Thursday, April 30, 2009

NBAA's Ed Bolen Explains the Importance of Business Aviation on Fox Business

In this recent appearance on Fox Business, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen explains "the importance of business aviation to citizens, companies and communities across the country, and the work of the 'No Plane No Gain' initiative to educate policymakers and opinion leaders about the essential role of business aviation in America today."

See also: - website operated jointly by NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA).

If the video does not play or display properly above, click here to view it on YouTube.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How flu is transmitted aboard passenger airliners (Not the way you may think!)

by B. N. Sullivan

sneezeUnfortunately, many people are beginning to panic about the present outbreak of the H1N1 Swine Flu virus, and that is causing a ruckus in the commercial air transport industry. Crews and passengers alike are worried that they will 'catch' the virus on board a plane. Are they right to be so concerned?

I can't completely allay people's fears, but I can relate some scientific information that may help to put the relative risk of catching the swine flu virus on an airplane into perspective. Let me tell you about some things that are known about just how is flu transmitted aboard an aircraft.

Many seem to believe that people aboard passenger aircraft catch the flu and other infectious diseases because much of the cabin air is recirculated. In other words, they believe that the viruses and bacteria that cause infectious diseases are airborne, and that the germs are distributed throughout the aircraft via the recirculated air.

More and more evidence shows this explanation to be false, or at least limited. For one thing, the HEPA filters used in the air circulation systems of modern passenger aircraft are amazingly efficient at trapping particles -- including viruses and bacteria -- before they can be recirculated. But there is another reason, too.

Countless studies -- most of which have been carried out in health care facilities, where there are lots of germs of all kinds -- have shown that infectious diseases are transmitted most often through direct contact with surfaces on which droplets from the sneezes or coughs of an infected person have landed. When droplets land on surfaces, the viruses and bacteria contained in them stay on the surface, even after the droplets dry.

The germs are passed to the hands of other people who subsequently touch those surfaces. This is exactly why frequent and thorough hand washing is so highly recommended as a method of infection control.

Recent information about how flu is transmitted, published in a journal called Lancet Infectious Diseases [reference below], confirms that flu transmission "occurs at close range rather than over long distances, suggesting that airborne transmission, as traditionally defined, is unlikely to be of significance." This conclusion is based on a large-scale review of published data on the subject.

Results from 32 experimental and epidemiological studies were evaluated by a Canadian team from the University Health Network, Toronto for this report. Their analysis showed that the flu virus is indeed more likely to be transmitted to people within a short distance of the infected person, via large respiratory droplets that fall out of the air, and not via "fine aerosols" that hang in the air for extended periods of time.

This information has important implications for crews working aboard passenger aircraft -- especially flight attendants. On the one hand, it is somewhat reassuring to know that the risk for airborne transmission of the flu virus throughout an aircraft is relatively small. On the other hand, it adds more importance to avoiding close contact with an infected person -- and with objects that may have been contaminated by "large respiratory droplets" from that person -- that is, from coughs and sneezes, as well as oral and nasal secretions in general.

The passengers sitting nearest to an infected person are those most at risk for coming into contact with surfaces contaminated by "respiratory droplets" -- seats, tray tables, armrests, and so on. For flight attendants, the greatest risk probably comes from handling items used by an infected person, or from that person's immediate area.

Risk Mitigation

Flight attendants who touch or handle items that have been used by infected people may very readily come in contact with the germs left behind by those "respiratory droplets." Collecting trash, food trays, and other items used by an infected person can put flight attendants at risk for coming into direct contact with infectious agents.

The sensible thing to do would be to wear protective gloves when handling items used by infected passengers. Unfortunately it's not always clear who is infected and who is not. Therefore, if I were running the show (especially during an active outbreak), I would advise flight attendants to wear protective gloves whenever they are collecting used items, and I wouldn't restrict the use of gloves to collecting trash or food trays.

Unfortunately not all air carriers approve of flight attendants wearing gloves, except when they are tending to a passenger who is known to be infected. The trouble is that during an active outbreak such as the present one, it is difficult to know who is infected, and who is not. In fact, people can be infected -- and infectious -- before they begin to feel or display symptoms.

A number of airlines actually prohibit their cabin crew from wearing protective gloves -- on the silliest grounds, I might add. For example, I have been told that some airline managers think that the sight of a flight attendant wearing protective gloves would upset the passengers, because it would suggest that the aircraft was unclean. This is nonsense, and it trivializes a known health risk -- a risk that exists for other passengers, as well as cabin crew.

If you work for a carrier that prohibits or discourages cabin crew from wearing gloves -- especially when collecting food trays and trash -- I would advise you to bring up the issue with your inflight supervisors. Get your union involved, too.

Transmission of infectious diseases aboard an aircraft is an occupational health risk for crews that should not be ignored, yet there are ways to lessen the risk.

Earlier this week, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the largest flight attendant union in the U.S., published a page on their website, Swine Flu: What flight attendants need to know, which includes useful information about the virus that currently is circulating, and ways that cabin crew can protect themselves. Go and have a look at that, as a starting point.

Stay informed about current developments, but choose your information sources wisely. Don't rely solely on news reports, some of which may be inaccurate or have a bias. In the United States, the best source of current, reliable information is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here is the link to the CDC's Swine Influenza (Flu) website:

Another place to look for both background information and current news about the current outbreak is the News & Info About H1N1 Swine Flu page on the website.

Study referenced above: Brankston, G., Gitterman, L., Hirji, Z., Lemieux, C., & Gardam, M. (2007). Transmission of influenza A in human beings. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(07)70029-4.


    Tuesday, April 28, 2009

    Swine Flu (H1N1): Information for Flight Attendants

    by B. N. Sullivan

    flight attendantYesterday I was speaking with a flight attendant about the current outbreak of Swine Flu (H1N1). "The news is so scary, I don't know what to think," she said. "Should I be afraid to go to work or not?"

    "No," I told her. "You needn't be afraid to go to work, but you should learn the facts about the disease, and understand what to do to lessen your chances of becoming infected."

