December 2013

Happy New Year to all our readers. We hope you have a prosperous and peaceful 2014.

A British Airways airplane carrying 202 people collided an office building while taxiing for take off at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday, civil aviation authorities reported. Its right wing struck the building.

The 747-400 was preparing to fly to London Heathrow Airport and apparently took a taxiway that was not wide enough for its wingspan, said a South African Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokeswoman.

“This resulted in the aircraft’s right-hand wing impacting the office building,”.

The control tower “told them to take one taxiway and they took another one. They took a wrong one,” said Gwebu.

Four people inside the building were injured, but the 185 passengers and 17 crew on board were unharmed during the late-night accident, according to the CAA.

No further information on the injured was immediately available.

An airport spokeswoman confirmed the incident.

A photo taken by a passenger from the cabin showed the aircraft’s giant wing wedged into a quarter of the length of the small building.

Harriet Tolputt, head of media for international humanitarian organisation Oxfam, posted the pictures to Twitter.

“BA plane crashes into building at J Burg airport. No one injured only the pilot’s pride,” she posted, complaining that first-class passengers were evacuated before the rest.

The stuck plane had still not been able to take off by Monday morning. The CAA did not say what plans had been made for the stranded passengers.

A British Airways airplane carrying 202 people collided an office building while taxiing for take off at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday, civil aviation authorities reported. Its right wing struck the building.

The 747-400 was preparing to fly to London Heathrow Airport and apparently took a taxiway that was not wide enough for its wingspan, said a South African Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokeswoman.

“This resulted in the aircraft’s right-hand wing impacting the office building,”.

The control tower “told them to take one taxiway and they took another one. They took a wrong one.”

The four people inside were inside the building, but no passengers or crew aboard the plane were injured.

No further information on the injured was immediately available.

A photo taken by a passenger from the cabin showed the aircraft’s giant wing wedged into a quarter of the length of the small building.

Harriet Tolputt, head of media for international humanitarian organisation Oxfam, posted the pictures to Twitter.

“BA plane crashes into building at J Burg airport. No one injured only the pilot’s pride,” she posted, complaining that first-class passengers were evacuated before the rest.

The Airports Commission this morning published an interim report into possible options to expand UK airport capacity

Three options were shorlisted, with the Boris Island being also mentioned as receiving further consideration. The final report is expected in 2015.

The three short-listed options (two of which relate to Heathrow) adding a third runway at Heathrow, lengthening an existing runway at Heathrow, and a new runway at Gatwick.

Stansted and Birmingham appear to have been ruled out at this stage, although they may be in contention in the more distant future.

Sir Howard Davies, said that the Commission’s analysis showed one net additional runway was needed by 2030.
He added that the capacity challenge is not yet critical, but it will become so if no action is taken soon.

The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin made a statement to the House of Commons expressing his approval of the Airport Commission recommendations, stating the report “offers a clear recommendation that there is a need for a new runway capacity” in the medium term “to support continued competitiveness and prosperity”.

British Airways is extending the number of routes operated by its new aircraft and increasing frequencies on some routes for summer 2014 (from March 30).

 

British Airways now has three A380s and four 787s. Thanks to the arrival of the new aircraft into the fleet, the airline is able to confirm that the A380 and 787 will operate between London and the following destinations in Summer 14:

 

• The A380 will begin services to Washington from September 1, 2014. The aircraft is already flying to Los Angeles and Hong Kong and will start services to Johannesburg in February 2014.

 

• The 787s will next launch on services to:

 

• Hyderabad from 30 March

 

• Chengdu from 5 May

 

• Philadelphia from 5 June

 

• Calgary from 5 July

 

 The 787 is already flying between London and Toronto and New York Newark and will operate services to/from Austin when the route launches on 3 March 2014.

 

 Additional frequencies:

 

• The airline will increase the number of flights to/from Chengdu from three to five a week (also from 5 May).

 

• From 6 May, Tokyo Haneda will move from five-a-week to daily flights. The Haneda flights will also be re-timed to a more convenient 8.50am departure from Haneda (currently 6.35am).

 

• Mexico City will also benefit from an increase from five to six services a week from April 27.

