Pilots Said Engines Lost Power Before Airbus Crashed in Karachi

A Pakistani airliner crashed into a residential neighborhood of Karachi, killing all but two people on board after pilots reported losing power from both the engines as the Airbus SE A320 jet prepared for landing.

The crash killed 97 travelers on board the state-run Pakistan International Airlines flight, according to Meeran Yousuf, spokeswoman for the provincial health ministry. Two other passengers, including Zafar Masud, president of the Bank of Punjab, survived.

“There was fire everywhere, and everyone was screaming after the crash. I opened my seatbelt, and headed toward the light,” Muhammad Zubair, another survivor, who was sitting in the eighth row, said on a local television broadcast.

Eid ul-Fitr

The crash happened as the nation went into holidays to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr, the annual Muslim festival. It also resulted in casualties on the ground as the plane plunged into a residential neighborhood, affecting 25 houses.

These houses have been cleared and their residents have been sheltered at various places, Pakistan army’s media wing called the Inter Services Public Relations said in a Twitter update on rescue work.

Flight PK 8303 from Lahore was carrying 91 passengers and eight crew, Abdul Sattar Khokhar, spokesman of the Civil Aviation Authority, said in an updated tally. Television footage showed cars and homes on fire in the neighborhood near the airport in the nation’s commercial hub. The A320 narrow-body jet first entered service in 2004, and was operated by PIA since 2014, Airbus said.

It’s the second plane crash for the state-owned carrier in less than four years. Pakistan International’s chairman resigned in late 2016, less than a week after the crash of an ATR 42 turboprop killed 47 people.

A probe into Friday’s incident would be conducted soon, the nation’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Twitter.

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Airbus CEO Warns Workers It’s Bleeding Cash and Cuts Are Needed

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Airbus SE chief Guillaume Faury warned employees that the planemaker is “bleeding cash” and needs to quickly cut costs to adapt to a radically shrinking aerospace industry.

With airline customers fighting to survive and unable to accept new aircraft, Airbus is juggling its delivery schedules while reassessing its long-term outlook for the aerospace industry, Faury told staff in a letter sent Friday and seen by Bloomberg News. A plan to slash production by one-third announced earlier this month may not reflect the worst-case scenario, he said.

“We’re bleeding cash at an unprecedented speed, which may threaten the very existence of our company,” Faury wrote. “We must now act urgently to reduce our cash-out, restore our financial balance and, ultimately, to regain control of our destiny.”

Airbus declined to comment on its internal communications.

The European manufacturer and its U.S. rival Boeing Co. are trying to come to grips with a plunge in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic that’s rocked a commercial aerospace industry they dominate. Airbus has increased its liquidity by 15 billion euros ($16.2 billion) to weather the crisis, while Boeing is in talks for U.S. aid. Both companies are preparing for job cuts as they seek to gauge the depth of the downturn and the pace of the recovery.

Embraer Implosion

Boeing on Saturday walked away from a $4.2 billion plan to combine its jetliner business with Brazil’s Embraer SA. The Chicago-based company is expected to cut Dreamliner output by about half and announce workforce reductions with its scheduled first-quarter earnings report next Wednesday. Its CEO has warned of a “new reality” as he assesses the rapidly changing market.


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Airbus Delays Ramp-Up in Production of Its Newest Jet Model

Airbus came into the crisis healthier, and the collapse of Boeing’s Embraer deal strengthens the European company’s advantage in the important market for narrow-body aircraft, where volumes have been much higher.

Still, as with airlines, the crisis represents a mortal threat to the planemakers and their vast constellation of suppliers who’ve also been thrown into imbalance. Getting the math right on how far to cut back will determine the manufacturers’ health when a smaller industry emerges from the ruins.

“The aviation industry will emerge into this new world very much weaker and more vulnerable than we went into it,” Faury said.

Conserving cash is key. The two planemakers likely burned through record amounts in the first quarter: 6.5 billion euros for Airbus and $8 billion for Boeing, according to calculations by Melius Research analyst Carter Copeland. Airbus is also set to report quarterly results on Wednesday.

Airbus has already scrapped plans to add another assembly line for the A321 narrow-body at its headquarters campus in Toulouse, France, and slowed the ramp-up of its newest jet, the smaller A220 single-aisle. On Friday, the company mothballed its E-Fan X project with Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc. for hybrid-electric powered aircraft.

The company has taken actions such as furloughing about 3,000 French staff, though Faury said that more far reaching measures may be needed.

— With assistance by Anurag Kotoky, and Julie Johnsson

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