UK government extends airports’ drone-restriction zone

New UK legislation will enter effect next month which will extend the restrictions on drone use in the vicinity of airports, putting in place a ban on flights within 5km of runway ends.

The exclusion zone will be introduced on 13 March, the government states, in the wake of the serious drone-related disruption to London Gatwick operations last December.

Also Read : We’ve been warned about drones but can we prevent another Gatwick?

It says the change will “better protect” the country’s airports from operators who misuse the unmanned aerial vehicles.

The government adds that it intends to supplement this restriction with extended police powers, to stop and search people suspected of breaching the restrictions, with a new piece of legislation to be introduced “in due course”.

Police would also be able to access, with a warrant, electronic data stored on a drone.

“The law is clear that flying a drone near an airport is a serious criminal act,” says UK transport secretary Chris Grayling.

“We’re now going even further and extending the no-fly zone to help keep our airports secure and our skies safe.”

The previous operating restriction, introduced in July last year, restricted drone flights above 400ft and within 1km of an airport boundary. But this left open the possibility of conflict with aircraft on final approach.

UK cockpit union BALPA, which has been calling for an extension of the drone exclusion zone, describes the new rule as a “significant improvement” to air safety around airports.

Iranian ATR crash pilots unprepared for mountain wave

Iranian investigators believe an ATR 72-200’s unauthorised descent below minimum safe height resulted in its being caught in a mountain wave, and that its crew failed to carry out the procedures necessary to recover from a stall.

The Iran Aseman Airlines aircraft struck a mountain peak, the highest on the W144 airway, as its crew tried to evade cloud while descending towards Yasouj on 18 February last year. None of the 66 occupants survived.

Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation says the ATR was cleared to descend from 21,000ft to 17,000ft, ahead of performing a circling NDB approach to runway 31.

But the crew, after learning that the cloud ceiling was 15,000ft, unilaterally chose to continue the descent to this altitude – below the minimum safe height of 15,500ft – in an effort to clear cloud and icing conditions. This descent was not authorised, the inquiry states, and altitude alerts sounded in the cockpit.

As it levelled at 15,000ft the aircraft was travelling at 200kt, with a 5° nose-down attitude, with its power levers retarded to flight idle.

The inquiry believes this behaviour was “consistent” with the aircraft’s autopilot trying to hold altitude in an updraught, as the ATR approached a mountain ridge in the Dena region. This ridge featured peaks rising to more than 13,000ft.

Owing to mountain wave phenomena, however, the vertical wind gradually shifted from an updraught to a downdraught. The airspeed fell away and the aircraft’s pitch increased.

While the crew, apparently surprised by the sudden change while the aircraft was in a low-energy state, increased engine power. But the inquiry says the aircraft’s performance was “not enough” to overcome the effects of the downdraught, with vertical winds of some 3,200ft/min.

It experienced a “significant” reduction in airspeed and lift, the inquiry states, and its pitch increased to around 15°.

The crew selected a new altitude of 14,000ft but, as the aircraft started to descend, the airspeed declined to a minimum of 118kt, the stick-shaker activated to warn of a stall, and the autopilot disengaged.

Investigators point out that, to recover from the stall, the crew should have pushed the nose down, set 15° flaps, and increased power. Although the captain made a pitch-down input, the crew did not set the flaps, despite the first officer’s asking about them.

The autopilot was re-engaged at 14,200ft but too late to halt the aircraft at 14,000ft given the high descent rate of more than 4,000ft/min, and it overshot.

Almost immediately after the autopilot re-engaged the crew started receiving terrain alerts, which quickly evolved into a series of “pull up” instructions from the ground-proximity warning system.

It struck the north face of the mountain, just below its 13,400ft summit, some 8.5nm north of Yasouj airport.

Although the crew had been aware of icing risk, and had activated anti-ice systems, simulation by French investigation authority BEA determined that there was no evidence of wing ice degrading the aircraft’s performance.

“The aircraft behaviour was due to aerodynamic effects [from downdraught] of a mountain wave,” the inquiry states.

Control of the ATR was still available to the pilots, and the aircraft and engine responses were in line with crew actions. The aircraft’s indicating systems also provided correct information to the pilots until at least 3s before impact.

The inquiry states that “human factor” played the principle role in the accident sequence, with cockpit crew actions, including the unauthorised descent, responsible for creating the conditions which put the flight in jeopardy.

Investigators say the decision to proceed to Yasouj, even though cloud conditions were unsuitable, was against operating standards and the crew should have diverted to an alternate airport. The inquiry stresses that there was a lack of effective communication between the pilots.

