Bumbling in the cockpit almost results in a China Southern airline crash in Wuhan

Posted: 03/8/2013 9:00 am

If you are scared of flying already, you might want to skip this story. It turns out a China Southern Airlines captain put his passengers in danger after a series of missteps narrowly avoided a crash a couple of weeks ago in Wuhan.

The plane ended up striking objects on the ground outside Wuhan Airport, damaging the underbelly and forcing the plane into an emergency landing at Hefei Airport.

The botched landing attempt of the Boeing 737-800, which holds 164 passengers, took place on February 25. Rumours of the incident circulated on Weibo, but have only now been confirmed by China’s aviation regulator.

The results of a preliminary investigation by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) revealed the captain of the Guangzhou-Wuhan flight disengaged the auto-pilot at 1,000 feet as the plane was descending. This led to the following sequence of events on-board flight CZ 3367:

- At 430 feet, both pilots were unable to spot the runaway approach lights. The first officer called for a ‘go-around’, meaning another landing attempt, but the instruction was ignored. The night-time landing was also hampered by the weather. The foggy conditions meant visibility was between 1,200 metres and 1,500 metres.

- Upon checking outside, the first officer discovered the plane was low, which triggered a “too-low” alarm in the cockpit.

- The co-pilot once again called for a ‘go-around’, which got no response. It took another “too-low” warning for action to be taken.

- As the plane accelerated upwards, the aircraft struck objects on the ground – scraping antenna beacons – forcing the aircraft to burn excess fuel as it headed to Hefei Airport in neighbouring Anhui province.

- The China Southern Airlines flight landed safely at Hefei Airport some 200 nautical miles away.

Simon Hradecky of the Aviation Herald has more on the damage done:

The CAAC reported that the aircraft sustained damage (penetrations and dents) to the left main gear door and left main gear proximity cover actuator, the left main gear outboard tyre received cuts.

The antennas of the southern NDB (non-directional beacon) “D” and inner marker were damaged, two other antenna pillars were damaged as well.

The CAAC annotated that the approach was continued below MDA (minimum decent altitude) without necessary visual reference putting the aircraft below the approach profile, in addition the crew did not initiate the go-around after the first ground proximity alert.

For an airline decorated with the Five-Star Flight Safety Award by the CAAC in 2008, this was an avoidable incident.


Air rage reaching all new levels in China, gate agent beaten in Guangzhou

Posted: 03/7/2013 8:47 am

Airplane passengers are once again in the spotlight thanks to a delay which led to an attack on airline staff in Guangzhou.

Few details are known so far about the incident which took place on February 20, towards the tail end of the Chinese New Year.

Two passengers were angry over the late arrival of a China Southern Airlines flight from Melbourne, Australia, and took out their anger on a gate agent, who they beat to the ground.

As you can see in the picture below, he is cradled, covering his face. A few barriers can be seen knocked down.

All in all, it looks like a mess.
This incident is pretty similar to the actions of Yan Linkun, the now suspended CPPCC committee member and deputy chairman of a state-owned Yunnan Mining Corporation, who was caught on CCTV smashing the place up after he missed his flight.

We’ve now got a video with sound to hear his unfortunate episode.

He went berserk at one of the gates at Kunming Airport for missing his flight, not once, but twice. All the damage, thankfully, was to inanimate objects rather than airline staff who bravely watched on.

Here’s a series of notable passenger incidents in February as Adam Minter points out:

– Feb. 6, Kunming Changshui International Airport: In a video that has gone viral internationally, Yan Linkun, a mining executive and county-level Communist Party official, smashes two boarding gate computers and attempts to send the frame of a sign through the glass door standing between him and the second flight that he and his family have missed.

– Feb. 14, Beijing Capital International Airport: Six business-class passengers traveling together refuse to fasten their seat belts or turn off their phones prior to takeoff, then become abusive toward the flight attendants and captain, forcing a return to the gate and a substantial flight delay.

– Feb. 22, Air France Flight 132, somewhere between Paris and Wuhan: Two men, reportedly drunk, swipe between seven and 16 bottles of wine (accounts vary) from a drink cart. When confronted, they become so belligerent that the pilot has to intervene. They still manage to threaten the life of a passenger whom they judge as particularly nosy.