    It does seem like the swine flu outbreak came out of nowhere and just exploded onto the scene. There are so many rumors circulating, it's no wonder people are scared. The news media jumped on the story quickly, and although they have reported some factual information, they also have fanned the flames of fear -- sometimes by their choice of words, and sometimes by feeding the rumor mill instead of sticking to known facts.

    Don't panic. Mixed in among the mass of rumor and hype, there is some good, solid, reliable information -- you just have to know where to look for it.

    Here are some good places to start. (Each of these items will open in a new page or tab when you click.)

    Background information about Swine Flu (H1N1)
    Travel and Aviation-specific Swine Flu Information

    If and when new information from truly reliable sources becomes available, I will add it to this page.

    If you are on Twitter, you can keep abreast of new developments by following @CDCemergency. You can also follow the health news Twitter feed @Twellness. No rumors. No hype. Just facts and links to news you need to know in order to make informed health decisions for yourself and those you care about.

    UPDATE May 1, 2009: Here is something useful. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has published a document listing 500 Antimicrobial Products Registered for Use Against Influenza A Virus on Hard Surfaces (17-page PDF).

    These include disinfectant solutions and foams, as well as single-use wipes. You might want to check it out and see if the ones you use on aircraft, and pack with you to use on your layovers, are on the list. There is a page on the EPA website that explains.

    Monday, April 27, 2009

    Airline travel and the spread of flu: Implications for the swine flu outbreak

    by B. N. Sullivan

    airlinerOver the past several days there has been an explosion of news about an outbreak of a new kind of flu virus, Swine Influenza A/H1N1 (AKA swine flu), that began infecting large numbers of people in Mexico, and then spread to several other countries, including the United States. We in the aviation community may not like to admit it, but air travel almost certainly has played a central role in the rapid spread of the disease outside the area where it first emerged.

    Even as I write this, countries around the world are initiating screening of passengers arriving at gateway airports in an attempt to detect those who may be carriers of swine flu. Discussions are underway about travel restrictions to and from infected areas. Undoubtedly this outbreak -- and some of the measures being implemented (or at least being considered) -- will have a negative effect on the civilian air transport industry, which is already suffering from the global economic crisis that preceded the emergence of swine flu.

    Should restrictions on air travel be imposed? Should public health concerns take precedence over the economic impact on the aviation industry? That's a tough call, and I'm glad I don't have to make it.

    What is undeniable is that there is indeed a link between air travel and the spread of flu. That link was established several years ago by some scientists who studied the role of air travel in the spread of seasonal flu. It's an interesting story with great relevance to the present situation.

    A team of researchers reviewed public records of deaths across the United States due to flu (influenza) and pneumonia for the nine year period from 1996 through 2005. They were looking for patterns in the timing of deaths attributed to seasonal flu outbreaks, and the geographic spread of flu mortality across the United States.

    It is well known that 'flu season' occurs annually during the cooler months of the year, but the researchers wanted to find out more exact information about the timing of this yearly health problem, and about how the flu is spread.

    They found that the timing of the peak of the flu season seemed to be related to seasonal patterns of passenger airline travel volume.

    Specifically, they found that the seasonal increase in domestic air travel volume that begins around Thanksgiving in the U.S. was quite consistently followed by an increase in the rate of influenza spread. In years when holiday travel volume was lower, influenza spread more slowly. Conversely, during years with higher traffic volume, especially around Thanksgiving, influenza spread across the country more rapidly.

    They also found that the volume of international air travel was significantly correlated with when the peak number of flu-related deaths occurred in a given year. They noted that in years when the number of international travelers was lower, especially during early Autumn, the flu season peaked later, and vice versa.

    But when they dug a little deeper into the data, they discovered something even more interesting.

    The patterns in the first five years they studied were remarkably stable. The timing of the peak number of flu-related deaths occurred in mid-February in each of those years. In fact the actual date when the peak occurred was within two days of February 17th for each of those first five years.

    Then 9/11 happened, and we all know what followed in regard to air travel. First there was the ground stop, and when airline schedules resumed, passenger volume was quite low for many months. Then, over the next few years, annual passenger volume gradually increased.

    Guess what: rates of spread for flu deaths around the U.S., and the timing of the peak of the flu season during those same years reflected the patterns in passenger volume. During the 2001-2002 season, flu spread across the country more slowly than in any other year of the nine studied, and the peak was weeks later.

    Over the next three years, as passenger volume gradually increased, the peak of the flu season gradually moved to an earlier date -- until the final year they studied (2005) when it was right back to February 17th!

    In the words of the researchers themselves:
    The flight ban in the US after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent depression of the air travel market provided a natural experiment for the evaluation of the effect of flight restrictions on disease spread. The importance of airline activity was highlighted by the delayed peak of influenza in 2001-2002 following the period of reduced flying activity. This finding is further validated by the absence of a similar delay in influenza activity in France, where flight restrictions were not imposed.
    Of course there are many other factors besides airline travel that can influence the spread of seasonal flu. Nevertheless, the findings of this study do confirm to a certain extent what many have always suspected: that air travel during flu season does indeed figure into how and when the flu is spread.

    One final issued raised by this study's results is the extent to which restrictions on air travel might assist in inhibiting the spread of other infectious disease epidemics. Of particular concern these days is the prospect of the spread of swine flu.

    In light of the findings from this study about how air travel figures into the spread of seasonal flu, we have to wonder if a similar effect would be found for swine flu, since it can readily be passed from human to human in a manner similar to seasonal flu.

    The researchers said, "Our results suggest that limiting domestic airline volume would have a measurable impact on the rate of spread of an influenza pandemic, and particularly on spread across regions."

    Given the many other factors that influence the spread of disease in epidemics, they believe that the primary benefit of air travel restrictions during an epidemic or pandemic would be to alter the rate and timing of the spread of the disease, not to prevent it outright. But, in the event of a deadly pandemic, slowing the spread even for a few weeks might give public health officials a bit more time to put in place other measures to fight the disease.

    Source: Brownstein JS, Wolfe CJ, & Mandl KD (2006) Empirical Evidence for the Effect of Airline Travel on Inter-Regional Influenza Spread in the United States, PLoS Med 3(10): e401

    NOTE: This is the first in a series of articles about swine flu and air travel that I will post here on As a researcher, I have been involved for years with topics relating to the health and well-being of people who work in the civilian air transport industry, and I run a website ( devoted to that subject matter. I am preparing a special page for that website with information about swine flu, tailored to the information needs of people who fly for a living.

