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March 2015

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LHT gets TaxiBot approval bookmark

Lufthansa LEOS has received EASA approval allowing it to start operations at Frankfurt Airport with the TaxiBot aircraft tractor, developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and TLD with Lufthansa LEOS’ support and cooperation. After extensive testing, the TaxiBot is now being used in real flight operations. The TaxiBot Narrow Body is a towbar-less 800-hp strong hybrid-electric aircraft tractor, controlled by the pilot and intended for towing aircraft between the gate and the runway with the aircraft’s engines turned off.

 

The TaxiBot family is expanding with the testing of the Wide Body model – which will operate with all families of aircraft, such as the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 – and an MoU has been signed by Lufthansa LEOS and IAI for widebody aircraft certification testing. The test phase will be performed using a Boeing 747-400 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

 

The TaxiBot is part of the ‘E-PORT AN’ project at Frankfurt Airport. Partners of the initiative include the state of Hesse, Fraport, the Lufthansa Group and the Rhine-Main model region. The project is supported by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.

 

(photo credit: IAI)

FAA lashes out on safety breaches bookmark

The FAA has proposed penalties against three US carriers: Alaska Airlines, Trans States Airlines, and ExpressJet.

 

The FAA has proposed two civil penalties against Alaska Airlines totalling $1.6 million for allegedly operating aircraft that were not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations.

 

In the first case, the FAA alleges that between 2010 and 2012, Alaska Airlines installed systems to pulse external lights on 66 Boeing 737s. The agency alleges the carrier failed to conduct required ground and flight tests to determine whether the systems caused electromagnetic radio frequency interference with aircraft radios, navigational systems or other electronic equipment. Alaska Airlines activated the pulsing system on 59 of the 66 aircraft on over 48,000 flights, despite them not being airworthy because the testing to determine interference had not been done. The FAA is proposing a $900,000 civil penalty in this case.

 

In the second case, the FAA alleges Alaska Airlines maintenance personnel in July 2011 repaired a Boeing 737’s cracked engine thrust lever with fasteners that obstructed the pilot’s access to the left side take-off/go-around button. Workers modified the repair a week later, but it still obstructed access to the button. The FAA alleges Alaska Airlines operated the aircraft on 549 flights following the initial repair before replacing the entire thrust control lever in December 2011. During these flights, the aircraft was not in an airworthy condition, the FAA alleges. The FAA is proposing a $700,000 civil penalty in this case.

 

The FAA alleges that Trans States Airlines failed to test and inspect an Embraer ERJ 145’s fuel system components within the timeframe required by an FAA Airworthiness Directive (AD). The purpose of the AD is to prevent anything from igniting in the fuel system. The FAA alleges Trans States operated the jet on 10 passenger flights when it was not in compliance with the AD and therefore was not airworthy. A $122,000 civil penalty is proposed.

 

Finally, the FAA alleges that, in April 2014, ExpressJet failed to ensure that an Embraer ERJ 145 underwent required testing and measurement of the aircraft surface in connection with the repainting of the aircaft. The FAA is proposing a $50,000 civil penalty in this case.

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