Uplink ALPA - The Voice of Aviation

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter. As of April 2020 Uplink ALPA is a 6-monthly publication.

International aviation news

Rolls Royce not bidding for Boeing 797

Rolls Royce has stunned the aviation community by announcing its withdrawal from the race to power the proposed new Boeing 797 aircraft. 

Boeing is yet to make an announcement on whether the aircraft will definitely go ahead and if so, when. Some industry analysts speculate an announcement will be made at the Paris Air Show in June this year. 

News of the Rolls Royce withdrawal came as the company announced a £2.9 billion loss following issues with its Trent 1000 engines that power some 787s (including those owned by Air New Zealand). It also followed the Airbus announcement that it will cease production of the Airbus A380. 

Rolls Royce has so far taken a £790 million loss on the 787 engine wear issue and another £150 million write-off on the A380 shutdown. 

However, the company also announced an underlying operating profit of £616m - double that earned in the previous year. 

The AirlineRatings.com website reports some people estimate that the cost of fixing the 787 engines could double. It also says the company’s decision to pull out of the 797 program has far-reaching implications for both the reputation and long-term future of Rolls Royce in the civil aviation market. 

Read more HERE and HERE.


Giddy up! 

American Airlines is updating its policy on emotional support and service animals to specify the number and type of pets that can travel with their owners on board its aircraft. 

The changes are the airline's latest attempt to rein in the surging number of support animals being brought on planes, according to news reports.

Passengers who require an emotional support or psychiatric service animal can bring one cat or dog on board with them. Passengers requiring trained service animals are also limited to one animal, which can be a dog, cat or - in some circumstances - a trained miniature horse. The animal must also be four months or older, clean and well behaved. 

American Airlines has previously resisted suggestions miniature horses could be brought on board. The airline argued miniature horses couldn’t manage their "elimination functions" and could puncture evacuation slides with their hooves. 

Forbes reports that there have been all sorts of problems with emotional support animals, including their toileting, some of them occupying seats instead of staying in the passenger’s foot space, and eating off tray tables. There have also been incidents involving biting, growling and all-out attacks – including one by a pit bull which resulted in another passenger requiring 28 stitches. 

There are also reports of passengers taking a peacock and a squirrel on board with them as emotional support animals.

Read more HERE and HERE

Flybmi and Flybe 

Hundreds of passengers were stranded throughout Europe after the abrupt collapse of British regional airline Flybmi in mid-February. 

Flybmi was previously known as BMI Regional (and previous to this, as Business Air) and flew its 17 aircraft on scheduled passenger services across the United Kingdom and to 25 European cities.

Its closure came apparently without warning, leaving passengers stranded overseas and others waiting to start their journeys. 

The airline blamed rising fuel costs and uncertainty over Brexit as reasons for its collapse. It was unable to secure contracts in Europe and lost confidence in its ability to continue flying between European destinations. 

Flybmi employed 376 people in Britain, Germany, Sweden and Belgium. Last year it carried 522,000 passengers on 29,000 flights by its Embraer aircraft. In the last 20 years its load factor ranged from 49.1% to 62%.

Read more HERE.

Flybmi should not be confused with Flybe - an airline with a similar name, but a better outlook. 

Exeter-based Flybe began life as Jersey European Airways and became the largest independent airline in Europe. After reports that it was facing a desperate financial situation (also blamed on fuel prices and Brexit uncertainty) Flybe was sold to Connect Airways in February this year. Connect is a consortium backed by Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Aviation. Flybe will soon operate under the Virgin Atlantic brand. 

Read more HERE.

New west Sydney airport to be named after woman aviator 

The new western Sydney airport is to be named after pioneering pilot Nancy-Bird Walton, honouring her significant contribution to Australia’s aviation industry. 

Walton began training in Sydney in 1933, aged just 17. She was one of the first students of Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith. According to a news report on AirlineRatings.com, she achieved her commercial pilot’s license in 1935 and was the first female pilot in Australia to be licensed to carry passengers. 

Walton trained pilots during World War II and established the Australian Women’s Pilots Association. She was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire, awarded an order of Australia, and was declared a national living treasure by the National Trust of Australia. The first Qantas Airbus A380 was named after her. 

Nancy-Bird Walton died in 2009, aged 93. The airport to be named after her is expected to open in 2026. 

Read more HERE.

Airlines reroute to avoid Pakistan 

An Air France Boeing 777 and an Etihad Airbus A320 had a near miss in the skies above Mumbai on India’s west coast in mid-March, with the aircraft coming within three nautical miles of each other, reported the Times of India

Both aircraft were flying this route following the closure of Pakistani airspace at the end of February, due to escalating tensions between Pakistan and India. The Times of India reported that the Mumbai airspace has experienced a sharp increase in overflying aircraft since then, resulting in overworked and stressed air traffic controllers. 

The newspaper reports that Pakistan has “repeatedly deferred reopening its airspace” and that the closure is also straining the resources of airlines and Mumbai Air Traffic Control, which is handling all diverted traffic.

Flights between southern Asia and Europe must take longer routes while the airspace is closed. For some airlines this means adding a stop on long and ultra-long flights, leading to higher crew and fuel costs. 

Flights are being diverted south of Pakistan across the Arabian Sea, putting more pressure on what is already a heavily used corridor. 

Read more HERE.

South African Airways pilot resigns over fake licence 

A South African Airways (SAA) pilot was charged with fraud after it was found he had been using a forged Airline Transport Pilots Licence (ATPL) for more than 20 years. 

William Chandler worked at SAA for 40 years, starting out as a flight engineer and moving up to a position as senior first officer. He resigned when the forgery was discovered following an investigation into a reportable incident over the Swiss Alps. The flight had encountered turbulence between Johannesburg and Frankfurt, Germany last November. 

Head of Safety for the SAA Group investigated the incident for the company but, instead of informing the national carrier and taking appropriate action, that person allegedly attempted to cover up for Chandler. 

Chandler became a pilot in 1994 and had a commercial pilot’s licence, rather than an ATPL for which he produced fake evidence. Through his licence forgery, Chandler was able to earn a higher salary, position himself higher in SAA’s pilot hierarchy, and co-pilot bigger aircraft on international flights. 

The airline is seeking to recover money paid to Chandler, including salary, overtime and allowances. It is also investigating loopholes in its practices and has said that it will obtain licences from examination bodies from now on, rather than from individuals.

Chandler’s case will return to court in mid-May. 

Read more HERE

Air Show crash court case 

A pilot who crashed his aircraft during a manoeuvre at Britain's Shoreham Airshow in August 2015, killing 11 people on the ground, has been found not guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence. 

Andrew Hill, a former Royal Air Force pilot was flying a Hawker Hunter in a loop manoeuvre which ended with his aircraft crashing in a fireball onto the A27 road, killing 11 people and injuring 16 others. 

Hill, a British Airways captain at the time of the crash, was critically injured. 

He claimed he had blacked out in the air, having experienced "cognitive impairment" brought on by hypoxia, possibly due to the effects of G-force.

This was the deadliest air show accident in the United Kingdom since the 1952 Farnborough Airshow crash, which killed 31 people. 

Read more HERE



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