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.
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."
During a flight last may, about 30 minutes after takeoff, flames shot into the cockpit from the window of a United Airlines airplane with 112 passengers on board, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune. The flames extended 14 to 16 inches into the cockpit from the window near the captain. The captain quickly grabbed a nearby fire extinguisher to douse the flames, but after he initially had them under control, they reignited. A flight attendant brought him another fire extinguisher which he also emptied in an attempt to put out the fire. As the plane headed to Dulles Airport for an emergency landing, the inner pane of the window in front of the captain shattered. The first officer then took control of the plane and landed it safely.
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.