Journalist & Broadcaster.

Journalist & Broadcaster.
EBOLA COMMENTARY Aviation Security & Ops., Travel & Holiday Expert. Commentator on EBOLA world issues, , LIVE ISDN Contributions , isdn ++44 1733 345020 G722 & ATX DUAL CODECS SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK Landline Tel: 01733 345581

Tuesday, 21 October 2014


London Heathrow Airport [LHR] is cancelling flights as the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo are expected to hit the UK on Tuesday.  Inbound flights are also being diverted to Europe. Already 10 per cent of flights at LHR will be affected. Passengers can expect widespread disruption to scheduled  services, as aircraft will need to be repositioned, and advised to telephone their airline first.
Heavy rain and wind shear gusts of up to 75mph are expected to impact all over the UK on Tuesday evening. 

The Met Office have already posted   "be aware" warnings, with gales forecast for Northern Ireland, northern England and Wales and parts of Scotland.  Moderate gale force winds are expected to move eastwards on Monday night.

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

CEO of Frances' Total dies in executive jet crash 'fireball' at Moscows' Vnukovo Airport

The CEO of France’s oil and gas giant Total, Christophe de Margerie, was reportedly among four people killed in a business jet crash at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow after the aircraft hit a snowplough on take-off.

Total’s chairman and CEO was the only passenger in the Falcon 50 business jet in addition to 3 French crew members.  TASS news agency confirmed that de Margerie was the only passenger who boarded the private flight to Paris. Despite Western-imposed sanctions on Russia prohibiting  western financing and technology transfer to some Russian energy projects, Total is continuing to pursue a natural gas project in Yamal, a joint venture with Russia's Novatek and China's CNPC.

A French-built Falcon 50 executive jet 

During take-off at around 0:10am Moscow time on Tuesday, the light aircraft, struck a snow-clearing machine with its landing gear. The pilot reportedly decided to turn back and land.

Whilst still in the air, the aircraft sent distress signals reporting an engine fire and fuselage damage.

Attempting a hard landing but crashing, onto the runway, the aircraft already on fire, burst into flames, killing everyone on board.

Vnukovo Airport temporarily suspended all flights following the incident, after 2 hours, the airport reopened and operations restored.

“A criminal investigation has been opened into the violation of safety regulations after a light aircraft crash in the capital's Vnukovo airport,” transport official Tatyana Morozova told RIA.

An investigation group is working at the crash site, Morozova added. Earlier in the day, due to bad weather conditions at least 18 planes were diverted from Vnukovo to other Moscow airports.

Some twelve planes have been received by Domodedovo airport while 6 landed at Sheremetyevo as dense fog and winter weather conditions make landing difficult. Some 80% of the diverted flights were reported to be private business jets.

De Margerie, 63, joined Total in 1974 after graduating from the École Supérieure de Commerce in Paris. He served in several positions in the Finance Department and Exploration & Production division. In 1995, he became President of Total Middle East before joining the Total's Executive Committee as the President of the Exploration & Production division in May 1999. In May 2006, he was appointed a member of the Board of Directors. He was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Total on May 21, 2010.

Sources: RT/Tass/CNS


JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Aircraft Pilot twiddled wrong knob confusing Autopilot

A Jetstar Airbus A320-200, registration VH-VFJ on flight JQ-248 from Christchurch to Auckland (New Zealand), was on DAVEE3C standard arrival route to Auckland with the intention to join the RNP Y approach to runway 23L, the first officer was pilot, flying with autopilot and autothrust engaged.

ATC had instructed the crew to maintain their speed of 280 KIAS down to 5000 feet. Descending through 6800 feet the crew armed the approach mode after having received clearance for the approach.

Descending through 5000 feet the crew slowed the aircraft to 250 KIAS, descending through 4200 feet the autoflight systems switched to tracking the final approach laterally and vertically, the crew therefore selected 3000 feet, the go around target, into the altitude window, approaching 3000 feet the crew - in order to comply with a requirement by their company - needed to further slow the aircraft to 210 knots and pushed the button to level off.

This levelled the aircraft but also activated the pre-selected target in the altitude window and the aircraft no longer followed the vertical profile.

After the aircraft had sufficiently slowed, the crew selected managed descent mode but the aircraft quickly captured 3000 feet and levelled off again against intention of the crew.

The first officer then wound the altitude window to 5000 feet, but then inadvertently pulled the altitude selector knob commanding the autopilot into an open climb to 5000 feet.

While the engines accelerated, the first officer disconnected the autopilot and maintained a shallow descent causing the aircraft to accelerate. When the speed neared 230 KIAS, the speed limit for their configuration, the captain took over, retarded the thrust levers to idle thus disengaging auto-thrust and deployed speed brakes, the aircraft peaked at 230.7 KIAS with no overspeed warning activating (as the speed remained below the threshold).

About 50 seconds later the aircraft slowed through 180 KIAS, the crew deployed flaps, retracted the speed brakes and re-engaged autopilot but continued to assume auto-thrust was still active.

The captain handed controls back to the first officer, neither pilot was aware that the thrust levers were still in the idle position.

The captain's attention was soon drawn to flight path monitoring and ATC communication. The crew was aware that the speed was decaying as they were configuring the aircraft but expected autothrust would accelerate the engines nearing the target speed.

While the last stage of flap was deployed the aircraft slowed through 136 and 133 KIAS, the lowest selectable speed, descending through 1200 feet and slowing through 120 KIAS the flight augmentation computers issued an aural alert "speed, speed, speed", the captain again took control of the aircraft, pushed the thrust levers forward to the climb detent.

While the engines accelerated the aircraft still slowed, at 117 KIAS the alpha protection mode activated and at 116 KIAS the alpha protection mode activated re-engaging autothrust and commanding the engines to TOGA thrust.

The captain disengaged the autothrust system about 5 seconds later by pushing the autothrust disconnect button and continued to use manual thrust for the remainder of the flight, at the time of disconnection the aircraft accelerated through 129 KIAS descending through 1600 feet. The captain continued for a safe landing.

