Dangerous laser pointer attacks on airplanes may be more common than you think. The FAA today published a list of laser pointer events on aircraft that have been reported in 2010. The list, that only includes incidents within the US, records the huge number of more than 2800 events only last year! This is the highest number of laser events recorded since the FAA began keeping track in 2005.
Los Angeles International Airport recorded the highest number of laser events in the US for an individual airport in 2010, with 102 reports, and the greater Los Angeles area tallied nearly twice that number, with 201 reports. Chicago O’Hare International Airport was a close second, with 98 reports, and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport tied for the third highest number of laser events for the year with 80 each.
“This is a serious safety issue,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Lasers can distract and harm pilots who are working to get passengers safely to their destinations.”
Nationwide, laser event reports have steadily increased since the FAA created a formal reporting system in 2005 to collect information from pilots. Reports rose from nearly 300 in 2005 to 1,527 in 2009 and 2,836 in 2010.
“The FAA is actively warning people not to point high-powered lasers at aircraft because they can damage a pilot’s eyes or cause temporary blindness,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “We continue to ask pilots to immediately report laser events to air traffic controllers so we can contact local law enforcement officials.”
Some cities and states have laws making it illegal to shine lasers at aircraft and, in many cases, people can face federal charges.
The increase in reports is likely due to a number of factors, including the availability of inexpensive laser devices on the Internet; higher power levels that enable lasers to hit aircraft at higher altitudes; increased pilot reporting of laser strikes; and the introduction of green lasers, which are more easily seen than red lasers.
Top 20 US laser event reports by airport in 2010
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)–102
Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)–98
Phoenix/Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)–80
San Jose International Airport (SJC)–80
McCarran International Airport (LAS)–72
Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) –66
Oakland International Airport (OAK)–55
Honolulu International Airport (HNL)–47
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)–39
Denver International Airport (DEN)–38
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)–38
Tucson International Airport (TUS)–37
Miami International Airport (MIA)–36
Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)–36
Portland International Airport (PDX)–32
LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT)–32
Bob Hope Airport (BUR)–31
Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI)–31
News agencies are reporting that Iranian authorities will ban flights of Russian-made Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft from February 20.
“All Iranian airline companies which have Tupolev-154 in their fleet are required to end operation of their Tupolevs by February 19,” the country’s civil aviation chief told media.
Four Iranian air carriers – Iran Air Tour, Kish Air, Eram and Taban – who have a total of 17 Tu-154 jets in their fleets, were instructed to ground their Tupolevs by February 19 and replace them with other planes. Which planes that might be is unclear.
“The use of Tu-154 planes is banned in connection with recent incidents involving those aircraft,” the civil aviation chief said in his letter to the air carriers.
Iranian authorities criticized the Russian Tupolev manufacturer for refusing to respond to the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization’s request in connection with recent Tu-154 accidents.
Over the last 10 years, 5 Tupolev Tu-154 crashed in Iran, killing more than 300 people.
In an effort to renew its outdated civil aviation fleet, Iran plans to import 13 McDonnell Douglas MD-80 and 6 Airbus planes in the near future. The Islamic Republic will also start the domestic production of the IrAn-140 passenger plane, that is based on the Antonov An-140.
Iran is treated by international sanctions (UN and US) which, at some level, prohibit import of modern airplanes, spare parts and any other “aviation related material”.
An Iran Air Boeing 727-286 (EP-IRP) crashed yesterday evening near Urmia (Orumiyeh) Airport (OMH), Iran, killing at least 77 souls on-board.
Flight IR277 was bound from Tehran-Mehrabad Airport (THR) to Urmia. The 36 year old plane crashed during an emergency landing in heavy snow storm after the pilots reported technical problems.
Ongoing international sanctions on the country are blamed for the recent history of deadly aviation accidents. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929 still prohibits international supply of aircraft, strongly needed aircraft parts as well as “related material” to Iran.
On Friday US Air Force released the results of their investigation into a fatal C-17 Globemaster III aircraft (tail number 00-0173 – call sign Sitka 43) mishap July 28 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
The plane was on a training flight for the Arctic Thunder Air Show scheduled for the weekend of July 31.
The accident investigation board found clear and convincing evidence the cause of the mishap was pilot error. The investigation revealed the pilot placed the aircraft outside established flight parameters and capabilities. During the mishap sortie, the pilot aggressively flew the aircraft in a manner inconsistent with established flight procedures, resulting in a stall. The pilot failed to take required stall recovery actions.
Furthermore, the board concluded the co-pilot and safety observer failed to recognize or address the developing dangerous situation. As a result, the C-17 stalled at an attitude and altitude from which recovery to controlled flight was impossible.
Video footage of the mishap flight was officially released and is found on YouTube. The footage has been edited to cut off just prior to the aircraft’s impact out of consideration and respect for the families of the deceased.
