Tag Archives: federal aviation administration

Boeing’s statement on U.S. Federal Aviation Administration settlement

Boeing (Chicago, Seattle and Charleston) issued the following statement following the settlement announcement by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration:

Boeing logo (medium)

Boeing appreciates the dedication of both the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing personnel who worked to reach the agreement announced on December 22. This agreement reflects Boeing’s deep and shared commitment to safety, quality and compliance – a commitment that has helped make travel on large commercial airplanes the safest means of transportation in history.

Boeing believes that this agreement not only fairly resolves announced and potential civil penalty actions – most of which date back years, and two of which were previously announced in 2012 and 2013 – but also will further enhance Boeing’s self-correcting quality and compliance systems. Under the terms of the agreement, Boeing has agreed to pay $12 million and make additional quality and compliance process improvements. Many of the improvements listed in the agreement have already been implemented or are in the process of implementation.

As a company we take responsibility for our actions, and we will never compromise on our commitment to quality and compliance – a commitment that is one of the core reasons we build the best airplanes in the world. We are actively working on the areas identified in the agreement and see this as another way to continually improve our compliance system.

Previously the FAA issued this statement on December 22:

FAA logo-1 (color)

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration today announced a comprehensive settlement agreement with Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) that resolves multiple pending and potential enforcement cases.

Under the agreement, BCA pledged to implement and improve several certification processes to further enhance the airworthiness and continued compliance of all BCA products.

“It is imperative that everyone complies with our aviation system’s high safety standards,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This agreement is an important step toward ensuring that Boeing fully meets all applicable compliance standards going forward.”

“Compliance requires all certificate holders to develop and implement internal controls that ensure they’re operating according to the highest standards,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “Boeing has agreed to implement improvements in its design, planning, production and maintenance planning processes, and has already implemented several of these improvements.”

BCA’s obligations commit the company to meeting specific performance targets. They are designed to enhance BCA’s early discovery and self-disclosure of potential regulatory compliance problems, as well as the timely development and implementation of effective corrective actions.

The company also must make an immediate payment to the United States Treasury in the amount of $12 million and faces stiff penalties for failing to follow through on its commitments.

BCA’s obligations include:

Improved Management Oversight and Accountability

  • Implement the Safety Management Systems (SMS) plan BCA has developed to meet internationally accepted standards, throughout the company’s activities.
  • Use the FAA’s safety analysis modeling, in addition to BCA’s proprietary risk modeling, to assess all identified compliance issues.
  • Comply with a new Regulatory Compliance Plan, which requires BCA to assign each compliance matter to a manager-level employee for resolution and accountability.
  • Require review of the regulatory compliance performance of BCA managers.

Internal Auditing

  • To improve its internal audit processes, audit teams will be required to report directly to BCA’s Vice President of Quality, and conduct audits across all processes (Engineering, Supplier Management, Production, Modification, Repair and Customer Support) at all sites.
  • Assess the effectiveness of its internal auditing systems.
  • Appoint audit team members with appropriate technical expertise to assess the extent of regulatory compliance.
  • Conduct an evaluation of regulatory compliance procedures among different facilities and programs.
  • Implement risk-based criteria for selecting the subjects of audits.

Enhanced Supplier Management

  • To determine whether incomplete work is being accepted, conduct an initial set of audits of its suppliers, analyze the results and consult with the FAA on audit findings.
  • Based upon risk analysis, conduct a second, more extensive set of audits, again reporting the results to the FAA and providing the FAA with a summary of any corrective actions.

Quality and Timeliness Regulatory Submissions

  • Meet progressively more stringent performance metrics in the quality and timeliness of its written submissions to the FAA.

Specification Simplification

  • Annually for the next five years, review and simplify at least 15 process specifications used in the design, build, delivery and support of BCA products.

First-Article Verification

  • Implement improvements to processes to ensure that assembly installations that have been affected by process or design changes continue to conform to type design.

