TIME Aviation

Flight Escorted by Fighter Jets After Disturbance Onboard

All passengers were declared safe

(DENVER) — An international flight from Las Vegas to Frankfurt made an emergency landing at Denver International Airport escorted by two F-16 fighter jets Friday night after what officials called a “disturbance on the plane.”

A pilot on the Condor Airlines Boeing 767 reported an in-flight emergency, and the fighter jets were sent as a precaution, said Air Force Capt. Ashleigh A. Peck, a spokeswoman for North American Aerospace Defense.

The plane landed safely, and one person was taken off the plane.

“All passengers are fine,” airport spokesman Heath Montgomery said.

The FBI told ABC News that the incident was a “misunderstanding,” and nobody was arrested or taken into custody, but no other details were available.

Carsten Stepanowicz (ste-PAN’-o-wits), a spokesman for the airline in Germany, said the pilot requested help because of an unruly passenger on board.

“It was not possible to go on with the flight, so the pilot decided to land in Denver,” he said. He said he could not release details on the number of passengers.

The FBI did not return a phone from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The incident occurred shortly after 6 p.m., Montgomery said. The Transportation Security Administration and Denver police met the plane at the gate, and the FBI was notified.

The plane resumed the flight to Germany after refueling.

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This story has been corrected to show that the FBI did not meet the plane at the gate but was notified.

Read next: Pilot Dead in New York Stunt Plane Crash

TIME Aviation

This New App Shows Drone Pilots Where it’s Safe to Fly

Inside The Robo Universe Conference And Expo
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images An attendee flies a Phantom 2 drone developed by SZ DJI Technology Co. at the RoboUniverse Conference & Expo in Goyang, South Korea, on Wednesday, June 24, 2015.

As full-size aircraft pilots report more drone incidents

Drones flying in unsafe places are becoming a real problem for pilots, who by August already reported double the number of close calls than they experienced throughout all of last year. That’s in part why the Federal Aviation Administration is rolling out a new app designed to help drone hobbyists check if their planned outings are safe.

Called “B4UFLY,” the iOS version is out in beta Friday. The app lets drone flyers quickly check the status of local airspace, taking into account any special restrictions, nearby airports and other aviation rules. It’s similar to, though much simpler than, the process pilots of full-size aircraft undergo when planning a flight.

 B4UFLY App
FAAFAA B4UFLY App

The FAA’s B4UFLY beta is open to drone flyers who previously registered to be a part of the test. The agency expects the iOS app as well as an Android version to be available to the general public in “several months.”

The app could also be seen as a move on the FAA’s part to better ensure hobbyist drone pilots operate their aircraft in a safe manner. While the agency has broad powers to regulate the commercial use of drones, it has far less authority over recreational activity. Making sure such hobbyist pilots know where is safe to fly — and where isn’t — could help the FAA prevent a would-be disaster.

 

TIME slovakia

7 Die in Midair Crash of 2 Parachute Planes Over Slovakia

Slovakia plane crash
Radovan Stoklasa—Reuters A firefighter inspects the crash site of two sport planes near the village of Cerveny Kamen, Slovakia, on Aug. 20, 2015.

Around 40 people were on board the planes at the time of the collision

PRAGUE — Two planes carrying dozens of parachutists collided in midair Thursday over western Slovakia, killing seven people, officials said. Slovak media reported 15 other parachutists missing and an aviation official said some reportedly survived by jumping out with their parachutes.

The crash took place Thursday morning about 0720 GMT (2:20 a.m. EDT) near the village of Cerveny Kamen, said Zuzana Farkasova, a spokeswoman for the Slovak firefighters. Rescue workers were using helicopters to reach the crash site, in the White Carpathians mountain range that forms the border with the Czech Republic.

Juraj Denes, an official with the Slovak Air and Naval Investigations Bureau, a government agency that investigates plane crashes, said according to preliminary information, about 40 people were on board two L-410 planes at the time of the collision, which occurred at an altitude of 1,500 meters (4,921 feet). He said the passengers on board were parachutists.