 

• Cape Town will gain an extra three Boeing 777-200ER flights a week through South Africa’s cooler winter season (the Northern Hemisphere’s summer) taking it from a daily service to 10 flights a week and accommodating an additional 219 customers in four cabins.

 

 These flights are available for sale.

 

British Airways says it is investing more than £5bn in new aircraft, smarter cabins, elegant lounges, and new technologies to make life more comfortable in the air and on the ground.

 

British Airways also says it is the first airline in the UK to fly the A380 and the first in Europe to fly both the A380 and 787. Customers on these aircraft are able to enjoy the new cabins and seats that have proved so popular on the airline’s 777-300Ers.

 

Both aircraft types make major environmental advances and contribute toward the airline’s ambitious targets for noise and carbon reduction.

 

The Register reports that the problems that beset Britain’s air traffic control system on Saturday was due to a technical fault with a touch screen interface provided by Frequentis.

On Saturday 7 December, passengers in Britain suffered cancellations and delays when controllers at NATS (National Air Traffic Services) operations room in Swanwick noticed that their system had suddenly stopped working. Southern England was particularly badly affected as the airways in the South are far more congested than elsewhere.

So what went wrong?

The Register investigated and reports: -

“The outage on Saturday was caused by a problem with a Frequentis system that enables our controllers to talk to other parts of the operation,” a spokesman at NATS said.

“It uses a touch screen interface that automatically loads all the contacts – around NATS and in other agencies involved in the air navigation network – that a controller will need for the particular piece of airspace that they’re controlling at that time.

“It therefore ensures they can always immediately reach the person they need to speak to and will reconfigure itself with settings specific to the sector that the controller is responsible for when they log in for their shift.”

But during Saturday’s routine shift change, the system – which has been used by NATS for 11 years – collapsed, forcing the controllers to ground aircraft while engineers attempted to fix the error.

It’s understood that the touchscreen telephone system failed to configure correctly so that new positions could be opened to split the extra sectors needed for daytime airspace control.

Delays were reported at airports including London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dublin. NATS said at the time that the glitch had not compromised passenger safety, but some questioned why contingency didn’t fully kick in when the system failed.

NATS said on Saturday:

The technical and operational contingency measures we have had in place all day have enabled us to deliver more than 80 per cent of our normal operation. The reduction in capacity has had a disproportionate effect on southern England because it is extremely complex and busy airspace and we sincerely regret inconvenience to our airline customers and their passengers.

To be clear, this is a very complex and sophisticated system with more than a million lines of software. This is not simply internal telephones, it is the system that controllers use to speak to other ATC agencies both in the UK and Europe and is the biggest system of its kind in Europe.

It added that it had worked closely with Frequentis to get the system up and running. But by Monday morning, following a weekend of political pressure about the outage, NATS boss Richard Deakin admitted that an inquiry into the resilience of the UK airspace was needed.

“We are keen to do all we can at NATS to ensure the aviation industry has a full understanding of the capability that is in place in the UK and to take any further steps our customers and regulators decide are necessary to help avoid a repeat of last Saturday’s problems,” he said.

The issue was eventually resolved after 14 hours with NATS claiming that over 90% of flights booked to travel on Saturday eventually did so.

The full Register article is here.

British Airways hosted a star-studded ‘Milestone in the Sky’ event at the Gherkin on Thursday evening which was hosted by huggy presenter Davina McCall. The event was held to celebrate raising over £6 million for Comic Relief through its Flying Start partnership.



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Classical singer Katherine Jenkins performed a string of hits to guests, which included celebrity supporters; Bill Nighy, Lenny Henry, Shane Richie, Vernon Kay, Linford Christie, Jon Culshaw, Richard Curtis and Emma Freud.

Kathrine Jenkins  (photo Miles Willis/Getty Images for BA)

Kathrine Jenkins
(photo Miles Willis/Getty Images for BA)

The event was also attended by British Airways customers and Comic Relief project workers the airline wanted to thank. It sounds like a real love in.

Brtish Airways launched Flying Start with Comic Relief in 2010 to raise money to help children living incredibly tough lives in the UK and around the world.

