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Boeing 737 MAX makes emergency landing during US transfer

WASHINGTON, March 27: A Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operated by Southwest Airlines made an emergency landing Tuesday after experiencing an engine problem as it was being ferried from Florida to California, the US Federal Aviation Agency said.

“The aircraft returned and landed safely in Orlando,” the FAA said in a statement, adding that no passengers were on board the aircraft, which was being transferred to Victorville, California for storage.

“The FAA is investigating,” added the agency, which grounded the Boeing 737 MAX on March 13 following two deadly accidents involving Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air but continues to allow the planes to be ferried from airport to airport.

Southwest said the plane experienced an engine problem “shortly after takeoff.” “The crew followed protocol and safely landed back at the airport” around 3:00 pm (1900 GMT), spokesman Chris Mainz said.

“The Boeing 737 MAX 8 will be moved to our Orlando maintenance facility for a review.” It was the latest setback for Boeing’s flagship narrow-body plane following October’s Lion Air crash and the Ethiopian Airlines accident earlier this month, which together killed 346 people.

The accidents, which shared similarities, led authorities across the world to ground the aircraft.

Boeing has since conducted test flights of its 737 MAX to evaluate a fix for the MCAS stall prevention system targeted as a potential cause for the deadly crashes, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The system has been criticized since it can malfunction and make it difficult for pilots to control the aircraft. Both of the recent crashes occurred moments after takeoff.

A Senate Commerce Committee panel will hold a hearing Wednesday to question FAA Acting Administration Daniel Elwell and Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin Scovel The officials are expected to face questions from lawmakers on the FAA’s certification of the 737 MAX and whether regulators have become too cozy with the company, and fast-tracked some approvals.

The session is expected to be followed by a second hearing at a later date with Boeing, airline pilots and other stakeholders, the committee said.

Airbus secures $35 billion China deal in new blow to Boeing

PARIS, March 26: Airbus SE secured a $35 billion jet deal from China during a state visit by President Xi Jinping to the French capital, dealing a fresh blow to Boeing Co. as it grapples with the grounding of its best-selling jet.

The mammoth order consists of 290 A320-series narrow-body planes and 10 A350 wide-bodies, Toulouse-based Airbus said after the transaction was announced in Paris on Monday. The deal’s value is almost double that touted by French President Emmanuel Macron in January 2018 during a trip to Beijing.

The Airbus coup comes while Boeing’s own 737 Max narrow-body -- the chief global rival to the A320 -- has been idled following two fatal crashes in five months. The U.S. planemaker is also struggling with the fallout from a China-U.S. trade war that’s seen sales to the Asian nation dry up, just as Airbus bolsters its position with an offer to expand production facilities in Tianjin.

China has become the world’s most important aviation market as its fast-growing middle class spurs demand for travel. The country has traditionally sought to keep a balance between the two western planemakers as it seeks to jumpstart manufacturing on its own soil, but Chicago-based Boeing’s order prospects have been complicated by the trade clash.

“I would see this as part of broader trade discussions,” said Rob Stallard at Vertical Research Partners. “For the Chinese to put tariffs on Boeing aircraft would be nuclear, but you can send messages in other ways. This tells the Americans that you have got to play nice if you want us to reciprocate.”

Macron originally put the value of a likely order at $18 billion. A firm order failed to materialize last year despite a second French state visit in June and a delegation of top Airbus executives in September.

The deal announced in Paris will include both Neo -- for new engine option -- and so-called classic or CEO versions of the A319, A320 and A321, though the majority will be A320neos and A321neos, according to officials. China typically orders planes in large batches and allocates them to airlines later.

The latest A320neo model has a list price of $110.6 million and the A350-900 sells for $317.4 million before discounts.

Airbus’s incoming chief executive officer, Guillaume Faury, said at the press conference that construction of the A320s will take place both in Tianjin and Europe, adding that the deal is “a sign of the confidence” from China. Macron called the transaction “an excellent signal.”

China will need 7,400 new passenger and freighter aircraft in the next two decades, representing almost 20 percent of total global demand, according to Airbus estimates.

The purchase provides a boost for Faury who takes over from Tom Enders in April. Airbus sales have had one of the slowest starts in the past decade, with the planemaker registering 103 cancellations and just four new orders in the first two months.

Separately, China is looking at excluding Boeing’s troubled 737 Max jet from a list of American exports it would buy as part of a trade deal with the U.S., people familiar with the matter have said.

