The black book of aviation safety suddenly experienced a spike in entries on January 5th, 2014. There were three accidents and one incident on Jan 5th, 2014. There was only one fatality.
At around 01:00UTC, A Saudi Boeing 767-300, registered HS-BKE, landed at Madinah (Saudi Arabia) with the right main gear still retracted. The crew were first made aware of the situation when they were on approach, and extended the gear only to observe an unsafe indication for the right main. The crew put the aircraft into a hold, followed applicable checklists, including what appears to be a gravity extension, but after being unable to resolve the issue, landed on the third attempt, on the left main, and the right engine. There were no injuries as a direct result of the accident, but because of chaos during the evacuation. The aircraft seems to have sustained substantial damage.
At around 13:00UTC, a Bombardier CRJ200 registered N8758D, landed at New York’s (USA) John F Kennedy’s runway 22L, and slid off the taxiway exit J, and came to stop on soft ground, temporarily shutting the airport for 2 hours. No injuries were reported.
At around 14:00UTC, an Airbus A320-231 with the double bogey landing gear, registered VT-ESH, landed at Jaipur International Airport (India), burst its tyres, and damaged its left wing significantly. The aircraft was operating a scheduled domestic into Delhi, but was forced to divert to Jaipur due to visibility at Delhi, where it declared a fuel emergency and reportedly landed below minima (landing in visibility below the allowable runway visual range (RVR)), due to a fuel emergency. Uncertainty remains on the cause of wing damage: whether the wing scraped the ground, or the wing hit obstacles after reportedly (but unlikely) veering off the runway after landing. The closure of Jaipur Airport due to this accident forced a Spicejet 737, registered VT-SGU, which was supposed to have landed at Delhi, but was forced to divert to Jaipur due to visibility, to return to Delhi, where it declared a fuel emergency, and reportedly landed below minima.
At around 19:20UTC, a Bombardier Challenger 600 registered N115WF, reportedly land, turn into a fireball, flipped a few times, and skid to a stop, upside down, on runway 15 at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, CO (ASE, USA). The accident left the airplane charred, took the life of one on board, while seriously injuring another, and mildly injured the third person on board. The right wing had snapped off. The aircraft had executed a go around, citing a tailwind, and came to rest in this condition on the second landing attempt. Other traffic had reported mild windshear and gusting winds.
The Airbus A350 program seems to be on track for the planned 12 month certification program, and the planned entry into service (EIS) in what was earlier reported by Airbus as the “second half of 2014”, and now, more precisely, “Q4 2014”; On Thursday 2nd January 2014 Airbus rolled-out its third A350 XWB flight-test aircraft, MSN2, from the paint shop in Toulouse.
The rolling out of the A350 fitted with a cabin was well timed: January 1st 2014 marked 100 years since the first scheduled commercial airline flight took off, with just one passenger, from St-Pertersburg, Florida, to Tampa, Florida, in a flight that lasted just 23 minutes.
The first A350 to enter commercial service will be for Qatar Airways.
This aircraft, F-WWCF, is the first of two A350 flight test aircraft to be equipped with a full passenger cabin interior, and features a distinctive “Carbon" signature livery to reflect its primary construction from advanced materials. 53% of the A350 XWB’s airframe is made-up of carbon-fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) including Airbus’ first carbon-fibre fuselage.
The other aircraft to be fitted with a cabin will be MSN 5, which is in the final assembly line and is expected to fly in a few months. MSN 1, 3 and 4 are dedicated to avionics, noise testing, and various other systems work through the flight test program. These three aircraft will not be fitted with a cabin, but rather, equipped with heavy flight test installation.
MSN2 will join the A350 XWB flight test fleet in the coming weeks and will be the first A350 to transport passengers when it undertakes the Early Long Flights (ELF) later in the year. The “passengers” will be Airbus employees.
Improper aircraft modifications have proven to be fatal, in the past, taking the lives, innocent or not, of the men and women on board. Aircraft modifications are the responsibility of maintenance personnel, who ensure that the modification is done right, and checked before releasing the aircraft.
On December 3rd, 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed a $325,000 penalty against Dallas-based Southwest Airlines for allegedly operating an aircraft that had been improperly modified, violating Federal Aviation Regulations. The aircraft is a Boeing 717, operating for US based low cost carrier AirTran Airways, which is in the process of merging with Southwest.
On Aug. 29, 2011, maintenance personnel improperly installed a switch that enables flight crews to test the windshield heating system on a Boeing 717. The Boeing 717, unlike most other Western airplanes in operation, has 7 cockpit glass panels (excluding the eyebrows). Of these, three (left, center and right) are the front facing windshields, and the rest windows.
Proper installation of the switch would have allowed personnel to isolate the windshield anti-ice system that was causing a warning that the windshield heater was failing. Instead, the center and left windshield warning systems were reversed. The right windshield warning system continued to operate properly. The aircraft was operated on 1,140 passenger flights before the problem was corrected.
Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King said that the installation error didn’t compromise safety as it was an extra system. The primary system for alerting crews to a potential window-heater malfunction was still working.
On the 20th of March, 2001, a Lufthansa Airbus A320 almost crashed when the captain’s sidestick was cross-wired in error by maintenance personnel. Although the captain commanded a right roll input, the airplane rolled left. Following the brief confusion, when the left wing-tip was around 2ft from the ground, the first officer, whose controls operated normally, took over by overriding the captain’s side stick input.
Just when the 747-8’s production rate was ramped down at its Everett facility (state of Washington), Boeing announced that the 737’s production rate will be ramped up at its Renton, Washington facility , from its existing 38 airplanes per month, to 42 per month in the first half of 2014, and next 47 airplanes per month in 2017, the highest rate ever for its best-selling airliner. Boeing currently has more than 3,400 unfilled orders across the 737 family, which includes the 737Max.
Airbus, in contrast, has 4,223 unfilled orders across the Airbus A320 family, which includes the A320NEO. Across its global production facilities, Airbus already produces 42 airplanes a month since 2012, the highest-ever rate for any commercial aircraft, and has no immediate plans for a production ramp up over concerns of supply chain fragility.
The A320 Family is produced on two Airbus assembly lines in Europe: Toulouse, France and Hamburg, Germany; which have been complemented by an additional facility in China. Toulouse is home to the initial assembly line, building A320s; Hamburg has responsibility for the A318, A319 and A321; while Tianjin assembles A319s and A320s.
Tianjin is Airbus’ first assembly facility located outside of Europe, resulting from a joint venture involving Airbus with a Chinese consortium comprising the Tianjin Free Trade Zone (TJFTZ) and China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC).
Joining this network will be a new A320 Family production facility in Mobile, Alabama USA, which is to build A319, A320 and A321 jetliners beginning in 2015.
Boeing, however, produces the Boeing 737 only at its Renton facility.
Airbus has assembled the first major airframe component assembly: the engine pylon for the first A320neo to fly. The pylon was assembled at the dedicated pylon facility in St Eloi in Toulouse.
In parallel with this pylon construction, other major NEO components and subassemblies will shortly be taking shape in factories across various countries. For example, in Hamburg the centre wing-box will soon arrive from Nantes to be integrated in the fuselage, and also the rear fuselage will begin assembly there. In St. Nazaire, the forward fuselage will start assembly in January 2014.
A paying passenger’s experience of a mix of the good and bad of Air India, and thoughts on what gives passengers enough to talk so much about the airline, and how the airline makes things difficult for itself.
4th November saw me flying Bangalore to Bhopal via Delhi, with confirmed tickets for my return on the 8th of November.
On the 3rd, I had web-checked in, and changed my assigned 20J to 17J. The nine abreast cabin promised me the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and although I have been on board, I hadn’t got airborne on one. I was excited with the thought of experiencing the cabin’s low noise levels and comfort.
The next day, at the check in counter, the check-in staff cleared my e-ticket with seat 17J. Upon a friend’s insistence, I asked the staff if we had a Boeing 787 operating as Air India 505 to Delhi. “Yes sir, it’s a Boeing 320". “Excuse me?”. “Wait sir….it’s a…sorry…Airbus”. “How did you issue me seat 17J, then?” “Sorry sir (taking my boarding pass and scratching out my seat)…it’s 12F for you!”.
VT-EDD, a 3 year 8 month young Airbus A320 flew us from Bangalore to Delhi. The in flight meal was not palatable, and that left the tray untouched and me hungry. The cabin was tidy, but some of the in-flight entertainment screens weren’t working. Most of the seats were empty: the loads were very low, and that allowed me a “54" inch wide seat in economy: 3 X 18" seats all for myself. Upon landing at Delhi, I quickly grabbed a sandwich at Costa Coffee, and proceeded to board AI634 to Bhopal.
AI634 was operated by VT-SCI, a 6 year old Airbus A319 that was kept in a very bad state. The cabin was dirty, the wings had paint chipped off at places, and fluid stains running across the wing. The male cabin crew wasn’t very pleasant, and the “snacks" served on board wasn’t great, either.
Both flights operated on time, but the food, aircraft cleanliness (or the lack of it), and the attitude of the cabin crew left a bad taste.
On the 8th, I was at Bhopal airport, and a scheduled 18:00 local departure on AI633 to Delhi was revised to 18:35. The Bhopal-Delhi flight has a planned block time of 01:15hr. All passengers had boarded VT-PPX, a 3year 6 month old Airbus A321 part of the “Praful Patel" series of Airbus airplanes. At 18:52, cargo was still being loaded. My connecting flight to Bangalore from Delhi was scheduled to depart at 20:10: earlier than we could reach Delhi, and I was braced for some chaos at the airport.
