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Incident concealment: Time bomb for Nigeria’s aviation

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Incident concealment: Time bomb for Nigeria’s aviation

The occurrence of many aviation safety infractions give cause for concern. WOLE SHADARE writes that the aviation regulatory and the accident investigative bodies need to be resolute on safety matters

 

Risks mitigation
Timely reporting of hazards, incidents or accidents is seen as an essential activity of aviation safety and risk management. One can safely say that airlines are preparing the ground for disaster if they conceal or fail to report hazards or safety related issues.
Without an effective hazard/safety reporting culture, there is no way that any aviation service provider can demonstrate continuous improvement to their aviation safety management system (SMS).
The foregoing points to the perceived rift between the Accident Investigation [AIB], Air Peace and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority [NCAA] over alleged concealment of accident/incident reports that generated furore in the country’ aviation industry.

Face-off
Aside concealment of accident/ incident reports to the relevant aviation authorities, airlines pilots and crew are known to have flown or still fly with expired licence and health records.
They have been caught many times with expired Airline Operator Certificate [AOC] certificates; a situation that put the lives of people in jeopardy.
The accident investigative body has taken a swipe at Nigeria’s biggest carrier for allegedly not notifying it at the appropriate time, explaining in a statement it made available to the media that on June 5, 2019, the Bureau received notification about a serious incident involving a Boeing 737-300 aircraft with Registration Marks 5N-BUK, belonging to Air Peace Limited from a passenger-on-board.
Commissioner, AIB, Akin Olateru stated that the said incident occurred on May 15, 2019, while the aircraft was on approach to Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos from Port Harcourt.
The aircraft was said to have experienced a hard landing, as it touched down on the runway (18R). Upon receipt of the notification, he noted that the Bureau visited Air Peace Limited office and confirmed the said occurrence, adding that the agency further conducted a damage assessment on the aircraft, which revealed that the air-craft made contact on the runway with the starboard engine cowling as obvious from various scrapes, scratches and dents, an evidence of tyre scouring on the sidewalls of the No. 4 tyre.
There was also visible damage to the right-hand engine compressor blades.
Of utmost concern is the fact that till date, the AIB has received no notification of the incident: three weeks after the date of occurrence, contrary to ICAO Annex 13, which guides the operations of aircraft accident investigation procedures.
Rather, the Bureau further to the occurrence, received a submission of a ‘Mandatory Occurrence Report’ (MOR) subsequently filed at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), on June 7, 2019, which filing was as a direct result of the Bureau’s visit to Air Peace office on the 6th day of June 2019.”
Similarly, Olateru stated that in recent times, an aircraft belonging to Air Peace Limited was also involved in a serious incident, hinting that the airline wilfully failed to comply with the provisions of the Bureau’s regulations.
General Manager, Public Affairs of AIB, Mr. Tunji Oketunbi, said the airline’s Accountable Manager and Chief Pilot at the material time, were duly warned by the Bureau for non-compliance with the regulations.
He said based on all the foregoing, it was obvious that Air Peace Management lacks the full understanding of the statutory mandates, functions and procedures of the bureau
The airline has stoutly denied that it concealed serious incident information from the AIB, describing it as incorrect.
Chairman of the airline, Mr. Allen Onyema told New Telegraph that when the incident happened, the airline reported to the regulatory agency, NCAA and also wrote to Boeing and the manufacturer of the aircraft’s engine, CFM International.
“When the incident occurred, we reported it to NCAA,” he insisted. “We followed the aircraft manual, which guided us on what to do when such incident occurred. We wrote to Boeing, the aircraft manufacturer and also wrote to the engine manufacturer, CFM International. We also grounded the aircraft.
“We always report any incident to NCAA and, sometimes, you may not know what to report to AIB because the NCAA is the regulatory authority and the Bureau is in charge of accident investigation.
“So when incident like hard landing happens and you inform NCAA, we feel we have followed the procedure. Boeing has written back to us and has told us what to do, according to the procedure. Currently, inspection is being carried out on the aircraft,”

