Tag Archives: united airlines

BOEING 787–DREAMLINER OR NIGHTMARE AIR MACHINE?

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been plagued with recent turbulence. The airplane that was supposed to be the best thing since retractable landing gear appears to be a big black eye for the Boeing engineers. While it is true that most new high-tech devices will have preliminary bugs, it seems that the Dreamliner is burdened with a plethora of them. The ongoing growing pains that frequently erupt are usually related to the lithium ion batteries. They are a relatively recently developed type of battery that appears to have not been given the appropriate quality control evaluation.
While United Airlines has had a few recent Boeing 787 Dreamliner incidents, Japan Airlines (JAL) has had numerous incidents, including a recent fire in the cargo compartment, likely caused by the lithium ion batteries. Luckily the airplane was on the ramp at Boston’s Logan Airport. Another aircraft operated by JAL had a windshield shatter. Most of the recent rash of problems has been related to electrical smoke and fire caused by the lithium-ion batteries.
The most recent incident involved the All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight that departed Western Japan and had to make an emergency landing in Takamatsu airport where the passengers disembarked, utilizing the emergency escape slide system. There were, as always, a few injuries during this evacuation procedure. ANA and JAL operate one half (24) of the 787 Dreamliner aircraft that are currently operational. Both airlines have elected to ground all of their 787 Dreamliners until the Boeing tech reps and engineers can provide a solution. An interesting and ironic side note is that the Boeing engineers union (SPEEA) is threatening to go on strike.
United Airlines is the only US carrier operating the 787 aircraft and both Ray LaHood, the director of the NTSB, and Michael Huerta, the FAA administrator stated they would not hesitate to ride on the aircraft. {{ “Should travelers be worried? No, says Charles “Les” Westbrooks, Associate Professor of Aeronautical Science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. “In aviation we have learned that accidents are caused by a series of events rather than any one catastrophic event. Because of this we have ‘safety stand downs’ when events are happening in succession so as to break the chain of events which could lead to an accident.”}} (Extracted from Forbes Lifestyle by Andrew Bender/ 1:37 pm EDT, Jan 16, 2012
This blog is prepared by aviation author, Allen Morris/a.k.a. Ace Abbott, (www.therogueaviator.com) and (www.deadtiredpilots.com).

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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)

 

 

 

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.