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Author Archive | David Learmount

How bad is the volcanic ash risk for European aviation?

Detailing the magnitude of Icelandic eruption risk is a tricky issue. Even volcanologists admit their helplessness – although Iceland continuously monitors seismic activity in real time. Given a certain level of activity it can take anything from 10s to several decades before the Earth’s crust fractures and millions of tonnes of magma, ash and gas […]

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Europe trembles as Iceland shudders

In April 2010 an Icelandic volcano – Eyjafjallajokull - famously shut down European aviation for nearly a week. Now Bárðarbunga threatens. This is what the Icelandic Meteorogical Office has to say about it: “Since the onset of the earthquake swarm at Bárðarbunga on Saturday [16 August] morning, around 2,600 earthquakes have been detected with the earthquake monitoring […]

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The death of the aerodrome control tower

Do air traffic controllers really need to look out of the window in a control tower to manage traffic at an airport? That’s a question UK air navigation service provider NATS is now asking in a recent blog post. The company knows it can’t ignore the advances in remote tower technology that are already available, and […]

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Analyst calls for UK politicians to declare airport support

As the Airport Commission approaches its conclusions and a general election looms, the City of London wants political party leaders to declare their hand now on airports policy in the new government. James Stamp, KPMG’s head of transport puts it particularly clearly: “We welcome the progress being made by the Airports Commission. However, we believe […]

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Holiday flight guide to hijacks, intercepts and bomb threats

Qatar Airways flight QR23 from Doha to Manchester, UK was just an ordinary flight until it was quite close to its destination. At that point the window passengers in the Airbus A330 noticed that the flight had been intercepted by an RAF Typhoon fighter. It was shadowing them in loose formation. QR23′s crew had been […]

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Tally-ho! – the QR23 live media event

The Qatar Airways flight QR23 airborne show at Manchester, UK yesterday was a gift for the 24h news media. It was exciting, continued for several hours, and no-one got hurt. The A330 was intercepted by an RAF Typhoon fighter during its approach to Manchester airport after the skipper told ATC there had been a bomb […]

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Toxic cabin air: will the industry act now?

British Airways may be centre stage for this week’s report on a case of pilot and cabin crew terminal illness, but cabin air contamination is an industry-wide problem and not related to a specific airline or aircraft type. As more and more pilots and cabin crew come forward with manifestations of organophosphate-induced neurotoxicity (OPIN), it […]

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Just an ordinary accident?

I never thought I’d be relieved to hear that an airline accident was probably an “ordinary” one. But after the trauma (no, it is not too strong a word) of Malaysia Airlines’ double misfortune, early information about the Air Algerie/Swiftair Boeing MD-83 indicates its crash cause is likely to be related to bad weather at […]

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Lessons from MH17

UPDATED: 25 July 2014 at 16:41 GMT   The loss of flight MH17 is not about Malaysia ­Airlines. It’s a particularly cruel irony that this carrier has lost a second Boeing 777 with everybody on board – again apparently through no fault of its own. If this disaster is confirmed as the unintentional shoot-down it […]

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Volcanic ash? No longer a problem…

It looks as if pilots will soon be able to weave between patches of atmospheric volcanic ash as they can weave around ordinary visible clouds. Israel-based Elbit Systems and Norwegian company Nicarnica Aviation  have agreed to integrate sensor data from a volcanic ash cloud detector system into a cockpit enhanced vision display. Engineering director of […]

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