Boeing Company's 787 Dreamliner jets are made up of composite parts to a greater extent than any airliner that preceded them. The heavy reliance on carbon-plastic parts may now pose a threat of aviation accidents as the aircraft are showing signs of stress in the fuselage. Boeing insists the problems are easily repairable and hopes to avoid further delays in the production of Dreamliners in 2012. So far, the five Dreamliners currently in use have suffered no failures and are operating as expected.
Both pilots were able to walk away from a mid-air collision that brought a plane and a helicopter down on Sunday. The aviation accident occurred on Sunday evening between Sacramento and San Francisco. Despite significant damage to the helicopter, the pilot was only shaken up after coming down in a field a few miles outside of the nearest airport. The pilot of the airplane, a single-engine plane, was able to fly the craft 20 miles south before coming down near Byron Airport. The fact that no one was seriously injured in a mid-air collision was incredibly fortunate.
The A380 had a tumultuous beginning, suffering significant delays before finally beginning passenger flights in 2007. Last month, technicians discovered numerous cracks in the wing ribs of an A380 that had been grounded after having an engine disintegrate in 2010. To prevent an airline accident, the European Aviation Safety Agency ordered roughly 100 of the aircraft inspected and repaired. On Wednesday, Qantas workers found similar cracks in the wing rib feet of one of their A380s and ordered the plane grounded. This has prompted questions over how widespread the cracking problem is and what threat, if any, that poses to passengers and flight crew operating the planes.
Two investigations conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board were concluded last week with very similar results. The deadly aviation crashes both involved medical helicopters which were returning home after delivering patients. The NTSB was already aware of an increase in medical helicopter crashes. The safety organization had identified a number of factors that contributed to this increase. These two accidents demonstrated that the concerns have not yet been properly addressed.
The National Weather Service is receiving a significant upgrade in its radar technology this year. By improving the ability to forecast precipitation and storms, it is hoped that the new radar system will help prevent deaths, including aviation fatalities related to bad weather. The upgrade is being compared to the installation of Doppler radar that started nationwide in the early 1990s.
An air traffic controller with a history of disciplinary problems almost caused an airline disaster at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport last year, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The narrowly averted airline accident involved an Embraer ER145 jet with 53 passengers and crew and a Cessna 172. The two planes took off at the nearly the same time on two runways that crossed each other. The planes passed within 300 feet of one another in the air over the airport. One air traffic manager called it a "miracle" that no one was killed in the incident.
When the National Transportation Safety Board releases its annual Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements, it almost always contains a goal regarding operator fatigue. As part of the NTSB drive to reduce deadly aviation accidents, it has led efforts to combat pilot fatigue. That is why the NTSB is celebrating a new rule released by the Federal Aviation Administration last week. The new rule offers a science-based approach to gauging pilot fatigue and reducing the incidents of tired pilots in the cockpit.
A sightseeing tour at the Lake Mead National Recreation area outside of Las Vegas ended in tragedy Wednesday. The helicopter crash claimed the lives of all four passengers as well as the pilot. The crash occurred around 5 p.m. while the helicopter proceeded on its normal course to Hoover Dam. The weather was clear with good visibility and low winds. It is unclear what caused the helicopter to go down. Local agencies and investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are continuing recovery efforts and are still seeking an explanation for what caused this fatal aviation accident.
Cost cutting decisions by an airline can compromise the safety of passengers and airline personnel. The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered an increase in safety checks of American Airlines and its affiliate to ensure that the company's financial difficulties do not lead to aviation accidents. The inspections are geared toward the areas where an airline might be tempted to save money, such as employee cutbacks during non-peak hours and pilot training. The orders to increase safety checks were given shortly after the company filed for bankruptcy.
A 23-year-old model was struck by an airplane propeller last week at a private airport. Lauren Scruggs had just exited the plane when the accident occurred. As a result of the catastrophic injuries she received, she has had her left hand amputated and has undergone several surgeries. She is currently listed in stable condition, though the long term affects of the incident are not yet known. The propeller hit her hand, shoulder and face and may have caused permanent injuries to her brain. She has been able to respond to voice commands and is able to move her arms and legs.