Archive for May, 2013


[BBC News] The doors on both engines of the flight that made an emergency landing at Heathrow last week had been left unlatched, investigators have found.

Footage filmed from on board the plane shows the emergency landing

Footage filmed from on board the plane shows the emergency landing: Video courtesy BBC News

Air accident experts said the coverings – the fan cowl doors – broke off and punctured the right engine’s fuel pipe, damaging the aircraft’s systems.

A fire then broke out in the right engine of the Airbus A319 British Airways flight to Oslo.

The jet landed safely and its 75 passengers and crew were evacuated.

The aeroplane returned to Heathrow soon after taking off last Friday when black smoke was seen coming from an engine.

The findings were made in an interim report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), which is examining the cause of the emergency.

‘Appropriate initial action’

The fire in the right engine broke out as the flight prepared to land, but the left engine was unaffected, the AAIB report said.

“Subsequent investigation revealed that the fan cowl doors on both engines were left unlatched during maintenance and this was not identified prior to aircraft departure,” the report added.

Keith Williams, BA chief executive, said: “We continue to co-operate fully with the investigation team and can confirm that appropriate initial action has already been taken in accordance with the AAIB’s safety recommendation to Airbus.”

Mr Williams added that he could not discuss any details while the inquiry continued.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the report contained “serious findings”, adding that the aviation industry “must act immediately to take the appropriate safety action and ensure that all lessons are learnt from what has happened”.

BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott said British Airways had confirmed that two different engineers would normally check whether a plane’s engine covers had been shut before take-off.

“One checks, the other double-checks – that’s clearly not happened in this case,” he said.

Mr Westcott added that BA’s mechanics were all staff of the airline, which would not say if anyone had been suspended.

‘Slight bump’

The aircraft underwent normal overnight maintenance which included opening the cowl doors and checking the oil levels, the report said.

Nothing unusual was noted during the checks before the flight took off, but the cowl doors would have been “difficult to see unless crouched down so that the bottom of the engine is clearly visible”.

As the plane took off the 50-year-old pilot reported feeling a “slight bump” and thought the aircraft had run over a light on the runway.

David Learmount, former pilot: “This is a bit of an accident waiting to happen because it is so difficult to see”

Air traffic controllers alerted the pilot about the flight leaving some debris on the runway, which later turned out to be the detached cowl doors.

When the crew realised the doors had broken off, causing a “significant fuel leak” and affecting the hydraulic system, the pilot decided to return to the airport.

The cowl doors also damaged the tyres, landing gears and the hydraulic brake pipe.

The right engine was “extensively damaged” in the fire, the report said.

Last July Airbus said there had been 32 reported……

Read the rest of this story at BBC News…..

 


BBC News
31st May, 2013


 

 


[BBC NewsRyanair has announced record profits this week, and the purchase of 175 new Boeing airliners. It’s evidently one of Europe’s most successful airlines at present – but has it even so been blowing its own trumpet a bit too much?

Ryanair prides itself on turning around flights quickly.

Ryanair prides itself on turning around flights quickly. Photo Wikipedia

Ever heard the cheerful jingle on a Ryanair plane as it touches down on the runway?

“Last year over 90% of Ryanair flights landed on time, beating every other European airline.”

Quite a boast. According to the statistics that Ryanair puts out itself, they achieved 90% punctuality last year, and have done for the last few years.

But we only have their word for it. There is scant data available to the public on airline punctuality.

The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority does collect data on flights arriving and departing from 10 UK airports. It defines “on time” as being within 15 minutes of its stated arrival time.

A website called flightontime.info crunched that data and worked out that Ryanair fell short of 90%, achieving only 83% at these 10 airports.

Taking the figures for 2012, bmi regional was the most punctual. Eleven other airlines also beat Ryanair’s 83% punctuality record.

Ryanair’s overall punctuality score – taking into account its flights landing at or taking off from other airports around Europe – could easily be higher than 83%, says Jim Paton, senior lecturer in the Department of Air Transport at Cranfield University.

“A big proportion of their network in Europe is operations to small airports that don’t suffer from air traffic congestion, as would be the case around London and Paris,” he says. This makes it easier to avoid delays.

