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Julian Bray provides: Opinion, comment, forward thinking speculation on Travel, Cruise & Aviation: conflict zones, terrorist impact, drone (UAV) issues, safety (black boxes, emergencies), airline operations, aviation finance, political implications, and all forms of incident risk. Worked at board level with several airline and aviation groups, including Alitalia, British Island Airways, British Airways, Galileo, British Aerospace, Skyways, former CEO City firm Leadenhall Assoc. Founder CNS City News Service. Director NTN Television News (joint co. with ITV Wales TWW) Debretts People 2017 and in launch edition of PRWeek Black Book.

Direct links to a selection of television and radio contributions can be found at foot of this page. Scroll down.

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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

AIR INCIDENTS

Flydubai B738 at Mashhad on Mar 29th 2016, flaps problem
A Flydubai Boeing 737-800, registration A6-FDZ performing flight FZ-251 from Dubai (United Arab Emirates) to Mashhad (Iran), was on approach to Mashhad when the flaps could not be extended beyond 5 degrees. The crew entered a hold to work the...
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India B788 near Kolkata on Mar 29th 2016, engine problem
An Air India Boeing 787-800, registration VT-ANR performing flight AI-315 from Hong Kong (China) to Delhi (India) with 154 passengers, was enroute at FL380 over Myanmar about 500nm east of Kolkata (India) when the crew reported an engine (GEnx)...
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Gol B737 near Manaus on Mar 27th 2016, passenger oxygen masks released
A Gol Linhas Aereas Boeing 737-700, registration PR-GOV performing flight G3-2179 from Belem,PA to Manaus,AM (Brazil), was enroute when the aircraft encountered turbulence followed by the crew receiving indication of loss of cabin pressure. The crew...
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Wideroe DH8D near Sandefjord on Mar 28th 2016, problems with generators
A Wideroe de Havilland Dash 8-400, registration LN-WDJ performing flight WF-276 from Kristiansand (Norway) to Copenhagen (Denmark) with 43 passengers, was climbing out of Kristiansand about 10nm east of Kristiansand when the crew stopped the climb...
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Expressjet CRJ7 at Richmond on Mar 28th 2016, bird strike
An Expressjet Canadair CRJ-700 on behalf of Delta Airlines, registration N758EV performing flight EV-5136/DL-5136 from Detroit,MI to Richmond,VA (USA), completed what appeared to be an uneventful flight.The FAA reported however that the...
Read full story »




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BOEING IS TO NOW DUMP 8,000 JOBS AS FORFEIT FOR ENHANCED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT COSTS HIKE...



As competition in the world aviation industry rises, US based  Boeing is to cut over 4,000 jobs at its Washington plant. Insiders suggest they plan to reduce its workforce in Washington by 10% during the next few months. Julian Bray discusses this on the City of London based Share Radio Service. Click this Link.

However the figure on earlier reports, is likely to be double that as the 4,000 announced job cuts included attrition of 2,400 jobs and voluntary buyouts of another 1,600. The company said the cuts include hundreds of managers and executives.


According to a document obtained by the Seattle Times, one of the company’s units is targeting a 10% staffing cut, and if 10% is the company’s target for its operations in Washington, that translates to as many as 8,000 jobs being lost in the state.

1,600 jobs will vanish as part of a voluntary programme Boeing announced last month, and the remaining 2,400 jobs would be shed through natural causes mainly by senior executives opting for retirement.  In addition to cutting costs at the labor front, the company is said to be re-negotiating cost-cutting contracts with suppliers. 

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg is the brains behind the cull. Mr. Muilenburg, the ex-chief of Boeing’s defense segment, kept the segment

The company is moving development and production to the 777X family, along with the MAX version of its 737 aircraft. This switch has led to the need for cost-cuts.


Heading for the UK, £150million US  Boeing Poseidon P8

However Boeing, has recently gained a significant order from the UK for a replacement for the RAF Nimrod reconnaissance planes .

Keeping British waters safe requires a £2billion fleet of submarine hunter aircraft, defence chiefs claim.

The RAF is calling for 12 planes and surveillance drones to monitor our coast in the wake of the renewed threat from Russia.

Britain has been without airborne maritime surveillance aircraft since Nimrod was scrapped in 2010.

Before news of the current jobs cull, the £150million US  Boeing Poseidon P8 is, or perhaps was,  on the RAF’s wish-list.  Its radar sweeps an area the size of the UK every 10 seconds, searching for enemy ships or submarines. Equipped with a lethal array of weaponry, it can also be used for intelligence gathering and search and rescue operations.


Boeing say drop in commercial aircraft earnings is due to the higher research and development (R&D) spending required.

