The aviation industry faces many hazards that must be overcome to prevent accidents. Most of those hazards can be addressed with proper training and equipment. One hazard has proven more difficult to control, however. The proliferation of cheap, handheld lasers has created a problem that the Federal Aviation Administration and pilot associations have been unable to resolve. When someone points one of these $5 lasers at a flying aircraft, the tiny beam of light can expand into a blinding flash that is multiple feet wide in the cockpit. While the government and safety officials have struggled to find answers, there may now be a technological solution. Airbus has worked with Lamda Guard to create a treatment for cockpit windows intended to protect pilots from laser lights.
A growing number of safety incidents involving remote-controlled aircraft has led the Department of Transportation to push for mandatory registration of the devices. Drones have grown rapidly in popularity and are expected to become even more common in the near future. This growth has led to an increase in the number of recreational drones impinging on national airspace. In addition, drones have caused injury and created a nuisance when operated improperly. According to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, registration of drones would aid in education efforts and make it easier to match drones with their owners in situations where safety became an issue.
The sleep disorder known as sleep apnea has safety implications in the transportation industry. People who suffer from sleep apnea suffer from interruptions in their breathing during sleep. These interruptions can occur frequently throughout the night, causing a victim to experience significant fatigue even after a normal-length sleep period. In addition to drowsiness, victims may suffer from headaches, difficulty concentrating, irritability, depression, forgetfulness and other side effects. The impact of sleep apnea on pilots, truck drivers and others in terms of safety is difficult to pinpoint.
Historically, radio transmissions have been the predominant means of communication between flight crews and air traffic controllers. Times are changing, however, as air traffic increases throughout the world and digital communication becomes the norm.
Thankfully, parents today accept it as common sense that children, particularly young children, should be in appropriate car seats anytime they travel in a motor vehicle. This is due in large part to strict laws regarding car seat use for children.
About 10 years ago, the Federal Aviation Administration began ramping up efforts to improve helicopter safety -- in particular for air ambulances. The ensuing four years saw a decline in helicopter crashes, but in 2008 the FAA reported a record number of helicopter fatalities.
Sleep apnea is a condition that often leads to fatigue and is associated with several health problems. The Federal Aviation Administration has released an order that will lead to sleep apnea testing among many pilots and air traffic control personnel. The measure was likely taken in response to several incidents involving pilots and air traffic controllers sleeping on the job. The policy calls for sleep apnea testing for workers who have a body mass index of 40 or higher and a neck circumference of at least 17 inches. According to the FAA federal air surgeon, sleep apnea is extremely common among people who meet those criteria.
Safety regulators have grounded all Boeing 787 Dreamliners until issues concerning the lithium-ion batteries and chargers have been addressed. Battery problems forced an emergency landing of a Dreamliner in Japan earlier this month. That incident followed a battery fire after a 787 landed in Boston. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is broadening the scope of its investigation into the electrical problems of the Boeing aircraft.
An electrical fire and fuel leak drew headlines this week as Boeing's 787 Dreamliner continued its inauspicious debut. The issues affecting the plane have prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to launch a top-priority review of the aircraft. According to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the review will help the FAA "look at the root causes and do everything we can to safeguard against similar events in the future." The design, manufacture and assembly of all critical systems will be reviewed.
Air travel with small children presents parents with many challenges. For some parents, air travel is made more attractive by a common policy among airlines of not charging for children under the age of 2, if the child sits on a parent's lap. This policy may confuse parents into thinking that their children will be safe in such a position. The National Transportation Safety Board has conducted accident investigations which concluded that children survived because they were seated in an infant seat with proper restraints. Despite the recommendations of the NTSB, the Federal Aviation Administration and airlines have maintained an infant seat exception which allows children less than 2 years of age to fly unrestrained or ride on a parent's lap.