Thursday, August 25, 2011

18 survive MH3516 crash-landing in Lawas

The front landing gear of a MASwings Twin Otter (DHC6) aircraft broke off upon landing at Lawas Airport, Malaysia about 3.30pm yesterday.



All 16 passengers and two crew – pilot and co-pilot – were lucky to escape unscathed as their aircraft skidded to a stop a short distance from the river at the end of the runway.

According to one of the passengers, the plane stopped just 5metres short of the river.

Fine weather was reported at the time of the incident.

The MH3516 aircraft, belonging to Malaysia Airlines’ subsidiary MASwings took off from Miri Airport at 2.45pm.

MASwings ,in a statement emailed from Kuching yesterday evening, said that following the incident, the Lawas terminal was temporarily closed to traffic to facilitate investigation.

“The aircraft is being guarded by MAB airport security and police.

MASwings meanwhile is sending an investigation and recovery team from Kota Kinabalu by land to remove the aircraft from the site. For the time being, Lawas Airport is closed for all flight operations until the airfield is cleared,” the statement added.

It said the airline would extend its full co-operation to the Department of Civil Aviation which is investigating the incident. This is an isolated incident and that safety remains a high priority in the company.

MASWings makes six flights daily from Miri. In a week it makes 17 flights to Lawas from Miri, three from Ba Kelalan and one from Kota Kinabalu.

The 19-seater Twin Otter aircraft is one of four used by MASWings for its rural air services (RAS) in Sarawak.

via BorneoPost

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Falcon HTV-2 hypersonic glider failed high speed test

Falcon HTV-2
An unmanned experimental aircraft designed to fly at speeds of 13,000 mph (20,900 kph) went out of control and crashed in the Pacific on Thursday in the second failed test of a military program to deliver a warhead anywhere on Earth in an hour.

The Falcon HTV-2 hypersonic glider was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 7:45 a.m. PST (1445 GMT) and successfully separated from a Minotaur IV rocket in the upper atmosphere several minutes later, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said.

Initial information about the flight was first circulated on the Internet via Twitter. About 10 minutes after the flight began, DARPA tweeted that the mission was "on track, entering glide phase."

But about 26 minutes later, the agency tweeted that its monitoring stations had lost contact with the glider.

Separation of the arrowhead-shaped aircraft from the rocket was confirmed by an on-board camera, and the glider began a descent aimed at reaching 20 times the speed of sound, the agency said in a statement later.

But nine minutes later an "anomaly" caused a loss of signal between the aircraft and monitoring stations. The plane evidently crashed into the Pacific along its planned flight path, the agency said.

"Here's what we know," said Air Force Major Chris Schulz, an aerospace engineer who manages of the hypersonic flight program. "We know how to boost the aircraft to near space. We know how to insert the aircraft into atmospheric hypersonic flight.

"We do not yet know how to achieve the desired control during the aerodynamic phase of flight. It's vexing. I'm confident there is a solution. We have to find it," he said.

The glider is attempting to become the fastest aircraft ever built, with the ability to fly anywhere in the world within an hour. To do that it has to achieve speeds of 13,000 mph (20,900 kph) and endure temperatures in excess of 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,926 degrees Celsius).

It was the second time the aircraft had been tested. In April 2010 tracking stations lost contact with the aircraft after just nine minutes.

'WE'LL LEARN, WE'LL TRY AGAIN'

DARPA said achieving separation of the glider from the rocket was a critical step in maneuvering the craft into hypersonic flight.

Researchers also collected nine minutes worth of telemetry data that they hope will help them learn to fly at super high speeds.

"In the April 2010 test, we obtained four times the amount of data previously available at these speeds. Today more than 20 air, land, sea and space data collection systems were operational," said DARPA Director Regina Dugan. "We'll learn. We'll try again. That's what it takes."

Schulz said three technical challenges exist in HTV-2 flight -- aerodynamic, aerothermal, and guidance, navigation and control.

"To address these obstacles, DARPA has assembled a team of experts that will analyze the flight data collected during today's test flight, expanding our technical understanding of this incredibly harsh flight regime," Schulz said. "As today's flight indicates, high-Mach flight in the atmosphere is virtually uncharted territory."