Boeing’s commercial aircraft division spent an eye watering $2.34 billion on R&D during the last financial year, compared to $1.88 billion he previous year.

Boeing and rival Airbus Group SE, are the two biggest players in the global aircraft manufacturing market. The Airbus order book was more buoyant than Boeings...

 
However Boeing is said to lead Airbus in terms of completed deliveries during the last few years,

A financial analysts report believes there's a reason that Airbus’ A321neo — the direct competitor to Boeing’s 737 — is superior.

Boeing is also losing market share as it trys to replace its mid-market aircraft, (the discontinued 757) while Airbus is filling the vortex with its A321neo.

The need to reduce costs is a constant goal real, but the Boeing strategy of cutting its skilled workforce just as they are developing three aircraft — 777X, 737MAX, and 787-10 Dreamliner — seems to defy business logic.  Washington operations sustain  the 747, 767, 777, and 787 Dreamliner production lines, which makes the current Washington job loss a major puzzle both inside and outside of aviation circles...



JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581 Aviation Expert, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com

EGYPTAIR 'FAKER' HIJACKER FORCES 'LOVEFLIGHT' DIVERSION TO CYPRUS


Julian Bray writes: Having just completed an early morning live BBC World Service broadcast on the 800 employee strong stress testing of new passenger secure handling arrangements at Brussels Airport. (When it re-opens for business it will only see a 20 per cent throughput as large areas of the airport were and remain wrecked by the suicide bombers );  news comes in, courtesy of a CNN telephone call 'heads up', that an Egyptair domestic flight from Alexandria to Cairo had been 'hijacked' on Tuesday by an man who threatened to blow himself up before demanding he was reunited with his estranged Cypriot ex wife. 

However back in the UK by 08:30 BST, I had to be out of the door facing an 80+ mile road trip to London, from Cambridgeshire, and heading for a day of pre-arranged closed but vital meetings with legal counsel, the results of which will in due course, will hopefully assist us all in this business. Amazingly BBC5Live responded to my challenge that I'd give them a live contribution by ISDN circuit, if they could set it up in minutes and before  08:25. As did BBC Hereford and Worcester (45 seconds....)  CNN was unlucky as the fixed slot offered was after my essential cut off point. I was heading for London. 

For once listening to the drama unfold on the car radio was an unusual experience, the EgyptairAirbus now on the ground at Larnica, in Cyprus.

'Faker' Egyptian born Seif Eldin Mustafa was branded an "idiot" by the Egyptian foreign ministry after he seized control of the Alexandra-Cairo flight and had it diverted to Cyprus, where he issued a string of bizarre demands.

In addition to asking for a letter to be passed on to his Cypriot ex-wife, she was rushed to the airport by Cypriot police to meet her ex.  Mustafa reportedly also called for the release of several female prisoners in Egypt, and asked for political asylum in Cyprus. But not before demanding passports collected and an element of segregation played out. Passengers expecting a short over land domestic hop must have been terrified as the Airbus gained height and headed over the sea to Cyprus.

My concern with all of this is not directed at the crew or ground staff at Alexandria Airport where Mustafa (according to cctv footage released) was body scanned, rubbed down and his baggage put through the x-ray, but my concern is the carping by some commentators that the Egyptair pilot had 'lost faith in Egyptair management' and 'deviated from protocols agreed after 9/11' which basically calls for a more robust approach to hijackers 'fake or real'.

Post 9/11 protocols suggest the hijacker should have been overpowered, possibly the crew inviting assistance from 'well- built passengers' handcuffed and possibly moved to an empty area of the cabin and secured to a seat by strapping or additional restraints. A 'no spit' cloth bag place possibly over the head of the suspect and secured. 

My view, reinforced by the practical flight crew training I have witnessed over the years,  is that the commander or captain of an aircraft is first and foremost in overall control, has sufficient professional 'coping' skills to read the situation and react accordingly.

The Commander has the post 9/11 protocols as guidance, not rigid edicts. There has to be flexibility in how the risk is managed. No one can ever guarantee 100% safety. All events these days carry an element of risk. Some more than others.  Hence the importance of managing that risk.  

His/her first priority is for the safety of the passengers and crew in his/her care, then removing them from the safely landed aircraft, to a place of safety (airport buses waiting) and facilitating local police  / security forces to effect a 'cordon sanitaire' - usually placing an airport tug on the nose wheel, or in this case, the airport steps, locked onto the fuselage -  board and take the hijacker into custody for legal process. 

Simply although Mustafa only had a string of cellphone cases stitched together and wires protruding to simulate a fake explosives belt. The Commander (in my view) took the right approach and treated the fake belt as it were real, and as a full on on hijack, and acted accordingly.