Some parachutists from one plane survived because they managed to jump out before the collision, Denes said. He did not give a specific number of survivors.

Juraj Gyenes of the same aviation agency told TA3 news television that the dead included the two crew members from both planes and three parachutists.

TA3 reported that 15 of the parachutists were still missing. It said all of them were training for this weekend’s air show in nearby Slavnica.

“All of a sudden, I heard a big blow,” one witness told TASR, the Slovak news agency, in a news video. “Then, it roared. I thought some pieces were falling, but it could be the parachutists.”

Slovak Health Minister Viliam Cislak and Interior Minister Robert Kalinak were heading to the crash site.

TIME Aviation

Bad Weather Hinders The Recovery of Bodies From Indonesia’s Plane Crash

Rescuers work by the plane wreckage in Pegunungan Bintang, Papua province, Indonesia on Aug. 18, 2015.
BASARNAS (National Search and Rescue Agency)/AP Rescuers work by the plane wreckage in Pegunungan Bintang, Papua province, Indonesia on Aug. 18, 2015.

Rescuers would now try to carry the bodies out of the crash site on foot

(JAYAPURA, Indonesia) — Heavy fog and bad weather hampered rescuers Wednesday trying to evacuate bodies in eastern Indonesia where a passenger plane crashed into a mountain over the weekend, killing all 54 people on board, officials said.

The plane slammed into a mountain on Sunday but it took rescuers almost two days to reach the wreckage because of the rugged, forested terrain and bad weather.

Henry Bambang Soelistyo, the National Search and Rescue Agency chief, said bad weather was still hampering the operation and that rescuers would now try to carry the bodies out.

“Heavy rains and poor visibility were hampering our rescue efforts and evacuation process will be done by foot,” said Soelistyo, adding the bodies would be taken to Jayapura, the capital of Papua province, so they can be identified.

The flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder — the plane’s “black boxes” — were found in good condition, Soelistyo said. The data they contain could help explain what caused the Trigana Air Service plane to crash.

The ATR42-300 twin turboprop plane was flying from Jayapura to the city of Oksibil with 49 passengers and five crew members on a scheduled 42-minute flight on Sunday when it lost contact with air traffic control.

The airline’s crisis center official in Jayapura’s Sentani airport, Budiono, said all the passengers were Indonesians. Like many Indonesians, Budiono goes by one name.

Oksibil, about 280 kilometers (175 miles) south of Jayapura, was experiencing heavy rain, strong winds and fog when the plane lost contact with the airport minutes before it was scheduled to land.

The passengers included four postal workers escorting four bags of cash totaling $468,750 in government aid for poor families to help offset a spike in fuel prices, said Franciscus Haryono, the head of the post office in Jayapura, the provincial capital.

Rescuers have found the money, which was partly scorched, and will hand it over to the authorities, Soelistyo said.

Indonesia has had a string of airline tragedies in recent years. In December, all 162 people aboard an AirAsia jet were killed when the plane plummeted into the Java Sea as it flew through stormy weather on its way from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, to Singapore.

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Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini and Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.

TIME Aviation

Black Box Recovered From Indonesian Plane Crash

The plane was destroyed in the crash

(JAYAPURA, Indonesia) — Indonesian officials say the black box has been recovered from passenger plane that crashed in a remote area of the country, killing all 54 people on board.

The plane went missing two days ago but rescuers only reached the crash site on Tuesday because of delays caused by the weather and rough terrain.

They said Tuesday that the plane was destroyed in the crash and there was no chance of any survivors.

TIME Aviation

Indonesian Plane ‘Totally Destroyed,’ All Victims’ Bodies Recovered

"All the bodies were burned and difficult to identify"

(JAYAPURA, Indonesia) — An Indonesian passenger plane that went missing two days ago was destroyed when it slammed into a mountain, killing all 54 people on board, the country’s top rescue official said.

More than 70 rescuers reached the crash site only on Tuesday after being hindered by rugged, forested terrain and bad weather.

The flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, the plane’s “black boxes,” were found in good condition, said Henry Bambang Soelistyo, the National Search and Rescue Agency chief. The data they contain could help explain what caused the crash.

