Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Outside the Garden Wall

Our Accidents & Incidents section has traditionally been one of our most viewed discussion areas, logging daily updates on aircraft mishaps and discussion by industry professionals. It's the place to go for high-signal, low-noise lessons-learned talk and insight on both the operational and regulatory sides of the aviation industry.

Most of our sections are private to AVSIG members, but we've purposely made the A&I area visible to passers-through, hoping that this kind of transparency will benefit everyone.

Near as we can tell, we've accomplished most of that goal. A check of our forum viewing cache finds unlogged guests viewing the A&I section more than any other, and several hundred guests often come by in the hours after a major airline accident to read updates and industry discussion.

If anyone has not benefitted from the arrangement it's the AVSIG members who have shared their expertise with the world.

AVSIG has been running on real people with real names for the past three decades. The practice tends to foster high-quality interaction and little, if any "internet wisdom" passing through our hallowed phosphor halls. It's not a policy that's popular with everyone, and with good reason. There are those in the industry who would just as soon not have their airman database-searchable real name on aviation crash discussion out there where any Tom, Dick, or Harry can cruise by and cut, paste, & harangue.

Tom, Dick, and Harry, as it turns out, are alive and well, and they've been reading AVSIG.

Recently some of our members have been subpoenaed -- some even telephoned at home -- for testimony and/or other information
on aircraft systems, operations, and in some cases specific accidents based on their AVSIG postings.

Straight out of the We Just Knew this Would Happen Some Day Department.

So we're going to make life a little tougher for web-trolling accident litigators and government officials.

We will continue to publish aviation accident and incident updates and selected edited discussion on this blog, but if you'd like to know what specific AVSIG members are saying about aviation mishaps you're going to have to log in as an AVSIG member using your real first and last name.

We won't hold anything against you if your first name happens to be Tom, Dick, or Harry.

In addition to becoming part of one of the swellest groups of aviators anywhere, you will get to know the real people behind the real names on AVSIG -- the biggest bonus we know of for becoming an AVSIG member.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Accident & Incident Summary for February 22, 2010

[Accidents & Incidents published by www.AVSIG.com are preliminary and not meant to reflect the complete or official record of aviation accidents/incidents and their causes.]

2010

February 21 - A Southwest Airlines 737 made a safe emergency landing at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee. The crew reported a "potential mechanical problem" prior to the landing.

February 21 - Both aboard a Piper PA-46 were killed after crashing into a residential hangar in the Aero Estates subdivision near Belleville, Missouri. No injuries were reported on the ground.

February 20 - Twenty passengers were reported injured after a United Airlines 747 struck turbulence during a Washington-Tokyo flight. None of the injuries was reported to be serious. The airliner continued to Tokyo.

February 20 - Both aboard a Piper Saratoga were killed after crashing on approach to Pine Mountain Lake Airport near Groveland, California. The aircraft reportedly crashed near a residence, but no injuries were reported on the ground.

February 19 - The pilot of an Indian Airlines MiG-21 safely ejected before his aircraft crashed near West Bengal. The aircraft reportedly developed engine trouble shortly after takeoff from Bagdogra.

February 19 - The pilot of a Cirrus SR-22 was arrested after he made an unauthorized landing at Los Angeles International Airport. Authorities later found the aircraft had been stolen from a flight training school near San Diego.

February 19 - A US Airways Airbus A-320 made a safe return landing to Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix after experiencing an engine compressor stall shortly after takeoff.

February 18 - A Turkish Airlines Airbus A-340 made a safe return landing to Johannesburg after experiencing a cabin pressure drop shortly after takeoff. The flight landed without further incident.

February 18 - A U.S. Navy MH-60S helicopter crashed during training maneuvers near Kingwood, West Virginia, injuring an undetermined number of the reported 17 aboard. Rescue efforts were hindered by remote terrain. (AVSIG Discussion)

February 18 - The pilot of a single-engine Cessna was injured after crashing in a wooded area near Albany, Ohio. The crash site is near Ohio University Airport, however airport authorities were unsure of whether the pilot was trying to reach the airport at the time of the crash.

February 18 - A British Airways 757 returned to Barcelona after the crew detected an unusual odor in the cockpit. The flight landed without incident.

February 18 - A suspected teenage stowaway was killed after falling out of the wheel well of an Amerijet cargo plane as it departed Santo Domingo for Fort Lauderdale. The flight continued to Fort Lauderdale, where it was met and searched by law enforcement officials.

