Crash Of Indian Air Force Lockheed C-130J-30: 5 Airmen On Board Killed.

The empennage of the destroyed IAF C130j-30
The empennage of the destroyed IAF C130j-30

A Lockheed C-130J-30 belonging to the Indian Air Force crashed Friday morning about 72 miles from Gwalior Airbase while on a routine flight, causing the death of the 5 IAF personnel on board. The Air Force it seems had no initial explanation regarding the cause crash of the aircraft whose flight to Gwalior had originated at Agra Airbase. A Court of Inquiry has been set up to help determine what may have caused the brand new ‘Super Hercules’ C-130J-30, one of six aircraft delivered brand new throughout 2011, to crash.

One of IAF C-130J-30
One of IAF C-130J-30

Following its induction into Indian Air Force service on February 5th 2011, the Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 has earned notoriety by being involved in events of national significance, cementing both an endearing and enduring presence in the nation’s service, to a point where early reports of today’s accident actually caused widespread shock and bewilderment.

The six airframes received as part of a 2008 $1.1 Billion Foreign Military Sales contract involving the US Air Force and manufacturer Lockheed Martin saw the Indian Air Force receive the 6 C-130J-30 newly registered as KC-3801, KC-3802, KC-3803, KC-3804, KC-3805, KC-3806. These 15-foot stretched variants (designated -30) of the standard late 50’s C130 vintage Hercules fuselage represent the latest iteration of the type; employing a modern glass cockpit reducing the flight crew to 2, assisted by a load master and a combat system operator. In order to meet India’s military airlift requirement, the aircraft was not only to fill a gap between the cavernous Boeing C-17 Globemaster III and Antonov An-32,  but at the same time being the work horse of special operations forces. The aircraft with its natural pre-disposition for transporting 64 armed paratroopers or 92 assault troops or altogether 22 Tonnes of cargo secured additional flexibility thanks to the enhanced performance delivered by the 4 Rolls-Royce AE2100D3 turboprop engines to which are attached the 6-blades ‘scimitar’ composite propellers, characteristic of the J models. Despite the lack of sensitive on board high precision navigation/communication systems (not made available through the FMS due to India’s non-adherence to the US-sponsored Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement CISMOA), the 6 aircraft were rumored to have received third-party supplied Global Positioning System (and Inertial Navigation System) as well as the low level night navigation & landing suite that can better exploit the aircraft in-flight refueling capabilities in special operations missions.

Flown by then-formed 77th ‘Veiled Vipers’ Squadron based at Hardon Airbase near New Delhi, the aircraft quickly established itself as the workhorse of rescue airlift operations particularly during the flash floods of Uttarakhand. But it took the April 2013 alleged attempt by neighboring China to lay claim on some remote mountainous located it appeared on Indian territory. At that junction, C-130J-30 made history by landing on the most elevated airstrip in the world at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO). The capability to conduct military airlift operation at a 16614 feet (5065 meters) airfield convinced the whole world that India could in fact ferry sufficient amount of men and materiel in order to face any military contingency. This show of force greatly enhanced India military posture and national prestige, was only made possible by the C-130J-30. Some of these episodes so positively highlighted the C-130J-30 potential that, by December 2013, India had firmed up on its follow up order for six additional aircraft.

The 5 airmen killed during Friday's crash
The 5 airmen killed during Friday’s crash

The tragic episode confronting a still nascent and highly promising program is not likely to derail India’s drive for deepening its experience operating the type. On a very short span of time, this aircraft has enriched the IAF experience by a significant margin. To date, the aircraft has sold around 300 units to 15 air arms world wide.

 

 

In Largest Order Ever Worth $16.6 Billion, ANA Mixes 20 Boeing 777-9X, 6 777-300ER, 14 787-9 With 7 Airbus A320neo and 23 A321neo

Some sources indicate that ANA still operates 2 565-seats Boeing 747-400 on parts of its domestic routes
Some sources indicate that ANA still operates 2 565-seats Boeing 747-400 on parts of its domestic routes

With this largest order ever produced by Japan’s largest carrier, 40 wide body aircraft from Boeing and 30 single aisle aircraft from Airbus will be put in service by 2027. The order worth $16.6 Billion (1.7 trillion yen) comes in anticipation of the 2020 Olympics.

Purchase for Airbus A320-A321neo worth approx. $3.6 Billions

The single aisle aircraft ordered from Airbus is composed of 7 A320neo and 23 A321neo stretched variant. The highly fuel efficient and hot-selling aircraft will begin arriving in 2016 with deliveries completed by 2023. This part of the overall order is estimated at 366 billion yen at list prices.

