The search for the long lost MH370 might be restarted, since new data analysis has established three new areas, based on three different possible scenarios, not previously examined. Final decisions pending.
Quantas is having problems finding an agreement with their pilots union regarding operation of their planned ultra-long flights. Fatigue rules are playing a part. A threat to hire outside help, i.e. non-union pilots is regarded by the union as extremely dangerous to the company image among the flying public. For good reason. If you choose to fly with the company ”that never crashed”, their pilots playing a major part in that achievement, it might be bordering on fraud to have ”rent-a-pilot” cockpit crew, without telling anyone. At least according to the pilot union. Unfortunately Quantas is not the only airline tempted to save money where they should not.
Three of Iran Airs more modern aircraft are banned from EU airspace due to sanctions making necessary updates impossible.
Contrails contribute to global warming more than previously understood. Efforts are now in progress to minimize that effect by finding altitudes with atmospheric conditions not causing contrails. Another industry effort for less climate impact.
Avoiding turbulence is another effort, mainly for safety and comfort. There is a previous article on turbulence in this blog. Turbulence comes in the form of light, moderate and severe (and extreme according to a separate scale). Normally not dangerous as long as you are wearing your seatbelt, but severe (or extreme) turbulence shall always be avoided. Sudden encounters has caused injuries, mainly to cabin crews working in the cabin. Forecasts have been less than perfect, and avoidance has often been based on pilots reports. Beginning this year IATA has launched a Turbulence Aware tool based on a different type of reports by participating airlines. Turbulence, or energy dissipation rate (EDR) is calculated using six inputs from all participating aircraft: true airspeed, angle of attack, pitch, pitch rate, roll and vertical velocity, measured eight times per second. Data is fed to a central data base and then fed to other aircraft in real time and to forecast centers on ground. Aircraft flying in smooth air is transmitting that pleasant fact each 15 minutes for others to enjoy. When all airlines represented by IATA, there are 292 of them, participate, turbulence avoidance has reached new heights.
FAA – Southwest relations have been to chummy according to whistleblowers and new investigations. FAA has previously been accused of too tight relationships with Boeing. FAA and other regulation authorities around the world face the same problems. One is manning. People who know things about aviation are normally out there working for airlines in one way or another. Authorities have to rely to a large extent on what information they are fed by whom they are set to control. That was normally problem-free, since all involved had one common goal which was flight safety above all else. Friendship developed over time. That situation has been strained by cost-cutting creeping into the system, where good relations has hindered firm standpoints. Another problem facing authorities is the dual demand for creating a healthy economic environment for airlines, based on what new demands for savings the airlines are constantly presenting, and the demand for regulations based on safety alone. Normally not possible to combine.
The number of incidents with unruly passengers necessitating an intermediate landing are on the increase. Drugs are involved, but the major factor is alcohol abuse. The fact that most cases involve taxfree liquor brought and drunk onboard, points at what for half a century has been one of the most daft thing in the industry, second only to dangerous goods. Airline employees has for years wondered why taxfree sales are not moved to arrival halls. Todays environmental concerns alone should prohibit the tons of things you can buy in a departure hall at any airport with self esteem from being sent up in the air for no reason. (Any extra weight cost 4% fuel to carry – per hour. A ton extra cost 400 kg of (wasted) fuel on a ten hour flight).