris to the Welsh city of Cardiff made an emergency landing. Gatwick spokesman Stuart McDonald said a FlyBe plane carrying 46 passengers and four crew members touched down Friday. He said no one was hurt and the passengers were safely evacuated. The cause of the plane's problem was not immediately clear. The airport's runway was closed for about 90 minutes. Eleven flights due to land at Gatwick were diverted to other airports, and several other departures and arrivals were delayed. Jul 24, 2009

MyAir

Italy's civil aviation authority grounded low cost airline MyAir on Wednesday, saying months of financial troubles made the company's service unreliable. The Italian authority, know by the acronym ENAC, said it suspended MyAir's license to fly effective at midnight Friday. The airline based in Vicenza, northern Italy, flew from Italian cities to airports across Europe, as well as Morocco and Turkey. Jul 24, 2009

Ryanair, Boeing

The Italian investigator ANSV reports that a Ryanair captain whose baby son had just died was not in a fit state to command his aircraft. The captain had not declared his personal circumstances to Ryanair. The Boeing 737-800, inbound to Rome Ciampino in September 2005 in a region dotted with convective storms that day, made unstabilised approaches first to Ciampino, then to Fiumicino, and finally landed safely at Pescara. It was only intervention by the relatively inexperienced co-pilot that caused a dangerous approach to Fiumicino to be abandoned. Jul 21, 2009

Thomsonfly, Boeing

A Thomsonfly Boeing 737-300 crew on approach to Bournemouth airport, UK on 23 September 2007 let the aircraft's speed fall to 20kt (37km/h) below reference airspeed following an uncommanded disconnect of the autothrottle. When the captain noticed the low speed he initiated go-around just before the stall warning stickshaker operated, but the combination of high nose-up trim and the sudden dramatic increase in power from the low-slung engines led to a strong pitch-up moment that the elevator alone could not overcome. The aircraft reached a maximum nose-up pitch of 44e_SDgr before the captain recovered control and landed the aircraft safely. The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch has recommended that Boeing, the US Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency consider devising a better means of alerting crews to autothrottle disconnect. They also recommend that crews should be made more aware of the possible need to apply pitch trim to back up elevator forces in circumstances like this. Jul 21, 2009

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Publication:Airguide Online
Date:Aug 3, 2009
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