Tailwind indicated before Air India ‘table-top’ overrun
August 10, 2020
Indian investigators probing the fatal Boeing 737-800 overrun at Kozhikode are likely to examine whether tailwinds might have further complicated a night landing in wet conditions, at an airport classified by the country’s regulator as ‘critical’ owing to its table-top design. At least 18 occupants of the Air India Express flight, including both pilots, did not survive after the jet broke up after overrunning runway 10 on arrival from Dubai. Meteorological data from Kozhikode airport indicates wind from 260° at the time which would have generated an 11kt tailwind component in the landing direction. Investigators have yet to clarify whether the aircraft initially intended to land on the opposite direction runway 28. It had approached from the west, aligned with runway 10, before breaking left and circling round, descending along the centreline of 28. The aircraft then climbed away and re-established itself on the runway 10 approach. Western India is currently immersed in the June-September monsoon season. Rain showers and mist at Kozhikode had reduced visibility at the time of the landing to 2,000m, and thunderstorm activity had been present in the vicinity. Critical airports require special operational qualifications for the crew as they pose particularly challenging conditions, such as their runway length, terrain, or prevailing weather conditions. Kozhikode had featured in a list of 11 airports designated ‘critical’ by Indian regulators after another Air India Express 737-800 overran at Mangalore in May 2010 – having also, coincidentally, arrived from Dubai. While the table-top runway at Mangalore was dry, and winds calm, the aircraft had landed long and the captain tried belatedly to abort. Table-top runways are positioned on elevated terrain with steep slopes outside of the runway boundary, posing the risk of serious structural damage in the event of an overrun. Kozhikode’s runway 10 is 2860m (9,380ft) long and is equipped with landing aids including ILS. It features a runway end safety area around 90m in length. The runway’s slope is slightly positive – although only 0.12% upwards. India’s aeronautical information publication states that operators must ensure captains and flight crew operating to the airport at night have “sufficient experience in terms of flying hours” as well as daylight operating experience at Kozhikode. All approaches at night must be initiated only with an instrument procedure, it adds. The airline’s standard procedures required the captain to carry out approach and landings to critical airports. Air India Express says the captain of the ill-fated Kozhikode flight, an ex-air force pilot, was “experienced” on the 737-800 and had previously flown Airbus A310s, adding that he was an “accomplished” fighter pilot.

Source: Cirium

​British Airways staff receive redundancy notices
August 10, 2020
British Airways has begun informing thousands of staff whether they will be made redundant, as part of its plan to cut 12,000 positions. Around half of these planned redundancies will be voluntary, the IAG-owned carrier says, with staff who are being given forced redundancies being informed today. “Our half year results, published last week, clearly show the enormous financial impact of Covid-19 on our business. We are having to make difficult decisions and take every possible action now to protect as many jobs as possible.”, the carrier says. "And, while we never could have anticipated being in a position of making redundancies, more than 6,000 of our colleagues have now indicated that they wish to take voluntary redundancy from BA." Of the 6,000 staff who have opted for voluntary redundancy, around 4,500 are cabin crew working out of Heathrow and Gatwick. Staff who are being retained are also being informed whether they will continue on the same employment conditions or will be required to sign contracts. Non-retained staff will have the option to join the company’s Priority Return Talent Pool, that will fast track former staff into new roles that become available. British Airways says the cuts are necessary because it is currently flying less than 20% of its expected schedule and is burning through £20 per day, while its largest markets, the USA and India, remain closed. The carrier posted a second quarter loss of £711m on 31 July.

Source: Cirium

United begins removing seats from regional aircraft
August 07, 2020
United Airlines has begun removing seats from Embraer 175 regional aircraft, a strong indication that broad pilot furloughs are imminent. On 6 August, Chicago-based United began showing three different seat maps of the E175 on its website. The first seat map is the aircraft’s normal 76-seat, three-class configuration. Two other diagrams show a maximum of 70 seats, in two different three-class configurations. The changes come several weeks after United’s chief commercial officer Andrew Nocella said that the airline was drawing up plans to remove seats from its jets, a requirement under the carrier’s contract with its pilot union Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA). That contract requires United to “convert” 76-seat aircraft to 70-seat aircraft if it is forced to furlough pilots hired prior to when the contract was signed, a move that could diminish the economics of the jets. Regional carriers Mesa Airlines, Republic Airways and SkyWest Airlines operate a combined 172 of the type for United, according to Cirium fleets data. “We have the engineering being worked on right now, and we will have them removed by October 1,” Nocella had said on 20 May when asked if United might take this step. United did not comment on the changes. Last week the carrier told its pilots it plans to furlough at least 3,900 pilots or one third of its total pilot population as it prepares to deal with the pandemic’s long-term effects on the industry. Passenger demand fell to record lows during the second quarter as shelter-in-place orders and lockdowns around the country and across the globe depressed demand for passenger air transport. Even though there has been a small rebound recently, most industry players expect the recovery to take up to three years. The airline, which has received federal government financal aid under the CARES Act, was prevented from laying off or furloughing personnel before 1 October. That deadline is fast approaching, and the commercial aviation industry is preparing for up to 75,000 layoffs across the country if the relief is not extended. Pilot union representatives could not immediately be reached for comment on the changes and what they might mean for the airline and its pilots. In June, the union agreed to voluntary furlough and company leave of absence programmes, as well as a voluntary separation leave initiative in order to help reduce the number of pilots who might be laid off in the coming months.

Source: Cirium


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