Presenter Davina McCall filmed a video for British Airways colleagues to thank them for their fundraising efforts. She said: “Congratulations to everyone at British Airways – from colleagues to customers, for raising an amazing £6 million for Comic Relief, through your Flying Start partnership.

The evening reception saw Katherine Jenkins in a yellow Suzanne Neville gown, as she performed hits including Jeff Buckley’s ‘Halleluiah’ and ‘Habanera’ from the opera Carmen by Bizet. She said: “It’s an honour to perform at such an elegant setting, made even more special by the incredible fundraisers, project workers and supporters in the room tonight.

The £6 million that British Airways has raised since it started three years ago has helped Comic Relief fund projects in the UK and around the world. Just a few of the grants awarded by Comic Relief are:

  • £200,000 awarded to Body and Soul to work with children, teenagers and families affected by HIV in London, providing support and information to enable people to face the challenges of HIV.
  • £3 million given to VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) working with the Ghana Education Service to work with communities in Northern Ghana to strive for good quality education.

British Airways’ chief executive, Keith Williams, said:

“Today marks an important milestone in our fundraising for Comic Relief, and I would like to thank the generosity of our customers, and dedicated fundraisers at British Airways for raising £6 million for Flying Start to date. I’ve visited projects to see first hand the positive change Comic Relief makes to children leading unimaginably difficult lives and these visits are some of the most humbling experiences I’ve had.”

Funds have been raised through on board collections, online donations (ba.com/flyingstart) and the option to give when purchasing flights and holidays at ba.com. The airline’s colleagues have also played an integral role, with fun runs and tug of wars, to cake baking contests and charity balls among the many creative and collaborative activities.

BA Flying start

A creative activity..

In the spirit of ‘doing something funny for money’ British Airways has even set Guinness World Records for Red Nose Day over the years, including the ‘Highest Concert’, ‘Highest Comedy Gig’ and ‘Highest Harlem Shake’.

Celebrities including Bill Nighy, Nick Frost, Stravos and Son (pictured above) and Sarah Harding have all done their bit to help fundraising efforts. They have joined British Airways teams on project visits to see first-hand how the money raised helps transform lives, and have made films to inspire passengers to donate.

Through Comic Relief, Flying Start has been able to support tens of thousands of children, in projects across the world, some of these include; The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in Cape Town, the Railway Children charity in India, Magic Bus in Delhi, Fight for Peace in Rio de Janiero, The Pendekezo Letu in Kenya, Project Y.E.S.S in London, the Bolton Lads and Girls club, D2 Youth Zone’s in Newcastle and North United Communities project in Scotland.

For more information on Flying Start, or to donate – visit; www.ba.com/flyingstart.

Flight delays today to persist until at least 14:00hrs

London Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, and Dublin airports are amongst those affected, due to a technical issue at the Sandwick Air Traffic Control Centre. Passengers are experiencing flight delays and cancellations.

Heathrow Airport had cancelled 60 flights by 9:45am this morning.

Some long haul flights inbound will be diverted to continental airports.

When the issues are fixed there will be a further period of disruption while services are re-arranged.

For live information BBC News.

As at 10:30am the BBC reported that BA customers on cancelled flights will be able to claim a full refund or be re-booked on an alternative flight.

BBC Two announces British Airways series

BBC Two has announced a new fly on the wall documentary series about British Airways. The three-part series will feature unprecedented access to British Airways, exploring many aspects of the airline from behind the scenes.

Two British Airways pilots under tailfin

Its not as easy as it looks..

The documentary will explore subjects from training new recruits to the future of the organisation and, the BBC says, will be the most in-depth analysis of British Airways in 25 years.

Emma Willis, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries BBC One, Two and Four, states: “From Transport for London to Keeping Britain Alive: The NHS In a Day, BBC Two has got to the heart of some of Britain’s most important organisations. This three-part series will capture the immense complexities of a business that powers the nation and will offer a unique insight into British Airways’ future.”


The BBC over the years..

Nick Catliff, Managing Director for Lion Television, says: “It took a long time to persuade BA to give us access but we are now in the thick of filming. BA is a business of course but it’s also an iconic British institution with a unique culture and history. This is just the right moment to be going to the heart of BA as it handles difficult transformational changes and introduces new planes, flies to new destinations, trains new staff and deals with everything from cyclones and bird strikes to demanding first-class passengers and fierce competition.”

