From the Last Few Days: Sept 24

I haven’t done a news summary in over a week, since I was out of town and internet-disabled for several of those days!  Since there is a lot to mention, I am going to really limit it to the last few days. . .


Sadly, last Sunday, four people were killed in a plane crash in Palm Beach County, Florida (via The Miami Herald).  The NTSB is investigating, but early reports say there may have been a fire on board.

Today, two French fighter jets crashed during a test flight in the Mediterrenean.  Early reports say that one pilot was rescued and one is missing (via Reuters).

Airspeed Sensors

Back in early September, the FAA ordered Thales airspeed sensors be replaced on over forty planes based on that being a possible factor in the crash of Air France 447 (via The New York Times).  But now, the European Aviation Safety Agency has issued a warning regarding the replacement, Goodrich Corp., valves (via the Philadelphia Inquirer).  They are encouraging airlines to check these sensors too.


In advance of the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December, the U.S. aviation industry is contemplating changes that may mitigate the impact of any future regulation and or taxes that result from the international negotiations (via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram).  The E.U. is already in the process of implementing a fee structure for greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes.  An industry group, of primarily international players, announced this week a goal of a 50% reduction in net carbon emissions by 2050 (via Just the Flight).


A new aircraft surveillance system, with Wide Area Multilateration technology, is being used to more closely monitor air traffic in mountain airports (via the Denver Post).

FedEx welcomed its first Boeing 777 freighter this week (via Memphis Commercial Appeal).

Yesterday, the House passed a short term funding measure for the FAA.  The Senate must also act (via the AP).

The Christian Science Monitor has a nice summary of yesterday’s Aviation Subcommittee hearing.

The FAA has cited Chicago O’Hare Airport for several safety violations, but the airport has reported that they are in the process of making corrections (via CBS News).

Subcommittee on Aviation: Sept 23

This morning, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Aviation is holding a hearing.  More information on the FAA’s “call to action” on airline safety and pilot training can be found on the committee websiteThe website also has a link to video of the hearing as it is going on, click the View Web Cast button in the upper left corner.

The topics of discussion are largely based on the NTSB public hearing for Continental Connection Flight 3407, which crashed in Buffalo, New York, killing fifty people.  While the NTSB has not yet issued a final report, the hearing highlighted the need for clarification or enhancement of regulation regarding pilot training, fatigue and rest.  In addition, oversight of existing regulatory compliance likely needs strengthening.


via twitter

@milesobrien was at the hearing today.  He is working on a documentary for Frontline, on Flight 3407, I assume.

@aviationweek will be hosting a fatigue management forum on October 13-14 in Miami, Florida.  Information on their website.

You can begin to follow our limited tweets too.  @planesafeorg

and via NPR’s All Things Considered

A great interview with Kevin Kuwik.  He is quite poised and articulate on the goals of the families during the hearing.


Oversight is the topic of the day.  There are many articles out there, but here is a brief view of the topics.

USA Today ran a cover story yesterday on the weak federal oversight of the charter flight industry in recent years.  Crash numbers in the story reflect a higher number of crashes in charter flights, as compared to commercial airlines, in four of the last six years.

Wall Street Journal reports on FAA’s efforts to tighten safety compliance rules.  It is relevant given the too-friendly relations between inspectors and airlines’ maintenance in recent years.  David Evans, over at Aviation Safety Journal, has a critique of the handling of the latest Southwest violation.

I certainly believe that all federal entities that have some oversight role have been reminded lately about what the consequences can be, when there is lack of attention. Oversight is crucial.


A Cessna 208 crash landed in a Massachusetts soybean field this afternoon.  The pilot and five passengers escaped (via The Berkshire Eagle).

Catching Up: Sept 14

There is a bit to mention from last week and for the start of this week.

In last Sunday’s Washington Post, I saw a good question and answer in the Travel Section.  The question was about safely flying with a toddler and the answer included this  FAA link, which is quite helpful and I like to see it mentioned.

Thankfully, the hijacking of AeroMexico Flight 576 last Wednesday was over rather quickly(via CNN).  The Bolivian man responsible has been charged (via the AP).  He is said to have a history of drug addiction and claimed to have acted from a divine revelation. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that portions of the airline industry, including the Air Line Pilots Association, have been involved in the FAA review of pilot fatigue. The suggestions will be presented in a Notice of Proposed Rule Making, to be published before the end of the year (via ALPA).

Motivated by the initial findings of the Flight 3407 crash investigation, the fatigue rules will likely aim to eliminate ambiguity about fitness on the job.  But, as I read the articles in the Buffalo News, I can’t help but notice that these are corporate culture issues more than anything else.  While new rules should help, there needs to be more internal airline policy and practice review if they truly care about some of the things brought to light in this case. You can see the article about pressures Colgan pilots (the subcontractor for Continental Express) felt they were under (via Buffalo News).  And, the Continental pilots’ views as well (via Buffalo News).

