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Destination of the Week

Hello and welcome to our third In memory Of MH370 DOTW. This week brings us to the investigation that will follow. Irrespective of where the aircraft is found, one investigation board will definitely be represented: the US National Transportation Safety Board, as the aircraft was US-made.

The Boeing 777 is a family of long-range wide-body twin-engine jet airliners. It is the world's largest twinjet and has a typical seating capacity for 314 to 451 passengers, with a range of 5,235 to 9,380 nautical miles (9,695 to 17,372 km). Its distinguishing features include the largest-diameter turbofan engines of any aircraft, six wheels on each main landing gear, a circular fuselage cross-section, and a blade-shaped tail cone. Developed in consultation with eight major airlines, the 777 was designed to replace older wide-body airliners and bridge the capacity difference between Boeing's 767 and 747. As Boeing's first fly-by-wire airliner, it has computer-mediated controls; it is also the first entirely computer-designed commercial aircraft.

Currently, the 777 is produced in two fuselage lengths. The original 777-200 variant entered commercial service in 1995, followed by the extended-range 777-200ER in 1997. The stretched 777-300, which is 33.3 ft (10.1 m) longer, entered service in 1998. The longer-range 777-300ER and 777-200LR variants entered service in 2004 and 2006 respectively, while a freighter version, the 777F, debuted in February 2009. Both longer-range versions and the freighter feature General Electric GE90 engines and extended raked wingtips. The earlier 777-200, -200ER and -300 versions are equipped with GE90, Pratt & Whitney PW4000 or Rolls-Royce Trent 800 engines. The 777-200LR is the world's longest-range airliner and can fly more than halfway around the globe; it holds the record for the longest distance flown non-stop by a commercial aircraft. In November 2013, Boeing announced the development of upgraded 777-8X and 777-9X models, collectively named 777X, featuring composite wings and GE9X engines and further technologies developed for the 787.

The 777 ranks as one of Boeing's best-selling models. Airlines have acquired the type as a comparatively fuel-efficient alternative to other wide-body jets and have increasingly deployed the aircraft on long-haul transoceanic routes. Direct market competitors include the Airbus A330-300, upcoming Airbus A350 XWB, and the out-of-production A340 and McDonnell Douglas MD-11. The 787 Dreamliner, which entered service in 2011, shares design features with the 777.

The 777 has been in 10 aviation accidents and incidents, including four hull-loss accidents and three hijackings. Before 2013, the only fatality involving the twinjet occurred in a refueling fire at Denver International Airport on September 5, 2001, during which a ground worker sustained fatal burns. The aircraft, operated by British Airways, suffered fire damage to the lower wing panels and engine housing; it was later repaired and returned to service.
The type's first hull-loss occurred on January 17, 2008, when British Airways Flight 38, a 777-200ER with Rolls-Royce Trent 895 engines flying from Beijing to London, crash-landed just short of Heathrow Airport's runway 27L and slid onto the runway's threshold. There were 47 injuries and no fatalities. The impact damaged the landing gear, wing roots and engines. The aircraft was written off. Upon investigation, the accident was blamed on ice crystals from the fuel system clogging the fuel-oil heat exchanger (FOHE). In 2009, air accident investigators called for a redesign of this component on the Trent 800 series engine.The type's second hull-loss occurred on July 29, 2011, when an EgyptAir 777-200ER suffered a cockpit fire while parked at the gate at Cairo International Airport. The plane was successfully evacuated with no injuries, and airport fire teams extinguished the fire. The aircraft sustained structural, heat and smoke damage and was written off. Investigators focused on a possible electrical fault with a supply hose in the cockpit crew oxygen system. The type's third hull loss and first involving fatalities occurred on July 6, 2013, when Asiana Airlines Flight 214, a 777-200ER, crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport after touching down short of the runway. Surviving passengers and crew evacuated before fire destroyed the aircraft. The crash led to the death of three of the 307 people on board. An accident investigation by the NTSB is under way; its initial focus is on the aircraft's low landing speed.

On March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, 777-200ER registered 9M-MRO, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing was reported missing. Air Traffic Control's last reported coordinates for the aircraft were over the South China Sea.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent U.S. government investigative agency responsible for civil transportation accident investigation. In this role, the NTSB investigates and reports on aviation accidents and incidents, certain types of highway crashes, ship and marine accidents, pipeline incidents and railroad accidents. The agency is based in Washington, D.C. As of 2013, it has four regional offices around the country and runs a training center in Ashburn, Virginia.

Organization within the Board is composed of separate sub-offices for highway safety, maritime safety, aviation safety, railroad, pipeline, and hazardous materials investigations, research and engineering, communications, and administrative law judges. These sub-offices report to the Office of the Managing Director.

