Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays

This will be the final post in this blog for 2006 as we take off for a week or so to enjoy the holidays with family and friends. We'll be back to posting news for and about people who work in aviation in the first week of January. 2007.

We wish all the best to our readers and we hope that crews all over the world have a healthy, safe, and Happy 2007.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

EU: Bulgarian aviation safety 'insufficient'

The European Union (EU) says that Bulgaria has significant shortcomings in aviation safety. Bulgaria is set to join the EU in January, but its airline sector will not be integrated into the EU until it guarantees an improvement in standards.

From an article in the International Herald Tribune:
EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot stopped short of banning Bulgarian airlines from EU skies, but said their planes might be grounded by member states on safety grounds.

"As things stand, we are not satisfied that Bulgaria meets the required standard" of airline safety, Barrot said in a statement.

The commission said Bulgaria showed important shortcomings "in the field of safety oversight in general, and for the certification of airworthiness and maintenance of aircraft."

It said staff numbers in civil aviation in Bulgaria were insufficient and their level of training "generally inadequate to perform their duties at the required level."
The Bulgarian transport minister reportedly has told Barrot that the situation would be improved "as soon as possible."

Source: EU says aviation safety in Bulgaria is insufficient - International Herald Tribune

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Lawmakers want all airport workers screened by TSA

Some U.S. lawmakers are calling for closer scrutiny of airport workers. They want more background checks, and they want all airport employees to be screened for weapons when they arrive for work each day.

An article in the Federal Times says that the lawmakers' concerns arise not from a specific plot "but rather recent arrests that point to potential holes in security."
"This is the weakest link" in aviation, said Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee who has proposed a bill that would require airport employees to be screened.
That bill would require:
  • The Transportation Security Administration to issue rules within a year to screen all airport employees.
  • Airports to comply with the TSA order within three years.
  • TSA to start a pilot within four months at five airports that would test employee screening.
One airport operations director quoted in the article calls the provisions of the bill "an unworkable idea that could create gridlock." Nevertheless, the article goes on to note:
TSA has already moved ahead with extra security. The agency this fall adopted policies requiring that everyone working at airports — from taxi drivers to gift shop clerks — be checked for criminal history, terrorist ties and immigration violations. Previously, only employees with access to secure areas faced the checks.

TSA also has started assigning teams of screeners to roam secured areas, doing random searches of airport employees, said Earl Morris, TSA general manager for field operations.
But TSA does not screen airport workers who already have passed background checks. Rep. Lowey feels this is a loophole through which airport workers "could become unwilling accomplices if a terrorist uses them to sneak dangerous materials into an airport."

Source: Lawmakers: Screen airport workers - Federal Times

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Monday, December 18, 2006

British pilots opposed to FAMs

From the Washington Times:
British pilots oppose a proposed change in the United States' visa-waiver program that would require participating countries to provide armed security on U.S.-bound foreign airlines or allow U.S. air marshals to protect such flights.

"Any need to carry weapons on aircraft should be recognized as a failure of the airport security systems," the British Air Line Pilots Association (BALPA) said.

British pilots favor "proper passenger profiling" through a "database of potential terrorists, their known aliases and all their known associates as well as known disruptive passengers," the association said in a statement provided to The Washington Times.
One prevailing point of view on this issue favors a strategy of having Federal Air Marshals (FAMs) on as many flights as possible. Another approach is to arm pilots through the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program.
David Mackett, a commercial airline pilot and president of the Airline Pilots Security Alliance, said there is no alternative to defending aircraft with armed weapons, but that protection by marshals is too costly.

"With 30,000 flights a day, using air marshals, it would cost $14 billion per year and take a force the size of the U.S. Coast Guard -- it simply can't be done," Mr. Mackett said.

Instead, he said Congress should revamp the Federal Flight Deck Officer program to encourage more pilots to seek weapons training.

"Using armed pilots, we could protect every flight in the sky for about $30 million a year because the pilots ask no compensation," Mr. Mackett said.
The Airline Pilots Security Alliance may be right about the prohibitive costs of putting FAMs on every plane, but I'm not sure that the FFDO program is the answer either.

I tend to agree with the British pilots that any need to carry firearms aboard passenger aircraft indicates a failure of airport security systems. But matching passengers against lists of known or suspected terrorists will never be sufficient, since there is no way to compile a comprehensive list of every possible alias and every possible variant spelling of the names of every possible bad guy in the world.

Measures such as prohibiting passengers from bringing all but the smallest amounts of liquids into an aircraft cabin also seem futile -- perhaps even ridiculous. (And let's not forget that 'Scissors - metal with pointed tips and blades shorter than four inches' are still permitted, according to the TSA list of Permitted and Prohibited Items.) Motivated individuals will always be able to figure out ways to fool poorly trained screeners, and will discover or invent new kinds of 'weapons.'

Behavioral profiling may be one of the better methods available for preventing future hijackings and terrorism in the skies. Law enforcement agencies around the country have been using behavioral profiling with some success, but in order to be effective the method requires a considerable amount of training. Behavior recognition training can be both time-consuming and expensive. And who should be trained? -- security screeners? Check-in and gate agents? Cabin crew? All of the above?

Clearly there is no obvious or easy answer to any of these issues.

Source: British pilots say no to armed marshals - Washington Times

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

ICAO guidelines for liquids on board aircraft

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has issued a set of "interim security control guidelines for the screening of liquids, gels and aerosols that may be used in improvised explosive devices on board an aircraft."

These guidelines were set forth in an ICAO news release dated December 11, 2006:
  • All liquids should be carried in containers with a capacity not greater than 100 ml, or the equivalent in other volumetric measurements. Liquids carried in containers larger than 100 ml are not to be accepted, even if the container is only partially filled.
  • Containers should be placed in a transparent re-sealable plastic bag of a maximum capacity of one litre. The containers must fit comfortably within the transparent plastic bag, which should be completely closed.
  • The plastic bag should be presented for visual examination at the screening point. Only one transparent plastic bag per passenger should be permitted.
  • Exemptions should be made for medications, baby milk/foods and special dietary requirements. An appropriate and proportionate means of verifying the nature of such liquids will need to be available.
The ICAO Council further suggested to its 189 Contracting States, who are responsible for establishing their own lists of prohibited items based on ICAO guidance to ensure global harmonization, that they may also wish to consider the exemption of liquids purchased either at airport duty free shops or on board aircraft. They would have to be packed in a sealed plastic bag that is both tamper-evident and displays satisfactory proof of purchase at airport duty free shops, or on board aircraft, on the day(s) of the journey for both departing as well as transfer passengers.