This is just the tip of the iceberg but I think we all need a bit of travelling etiquette.


Ethiopian to connect Guangzhou-Africa service all the way to Brazil

Posted: 02/25/2013 1:00 pm

Ethiopian Airlines is tipping Guangzhou to be a key destination in an ambitious plan to connect the emerging BRIC nations of Brazil and China via Africa.

The new Addis Ababa–Lome–Rio de Janeiro–Sao Paulo service is marketed as a seamless gateway to Asia.
Ethiopian hopes to use Addis Ababa to its advantage but joins a long list of airlines competing on the Latin American-Asia route.

Crucially, it will be the sole operator between Addis Ababa and Brazil. However, its conservative approach means a non-direct flight will operate to build demand. Time will tell if the market takes off.

Ethiopian is one the better airlines on the African continent with ambition and vision, but the reality is they are up against bigger, legacy carriers such as Air China and Singapore Airlines.

Guangzhou’s thriving African expat community creates a demand for service between the city and Africa, which Ethiopian is looking to exploit. Conservative estimates put the number of Africans in Guangzhou at 20,000, but it could be as high as 150,000, according to the Globe and Mail:

There are at least 20,000 Africans, mostly from West African nations such as Nigeria, Ghana and Mali, living legally in Guangzhou, a city of about 12 million. The number could be as high as 150,000 if you include the many illegals and those temporarily in the city chasing business opportunities.

The demand is there but the big question is whether it will all work.

Generally, non-SkyTeam alliance carriers have a tougher job of competing with the dominant China Southern.

However, Emirates competes with the Guangzhou-based carrier on the Dubai route. And it has no problem filling planes with feeder traffic transiting at its Dubai hub coming from all over the world. It’s a big airline with a well-established frequent-flyer program – and officially claims the shortest LatAm-Asia service.

That being said, from Guangzhou, Ethiopian has no other feeder traffic or much help from fellow Star Alliance members, but as CAPA reports, it doesn’t have a problem filling planes, which is why it switched to a daily service late last year.

Since Ethiopian has been clipped by the grounding of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliners worldwide, the plan may not even leave the gate if it’s new planes are not back in service by June.

Without these aircraft, Ethiopian’s five 777-200LR would not have sufficient capacity to cover its existing long-haul network to Beijing, Guangzhou, Toronto and Washington Dulles, as well as a direct Hong Kong service.

We say watch this space.

Images: BriYYZ/Flickr and CAPA


Naked guy gets loose on airport runway, forcing flights to be halted for over an hour

Posted: 02/19/2013 3:00 pm

Now you can add a naked man running around the airfield to a long list of potential problems that could affect your flight.

A naked man managed to breach security and went on a drug-fueled run across the airport apron at Nanchang Airport in Jingxi province last Thursday evening, forcing a plane from Guangzhou to u-turn back to Baiyun.

The man’s reason for the run? He was upset after a row with his family.

Needless to say he was too close to the airport runway for the liking of airport bosses and flights were suspended for an hour, affecting nearly a dozen flights in the peak of the big Spring Festival getaway.

Shanghai Daily has this:

The intruder, who had been taking drugs, was caught at 10:44pm, authorities said.

The man was a villager living nearby and just had a quarrel with his family, a preliminary investigation showed.

The man was fined and detained for 20 days yesterday because he illegally crossed the airport perimeter, as well as taking drugs, authorities said.

China Daily adds:

The airport’s management authority decided to suspend operations for safety reasons.

The man was found squatting in a ditch an hour later.

This is not the first security incident of its kind. A similar case has occurred at the airport before:

An elderly villager was detained for five days after he illegally crossed fences at the airport in October. He said he just wanted to see the aircraft up close.

Serious breaches have occurred at Guangzhou and Shanghai, two of China’s biggest airports, after bad weather causing delays forced passengers to take matters into their own hands last year.

However, this embarrassing episode raises serious doubts over current security arrangements in place across China’s airports with the apparent ease of getting on to an airfield.

Adam Minter
makes an excellent point.

Image: Danny Lee


Diaoyu dispute forces Chinese airlines to cut service to Japan

Posted: 11/5/2012 11:00 am

China Southern Airlines is axing 22 Japanese flights and scaling back capacity on other routes in and out of the country during the winter months, a move largely seen as a result of reduced demand for flights to Japan amid the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dispute.