February 18 - A Piper Cherokee crashed into an office building occupied by Internal Revenue Service employees in Austin, Texas. Two injuries and no fatalities have been reported as of post time. The pilot and owner of the plane reportedly had left a suicide note on the web and set his house on fire before departing nearby Georgetown Municipal Airport. (AVSIG Discussion)

February 18 - A Qantas Airbus A-330 returned to Sydney after its landing gear failed to retract upon takeoff for Shanghai. The aircraft circled the airport for several hours to burn fuel and landed without further incident. (AVSIG Discussion)

February 18 - A United Airlines 757 bound for San Francisco from Denver was diverted to Salt Lake International Airport in Utah after a threatening note was found on board. The aircraft landed without incident. Passengers were reportedly evacuated to the international terminal for interviews.

Copyright 2010 www.AVSIG.com

Friday, February 19, 2010

Still Not Understood



Crash I


It was a car that had brought the three men together — a cutting-edge electric sedan that they were racing to finish by next year — but when the time came to get quickly to Southern California, they chose to fly a small, piston-driven airplane that was more than a quarter-century old.

This is how one group of "contributing reporters" from a daily newspaper described the crash of a Cessna 310 into an East Palo Alto neighborhood this week.

Imagine that.

The best and the brightest of the engineering corps at a cutting-edge electric car company being foolish enough to pile into a 25-year-old airplane -- probably knowing full-well about the varicose hydraulic veins, arthritic wing surface controls, and forgetful avionics stack.

Star Wars Car Execs Downed by Jules Verne-era aviation contraption.

Oh, the irony.

Admittedly, when you're a journalist on deadline it's hard to get hold of anyone who knows anything sometimes, least of all a pilot who might cheerfully or not tell you that precious few new light aircraft have been made in the past 25 years, and that the average Cessna, unlike the average Chevrolet, gets regular overhauls and could well be flying safely for another hundred years.

But who needs that kind of perspective when you've got a perfectly good "what were they thinking" story theme going?

Crash II

As it dove out of the sky toward an IRS field office Thursday morning, Joseph Stack's small single-engine Piper Dakota became a screaming 3,000-pound missile.


Another group of contributing reporters, this time in USA Today.

A little less clueless than the elderly airplane lead-in above -- even little airplanes loaded with fuel can deliver a pretty good post-crash fire -- but still a gaudily-sensational description of the kind of devastation that could as easily be wrought by other means. If the goal is death over destruction, a guy with a gym bag full of firearms could out-death the perpetually-slighted Joseph Stack by a wide margin.

Several news organizations additionally believed that Stack's failure to file a flight plan should have tipped someone off to his nefarious purposes on February 18. (Stack, no doubt, would be compelled by FAA regulations to file direct into the local IRS building. No wonder no flight plan).

***

The investigations of this week's high-profile GA crashes are in their infancy, however the preliminary information from both point to human failings instead of decrepit aircraft and weapons-of-mass-destruction-grade Pipers. In Palo Alto the pilot elected to take off in weather that had grounded airliners in the vicinity, and the Austin tragedy was purposely caused by yet another guy whose self-congratulatory fantasy world was ruined one-too-many times by the real world.

It is probably worthwhile to say ... somewhere on some aviation safety blog ... that light aircraft crashes are nearly always front-page stories about a back-page bad decisions.

None of this will prevent a newspaper from suggesting that heavy fog causes engines to strain (from the same article as the "quarter-century old aircraft").

And the un-filed flight plan will always be highly suspect.

M.O.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Giants Among Us

It's hard not to be impressed by the everyday posting roster on our forum. Being a no-screen-names place from the beginning, and perhaps the last online forum holding out against the whole web anonymity thing, we don't have any self-proclaimed Captain Xs (who might actually even be pilots ... or might not even out of prison for another seven years) flooding our forums with Genuine Internet Stuff that May or May Not Be True. So over these past 29 years we've been proud to call the aerospace industry's authentic best and brightest our own, be they airline or corporate crew, air traffic controllers, government safety folks, military aviators, inventors, visionaries, or general aviation pilots who have come to own, operate, and enjoy personal and business aircraft via many different and compelling paths.

