Tag Archives: Airbus 320

Here’s all we know about the Indonesian Airbus 320 disappeared over Java Sea

AirAsia A320 gone missing in southeast Asia

On Dec. 28, an Airbus A320-200, registration number PK-AXC, flying as AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ8501 from Juanda International Airport, Surabaya, to Changi Airport, Singapore, lost contact with Air Traffic Control at 06:24 LT over Java Sea.

155 passengers were on board the aircraft: 137 adults, including 2 pilots and 4 cabin crew and 1 engineer, 17 children and 1 infant.

The aircraft was piloted by a captain with an experience of 20,537 flying hours, 6,100 of which were with AirAsia Indonesia on the Airbus A320. The first officer had a total of 2,275 flying hours with AirAsia Indonesia.

According to Indonesia’s Transport Ministry, while flying at FL320 (32,000 feet), QZ8501 requested to deviate and climb to FL380 to avoid very bad weather in the area. Clearance to climb could not immediately be granted because of nearby air traffic.

The Ministry said the aircraft could be tracked by ADS-B until 06:18, when it went missing from radars. Flight crew did not radio any mayday or emergency message.

Noteworthy, a leaked ATC image published by Gerry Soejatman on Twitter shows the AirAsia flight climbing through 36300ft with a Ground Speed of only 353 knots: provided the image is genuine, the radar screenshot would show an airplane much slower than expected at that altitude (a nearby Emirates flight at FL360 – 36,000 feet – was flying at 503 knots).

Leaked ATC image GS FL

Image credit: via G Soejatman (highlights mine)

Flightradar24 receivers have tracked the flight by means of ADS-B until 06:12, when the aircraft was at FL320, 469 knots, 310° heading.

Although any attempt to explain the reason for the disappearance of the AirAsia flight is pure speculation at this time, we can’t but notice at least one apparent similarity with another famous crash: Air France 447.

AF447 was an Airbus 330 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris that plummeted 38,000 feet in 3 minutes and 30 seconds and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009. In that case, pilots responded to a stall, induced by inconsistencies between the airspeed measurements likely due to pitot tubes being obstructed by ice, by pulling the nose up instead of pushing it down to attempt a recover.

Even though a low Ground Speed can be caused by strong head winds, the fact that nearby Emirates was cruising at 36,000 feet at a speed of 503 knots, seems to suggest that the missing Airbus 320 was probably too slow and closer to the stall speed than it should have been.

Anyway, although no sign of wreckage, oil, debris were found so far, experts believe there are more chances to locate the aircraft than the Malaysia Airlines MH370 which vanished in March this year and has not be found yet.

Image credit: Flightradar24.com


Mystery surrounds video showing Alitalia flight escorted by two German Eurofighters

A quite unusual sight for the passengers of an Alitalia Airbus 320 from Amsterdam escorted by two German Eurofighters for about 20 minutes.

A video of two German Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets escorting an Alitalia flight has emerged after some passengers reported that their plane, on a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Rome Fiumicino, had been flanked and escorted by German warplanes.

Indeed, the footage, filmed with a smartphone shows the two Typhoons shadowing the civil plane.

Based on Flightradar24.com logs, the civil liner, an Airbus A320 registration EI-DSM, took off from Schipol at about 12.20 PM LT, climbed at 35,000 feet and crossed the German airspace flying more or less over Dusseldorf, Cologne, the west of Frankfurt and Stuttgard.

According to Fabio Guccione, owner of a travel agency in Palermo, who talked to several media outlets: “Someone asked the hostess to have information from the pilots about the reasons of the “escort”. But after a few minutes the flight attendant came back saying that the captain did not want to say anything.”

Civilian planes are escorted by interceptors when they lack diplomatic clearance to cross a sovereign airspace, for bomb threats, radio failures and, generally speaking any time the local Air Defense, usually after coordinating the intercept with nearby radar centers and ATC agencies, decide to perform a so-called VID (Visual Identification) of a plane to verify its identity, adherence to the filled FPL (Flight Plan) etc.

Sometimes, air defense radars ask (through the relevant ATC agency) flights passing through their sector whether they would be willing to be intercepted for training purposes; still, such requests are addressed to other military aircraft and not to civil planes, whose passengers could be scared by the sight of two (usually) armed combat planes.

Image credit: Eurofighter

H/T to Giuseppe Stilo for the heads-up


Impressive: Pilot’s view of Wizz Air’s Airbus 320 low pass over the Danube

You can’t fly lower than this over downtown Budapest with an Airbus 320.

On May 1, a Wizz Air’s Airbus 320 performed a low pass over downtown Budapest during the airshow.

This video will bring you in the cockpit with Cpt David Morgan and Cpt András Árday during the first ever low altitude fly-by overhead the bridges of Budapest with an Airbus jetliner.

Needless to say, such low passes can only be performed by skilled aircrews after careful planning.

H/T to Glen Towler for the heads-up


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Introducing the IFE on Alitalia domestic routes

As frequent travelers know many airlines keep their IFE (In Flight Entertainment) system switched off on domestic/short range routes because – using Mary Kirby’s (aka RunwayGirl) words – “Some carriers decide that the costs do not outweigh the gains, even after installs”. Basing on my personal experience, the Italian flag company was among those who didn’t give their travellers the pleasure of personal televisions on domestic and short range networks until Giovanni Maduli sent me the following picture he took on an Alitalia A320 flying from Cagliari to Rome with an operative IFE. The system provides each passenger with a moving map or a selection of channels broadcasting movies, sports, children’s shows and fashion: a pleasant surprise.