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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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Sunday, 28 May 2017

Is Tata Consultancy Services holding out on the new British Airways senior management over a major IT problem?


 Hows my flight doing? This is what greets you on the BA website
at 08:29am Bank Holiday Monday....
Error 404--Not Found
From RFC 2068 Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1:

10.4.5 404 Not Found

The server has not found anything matching the Request-URI. No indication is given of whether the condition is temporary or permanent.
If the server does not wish to make this information available to the client, the status code 403 (Forbidden) can be used instead.

The 410 (Gone) status code SHOULD be used if the server knows, through some internally configurable mechanism, that an old resource is permanently unavailable and has no forwarding address.

In September 2010, British Airways outsourced most of its IT and Computing to the Indian firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

British Airways' Spanish boss Alex Cruz has been blamed for causing the computer meltdown that saw thousands of passengers stranded on Saturday after outsourcing hundreds of IT job to India.
Mr Cruz, who founded - just a few years ago the low-cost carrier Clickair and headed budget airline Vueling before being appointed British Airways chief last year, was accused of replacing highly-skilled British IT professionals with low-cost overseas workers and importing Indian IT consultants on Tier 2 visas to the UK to work on BA software and systems.
Julian Bray told Mail Online: 'I would have expected someone with major international airline experience to be put in charge, rather than someone who has been in charge of two smaller airlines, with an indifferent financial record.
'I don't feel he has the depth of knowledge required to inject radical competitive new thinking into the up-market British Airways brand.
'Cruz is known as being an outsourcer and cost-cutter, stripping out frills and cutting head count, and therefore not particularly suited to an upmarket, people-intensive, luxury-price brand.'
Mr Bray added that it is 'inconceivable' that a single power outage could have caused the meltdown, adding that it is 'ridiculous' that BA didn't have an appropriate backup system in place.

Alex Cruz is a Spanish businessman who was born in Bilbao before being schooled in America.

It was there that he landed his first job, with American Airlines, spending five years at Sabre, its travel technology arm, and another five in the core business. He then moved to the world of airline consultancy, spending some time at Accenture.
In 2006 he founded his own budget airline, Clickair, which operated out of Barcelona. Three years later it merged with competitor Vueling, with Mr Cruz becoming the group's new CEO.
After Vueling was bought by International Airline Group in 2013, Mr Cruz joined the IAG Management Committee.
Three years later he was named the new boss of British Airways, marking a considerable step-up from the smaller brands he managed in the past. 
Mick Rix, national officer at union GMB, also warned that British professionals on an average of £50,000 per year were being replaced by Indian workers allegedly being paid just £10,000.

One new theory rapidly gaining ground is that if something catastrophic has happened within TCS relating to the British Airways worldwide computer system, it could possibly be that Tata has not fully passed on all their proprietary information to their client British Airways, and for that reason BA are not offering their senior people for media interview, as they simply do not know what is happening.  

This theory is strengthened by the simple fact that none of the other IAG (BA's owners) computing systems have been affected and their services are operating normally.

This is what Tata and British Airways said in a formal media release at the time (we have reproduced it in full): 

LONDON, Sept. 29 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- In an industry which does not have a 'one size fits all' solution for its Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) functions, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) a leading IT services, business solutions and outsourcing organisation, has joined with British Airways to launch the industry's most cutting edge integrated IT solution, branded as " SWIFT MRO ."

This partnership brings to the market a tried and tested solution that addresses key MRO industry requirements, including compliance control, inventory management and maintenance operations.

The solution, based on the latest SAP platform, leverages British Airways' best practices with a focus on increasing productivity by minimising manual intervention and increasing process automation - all through a simplified Graphical User Interface (GUI). The solution focuses on eliminating non-value added activities and waste throughout MRO operations.  

Garry Copeland, British Airways' director of Engineering, said, "Having successfully implemented an engineering-wide system based on SAP, we have identified a number of opportunities to enhance the solution and make it significantly easier to implement and use.  Working with TCS, we have created a team that combines MRO industry experience with technology expertise to continually improve the effectiveness of our system, and believe we can offer this outstanding product to the market."

TCS and British Airways are bringing this to the MRO industry so that other organisations can benefit from an end-to-end solution, which is scalable to support both the current and future needs of the industry. The pre-configured solution also provides significant implementation costs savings compared to competing solutions, owing to the use of TCS' propriety solution accelerators.

"Evolving technologies and tougher regulations in the MRO industry mean that engineering and maintenance are becoming increasingly challenging. As proven through the advantages reaped by British Airways, SWIFT MRO will be a valuable tool for all organizations looking to improve functional performance in the MRO area while remaining efficient. Our continued collaboration will deliver continuous improvement to help us keep developing and enhancing the SWIFT MRO solution even further," said S. Sukanya , Head of Travel, Transportation and Hospitality, TCS.

About Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)

Tata Consultancy Services is an IT services, business solutions and outsourcing organization that delivers real results to global businesses, ensuring a level of certainty no other firm can match. TCS offers a consulting-led, integrated portfolio of IT and IT-enabled services delivered through its unique Global Network Delivery Model, recognized as the benchmark of excellence in software development.

A part of the Tata Group, India's largest industrial conglomerate, TCS has over 160,000 of the world's best trained IT consultants in 42 countries. The company generated consolidated revenues of over US $6.3 billion for fiscal year ended March 31, 2010 and is listed on the National Stock Exchange and Bombay Stock Exchange in India. For more information, visit us at

About British Airways Engineering

British Airways Engineering has a global reputation for engineering excellence and its technical and logistics expertise supports airline operations on every continent, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. BA Engineering's core capabilities are centred on Boeing 737, 747, 757, 767 and 777 aircraft, plus the Airbus A320 family aircraft.   The company has also invested in three world class operations based in South Wales that are dedicated to delivering heavy maintenance, avionics and interiors. The extensive maintenance network extends overseas with 'line maintenance' stations established at airports around the globe. Again, these support British Airways and its subsidiaries together with a number of customer airlines.

