Today is the 110th anniversary of the first powered flight by Orville and Wilbur Wright at Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina. This anniversary is a good jumping-off point to reflect on how far aviation has come in the past 110 years.
Incorrect data in aviation records is serious in the extreme. Aviation depends on data entry to record everything from student pilot training to air carrier compliance with airworthiness directives to scores of information on every aspect of defeating gravity safely. For that reason, air safety relies in large part on records, the accuracy of which is critical.
During hearings on December 11, National Transportation Safety Board officials described the final approach sequence of Asiana Airlines Flight 214, which crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6. The Boeing 777 was cleared for a visual approach to Runway 28 Left where, as per a Notam, the glideslope was inactive.
The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA-I) and the International Federation of Airline Pilots (IFALPA) showed their support for the members of the Asiana Pilot Union (APU) when the NTSB hearing into Asiana Flight 214’s July 6 crash at San Francisco Airport. The NTSB’s hearings on the Asiana accident mark the first time in more than 20 years that IFALPA has participated in an accident investigation hearing to support a member association.
A December 5 report published by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau reviewed a May 17, 2012 unstable approach to Western Australia’s Laverton Aerodrome from the cockpit of a de Havilland Canada Dash 8.
Eurocontrol’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Center last week introduced a system to dynamically manage upper airspace to suit traffic flow. The new variable division flight level (VDFL) enables a flexible distribution of traffic between upper and lower sectors (from 24,500 feet to unlimited), by altering the division flight level to match changing traffic patterns. The division flight level between the upper and lower sectors was previously fixed at 33,500 feet.
The captain who lost control of a Boeing 737 that subsequently crashed in Kazan, Russia, on November 17 may have been operating with a false pilot certificate, according to Associated Press reports on the investigation. The aircraft was executing a go-around when it entered a near-vertical dive before the impact that killed all 50 people on board.
No sooner did Boeing begin evaluating bids from 22 U.S. states to build all or part of the new 777X last week when it re-entered talks with its machinists union, suddenly brightening the prospects for the incumbent, Washington state. By Thursday, however, it seemed the sides had gained little or no ground in their efforts to strike a deal for a contract extension, as union leaders quickly rejected Boeing’s most recent “best and final” offer.
Airlines will continue to enjoy ready access to financing for new aircraft acquisitions, as funding sources such as bonds grow in importance as options for financial support, according to Boeing’s seventh annual aircraft finance market forecast. The report, released in London on December 10, said that while export credit agency funding will decline in significance in the coming years, the industry will see a more even balance among carriers’ use of bonds, leases and loans from banks and capital markets.
Aiming to reduce exposure to potential residual-value guarantee (RVG) claims for the A340 twin-aisle quad-jet, Airbus plans to recertify the aircraft to carry 475 passengers, while Rolls-Royce works to improve the type’s engine efficiency and maintenance costs. The European manufacturer told a stakeholders’ forum on December 4 that with increased capacity and lower maintenance charges and ownership costs, the A340-600 can compete against the Boeing 777-200ER and -300ER and replace larger 747-400s.