Posts Tagged 'Airbus A330'

Afriqiyah Airways Crash In Tripoli, Lybia

An Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A330 has crashed at the Tripoli International Airport while trying to land. There were 104 people on board, the lives of all but one are believed to have been lost.

The Afriqiyah Airways flight 771 arriving from Johannesburg, South Africa, after a 9 hour flight, carrying 93 passengers and 11 crew members was about to land at Tripoli at 10 minutes past 6am this morning. The plane was scheduled to continue its journey to London-Gatwick as flight 8U 912, thus a few British citizens were also aboard with other nationalities including South Africans and Europeans bound for other connecting flights. As confirmed by the Dutch authorities, there were 62 Dutch citizens on this flight! All the crew were from Lybia. Nicky Knapp, a representative of the Airports Company South Africa, provided the breakdown in the destinations of the passengers aboard: seven to London, 32 to Brussels, 42 to Dusseldorf, one to Paris, and 11 to Libya. She was speaking on behalf of Afriqiyah Airways.

First reports suggest the plane has exploded in the air before touching down (“It exploded on landing and totally disintegrated,” a Libyan security official told AFP), but these are not yet confirmed. Some burnt airplane parts are also lying on the ground, together with intact airline seats, which would indicate that we may have some survivors. Ambulances are continuously arriving at the scene. Early reports indicate there is one survivor, an 8 year old Dutch child! He is currently undergoing surgery at a local hospital with some bone injuries.

By the afternoon, 96 bodies have also been recovered from the wreckage… Some of the TV footage show a destroyed car wreckage being moved by rescue workers as well – it is unknown at this stage if there were any casualties on the ground as well.

Officials also recovered the plane’s flight data recorder, which investigators use to piece together a flight’s last minutes.

The plane was one of three Airbus A330-200’s operated by Afriqiyah Airways. Carrying the registration number 5A-ONG (pictured here above), it was handed over to Afriqiyah just 8 months ago, thus was a new a plane. The planes in the fleet carry the logo 9.9.99 – the date when the African Union was formed, and this plane was handed over to the airline exactly ten years later, on 9.9.09. Ended her short life after accumulating about 1,600 flight hours in some 420 flights in a very tragic way.

by balint01

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Air Comet Shuts Down

Air Comet, the second biggest Spanish airline operating between Spain and Latin America has shut down on December 22, just before the 2009 Christmas holidays – leaving thousands of holiday passengers at airports around the Spanish speaking part of the World.

Established in 1996, Air Comet started operations in March, 1997 as Air Plus Comet, and was based at Madrid Barajas Airport in Spain, at Terminal 1. In 2007 it took over the routes of the bankrupt Air Madrid, that (also) left thousands of Holiday passengers behind over the Christmas period of 2006 and that’s when it simplified its name to Air Comet.

It operated scheduled flights to a number of Central and South American destinations, including Havana (Cuba), Bogota (Colombia), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Lima (Peru), Quito and Guayaquil (Ecuador) as well as Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia) – just to name a few. It temporarily suspended its flight Santiago de Chile earlier in 2009 due to focusing on other markets.

Air Comet’s parent company, Grupo Marsans had ordered a number of new planes, including four Airbus A380 superjumbos that were to have 620 seats and were to be operated on the most popular routes to South-America. Besides the big A380’s, Grupo Marsans also ordered 10 A350’s and 17 new Airbus A330’s, the first of which was already delivered in August, 2008. It now looks like, the A380’s will never be operated under the Air Comet brand and livery…

The problems came in early 2009, when in February, IATA has suspended Air Comet from the IATA Clearing House system, as it failed to pay its January balance. Then since April it failed to pay the salaries to a number of its employees. Then on December 22 it announced that it ceases operations immediately. This announcement came after the German HSH Nordbank – the owner of the Air Comet fleet – requested a court order as the airline has not been paying its leasing fees for some time (summing up to EUR 17 million by now). According to the Bank, they offered Air Comet the option to continue operating the aircraft for a few more days to be able to bring Christmas holidaymakers to their destinations. But according to the Spanish transport ministry, the airline did not even have enough money left to pay for fuel and fees, thus it has withdrawn Air Comet’s Operating License immediately.

The airline said it plans to lay off all 640 employees and file for bankruptcy. In the meantime, the plans to take over Air Comet by the US Air Transport Group Private Equity firm have failed, due to the repossession of the whole fleet – see the HSH Nordbank reference above.

Dozens of angry Air Comet customers blocked the entrance to Barajas’s Terminal 1 on December 23. They described the company’s management as “thieves”, according to the AFP news agency.

The Spanish Government is spending 6.3 million Euros on renting 4 airplanes to bring home about 7000 stranded passengers of Air Comet.

by balint01

Air France Flight AF447 Missing

It has been confirmed by Air France that their flight AF 447, linking Rio de Janeiro with Paris (Charles de Gaulle) had disappeared earlier today from the Brazilian radars and has never contacted Senegalese air traffic control.