The in-flight “snacks" consisted of two butter cookies (very good, I must say), and tea/coffee. The staff was very, very courteous. The Cabin Crew in charge managed the show very well, coordinating between the pilot and anxious passengers who had connecting flights that were scheduled to depart before we could land at Delhi. Extreme patience was shown, and nobody: neither the passengers nor the cabin crew had an opportunity to lose their cool.
Upon landing at Delhi, ground staff very clearly called out for those who were headed to Bangalore. Three ground personnel coordinated very well, taking care of 10 of us who had to make it to the Bangalore flight that was waiting just for us to board. Over the radios, the baggage’s were discussed, and although tension prevailed in their voice, they got us through service stairs out of the terminal, onto the apron and into an apron shuttle, and back up via service stairs to the airbridge that led us to VT-EDC, aged the same as VT-EDD, operating as AI504 to Bangalore.
We got in, the doors closed, the cargo was loaded, erasing all apprehensions of leaving my bags behind, and at around 20:40, we pushed out of the gate, picking up 30 minutes of delay.
On board, the staff was very patient and courteous. My IFE was working, but my earphones were missing, so I called them once. I had a terrible ear block, so I troubled the crew many a time thereafter for water that allowed me to gulp fluids and help equalize the pressure in my eustachian tube.
And oh, the meal. I was hungry like crazy, and the paneer-rice-dal combination seemed fresh and was at the right temperature. This was accompanied with vegetable salad, and an Indian sweet dish: kheer. The bun was soft, and the butter softer, making the spread easy. It was a classic AI spread, but the spread was good.
The IFE worked well. There were about 4 channels: News, A retro-Hindi film playing, the 2013 “Kai Po Che", and the 2010 “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps".
I was woken by a cabin announcement. My seat, 15A, gave me a good view. Visibility at Bangalore was excellent, and I could see the airfield (identified by the white / green beacon) flashing in the distance. A Boeing 737 could be seen on short finals, as we were somewhat on the downwind leg. There was something magical about the combination of engine noise, great visibility, and clear skies.
We landed at 23:04, with a 20 minute delay. The flight crew had enroute made up for about 10 minutes of the delay.
This time, I walked out of the airline feeling real good about the aircraft cleanliness, service, and on-board meal.
Giving food for talk.
This got me wondering: The reason my client put me on an Air India flight was because of its fares: it was the lowest, and the airline still offers some of the lowest fares. While that should be a reason to smile and not bother about anything else, the very fact that one is “entitled" to a complimentary meal / snack on board results in expectations, and if it turns out to be bad, it leaves a bad impression. When a passenger sees an in-flight entertainment screen in front of his seat, his expectation is that it must work and entertain him. The same passenger wouldn’t mind staring at a blank seat on a low-cost carrier, but when his IFE isn’t working while his co-passenger enjoys a nice movie, it leaves a bad impression. When the aircraft is dirty, the windows greasy and the seats in a bad shape, it leaves a bad impression.
Making it difficult for itself.
Air India offers some of the lowest airfares, provides in-flight meals to all at no extra cost, usually has a very courteous cabin crew (many others find them to be the best in the country, in terms of approachability and service attitude), and has a good safety record. Yet, when the freebies fail to met expectations, anti-airline sentiments set in. These freebies cost the airline money, and the passenger nothing; yet expectations are very, very human. India is a cost-conscious market: Almost all domestic passengers do not buy an airline ticket for the in-flight entertainment, cabin service, the on-board meal, or the aircraft cleanliness. What matters most, to most, is something simple: on time performance.
Probably another way in which the airline can turnaround, make money and improve passenger satisfaction? Give them lesser to expect. Knock off the IFE, and the in-flight free meals. Passengers will soon get accustomed to paying for a meal and having nothing but sleep to engage themselves with. And they will continue to fly for the low fares. If the airline competes with low cost carriers and offers low fares, it may as well change its operations to low cost.
Like IndiGo, which has nothing to offer on board, yet has absolutely clean aircraft and flies with one eye on the watch. And nobody complains.
After all, when there is nothing to expect, there is nothing to disappoint.
Airbus states that the assembly of MSN5, the fifth and final member of the A350 XWB flight test fleet in the test flight campaign is now underway with the fuselage joining process. This follows the recent arrival of the three fuselage sections at the A350 XWB final assembly line (FAL) in Toulouse, France.
MSN5 is the second of the A350 flight test aircraft that will feature a passenger cabin. MSN 2 and MSN 5 will have the cabin fitted, where Airbus will put passengers on board, with cabin crew. It is for the first time in the history of Airbus that so early in the campaign 2 aircraft have been dedicated to the cabin. Earlier, aircraft would be dedicated about 2 months before the entry into service. Associated with that are delays, a lot of complaints from passengers, and a difficulty of entry into service. This was witnessed in the A320 and the A340 programs.
