Monthly Archives: August 2012

AVIATION ARMEGEDDON

ARMEGEDDON WILL BE PRECEEDED BY FIRE IN THE SKY!

—Is aviation Armageddon upon us? Recent news reports of bizarre occurrences relating to airline travel indicate that we may be at the tipping point. Here are just a few of these recent aviation anomalies:

—A San Francisco man removed from a U.S. Airways flight and arrested after he allegedly refused to pull up his sagging pants was released from custody after posting bail, and prosecutors are still considering whether to file charges in the case.

Deshon Marman, 20, was arrested  on suspicion of a felony count of battery of a police officer and misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and trespassing.

The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office has not charged Marman, who posted $11,000 bail  and was released from jail.
Marman, was instructed by airline crew members several times to pull up his pants to cover his underwear, both before he boarded and on the plane, according to San Francisco police Sgt. Michael Rodriguez.

Marman allegedly refused to pull up his pants and when he sat in his seat, he pulled them all the way down, Rodriguez said. Marman was escorted off the plane by police and then allegedly resisted officers when they tried to handcuff him.

Eventually the plane’s captain told other passengers on the aircraft to deplane, ordered Marman to leave the plane and then placed him under citizen’s arrest for trespassing after he refused the order, according to Rodriguez. Is it true that the captain of an aircraft can issue a citizen’s arrest for a wardrobe anomaly? Apparently the answer is yes!

Hopefully they won’t mess with the young women with their crevice-hugging attire or halter tops with mammary glands begging for escape. What about the old codgers in an aisle seat with their Bermuda shorts and loosely fitting boxer shorts revealing views of grotesque genitalia? Don’t just arrest these guys. Take them to the gallows.

According to an airline spokesman, “While U.S. Airways does not have a specific dress code, we ask our customers to dress in an appropriate manner to ensure the safety and comfort of all of our passengers.”

—A United Boeing 767-300, en route from Newark, New Jersey to Geneva (Switzerland) was about 45 miles east of Halifax, NS (Canada) when crew discovered a suspicious item, a camera, on an empty seat. Since no one on the flight claimed the camera the flight crew decided to turn around and divert to Boston, MA for a safe landing about 70 minutes later. The passengers disembarked.

A search of the aircraft found no trace of explosives, an examination of the camera found it safe.

This is a reenactment of another commercial airline diversion that involved the cabin crew discovering unidentifiable wires in the lavatory. With the increased use of electronic gadgets that passengers take with them it is not too unusual to find “wires” that someone either forgot or misplaced. A brief over-reaction resulted in extreme disruption to the passenger’s travel plans and an exorbitant cost to the airline. The premise that “we can’t be too cautious,” needs to be tempered with some application of good judgment.

—A United Boeing 757-200,  from Newark, NJ to Shannon (Ireland), was en route over the Atlantic Ocean about one hour prior to estimated arrival in Shannon when the crew notified air traffic control to have police stand by on landing for a male passenger in early 40’s, who had become abusive and threatening and had been restrained by cabin crew. The aircraft continued to Shannon for a safe landing on runway 24 about an hour later. The unruly was arrested by Irish police

The man was travelling within a travel group, but was intoxicated. After he became threatening and abusive, he was finally restrained by cabin crew. The man was taken into arrest, released on bail and has to appear in court. Newark alone is enough to drive one to drink, but seven hours packed into a coach seat is good cause to get really toasted. Every Irishman headed back to the old country should be given a little leeway with booze-induced anti-social behavior as long as he relates a few limericks or at least makes a request like, “Erin, take off your bra.”

—A Jet Blue Airbus en route from JFK, NY to Los Angeles was about 140 miles from Denver, when the crew initiated a descent towards Denver requesting law enforcement meet the aircraft at the gate due to an unruly passenger on board. The aircraft landed safely and Denver police escorted a male passenger off the aircraft.
A passenger reported that the youngish looking male initially appeared quite normal but became more and more restless during the flight until he left his seat and walked the aisle, then returned to his seat and after about 5 minutes appeared as if he wanted to fight. An air marshal swapped seats to sit aside of the unruly, another passenger kept talking to the unruly and seemed to calm him down.

After landing a woman filed a complaint with police stating the unruly had groped her. Why did she not issue the groping complaint earlier? With an armed air marshall sitting next to this unruly passenger, why was a diversion necessary?  The airline confirmed the aircraft diverted because of an unruly passenger.

—A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700, from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Las Vegas , was en route about 120 miles southeast of New Orleans when the crew initiated a diversion to New Orleans due to a pair of passengers who engaged in a fist fight on board. The aircraft landed safely on New Orleans about 25 minutes later, police arrested one of the fist fighters.
The airline confirmed the aircraft diverted to New Orleans after two passengers engaged in a fist fight, it was unclear however how the fight erupted. One of the passengers, a male was arrested and charged with interference with flight crew and assault on a passenger.