    More to follow...

    Thursday, April 23, 2009

    Video: Space Shuttle Atlantis Re-entry and Landing at Edwards

    Have you ever wondered what it would be like to land a Space Shuttle? Here's your chance to find out, via this video.

    The 'cockpit view' visuals are provided by an on-board camera as the Space Shuttle Atlantis re-enters Earth's atmosphere after 12 days in space, and lands at East Edwards Airport on February 20, 2001. Call-outs begin at Mach 2.

    Crew for mission STS-98:
    • Kenneth D. Cockrell, Commander
    • Mark L. Polansky, Pilot
    • Robert L. Curbeam, Mission Specialist
    • Marsha S. Ivins, Mission Specialist
    • Thomas D. Jones, Mission Specialist

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    FAA and Bird Strike Data: Now you're doin' it right!

    FAA logoYou may have heard that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently proposed to keep the agency's database on aviation bird strikes private. Today the agency reversed itself and announced that FAA bird strike data will be available to the public by the end of this week.

    Earlier, FAA officials had expressed concerns that the bird strike data might be misinterpreted in ways that would damage the image of the aviation industry and airports. They also feared that if the database was available to the public, some organizations (i.e., airlines, airports, etc.) might feel inhibited about reporting full and accurate information about bird strikes, so as not to tarnish their reputations.

    Fortunately, the folks at the FAA have had a change of heart and have decided to withdraw their proposal to 'protect' the bird strike database. An FAA press release issued a short time ago says:
    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will make its entire Bird Strike database available on a public website this Friday, April 24. Portions of the database have been publicly available since the information was first collected in 1990, but the public will now be able to access all of the database's fields.

    The FAA is also withdrawing a proposal to protect the data, after a 30-day comment period closed earlier this week. The FAA has determined that it can release the data without jeopardizing aviation safety.

    The FAA has redacted a very small amount of data in the database containing privacy information, such as personal phone numbers.

    Over the next four months, the FAA will make significant improvements to the database to improve the search function and make it more user-friendly. In its current format, users will only be able to perform limited searches online, but will be able to download the entire database.

    The FAA also plans to work with the aviation community to find ways to improve and strengthen bird strike reporting.

    The database can be accessed through
    Okay, FAA. Now you're doin' it right!

    Sunday, April 19, 2009

    American Airlines replacing old aircraft with new Boeing 737-800s

    Last week, American Airlines took delivery of the first of 76 new Boeing 737-800 aircraft that it plans to add to its fleet by the end of 2011. The new planes, configured for 160 passengers, will replace the carrier's aging MD-80 series aircraft.

    American Airlines has posted two videos on YouTube to introduce the new aircraft. In the first, Captain Jim Thomas, American's 737 Fleet Training Manager, shows off the cockpit and new features of the new 737-800s.

    In the second video, Flight Attendant Van Whitworth demonstrates some cabin features of the new American Airlines Boeing 737-800.

    If the videos do no play or display properly above, here are the links to view them directly on YouTube: Flight Deck video / Cabin video

    Hat tip to @Gatea1 for posting the links to the videos on Twitter.

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    Alaska Airlines pilots to vote on new contract

    Alaska Airlines logoPilots at Alaska Airlines are preparing to vote on a tentative agreement (TA) for a new four-year contract. The TA was reached after more than two years of negotiations between the airline's management and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents the pilots. The union leadership has approved the TA.

    “The agreement we’ve reached meets our goals of improving or protecting our work rules—which includes pay—our job security, our retirement security and our health benefits while allowing our company to continue to succeed,” said Alaska MEC Chairman Capt. Bill Shivers.

    Since May 2005, Alaska Airlines 1,455 pilots have been working under an arbitrator-imposed contract that cut pay by as much as 35 percent.

    Should the vote by the pilots' union membership fail to approve the TA, negotiations with management would resume and continue until either another agreement is reached or until the National Mediation Board releases the parties into self-help.

    Voting by the membership is expected to be completed by the third week in May.

    Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    FedEx to take 14 aircraft out of service

    FedExAir cargo carrier FedEx has announced plans to reduce its fleet by 14 aircraft. FedEx currently operates 670 aircraft. According to a document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the freight carrier indicated that 10 A310-200s and four MD10-10s would be permanently removed from service by May 31, 2009.

    Yesterday's SEC filing stated, "This decision reflects management's ongoing efforts to optimize the company's express network in light of continued excess aircraft capacity due to weak economic conditions and the expected delivery of newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft in fiscal year 2010."

    The company has plans to replace the aircraft with newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft in the coming fiscal year.

    Business Aviation - Myth and Realities

    business jet
    by B. N. Sullivan

    I have a problem with the way business aviation is being portrayed in the news media these days. Most of business aviation is about pragmatics; it is not about glamour and luxury. But given the tone of recent news coverage of this industry sector, a casual observer could be excused for not understanding those facts. This troubles me.

    Ever since the now legendary day when U.S. auto company CEOs flew to Washington on high-end corporate jets to ask Congress for bailout money, the mainstream media have been having a field day. Harsh put-downs of corporate executive travel on 'lavish private jets' have become de rigeur. Apparently such stories strike a nerve with ordinary folks who are struggling to make ends meet in these troubled times, yet pointing fingers at the few who do (perhaps) make use of corporate aircraft inappropriately strikes me as gratuitous scapegoating.

    The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and similar organizations have been doing what they can to counter the bad publicity. Some journalists -- and especially those who write for aviation industry media -- have produced articles that attempt to justify the use of corporate aircraft. Yet many of the arguments presented to the public in support of business aviation apparently fall short of the mark. Business aviation is still associated with the image of corporate fat cats flying around on snazzy jets because they think they are above traveling on airliners like mere mortals.

    Why does this maddeningly negative image of business aviation persist when all of us in the aviation community know it is both limited and faulty? Perhaps we have done a poor job of communicating the real issues at hand.

