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

Thomas Cook collapse affects pilots 

Many pilots are among the 21,000 staff affected by the collapse of 178- year old British tour operator Thomas Cook Travel.

The company collapsed late last month, leaving travellers and crew stranded all around the world. Many are uncertain whether they will receive wages owed to them. 

The British government launched its largest ever peacetime repatriation to bring travellers home. Many crew were not so lucky, with some posting on social media that they had been left stranded overseas with no way to get home. BBC News reported crew stranded in Las Vegas had been given free flights home by another airline. 

Other travel companies have been quick to respond to the crisis, inviting former Thomas Cook staff to contact them about potential roles. This includes rival airlines. 

The British Government says it will set up a government-led taskforce to support Thomas Cook staff who have lost their jobs. This will include offering help with CV writing, applications for new jobs and retraining.

Read more HERE.


Boeing 787 landing gear incident at Melbourne Airport 

A Vietnam Airlines Boeing 787 came within one minute of landing at Melbourne Airport when air traffic controllers noted the aircraft’s landing gear was not lowered. The incident occurred late last month. 

Air traffic controllers alerted the crew, who immediately initiated a missed approach before safely landing. 

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the FlightRadar24 data showed the aircraft dropped as low as 675 feet before rapidly ascending. 

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating the incident.

Read more HERE.


No end in sight for Boeing 737 Max grounding 

There is still no date in sight for the Boeing 737 Max to return to the skies, following two fatal crashes last year. 

Just as aviation authorities around the world acted independently when grounding the aircraft, they will each make their own separate way to ending the grounding. 

Forbes reports that the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expected to “unground” the aircraft within the next few months, while the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) may take until the northern spring “ to define what it believes needs to be done to address the 737 MAX’s safety issues, a lag that would pose serious problems for Boeing and airlines.” 

The news site suggests EASA will have no choice but to order a separate flight test as part of meeting the four prerequisites to end the grounding. The prerequisites are: 

  • Boeing design changes approved by EASA and made mandatory
  • additional independent design review by EASA to ensure no similar weaknesses in other areas of the aircraft’s flight control system 
  • the crash scenarios being sufficiently understood to provide confidence that the scope of the design review is comprehensive and adequate, 
  • and flight crews being sufficiently trained before being authorised to fly the aircraft again. 

The FAA and EASA have an agreement whereby they rely on each other’s regulatory system for aircraft certification, with the other authority providing a validation of that certification. So the FAA will certify Boeing aircraft and EASA will validate that certification; while EASA will validate Airbus aircraft and the FAA will validate that certification. Validation may include additional testing to meet regional requirements.

The accident reports for both crashes are not yet available. Until those reports are available, it is impossible for anyone to say the problem has been identified and fixed. 

As Forbes reports: “Airlines cannot wait forever, and neither can Boeing, but maybe passengers can. There are practical considerations. Airlines are waiting to relaunch their aircraft and sort out their cancelled flights. Aircraft are ageing and getting damaged in the desert heat. Boeing needs to get its production line back up and its backlog out of parking lots here, there, and elsewhere. People’s livelihoods are on the line.” 

Forbes notes that public confidence is at stake – confidence in the aircraft itself as well as trust in the regulators to do the right thing next time something goes wrong. 

A complication is that the FAA reports to one government, while EASA is answerable to the European Union and those leaders have already made it clear they are in no hurry. Regulatory harmony seems an unlikely outcome at this stage. 

Read more HERE.

Asbestos scare leads to tower evacuation at Canberra Airport 

It’s back to business as usual at Canberra Airport after the air traffic control tower was briefly evacuated early last month.

Travel Weekly reported that equipment suspected of containing asbestos had been found in the air traffic control tower during routine maintenance. Evacuation followed to ensure the safety of the air traffic controllers. 

Alternative air control services ensured minimal disruption to services during the hour-long evacuation. 

AirServices Australia, which operates the air traffic control services, later reported that testing had confirmed no asbestos has been found in the tower. 

Read more HERE.


Protest fall-out for Cathay Pacific 

Cathay Pacific has been feeling the heat from anti-government protests in its home base of Hong Kong. 