“The plane was totally destroyed and all the bodies were burned and difficult to identify,” Soelistyo told The Associated Press.

He said all 54 bodies had been recovered and will be taken to Jayapura, the capital of Papua province, so they can be identified.

The Trigana Air Service plane was flying from Jayapura to the city of Oksibil with 49 passengers and five crew members on a scheduled 42-minute flight when it lost contact Sunday.

Soelistyo said the wreckage was at an altitude of 2,600 meters (about 8,500 feet). Much of Papua is covered with impenetrable jungles and mountains. Some planes that have crashed in the past have never been found.

The airline’s crisis center official in Jayapura’s Sentani airport, Budiono, said all the passengers were Indonesians, and included three local government officials and two members of the local parliament who were to attend a ceremony Monday in Oksibil marking the 70th anniversary of Indonesia’s independence from Dutch colonial rule.

Oksibil, about 280 kilometers (175 miles) south of Jayapura, was experiencing heavy rain, strong winds and fog when the plane lost contact with the airport minutes before it was scheduled to land.

The victims’ relatives, who had been waiting at the airport, broke down in tears when they heard the news. Many of them accused the airline of taking too long to give them information.

“They are unprofessional … they play with our feelings of grieving,” said Cory Gasper, whose brother Jhon Gasper was on the plane.

The airline released a public apology just after a search plane spotted the smoldering wreckage of the ATR42-300 twin turboprop on Monday.

It was unclear what caused the caused the crash, Indonesia’s transportation safety commission has opened an investigation.

The passengers included four postal workers escorting four bags of cash totaling $468,750 in government aid for poor families to help offset a spike in fuel prices, Franciscus Haryono, the head of the post office in Jayapura, the provincial capital, told The Associated Press.

Indonesia has had a string of airline tragedies in recent years. In December, all 162 people aboard an AirAsia jet were killed when the plane plummeted into the Java Sea as it flew through stormy weather on its way from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, to Singapore.

The sprawling archipelago nation of 250 million people and some 17,000 islands is one of Asia’s most rapidly expanding airline markets, but it is struggling to provide enough qualified pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and updated airport technology to ensure safety.

From 2007 to 2009, the European Union barred Indonesian airlines from flying to Europe because of safety concerns.

Trigana Air Service, which began operations in 1991, had 22 aircraft as of December 2013 and flies to 21 destinations in Indonesia. The carrier has had 19 serious incidents since 1992, resulting in the loss of eight aircraft and major damage to 11 others, according to the Aviation Safety Network’s online database.

The airline remains banned from flying to Europe along with other six Indonesian airlines.

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Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.

TIME Aviation

Bad Weather Prevents Rescuers From Reaching Indonesian Plane

Indonesia Plane
Alfian—AP National Search And Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) chief F. Henry Bambang Soelistyo, left, looks at a map with Air Vice Marshal Sudipo Handoyo during a search operation for the missing Trigana Air Service flight at Sentani airport in Jayapura, Papua province, Indonesia, Aug. 17, 2015.

The wreckage was spotted at an altitude of 2,600 meters

(JAYAPURA, Indonesia) — Rugged, forested terrain and bad weather Tuesday have prevented rescuers from reaching the site where an Indonesian plane with 54 people on board crashed two days ago.

Smoldering wreckage of the Trigana Air Service turboprop plane was spotted from the air Monday morning in a rugged area of the easternmost province of Papua, rescue officials said. There was no immediate word of any survivors from Sunday’s crash, which happened in bad weather.

“Steep ravines and bad weather have slowed rescuers,” said Henry Bambang Soelistyo, the National Search and Rescue Agency chief. “They haven’t reached it yet, so we don’t know yet if anyone survived.”

He said a helicopter was on standby to lower two rescuers by rope into a valley about 300 meters (yards) from the wreckage but visibility when the search resumed Tuesday was just one meter (yard) due to heavy fog.