This aircraft will fly for the first time in Spring 2014 and will be used essentially to perform cabin related flight tests. It will also participate in the Early Long Flights where the “passengers" are Airbus employees. This allows the cabin and related systems to be submitted to near realistic operations in order to ensure a mature cabin at entry into service. In addition, MSN5 will carry out Route Proving flights to demonstrate to the certification authorities that the aircraft performs perfectly in airport operations.
To date the two A350 XWB test aircraft, MSN1 and MSN3 have clocked up over 500 flight test hours in more than 100 test flights. The A350 XWB has already won more than 760 firm orders from 39 customers worldwide. First delivery will be to Qatar Airways in the second half of 2014.
Tigerair of Singapore, in which Singapore Airlines has a stake of 32.8%, unveiled the first A320 aircraft to be retrofitted in Asia with Sharklets. Five A320s have already been delivered to Tigerair with Sharklet-ready wings, with the retrofit work being undertaken by Sepang Aircraft Engineering in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Sharklet-ready wings are already strengthened to the necessary levels to handle the bending and twisting forces introduced by the additional aerodynamic surface. The retrofit takes just 2 days for such ready wings. Non-sharklet ready wings will need at least 13 days of work with the sharklet-retrofit kit, which will be available only in 2015.
Jet Blue made “history" in the February of 2013 by being the first operator to perform a production retrofit, on its aircraft N821JB (MSN 5417 which first flew on the 1st of December, 2012). This aircraft was produced before MSN 5428, which is now registered as 9M-AQQ, flying for Air Asia, that had made “history" as the first Sharklet Equipped A320 to be delivered.
Factory fit and production retrofit can be better understood here.
In addition to its retrofitted aircraft, 9V-TRK (MSN 5697 delivered on the 26th of July 2013 to Tigerair), Tigerair will start taking delivery of production-fitted Sharklet aircraft later this year.
Almost a year after the first Airbus A320 equipped with a sharklet was delivered, Airbus announced the launch of the sharklet retrofit program for in-service A320 aircraft, and will be available in 2015.
This retrofit includes reinforcing the wing structure and adding the Sharklet wingtip device. As part of the upgrade, the retrofit will lengthen the aircraft’s service life and thus maximise the operators’ return on investment for the Sharklet retrofit.
The extent of reinforcement and more details on the sharklets may be viewed here, in this comprehensive article on Winglets and Sharklets.
Airbus will offer the retrofit initially for A320 and A319 models and will evaluate a retrofit for the A321 at a later stage.
The Sharklets’ benefits include a fuel consumption reduction by up to 4 per cent (Only on long sectors), and an extension of mission range by 100 nautical miles or payload capability increase by up to 450 kilogrammes.
Sharklets equipped on new-build A320 Family aircraft have been delivered by Airbus since December 2012, with more than 184 received by customers and operators to date. MSN 5428 is the first sharklet equipped Airbus A320. In India, only two operators of the Airbus A320 feature sharklet equipped A320s in their fleet: IndiGo and GoAir.
In Indigo, VT-IFH onwards, up to the latest, VT-IFV feature sharklets. Out of 71 Airbus A320 in the airline’s fleet, 15 are equipped with sharklets.
In Go Air, VT-GOL onwards, up to the latest, VT-GOP feature sharklets. Out of 18 Airbus A320 in the airline’s fleet, 5 are equipped with sharklets.
There are 112 Airbus A320 in India (excluding A321 and A319), 17.8% of which are equipped with fuel-saving sharklets.
Air Berlin’s focus on reducing its carbon footprint, and its fuel bills, is inspirational. Airberlin, despite having achieved a new record with its average fuel consumption of 3.4 liters per passenger kilometer flown, is continuing to extend its pioneering role through constant innovative developments. It has so far had three approaches to reducing fuel bills: through operational techniques, which involves pilots; through drag reduction techniques, which involves maintenance of the aircraft skin paint, and now through weight reduction programs. Weight, Drag, and Flying techniques: all three impact fuel burn.
In 2012, the Fuel Efficiency Training program was introduced in which 60 pilots served as “Fuel Coaches" to pass on their knowledge to around 280 pilots, on “Fuel Efficiency Flights". These flights placed emphasis on the use of the GPU instead of the APU, when parked at the gate; Continuous Descent Approaches, and Single Engine Taxi. These save not only fuel, but cut maintenance related bills due to reduced system wear.
Airberlin also became the first airline to develop new software for aerodynamic optimization, using a in-house developed measuring tool aimed at optimizing air flow over the aircraft exterior. This new software calculates the additional fuel consumption due to the increased air resistance and allows Airberlin to repair these specific flaws in the course of the next maintenance event.
