Cathay incident linked to contaminated Indonesian fuel.
Investigations into the emergency landing of a Cathay Pacific Airways Airbus A330-300 on 13 April at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) have revealed apparent contamination of fuel the aircraft took on at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, Indonesia.
The aircraft, flight CX780 from Surabaya to Hong Kong was cleared to land at HKIA after sending a distress call. The twin-aisle jetliner had 309 passengers and13 crew on board.
A Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department report indicates that spherical particles were found in the fuel-monitoring units and variable stator-vane controllers of both engines.
“The examination of fuel samples collected showed that there were also spheres in the fuel samples from the engine fuel system and the aircraft fuel tanks,” the report says. “Traces of such spheres were also present in the monitor filter layers and the fuel samples collected downstream of those monitor filters, in the dispenser used to uplift fuel to the aircraft.”
The aircraft had taken on 24,000kg of fuel from Stand 8 at Juanda, which was part of the common hydrant refuelling circuit (HRC) serving Stands 1 to 10. Prior to the incident there had been work performed on the HRC as part of an extension project for Stands 1 to 4.
Subsequent investigations at the Indonesian airport found that some of the re-commissioning procedures for the hydrant extension work did not meet guidelines and practices commonly used by aviation fuel industry. Furthermore, the hydrant refuelling system for Stands 5 to 10 had been used for refuelling aircraft including the Cathay A330 before re-commissioning procedures were completed.
Indonesia has been struggling to improve its aviation safety record after a series of incidents and accidents three years ago led to a blanket ban on the country’s airlines by the European Union. The EU has since removed several carriers – including Garuda Indonesia and Indonesia AirAsia - from the list.
EASA to review Philippines civil aviation safety
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will review civil aviation safety in the Philippines from 18-22 October. The audit will cover maintenance, operations and safety for airlines and airports.
Other areas to be examined include the qualifications and competence of aviation inspectors and air traffic controllers. The findings of the audit will be discussed by EU’s safety committee in Brussels in November.
International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) President Roberto Gonzalez is also expected to be in Manila from 2-4 September to discuss with the Civil Aviation Authority of Philippines (CAAP) corrective steps to be taken by the respective airlines, airports and government agencies.
In April, the European Union banned Philippine carriers from flying to the 27-nation bloc, citing serious safety deficiencies in the regulation and monitoring of its carriers and weaknesses in the management of airports, following assessments by ICAO.
Air traffic controllers also complained that they were often forced to work 12-hour shifts, causing physical and mental stress due to the heavy workload.
The EU ban was a second serious blow to the Philippines civil aviation industry. In November 2007, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded the industry’s safety rating from Category 1 to Category 2
The rating was supposed to have been reviewed by FAA in the third quarter of 2009, but the CAAP requested a postponement, saying it was not yet ready. Aviation officials then vowed to speed up reforms.
In June, officials from Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific Air informed the EU safety committee of steps they have taken to enhance safety. Nevertheless, the airlines were not removed from the European blacklist.
CAAP Director General Alfonso Cusi claims that all necessary corrective steps have now been implemented.
“We are ready for the EU audit and hope for at least a partial lifting of the ban,” Cusi says, declining to elaborate.
There are seven carriers based in the Philippines, but none fly to Europe. The airlines are: PAL, Cebu Pacific, Zest Airways, PAL Express, South East Asian Airlines, Air Philippines and Spirit of Manila Airlines.
PAL suspended all flights to Europe in early 1999.
THE PHILIPPINES government’s plan to privatise Terminal 3 at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport is being stalled by a pending arbitration case with Philippine International Air Terminals (PIATCO), the contractor that built the facility. The case filed by PIATCO against the Philippines government for compensation is pending before the International Chamber of Commerce in Singapore. The government of former President Joseph Estrada awarded a build-operate-transfer contract worth US$625 million to a consortium of PIATCO and Fraport in 1997, with construction scheduled to be completed by December 2002. However, the contract was nullified a month before the deadline by the successor government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The Philippines Supreme Court upheld the decision in May 2003. The government took control of the terminal in December 2004, after making an initial payment of US$64 million to PIATCO. Fraport invested US$425 million in the project.