BA Engineering provides full support for British Airways fleet and a number of other airlines, with around 4,000 staff at more than 100 locations around the world. Fully equipped hangar facilities at the main maintenance bases at Heathrow, Gatwick and Glasgow airports are supported by workshops, technical and design services, and a comprehensive logistics network.

The company has also invested in three world class operations based in South Wales that are dedicated to delivering heavy maintenance, avionics and interiors. The extensive maintenance network extends overseas with 'line maintenance' stations established at airports around the globe. Again, these support British Airways and its subsidiaries together with a number of customer airlines.

SOURCE Tata Consultancy Services

JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Analyst/expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 Julian Bray told Mail Online:

Saturday, 27 May 2017

British Airways worldwide computer meltdown.. 11 URGENT QUESTIONS FOR THE IAG BOARD. Lack of any meaningful communication by BA management angers stranded passengers

Only a few of these flying today.... computer says 'NO'

These are the 11 urgent questions that need to be put, and fully answered, to an emergency Board Meeting of the Anglo-Spanish FTSE 100-listed International Consolidated Airlines Group [IAG] (owners of the British Airways brand), by stakeholders, shareholders and BA customers:

1. Why did the non - British born CEO of BA,  wait for some six hours before even issuing a bland video holding statement via the BA Twitter account, and repeatedly refuse media requests for clarification interviews? And is he way out of his depth, considering his previous employment record...

2. What happened to the airlines public relations department, do they not have individual  iphones? Were they gagged?

3. Why did Willie Walsh not PERSONALLY step in within the hour, to offer clear leadership, compensation and clarity?

4. Did anyone try turning the computer main switch on and off and check the fuse box?

5. Is the fact that much of the BA computing operation ( says GMB Union) has been shipped out to India, a factor? (It's well known that at the start of Ramadan, people who strictly observe daytime fasting,  tend to be 'somewhat grumpy' and 'not operating at their full capacity' in the early days of Ramadan...)

6. At which point, are check-in staff authorised to hand out bottles of water to thirsty, distressed over-heated passengers? And who physically gives that authorisation?

7. How is it possible in the 21st Century that the UK/Spanish owned airline branded British Airways, did not have immediate access to a back up disaster recovery system, (such as that operated by Fujitsu Systems and others) which should have clicked in and taken over the core function of the 'downed' BA computer within minutes?

8. How much of the current BA computer system is shared with other IAG brands, such as Iberia and Veuling, and if it is, why have they not been affected?

Is this still the legacy computer core of the BA computing system?

9. How much of the current BA computer system is an old legacy computer running software with lines of code, some probably written in the early 1960s' ?

10. How much of the BA centred computing system in percentage terms, is simply a 'smart front end' bolted onto a very old legacy computer core system?

I1.  It has been suggested during the Saturday night/Sunday morning Stephen Nolan Show on BBC5Live that the airline check in staff have no access to the Airport operators digital messaging and not authorised to use the airports  'Tannoy' audio services. Why?

Julian Bray Aviation Expert comments: The Anglo/Spanish owned British Airways has cancelled all flights scheduled to leave on Saturday from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports, after what they claim is a global IT systems meltdown, stretching credibility by citing power management and outage issues.

On Sunday morning BA advised frustrated Saturday travellers, who had not already rebooked, not to travel to the airport, as there would be no seats for them.

BA now advises passengers to first check with The airline claims to be 'working towards a normal schedule' forgetting the small matter of the many thousands, who have been bumped off flights, or just told to stay away.    

Clearly nothing to do with the fact that the British Airways brand had outsourced much of their computer day-to-day operation to India, in the process issuing P45 to many long serving highly experienced  computing staff in the UK.

Currently the airline is claiming the power outage causing cancellations and delays (legally could possibly be viewed as 'exceptional circumstances' and absolving the airline from liability) could extend into Sunday and beyond, but with any extended delay, both pilots and cabin staff will run out of available hours, and the airline will have to substitute rosters with other pilots and cabin crew who can still fly.

In addition the airline knows full well, it'll take many days to physically recover and return the aircraft, as they are by now all out of position, somewhere in the world, and it will involve many dead leg (ie flying empty) manoeuvres to re-position their fleet.

And some may ask where will they get the pilots from?

Simply many BA pilots will have no regulated flying hours left, the backlog is mounting. Baggage, cargo and special freight is all affected.  Much of it to European destinations could however be trucked by road and still arrive ahead of the 'scheduled' BA aircraft. 

Total meltdown on a major holiday weekend too. A PR nightmare, but seemingly little or no effort being made to publicly inform in real time of what is going on...

Apparently the computer outage has also affected the airlines basic will to communicate with many thousands of intending travellers, causing an inability to hand out water bottles and validate meal vouchers. The passengers pictured forming human snakelike queues  winding its way out of the passenger terminals at major airports.

Clearly the airline needs to rapidly bulk charter (wet lease?) passenger and cargo aircraft and crews from other airlines. It is going to be an expensive operation and someone's head needs to roll..

The airline brand is owned by the Anglo-Spanish FTSE 100-listed International Consolidated Airlines Group [IAG] . .... Sell in May and go away they say... so time to sell perhaps?