It is not up to him or ground control to decide if the passenger was 'ill or even lovesick'.  So any talk of the Captain or Commander not following the post9/11 protocols is misplaced. The Captain, crew and passengers will be debriefed and 'lessons learned'. 

The unnamed Egyptair Captain deserves our thanks, No one was hurt, no shots fired, no explosives detonated, all eventually evacuated by steps not slides. And the 'hijacker' due for his day in Court. And as for the ex Mrs Mustafa? She didn't want to see him...


JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581 Aviation Expert, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

RAF TORNADO IN 'NEAR MISS ' WITH LANDING MICROLIGHT OVER NOTTINGHAMSHIRE

 
 
An RAF fighter pilot was left with "little margin for error" in a reported near-miss with a landing microlight, according to an Air Proximity Board report obtained by BBC News.

The Tornado was flying at about 483mph near Headon airfield in Nottinghamshire when it passed 300ft beneath the microlight, a UK Airprox report said.

Alarmingly, it also emerged the civilian airfield was marked in the wrong spot on military maps by half a mile.  The near-miss on 2 October 2015 was reported by the microlight pilot.
The report said that the Tornado pilot was "entitled to fly where he had", but said he should have left more room for manoeuvre.
The pilot had failed to spot the smaller aircraft as he passed 500ft (152m) above the ground.

The Airprox report ruled it was a Category A incident because "a serious risk of collision" existed.
"The Tornado pilot would probably have been better placed to have remained at height until further north due to the myriad of small airfields and avoidances in that particular area," the report stated.
"Essentially, the Tornado pilot was threading the gap very finely between these airfields and… he had left very little margin for error and would have been wiser to have allowed himself much more room to manoeuvre."

on light aircraft after it emerged the microlight was not equipped with one.
It also said the Airprox board was "heartened to hear from the military low-flying representative that the military charts were being amended to place Headon in the correct position".



JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581 Aviation Expert, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com

Monday, 28 March 2016

STORM KATIE BLOWS OUT FLIGHTS TO AND FROM MAJOR UK AIRPORTS

Epsom Surrey: Tree blown down by Storm force Katie.

Unseasonal Storm Katie has generated wind gusts of over 104mph, over England and Wales, with several in bound flights diverted from airports, and major UK bridges and exposed crossings closed.
More than twenty Gatwick-bound flights were diverted to other airports.

London Heathrow didn't escape and reported flight cancellations. Trees uprooted in Brighton and Snow/Blizzard conditions in Wolverhampton.

A tower crane in Greenwich, London collapsed, but fine weather reported in the Highlands of Scotland. the Isle of Wight (Needles) reporting wind gusts of 105mph.  

Met Office amber warnings for winds for London and south-east England, with an additional  yellow alert for the east and south west, and south Wales. are in force

Some 2,000 homes are without power and 23 flood warnings are in place.  UK Power Networks are currently dealing with a high number of faults across Sussex, Surrey and Kent.

Motorists are being warned of disruption with three major bridges - the Dartford River Crossing, M48 Severn Bridge and the Sheppey Crossing - all closed according to Highways England.

The Environment Agency has issued 23 flood warnings and 122 alerts in response to what is said were "rapidly rising" river levels in the wake of the storm.  The storm was directly in the path of the proposed HS2 railway....

The planes diverted from Gatwick had all been due to land at the airport in West Sussex after midnight, but were sent to airports including Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands. Other flights have been delayed and flights later in the week are likely to have schedules changed as aircraft will need to be re-positioned.

Sources: BBC, CNS, CAA, PA, AP, BBC Scotland, Met Office

JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581 Aviation Expert, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Leg stretch earns 'life ban' from British Airways...

 
 
A fashion stylist has been served with a life ban from all British Airways flights after a 'minor argument' with another passenger over stretching her legs on a Dubai plane.  It seems that Bridget Nhire, 33, was in tears ,when she was handcuffed and escorted off the flight, after the passenger behind her complained that she kept walking around.
 
The humiliated Reiss consultant speaking to the Daily Mirror: 'They strapped me to the seat and put me in plastic cuffs. I have bruises.'
 
The row took place at 30,000ft on a Heathrow to Dubai flight where the 5ft 3ins stylist was due to visit some friends.
 
Ms Nhire, from Uxbridge, said: 'He was telling me to sit down and I said "I have the right to get up and walk around for my health. That ­escalated into a minor argument."
 
She claimed the crew then moved her to the front of the plane, and alleged that she was being 'aggressive' and 'may have had a little too much to drink'.
 
She said: 'I had a drink but was not drunk. I had two glasses of wine with my meal.'
 
