Friday, July 29, 2011

Another cargo aircraft carrying batteries crashes

The Asiana Airlines’ B747 freighter was heading for Pudong Airport in Shanghai from South Korea’s Incheon Airport when it crashed just off Jeju Island in the south of country.

Asiana officials got a report from the pilot that the Boeing-747 was having mechanical difficulties and would try to make its way to Jeju Island’s airport to make an emergency landing.

According to reports, an air traffic official claimed the pilot had shouted “cargo fire” and “emergency” about 10 minutes before the aircraft disappeared from radar screens.

A South Korean coastguard boat has since found debris from the jet in waters about 107km west of Jeju city.

Asiana Airlines, which is South Korea’s second biggest airline, said the aircraft was carrying electronic products, mobile phones, liquid crystal displays, light-emitting diodes, lithium batteries and liquids including paints and resins.

A company spokesman said the cargo had been loaded in line with International Air Transport Association regulations.

While it is too early for officials to pinpoint the cause of the fire, the incident is bound to bring the transport of lithium batteries into the spotlight once again.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said 46 incidents of aircraft fires had been linked to cargo including lithium-ion batteries.

The most recent high-profile incident involving batteries happened in September when a UPS cargo plane crashed into the desert outside Dubai, killing both pilots.

Following the incident, the FAA said new research showed that lithium metal (non-rechargeable) and lithium-ion (rechargeable) batteries were highly flammable and capable of igniting during air transport under certain circumstances.

The research also indicated that Halon 1301, the suppression agent found in Class C cargo compartment fire extinguishers, is ineffective in suppressing lithium metal battery fires.

To combat the risks associated with carrying the batteries the FAA made a series of recommendations.

It said customers should identify bulk shipments of lithium batteries on air waybills and other documents; the batteries should be stowed in Class C compartments, or where alternative fire suppression is available; training, stowage, and communication protocols for carrying lithium batteries in the event of a fire should be evaluated.

According to research by specialist dangerous goods forwarder Transport 129, lithium cells and batteries not manufactured to meet the requirements of the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III, subsection 38.3 may be liable to overheating and catching fire.

Source;  IFW

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pirates grow bolder

Pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden/Indian Ocean region climbed dramatically over the first six months of the year.
According to figures from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), there were 266 attacks on vessels in the period, compared with 196 last year.

More than 60% were by Somali pirates, the majority of which were in the Arabian Sea area. On 30 June, Somali pirates were holding 20 vessels and 420 crew, demanding ransoms of millions of dollars for their release.

IMB Di¬rector Pottengal Mukundan said: “In the past six months, Somali pirates attacked more vessels than ever before, and they are taking higher risks."

He said pirates had fired on ships for the first time during the monsoon season last month.

Somali pirates took 361 seafarers hostage and kidnapped 13 in the first half of 2011. The number of violent and organ¬ised attacks off West Africa also increased.

The IMB said a major “cause for concern” was the movement of pirates to the Gulf of Aden and southern Red Sea, due to monsoon conditions in the Indian Ocean region that began in early June. It said 18 attacks had been reported in the Red Sea area since 20 May.

“It is necessary that shipboard protection measures are in place as vessels sail through this area,” advised Mukundan.

“It may be that these recent Indian Ocean incidents are a sign of desperation by pirates, or that there are many more pirate groups operating now than there were in 2010, particularly outside the Gulf of Aden.”

But although Somali pirates are more active, they managed to hijack fewer ships, just 21 in the first half of 2011 compared with 27 in the same period last year.

The IMB cited tighter security measures as well as the presence of EU naval forces as mitigat¬ing factors in the wake of recent, unsuccessful attacks on merchant vessels.

“It is vital that this naval presence be sustained or increased,” said the IMB.

Source:        IFW

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cargolux freighter hit by a bullet over Africa

Cargolux has grounded one of its Boeing 747-400 freighters after maintenance staff detected a bullet hole in the fuselage after it returned from a multiple-stop African service.
The aircraft was on a charter flight on 4 July from Luxembourg to Abidjan (Ivory Coast) and Accra (Ghana), prior to arriving in Abuja (Nigeria), from where it returned to Luxembourg.

“The hole was found in an unpressurised area on the left side near the rear of the plane and did not endanger the safety of the crew at any time,” said Cargolux.

It has filed a police report and informed aviation authority Direction de l’aviation civile, Luxembourg - DACL of the incident. The forensic division of the Luxembourg police is also investigating the incident.

While it determined that the hole “was caused by a bullet”, it said there was “no evidence that the aircraft was targeted”, but said that it “cannot be ruled out.”

The carrier is Europe’s largest cargo-only airline and operates a fleet of sixteen B747-400 freighters.

Source:  IFW