UPDATE Midnight Saturday: It is now becoming clear, this is far more than a simple power issue. BA websites, Apps., digital sign systems and operational aircraft loading, flight plans, and baggage computing systems have all suffered a catastrophic failure.

So far some 300,000  passengers have been caught up in this mess. many are now bedding down on hard airport terminal floors rather than being accommodated in Hotels as they are entitled to be. Perhaps if the intending passengers have not been physically and digitally checked in, they arte not liable for compensation?    

Hopefully, the firm will now feel it can fully communicate at an earlier stage with its customers, and change standing operational orders giving its ground staff ( or contractors ) greater authority to declare an incident in order that EC compensation and other refunds can be authorised.

More as we get it...


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

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

BROADCAST SECURITY EXPERT SPECULATION GETTING OUT OF HAND says expert....The UK international terrorist threat level is now at CRITICAL but that is only one of three markers...

Julian Bray Broadcaster and Security Analyst writes:

Wednesday May 24th SECURITY UPDATE (2)
As the result of a widespread media leak in the USA of vital UK crime scene photographs - some too graphic to show on this blog -it can now be said that Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi almost probably used a Karrimor branded backpack type rucksack to carry his bomb, and simply triggered the device with a switchpad held in his left hand; that switchpad almost certainly fitted with a remote detonation relay.  The  use of a jacket or waistband, as widely speculated by some commentators can now be virtually ruled out.
Scene of crime officers recovered fragments of the explosive device lightweight metal casing, you may recall the Boston Marathon bomber used a pressure cooker metal casing for his device.
They also recovered a small Yuasa 12 volt, 2.1amp sealed lead acid battery, the type that acts as a power back up for domestic burglar alarms and battery powered emergency lighting systems,  together with a trigger switch attached to a small circuit board.
The photographs clearly show the evidence before it was 'bagged and tagged' in the blood stained ticket hall/foyer of the Manchester Arena.
The technical skill required to construct such a device clearly indicated that more than a single deranged bomber was involved, most experts agree there had to be a team, suggesting Salman Abedi was part of a wider possibly 'sleeping' terrorist cell, this could have been in place for years, just waiting for the call... 
More urgently an expert bomb technician/constructor could still be roaming undetected within the UK.
The Crime scene photographs, say reliable sources, were leaked to the New York Times, having first been shared with US intelligence agencies by British investigators. The Home Secretary is said to be 'incandescent with rage' according to one close associate, as she had specifically asked for the pictures not to be used.
Other images, apparently show nuts and posidrive type screws ( packed around the device as shrapnel ) had penetrated metal doors and embedded in brickwork.

Wednesday May 24th SECURITY UPDATE:  It has to be of great concern to investigation teams, that some so called 'security experts' - mainly retired military - hired by some overseas broadcast organisations, and broadcasting into the UK, are putting forward some truly wild and alarming speculation, that does not line up with the physical conditions, on the ground in the UK.

For example the police have not so far released any information or pictures on the style or type of the device and have not indicated if it was self detonated by the suspect who died, or if the bomb was proximity pressure triggered or remotely detonated. (clue: Unidentified Explosive Device).

One gentleman in particular, who seems to be flying around several different studios, in the space of a couple of hours, has now gone on record asserting that an explosive jacket was used, elsewhere an explosive belt is the speculation, also the shrapnel used has gone from a few nuts to nuts, bolts, screws and nails.

Simply the speculation if given has to be realistic and proportionate and not just an alarmist, marketing pitch for service options offered by the security expert being interviewed.

Simply many victims and their families are currently going through a nightmare, and deserve some consideration. News editors and producers must bear in mind that when security experts get down to specifics, their view is pure worst case scenario speculation and nothing more.  The current situation is that a widespread all embracing international multi-agency investigation is underway.  

Julian Bray Broadcaster and Security Analyst writes: The Prime Minister has tonight raised the United Kingdom threat level from international terrorism to CRITICAL, meaning that we can expect some form of international terrorist attack immediately.
That is at anytime and expect the terrorist cells already resident to be active within our communities. It is generally recognised that building these terrible devices,  the bombers back up team tend to build several at a time.
The basic device will be the same, but variations and booby trap devices may be added to change the delivery and discharge style to suit the target to be attacked.
It could also be possibly that the trigger mechanism could be altered from a simple switch to a remote trigger possibly through a smartphone app.
This would ensure that if the potential bomber changed his/her mind at the last minute, the device would still be triggered.  
The Prime Minister didn't make it clear that she was taking about the International threat level, there are in fact three different threat calculations in operation at any one time.  
There are three different threat levels currently in force, each threat level dealing with a specific threat area. Currently the threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism, is set separately for Northern Ireland and Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland).
The current threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Northern Ireland is SEVERE, however the current threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Britain is SUBSTANTIAL; which is one level up on SEVERE.
Clearly the authorities are not likely to tell us what they are planning to do in order to counter terrorism but expect to see an increasing use of available armed military personnel, army vehicles and specialist INTEL resources, working under police command and control. 
Multiple arrests and those individuals on the current watch lists both national and international can expect a call. We live in dangerous times, re-read that as very dangerous and liable to erupt at any time.
The UK Secret Service is in fact quite open and additional information can be found on the MI5 website.  
Members of the public should always remain alert to the danger of terrorism and report any suspicious activity to the police on 999 or the anti-terrorist hotline: 0800 789 321. If your information does not relate to an imminent threat, you can also contact MI5.

Current threat from international terrorism

The current threat level for international terrorism in the UK is CRITICAL.