The ATR42-300 twin turboprop plane was flying from Jayapura to the city of Oksibil when it lost contact, and its passengers included four postal workers aboard the plane were escorting four bags of cash totaling $468,750 in government aid for poor families to help offset a spike in fuel prices, Franciscus Haryono, the head of the post office in Jayapura, the provincial capital, told The Associated Press.

The cash from the Social Affairs Ministry was to be distributed among poor people in remote areas to cushion the jump in fuel costs, Haryono said.

“They were carrying those bags (of cash) to be handed out to poor people in Oksibil through a post office there,” Haryono said.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration raised fuel prices late last year and slashed government subsidies, a move the government says will save the country billions of dollars but which has also sparked protests around the country.

Officials said three search planes spotted the wreckage about 12 kilometers (7 miles) from Oksibil.

The plane was carrying 49 passengers and five crew members on a scheduled 42-minute flight. Five children, including two infants, were among the passengers.

Soelistyo said the wreckage was spotted at an altitude of 2,600 meters (about 8,500 feet). Much of Papua is covered with impenetrable jungles and mountains. Some planes that have crashed in the past have never been found.

The airline’s crisis center official in Jayapura’s Sentani airport, Budiono, said all the passengers were Indonesians, and included three local government officials and two members of the local parliament who were to attend a ceremony Monday in Oksibil marking the 70th anniversary of Indonesia’s independence from Dutch colonial rule.

Oksibil, about 280 kilometers (175 miles) south of Jayapura, was experiencing heavy rain, strong winds and fog when the plane lost contact with the airport minutes before it was scheduled to land.

Indonesia has had a string of airline tragedies in recent years. In December, all 162 people aboard an AirAsia jet were killed when the plane plummeted into the Java Sea as it flew through stormy weather on its way from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, to Singapore.

The sprawling archipelago nation of 250 million people and some 17,000 islands is one of Asia’s most rapidly expanding airline markets, but it is struggling to provide enough qualified pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and updated airport technology to ensure safety.

From 2007 to 2009, the European Union barred Indonesian airlines from flying to Europe because of safety concerns.

Trigana Air Service, which began operations in 1991, had 22 aircraft as of December 2013 and flies to 21 destinations in Indonesia. The carrier has had 19 serious incidents since 1992, resulting in the loss of eight aircraft and major damage to 11 others, according to the Aviation Safety Network’s online database.

The airline remains banned from flying to Europe along with other six Indonesian airlines.

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Associated Press writers Nini Karmini and Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.

TIME Airlines

This Airline Just Made a Huge Order For 250 Jets

US-AVIATION-AIRBUS A320
SAUL LOEB—AFP/Getty Images An Airbus airplane.

IndiGo is India's largest airline

French-based airplane maker Airbus has scored the company’s biggest order ever in a deal it firmed up with Indian budget airline IndiGo.

IndiGo, India’s largest airline, and Airbus have been working together since as far back as 2005 when the airline ordered 100 A320s – which Airbus has already delivered. IndiGo committed to expanding the fleet to 280 Airbus aircraft in 2011, and with today’s announcement, increased the fleet by an additional 250 planes.

The Associated Press said the jets would cost $26 billion at list price, although the news agency points out customers usually negotiate discounts with jet makers.

Strong economic growth over the next few decades is expected to propel the Asia Pacific region’s airline industry to new heights, with some observers estimating it will one day be the largest air travel market in the world. By 2033, almost half of global traffic will be to, from, or within the region, reports say.

India is a star performer from the region. The International Air Transport Association has projected that India – currently the ninth largest market in terms of air passengers – will overtake the United Kingdom to become the third largest market by around 2031.

TIME Aviation

Searchers Have Spotted the Wreckage of the Missing Indonesian Plane

Search planes went into the air early Monday

(JAYAPURA, Indonesia) — A search plane has spotted the wreckage of an Indonesian passenger plane that went missing with 54 people on board, smoke still billowing from it in a rugged area in eastern Papua province, rescue officials said Monday.

There was no immediate word if there were any survivors from Sunday’s crash, which happened in bad weather over Indonesia’s mountainous easternmost province.