    Back in February, I wrote an article here on Aircrew Buzz about the breadth of the impact of a decline in business aviation on livelihoods -- not those of high-flying executives, but of everyone who works to operate, service, maintain, supply, and manufacture business aircraft. Perhaps we need to do more to publicize the important fact that every time a corporate jet is left idle, and every time an order for a new business aircraft is canceled or deferred, many ordinary people in neighborhoods around the country stand to lose their jobs, or -- at best -- to have their work hours and pay and benefits reduced.

    Perhaps we can do a better job of explaining the very nature of business aviation, and its value to companies large and small. Recently, I have seen many articles in the mainstream press argue that business aviation is not cost effective. Usually these articles present examples highlighting the cost of, say, a first class airline ticket from point A to point B, compared to the cost of operating a corporate jet on the same route. They always conclude that a company could save a lot of money by forcing its executives to fly commercially.

    This is a specious argument. Trips like those do not exemplify the purposes for which business aircraft are most frequently used. The examples assume, for one thing, that said executives' travel always entails a simple point A to point B trip. Furthermore, they assume that the travelers can leave their local airport and -- airline ticket in hand -- fly directly to their destination, and do it when they need to do so. Worse still is the assumption that only top executives make use of corporate aircraft. These distortions need to be called out.

    Ignored completely are multi-leg trips for, say, a corporate roadshow -- trips that can entail stops at five or six destinations in one day. Add in the fact that at least some of those destinations will not be at or near a commercial airline hub, and it becomes clear that making the trip via airlines would be impractical, if not impossible.

    Ignored as well is the use of business aircraft to transport maintenance technicians, sales teams, and others whose domains are their companies' nuts and bolts, not executive suites. Business aircraft frequently carry not just these employees, but all their tools and equipment as well, thus obviating the need for separate shipping and eliminating the possibility of en route losses of those materials.

    Another aspect of misinformation about business aviation has to do with the planes themselves. It seems that whenever business aviation is disparaged in the media, we see accompanying photos of large-cabin jets with luxurious interiors. Clearly the not too subtle aim is to equate business aviation with imprudent extravagance. Of course these aircraft exist, but again, they do not exemplify the bulk of business aviation.

    The majority of business aircraft are far more humble than a Gulfstream, a Global Express or a large Falcon. Smaller jets, which are far more numerous, are no more luxurious or spacious than a mini-van. Indeed, a large proportion of business aircraft are not even jets, and their cabins can be quite spartan.

    In sum, I think that if we wish to defend business aviation, we should point out consistently that the current popular image is inaccurate at best, and in some ways just plain wrong. We need to communicate that business aviation is much more commonplace than most people imagine, and that corporate aircraft are employed most often to accomplish very prosaic, though essential, tasks. 

    We need to do a better job of educating the public -- and certain government officials -- about the everyday realities that make this sector of the aviation industry so vital and indispensable to commerce. We need to ensure that the livelihoods of the many people who work in business aviation are not compromised due to erroneous information and mean-spirited myths.

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Qantas to park 10 aircraft and cut 1,750 jobs

    Qantas logoBig news from Australia: Qantas is planning a major capacity reduction, and will downsize its staff, due to a "rapid and significant deterioration of trading conditions in the past few weeks".  Among the 1,750 jobs cut will be 500 management positions.  

    An article about the Qantas capacity reduction plans in The Australian quoted the carrier's CEO, Alan Joyce, who said, "We employ over 34,000 people and we are striving to protect as many of their jobs as possible, but the capacity reductions to protect the long-term viability of the overall Qantas Group mean that up to 1,250 equivalent full-time positions will be affected in addition to the management reductions being made."  

    The Australian reports that Qantas "would try to use a range of workforce initiatives to manage the downturn such as annual leave, long service leave, attrition, redeployment, leave without pay, promoting part-time work and exploring job-sharing" in order to mitigate the number of redundancies, but that jobs losses "would be inevitable."

    The Australian flag carrier plans to reduce passenger capacity by 5% on both domestic and international routes. A reduction in freight capacity is in the works as well.  To that end, Qantas will park 10 aircraft and put them up for sale.  At least one source mentioned that those aircraft would be widebody planes, including Boeing 747s and Boeing 767s.  Qantas also plans to defer deliveries on new aircraft, including four Airbus A380s and a dozen Boeing 737-800s. 

    In late 2008, Qantas reduced its worldwide work force by 1,500.  That round of job cuts included the closure of the Jetstar crew base at Adelaide.  No word yet on how many crew jobs will be lost in the current round of cuts.

    Tony Sheldon of the Transport Workers Union of Australia said the union would seek urgent meetings with Qantas to discuss the lay‐offs.

    "We will be talking to Qantas about how staff can be retained over this period with preference given to the retention of direct‐hire staff. We will also be talking to them about the recall of affected staff as the situation improves," Sheldon said.

    Saturday, April 11, 2009

    AirTran pilots vote 'overwhelmingly' in favor of joining ALPA

    AirTran Airways logoThe pilots at AirTran Airways have voted 'overwhelmingly' to merge their independent union, the National Pilots Association (NPA), with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). According to ALPA, a 'landslide' 87% of AirTran pilots cast votes in support of merging NPA with ALPA, with more than 94% of eligible AirTran pilots voting.

    “With this decisive vote, the AirTran pilots made it clear they want representation by a strong international union that is run by airline pilots and for airline pilots,” said Capt. John Prater, president of ALPA. “We look forward to working with the AirTran pilots and to providing the union’s unparalleled professional resources and expertise, as well as the support of other ALPA pilots in Atlanta and across the country, to help them achieve and enforce the fair contract they deserve.”

    The vote by the NPA membership was no surprise. In February, the NPA board had voted unanimously to merge with ALPA. AirTran's 1,700 pilots are hoping to benefit from ALPA's considerable clout in support of their ongoing contract negotiations with AirTran management -- talks that have been going on intermittently since 2004.

    ALPA's Executive Board is expected to ratify the merger decision later this month. If that happens, the merger will go into effect on May 1, 2009.

    UPDATE Apr. 16, 2009: ALPA’s Executive Council unanimously approved the merger agreement with the National Pilots Association (NPA), which represents 1,700 AirTran pilots. The merger will now be sent for final approval to ALPA’s full Executive Board on April 28.