Current threat from Northern Ireland-related terrorism

The threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism is set separately for Northern Ireland and Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland).
  • The current threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Northern Ireland is SEVERE.
  • The current threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Britain is SUBSTANTIAL.

What the threat levels mean

Threat levels are designed to give a broad indication of the likelihood of a terrorist attack.
  • LOW means an attack is unlikely.
  • MODERATE means an attack is possible, but not likely
  • SUBSTANTIAL means an attack is a strong possibility
  • SEVERE means an attack is highly likely
  • CRITICAL means an attack is expected imminently

How are threat levels decided?

The threat level for the UK from international terrorism is set by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC).

MI5 is responsible for setting the threat levels from Irish and other domestic terrorism both in Northern Ireland and in Great Britain.

In reaching a judgement on the appropriate threat level in any given circumstance several factors need to be taken into account.

These include:

Available intelligence. It is rare that specific threat information is available and can be relied upon. More often, judgements about the threat will be based on a wide range of information, which is often fragmentary, including the level and nature of current terrorist activity, comparison with events in other countries and previous attacks. Intelligence is only ever likely to reveal part of the picture.

Terrorist capability. An examination of what is known about the capabilities of the terrorists in question and the method they may use based on previous attacks or from intelligence. This would also analyse the potential scale of the attack.

Terrorist intentions. Using intelligence and publicly available information to examine the overall aims of the terrorists and the ways they may achieve them including what sort of targets they would consider attacking.

Timescale. The threat level expresses the likelihood of an attack in the near term. We know from past incidents that some attacks take years to plan, while others are put together more quickly. In the absence of specific intelligence, a judgement will need to be made about how close an attack might be to fruition. Threat levels do not have any set expiry date, but are regularly subject to review in order to ensure that they remain current.

How should you respond?

Threat levels in themselves do not require specific responses from the public. They are a tool for security practitioners working across different sectors of the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) and the police to use in determining what protective security response may be required.

Vigilance is vital regardless of the current national threat level. It is especially important given the current national threat. Sharing national threat levels with the general public keeps everyone informed. It explains the context for the various security measures (for example airport security or bag searches) which we may encounter in our daily lives.

If you have information about possible terrorist activity, call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline: 0800 789 321.

The Anti-Terrorist Hotline is for tip-offs and confidential information. For warnings about possible bombs or other urgent threats please call 999.

Threat level history

Since 2006, information about the national threat level has been available on the MI5 and Home Office websites. In September 2010 the threat levels for Northern Ireland-related terrorism were also made available.

DateThreat from international terrorismThreat from Northern Ireland-related terrorism
in Northern Irelandin Great Britain
24 September 2010SEVERESEVERE
(first published)
(first published)
22 January 2010SEVERE  
20 July 2009SUBSTANTIAL  
4 July 2007SEVERE  
30 June 2007CRITICAL  
13 August 2006SEVERE  
10 August 2006CRITICAL  
1 August 2006SEVERE
(first published)

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

Ryanair cements new long-haul partnership with Air Europa, one of Spain's largest airlines.


The new agreement will enable Ryanair customers to book Air Europa long-haul flights on the Ryanair website, effectively adding 20 routes from Madrid, to sixteen  countries in North, Central and South America. Destinations include Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico and the USA.

IAG's low-cost carrier Vueling, along with Spanish flag carrier Iberia.IAG's low-cost carrier Vueling, along with Spanish flag carrier Iberia.IAG's low-cost carrier Vueling, along with Spanish flag carrier Iberia.

To add to the woes of IAG who own low-cost Vueling , British Airways and Iberia, Ryanair said the second phase of its Air Europa partnership will be launched later this year, allowing its customers to connect onto Air Europa flights through Madrid.

Ryanair is also continuing discussions with a number of other long-haul airlines on prospective feed and connecting flight partnerships. It has already announced plans to team up with Norwegian.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, said:  "Ryanair operates over 50 short haul routes to/from Madrid and now our customers can book flights on Air Europa long haul routes to destinations including Buenos Aires, Havana and New York. This partnership is the latest 'Always Getting Better' enhancement. We continue to speak to a number of other long haul airlines about potential connecting flight partnerships and we look forward to offering our 130m customers an even greater choice and range of long haul services in 2018."

The chief executive of Globalia, which owns Air Europa, said the partnership allowed it to "strengthen our competitiveness", doubling Air Europa's connectivity in Europe, adding 53 cities.

Last month, the carrier's finance director Neil Sorahan said Ryanair could halt flights out of the UK "for a period of time" due to Brexit uncertainty hitting demand.
Sorahan warned that there could be "no flights for period of time between UK and Europe" if no bilateral arrangements are made.
Sources CityAM, BBCNews, CNS, AP, ENSA,Reuters
JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Analyst/expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476


+++ 14:00 hrs further updates on

+++ Breaking News: 11:02am The nearby Arndale Centre, Manchester, a shopping mall, has been urgently evacuated 'with people seen running' A Man arrested, and bundled into a police van +++ A 23-year old male has been arrested in connection with the Manchester Arena Incident. 


0161 856 9400
0161 856 9900



(especially Type 'O')

0300 123 23 23

TWITTER @CCianhopkins

URGENT Police appeal for ANY smartphone images
and video clips, please send to:
People affected by the incident and needing assistance, information or advice this morning are advised to go to the Manchester Etihad Stadium Gate 11 where a reception centre ( with food, hot drinks, washing facilities, etc.) is operating.
Click to enlarge image
Julian Bray broadcaster and security analyst writes:

Last night Monday 22nd May 2017 Manchester Police were alerted at 10:33pm to an explosion detonated 'by a lone male attacker' at the Manchester Arena Concert Hall (which is connected to Manchester Victoria Railway Station), in the Ticket Hall area - now known to have killed 22 people, and seriously injured some 59 more. 

