Saturday, October 10, 2015

Passion but Few Tears in Amsterdam for Airliners That Fly into the Past

Too often air travel is an antiseptic experience for the passenger as we sit in tile-floored, waiting rooms, our heads down and our minds in cyberspace. It is so rare and so thrilling to actually smell the jet fuel and hear the whine of the engines at the few airports that still encourage a love of the journey. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is one of them and it's the perfect place to reflect on commercial aviation's first century since KLM Royal Dutch is, at 96 years old, the oldest airline still in operation under its original name. (And what a nice name it is.)  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Eye Opening Experience of Passing out at 25K

Instructor Ron Diedrichs with EVA cadets
You got to hand it to the folks at Taiwan’s EVA Airlines they’re taking the hypoxia threat seriously. Each of its pilot cadets learning to fly airliners at the University of North Dakota’s Mesa, Arizona flight training center will take a ride in a hypobaric chamber before leaving the USA to go back to Taipei and fly the airline’s big jets. 

Nearly a decade ago, air safety officials in Greece suggested that that all airline pilots undergo hypoxia training, following the loss of a Boeing 737 on a flight from Cyprus to Athens that killed 121 people on August 14, 2005.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mud Stud or Desk Detective, Two Seminars for Air Crash Analysis

Platinum Jet crash at Teterboro in 2005
Who is an air crash investigator? On those television documentaries, there’s always some government sleuth who cracks the case with extraordinary tenaciousness and a lot of taxpayer money to spend on labs, test flights and reconstructions. 

The ever-popular NBC News commentator and Greg Feith usually makes an appearance, which gives me a chance to remind my readers that his nickname is “the Mud Stud” picked up during the ValueJet crash of 1996. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Soprano-Like Shakedown Squeezes Smisek out of United

Jeff Smisek in happier days
United's boss Jeff Smisek resigned from the airline today, as a probe continues into whether he and other top executives agreed to provide favors for a government official in New Jersey.

In a statement, United says it has been cooperating with a federal investigation and in fact, that the airline had conducted its own probe into whether David Samson of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey demanded the airline reopen a route to Columbia, South Carolina in exchange for the go-ahead on several airport projects at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Aviation Reveals the Mystery of Human Resiliency

One month before Orville Wright's birthday (which we remember today on National Aviation day) he was injured in a plane crash while demonstrating the Wright Flyer to the U.S. Army in Ft. Myers, Virginia with Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge on board. 

On their fifth circuit of the field, the Flyer’s right propeller broke unleashing a cascade of other problems that caused the plane to nose dive. Selfridge, a pilot and airplane designer was killed.

There is little doubt in my mind that these aviation pioneers understood the risks associated with taking to the sky. Of the uncertainties for aviation pioneers, Wilbur Wright wrote this beautiful warning; "If you are looking for perfect safety, you will do well to sit on a fence and watch the birds; but if you really wish to learn, you must mount a machine and become acquainted with its tricks by actual trial."