Boeing wide body jets acquisition estimated at $13 Billions

The remaining portion of the order consisting solely of wide body Boeing aircraft worth 1.36 trillion yen will see 14 787-9 medium wide body stretched variant of the state-of-the-art 787-8 swell the carrier’s 787-9 existing backlog order to 30 aircraft. Together with the 27 Boeing 787-8 that have been delivered since 2011, and another 6 still on order, ANA, the launch customer for the type will have an overall 787 fleet numbering 80 aircraft by 2027.

The 6 Boeing 777-300ER that are also part of this latest order will also join, beginning 2017 another 22 777-300ER already in fleet (in addition to 7 Boeing 777-300 and some 28 Boeing 777-200).

Finally the order to Boeing sets the stage for 14 of the newly launched 777-9X to be acquired beginning in the year 2021. The 777-9X officially launched in November 2013 is a 406 seats capable aircraft representing a stretched variant of the 777-300ER but re-designed with a new more efficient enlarged wing, hence providing payload and range benefits not previously available.

This order follows in the footsteps of last year Japan Airlines (JAL) $9.5 Billion order in favor of the Airbus A350 wide body. This decision had marked a dramatic departure from major Japanese carriers relying solely on Boeing for their fleet acquisition.

Kenya Airways Gears Up For 6 New 787 and 1 777-300ER, Before Expansion To China

Kenya Airways 1st Boeing 777-300ER During Delivery On 25th October 2013

The east African carrier announced March 3rd that it was poised to induct the 787 type in its long haul fleet when the first aircraft is delivered by Boeing  on April 4th 2014, later to be followed by another 5 aircraft all during this year alone.

Part of the 10-year airline strategic Plan ‘Mawingo’ which began in 2012, the airline is betting on sustainable growth by focusing on Far East Asia. This year will see the opening of 2 new routes in China with service to Beijing set to begin on September 24th with using a 787 Dreamliner and Shanghai is also in line to be served by the end of the year, (according to CAPA web site). These routes would come to complement the current Guangzhou route , which is currently served alongside Bangkok and Hong Kong. The newly expanded fleet capabilities made possible by the introduction of the state-of-the-art 787 Dreamliner in addition to new 777-300ERs also joining the fleet will permit to offer direct flights from Nairobi to Guangzhou instead of via Bangkok.

The 777-300ER, the other highly successful but larger long haul twin engine by Boeing is also being integrated to the carrier’s long term plan. When Kenya Airways took delivery of its first 777-300ER on October 25th 2013, the high seating density configuration applied to that aircraft consisting of a total of 400 seats, with 28 in Premier World and 372 in Economy confirmed effort to transform the carrier’s Nairobi Kenyatta International Airport into a fully fledged global hub. Now the carrier is set to receive two more final 777-300ERs this year also.

With plans to increase its fleet size from 44 airplanes to 107 by 2021 and scale the number of destinations from the current 62 to 115, the airline will expect to operate in the near term a total of 9 brand new Boeing 787 and 3 Boeing 777-300ER alongside its four current 777-200ERs and the six older 767-300ERs which have formed the backbone of its long haul fleet but whose retirement days are approaching.

Delta Boeing 757 Loses Wing Upper Surface Panel But Lands Safely In Atlanta

A Delta Airlines Boeing 757 Flight 2412 on a terminal phase of its Orlando to Atlanta cruise suffered an uncharacteristically scary incident. At about 7:30pm, following a thunderous noise, the aircraft with 179 passengers and 6 crews on board lost a portion of its right wing’s upper surface. The loss of the upper wing panel described by FAA as a “four-foot by eight-foot panel” did cause some of the wings inner wirings as well as the aircraft retracted right main landing gear wheels and mechanisms to become visible. However it did not appear that the mishap did impede the airplane controls nor stability. After declaring an emergency pilots were able to land the aircraft safely at one of Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport runway. No one on board was injured and an investigation regarding the cause of the incident is ongoing.  

A picture showing the missing panel on a Delta Boeing 757 wing
A picture showing the missing panel on a Delta Boeing 757 wing

China Southern Airlines Inducts Boeing 777-300ER Into Fleet Replacing The 777-200ER

chinasouthern777300er1By taking delivery of its first ever Boeing 777-300ER, China Southern Airline became Asia’s newest operator of Boeing’s highly successful higher passenger capacity long range -300ER variant offer of its 777 twin engine family.