The serious injured are being treated at 8 hospitals in the region ( all have declared Major Incident Status and elected ( pre-booked) operations cancelled )  - The explosion was at the end of a concert by the American artiste Ariana Grande, she had just finished the last song 'Dangerous Woman'  of her set and in the process of leaving the stage.  

The capacity (circa. 21,000) audience of families (with many young daughters - which is Miss Grandes fan base) were making their way to the exits, when a muffled single explosion was heard, later confirmed to be an improvised explosive  device (IED), - later eye witness reports on BBC5 Live suggest the explosive device contained shrapnel in the form of metal nuts -  strapped to 'a lone male suicide bomber' who died in the ticket hall area.

Sources suggest the railway station direct access to the Arena did not have event security on duty ( as its railway property) and the lone male attacker used this as his entry point, suggesting that he or his associates, had made a dry-run to possibly scope out the area for any security access weak points, prior to the event.

As a result of the device he detonated. The device killed 22 concert goers and injured 59 more.  

It is not known if the male attacker was acting alone or part of a network, or if other threats are imminent The national threat level ( second highest ) remains unchanged at 'SEVERE'. ie 'an attack is highly likely' the highest level is termed 'Critical'. 

Speaking at 11am, this morning, following the first of two COBRA meetings to be held today, the Prime Minister confirmed the threat level would remain under review, but at the moment is it unchanged at 'SEVERE'. Mrs May also confirmed the authorities now know the identity of the deceased bomber, and that she would be travelling to Manchester later today. 

Repeated Tannoy announcements by Miss Grandes American management urging the departing audience to stay calm, but were severely undermined, by the smell of burning and according to eyewitnesses: 'hazy smoke - smelling like fireworks',  this provoked a rush for the exits, and widespread panic set in, with people screaming and crying, some injured in the scramble to escape the premises. 

Witnesses are now saying on camera, that little or no security was evident, and that not all bags were searched on entering the Arena.   

Emergency first responders were already making their way to the locus of the explosion within minutes of the first calls coming in at 10:33pm on Monday. Many children were severely injured.

Manchester police confirmed that over 400 officers were deployed overnight and additional specialist resources from all over the UK have been called in.

A police cordon has been thrown around both the Arena and the adjoining \Manchester Victoria railway station (the Station is CLOSED) 

General Election campaigning has been suspended until further notice. The SNP in Scotland have cancelled their Manifesto launch scheduled for later today.  A meeting of the COBRA Committee at 10 Downing Street will take place at 9:00am. 

The flag at No 10 has been lowered to half mast.   Airports and Ports are on high alert and extra security measures are already in place.     

The new Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham thanked emergency services who worked tirelessly overnight and to the people of Manchester who opened their doors to strangers and offered overnight accommodation and transport.  Other political figures have overnight been expressing messages of sympathy.  

0300 123 23 23
Mike Stredder, director of blood donation at NHSBT, said:
“We are responding to last night’s events in Manchester.
“Our thoughts are with the people affected by this tragic incident.
“We do have all the blood required for hospital patients at the present time; however, we are always keen to encourage new donors to register and existing donors to book an appointment which can be done at or call 0300 123 23 23 to find your nearest session.
If you have an appointment to give blood in the next few days, please do your best to keep it, particularly if you are blood group O negative.”

Press Association at 0800am 23May 2017 reported:

Here is what we know so far about the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena:

22 people have died and 59 have been injured in the blast. Children are among the dead.
  • The explosion rocked the venue at the conclusion of a performance by the American star Ariana Grande. She tweeted that she was "broken" by the incident.
  • Greater Manchester Police said a lone male attacker, who died in the blast, was carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated.
  • General Election campaigning has been suspended after the attack
  • Theresa May will chair a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee on Tuesday at 9am.
  • Emergency number for anyone concerned about loved ones is: 0161 856 9400

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

Monday, 22 May 2017

Business Aviation set to soar at the Farnborough International Airshow 2018


The Farnborough International Airshow 2018 is targeting the business aviation sector and the aviation supply chain. One of the industry’s biggest players has already increased their commitment from 2016’s show and many other exhibitors are set to follow their lead.

Bombardier is to increase its display area and has moved to a more prominent location within the biennial aviation showcase. Following Bombardier’s lead, other business aviation clients have already secured larger sites and spaces for the 2018 show. The organisers, Farnborough International, are reporting a significant increase in new enquiries from exhibitors in the sector confirming FIA18 as a key date in the business aviation calendar. 

Commercial Director, Amanda Stainer said: “We are delighted to see so many  business aviation clients already confirming space for 2018. The show is also attracting many new exhibitors in the sector, and we will see a significant increase in exhibition space dedicated to the business aviation industry.

"Farnborough has a long history of aviation debuts due to its unique flying display which enables exhibitors to demonstrate their aircraft capabilities in full. We are expecting to see more debuts in 2018 following those from Bombardier, HondaJet, Diamond Aircraft and Gulfstream at FIA16.”

Exhibition sales across all sectors for the Farnborough International Airshow 2018 are buoyant and FIA sales teams report growth in both the MRO and Aircraft Interiors sectors, key to the success of business aviation.

The Airshow will see other new features for the 2018 edition including on-floor seminar theatres in Halls 3 and 4, plus an interactive product showcase, which promises a fully immersive experience for visitors.