—A United Airbus A320, en route from San Francisco to Chicago O’Hare, when the crew decided to divert due to an unruly male passenger  on board who turned into a medical emergency after it was determined he had taken substantially more than his normal dose of his medicine. The aircraft landed safely in Denver about 50 minutes after turning around. Police officers escorted the man off the aircraft.

Charges of interference with flight crew and abusive sexual contacts were filed against the unruly passenger who was alleged to have groped a woman and making abuse statements towards other passengers as well as spitting and threatening police officers escorting him off the aircraft.

—The passenger that departed Capetown, SouthAfrica on the British Airways 747 wanted nothing to do with that mob of lunatics in the cabin so he elected to ride in the aircraft’s wheel well. After jumping the airport’s perimeter fence he ran to the 747 that was ready for takeoff and climbed in the wheel well. Apparently he missed that seventh grade science class regarding temperature lapse and the reduced level of oxygen as we go higher.

When the big Boeing arrived at Heathrow in London the corpse of the jet-set hitch-hiker tumbled on to the tarmac. If you elect to avoid TSA and/or the crying kids in the crowded cabin, it is suggested that your wheel-well trip be taken on an aircraft that will fly a short distance at a lower altitude. If you go orthodox and ride in the cabin, an ample supply of valium-type drugs should be available to more easily deal with those that may have either too much or too little of their chosen, “escape the present,” mind-altering materials.

This blog is produced by aviation author, Ace Abbott; The Rogue Aviator: in the back alleys of aviation (www.therogueaviator.com) and Dead Tired: Pilot Fatigue-Aviation’s Insidious Killer (www.deadtiredpilots.com)

 

 

 

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COMMERCIAL AVIATION’S BLIGHT: REGIONAL CARRIERS

A popular commuter turboprop, the Dornier

COMMERCIAL AVIATION’S BLIGHT-REGIONAL CARRIERS

Once again, a regional airline has embarrassed the aviation community. A Saab 340 aircraft operated by Silver Airways landed at the wrong airport in West Virginia. Silver Airways flight # 4049 was en route to the North Central West Virginia airport but landed at to the Fairmont  Municipal-Frankman Field airport by mistake. The two airports are only 5 miles apart so it was an easy mistake to make, particularly at the dastardly hour of midnight. Did pilot fatigue play a role in this accident? Very possibly!

The company spokesman referred to the incident as a diversion—a nice euphemism for chaos in the cockpit— resulting in the most embarrassing situation a pilot can encounter. An additional element of this incident is the local area folks were all excited about their new air service that Silver Airways was providing as a feeder airline for United Airlines. While no one was hurt in this incident it did validate the widely understood premise that when you climb aboard that regional airline, even though it might have the markings of a major airline, it is operated by a subcontractor, which is quite frequently underfunded and under staffed, often with inexperienced people.

Silver Airways is an offshoot of Gulfstream International, a Fort Lauderdale-based airline that recently closed its doors. Another regional airline icon, Comair finally shut its doors. Comair was a very large commuter operation that serviced the Delta Airline passengers to the smaller airports in the South East U.S. A sad chapter to their legacy is that they were notorious for exploiting their pilots. They offered inexperienced pilots the opportunity to pay a sum in the vicinity of $25,000 to get trained in one of their airplanes that was used to carry passengers on their “milk-runs.” After completion of training the pilot was then offered a job with the airline at a pay scale that was well below the poverty level. For further elucidation on this policy, please see Peter Buffington’s book, Squawk 7700; this book is a scathing expose’ of the regional carriers.

If the safety quotient when travelling on the major airlines is a 9.7 out of 10, it might well shrink to a 1.7 when you travel on the commuter aircraft. The last 6 fatal airline crashes on domestic U.S. flights has been on regional carriers. I have several ex-airline colleagues that will drive five hours rather than travel on a regional airline. PBS Frontline has produced a brilliant expose’ of the commuter/regional airline situation. This program, hosted by Miles O’Brien, was a follow-up to the Continental Flight 3407 (Colgan Air) crash in Buffalo, New York. It is accessible by going to PBS.ORG. The regional air carrier phenomenon in the U.S. remains as a festering sore for the aviation community despite the many hard-working professionals that toil in the onerous work conditions that they must endure.

This blog is prepared by Allen Morris/aka Ace Abbott, author of The Rogue Aviator: in the back alleys of aviation and Dead Tired: Pilot Fatigue-Aviation’s Insidious Killer.