Delta Airlines example
AIB has come out to say it does not have any personal issues with Air Peace, saying it was only carrying out its functions as stipulated by law. The agency maintained that ignorance of the law and provision under, which it acted was not enough for the airline to cry blue murder.
Olateru cited similar incident with United States airline, Delta Airlines that apologised to AIB February last year over the airline’s failure to notify the government agency of the emergency landing involving its Airbus 330-200 aircraft. He said the airline should simply have apologised rather than whip up, ‘unnecessary sentiments.’
It would be recalled that Atlanta bound Delta Flight 55, which departed Lagos Tuesday night returned several minutes later to Murtala Muhammed International Airport following an issue with one of the Airbus 330-200’s two engines.
The Nigerian accident investigation body had frowned at the American carrier’s failure to notify it of the serious incident involving its aircraft in line with Nigerian air safety regulations and international practice.
The airline was believed to have notified the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of the occurrence immediately in line with the US laws.
Nigeria, as the state of occurrence under the International Civil Aviation organisation (ICAO) Annex 13 is responsible for investigating any aircraft occurrences within her airspace. The State of registry of the aircraft and the airline may serve as observers.
A team of the airline officials including the technical crew of the flight and the airlines Lagos Airport Station, Miss Shannon Masters, Manager, Air Safety Investigation expressed the airline’s regret for the oversight, stressing that it was not intentional.
Said Masters: ‘We sincerely apologised for the error and we promise to cooperate with AIB in the investigation of this occurrence.”

Expert’s view
Former Commandant, Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, Group Capt. John Ojikutu said: “I have read the report. The conducts of the pilots and the operator is beyond the violations of those pilots and their operators who were reported to have been flying with expired medical license. To even hear that the operator tampered with the aircraft’s CVR, is a criminal offence and will be surprised if the sanctions would be anything less than suspension of the airline AOC.”

Last line
The objective of mandatory occurrence reporting is to prevent safety occurrences, such as accidents and incidents, not to attribute blame or liability if they happen. The person filing a safety report needs to have the strong assurance from the regulatory authority and the employer that prosecution or punitive actions such as suspension of licence will not be sought unless the unsafe act is deliberately committed or gross negligence is demonstrated.

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Aviation

China’s new mega-airport ready to open

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China’s new mega-airport ready to open

China is poised to open a new mega-airport to the south of Beijing, already home to the world’s second-busiest aviation hub, ahead of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic.

Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) will see its first commercial flight take off around September 20, according to Chinese state media, with main tenant China Southern planning to deploy an Airbus A380, the world’s biggest airliner, for the maiden journey.

The greatly anticipated airport ushers in a new era for air travel to and from the Chinese capital, which has been in desperate need of a second global gateway.

The existing Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) is hitting full capacity, making it nearly impossible for airlines to add flights at desirable times.

In 2018, more than 100 million travelers passed through its three terminals — making it only the second airport in the world to cross that passenger traffic milestone, after Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta. China is projected to overtake the United States as the world’s biggest air travel market by 2022.

The multibillion-dollar Daxing, designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid and her Chinese partners, is built for the future, boasting four runways and a terminal the size of 97 soccer pitches upon opening of the first phase — as well as customer-service robots that will provide travelers with flight updates and airport information.

The “modest” initial operational target is to accommodate 72 million passengers and 2 million tons of cargo annually by 2025. The ambitious master plan calls for the building of a total of seven runways, and moving at least 100 million passengers and 4 million tons of cargo a year through the airport.

Construction for the $11.5 billion project began in 2014, with more than 40,000 workers on site at its peak. The terminal bears all the hallmarks of Hadid’s signature contour lines, with plenty of natural light shining through its more than 8,000 distinct rooftop windows.

Nicknamed “starfish” by Chinese media for its shape of five concourses connected to a main hall, Daxing aims to reduce walking for passengers, long a complaint about many new mega-hubs. The airport authority has promised a distance of no more than 600 meters (650 yards) — about eight minutes of walking — between security checkpoints and the remotest gates.

Another passenger concern is Daxing’s location. It’s in the far south of Beijing, a city notorious for traffic jams. The new airport is some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Tiananmen Square in the city center — and even farther away from the main business districts in the east and north.

Brushing aside such worries, officials say they have built more than just an airport — but rather a truly integrated transportation hub that will eventually see high-speed rail, inter-city services and downtown-to-airport express trains all stopping right beneath the terminal. The airport express trains, traveling at a top speed of 160 kilometers an hour (100 mph), promise to whisk arriving passengers to the city in less than 20 minutes.

Yet others say a new mammoth aviation hub will only worsen flight delays in Beijing, already ranked near the bottom of on-time performance lists among airports worldwide.

There is no indication that the Chinese military, which controls most of the country’s airspace, will loosen its grip to give airliners more maneuver room. But aviation officials and airline executives predict reduced delays at Daxing thanks to its multi-directional runway design that improves operational efficiency in the air, as well as its location south of Beijing — eliminating many flight detours aimed at avoiding the city’s large “no-fly” zone.