The Falcon HTV-2 glider is part of the Defense Department's Conventional Prompt Global Strike program, an effort to build a system that can deliver a conventional warhead anywhere in the world within an hour.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Moroccan C-130 military plane crashed near Guelmim

A plane crash in southern Morocco killed 78 people Tuesday, the state news agency reported.
The Moroccan C-130 military plane crashed in the southern part of the country, state-run Agence Maghreb Arabe Presse reported.

The aircraft, belonging to Morocco's Royal Armed Forces, crashed into a mountain as it attempted to land at a military airport about eight kilometers (five miles) away, the news agency said.

Three people were hurt.

The plane was flying from Agadir to Al-dakhla and was carrying 81 people -- 60 military, 12 civilians and nine crew members, Agence Maghreb Arabe Presse reported, citing a military statement.

The plane crashed at 9 a.m. (4 a.m. ET), 10 kilometers away from the city of Guelmim, the statement said.

Local news agency Lakome.com, citing sources with knowledge of the event, said rescue efforts were ongoing.

Ali Anozla, managing editor of Lakome, said local sources told him the cause of the crash was bad weather.

Monday, June 20, 2011

RusAir Tupolev-134 plane crashed in Karelia, Russia

At least 44 people were killed when a passenger plane broke up and caught fire on coming into land in heavy fog in north-western Russia, an Emergency Ministry spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

The Tupolev-134 plane, carrying 43 passengers and nine crew, crashed near a road about 1 km (0.6 miles) from the runway at the Besovets airport outside the northern city of Petrozavodsk at about 11.40 p.m. local time (1940 GMT) on Monday.

"The preliminary information is that 44 people were killed," the spokeswoman said by telephone. "Eight people were injured." She said nine crew were on board; officials had earlier said there were five crew on board.

Photographs on the www.lifenews.ru Internet news website showed firemen battling with fires among the wreckage of the plane, which crashed about 700 km (430 miles) north of Moscow.

The news site, which posted a full list of the passengers, said a 10-year-old boy named Anton had survived the crash but gave no details about his condition.

The crash comes on the eve of the Paris Air Show which Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is due to attend.

The plane, operated by the private company RusAir, was traveling from Moscow's Domodedovo airport. RusAir, which specializes in charter flights, declined immediate comment.

Most of the passengers were Russian but a Swedish national was also on the aircraft, Interfax news agency said.

The Tuploev-134 is a Soviet aircraft whose maiden flight was in 1967. It was unclear when the plane which crashed was made.

The aircraft's black boxes have been recovered.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who has swapped his Tupolev for a French-made executive jet, in April criticized flaws in domestically-built planes and the nation's poor safety record.

One of the most high-profile Tupolev air disasters in recent times occurred in April 2010 when Polish President Lech Kaczynski's official Tupolev Tu-154 plane crashed near Smolensk airport in western Russia, killing 96 people including Kaczynski, his wife and a large number of senior officials.

List of survivors (list from http://www.lifenews.ru/news/61719):
Anna Nazarova
Sergey Eremin
Julia Skvortsova,
Sergei Belgesov,
Anna Terekhina - 27 years
Alexander Kargopolova.
Vladimir Stepanov - 40 years
Anton Terekhin, 10 years old.
All the other people who were on board the crashed airliner, died.

via Reuters

Friday, June 3, 2011

Qantas jet grounded because of rats

Qantas has been forced to ground one of its jets after rats were found on board.

Flight attendants discovered five rats in the cabin of a Boeing 767 Monday as they were preparing for take-off from Sydney Airport, Sky News reported.

The rats were found in emergency medical equipment just before passenger were due to board.

The passengers, who were bound for Brisbane on the 5pm flight, were moved to another flight while the rats were killed and engineers checked if they had damaged any wiring.

Qantas is unsure how the rats got onboard.

"We still don't know how they got on board but it is obviously not a common occurrence,'' a Qantas spokesman said.

A Qantas spokeswoman said the airline was currently investigating how the rats came to be in the plane but described the incident as "unusual''.

Engineers who inspected the plane on Monday found no damage had been caused to the plane's wiring systems.

The aircraft was due to return to service this morning, the spokeswoman said.

While not a common occurrence, it's not unheard of to find rats or other pests on planes. In April health inspectors found rodent droppings "too numerous to count" near a Delta Airline jet's food and drink storage area.