    Thursday, April 09, 2009

    Island Air pilots have a tentative contract agreement

    Island AirPilots at Island Air have a tentative agreement (TA) after 16 months of contract negotiations with the Hawaii-based carrier's management. The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents Island Air pilots, says that the agreement, if ratified by the pilot group, will provide wage increases, work rule improvements and furlough protection.

    An ALPA news release about the TA said:
    The Island Air pilots’ contract became amendable November 30, 2007. Recognizing that they fly in a leisure market, the pilots and company began negotiating a short-term agreement that would provide job protections and improvements to pilots’ wages, benefits and work rules, as well as bolster the company’s financial status amidst declining tourism and rising fuel prices in Hawaii. While the cost of fuel has dropped considerably, tourism continues to suffer and is expected to remain the same for the remainder of 2009.
    The Island Air Master Executive Council of ALPA is recommending that pilots support this agreemenent.

    Wednesday, April 08, 2009

    Business Jet Safety Research: A new report from the UK

    business jet
    The UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has published an important Business Jet Safety Research report that should be of great interest to operators of business aircraft as well as to the crews who fly them.    This new report  is based on an analysis of worldwide accident data, supplemented by externally contracted research that entailed industry visits and a questionnaire about safety issues sent to business jet operators and pilots.

    The Business Jet Safety Research report first presents findings from the analysis of accident data.  The second part of the report discusses the findings in terms of various safety issues, and presents a series of recommendations.

    Data Analysis

    The CAA's analysis of accident data for the eight-year period covering 2000 through 2007 revealed that business jets appeared to be involved in a disproportionate number of fatal accidents, compared to commercially operated large western-built jets and turboprops.  Notably, the analysis also showed that more than one third of fatal business jet accidents involved ferry or positioning flights.  

    Also highlighted was an apparent difference in fatal accident rates between corporate operators and air taxi operators.  The fatal accident rate for air taxi operators was substantially higher than for corporate operations.   The report suggests that a significant factor behind the far better safety record of the corporate operators in comparison to air taxi operators hinges on their adoption of industry 'best practice' standards, such as the International Business Aviation Council's 'International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations' (IS-BAO).

    The CAA report recommends further study of air taxi operations in light of their much higher fatal accident rate.  The report implies that the impact of regulatory differences between the rules governing US (Part 135) and European (EU-OPS) air taxi operations also may be a fruitful area for further analysis.

    Safety Issues and Recommendations

    The Business Jet Safety Research report addresses four categories of safety issues:  flight crew training; regulator interaction; operational issues; and air traffic control.

    Recommendations regarding flight crew training center on the use of simulators for recurrent training of pilots, and recording performance data to identify areas for improvement during training activities.  The report says:
    Findings suggest that pilots might have have incomplete understanding or variable ability in areas such as use of auto-flight modes (particularly in relation to vertical guidance), energy management and poor weather operations. Limited use of simulation for recurrent training reduces opportunities for practice, lack of pre-course preparatory material reduces training effectiveness, and lack of training in additional duties peculiar to business jet operations may cause such tasks to distract pilots from primary flying tasks. There was concern regarding the limited ability of pilots to conduct safe flight without a serviceable FMS.
    The report's section on regulator interaction focuses on difficulties operators experience in interfacing with regulatory agencies. Several recommendations for improving two-way communication between regulatory agencies and the business jet community are offered.

    Operational issues identified in the report include flight crew fatigue/tiredness; commercial pressure, especially for air taxi operations; de-icing operations; SOP standardization, especially for small operators; runway length/performance issues; runway contamination; and poor reporting culture.  Recommendations include proposals for making aircrew fatigue evaluation software models available to business jet operators; and promoting the use of web-based training materials for poor weather operations, etc.

    Safety issues related to air traffic control comprise the final section of the Business Jet Safety Research report. Analysis of ATC event data showed that business jets were involved in a disproportionate number of level busts, lateral non-compliance events, and runway incursions.  The report suggests that this may be due in part to suboptimal understanding of business jet safety issues on the part of ATC.

    Questionnaire responses from the study indicated "a lack of ATC appreciation of business jet performance," particularly in regard to climb/descent rates and their relationship to speed restrictions. ATC difficulties for pilots were caused as well by late changes -- particularly departure clearances -- and the high level of radio transmissions during critical stages of flight.

    The report recommends measures aimed at increasing ATC awareness of business jet safety and performance issues.

    The full report -- titled Business Jet Safety Research: A Statistical Review and Questionnaire Study of Safety Issues Connected with Business Jets in the UK --  is available for download from the CAA website.  Here is the link:  CAA Paper 2009/03 - 56-page 'pdf' file

    Tuesday, April 07, 2009

    NTSB: American Airlines MD-82 engine fire caused by improper maintenance procedures

    NTSB logoThe U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has just released a synopsis of its forthcoming final report on its investigation of a 2007 engine fire on an American Airlines MD-82 aircraft. The report cites "American Airlines’ maintenance personnel’s use of an inappropriate manual engine‑start procedure" as the probable cause for the engine fire, and says that the fire "was prolonged by the flight crew’s interruption of an emergency checklist to perform nonessential tasks." The Board also found that the airline's "flawed internal safety management system, which could have identified the maintenance issues that led to the accident" was a contributing factor.

    The Accident

    In the early afternoon of September 28, 2007, an American Airlines MD-82 aircraft (registration N454AA) departed Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL), operating as American Airlines Flight 1400. The aircraft's number one engine caught fire during climb-out. The crew returned to STL, but during approach the nose gear failed to extend. A go-around was executed, and the crew then extended the nose gear using emergency procedures and successfully landed the aircraft.

    The two pilots, three flight attendants, and 138 passengers deplaned on the runway. There were no injuries, but the aircraft was substantially damaged.

    Probable Cause

    Quoting directly from the NTSB Report Synopsis:
    The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was American Airlines’ maintenance personnel’s use of an inappropriate manual engine‑start procedure, which led to the uncommanded opening of the left engine air turbine starter valve, and a subsequent left engine fire, which was prolonged by the flight crew’s interruption of an emergency checklist to perform nonessential tasks. Contributing to the accident were deficiencies in American Airlines’ Continuing Analysis and Surveillance System program.