Finally, to facilitate screening and avoid a cluttered x-ray image, it is recommended that the plastic bags holding liquid containers should be presented apart from other cabin baggage, coats and jackets or laptops for separate x-ray screening.

The recommendations are based on the reports of the Aviation Security (AVSEC) Panel and the International Explosives Technical Commission of ICAO concerning the alleged terrorist plot of 9 August 2006 in the United Kingdom, and are to be implemented not later than 1 March 2007.

While fully endorsing the work of the AVSEC Panel, the Council requested that it continue revising the recommended overall list of prohibited items as part of a Secretariat Study Group, also consisting of members from ICAO’s Dangerous Goods and Facilitation Panels, with participants from industry. The target date for review by Council of these latest guidelines is June 2007.

An ICAO Ad Hoc Group of Specialists on the Detection of Explosives is currently working on the development of technologies and operational procedures for the detection of liquids, gels or aerosols with certain physical properties that could be used in explosive devices. The AVSEC Panel Working Group on Training is developing new interim guidance material for screeners.

"Success in mitigating and eliminating all threats to civil aviation can only be achieved through the concerted effort of everyone concerned and a close working relationship between national agencies and aviation security regulators of all Contracting States," emphasized Mr. Roberto Kobeh González, ICAO Council President.

"We must continually monitor and reassess the worldwide security regime to ensure that it is effective, practicable and sustainable, and that it takes into account the best practices of States and other stakeholders," he added.
Source: ICAO Issues Recommendations for the Screening of Liquids Taken On Board Aircraft - ICAO News Release

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Triple-7 gets all choked up over pilot's retirement

Sometimes well-intentioned acts just go terribly wrong. Take a recent incident at Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC as an example.

A United Airlines captain had just landed a B777 aircraft, completing his final trip before retirement. Firetrucks were stationed to meet the aircraft and provide a water cannon 'salute' for the retiring pilot. Inexplicably, the plane was sprayed with fire retardant foam instead of water. The foam was ingested into the aircrafts engines.

Here's how the Aero-News Network told the story:
What was supposed to be a salutation this week to a retiring United Airlines captain ended with a Boeing 777 in the repair shop... and a mess on the ramp.

Media reports state the United Airlines 777-200 had just arrived at Washington Dulles from Paris, and was taxiing to the gate when it took a slight detour... so fire trucks stationed on either side of the jetway could spray the time-honored "water cannon salute" given to retiring pilots, and sometimes aircraft. In this case, the 777's pilot was making his last flight.

United Airlines won't confirm what happened next. Sources say, however, the fire trucks blasted foam fire retardant at the airliner, instead of water.

For the most part, foam will sluice off the fuselage without causing damage... but it's quite another matter when it is ingested into the engines.

"We are conducting a full investigation and are currently looking at the aircraft to ascertain damage," said an unidentified United spokeswoman.
Now both of the aircraft's engines will have to be overhauled before they can be returned to service.

Source: Water Cannon Salute Damages United Airlines 777 -

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tilton: Airline industry needs consolidation

There sure is a lot of buzz going on these days about airline mergers and 'consolidation' within the industry. The pot has been stirred by public statements from United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton.

He was quoted in a Reuters article on
"We think it is good and overdue for the industry despite the fact that it is difficult," Glenn Tilton said on a webcast of a UAL investors meeting.

"We are not in position to comment on anything specifically," Tilton said, adding that the airline is attentive to merger opportunities.
It has been widely rumored that United and Continental Airlines will merge in the near future.

More on the rising tide of 'merger mania,' also from Reuters:
The subject of airline mergers is very much on the agenda following last month's unsolicited bid for Delta by US Airways. Some experts believe US Airways' bid will trigger a wave of consolidation.

Just last week, Northwest Airlines, which also is restructuring in bankruptcy, asked for court permission to hire a financial adviser to help it evaluate strategic alternatives that could include a merger.

Northwest told employees in an internal posting that its interest in hiring an adviser does not mean that the company is considering a merger.

The airline industry has been weakened in recent years by low-fare competition and soaring fuel prices. Many experts say the key to prosperity for airlines is to cut capacity in order to gain more leverage over fares.

Airline mergers can result in capacity reductions where the routes and services of merging airlines overlap.
In the face of all this, the big issue for airline employees is employment stability. Mergers and acquisitions invariably result in the loss of jobs for some. For those who keep their jobs, the issues will be retention of seniority, and which labor contract provisions will prevail.

Sources: Airline Industry Needs Consolidation - UAL CEO -

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Airbus A380 gets U.S. and European type certification

It's official. The world's largest airliner, the new A380 suberjumbo aircraft developed by Airbus, has been type certified by both the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

The two agencies formally announced their approval in a ceremony at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France. From a Reuters article on
Airbus has sold a total of 149 A380s after deducting the 10 originally ordered by FedEx.

The aircraft was conceived as the A3XX in 1997 and the project was formally launched as the A380 in December 2000.

Industry sources say it cost an estimated EUR12 billion (USD$15.9 billion) to develop.
As of now, the first A380 is scheduled for delivery in late 2007.

Source: Airbus A380 Gets Type Certification -

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Monday, December 11, 2006

ExcelAire pilots: Back on U.S. soil

They're home at last. The two American pilots who were involved in the mid-air collision between a corporate jet and a Brazilian airliner in late September are back on U.S. soil.

An article from Newsday, republished on the Airport Business website, quotes the two ExcelAire pilots:
"It feels good to be home," said Joseph Lepore about 5 p.m. yesterday, as he strode toward the Bay Shore ranch house where he lives with his wife, two children and parents.

Jan Paladino said, "It feels great," as he hauled a travel bag into his Westhampton Beach house. "I'm glad to be home."

"We're very excited," Paladino's wife, Melissa, said. "He's had a long ordeal. He's looking forward to getting some rest."
The article also features a nice photo of the two men on the airstairs of the Embraer Legacy 600 that brought them from Brazil back to Ronkonkoma, NY, the same aircraft type they were piloting at the time of the accident.

Among those waiting to greet the returning pilots was New York Times journalist Joe Sharkey, who was a passenger aboard the Legacy that collided with the airliner over Brazil. He's done a fine job using his blog to keep the focus on the plight of the pilots during the time that they were prevented from leaving Brazil.

Source: ExcelAire Pilots Detained in Brazil Return Home - Airport Business

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Latest buzz on explosives detection

Did you know that honeybees can be trained to detect explosives? Neither did I, but apparently it can be done.

