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

International aviation news

Further cancellations of Boeing 737 Max 8 aircrafts 

American Airlines has further extended its cancellations of Boeing 737 MAX 8 operations through to August, reported ATWonline

The announcement follows a similar decision by Southwest Airlines and other global carriers of the Max 8. 

American Airlines has 24 Max 8 aircraft in its fleet, equating to approximately 115 flights per day. These flights will be cancelled until mid-August, totalling around 1.5 per cent of its total flights throughout the summer period. 

American Airlines CEO and Chairman Doug Parker, and airline President Robert Isom, said the company was focused on planning for the year’s travel period. 

“Our commitment to each other and to our customers is to operate the safest and most reliable operation in our history. To further that mission, we have made the decision to extend our cancellations for the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft through to 19 Aug. Based upon our ongoing work with FAA and Boeing, we are highly confident that the MAX will be recertified prior to this time. 

“We remain confident that the impending software updates, along with the new training elements Boeing is developing for the MAX, will lead to recertification of the aircraft soon. We have been in continuous contact with FAA, Department of Transportation, National Transportation Safety Board other regulatory authorities and are pleased with the progress so far.” 

For the full story click HERE.


Boeing workers blow whistle on 787 plant 

Meanwhile, the New York Times uncovered further issues within Boeing, this time with the 787 Dreamliner, it was reported in Stuff

The Times reported one of the two US plants that produces the 787 Dreamliner, faces problems with production and oversight. The article referred to various internal emails, corporate documents, federal records, as well as interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees. 

It claimed that faulty parts have been installed in some of the planes, and metal shavings were often left inside the jets. One of the technicians at the plant said that he regularly found debris dangerously close to the wiring beneath cockpits. 

Brad Zaback, Boeing’s South Carolina site leader, disputed the report saying (that) “it paints a skewed and inaccurate picture of the program [sic] and of our team here at Boeing South Carolina. This article features distorted information, rehashing old stories and rumours that have long ago been put to rest.” 

For the full story click HERE.


World’s biggest aircraft takes to the skies 

With a wing span longer than a rugby field, Stuff has reported that the world’s largest aircraft - the Stratolaunch - has flown for the first time.

Larger than Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose - which flew only once in 1947 – the Stratolaunch lifted off from America's Mojave Air and Space Port in the California desert on 13 April and stayed aloft for a couple of hours. 

The plane is a behemoth, with a twin fuselage, 28 wheels and six 747 jet engines. 

The Stratolaunch is the brainchild of the late Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft. Allen's dream was to use the plane to help make it more accessible and affordable to get items, and possibly people, into space. 

Built by Scaled Composites, Stratolaunch was designed to carry up to three rockets tethered to its belly into the skies; the rockets would then drop, ignite and shoot off into space with their payloads.

"The capabilities of these small satellites is something that's really interesting and fascinating," Allen said. "Both for communications, where a lot of people are putting up constellations of satellites, and for monitoring the challenged health of the planet." 

The United States Defence Department has also taken an interest in Stratolaunch. 

For the full story click HERE.


Dubai International Airport Repairs

The world’s busiest airport, Dubai International Airport (DXB), is closing its southern runway while it undergoes runway repairs. 

The closure will disrupt a third of the flights coming onto the airport, including flights from New Zealand, reported the New Zealand Herald

Emirates is reducing the number of flights from New Zealand during the runway resealing, including the non-stop Auckland to Dubai service and the Auckland-Denpasar-Dubai flight.

A number of other flights will divert to a second airport, Dubai World Central, or to neighbouring Sharjah. 

Dubai Airports said operations teams were "good to go" for the 45-day long refurbishment of the southern runway, which is nearing the end of its design life. The complete upgrade was required to accommodate DXB’s future traffic growth.

As the Emirates’ global hub, the airline earlier this year warned that the southern runway closure would result in up to 48 unused Emirates aircraft. This would be a 25 per cent reduction in the overall number of flights operated by the airline during the 45-day period. 

For the whole story click HERE.

Lack of pilot training cause of roller-coaster Qantas flight 

Pilots flying a Qantas plane that experienced a roller-coaster descent into Hong Kong two years ago struggled to respond to the incident because of a lack of training, an investigation has found.

The in-flight "upset" left four cabin crew and two passengers with minor injuries, and has prompted Qantas to retrain all of its Boeing 747 pilots and update training for its other Boeing pilots, Stuff reported. 

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s (ATSB) final report found the pilots at the controls of the 747-400 from Melbourne manually over-wrote the flight computer's flight speed when preparing to enter a holding pattern around Hong Kong International Airport on April 7, 2017. 

The pilots then failed to increase their speed when directed to enter the holding pattern at a higher altitude than expected. The ATSB said that the aircraft slowed to below the necessary speed while descending but the flight crew did not notice because they were busy reading flight documents and looking out the window for other air traffic.

The aircraft started experiencing pre-stall buffeting. The pilot took recovery action to stop the buffeting, but failed to complete the full stall-recovery procedure – resulting in further “stick shaker” stall warnings. This prompted the pilot to force the plane’s nose down several times, resulting in violent movements. 

The ATSB found that, while the pilots had been trained in stall recovery in low altitudes, they had not had instructions on how to handle the problem at higher altitudes. 

Qantas has since updated its training for pilots across its fleet of 747s, Boeing 787 Dreamliners and Boeing 737s. 

"We take these incidents very seriously and use them as an opportunity to reinforce procedures and improve safety," a Qantas spokesman said. "In correcting the aircraft's path, the crew was very conscious they were operating in congested airspace and had limited room to manoeuvre, which added to the sense of turbulence in the cabin." 

For the full story click HERE


Liquid crystal technology could prevent laser strike 

There continues to be thousands of reports of hand held laser point ‘attacks’ on planes every year, however very little can be done without legislative change. It was recently reported on the online BGR technology publication, that there is a possible solution to mitigate the effects of such laser strikes on aircraft. 

Researchers have developed a new windshield technology that is said to diffuse the lasers and minimise any effect on pilots.

In a presentation at this year’s spring meeting of the American Chemical Society, researchers are to showcase a new type of material that could be added to aircraft windshields. The material uses a liquid crystal solution sandwiched between two layers of glass. 

The special liquid crystal formulation is normally transparent, but when it receives an electrical charge it turns more opaque. Combined with a sensor that detects when the plane is being targeted by a laser beam, the material automatically blocks the incoming laser. 

For the full story click HERE.



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