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Grounded pilots out of practice because of COVID-19 spark airline safety fears

The Japan Times

It found the pilot had flown less than three hours in the previous 90 days. The first officer hadn't flown at all since Feb. 1. The incident underlines an emerging risk from the coronavirus pandemic: pilots aren't getting enough opportunity to fly because airlines have grounded planes and scaled back operations due to a slump in demand for air travel. In its preliminary report, Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee said the pandemic has made it harder to maintain pilot proficiency and flying experience. The Lion Air aircraft involved was an Airbus SE A330, one of 10 in the carrier's fleet.


The cost of becoming a pilot is making the job a pipe dream

Mashable

As a boy growing up in upstate New York, Travis Evans was captivated by flying. Now, that love of the air has been grounded by his finances. Evans, 32, joined the Air Force after high school, and then decided to go to school to become a commercial airline pilot. He enrolled in New York's Dowling College -- but then reality set in. Even with his degree, he'd have nowhere near the 1,500 hours required to become even a co-pilot.


Boeing to offer safety feature as standard in 737 MAX software upgrade

The Japan Times

DALLAS/DETROIT - Boeing will make standard on its troubled new airliner a safety feature that might have helped the crew of a jet that crashed shortly after takeoff last year in Indonesia, killing everyone on board. The equipment, which had been offered as an option, alerts pilots of faulty information from key sensors. It will now be included on every 737 Max as part of changes that Boeing is rushing to complete on the jets by early next week, according to two people familiar with the changes. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because Boeing and federal regulators are still discussing details of the upgrade to the Max fleet, which was grounded worldwide after a second deadly crash this month in Ethiopia. The cause of the accidents has not been determined, but investigators probing the crash of a Lion Air Max jet have focused on an automated system designed to use information from two sensors to help prevent a dangerous aerodynamic stall.


Boeing acknowledges flaw in 737 MAX simulator software

The Japan Times

NEW YORK - Boeing acknowledged Saturday it had to correct flaws in its 737 MAX flight simulator software used to train pilots, after two deadly crashes involving the aircraft that killed 346 people. "Boeing has made corrections to the 737 MAX simulator software and has provided additional information to device operators to ensure that the simulator experience is representative across different flight conditions," it said in a statement. The company did not indicate when it first became aware of the problem, and whether it informed regulators. Its statement marked the first time Boeing acknowledged there was a design flaw in software linked to the 737 MAX, whose MCAS anti-stall software has been blamed in large part for the Ethiopian Airlines tragedy. According to Boeing, the flight simulator software was incapable of reproducing certain flight conditions similar to those at the time of the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March or the Lion Air crash in October.


Plane makers working on tech to cut cockpit crews to one but facing pilot pushback

The Japan Times

FARNBOROUGH, ENGLAND/SINGAPORE – Airplane manufacturers are working to adapt jets to reduce the number of pilots needed for long-haul flights and to build new cockpits designed for a single aviator in order to ease a global pilot shortage and cut airline costs. Airbus SE and Thales SA expect the number of cockpit crew on long-haul flights, typically three or four, could be reduced to two from 2023 thanks to new technology to reduce pilot workload. Reducing crew on long-range looks to be the most accessible step because there is another pilot onboard," Jean-Brice Dumont, Airbus head of engineering, told Reuters at the Farnborough Airshow. Boeing Co. is examining the possibility of having reduced manning in the cockpit of a proposed midsized jet that it aims to have in service by 2025 if it proceeds with a launch decision next year, according to UBS analysts. Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.