There’s been three notable incidents of late in which flight crew have mistakenly landed at the wrong airport – see the Dreamlifter, a C-17 and a Southwest 737. A third was almost added this past Tuesday morning when an Air India Boeing 787-8 registered VT-ANM mistook Melbourne’s Essendon Airport for Melbourne International Airport (Tullamarine).
Operating AI301 from Sydney to Melbourne VT-ANM approached and crossed Melbourne from the east following usual tracking paths for aircraft inbound from the north-east to YMML’s active Runway 34.
The flight crew initiated a right turn to lining up for Essendon’s Runway 35 mistaking it for YMML’s Runway 34. Essendon Airport is located 4.5nm to southeast of Melbourne International Airport, and has a similar cross-runway layout to Melbourne with the runway headings only offset 1 degree.
Our 2013 retrospective, and Airbus breaking with tradition on A350 MSN2 , inspired me to take a look at what this dynamic industry might have in-store for 2014:
A350 MSN2 the first test aircraft to be fitted with a full cabin interior in its new carbon fibre scheme. Image: Airbus SAS.
Some big regulatory changes will take place in 2014. In particular, CASA will need to guide the Australia’s airlines on the use of Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) following changes to regulatory legislation by the FAA in the US and EASA in Europe. Currently Australian carriers are self regulating in this respect, but moving independently as a way to gain competitive advantage will only create headaches for crew in enforcing use on-board.
Image: Graham Cook
Domestic capacity The war will continue until the end of the first half, bringing further revenue pressure to the Qantas and Virgin groups. Qantas has invested too much the public rhetoric behind in its strategy, to back away now would look like it was giving in. Not the best market image to present given its current financial position. Expect the Federal Government to make small changes to the level of single foreign ownership to the Qantas Sale Act.
The political future of Tony Abbott’s Government depends on their ability to deliver a courageous bipartisan policy decision. With a promise of a decision, a ‘government of no surprises’ will now need to deliver with a real commitment on Badgery’s Creek. This will come as a stage 1 single runway development, with no rail connection, because Abbott’s made it clear he doesn’t like trains. Also expect a change to the slot caps at Sydney Airport, starting with the 05:00-06:00am landing window.
2013 was exceptional proof that aviation is far from sclerotic. Beginning with continued fixation on the 787 as Boeing’s amour propre was tested by further incidents and a grounding. Eyes turned skyward for the equal greatest number of first flights in history. Rarely appreciating the continued challenging conditions airlines and the industry faces, politicians continued to provide opaque interference, compounding an already fractured dichotomy. There was awe as the world’s largest airline was replaced with with an even larger carrier, rosy profit turnarounds turned into sickening loss projections, and a renewed geopolitical rivalry in everything from aerospace manufacturing to air traffic rights. Here’s our 13 of 2013:
1. The 787.
The most exciting new aircraft in years became known for one thing in 2013: fire. In January the worldwide fleet was grounded – only the second aircraft since the DC-10 to be grounded in this way – following a series of electrical faults and battery fires caused by thermal runaway. The batteries were pulled out, boxed, and additional venting at a cost of approximately $500,000 per aircraft. Back in the air confidence has grown, the 787-9 is now flying and there has only been a small fiery issue relating to a locator beacon. Image: Richard Deakin.
2. CSeries flies.
110 years later Bombardier did it again for the very first time. This time with the first completely new narrow-body design since the A320 family.
3. ICAO’s emissions agreement.
ICAO’s member states reached a landmark multilateral agreement to develop a market-based measure that would reduce carbon emissions by 2020. The agreement will allow countries and airlines to operate under a single global standard rather than competing carbon regimes. Governments’ individual plans will be approved at the next assembly in 2016.
No longer Australia’s car. Holden says production in Australia is no longer sustainable. Image: Hugo90
Politicians are scrounging for reasons to blame or deny the imminent demise of Australia’s automotive manufacturing industry. Automotive’s future script has been clear for over two decades since Dr John Hewson announced a zero tariff regime for automotive products in 1992.