Airbus shares fell 0.5 percent in Paris on Monday, while Boeing climbed 2.3 percent in New York.

Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal steps down, banks take control

MUMBAI, March 25: Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal will step down from the board and reduce his stake in the cash-strapped Indian carrier, the company said on Monday as it closes in on a rescue deal led by state-run banks.

The banks, led by State Bank of India (SBI), will convert their debt into equity and take a controlling stake in the airline for a token sum of 1 rupee ($0.0145), Jet said in a statement to the stock exchanges after its board met earlier on Monday.

The banks will also give the airline a fresh loan of 15 billion rupees ($217.71 million) to meet payments and restore normal operations and the lenders will form an interim management committee to manage the airline, Jet said.

Saddled with debt of more than $1 billion, Jet owes money to banks, suppliers, pilots and lessors - several of whom have started terminating leases with the carrier.

The government has reportedly asked state-run banks, led by SBI, to rescue Jet without pushing it into bankruptcy as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking to avert thousands of job losses weeks before a general election.

In its statement, Jet said the banks will initiate a bidding process to sell their stake in the airline to a new investor and that the process is expected to be complete by end-June.

Reports of Goyal’s departure led to a rally in Jet’s shares, which ended the day 12.4 percent higher.

Boeing suspends deliveries of 737 MAX aircraft, production to continue

NEW YORK, March 15: US aerospace giant Boeing is suspending deliveries of its top-selling 737 MAX aircraft following a second deadly crash, but production of the planes will continue, a company spokesman told AFP.

“We are pausing the delivery of the 737 MAX until we come up with a solution,” the spokesman said. “We are going to continue the production but we are assessing our capacities.”

The crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight on Sunday, which killed 157 people, led governments worldwide to ban the planes until the cause is determined.

Trump issues emergency order to ground Boeing 737 Max Jets

WASHINGTON, March 14: The U.S. is issuing an emergency order Wednesday grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft “effective immediately,” in the wake of the crash of an Ethiopian Airliner that killed 157 people, President Donald Trump said.

Many nations had already barred the Boeing 737 Max 8 from its airspace, but until Trump’s announcement, the Federal Aviation Administration had said that it didn’t have any data to show the jets are unsafe. Trump cited “new information” that had come to light in the ongoing investigation into the incident. He did not elaborate.

“All of those planes are grounded, effective immediately,” Trump said during a scheduled briefing on border security.

Trump said any airplane currently in the air will go to its destination and then be grounded. He added all airlines and affected pilots had been notified.

Trump said the safety of the American people is of “paramount concern,” and added that the FAA would soon put out a statement on the action.

Trump said the decision to ground the aircraft “didn’t have to be made, but we thought it was the right decision.”

The president insisted the announcement was coordinated with aviation officials in Canada, U.S. carriers and aircraft manufacturer Boeing.

“Boeing is an incredible company,” Trump said. “They are working very, very hard right now and hopefully they’ll quickly come up with an answer.”

In a statement, Boeing said it “continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX.” The company added that it had decided “out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety — to recommend to the FAA the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 MAX aircraft.”

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said the company was “supporting this proactive step out of an abundance of caution.”

Over 1,300 flights cancelled as ‘Bomb Cyclone’ unleashes snow, high winds in US

DENVER, March 14: A late-winter blizzard slammed U.S. Rocky Mountain and Plains states on Wednesday, unleashing a “bomb cyclone” of high winds and drifting snow that stranded motorists, cancelled more than 1,300 airline flights and was blamed for the death of a Colorado state trooper.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper declared a state of emergency due to the storm and said he had activated the state National Guard to assist in search and rescue operations.

The National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings for parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and the Dakotas as schools and businesses were closed and local authorities urged residents to hunker down.

Meteorologists referred to the storm as a “bomb cyclone,” a winter hurricane that forms when the barometric pressure drops 24 millibars in 24 hours.

“So far, we have received 110 traffic crash reports and #Denver remains on #AccidentAlert,” the Denver Police Department said on Twitter.

India, 12 other nations grounds Boeing 737 MAX jets after Ethiopian Airlines crash

NEW DELHI, March 12: India late on Tuesday night grounded Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in light of Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed all 157 people on board on Sunday, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said. At least 27 airlines in 13 countires have have grounded the Boeing 737 MAX or closed their airspace to it. However, around 18 airlines are still flying it.

