Missing AirAsia plane young, basic, hard-working

admin   •   December 29, 2014   •   1873

A flight test engineer holds an Airbus Group flag after the first flight of the Airbus A320neo (New Engine Option) in Colomiers near Toulouse, southwestern France, September 25, 2014.

(Reuters) – The AirAsia plane that went missing on Sunday is young by commercial aircraft standards. It has also worked hard and lacks real time engine diagnostics, in accordance with its role as a short-haul aircraft.

Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501, an Airbus 320-200 with 162 people aboard, lost contact with Jakarta air traffic control at 6:17 a.m. (1917 ET) after taking off from Surabaya airport in Indonesia bound for Singapore, officials said. The pilots had asked to change course to avoid bad weather.

The Airbus A320-200 was delivered to its operator in 2008. It had recorded 23,000 flight hours on 13,600 flights, manufacturer Airbus (AIR.PA) said in a statement.

Those figures make the plane between six and seven years old against an industry lifecycle standard of 25 years, operating on a work cycle averaging more than six flights a day since it began service.

The aircraft’s engines were made by French-American venture CFM International, co-owned by General Electric (GE.N) and Safran (SAF.PA).

AirAsia subscribes to ‎a GE maintenance service that may include real-time diagnostics or monitoring, according to the GE website.

Such systems are mainly used on long haul flights and can provide clues to airlines and investigators when things go wrong. A GE spokesman told Reuters: “This particular aircraft did not have the real-time remote engine diagnostics service”.

AirAsia said the aircraft had undergone its last scheduled maintenance on Nov. 16.

More than 6,000 A320-200s are in service. They are designed to be used intensively on short routes and compete with the Boeing 737.

Earlier in December, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) ordered a change in procedure for all A320 jets after computers onboard a similar A321 aircraft thought it was about to stall and pushed the nose downwards — which is the standard way of preventing an upset — just as pilots were trying to level off after climbing to their intended cruise height.

The incident happened after certain sensors iced up in bad weather. It is thought to be the only one of its kind since the A320 entered service in 1988, but resulted in a special bulletin to operators from Airbus, which was later made compulsory by EASA.

In the worst scenario, pilots would not be able to stop the automatic reaction, which could result in loss of control of the airplane, EASA said.

So far there is no indication what may have caused the AirAsia jet to go missing. Statistically, most accidents get blamed on a combination of factors‎, and it is rare for accident reports to isolate one single cause.

Commercial web tracking data suggested Flight QZ8501 had been in level flight for some time when it disappeared from radar, rather than at the top of the climb when the reported anomaly — although rare — is most likely to take place.

An Airbus spokesman declined to comment on the EASA directive, saying it was too early to speculate ahead of any investigation.

France’s BEA crash investigation agency, which assists in the investigation of any air crash involving an Airbus aircraft because the company is France-based, said it was sending two officials to Jakarta accompanied by two experts from Airbus.

The U.S.-based National Transportation Safety Board said it was monitoring the search for the plane and stood ready to assist Indonesia if needed.

(Additional reporting by Siva Govindasamy in Jakarta; Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter)

Kobe Bryant helicopter involved in ‘high energy impact’ crash, says NTSB

UNTV News   •   January 29, 2020

Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Investigators said on Tuesday (January 28) that the helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant was involved in a “high energy impact crash” when it slammed into a hillside in foggy weather on Sunday, killing the basketball star and eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter.

“We know that the helicopter was at 2300 ft (700 meters) when it lost communication with air traffic control. The descent rate for the helicopter was over 2,000 ft (600 meters) a minute, so, we know that this was a high energy impact crash,” Jennifer Homendy, of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

As the helicopter crash probe entered its second full day in the foothills just outside Calabasas, about 40 miles (64 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles, the NTSB investigators combed through the wreckage and used drones as they sought uncover the cause of the accident.

“We were able to recover an iPad and a cell phone. We do not know if that’s the pilot’s iPad so we are going to take those personal electronic devices, we are going to send them back to our lab at headquarters for further analysis,” said Homendy.

“We also worked with drones today, to document the scene and then we duplicated part of the flight path. So, we flew part of the end part of the flight path with our drones using ADSB data,” she added.