He adds that Ryanair flies to airports where the facilities are relatively close to the runway, so the plane doesn’t spend several minutes taxiing, as it would often have to at airports such as Schiphol in Amsterdam.

The airline says: “Ryanair’s published monthly punctuality is calculated as the percentage of all (approx 42,000 on average) Ryanair flights in any month, at all 180 airports, which land ahead of, on, or within 15 minutes of scheduled arrival time.”

Punctuality statistics published by third parties are unreliable because their data is based on estimates or incomplete samples, which exclude certain airports, flights or airlines, the company adds.

But the Ryanair jingle also says it is “beating every other European airline” on punctuality. Where does this idea come from?

Ryanair says it is comparing its own punctuality figures with “the most recent Association of European Airlines published statistics”.

However, that organisation has not published any new figures since 2009.

In addition, it has only 32 members. Although those members include many big airlines, more than 200 airlines in Europe are not members – including Ryanair.

So there is no public data that proves this claim. And even if there were, it might be hard to take at face value because of a phenomenon known as “schedule padding”.

This is when airlines (or other transport companies) stretch their published journey times in order to…..

Read the rest of this feature at BBC News…..


Charlotte McDonald
BBC News
26th May, 2013



[BBC News] RAF Typhoon jets have been launched to investigate an incident involving a civilian aircraft within UK airspace, the Ministry of Defence has said.

A reported on board incident created an alert: Picture Wikipedia

A reported on board incident created an alert and diverted the aircraft: Picture Wikipedia

A Pakistan International Airlines plane has been diverted from Manchester to Stansted Airport, a Manchester Airport spokesman said.

An Essex Police spokeswoman added: “An incident has occurred on an aircraft. Police and partners are responding.”

The BBC understands that the plane has now landed in Stansted.

The plane reportedly left Lahore at 09:35 local time. It was due in at Manchester at 1400 BST.

 

UPDATE at 14:55

The BBC understands that the plane has now landed in Stansted.

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale said that police were expected to meet the plane at the airport. The plane, flight number PK709, reportedly left Lahore at 09:35 local time. It was due in at Manchester at 14:00 BST.

The MoD said responsibility for the incident had now passed to Essex Police and the Home Office. The MoD was not able to say how serious a threat there was on board.

An MoD spokesman said the incident was now a police matter and that “our involvement is over”.

He said Typhoon jets could be scrambled after the pilot or crew of a passenger aircraft sends out an emergency signal.

“The purpose of going up is to investigate what the situation is,” he said.

“Often when a Quick Reaction Alert aircraft is launched the details are not known, but it is known that a signal has been sent.

“Part of the purpose of sending a Typhoon up is to have a look and see what they can see.”

A Pakistan International Airlines spokesman Zufiqar Bijarani told CNN: “We have been told there may have been a bomb threat.” But he did not say if he had anything to confirm or deny this.

Stansted Airport said on Twitter that it was operating normally.

Pakistan International Airlines said there were 308 passengers on board, as well as 14 crew including pilots, with a mixture of Pakistani and British passport holders.

Read the original story at BBC News…..


BBC NEWS
24th May, 2013



[Sky News & BBC News] Both runways at Heathrow airport are reportedly closed as smoke is seen coming from the rear of a plane on the Northern runway.

Heathrow's Twitter feed reporting the incident just after 9:00: Inmage Airport Informer

Heathrow’s Twitter feed reporting the incident just after 9:00: Inmage Airport Informer

Heathrow Airport‘s Twitter feed has reported the following message as recently at 9:09 this morning…..

“Both runways are currently closed. All passengers & crew have been safely evacuated from an aircraft which is on the northern runway.”

Sky News reports that both runways have been closed because of this incident.

UPDATE: 09:38

BBC News are reporting that a British Airways plane is involved. The Southern runway has now re-opened but the Northern Runway is still closed due to the stricken aircraft  having deployed its emergency chutes to quickly evacuate the passengers.

Chute deployed after the passenger evacuation: Picture BBC News

Chute deployed after the passenger evacuation: Picture BBC News

Fire tenders in attendance at the side of the stricken airways: Picture BBC News

Fire tenders in attendance at the side of the stricken airways: Picture BBC News

There is further speculation that the aircraft may have hit a flock of birds on take-off leading to plume of smoke coming out of at least one of the engines.

