The Boeing 737-800 bound for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, was carrying 8 crew members and 82 passengers when it crashed into the Mediterranean early yesterday shortly after takeoff from Beirut amid hail and thunder. The U.S.-born wife of the French ambassador to Lebanon was among the passengers.
Authorities have yet to find the flight data and voice recorders, or black boxes, that could yield clues about the cause of the crash. But officials said the ferocious overnight storm that blanketed the small country’s mountains with snow was likely a major factor.
“Bad weather was apparently the cause of the crash,” said Defense Minister Elias Murr, according to local news outlets. “We have ruled out foul play so far.”
Lebanon’s airport has been a subject of controversy because of allegations that the Shiite Muslim political group maintains a security presence there to oversee the importation of weapons. No flights originating in Lebanon land in North America, largely because of security concerns.
But Lebanese and Ethiopian officials quickly discounted the possibility of terrorism or sabotage in the downing of the plane. A spokesman for the Addis Ababa government said the airline had received no prior threats.
Rescue workers found no one to save. They could only retrieve corpses of those aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed into the sea early Monday during a fierce winter storm.
More than 4,000 Sailors and Marines from the USS Nassau (LHA 4) Amphibious Ready Group (NAS ARG) and 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24th MEU) received orders to deploy to Haiti to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions.
The NAS ARG departed Norfolk Jan. 18 for a regularly scheduled deployment to the 5th and 6th Fleet Areas of Responsibility, but the NAS ARG has been ordered to proceed to Haiti after completing its onload of Marines from the 24th MEU in Morehead City, N.C. The decision to divert the NAS ARG/24th MEU from its planned deployment was made by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen based on continuing urgent needs in the Haiti relief effort.
The addition of the NAS ARG/24 MEU brings the total number of U.S. Navy and Military Sealift Command ships participating in the relief effort to 20, along with their associated Marine Corps units. These forces include:
USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)
USS Bataan (LHD 5)
USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44)
USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43)
USS Carter Hall (LSD 50)
USS Normandy (CG 60)
USS Underwood (FFG 36)
22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU 22)
USS Nassau (LHD 4)
USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19)
USS Ashland (LSD 48)
24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU 24)
USS Higgins (DDG 76)
USS Bunker Hill (CG 52)
USNS Comfort (T-AH 20)
USNS Grasp (T-ARS 51)
USNS Henson (T-AGS-63)
USNS Sacagawea (T-AKE 2)
USNS Sumner (T-AGS-61)
USNS 1st LT Jack Lummus (T-AK 3011)
USNS PFC Dewayne T. Williams (T-AK 3009)
USNS Big Horn (T-AO-198)
Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft is assisting with the humanitarian aid mission in Haiti after the country suffered a 7.0 magnitude earthquake last January 12.
Not only will the Global Hawk’s advanced imagery provide an overall assessment of the damages, it will also help expeditiously direct aircrew flying into Haiti to deliver crucial supplies to those affected by the earthquake.
Imagery collected by the Global Hawk will be used to determine what regions of the country were hit hardest by the earthquake, Lieutenant Colonel (US Air Force) Mark Lozier, operations officer with the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron, said on 14 January.
“We can take a look at airfields to assess, right now, whether or not we will be able to get airlift in there with aid,” Col Lozier said. “We don’t have to wait for a ground team to get in there and make on-site decisions.”
This is not the first time the Global Hawk has been used to assist in a humanitarian crisis. In 2007, the imagery from the Global Hawk was used to assist California firefighters battling blazes in Southern California.
Authorities say two people are dead following the crash of a single engine airplane in southwest Michigan.
Emma E. Biagioni was a junior at Hope College in Holland, Mich. She was killed along with a fellow student, pilot David O. Otai, 23, said Hope College spokesman Tom Renner.
The crash was reported around 11:30 a.m. Sunday in Manlius Township. The plane went down into a snow-covered field. The sheriff’s department says the small plane made a distress call shortly before it disappeared from radar.
Plane wreckage was soon spotted in the field. Visibility in the area was reduced to an eighth of a mile because of dense fog, authorities said.
The two victims were found trapped in the wreckage and were pronounced dead on the scene.
A memorial service for both students was held on campus Sunday night, drawing some 1,100 people, Renner said.
The U.S. government has begun to mobilize what is likely to become a massive humanitarian relief effort to deal with Haiti earthquake damage, rerouting an aircraft carrier and other ships, using aerial reconnaissance planes, and sending assessment teams to arrive later Wednesday.
The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is expected to reach Haiti by this afternoon, after loading up with relief supplies at a depot in Mayport, Fla., Pentagon officials say. A number of other ships, including the USNS Comfort hospital ship and a group of amphibious ships with a Marine Expeditionary
Unit aboard, are on standby and may leave for Haiti in the next few days. In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard has deployed a number of cutters that were already in the region, officials say.
But significant challenges loom. The main airport runway is in decent shape but for now will offer limited ability to absorb the massive amount of airlifted aid, said Gen. Douglas Fraser, head of U.S. Southern Command in Miami, during two briefings of reporters Wednesday in Washington.
Meanwhile, the Defense Department is sending at least one assessment team of 25 individuals plus a dozen or so medical and other experts, who are due to arrive Wednesday. And a P-3 Orion reconnaissance plane is being used to create a more accurate picture of the devastation.
