Dec 03, 2020 Last Updated 4:55 AM, Dec 2, 2020

I survived the PX073 crash

Once aboard, my seat, 24F on the right side of the rear of the plane was comfortable and the flight attendants were courteous and pleasant. The safety briefing was pretty much like every safety briefing I’ve ever heard with one variance from my experience. Instead of instructing passengers on how to use the exit doors, the briefing said that a crew member would open the doors in the event of an emergency. I thought that was odd at the time but didn’t think much more of it.

When one of the cockpit crew members made the announcement that we were beginning our descent into Chuuk, the flight attendants immediately had the passengers open their window shades, fasten seatbelts and put seats in the upright position. It seemed quite a bit early as there was still 25 minutes left in the flight at that point but it took nothing to comply. As the Chuuk lagoon islands began to appear among aqua sea set against blue sky and white fluffy clouds, I began to search the lagoon for white caps.

The evening before my flight a friend posted a weather report for Chuuk on Facebook that indicated a low pressure system with possible cyclonic activity so I was vigilant. It carried a travel advisory for boaters. I don’t know what I thought I’d do if I saw white caps but the lagoon was calm so I relaxed into the descent. As we approached the runway, ominous grey clouds appeared and I watched the vapor trails coming off of the wing. I could clearly see the lagoon islands in the distance and spotted the Truk Stop dock as we continued to descend, and descend and descend. I had just thought that we were much lower over the water than on any of my many previous landings in Chuuk when the left wing dipped a little bit as, in my experience sometimes happens as pilots adjust to cross winds on approach to the runway.

Suddenly there was impact, an extremely hard impact, and an amazingly quick stop. My first thought was that we read more buy your personal copy at

Airports upgrade for PNG

Project opens up tourism possibiities

PAPUA New Guinea has embarked on an ambitious project to upgrade rural airports in an effort to develop the tourism industry and allow easier access for investors. This will include the construction of international airports at Mount Hagen in the highlands and Lae on the coast.

A new terminal building at Goroka Airport in the Eastern Highlands is nearing completion and with its associated runway improvements will be able to accommodate larger aircraft. International flights will also be possible from Goroka once the US$25million improvement project is completed by Chinese contractor, COVEC. National Airports Corporation, Chief Executive Officer, Richard Yopo, said NAC was committed to improving airport infrastructure throughout the country.

“The project will be funded by the Asian Development Bank and will see the upgrading of the aircraft pavement, a new terminal building and associated works,” he said. COVEC was awarded the contract despite a court action in which it was found guilty of illegally extracting road-building material owned by local landowners... read more buy your personal copy at

Dreams in the air

Carriers review fleets

TWO of the Pacific’s major carriers have started a review of their fleets which could see the Boeing 787 Dreamliner winging across regional skies in the near future. Fiji Airways is expected to take delivery of the next generation Boeing 737 Max8 early next year to replace the current 737-800s and 737-700 aircraft. Last month, one of the airline’s older Boeing 737s suffered a pressurisation fault between Christmas Island and Honolulu, forcing the crew to make a rapid descent to 10,000 feet and maintain that altitude until the end of the flight.

While Fiji Airways has an impeccable safety record, the incident did highlight the age of its Boeing 737 fleet, the backbone of its regional and short-haul service using narrow-body aircraft. On longer flights Fiji’s national carrier uses three Airbus A330 aircraft which have been unable to meet the huge demand for freight on long-haul services into Hong Kong, Singapore and the West Coast of the United States. “Fiji Airways’ inability to carry too much freight out of its Nadi hub has opened the door to Air New Zealand which operates the Boeing 777 with huge cargo capacity through Nadi to Los Angeles,” an airline insider told Islands Business. read more buy your personal copy at


CORSIA maps the future

THE aviation sector has a strong track record for climate action. Historically, efficiency improvements in the aviation sector outperform the wider economy: since 1990, aviation efficiency has improved at almost twice the rate of the wider economy.

Taking a longer-term view, CO2 emissions efficiency per seat improved by 80 per cent since the 1950s In 2009, the aviation industry adopted a climate strategy. The sector’s strategy to tackle the climate challenge consists of 3 global goals and 4 pillars of climate action.

The three industry goals are:

1. Pre-2020 ambition: 1.5 per cent annual average fuel efficiency improvement from 2009 to 2020;

2. In line with the next UNFCCC commitment period, stabilise net aviation CO2 emissions at 2020 levels with carbon neutral growth;

3. On the 2°C pathway: reduce aviation’s net CO2 emissions to 50 per cent of what they were in 2005, by 2050.

The 4 pillars of climate action that will make it possible to achieve these goals are:

1. Technology, including sustainable alternative fuels

2. Operations

3. Infrastructure

4. A global market-based measure: CORSIA

The first 3 pillars are intended to achieve emissions reductions in the aviation sector thereby bringing it closer to achieving the three goals. The fourth pillar – a marketbased measure... read more buy your personal copy at

Samoa clips Virgin wings

Is Polynesian set for comeback?

AN unhappy Samoa Government has signalled an end to its aviation agreement with Virgin Australia from November, opening opportunities for regional and international airlines to fly into Apia. Samoan Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, has been dissatisfied with fares for some time, claiming that Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand, formerly a Virgin Australia shareholder and the only other major airline servicing the island nation, had been colluding on fares.

Until 2005 when Virgin entered the market, Samoa had its own national carrier – Polynesian Airlines – with flights to Nadi, Auckland and Tonga. The termination of the Virgin contract means that Polynesian’s return is a distinct possibility on the back of a major push by Samoa for increased tourism arrivals from China, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

“We can’t continue this partnership,” Malielegaoi wrote to Virgin Australia CEO, John Borghetti, in a letter sighted by the Samoa Observer. “For any country, they must have their national airline.” Malielegaoi went on to say that the decision to part ways had been made by Cabinet. “Following numerous, extensive discussions, Cabinet has decided not to renew the joint venture,” he said. “This can’t continue on especially when the airfares continue to increase and the hotels are complaining that there are no..... read more buy your personal copy at

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