Stampings and Other Verification Records Accuracy

  • Conduct mandatory training of all manufacturing and quality employees who exercise stamping approval authority, and conduct recurrent training at least every 24 months.
  • Conduct mandatory training of all engineering employees on their regulatory compliance obligations.
  • During each year of the agreement, conduct at least three internal audits of each product line and at least one audit of each BCA fabrication site.
  • Prevent any repeat findings of improper stamping.

Corrective Action Development, Implementation and Sustainment

  • Apply the “Boeing Problem-Solving Model” to a wide variety of analyses that BCA submits to the FAA.
  • For future violations that the FAA identifies, conduct a second, follow-up audit within 12 months of the original incident to ensure that corrective actions were effective at the time and continue to be effective.

BCA’s Reporting Obligations

  • Report to the FAA at least annually about the effectiveness of BCA’s regulatory compliance activities, including a final and comprehensive report after the fifth year of the agreement.
  • Report to the FAA each quarter the results of any internal audits pertaining to safety management, regulatory compliance, corrective action implementation and sustainment, process compliance and conforming products.

BCA will face up to $24 million in additional penalties over the next five years if it fails to implement its obligations under the agreement.

The performance period for BCA’s commitments begins Jan. 1, 2016 and will continue for five years unless the FAA and BCA agree to an extension.

The agreement settles two initiated cases and 11 other matters that were opened during the last several years.

The first initiated case involved BCA’s tardiness in developing information for the installation of fuel tank flammability reduction equipment on Boeing 747 and 757 aircraft.

The second initiated case involved the company’s insufficient corrective action after discovering that a supplier had been providing incorrectly shaped fasteners. The FAA did not allege that these issues created unsafe conditions.

The uninitiated matters involved allegations of delays in submitting required safety information, production quality control problems, and failures to implement corrective actions for those production problems.

The FAA issues an AD for possible Boeing 747-8 and 747-8F “divergent flutter during a high g-load maneuver in combination with certain system failures”

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (Washington) has issued this airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Boeing 747-8 and 747-8F series aircraft. The FAA estimates there are eight aircraft impacted on the U.S. registry.

According to Boeing, all of the costs of this AD may be covered under warranty, thereby reducing the cost impact on affected individuals.

Here is the statement:

FAA logo-1 (color)

We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain The Boeing Company Model 747-8 and 747-8F series airplanes. This AD was prompted by an analysis, which indicated that in a limited flight envelope with specific conditions, divergent flutter could occur during a high g-load maneuver in combination with certain system failures. This AD requires replacing the lateral control electronic (LCE) modules, replacing the inboard elevator power control packages (PCPs), installing new external compensators for the PCPs, and revising the maintenance or inspection program. We are issuing this AD to prevent certain system failures from resulting in divergent flutter, and subsequent loss of continued safe flight and landing.

Read the full AD: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Nick Dean/AirlinersGallery.com.

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The New York Times: FAA raised questions about Andreas Lubitz’s depression before Germanings crash

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (Washington) raised questions in 2010 on whether it should have granted a pilot’s license to Andreas Lubitz according to report by the New York Times. Lubitz in March flew his Germanwings Airbus A320 into a mountain in the French Alps killing all aboard.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Virgin America to fly to Hawaii with Airbus A320s

Virgin America (San Francisco) today announced it will start flying from San Francisco to Honolulu, Oahu from November 2, 2015, and Kahului, Maui from December 3, 2015.

In a private call last month, CEO Cush received permission from Hawai’i Governor David Ige to bring Virgin America’s new flight service to the state.

Virgin America Hawaii Schedule

The daily, nonstop flights will be operated with new Airbus A320 aircraft that Virgin America will take delivery of this year, which will be equipped with fuel-saving, ‘sharklet’ wingtip devices, allowing the airline to operate flights more efficiently, especially over longer haul routes. Virgin America is working with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) and Airbus to ensure that the airline’s new Airbus A320 aircraft are certified for Extended Operation (ETOPS). ETOPS is the standard certification process carriers obtain for longer range over water flights.

Copyright Photo: Brian Peters/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A320-214 N361VA (msn 5515) with Sharklets arrives at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) before the move to Dallas Love Field (DAL).

Virgin America aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

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The new Airbus A350-900 receives its FAA Type Certificate

Airbus (Toulouse) has announced the new A350-900 received its Type Certification on November 12 from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (Washington).

FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Peggy Gilligan and Airbus Group Inc. Chairman Allan McArtor were among the signing authorities at the official ceremony. The certified aircraft is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. This milestone follows the A350-900 Type Certification awarded by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on September 30.

According to Airbus, “The A350-900’s respective FAA and EASA certification awards come after Airbus successfully finished a stringent program of certification trials which took the A350-900 airframe and systems well beyond their design limits to ensure all airworthiness criteria are fully met. The fleet of five test A350-900 aircraft completed the certification flight test campaign, on time, having accumulated more than 2,600 flight test hours to create and successfully achieve one of the aviation industry’s most thorough and efficient test programs ever developed for a commercial airliner.”

Copyright Photo: Antony J. Best/AirlinersGallery.com. One of the five test aircraft, the pictured A350-941 F-WZNW (msn 004), wears partial Qatar Airways markings at Farnborough where it was showcased. Qatar Airways will be the first airline to take delivery of the new type.

Qatar Airways aircraft slide show: AG Slide Show

The Airbus A350-900 receives EASA certification

Airbus A350 Test Fleet in Formation 1 (Airbus)(LRW)

Airbus (Toulouse) has announced the new A350-900 received its Type Certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on September 30, 2014. The certified aircraft is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification will follow shortly.

The EASA A350-900 Type Certificate was signed by EASA’s Executive Director, Patrick Ky. The document was handed over to Airbus’ Executive Vice President Engineering, Charles Champion and Airbus’ A350 XWB Chief Engineer, Gordon McConnell.

Qatar Airways will take delivery of the first A350 before the end of the year. Our fleet of five test aircraft (above) completed the certification campaign, on time, cost and quality with more than 2,600 flight test hour

At the end of May 2014, the A350 XWB had received 750 orders from 39 customers worldwide.

All images by Airbus.

A350 XWB Inovations (Airbus)(LRW)

Airbus A350 Test Fleet in Formation 2 (Airbus)(LRW)

Where not to fly?

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With the shoot down and crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 that was traveling at 33,000 feet over eastern Ukraine on a long range flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, many international passengers are now wondering where not to fly when they travel on long range international flights. The amount of international conflict areas, i. e. war zones, is increasing. Of course, the introduction of sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons is now a major concern in some of these conflict areas.

Do you know where your flight is being routed, especially between Europe and Asia?

For guidance, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has advised U. S. carriers to not fly in these dangerous areas. The Washington Post has produced this excellent map and report on the most dangerous overflight areas in the world.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

A near miss involving two United Airbus A320s at Houston on May 9

United Airlines (Chicago) had two Airbus A320s involved in a near miss while departing from Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) on the evening of May 9. Flight UA 601 was departing from runway 9 to Vancouver, British Columbia while UA 437 was departing on runway 15L bound for Mexico City. The two A320s came within 400 feet of each other according to KHOU Channel 11 in Houston. The FAA is investigating the incident.

Read the full story: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A320-232 N489UA (msn 1702) departs from Las Vegas.

United Airlines (current):

NTSB issues recommendations to the FAA for the evaluation and certification of lithium-ion batteries on Boeing 787s

NTSB Safety Recommendation logo

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) (Washington) has issued a series of recommendations related to the evaluation and certification of lithium-ion batteries for use in aircraft systems, as well as the certification of new technology.

The five safety recommendations, all addressed to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (Washington), are derived from the NTSB’s ongoing investigation of the January 7, 2013, fire event that occurred in a lithium-ion battery on a Boeing 787 that was parked at Boston Logan Airport.

Investigators found that the battery involved in the Boston 787 fire event showed evidence not just of an internal thermal runaway but that “unintended electrical interactions occurred among the cells, the battery case, and the electrical interfaces between the battery and the airplane.”

The 12-page safety recommendation letter said that the processes used in 2006 to support the certification of the lithium-ion battery designed for the 787 were inadequate, in part, because there is no standardized thermal runaway test that’s conducted in the environment and conditions that would most accurately reflect how the battery would perform when installed and operated on an in-service airplane.

