Space debris almost hits airliner

A fiery object that nearly hit a Sydney-bound airliner over the Pacific may have been a meteorite or debris from a Russian satellite, New Zealand authorities say.

The Lan Chile A340 Airbus was flying between Santiago and Auckland, before heading to Australia, when it came within about 30 seconds of hitting the object about 10pm on Tuesday.

The pilots radioed air traffic controllers in New Zealand to report fiery objects falling in front and behind the plane.

Ken Mitchell from Airways New Zealand said the pilot reported the debris was falling “very close” to the plane.

“The pilot estimated the debris to be falling as close as five nautical miles (9.26 kilometres) to the aircraft,” Mitchell said.

“Certainly, a meteorite has not been ruled out and a formal investigation will determine that,” he said.

A plane spotter listening to a high-frequency radio broadcast told Fairfax media the pilot reported that a rumbling noise from the falling debris was louder than the plane.

The pilot also saw a piece of debris that lit up as it fell to earth.

Mitchell said the debris’ most likely origin was from a Russian satellite that had been decommissioned and fell to earth ahead of schedule.

He said the satellite was due to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere between 10.30am and noon on Wednesday.

“Around 10pm on Tuesday night we received notification from a Lan Chile flight enroute from Santiago to Auckland that he was experiencing what appeared to be falling space debris,” Mitchell said.

According to the Lan website, the A340 Airbus typically cruises at 976km/h, meaning the debris would have fallen just 34 seconds away from the aircraft.

The aircraft holds a maximum of 271 passengers.

Bill Sommer from New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority said there would be an investigation into the incident.

He said he was aware of reports that NASA had thought the falling satellite was not responsible and that a meteorite was most likely to blame for the incident.

An Aerolineas Argentinas aircraft flying enroute from Auckland to Argentina was notified of the debris, but elected to continue with the flight, Mitchell said.

“We have compiled a formal incident report and we will be filing that with our Aviation Safety Authority here in New Zealand in the next day or two,” he said.

A person from Lan Chile who answered a call to the company’s Auckland office today said information about the incident was confidential.

Source: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/articles/2007/03/29/1174761624562.html

Photo of the day – The huge A380 Engine

See also my own photos of the enormous Airbus A380 Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine:

a380-engine.jpga380-engine3.jpga380-engine2.jpg

The Trent 900 family is designed to power the Airbus A380, for which it is the launch engine. It comes in two thrust ratings, 70,000 and 76,000 lbf (311 and 338 kN) but is capable of achieving 84,000 lbf (374 kN). It features a significant amount of technology inherited from the 8104 demonstrator including its 2.95 m diameter swept-back fan which provides greater thrust for the same engine size, and is also about 15 per cent lighter than previous wide-chord blades. It is also the first member of the Trent family to feature a contra-rotating HP spool and uses the core of the very reliable Trent 500. It is the only A380 engine that can be transported on a Boeing 747 freighter.

In October 2000, the Trent 900 received its first order when Singapore Airlines specified the engine for its order for 10 A380s, quickly followed by Qantas in February 2001. The Trent 900 made its maiden flight on May 17, 2004 on Airbus’ A340-300 testbed, replacing the port inner CFM56-5 engine, and its final certification was achieved on 29 October 2004.

More information about the Trent 900 on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolls-Royce_Trent

Istanbul Airport Accidents

It’s no wonder, yesterday once again an departing aircraft overshoot runway 06 at Istanbul. This time it happened to a poor Ariana A300 crew. In the past the same also happened to various other airlines/airplanes like a Delta 767, Egypt Air 707, Kuban YAK42, Iran Air A310, Onur A321 and countless russian airliners. Everytime the departing aircrafts were just clueless about the anomaly of that specific runway and the pilots are not to blame, it’s clearly a fault of the ATC and airport management!

So¬†what¬†anomaly¬†I’m¬†talking¬†about?

Runway¬†06/24 is so dangerous and capricious because it’s¬†covered¬†about 85% full with tyre marks, which results in a extremely slick surface. When landing on a wet runway the stop distance is just required to be 1.15 times more as in dry conditions. However, runway 06/24 in Istanbul has a serious¬†decending slope issue. The touchdown zones and most of the rollout zone has so much tyre rubber on it, that when the aircraft touches down, it doesn’t contact the actual runway but the rubber, it skids around and loses very little speed! Since the runway is too short in that respect, the aircraft doesn’t lose enough speed and by the time it¬†fastly¬†reaches¬†the¬†end¬†of¬†the¬†runway¬†and¬†that’s¬†it …

Some airlines going to IST frequently, do have special instructions for that particular runway (40 flaps, autobrake 2 …) and have been warned to use it during rain and/or windy conditions.

Instanbul¬†ATC¬†of¬†course¬†knows very well the difficult conditions on RWY06/24 during unstable winds and wet weather. However they still remain to use this runway! If a pilot knows about these difficult conditions and requests the longer runway 18/36, they sometimes just delay this particular flight for about 25 mins! If 18/36 would be used anyway, on 18 ILS couldn’t be used because there simply is no ILS installed. ILS on 18 is blocked by appartment buildings on the path.

Airport management as well knows the problems but they still remain to clean up 06/24 from all that rubber and dirt.

Let’s¬†hope¬†authorities¬†are¬†woken¬†up¬†before¬†further¬†accidents¬†occur.

Inside the Airbus A380 – Part2

The german newspaper “Sueddeutsche” just published a¬†bunch¬†of¬†interior¬†pictures of the Airbus A380.

Link:¬†http://www.sueddeutsche.de/wirtschaft/bildstrecke/794/106688/p0/?img=0.0¬†To¬†browse¬†those¬†pictures,¬†you¬†need¬†to¬†click¬†on¬†“n√§chstes Bild”

Aside from that, you might be interested in my exterior photos as well.

A video from inside the Airbus A380 you can find in my previous article Inside the Airbus A380
There are also some In-Flight videos. Please browse they A380 Category to find those.

Inside the Airbus A380

This video is a must see! It includes great shots of the interior which gives an idea of how huge it is, a view out the window on takeoff from 4L at JFK, an interview with the flight testing engineer, an interview with the FO, and closeups of the first class bar and the cruise-ship-style spiral staircase.

Link: http://www.popularmechanics.com/blogs/science_news/4213543.html