Australia's ATSB released their bulletin containing a safety instreuction:

To operators of highly automated aircraft, this incident highlights the importance of robust approach management procedures, and clear guidance dealing with associated management of aircraft auto-flight systems.

Effective and comprehensive operational procedures that are clearly documented, well understood, regularly practised and consistently applied are fundamental to safe aircraft operations.

The incident also highlights the need for clear procedural guidance regarding communication protocols following a transfer of aircraft control between pilots, particularly following intervention by the pilot not flying.

The ATSB summarized the operator's investigation findings:

The operator found that there may be some commonly-held misunderstandings (by flight crew in general) regarding some aspects of instrument approach management procedures, particularly their application to RNP approaches.

The operator’s report included reference to procedures dealing with setting the missed approach/go-around altitude in the FCU altitude window, and the procedures related to capturing an approach path from above.

The operator also made findings with respect to crew communication, aircraft energy state monitoring, wider automation management and mode awareness issues, and the procedures governing the reinstatement of aircraft control following intervention by the pilot not flying.

A number of safety actions were taken by the operator.

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website


Constant on board cleaning - first line of defence...

It is easy to see how some commentators who have never set foot on a cruise ship, let alone cruised on one, can easily beat up an Ebola story, and that is precisely what has happened to the Carnival Cruise Ship Carnival Magic. What was supposed to be a week long cruise around the Caribbean turned into a surreal nightmare fanned by a baying American media storm.

Four days after the Carnival Magic set sail from Galveston, Texas rumours began circulating that all was not well on board.

The Captain over ship TV and Stateroom audio channels, and the all decks/public areas  loudspeaker system confirmed that a woman who professionally worked as a lab supervisor at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, was on board.
 ...and if that's not enough, the deep clean
isolation medical team moves in..
The lady had not 'self declared' before boarding that as part of her professional work that she had processed clinical samples from Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who was the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. Mr Duncan, 42, died on Oct 8, four days before the ship sailed.  She had been advised by her Hospital that she need not 'self declare' her professional work 
The lab supervisor, together with her husband, were voluntarily confined in their cabin, as would be the normal regime if for example they had contracted something like the winter vomiting bug Norovirus.

Thursday, 16 October 2014


Madrid's Barajas international airport activated emergency measures on Thursday after a passenger arriving on an Air France flight was suspected of possibly having Ebola, a spokeswoman for airports operator Aena speaking to Reuters said.
Spain's health ministry confirmed that an Ebola emergency protocol had been set in motion but declined to give details.
Aena and Air France said in separate statements that a passenger on Air France flight 1300 from Lagos via Paris had started shaking during the flight. Air France said the other passengers disembarked from the plane, which will now be disinfected. The return flight has been cancelled.

Sources: Reuters/ESA/CNS

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Departing Glasgow from Madeira on October 13th, Jet2 Boeing 737-800 near Funchal, Madiera, engine shuts down in flight


One aviation story that seems to have slipped through the news net, concerns this Jet2 Boeing 737-800 out of Glasgow Airport on October 13th....

October 13th will long be remembered by passengers on board a Boeing 737-800, registration G-GDFY flight LS-155 from Glasgow,Scotland to Tenerife Sur Sofia Reina,CI  with 197 people on board.

The Boeing 737-800 was enroute at Flight Level 350 over the Atlantic Ocean about 80nm north of Funchal (Madiera) when the crew declared an emergency, reporting an engine failure.

The crew shut down the engine, descended the aircraft to Flight Level 250 and continued on one engine to Tenerife, where the aircraft landed safely about 75 minutes later.

The aircraft remained on the ground in Tenerife for about 52 hours whilst the engine problem was diagnosed and repaired before resuming service. A full investigation was also started by authorities.

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Cleaners mop results in Quantas A380 business class 'swimming' in 700 litres of water...

A CLEANING mophead  has been blamed for loosening pipes on a Qantas A380 that resulted in 700 litres of water leaking into the cabin during a flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne. 
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has today released its final report on the incident which occurred on July 2nd.  The leak became apparent to flight crew shortly after take off, as a crew members were preparing hot towels for business class passengers.

Despite turning off the leaking water valve relatively quickly, it was noted only 40 per cent of the potable water supply remained — half of what was available on takeoff.

Not ideal...Cabin crew on the Qantas flight discovered the leak when they were preparing     


As a precaution, the cabin crew switched off the in-flight entertainment system and the power to all controls in the seats,” the report said.

“The water had progressed through the upper deck floor and water was ‘raining’ on passengers in the vicinity of row 65 of the main deck.

“With the potable water supply switched off, there was no water available for the toilets or basins for the duration of the flight.”

It was at that point the decision was made not to continue the 14-hour flight to Melbourne and preparations were made to return to LA for landing.

The report noted that “leakage of that quantity of water had not occurred previously and the eventual impact of the water on the aircraft was unknown.”

The ATSB praised the Qantas crew for displaying “excellent resource management techniques”.

Unlikely culprit of leaky Qantas A380

Good work...The ATSB report praised the flight crew and cabin crew for their decision making. Picture: Brandon Wade/AP Images for Qantas Source: AP    

“The crew were faced with an abnormal and unusual situation. Communication between flight crew, cabin crew and ground maintenance staff enabled a variety of scenarios and options to be considered.,” said the report.

“The ultimate decision to turn back to Los Angeles rested with the Captain and he was
able to make that decision using all available resources and in a collaborative way.”
Further investigation of the issue found that strands of cleaning mops were found to have “unlatched” the water pipe at floor level.

“Fleet-wide inspection of the fittings found strands of cleaning mops tangled in the brackets, with evidence of couplings rotated in opposing directions,” the report said.

As a result of the finding Qantas, in consultation with Airbus, double-wrapped the couplings with aluminium tape to avoid unintentional disturbance.

The airline has also begun using sponge style mops to clean under the galley bench instead of cotton rope mops.   Airbus is looking at providing a permanent solution to the issue.


JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Monday, 13 October 2014

Dying moments of doomed Air France Flight 447 revealed by new investigation

Two out of three Air France pilots were sleeping minutes before one shouted ‘F**k, we’re dead!’ and their Airbus 330 aircraft plunged into the sea, with the loss of 228 passsengers and crew on board.
Details of the last moments of Air France Flight 447, which claimed the lives of five Britons and three Irish doctors, have emerged in a new investigation into the 2009 disaster involving an Airbus 330.  The investigation is published in the October edition of Vanity Fair magazine, it raises important questions about safety protocols in civilian aviation.

EBOLA "The law of natural selection" but the simple solution is all at sea....

Julian Bray writes: Its hard to believe that no one has come up with a foolproof system to counteract the spread of Ebola and few of our politicians (at a local level anyway) are taking the threat seriously. Someone raised a question in Council of what to do if Ebola was discovered in our local hospital; a few of the elected members of Peterborough City Council just laughed... that was a few days ago, hopefully they are not laughing now.

But having over the years been lecturing on cruise ships, the current sight of people in contamination suits, goggles and breathing apparatus is nothing new. In any confined environment (such as cruise ships and hospitals) any form of virus can spread like wildfire. So the methodology of isolation and containment is well rehearsed in some quarters.

On the high seas, crew members gave up shaking hands in favour of fist bumps to lessen touching and the transmission of germs. For Ebola we just have to upscale the process by 1000%. Not a really glib comment, as if the cruise lines can go into full protective isolation mode for something as simple as the Norovirus bug, then perhaps the rest of us should sit up and take notice?

On board having identified the passenger(s) they are isolated and EVERYWHERE the infected person and family or companions have been during the previous day is rated as a biohazard. I've seen whole sections of main dining rooms cordoned off, tables, chairs fumigated and linens, cutlery, plates and glasses all bagged up in red biohazard bags and sealed.

A 5 man contamination crew all suited, goggles, helmets and boots with a protected air supply then move in. They fumigate the entire area, all furnishings walls ceilings and the carpets deep cleaned. Simply the system is well regulated and not something that is carried out on land.   It is part of the process that crew members do not shake hands, in fact they have been gently fist bumping or saluting for years. Simple but effective ways to eliminate contamination.

But even they have problems getting some clients to self declare and to conform to the enhanced cleaning and hygiene regimes. Hand sanitation at all the entry and exit points to food areas have to be physically manned to ensure passengers do use them and are seen to use them.

Lifts and handrails are problem, so when an outbreak is detected all lift control panels are immediately covered with a transparent sticky backed plastic so hourly disinfecting can be carried out with pump sprayers but the electronics behind the buttons are safe. The constant cleaning teams work a 24 hour day (three squads working eight hour shifts) also add hospital strength sanitiser to the regular non stop cleaning of handrails, and all touch surfaces.

It really is the relentless attention to detail, and solid experience of executing the process, that seems to be lacking on shore in worldwide attempts so far to contain EBOLA. Perhaps if Governments consulted the medical teams on board cruise ships, time, money and countless lives could be saved and threat contained?  They do after all have the programmes all mapped out together with training regimes and periodical testing. Why reinvent the wheel? Head for the nearest ship's wheel instead.

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Sunday, 12 October 2014


One of the items overlooked due to the exceptionally heavy news agenda of the last few weeks is this report from Iran.  On October 8th, an IranAir Airbus A320-200, [EP-IEB] flight IR-423 from Shiraz to Tehran Mehrabad (Iran) with 150 people on board, landed at Tehran. On exiting the runway smoke emitted from the right hand main landing gear.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Ryanairs' damaged wingtips may have to revert to an old fashioned bolt-on repair as bonding 'not airworthy' says Regulator

Julian Bray writes: You spend countless milions of aviation dollars developing bonded lightweight composites for your latest state of the art lightweight aircraft type but when something breaks off or gets damaged (as recently happened to two Ryanair aircraft constructed of bonded primary composites, when wingtips touched during a ground airport taxiway manoevre); you don't repair by bonding the primary composite material but send for a technician armed with a 20th Century metal patch and an olde fashioned  bolt gun! Otherwise the repair won't be passed as safe by the regulators....madness! According to a recent presentation at the industry MRO Europe Convention, reported by Aviation Week:  Bolt-on metal repairs made to aircraft originally constructed of bonded primary composites could soon become a thing of the past, as work to improve the acceptance and standardization of bonded repairs progresses, specialists Lufthansa Technik (LHT) suggest. They were speaking at the recent MRO Europe conference.

Traditional bolted on repairs can be conter-productive or detrimental, cutting the composite structure’s residual strength by up to 50% and also adding extra weight. But amazingly regulators still do not accept bonding as an airworthy repair mothodology.

LHT is a member of the Composite Adaptable Inspection and Repair (CAIRE) project team, which includes Airbus and many other industry stakeholders. CAIRE seeks to automate and standardize bonded composite repairs thus gaining certification and quality assurance approval.

“The only repair that is certifiable at the moment is bolted, meaning that just like a standard metallic aircraft you put a bolted patch on it,” he explained. “The problem is bonding -- which we believe is the best way to repair composite aircraft -- isn't allowed by the regulators.”

Bonded repairs are largely done as required, manually, strength and durability are hard to verify without physically breaking the repair.

Using technologies from the CAIRE project, LHT and its partners claim to have developed an automated system for assessing, designing and repairing damage to composite structures. It optimizes the repair before scanning the surface for contaminants, grinding out the damaged material and creating the fix, which is applied manually.


JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Monday, 6 October 2014

HRH Prince Charles' spokesman heading for Weber Shandwick PR

According to the influential New York published O'Dwyer Newsletter.. for PR types (Writer - Prince Charles' Spokesman is turning his back on Royal Palaces and heading to PR agency Weber Shandwick. Nothing wrong in that, but with the recent explosive revelations from another Palace mouthpiece Dickie Arbiter, can Prince Charles ever be certain he won't be featured in the Mail on Sunday ?   This is how O'Dwyers broke the news:
clarencePatrick Harrison, longtime spokesman for Prince Charles, is moving to Weber Shandwick in London in January as director of reputation management and strategic media relations.
Harrison's exit follows the departure of Ed Perkins, communications advisor for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Duchess Kate), for London-based PR giant Portland last month.

