Posts with the tag ‘aviation security’


Should Epstein’s Pilots Have Foiled His Child Sex Trafficking Ring?

September 7, 2019

As new reports emerge about the various ways the late convicted pedophile Jeff Epstein procured and pimped young women to some of the most influential men in the world, the public has heard little from the pilots who greeted the VIPs and the underaged girls as they boarded Epstein’s private jets. Larry Visoski and David Rodgers flew for Epstein for nearly two decades. How could they be unaware of what the boss was up to? Still, Visoski and Rodgers, both of Florida, remain free to work as commercial pilots with no enforcement actions taken against them from the years Epstein pled guilty to those activities…. Read More…


United Makes Peace by Reinstating Fired Crew, Qatar Not So Much

March 11, 2016

Two stories with big consequences for the participants and lessons for the rest of us were in the news this week. After years of fighting their firing for expressing concern about the security of their aircraft, 13 United flight attendants have been reinstated. You may recall from a previous post on my blog, that in the summer of 2014, the cabin crew on a flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong, grew concerned about disturbing graffiti on the tail of their Boeing 747. Drawn in the grease were two faces and the words “bye bye”. The airlines operations staff dismissed the drawing as a benign prank… Read More…


Science Shows Metrojet Crash Triggered by a Bomb

November 13, 2015

The blast that took down a Russian Airbus A321 over the Sinai last month, had to be triggered by a bomb, an experienced explosives expert said today. “If the information about the plane being at 31,000 feet is reliable, it’s not a fuel air explosion,” Merritt Birky, a former safety investigator with the NTSB told me. Lacking any indication that a missile hit the airplane, Birky’s conclusion eliminates the other possible scenario, that the plane came apart mid flight due to an explosion in the plane’s center fuel tank. >Birky (L) in 1996 Birky, now retired, was the principal explosion and chemical expert in the… Read More…


Prudence and Probable Cause Not the Same Thing in Metrojet Crash

November 5, 2015

>UK Prime Minister Cameron Government photo All over the news today is the story of the UK and Irish governments canceling flights out of Sharm el Sheikh. British Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters “ a bomb was more likely than not” to have brought down the Airbus A321 flown by the Russian charter airline, Metrojet. But be cautious about drawing conclusions based on the reaction of government officials concerned about protecting the lives of citizens flying out of the Egyptian resort town. It is the job of Prime Ministers and other political leaders to be prudent and investigate what could have happened to determine if a… Read More…


Suicidal/Homicidal Pilots and the Challenge of Trying to Fix Unknown Unknowns

May 6, 2015

Andreas Lubitz from Facebook The chilling news that pilot Andreas Lubitz had already tried the controlled descent into terrain of an airliner prior to the successful crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 on March 23, threatens to overwhelm other facts that put the bizarre case into perspective. In the just released report by the French Civil Aviation Safety Investigation Authority, investigators say the flight data recorder shows that on the first leg of the round trip between Dusseldorf and Barcelona, the 27 year old first officer set the selected altitude to 100 feet several times; while the plane was at cruise at 37 thousand feet, after… Read More…


Attending the Flight School of Andreas Lubitz

March 27, 2015

Astute readers of Flying Lessons may remember that in the fall of 2010, I published here a series of posts about the week I spent as a student at the Airline Training Center of Arizona, the flight school owned and operated by Lufthansa. (I also wrote about it for The New York Times.) This was the same flight school and at the same time that Andreas Lubitz was first learning to fly powered aircraft. Nearly all of the more than five thousand pilots who work for Lufthansa and its subsidiary Germanwings, learned to fly at the ATCA. It is the first step of a several… Read More…


Government Helps Airlines Shift Security Costs to Passengers

February 16, 2015

Airlines got a $373 million dollar gift from the government when it eliminated the Aviation Security Infrastructure Fee last year. What with the slide in fuel prices, these 37 U.S. and 71 foreign airlines have to be feeling pretty flush right now. The fee, called ASIF was imposed after 9-11 so that airlines would contribute to the government takeover of airport security – which up until the terror attacks was the airlines’ responsibility. In exchange for getting out from under the ASIF fee, I am told, airlines agreed to drop their opposition to doubling the security fee that air travelers pay.   For each one… Read More…


Defying Decades of Safety Improvements Airline Fires Flight Attendants

January 12, 2015

OSHA photo of the graffiti How long does it take to undo years of effort to improve the way flight crews communicate and share safety-related concerns? About two and a half hours if we’re talking about United. That’s how long the airline allowed a reported safety/security issue to spiral out of control until 13 experienced flight attendants refused to fly a Boeing 747 from San Francisco to Seoul last summer losing their jobs in the process. The whole sorry episode began when Jeff Montgomery, a conscientious first officer doing a walk-around of United Flight 869 on July 14, 2014, spotted graffiti written in grime on… Read More…


Aviation’s Effort Combating Laser Attacks Hashtag #Ineffective #Insane

August 28, 2014

FBI video of laser illumination of an airliner cockpit No less a brainiac than Albert Einstein could have weighed in on the phenomenally ineffective efforts of American aviation and law enforcement to combat laser attacks on airplanes. The German American physicist defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” For the past eight years, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other authorities have taken a blame and shame approach to miscreants who aim laser pointers into the night sky causing momentary blindness or distracting pilots during a high workload phase of flight. I’ve written about this… Read More…


Malaysia Flight 17 May Be Victim of Geopolitical Turbulence

July 17, 2014

The apparent shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 in the Ukraine today is a shocker  for many reasons, not the least of which is that this is a double dose of tragedy for an airline already off-balance over the mysterious disappearance of another jumbo jet in March of this year. It is also deeply troubling to think of air travelers as casualties of geopolitical turbulence. But perhaps it should not be so shocking. Over the past decades, nearly two dozen passenger airliners have been hit by missiles. Among them Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988 hit and destroyed by the U.S. Navy Korean… Read More…


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