Plumes of smoke coming out of the engine of the stricken BA aircraft: Picture: BBC News / Dan Bailey

Plumes of smoke coming out of the engine of the stricken BA aircraft. Picture: BBC News / Dan Bailey

Eyewitnesses report flames coming from a plane as it flew over London to land at Heathrow Airport. Image: Sky News

Eyewitnesses report flames coming from a plane as it flew over London to land at Heathrow Airport. Image: Sky News

 

Read more at Sky News…..

Read more at BBC News….

 


Sky News & BBC News
24th May, 2013



[Reuters] Struggling British airline Flybe will quit its main London hub at Gatwick airport and has pushed back the delivery of 16 new aircraft to help it return to profitability.

Europe’s largest regional airline also said it had axed 590 jobs, or 22 percent of its UK workforce, despite saying in January it would cut only 300 jobs when it unveiled a cost-cutting plan designed to end a two-year run of losses at the pre-tax level.

Flybe floated its shares on the London Stock Exchange at the end of 2010 and has since suffered from high fuel costs, falling passenger numbers and higher airport charges, especially in London.

The company, which counts British Airways parent IAG and billionaire investor George Soros among its largest shareholders, said on Thursday the measures would save it GBP£30 million (USD$45 million) in costs in 2013/14, GBP£5 million ahead of its previous target, with more than half coming from the job cuts.

Flybe will exit Gatwick in March 2014, after agreeing a deal to sell its 25 take-off and landing slots at London’s second-largest airport to easyJet for GBP£20 million. “No business can swallow cost increases of more than 100 percent over five years and Flybe simply cannot bear such punitive rises,” Flybe chief executive and chairman Jim French said.

Read the full story at Reuters….

Reuters
May 23, 2013


[Reuters] Struggling British airline Flybe will quit its main London hub at Gatwick airport and has pushed back the delivery of 16 new aircraft to help it return to profitability.

In April the carrier forecast an underlying loss for the year to the end of March. Photo

In April the carrier forecast an underlying loss for the year to the end of March. Photo: Wikipedia

Europe’s largest regional airline also said it had axed 590 jobs, or 22 percent of its UK workforce, despite saying in January it would cut only 300 jobs when it unveiled a cost-cutting plan designed to end a two-year run of losses at the pre-tax level.

Flybe floated its shares on the London Stock Exchange at the end of 2010 and has since suffered from high fuel costs, falling passenger numbers and higher airport charges, especially in London.

The company, which counts British Airways parent IAG and billionaire investor George Soros among its largest shareholders, said on Thursday the measures would save it GBP£30 million (USD$45 million) in costs in 2013/14, GBP£5 million ahead of its previous target, with more than half coming from the job cuts.

Flybe will exit Gatwick in March 2014, after agreeing a deal to sell its 25 take-off and landing slots at London’s second-largest airport to easyJet for GBP£20 million. “No business can swallow cost increases of more than 100 percent over five years and Flybe simply cannot bear such punitive rises,” Flybe chief executive and chairman Jim French said.

Flybe said it had also pushed back the delivery of 16 Embraer E175 aircraft to between 2017 and 2019, which would reduce pre-delivery payment charges due this year by 20 million pounds.

The aircraft were previously due to arrive in 2014 and 2015.

Since Flybe’s 295 pence-per-share float, its shares have fallen 80 percent, cutting the company’s market value to 43 million pounds from 215 million at launch.

“Flybe is exposed to the regional UK market which is not seeing the same growth as London is,” said analyst Alexia Dogani at brokerage Liberium. “London airports have become more expensive for small regional airlines to operate (from) … and therefore Flybe has not been able to attract as many passengers for its routes.”

It is not the only smaller airline to have suffered. Last year, loss-making Spanair and Hungarian flag-carrier Malev ceased operations, leaving gaps in the market that larger low-cost carriers like easyJet have been quick to exploit.

European carriers including Germany’s Lufthansa AG, Franco-Dutch Air France-KLM and Spain’s Iberia have also cut thousands of jobs over the last year and reined in capacity growth.

Flybe flies to Belfast, Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Isle of Man from Gatwick. Selling its Gatwick slots would substantially reduce its London operations to just the few flights it runs out of Luton airport, some 50 kilometres north of the capital.

Read the full story at Reuters….

