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Category: General

17 January 2021: Virgin Orbit Conducts Second Launch Demo Flight Using A Boeing 747

Virgin Orbit has successfully completed its second launch demo using its modified Boeing 747-400, Cosmic Girl, as is used as a rocket launcher platform designed to launch small satellites into orbit. This flight was Virgin Orbit’s second attempt to prove its plane has what it takes to carry satellites into space. The B747 (registered as N744NG) took off from California’s Mojave Air and Space Port at 10:50 (local time) on Sunday morning. After heading out over the Pacific, it flew for four hours, at around 35,000 feet, deployed the rocket - released, ignited, the fairing halves separated, and reached orbit. The rocket performed as planned and was on track to deploy the satellite payloads - and touched down back in California mid-afternoon. Onboard were nine small satellites. Each was designed and built by universities across the United States. NASA sponsored the payloads via the Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) program. The Pilot in Charge was Kelly Latimer, Virgin Orbit’s Chief Test Pilot with more than 6,500 flying hours under her belt, the rest of the crew were: Todd Ericson and Eric Bippert. Three launch engineers, Bryce Schaefer, Sarah Barnes, and Jason Panzarino, were also onboard. Later, it was confirmed that the Virgin Orbit successfully deployment all of its nine small satellites in their target orbit. With this flight Virgin Orbit demonstrated that it is ready to start “the democratisation of space.” Traditionally, launches by state-owned agencies like NASA focused on budget-busting payloads and launches. Private entities like Virgin Orbit are cheaper, nimble, and more responsive to the private sector. 

12 January 2021: Singapore Airlines Asks Crew To Wear Tracking Devices On Layovers

Airline crew are prohibited from moving freely in many places in the world. Singapore Airlines crewmembers are forbidden to leave their hotel rooms on layovers. To make sure they comply with regulations, Singapore Airlines now requires its crew to wear tracking devices on layovers. This is reportedly to make certain that they comply with a rule requiring them to remain in their hotel rooms at all times. They are also prohibited from physically interacting with one another during the layover period. There has been an array of incidents with airline crew as a result of COVID precaution regulations. A KLM flight attendant was arrested in Singapore for leaving their hotel room in mid-December. An EVA Air pilot was fired after bringing the virus back to Taiwan from the US and failing to comply with the authorities’ track-and-trace efforts just before Christmas.  Onboard social distancing regulations come on the heels of a package of rules for airline crew from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) that came into effect just before the New Year. To adhere to the social distancing requirements, Singapore Airlines flight attendants must not congregate in the galleys, stagger mealtimes, and remain in their allocated work area of the aircraft. They must also keep apart during pre-flight briefings and their dedicated transportation from and to the airport. Beyond the mandatory in-flight face mask, goggles and gloves are prescribed for interaction with passengers. On flights from the UK and South Africa, full PPE – including N95 masks and protective gowns, are mandatory.  When returning to Singapore, crew must head straight to their homes following an initial PCR test. If arriving from a high-risk area, they must isolate while for at least seven days. They must then take three separate PCR-tests – one when arriving, another after three days, and the final after a week. Thus far, only two cases have been reported where Singapore Airlines crew have tested positive for the virus. The first instance was a cabin crew member returning from New York on December 16th, and the second a pilot returning from London on December 22nd.

8 January 2021: Boeing Agrees to $2.5 Billion Settlement Over 737 MAX Fraud Probe

Boeing has reached an agreement exceeding $2.5 billion with the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) to settle criminal charges that two of its employees defrauded the FAA’s Aircraft Evaluation Group (AEG) about safety issues connected to two fatal 737 MAX accidents. The $2.5 billion includes $1.77 billion in compensation payments to 737 MAX operators and criminal penalty charge $243.6 million. It also includes the establishment of a $500 million crash-victim beneficiaries fund to compensate the families of the 346 passengers who died in the October 2018 crash of Lion Air Flight 610 and the March 2019 crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. The DOJ concluded two Boeing 737 MAX Flight Technical Pilots specifically deceived the FAA AEG about the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), a flight control system modification that later became central to the MAX accident investigations. “Because of their deception, a key document published by the FAA AEG lacked information about MCAS, and in turn, airplane manuals and pilot-training materials for U.S.-based airlines lacked information about MCAS,” the DOJ said. Shortly after the initial accident, the FAA AEG “learned for the first time about the change to MCAS, including the information about MCAS that Boeing concealed from the FAA AEG,” DOJ said. “Meanwhile, while investigations into the Lion Air crash continued, the two 737 MAX Flight Technical Pilots continued misleading others, including at Boeing and the FAA—about their prior knowledge of the change to MCAS.”. Three days after the second accident involving Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, the FAA joined other worldwide regulators in grounding the 737 MAX. “Boeing’s employees chose the path of profit over candour by concealing material information from the FAA concerning the operation of its 737 Max airplane and engaging in an effort to cover up their deception,” said David Burns, acting assistant attorney general of DOJ’s Criminal Division. The accidents exposed “fraudulent and deceptive conduct,” he added. “The misleading statements, half-truths, and omissions communicated by Boeing employees to the FAA impeded the government’s ability to ensure the safety of the flying public,” said Erin Nealy Cox, U.S. Attorney for Northern District of Texas, where the charges were filed. “This case sends a clear message: The Department of Justice will hold manufacturers like Boeing accountable for defrauding regulators–especially in industries where the stakes are this high.” DOJ determined that while two Boeing employees deceived the FAA, “the misconduct was neither pervasive across the organisation, nor undertaken by a large number of employees, nor facilitated by senior management,” according to a court filing. “Others in the company disclosed MCAS’s expanded operational scope to different FAA personnel who were responsible for determining whether the 737 MAX met U.S. federal airworthiness standards.” Several technical reviews have faulted a lack of effective communication within the FAA during the 737 MAX’s certification for helping set the stage for the accidents. 