Police escorted her from the plane, but freed her without charge, five hours later, and gave her the life ban - which Ms Nhire has branded an over-reaction.
 
DRINKNOTE: Even 2 glasses of wine in the pressurised recycled air environment of an in-flight  aircraft may in some people unwittingly increase the side effects of alcohol, especially if copious amounts of water are not taken to counteract dehydration.  

Sources: Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, CNS, AP.


JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581 Aviation Expert, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com

Latest Aviation Incidents

 
Kulula B738 at Johannesburg on Mar 19th 2016, bird strike
A Kulula Boeing 737-800, registration ZS-ZWB performing flight MN-135 from Johannesburg to Cape Town (South Africa), was climbing through 8000 feet out of Johannesburg's runway 21R when a bird impacted the vertical stabilizer. In the absence of any...
Read full story »


Compass E175 at Austin on Mar 24th 2016, engine problems
A Compass Airlines Embraer ERJ-175 on behalf of Delta Airlines, registration N626CZ performing flight DL-5717 from Austin,TX to Los Angeles,CA (USA), was climbing through 13,000 feet out of Austin's runway 35L when the crew reported engine problems...
Read full story »



Jetblue E190 at Nassau on Mar 25th 2016, nose gear up landing
A Jetblue Embraer ERJ-190, registration N273JB performing flight B6-29 from Washington National,DC (USA) to Nassau (Bahamas) with 91 passengers and 4 crew, was on approach to Nassau when the crew did not receive a nose gear down and locked...
Read full story »


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MANCHESTER AIRPORT 'PLANE COMPUTER SAYS "RUNWAY TOO SHORT" FOR EMIRATES AIRBUS A380..DECAMPS TO LONDON HEATHROW




An Emirates Airbus A380-800, registration A6-EOP on flight EK-19 from Dubai, United Arab Emirates to Manchester, UK, was on approach to Manchester's runway 23R (length 3048m/10,000 feet) when the crew pulled the landing went around again from about 1300 feet MSL due to a computer warning the runway was too short for landing.

The crew positioned for another approach to runway 23R but went around from 1100 feet MSL again the same computer generated warning about 14 minutes after the first go-around.

The aircraft entered a hold pattern at 8000 feet, the crew requested runway 23L (length 3050 meters/10,007 feet) and attempted an approach to runway 23L about one hour after the first go around but went around again from about 1100 feet due to the warning runway 23L was too short too.

The crew decided to divert to London Heathrow,UK), climbed to FL190 and landed safely on Heathrow's runway 27L (length 3660m/12,000 feet) about 2:10 hours after the first go around.

The aircraft remained on the ground in Heathrow for 2 hours, then departed again for Manchester and completed a safe landing on runway 23R on its first approach after diversion and total 4th approach to Manchester.



JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581 Aviation Expert, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com

Friday, 25 March 2016

NEW MH370 DEBRIS WASHES UP ON A SOUTH AFRICAN BEACH




Malaysia Authorities said they are to send a team to retrieve a piece of debris found along the southern coast of South Africa to investigate the possibility it could belong to missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.  

The wreckage, discovered near the town of Mosselbay earlier this week, could be part of an "inlet cowling" of an aircraft engine, the Malaysian transport ministry said in a statement, this is a full two years after MH370 disappeared.

Malaysia said further examination was required to verify if the debris belonged to MH370.

Flight MH370 disappeared with 239 passengers and crew on board, shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing.

A piece of the plane washed up on the French island of Reunion in July 2015 but no further trace has been found. Debris found earlier this month off the southeast African coast arrived in Australia for testing on Monday.

Sources: SABC,Reuters,CNS,JB

JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581 Aviation Expert, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com

Thursday, 24 March 2016

PASSENGER AIRCRAFT FLYING THROUGH WAR AND CONFLICT ZONES... THE MH17 FALLOUT



Julian Bray Aviation Security Expert writes: There is renewed critical interest in passenger aircraft flying over and through war and/or  conflict zones. My concern is that the matter, seemingly for political and financial reasons, is being gently brushed under the carpet, leaving the public none the wiser when they book air tickets.   

Recently EASA issued  a report, seemingly with lots of good intentions. but a trawl thorough the first of the regional EASA inspired web sites reveal the information EASA is so keen for us all to share, is available BUT hidden behind a log in process.

Crafty move as the recommendations have been carried out,  but none of us passengers can easily view the information. This is one for your MP and particularly your European Member of Parliament, drop them a line.

This is what EASA is saying:   

European High Level Task Force on Conflict Zones:
 
Introduction


Since the tragic event of the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over the Ukraine, there is a general consensus within the international community that improvements can be made in the way stakeholders share information on risks arising from conflict zones. 