But we have more under-the-radar members, so to speak. Sometimes, if said folks happen to be named to the ranks of AVSIG's difference-making forum posters (we call 'em Top Guns, after AVSIG founder John B. Galipault's favorite aviation flick of all time) we learn a good deal more than we might otherwise ever have known about them in day-to-day forum discussions. In other cases we learn bits and pieces about these members only in the course of forum posts.

From the Bits and Pieces Department we recently learned that at least two AVSIG members used their piloting skills and time to aid in relief efforts to Haiti. Both gave forum updates on the challenges faced by the many hundreds of aviators who have come to the aid of this devastated country. If you've been browsing our Accident & Incident reports you'll note that there have been several secondary tragedies related to airborne relief in a country that certainly had but a hodge-podge of aviation infrastructure before suffering a major earthquake. Reading of the daily operation precautions our AVSIG folks took in preparing for each unique day and operating environment is a reminder that regardless of the urgency and changing conditions of any flight, getter there and back safely is the number one priority.

Over the years, other forum members have used their time and aircraft to aid organizations like Angel Flight, which provides free air transport to people with medical and health hardships. Some have flown on behalf of Doctors Without Borders. And other AVSIG members we know have simply always had their aircraft and piloting abilities on-offer for those in need without being connected to a formal charitable organization.

Today we would like to thank these men and women for carrying the banner of personal flight well beyond its popular reputation as a really expensive way to get a hamburger on a Saturday afternoon, and for taking the time to share their stories with us at our humble little aerodrome & farm.

M.O.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Accident & Incident Update for February 15, 2010

[Accidents & Incidents published by www.AVSIG.com are preliminary and not meant to reflect the complete or official record of aviation accidents/incidents and their causes.]

2010

Breaking, 2/18 @ 14:15 EST

February 18 - A Piper Cherokee crashed into an office building occupied by Internal Revenue Service employees in Austin, Texas. Two injuries and no fatalities have been reported as of post time. The pilot and owner of the plane reportedly had left a suicide note on the web and set his house on fire before departing nearby Georgetown Municipal Airport. (AVSIG Discussion)


Breaking, 2/17 @ 15:00 EST

February 17 - All three aboard a Cessna 310 were killed after crashing into a residential area in East Palo Alto, California. A house which sustained the primary impact was reportedly operating as a daycare center, however the extent of injuries on the ground was unknown at post time. The aircraft, which was reportedly carrying one or more executives of Tesla Motors, was en route to Hawthorne Municipal Airport at the time of the crash.

_____________________

February 14 - The pilot of a plane transporting skydivers was killed after crashing near Buenos Aires. The aircraft reportedly entered strong storm clouds prior to the crash. All six skydivers aboard were able to safely bail out of the aircraft.

February 14 - A Eurocopter EC135 owned by Services Group of America crashed north of Phoenix, killing all three aboard. The helicopter was reportedly destroyed by post-crash fire.

February 13 - A single-engine Sling prototype crashed off the coast of South Africa near Durban, destroying the aircraft. Both aboard were able to parachute to safety after the aircraft reportedly failed to recover from a flat spin during manufacturer testing. The aircraft's onboard parachute failed to deploy before the crash.

February 13 - The pilot of a single-engine plane made a safe emergency landing on a public roadway in El Dorado County, California. The aircraft reportedly lost engine power before the landing.

February 12 - A single-engine Cessna made a safe emergency landing on I-10 in San Antonio, Texas. The pilot reportedly quickly moved the aircraft to a grassy berm of the highway after the landing.

February 12 - A Batavia Air Airbus A330 made a safe emergency return landing to Soekarno Hatta Airport near Jakarta. The aircraft reportedly experienced a hydraulic failure before the return.

February 12 - A Mexicana Airlines Airbus A320 bound for Chicago from Guadalajara made an emergency landing in St. Louis after cabin pressure was lost during the flight. Oxygen masks were deployed during the incident.

February 12 - A Piper Cheyenne owned by Mayes Aviation, Inc. crashed on approach to Forest City, Iowa, killing the pilot. Heavy cloud cover was reported in the area at the time of the crash.

February 11 - A Mexicana Airlines Fokker 100 overran the runway during an emergency landing attempt in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas Mexico, injuring one passenger. The aircraft reportedly failed to extend one or more landing gear before the accident.

February 11 - A turboprop operated by Trigana Air made an emergency landing at Sepinggan Airport in East Kalimantan after experiencing engine trouble during a Berau-Samarinda flight. One passenger reportedly suffered a broken leg during the hard landing.

