Ethiopian Airlines installed Max 8 simulator, but pilot on doomed flight didn’t get training

Ethiopian Airlines surpassed many carriers by becoming one of the first to install a simulator to teach pilots how to fly the new Boeing 737 Max 8, but the captain of the doomed Flight 302 never trained on the simulator, according to people close to the airline’s operations. The people, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the carrier had the Max 8 simulator up and running in January, 2 months before Flight 302 crashed. Boeing has said that experienced 737 pilots needed little training for the new Max 8, an assertion that has now come under close scrutiny by regulatory officials and pilots at other airlines. Use of the simulator by Ethiopian Airlines means the carrier was among the few in the world that not only had a working simulator for Boeing Max jets but was using it a few months after the first Max 8 crash, Lion Air Flight 610.
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Analyst: Sale of Malaysia Airlines would face resistance

Any effort to sell Malaysia Airlines (MAB) would meet stiff resistance, one analyst contended, after Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said that is one option the govt is considering for the flag carrier. Mahathir said March 11 that the sale, refinancing or closure of MAB were possibilities as the airline continues its turnaround efforts. There are “local and foreign firms expressing interest” in the carrier, he said March 20. But selling or closing the govt-backed airline, even to a private Malaysian company or individual, would meet political resistance, aviation analyst and Endau Analytics founder Sukhor Yusof said. “At this stage, I think the govt is just testing the market and gauging the appetite for MAB,” Sukhor said. “I doubt it will be sold because as there might be too much baggage".
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Jet Airways faces ‘severe trouble’ unless it secures fresh funds

Jet Airways once flew high as the standard-bearer for air travel in a country where aviation was a monopoly of tired state airlines. But now with more than US$1.2b of net debt and its operational fleet having shrunk from 123 planes to just 41, the skies are darkening rapidly. Jet has defaulted on loan payments to lessors and creditors and pilots have not been paid in months. Its founder and chairman Naresh Goyal is desperately trying to regain the support of disillusioned investors and wary lenders. He has appealed for emergency funds from Etihad Airways, which would then be matched with fresh credit from Indian banks. But Etihad has so far refused. Monday, Jet grounded a number of flights to and from Abu Dhabi, Etihad’s main hub, in a move analysts described as a “point of no return” for the talks.
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Lion Air pilots scoured handbook in minutes before crash-sources

The pilots of a doomed Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX scrambled through a handbook to understand why the jet was lurching downwards in the final minutes before it hit the water, people with knowledge of the cockpit voice recorder contents said. The investigation into the crash last October has taken on new relevance as the US FAA and other regulators grounded the model last week after a second deadly accident in Ethiopia. Investigators examining the Indonesian crash are considering how a computer ordered the plane to dive in response to data from a faulty sensor and whether the pilots had enough training to respond appropriately to the emergency, among other factors. Following the second fatal accident, US authorities are reviewing whether enough was done to ensure the plane was safe to fly.
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Boeing makes personnel changes in wake of 737 crashes

Boeing has implemented changes among its top engineering team as it works to deal with the fallout of 2 recent crashes and subsequent grounding of the 737 Max 8. John Hamilton has been named chief engineer, whereas previously he was both a VP and chief engineer. In his changed role, he will focus on the crash investigations into Lion Air flight JT610 and Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302. "In this capacity, Hamilton is responsible for bringing the necessary engineering resources and capabilities together from across the company to work through the major accident investigations and other technical risks impacting Commercial Airplanes products and businesses," says the company. Until the middle of 2013, Hamilton was the VP/chief project engineer for the 737 programme.
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Ethiopia fast-tracks Boeing 737 MAX crash probe

Ethiopian air accident investigators are taking the unusual step of fast-tracking their probe into last week’s crash of a Boeing 737 MAX airliner amid global safety concerns around the jet and could issue a preliminary report on the accident as early as next week, the head of Ethiopia’s civil-aviation authority said Wednesday. Ethiopia’s transport minister and the French air safety investigation bureau, which downloaded the data from the Ethiopian Airlines plane’s black boxes, have pointed to “clear similarities” between that accident and a Lion Air crash. “It is a big issue for the whole world,” colonel Wosenyeleh Hunegna, Ethiopia’s civil-aviation boss and a member of the committee overseeing the crash investigation, said. A preliminary report, with more data from the plane’s black boxes could be released in a week or 8 days.
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Air Belgium to assist British Airways on long-haul sectors

British Airways has brought in assistance on another route as it seeks to cope with the continuing disruption caused by problems with its Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines. The carrier plans to use an Air Belgium Airbus A340-300 on its daily London Heathrow to Toronto Pearson service over the peak summer period, from June 9 to Aug 17. The same aircraft will serve the London Heathrow to New York Newark sector from April 1 to June 8. The aircraft will be supplied under a wet-lease arrangement. Air Belgium has, over recent months, also been brought in to operate British Airways services on the Abu Dhabi and Cairo routes. The assistance has been necessary as BA continues to carry out detailed precautionary inspections on Trent 1000 engines on some Boeing 787-9s.
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# Etihad, Gulf Air widen cooperation agreement

Etihad Airways and Gulf Air are to step up their recently signed wide-ranging cooperative agreement by instituting a codeshare from the start of the industry’s summer timetable season. The latest move comes after Etihad and Gulf Air signed an MOU to cooperate in several areas in Nov 2018. Training services have already been the subject of a separate accord under the MOU. The codeshare will operate both between the two carriers’ hubs and further afield. Currently, Gulf Air has a 4X-daily operation to Abu Dhabi, while Etihad flies 3X-daily to Bahrain. Gulf Air has a mainly regional route network and serves a large number of destinations in the Indian sub-continent, together with a small number of long-haul destinations, such as London Heathrow and Manila. Etihad has a more wide-ranging long-haul route map.
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Boeing 737 crisis imperils Norwegian's cut-price US routes