According to an Associated Press article on the Airport Business website, researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory say that bees can be trained to detect even tiny amounts of explosives.
In thousands of trials conducted over the past 18 months at the nuclear weapons lab, bees stuck out their tongues when they smelled explosives. The bees even underwent field trials, successfully sniffing out explosives in a simulated roadside bomb, in a vehicle, and on a person rigged like a suicide bomber.

The insects have a phenomenal sense of smell, rivaling that of dogs, [researcher Thomas] Haarmann said.

"The beauty of the bee is that when it has a sugar water reward, it sticks out its proboscis," the scientist said. "It's not a little tiny tongue. It's bigger than the antennae."
Military officials have decided that the bees are "not reliable enough for military tactical use at this point." However, the folks at Los Alamos say it's too early to rule out the possibility of "another federal agency, or a private company, refining the technology and developing other uses for bomb-sniffing bees - at airports, for example, or at the nation's borders."
The researchers found that ordinary honeybees can readily be trained by being exposed to the odor of an explosive, then given sugar water as a reward. After a few times, the bee, anticipating the sugar water, will stick out its tongue at the smell of the explosive.

The Los Alamos study was designed to test technology pioneered by a small British biotechnology company, Inscentinel. The company has developed a small portable sensing unit - a box, basically - into which three strapped-down bees are placed. The bees' so-called proboscis extension reflexes are automatically detected by a camera and associated software, with the results available on a laptop computer.

Haarmann said the study showed that trained bees can detect explosives in a parts-per-trillion concentration, even when masked by other odors.

While that is similar to what dogs can do, Haarmann said, there are situations in which using bees might be preferable. The bee box, he suggested, could be held by a robotic device right next to a suspected bomb while the operator watched the laptop from a safe distance.
I want to know who's in charge of strapping those bees into that box. Do you think they use a five-point harness?

Source: Study Says Bees Can Find Explosives - Airport Business

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Friday, December 08, 2006

U.S. pilots charged over Brazil plane crash

From Reuters AlertNet:
Brazilian police charged two U.S. pilots on Friday with endangering air safety in the crash of a Brazilian airliner over the Amazon rain forest that killed all 154 people on board.


The pilots were charged on Friday when they appeared at federal police headquarters in Sao Paulo for questioning, a police spokesman said. The charges carry a maximum sentence of four years imprisonment, he added.

The pilots' lawyers called the charges premature and suggested that their clients were being made scapegoats before the investigation was concluded.

"This act is absolutely prejudiced and discriminatory," said Jose Carlos Dias, one of Brazil's best-known defense attorneys and a former justice minister. "They're rushing to find someone to blame."
The two pilots are being allowed to return to the United Stets despite being charged. Their lawyer says that they have agreed to return to Brazil "at any time during the investigation if authorities request it."

A statement from their employer, ExcelAire, said: "The insistence of the police officials to criminalize this accident investigation runs counter to the safety of the international flying public, and has been the target of worldwide criticism."

Sources: Two U.S. pilots charged over Brazil plane crash - Reuters AlertNet

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Brazilian aviation crisis

Air traffic controllers in Brazil say they are overworked and underpaid. (Sound familiar?) In protest, they have organized several work slowdowns in recent months, and those actions have caused great disruption to air travel in Brazil.

Now an 'equipment malfunction' has shut down three major airports in Brazil, and some seem to believe that the 'malfunction' may not have occurred by chance. According to an article on the Aero-News Network website:
Although the government blamed the malfunctions on a technical glitch, a retired Brazilian Air Force Colonel and recognized Brazilian aviation expert says it was sabotage. Franco Ferreira believes controllers feel they are being held up as scapegoats for the Gol airlines crash.

Ferreira claims, "There is no doubt that this was intentional."
In the face of so many flight cancellations and delays "Reuters reports passengers have taken to wearing red clown noses and blowing whistles as they wait in line at airports." What a sight that must have been!

Source: Brazilian Aviation In Crisis Following Sabotage Claims -

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More than 100 orders for new HondaJet

This past July I made a post about Honda's plans to enter the aviation market with the introduction of a corporate jet. Apparently the idea of a HondaJet sounded appealing to quite a few folks. According to an AFP article on, over100 orders have been placed for the new aircraft.
[Michimasa Fujino, chief executive of the Honda Aircraft Co. Inc.] said the firm had started working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in October to gain approval for the HondaJet and that it expects to start deliveries to customers in 2010.

"The FAA certification takes three or four years because the process is very time-consuming," said Fujino.

He said the HondaJet will use about 30 percent less fuel than rival corporate jets, and that it is roomier than other planes in its class.

The jet's body is made of high-tech composite material that is also used to build Formula 1 racing cars, and it will be configured to carry two crew and five passengers.

The HondaJet will fly at over 420 nautical miles (778 kilometers) per hour with a cruising range of 1,180 nautical miles (2,185 kilometers).

Honda is entering the market in a joint venture with US-based Piper Aircraft, while it will collaborate with General Electric to make the plane's engines.
So far, orders have been taken from companies and private individuals, not fleet operators. Sounds like the HondaJet has a lot of potential for growth.

Source: Orders build up for Honda's new corporate jet -

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Missile defense for commercial planes

How long have we been hearing about missile defense systems being developed for commercial aircraft? They're coming. They're on the way. They're almost ready.

Here's another article on that topic, telling us that "systems to protect commercial planes from shoulder-fired missiles are almost ready..."

The Reuters article, on, says that although the systems are "almost ready," the airlines and the government probably won't deploy them unless the public perceives an imminent threat. Translation: they won't be put into use until an airliner gets shot down by a shoulder fired missile.

From the article:
Airlines must have the technology to respond to missile threats -- even if they seem unlikely today -- said Walt Havenstein, who takes over as chief of BAE Systems in the United States on January 1.

"If somebody shoots a missile at one of our airplanes coming in off the Chesapeake Bay, and someone says 'Oh, that's what it was,' then life changes," Havenstein said at the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit in Washington.

Jim Pitts, president of the electronic systems unit at US defense contractor Northrop Grumman, echoed the notion that implementation would be far more likely if the traveling public actually feared missile attacks on planes.

"Unfortunately I think a lot of it might be driven by an event," Pitts said.
Aside from fear, of course, one of the big issues is cost. We've been told again and again that to equip airliners with missile defense systems would cost about a million dollars per plane. The focus of discussion, in many cases, is not how much the systems will cost, but who will pay.

Airlines claim that if they have to foot the bill for more expensive security systems, they'll have no choice but to pass the cost along to passengers in the way of higher ticket prices and/or security fees tacked charged to each passenger. The airlines would like the government to absorb a good deal of the cost for missile defense systems, saying that "the broader public -- not just travelers -- benefit from airline security."

Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems are two companies working on laser-based systems to protect aircraft from infrared guided missile attacks. BAE's system, called JETEYE is being tested on a Boeing 767. Guardian, a system under development by Northrop, has been tested on Boeing 747 and MD-11 aircraft, we are told.

Source: Missile Defense For Commercial Planes Near -

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U.S. pilots held in Brazil to go home

This sounds like very good news: Reuters is reporting that the two corporate pilots involved in the mid-air accident over Brazil in late September may be allowed to come home at last.

Reuters says:
A court statement said Joseph Lepore, 42, and Jan Paladino, 34, would get their passports back after 72 hours, during which the police would take further testimony. The two must promise to show up when needed for the investigation and legal process.

"The measure of restricting the freedom of movement for foreigners is not backed by the domestic legal system," the statement said after the court ruled in favor of a writ seeking relief from unlawful detainment.
Until now, the pilots were prohibited from leaving Brazil until the investigation was completed. Their passports were seized by Brazilian authorities right after the accident.
Their forced stay caused a wave of protest from U.S. pilots' associations, who urged the Brazilian authorities to conduct the investigation under widely accepted international guidelines for civil aviation and not as a criminal probe.

"The judges noted that collecting technical evidence can take a long time, 10 months or even more. It wouldn't be appropriate to keep them here the entire time," a court spokesman said.

While officials and the Brazilian media were quick to accuse the U.S. pilots in the first few weeks after the crash, media attention has recently shifted toward air traffic controllers, who complain of an excessive workload, low pay and blind spots in radar coverage.
Still unresolved is why collision avoidance systems apparently did not work to prevent the collision between the two aircraft, which were flying at the same altitude.

Source: Brazil to let US pilots go home after crash probe - Reuters AlertNet

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Making airliners 'hijack-proof'

An interesting article on says that Boeing has a Canadian patent pending for "an anti-terrorist system that will automatically fly and land airliners if the flight crew is incapacitated or killed."
The "uninterruptible" autopilot will be activated by pilots or co-pilots flipping a switch, by sensors that detect excessive force against locked cabin doors or remotely by officials on the ground.

Once initiated "no one on board is capable controlling the flight," say documents related to the patent application by U.S. Boeing, the world's largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners.


The Boeing system will have an independent and inaccessible power source and once engaged, will fly the plane to a landing site, avoiding any large populated areas along the way, presumably in the event of the aircraft blowing up.
Commenting on this system, an article on the Aero-News Network says:
An autopilot that can fly and land an airliner isn't new, but one that activates itself when it senses excessive force on the cockpit door is (the crew may also activate it manually).

Even that feature isn't as controversial as this: once initiated, the system may not be disengaged by anyone aboard the aircraft.

Once engaged, Boeing's system will accept directions from ground-based controllers. The controversy stems from concerns over what might happen should the system malfunction -- or worse, should terrorists gain control of an aircraft from the ground.
Another system to make planes 'hijack-proof' is being developed in Europe. According to the article on
It includes installing ultra-sensitive microphones and cameras to monitor passengers in the cabin, digital fingerprints and iris scans for access to the cockpit, and an avoidance system to prevent planes crashing into buildings.
The threat detection component of that system already has been tested by Airbus.

Another article about these new technologies, on Flight, features a schematic diagram of how the Boeing system works (see link below). The system already has received a U.S. patent.

Sources: High-tech systems aspire to render airliners "hijack-proof" -
Boeing Patents Airliner Anti-Terrorist System -
Diagrams: Boeing patents anti-terrorism auto-land system for hijacked airliners -

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

'Coyote ugly' incident at DEN

We've all heard of 'bird strikes' -- birds being ingested into jet engines -- but this time it was a coyote that suffered that fate.

The incident happened at Denver International Airport on Sunday, November 26, 2006. A coyote crossed paths with a United Airlines B737 that was taking off, and the poor critter was sucked into the aircraft's number two engine.

The pilots were able to complete the takeoff and then returned to the airport for a "successful emergency landing," according to a story posted on the Aero-News Network. Save for the unfortunate coyote, no one was injured.

Aero-News Network says, "We do not envy the mechanics who now have to return the engine to service. And no word if any roadrunners were involved."

Source: Coyote Ingested Into 737 Engine During Takeoff At DEN -

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Investigation: Airline caterer security

A Dallas-Ft. Worth television station has carried out a 'hidden camera' investigation of airline catering company Sky Chefs. A brief report has been posted to the CBS 11 TV website. Here are some excerpts:
Armed with a hidden camera, CBS 11 investigative producer Brent Flynn walked into the building where Sky Chefs prepares the passengers' meals.
Flynn roamed around food carts and encountered two workers on the loading dock who never gave him a second look.
After a second trip inside, a chef — not a security guard — finally asked Flynn for identification. "You can’t just walk in here," the employee told the CBS 11 producer.


CBS 11's hidden camera walk through of the facility follows a similar investigation by our sister station, WCBS-TV, in New York earlier this month. That report also found gaping holes in security at the Sky Chefs' plant at JFK International Airport.

In response to that report, Nancy DuLaney, Sky Chefs' human resources director at its Dallas headquarters, sent an email out to all of the managers at the facility reminding them of the "importance of security at the Dallas facility."
CBS 11 reports that Sky Chefs declined their request for an on-camera interview but issued this written statement:
"We are in the process of conducting large-scale security audits, and have a plan in place to inspect each facility around the country. In the specific case of our DFW Airport facility, we were already in the process of reviewing and implementing a plan to secure all dock areas prior to the CBS 11 report, and will complete this process within days."
Read the whole article here: CBS 11 Investigation: Airline Caterer Security -

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

NBAA to Brazilian President: Release pilots

Mr. Ed Bolen, President of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has sent a letter to the President of Brazil asking for the release of the two American pilots who were flying the business jet involved in the mid-air accident in late September that resulted in the loss of a Gol Airlines Boeing 737-800 and all aboard. The pilots of the Embraer Legacy 600, and their passengers, survived the accident. The pilots have been prohibited from leaving Brazil while the accident investigation is underway.

The Aero-News Network published this text of Bolen's letter to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva:
This letter requests your immediate action to secure the return to the United States of two American pilots being detained in your country in conjunction with the tragic accident between a business aircraft and a Gol Airlines aircraft on September 29th.

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) supports a thorough, fair, accurate and transparent investigation into the accident. We expect nothing less.

It is our understanding that the pilots and their attorneys have fully cooperated with investigators from your government. Yet, despite their cooperation, the pilots are being held in contravention of internationally recognized practices and with no date certain for their release. This is an unacceptable situation that must not continue.