Further, the NTSB said that because there is no such standardized thermal runaway test, lithium-ion battery designs on airplanes currently in service might not have adequately accounted for the hazards associated with internal short circuiting.

In its examination of the challenges associated with introducing newer technologies into already complex aircraft systems, the NTSB said that including subject matter experts outside of the aviation industry “could further strengthen the aircraft certification process” by ensuring that both the FAA and the aircraft manufacturer have access to the most current research and information related to the developing technology.

To address all of these issues, the NTSB asked the FAA to do the following:

1. Develop an aircraft-level thermal runaway test to demonstrate safety performance in the presence of an internal short circuit failure
2. Require the above test as part of certification of future aircraft designs
3. Re-evaluate internal short circuit risk for lithium-ion batteries now in-service
4. Develop guidance for thermal runaway test methods
5. Include a panel of independent expert consultants early in the certification process for new technologies installed on aircraft

“The history of commercial aviation is one in which emerging technologies have played a key role in enhancing flight safety,” said NTSB Acting Chairman Christopher A. Hart. “This is why it’s crucial that the process by which these technologies are evaluated and certified is as robust and thorough as possible. These recommendations will take us further in that direction.”

The final report on the January 2013 Boston 787 battery fire investigation is estimated to be completed in the fall.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Read about the original Boston JAL Boeing 787 incident: CLICK HERE

 

Planely Speaking: Help Wanted … Pilots!

Guest Editor Aaron Newman

Guest Editor Aaron Newman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Editor Aaron Newman

 

Help Wanted … Pilots!

 

By Aaron Newman

In direct response to the Colgan Air 3407 crash in 2009, Congress passed the Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act of 2010, also known as the “1500 hour rule.” The law mandates that the Federal Aviation Administration require pilots to complete 1,500 flight hours before they’re allowed to fly commercially, up from just 250 hours before the act. We are nearing the one year anniversary since the law was enacted (July 15, 2013) and over the last few months we have seen this law make minor rumblings across the smallest in the industry; will we continue to see this law disrupt an already volatile industry? What effects will the “baby boomer” generation of pilots have on the industry as they near the forced retirement age of 65? Let’s take a closer look…

Regionals Hit Hard

The new rules have already impacted the country’s smallest airlines because their pilots tend to be younger and less experienced. For the pilot, this means more schooling and more expense in return for moderately low wages.

Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com.

One example is Great Lakes Airlines (above), which serves Essential Air Service (EAS) cities across the upper Midwest and Rocky Mountains.  Great Lakes Airlines cancelled service in February from Minneapolis-St. Paul to the following cities: Thief River Falls in Minnesota; Devils Lake and Jamestown, North Dakota; Fort Dodge and Mason City, Iowa; and Ironwood, Michigan. Great Lakes is blaming the cuts on the new mandated pilot law. In a statement, Great Lakes CEO Charles Howell explained in a company statement, “Due to the unintended consequences of the new mandated pilot regulatory requirements, the company feels it is in the best interest of our customers, communities and employees to suspend service from these stations until we are able to rebuild our staff of pilots in order to provide reliable service.”

Silver Airways, based in the southeastern U.S. is following suit. Silver Airways has announced plans to drop Muscle Shoals AL, Greenville MS, Hattiesburg/Laurel, Tupelo and Meridian from its Atlanta GA hub effective in July. Silver Airways President and CEO Dave Pflieger attributed the move to tighter Federal Aviation Administration regulations on minimum pilot hours. “New federal regulations related to flight and duty limitations, as well as increased requirements related to new hire pilot certification, have had the unintended effect of creating a nationwide shortage of regional airline pilots.”

Although the above examples are unwelcomed news for the cities they serve, they do not affect the large majority of the traveling public and have gone relatively unnoticed. The first major news that gained the industry’s attention came from American Eagle Airlines (now renamed Envoy Air).

 

Copyright Photo: Marcelo F. De Biasi/AirlinersGallery.com.