Today a preliminary report on Qantas flight QF32 (Airbus A380 VH-OQA) was released by Australian Aviation Safety Bureau (ATSB). On 4 November the flight sustained an uncontained failure of the Intermediate Pressure (IP) turbine disc on engine No 2.
The report reveals many interesting details about sustained damage, flight crew response, a brief history of the flight, cause of the incident and data obtained from flight data recorder (FDR). (link at the bottom)
Following a short summary of events that occured on-board
The crew reported that, while maintaining 250 kts in the climb and passing 7,000 ft above mean sea level (AMSL), they heard two, almost coincident ‘loud bangs’.
The crew reported a slight yaw and that the aircraft immediately levelled off in accordance with the selection of altitude hold
PIC noticed that the autothrust system was no longer active
Electronic Centralised Aircraft Monitor (ECAM) system displayed a message indicating an “overheat” warning in the No 2 engine turbine. Soon after, multiple ECAM messages started to be displayed. The PIC confirmed with the flight crew that he was maintaining control of the aircraft and called for the commencement of the requisite ECAM actions by the FO in response to those messages.
Affected engine’s thrust lever was moved to IDLE and a PAN radio call was transmitted to Changi air traffic control (ATC)
Warning indicating a fire in the No 2 engine that displayed for about 1 to 2 seconds; the ECAM then reverted back to the overheat warning
The crew decided to shut down No 2 engine; after they had selected the ENG 2 master switch OFF, the ECAM displayed a message indicating that the No 2 engine had failed
The crew reported assessing that there was serious damage and discharged one of the engine’s two fire extinguisher bottles into the engine
Flight crew did not receive confirmation that the fire extinguisher bottle had discharged. They repeated the procedure for discharging the fire extinguisher and again did not receive confirmation that it had discharged.
Crew followed the procedure for discharging the second fire extinguisher bottle into the No 2 engine. After completing that procedure twice, they did not receive confirmation that the second bottle had discharged.
Continuation with engine failure procedure, which included initiating an automated process of fuel transfer from the aircraft’s outer wing tanks to the inner tanks.
Engine display for the No 2 engine had changed to a failed mode
Engine display for Nos 1 and 4 engines had reverted to a degraded mode (indicates that some air data or engine parameters are not available)
Display for No 3 engine indicated that the engine was operating in an alternate mode as a result of actioning an ECAM procedure
Crew recalls following systems warnings on ECAM after failure of engine No 2:
Engines No 1 and 4 operating in a degraded mode
GREEN hydraulic system – low system pressure and low fluid level (one of two primary hydraulic systems – power is supplied by engine-driven pumps on Nos 1 and 2 engines)
YELLOW hydraulic system – engine No 4 pump errors (second of two primary hydraulic systems – power is supplied by engine-driven pumps on Nos 3 and 4 engines)
Failure of the alternating current (AC) electrical No 1 and 2 bus systems
Flight controls operating in alternate law (reduces some of the flight control protections that are available under normal law)
Wing slats inoperative
Flight controls – ailerons partial control only
Flight controls – reduced spoiler control
Landing gear control and indicator warnings
Multiple brake system messages
Engine anti-ice and air data sensor messages
Multiple fuel system messages, including a fuel jettison fault
Centre of gravity messages
Autothrust and autoland inoperative
No 1 engine generator drive disconnected
Left wing pneumatic bleed leaks
Avionics system overheat
Photo: Damage to electrical wiring located in the leading edge of the left wing (punctured by debris)
Customer service manager (CSM) attempted to contact the flight crew, including through use of the EMERGENCY contact selection on the cabin interphone system. This activated the flight deck warning horn. No associated ECAM message was displayed, the flight crew associated the emergency contact warning horn with the continuously-sounding warnings from the ECAM system and cancelled the horn.
holding at the present altitude while processing ECAM messages and associated procedures – no immediate return to Singapore – needed holding pattern for about 30 minutes
20 NM (37 km) racetrack holding pattern at 7,400 ft east of Singapore
ATC acknowledged crew that a number of aircraft components found on Indonesian island of Batam
Second Officer (SO) was dispatched into the cabin to visually assess the damage to the No 2 engine; a passenger, who was also a pilot for the operator, brought the SO’s attention to a view of the aircraft from the vertical fin-mounted camera that was displayed on the aircraft’s in-flight entertainment system. That display appeared to show some form of fluid leak from the left wing.
Photo: Left wing fuel tank damage (punctured by debris)
SO proceeded to lower deck on the left side of the aircraft to observe damage to the left wing and fuel leaking. The fluid leak appeared to be coming from underneath the left wing, in the vicinity of the No 2 engine and that the fluid trail was about 0.5 m wide. The SO could not see the turbine area of the No 2 engine from any location within the cabin.