The official acceptance ceremony held on February 25th 2014 at Boeing’s Everett facility highlight the new era that China’s largest carrier by fleet size was entering as another 9 new 777-300ER are scheduled to join the fleet through the year 2016 including 3 additional aircraft to be delivered this year alone.

 

A replacement for the 777-200ER

The new aircraft has been configured to accommodate 309 passengers in a four-class layout with 4 seats in First Class, 32 in Business Class, 44 in the ubiquitous Premium Economy Class in addition to the 227 Economy seats layered in 10 seats abreast. In this format the 777-300ER are set to relieve the 4 Boeing 777-200ER first acquired in 1997 and 1998 for which the carrier has already began the bidding process that will lead to the sale of the 4 aircraft.
The new aircraft which will first be deployed on the daily Guangzhou (CAN) and Shanghai (SHA) Hongqiao service this March and subsequently on the Guangzhou (CAN) to New York City (JFK) route this coming summer is well positioned to bring unprecedented value to the airline as a replacement for the 24 First class, 53 Business and 207 Economy (284 seats total) seats-configured 777-200ER particularly on the China – North American routes where these aircraft have already proven highly effective.

 

Modernizing The Fleet Around The A380

The deployment of the new aircraft also occurs in a context of a fleet modernization effort which was initiated by the entry in service of the 5 Airbus A380 from 2011 to 2013, the arrival of 8 state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner throughout 2013 (with one more 787 expected) together with the employment of a fairly young A330 fleet as the backbone of long haul service.

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The 4 First Class seats aboard China Southern Airline 777-300ER espouse the Suite concept already adopted in the carrier’s A380.

The acquisition of the 777-300ER may be proving critical for the carrier ability to establish its Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport as a credible hub for international long haul travel. This shortcoming proved too realistic in 2012 when the carrier A380 fleet was denied unrestricted access to the higher density international travelers market at Beijing International where it had sought to fill its A380 to profitable load factor. The subsequent re-deployment of the super jumbo on less traveled domestic routes instead, allowed the carrier to bleed 200 million Yuan analysts say. In fact in the absence of an aircraft type capable to seat more than 300 passengers in its fleet, China Southern would have been hard pressed to generate enough international passenger density at its Guangzhou hub to bring its 506-passengers A380 to decent load factors and profitable revenues.  With a 309 passengers seating capacity, the Boeing 777-300ER can combine operational flexibility to operating economics in order to build the market brand that the carrier needs to attract more passengers to its hub.

Clearly the induction of the 777-300ER gives the carrier the ability to execute a strategy conducive to the consolidation and expansion of its Guangzhou operation into a fully fledged global hub for international travel by virtue of its twin engine operating economics paired with a 300-plus seating capacity well proven in high density long haul market where enhancing passenger comfort and building brand are a must. With the recent introduction of the state-of-the-art 787 Dreamliner for opening new direct long haul routes such as Vancouver – Guangzhou, the shift of the A380 fleet back to the international markets where a premium can best be extracted has already contributed to establishing Guangzhou at a reputable spot. With focus on the Guangzhou – Los Angeles route and the most competitive Guangzhou – Sydney “Kangaroo” route, the A380 can best benefit from the addition of the 777-300ER.

 777 China Southern Delivery Event

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER Flight MH 370 With 239 On Board Disappears Off Vietnam’s Coast

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The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER that was reported missing off Vietnam’s coast on Friday March 7th 2014 while on a trip to taking off from Paris CDG airport sometimes in 2011

Fear and uncertainties remained high more than 24 hours after a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777-200ER registration number 9M-MRO had disappeared only an hour after departing from Kuala Lumpur Airport on a flight to Beijing. The aircraft which carried 239 people on board simply went off the radar while climbing off Vietnam’s coast on Friday march 7th 2014. It was reported that flight MH370 last radar contact with Malaysian air traffic control took place at around 1:20 a.m. Saturday (12:20 p.m. EST Friday).

The passengers manifest released by the carrier confirmed that a total of 239 people were on board the flight including twelve crew members and 227 passengers, of which 153 were citizens of China, 38 from Malaysia, 7 from Indonesia, another 7 from Australia, 5 from India, 4 from the US along with individuals from various other nations.

The notion that terrorism may have played a part in MH370 disappearance became somewhat realistic when  it was discovered that two passengers who were believed to be flying on that airplane had in fact had their passports stolen prior, both while traveling to Thailand.  Various news outlets have circulated the name of Luigi Maraldi, an Italian and Christian Kozel an Austrian as the people whose identities have been used fraudulently to purchase and possibly board the missing airliner.