Based on the public reports of the accident, it is clear there was no intentional wrongdoing in this case. Preventing the pilots from returning to the United States is neither appropriate nor beneficial to the investigation.

NBAA urges your prompt intervention in this matter so that the pilots can be returned home in time for the holidays.

Thank you for your time and assistance with this critically important issue.
Source: NBAA's Bolen Calls On Brazilian President To Release Pilots -

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

O'Hare runway incursion animation

Here's a link to the NTSB's three dimensional animated reconstruction that shows the runway incursion incident between an Atlas Air B747 and a United Airlines B737 at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois on July 23, 2006.

NTSB Animation

The video includes a soundtrack with ATC communication. One can only imagine what was heard when they played back the tape from the CVRs on those aircraft. I'm sure the language was not polite!

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Brazil: Warning systems failed in midair accident

The two American pilots involved in Brazil's worst air disaster are still stuck in Rio, but now an Associated Press article posted on the Airport Business website says that "Warning systems failed on both an executive jet and a commercial airliner before the two planes collided..."

Brazil's Col. Rufino Antonio da Silva Ferreira, President of the Commission of Investigation of the Air Force, is quoted in the article. He said that neither crew saw the other plane coming. "No one saw anyone," he said. "No one tried evasive action."
Ferreira said he had not interviewed the air traffic controllers and was waiting for a technical report on the condition of the transponders, devices that signal a plane's presence and altitude.

The two American pilots were interviewed and were "cooperative," Ferreira said. The U.S. pilots

The U.S. pilots union and their international umbrella federation released a statement calling for the release of the two.

"Thus far, only contradictory facts, rumor and unsupported allegations have been forthcoming from Brazilian government officials," the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations, which represents more than 100,000 airline pilots in more than 95 countries, said in a statement.

The federation "calls on the Brazilian authorities to expedite the conclusion of an independent technical investigation into (the crash) ... and that these pilots be allowed to return to their homes forthwith."
Ferreira also noted that the investigation could take 10 months to conclude.

Source: Brazil Probe Says Warning Systems Failed in Midair Crash - Airport Business

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Runway incidents on the rise at U.S. airports

While near collisions on airport runways are very rare -— about one for every 2 million takeoffs and landings -- the number of high-risk runway incidents rose to 31 in fiscal 2006, up from 29 in 2005 and 28 in 2004.

A USA Today article, commenting on this year's NTSB Most Wanted List of aviation safety enhancements, quotes National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Mark Rosenker on the issue of runway close-calls: "It's unacceptable. We've been running on luck for far too long." As an example, Rosenker cites an incident in Chicago on July 23, 2006 when two jets missed each other by 35 feet.

For its part, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says it is pursuing new technologies that will help reduce the danger. According to FAA Deputy Administrator Bobby Sturgell:
The agency is testing lights embedded in runways that flash red to warn pilots when another plane gets too close. A navigation system expected in planes by 2014 will allow pilots to track other planes on the ground, Sturgell said.

"All of this demonstrates that the FAA is aggressively attacking the problem," he said.

Sturgell cautioned that the solutions are costly and the agency needs time to fully test them before they are put into the field.
Source: Runway incidents rise for 2nd year - USA Today

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

NTSB 'Most Wanted' List for aviation

Each year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issues its Most Wanted List of safety improvements, "a list that calls for action by federal agencies on the most critical transportation safety issues."

The NTSB is concerned with safety for all modes of transportation in the United States, but for our purposes, let's have a look at the issues raised for aviation.

The NTSB says that, in addition to pinpointing important safety issues, the Most Wanted List also rates agencies by the timeliness with which they act to implement the recommendations. The Federal Aviation Administration received five unacceptable timeliness ratings.

Here are the issues on the Most Wanted List for Aviation:
Runway Incursions -- This issue has been on the Board's list since it's inception in 1990. The FAA completed action on a number of objectives to make ground operation of aircraft safer. However, these incidents continue to occur with alarming frequency. The FAA indicates that during fiscal year 2005 there were 327 incursions, and during 2006 there were 330. A system introduced by the FAA provides warning to air traffic controllers, but not to the flight crews, a fact that severely reduces the amount of time that pilots have to react to an impending incursion. Recommendation: Implement a safety system for ground movement that will ensure the safe movement of airplanes on the ground and provide direct warning capability to the flight crews. Timeliness Classification: Unacceptable.

Fuel/Air Vapors -- Operating transport-category airplanes with flammable fuel/air vapors in fuel tanks presents a risk of explosion that is avoidable. Center wing fuel tank explosions have resulted in 346 fatalities in four accidents since 1989. There also have been several non-fatal fuel tank explosions, the latest of which occurred earlier this year in India. After the TWA 800 accident in 1996, the Board issued both short and long term recommendations to reduce the potential for flammable fuel/air vapors in aircraft fuel tanks. The short-term recommendation was closed in an unacceptable status because the FAA took no action. The FAA has committed to action on the long term recommendation by Fall 2007. Recommendation: Complete rulemaking efforts to preclude the operation of transport-category airplanes with flammable fuel/air vapors in the fuel tank on all aircraft. Timeliness Classification: Acceptable (progressing slowly).

Aircraft Icing -- The consequences of operating an airplane in icing conditions without first having thoroughly demonstrated adequate handling/controllability in those conditions are sufficiently severe that they warrant a thorough certification test program. The FAA has not adopted a systematic and proactive approach to the certification and operational issues of airplane icing. Recommendation: Complete research on aircraft structural icing and continue efforts to revise icing certification criteria, testing requirements, and restrictions on operationsin icing conditions. Evaluate all aircraft certified for flight in icing conditions using the new criteria and standards. Timeliness Classification: Unacceptable.

Audio, Data and Video Recorders -- Investigators must have information rapidly, effectively and efficiently in order to determine the factors related to an accident. Automatic information recording devices, such as Cockpit Voice Recorders (CVRs) and Flight Data Recorders (FDRs) have proven to be very useful in gathering pure factual information. This information results in the development of timely, more precise safety recommendations that are likely to reduce future similar accidents. Recommendation: In addition to adopting a 2-hour CVR requirement, require the retrofit of existing CVR's with an independent power supply, and require that existing FDRs and CVRs be on separate generator busses, with the highest reliable power so that any single electrical failure does not disable both. Require the installation of video recording systems in small and large aircraft. Require the recording of additional needed FDR data for Boeing 737s. Timeliness Classification: Unacceptable.

