Flying Lessons Blog

Airline Pilots & Depression on Anniversary of GermanWings Crash

March 24, 2017

The father of the co-pilot of GermanWings Flight 9525 which flew into the French Alps two years ago used the anniversary of the disaster to plead that his son may not have intended to crash the airplane. Günther Lubitz hired Tim Van Beveren, a German aviation writer and investigator to review the final report of French investigators. Both men say it is lacking in hard evidence that Andres Lubitz purposefully flew the plane into the mountains killing all 150 on board. News reports say that the father of the GermanWings first officer, insisted his 27-year old son was not depressed or suicidal and Van Beveren criticized the Bureau… Read More…

WestJet Denies Close Call Caught on Camera at St. Maarten

March 9, 2017

Air travelers to St. Maarten expect a thrilling view approaching Princess Juliana International Airport. But thrills turned terrifying for passengers and observers of WestJet Flight 2652 from Toronto on Tuesday. When the Boeing 737 descended through the clouds it went well below the minimum descent altitude. The scene of the jet skimming the surface of Maho Bay was captured by aviation photographer Christine Garner,  shooting from the roof of a nearby building. She said she thought the plane was going to crash. “When this plane came out of the cloud, I was so shocked,” she said. “The surprising thing was he was lower than me. Normally they pass… Read More…

Malaysia Flight 370 Victims Likely Experienced “Happy Death”

March 8, 2017

The passengers and crew of Malaysia Flight 370, which disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing three years ago today, were lulled into a blissful sleep leading to a “happy death” long before the airplane crashed into the sea. That’s the conclusion we must draw if the Boeing 777 was lost, as I speculate it was, due to the incapacitation of the pilots in a depressurization of the aircraft. After that, the plane flew on its last heading until running out of fuel somewhere in the South Indian Ocean. Flight MH370 was a ghost flight. As I write in my book, The Crash… Read More…

Trump’s Somewhat Less-Than-Alarming Attack on Air Safety

January 26, 2017

The Washington Post tagged a story on Donald Trump’s first days as U.S. President with the alarming proclamation that he was “blocking regulations, including one to prevent plane crashes.” Without wading into the morass that is federal politics in America these days, let’s just be clear about what Trump actually did. Shortly after taking office Friday, Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, ordered a number of government agencies to withdraw proposed rules from publication in the federal register, the last stop before the “proposed” comes off and the rule becomes law. From the Department of Housing to the Interior Department, senior lawyers must have worked through the… Read More…

2016; The Year Delta Flyers Never Expected To See This

January 1, 2017

  Over the past month, five passengers were ejected from flights on Delta Air Lines and those are just the ones that made news. One has to wonder if it is a symptom or a consequence of the polarizing political upheavals seen around the globe in 2016. Right before the year ended, Los Angeles residents Blake Fleisig and Anna Koosmann created a bit of drama on a flight home. Reports say Koosmann tried to get out of her seat to go to the bathroom while the plane was still on its ascent out of Minneapolis and when she refused first the flight attendant’s instruction to sit back down,… Read More…

Time To Stop Obsessing About MH370’s Black Boxes

November 28, 2016

After 31 months of uncertainty and more than $120 million dollars spent in the search for the wreckage of Malaysia 370, it is long past time for investigators to broaden the focus of their search. Since March 8, 2014 when the plane made an inexplicable change of course and flew into the Indian Ocean with 239 people on board, air safety investigators have pinned their hopes on finding the cockpit voice and flight data recorders. The Malaysians have gone so far as to say that without the boxes, they will never know what happened to the jetliner. This has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. What’s notable,… Read More…

The Engine Took Out A 767 – AA Flight 383-Photos

November 2, 2016

For an update on this event from the NTSB click here. Uncontained engine failures are relatively rare. Rarer still is the failure that leads to a hull loss. But American Airlines Flight 383, a Boeing 767 routed from Chicago to Miami was on its takeoff roll on Friday afternoon when passengers reported a loud explosion quickly followed by black smoke and fire just outside the right side of the aircraft. “People are yelling, ‘Open the door! Open the door!’ Everyone’s screaming and jumping on top of each other to open the door,” Sarah Ahmed told Chicago’s ABC television station, WLS. Ahmed said she could smell smoke… Read More…

American Airlines Fire Shows Lessons Were Learned in Previous Catastrophes

October 28, 2016

Take a look at this video of American Airlines Flight 383 which was headed from Chicago to Miami on Friday afternoon when an uncontained engine failure prompted the crew to abort the takeoff. Another video — Jose Castillo 🎃 (@Kryptonlogic) October 28, 2016 Jose Castillo, using the twitter handle @Kryptonlogic posted the video on Twitter reporting that his father was on the plane which “exploded” just before takeoff around 2:30. One hundred and seventy passengers and crew were on the Boeing 767, when the General Electric CF6 engine on the right wing erupted into flames. The first passengers to evacuate the wide-body started taking… Read More…

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…

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