As the Hong Kong flag carrier, Cathay came under close scrutiny of the Chinese government during the recent protests and it was directed to name and suspend any employees who had been involved in the protests. This led to protests targeting Cathay Pacific for its actions. 

Chief Executive Rupert Hogg resigned, as did Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Paul Loo. Chairman John Slosar has also announced that he will stand down in November.

Reuters reports that Cathay passenger numbers fell 11.3 per cent in August as a result of the protests against the Chinese government and the airline. The greatest effect was declining inbound traffic. 

Official figures showed visitor arrivals to Hong Kong falling by nearly 40 per cent in August as the protests affected tourism, retail and hotel businesses.

Cathay proposed to reduce capacity in the wake of the falling passenger numbers. 

Cathay is majority owned by Swire Pacific, with Air China also having a significant shareholding. Between them, the two companies own almost 75 per cent of Cathay. 

Read more HERE.


An expensive coffee 

An Airbus A330 flight from Frankfurt in Germany to Cancun in Mexico had to turn back and land in Ireland after coffee was spilt in the pilot’s lap and over the cockpit audio control panels. 

Stuff reports that despite efforts to mop up the coffee, the audio unit malfunctioned, and the crew noted a burning smell in the cockpit. 

A button on the panel then melted and smoke entered the cockpit. Because of the audio unit failures, the pilot could not hear or transmit messages and had to rely on the co-pilot's speaker to hear any transmissions. The crew made the call to turn back and land.

The incident occurred on board a Condor aircraft in February of this year. Condor is a subsidiary of the Thomas Cook Group. 

The United Kingdom Air Accidents Investigation Branch investigated the accident and its report says the captain put his coffee cup on a tray table before it was knocked over, spilling the coffee. 

Cup holders are provided on the aircraft but the Condor cups were too small for the holders. The airline has responded by changing cup size and ensuring cups used in the cockpit have lids on. 

After landing in Ireland the aircraft was inspected and repaired. 

Read more HERE.


The importance of air transport to New Zealand 

An International Air Transport Association (IATA) report has quantified the contribution of the air transport sector to New Zealand’s economy. 

The report says airlines, airport operators, airport on-site enterprises (restaurants and retail), aircraft manufacturers, and air navigation service providers employ 45,000 people in New Zealand. 

In addition, by buying goods and services from local suppliers the sector supported another 47,000 jobs. There are also another 22,000 jobs supported through the wages it pays its employees, some or all of which are subsequently spent on consumer goods and services. Foreign tourists flying into New Zealand and spending their money in the local economy are estimated to support 215,000 more jobs. In total 329,000 jobs are supported by air transport and tourists arriving by air. 

The air transport industry, including airlines and its supply chain, are estimated to support US $8.8 billion of gross domestic product (GDP) in New Zealand. Spending by foreign tourists supports a further US $11.9 billion of the country’s GDP, totalling to US $20.7 billion.

In total, 11.2 per cent of New Zealand’s GDP is supported by inputs to the air transport sector and foreign tourists arriving by air.

Read more HERE.


Virgin Australia to slash 750 jobs after posting A$349 million loss

Virgin Australia is planning to cut 750 head office and corporate roles to slash A$75 million a year in costs, as it seeks to rebound from a A$349 million full-year loss, according to ABC News

The news site reports Virgin Australia has posted an underlying loss before tax of A$71.2 million. 

The airline blames subdued trading, rising fuel costs, a lower Australian dollar and increased operations costs for its worsening financial performance. 

While the net loss is lower than last year’s A$681 million, underlying performance, excluding one-off costs and gains, was substantially worse. 

Virgin's underlying loss before tax of A$71.2 million was a big drop from a profit of A$64.4 million the year before. 

ABC News reports that Virgin has now hedged more than 90 per cent of its forecast 2019-20 financial year fuel consumption against price increases and extended hedging into 2021. It has a substantial cost-cutting programme underway, and has plans to merge the corporate and operational functions of its domestic, regional and Tigerair operations – resulting in the loss of 750 corporate and head office jobs. That represents about seven per cent of Virgin's total workforce and is expected to bring savings of around A$75 million per annum.

All Virgin Australia routes will be reviewed in detail and further job losses or route cancellations are possible.

Read more HERE.



Attached Files

Comments are closed.

<< NZALPA stands by Jetstar pilots Upcoming events >>