As well as the very popular civil, military and commercial delegations programmes, the Meet the Buyer also returns for the 2018 Airshow.
The dedicated cargo area is also set to vastly increase in size and will also have its own dedicated exhibition hall.

2018 will also see the unveiling of the new permanent Farnborough Exhibition Hall 1 at Farnborough International, which will showcase exhibitors over seven days from the trade show into the popular public weekend. Currently under construction this 20,000 sq.mts  new venue is a modern, flexible facility, fit for a multitude of events and conferences and will be completed next spring.

Discover Farnborough  on the web

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

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

EC HOTLINE RINGS: UK excluded from EC Brussels Meeting to extend the USA inflight laptop and tablet ban throughout Europe and UK!

Turning back the years, no laptops or tablets around when BEA - British European Airways was king.  

Julian Bray writes:  As a result of this aviation security blog, we had a curious somewhat guarded telephone call from someone at the European Commission, it would be wrong to reveal her name, but after some preliminaries, she demanded to know where we obtained our information about the 'top secret' conference call and the meeting to be held later on the Wednesday - the EC /USA bi-lateral meeting to discuss banning laptops on US bound flights. 

I explained that it was fairly well known in aviation media circles and that if it did go ahead, the EC would be the loser, as the knock on effect of multiple delays and the inconvenience to business travellers would either cause them to re-route or in some cases move their operations to a country where these draconian bans are not in force.

The main problem being that most airports are not currently designed for repeated full scale security checks, at several stages, of the departure process and certainly there is little enthusiasm for additional x-ray machines at the gate.

Aircraft would be in danger of missing their slot times and the general knock on effect would be a disaster for all concerned. Happily this view seems to have prevailed at the meeting and the proposal has ben dropped.....but caution, it may well be revived!  JB

Today Wednesday May 17th 2017, needs to be marked down in your old style Filofax or Time System planner paper diary (remember those?)  as the day the free world stepped back to a time, possibly the early 80's, a time when laptop and tablet technology was unknown on board aircraft the Internet still in its infancy and a mobile phone the size of a large brick. If this sounds as if Julian Bray has finally cracked, consider this:

There are new fears of travel chaos and logistical meltdown  if Europe is the next target for a security crackdown. US and European officials are to meet in Brussels later today Wednesday to discuss a possible new ban directed at the taking of laptops, tablets and e-readers such as Kindles into pressurised aircraft passenger cabins on all USA bound flights from Europe.

This draconian ban if it is ratified extends to UK airports. Just consider that presently over 110 flights a day out of London Heathrow alone head for the USA.

This will  - immediately the ban comes into force - cause a major security backlog at airports, as new security checks are introduced, and possibly additional x-ray scanners installed at the departure gate!

Not everyone is happy about this.  Analysts say the ban could affect more than 3,200 weekly flights to the USA from 28 countries, although the US has remained tight lipped  over which countries would be targeted.

Trying to keep a straight face and claiming this is nothing to do with the UK pulling out of Europe, and the EC shaping up for a delivering a hard Brexit, Margaritis Schinas from the European Commission, told an incredulous Press conference on Monday, the meeting was hastily arranged following a conference call on Friday involving EC Home Affairs Commissioner a Dimitris Avramopoulos and EC Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc and the USA Department Homeland of Security Secretary John Kelly. It is not known if anyone had involved the UK's CAA or UK politicians for that matter.

Margaritis Schinas said: “The [European]Commission will host high-level talks both at the political and technical level with the US authorities this Wednesday afternoon in order to jointly assess any new threats and work toward a common approach to address them.”

Media reports suggesting the US was contemplating  extending the ban on electronic devices to airlines operating in Europe started to surface last week, it was given impetus by the rogue ransom software infection shutting down computer networks including the UK National Health Service and Spains Telefonica, and the news that few of the systems involved were running fully secure operating systems. 

The initial laptop ban was imposed in March on direct flights to the US from 10 airports in North African and Middle Eastern airports. 

The airports involved were: Cairo (Egypt), Istanbul (Turkey), Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Kuwait (Kuwait), Doha (Qatar), Casablanca (Morocco), Amman (Jordan), Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) and Jeddah (Saudi Arabia).

Britain quickly followed but curiously exempted Emirates' home base of Dubai, Qatar’s hub in Doha and Etihad’s home in Abu Dhabi.

Clearly an extension of 'no laptops allowed'  would prove a major headache for airlines and their main revenue earners business travellers.  Airport operators are expecting to cope with hold- ups not only at initial baggage checks and security but a new raft of possibly x-ray checks at the departure gates.

 Sources suggest a meeting was held between airlines and US government officials last Thursday,  they all expected a subsequent announcement from the Department of Homeland Security soon after.

However, the Washington Journal reported there was no decision made by DHS Secretary Kelly, who was at the meeting, and a spokesman told the newspaper there was no specific timeline for a policy change but officials were continuing to evaluate threats.

 European airlines are said to be preparing for the announcement, although it is not yet clear which countries would be affected and whether the ban would also take in other regions such as the Asia-Pacific.

Gulf carriers affected by the March ban introduced a range of options to help passengers, such as airline owned loan laptops and/or tablets.

Medical equipment and small devices such as smartphones are not affected by the ban on taking bigger devices into aircraft cabins.

A major issue is how to safeguard against a concentration of lithium batteries in aircraft holds. Collectively they pose a risk known as thermal runway. Put crudely collectively Lithium batteries heat up, possibly burst into flame and may explode. 