Harrison has held a press role for Clarence House for the past 14 years, including through the death of Princess Diana and speaking for the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla, whom Charles married in 2005. He took the reins in 2012, when Paddy Harverson left to set up Milltown Partners with Google UK PR alum D-J Collins.

Harrison was previously assistant director of communications for the UK's Dept. of Envrironment, Transport and the Regions and press officer for the Home Office, the British government's law enforcement and immigration agency.      NO PRESSURE THERE THEN - COLAS ALL ROUND!


JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Rolls Royce Trent Jet Engine Incident - Passengers were always safe says Julian Bray

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Sunday, 28 September 2014



'CHEAP SUIT': Willy Policy Wonka Brooks Newmark MP.

A front bench Conservative coalition minister Brooks Newmark MP has made a bit of a Willy Wonka** of himself and announced his unexpected resignation 'possibly flopped out' as a Sunday newspaper reported he had sent an explicit photo of himself online, is one in the latest of a series of setbacks to David Cameron’s Conservative-led coalition government. The allegedly sexting MP who created a window in his "red paisley pyjamas" has released a statement:

“I have decided to resign as minister for civil society having been notified of a story to be published in a Sunday newspaper,” said Brooks Newmark, a Conservative member of parliament since 2005.

“I would like to appeal for the privacy of my family to be respected at this time. I remain a loyal supporter of this government as its long-term economic plan continues to deliver for the British people.”

Mrs Brook Newmans comments are not recorded, but it is fair to assume that Red Paisley pyjamas will not be on the Christmas Gift list for the hapless ex-Minister, who might not be resigning from the Party, but if it isn't too late a leading private detective has now warned against the use of online dating websites, some are frequented by stalkers.. 

Friday, 26 September 2014


Photo credit: Aerial MOB
At a time when we are signing up for a sustained aerial bombing attacks on Iraq, and maybe other connected regions, in aerial operations possibly lasting years; the American FAA is happily handing out licences for operators granting permission to use small unmanned aircraft (UAVs).  The average roadside explosive device is about the same weight as a camera...
The FAA has granted six aerial photo and video operators permission to use small unmanned aircraft (UAVs) for filming on closed sets through a process the agency says provides a model for early approval of commercial UAVs for other applications.

The six operators applied for exemptions to the ban on flying commercial UAVs in national airspace in petitions coordinated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). They are The FAA is still working to approve a seventh operator, says Administrator Michael Huerta.
Film-industry operations have been authorized under Section 333 of the 2012 FAA reauthorization legislation, which allows the agency to grant regulatory exemptions for tightly controlled, low-risk operations, he says.


The Vulcan Bomber..... Traditional Armament: 21 x 454 kilograms of conventional bombs or 1 x free-fall nuclear bomb/1 x Blue Steel missile (1.1 megaton).

Julian Bray writes: There is a groundswell of public and military opinion that it needs something really big,bold and effective to make a huge public relations impact in Iraq and around the world in media impact terms.

 Something that will not only capture the hearts and minds of the population in the UK, but also to concentrate the minds of IS and other terrorist groups in Syria, Iraq and any other country considering going down that route.

The proposal is to send in the UK's last remaining Cold War giant the Vulcan bomber with specially constructed bomb payloads. The thinking is that if the 'limited' token bombing operation aurhorised by Parliament is to work, it has to be hard and swift, impacting on a wide area creating maximum damage and visible impact. 

Picture: Colin Williams   Vulcan bomber payload  21 bomb salute! (Hendon Museum)
In an opinion poll for The Sun Newspaper over 57%  of the UK population are in favour of Iraq air operations by the UK. Although Saudi Arabia already has some 70 (a mix of Typhoons & Tornados) .....

It will not have gone unnoticed that the Americans in Syria have almost exclusively concentrated on taking out oilfields, which in itself is stacking up an environmental hazard of epic proportions, for the rest of us.  But neatly pushing up the price of oil and gas in our part of the world, but not affecting the USA which has ample domestic supply. It also has to be said that in the seven or so weeks of USA air operations in Syria, not an inch of territory so far has been given up by IS.

The positive by-product for MPs' in UK and urgently needed in public relations terms, is that funds needed to keep the UKs' last airworthy Vulcan Bomber flying for several more years, can be quickly made available, as part of the defence budget, and is an effective use of an already available, proven, effective but terrible resource.

Clearly the UK's last airworthy Vulcan will require little modification in addition to the construction of an appropriate high capacity bomb payload.

But the mere suggestion that a huge menacing bomber of the calibre of the Cold War Vulcan, without prior notice, at some unknown date and time, will be intensively bombing the authorised areas in theatre, will clearly make even the most committed IS supporter, however 'brainwashed' think again....

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

UK MP's 'WAR' vote to cause major disruption to long-haul civil aviation operations...

With Parliament being recalled and MP's expected to give the go ahead for a limited air strikes operation in Iraq, to disrupt cash flows and degrade the effectiveness of the terrorist group IS(IS) (said to have a daily financial inflow of $30 million...)  Long haul civil  aviation operations are already being affected, and many flights rerouted, and some codeshares cancelled, writes Julian Bray Aviation Security Expert.  

Its not only the Middle East but also several other countries including Algeria that are immediately affected, and to a lesser extent the whole of what the terrorist group IS call the Caliphate.

There is also the feeling that before long, the limited authority given to the UK military will have to be extended,  'Gulf War 3' some of the red top newspapers have dubbed it.

And you seriously wonder why the 700 or so warplanes sold to Saudi Arabia by the UK (a mixture of Tornados and Typhoons) have not already been immediately employed rather than UK based Typhoons setting out from Norfolk, UK to Cyprus?

It is being said that although the USA has been 'in theatre' for some seven weeks, not an inch of territory has so far been given up by the terrorist group. Nor has a Saudi warplane been seen....

Mercifully no British troops on the ground, and the planners are hoping that regional troops directly affected will supply the manpower.