As a consequence, in September 2015 the Romanian national authority co-organized with EASA a high level conference in Bucharest to study how to achieve more consistency in the advice offered to airlines and to protect the interest of EU citizens travelling inside and outside Europe. 


The participants called for the setting-up of a European High Level Task-Force to respond effectively to risks associated with overflight of zones of conflict or armed insurgency. 


Recommendations

There is a clear necessity to take into account, at the European level, the specific problem of the overflight of conflict zones. There is an urgent need to protect civil aviation against many forms of attacks. These attacks can be carried out voluntarily or accidentally, by regular armies or non- governmental forces engaged in combat, involving the use of weapons which can harm civil aviation at cruise altitudes, or during approaches, or while taxing. 


While States have the primary responsibility for issuing information, as well as prohibitions and restrictions, concerning overflight in their own Flight Information Region (FIR), it is accepted, after the downing of MH17, that some States will fail to meet their obligation, and it is therefore essential that alternative information mechanisms are available to aviation community. 


In the current climate of political unrest in many parts of the world, airlines have expressed a need for a consolidated picture of the safety/security situation.


It has been agreed that a level playing field for all airlines is required to protect all passengers. Operators have vastly different resources available to them. However, all operators and passengers*** should have access to the best available information. 

The safety of passengers, and aircraft crews, can be effectively improved if timely and accurate information is made available to all stakeholders.
[*** Unfortunately the EASA information is still denied to the public, as users of the regional conflict zone risk websites are restricted to closed user groups requiring special membership].

One of main identified areas for improvement at European level is the need for availability, in a timely manner, of information on a common risk picture, to support National Authorities and operators in their own decision making processes. 

Measures need to be taken at many levels to limit the risks posed to civil aviation that stem from regional conflicts zones. The consolidated recommendations made in this report offer a way forward at European level.


Under the auspices of EASA, and coordinated at the European level, an alerting and information system needs to be further developed.

The following actions are therefore recommended: 

STATE Actions:


EU Member States are recommended to set up national systems for addressing Risks to Civil Aviation from Conflict Zone in which relevant information is shared with operators. In addition, EU Member States should cooperate in sharing conflict zone information with the view to enable the development of common EU risk assessments (facilitated by Commission services) and to enable the timely sharing of information on rapidly emerging new threats. 

EASA Actions:


EASA should put in place a process allowing the publication of information and recommendations related to conflict zone risks, based on common EU risk assessments, or based on threat information.

This should be done in close coordination with Member States, taking into account the needs for both consultation and for timely dissemination including for emergency cases.  


Intelligence Agencies Actions:


Within the boundaries of a States’ legal structure, the intelligence agencies should support national systems for addressing risks arising from conflict zones and should support the State’s contribution to the sharing of information at EU level on rapidly emerging new threats. 

European Commission Actions:


Commission services should facilitate the exchange of risk analysis and the development of common EU risk assessments, with the support from Member States, EASA and the European External Action Service (EEAS). 

Operator Actions:


Operators should make use of available information and recommendations on conflict zones, and incorporate this information into their risk assessment or decision making processes. They should furthermore share own risk assessment information with their national authorities, and are encouraged to share this information with the RCZ Network, and EASA.

JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581 Aviation Expert, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Post Paris and now Brussels terrorist activities what can be done, and who is to blame? Julian Bray writes...

 
Latest: BRUSSELS AIRPORT
WILL thREOPEN
FOR PASSENGER FLIGHTS
following 'pressure testing' of new
arrangements by 800 staff on
Tuesday March 29th
 
 
 

LATEST: Suspect independent journalist Faycal Cheffou, 'the man in white' has been released without charge, due to lack of evidence. Hunt re-opens for a new 'man in white.'


So where do we go from here? Another City, another bout of carnage. 35 dead and 250 severely injured, and from just two prepared but poorly executed incidents. Julian Bray Aviation Security Expert reports:

The outrages 'were poorly executed', as the Brussels authorities already had detailed knowledge of the two bombers "On the run for four months, and in plain sight" As one officer put it. This is in addition to the one, already detained a few days earlier - who were blown up in the process, and possibly this prompted an earlier premature date for the latest outrage.

French authorities have made it widely known they have been highly critical of their Belgian colleagues method of operation. It is being suggested that had in place, UK levels of intelligence co-operation, the bombers would have been rounded up by now, as they had left a trail of clues and damning evidence behind them at several locations.

Their minder, a 'master bombmaker' named locally as Najim Laachraoui (the third person in the latest CCTV picture is now the subject of a massive manhunt following easrlier local reports of an arrest - later discounted -  and a series of intensive police & military raids - and local reports are now suggesting, his own brother was the suicide bomber for the Belgian Metro train incident.

