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Civil flights stuck in the 5G web, a difficult choice

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      The recent USA regulatory circular on the affect of 5G network on flight operations has thrown the aircraft makers in a tizzy. The 5G network which has been rolled out in various parts of the world has subscribers drooling with the promise of blazing internet speeds which could download a movie in 5 seconds.  The 5G network affects the operations of the radio altimeter of the aircraft which could interfere with various systems like the automatic landing, Ground Proximity Warning Systems, Displays etc. The two big aircraft makers have approached the FAA to help mitigate the risk by delaying the launch of the 5G network in the USA. The question which arises is, what about the rest of the world where 5G has already been deployed and aircraft flying in and out daily? Well yes, the airline industry would loose billions as the flight operations would get impacted especially in poor visibility conditions. However, there doesn't seem to be any concern towards possible lives being los

Psychology of why COVID19 didn't create fear in people till it rained havoc ?

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  The definition of Fear is highly subjective. When COVID19 virus began to spread in the late 2019 originating from China, the world couldn't care less and life was normal around the globe. A pandemic was declared and the freedom of movement was curbed, for passengers to fly strict S.O.P. was put in place. Soon, people began to take the S.O.P. casually, drop their masks, disregard social distancing while traveling as they couldn't see the effects of the virus and refused to take the vaccines. Passengers began to defy the curbs and a second wave hit a few nations where people began see death up close. This is the stage when fear set in. The question arises, why didn't fear set in the first time when it was evident that the virus will take its toll?  To understand this, we need to define fear. Fear is subjective in nature and every person will define it a bit differently depending upon the perception. One of the definition is "Fear is the natural, and therefore reasonabl

IATA Travel Pass, the safest solution to reopen international borders amidst the COVID19 pandemic

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  COVID19 is here to stay. Its been over a year and the globe is still reeling with the effects of death and destruction caused due to the on going pandemic. Aviation industry has been affected the most and the recovery is predicted to be cautious and slow. Despite all the precautions being taken by the aviation industry the governments are apprehensive to open up borders to normalize flight schedules. The governments have initiated COVID19 vaccine drive but it will take over an year before a substantial percentage of the world's population has been vaccinated. IATA the international body promoting air travel which has a membership of 290 airlines from 120 nations, has taken up the initiative of helping reopen the borders. To re-open borders without quarantine and restart aviation governments need to be confident that they are effectively mitigating the risk of importing COVID-19. This means having accurate information on passengers’ COVID-19 health status. Informing passengers on

Singapore Airlines B777 levels out at 500ft, as strong cultures overshadow procedures

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  I am a true believer that society and culture cannot be separated from work and training. However best the training may be, it is under a controlled environment and the performance indicators needed to be achieved are briefed before hand. The crew undergoing training works together to achieve their objective and they are driven by performance indicators required to be achieved to declare them competent. In the real world, the motivation, drive and targets are not briefed as well as they are in a training environment. There are a lot many distractions and personal cultures and behavioral influences are lot more active as compared to a training environment.   The First Officer of this Singapore Airlines B777 departing from Shanghai, China was a Multi Crew Pilot License holder with over 1700hrs flight experience on type. The essence of an MPL training program is multi crew coordination and threat error management. Therefore it can be safely assuming that the crew had demonstrated all th

Multi-Crew Pilot License, India needs better preparedness to adopt the change

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  The Multi-Crew Pilot License (MPL) was adopted by ICAO in 2006 with an amendment in the ICAO Annex-1. India has still not implemented the change. India has been following the traditional prescriptive training methodology with very few changes over the year. The idiom “ Don’t fix it until it breaks ” fits well in the Indian context. There is however a need to rationalize training curriculum since it has been overloaded with additional training requirement post a major accident or an ICAO mandate. There are lobbies which have been pushing for the introduction of MPL in India in partnership with a few airlines. The airlines unknowingly are falling for the bait that they have been traditionally been doing since eternity. India has always been seen as a milking cow by the west and the sheer numbers in terms of training hours requirement seems like a lucrative business to anyone. The question here is,   is India prepared to launch and support a new training and licensing methodology? The c

Aviation ministry sits on INR1450 Cr in the backdrop of unpaid salaries & COVID crisis

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  Un-utilised funds COVID19 crisis has crippled the aviation sector which has witnessed salary cuts and job losses to stay afloat. In this time of crisis the civil aviation ministry has managed to overlook utilization of budgetary allocation of a staggering INR1450 Cr FY 2020-21.  This has been recorded in the report of the Parliamentary committee on transport tabled  in March 2021. The report in para 8.1 states the following "The Committee is distressed to note that the Ministry has been able to spend only 64.9% of the enhanced RE allocation of ₹4131.63 crores, which means that the Ministry has to spend ₹1450.78 crore in the remaining two months of the Financial Year 2020-21 .  The Committee apprehends significant underutilization of the budgetary funds available with the Ministry. At a time when the Government was facing major financial troubles on account of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry received a considerable boost of 8.8% at RE 2020-21 , as compared to BE 2020-21. 

First autonomous cargo flight, gate to gate

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The future of aviation is going to change soon with drones and now autonomous aircraft making its debut after the demonstration flight. Xwing, a USA based company has completed its first gate-to-gate autonomous demonstration flight of a commercial cargo aircraft. The company said Thursday it has raised $40 million at a post-money valuation of $400 million. The company is setting its sights on expansion — not only tripling its engineering team, but eventually running regular fully unmanned commercial cargo flights. Xwing has developed technology to automatically detect and avoid other aircraft and obstacles, integrating radar, ADSB, optical cameras and lidar. The sensor system is designed to be easily added to existing aircraft, along with navigation and control systems that allow the plane to go from taxi to landing by itself, deciding on the most efficient flight path and adjusting to any issues along the way, while coordinating with air traffic controllers. "Our software integra

In the business of training pilots, the airlines are making a quick buck

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Becoming a pilot is an expensive proposition due to the high training costs without an assurance of a job and on the other hand can be a lucrative business for some. Every year hundreds of youth train to become pilots at flying schools in India and abroad having borrowed huge sums in loans or mortgage. A pilots profession not only pays well but increases the social standing of an individual. The youth is desperate for jobs and the airlines need pilots, but do airlines have a moral and social responsibility of not making pilot training into a business which works towards maximising profits and at some stage even insensitivity? A pilots profession is an aspirational career for most young adults and more so after the aviation boom with the arrival of airlines like IndiGo and SpiceJet. IndiGo leads the pack in terms of market share and number of aircrafts. The growth of the airlines has been phenomenal and expansion is a never ending process. This requires the recruitment of hundreds of pi

Spicejet bends all rules to fly to Gangtok airport risking lives, in the wake of Calicut accident

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Approach at Pakyong airport The cosy relationship between SpiceJet and the Indian aviation regulator stands exposed when each day passengers and crew fly to and from from Pakyong airport built on a table top with hills on one side and a deep valley on the other. Whereas passengers are oblivious to the risks involved with the flight that they are traveling on, the crew are living on a prayer that they come back safely. Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim which is the home to glaciers, alpine meadows and thousands of varieties of wildflowers. Steep paths lead to hilltop Buddhist monasteries such as Pemayangtse, which dates to the early 1700s. Access to Gangtok has always been by road which takes five hours to reach from the nearest airport, which is Baghdogra. Sikkim is also of strategic importance due to its location. The construction of an airport at Pakyong near Gangtok would therefore would hold much importance and with the inauguration of the airport by the Prime Minister in Sept 2018,