Flying Lessons Blog

Samsung Note 7 Upside, Igniting New Thinking on In Flight Fires

October 15, 2016

At noon today, October 15th,  Samsung Note 7 phones will no longer be allowed on airplanes, the U.S. Department of Transportation has ruled. “The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 device is considered a forbidden hazardous material,” reads the press release issued by the DOT. Passengers carrying one will be denied boarding and those who try to evade the ban surreptitiously, “are increasing the risk of a catastrophic incident” and could be subject to prosecution. Samsung is still unable to identify what about its newest gadget is causing the batteries to go into thermal runaway, spewing flames and toxic smoke. But the Samsung mystery is prompting a few airlines… Read More…

Sick Isn’t Subtle. Why GermanWings and MH370 Aren’t related

October 3, 2016

Are airline pilots more likely to commit suicide than other professionals? Statistics aren’t clear. But the subject took on a new urgency in 2015 with the crash of GermanWings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Andreas Lubitz, a first officer flying in defiance of medical  advice appears to have intentionally put the Airbus A320 into a descent on a flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, crashing the plane and killing all aboard. Within days, reports of the 27-year old’s previously hidden mental health issues became public. When my children were little and I worried about whether they were coming down with a cold, their pediatrician used to… Read More…

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Girls In Aviation Day Recap

September 26, 2016

A mechanical engineer talked about her role in helping protect US sailors and soldiers from missile strikes with her work on early warning radar systems. A mechanic recalled her enthusiasm at  getting her first paying job working on helicopters after a childhood spent tinkering with machines. Loretta Alkalay, a professor at Vaughn College, and a licensed drone pilot took her quad copter on a short but exciting flight in the auditorium of a school in Manhattan and for all of it a crowd of girls aged 9 to 17 looked on with rapt attention. Girls in Aviation day events were held at schools and airports and… Read More…

Another Day Another Fine for Air Methods

September 15, 2016

The Federal Aviation Administration just announced another fine against Air Methods, a large operator of helicopter ambulances – this one for nearly $900,000 for a particularly egregious infraction; knowingly flying patients in an aircraft with a serious safety defect. Between November 4 and the 11th in 2014, the FAA claims, Air Methods continued to use the helicopter after an FAA inspector told the company the pitot tubes were “severely corroded.” The FAA called this behavior, “reckless and careless”, endangering lives. “Operators are expected to respond appropriately when FAA inspectors alert them to airworthiness concerns,” Administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement to journalists. Huerta made nearly similar statements in pointing out other infractions… Read More…

Six Ways to Celebrate The Miracle of Flight on Aviation Day

August 18, 2016

On August 19, we celebrate Aviation Day. Granted, most people don’t actually celebrate. Most people probably don’t even know about this American holiday created 77 years ago. It was a birthday gift of sorts, to Orville Wright, who was still alive in 1939 when President Roosevelt set aside this date to promote flying. These days, with nearly two and a half billion people taking to the sky every year, aviation needs less promotion and more affection. That’s because mentioning air travel to anyone other than aviation geeks is most likely to prompt grumbling. Oh how quickly we take for granted the shiny new thing we were so excited about yesterday, to paraphrase… Read More…

Australia MH370 Pilot Suicide Theory Flies in the Face of Facts

July 31, 2016

Australia’s news program 60 Minutes told viewers on Sunday that the only possible explanation for the disappearance of Malaysia 370 is “that a skilled pilot deliberately landed the 777 on the water.” Headline-making to be sure, but it’s unlikely to have gone down the way the program suggests. The twenty minute report by correspondent Ross Coulthart, rejuvenates the pilot suicide theory with the help of Larry Vance, who was a senior investigator for the Canadian Transport Safety Board during the crash of Swissair 111 in 1998. The key to the MH370 mystery, according to Vance is in the flaperon, a flight control surface located at the back of the wing…. Read More…

Disputed MH370 Theorist Asks “How Did They Get it Wrong”

July 26, 2016

Jeff Wise’s reporting on the disappearance of Malaysia 370 has always been out there, but that didn’t seem to stop established news organizations from using him in their coverage of the mysterious loss of the airplane in 2014. It was Wise whose front page article in New York Magazine kicked off with this compelling question; “How Crazy Am I To Think I Actually Know Where That Malaysia Airlines Plane Is?” In his scenario, the plane was commandeered by shady Ukrainian passengers and digitally flown to Kazakhstan.  All the theory required was that data provided to the investigation from the satellite company inmarsat, be disregarded. In my book, The… Read More…

Allegiant’s Record No Indicator of Safety

July 18, 2016

Credit to Paige Kelton of Jacksonville’s WJAX-TV, for doing the heavy lift and reviewing 2,400 pages of FAA incident reports on Allegiant Air. In her report last week, Kelton reveals that the documents show seventy-six flights into Florida over a two year period had safety issues grave enough to require they be reported to the feds. Where I’ll argue with the report is in the conclusion of her safety expert who credits the pilots for the fact that the airline hasn’t had any fatal accidents. Allegiant’s pilots may be fantastic but attributing the lack of a catastrophe on the flight crew is a two edged sword. When disaster arrives… Read More…

TWA 800 Conspiracy Theorist Has an Anti-Hillary Agenda

July 11, 2016

As sure as July 17th will arrive each summer, families of the 230 people who died in the crash of TWA Flight 800 twenty years ago, will remember with sadness the night the Boeing 747 exploded off the coast of Long Island. Here’s something else they can count on, a pre-anniversary story from someone, promising to blow the lid off the conspiracy to hide the truth about what really happened to the airplane. But July 2016 is not just the 20th anniversary of the disaster it is also the month of the presidential nominating conventions and the newest book about TWA 800, The Crash, the Coverup and… Read More…

What the EgyptAir CVR Can and Cannot Reveal

June 17, 2016

News that the cockpit voice recorder has been recovered from the underwater crash site of EgyptAir Flight 804 is welcomed by everyone who wants to know what caused the plane to mysteriously dive into the Mediterranean on May 19th killing 66 people onboard. What the pilots said and other sounds recorded on the two hour tape should be able to help determine what happened. But what the CVR probably won’t be able to do is indicate if there was an explosion on board. “Engine failure, catastrophic in flight failure, the recording will stop at the same time,” said Mike Poole, a recorders expert from Canada who… Read More…

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