RTBF, quoting a police source, named the suspected bombers as Khalid and Brahim El Bakraoui, two brothers resident in Brussels and known to the security services for crime.

The newspaper DH said a third suspect seen with them before running away from the airport after the blasts was identified as Najim Laachraoui, 25, a man nowe the subject of a massive international manhunt and directly linked to Abdeslam.

Khalid had rented, under a false name, the apartment in the citys' Forest borough, where police hunting Abdeslam killed a gunman in a raid last week, RTBF said.


Najim Laachraoui, possibly the person with the cellphone enabled trigger device (used as a deadly failsafe back up, if any of the three, for any reason, fail to press electrical contact switches or set timing devices,  on their own deadly vests, jackets or explosives laden suitcases) is pictured walking alongside but slightly apart, from the two who would be blown up for their cause.  

They were thought to be wearing explosive wired up jackets and pushing on airport carts explosives laden suitcases, reinforced with bundles of nails and wire, to act as shrapnel aimed at causing maximum loss of life.

The jackets secured, possibly 'ducktaped' in such a way they could not be removed prior to detonation. The side effect of detonating the bombs, jackets and/or suitcases in an enclosed building or space, is that the blast wave effectively blows out glass walls and windows whilst lifting 1000's of loose fitted suspended metal ceiling panels, and these scythe though the air, at speed, injuring many more.

The suitcase bombs would probably be packed into heavy metal casserole type cast iron metal containers or pressure cookers, to increase the deadly effect. 

Our concern is the now public knowledge that Brussels Police and their military, have what can be best expressed as 'fractured' communications, and not all intelligence is being immediately shared between the two vertical silos.

Traditionally they have operated apart with minimal operational contact at all levels.

In the UK, a different process is in place, but equally communications is at best stilted with every regional and local police force, already shedding experienced highly trained specialists following the eye-watering and in our view wholly unreasonable financial budget cuts arbitrarily imposed by the UK Treasury continuing austerity programme of flawed financial management.

We say flawed, as several targets have not been met, and our protective security and military forces are all stretched, with reservists with minimal training filling some of the gaps. Little wonder that many experienced officers are opting to take their pensions as early as possible taking their knowledge and expertise into retirement with them, possibly to re-appear as private security consultants!

Already the valuable intelligence gathered minute by minute by a comprehensive local network of neighbourhood microbeat policing has all been brushed away.

All that detailed local knowledge lost overnight, nowhere is more obvious than in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. Where council workers have been drafted in (admittedly some with SIA Doorkeepers qualifications) to assist in patrolsnoramllt the preserve of police officers and PCSOs'.  That financial mess can be firmly placed at the door of the UK Treasury.   

Top down policy is through the COBRA system (COBRA derived from nothing more than Cabinet Office Briefing Room A)  usually chaired by the Prime Minister, but with the best will in the world the PM,who came from a background as a PR man with a television station,  does not fully understand the workings of the armed forces and ideally this COBRA process should be driven by the joint chiefs of staff and then integrated military and security strategies and processes handed down to the politicians for ratification.

Having been a working broadcast and print journalist all though the London 1970's IRA bombing campaign, and in the process had all the street facing windows blown out of my own London house, it is clear security techniques have moved on since those times when bombs were going off almost daily, but so has the technology freely available to those who seek to harm us.

Then very few cell phones existed, and networks sporadic, We did then have radio assisted systems such as Aircall were an FM transmitter to a single base station ( on top of the Park Lane Hilton, it relay a voice message to an operator who in turn would dial up on a regular telephone and relay your message ) with laptops not appearing until the mid 1980's (the Tandy/Radio Shack 100; the software being the very first program written by a small firm called Microsoft) and the best device was the nearest red telephone box, or calling up the BBC or LBC radio car.  During part of that period I actually took the BBC London Radio Car home (by arrangement) with me, as it would at one point be called out nightly.

But time moves on, the bombers these days, can pick up for a few pounds encryption programs, that still cannot be cracked by the security authorities. And a 'professional'  assault rifle (mainly sourced in Eastern Europe on the Internet) for less than £200!

There is also the European process of returning former  (well trained and highly motivated, radicalised ) fighters to their European places of origin, where they have since formed a series of independent cells, to carry on their murderous work.

At least in the UK they would be arrested on return, debriefed, put before the Courts and hopefully jailed, but even they have to be released some time. There is always the possibility that radicalisation will continue inside our jails and put into action on release.

Amazingly we are still not at the highest level of security - we in the UK are currently at  SEVERE rather than CRITICAL the top level. So what do we do? It means a massive change in attitude by all of us and acting as our own local intelligence force.