Alliance shakeups, time slot shifts

For frequent fliers around the world, though, it may take some time to figure out if Daxing will be their preferred gateway to the Chinese capital.

It was going to be a crown jewel for Skyteam, one of the three global airline alliances, with China-based members China Southern and China Eastern — each assigned 40% of the new airport’s departure and arrival time slots by the government — moving all their Beijing flights to Daxing to become anchor carriers. Other Skyteam members such as Delta, Korean and Air France-KLM will move to the new airport in phases.

China Southern, however, will now leave Skyteam by the end of this year, having signed agreements with several members of rival Oneworld alliance, including American Airlines and British Airways, for closer cooperation.

Adding another twist to the confusing plot, Air China — the country’s flag carrier and a Star Alliance member — was supposed to remain at the current Capital Airport along with other Star carriers. But it was recently given 10% of Daxing’s time slots after authorities allowed China Eastern to keep its highly profitable Beijing-Shanghai shuttle flights at Capital, reports CNN.

All the tenant intrigue aside, Chinese officials are eager to showcase the country’s newest mega-hub to the world upon its grand opening, announcing that flights from Daxing will cover 112 destinations around the globe by next spring.

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Aviation

S’African airline cash injection imminent, says it needs more

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S’African airline cash injection imminent, says it needs more

South Africa’s cash-strapped national airline SAA says a government cash injection of 5.5 billion rand ($376 million)approved for the 2019/20 financial year is expected at the end of the month but it still needs more money, a presentation to lawmakers showed on Wednesday.

South African Airways (SAA) has debt of about 12.7 billion rand, consisting of 9.2 billion rand of legacy debt and a 3.5 billion rand working capital facility provided by banks, reports Reuters.

“SAA requires 2 billion rand to fund working capital in FY 2019/20 by December 2019,” the presentation said.

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Aviation

S’African airline cash injection imminent, says it needs more

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S’African airline cash injection imminent, says it needs more

South Africa’s cash-strapped national airline SAA says a government cash injection of 5.5 billion rand ($376 million)approved for the 2019/20 financial year is expected at the end of the month but it still needs more money, a presentation to lawmakers showed on Wednesday.

South African Airways (SAA) has debt of about 12.7 billion rand, consisting of 9.2 billion rand of legacy debt and a 3.5 billion rand working capital facility provided by banks, reports Reuters.

“SAA requires 2 billion rand to fund working capital in FY 2019/20 by December 2019,” the presentation said.

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Aviation

Ethiopian crash victims want 737 MAX documents from Boeing, FAA

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Ethiopian crash victims want 737 MAX documents from Boeing, FAA

A lawyer for victims of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 said on Tuesday he wants Boeing Co and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to hand over documents about the decision to keep the Boeing 737 MAX in the air after a deadly Lion Air crash last October.

A week after Lion Air Flight 610 nose-dived into the Java Sea, killing all 189 aboard, the FAA warned airlines that erroneous inputs from an automated flight control system’s sensors could lead the jet to automatically pitch its nose down, but the agency allowed the jets to continue flying.

Five months later, the same system was blamed for playing a role when ET302 crashed on March 10, killing all 157 passengers and crew and prompting a worldwide grounding of the 737 MAX that remains in place.

“The decisions to keep those planes in service are key,” Robert Clifford of Clifford Law Offices, which represents families of the Ethiopian crash victims, said at a status hearing before U.S. Judge Jorge Alonso in Chicago.

Nearly 100 lawsuits have been filed against Boeing by at least a dozen law firms representing families of the Ethiopian Airlines crash victims, who came from 35 different countries, including nine U.S. citizens and 19 Canadians.

Families of about 60 victims have yet to file lawsuits but plaintiffs’ lawyers said they anticipate more to come. Most of the lawsuits do not make a specific dollar claim, though Ribbeck Law Chartered has said its clients are seeking more than $1 billion.

The lawsuits assert that Boeing defectively designed the automated flight control system. The system is believed to have repeatedly forced the nose lower in both accidents.

Boeing declined to comment on the lawsuit directly but said it is cooperating fully with the investigating authorities. The manufacturer has apologized for the lives lost in both crashes and is upgrading software. But it has stopped short of admitting any fault in how it developed the 737 MAX, or the software.

The FAA said it does not comment on litigation. The agency has defended its decision not to ground the 737 MAX sooner and has said it is following a thorough process for returning the jet to passenger service.