RECENT AVIATION NEWS-THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

“SULLY” HANGING OUT AT AUTHOR’S CORNER WITH ACE AND COLLEAGUE, PETER BUFFINGTON

THE GOOD

The greatest aviation extravaganza on earth has come to an end but before it concluded, Ace Abbott and Peter Buffington got to rub elbows with the current aviation icon, “Sully” Sullenberger. The photo-op session was followed by a brief chat and Sully revealed that he is even cooler in person than he is on TV. A calm placid demeanor emanates from him and he exudes a quiet confidence that is part of having “the right stuff.” Sully’s ongoing work with the enhancement of aviation safety is very important to the aviation world. When he speaks, people listen, as they did when he stood in front of the Aviation Congressional Sub-committee three years ago and very emphatically stated that increased pilot salaries were necessary to attract the best quality people into the cockpit of commercial airliners.

The EAA AirVenture once again proved to be an exciting venue for anyone remotely interested in aviation. Although the Thunderbirds or the Blue Angels were not allowed to perform—local area residential safety considerations—the Blue Angels had one of their pilots and aircraft available for the masses to ogle over. The Air Force had an F-16 on static display that also provided the hordes of aviation aficionados with ear-shattering fly-bys and spectacular aerial demonstrations. The many hangars were filled with aviation paraphernalia and bags of “swag” were being toted by most of the attendees. A nice review of the event is available if you click on the following link: http://airventure.org/live/.

THE BAD AND THE UGLY!

Meanwhile, in the continuing saga of commercial aviation chaos we will take a look at just a few of these bizarre scenarios:

An Alaska Airlines passenger may face charges after police say he launched into an expletive-laced tirade against a fellow flier who declined to turn off her reading light.

The incident happened early Saturday morning on an overnight Alaska Airlines flight from Honolulu to Bellingham, Wash. Washington State Patrol spokesman Keith Leary tells The Bellingham Herald the passenger – a 50-year-old man from Tacoma whom police did not identify – apparently became upset when a woman seated in front of him refused to turn off her overhead reading light.

Police tell the Herald the man then went to talk to the flight attendants to demand that the woman’s reading light be turned off. When the attendants told the man that the woman was entitled to keep the light on, he flew into a rage, Leary tells the Herald.

Leary tells the Herald the man is accused of shouting expletives at both the woman and others on the plane. He also threatened to annoy the woman for the duration of the flight by hitting the back of her seat over and over again, a ccording to
Leary.

Other than the threat of being a nuisance, however, Leary says the man apparently didn’t make any other explicit threats against passengers or the flight. “(B)ut he did drop a few F-bombs,” the Herald adds.

The man, who was traveling with his adult son and daughter, was met at Bellingham International by five sheriff’s deputies, according to the Herald. He was questioned and allowed to continue on to his home in Tacoma

For additional lunacy please read the following account of chaos in the clouds:

A man was kicked off of a Spirit Airlines plane at O’Hare International Airport
in Chicago after getting into an altercation over his wardrobe with a flight attendant.

CBS Chicago reports that the man and a female companion were boarding a flight fromO’Hare to Orlando, Fla., over the weekend when an attendant asked him to pull up his saggy pants.

According to a Spirit Airlines spokeswoman, the man became “verbally abusive” andthreatened physical harm after he was told that his pants were “excessively low”as they were hanging below his buttocks. The airline requires passengers to wear”adequate” clothing in its code.

There is more!

Camera In Air Sickness Bag Causes Airplane Scare

Last night, a United Airlines flight from Newark, headed to Geneva Switzerland, was diverted to Boston’s Logan Airport when a suspicious item was found in a seatback pocket. Fighter jets were summoned to help escort the plane to Logan-but it turned out that the suspicious item, inside an air sickness bag, was a… camera.
So, is this better or worse than a flight being diverted due to a cellphone chargingin a bathroom? Or a game of backgammon?

The camera was found in an unbooked seat, and the flight was diverted “out of an abundance of caution,” according to the TSA. NORAD confirmed that “two F-15 fighterjets were scrambled to intercept the flight at about 9:00 p.m. Eastern, shortly after it departed from Newark,” saying, “The fighters were scrambled, then interceptedand shadowed the aircraft.”

Now that we have taken the meaning of overreact to its highest level, would you care for a nice chicken salad sandwich?

Another sewing needle has turned up in a passenger’s airline meal, this time on
a Monday night Air Canada flight from Victoria, British Columbia, to Toronto.
(The previous italicized anecdotes are excerpts from the Curt Lewis & Associates newsletter).

This blog is prepared by Ace Abbott, the author of The Rogue Aviator and Dead Tired