Envoy Air (above) flies a large portion of American Airlines’ regional flights. American Eagles union recently voted down a contract offer to continue flying with the merged American Airlines. As a result, American Airlines will not allocate any new regional aircraft to Envoy Air, and the Eagle subsidiary’s regional flying will diminish as its aircraft fleet is retired. Despite the obvious threat that pilots will eventually lose their jobs if they rejected the contract, Envoy Air’s pilots overwhelmingly voted it down (70% voted against). With other domestic airlines to needing thousands of new pilots each year, Envoy Air pilots don’t foresee much trouble finding new jobs that will probably offer better pay and/or career advancement.

This is the beginning of what I believe is many changes to come within the domestic regional airline industry. Cheaper pilot labor is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Envoy Air pilots’ decision to turn down a contract knowing that it would eventually lead to the loss of their jobs demonstrates how little bargaining leverage the regional airlines have. Qualified pilots are expected to have a plenty of alternative job opportunities if their employers aren’t prepared to retain their best talent with higher wages and improved benefits. The strongest airlines in the regional sector are likely to survive, because network carriers will need the regional airlines to provide connecting traffic. The pending nationwide pilot shortage is putting the largest pressure on regionals, and ultimately some may not survive. A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found 11 of 12 regional airlines fell short of their hiring targets in the past year.

Impending Pilot shortage

Does the new 1500 hour pilot rule create less supply in an industry with growing domestic and global demand? In their latest industry forecast, Boeing concluded that the global aviation industry will need to supply one million new pilots by the year 2032 to support growth from expanding economies (Boeing.com). The largest projected growth in pilot demand is in the Asia Pacific region, with a requirement for 192,300 new pilots over the next 20 years. China will generate the largest share of the region’s demand, with a need for 77,400 pilots. Europe will require 99,700 pilots, North America 85,700, Latin America 48,600, and the Middle East 40,000 (Boeing.com).

Boeing Pilot Graph

Graph Source: Boeing.com

As the major airlines start a new wave of hiring, they face uncertainties going forward; the regional pilot pool of candidates isn’t growing, military pilots being incentivized to stay, and growing global competition for qualified pilots. Regional airlines will undoubtedly feel the impact first, larger airlines secondly, but the impact will also be disrupting on the communities, whose air service will be reduced by a shortage of pilots. Roger Cohen, president of the Regional Airline Association, states, “flights are going to get grounded and canceled; airplanes are going to be parked” (Philadelphia Inquirer).

Is there hope on the horizon that the industry will remain unshaken from this? The last decade has seen flat levels of new pilots entering the market. Airlines (specifically regionals) are getting creative, introducing new methods to recruit the next wave of young aviators. Signing bonuses are now common, some as high as $10,000. Some airlines are offering pilot recruits incentives just to attend job fairs; Ipad’s, and cash prizes. Assisting aviation students pay tuition is also beginning to enter the field and university aeronautical programs are working with regional airlines to guarantee interviews after graduation. The most creative tactic so far has been utilized by Great Lakes Airlines. They are removing 10 seats from their Beechcraft turboprops so its first officers can avoid the regulations of the new law and fly with less than 1,500 hours (captains still need 1,500 hours).

Great Lakes 1900D Seating Chart

Seating Chart: Great Lakes Airlines.

Meanwhile, the larger airlines are doing their best to isolate themselves from the risk of a regional pilot shortage. For example; Delta Airlines has been the biggest largest airline to make visual changes to its fleet strategy since the law was enacted. Delta’s acquisition of 88 Boeing 717’s from Southwest/Airtran was in direct response to the law. It now deploys these mainline aircraft on short-to-medium routes cutting the older, inefficient CRJ 200 and removing the risk of pilot shortage on regional pilots by converting these planes to mainline crews.

My take

With the obvious need for pilots, the market should respond at some point soon and start producing new pilots to fill its jobs. Regional pilot pay will have to improve in order to attract new people to the industry. Most U.S. airlines are currently in growth period and have to look to invest in new talent in order to thrive. Whether you agree with this law or not, it appears the law is here to stay and airlines will need to adjust in order to cope. Either way it will be an interesting to watch as the years progress. Hopefully we can all agree on this…there aren’t many dull moments in the airline industry!