June – July 2020

With the downturn in the aviation industry there is less of most everything. Some mishaps are never the less always present. Smoke onboard, engine fails, bird strikes and the never ending story of aircraft overshooting the runway end.

News for 2020 are the premature parking (forever?) of the 747’s from a lot of airlines. A380 has already led the way to the desert. Boeing is being blamed for undue pressure on their in-house FAA designees in connection with the MAX certification. They are in the process of test-flying the aircraft, while selling a few and getting more cancellations.  They have paid 428 MUSD in damages, which is peanuts compared to the billions lost (2,4 Billion USD in one quarter) in aircraft sales, penalties and rectifying what went wrong. The 777X is delayed in the wake of less demand for big aircraft. Job cuts are increasing and by Delta estimated to tens of thousands. FAA has realized that pilot’s records need to be scrutinized, in the wake of the Atlas Air 767 crash, where people were let in to the cockpit who shouldn’t be there in the first place. As in PIA (Pakistan International Airlines), where it is established that up to 1 out of 3 of their pilots have fake licenses. Conversions of passenger planes to semi- or full cargo versions are increasing. The face mask ruling is causing havoc on board with passengers flatly refusing, people denied boarding until complying and general unpleasantness.

On the more immediate serious side, there was an aborted take-off in Britain, after an engine failure, which could have gone badly wrong. It was saved by the Captains glance out of the side window, when he was about to start taxiing on the remaining engine, and saw the escape slide deployed and people milling around the nose of the aircraft. They managed to kill the running engine before anyone got badly hurt. The communication to the cabin crew after the abort had been misunderstood, which – again – shows the value of non-ambiguous communication.

On the matter of overshooting runway ends, a lot has been said in this blog about runways being too short. When runways are long enough you can still go into the terrain beyond, if you choose to land in heavy rain – read wet runway – with a 11 knots tail wind (1 knot above limit value) and touch down one third down the runway. The pilots on Air India Express who tried this a week ago in Kozhikode paid the ultimate price together with 16 others. What made them do this might be explained once recorder readings are evaluated. Nothing so far suggests, that fact that Air India Express is a low-cost subsidiary of Air India, had anything to do with the accident.




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