But however you look at it, this will not be a short term operation and the effects will impact on the aviation industry for years to come. Expect to see some well known brands either merge or go out of business.

Long haul air holidays will be substantially more expensive, but conversely the cruise industry is predicting a boom and cannot churn out mega cruise ships fast enough, which in turn is good for the German economy and shipbuilders such as Meyer Werft GmbH, who pioneered the totally undercover dock and the module 'lego' style of construction and fast completion of the new breed of cruise ships... cabin or stateroom modules, for example, are fully fitted out, off site several miles away, then JIT (just in time) delivered and 'plumbed in' as required....

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Monarch Airlines goes for the no frills option, new owners and a 30% 'haircut' for staff

In a groundbreaking deal, employees at Monarch Airlines have agreed to accept pay cuts said to be around 33% and substantial changes to conditions to help secure its future, and to turn the airline into a low cost operation to rival Easyjet and Ryanair.

The engine for this, is talks with investment firm Greybull Capital, who confirmed that staff - including flight crew  - had voted to accept major concessions on pay, terms and conditions.

The board of Monarch Holdings Limited revealed on Wednesday that Greybull Capital was their preferred bidder to acquire Monarch from the group’s current shareholders. The deal is expected to be confirmed within a few days, now that workers have agreed the pay cuts and changes to conditions.

General secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), Jim McAuslan, said: “Pilots and their colleagues have made major sacrifices to secure the future of this important British company, accepting lower pay and reduced terms and conditions within a restructured airline.

“We welcome the announcement that Greybull are moving towards securing their position as majority shareholders in Monarch.

“It is now time for the government to engage with all of the parties concerned and do everything it can to make this deal happen and help Monarch survive and thrive.”

Oliver Richardson, national officer at Unite, said: “Our priority is the welfare and longer term job security of our members. Although the discussions over the past few weeks have been difficult and our members are sacrificing a lot, what is clear is that they remain committed to the future of Monarch and have voted accordingly."

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Tesco PLC ...the new Banana Republic?

Corporate Governance Update

Interestingly whilst Tesco PLC is trying to find out how they managed to misreport by overstating the numbers, their main board and remuneration committee might like to take a note of this series of updates and guidance from the Financial Reporting Council. Shame they didn't publish it a few months back! They might also like to take a look at their Banana warehousing the last bunch at Trib Towers turned brown and mushy after just 3 days...    
The Financial Reporting Council ('FRC') has recently published some important Corporate Governance Updates and Guidance.

1. The UK Corporate Governance Code

The FRC notes: "The updated Code significantly enhances the quality of information investors receive about the long-term health and strategy of listed companies, and raises the bar for risk management [with the publication of separate revised Guidance on 'Risk Management, Internal Control and related Financial and Business Reporting']. The FRC has confirmed proposals for boards to include a 'viability statement' in the Strategic Report to investors (see also 2. Below). This will provide an improved and broader assessment of long-term solvency and liquidity. It is expected that this statement will look forward significantly longer than 12 months.

The Code has also been changed in relation to remuneration. Boards of listed companies will now need to ensure that executive remuneration is designed to promote the long-term success of the company and demonstrate how this is being achieved more clearly to shareholders.

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Friday, 19 September 2014


 Five Star carrier Qatar Airways held a press briefing along with Airbus at the Airbus Factory in Hamburg, Germany, earlier this week as the airline took delivery of its first A380. With 10 Airbus A380-800s on order, Qatar Airways is preparing to take delivery of four of them before the end of the year.

 Group Chief Executive, H.E. Akbar Al Baker said: “This has been a moment more than a decade in the making and we are so delighted to unveil a new passenger experience for our travellers. The A380 that we are introducing is not just any A380; we have completely designed every element, giving it a signature touch that has never been seen before on board."

“Additionally, the newly opened Hamad International Airport, the airline’s hub in Doha, has been specifically created with the A380 in mind, five contact gates dedicated only for this aircraft, making the experience smooth and effortless for passengers.

“At Qatar Airways we pay careful consideration to all elements of the passenger experience and are regularly introducing innovations that make a travel experience what it should be – enjoyable and something to look forward to.”

The airline will introduce the A380 services on the Doha – London route from October, followed by Paris Charles De Gaulle shortly thereafter.

“We are very pleased to welcome Qatar Airways as the latest airline to offer unprecedented A380 services to the world. The multi-award-winning carrier and our flagship product are a perfect match to excite the flying public in all markets,” said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO.

The 517-seat aircraft is ranged across twin decks in a tri-class configuration of 8 seats in First Class; 48 seater Business Class and 461 in Economy Class.

The First Class seats feature a 90-inch pitch with a fully flat bed.

Business Class seats feature a pitch of 52 inches which also recline to fully flat beds.
Economy Class passengers benefit from a pitch of 32 inches spread in a ten-seats-across layout.

In-flight entertainment on board is state-of-the-art using the Thales mainframe Top Series Avant system with features such as an Android open platform with intuitive swipe functions and a customised HD monitor of up to 26” in First Class.

The airline currently operates a mixed fleet of the Airbus family of aircraft, a large contingent being the single-aisle A320s and also a mixed range of A330s and A340s.
In the last quarter of 2014, it is expected that the airline will start receiving its first A350 XWB aircraft as the world’s launch customer.

On October 30th, 2013, Qatar Airways joined the oneworld Alliance,  enabling its customers to benefit from almost 1,000 airports in more than 150 countries, with 14,250 daily departures.

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Sunday, 14 September 2014

David Cameron adopts "I'll hold your coat attitude to I.S. outrages..." but no ransom and no recall of Parliament.

Time to push the button or adopt an
 "I'll hold your coat" attitude?

Why not pay a ransom and save lives? It's a fair question and some Governments will do so, albeit discreetly, but it's long been UK Government policy not to pay a ransom, no matter how painful or final the threatened outcome may be.  Writes Julian Bray.

The shocking videos emerging overnight thought to show the beheading of Aid Worker  David Haines, 44,  this latest barbaric act followed the earlier beheadings of two American journalists.  David Haines, a family man only seeking to help those less fortunate in foreign lands, and not part of any conflict.

