As Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) technology has developed, drones have become more accessible than ever. More and more people are using drones for personal enjoyment and professional use and the laws regarding the operation of unmanned aircraft are changing to reflect this. As of August 29, 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration has put into effect its most up-to-date regulations, specifically regarding "small unmanned aircraft."
A federal agency is asking U.S. air carriers to enhance and increase inspections of Boeing 737 aircraft in their fleets. The Federal Aviation Administration is concerned about undetected cracks in the fuselage or bulkhead that could cause dangerous decompressions. The problem first drew the attention of the FAA in 2009, after a Boeing 737 operated by Southwest Airlines experienced cabin decompression at 30,000 feet. The pilots of that aircraft were able to complete an emergency landing and no one onboard was injured.
Overnight shifts can prove challenging for workers in many professions. For U.S. air traffic controllers, the consequences of falling asleep on the job can be deadly aviation accidents. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reached an agreement with air traffic controllers in an attempt to help them stay alert on the job. The new policies were announced today and coincide with the 2011 National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) goal of addressing human fatigue in all areas of American transportation.
The National Transportation Safety Board has released its list of critical transportation issues affecting safety for 2011. The list highlights ten key areas to focus on to reduce accidents, save lives and lessen the hazards of driving, flying, riding trains or taking other public transportation. While the list is intended to place an emphasis on areas of top concern, the NTSB remains committed to discovering the cause of all transportation accidents, improving transportation safety, and serving as a resource to help accident victims and their families.
As reported in the Chicago Tribune a Southwest Airlines flight from Denver to Chicago slid off the end of the runway after landing at Midway Airport on April 26. The runway, which was wet from recent rain, is more than 6,500 feet long, the longest runway in use at Midway. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating and will try to determine, among other things, where on the runway the aircraft touched down.
Last week we shared a story about the ongoing problem of napping air traffic controllers. Yesterday the Federal Aviation Administration issued new rules intended to prevent air traffic controllers from sleeping during overnight shifts while they are supposed to be ensuring that airplanes are directed safely to and from their destinations, and avoiding airline accidents.
We recently shared a story about a flight from Chicago to Reagan International Airport that landed without the assistance of an air traffic controller because the controller had fallen asleep on the job. There have now been additional reports of air traffic controllers napping on the job. While fortunately these lapses did not result in any airplane crashes they highlight what may be a more systemic problem that could undermine the safety of all those who rely on the airlines for transportation.
On Saturday, the Illinois Air National Guard and a number of local emergency response agencies held a full scale drill at the Peoria International Airport to test their response plans. The disaster drill is designed to provide responders an opportunity to refine their practices for responding to a plane crash. Approximately 70 local youths participated as crash victims wearing prosthetics and makeup to replicate the types of injuries they would likely suffer in a real airline accident.
Another in the recent string of near misses for the airline industry yesterday as a United Airlines flight made a safe emergency landing after the on-board power went out shortly after take-off. Without any instruments to guide them, the pilots relied on the directions from air traffic controllers and the landmarks which they could see out the window of the cockpit to return the airport.
About 20 minutes after taking off from Phoenix Sky Harbor Internal Airport on Friday afternoon, Southwest Airlines Flight 812 made an emergency landing after the plane's fuselage ruptured causing a 5 foot long tear in the ceiling. Some of the plane's 118 passengers described hearing loud pops and then seeing a gaping hole rip through the roof of the Boeing 737. The plane suffered rapid decompression, and oxygen masks popped out as the plane dove to a lower altitude where passengers could breathe on their own. According to one passenger, some people "were passing out because they weren't getting the oxygen" from masks that dropped from above during the emergency. Terrified passengers thought the end was near, and one woman texted her husband, "Plane going down. Love you."