2 January 2021: Tug Catches Fire Preparing To Push Lufthansa 747 in Buenos Aires

A Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 escaped with almost no damage after the tug pushing the aircraft caught fire. The incident occurred on January 2nd at Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The aircraft, registered D-ABYP, was about to operate flight LH511 from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Frankfurt, Germany, when the pushback tug caught fire. Video and photos surfaced online showing how close the tug and plane were to the main airport terminal. The incident was brought under control quickly, and the flight took off successfully at 19:34 local time, just an hour and a half later than scheduled. The rest of the flight seems to have gone smoothly, and the plane landed in Frankfurt one hour and twenty minutes behind schedule at 12:32 local time on Sunday 3rd. Although this incident doesn’t seem to be very serious and caused more frustration than actual damage, tug fires are not uncommon and can cause injury to people and damage to planes. Lufthansa had a similar incident in 2018 when a tug pushing an A380 caught fire. The plane itself sustained damage to the nose and undercarriage, and ten people were treated for smoke inhalation. The plane was not carrying passengers at the time. 

 31 December 2020: How The Pandemic Changed Aviation In 2020

28 December 2020:  Rossiya Airbus A319 Returns To Airport Over Door Open Indication

27 December 2020:  KLM Flies A 9 Hour Flight To Nowhere After 787 Windshield Cracks

22 December 2020: Qantas Crew Member Catches COVID-19 During Paris Repatriation

21 December 2020: New South Wales To Require Non-Qantas Crews To Quarantine In Hotels

18 December 2020: Nepalese Airline flies passengers to the wrong destination

12 December 2020: The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has authorised pilots and air traffic controllers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine

11 December 2020:  Sea world called to remove fish from Brisbane airport drainage system

10 December 2020: A SpaceX Mars rocket prototype just exploded

10 December 2020: Etihad transported F1 racers in the midst Of COVID-19

10 December 2020: Chinese Cabin Crew Advised To Wear Nappies To Avoid Bathroom Use 

2 December 2020: Mandatory Airbus A350 Escape-Hatch Modifications

1 December 2020: Blocked Fuel Pump Led To Scoot Boeing 787 Engine Shutdown

1 December 2020: 305-meter telescope suffers collapse at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico

1 December 2020: Bees Washed off A320 by a Fire Engine 

2 November 2020: Air India Receives 5th Hong Kong Ban

18 November 2020: FAA Approves B737 MAX Changes

17 November 2020: El Al 787 Stuck In Hong Kong After Cat Prints Found Inside Plane

16 November 2020: Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Kills Brown Bear Whilst Landing

13 November 2020: Antonov An-124 Suffers Uncontained Engine Failure And Landing Gear Snaps

11 November 2020: Boarding issues at International Space Station 

4 November 2020: Multiple Hydraulic Failures Strike American Airlines A320

2 November 2020: 30 Minute Flight Put In 4 Hour Hold

28 October 2020: Testia Upgrades Smart Inspection Toolkit

23 October 2020: Boeing Working To Correct 747 Flight Computer Reset Issue

23 October 2020: Wayward stairs punctured wing on SWISS Boeing 777-300

21 October 2020: SAS Struggles With Maintenance Planning In Virus Crisis

20 October 2020: Iran Air Boeing 747-200 Diverts To Tehran With Cargo Of Sheep

16 October 2020: Potential Impact of the Icelandic Grimsvotn Volcanic Eruption on Aviation

12 October 2020: A380 Engine Failure Could Prompt New Inspections

10 October 2020: SpaceX's next astronaut launch for NASA delayed until November

10 October 2020: Airbus Delivers The 10,000th A320 Family Aircraft 

9 October 2020: Could Hackers Breach Aviation Safety?

8 October 2020: Rolls-Royce Bolsters SelectCare Services for Trent 700 Engines