February 11 - A Jet Airways flight bound for Bhopal, India from Indore made a safe emergency return landing to Indore after experiencing engine trouble shortly after takeoff.

Copyright 2010 www.AVSIG.com

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Flying with the Spirit of 76

Today, let’s travel back to 1976 and pretend that the optimism of that year came to be ... or the aviation part of it, anyway.

The least earth-bound country in the world is celebrating its 200th birthday. Beechcraft has a standing inside-back-cover advertisement in National Geographic. Flying magazine has a Bede Jet on its cover – a futuristic bubble-canopied personal jet that promises aerial mobility for the upwardly-mobile masses that’s little more trouble than towing a pop-up camper. And Gordon Baxter is writing for Flying, making personal flight seem not only accessible, but hugely rewarding.

There are other aircraft manufacturers that aren’t pushing the glam of a Beech Baron or Bond jet.

Cessna and Piper will send you up in one of their entry-level airplanes for the cost of lunch and a sales pitch. There are Bellancas, Mooneys, and Rockwell Internationals. Grumman makes inexpensive little pop-top fixed-gear airplanes that are just perfect for an alfresco Saturday trip up to the lake.

Fast-forward through three-decades-point-five of recessionless, class action lawsuitless, world-strifeless years.

Even the little guys survived, and the big guys are bigger yet.

Grumman Tigers are as cute as VW bugs, and almost as popular as 16th birthday presents for the daughters of the moderately-well-to-do. A cubicle dweller with a disciplined savings regimen can hope to get into a Bonanza by the time he’s 50 or so. A senior executive might swing part ownership in a Learjet with a few stock options that swing the right way. And a fully-liquid captain-of-industry can get into a supersonic six-seater that will manage Chicago to Tokyo in a day, maybe with a brief stopover in Honolulu.

In the alternative today that yesterday (sort of) promised, there are no K Street advocacy groups forever locked in battle with lawmakers, no community action groups formed by people who moved into houses off runway ends seeking to put an end to the noise and danger of airplanes after one day waking up and noticing an airport in their backyards, and no congressfolk who can’t distinguish between the fuel-air-bomb threat capability of a Cessna 172 versus that of a Boeing 767.

It’s Friday afternoon in 2010, the Aviation-friendly Alternative, and you’re headed off for the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where you’ll take advantage of the same winds Orville and Wilbur relied on to gently set your Beech Plebeian down on a sand-swept runway and tie-down just yards from Earl’s Taxi, which is an actual taxi with Earl sitting in it. Earl will be ready to take you to your bungalow in Avon, bypassing the massive stilt-mansions of Rodanthe and Waves because they don’t exist, since everybody who got rich during the tech boom bought little airplanes instead of giant vacation houses on a sand bar that Mother Nature has a habit of purging of most man-made structures every few decades.

It’s going to be a great little getaway, but not without hitches.

First, there’s the chucklehead at the local airport who cuts across the taxiway to get ahead of you in the takeoff queue. Maybe he’ll get busted for it or maybe not. Lots of little planes out on Friday afternoon, and they all seem to show up for departure around six. Never enough enforcement to catch everything.

Part of the trouble is the ground control people who are operating remotely from New Delhi. They seem to tell everybody in every airplane that everything’s working perfectly no matter what you just nearly collided with, as if they’re not even paying attention to what’s going on at the airport. It almost seems like they’re in an apartment in some low rent part of the city with no visual oversight whatsoever, reading from a script while a baby cries in the background and ultralights go tumbling in wake turbulence somewhere far, far away.

You should be safer once aloft considering the strict altitude assignments, but there are more than a few scofflaws. It turns out you can buy a product that will freeze your transponder position reports. They’re advertised in box ads on the back pages of Leisure Pilot.

But some of these clowns just bust altitude without any electronic countermeasures at all.

“Did you see the look on that guy’s face?” some hot-shot Duke driver is saying somewhere, after cutting off some slow schmuck in a Sienna Sportster over Spokane. (Toyota makes small airplanes in 2010, the Aviation-friendly Alternative. The engineers found that they were halfway to making airplanes by taking the back seat out of a Camry, adding wings, and just letting pilots compensate gronky throttle linkages with flaps).

Things go pretty smoothly en route to the barrier islands, but it doesn’t hurt to look-out for those rusty weekend pilots and the brash college students trying to make time to the beach. Just last weekend some kid in a Hyundai Ascent practically hit you head-on. He was so close you could see him on his phone, texting or making the next hilarious YouTube video ... hard to tell with the 350-knot closing speed.

