Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Latest AA Emergency; Sliding Seats, Unhinged Service Doors and the Ongoing Safety Challenge

After three episodes of seats separating from the track on American Airlines flights in 2012, the Dallas-based carrier may have thought its maintenance woes were out of the public eye. Note I did not say that its woes were over, only that the spotlight was off.

That changed Tuesday when American Airlines Flight 2293, a Boeing 757 en route to Dallas, returned to San Francisco after interior cabin panels separated in flight.

James Wilson, a passenger on the flight from Kyle, Texas told Associated Press passengers watched in horror as the wall along Row 14 split "from the floor to the ceiling."

Friday, October 3, 2014

Readin' Researchin' Writin' and the Tools to Make it Happen

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Nils Haupt hosts salon on MH 370 mystery
Last month at the invitation of Nils HauptLufthansa's former head of North American PR, I spoke to a small group of aviation and business writers about the book I have been contracted to write about the disappearance of MH 370 and other aviation mysteries. It was thrilling to be questioned about my theories and my experiences covering the story for ABC News from Malaysia, by people who had given the subject a lot of thought. 

With me that night, was Emily Baker, the acquisitions editor at Penguin who purchased the book and who, to my delight, is a big aviation geek. Don't ask her about Amelia Earhart unless you have a lot of time on your hands. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Boeing, FAA Don't Understand 787 Battery Shortcomings, Japanese Say

Far from dismissing three safety events on Japanese Boeing 787 Dreamliners as mysteries that will go forever unresolved, the nation's safety authority has issued a series of recommendations to Boeing, and the Federal Aviation Administration that suggest the two entities don't fully understand the ways the volatile lithium ion batteries and their chargers can fail.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Australian Adventurer Illustrates Flying's Glorious Contradictions

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I spend so much time writing about the safety and economics of aviation every now and then its good to go back and remember that flying was pioneered by risk takers who were motivated by many things, convention and common sense not among them.

The role of adventurers in aviation was very much on my mind while reading Dick Smith's thrill-a-page book, The Earth Beneath Me, the story of his solo helicopter flight from Fort Worth, Texas to Sydney, Australia in 1982.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Ryanair Bad Boy Michael O'Leary Gets Christmas Gift from Boeing

An Irish friend of mine told me many years ago to think twice before dismissing Michael O’Leary, the face and chief executive of Europe's largest low-cost carrier, Ryanair.  At the time, O'Leary was relatively unknown outside of Ireland. And while I took that advice, I have over the years, poked him for his headline-grabbing antics and the ridiculous, combative and sometimes even vulgar comments he is wont to make.

Flight attendants should learn how to land airplanes so Ryanair could eliminate the second pilot was one outrageous idea he championed. Standing seats should be installed on airplanes in order to make room for more fare-paying passengers was another. His proposal to eliminate  the potty on board or charge for its use made O'Leary air travel's bad-boy as the idea ricocheted around the globe.