Crew Resource Management (CRM) Training for Part 135 Flights -- Part 121 and scheduled Part 135 operators are required to provide pilots with CRM training in which accidents are reviewed and skills and techniques for effective crew coordination are presented. The Safety Board has investigated several fatal aviation accidents involving Part 135 on-demand operators (air taxis such as that involved in the crash that killed Senator Paul Wellstone in 2002) where the carrier either did not have a CRM program, or the CRM program was much less comprehensive than would be required for a Part 121 carrier. Although the FAA has agreed in principal with the recommendation, no discernible progress has been made. Recommendation: Require that Part 135 on-demand charter operators that conduct dual-pilot operations establish and implement an FAA-approved CRM training program for pilots in accordance with Part 121. Timeliness Classification: Unacceptable.
"Our Most Wanted List puts extra pressure on our nation's transportation safety regulators to act more quickly on our recommendations," said NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker. "We've made progress, but this year's list again shows that there are numerous areas that need improvement and they need improvement now. The Board will continue to push aggressively for implementation of the measures needed to make our safe transportation system even safer."

Let's get busy, FAA!


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Sunday, November 12, 2006

DHS: Airport anti-missile program

An item from Airport Security Report, republished by Airport Business, says:
With shoulder-fired missiles having already killed more than 640 people in 35 attacks on civilian jets, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is launching an 18-month program evaluating technologies to protect commercial fleets. It awarded $7.5 million contracts to Raytheon, Northrop Grumman Space Technology and L-3 Communications AVISYS.

DHS will also work with the U.S. Department of Defense to assess the "maturity and effectiveness of relevant technologies, application of resources to determine potential system approaches and suitability in the civilian aviation environment."


Raytheon plans on using Vigilant Eagle Airport Protection System. Deployed around an airport, the system uses passive infrared trackers scanning for missile exhaust. It steers a beam of electromagnetic energy to divert the threat from the aircraft, although it is unclear if this will impact aircraft systems as well. It is ground-based and thus does not have to be fitted to the aircraft. Northrop Grumman is using an infrared anti-missile system designed to divert missiles that is being put on FAA aircraft.
Over 20 terrorist groups are believed to possess shoulder-launched missiles, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Source: Homeland Security Launches Airport Anti-Missile Program - Airport Business

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Digital age NOTAMs

Eurocontrol and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are working together on a new system that will produce standardized, computerized NOTAMs (Notices to Airmen) by 2010.

NOTAMs are issued to disseminate safety-critical, recently generated aeronautical information about runway closures, danger areas, taxiway closures, and so on. About 18,000 NOTAMs are typically in force worldwide, and 25 an hour are issued, replaced or cancelled.

The current system was designed 50 years ago and is intended to be used and understood solely by humans, typically pilots, air traffic controllers and flight dispatchers. NOTAMs require the user to read the information direct in loosely structured, free-text form, usually via a website.

Making NOTAMs readable by computers would enable last-minute updates to be placed on automated data processing systems for instant distribution to all concerned, including pilots. Preliminary trials of computer-readable danger area NOTAMs in the USA have already shown that their use can improve safety, for example in warning of forest fires, or security zones.

Now Eurocontrol has come up with a system called xNotam and has run the first trials with Darmstadt university. Project initiator Eduard Porosnicu says that although its introduction is several years away, there will be a "clear benefit of worldwide implementation" of the system, but only for users who have the capacity to download the information.

Next year the FAA plans to encode airport surface and global navigation system data using the AIXM aeronautical information exchange model developed by Eurocontrol for xNotam. The resulting information will then be distributed and used to create visualisation systems to filter, highlight, map and read NOTAM information.
Porosnicu also said that "in time, computer-interpretable aeronautical data will become the norm and the NOTAM as we know it today may cease to exist."

Are we heading toward aviation's version of Web 2.0? Let's hope so -- and the sooner the better!

Source: Notams poised to enter digital age, with FAA and Eurocontrol set to modernise 50-year-old syst -

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

EU cabin baggage rules changed

Air passengers across Europe now must cope with restrictions similar to those in the U.S. regarding the types and amounts of liquids they may bring aboard airliners in their hand luggage.

The BBC reports:
Liquids are limited to 100ml per container and no more containers than would fit in a one-litre plastic bag.

The new EU-wide rules represent a relaxation of the anti-terror measures in the UK, but will represent a clampdown for many European countries.

The UK imposed curbs in August after police said they had foiled a plot to bring down as many as 10 planes.

The measures were not adopted uniformly elsewhere in the EU, with many travellers previously facing much stricter restrictions on carrying liquids out of the UK than they did on their return from an EU country.

Now passengers across the EU and in Switzerland, Norway and Iceland will be able to carry drinks and toiletries through airport security, but only in small amounts.


The new rules require the liquid containers containing items such as toothpaste, cosmetics and shaving foam be carried in a clear plastic, re-sealable bag that does not exceed 20cm x 20cm (8in x 8in).

At the airport security search, the plastic bag will need to be removed from the hand luggage and X-rayed separately.
Liquids such as perfumes, cosmetics and drinks that are bought in the departure areas of airports will be allowed on board.

Source: Rules on flight liquids changed - BBC News

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

'Silent jet' in development

Okay, not completely silent, but one that "from outside an airport would sound about as noisy as a washing machine or other household appliance," according to a Reuters article about it on the MSNBC news website.

The article says that a team of 40 researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cambridge University spent three years working on the wide, streamlined jet. The aircraft would carry 215 passengers and could be in the air by 2030.

You just have to click on the link to the article at the end of this post so that you can have a look at a photo of this extremely streamlined aircraft of the 'flying wing' variety.
It lacks the central vertical stabilizer common at the tail of current passenger jets, instead using a pair of stabilizers at the wingtips.

The proposed plane has a 222-foot (68-meter) wingspan and is 144 feet (44 meters) long from nose to tail, comparable in size to a Boeing 767.

"You take the fuselage and you squish it, and you spread it out, and it's an all-lifting body," said Zoltan Spakovsky, an associate professor at MIT who worked on the project.

The design allows the plane to remain in the air at slower speeds, which would allow it to cruise in for a landing more quietly. The plane does not use wing flaps, which are common on today's passenger jets and create much of the landing noise.

The MIT-Cambridge team also designed what they said could be a quieter and more fuel efficient engine system. Rather than placing the jets in pods suspended under the wings, the silent jet uses three engines built into the middle of the plane, at the rear. They take in air from above the wing, which helps to insulate people on the ground from jet noise at takeoff.
Now click on this link and have a look at this concept aircraft: 'Silent Jet' Could Ease Airport Noise - MSNBC News

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

American pilots still stuck in Brazil after mid-air

An Associated Press article on the Airport Business website reminds us that the two American pilots who were involved in a mid-air collision in Brazilian airspace in September are still being prevented from leaving Brazil.