Airline Route is reporting services from Changchun, Dalian, Guangzhou, Harbin and Shenyang are being reduced, affecting flights to Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Nagoya, Niigata, Osaka Kansai, Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo Narita and Toyama.

Dalian is the worst hit, losing 14 flights.

The Centre for Aviation (CAPA) revealed one-way seat capacity between China and Japan has fallen to its lowest level since 2004. Capacity for October was down 9 per cent year-on-year.

Other plans to boost capacity have also been shelved, affecting the second daily Guangzhou-Osaka Kansai service.

The 174-seat Airbus A321 will continue to serve the route, replacing the 374-seat Boeing 777-200 for the time being, representing a near 110% cut in seat availability. CSA has also removed 120 seats from its daily Guangzhou-Tokyo Narita service, replacing its Airbus A330-200 with a Boeing 737-800.

Airspace reform urged
The Comprehensive Transport Institute is calling for reform of China’s airspace and expanding its use for civilian aviation.

The group is warning congestion will come to a head once Guangzhou’s new runway opens, combined with a third runway being considered in Hong Kong.

China Daily carry this self-evident line describing the situation:

The region’s sky has been so severely congested that the International Air Transport Association has said that the situation in the Pearl River Delta is one of the top three global air traffic control problems.

With more flights connecting six PRD airports (Foshan, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen, Zhuhai) to the rest of Asia and the world, experts are questioning how much more the region can take with such little approved airspace available.

Passenger improvements for Baiyun Airport
Life of Guangzhou is reporting airport management at Baiyun Airport will invest RMB4 million into passenger improvements at Baiyun Airport.

Some ideas include a smartphone app for better on-the-move information in the hands of passengers.


Guangzhou Baiyun Airport to double in size, construction is now underway

Posted: 08/14/2012 8:00 am

China’s rapid growth may be best symbolized by its massive influx in air traffic.  Consider: Guangzhou opened the new Baiyun Airport back in 2004, a mere eight years ago.  It is five-times larger than the airport it replaced and was built to handle 25 million passengers a year.

Fast forward to 2012, and that is already woefully inadequate.  Last year 45 million passengers passed through Baiyun Airport, and 50 million are expected this year.  Needless to say, this has put a huge strain on the airport, with massive lines at security and general chaos, especially at busier times of the day.

These are the types of capacity issues that western governments don’t generally have to deal with.  Normally airports last a entire generation before needing to be substantially upgraded, but Guangzhou Baiyun is pushing ahead less than a decade after it first opened its doors.  Construction is now underway on a project that will see the airport double in size in preparation for 80 million passengers a year by 2020.

Aviation Week outlines some of the upgrades that are part of the expansion:

The main features of the upgrade are a 3,800 X 60 meter (12,500 X 200 ft.) runway able to handle any class of commercial aircraft and a 595,000 square meter Terminal 2, says the National Development and Reform Commission, the national authority that authorized the work. The runway is due to be completed in 2014 and the terminal in 2016.

The two runways cannot handle more than 1,000 movements a day and are nearing capacity.

According to many local media reports, the third runway will be only 400 meters (1,300 ft.) east of the current eastern runway. Under U.S. rules, parallel runways less than 2,500 ft. apart are treated as a single runway.

The airport’s landing guidance system will be upgraded to Category 2, and the airport will get a new air traffic control operations building, new radars, more car parks, a metro station, and four 10,000-cubic-meter fuel tanks that will be supplied from outside the facility by a 100 km (60 mi.) pipeline.

The project is expected to cost US$3 billion.

Guangzhou is already the second busiest airport in China by passenger volume, behind Beijing.  It has also been designated one of China’s official gateways, alongside Beijing and Shanghai, despite Hong Kong’s close proximity to Baiyun.  As Aviation Week notes, most international flights to south China are routed through Hong Kong, but competition between the two cities is becoming more fierce.  Hong Kong, too, is in the throes of a debate to build a third runway and increase capacity in competition with other airports in south China.

And it’s not just Hong Kong that gives Guangzhou some competition.  Macau, Zhuhai, and Shenzhen all have airports, with Shenzhen and Macau drawing a growing share of international traffic.