Hold C (may also be tagged Cargo Bin C) is the usual designated bin for laptop transit, as Bin C is effectively 'radio' shielded, so no wireless or other electronic connection or stream can, say, be generated between a passenger operating a device whilst in flight in the cabin, and the laptop or other device stored in Hold C, picking up and acting on that transmission or acting on a 'trigger' signal.

In commercial passenger aircraft, hold spaces are usually pressurised, but not always the case, for example, any cargo holds located behind the aft pressure bulkhead would be unpressurized, these are mainly found in smaller aircraft, another exception would be aircraft like the 747 LCF (Dreamlifter). The cargo section is not pressurised, as there is a pressure bulkhead behind the flight deck section.  

There have been instances of the batteries catching fire on aircraft but they have been contained because many involved devices that were readily accessible in the cabin.

The International Air Transport Association [IATA] was highly critical of the original bans and called on governments to find an alternative. Clearly that is now not likely to happen anytime soon.

Security, the US said it was concerned about terrorists “ongoing interest in targeting commercial aviation, including transportation hubs over the past two years, as evidenced by the 2015 airliner downing in Egypt, the 2016 attempted airliner downing in Somalia, and the 2016 armed attacks against airports in Brussels and Istanbul”.

“Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in various electronic devices.

In a statement the US DHS said:  “Although the U.S. has instituted robust aviation security measures since 9/11, our information indicates that terrorist groups’ efforts to execute an attack against the aviation sector are intensifying given that aviation attacks provide an opportunity to cause mass casualties and inflict significant economic damage, as well as generate overwhelming media coverage.

“We note that disseminated propaganda from various terrorist groups is encouraging attacks on aviation, to include tactics to circumvent aviation security. Terrorist propaganda has highlighted the attacks against aircraft in Egypt with a soda can packed with explosives in October 2015, and in Somalia using an explosives-laden laptop in February 2016.’’

Sources: AP,Reuters,AirlineRatingsNews,CNS,BBCNews.

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

Tuesday, 16 May 2017


Live broadcast reaction with Julian Bray on BBC3-Counties Radio at 17:10pm Tuesday 16 May 2017 and then later replays on the BBC I-Player

On the morning just before the Labour party introduced its much leaked Election manifesto, entitled 'For the Many, you could be forgiven for reading it's hard to read type (white reversed out of red...) as FOR THE MONEY ! But as a prelude EasyJet chose to release its Interim (first half)results .....far more engaging as its BREXIT centric... 

Equally looking at the horror story dressed up as the EasyJet first half interim accounts, the airline flew a record number of passengers in the first six months of its financial year, and also set up a European operational base to secure its post-Brexit future.

All this has consequences, and EasyJet are now reporting a much bigger loss as revenue per seat fell, and 'per seat' costs overall rose. Julian Bray Aviation expert and Broadcaster will be discussing the numbers on BBC3Counties Radio later today Tuesday at 17 :10 hrs. and later on the BBC I-Player. 

The airline in releasing its interim results earlier today, reported a loss before tax of £212m for the six months to 31 March, the number much higher than industry forecasts of pre-tax loses in the region of  £176m, higher than the £21m last year, due to Easter not falling within the first half, and impacting by a minus £45m, leading to a negative net currency implosion of £82m. The so called headline loss per share was 43.8p.

EasyJet passenger numbers up 9percent to 33.8m; total revenue increased by 3.2percent to £1.8bn,  -  revenue per seat dropped 4.9percent to £48.8 mainly driven by 8.4percent increase in capacity -  but the airline (along with competitors) having to contend with greatly increased disruption, with some 3,300 EasyJet flights either cancelled, delayed, over three hours or diverted.

But it the picture is not all gloom and doom,  as this was offset by non-seat revenue up by 18percent, due to an expanding inflight catering and drinks range offer, overall airline markets improved, a load factor increase of 0.5 percentage points to 90.2percent.

However, the brexit and currency exchange effect, a negative impact of £175m on Easyjet numbers.  

The decline  of UK Pound Sterling drove the cost per seat upwards by 4.9percent to £54.45. Lower fuel prices did however help to mitigate this loss. driven by a gross foreign exchange impact of £175m, and as we suggested partially offset by a lower at delivery fuel price.

 EasyJet expects to get its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) in another EU member state later this summer, which will secure the pre Brexit position namely flying rights of the 30percent of the network that remains wholly within and between EU states, excluding the UK.

This one-off cost, the bulk being aircraft registration costs, is expected to reach £10m, over three years with up to £3m incurred in the 2017 financial year. The cost in the first half of 2017 has been £1m.

EasyJet Chief executive Carolyn McCall said it was a "resilient performance during the winter months",

put down to strong cost control, improved operational performance and forward bookings ahead of 2016 at 77percent for the third quarter and 55percent for the half year, "showing that demand to fly remains strong and reflects growing evidence that consumers are prioritising expenditure on flights and holidays above other non-essential items."

"EasyJet is delivering on its strategy of purposeful investment in securing and building strong positions at Europe's leading airports which is driving competitive advantage with sustainable returns. As a result our expectations for the full year are in line with current consensus market expectations."

Shares in EasyJet early trading were off  5 percent, and expected to recover.

Noting the European operational shift tied up in the AOC plans, Laith Khalaf an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, noted that the vote to leave the EU and the associated fall in sterling have not been good for the airline's share price, which is currently languishing some 20percent below where its stood before the referendum. Equally these traumatic trading conditions and an impending General Election, apply to others in the same sector, as forward bookings have been hit.