“DGCA has taken the decision to ground the Boeing 737-MAX planes immediately. These planes will be grounded till appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations,” the Ministry of Civil Aviation said in a tweet.

Earlier on Monday, India’s aviation regulator said it had imposed additional “interim” safety requirements for ground engineers and crew for the aircraft but stopped short of ordering their grounding.

SpiceJet and Jet Airways are the only two domestic airlines which operate Boeing 737 Max 8 planes. SpiceJet has around 12 ‘737 Max 8’ planes in its fleet, while Jet Airways has five.

SpiceJet said it has put in place all the additional precautionary measures issued by the aviation regulator following the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines flight.

SpiceJet had said it is “actively engaged” with the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) and the aircraft manufacturer on the issue.

Jet, which recently grounded many aircraft due to its financial woes, said earlier that none of its five B-737 MAX aircraft was in operation.

Many countries including Britain, Germany, Poland, Belgium and Norway on Tuesday joined a rapidly growing number of countries grounding or closing airspace to a new Boeing plane involved in the Ethiopian Airlines disaster as a global team of investigators began looking for parallels with a similar crash just five months ago.

Australia, Brazil and Singapore on Tuesday joined China and Indonesia to ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

Mother forgets baby at Saudi airport, forces plane to take U-turn

JEDDAH, March 12; A mother-baby duo's plan to fly from Saudi Arabia to Malaysia this past weekend went berserk, after the mommy 'mistakenly' forgot the baby at the waiting area of the terminal.

Subsequently, the Saudia passenger plane bound for Kuala Lumpur, was forced to turn back to the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, to rescue the stranded little fellow.

Pilots and air-traffic controllers were, of course, baffled. An online video footage reveals the conversation between the baffled pilots and air-traffic controllers with respect to the unforeseen situation.

"May God be with us. Can we come back or what," inquires the perplexed pilot.

After noting down the flight number, the operator can be heard asking a colleague what protocol could be followed, if one even existed for such a condition.

"This is totally a new one for us!"

"This flight is requesting to come back... a passenger forgot her baby in the waiting-area, the poor thing," the pilot explained. When asked for another confirmation, he replied, "We told you, a passenger left her baby in the terminal and refuses to continue the flight."

The operator then gave an all-clear to turn back to Jeddah, while acknowledging, "This is totally a new one for us!"

Ethiopian Airlines grounds its Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet until further notice

ADDIS ABABA, March 11: Ethiopian Airlines has grounded its Boeing Co 737 MAX 8 fleet until further notice, the airline said on its Twitter account on Monday, a day after a crash killed all 157 people on board one of its planes of the same type.

“Although we don’t yet know the cause of the crash, we had to decide to ground the particular fleet as extra safety precaution,” the airline said.

Ethiopian Airlines has a fleet of four 737 MAX 8 jets, not counting the one that crashed on Sunday, according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24.

China on Monday ordered its airlines to suspend operations of their 737 MAX 8 jets by 6 p.m. (1000 GMT) following the crash in Ethiopia, the second of a Boeing 737 MAX jet since one operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air crashed in October.

Jet Airways secures $293 million loan from PNB, shares up 4.8%

NEW DELHI, March 11: Shares of Jet Airways Ltd rose as much as 4.8 percent to 255 rupees, the highest in over a month, after a report said the debt-laden carrier has secured a loan of 20.50 billion rupees ($293.07 million) from Punjab National Bank.

The airline has raised foreign currency term loans worth 11 billion rupees and a non-fund based credit facility of 9.50 billion rupees from Punjab National Bank (PNB), according to copies of loan documents.

Jet and PNB did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The loan documents mention that Jet will use the credit facility for its working capital needs, but the money would be mainly used to pay rental dues to aircraft lessors and salary arrears, Mint reported, citing a source familiar with the matter.

Jet said last week another three aircraft had been grounded due to its failure to make payments, taking the total number to 28, but it has not specified the lessors involved.

The airline has an option to sell down as much as 2.50 billion rupees of the term loan to other investors.

10-year-old writes adorable letter to Qantas CEO, gets the sweetest reply

SYDNEY, March 11: A 10-year-old with a big dream of starting his own airline has written the sweetest letter to the CEO of Quantas. In his adorable letter Alex Jacquot details his plans to start his own airline he has named ‘Oceania Express’.

Introducing himself as the CEO of the venture, Alex has asked Alan Joyce advice on his dream project. His letter is so delightful, Joyce himself has written back to the little CEO. Both the letters are now making people on the Internet smile.