Norwegian Air Shuttle's reliance on the fuel-saving Boeing 737 Max to underpin its ultra low-cost trans-Atlantic strategy has exposed the loss-making carrier as the most vulnerable in Europe to the worldwide grounding of the plane. Norwegian was among the earliest adopters of the new narrow-body jet, using its extra range to launch services on Europe-US routes traditionally dominated by twin-aisle planes. But after the fatal crash in Ethiopia March 10 put the Max out of action, the airline has been forced to scrapped some flights and switch others to bigger aircraft, increasing costs and reducing competitiveness in an already cut-throat market. The groundings will “change the dynamics” of Norwegian Air’s operations but not the way it moves forward, according to a spokesman.
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European, Canadian regulators to do own review of Boeing jet

The decision by Europe and Canada to break with US air-safety regulators over the safety of the Boeing 737 Max is likely to delay the resumption of flights after 2 of the jets crashed. The Europeans and Canadians vow to conduct their own reviews of Boeing's changes to a key flight-control system, not to simply take the FAA's word that the alterations are safe. Those reviews scramble an ambitious schedule set by Boeing and could undercut the FAA's reputation around the world. Boeing hopes by Monday to finish an update to software that can automatically point the nose of the plane sharply downward in some circumstances to avoid an aerodynamic stall, according to people briefed on FAA presentations to congressional committees.
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France is not handling Ethiopian air-crash analysis

France’s civil aviation safety authority won’t be analysing flight-recorder data from an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max flight that crashed earlier this month, according to a person familiar with the investigation. No reason was given for the decision, which could be announced as soon as late Wednesday by Ethiopian authorities, said the person, who asked not be named. Analysing the data is a step further than the decoding France’s Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses has already carried out, and while Ethiopia is overseeing the investigation of the crash, agencies including the US NTSB have also been providing technical assistance. French experts at the BEA successfully downloaded the voice and data recordings after officials in the East African country refused to hand them to the US officials.
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Frontier attendants, airline reach tentative deal

Frontier Airlines flight attendants celebrated a tentative contract with the carrier Wednesday, calling off a demonstration by attendants from 20 airlines in town for a union convention. The deal, reached Tuesday night with oversight from the National Mediation Board, will replace a 2011 agreement reached after the former owner of the airline declared bankruptcy and pushed for concessions. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA said the deal includes significant pay increases, schedule flexibility and quality-of-life improvements and other benefits but declined to release details until union representatives review the details at a March 28 meeting. Local union president Jen Sala said it would put the airline on par with other major carriers.
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ANA receives first A380; plans to double capacity to Hawaii

ANA received its first of 3 Airbus A380s March 20, which the carrier plans to use to double capacity between Japan and Hawaii. Hawaii is the number one resort destination for Japanese travellers, and ANA operates Boeing 787s on the Tokyo Narita-Honolulu route with a 90% load factor, ANA marketing executive Nanako Murakami said. ANA will put 2 A380s into operation this year, May 24 and July 1, and a third on an unspecified date in 2020. With the first aircraft, ANA will operate 3 flights a week; the second will bring the total to 10 flights a week. Each A380 will be equipped with 520 seats, more than double the capacity of an ANA 787, Murakami said. The cabin will be configured with 383 seats in economy class, 73 in premium economy and 56 in business, as well as a new eight-seat first class intended for honeymooners.
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Iran Air Fokker F100 makes belly landing at Tehran

An Iran Air Fokker F100 had to make a wheels-up landing in Tehran, after a reported hydraulic failure led to the main undercarriage legs failing to deploy. None of the 24 passengers on board were injured in the event, according to local reports. There was no news regarding the aircraft’s crew. The aircraft, with a 28-year-old airframe, was reported as performing domestic flight IR 215 from Qeshm Island to Tehran Mehrabad, the Iranian capital’s second airport, when both main gear struts failed to extend. Pictures posted on Twitter showed the aircraft apparently sliding along the runway with flashes and sparks coming from underneath its rear fuselage. Further tweets showed passengers apparently disembarking down the front passenger door’s airstairs and moving away across the runway as emergency services attended.
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Turkish Airlines denies reports of stake sale to Qatar Airways

Turkish Airlines Wednesday denied reports claiming that the company had been sold to Qatar Airways. "News reports about the sale of Turkish Airlines which surface from time to time have no basis in reality. We wish to respectfully inform the public that we reserve our legal rights about these baseless speculations," THY's senior VP of media relations Yahya Üstün said on Twitter. Reports began circulating last week, alleging 49% of THY's shares were sold to Qatar Airways for US$10.5b. Meanwhile, THY CE Bilal Ekşi used the spotlight to quell rumours and praise the company's progress, saying the airline flies to more countries — currently 121 countries — than any other airline in the world. "We don't just carry passengers, but also culture, tourism, and develop business with entrepreneurs," he said.
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Virgin Atlantic to make South American debut by serving Sao Paulo

Virgin Atlantic is to enter the South American market with a new route from London to Sao Paulo next year. The carrier says it will offer a daily service between Heathrow and Guarulhos with a Boeing 787 in a 5-class configuration. Virgin Atlantic will compete with British Airways and LATAM on the route. Virgin Atlantic says Brazil has a "booming tourism industry" which complements a "lucrative" business market. Sister company Virgin Holidays also intends to launch a full product offer within the country for the first time, it adds. Describing Brazil as South America's number-one import and export market, Virgin Atlantic predicts that London-Sao Paulo will be a "popular cargo route" on which the airline will carry regular shipments of car parts, pharmaceuticals, food and agricultural products.
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