    The NTSB investigation found that a component in the manual start mechanism of the engine was damaged when a mechanic used an unapproved tool to initiate the start of the #1 (left) engine while the aircraft was parked at the gate at STL. The deformed mechanism led to a sequence of events that resulted in the engine fire, to which the flight crew was alerted shortly after take-off.

    The origin of the problem was traced to a faulty air turbine starter valve (ATSV) air filter. The NTSB says the filter had not been cleaned by maintenance personnel in accordance with C check cleaning procedures, thus, an opportunity to identify and replace the damaged filter was missed.

    Investigators found that in the 13 days prior to the accident flight, the aircraft's left engine air turbine starter valve had been replaced a total of six times in an effort to address an ongoing problem with starting the engine using normal procedures. None of valve replacements solved the engine start problem and the repeated failures to address the issue were not recognized or discovered by the airline's Continuing Analysis and Surveillance System (CASS).

    Then, says the NTSB, the following sequence of events occurred on the day of the accident:
    • The filter element of the air turbine starter valve-air filter disintegrated, allowing the end cap to become free, which blocked the air flow and caused the engine no-start condition.
    • American Airlines’ maintenance personnel’s troubleshooting efforts for the engine no-start condition incorrectly focused on the air turbine starter valve (ATSV) and engine start system wiring because of the intermittent nature of the condition, the history of ATSV electrical circuit problems, and the lack of a history of ATSV-air filter failures for which no troubleshooting guidance existed.
    • American Airlines’ maintenance personnel repeatedly used an unapproved maintenance procedure, which included using a prying device to push the air turbine starter valve manual override button, to manually start the accident engine, which resulted in bending the internal pin in the override button.
    • The internal pin in the left engine air turbine starter valve (ATSV) override button was bent, which resulted in the uncommanded opening of the ATSV during high‑power engine conditions at the beginning of the takeoff roll and caused the air turbine starter to freewheel until it sustained a catastrophic internal failure.
    • The open air turbine starter valve and resulting failed air turbine starter allowed a hotter than typical airstream and/or incandescent particles to flow into the engine nacelle area and likely provided the ignition source for the in‑flight fire.
    The NTSB notes that fire damage to the engine precluded the determination of the specific source of the combustible fluid (oil, hydraulic fluid, or fuel) that fed the fire, once ignited.

    The report suggests that, during take-off, the pilots may not have immediately noticed that the air turbine starter valve (ATSV)-Open light was illuminated "because of its location, static appearance, and color." Once they did detect the light, "the pilots did not immediately respond to it because an open ATSV was considered an abnormal situation that did not require immediate action and they were involved in air traffic control communications and airplane configuration changes."

    The NTSB report comments on  what it calls the pilots' "poor performance" during the emergency. A press release that accompanied the report stated that the Board was particularly concerned with how the crew repeatedly interrupted their completion of the emergency checklist items with lower priority tasks.

    Specifically, the report says, the pilots failed to properly allocate tasks, including checklist execution and radio communications, and "they did not effectively manage their workload, which adversely affected their ability to conduct essential cockpit tasks, such as completing appropriate checklists."

    "Here is an accident where things got very complicated very quickly and where flight crew performance was very important," said NTSB Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker.  "Unfortunately, the lack of adherence to procedures ultimately led to many of this crew's in-flight challenges."

    Among the Board's conclusions regarding the crew members' behavior:
    • The pilots’ interruption of the emergency Engine Fire/Damage/Separation checklist at a critical point prolonged the fire and led to additional problems, including the loss of hydraulic pressure, which caused the nose landing gear to fail to extend.
    • Given the airplane’s altitude and the lack of time to prepare for a nose landing gear up landing, the captain’s decision to go around was a reasonable choice.
    • The captain’s decision not to conduct an emergency evacuation after the airplane landed was in accordance with company guidance and was appropriate because the fire was not severe and aircraft rescue and firefighting personnel were actively responding to the residual fire.
    • The Safety Board concludes that the incident commander’s decision to deplane the passengers after fuel spilled out of the engine area was prudent.
    • The first officer did not have a clear understanding of the relationship between the pneumatic crossfeed handle and the engine fire handle, most likely because of inadequate company guidance and training on the issue, which resulted in the first officer inadvertently reintroducing fuel to the left engine, creating potential unnecessary risk of fire.
    • The casual atmosphere in the cockpit before takeoff affected and set a precedent for the pilots’ responses to the situations in flight and after landing, eroded the margins of safety provided by the standard operating procedures and checklists, and increased the risk to passengers and crew.
    • During the emergency situation, the flight attendants did not relay potentially pertinent information to the captain in accordance with company guidance and training.
    The NTSB has issued nine safety recommendations arising from the findings of this investigation. Eight of those recommendations, mostly related to maintenance issues and crew training standards, were made to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

    The final recommendation was directed to American Airlines:
    Evaluate your Continuing Analysis and Surveillance System program to determine why it failed to (1) identify deficiencies in its maintenance program associated with the MD‑80 engine no‑start failure and (2) discover the lack of compliance with company procedures. Then, make necessary modifications to the program to correct these shortcomings.
    The NTSB Acting Chairman said, "The airline's own internal maintenance system, the purpose of which is to catch maintenance and mechanical issues that could lead to an incident or accident, failed to do what it was designed to do. And that allowed this sequence of events to get rolling, which ultimately resulted in the accident. Following the appropriate maintenance procedures would have gone a long way toward preventing this mishap."

    Here is the link to the Report Synopsis: NTSB/AAR-09/03

    RELATED: American Airlines MD-82 engine fire and emergency landing at St Louis

    Monday, April 06, 2009

    Garuda pilot convicted and sentenced for 2007 Yogyakarta crash

    Marwoto KomarAn Indonesian court has found Marwoto Komar guilty of negligence in the 2007 crash of a Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-400 passenger aircraft at Yogyakarta, Indonesia.  He has been  sentenced to two years in jail.

    Mr. Komar was the pilot in command of the accident aircraft.  On March 7, 2007, the plane was arriving at Yogyakarta after a scheduled flight from Jakarta  when it overran the runway upon landing, broke through a fence, crossed a road, and came to rest in a rice paddy where it burned. Among the seven crew members and 133 passengers who were on board, one flight attendant and 20 passengers died, and dozens were injured.