“I’m Alex Jacquot, a 10 year old boy (please take me seriously) and I want to start an airline,” begins the letter. it goes on to explain details about the airline and the work Alex has done so far.

“I have already started some stuff like what type of planes I’ll need, flight numbers, catering and more,” he writes, adding that he has also hired a CFO, a head of IT, a Head of Maintenance, a Head of Board Services and a Head of Legal. He then goes on to ask Joyce some questions including any tips he may have for someone starting a new airline.

The heartwarming letter seems to have made quite an impact and got a reply from the Quantas CEO himself. He’s written back saying that while he wouldn’t ordinarily give advice to his competitors, he would make an exception this time. “I too was once a young boy who was so curious about flight and all its possibilities,” says the letter.

Take a look at the wonderful exchange in the tweet below:

@Qantas
Our competitors don't normally ask us for advice, but when an airline leader reached out, we couldn't ignore it.
Naturally, there was only one way to respond: CEO to CEO.

Since being shared earlier today, the tweet has collected over 17,000 ‘likes’ and more than 6,000 retweets – and still counting. Several people have shared their reaction to the letters.

“Now this is dreaming big! These days, people need to dream big and set goals! What a feeling he must’ve had to the letter,” says one Twitter user. “That is lovely... that young man will never forget this, so well done Alan Joyce and Qantas,” says another. “Wow. This is the nicest thing I read today! ‘CEO of Australia’s oldest airline to CEO of Australia’s newest airline’,” says a third.

Four Indians among 157 killed in Ethiopian Airlines crash

BISHOFTU, March 10: A Nairobi-bound Boeing 737 crashed six minutes after an early-morning takeoff from Addis Ababa Sunday, killing all 149 passengers, including four Indians, and eight crew on board, Ethiopian Airlines said as world leaders offered condolences to distraught next-of-kin.

People holding passports from 32 countries and the UN were on board the plane which ploughed into a field just 60 kilometres (37 miles) southeast of Addis Ababa, the carrier’s CEO Tewolde GebreMariam told journalists in the capital, lamenting this “very sad and tragic day.” The crash came on the eve of a major, annual assembly in Nairobi of the UN Environment Programme, which learnt of the crash with “deep regret” but did not say whether any delegates were on the plane.

“We can only hope that she is not on that flight,” Peter Kimani, who had come to fetch his sister at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), said shortly after news of the crash reached those waiting in the arrivals hall.

State-owned Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest carrier, said the ill-fated Boeing 737-800MAX had taken off at 8:38 am (local time) from Bole International Airport and “lost contact” six minutes later.

Scheduled to land in Nairobi at 10:25 am (0725 GMT), it came down instead near the village of Tulu Fara outside Bishoftu.

It was said there was a massive crater at the crash site, with belongings and airplane parts scattered widely.

Rescue crews were retrieving human remains from the wreckage.

Ethiopian Airlines confirmed “there are no survivors.” Police and troops were on the scene, as well as a crash investigation team from Ethiopia’s civil aviation agency.

In the Kenyan capital, family members, friends, and colleagues of passengers were frantically waiting for news at the airport.

“I am waiting for my colleague, I just hope for the best,” added Hannah, a Chinese national.

Ethiopian Airlines said Kenya had the largest number of casualties with 32, followed by Canada with 18, Ethiopia with nine, then Italy, China, and the United States with eight each.

Britain and France each had seven people on board, Egypt six, the Netherlands five and India four.

Four were UN passport-holders.

Eleven countries in Africa, and 13 in Europe had citizens among the victims.

African Union commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat said he had learnt of the crash “with utter shock and immense sadness”, while Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office tweeted it “would like to express its deepest condolences to the families of those that have lost their loved ones.” Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said he was “saddened” by the news, and Mahboub Maalim, executive secretary of the IGAD East African bloc, said the region and the world were in mourning.

“I cannot seem to find words comforting enough to the families and friends of those who might have lost their lives in this tragedy,” Maalim said in a statement.

For its part, the plane’s maker, US giant Boeing, said it was “deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a 737 MAX 8 airplane.

“We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team.” GebreMariam said the plane, delivered to Ethiopia on November 15, had flown in from Johannesburg early Sunday, and spent three hours in Addis before it was “despatched with no remark”, meaning no problems were flagged.