Elected not to initiate further fuel transfer – were unsure of the integrity of the fuel system. Could not jettison fuel due to ECAM fuel jettison fault
Noticed that the aircraft’s satellite communications system had failed and received ACARS message from aircraft operator that indicated that multiple failure messages had been received from the aircraft
SCC and PIC made a number of public address (PA) announcements to the passengers indicating that the aircraft had sustained a technical failure, and that the crew were addressing the issues associated with that failure. Subsequently, the SCC and SO returned to the cabin on numerous occasions to visually assess the damage on the left side of the aircraft, and to inspect the right side of the aircraft, and to provide feedback to the cabin crew and passengers.
It took about 50 minutes to complete all initial procedures associated with ECAM messages. During that time, the autopilot was engaged.
They assessed the aircraft systems to determine those that had been damaged, or that were operating in a degraded mode. They considered that the status of each system had the potential to affect the calculation of the required parameters for the approach and landing. The crew also believed that the failure may have damaged the No 1 engine, and they discussed a number of concerns in relation to the lateral and longitudinal fuel imbalances that had been indicated by the ECAM.
Input of affected aircraft systems into landing distance performance application (LDPA) to determine the landing distance required for an overweight landing to runway 20C at Changi Airport of about 440 t, which was 50 t above the aircraft’s maximum landing weight.
Based on the initial inputs to the LDPA by the flight crew, the LDPA did not calculate a landing distance. After discussion, and in the knowledge that the runway at Changi was dry, the crew elected to remove the inputs applicable to a landing on a wet runway and re-ran the calculation. This second calculation indicated that a landing on runway 20C was feasible, with 100 m of runway remaining. The crew elected to proceed on the basis of that calculation and advised ATC to that effect.
Crew advised ATC that they would require emergency services to meet the aircraft at the upwind end of the runway, and that the aircraft was leaking fluid from the left wing that was likely to include hydraulic fluid and fuel.
Crew discussed the controllability of the aircraft and conducted a number of manual handling checks at the holding speed. The crew decided that the aircraft remained controllable
Lowering of flaps – remained controllable
As result of the landing gear-related ECAM messages, the landing gear was lowered using the emergency extension procedure and a further controllability check was conducted
Crew was aware of: reverse thrust was only available from the No 3 engine, no leading edge slats were available, there was limited aileron and spoiler control, anti-skid braking was restricted to the body landing gear only, there was limited nosewheel steering and that the nose was likely to pitch up on touchdown. An ECAM message indicated that they could not apply maximum braking until the nosewheel was on the runway.
The wing flaps were extended to the No 3 position
The PIC was aware that accurate speed control on final would be important to avoid either an stall condition, or a runway overrun. Consequently, the PIC set the thrust levers for Nos 1 and 4 engines to provide symmetric thrust, and controlled the aircraft’s speed with the thrust from No 3 engine.
Autopilot disconnected a couple of times during early part of approach as the speed reduced to 1 kt below approach speed. The PIC initially acted to reconnect the autopilot but, when it disconnected again at about 1,000 ft, he elected to leave it disconnected and to fly the aircraft manually for the remainder of the approach. Due to the limited landing margin available, the CC reminded the PIC that the landing would have to be conducted with no flare and that there would be a slightly higher nose attitude on touchdown.
Cabin crew was briefed to prepare for a possible runway overrun and evacuation
Aircraft touched down, the nosewheel touched down within about 6 seconds, the PIC commenced maximum braking and selected reverse thrust on No 3 engine. The flight crew observed that the deceleration appeared to be ‘slow’ in the initial landing roll, but that with maximum braking and reverse thrust, the aircraft began to slow. The PIC recalled feeling confident that, as the speed approached 60 kts, the aircraft would be able to stop in the remaining runway distance. In consequence, the No 3 engine was gradually moved out of maximum reverse thrust. Manual braking was continued and the aircraft came to a stop about 150 m from the end of the runway. The aircraft was met by emergency services.
After landing, crew commenced to shut down the remaining engines. When the final engine master switch was selected OFF, the aircraft’s electrical system went into a configuration similar to the emergency electrical power mode. That rendered many of the aircraft’s cockpit displays inoperative, and meant that there was only one very high frequency (VHF) radio available to the crew.
Just before the cockpit displays went blank, a number of the flight crew noticed that the left body landing gear brake temperature was indicating 900 °C, and rising. After some initial confusion about which radio was functioning, the FO contacted the emergency services fire commander, who asked for the No 1 engine to be shut down. The FO responded that they had done so already, but was advised again by the fire commander that the engine continued to run.
recycled the engine master switch to OFF but the engine did not shut down
use of emergency shutoff and fire extinguisher bottles but the engine did not shut down
tried to activate a series of circuit breakers in the aircraft’s equipment bay, the engine did still not shut down
attempts were made to reconfigure the transfer valves in the aircraft’s external refuelling panel, in an effort to transfer fuel out of the No 1 feed tank, and starve the No 1 engine of fuel. However, due to the lack of electrical power, that was not possible.