In its latest drive, “Mission Clear Out", Air Berlin removed all non-fixed items from an Airbus A330: D-ALPC, to weigh and identify those that were essential, non-essential, and those that could be replaced with something lighter. For example, the Quick Reference handbook is essential, but a hard copy of the manual does not need to be carried since it is already available in digital form on the computer in the cockpit.
With this exercise, Air Berlin was able to save 17kg, which, over a year, translates to significant savings. The longest route flown by Air Berlin is to Los Angeles, from Berlin, which is around 5,000NM. An Airbus A330-200 burns, over this distance, approximately 200kg of fuel for every 1000kg of additional load. If even 17kg is knocked off an airplane, it translates to a saving of 3.5kg per aircraft, and at least 7 kg per aircraft per day. Over a year, this amounts to 2,555kg per aircraft per year, or 3,200 litres per aircraft per year. With their fleet of 14 A330-200 (as of 30th of June 2013), this can result in a saving of as much as 44,712 liters of ATF per year, and this is huge: enough to fuel an A330 for a 4,000NM trip!
“This project has demonstrated that Airberlin is already very well positioned in terms of eco-efficient flying, since only a few items were found that were non-essential. Nonetheless, the expense has paid dividends and reduced annual CO2 emissions per aircraft on long-haul routes by about eight tonnes, which is equivalent to 2.5 tonnes of fuel," said Christian Bodemann, Head of Cabin Maintenance at Airberlin technik and the project manager of Clear Out.
The mission has had a further positive outcome: during the detailed analysis carried out on the aircraft’s non-fixed furnishings, it was possible to identify several follow-on projects, which Airberlin will now continue to pursue as part of its efficiency drive.
Recently, Airberlin received the “Silver Eco-Airline of the Year" award, given as part of the Eco-Aviation awards, by the American aviation magazine Air Transport World, in recognition of its commitment in the area of eco-efficiency.
Bombardier’s success with the CRJ 100/200 airplanes, which eventually sold 935 units, made it explore significantly larger capacity airplanes, in the 100 seat segment. According to Bombardier’s study in 1998, there was a growing requirement for larger aircraft in the fleets of the world’s regional airlines. To keep up with the growth in mainline fleets, Bombardier felt that regional fleet must grow in both size and capacity. The company felt that if the regional fleet did not grown beyond 50 seats, the number of 50-seaters required to satisfy demand would quadruple.
Bombardier identified a gap between its 50-70 seat CRJ series, and the smallest of the Airbus and Boeing single aisle offering: the Airbus A318 and the Being 737-600, both with typical single class capacity of around 120 passengers. Even before a formal launch, Bombardier had unveiled during the Farnborough Air show in 1998 the 88 seat BRJ-X-90 and the 110 seat BRJ-X-110, the “BRJ" short for Bombardier Regional Jet.
The BRJ-X-110 was applauded by airlines as a true 100 seat airplane, unlike attempts by Airbus and Boeing to scale down much larger airplanes. Although during that time, the first of the Brazilian Embraer E-Jets, the 80 seat ERJ 170, competitor to the CRJ700, hadn’t yet taken to the skies, published drawings of the BRJ-X airplanes bore an external resemblance to the new Embraer jets. But the cabin was wider, with a 5 abreast seating.
Threats from the new Embraer jets, which had a significant head start, and the then Fairchild-Dornier’s 50-110 seat regional jetliners, forced Bombardier to rethink the BRJ program. Late 1999, despite having further matured the design of its “paper airplanes", Bombardier switched focus from the BRJ-X-90 to the stretched CRJ700: the 90 seat CRJ 900. According to Michael Graff, the then President of Bombardier Aerospace, “ They (airlines) have told us that a simple stretch of the CRJ 700series rather than an all new aircraft in the 90 seat category will meet their requirements for increased capacity at reduced acquisition and operating costs"
Mid 2000, although the BRJ-X-90 was killed, the entire BRJ program was suspended, but never cancelled. In the March of 2004, the 114 seat Embraer 190 took to the skies on its first flight, and Bombardier had no airplane to compete in that class. In July of the same year, Bombardier announced the development of the C Series as a replacement for the shelved BRJ-X project.
The C Series then had two variants: the 125 seat CS110 and the 145 seat CS130. But after failing to secure significant orders, and in the light of the certification of the Embraer 190 in 2005, the program was shelved in early 2006, and the focus again shifted to lengthening the CRJ series, to a 100 seat CRJ1000.
In the July of 2006, EASA certified the 124 passenger Embraer 195, competing directly with the shelved CS110. Bombardier was trailing its only significant regional jet competitor, Embraer, with no competing airplane.
Early 2007, Bombardier re-commenced work on the C Series program. In the July of 2008, Bombardier officially launched the C Series, with a letter of interest for 60 aircraft and 30 options from Lufthansa.