Prime Minister David Cameron returned to London overnight to host a Sunday morning meeting of the 'Cobra' committee.  The constitution of a COBR (Cabinet Office Briefing Room)  meeting  is usually chaired by the Prime Minister or another senior minister, with other key ministers as appropriate, and representatives of relevant external organizations.

COBR meetings are generally held in one of the Cabinet Office buildings in Whitehall, London. Each is held in a secure room fitted with video and audio links able to display all intelligence information relevant to the situation under discussion.

Afterwards in a brief statement, Cameron expressed his condolences but still will not recall Parliament, he will not commit to troops on the ground, and continues to be at odds with many highly respected former Heads of our Armed Forces. You may recall  the Defence Secretary was recently slapped down by Mr Cameron. No air strikes immediately turned into there will be air strikes.

The strategy emerging seems to be an 'I'm in charge' attitude by the Coalition Prime Minister and that  we will work with others, the classic "I'll hold your coat attitude" to I.S. outrages. Mr Cameron only touched on the fact that the beheadings were carried out by a British citizen.

Clearly the elephant in the room, the 'threat' is some say already within our borders. A key component is that of the payment of a ransom. An Italian hostage was recently released, it was rumoured that a £5 million ransom was paid 'under the counter' to secure the release of the Italian national.    

The argument goes that any ransom paid over immediately funds an escalation of the terrorist cause, more bombs, outrages, killings, funding drugs and even 21st Century slave trading. The ransom money finds its way back to arms dealers, gun runners and so on.

Some years back, just before the despot Idi Amin was in power in Uganda, I  spent a few years in the country, immediately after Independence, my task to create a new Uganda company from an old established East African organsation besed in neighbouring Kenya. I was called in by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to see if I could assist with the negotiations over the release of a Mr Hills.

The options were explained over tea and biscuits, and early on in the discussion, the question of a ransom or bounty came up. The position was clear. No money would change hands. Uganda as a nation even under Amin, though would benefit from activities promoted by the British Council..... even new Libraries for upcountry Uganda!  

But rolling the years on and dealing with the current ISIS situation, and what may be happening in the Ukraine, and elsewhere; the conflict rule book seems to have been thrown out.

There are no Rules of Engagement, the Geneva Convention ignored, and no respecting the position of non-combatents such as aid workers, journalists, photograhers, cameramen and anyone and anything (such as the ill fated Malaysian airlines MH17) venturing intgon conflict zones.

Its all been turned upside down. Nothing can be relied upon and unlike previous recent conflicts the immediate accessibility of  social media means that often the first we hear of any developments is not through normal TV, radio and Press news channels but via Twitter, Facebook and other immediate elements of the internet driven social media... 

We live in dangerous, violent, uncertain but interesting times... trouble is we also need strong credible politics and politicians. All of which is from my own soundings currently in very short supply. We might not be near pushing the 'WAR' button, but clearly only a cigarette paper away from serious international conflict generated by some very well financed barbaric opponents...  

Mr Cameron may well be softening us up for something bigger or is the Scotland Independence vote and a General Election less than a year away, clouding his old Etonian style thinking?

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

MH17 Interim report released - 3 other commercial aircraft in same ATC sector...

Julian Bray writes: You have to hand it to the Dutch investigation team, the Interim report on the Malaysia airlines MH17 flight has been published, it is very clear, and well written with a minimum of jargon. The full report will appear in a years time and sent out for consultation.

The report has been prepared without visiting the debris field as it is still right in the centre of a conflict zone, and as television news shows much of the vital evidence is still lying out in the open and now largely degraded.

The interim report is a well constructed 34 page document which even at this stage has managed to come up with a cogent set of interim findings effectively giving the Boeing 777-200 extended range aircraft and engine makers Rolls-Royce, a clean bill of health, along with the operator and the crew.

The voice data recorders were recovered and sent to the UK (Farnborough) for examination and nothing appears to be out of the ordinary until 13:20 hrs when the aircraft was 'downed by high energy objects from outside.' Make no mistake the aircraft suffered an in-flight break up. There was no 'probability' about it, as unfortunately repeatedly suggested by one major television news network all day yesterday.

Within 2 hours of the report being released, I demonstrated on television news the effects of an outside impact by simply stabbing a piece of card with a sharply pointed pen. The paper tears at the point of impact, take the surrounding material with it - in the same direction of travel of the impact.

This simple test shows the ripped paper points were consistent with the debris field photographs bending metal back proving beyond any doubt the impact was from outside to the inside thus degrading the structure of the aircraft and triggering the in-flight break up.

This would be consistent with a proximity surface to air missile exploding and sending a barrage of shrapnel through the aircraft skin forcing the ripped metal plates to rip, split and cave inwards. The report makes no mention of missiles and does not seek to apportion blame and indeed the final report will be put out for consultation to several countries including the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

So where do we go from here?

Hopefully the investigation team will get access to the debris field, for a physical reconstruction, but they will also concentrate on Air Traffic Control surveillance- there were 3 other commercial aircraft in the same ATC sector -  so their data sets will also be examined. Data from the Cockpit Flight Recorder, and the Flight Data Recorder will be examined in detail. Both units were in reasonable condition with some surface and outside damage but the protected data blocks unharmed by the trauma. Radio communications - particularly background sounds and effects may provide additional clues. 

The in-flight break up sequence will be reconstructed  establish the progression of the inbound high energy objects, impact and velocity ratios also calculated. There will also be detailed assessment of the Operator and state of occurrence management of flight safety systems inside or over a conflict zone.  

The Dutch team will also under the heading 'everything else' invite suggestions for areas of examination. Simply nothing is off the table.

9/11 Julian Bray speaking on BBC Radio.

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, (Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Monday, 8 September 2014


Monday PM London Luton Airport Terminal evacuated, suspect package found in security search area.. Bomb disposal unit on site.


Outbound flights cancelled Inbound flights diverted.

Major Incident Plan enacted. Passengers advised to contact airlines and not to arrive at Airport.