Reassuring and precautionary measures will be in place in the UK , but security can never be 100% guaranteed but the risk can be managed, so expect increased checks, searches, delays in transit, and other what would normally be called irritations.

Clearly we now all for our own safety have to accept this and most importantly pass on any information  either through crimestoppers (anonymous) or the police generic 121 number which will automatically put you thorough to the appropriate police control room, but at your cost, being a premium rate call.


JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581 Aviation Expert, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

NEW BLAST AT METRO STATION AND BRUSSELS AIRPORT DEPARTURE HALL TWO EXPLOSIONS NEAR GATE B AMERICAN AIRLINES CHECK IN 21 DEAD, MANY INJURED AIRPORT CLOSED INCOMING FLIGHTS DIVERTED

COMPENSATION LATEST: http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/travel/2016/03/brussels-travel-disruption-your-rights


Please note: a major international emergency is in progress, many conflicting reports and official sources are being monitored, the situation is at best 'highly fluid'.

Tune in to your local radio station and TV news channels for updates

Breaking News:

ALL EUROSTAR SERVICES
TO BRUSSELS CANCELLED
 
UK FOREIGN OFFICE
RELATIVES HELP LINE:
00 44 207 008 000

Shots fired, Arabic slogans shouted, before two explosions at Brussels Zaventem Airport according to Belgian News Agency Belga.

Police have officially confirmed a terrorist attack.
Local TERROR LEVEL is at 4 (Orange)

Additional explosion at METRO station in the City of Brussels.


Brussels Airport two explosions, glass wall blown out...

Tuesday March 22:  Live television pictures are coming in from Brussels Airport where 'two loud explosions' described as 'loud crumps' have been heard, authorities and agencies are now reporting many injured and multiple fatalities. 11 died at airport and 10 died at the METRO blast and expected to rise. A suspended ceiling in the departure hall also collapsed, and injured many in the process according to firefighters.

An additional explosion reported at Molenbeek Metro station (near to the EU building.  and all other METRO stations now closed.

Brussels is now in lockdown.

UNCONFIRMED report that that at least one Airport explosion was a suicide attack, triggered by a remote cellular phone. Intelligence sources suggests the trigger device, a cellular phone, is actioned not by the suicide bomber him/herself but by an accomplice - just in case the bomber has 'second thoughts' and fails to operate the detonation switch. 

As a consequence, reports coming in that cellular phone networks in certain areas are being systematically closed down, in case phones are being used to trigger further devices.

Later Belgian News Agency BELGA reports say 'shots were fired and slogans in Arabic shouted'.

The airport explosions thought to be two bombs, left near the American Airlines check in area near Gate B. An evacuation is in progress with Sky reporter Alex Rossi who was transiting through the departure hall and transmitting a live feed to his newsroom of the evacuation.

The bombs are said to have gone off at around 8am CET (7am UK).  Clouds of dust and smoke are hanging over the entrance to the departure building and the entire glass frontage to the building has been blown out with glass shards flying everywhere.

Major European airport hubs have also invoked major emergency plans, led by London Heathrow. A COBRA meeting is to be chaired in London by Prime Minister David Cameron later today. 

Roadblocks and checkpoints are being set up by the police and Belgian army all over the City.

Officials are now telling everyone to move towards the nearest exit. Clearly Brussels Airport is now closed as incoming flights are diverted and the airport now closed and being cordoned off as a crime scene.  Rail traffic to the airport has been halted, and roads closed.

HOME OFFICE ADVICE:

There have been explosions at Zaventum International Airport in Brussels on 22 March. If you are affected by the incident follow the instructions of Belgian security authorities. Please contact your airline for information about flight arrivals and departures to and from Brussels.

There have been reports of a second explosion in central Brussels. You should stay away from crowded places and avoid public transport at this time.

British officials in Brussels are being given the same advice to avoid crowded places and the public transport network

The Belgian Crisis Centre has given the Belgian telephone number 0032 2753 7300   0032 2753 7300 for concerned family/friends or 1171 for general enquiries.

The Belgian government has placed the whole of Belgium at threat level 3 – a possible and real threat.

You should remain alert and vigilant, especially in places where there’s a high concentration of people. Follow the advice of local authorities and respect security controls. You can find more information on the Belgian Crisis Centre website and Twitter feed.
Sources: CNS, JB, Sky, AP,  


JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581 Aviation Expert, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com

Monday, 21 March 2016

MH370: Possible debris from missing Malaysia Airlines flight arrives in Australia for testing


   
ABC NEWS are this morning reporting:  Debris believed by some to be from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has arrived in Australia for testing, after it was found earlier this month off the south-east African coast, two years after the plane disappeared.
 