Ground engineers attended the aircraft and attempted a number of methods to shut down the engine, each without success
Finally, the decision was taken to drown the engine with fire-fighting foam from the emergency services fire vehicles. The No 1 engine was reported to have finally been shut down about 2 hours and 7 minutes after the aircraft landed.
Fire commander indicated that there appeared to be fuel leaking from the aircraft’s left wing. The FO advised the commander of the hot brakes, and requested that fire retardant foam be applied over that fuel. The fire commander complied with that request
four of the wheels on the left body landing gear had deflated
55 minutes after landing – after the fire risk had decreased – passengers disembarked via stairs on the right side of the aircraft, using only a single door (No 2 main deck forward door), to keep remaining doors clear in case of the need to deploy the escape slides.
One more of those fantastic Ilyushin 76s got lost 🙁 According to ASN an Ilyushin 76TD operated by Sun Way crashed shortly after take-off from Karachi-Jinnah International Airport (KHI), Pakistan. The flight was bound for Khartoum, Sudan. No one of the 8 crew members survived.
After investigation of the onboard electrical fire on ZA002, earlier this month, Boeing now is in need to make changes to its 787 design. Boeing is developing design changes to power distribution panels on the 787 and updates to the systems software that manages and protects power distribution on the airplane.
Engineers have determined that the fault began as either a short circuit or an electrical arc in the P100 power distribution panel, most likely caused by the presence of foreign debris. The design changes will improve the protection within the panel. Software changes also will be implemented to further improve fault protection.
The P100 panel is one of five major power distribution panels on the 787. It receives power from the left engine and distributes it to an array of systems.
A revised 787 program schedule is expected in a few weeks.
Referring to the uncontained engine failure of an Qantas Airbus A380 on November 4, the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) today issued an Airworthiness Directive for all Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines.
This applys to RB211 Trent 900 series engines, variants RB211 Trent 970-84, RB211 Trent 970B-84, RB211 Trent 972-84, RB211 Trent 972B-84, RB211 Trent 977-84, RB211 Trent 977B-84 and RB211 Trent 980-84, all serial numbers.
According to EASA, analysis of the preliminary elements from the incident investigation shows that an oil fire in the HP/IP structure cavity may have caused the failure of the Intermediate Pressure Turbine (IPT) Disc.
This airworthiness directive requires repetitive inspections of the Low PressureTurbine (LPT) stage 1 blades and case drain, HP/IP structure air buffer cavity and oil service tubes in order to detect any abnormal oil leakage, and if any discrepancy is found, to prohibit further engine operation.
While Qantas is committed to bringing its A380s back into service as soon as possible, the Australien flag carrier updated its schedule for its international network to ensure minimum disruption to passengers after the grounding of its Airbus A380 fleet.
Boeing 747s have been replaced by Airbus A330s on the Sydney to Narita route and A330s have been replaced by B767s on Perth to Singapore services. B747s have also been replaced by A330s on the Sydney to Hong Kong route. These changes will enable Qantas to operate 747s on long-haul international services previously operated by the A380.
After a fire on one of the 787 Dreamliner test planes, Boeing has grounded all 787s until they investigated the cause of the incident.
On Tuesday a Boeing 787 test flight was forced to do an emergency landing at Laredo, Texas after a fire broke out in the electrical-equipment bay, which is located underneath the passenger cabin. The plane, Dreamliner No.2 (ZA002), was evacuated via emergency slides, nobody was injured.
According to Seattle Times, the fire affected the cockpit controls – the plane lost its primary flight displays and its auto-throttle.
Update: Boeing today confirmed that the plane lost its primary electrical power as a result of the fire. The Ram Air Turbine (RAT) has been successfully deployed.
It’s not known how long the suspension will last.
The Boeing 787 program is already three years behind schedule.
Update November 12 2010:
Boeing today released further information about this incident. Investigation has determined that a failure in the P100 panel led to a fire involving an insulation blanket. The insulation self-extinguished once the fault in the P100 panel cleared. The P100 panel on ZA002 has been removed and a replacement unit is being shipped to Laredo. The insulation material near the unit also has been removed.
Damage to the ZA002 P100 panel is significant. Initial inspections, however, do not show extensive damage to the surrounding structure or other systems.
The P100 panel is one of several power panels in the aft electronics bay. It receives power from the left engine and distributes it to an array of systems. In the event of a failure of the P100 panel, backup power sources – including power from the right engine, the Ram Air Turbine (RAT), the auxiliary power unit (APU) or the battery – are designed to automatically engage to ensure that those systems needed for continued safe operation of the airplane are powered.