All roads surrounding Luton Airport  have been closed. Passengers suggest package was spotted by x-ray operator  passing accompanied baggage through machine. Said to have called over Supervisor.

Widespread traffic disruption in the locality and extending to the motorway network.  "Several ambulances seen arriving, but this could be a precautionary measure"

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Sir Richard Branson plays a blinder and seemingly denies BA extra landing slots at Heathrow!

Not so red-faced: Sir Richard Branson. At a stroke he's landbanked a whole new series of Heathow slots by dumping the Little Red start up.

Sir Richard Branson has really played a 'blinder' with the news that VIRGIN is set to close its domestic UK airline just 18 months after launch with promises to take on British Airways and cut fares.   At a stroke Virgin has acquired a whole series of extra highly prized slots at Heathrow for seemingly little outlay!  ( slot = one take off, one landing)

Little Red began with flights from Heathrow to three cities: Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, The aim was to supply feeder flights for Virgin’s long-haul operations. The launch was said to be a response to the takeover of the regional carrier BMI by BA’s owner, IAG, which Branson had fiercely opposed, however commentators have overlooked the simple fact that highly prized virtually impossible to obtain Heathrow slots will now, we understand, revert to Virgin Group putting them well beyond the reach of say British Airways!

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, (Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Saturday, 6 September 2014


Flights to and from the UK and Italy were disrupted today due to strike action by Italian air traffic controllers.

The four-hour stoppage has led to Ryanair cancelling 96 flights to and from Italy, including four return services involving flights to and from the UK. EasyJet removed some up sixty flights, twenty of these affecting services in and out of the UK. The strile also affected some long haul flights using Italian air space.

The strike was effective from 11.30hrs to 15.30hrs UK time but will have a knock on effect lasting up to 3 days says an insider.

Aviation Expert  Julian Bray confirmed that  if any compensation for flight delay is available, frustrated passengers should quote European Union regulation  EU 261/2004 which is also the regulation to claim compensation directly from airlines for any lengthy delays going back to 2008!  

If you have a flight delay because of a strike, your airline has an obligation to offer you assistance if the delay is expected to go beyond a certain point. You could be entitled to food, drink and overnight accommodation, if required. The advice is always to contact your airline before travelling to the airport to check if your flight has been affected."

Ryanair cancellations include Manchester-Bologna, Stansted-Ancona, Stansted-Trieste and Liverpool-Pisa.  The airline warned that further delays and cancellations were likely and advised passengers to check the status of their flight.

EasyJet reported "We are doing everything possible to minimise the impact to our customers and we are offering anyone flying to and from Italy during those times the opportunity to transfer their flight free of charge to another day to avoid the strike. They should go to to make changes to their flights."

British Airways flights are also affected. A BA spokeswoman said: "We are doing all we can to minimise disruption to customers affected by the threatened strike.

"We have re-timed a number of flights and are using larger aircraft where possible to help more customers, from cancelled flights, fly to where they need to be.

"We are advising customers flying to and from Italy to keep checking the very latest information on our website."

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ISDN 01733 345020], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Friday, 5 September 2014

“credible intelligence” reports given to states in the region indicated the Masked Men Brigade “is plotting to use the planes in attacks on a Maghreb state” on the 9/11 anniversary.

Over the last few weeks Islamist militias in Libya took control of 'nearly a dozen commercial jetliners' several intelligence agencies warn these aircraft could be used in terrorist attacks across North Africa and possibly parts of Europe said to include Spain, Portugal, France and Italy

Intelligence reports were circulated within the U.S. government and included a warning that one or more aircraft could be the spearhead for an attack later this month, possibly  marking the anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks

YOU WANT WI-FI WITH THAT? United Airlines Takes Delivery of First 787-9 Aircraft in North America

United Airlines [UA] is the first North American carrier to take delivery of a stretched Dreamliner, the Boeing 787-9, The aircraft is the first of 26 stretched Dreamliners UA has on order, says Aviation World News.

"The 787-9 builds on fuel efficiency, coupled with customer comfort while giving even more flexibility and range," said United's Vice President of Fleet Ron Baur.

"Last year our passengers gave the 787 the highest customer satisfaction scores of any aircraft in our fleet, and we know they'll enjoy what the 787-9 has to offer.

" The airline's technicians will now perform United-specific software installations and hardware upgrades. United pilots will then fly the aircraft to the airline's Houston hub for additional flights before it is expected to enter domestic service in late September.

The 787-9's extended range – 8,550 miles compared to the 787-8's 8,200 – will service and launch its Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia, service on October 26, the airline's first regularly scheduled international deployment of the aircraft. It is the longest Dreamliner route in the world to date.

 In advance of the Melbourne route launch, United will primarily fly the aircraft between Houston and Los Angeles. United's 787-9 will be configured with 252 seats – 48 in United BusinessFirst and 204 in United Economy, including 88 Economy Plus seats with added legroom and increased personal space.

Wi-Fi on the 787-9 United's 787-9 fleet comes with factory-installed Wi-Fi connectivity. Starting with this aircraft delivery, all of the airline's subsequent Dreamliners, including the -8 and -10 variants, will be delivered with Wi-Fi. United currently has Wi-Fi on more than 300 aircraft, including all of its Airbus and Boeing 747 aircraft, and plans to equip the vast majority of its mainline fleet with Wi-Fi by mid-2015. -

See more at:

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Norwegian Chefs get £ 1.5 billion worth of new cruise ships to cook on...


Any talk of over capacity on the high seas has now to be discounted as 2 more ships are on order for  Norwegian Cruise Lines.  This development underlines the success of NLC's Getaway, cruising out of Miami last February, and before that NCL Breakaway, with New York as its home port.

 Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Bliss will enter service late 2015 and early 2017.

Two more vessels - 164,600 gross tons and 4,200 passengers will be delivered delivery 2018 and 2019.  The ships at a budgeted cost of  €1.6 billion (£1.3 billion) - will be constructed by the Meyer-Werft shipyard, Papenburg, Germany.

"Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway have proven themselves as industry game-changers and are extremely popular with our guests," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer.

"It was only natural that we build on their success with this new order, and further solidifies our long-term growth strategy." commented Kevin Sheehan, CEO Norwegian Cruise.

Bernard Meyer, managing partner, added: "We are thrilled that Norwegian Cruise Line has the continued confidence in Meyer Werft to expand their fleet. We are very proud of our longstanding relationship with Norwegian Cruise Lines."

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Are our politicians equipped to combat stealth attacks from the Enemy within?

East African Airways Comet 4c in 1960's livery

Julian Bray writes: During the mid 60's, I flew out to Entebbe Uganda on an East African Airways Comet 4c, the jet aircraft had to stop at Benghazi, to refuel. The UK's then finest jet aircraft, couldn't do the trip, all in on hop.   Before the refuelling began, a Libyan with a backpack pump entered the aircraft and gave us and the interior of the Comet a good spraying in case we had imported any bugs ...from London! He was told to spray every flight and that is what he would do!

Benghazi Airport was then little more than a series of wooden huts, and a Coke machine dispensing warm bottles of Coke.

It was my introduction to Africa and the start of a contract to split up an old well established East African company, born during the British colonial era, and now needed to respect Ugandas recent Independent status as a Republic within the Commonwealth. My target company was to be split into three, with new national manufacturing and retail businesses to reflect changing political positions in each of the old East African territory.

In those days, international companies took good care of their expat staff. In preparation for my posting I was sent on an expensive residential induction course at the Overseas Service College [OSC] based at Farnham Castle. The purpose was simple, to ensure that in the shortest possible time, we knew all there was to know about the countries we would be living in "and the effects of tribalism in the community"; and becoming a part of and possibly leading commerce in our new country and train up local staff to undertake key roles..

The OSC had been set up for Civil Servants and Diplomats but a few 'business types' were allowed in as well.  I remember being told to take lots of soap as it was in short supply (it wasn't) and to learn Swahili from a 18 LP set of Linguaphone records. Duff advice as Ugandans all spoke perfect English, due to the then large Indian (3rd generation) Asian population, and the fabled BBC Transcription Service: English by Radio service.  (the BBC installed and trained up Radio Uganda staff) 

The country being made up of seven very different kingdoms,  also had a variety of languages and tribes... My hastily mastered Swahili was only good for Zanzibar thousands of miles away, you'd need to first travel through neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania to get there.... 

I was lucky to be in Uganda the year the UK won the World Cup legendary High Commissioner Rex Hunt who later ran the Falklands was in charge...we saw the match 2 days later  on black and white televisions spread around the grounds; the High Commissioner had also laid on a good party at the Kampala High Commission...the 3 inch Ampex videotape being played out several times that day by UTV. I'd made an arrangement with the genial new TV station director James Bwogi, he was to be slaughtered a few years later by Idi Amins secret police squads.

The point is the UK had at that time deep and constant knowledge (intelligence) of local conditions, tribes and political factions, through its diplomatic service but even then totally misread the eventual direction General Idi Amin Dada would take after he unseated Dr Milton Obote...  Little of this detailed knowledge is available today, as our diplomats have been cut right back, and the introduction of computing cuts down on the 'out of office' socialising, as London would be constantly demanding information. 

Make no mistake the tragic events unfolding in real time ovder the last few days on a multiplicity of  media platforms is just the start. Time for the politicians to listen to the Military, the enemy is no longer at our door, it is now clearly wrapped up within our communities. Sadly our politicians don't have enough gravitas to make it all work.

Perhaps Mr Cameron might start urgently making a few phone calls to the several Tory Grandees and Generals 'he put out to grass' and starting delegating responsibilities to experts?

The political talent pool however isn't that big or experienced, but this is a situation that truly requires 'Action this Day'  from all parts of our community. Our foreign policy can no longer be guesswork. We need a plan.....

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website

Saturday, 16 August 2014


Containers stowed on the open flat deck, not ideal for stowaways..

Julian Bray [01733 345581] writes:  Up to now its been the poor security surrounding air cargo shipments from middle and far east airports that has concerned cargo professionals, but the news that a Major Incident Plan was put into action at Tilbury, when 34 people and several children, all believed to be of Indian origin, were found locked inside an international shipping container,which had arrived and been offloaded at the Port of Tilbury has ensured that security issues surrounding shipping containers will now be high on the agenda.

It could also mean that all UK bound container shipments into secondary UK ports have to start CO2 air-sniffing, and x-raying all incoming containers. The additional cost and time delays could well put some ports out of business, and generally raise the cost of importing,  if the Government makes enhanced security measures, at all UK ports mandatory, as clearly we can no longer trust container traffic to be loaded at the point of departure and be 100% secure...

The occupants  (or stowaways) started screaming and banging on the inside of their metal tomb, they were found to be suffering from hypothermia and dehydration. Standard shipping containers are NOT airtight, as wrongly stated by one reporter, there are several small vents essentially to prevent any gas built up and to maintain a flow of fresh air, but designed for cargo, rather than people converting that air stream to CO2.

Possibly if all inside had been very passive, with minimal movement and conserved the available oxygen, then the people trafficers might have got away with it.  The question remains: How long has this been going on?  At a thirty plus headcount for each container say one a week... You do the maths!

Sadly one person died at Tilbury, and the others have all been rapidly transferred to several major hospitals in the region.  And due to the rapid response of the Ambulance paramedics, all those hospitalised are now said to be out of immediate danger.

The Eastern Region Ambulance Service which has come under many attacks and top management cahnges in recent years, was at the location within 11 minutes, with 7 ambulances and 2 rapid respnse units. This was backed up by a mobile Command Centre with a satellite communications scanner deployed. A rapid triage and logistics major incident plan was greenlighted, and all regional hospitals immediately alerted and put on a virtual 'war' footing. 

The next stage has to be identification of the truck(s) and driver(s) involved, along with those running this deadly trade in human suffering... Clearly if this is a pipeline operation, other consignments of stowaways could already be on their way to the UK from India...

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website


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