But the findings also highlight the mountain wave encounter and its serious effect on the aircraft’s performance, indicating that the crew was unprepared for the phenomenon. The investigation has recommended that airlines review their routes to assess the risk of such encounters, and ensure pilots are adequately trained to respond.


How FlightGlobal is regrouping under Cirium brand

Cirium is the new identity for the FlightGlobal data and analytics business which combines key databases and intelligence tools for the aviation and air travel industries.

Christopher Flook, Cirium chief executive, says the revamp will allow the organisation to communicate its breadth and depth of expertise to an increasingly diverse client base. “We have been through a lot of changes in the last few years, and brought together many businesses and assets,” he says, referring to the spree of acquisitions that has seen the business more than quadruple in size in less than a decade.

The new name was chosen to deliberately steer clear of “anything that locked us into any sector”, says Flook. However, while it had to be “neutral”, Cirium has associations with “being in the cloud, being at high altitude, and working with data sets in the cloud that are always changing”. He adds: “It’s about bringing control to an industry that is constantly in motion.”

Flook: Cirium about bringing control to an industry constantly in motion

The business’s data and analytics group – including acquired businesses – FlightStats, Ascend, Diio and Innovata – and well-known products Ascend Values Analyzer, Diio Mi, Fleets Analyzer and web and mobile app FlightStats – come directly under the Cirium brand.

The FlightGlobal name continues as a distinct brand within the Cirium portfolio, comprising the aerospace publishing and conferences businesses which were key foundation stones for what is now the most powerful data, analytics and advisory force in aviation, aerospace and travel management.

A reason for the change is that FlightGlobal was too deeply associated in the industry’s mind with publishing – our flagship magazine Flight International has been in print for 110 years.

“We are proud of FlightGlobal and the FlightGlobal products,” says Flook. “But it meant we were unable to clearly position ourselves as a technology business, and put ourselves at the table automatically when customers were looking for a data and analytics solution.”

The creation of the umbrella Cirium brand will allow the business finally to realise its potential, maintains Flook. “Through our acquisitions, we have brought together industry-leading data sets, but those are often still perceived as being discrete data sets. Our new product development is about fusing these data sets into a data lake to create analytics that will solve problems in different ways,” he says. “It’s about creating a single company that draws on all these assets.”

Flook acknowledges that unveiling an entirely new name is a “challenge”, given that “the brands we have are very powerful with great reputations in their niches”. Educating customers will not “happen overnight”, he says, but “we are putting all our effort into communicating as clearly as possible what Cirium is”. The big opportunity is explaining to the industry what Cirium “represents as a group”, he says. “Nothing that our customers appreciate and value in those premium brands is being lost. It’s about more than becoming the sum of our parts.”

The reputation of some of these legacy brands is why several names will remain, not as brands but products within the Cirium portfolio. These include Diio Mi, a tool used by airlines and airports to analyse routes, and flightstats.com, the customer-facing, real-time flight-tracking service, which has more than 7 million users. Meanwhile the famous Ascend consultancy name will continue to be used in connection with the Cirium brand in the fleet valuations sector.

Back in 1909, Flight magazine, as was, produced its inky pages in a tiny, dusty office in London. Today, Cirium employs more than 400 people around the globe. The majority are technologists, data analysts, data scientists and market experts.

Their skills are essential for the sort of organic growth – “not dependent on acquisition” – Flook envisages. Strategic ties with other organisations are vital too. “We have collectively secured the best data sets, but we are always looking at further partnerships to expand on the data sets we have,” he says.

Cirium, he predicts, will become a brand that resonates with a range of customers, including airlines, OEMs and financial institutions, to metasearch and travel management companies. While the aviation sector has recognised the Flight name since 1909, Flook believes Cirium will take the wider business to the next level: “It’s a brand”, he says, “that will last us for the next 110 years.”

For more information, visit: cirium.com

FAA sets Thailand set 26 tasks to reach Category I standard

The United States Federal Aviation Administration has set Thailand 26 items that need rectification before its safety rating can be upgraded to Category I.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) states that a four-person team from the FAA conducted an audit of its oversight systems between 11-15 February that identified the deficiencies, but gave no specific details.

After the items have been rectified, the CAAT says it can then ask for a new audit, and that if passed, it will be upgraded to Category I status.

Under the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment programme, the Administration audits a foreign country’s regulatory system against ICAO criteria. Countries that have deficiencies are given Category II status, which prevents new carriers from flying to the US, or existing operators from adding new capacity on existing US routes.

Thailand’s aviation regulatory systems have been under scrutiny since an ICAO audit in early 2015 identified a number of “red flags” over the then-Department of Civil Aviation’s oversight and air operator certificate awarding process.

That led to some Thai carriers being barred from starting services to China, South Korea and Japan, while all airlines were forced to undergo a recertification process for their air operator’s certificates.