Asked if the pilot had made a distress call, the CEO said “the pilot mentioned that he had difficulties and he wants to return. He was given clearance” to turn around.

Ethiopian and American investigators will probe the crash, said GebreMariam.

The Boeing 737-800MAX is the same type as the Indonesian Lion Air jet that crashed last October, 13 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.

The last major accident involving an Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane was a Boeing 737-800 that exploded after taking off from Lebanon in 2010, killing 83 passengers and seven crew.

For one family member waiting in Nairobi there was a happy ending.

“I arrived here shortly after 10:00 am and as I waited, a security person approached me and asked me which flight are you waiting for. I answered him quickly because I wanted him to direct me to the arrivals, so I told him Ethiopia, and then he said: ‘Sorry, that one has crashed’,” said Khalid Ali Abdulrahman, waiting for his son who works in Dubai.

“I was shocked, but shortly after, my son contacted me and told me he is still in Addis and did not board that flight, he is waiting for the second one which has been delayed.”

Delhi woman among four Indians killed in Ethiopian air crash

NEW DELHI, March 10: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday asked Indian High Commissioner in Ethiopia to provide all help and assistance to the bereaved families of four Indians who were among those killed in the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane.

“I am sorry to know about the unfortunate crash of Ethiopian Airlines plane ET 302. We have lost four Indian nationals in the air crash. I have asked Indian High Commissioner in Ethiopia to provide all help and assistance to the bereaved families,” she tweeted.

One of the Indians killed in the crash was Shikha Garg, a consultant with ministry of environment and forests.

“My colleague Dr.Harshvardhan has confirmed that Ms.Shikha Garg is a Consultant with Ministry of Environment and Forests. She was travelling to attend UNEP meeting in Nairobi. I am trying to reach the families of other Indian nationals. PL RT and help,” Swaraj said in another tweet.

Vaidya Pannagesh Bhaskar, Vaidya Hansin Annagesh and Nukavarapu Manisha were the other three deceased Indians, she said in another tweet.

The Boeing 737 crashed minutes after an early-morning take off from Addis Ababa Sunday, killing all eight crew and 149 passengers on board, including tourists, business travellers.

Swaraj said she is trying to reach the families of other Indian nationals. She urged people to help her reach the families of those killed.

30 injured as turbulence hits Turkish airlines flight to New York

NEW YORK, March 10: Severe turbulence tossed terrified passengers and crew around a Turkish Airlines plane cabin as it passed over Maine on Saturday, with 30 people suffering bumps, bruises, cuts and a broken leg before the flight landed safely at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, officials said.

Dozens of ambulances lined up in front of a terminal to quickly treat the injured coming off the flight that left Istanbul for the 10-hour trip.

Spokesman Steve Coleman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey told The Associated Press that 28 people were taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens after the plane touched down at 5:35 p.m. Two went to Queens Hospital Medical Center. A flight attendant suffered a broken leg, Coleman said.

Turkish Airlines Flight 1 hit the turbulence about 45 minutes before landing at JFK, Coleman said. The crew declared an emergency while the Boeing 777 was still in the air, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

“Nobody announced it or anything like that so we figured out something was wrong,” passenger Sead Nikaj said. “Then I see people start flying on the plane. Then seeing blood all over. I had one of the ladies next to me, she really fell down from her seat on the floor and all her back was completely bloody, while someone that was working in the airplane, she cracked her leg I think completely.”

Passenger Amir Mehrbakhsh said he saw one man frantically screaming. “I think he was like doing a religious chant. I kept hearing him say ‘Jesus,’ like he was visibly distraught.”

“There was like one or two seconds when it was subtle, but then it really started to pick up,” Mehrbakhsh said. “... Just because the drop was so sudden, a lot of people got lifted up and hit their head either on the ceiling or on the side of the plane, and so there were a lot of injuries pretty quickly.”

The Port Authority spokesman said other airport operations were not affected.

Turkish Airlines officials in a statement early Sunday confirmed the flight carrying 326 passengers and 18 crew members “encountered an unusual turbulence about 40 minutes before landing” in New York. The airline said it is “deeply saddened by this unfortunate experience, and closely monitors the health status of injured passengers, and is making resources available to them.”

It was the second mishap on Saturday involving a plane in the New York metropolitan area.

Earlier in the day, Newark Liberty International Airport temporarily closed its runways after a flight from Montreal to Fort Lauderdale made an emergency landing with smoke in its cargo hold.

 

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