Clifford, who was appointed lead counsel on Tuesday to represent the majority of plaintiffs suing Boeing over the Ethiopian Airlines crash, said he would pursue two tracks in the case: one for clients who wish to settle with Boeing and another for those who want to push for discovery.

In his role as lead counsel, Clifford will help the different plaintiffs “speak with one voice,” said Ricardo Martinez-Cid of Podhurst Orseck, a law firm that is also representing Ethiopian Airlines crash victims.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers who represent victims of airline crashes generally work for free and receive a percentage of the settlement or award.

Amos Mbicha, who lost his sister and her son in the crash of ET302 which occurred soon after it departed Addis Ababa for Nairobi, said some Kenyan families had not sued yet because they had difficulty choosing between the many law firms seeking to represent victims, reports Reuters.

“You look at the brochures, it all looks like everyone worked on the same cases,” he said. “It’s confusing for people.”

Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against Boeing by families of Lion Air crash victims, who were almost all from Indonesia. Those cases are already in mediation and are not expected to be consolidated with Ethiopian Airlines.

“While the cases share some common issues there are big differences, most importantly the critical evidence of what Boeing did and did not do between October and March,” said Justin Green, a lawyer from Kreindler & Kreindler, who was appointed co-chair of the plaintiffs’ committee on Tuesday.

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Aviation

Bees delay flight for over two hours

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Bees delay flight for over two hours

Bad weather. A technical fault. A late-arriving aircraft. Just some of the reasons your flight might be delayed.

One to add to the list: a swarm of bees.

On Sunday morning, Air India flight 743 from Kolkata to Agartala was delayed by two and a half hours after a swarm of honeybees clamped themselves onto the window of the flight deck.

The swarm took up residence on the left hand window panes, obstructing the pilots’ vision.

Windscreen wipers failed to remove the bees. The swarm was only cleared when the airport fire crew was recruited to use water cannons.

The plane had already been delayed 90 minutes due to a technical fault, before the bee attack added an extra hour’s delay.

The flight to Agartala, in northeast India, takes just 60 minutes.

“The plane left the parking bay at its scheduled departure time, then there was a technical issue and it had to return back to the parking bay,” Kolkata airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee told CNN. “There was a delay of 1.5 hours due to the ground staff attending to the technical fault.

“After that, there was a bee attack. A swarm of honeybees came and landed on one section of the cockpit glass. Thousands of bees just sat on the left side of the cockpit window blocking the view of the pilot.

“The pilot tried to remove the bees by using windscreen wipers but it didn’t work.

“Airline staff informed the airport authorities and we deployed a fire tender from the fire station located inside the airport. Using a water cannon, they dispersed the bees.”

The plane took off two and a half hours behind schedule. There were 136 passengers on board, including Bangladeshi politician Hasan Mahmud, the country’s Minister for Information.

Kolkata airport — Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International — is one of India’s busiest, processing 21.8 million passengers a year, with 40 million predicted by 2021.

It is known as one of the country’s most modern airports, using solar panels to generate energy.

Bhattacharjee told CNN that airport staff had carried out checks for bees in the wake of the incident.

“We did not find any beehives on any structures inside the airport,” he said. “They came from outside the airport premises.”

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Aviation

Plane makes emergency return to airport after engine fire reported

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Plane makes emergency return to airport after engine fire reported

Officials say an Air China jet bound for Beijing has made an emergency return to Dulles International Airport after reporting an engine fire.

In a statement, the Federal Aviation Administration says that the Air China flight landed safely Tuesday in Washington after reporting an engine fire and that its pilot was in contact with air traffic control at all times.

The FAA says Air China Flight 818 departed Dulles at 4:39 p.m. EDT and returned at 5:54 p.m.

A spokesman for the Washington Metropolitan Airport Authority identified the craft as a Boeing 777, which the aircraft maker says seats from 317 to 396 people, reports The Associated Press.

A spokeswoman with Air China didn’t immediately respond to requests for additional information.

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Aviation

Boeing 737 MAX may not return this year – UAE regulator

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Boeing 737 MAX may not return this year – UAE regulator

The head of the United Arab Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority said on Sunday he was not optimistic that the Boeing 737 MAX would return to operations this year and that the first quarter of 2020 was more likely.

The 737 MAX has been grounded since March while Boeing updates flight control software at the center of two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that together killed 346 people within a span of five months.

