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Post by BORG »

Bulgarian aviation faces European Union safeguard clause




The European Commission decided to invoke a safeguard clause against Bulgaria's civil aviation over "grave deficiencies" in safety procedures. The safeguard clause will exclude Bulgarian air carriers from the benefit of being considered a "community carrier". A "Community air carrier" means an air carrier with a valid operating license granted in accordance with European Union Regulations. Commenting European Commission decision, Bulgarian transport minister, Petar Mutafchiev, specified that the safeguard clause, which the European Commission decided to invoke, will exclude Bulgarian air carriers from the benefit of serving flights between two other member states, e.g. Berlin-London, once the country join European Union on January 1st, 2007.

The European Commission decision, however, those not puts under mark of question Bulgaria's air carriers right to continue operating as "third country operators" to and from EU member states in accordance with existing bilateral agreements. However, in doing so, Bulgarian air carriers will have to comply with EU safety rules and might be grounded by member states if found seriously defective during a ramp inspection. At this point, according to Mutafchiev, only three of all fifteen Bulgarian air companies comply with the standards to land a European certificate for a community carrier. The first Bulgarian company to get that certificate is private air carrier Hemus Air which is expected to be shortly followed by Bulgaria Air Charter.

European Commission justified its decision on December 20th by saying that the deficiencies - inability [of Bulgarian Civil Aviation Administration - BCAA] to exercise correctly the oversight of aircraft personnel and maintenance organizations - were identified last year already. The European Commission pointed out that the latest visit of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) proved that the situation remains unsatisfactory - EASA latest report singled out several areas of serious concern - the capacity of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation Administration, the preparedness of the Bulgarian air carriers and the security of Russian-made planes.

By backing EU transport commissioner Jacques Barrot, the European Commission is calling for some of the toughest safety measures ever applied against a new member state, the Financial Times commented, adding that Bulgaria will also be warned that 55 former Soviet aircraft operated by airlines in Bulgaria could be grounded unless they reach European standards. "We are urgently assessing the situation of each Bulgarian carrier and we will draw our conclusions which will be forwarded to the EU Air Safety Committee in February", the EU executive body said in a press release.

Igor Bozinovski



12.dec.2006.


Cause for fatal crash of Albanian Government Bell 222 revealed




Air turbulence caused the deadly helicopter crash over the Adriatic Sea on July 16, 2006, that killed Albanias former Deputy Prime Minister Gramoz Pashko and five other people, according to an investigation by Tirana prosecutors. The conclusion of the investigation has finally rejected number of possible scenarios that have been previously evaluated by the Albanian authorities and media, among them also the possible problems with navigation equipment due to extensive use of mobile phones during the flight.
The Republic of Albania only dedicated VIP helicopter, a twin-engine Bell Model 222UT (registered ZA-HOV, ex SE-HOV, c/n 47555), has crashed in the Adriatic Sea, near the Albanian coast, while performing night EMS flight on way to Italy. The control tower at Tirana International Airport has made the last radio contact with the helicopter at 22.17 local time (20.17 GMT) while the aircraft was flying at a high of 3,300ft (1,000 meters), above Adriatic Sea, west of the port city of Durres. One minute later, at 22.18 local time (20.18 GMT), the helicopter has disappeared from the radar screen some 27 miles (43 kilometers) from the Albanian coast. The extensive search for locating and recovery of Albanian Bell 222UT has finally come to an end on August 10th, almost one month following the fatal crash. As a result, parts of the helicopter have been recovered (most of them being from Honeywell LTS-101-750C turboshafts engines) for further investigation although the bodies of the victims in this accident were not found.
The crash of Albanian Government Bell 222UT is the second worst helicopter tragedy that has ever happened in Albania. It is little known that on November 22, 1989, two Albanian Air Force Mi-4 helicopters (serials 6-50 and 6-44) performing Search and Rescue mission collided with each other - apparently due to bad weather. All on board, more than 36 persons, were killed in what is considered the worst ever tragedy to happen in Albania.
Apart from being Albanias second worst helicopter tragedy ever, the crash of Albanian Bell 222UT is also last in line of five fatal VIP aircraft accidents that happened in the Balkans over the previous 10 years. The first accident happened on April 3, 1996, when United States Air Force T-43A plane (registered 73-1149, c/n 20696/347), a military version of a Boeing 737 airliner, had strayed off course and crashed into a hill while making an NDB approach to Dubrovnik Airport, Croatia, killing Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and 34 others. On September 15, 1999, Dassault Falcon 900B (registered SX-ECH, c/n 026), owned by the Greek Air Force and operated by Olympic Airways, that was carrying Greek Government delegation to Bucharest, Romania, has experienced 10 oscillations in pitch axis which exceeded the limit maneuvering load factor as a result of what seven passengers of thirteen aboard have gained fatal injuries, among them Greek Minister in charge of European affairs, Yiannos Kranidiotis. The third accident happened on February 26, 2004, when Macedonian Government Beech King Air 200 (registered Z3-BAB, c/n BB-652) crashed on approach to Mostar Airport, Bosnia and Herzegovina, killing all nine aboard, including Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski. This was followed on September 11, 2004, by crash of Greek Army CH-47D Chinook helicopter (serial ES 916) that went down off the coasts of Mount Athos, in northern Greece, claiming the life of Patriarch Petros of Alexandria and 16 other traveling on board.