The series will air in 2014 and will consist of three sixty minute episodes. It will be executive produced by Nick Catliff, Managing Director for Lion Television, and Samantha Anstiss, Commissioning Editor for the BBC.

We look forward to it.

British Airways is to increase its Cape Town flights from May 2014

BA will add three extra flights per week to its schedule from May to October which corresponds with Winter in the Southern Hemisphere taking flights up to 10 per week.

The change comes after South African Airways decided to halt its Heathrow-Cape Town service in August 2012 due to a lack of demand.

BA is currently operating a double-daily service between the two cities during the busy October to May summer season in South Africa.

The Beeb reports that in Tuesday’s House of Keys, the Isle of Man’s economic development minister said he hopes the British Airways will make an announcement within the week.

It is anticipated the company will begin three flights a day between the island and London from March 2014. We look forward to hearing which airport British Airways will operate from as BA currently offers three weekend flights between London City Airport and the Isle of Man.

A British Airways aircraft landing

London City Airport

Mr Shimmin is reported to have said it will coincide with the end of Flybe’s Gatwick service. Flybe currently operates 26 flights per week to Gatwick from the island’s Ronaldsway airport. They will continue until 29 March 2014.

In May Flybe announced an end to its direct Isle of Man to Gatwick flights from April 2014 after it sold its slots at Gatwick to Easyjet for £20m.

With the catchy hashtag #couldhavestayedathomeandconferencecalledinstead powwownow internet communications provider has cheekily parodied British Airways #lookup interactive adverts.

powwownow advert

Wittier than Dominos

The idea is to push the benefits of staying home rather than getting on a flight to Barcelona. So stay at home and perhaps order a pizza.

How many more parodies will we see in the coming weeks? We can hardly wait…

From routesonline:

British Airways in Summer 2014 will add a 6th weekly service from London Heathrow to Mexico City from 30March 2014. A Boeing 747-400 operates this route.

Some technical stuff: -

BA243 LHR1405 – 1920MEX 744 x4
BA242 MEX2145 – 1400+1LHR 744 x4

This from Routesonline:-

British Airways from 30 March 2014 is re-introducing Boeing 747-400 service on London Heathrow – Nairobi route, after a 6 years hiatus. The OneWorld member plans to operate a 747 instead of 777-200ER on this route in Northern Summer 2014 season.

Below is some information for you planespotters.

BA065 LHR1045 – 2120NBO 744 D
BA064 NBO2315 – 0555+1LHR 744 x256
BA064 NBO2340 – 0620+1LHR 744 256

Dominos, sensing perhaps, an opportunity to catch some reflected publicity have produced their own spoof of the British Airways interactive billboards which have been the subject of much publicity and almost 1 million Youtube views, and many stories, two of which from us, here and here.

The advert features a boy who points down to a Dominos pizza delivery guy on a bike with the tag #lookdown as opposed to BA’s #lookup.

Here is the ad.

We do hope that these adverts are not in Chiswick or the residents will be very cross.

The story of the billboards which interact with British Airways flights passing overhead has a new twist, with the West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Society (WCGS) objecting to the adverts on planning grounds.

Oi Walsh -Naoooo!

Quite cross..

WCGS say that the ‘Magic of Flying’ may become ‘tragic roundabout’and is in breach of planning conditions according to the local residents’ group which point to the following stipulation in the document approving the signs:

“The displays on all panels shall be identical at all times and shall be static and two dimensional only with no moving or apparently moving images, devices, words or emblems and shall not depict any images that resemble road signs or traffic signals.”

Marie Rabouhans, Chairman of the WCGS is quoted as saying ‘I did not see the ads and I am not a planning professional but I imagine that encouraging drivers to read the “small print” and/or look up to the sky as they drive over the Chiswick Flyover or negotiate the Chiswick roundabout might raise public safety issues with respect to such ads. The “magic of flying” might turn into the “Tragic Roundabout” in more ways than one. ‘

This story has history as WCGS opposed the building of the advertising towers when originally proposed.