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Aviation Industry
Thursday, February 1, 2007
No time

SAA, as ever mindless of the needs of passengers and only interested in making money (not that their results show much of that) have decided to use pilots on airliners with only 70 hours training.

It is supposed to take 200 hours before an ordinary pilot can get his Commercial Licence and 1 000 hours for him to get his Airline Pilots licence.
But SAA reckons, “We will be able to take a person off the street and train him in our simulators for between 12 and 18 months. He will then be able to move into the right-hand seat of a Boeing 747 as co-pilot.” Mr Jordaan added that the course would be designed specifically for airline flying and would not devote any time to “unnecessary aspects” such as using topographical maps.
He seems to forget that one of the main reasons for having a co-pilot is to take over if the captain is discommoded – which happens quite frequently. Equally, the pilot will be useless in any other aircraft.

Airbus A380 future on hold

After a much appreciated display at OR Tambo International Airport (or whatever name it goes by these days) in December, it has transpired that FedEx has cancelled its order for ten A380 Freighters and replaced it with 15 Boeing B777s. This is rather bad news for Airbus as the A380F has only got 15 other orders, and the whole programme may go drainwards.
Then Virgin has postponed its order for six A380s which tit was due to pick up in 2009. Virgin wants to delay until 2013 by which time the design will be proven.
It can’t be doing Airbus much good having these overt shows of distrust. It has already set about reducing the subcontractors from some 3 000 to 500. And on top of that, rising costs have moved the break-even point from 270 frames in 2005 to 420.
Communication crash investigation

In a somewhat bizarre state of affairs the two pilots of the Legacy private jet operated by ExcelAire in New York have been detained and their passports confiscated in Brazil.
The crash occurred between the Legacy and a Brazilian airline, Gol, B737-800 in October 2006. The two aircraft had a mid-air collision and all the B737 pax and crew were killed. The Legacy pilots were able to get down.
There seems to have been a major problem with communication with the ATCs as the incident occurred at just the point where the air control moves from Brasilia ATC to Manaus. What has come out so far is spine-chilling with records of inter-flight communications telling the Legacy to “maintain”, but no one is certain what they were supposed to maintain – their altitude or direction.
The Legacy contacted Brasilia four minutes before it flew over Brasilia, but there was no contact between them for 35 minutes even though the ATCs had lost secondary radar contact. The Legacy tried to raise Brasilia 12 times between 16:48 and 16:53 but only at the end did Brasilia get through telling them to contact Manaus. While the Legacy was trying to get the frequency numbers the collision occurred.
After the collision, the Legacy again tried nine times to contact Brasilia without getting through. Strange to say, the accident investigators had not tried to interview the ATCs by the end of December, nor have they analysed the comm. equipment and collision avoidance systems of the two aircraft.
The Brazilian ATC operation has come in for some serious lashing – including that they tend to speak in English to international flights but Portuguese to local ones — a sure fire recipe for disaster. The ATCs have been bitching about poor technology, investment and hiring strategy for ages.
Inevitably the passengers’ lawyers are having a go at the Legacy, probably because the insurance will be easier to access than in Brazil. ExcelAire has denied all wrongdoing. A further difficulty will be that the ATCs are controlled by the military – none of which are very co-operative in such cases. Meanwhile the pilots are stuck in Brazil for no proper reason.
It may be remembered that some years ago a German aircraft at Frankfurt was yelled at for speaking  to the ATC in German and told to speak English. The pilot replied, “I am a German pilot, flying a German aircraft in Germany and at a German Airport. Why must I speak English?”
An unknown pilot with a freffly English accent broke in to say, “Because you lost the war.”

Air Zim avoids the UK

Well maybe that’s a bit harsh. Actually what has happened is that Air Zim has suspended all flights to Heathrow because it is terrified that the Brits will snaffle their aircraft to set off against the airline’s debt of nearly US$3m. The Euros got a court award empowering them to seize the aircraft to satisfy a debt over four years old – and we all know that the Blair government (if it can be called that these days) does everything the Brussels Sprouts decree, no matter how stupid.
Mark you, the UK Transport Committee in Parliament has issued a stinging report on the Euro Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) saying it is “an accident waiting to happen, with lamentable problems of governance, management and resources.”

US courts do it again

A pilot’s family has been awarded US$10,5m mostly against the Experimental Aircraft Association following a crash on 7th July 1999 at Arlington WA.
The pilot of an RV6-A who had minimal experience had turned out of an excessive rate of climb and crashed. Onlookers stated that the Fire tender arrived within 60 seconds and the NTSB averred this in its report. Notwithstanding all this, the court found that the fire engine had taken over five minutes to arrive and then found the EAA liable for the injuries. I don’t know why the NTSB bothers to issue reports: the courts just seem to ignore them.
The bottom line is that aviation insurance premiums will climb steadily to pay for these outrageous awards until no-one can afford to fly.

New SA underwriter

A new aviation underwriter has set up business in Johannesburg. Jamie Illing, previously running the reinsurance side for Regent has branched out on his own. He has set up Independent Aviation Underwriters (Pty) Ltd, which is writing on behalf of National Insurance (Natsure), part of the Alexander Forbes stable.

Unusual hull claim settled

Back in 2003 the pilot of a light aircraft trying to land at a grass strip near Cedar Springs, Michigan in the US bounced off the roof of a truck (being legally driven on a road) before flipping over and crashing. Only the pilot’s pride and the aircraft were damaged, so that would be a straightforward Hull claim?
Not so. You can imagine the truck owner’s reaction when the aircraft’s pilot filed a claim against his insurers. The claim hinged upon the definition of the word ‘upon’. Under Michigan’s no-fault insurance laws, any accident occurring off the road between a vehicle that was designed to be used on the roads and one that was not, means that the insurers of the road vehicle are liable. The aircraft’s pilot argued that the aircraft did not touch the road during the collision and, therefore, the truck’s insurers had to pay. Two Michigan courts have agreed with him.

Staff pay cuts

Once again the weird arrangements in the US have Northwest Airlines in Chapter 11 bankruptcy – with the usual suggestion that the staff carry the losses made by Management’s incompetence. Cabin staff were asked to take a 40% salary cut (no mention of the Board of Directors taking a cut, let alone 40%) and, not surprisingly, staff told management to take a hike.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, BA has posted a 59% increase in profits in the first quarter. It must be doing something right.

By Henry Tours


Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:20.1 1st February, 2007
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