March is shaping up to be a rather expensive month for air carriers American and Northwest.
Providing some very encouraging news for frequent fliers and those concerned about aviation safety, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced last week that the number of serious runway incursions during this fiscal year dropped 50 percent from 2009, marking the second straight year where the occurrence of serious runway incursions dropped by half.
A comprehensive investigation into the effect that fatigue has on the ability to safely operate vehicles within the nations four major modes of transportation has revealed some daunting information about just how powerful fatigue is - and how lightly the responsible federal agencies seem to regard it.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released information from the investigation into the circumstances of the second-worst airline disaster in U.S. history that sheds new light onto its causes. American Airlines Flight 587 crashed into a residential suburb of New York City shortly after takeoff from John F. Kennedy Intl. Airport on November 12, 2001. Flight 587 was operated on an Airbus A300-605R, a variant of the A300-600 series aircraft, the second most popular model of commercial aircraft behind Boeing's 757. According to the NTSB, a design flaw in the rudder of Airbus A300-600 series aircraft makes the rudder pedals extremely sensitive at high speeds. Pilots who are unaware of this sensitivity and apply too much force can unintentionally cause the rudder panel on the jet's tail to rock violently back and forth, which, according to the NTSB's analysis, can create enough force to break a jet apart midair. A rudder is a movable panel on the fin that rises from the tail of a jet, and it is designed to keep a jet pointed straight in a cross wind or while flying on one engine.
In the U.S., parents flying with children under the age of two can avoid having to purchase tickets for those children by agreeing to hold them in their laps during the flight. However, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently issued a Safety Alert urging parents to consider the many safety concerns related to children flying unrestrained before deciding against purchasing a ticket for their children.
The title question was posed by a recent New York Times article examining a trend of behavior in the cockpit that is both alarming because of its prevalence, and disturbing because of its potential for disaster: pilots relying on automated piloting systems to do their job while they shift their attention elsewhere.
At the 2010 World Aviation Training Seminar on April 27th, Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Randy Babbitt delivered a speech that focused on the crucial role that human involvement plays alongside the ever-advancing realm of flight technology. In his speech, Administrator Babbitt underscored the point that the availability of flight technology should supplement, not replace, human awareness and involvement with all flight operations. "The expectation is that even with the auto pilot engaged, the human pilot is too," Babbitt said to the attendees at the Orlando seminar.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has denied the exemptions requests made by five airlines in relation to a new federal rule that will limit the amount of time an airline can force passengers to remain onboard a flight stopped on the tarmac. JetBlue Airways, Delta Airlines, US Airways, Continental Airlines and American Airlines all petitioned the DOT to allow for exemptions to the rule, which goes into effect on April 29. The airlines sought the exemptions for certain airports, including New York's La Guardia and JFK, where runway construction and other issues have caused traffic backups on the tarmac.
On April 6, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its findings in the investigation into the fatal, September 19, 2008 plane crash of a chartered, Bombardier Learjet at South Carolina's Columbia Metropolitan Airport. The jet, carrying 6 people on board, was operated by Global Exec Aviation and was destined for Van Nuys, California, when it overran the runway, crashing through a perimeter fence and crossing a roadway before coming to a berm and bursting into flames. The captain, first officer and two passengers died in the crash; the two survivors, Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker and celebrity DJ Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein escaped the fiery crash but were critically wounded.