One thing is certain: with so many massive airports so close together, one does not envy the job of air traffic controllers in the PRD.



Guangzhou getting a new airport, India’s SpiceJet starts service to the PRD

Posted: 08/4/2012 11:00 am

A lot can happen in a week, and in the latest PRD aviation round-up of the thriving sector, The Nanfang gives you new and expanding airports, bigger planes and new destinations.

Baiyun Airport gets bigger, so will the number of Guangzhou’s airports
In the latest gathering of Guangzhou’s political decision-makers, the Standing Committee approved plans to construct a third runway at Baiyun Airport with construction starting this month. In other news, construction will begin on the airport’s new second terminal – just north of the existing facility – by the end of the year.

However, if that isn’t enough, China Daily reports that the airport extension is in line with current plans to create a second Guangzhou airport to the south of the city. If plans come to fruition, the PRD will become one of the most congested regional airspaces in the country catering for Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Zhuhai, Shenzhen and Macau.

China Southern’s first A380 international flight
There was a lot of hype, fanfare and attention on China Southern Airlines (CSA) newest arrival, the double-decker A380, last year. Then it headed into a year-long domestic exile. Now though, it’s going international: It’s off to Hollywood.

The carrier’s upgraded service will take off on October 12 as the first and only Chinese superjumbo to head across the Pacific.

While China Southern already flies to Los Angeles, it believes it can tap into a greater share of the Trans-Pacific market. In doing so, Airline Route reckons overall capacity will soar 78 per cent, meaning CSA has its work cut out for itself.

CSA has three superjumbos in its fleet with two more on the way, which will be deployed on international routes and primary domestic cities.

India’s SpiceJet heads to the PRD’s busiest airports
India’s budget airline SpiceJet has won government approval to expand international operations, starting with daily services to Hong Kong and Guangzhou. The Nanfang earlier reported on India’s aviation reforms aimed at revitalising the sector.

As SpiceJet plans for a China arrival, Dragonair prepares for a second Indian landing
Dragonair is extending its reach away from the Far East and South East Asia. Starting November 2, a new four-times-a-week service to Kolkata, in the eastern state of West Bengal, will take off. The move will also help support Cathay Pacific, its parent company, as a feeder and codeshare airline. Cathay already flies to five major Indian cities.

And two major updates on stories The Nanfang trailed last week on Shenzhen-Sydney, Delhi-Hong Kong-Osaka Kansai and Delhi-Hong Kong-Seoul Incheon. Air India is resuming flights to Seoul Incheon and Osaka Kansai via Hong Kong earlier than planned. The Delhi-Hong Kong-Osaka Kansai route resumes with three weekly flights starting on August 21 and Delhi-Hong Kong-Seoul Incheon resumes the following day with four flights a week.

Hainan Airlines has postponed resuming its Sydney service until December 3.


Local aid worker claims Baiyun Airport panhandlers are making big bucks

Posted: 06/7/2012 7:55 am

It’s hard to believe that anyone would take advantage of those looking to help the less fortunate, but according to a recent report in the Nan Fang Daily, there is a growing number of Guangzhou residents doing just that. As some of our readers may have noticed, panhandlers at Baiyun International Airport are an all too common site these days. But as local aid workers have discovered, several of the alleged poor are in fact far from it.

Mr. Pan, a relief worker based in Huadu District, has been working with the homeless most of his life. Yet while most homeless he encounters welcome the offer of shelter, and other resources, the homeless at Baiyun Airport are different: “Generally speaking, our job is to rescue vagrants and beggars, we’re the last line of defense. But the airport is not the same, they do not want our help.” Pan says that panhandling at the airport has become such a profitable enterprise that residents are literally “dressing up” as homeless to earn money. Pan describes cases of well-dressed individuals entering the airport with a suitcase, disappearing into the washroom, and emerging in tattered clothing to panhandle for the day.

With upwards of 200,000 daily passengers commuting through the airport, and thousands of foreign tourists looking to part with their remaining yuan before boarding international flights, most of the airport’s panhandlers are able to earn over 10,000RMB per month, with some earning as much as a million. Quite the opposite of homeless, the majority of airport panhandlers are able to rent apartments in nearby housing complexes, and commute daily by bus or taxi.