Julian Bray comments: Analysts, working from screens, might have also inadvertently overlooked the £45 million downturn in revenue in part caused by Easter falling outside of the period under review. It does happen.  JB

"EasyJet clearly thinks bigger is more beautiful, as it seeks to further increase capacity in an already crowded marketplace. The strategy is to bolster its position on key routes, allowing it to drive better deals with airports and suppliers. Indeed the airline has upgraded an order with Airbus to provide even bigger planes, which will allow EasyJet to fly more people into airports with limited landing slots.

"EasyJet is doing what it can to strengthen its position in tough times, in the hope than when the clouds part, it will be flying higher than its rivals."

Sources: PA, Hargreaves Lansdown, BBC, AP

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

Friday, 12 May 2017

NHS CYBER HACKING: Todays computer software meltdown is probably down to a Russian based cyberwrecking crew.

Aviation Security Expert Julian Bray who helped launch the UK Information Technology Year in Milton Keynes way back in 1982 says todays computer software meltdown is probably down to a Russian based cyberwrecking crew.

The Russians  are tonight being suggested as the most likely culprits behind what is turning into a worldwide computer ransom security fail - The UK National Health Service, being just one of several world wide targets, the NHS hack includes many thousands of general practitioners  (doctors and other health professionals) all linked into the NHS computer network, and most of these sites are running the much loved but now very out of date Windows XP operating system which hasn't been regularly supported by Microsoft for several years now, although the odd patch is released from time to time. 

The hardware is also increasing ancient as can be observed in any hospital or local GP surgery. Government advice is to back up all files daily but it is not a mandatory requirement, and the current Home Secretary Amber Rudd is clearly well out of her depth on the technicalities involved. 

Julian Bray says sadly so much computing time is taken up by staff in many industries (not just the NHS) game playing and surfing the net, cyber shopping, ordering groceries, in addition to the tasks the computer is designed for. This is time when staff should ideally be backing up files to secure parallel networks and disaster recovery centres.

But it just does not happen, and IT staff are an easy way to cut the payroll. They are now so thin on the ground, some joke they are an endangered species.  Ever changing agency staff some employed on a daily basis within the NHS on short contracts are not being given complete IT skills training. 

Most of these ransom demands are carried on the back of tempting internet shopping offers, and in some cases legitimate e-mails but the text and format has been copied to fool the recipient. Hackers come in all shapes and sizes,
The sad part of all this is, as the NHS software has run without major mishap for years, budget conscious financial directors and NHS Chief executives have skimped on cyber security, many NHS trusts spending just £20k per annum to support their systems.   

The meltdown happens when someone clicks on a link usually attached to an email and in so doing, the internal software is contaminated and files encrypted. The cyberwreckers then post a landing screen which suggests  that if $500 worth of bitcoin - the internet cyber currency - is sent to a particular address then an unlock code would be released. Experts  are split on what to do but invariably the ransom is paid out to recover valuable files  and  to restore the operating system.  

A mysterious organisation dubbed Shadow Brokers - claimed in April it had stolen a ‘cyber weapon’ from an American spying agency giving it unprecedented access to all computers using Microsoft Windows,  More likely is that the program has been purchased on the dark web and the crooks behind the scams are busy attacking email accounts...

City of London Police have now issued this advice:
Following the ransomware cyber attack on Friday 12 May which affected the NHS and is believed to have affected other organisations globally, the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has issued an alert urging both individuals and businesses to follow protection advice immediately and in the coming days.

In order to protect the public and businesses from ‘WCry’ or ‘WannaDecrypt0r’ ransomware, the National Crime Agency (NCA) is working closely with a range of partners both in the UK and overseas. The NCA leads the UK law enforcement response to cyber threats and is investigating this incident with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). 
Key Protect messages for businesses to protect themselves from ransomware:
-        Install system and application updates on all devices as soon as they become available.
-        Install anti-virus software on all devices and keep it updated.
-        Create regular backups of your important files to a device that isn’t left connected to your network as any malware infection could spread to that too.
The National Cyber Security Centre's latest technical guidance includes specific software patches to use that will prevent uninfected computers on your network from becoming infected with the "WannaCry" ransomware.
Additional in-depth technical guidance on how to protect your organisation from ransomware is also available from the NCSC and on the Microsoft website.
Key Protect advice for individuals is essentially the same, with one additional point:
-        Install system and application updates on all devices as soon as they become available.
-        Install anti-virus software on all devices and keep it updated.
-        Create regular backups of your important files to a device (such as an external hard drive or memory stick) that isn’t left connected to your computer as any malware infection could spread to that too.

-        Only install apps from official app stores, such as Google’s Play Store, or Apple’s App Store as they offer better levels of protection than some third party stores. Jailbreaking, rooting, or disabling any of the default security features of your device will make it more susceptible to malware infections.
Criminals use opportunities like this to further defraud people using phishing and smishing tactics. We would therefore urge people to be cautious and wary when contacted by people who claim to be from the NHS in relation to the ransomware attack.
The protect advice for phishing and smishing is as follows:
            An email address can be spoofed. Don’t open attachments or click on the links within any unsolicited emails you receive, and never respond to emails that ask for your personal or financial details. 
            The sender’s name and number in a text message can be spoofed, so even if the message appears to be from an organisation you know of, you should still exercise caution; particularly if the texts are asking you to click on a link or call a number.
            Don’t disclose your personal or financial details during a cold call, and remember that the police and banks will never ring you and ask you to verify your PIN, withdraw your cash, or to transfer your money to another “safe” account.
Any individuals or businesses who believe they have been a victim of the ransomware attack are urged to report to Action Fraud.
For up to date fraud and cyber crime alerts, people are advised to visit the Action Fraud website and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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