Boeing Co is targeting regulator approval for the fixes in October, though the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has said it does not have a firm time for the aircraft to be flying again.

The GCAA will conduct its own assessment to allow the MAX to return to UAE airspace, rather than follow the FAA, Director General Said Mohammed al-Suwaidi told reporters in Dubai.

He said the GCAA would look at the FAA decision and that the UAE regulator had so far not seen details of Boeing’s fixes.

The FAA has traditionally taken the lead on certifying Boeing jets, though other regulators have indicated they would conduct their own analysis.

UAE airline flydubai is one of the largest MAX customers, having ordered 250 of the fast-selling narrow-body jets, reports Reuters.

It has not said when it expects the aircraft to be operational again. American Airlines has canceled flights through Dec. 3, United Airlines until Dec. 19 and Southwest Airlines Co into early January.

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Aviation

Boeing 737 MAX may not return this year – UAE regulator

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Boeing 737 MAX may not return this year – UAE regulator

The head of the United Arab Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority said on Sunday he was not optimistic that the Boeing 737 MAX would return to operations this year and that the first quarter of 2020 was more likely.

The 737 MAX has been grounded since March while Boeing updates flight control software at the center of two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that together killed 346 people within a span of five months.

Boeing Co is targeting regulator approval for the fixes in October, though the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has said it does not have a firm time for the aircraft to be flying again.

The GCAA will conduct its own assessment to allow the MAX to return to UAE airspace, rather than follow the FAA, Director General Said Mohammed al-Suwaidi told reporters in Dubai.

He said the GCAA would look at the FAA decision and that the UAE regulator had so far not seen details of Boeing’s fixes.

The FAA has traditionally taken the lead on certifying Boeing jets, though other regulators have indicated they would conduct their own analysis.

UAE airline flydubai is one of the largest MAX customers, having ordered 250 of the fast-selling narrow-body jets, reports Reuters.

It has not said when it expects the aircraft to be operational again. American Airlines has canceled flights through Dec. 3, United Airlines until Dec. 19 and Southwest Airlines Co into early January.

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Aviation

Boeing 737 MAX may not return this year – UAE regulator

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on

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Boeing 737 MAX may not return this year – UAE regulator

The head of the United Arab Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority said on Sunday he was not optimistic that the Boeing 737 MAX would return to operations this year and that the first quarter of 2020 was more likely.

The 737 MAX has been grounded since March while Boeing updates flight control software at the center of two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that together killed 346 people within a span of five months.

Boeing Co is targeting regulator approval for the fixes in October, though the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has said it does not have a firm time for the aircraft to be flying again.

The GCAA will conduct its own assessment to allow the MAX to return to UAE airspace, rather than follow the FAA, Director General Said Mohammed al-Suwaidi told reporters in Dubai.

He said the GCAA would look at the FAA decision and that the UAE regulator had so far not seen details of Boeing’s fixes.

The FAA has traditionally taken the lead on certifying Boeing jets, though other regulators have indicated they would conduct their own analysis.

UAE airline flydubai is one of the largest MAX customers, having ordered 250 of the fast-selling narrow-body jets, reports Reuters.

It has not said when it expects the aircraft to be operational again. American Airlines has canceled flights through Dec. 3, United Airlines until Dec. 19 and Southwest Airlines Co into early January.

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Aviation

Boeing 737 MAX may not return this year – UAE regulator

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on

By

Boeing 737 MAX may not return this year – UAE regulator

The head of the United Arab Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority said on Sunday he was not optimistic that the Boeing 737 MAX would return to operations this year and that the first quarter of 2020 was more likely.

The 737 MAX has been grounded since March while Boeing updates flight control software at the center of two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that together killed 346 people within a span of five months.

Boeing Co is targeting regulator approval for the fixes in October, though the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has said it does not have a firm time for the aircraft to be flying again.

The GCAA will conduct its own assessment to allow the MAX to return to UAE airspace, rather than follow the FAA, Director General Said Mohammed al-Suwaidi told reporters in Dubai.

He said the GCAA would look at the FAA decision and that the UAE regulator had so far not seen details of Boeing’s fixes.

The FAA has traditionally taken the lead on certifying Boeing jets, though other regulators have indicated they would conduct their own analysis.

UAE airline flydubai is one of the largest MAX customers, having ordered 250 of the fast-selling narrow-body jets, reports Reuters.

It has not said when it expects the aircraft to be operational again. American Airlines has canceled flights through Dec. 3, United Airlines until Dec. 19 and Southwest Airlines Co into early January.

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