Igor Bozinovski



11.dec.2006.


Romanian selection of C-27J Spartan faces strong media reactions






Romanian Ministry of Defence decision to select C-27J Spartan as a future tactical transport plane of the Romanian Air Force (Fortele Aeriene Romane) has prompted a stream of reactions and is threetening to became a first-class scandal after a number of romanian media have raised questions over the legality of the decision to disqualify the EADS-CASA bid for C-295 transport planes and to choose the more expensive bid presented by Alenia Aeronautica for its C-27J Spartan, especially because the lowest acquisition cost was the main criteria of the public bid organized by the state-owned company Romtehnica. According to Romanian "Jurnalul National", EADS-CASA has offered Romania seven C-295 transport planes in package with logistical support and maintenance services for a total of 319 million Euro, an offer that was for 12 million Euro lower than the bid presented by Aeronautica Alenia. Commenting the 12 million Euro difference between the bids, "Jurnalul National" reveals that 5 million Euro have been accumulated as a result of the higher unit price of the Spartan with the rest 7 million Euro being connected with the higher life-cycle cost of the C-27J when compared with the Spanish C-295.
Faced with repeated media reactions and claims that the transport plane procurement contract is a corruptive one, the Romanian Ministry of Defence has organized press-conference on December 6th in order to clarify why it has opted for the more expensive bid. According to Ioan Ion, the State Secretary within Ministry of Defence Weapons Department, EADS-CASA has been informed that its bid "has been disqualified because it did not fully meet requirements". He revealed that the specialists who have analyzed the submitted bids have found that C-295 failed to comply with five requirements: failure to meet the maximum imposed time to reach 5,000 meters, has no capacity to transport NATO-standardized pallets, the absence of the auxiliary power unit, the maximum call and flight parameter recording time and the absence of infrared self-protection system. According to Ion, although some of this requirement could be met subsequently, at least one of them was impossible to meet by the respective aircraft. It referred to the capacity to carry NATO-standardized pallets i.e. to be complementary to the C-130 Hercules in terms of missions. Finally, commenting the decision of the Romanian Ministry of Defence, Secretary of State Ioan Ion added that, "if one of the tenders is disqualified in technical terms, the price is no longer relevant". However, according to Ion, the Spanish company has 15 days for contesting the decision of assigning the contract to Alenia.
Alenia Aeronautica, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica, has been selected as a winner of the pubic bidding for the acquisition of seven new transport aircraft by the Romanian Ministry of Defence at a public bidding for new short-medium range transport aircraft of the Romanian Air Force. The acquisition deal is for seven tactical transport planes to replace the current ageing fleet of An-24 Coke and An-26 Curl transport planes, which did not comply with NATO standards, are facing serious lack of spare parts and have resources that are expiring in the 2006-2009 time-frame. Currently, Romania is the only country in the region that operates Hercules transport planes. Four ex-USAF C-130B have been donated in 1996/97, with three aircraft still operational and one in use for spares.

Igor Bozinovski
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Navy searches for missing crew after deadly copter crash

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Navy searches for missing crew after deadly copter crash

SAN DIEGO, California (AP) -- Navy vessels about 50 miles off the California coast searched Saturday for three crew members of a Navy helicopter that crashed during a training operation.

The Friday crash killed one crew member and left the remaining three missing as darkness fell over the Pacific.

The sailor died after being pulled alive from the water, said Navy spokesman Cmdr. Jack Hanzlik.

"It's a sad time whenever we lose shipmates like this, so our hearts and prayers go out to the families," Hanzlik said.

The helicopter, based at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, was on a training mission when it crashed at about 5:30 p.m. EST.

The MH-60S, commonly known as a Seahawk, was on a mission off the USS Bonhomme Richard, near San Clemente Island, directly west of the Camp Pendleton Marine base.

Hanzlik said the helicopter crew put out a mayday call before the crash. Navy sailors and Marines who were training with them aboard ship arrived at the crash site in inflatable boats within minutes.

The sailor pulled alive from the water died aboard the Bonhomme Richard while receiving medical attention, the Navy said.

His name was being withheld pending family notification. The names and rank of the others aboard also had not been released.

It was not clear whether mechanical malfunction or pilot error might have contributed to the crash, the Navy said. An investigation was under way.