The accident, which happened on September 29, resulted in the crash of a GOL Airlines Boeing 737-800 and killed 154 people. The American pilots were flying an Embraer Legacy 600 business jet. The Legacy was damaged in the collision, but the pilots managed to land the aircraft safely, and all seven aboard the smaller aircraft survived.

The American pilots' passports have been confiscated by Brazilian officials while the accident investigation continues. The AP article says this about the investigation:
Early speculation in Brazil pointed to errors by the U.S. pilots, but the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reported this week that air traffic controllers were recorded putting them on a collision course with the bigger jet according to a leaked flight recorder transcript.

Brazil's Defense Minister Waldir Pires earlier labeled "irresponsible" the pilots' statements to investigators that they had been flying at the correct altitude.

Brazilians speculated in the media that the pilots had ignored their flight plan and even switched off the new jet's transponder to avoid being tracked as they tested its performance - allegations denied by the pilots.

Now, the probe into the accident has stalled.

The Brazilian Air Force, citing international conventions, has not turned over control tower transcripts to federal police, nor let criminal investigators interview the 10 air traffic controllers working that day. All 10 controllers have been put on paid leave and offered psychological care.
The article goes on to say that the American pilots "have tried to cooperate, and initially did not contest the seizure of their passports, which their Brazilian lawyer said was illegal. Now they are considering legal action to retrieve their passports and leave Brazil."

Their lawyer says that the pilots will not speak publicly about the accident until they have returned to the U.S. Meanwhile, they continue to languish as 'virtual prisoners' in Rio.

Source: U.S. Pilots Involved in Deadly Brazil Air Collision Stuck in Legal, Emotional Limbo - Airport Business

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Miss Universe grounded by Air Deccan

Every now and then I like to stray from posts about serious topics and insert something a bit more light-hearted. How about this story from the Aero-News Network:
In one of those stories that makes you realize that sometimes even supermodels can't get everything they want, Miss Universe Zulenka Rivera -- along with a baker's dozen of the most beautiful women in the world -- was denied an airline boarding pass in India this Saturday.

Rivera... along with 13 other super-duper fashion models, an Indian-born American fashion designer, and other members of the entourage including bodyguards and stylists, were all denied passage on a Air Deccan flight scheduled to fly from Goa to Bangalore, India. The reason -- too much luggage.

Evidently, the captain of the flight also refused to fly with the excess designer suitcases.

The 27 member fashion group simply had way too many suitcases and they and the airline couldn't agree on how much it would cost to take all the high-fashion couture.
And you thought that Miss Universe never wore anything but bathing suits!

But don't worry. The article also says:
The entire entourage was forced to stay another night and were able to fly out on different airlines the next day. This time, they were allowed to bring all their luggage.
No mention of which other airline...

Source: Miss Universe Not Allowed On Plane -

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Contaminants in passenger aircraft cabins

Here's another article on Airport Business that has some attention-grabbing lines:
What if a terrorist released an invisible poison or disease-causing agent such as anthrax inside a commercial airliner?

Researchers at the [Kansas State] university are under contract with the Federal Aviation Administration to study how to detect, contain and remove contaminants on planes.
Oh, good. I'm glad to hear that! The article goes on:
While the airplane research covers accidental contamination and the natural spread of viruses such as flu or chickenpox, the deliberate spread of toxins is a key concern, said project supervisors.

"If we had been doing this research 10 years ago, we probably wouldn't be looking at intentional contamination of the cabin," said Byron Jones, project director and a professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering. "We'd be looking at normal, everyday contaminants."

While someone could release toxins in other crowded environments - such as theaters, stadiums or buses - airplanes are historically terrorist targets and have especially captive occupants. Such an incident would have a "huge negative impact" on the airline industry, Jones said.
Gee, ya think??

Okay, okay. I was being sarcastic there. But seriously, folks, aren't you glad that someone actually is looking into this issue?

Aircraft cabin air quality is indeed a very serious issue, whether we're talking about the spread of infectious diseases by coughing, sneezing passengers, or issues like the spraying of pesticides inside airliner cabins (required by some governments for arriving international flights).

And if you're interested in reading more about the Kansas State University research on aircraft cabin contaminants, you can read the whole article here: Study Seeks Way to Remove Poisons from Airplanes - Airport Business

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ocean Tailored Approaches: Quiet landings

From time to time I come across news articles about noise near airports, and about noise abatement programs of one sort or another. Usually those articles are pretty dry stuff. Yawn.

But a recent article on the Airport Business website caught my attention. In the first place, it had a very catchy opening. I quote:
Imagine a 400,000-pound, wide-bodied Boeing 777 gliding over the Peninsula into San Francisco International Airport.

On a recent overnight flight from Honolulu, United Airlines Flight 76 did just that, sailing overhead from the coast to the Dumbarton Bridge at idle thrust using mostly gravity, not mechanical brakes, to cut speed for landing.

For everyone snug in their beds in Woodside, Portola Valley and Atherton, it meant no noise complaints that August morning.

For researchers at SFO, NASA Ames Research Center, Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, it means the wave of the future in air traffic control: an aircraft descent pattern generated by computer and flown on autopilot. Researchers say the technology is cleaner, quieter and more fuel efficient than traditional manual landings.
So I read on...

The article is about a test program called Ocean Tailored Approaches that uses computer software to determine the smoothest landing path -- 'smooth' meaning the one that allows the aircraft to "descend with minimal engine thrust and more glide."
Commercial airliners currently fly autopilot at cruising altitude and have auto-landing features. But the vast majority of flights are landed manually by pilots and controllers in heavy traffic to avoid collisions. With tailored approaches, the software determines the path of all planes simultaneously to keep them from colliding, while minimizing the amount of braking and leveling off they normally do to land safely in heavy traffic.
The article says that, in the initial tests, both the pilots and the controllers liked the system.

Another benefit: the method actually saves fuel, too.

More tests of this system are scheduled to begin soon. Read the whole article about Oceanic Tailored Approaches here: Technology Helps Create Quiet Landing - Airport Business

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

NATA: New guidelines for charters

The Aero-News Network is reporting on some new guidelines for air charter operators offered by the National Air Transportation Association (NATA).

