EASA will address pilot fatigue worries

October 5, 2009

Europe’s pilots are unnecessarily concerned about the future of flight time limitations legislation, according to the European Aviation Safety Agency.

Pilot and cabin crew unions have been conducting a day of protest about alleged disregard of the recommendations of an EASA-commissioned independent scientific study on current regulations intended to reduce fatigue risk.

EASA says the unions, led by the European Cockpit Association, are trying to “set up a stall for a debate which is yet to happen”. At present, says EASA, it is at the stage of talking to crew representatives and airlines in an attempt to frame new flight time limitations to replace the existing rules known as EU Ops Sub-part Q.

The agency says that all input will be considered, including the scientific study that says Sub-part Q is dangerous at its extremes. When the proposed rules are drafted, they will be published for formal consultation at the end of 2010, with the intention of rulemaking in 2011.

EASA points out that the Moebus scientific report it commissioned concerns itself only with commercial operations, and the agency has a duty to frame rules that cover business aviation and other industry sectors.

Air France A330 jet Missing over the Atlantic

June 1, 2009

Brazil’s air force said on Monday its aircraft are searching the Atlantic Ocean off northeast Brazil for an Air France passenger plane that went missing midway through a Rio-Paris flight, the AF447.

The Airbus A330 was carrying 216 passengers and 15 crew members, Air France said. It disappeared off radar screens at 0600 GMT and did not land as scheduled at 0910 GMT in Paris.

“We are very worried,” an aviation official said. “The plane disappeared from the screens several hours ago. It could be a transponder problem, but this kind of fault is very rare and the plane did not land when expected.”

Air France confirmed that “it had no news” of flight number AF 447, which it said had 216 passengers and 15 crew members on board.

Air traffic control lost contact with the Airbus A330 at 0600 GMT as it crossed the ocean after taking off from Rio de Janeiro bound for Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, where it had been due to land at 0910 GMT.

Airport authorities have set up a crisis cell at Charles de Gaulle, and junior transport minister Dominique de Bussereau was due at the scene.

Fault on Embraer 170 leads to actuator redesign

May 22, 2009

Actuators used to move the wing slats on Embraer 170s have been redesigned as a consequence of a fault discovered by airline operators in Australia and overseas.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) says in a statement that since the fault has been discovered the slat actuator manufacturer has initiated a redesign of the actuator “to reduce torque trip and limiter engagement”.

Meanwhile, “the aircraft manufacturer has issued a new fault isolation task to address the fault and stop recurrence, it says.

The ATSB and Australian carrier Virgin Blue discovered the fault last year.

The bureau says on 10 August a Virgin Blue E-170, local registration VH-ZHA, was operating from Sydney to Melbourne with six crew and 54 passengers on board.

“During the approach into Melbourne, the flight crew selected the flaps to ‘flaps 1’ [but] when the selection was made, a number of caution messages including ‘slat fail’, ‘spoiler fault’, ‘aircraft operating angle of attack limit fail’ and ‘shaker anticipated’ appeared.”

“The flaps were cycled up and down, again with the caution messages reappearing.”

It says the pilots eventually landed the aircraft and an examination on the ground by the airline’s engineers “identified a slat jammed/under speed fault.”

“The appropriate fault isolation manual task was completed and it was found that the left side number-3 slat actuator torque trip limiter had actuated.”

The documentation “revealed that this usually occurs when the slats are operated in extremely cold conditions”.

It adds, the airline operator then contacted another E-170 operator overseas, that uses E-170s in cold climates, and that overseas operator “informed the operator of VH-ZHA that they experienced slat/flap failures weekly and at times daily.”