    In October of 2007, Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) released a report on its investigation of the Yogyakarta accident. The NTSC's main finding was that "...the flight crew’s compliance with procedures was not at a level to ensure the safe operation of the aircraft." The report said that "the aircraft was flown at an excessive airspeed and steep flight path angle during the approach and landing, resulting in an unstabilized approach."

    The NTSC report also said that Komar "did not follow company procedures that required him to fly a stabilized approach, and he did not abort the landing and go around when the approach was not stabilized," and that he disregarded Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) alerts, and calls from the first officer to go around.

    Despite protests by the Federation of Indonesian Pilots (FPI), the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations (IFALPA) and others in the international aviation community, criminal charges were brought against Komar. His trial got underway in July of 2008, making Komar the first pilot to face criminal charges arising from an aircraft accident in Indonesia. He was charged with three counts of negligence and one count of deliberately destroying or damaging an aircraft, and causing death.

    An article about the verdict in the Canberra Times reports:
    In a majority verdict, the Sleman District Court found Komar could have taken steps to avert the disaster.

    "In the landing stages the defendant was not careful, and should have coordinated better with his co-pilot," one of the five judges said.

    Komar, wearing his pilot's uniform despite being stripped of his licence, immediately declared he could not accept the verdict and intended to launch an appeal.

    The court did not order Komar into immediate detention, meaning he will not go to jail until a higher court orders it.
    Aircrew Buzz has been following the developments surrounding this accident and the ensuing prosecution of Marwoto Komar since the outset. Here is a review of articles describing the progression of events:
    ...or click here to view all posts about Garuda Flt 200 on Aircrew Buzz.

    Friday, April 03, 2009

    NTSB: Preliminary report on Pilatus PC-12 crash in Montana

    NTSB logoThe U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a preliminary report on the fatal crash of a privately operated Pilatus PC-12 aircraft at Butte, MT last month. The aircraft crashed while on approach to Butte's Bert Mooney Airport on the afternoon of March 22, 2009, killing the pilot and all 13 passengers on board.

    Judging from the large amount of search traffic coming to my earlier post about the Pilatus crash, there is a high level of interest in this accident.  Therefore, instead of just summarizing what the NTSB  had to say, here is the entire text of that report, NTSB ID: WPR09MA159.
    On March 22, 2009, at 1430 mountain daylight time, a Pilatus PC-12/45, N128CM, descended to ground impact near the approach end of runway 33 at the Bert Mooney Airport, Butte, Montana. The airplane was owned and operated by Eagle Capital Leasing, of Enterprise, Oregon, as a personal transportation flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The airplane was destroyed in the collision sequence and post crash fire. All 14 persons onboard the airplane were killed in the accident and there were no reported ground injuries. The flight departed Oroville, California, at 1210 Pacific daylight time on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan and clearance destined for Gallatin Field, Bozeman, Montana. The airplane was diverting to Butte at the time of the accident. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at both the Bozeman and Butte airports.

    The airplane impacted the Holy Cross cemetery west of runway 33 at Bert Mooney Airport, Butte, Montana. The wreckage was confined to the impact area and consumed by impact and fire. Portions of all major structural components were identified.

    Interviews with family members indicated that seven adults and seven children were traveling to Bozeman, Montana, to meet other family members and friends for a ski vacation. The owner of the airplane drove from California with his wife and other family members. The airplane originally departed Redlands, California, flew to Nut Tree Airport, Vacaville, California, where passengers were picked up. The pilot then flew to Oroville, California, where additional passengers were picked up.

    According to a preliminary briefing from the FAA regarding air traffic control, the pilot filed an instrument flight rules flight plan from Oroville, California (KOVE) to Bozeman, Montana (KBZN) with Butte, Montana (KBTM) as the alternate. The airplane departed at 1210 local. At 1359 the crew contacted the Salt Lake City Center. At 1403, the airplane was at FL 250 and the pilot requested to change his destination to Butte and gave no reason for the diversion. He was cleared at pilot's discretion to descend to 14,000 feet, and at 1405 the pilot again requested to divert to Butte. At 1427 air traffic control asked the pilot if he had the airport in sight and the pilot indicated he had one more cloud to maneuver around. At 1428 the pilot reported the airport in sight and air traffic control terminated radar service. At 1429, air traffic control called the aircraft in the blind with no response. The accident was reported to local authorities at 1433.

    Initial reports from ground witnesses indicate that the airplane was flying approximately 300 feet above ground level in a north-northwesterly direction. Shortly thereafter, the airplane's nose pitched to a nose-low attitude and it impacted the ground. One witness with aviation experience reported that the airplane was west of the runway centerline and appeared too high to land on the runway. The witness then saw the airplane bank to the left and fly farther west when it rolled, pitched down, and descended out of his view. Although there is no air traffic control tower at Butte, the local fixed base operator lineman was monitoring the radio as the airplane approached the airport. He heard the pilot transmit that he would be landing on runway 33.

    Butte was reporting the following weather conditions at the time of the accident: at 1353 local, winds were from 320 degrees at 10 knots, visibility was 10 statute miles, clouds were 4,400 few, 8,000 overcast, temperature was 7 degrees C, dew point was -3 degrees C, altimeter was 29.57 inches of Mercury. At 1453 local, winds were from 300 degrees at 8 knots, visibility was 10 statute miles, clouds were broken at 6,500, temperature was 7 degrees C, dew point was -3 degrees C, altimeter was 29.56 inches of Mercury.

    Bozeman was reporting the following weather conditions at 1356, approximately 3 minutes before the pilot requested to divert to Butte: the winds were from 290 degrees at 7 knots (240 variable to 320), visibility 10 statute miles, clear skies, temperature 14 degrees C, dew point -1 degree C, altimeter was 29.94 inches of Mercury.