Indeed, the writing has been on the wall for the majority of Australia’s manufacturing industries for sometime, yet one industry is a clear performer. Australia’s $4 billion aerospace manufacturing industry is a minnow when compared to the automotive industry, but it still employs more than 14,000 people. Subject to aviation’s global fiscal uncertainty, it still continues to grow delivering consistent profit and growth as other industries shrink.
The first of our weekly rollerboard wraps, neatly packing up a broader and atypical perspective on the industry.
Going to ground
Air India’s Boeing 787 fleet has been in a bit of a pickle over the last few weeks leading to the airline’s decision to preemptively ground one aircraft at a time from the end of November.
Ostensibly for software upgrades, each grounding will last for an undetermined length of time giving AI time to conduct more general repairs across its fleet of ten 787-8s. What is wrong outside the airline’s own 787 minimum equipment list (MEL) Air India hasn’t confirmed, but there has been multiple incidents including the loss of a mid-underwing-to-body fairing located on the belly of the aeroplane on the right side at Bangalore Airport, a cracked windshield grounding an aircraft in Melbourne, another grounding in Sydney due to undisclosed issues, and a braking issue on a flight from London to Delhi.
An unofficial Air India source says “Boeing has put out certain service bulletins which the airline will implement. This is not mandatory. The airline is doing it on its own to increase reliability of the aircraft.”
Lufthansa has become a launch customer for the yet to be launched next generation Boeing 777X project ordering 34 777-9Xs in addition to 25 Airbus A350-900s, with options and purchase rights for an additional 60 aircraft – 30 each of the 777-9X and A350-900.
The 777-9X will be powered by the General Electric GE9X and feature a new advanced composite wing, which at 71 metres will be the longest aircraft wing Boeing has produced. The result? An estimated 20 per cent better fuel efficiency and a 15% reduction in operating costs over the 777-300ER resulting in the lowest seat kilometre costs in the industry.
Boeing’s first 787-9 has successfully completed its five hour 16 minute maiden sortie touching down on Boeing Field’s runway 13R at 23:18 GMT.
During the flight BOE001 reached an altitude of 20,400ft and a maximum speed of 250 knots. In challenging weather conditions, the aircraft spent a significant amount of the flight in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC).
With the worst news for airlines behind them, Airbus and Boeing are now making fast tracks in the development of their next generation aircraft families.
On May 30 in Everett, Boeing commenced final assembly – the process of joining the wings, fuselage sections, and integrating systems – of the first Boeing 787-9 on the former 767 production line. With the three flight test aircraft requiring installation of additional flight testing instrumentation, the surge line was created to ensure no disruption to the ramp up of 787-8 production.
The 787-9 features a 6 metre fuselage stretch over the baseline 787-9, and strengthened internal structures for a higher maximum takeoff weight, increasing range by 300nm (555km) to 8,000 to 8,500nm (14,800 to 15,750km).
The redesigned horizontal and vertical stabiliser is the first on a commercial aircraft to incorporate a hybrid laminar flow control (HLFC) system. The system passively ingests air at the front of the surface, allowing the laminar flow (boundary layer) – the layer of air immediately above the surface of a wing or stabiliser – to remain attached longer. By maintaining a smooth boundary layer for longer the transition point of the laminar flow to turbulent air can be moved backwards across the surface reducing drag by a further 1%.
Production is expected to take approximately two months. A vast improvement on the planned five months for the 787-8 which later became two years and seven months. Launch customer Air New Zealand is expected to take delivery of its first aircraft in early 2014.
Meanwhile over in Toulouse, the prototype Airbus A350-900 MSN-1 rolled out on May 13, had its two Rolls-Royce’s Trent XWB engines started for the first time yesterday after a successful start of the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit (APU).
MSN1 powers up for the first time. Image: Airbus SAS.
A successful engine start brings the A350 one step closer to commencing ground runs, including taxi trials and rejected takeoff tests in preparation for its maiden sortie, the date of which Airbus is yet to reveal.