Having the right product at the right time bode well for the Brazilian airframer. The CRJ 700, 900 and 1000 combined have orders (as of 30 June 2013) of 723 airplanes, of which 91 are unfulfilled. On the other hand, the Brazilian Embraer E-Jets, comprising the E-170/175 and 190/195 families, have total firm orders of 1213, of which 266 are unfulfilled. Bombardier had to stop trailing and start leading, and focus on the clean sheet C Series was the only way out.
*This section is part of a much bigger, comprehensive article on the C-Series by The Flying Engineer.
Airbus donated an Airbus A300 “like-new flap” to Penn State’s College of Engineering a few days ago.Although an extremely small and seemingly insignificant part of a complex airliner, a flap is a great start to many research activities. Flaps, which are relied on during take-offs and landings, contribute to noise, drag, and performance penalties, and studies could possibly result in better flap configurations and/or design.
Barely a week back, The Federal Aviation Administration selected Penn State as part of a team of universities to form a new Air Transportation Center of Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuels and the Environment.
Airbus ended production of the twin-engine/twin-aisle A300 in 2007. According to Airbus, “The flap, which will be used for student research, has a catalog value of more than $900,000 dollars, and represents a major research opportunity for both undergraduate and graduate students in the College’s aviation and aerospace programs. Specifically, Penn State intends to use the flap in its aerospace structures courses. Study plans include installing strain gauges inside the flap to measure strain on the internal ribs and structure of the flap by applying loads to various locations of the flap.
Airbus defines flaps as, “Hinged structures on the trailing edge of fixed wing aircraft that are used to reduce speed and increase the angle of descent for landing, safely shortening takeoff and landing distances. Flaps do this by lowering stall speed and increasing drag.”
Students at the Pennsylvania State University Department of Aerospace Engineering will examine the design of the structure, and develop models to predict how it should deform, then apply loads to the actual flap to see how close their hypotheses are.
The Indian education system needs a lot of catching up before it can hope to even perform elementary tests on aircraft sub structures.
Project Airbus Tech (PAT) is just 5 chapters away from covering the entire Airbus A320. PAT has been extremely useful for pilots who have needed a technical refresher, a review before sims, those headed for the type rating, and has also been useful to those who have appeared for their Command interview. PAT has never failed to help Airbus A320 pilots who have seeked help on the airplane’s systems. CLICK HERE to access PAT.
Even more interesting is the man behind PAT’s execution: Sushank Gupta. Sushank was one among 20 IGRUANs who appeared for the written test conducted by CAE for the “CAE-IndiGo assessment A320 Type Rating Program". The test was conducted over 3 days, between the 16th and the 18th of April 2012. Sushank appeared on the 16th, and that was when the Flying Engineer met Sushank for the first time at Bangalore.
Having cleared the written, the interview was finally conducted, after a year and four months of the written, on the 16th of August, 2013. On the 8th of September, 2013, Sushank was sent an email from IndiGo informing him having successfully cleared the interview , and the hard copy of the Letter Of Intent having been dispatched by IndiGo.
Sushank is on his way to an approximately 10 week long type rating program, which will be held either at Madrid, Dubai, or Bangalore.
The first round in this entire process consisted of a written test: the aviation knowledge test. This was followed by a second round, which is the CASS: The CAE Crew Assessment and Selection System. The CASS consisted of a personality evaluation, an informal interview, an English test on spoken and comprehension, psycho-motor tests involving basic flying skills that also test the examinee’s abilities to multitask and process information in a stressful environment.
The third and final round consisted of a Group Discussion (GD) followed by an interview. Those on the interview panel included the Vice President: Flight Operations at IndiGo Airlines; Examiner on the A320 and Chief Pilot, Flight Operations, IndiGo Airlines; and the Vice-President of HR, IndiGo.
The Type rating Program will cost US$ 34,500, which is approximately INR 21 Lakhs.
Sushank will immensely benefit from Project Airbus Tech. The Airbus A320 is a complex airplane that requires a deep understanding of the airplane. 10 weeks is too short a time to master the airplane, but Sushank’s efforts on PAT will pay him rich dividends in mastering the 320 earlier than his peers.
CFM International, a 50/50 joint company between Snecma (Safran) and GE, announced on 7th September that it has initiated testing of the first full LEAP engine, specifically the LEAP-1A for the Airbus A320 NEO, “launching an extensive ground and flight test certification program that will encompass 60 engine builds over the next three years".
The program will result in engine certification in 2015 and planned first entry into commercial service on the Airbus A320NEO in 2016. On September 4th, the engine ran for the first time, and yesterday, achieved full takeoff thrust. The LEAP-1A’s program is way behind the Pratt and Whitney’s PW1100G’s: the PW1100G began airborne testing nearly 3 months ago, while the LEAP-1A’s ground testing has just begun.
The LEAP series of engines will power the Airbus A320neo (optional engine), Boeing 737 Max and COMAC C919 families of aircraft. In contrast, the PW1000G family of engines will power the Airbus A320NEO family (optional engine), Bombardier CSeries, Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), Embraer’s second generation E-Jets, and as the Irkut MS-21 (optional engine).