In February last year hundreds of passengers were ordered off an Air Canada flight bound for London from Ottawa after a huge rat was discovered on board.

Rats aren't the only creatures to invade jets - a colony of cockroaches was discovered in the first class section of an American Airlines flight last March

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Martin Jetpack closer to commercial use

Jetpacks, once thought to be the future of travel, seemed to go the way of the flying car, but if Glenn Martin, founding director and inventor of Martin Jetpack, has his way, anyone will be able to buy one for about US$100,000 within the next 18 months.

Martin Aircraft Co., located in New Zealand, passed a crucial milestone this month when it tested its Jetpack at 1,500 metres, before it deployed an emergency parachute, allowing the flying machine and its dummy pilot to drift down to the ground.

"This successful test brings the future another step closer," said Martin in a statment.

"This test also validated our flight model, proved thrust to weight ratio and proved our ability to fly a Jetpack as an unmanned aerial vehicle, which will be key to some of the Jetpack's future emergency/search and rescue and military applications."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

RQ-170 Sentinel was used to spy Osama bin Laden hideout

The CIA employed sophisticated new stealth drone aircraft to fly dozens of secret missions deep into Pakistani airspace and monitor the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed, current and former U.S. officials said.

Using unmanned planes designed to evade radar detection and operate at high altitudes, the agency conducted clandestine flights over the compound for months before the May 2 assault in an effort to capture high-resolution video that satellites could not provide.

The aircraft allowed the CIA to glide undetected beyond the boundaries that Pakistan has long imposed on other U.S. drones, including the Predators and Reapers that routinely carry out strikes against militants near the border with Afghanistan.

The agency turned to the new stealth aircraft “because they needed to see more about what was going on” than other surveillance platforms allowed, said a former U.S. official familiar with the details of the operation. “It’s not like you can just park a Predator overhead — the Pakistanis would know,” added the former official, who, like others interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the program.

The monitoring effort also involved satellites, eavesdropping equipment and CIA operatives based at a safe house in Abbottabad, the city where bin Laden was found. The agency declined to comment for this article.

The CIA’s repeated secret incursions into Pakistan’s airspace underscore the level of distrust between the United States and a country often described as a key counterterrorism ally, and one that has received billions of dollars in U.S. aid.

Pakistan’s spy chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, last week offered to resign over the government’s failures to detect or prevent a U.S. operation that he described as a “breach of Pakistan’s sovereignty.” The country’s military and main intelligence service have come under harsh criticism since the revelation that bin Laden had been living in a garrison city — in the midst of the nation’s military elite — possibly for years.

The new drones represent a major advance in the capabilities of remotely piloted planes, which have been the signature American weapon against terrorist groups since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

In 2009, the Air Force acknowledged the existence of a stealth drone, a Lockheed Martin model known as the RQ-170 Sentinel, two years after it was spotted at an airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The aircraft bears the distinct, bat-winged shape of larger stealth warplanes. The operational use of the drones has never been described by official sources.

The extensive aerial surveillance after the compound was identified in August helps explain why the CIA went to Congress late last year, seeking permission to transfer tens of millions of dollars within agency budgets to fund intelligence-gathering efforts focused on the complex.

The stealth drones were used on the night of the raid, providing imagery that President Obama and members of his national security team appear in photographs to have been watching as U.S. Navy SEALs descended on the compound shortly after 1 a.m. in Pakistan. The drones are also equipped to eavesdrop on electronic transmissions, enabling U.S. officials to monitor the Pakistani response.

via: TheWashingtonPost

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Predator drone strike in Libya

The United States launched its first Predator drone strike in Libya today, the Defence Department said in a statement.

It did not provide details on the target of the strike, saying only that it occurred in the early afternoon local time in Libya.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates announced on Thursday that the unmanned aircraft would be used in Libya for Hellfire missile attacks on the forces of leader Muammar Gaddafi.

General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the US plan called for keeping two patrols of armed Predators above Libya at any given time, permitting better surveillance – and targeting – of Gaddafi’s forces. The drones are based in the region but typically flown by remote control by pilots in the United States.

The US military has been using other drones to target militants along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. The drones in Libya were not taken from Afghanistan, US officials said. – Reuters

Related posts:
* Gray Eagle - New Predator Variants

Monday, April 11, 2011

Helicopter Crashed in Sibu

A helicopter crashed when taking off from Dataran Sibu in East Malaysia in the heart of the city at 1.40pm Monday after its three passengers, including an aide to Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had already disembarked.

