Tag Archives: Fiumicino

An Italian Typhoon intercepts a Primera Air B-737

On Jul. 10, 2009, a Primera Air Boeing 737-700, with registration TF-JXG, flying as GX-362 flight, from Zakinthos (Greece) to Dublin (Ireland), with 153 passengers and 6 crew members, was escorted by a single F-2000 (not two as some sources reported) of the 4° Stormo of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF) after the crew requested an emergency landing in Rome Fiumicino airport, due to a technical problem. The airplane landed safely on runway 16L, that had been kept sterile for 40 minutes for the emergency arrival with all other traffic “diverted” on runway 16R, at 16.51LT. According to the information released by the ItAF, “Typhoon 99” was ordered to intercept the aircraft, after the B737 had made an unauthorised descent from cruising altitude to FL200. The Italian authorities initially requested the flight to divert to Naples airport, but the commander refused to land in Capodichino as it required a longer runway. Since L’Aquila and Rome were interested in that day by the G8 summit and a NFZ (No Fly Zone) was active, the Italian COFA (Comando Operativo Forze Aeree) scrambled a Typhoon to intercept the “zombie”.

Image courtesy of Alenia Aeronautica

Image courtesy of Alenia Aeronautica

Aircraft and helicopters overflying Rome at the end of the G8 summit

With so many world leaders attending the G8 (G14) event in L’Aquila, Rome airports have been managing a large amount of visiting aircraft. For instance, the Air Force One, arrived in Pratica di Mare with an accompanying C-17,  Gordon Brown arrived in Ciampino with a British Airways A-319, while the Indian delegation landed in Fiumicino, with an Air India B747-400 (as far as I know the new French Air Force Falcon 7X which was named “Carla One” after Carla Bruni, was not used to carry Sarkozy and his wife: http://www.repubblica.it/2006/05/gallerie/esteri/aereo-sarkozy/1.html that were reported flying a Falcon 900). Then, many of the leaders reached L’Aquila Preturo Airport on board executive and military airplanes and helicopters (Obama was carried by a VH60N whose flight was monitored by a Predator of the Italian Air Force, as this video shows), some of which were deployed at Pratica di Mare or even Urbe airport (see here: http://cencio4.wordpress.com/2009/07/06/exclusive-pictures-three-us-army-ch-47ds-arrive-in-rome-urbe-airport/).

A few aircraft were spotted weeks before the G8, most probably during site surveys made to assess logistic details prior to the arrival of the delegations. For example, it was perhaps linked to the arrival of the POTUS, the C-17 I saw at Ciampino on Jun. 5, 2009:

So there has been much helicopter activity above downtown Rome these days and, especially on Jul. 10, at the end of the G8, when Obama moved for Urbe to Pratica di Mare, to board again on the Air Force One and depart to Ghana, not only the “Marine 1” and “Nighthawk 1” formations were flying, but also many Italian Police aircraft that I spotted from my house:

Push back from the tractor operator's point of view

A few weeks ago, Des Barker sent me the following interesting pictures showing the impact of a civilian plane with a tractor. The text of the email explained that on Jan 1, 2009, “after pushback from the gate in LA, the pilot throttled up to taxi before the tractor and bar were disconnected”.

The images let me think how dangerous, some normal airport activities, can be, so I asked to my friend Giovanni Maduli, who works at Rome Fiumicino airport, to explain how the push back of an aircraft takes place. This is what he explained:
“Even if the push back is performed using different kind of tractors, the main rules remain the same. Using both the tractor that “catches” the nose wheel gear or the one with the push back towbar, the first thing to do is to insert the “NOSE GEAR LOCKPIN”. This pin acts on the valve that inhibits pressure to the nose gear. Then the steering height must be checked so as to avoid the tractor from impacting and damaging the landing gear doors. Some aircraft have a “red stripe on nosewheel doors” marking.
During the push, the towing tractor can’t exceed the maximum steer radius and speeds; should the safety pin break, there would be a loss of directional control. The ramp operator and the crew in the cockpit must be in radio contact: via headseat, by means of the aircraft’s interphone system; or by means of walkie-talkies. Any emergency or problem must be immediately notified on the radio. Two operators use the towbar tractors model Fresia, with the help of a ramp technician: one operator seats on the back of the tractor (on the opposite side of the driver) to help this latter whose visibility is obstructed by the aircraft when it is angled by 45° to be aligned with the taxiway’s centerline and can’t check for any obstacle. With the other kind of tractor, the “Kalmar”, the push back is easier since the nose gear is directly connected to the tractor and not by means of a tow bar. This kind of tractor requires a single operator (the driver). The “Fresia” model towbar tractor requires much more attention. The push back can’t be performed if there are more than 50% of the engines at IDLE. A series of safety bolts, that must be checked before the hook up, prevent the bar from stressing the nose gear structure. The bolts are calibrated to sustain an amount of stress that does not damage the gear. When the bolts break, a quick reaction of the ramp operator is required to prevent any injury or damage to the aircraft.
When the push back is completed and the aircraft is on the taxiway’s centerline, the pilot radios the “Parking Brakes On” to the ramp operator, who gives the driver the clearance to disengage the tractor. Radio contact between the ramp operator and the cockpit must be kept until the tractor is outside of the aircraft cleared taxi route”.

MM62012 current status

The “I-2012”, a DC9-32 of the 31° Stormo of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF), is one of the most famous Italian aircraft. It carried the Italian National football team that won the Spain World Championship in 1982 and was the aircraft that flew the Italian Presidents and Prime Ministers for decades. The aircraft was retired in 2002 and for many years it remained parked in Ciampino airport until Alitalia decided to use it to train maintenance personnel. For this reason in the night between Oct. 15 and 16 2007, it was disassembled and transported to Fiumicino, where it arrived after 24 hours of work, inside the Avio 5 hangar.
Here’s a picture of the famous DC9 in the new location performing the new role of “maintenance job trainer”.

Runway incursion of a B747-400 in Rome Fiumicino

The Italian Aviation Safety Agency (ANSV), will investigate in a runway incursion that took place on Jan 8, 2009, at Rome Fiumicino airport. A Thai Airways B747-400, with registration “HS-TGZ” departing grom Rome to Bangkok as flight TG945, while taxing along the A taxiway towards the runway 16R, crossed the runway 25 next to the threshold of runway 07, without being cleared by the Tower. As a consequence of the runway incursion, a departing Airbus 319 was compelled to abort takeoff from RWY 25. Fortunately, the A319 was still rolling at low speed and was able to vacate the runway safely and to return to the departure position for the subsequent takeoff which could be performed only a few minutes later.