CFM officially launched the LEAP engine, which is the company’s first all-new centerline engine in nearly 40 years, in 2008. The engine was being designed to bring double-digit improvements in fuel efficiency, emissions and noise, while maintaining the “legendary reliability and low cost of ownership" of its predecessor, the CFM56 engine family.
According to CFM, “The foundation of the LEAP engine is heavily rooted in advanced aerodynamics, environmental, and materials technology development programs. It will provide 15 percent better fuel consumption and an equivalent reduction in CO2 emissions compared to today’s best CFM engine, along with dramatic reductions in engine noise and emissions."
For a deeper insight into the CFM LEAP-1A and its competitor of the Airbus A320 NEO, the Pratt and Whitney PW1100G, read a comprehensive article HERE.
IndiGo’s parent company, Interglobe Enterprises, and CAE-Airbus had “broken ground" in the November of 2011 to establish a new pilot and maintenance technician training centre in Delhi. The new centre, located specifically in the Greater Noida Industrial Area, about 40 kilometers southeast of Delhi, is not for the exclusive use of IndiGo airlines, but rather for airlines in India and the neighbouring region.
The focus of the new Delhi training centre will be to provide “wet" and “dry" type-rating, recurrent, conversion and jet indoctrination training for commercial aircraft pilots. Programs will also be offered for maintenance technicians. The Delhi training centre was planned to initially house four full-flight simulators and was planned to accommodate eight simulator bays. Training technology such as CAE Simfinity multimedia classrooms, computer-based training and brief/debrief facilities are used.
Although planned to house 8 full flight simulator bays, the new centre has only 6 full flight simulator bays, with which it plans to “train 5000 professionals per year". The Full Flight Simulator facility at Bangalore has 3 simulator bays (Two A320 and one B737NG), with the capacity to train 1500 crew members annually. This figure boils down to 500 crew members per FFS per year, leading the Delhi centre to train a maximum of 3000 crewmembers annually.
Of the six simulator bays, only 2 are occupied, at the moment, by two CAE Series 7000 A320s level D simulators, which can handle a maximum of 1000 crew members, annually, until more simulators are added.
This simulator facility marks CAE’s 5th training centre in India, after the CAE FFS centre and CAE “Hatsoff" Helicopter Simulator facility at Bangalore, Praful Patel’s flight school: National Flying Training Institute NFTI bat Gondia, in which CAE has 49% stake, and IGRUA, which is doled out a step-motherly treatment by CAE considering its low stake and low control over operations at the premier flight institute in India.
This new facility at Delhi has begun operations 2 months after Airbus and CAE concluded their training services cooperation, which was done to provide “more flexibility for both companies to serve their respective stakeholders directly". Airbus assures that “There will be no impact on any airline customers training with Airbus or with CAE following the conclusion of the existing cooperation agreement."
The new simulator facility takes the total fixed wing Full Flight Simulator count, in India, to 13, comprising of eight A320, four B737NG, two B777, one B747, one B787, and one A330. These simulators are spread out across India, at CAE Bangalore (2 A320, 1 B737NG), CTE Hyderabad (3 A320), FSTC Delhi (1 A320, 1 B737NG), Jet Airways Mumbai (2 B737NG, 1 A330, 1 B777), and Air India Mumbai (1 B737NG, 1 B747, 1 B777, 1 B787).
The new centre takes CAE’s total to about 70 Airbus full-flight simulators in more than 20 locations worldwide. CAE operates the largest network of Airbus simulators.
Project Airbus Tech (PAT) has added chapters ATA 30 (Ice & Rain Protection) and ATA 32 (Landing Gear). This covers 8 out of 18 chapters! Quite an achievement by the hitherto sole project contributor, Sushank Gupta! We wish him all the very best as he appears for the Indigo interview: he deserves to get in!
Click on the Project Airbus Tech banner to access all 8 chapters.
There is a buzz about the PW1100G Geared Turbofan Engine from Pratt and Whitney, that will power the first A320NEO. The PW1100G is a family of ultra-high bypass engines, part of the PW1000 series. The Flying Engineer welcomes you to enjoy the most technical take on the engine, that will leave you either educated, or snoring on your chair. Grab that coffee, and appreciate the next big thing in jet transport as we know today: Geared Turbofan Engines.
In this article, we explore, at a high level, the design of the PW1100G family, how it compares with existing A320 engines, the differences, on a high level, of this family with the competitor’s offering: the LEAP 1A, why the Boeing 737MAX family doesn’t need such a large turbofan engine, and finally, before concluding, the pros and cons of such an engine.
Airbus has hosted a dedicated website, http://www.a350xwbfirstflight.com, which will webcast live the first flight of the A350XWB. According to Airbus, the “Live Webcast will begin approximately one hour before take-off and continue past landing.”