The pilot, who was the only one inside when it happened, was rushed to the Sibu Hospital. His condition is unknown.

Press Secretary to the Education Minister, Hafiz Abdul Halim, who was walking towards the RH Hotel, less than 100m from the square when it happened, was shocked.

"There was no problem with the helicopter when we took off from Bintangor or during the ride. I was walking towards the hotel when I heard a crash," said Hafiz, who was with two security officers in the helicopter.

Muhyiddin and his special officer had landed at the same square in separate helicopters shortly before the incident. They were also returning from Bintangor.

"The deputy prime minister and his entourage are safe," Hafiz said.

Monday, April 4, 2011

UN plane crashed in Congo

UN plane crashed in CongoOne person survived the crash of a U.N. plane that killed 32 others in the Congo on Monday, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said.

The aircraft, a Bombardier CRJ-300 jet which carried 33 people, belonged to MONUSCO, the U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a Congo Transportation Ministry official.

The plane crashed early afternoon Monday while attempting to land at the Kinshasa airport after a flight from Goma in the eastern part of the vast nation in central Africa, the official said.

The Kinshasa airport reported strong thunderstorms and sustained winds of 37 kph (23 mph) at the time.

U.N. Peacekeeping Director Alain Le Roy said the aircraft missed the airstrip likely because of the wind, but he cautioned the investigation was in its early stages.

Most of those on board were U.N. personnel; five worked for other agencies, Le Roy told reporters.

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said America "stands ready to assist the U.N. in the aftermath of this terrible accident."

"As we know well, a stable and prosperous future for the DRC must begin with peace for its people, and U.N. personnel have worked courageously to strengthen the protection of the nation's women, men and children after years of strife," Rice said.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sri Lankan Air Force Kfir fighter jets collided

Two fighter jets collided and crashed Tuesday while practicing for an exhibition marking the Sri Lankan air force's 60th anniversary, killing one of the pilots, officials said.

The two Israeli-built Kfir jets crashed in the western district of Gamapah, a government statement said. One pilot was killed and the other survived after ejecting from his plane.

The cause of the crash was not immediately announced.

Police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody said no casualties to residents on the ground or damage to property has been reported. The area is about 22 miles (35 kilometres) northeast of the capital, Colombo.

Athula Priyantha, a resident in the district, said burning debris from one plane was strewn across a nearby open patch of land, while the second jet crashed a few miles (kilometres) away.

Kfir jets were widely used by the air force during Sri Lanka's civil war with the Tamil Tiger rebels, who were fighting for an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils.

Government troops crushed the rebels in May 2009, ending a decades-long civil war that killed an estimated 80,000-100,000 people.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Boeing launches new 747-8 luxury airliner

Boeing rolled out a new jumbo jet today, hoping to revive the glamour surrounding the birth of the 747 over 40 years ago and use it to boost slow sales.

The 747-8 Intercontinental will seat 467 passengers, 51 more than the current version of the 747, and burn less fuel while offering passengers more comfort, the US planemaker says.

The unveiling comes almost 42 years to the day since the maiden flight of the 747, which went on to become the world's most recognized jetliner and transformed the global travel industry.

It is the first appearance of a radically new version of the passenger jet since the first jumbo, with its humped two-storey cabin and 69-metre wingspan, took the world's breath away on a sunny morning at Everett in September 1968.

"People were awe-struck. It was a monster, nobody had seen anything like it," said Jim Mullins, a Paris-based science writer who covered the original rollout for King Broadcasting.

"Today it looks ordinary, but at that time there were no airplanes even close to it in size. They opened up the hangar doors and it was just unbelievable. People reacted as if they were rolling out the Empire State Building."

This morning's rollout (Sunday local time), in front of a crowd of almost 10,000 Boeing employees, their families and a select group of industry VIPs, took place at the same Everett plant outside Seattle.

Near the front of the seated audience was Joe Sutter, Boeing's chief engineer on the original jumbo, and known as the "father of the 747."

The plane itself, unveiled from behind an enormous curtain to rapturous, thudding music, was bright red and white -- a departure from Boeing's classic blue -- bearing generic Boeing livery on the side and '747' on its orange tail.