Hanzlik said he did not know what type of maneuver the helicopter was performing when it crashed.

The USS Bonhomme Richard is an amphibious assault craft that took Marines to Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami.

The ship was training with two other Navy ships, the destroyer USS Chung-Hoon and the cruiser USS Chosin. Both of those ships were also participating in the rescue mission, Hanzlik said.

Two additional vessels, the destroyer USS Milius and the amphibious craft USS Rushmore, were deployed to assist with the search.

The MH-60 Sierra is a twin-turbine craft based on the UH-60L Black Hawk and the Navy's SH-60B Seahawk, according to the manufacturer, United Technologies Corp.'s Sikorsky Aircraft.

It is designed to operate off aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers and frigates, ranging up to 100 nautical miles from the ship.

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Bangkok airport officially unsafe

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Bangkok airport officially unsafe

ImageBANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- Aviation authorities have refused to extend an international safety certificate for Bangkok's new international airport, a senior official said Saturday, dealing another blow to the problem-plagued facility.

With runway and tarmac repairs at Suvarnabhumi airport still under way, the Department of Civil Aviation decided Friday not to renew its interim safety certificate, which expired a day earlier. The airport can, however, continue to operate without the license.

Somchai Sawasdeepon, the airport's general manager, said the airport also has yet to set up a safety committee as required by the International Civil Aviation Organization because authorities are "busy resolving others problems."

The issue will be discussed at the next board meeting, Somchai said, adding that he was confident the certificate will be renewed after the safety committee has been established.

Local newspapers have reported that some foreign pilots raised concerns about safety issues at the Suvarnabhumi, but Somchai said such fears were not voiced at a meeting of airline representatives on Friday.

The International Civil Aviation Organization has made it a requirement for international airports to hold an Aerodrome Certificate -- aimed at standardizing global airport operations. Suvarnabhumi can nonetheless continue to operate without the certificate because it has yet to incorporate that requirement into law.

The airport was enmeshed in one corruption scandal after another during its construction, and since its opening last September problems have surfaced ranging from an inadequate number of toilets to cracks on taxiways leading to the runway. Probes are being carried out into a number of corrupt deals related to the facility.

On Thursday, several incoming flights were diverted to another airport about 200 kilometers (125 miles) away after debris was found on a runway.

The discovery of taxiway cracks, which began appearing about two weeks after the airport opened, was made public last week by lawmakers inspecting the airport.

Cracks at 25 separate locations made it impossible to use 11 out of 51 air bridges for boarding aircraft, causing inconvenience to passengers who had to take buses to and from their planes, Transport Minister Thira Hao-Charoen said Thursday after an inspection visit.
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BA strike to ground 1,300 flights

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BA strike to ground 1,300 flights

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- British Airways cancelled some 1,300 flights next week after a breakdown in talks with its largest union pointed to a threatened 48-hour strike by cabin crew going ahead.

Cancellations would affect more than 140,000 passengers and involve most flights to and from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports, with further disruption before and afterwards.

"The airline remains committed to pursuit of a negotiated settlement before next Tuesday but wants customers to have early warning of its flying schedule," BA said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange.

BA shares were down 1.21 percent at 530 pence at 1130 GMT.

The Transport and General Workers' Union (T&G) has threatened two further 72-hour strikes in February unless there is agreement on issues which include sick-leave policy and pay.

The union says 96 percent of the cabin crew it represents are in favor of strikes.

"If it (T&G) is serious about solving this dispute peacefully it should turn away from confrontation and support our approach to (conciliators) ACAS in a bid to find a breakthrough," BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh said in the company's statement.

Third-largest airline
Walsh took the helm of Europe's third-largest airline in October 2005 vowing to make it more efficient, key to making a success of BA's move in March 2008 to a new terminal at Heathrow.

BA says cabin crew were taking an average of 22 sick days per year before Walsh took charge and that under a new absence policy the figure has fallen to 12 days.

This week, Walsh called on ACAS -- the publicly-funded, independent Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service -- to help resolve the dispute with the T&G.

Some 10,500 of BA's approximately 15,000 cabin crew are members of the T&G, forcing the airline into a difficult position to sustain operations.

The airline warned that if strikes take place, there will be further disruption of flights both before and after each walkout.

"British Airways' flight program is complex, involving the combination of rosters for 15,000 cabin crew, 3,000 pilots and 234 aircraft," it said. "More than 8,000 crew have to be in the right place at the right time."

The airline said customers should check the ba.com Web site for information.

It said flights which are expected to fly as normal include some long-haul flights into Heathrow and some into and out of Gatwick. Its Manchester to New York JFK daily service will also operate as normal.

Other flights which are not expected to be affected include those on subsidiary BA Connect, on franchise partners GB Airways, BMED, Loganair and Sun Air, and those flown by other carriers such using a BA code share flight number
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