 


Reuters
23rd May, 2013



[BBT} The new chairman of Gatwick airport, Sir Roy McNulty, has criticised the Gatwick Express train service, saying that it “at times veers towards Third World conditions”.

Sir Roy McNulty, has criticised the Gatwick Express train service, saying that it “at times veers towards Third World conditions”

Sir Roy McNulty, has criticised the Gatwick Express train service, saying that it “at times veers towards Third World conditions”. Photo: Wikipedia

McNulty, speaking to London Evening Standard, aired his concerns that the Gatwick Express service gives incoming passengers a bad first impression due to overcrowding and old rolling stock.

“In the short to medium term, our main priority is improvement in the road and rail infrastructure that serves the airport – and above all improvement in the Gatwick Express,” said McNulty.

A spokesperson for Southern, which operates the Gatwick Express, said: “In addition to providing a direct airport link, Gatwick Express services now provide around 20,000 extra peak seats between Brighton and London every week to help meet the capacity challenge on that route.

“Balancing the needs of the airport and the needs of Brighton line commuters is always going to be challenging particularly when operating over some of the most congested tracks in the country.”

Gatwick last week submitted its response to the Airports Commission, headed by Sir Howard Davies, which is looking at how to expand airport capacity in the south-east.

The airport argues in its submission that there needs to be better rail services to London’s airports, in order to attract more airlines.

“Although it already has excellent rail links, the airport – as well as some of its airlines – believe more dedicated, high quality and value for money services into London are fundamental to encouraging greater use of its capacity,” said Gatwick in a statement.

 

Read the full story at “Buying Business Travel” [BBT]…….


Scott Carey
20th May, 2013



[BBC NewsDiscount airline Ryanair has reported record full-year profits and rising revenues, despite soaring fuel costs.

Profits after tax rose 13% to 569m euros (£481m) on revenues of 4.88bn euros for the year to 31 March.

“Ultra-low cost carrier” Ryanair has big expansion plans and has ordered 175 new planes. Photo: Wikipedia

Passenger traffic grew 5% to 79.3 million as the airline added 217 new routes to its roster, bringing the total to 1,600.

But fuel costs rose by more than 290m euros, the company statement said, and now account for 45% of total costs.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “Delivering a 13% increase in profits and 5% traffic growth despite high oil prices during a European recession is testimony to the strength of Ryanair’s ultra-low cost model.”

But he warned that growth would be slower in the 2013-14 financial year at Europe’s largest budget airline, thanks to rising oil prices and “unjustified higher Eurocontrol and Spanish airport charges”.

The company is forecasting net profits in the range of 570m to 600m euros for the coming year.

In March, Ryanair placed an order with Boeing for 175 planes worth £10.3bn ($15.6bn) to be delivered between 2014 and 2018.

The deal will increase its fleet by a third to 400 planes.

Read the full story at BBC News…..


BBC News
20th May, 2013



[BCC News] Controlled explosions have been carried out on a van in Gatwick Airport‘s North Terminal car park.

Suspicions were raised about the Renault van as it entered one of Gatwick Airport's car parks

Suspicions were raised about the Renault van as it entered one of Gatwick Airport’s car parks. Picture: Wikipedia.com

Sussex Police said a bomb disposal unit was called after suspicions were raised about a Renault van as it entered the car park at 14:40 BST.

Officers were unable to locate the driver or see inside the van. Police said the bomb disposal unit carried out the controlled explosions and there was no suggestion of “any other threats to the airport”.

Eyewitnesses reported an increase in armed police at the airport and the presence of a bomb disposal robot.

Insp Gary Medland, from Gatwick Police, said: “We are aware that this is likely to cause significant disruption to people arriving or departing North Terminal by car, especially at this time of day.

“However, it is important that we establish whether this vehicle poses any threat and the cordon has been put in place for the safety of everyone visiting and working at the airport.

“There is no suggestion that there are any other threats to the airport and both police and security staff are actively checking all areas.”

They are now looking for two men who entered the car park in the untaxed, uninsured and unregistered van. The men were seen to push up a barrier to gain access to the car park before leaving the van on the ground floor.

Gatwick Airport said the incident has not affected any incoming or outgoing flights.

Read the original story at BBC News…..


BBC News
1st May, 2013