An investigation of a major accident within the United States typically starts with the creation of a "go team," composed of specialists in fields relating to the occurrence. This is followed by the designation of other organizations or corporations as parties to the investigation. The Board may then choose to hold public hearings on the issue. Ultimately, it will publish a final report and may issue safety recommendations. The Board has no legal authority to implement, or impose, its recommendations. That burden falls upon regulators at either the federal or state level or individual transportation companies.

The NTSB has primacy in investigating every civil aviation accident in the United States. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is always a party to these investigations, but the NTSB is the investigating agency. For certain accidents, due to resource limitations, the Board will ask the FAA to collect the factual information at the scene of the accident; the NTSB bases its report on that information. The NTSB may assist in incident or accident investigations occurring outside the United States under certain circumstances. These may include accidents or incidents involving American-registered or American-owned civil aircraft or aircraft with U.S. manufactured components in foreign air space. The NTSB will also on occasion provide technical and other advice to transportation investigative boards in countries that do not have the equipment or specialized technicians available to undertake all aspects of a complex investigation.

The Safety Board maintains a training academy in Ashburn, Virginia, where it conducts courses for its employees and professionals in other government agencies, foreign governments or private companies, in areas such as general accident investigation, specific elements of investigations like survival factors or human performance, or related matters like family affairs or media relations. The facility houses for training purposes the reconstruction of more than 90 feet of the TWA Flight 800 Boeing 747, which was recovered from the Atlantic Ocean after it crashed in 1996, following a fuel tank explosion.

Among transportation safety improvements brought about or inspired by NTSB recommendations are: mid-air collision avoidance technology, ground proximity warning systems, airborne wind shear detection and alert systems, smoke detectors in lavatories, floor-level escape lighting and fuel tank inerting.

The NTSB's regional office for the Western Pacific region is located in Federal Way, WA. That makes of
Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (KSEA) the ideal DOTW. It is located in SeaTac, Washington and serves the cities of Seattle and Tacoma, as well as the rest of Western Washington. The airport has service to destinations throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East and East Asia. It is the primary hub for Alaska Airlines, whose headquarters is located near the airport, as well as its regional subsidiary Horizon Air. In 2013, the airport served over 34.7 million passengers, making it the 15th-busiest airport in the United States. It ranks 23rd in total aircraft operations and 21st in total cargo volume.

The airport was constructed by the Port of Seattle in 1944 to serve civilians of the region, after the U.S. military took control of Boeing Field for use in World War II. The first scheduled airline flights were Northwest and Trans-Canada in 1947. Starting in the late 1980s, the Port of Seattle and a local county council considered the future of air  traffic in the region and predicted that airport could reach capacity by 2000. The planning committee concluded in 1992 that the best solution was to add a third runway to the airport and construct a supplemental two-runway airport in one of the neighboring counties. Members of the community strongly opposed a third runway, as did the Highline School District and the cities of Des Moines, Burien, Federal Way, Tukwila, and Normandy Park, but a 1994 study concluded there were no feasible sites for an additional airport. The Port of Seattle approved a plan for the new runway in 1996, prompting a lawsuit from opponents. The Port secured the necessary permits by agreeing to noise reduction programs and environmental protections. Runway opponents appealed these permits, but dropped their challenges in 2004. The new 3rd runway opened on November 20, 2008, with a total construction cost of $1.1 billion. Parallel to the existing two, the new runway was sited far west of the existing runways, so as to allow 2 simultaneous landings in times of low visibility. The airport's older two runways were too closely spaced to allow use of both during low visibility, a frequent condition in the Seattle area.

KSEA has three runways:
16L/34R, 11,900 ft, 3,627 m
16C/34C, 9,426 ft, 2,873 m
16R/34L, 8,500 ft, 2,591 m

Live flight tracking is available here.

We can guide you to charts and scenery files.

Charts FS9 FSX X-Plane


And now it's time for our video selection. Our first video was shot by on board of an A330-300 on its way to RWY16C.

KSEA can be challenging at times, as the next video shows. Crosswinds can cause some problems.

And we end our visit to KSEA in seat 3D on board of a CRJ-700, about to take off from RWY34C.

That's all for this week. Next week, we'll concloude In Memory Of MH370 at Farnborough (EGLF). How this airport became a crucial part in the search for MH370? Tune in on 20 April...

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1 Destination of the Week#193 Sunday, 13 April 2014 18
2 Destination of the Week#192 Sunday, 06 April 2014 42
3 Destination of the Week#191 Sunday, 30 March 2014 57
4 Destination of the Week#190 Sunday, 23 March 2014 59
5 Destination of the Week#189 Saturday, 15 March 2014 91
6 Destination of the Week#188 Sunday, 09 March 2014 76
7 Destination of the Week#187 Sunday, 02 March 2014 105
8 Destination of the Week#186 Sunday, 23 February 2014 124
9 Destination of the Week#185 Sunday, 16 February 2014 133
10 Destination of the Week#184 Sunday, 09 February 2014 137
11 Destination of the Week#182 Saturday, 25 January 2014 765
12 Destination of the Week Archive Monday, 20 June 2011 3672