The 40-year legacy of the CH-46 Sea Knight is built on stories of valor and heroism from Marines in combat missions around the world, but that era is coming to a close as the Marine Corps replaces the Sea Knight with it’s newest bird of prey, the MV-22 “Osprey.”
The replacement of the 40-year-old CH-46 Sea Knight doesn’t come cheap, with a price tag of roughly 100 million dollars per bird, but the Osprey’s capabilities provide enhanced mission capabilities and more safety than the CH-46.
“It’s two different worlds,” said Levesque. “It’s a completely different aircraft. It goes twice as far so you can get Marines where they need to be — faster.”
The increased fuel capacity means the Osprey can go longer and farther than the CH-46, and it also provides an increased payload. The CH-46 current internal and external weight restrictions are approximately 22,000 pounds and 12 combat equipped troops. The Osprey offers significant advantage in that it can carry over 20,000 pounds and 24 combat equipped troops, at twice the speed of the CH-46.
Although the capabilities of the Osprey will significantly increase the mission capabilities and success of medium lift missions, according to Lt. Col. Evan LeBlanc, the commanding officer of VMM-161 — one thing hasn’t changed.
“The things that make the Marine Corps strong isn’t the aircraft. It’s the Marines,” said LeBlanc.
China plans to construct the world’s highest airport in Tibet, official said Tuesday.
The new airport will be built at an altitude of 4,436 metres, Xinhua news agency reported.
Xu Bo, director of the Tibetan Branch of the China Civil Aviation Administration, said the airport planned to be built at Nagqu prefecture would be 102 metres higher than Bamda airport in Tibet’s Qamdo prefecture, which has been the world’s highest airport since its completion in 1994.
Xu Jian, director of the Nagqu Committee of Development and Reform, said construction of the airport had been included in Tibet’s development plan. The committee was working on site selection for the airport.
“The airport construction is planned for 2011 with a construction period of three years. It is expected to cost 1.8 billion yuan ($263 million) and cover an area of 233 to 266 hectares,” he was quoted as saying.
He said the airport will be the sixth in Tibet.
An official said all of Tibet’s six prefectures would have an airport on its completion.
“The civil aviation network in Tibet has taken shape. The objective for the next stage of development is to open direct air routes from Tibet to south Asian countries,” the official said.
Nagqu, about 300 km from Lhasa, is located at the centre of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau.
“With the airport, Nagqu, which is also on the Qinghai-Tibet railway line, is expected to become the centre of an economic hub in the plateau region,” said Tan Yongshou, commissioner of Nagqu Prefecture.
F-35 Lead STOVL Pilot Graham Tomlinson of BAE Systems took off at 1:53 p.m. EST, climbed to 5,000 feet and engaged the shaft-driven LiftFanpropulsion system at 210 knots (288 mph), then slowed to 180 knots (207 mph) with the system engaged before accelerating to 210 knots and converting back to conventional-flight mode. The STOVL propulsion system was engaged for a total of 14 minutes during the flight. Tomlinson landed at 2:41 p.m. EST.
STOVL-mode flights will continue, with the aircraft flying progressively slower, hovering, and ultimately landing vertically. Most STOVL-mode testing will be conducted at NAS Patuxent River.
The F-35B will replace U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B STOVL fighters, F/A-18 strike fighters and EA-6B electronic attack aircraft. The United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, as well as the Italian Air Force and Navy, also will employ the F-35B. With its short takeoff and vertical landing capabilities, the F-35B will enable allied forces to conduct operations from small ships and unprepared fields, enabling expeditionary operations around the globe.
Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Two separate, interchangeable F-35 engines are under development: the Pratt & Whitney F135 and the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team F136.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2008 sales of $42.7 billion.
A United Airlines jetliner damaged its right wing when the landing gear failed to fully deploy Sunday at Newark Liberty International Airport – making for a frightening few moments for passengers before unbelievably smooth touchdown drew their praise.
All 53 people aboard got off the plane safely. And all the passengers will be getting refunds of their fares.
Flight 634 from chicago was approaching the airport about 9am when the plane suddenly began ascending again. The plane then began circling the airport.
Despite the problem, the mood was calm, even when passengers were instructed to grid themselves for a crash.Passengers cheered and sighed when the plane came to a stop, Wasylyszyn said. Then they hurried out through the emergency exits, sliding down the chutes that had deployed and running as fast as they could toward Port Authority buses that were waiting to take them to the terminal.
The plane, which had left Chicago about 6 a.m. local time, remained on one of the airport’s three runways Sunday afternoon as investigators inspected it.
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The Air Force is spending hundreds of billions of dollars on two fighter jets that probably will never be used to support troops on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Congress has decided to cap production of the F-22, removing funding for the fifth-generation fighter from the 2010 military budget. And the F-35 — also known as the Joint Strike Fighter — won’t be ready for prime time before 2013, according to the latest estimates.
Critics of the new fighters say they are too expensive and not needed in today’s warfare, while proponents argue that the current aircraft are not as advanced as the F-22 and F-35, both of which would help the U.S. maintain air superiority for decades to come.
The programs have come under heavy criticism, mainly for cost overruns.
Each F-22 — there are about 140 of them assigned to six stateside bases — will have cost about $350 million under current estimates. The U.S. is awaiting delivery of roughly 50 more of them.
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