Tag Archives: boeing 747

SOLAR IMPULSE: WILL SOLAR POWERED AVIATION FLOURISH?

spring 009

The airplane with the moniker Solar Impulse left Moffett Field near San Francisco last Friday en route to Phoenix, Arizona. Will this be the first flight on a rapidly accelerating scientific adventure of solar powered aviation? Perhaps it will, but it is not very likely. This inaugural flight is the first leg of a planned cross country flight that will end up at Dulles International Airport after stops at DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth), STL (Lambert St. Louis International Airport), and thence on to Dulles. Each destination will provide a static display for those folks that want to witness this aviation anomaly, and identify themselves with this first-ever across-the-US, solar powered flight.
In interesting statistic relating to the inaugural flight from SFO to PHX is that the flight time was 19 hours (Its normal cuise speed is 40 miles per hour). Just a little shorter time frame than it took the enthusiastic soon-to-be gold digging pan handlers, also referred to as 49ers, to travel the same distance across the Rockies to San Francisco. It is believed that the Solar Impulse took a very circuitous route from SFO to PHX, and perhaps they took some time for a full viewing of the Grand Canyon. Based on the first flights total time it will take in the vicinity of 100 hours total flight time to get this monstrosity of an air machine all the way to Washington DC (Dulles).
If you have not seen it, the solar impulse has a wingspan of 208 feet, approximately that of Boeing 747. A Boeing 747 can carry as many as 500 people and the Solar Impulse can carry one person. Although the Solar Impulse will burn no fossil fuel during its flight, the ground handling functions to support it will likely burn a very large amount of gas or diesel fuel.
The lead character in this radical Odyssey is a Swiss psychiatrist and Aeronaut by the name of Bertrand Piccard. He has very aptly stated that the flights of the Solar Impulse will not pave the way for a future of solar powered flight. He states that he is hopeful it will provide more impetus and awareness of solar power for non-aviation purposes. Anyone who is not been living in a cave in recent decades is aware that greatly expanded use of solar power is an absolute must-do. Now we must convince the Luddite-like United States Senators and Congressmen that weaning ourselves from fossil fuels is critical for the future of our children and grandchildren’s survival.
This blog is written by a retired commercial pilot and aviation author, Ace Abbott. His books can be accessed at http://www.therogueaviator.com/ and his aviation talk show is available at http://webtalkradio.net/

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)

 

 

 

CARGO PILOTS NEED REST- FAA DISAGREES!

After a few decades of delay, and despite strong urging from the NTSB, the National Safety Council, pilot unions , and any other group or agency that is concerned about aviation, the FAA has capitalized on three years of study and decades of sleep-deprivation research and have reached the following conclusion: Pilots that fly passengers for hire under the stringent rules of FAR 121 which governs all  of the operating parameters for airlines along with the commuter airlines, must have their flight and duty times decreased in order to enhance aviation safety and reduce the increased probability of a tired pilot crashing an airplane. We all remember the Continental flight 3407 (operated by Colgan Air) that crashed in Buffalo, New York with two “dead-tired” pilots at the controls.

There is, however, an interesting caveat relating to this new aviation safety-enhancing legislation, and that is, very simply: cargo-carrying airlines, (such as Fed-Ex or UPS) are exempt from the new rules. The next immediate question is: Do cargo pilots require less sleep than passenger pilots? Of course not, but money and politics have once again trumped aviation safety. We all remember the 1970s Harvard Business School mantra of “maximum utilization of human resources.” This is one more example of that axiom being employed at the expense of aviation safety. An interesting addition to this travesty is that a little research into aviation accident investigations will reveal that far more cargo airplanes are involved in accidents and incidents than passenger carrying airplanes. The cargo “freight-dog” pilots who often operate on the “back-side” of the clock and have their fatigue factor intensified by circadian rhythm dysfunction.