The Airbus A330 should have landed in Paris at 11:10 local time but it has dissappeared earlier this morning. The plane – with 216 passengers (126 men, 82 women, 7 children and a baby) and 12 crew members onboard – took off from Rio de Janeiro Sunday evening at 7pm local time, heading towards Europe on a route that would lead northwards above Brazil, then crossing the Atlantic towards Senegal and flying through Spanish air-space before arriving to the French capital. However, contact with the aircraft was lost about 3 and a half hours into the flight (~1:33 GMT), when the plane was cruising at 35.000 feet at a speed of 840 km/h, approximately 300 kms from the Brazilian shore (565 kms north-east of the Brazilian city of Natal), above the Atlantic Ocean – already outside of Brazilian radar-space. It had last contacted air traffic control in Recife, Brazil. Brazilian Air Force started the search early Monday morning around the Northeastern Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha (365 kms from the South-American coast). They were later joined by a French military plane flying out of Senegal to help with the search. Brazilian officials cautioned that the search area could be three times the size of Europe. See map on CNN.com and the map on BBC.co.uk.

AirFrance_AirbusA330_F-GZCP-byPhilippeJeandy

There were several possible scenarios why contact was lost, it could have been a transponder problem, a hijack or a crash. Transport analyst Kieran Daly told CNN that the lack of communication with the aircraft “does suggest it was something serious and catastrophic.” He said the aircraft involved was one delivered to Air France in April 2005. Given the fact that that Airbus A330 is one of the safest airplane types currently flying around the Globe – not having a regular fatal accident since its first commercial flight in 1998 -, theoretically it could have done a water landing – similar to the US Airways flight that ditched in the Hudson river earlier this year – but the fact that all radio contact had been lost does not sound too positive at this stage. Also in the middle of a storm at the open ocean it is a much harder task than the Hudson river in quite weather.

The plane was hit by heavy turbulance in stormy weather and reported electrical problems before it lost contact, Air France said Monday. The automatic system of the Airbus A330-200 began a four-minute exchange of messages to the company’s maintenance computers, indicating that “several pieces of aircraft equipment were at fault or had broken down,” at 02:14 GMT (four hours after leaving Rio de Janeiro) as it hit strong turbulence early in its 11-hour flight from Rio de Janeiro to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, Air France CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon told a news conference. “This succession of messages signals a totally unforeseeable, great difficulty,” he said. “Something quite new within the plane.” During that time, there was no contact with the crew, Gourgeon said, adding that “It was probable that it was a little bit after those messages that the impact of the plane took place in the Atlantic,” he added. He also said that flight AF 447 was probably closer to Brazil than to Africa when it crashed. Speculations are now pointing towards a possible lightning strike as the cause of the electrical malfunction – but that alone should not have brought down a modern airliner such as the Airbus A330. The jet had also sent a warning that it had lost pressure, the Brazilian air force said. The missing jet, registered as F-GZCP last had a maintenance check on April 16 and has been flying in service since April 18, 2005 – with 18870 recorded flight hours and was powered by General Electric CF6-80E engines. According to Reuters, two Lufthansa planes have flown over the same area shortly before and shortly after the Air France flight – without any incidents. Both German pilots reported the bad, stormy weather.

The chances of finding any survivors were “very low,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy admitted Monday. Air France identified the nationalities of the victims (based on the information received from the Brazilian Authorities) as two Americans, an Argentinean, an Austrian, a Belgian, 58 Brazilians, five British, a Canadian, nine Chinese, a Croatian, a Dane, a Dutch, an Estonian, a Filipino, 61 French, a Gambian, 26 Germans, four Hungarians, three Irish, one Icelandic, nine Italians, five Lebanese, two Moroccans, three Norwegians, two Polish, one Romanian, one Russian, three Slovakian, one South African, two Spanish, one Swedish, six Swiss and one Turk. This means 32 countries are involved in the tragedy. The four Hungarians are said to be 2 adults and 2 children. A woman returning from a 3 week training in Brazil – that she held on behalf of the International Pető Institute – with her spouse and her child – traveling together with another child who had visited relatives in Brazil. According to Brazilian sources, Luis Roberto Anastáci, President of Michelin South America was also among the passengers. Two ticket holders were not allowed to get on board due to the expiration of their passports.

Update (02/June, 20.00 CET): some debris of a plane were found by rescue teams. According to new sources a seat, a life vast, an oil drum and signs of oil and kerosene were found, but there were not enough material to make sure these were parts of the lost plane. Three commercial ships were directed to the area later in the afternoon.

Update (07/June, 10.00 CET): According to CNN, two bodies and some parts of the aircraft were found yesterday. Also a backpack and a leather briefcase were found, the latter holding a flight ticket, which was identified by Air France and it was proven to belong to one of the passengers. Airbus said the automated error messages may show that the speed controls were faulty.  Read more here.

by balint01


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