The Trigana Air Service plane was flying from Papua’s provincial capital, Jayapura, to the Papua city of Oksibil when it lost contact with Oksibil’s airport. Transportation Ministry spokesman Julius Barata said there was no indication that the pilot had made a distress call.

Officials said the wreckage was spotted about 12 kilometers (7 miles) from Oksibil. Henry Bambang Soelistyo, the chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency, said search and rescue teams were preparing to try to reach the crash site by air and foot.

The ATR42-300 twin turboprop plane was carrying 49 passengers and five crew members on a scheduled 42-minute journey. Five children, including two infants, were among the passengers.

“Smoke was still billowing from the wreckage when it was spotted by a plane search,” said Soelistyo who is leading the rescue operation from Sentani Airport in Jayapura, adding that bad weather and rugged terrain were hampering efforts to reach the wreckage located in a mountainous area at an altitude of 2,600 meters (about 8,500 feet).

He said elite forces from the air force and army will build a helipad for evacuation purposes near the crash site.

Search planes went into the air early Monday after residents of a village not far from Oksibil told local police that they saw a plane flying low before crashing into a mountain, said Ludiyanto, who heads the search and rescue operation from Jayapura. Ludiyanto, like many Indonesians, goes by one name.

The airline’s crisis center official in Jayapura’s Sentani airport, Budiono, said all the passengers are Indonesians and there were nine names on the initial passenger manifest were eventually replaced by other persons — a common practice among small domestic airlines in the country.

Budiono also said that among the passengers were five local government officials and members of the local parliament who were to attend a ceremony Monday in Oksibil marking the 70th anniversary of Indonesia’s independence from Dutch colonial rule. The event is a major holiday across the country, with many ceremonies and carnivals.

Oksibil, which is 280 kilometers (175 miles) south of Jayapura, was experiencing heavy rain, strong winds and fog when the plane lost contact with the airport minutes before it was scheduled to land.

Much of Papua is covered with impenetrable jungles and mountains. Some planes that have crashed in the past have never been found.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said in a statement ahead of Indonesia’s 70th independence anniversary ceremony that he was calling “for a moment of silence and pray for the crew and passengers ahead of our independence anniversary.”

European plane maker ATR said in a statement late Sunday that it “acknowledges the reported loss of contact” with the Trigana flight “and is standing by to support the relevant aviation authorities.” ATR, based in Toulouse, France, makes regional planes with 90 seats or less.

Indonesia has had a string of airline tragedies in recent years. Last December, all 162 people aboard an AirAsia jet were killed when the plane plummeted into the Java Sea as it flew through stormy weather on its way from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, to Singapore.

The sprawling archipelago nation of 250 million people and some 17,000 islands is one of Asia’s most rapidly expanding airline markets, but it is struggling to provide enough qualified pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and updated airport technology to ensure safety.

From 2007 to 2009, the European Union barred Indonesian airlines from flying to Europe because of safety concerns.

Trigana Air Service, which commenced operations in 1991, had 22 aircraft as of December 2013 and flies to 21 destinations in Indonesia.

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Associated Press writers Ali Kotarumalos and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.

TIME Aviation

Flight Glitch Resolved After Causing Widespread Delays

Flight Control Delays
Jacquelyn Martin—AP A man walks past people standing in line at Washington's Reagan National Airport after technical issues at a Federal Aviation Administration center in Virginia caused delays on Aug. 15, 2015.

The FAA said it is continuing to investigate the root cause of the problem

(WASHINGTON) — The Federal Aviation Administration says an “automation problem” that snarled air traffic throughout a large swatch of the Northeast stretching from New York down to the Carolinas has been resolved.

The agency said that a computer system at an air traffic center in Leesburg, Va., that controllers use to direct high-altitude flights was back in service, and that officials were expected to have lifted any remaining order to hold planes on the ground by about 4 p.m. EDT.

The FAA said it is continuing to investigate the root cause of the problem, and was working closely with the airlines to minimize impacts to travelers.

Information posted online by the FAA indicated that the problem concerned the En Route Automation Modernization computer system, also known as ERAM.

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