As mentioned in the previous post, the first flight is scheduled for 13:30hrs IST (0800UTC) on 14th June, 2013, with the webcast starting at 12:30 IST (0700 UTC). The first flight is a once in a lifetime experience, both for a spectator, and the aircraft!
Set your calendars, and enjoy the first flight! Click on the image on the left to lead you to the webpage!
Airbus has planned the first flight of the A350 on the 14th of June, 2013: 2 days from now. The scheduled time of A350 MSN001’s first flight is 0800hrs UTC (1000hrs Toulouse 1330hrs IST). Airbus claims, with this announcement, that the A350 program is on schedule, with entry-into-service expected in the second half of 2014. This is an interesting statement, considering that in the September of 2010, Airbus had expected the delivery of the first A350 in 2013.
The Airbus A350 is a result of the pressure exerted by airlines on Airbus, in the face of the Boeing 787’s “threat” to the Airbus A330. The A350 program was formally announced towards the end of the end of 2004, but it was only in mid 2006 that Airbus, after facing criticism for a derivative of the A330 rather than a whole new clean sheet design, announced the A350XWB: an all new airplane. In essence, the A350XWB project is a forced response from Airbus to Boeing’s 787 program.
MSN001 is an A350-941, bearing registration F-WXWB. The A350-900’s Rolls Royce Trent XWB Engines are the largest that will be fitted on an Airbus airliner, producing 374kN (almost 37,500kg force) of thrust, each. The A350-900 has the typical seating capacity of the Boeing 777-200 (314 pax in a 3 class layout), and the range of the 787-9 (~8100NM), serving as, what seems now to be the plug between the two. Observed Lufthansa’s CEO Christoph Franz, “Because of pressure mainly by the fast growing Gulf carriers, both Airbus and Boeing are being pushed to design aircraft with more range capabilities and engine power than needed by most other operators. European airlines therefore have to deal with over designed aircraft that carry additional unneeded weight”.
Here is the timeline of major developments in the life of MSN001:
January 2009: A350 XWB Design is “frozen".
November 2010: The longest fuselage panel for Airbus’ A350 XWB completes its curing process.
March 2011: The largest composite fuselage panel for Airbus’ A350 XWB completes its curing process.
July 2011: Production on a key component in the A350 XWB’s initial horizontal tail plane begins, at Airbus’ centre of excellence in Puerto Real, Spain.
August 2011: The first A350 XWB centre wing box is delivered from Airbus’ site in Nantes, France to Airbus’ St Nazaire, France facility where it eventually is assembled into the first A350 XWB fuselage.
September 2011: Wing upper cover manufactured at Airbus’ Stade, Germany is transported to Airbus’ wing assembly site in Broughton, UK. The lower wing cover made in Illescas, Spain arrives in Broughton. The first A350 XWB nose section is transported to Airbus in St Nazaire from partner company Aerolia’s site in Méaulte. Airbus aerostructures partner Premium Aerotec puts together the first forward fuselage for the A350 XWB at Nordenham, Germany.
October 2011: Airbus completes installation of the first Rolls-Royce Trent XWB flight test engine on the A380 “flying-testbed" aircraft. Airbus starts the assembly of the first A350 XWB’s horizontal tailplane (HTP) in Getafe, Spain.
November 2011: Assembly of the first A350 XWB’s 32-metre-long carbon fibre wings begins at Airbus’ recently-opened North Factory in Broughton, UK. Pre-assembly of ribs, upper and lower covers and fixed leading and trailing edges already has taken place.
December 2011: Airbus starts joining the first 21-metre long front fuselage section for the A350 XWB in Saint-Nazaire, France.
February 2012: The A350 XWB’s Rolls-Royce Trent XWB successfully makes its maiden flight aboard Airbus’ dedicated A380 “Flying-Test-Bed" aircraft.
March 2012: Structural assembly of the first A350 XWB aft fuselage destined for the first flying A350 XWB (MSN1) is completed at Airbus’ manufacturing site in Hamburg (Germany).
July 2012: Airbus delivers the front fuselage for the first flyable A350 XWB (MSN1) to the Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Toulouse (France).
August 2012: A350 XWB “MSN1" flight-deck comes to life. Flight-deck power-on is an important step on the route to complete aircraft power-on and first flight, because it enables most systems functional checking to be undertaken.
October 2012: The vertical tail plane of the first flyable A350 XWB (MSN1) has comes out of the paint hall in Toulouse.
November 2012: The wing join-up started in the Roger Béteille Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Toulouse. The wings are attached to the fuselage and other finishing activities such as the spoilers are installed.
December 2012: Airbus successfully completes the main structural assembly and system connection of A350 XWB ‘MSN1’ – the first flight-test aircraft.
February 2013: A350 XWB’s Trent XWB engine achieves EASA type certification. First A350 XWB with wings complete emerges for outdoor testing.