One such panhandler, Lang Peikun, better known as “The Blind” (on account of his habit of pretending to be blind to earn more money), has been panhandling at the airport for years. According to Lang, the panhandlers at Baiyun Airport are “generally very experienced”. In fact, Lang has been operating out of the airport for so long, that he now “works” with a network of panhandlers spread across the airport that communicate with mobile phones. If a particular airport gate is busy, the others will move to ensure a profitable day.

Xu Yongjun, manager of airport security is well aware of the problem. However he argues there simply isn’t the manpower to adequately address the issue: “The terminal has 36 gates… these vagrants and beggars are simply impossible to defend against.”

Yongjun and Pan are currently pressuring local government to enact legislation restricting panhandling at the airport. Pan says he wants to ensure aid gets to those who actually need it: “We cannot be arbitrarily too hard, but we have to take flexible measures.” Until then, both men argue they will continue to help as best they can.


Big British Day bash coming up next weekend in Guangzhou

Posted: 05/25/2012 7:00 am

With Queen Elizabeth II celebrating her Diamond Jubilee commemorating 60 years on the throne, and the London Summer Olympics just around the corner, it’s a big year for Britons. In honour of the occasion, Guangzhou is celebrating its second annual British Day, Saturday, June 2.

In what organizers bill as “a slice of British culture”, guests can expect an array of famous British food and drink, live entertainment from a Beatles tribute band, great prizes (including return tickets to London) and fun activities, such as mini-golf and a children’s Olympic Games.

Organisers expect up to 1,000 locals and expats to attend the event in what will surely be a fantastic celebration of all things British. Here’s hoping that the dreary British weather will not be in attendance.

And in case British Day, the Diamond Jubilee, and the London Olympics weren’t reason enough to celebrate, there’s also good news for Guangzhou Britons looking to fly home. In order to combat Olympic traffic, China Southern Airlines is launching a brand new service to London Heathrow from Baiyun Airport, taking to the skies for a thrice-weekly service (Wed, Fri and Sun). The new schedule comes into effect June 6th.

Here’s all the details for British Day:
Date: Saturday, June 2

Time: Starts at 12 noon.

Location: The British School of Guangzhou, No.983-3, Tonghe Road, Guangzhou


Entrance fee: 20 RMB for adults, 10 RMB for kids below 1.2m.

For more details, including a taxi printout to get to the venue, get the details on The Nanfang’s Events page.

British Day has been organised by the British School of GuangzhouBritish Consulate-General GuangzhouBritish Chamber of Commerce Guangdong and the British Council’s Cultural and Education Section of the British Consulate-General

The Nanfang is a proud media partner for this event.


Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner to serve Guangzhou beginning in August

Posted: 05/22/2012 7:00 am

Last week The Nanfang reported on Ethiopian Airlines sweeping changes making Addis Ababa-Guangzhou a non-stop flight, avoiding Bangkok as part of a wider shake-up of its East Asian offering. From August 16, passengers will now be able to take Ethiopian’s brand-new Boeing 787 Dreamliner all the way to Baiyun Airport seven days a week.

The African carrier has stolen some of the limelight from China Southern Airlines, which was due to receive its first 787 ahead of Ethiopian in July.  So far, though it has made no announcements on its arrival, flight schedule or when fare-paying passengers can make reservations.

Guangzhou’s burgeoning “Little Africa” community concentrated in Yuexiu and Baiyun districts makes Guangzhou a prime destination for African carriers.  Furthermore, the decision for Ethiopian to utilise its new flagship plane on the route means capitalizing on the hundreds of billions of RMB being poured into Africa.

Ethiopian is the first airline to bring the revolutionary Dreamliner to the Pearl River Delta for regular passenger service.

The arrival of the 787 to Guangzhou is a huge coup for airport bosses, but it seen by some as a snub to its bigger, dominant rival the Hong Kong International Airport – which was originally in line to be serviced by the first round of Dreamliners.

But back on October 26 2011, the world’s first Dreamliner flight – an All Nippon Airways special charter – took off from Tokyo and landed in Hong Kong.  Boeing’s latest plane hasn’t been back since.

Source: Airline Route