Family Assistance Workshop
This week, the American Association of Airport Executives is hosting a two-day Family Assistance Workshop at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority training facility in Washington DC.  NADA/F’s own Gail Dunham and Matt Ziemkiewicz will be participating, along with some of our other members, in one of the panel discussions.  The program is to help airports develop their NTSB mandated plan to deal with catastrophic events, which includes dealing with victim’s families.  I am confident that our experience and insight will prove valuable to the workshop participants.


Eight Years

It is difficult to believe that this marks the eight year anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks.  It is a day to remember, to reflect and to be reminded of the importance of national security.

Our thoughts are with those who were killed and those who survived.  And, with those who lost family and friends on that day.  But also with everyone else, since this was a day whose events were traumatic for all of America.  And, there are so many people whose places of work or residence were permanently impacted.  Among those, pilots, flight attendants, air traffic controllers, airport screeners and first responders. People who worked at the Pentagon and in lower Manhattan.  The residents of New York City, Washington DC, Arlington, VA and Shanksville, PA.

Memorials were held today in New York (via the Christian Science Monitor), Arlington (via NPR News) and Pennsylvania (via USA Today).  Plenty of other communities have found ways to mark this day as well.

CIA Director, Leon Panetta, sent an email message to agency staff yesterday (text via CBS News), highlighting the role of intelligence in strengthening national security.

The Fall Session

Thank you to everyone who has given us positive feedback so far on this blogging effort!

As Congress is back in session today, now seems a good time to discuss some aviation-related issues that could come up this fall.  I use the word “could,” because as Robert Reich reiterated for me last Friday morning on the radio, their top priorities are health care, financial regulation and cap-and-trade.  As a result, aviation-related issues may well be on the back burner.

The most significant is the FAA reauthorization bill, which lapsed two years ago. The new long-term authorization is still working its way through the legislative process.  In the meantime, the FAA has been operating on legislation that provides short-term funding.  The latest of which, expires on September 30.  Kathryn A. Wolf of Congressional Quarterly reported last week that “the Senate is unlikely to complete its consideration” in September, “which probably will mean yet another short-term extension for the agency.”  ATWOnline has a good description of the current challenges in getting this bill ready for the president.

Barbara Hollingsworth of the Washington Examiner has a column out today describing  the Business Travel Coalition’s request for Congress and the Federal Aviation Administration to investigate Amerijet International.  She seems skeptical of increased oversight or action in the areas of maintenance and pilot fatigue, but not because of competing legislative issues, but because of recent history.

It is difficult to know what may come of Senator Charles Schumer’s outspoken criticism of new regulations regarding the Hudson River corridor, as not going “far enough” (via the New York Times).  Miles O’Brien wrote, very soon after the midair collision, that this was likely to happen.  That politicians would be eager to offer premature and perhaps reactionary suggestions that had little basis in expertise. I’m not sure that any legislative action would enhance what the NTSB and the FAA have already acted upon.

And, Jetwhine has a nice commentary from last week on the effectiveness (or not) of  a legislative fix to combat being stuck on a plane on the tarmac.


Our condolences, regarding the accidents.

From the Last Few Days: Sept 6

A few things to catch up on. . .

The FAA has announced a directive for U.S. airlines to replace pitot tubes in the Airbus 330 and 340 planes (via CNN), which impacts Delta and US Airways.   This follows similar action by the European safety officials, in response to very preliminary findings from the of Air France flight 447 crash investigation (via Reuters).

A JetBlue flight made an emergency landing last Thursday in the Bahamas.  The evacuation was successful and nobody was injured (via the New York Times).

The FAA announced Friday that the new rules they have put forth following the Hudson River collision may have prevented that incident (via and The Star-Ledger).

American Airlines said Friday that they are responding to an FAA probe into use of some fasteners on MD-80 bulkheads and the allegation, in a Wall Street Journal article, that planes were retired to keep them from inspectors (via and the Dallas Business Journal).

Five people, four from the Lester family, died on Saturday when their Piper aircraft crashed in Tulsa (via KSBI-TV). Our condolences.

From the Last Few Days: Sept 2

Two FAA safety inspectors were in a helicopter crash yesterday, in Jackson, Mississippi. One died and one remains in critical condition (via WMC-TV). The NTSB is investigating.

The NTSB issued new recommendations yesterday, regarding emergency medical helicopter operations. USA Today has a nice summary.

The FAA has reached an agreement with Southwest Airlines, regarding their use of unauthorized parts. While the parts will remain in use, for now, they will be closely monitored and replaced before the end of the year (via Aviation Week).

The NTSB announced today that they will offer a two day training for communications professionals, in late October. The course will focus on effectively managing communications following a major aircraft accident.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a tweet today from @LiveWireTest

RT: @sweetpeabr: CARES airplane safety device. . .

Good reminder of a great product and the option to rent it, at that!