As one might expect, the cargo pilots and their unions have very wisely jumped into this fray and are now filing lawsuits to eliminate this severely mis-guided shortsightedness by the FAA. In December, 2011 The Independent Pilots Association (IPA) that represent 2,700 pilots who fly for UPS, filed a petition asking the federal appeals court to review the rules.

The FAA very recently decided to review the rules after stating that it made “errors” in cost calculations used to justify the exemption. That is a glaring example of a confession of a decision that was made regarding aviation safety that once again placed corporate profits ahead of the possible consequences of a Boeing 747 filled with cargo, (perhaps hazardous material) flown by tired pilots that crashes into the hospital. If there was ever high-level government officials left with “egg-on-their-face” this is a high-level glaring example. 

This blog was prepared by Ace Abbott, author of The Rogue Aviator (www.therogueaviator.com)  

           

TIRED PILOTS CRASH AIRPLANES

 

A recent USA Today article delved into the major factor that undermines airline safety; that, of course, is pilot fatigue. A poll they conducted revealed that one-quarter of the pilots surveyed find themselves on the job in a fatigued state. After the February, 2009 Continental #3407 (Colgan Air) accident in Buffalo, where tired pilots in the cockpit played a major role, the FAA finally responded to the tired pilots syndrome, as a result of some prodding by Congress, and went to work on formulating some updated rules and regulations that would govern the flight time and duty time limitations for airline pilots working under the FAR 121 mandates. This was all-well-and-good with a couple of small caveats. The first is that the final compliance with these new rules will occur nearly 5 years after the initial discussions regarding the importance of the need to prevent lives being jeopardized by tired pilots in the cockpit. The second major shortcoming of the new rules relate to all-cargo airlines. They are exempt!

But now back to the bright side. The FAA, the DOT, the airline management folks and the unions, did an excellent job of evaluating all aspects of pilot fatigue and the revised rules deal with the many variables quite well. The new rules reduce the maximum time on duty from 16 to 13 hours. Research has revealed that after 13 hours, the diminished functionality of the pilot is equivalent to someone who had a .05 blood-alcohol level. As an ex-non-sked charter pilot who experienced too many 20 hour duty days, I will readily attest to being in the cockpit in this awful physiological condition. Research has also revealed that after 13 hours of duty, the rate of mistakes that result in accidents increase by 5 times over one who is well-rested. After 8 hours of duty the accident rate increases exponentially.

The new rules will very definitely save a lot of lives and crunched aluminum air machines. Amongst the very positive changes is consideration for the “circadian rhythm monster” which is as insidious as single-time-zone pilot fatigue. This is well addressed in the new changes along with a requirement for flight crew and management training regarding pilot fatigue—it addresses developing an awareness of fatigue in the cockpit and possible countermeasures. Most importantly, the new rules state that if a flight crew member informs the company that he/she is too tired to fly, there can be no action taken against that pilot. In certain realms of aviation the pilot that tells the boss he has to cancel a flight to get some rest, he would be fired.

And now comes the monster caveat: The revised rules do not apply to all-cargo operations! That is correct. The question is: Will that cargo-laden Boeing 747 (for instance) make less of an impact when it slams into the school or hospital than a passenger carrying 747? That is an easy one—emphatically no! Why did this anomaly arise? It has to do with the bottom line of the cargo carrier and the power of the lobbyists in Washington that influence our government. A quote from the rule-makers is as follows: “The final rule does not apply to all-cargo operations, although these carriers have the ability under the new rules if they so choose.” It should be noted that the instances of airplane crashes with tired pilots in the cockpits of cargo airplanes is off-the-scale higher than passenger-carrying airline crashes. The all-cargo loophole should be fought tooth-and-nail by all pilots. The passenger pilot can shortly fine himself in the “night-freight-dog” world. For more information about the professional pilot’s trials and tribulations of pilot fatigue I suggest that you read The Rogue Aviator; in the Back Alleys of Aviation.

This blog is prepared by Allen Morris/aka Ace Abbott, author of  The Rogue Aviator   (www.therogueaviator.com)