A white, metre-long chunk of metal was found off the coast of Mozambique by a US adventurer who had been carrying out an independent search for flight MH370.

"These are items of interest but, because of the rigorous analysis to be performed, it is not possible to speculate on how long it might take to reach any conclusions," Australian Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester said in a statement.

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JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581 Aviation Expert, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com

LATEST IN A SERIES OF FRENCH AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL STRIKES KICKS OFF; WIDESPREAD KNOCK ON DISRUPTION EXPECTED...


Julian Bray Aviation Analyst & Broadcaster writes:  In answer to the dozens of telephone callers questioning why we have not flagged up the latest French Air Traffic controllers strike, the 41st strike since 2009.  We did and gave several months warning of the next  SERIES of strikes planned by French air traffic controllers this Spring and Summer. The industrial action is over a very long running dispute on pay, conditions and lack of investment, which seems to have no possibility of any form of meaningful resolution in sight.  This is part of what we said at the time : 

http://julianbrayrecessionbuster07944217476.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=French+air+traffic+control

Our general advice is if at all possible is to simply avoid French air space, ask your travel agent to reroute your party using alternative airport hubs (possibly Amsterdam /Frankfurt).  The strikes are designed to coincide with major British holiday periods, to cause maximum international disruption,  and certainly Easter air traffic is already affected.

Thousands of air passengers flying on British Airways and EasyJet  are facing flight cancellations during the next three days due to industrial action being carried out by French traffic control employees. The disruption will not end then as some aircraft will be wrongly positioned for scheduled flights after the current  'official' strike period  by French air traffic controllers ends.

Ryanair have said that flights are affected, the Irish airline said that the industrial action was the 41st strike since 2009 and once again has called on the French Government and European Commission to take action.
 
Ryanair added that it was “forced to cancel a number of flights on Sunday, with further flights cancelled on Monday”.
 
Passengers travelling from Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton Airport to French destinations will experience lengthy delays and/or cancellations as a result of the strikes.
 
Gatwick is reporting delays averaging 50 minutes, but advised all passengers to ring their airlines, not the airport, for updates. Airport operators have not relaxed car drop off and taxi parking rules and charges, so will enjoy an unexpected revenue windfall due to the French industrial action. 
 
A spokesman for easyJet confirmed that 82 flights have already been cancelled or rerouted as a result of the strikes - including 32 scheduled to take off or land at British airports.
 
'We have been pro-actively informing affected customers, so they have the opportunity to reorganise their journeys.
 
'Affected customers can change their flight free of charge or receive a refund. 
 
'We advise customers to make any amendments to their booking on the Manage my Bookings area of www.easyJet.com.
 
'As well as affecting flights to and from France, the strike action is causing delays to other flights which use French airspace.##
'We recommend that all customers travelling on Sunday 20 and Monday 21 March 2016 check the status of their flight on our Flight Tracker page.'
 
'Although this is outside of our control we would like to apologise to all our customers for any inconvenience and would like to reassure them we are doing all possible to minimise any disruption as a result of the industrial action'
 
British Airways declined to disclose how many flights would be affected by the strikes, but said it was doing 'all we can to minimise disruption to customers affected.'
 
The Spanish headquartered airline added that larger aircraft were now being used and in addition a programme or re-routing flights is underway.  

This latest series in a long running campaign of industrial action has been called by UNSA-ICNA, the French union for air traffic controllers, which has said cuts are unrealistic due to the "operational needs of control centres".
Ryanair said it condemned the "selfish action" by the French aviation unions and repeated its demand that the European Commission ban air traffic controllers from striking to prevent passengers being "held to ransom."

Robin Kiely, Ryanair director, said: "It's grossly unfair that thousands of ordinary European consumers have their travel and holiday plans disrupted by the actions of a selfish few."
The airline said the strike was not only affecting travellers going to and from France, but also those flying through French air space to reach distant destinations.

Ryanair  are asking other air traffic controllers in Europe to be allowed to manage flights over French airspace during such action; the airline's flights to other parts of Europe such as Germany, Spain, Italy and Portugal have been cancelled, or diverted due to the strike.

Ryanair  also urged consumers to sign its "Keep Europe's Skies Open" petition to the European Commission.

When it has obtained 1m signatures it said it planned to present it to the EU Commission and the EU parliament.

Air passengers intending to travel from Londons' Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton Airports are being delayed pending reschedule of flight plans affected by the action which started on Sunday.

The DGAC, France's Civil Aviation Authority, requested a third of flights were cancelled to and from Paris-Orly and other regional airports on Monday.



Source: CAA, AOP, PA, AFP, BBC, FRANCE24, CNS

JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581 Aviation Expert, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com
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