Low clouds, fog and limited visibility over the region at the time of the crash have emerged as a prominent focus of the investigation. (Reuters)

(Production: Omar Younis)

Post-derailment clean-up underway near DuPont City in Washington

admin   •   December 21, 2017

Recorded data recovered from the rear locomotive showed the Amtrak train that derailed in Washington State was going 80 miles or 129 kilometers per hour on a curved stretch of track where the speed limit was only 30 miles per hour or 48 kilometers per hour only.

This was revealed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials on Monday night. The board said it was investigating whether other factors besides speed were involved.

Safety investigators hope the engineer of the train can explain why his locomotive was traveling more than twice the speed limit when the deadly derailment occurred.

“Distraction is one of our most wanted list priorities at the NTSB. It is a protocol for us to look at all of the cell phone records of all the crew members whenever there is an accident of this type. And of course, we hope when we interview the crew members they’ll be able to give us more information,” said NTSB spokesperson Bella Dinh-Zarr.

Three people aboard the train were killed in the Monday morning wreck near the town of DuPont. Another 100 people were taken to hospitals, 10 with serious injuries.

Some motorists on interstate 5 were among the injured, though nobody on the highway died.

“We don’t know whether at the moment infrastructure, meaning the rail-bed or the bridge, played any role in this accident. Let’s not jump to conclusions before we make decisions. We have got to get this right. We’ve got to make sure whatever happened here never happens again,” said Washington State Governor Jay Inslee.

Clean-up operations are ongoing on Tuesday. Although the railcars have been removed from the site of the accident, traffic on the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 are still closed.

The derailment placed Amtrak, the country’s main passenger rail service, under renewed scrutiny following a series of fatal incidents. — Reuters





South Africa in talks with Airbus, Boeing to print 3D parts

UNTV News   •   March 3, 2017

An Airbus A400M military aircraft. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

South African researchers developing the world’s largest machine for producing aircraft parts using lasers to melt powdered titanium are in talks with Airbus and Boeing, with the first commercial application expected in 2019.

Officially launched in 2011 and backed by government, the Aeroswift research project last year produced its first three demonstrator parts – a pilot’s throttle lever, a condition lever grip which is part of the throttle assembly, and a fuel tank pylon bracket, in a digital process known as 3D printing, or additive layer manufacturing.

Increasingly adopted by the automotive, aerospace and military industries as a cheaper way of making complex parts, the new manufacturing process could save millions of dollars on fuel and production costs as aircraft makers replace aluminum bodies with lighter materials such as titanium alloys.

“How best to commercialize the process is a discussion we are currently having with the Aeroswift partners and relevant government agencies,” said Simon Ward, Airbus’s vice president for international cooperation in Toulouse.

Ward said Airbus was in talks with Aeroswift and the South African government to ensure the project was commercially successful and created jobs in South Africa, where unemployment runs above 25 percent.

Airbus, which already sources parts for its A400M military transport aircraft from South Africa, has been offering Aeroswift support in terms of consulting, benchmark information and advice on what type of aircraft components to focus on, Ward said.

South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in partnership with local aerospace firm Aerosud Innovation Centre, say access to vast titanium reserves as well as pioneering the world’s largest titanium powder-based 3D printing machine should give them a competitive edge.

South Africa ranks fourth in world titanium reserves, behind leader China, Australia and India, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Our machine is unique and the only one in the world,” said Hardus Greyling, Aeroswift’s contract coordinator who works at the CSIR’s laser center.

“We have developed new technologies and patents which allows us to upscale the additive process to go significantly faster and significantly larger than other systems.”

During proof of concept trials, the machine achieved production speeds up to 10 times faster than currently available commercial laser melting machines, he said.

Its production chamber’s volume measures up to 2 meters by 600 millimeters by 600 mm – about four times larger than the biggest commercial machines currently available, which operate at dimensions of 600 mm by 500 mm by 400 mm, said Greyling.

Terry Wohlers, president of U.S.-based industry consultancy Wohlers Associates, said after initial doubts his optimism for the project was rekindled when learning that the first parts demonstrated would be in test flights this year.

“It looks like the people at Aerosud and CSIR are on track and making very good progress toward carving out a slice of what is set to become a 3D printing market valued at tens of billions of dollars,” he told Reuters.

South Africa has a long established defense and aerospace industry centered on state-owned group Denel SOC [DENSC.UL] and also exports various components including antennae and seat frames for use in commercial jets.

(Story refiles to correct penultimate paragraph to read “Aerosud and CSIR” instead of “Aerosud CSIR”.)

(Editing by Greg Mahlich)


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