The first is NATA’s Guide for International Transportation of Minors. Aimed at on-demand charter, Part 91 aircraft management, and Part 91(K) fractional operators, the guidelines address issues concerning the transportation of minors outside the United States.
The publication addresses several scenarios, including transporting minors with only one parent or legal guardian, minors alone or with neither parent or legal guardian, minors with a different last name, and minors with one deceased parent. The association explains that, although some nations do not require documentary evidence of the accompanying adults’ relationship to the minor and/or notarized letters of permission from the parent(s) or legal guardian for entry, and they are not necessarily required for departures from the United States, these guidelines are recommended for all international travel with minors to guard against legal action resulting from the transportation of minors.

"The airline industry has long been following similar guidelines, and on-demand charter operators have indicated a strong desire for industry guidance. Many operators are afraid to ask prominent clients for sensitive information, such as birth certificates or notarized letters. This publication gives companies guidance for establishing their own policy, and can serve as an educational tool when provided to customers," said NATA President James K. Coyne.
The second set of guidelines, Risks of Illegal Charters, is intended to "help legitimate charter operators educate their clients."
[The document] describes the training, oversight, drug and alcohol testing, and other significant differences between legal charter operators certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and illegal operators. It also advises consumers how to determine if a charter operator is properly certified by the FAA.
For more information, visit that NATA website at

Source: NATA Offers Guidelines For Air Charter Operators -

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Business Jet Charter Safety: Cabin crew issues

by B. N. Sullivan

Back in early 2005, I wrote a piece [published elsewhere] titled 'When is a Flight Attendant Not a Flight Attendant?'  The short answer to that question is "when he or she is a 'cabin server' on a business aircraft." The article addressed the issue of 'cabin servers' who work on privately owned or chartered business jets. It happens that, in the United States, individuals may work as servers in the cabin of such aircraft without having been formally trained in safety procedures, including aircraft evacuation.

Legally, cabin servers may  be on board business jets to serve passengers, but , in contrast to Flight Attendants, they have no mandated safety function, and may not legally be listed as crew on the manifest.  In fact, they must be listed as passengers.

As I wrote in 2005, this practice can be dangerous:
[The title] "Flight Attendant" a has come to be used generically to refer to a person who works in the cabin of an aircraft.  Some aircraft owners and charter operators therefore often refer to any cabin personnel as "Flight Attendants."  The trouble arises in the admittedly rare instance of an emergency aboard the aircraft.  The passenger -- naive to the difference between a fully qualified Flight Attendant and a cabin server -- may logically assume that the person working in the cabin is indeed trained to take charge in an emergency.  That passenger, conditioned by the reality of airline experience, where all Flight Attendants are in fact "real" Flight Attendants by law, will look to the cabin server for leadership, and will have an expectation of skills and competencies that the cabin server may not, in fact have.

A clear illustration comes to us in a February 2005 accident in which a chartered executive jet crashed on takeoff from Teterboro, New Jersey.  Eleven people were aboard the aircraft: eight passengers, two pilots, and a young woman who was working as a cabin server.  No lives were lost in that accident, but several people were seriously injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has just released its report on that accident.  They concluded that the primary cause of the accident was improper loading of the aircraft -- violations of what pilots refer to as 'weight and balance.' The NTSB report cited numerous other factors that contributed to the accident, and to injuries suffered by those on the aircraft.

Some of the injuries to the passengers were caused because very basic safety issues in the cabin were overlooked by the crew. An article about the report on the Airport Business website says:
The NTSB also found the cabin hostess did not follow FAA procedures, which caused glassware to injure passengers during the accident, and the plane's seatbelts were tucked under its seats, so passengers could not strap themselves in. Two passengers were thrown into the aisle during the accident.
A properly trained Flight Attendant would have provided the passengers with a safety briefing, for openers.  Passengers on this aircraft had not received such a briefing.

A Flight Attendant would have insured that the passengers were wearing their seatbelts for takeoff.  Some of the passengers on this flight were not properly restrained, and were injured as a result.

A Flight Attendant would have cleared the cabin of breakable glassware and china before the aircraft got underway.  Two passengers were cut by broken glass in the cabin.

Properly trained Flight Attendants insure that paths to exits on aircraft are kept clear, and they know how to quickly open doors and any other escape hatches on an aircraft.  They know how to evacuate an aircraft quickly and safely.

As a part of their pre-flight checks, Flight Attendants make sure that emergency equipment in the cabin is in place and operating properly.  They know how to fight fires aboard an aircraft, and how to tend to injuries and medical emergencies.

This ill-fated flight did not have a Flight Attendant aboard.   The young woman working as a server in the cabin was untrained in safety procedures.  She unwittingly (we assume) contributed to the passengers' injuries because of her lack of knowledge about very basic safety issues.

I'm not pointing a blameful finger at the cabin server.  I'm not even saying that there should be no cabin servers who are not trained in safety procedures (although I would prefer that all personnel working aboard any aircraft receive such training).

What I'm trying to point out is that if a cabin server looks like a Flight Attendant -- and is perceived by the passengers as a Flight Attendant, then either she or he should be a fully trained Flight Attendant -- or else the passengers should be made aware of the fact that the server is not trained in safety procedures.  Then, at least, the passengers would know that they were essentially on their own in an emergency, with no expectation that the cabin server would direct them or look out for their safety.

A sore point with a lot of  real Flight Attendants -- including those who work on executive jets -- is that they are perceived only as flying waiters and waitresses, when in fact they see safety assurance as their most crucial role on board an aircraft.  Yes, they serve meals and attend to passenger comfort -- on commercial airline flights as well as on corporate jets.  But should an in-flight emergency arise, service is the least of anyone's worries, and the safety skills of the Flight Attendant are what will count to prevent injuries and save lives.

Apparently this notion is not lost on the NTSB.  As a result of their investigation of the Teterboro accident, the NTSB made several recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Among those was this item:
  • Requiring that any cabin personnel on board Part 135 flights who could be perceived by passengers as equivalent to a qualified flight attendant receive basic FAA-approved safety training in a least the following areas (incomplete safety briefing was giving on accident flight): preflight briefing and safety checks; emergency exit operation; and emergency equipment usage. This training should be documented and recorded by the Part 135 certificate holder.
[For those not fluent in aviation lingo, 'Part 135' refers to the section of the Federal aviation regulations under which executive jet charters operate.]

In sum, just like the folks at the NTSB, I'd love to see all cabin personnel receive basic FAA-approved safety training before they are allowed to work aboard an aircraft.

Who knows? One of these days, perhaps  the FAA will do the right thing on this issue.

Sources: Improper Loading Caused Crash of Corporate Jet in Teterboro, New Jersey, NTSB Finds - NTSB News
NTSB Finds Lax Oversight in Teterboro Charter Crash - Airport Business