The scare created by a coffee spill in the cockpit happens to be the interesting story for this week. Two A350s experienced uncommanded in-flight shutdown of one of the engines after spillage on the centre pedestal that housed “start and control” engine functions. Happening within three months, the resulting shutdown came after some 15 minutes for Delta Airlines (US/Jan, 2020) and an hour for Asiana (SKorea / Nov, 2019). Both cases were investigated by Airbus, following which European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approved the temporary revision in the manual making cockpit a “liquid prohibited zone”. The drastic step was necessary as the spill could have also affected the other running engine.
This is about some instances and incidents which may be known or unknown but might be of some interest to those following aviation. The biggest news of all happens to be the worldwide fear created by the emergence of Coronavirus. Thanks to the ease brought in by air travel it has since been traced to far off corners of the world. It is obvious that time spent in an enclosed space with unsuspecting infected fellow passengers only help its spread. And it does not bode well for Visit Nepal Year 2020 as there are quite a few airlines that link Chinese cities with Kathmandu. To that end, launching of Himalaya Airline’s Chongqing (CKG) connection, even if synchronised with Chinese New Year, appears ill timed in retrospect.
I just could not avoid talking about Ukraine International Airlines (PS) horrendous misfortune this time even if wishing to move to another topic. Writing on different aviation aspects carries a risk of being contemptuously labeled as “one person expert” by people within the fraternity. Even as one such comment came to be known through social media, but the person labeled thus remained unnamed.
The media is currently hot with the Nijgadh debate. The location for a new “green forest” airport, commonly understood as the “second” international or even as “prime” international airport, is in every media, print or visual. Not being able to do much in terms of visible development beyond lip talks, the government seems to be in a desperate mood to push some new high sounding projects for a change. Disappointed several times by mirage like “Melamchi”, people are not likely to believe in verbal commitments any longer. The gulf of distrust has widened so much that common idiom like “a pinch of salt” is no longer appropriate while “more than a fistful” would still not be as symbolic.
One runs out of topic even when writing about the unending plight of an airport or an airline. At times readers may find same issue being repeatedly written about. This happens primarily as issues hardly ever get tackled inviting outrage. The idea about using TIA runway in one direction (S to N), I propped up in my previous piece, was received positively more so as it came out right in the beginning of the Mangsir nuptial season. People I met at post-wedding parties still vaguely remembered the article’s gist. But those in the fraternity, who should naturally be the first to show any reaction, generally tended not to comment.
One old aviation hand suggested that I should do a piece timed to coincide with 36th International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Association (IFATCA) Asia Pacific Regional Meeting (APRM) in Kathmandu (21-23 November). Seventy-seven and long retired, he still loves getting involved with aviation activities wherever possible. Though hesitant, I pondered if mitigating notoriety earned by TIA for inordinate long holdings in the air would be appropriate enough. As this was likely to make our ATCs little less stressful and that it was in consonance with the core aim of IFATCA, I decide to give it a try.
It is accepted that overbearing confidence sometimes leads to unwarranted consequences. This happens too often in our everyday life. At times we get impatient trailing an over laden vehicle occupying the middle of a highway. Few years ago a well known personality got killed in an accident that should not have happened in the first place. Had he been as law abiding, as during his bureaucratic days, he would not have overtaken from the wrong side. He perhaps faced similar situation on an open highway thinking it was safer from left than right.
Recent impromptu verbal outbursts against the sitting civil aviation minister has more to do with deep frustrations among paying passengers for having made to wait for someone as if they did not matter
Not being able to find proofs of something that had definitely happened is quite frustrating. I had encountered the same as mentioned in my previous piece. This time I was looking for details of a helicopter accident on TIA runway that had resulted in several hours of airport closure.
As we all know, it would be difficult for women, or even men for that matter, to manage without a chopper in the kitchen. But even if this piece is not about the kitchen thing, I will get back to it later. As for the term, Americans found it logical to call helicopter a “chopper” as its rotor made “chop, chop” like sound more so because of long blades and slow rotation.
This piece is about radio in general with obvious aviation leanings. The basic thing one has to understand about propagation is that wavelength multiplied by number of times it moves in a second (frequency) gives its velocity. Radio wave’s velocity is derived as 3x108mtr/sec (or 300,000 Km/sec), and this is recognised as “universal constant”. Most people take “SW-FM” as two facets of radio, representing short wave (or HF) and frequency modulation (FM).
Most find it baffling as how aircrafts fly long distances, safely and amidst crisscrossing traffic—seemingly under no control. If that was so, it would have resulted in frequent collisions or other types of midair calamities typically reflecting Kathmandu traffic scene where lack of patience rules supreme. It is not that drivers do not know the rules.
Nothing could be worse for an airline or an aircraft maker if circumstances lead to groundings of their fleet. Aircrafts are made to fly, not to sit idle. In fact, it costs money even to keep them on ground. Airlines work endlessly to make maximum use of the fleet they have. But it is no surprise that RA is seen to suffer first, for being slow in making efforts to increase its fleet utilisation and second, in failing to move away B757 it has opted to ground. Both 757s still sit occupying constricted TIA space.
It is sensible to have backups for a “what if” like situation in case things do not turn out the way planned. Long years of load-shedding had compelled us to go for inverters to keep storage batteries charged. Rooftop solar panels offered greener charging alternative while some, with high electricity demand, could not just do without generators.
Irrespective of the suffering caused by the cancellation of RA’s flight (RA231) to Dubai (DWC) due to night time runway closure after 10 PM, it was good that Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) was strictly followed. Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) is currently passing through a phase of ten hours airport closure that is to last until the end of June. By then, the whole of runway surface will have been scrapped out and done anew.