    All times reference mountain daylight time (mdt).
    This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

    Thursday, April 02, 2009

    US Airways Flight 1549 flight attendants given heroism award

    The three flight attendants who successfully evacuated over 150 passengers from US Airways Flight 1549 after the A320 aircraft made a water landing in the Hudson River in January were honored by their union, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA). Flight attendants Sheila Dail, Donna Dent, and Doreen Welsh were presented with the C.B. Lansing Award for Heroism in a ceremony held at the annual AFA-CWA Board of Directors meeting earlier this week.

    "It is an honor to present our most prestigious award for heroism to three AFA-CWA flight attendants who utilized their experience, knowledge and training to ensure the survival of all souls aboard, including passengers with mobility challengers, children and other special needs passengers," said Veda Shook, AFA-CWA International Vice President. "Passengers and their colleagues have praised the professionalism of Sheila, Donna and Doreen and America has adopted them as their heroes. Today we honor them on behalf of over 50,000 flight attendants at major, national, charter and regional carriers across the country."

    "Sheila, Donna and Doreen have long known the importance of the flight attendant profession. As their colleagues, we also know how vital our role is as safety professionals, but because of events on January 15, now the world knows that flight attendants as safety professionals go hand in hand," said Mike Flores, AFA-CWA US Airways President.

    The C. B. Lansing Memorial Award was established following the tragic and heroic events aboard Aloha Airlines Flight 243 on April 28, 1988. Aloha flight attendants faced a sudden and serious aircraft incident. C.B. Lansing did not survive the incident; however her fellow flight attendants persevered, rendering life-saving first aid in-flight as they planned for an emergency landing.

    The award is not an annual presentation and is presented to a crew or crewmember who displays heroism beyond the call of duty. There have been four prior recipients in the history of AFA-CWA who have received this honor. Sheila, Donna and Doreen are Charlotte, North Carolina based AFA-CWA members.

    Below is a video of the testimony given by the three flight attendants at a Congressional hearing about the US Airways Flight 1549 accident. The hearing was held on February 24, 2009, before the HouseTransportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation.

    If the video does not play or display properly above, click here to view it on YouTube.

    RELATED: Click here to view all posts about US Airways Flt 1549 on Aircrew Buzz.

    Wednesday, April 01, 2009

    Everything you ever wanted to know about commercial jet runway excursions

    Australian Transport Safety Bureau logoThe Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has issued a hefty, but fascinating, report on commercial jet aircraft runway excursions around the world. Here's an excerpt from the summary of 117-page report, which was just made available on the ATSB website:
    Over the last decade there has been a noticeable reduction in the number of non-fatal and fatal accidents involving the worldwide commercial jet aircraft fleet. Despite this, runway excursions continue to remain prevalent, accounting for approximately a quarter of all incidents and accidents in air transport, and 96 per cent of all runway accidents. Runway excursions involve aircraft running off the end of the runway (overrun) or departing the side of the runway (veer-off).

    A number of catastrophic runway excursions occurred across the world in 2007 and 2008, resulting in hundreds of fatalities and significant property damage in communities adjacent to the airport. This report, the first in a two-part series, provides a statistical picture of runway excursion accidents over a 10-year period how frequently they occur, why they occur, and what factors contributed to those accidents.

    A search of the Ascend World Aircraft Accident Summary identified 141 runway excursion accidents involving the worldwide commercial jet aircraft fleet between 1998 and 2007. Those accidents resulted in 550 fatalities. Of those 141 accidents, 120 occurred during the landing phase of flight. An in-depth analysis of those 120 accidents was conducted in order to identify the types of flight crew technique and decision-related, flight crew performance-related, weather-related, and systems-related factors that contribute to runway excursions.
    The report first summarizes 141 runway excursion accidents, and then follows with sections providing detailed analysis of:
    • Crew technique and decision-related factors
    • Crew performance-related factors
    • Weather-related factors
    • Systems-related factors
    The analysis concludes by identifying factors contributing to runway excursion accidents during the landing phase of flight, including:
    • flying an unstabilized approach
    • landing too fast, too far down the runway, or conducting an extended flare
    • delayed or incorrect flight crew action when using braking systems, and less than adequate awareness of minimum equipment list items and their effect on braking performance
    • 'press-on-itis' and not conducting a go-around or diversion when conditions for landing are unsafe or at a higher risk
    • fatigue, stress, and visual illusions
    • less than adequate awareness of the effect of weather on the landing rollout length, possibly due to inconsistent or a lack of adequate approach and landing standard operating procedures
    • water-affected and contaminated runways, often associated with aquaplaning
    • inconsistent reporting of runway conditions and braking action at airports across the world
    • unusual runway design or lighting at some airports
    The report warns, "If not identified and effectively managed by the flight crew, these factors can increase the risk of an accident occurring."

    Part 2 of the study, which will focus on "procedural and physical safeguards that could assist airline and airport operators to reduce the frequency of runway excursion accidents" will be forthcoming.

    Meanwhile, do have a look at Part 1 of the report. Here is the link to the landing page on the ATSB website that has a brief summary, and a link to the actual report.

    Or download the whole report directly: Runway excursions: Part 1 - A worldwide review of commercial jet aircraft runway excursions - 117-page 'pdf' file

    ASA grounds 60 aircraft for GE CF34 engine re-inspections

    ASA CRJ200Last night, Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) grounded 60 of its CRJ200 aircraft for engine re-inspections. The Delta Connection carrier reportedly discovered through an internal audit that the General Electric CF34 turbofans on some of its aircraft may not have been inspected according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

    ASA voluntarily reported the possible discrepancies to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  Details about exactly what is entailed in the engine  inspections are not clear, but an airline spokesperson was quoted this morning as saying the inspections should be accomplished within 36 hours.

    Coincidentally (perhaps),  aviation news website reports that the FAA will publish a final rule tomorrow that will  mandate replacement of a certain seal inside GE CF34 turbofan engines. 

    Specifically, says, the new FAA rule "calls on US operators of some 2,450 CF34 engines to replace the original 4-step air balance piston seals with 8-step seals at the next life-limited parts replacement interval, a relatively inexpensive modification expected to take five hours per engine."

    It has been found that excessive friction between the static and rotating portions of the seal can create an unsafe condition "under certain high-power, high-altitude engine shutdown events."

    I'm not suggesting that the ASA re-inspection of their GE C34 engines is related to the seal problem, but the timing is interesting.

    [Photo Source]