The 747 lost its crown as the world's largest airliner when the 525-seat Airbus A380 was unveiled in 2005. But at 5.8 metres longer than its predecessors, this one will be the longest.

It is the first time the 747 fuselage has been stretched to make the biggest passenger jet marketed by a US manufacturer.

The 747-8 - listed at $317.5 million ($A316.8 million) - also boasts new wings, a new tail, state-of-the-art engines and a new cockpit, making it, according to specialist magazine Flight International, "unrecognizable from that first jumbo jetliner."

SLOW SALES

However, big is not yet beautiful for the Boeing order book.

Despite its hopes of securing a new lease of life for the 747 family, Boeing has so far managed to win 33 orders for the 747-8 passenger version including just two airlines - Lufthansa and Korean Air Lines.

The first delivery will be to an unnamed VIP customer instead of an airline late this year, but Boeing has said it is confident of winning new orders as the plane enters service.

It may also become the new international face of the United States as Boeing seeks to replace the Air Force One fleet of two instantly recognizable 747s used by American presidents.

Production has been delayed as the 787 Dreamliner, a carbon-composite plane which represents a bigger leap in technology than the revamped 747-8, diverts engineering time.

Boeing says the first 747-8 that the public will get to fly on will be delivered to Germany's Lufthansa in 2012.

A stronger-selling freighter version, which has already taken flight, is due to be delivered in mid-2011 -- 18 months later than first planned. Boeing has sold 74 747-8 freighters.

Both Boeing and Europe's Airbus have suffered multiple plane project delays, damaging their credibility, say many analysts.

Sales of earlier generations of the 747 far soared above the industry's initial expectations, with more than 1400 classic jumbos sold until the 747-400 was withdrawn from sale last year.

Although the 747-8 and A380 will compete directly for years to come, analysts say airlines are mostly interested in lighter wide-bodied planes in the 200- to 350-seat range, like the 787 and the future Airbus A350. They are designed to bypass crowded hubs and take passengers closer to their final destination.

Boeing will give an update on the delayed 787 on Monday.

Reuters

Recommended reading:
* Airbus A350 XWB

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fake Chinese J-20 stealth fighter jet

A Chinese stealth fighter jet that could pose a significant threat to American air superiority may borrow from US technology, it has been claimed.

Balkan military officials and other experts said China may have gleaned knowledge from a US F-117 Nighthawk that was shot down over Serbia in 1999.

"At the time, our intelligence reports told of Chinese agents crisscrossing the region where the F-117 disintegrated, buying up parts of the plane from local farmers," said Admiral Davor Domazet-Loso, Croatia's military chief of staff during the Kosovo war. "We believe the Chinese used those materials to gain an insight into secret stealth technologies ... and to reverse-engineer them."

The Nighthawk was downed by a Serbian anti-aircraft missile during a bombing raid on 27 March 1999. It was the first time one of the fighters had been hit, and the Pentagon blamed clever tactics and sheer luck. The pilot ejected and was rescued.

A senior Serbian military official confirmed that pieces of the wreckage were removed by souvenir collectors, and that some ended up "in the hands of foreign military attaches". Efforts to get comment from China's defence ministry and the Pentagon were unsuccessful.

Parts of the F-117 wreckage, including its left wing, cockpit canopy, ejection seat, pilot's helmet and radio, are exhibited at Belgrade's aviation museum. Zoran Milicevic, deputy director of the museum, said: "I don't know what happened to the rest of the plane. A lot of delegations visited us in the past, including the Chinese, Russians and Americans ... but no one showed any interest in taking any part of the jet."

Zoran Kusovac, a Rome-based military consultant, said the regime of the former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic routinely shared captured western equipment with its Chinese and Russian allies. "The destroyed F-117 topped that wish-list for both the Russians and Chinese," Kusovac said.

China's multi-role stealth fighter – known as the Chengdu J-20 – made its inaugural flight on 11 January, revealing dramatic progress in the country's efforts to develop cutting-edge military technologies. It is at least eight or nine years from entering service.

Russia's Sukhoi T-50 prototype stealth fighter made its maiden flight last year and is due to enter service in about four years. It is likely that the Russians also gained knowledge of stealth technology from the downed Nighthawk.

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