It also led to the DCA being replaced by the CAAT, and as a result of all those issues the red flags were removed by ICAO in October 2017.


Doubts Persist Over Trump Administration Groundwork in Urging Venezuela’s Military to Defect


Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro had won a second term last year in an election that critics denounced as a sham. Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido invoked constitutional provisions to declare himself the country’s leader last month.

Also ReadUS, Canada Recognise Juan Guaido, India Does Not

Maduro has the backing of Russia, India and China, whereas the U.S. along with many of Venezuela’s neighbors and most Western countries have recognized Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela.

The U.S. President Donald Trump has offered his strong support for Juan Guaido.

Maduro, however, has the control of Venezuelan state institutions, including the security services.

The United States has had direct communications with Venezuela’s military personnel to initiate an effective mutiny in the ranks. Trump’s aides have been publicly predicting more defections.

But so far, military officers, by and large, have not gone against Maduro. Doubts persist whether the Trump administration has done enough groundwork urging Venezuela’s military to abandon Maduro.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday warned members of Venezuela’s military who remain loyal to socialist President Nicolas Maduro that they are risking their future and their lives and urged them to allow humanitarian aid into the country. As the toll of Venezuela’s political, economic and humanitarian crisis mounted, Trump sought to ramp up the public pressure on the current Maduro regime following a series of US-led sanctions and diplomatic maneuvers aimed at ousting Maduro.

Also Read: U.S. and Russia Propose Contrasting UN Steps on Venezuela

Speaking to a cheering crowd mostly of Venezuelan and Cuban immigrants in Miami, Trump said if the Venezuelan military continues supporting Maduro, “you will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You’ll lose everything.”

Trump, in his speech, branded socialism as a “dying” ideology in the Western Hemisphere and Maduro a “puppet” of communist-ruled Cuba.

Trump wants to boost support among Florida’s Hispanic voters as he looks ahead to his own re-election campaign in 2020, when Florida is again expected to be an important swing state.

Trump cautioned Venezuelan armed forces not to harm Guaido or other opposition politicians, urged them to accept the National Assembly leader’s offer of amnesty and demanded that they allow in food, medicine and other supplies.

Guaido, in a videotaped message to the crowd at Florida International University, called it a “decisive moment” to exert pressure on Maduro from inside and outside Venezuela.

In response, Maduro said late on Monday that Trump’s speech was “nazi-style” and said he acted as if he were the owner of Venezuela and its citizens his slaves.

Guaido has said that aid will enter Venezuela from neighboring countries by land and sea on Saturday.

The United States has sent tons of aid that is being stockpiled on Colombia’s border with Venezuela, but Maduro has refused to let it in.

Maduro calls the aid a U.S.-orchestrated show and denies any crisis despite many Venezuelans’ scant access to food and medicine.

“We will not make of the honorable Venezuela a Venezuela of beggars,” he said in televised comments on Monday. “We will not accept it.”

Maduro said Venezuela already received “humanitarian assistance” on a daily basis.

Russia, for example, was sending 300 tonnes of aid to the country by plane on Wednesday, he said, albeit clarifying this was not a donation but supplies for which Venezuela had paid.

“We seek a peaceful transition of power but all options are open,” Trump said. It was a further hint of Trump’s repeated insistence that military options remain on the table, though most Latin America experts believe such action is unlikely.


Congress seems all set to form Government in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh

Massive blow to Modi-Shah Duo

The duo had campaigned personally, yet the verdict went against them

People voted for a change.

Anti incumbency let BJP down.

Cong set to form Govt in Raj & C'Garh , stiff fight in MP; TRS to retain power in Telangana11 Dec 2018 | 12:56 PM

New Delhi, Dec 11 (UNI) In a first major win for Rahul Gandhi since he took over the charge of grand old party, the Congress seemed all set to form Government in BJP-ruled Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Even as Congress raced ahead of the BJP in the counting of votes polled in Assembly elections to five states– Rajasthan, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram, key ally of NDA government Shiv Sena on Tuesday called for ‘self-reflection’.

No future truck with Congress, we will sit in opposition, says Ajit Jogi
The Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC) chief and former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi on Tuesday said his party will sit in the opposition and not ally with the Congress in the state where the Congress seemed to be heading for a certain victory.

President accepts Upendra Kushwaha's resignation
President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday accepted the resignation of Upendra Kushwaha from the Union Council of Ministers with immediate effect.

When his view was sought on the subject, Mr Animesh Majumdar, a professor of Political Science in the ‘ City of Joy’ pointed out that in Rajasthan, it is water that is a central concern for women, many of whom expressed disappointment at how the state administration had addressed their woes.

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