Flying Lessons Blog

Willful and Whimsical, Southwest’s Kelleher is Gone but Not Forgotten

January 4, 2019

Herb Kelleher, the founder of Southwest Airlines, its chairmen emeritus and an undisputed member of the pantheon of airline titans, died on Thursday, January 3, at 87. His sixties-era effort to establish a Texas-based airline in the decade before U.S. airline deregulation was an improbable effort.  Nevertheless, the carrier’s unusual business model and playful attitude both among employees and with passengers, transformed the industry so much, that four decades later, the increase in air connectivity in a community following the arrival of a low-cost carrier is often referred to as the “Southwest Effect.” There are many reasons for the success of Kelleher’s baby, now America’s largest domestic… Read More…

Air Travel Holiday Treat: Turbulence Avoidance Coming Soon

December 20, 2018

Like Santa himself, turbulence appears in the blink of an eye and out of the blue. Unlike Santa, it leaves tears in its wake.  Getting knocked around the cabin during an otherwise ordinary flight is the leading cause of injuries for airline passengers, not to mention exceedingly frightening. Just ask any of the 192 people aboard Aerolineas Argentinas Flight 1303 from Miami to Buenos Aires in October. Fifteen of them were treated on arrival to Buenos Aires for injuries sustained during the bumpy flight. But just in time for the holidays, the International Air Transport Association is promising something nice; a turbulence reporting program that… Read More…

Lion Air Lawyer Accused of Sexual Assault in 2010

December 17, 2018

Aviation lawyer Manuel von Ribbeck, often accused of being an ambulance-chaser, has of late been threatening reporters writing about the less-seemly practices of Ribbeck Law Chartered. Those journalists may have something new to question him about. While they’re at it, they might want to question his enablers. von Ribbeck arrived in Jakarta shortly after Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the sea killing all aboard on October 29th. The Boeing 737 MAX was brand new and sporting a new software system that may have played a role in the disaster. With an enthusiasm that borders on gleeful, von Ribbeck told Lion Air family members that… Read More…

Curious Partnership As Lawyers Race to Secure Lion Air Cases

November 29, 2018

What does a Harvard-educated lawyer and former U.S. prosecutor from white-shoe law firm have in common with a scrappy duo of sibling attorneys with no U.S. office or phone number on file? The brother/sister act’s most public legal experience is defending themselves from a range of complaints, contempt of court threats and ethical infractions. Both sides of this incongruous pairing, Curtis Miner, the aforementioned Harvard man who is a partner in the Miami firm Colson, Hicks, Eidson, and Manuel von Ribbeck and his sister Monica Ribbeck Kelly are alike in their indiscriminate pursuit of aviation accident cases with the promise of a big fat payout. Having… Read More…

NTSB Questions if Tests of 20-Year Old Jet Engine are Sufficient

November 14, 2018

The death of Southwest Airlines passenger Jennifer Riordan was as horrific as it was surprising. The 43-year-old executive from Albuquerque was partially sucked out of the window of a Boeing 737 on a flight to Dallas in April when one of the plane’s engines came apart and pieces penetrated the passenger cabin. On Wednesday, at a hearing before the National Transportation Safety Board which is investigating the accident, a representative for the Federal Aviation Administration admitted that the way the engine came apart, damaging the airplane and triggering the decompression that pulled Riordan through a broken window, should not have happened under engine certification requirements…. Read More…

737 Pilots Not Told of MAX Design Change That Could Factor in Lion Air Crash

November 12, 2018

(Updated November 13 to include Boeing comments.) How concerned are 737 MAX pilots about their new airplane? Plenty concerned. Over the weekend, two U.S. operators of Boeing’s newest model narrowbody were sending out memos with details of a new system unique to the MAX called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which may have contributed to the fatal crash of Lion Air Flight 610 last month in Indonesia. This memo had to be sent because until last week this system was a secret to the men and women who fly the plane. The MCAS on the Boeing 737 Max was added as part of its Federal… Read More…

The Hidden Message in Boeing’s Lion Air Service Bulletin

November 8, 2018

(photo courtesy From the time the pilots retracted the flaps of the new Lion Air jetliner that flew as Flight 610, they were presented with anomalous readings, chaotic warnings and an airplane that was not flying as it should. This is what can be learned reading between the lines of the service bulletin Boeing sent to airlines operating the planemaker’s newest 737, the MAX. The airplane crashed into the sea 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta on October 29th killing 189 people. In the bulletin, Boeing says during the Lion Air crash investigation, it was determined that a faulty reading of the flight… Read More…

Boeing 747 Slides to an Unceremonious Stop – 3rd Jumbo Excursion in a Month

November 7, 2018

A Boeing 747 Sky Lease Cargo flight skidded off the end of runway 14/32 at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, after a flight from Chicago on Wednesday morning. Nathan Coleman of Canada’s captured photos and video of the jumbo jet, up to its lower cowlings in the dirt on the left side and resting on the fuselage. Video just shot at the scene @weathernetwork — Nathan Coleman (@NateTWN) November 7, 2018 The airport was shut down shortly after 5:00 am local time but some flights have resumed. Four people, all members of the crew were taken to the hospital. There does not appear to have been… Read More…

Speculation About the Cause of an Air Crash Yep, That’s a Good Thing

November 2, 2018

In what other area of journalism are reporters asked to surrender their own judgment and analysis and wait for the “officials” to weigh in?  From the very first air accident, the crash of the Wright Flyer that killed Thomas Selfridge in 1908, observers have opined about what the facts seem to suggest before and after the official probable cause is determined. And what’s wrong with that? Today, the internet connects pundits, armchair investigators and hyperspecialists. This is how, in the hours after the crash of Lion Air 610, we first learned of the plane’s erratic climb and flight and reports that the Boeing 737 MAX had come… Read More…

Not Enough Time for Lion Air Pilots to Save Flight

October 29, 2018

Data from the airplane tracking site FlightAware indicates that the flight of the Lion Air Boeing 737 Max that crashed into the Java Sea on Monday morning was irregular from the start.  The plane departed Jakarta on a clear day an hour after sunrise, with 189 people on board. Lion Air Flight 610 was headed north to the Bangka Belitung Islands. But the FlightAware data shows the flight was slow to ascend from the start and never during its ten-minute flight did it get higher than 5,500 feet. Equally distressing is the speeds of descent recorded in the last minute. Plummeting towards the Java Sea… Read More…

Enter to Win

Want to receive some free swag from Christine? Sign up for the mailing list!