For now a massive search effort has been initiated by Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, China, as well as other means such as a U.S. 7th Fleet guided-missile destroyer USS Pinckney supported by and a P-3C Orion maritime reconnaissance aircraft. Aerial means which had been hampered by night fall, were supported by numerous navy ships also aided by fishing vessels.

Reports emanating from the Vietnamese government that two oil slicks approximately 6 to 9 miles wide had been detected south of the country’s coastal line remain serious indication that the aircraft may indeed have crashed in the water.

Already the catastrophe is bringing comparisons to the tragic disappearance at sea of Air France flight 447 Airbus A330 flying from Rio De Janeiro to Paris in June of 2009 and also the less recent South Africa Airways flight 295 Boeing 747 flying from Taipei to Mauritius in November 1987.

The Boeing 777 remains one of the industry safest aircraft having suffered its first passengers fatalities in August 2013 when an Asiana 777-200ER crashed while landing at San Francisco airport. It was later reported that at least 2 of the 3 individuals killed during the episode had actually survived the accident until ran over by emergency fire fighting trucks responding to the crash scene. 9M-MRO, a Boeing 777-200ER delivered brand new to the Malaysian flag carrier was equipped with 2 Rolls Royce Trent 892 engines and had accumulated the industry average 20,000 flight hours since first flying with the carrier following its delivery brand new in May of 2002.

INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD)

US Marines Aviator Killed As F-18 Crashes During Training Mission At NAS Fallon

A US Navy F/A-18A painted in aggressor scheme at NAS Fallon
A US Navy F/A-18A painted in aggressor scheme at NAS Fallon

A U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18C attached to the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center crashed on Saturday while conducting a training flight about 70 miles east of Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada. The death of the single pilot on board the aircraft was only confirmed by the US Navy Sunday night after rescue crews finally gained access to the wreckage following a snow storm in a mountainous remote area, the Navy announced.

The Largest Training Complex For Aerial Combat

NAS Fallon presents the US Navy with the largest most comprehensive tactical air warfare training facility in the nation known as the Fallon Range Training Complex (FRTC), permitting the employment of a full carrier air wing thanks to the presence of the US Navy’s longest active runway at 14,000 ft, and access to more than 10,200 square miles of airspace east of NAS Fallon. This area hosts 4 bombing ranges and one electronic warfare range complete with a vast array of electronic support equipment. On July 11th 1996, the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) that had been brought to Fallon NAS in 1984 was augmented with the Navy Fighter Weapons School most famously known as TOPGUN, and the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School known as TOPDOME both formerly operating at NAS Miramar and now falling under the unified command of a two-star admiral. This consolidation effort allowed the NSAWC to become THE preeminent establishment for providing aerial warfare combat tactics expert training and development to naval aviators.

According to its web site, NSAWC activities encompass integrated strike warfare, maritime and overland air superiority, strike fighter employment, airborne battle management, Combat Search and Rescue, Close Air Support, and associated planning support systems.

Typically “TOPGUN” would pace naval aviators through the highly sought after Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor (SFTI) course, the SEAHAWKS Rotary Wing Weapons School would focus on providing advanced helicopter employment education, the Growler Weapons School ensuring graduate level training for the EA-18G Growler aircraft, the Tomahawk Land-Attack Missile department dedicated to that weapon system and also the critical Advanced Mission Commander’s Course (AMCC) which enhances the airborne battle management skills required for E-2C Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning And Control Systems crews.

Aggressor and Bandits Units At NAS Fallon

The flight line at NAS Fallon showing aggressor NSAWC F/A-18 and VFC-13s F-5E Tiger II aircraft
The flight line at NAS Fallon showing aggressor NSAWC F/A-18 and VFC-13s F-5E Tiger II aircraft

The aerial portion of the adversary Dissimilar air combat training (DACT) conducted there is generally provided by the resident unit Fighter Composite Squadron VFC-13 Flying Saints (callsign “Bogeys”) which has relied on highly maneuverable F-5Es Tiger II aircraft since 1996 against visiting carrier-assigned units.  Together with the Flying Saints, NSAWS attached aircraft consisting of F/A-18A/B/C/D/E/F Hornets and Super Hornets and F-16s aircraft flown by US Navy “TOPGUN instructors” participate in providing realistic aggressors and bandits air combat scenarios. The Navy said it was investigating the cause of the accident.

A formation of NSAWC F-16s and F-18s fying over Nevada
A formation of NSAWC F-16s and F-18s fying over Nevada