Some extra vigilance landing in Manteo needed, too. People get all dreamy when they get close to a beach. They rear-end other cars on the ground while looking for those impossible-to-find Wings swimwear shops, and last summer some teenage girl decided to abort her landing without a word to anyone and nearly collided with an Apple iPlane in the pattern (whose pilot was flying, texting, shooting a YouTube video, and surfing the web all the same device while accidently dropping five-hundred feet from his assigned altitude thanks to spotty AT&T 3G coverage).

The teen, it was later learned, had with her girlfriends decided on impulse to abort her landing in Manteo to go buzz some surfers up the beach. There ought to be a law about how many teenagers can be flown by a teen pilot at the same time ...

OK. So it’s just as well that the promise of an airplane in every garage hasn’t worked out by 2010 the Aviation-unfriendly Reality, and it’s just as well, judging by what goes on in everyday ground-bound vehicle traffic, that we're not shooting for that reality.

Personal flying will probably always be the domain of Darwin’s fittest, but there’s more and more promise that once our world economic wretching clears up personal flight will be more accessible than in years, with several brand new buy-this-instead-of-a-Carrera-Turbo planes out on offer, some buy-this-instead-of-a-Bugatti-Veyron-with-metallic-paint Very Light Jets, and of course, the classic do-you-really-wanna-buy-a-used-Jaguar-instead-of-one-of-these used Cessnas, Pipers, etc.

The intersection of money and new light aircraft is only part of the equation, of course. Airports and governments still need to change their tune about general aviation traffic, and general aviation still needs to bring operational safety up closer to airline standards and further from guy-on-a-jet-ski-at-the-reservoir mentality. Check our Accident & Incident section on a regular basis and you’ll find way too many GA crashes caused by low fuel, continued VFR into IMC, and other poor decision-making – in other words, the same dumb crashes that have been giving general aviation a black eye since forever.

If you’d like to learn more about existing and future personal aircraft, please stop by and browse the aircraft model specs that are pinned to the top of our aircraft manufacturer-specific forum sections for Beechcraft, Cessna, Cirrus Design, Mooney, Piper (and Robinson, because some people can actually fly those confounded whirly things).

Some time back we also put up discussion sections for the above brands. To date, nobody uses ‘em. How they each got a few hundred messages in them is anybody’s guess, though the Beechcraft section is booming simply because some folks are using it to notify one another of when other Beechcraft discussion forums are down ... 'zackly why we created these sections. In case we're missing opportunities here, we'd like to invite even more folks in, if for no other reason than to see if we get even more posts about other discussion forums ... or some actual aircraft model discussion. Please follow the instructions under Free Guest Registration to get access to these and other public sections of AVSIG.

We’d like to see you at our place to help push the coming years of aviation back toward 1976. Thanks to very tight forum registration controls we believe we will be able to keep the Bee Gees out.


M.O.



Today's AVSIG International Aerodrome & Farm Props to James "Buster" Douglas, who shocked the world 20 years ago.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Accident & Incident Summary for February 8, 2010

[Accidents & Incidents published by www.AVSIG.com are preliminary and not meant to reflect the complete or official record of aviation accidents/incidents and their causes.]

2010

February 7 - A Nanchang CJ-6A crashed into a restroom during an emergency landing in a public park in Mesa, Arizona, but both aboard were reportedly uninjured. The aircraft reportedly experienced engine trouble before the crash. No injuries were reported on the ground.

February 7 - A Flight Design CTLS operated by Paragon Flight Training Centers Ltd. flipped during a takeoff attempt at Page Field near Fort Myers, Florida. No injuries were reported. Heavy wind gusts were reported at the time of the accident.

February 6 - A Cirrus SR20 collided with a single-engine Piper Pawnee glider tow plane over Boulder, Colorado, killing both aboard the Cirrus and the pilot of the Piper. The Cirrus deployed its onboard parachute after the collision and floated to the ground in flames. One or more occupants of the Cirrus reportedly jumped from the plane as it descended. The pilot of the glider and his two passengers made a safe landing at Boulder Municipal Airport. (AVSIG Discussion)

February 6 - Both aboard a Cirrus SR22 received minor injuries after their aircraft flipped during a hard landing at Indiantown Airport near Stuart, Florida.

February 6 - All four aboard a single-engine plane were killed after crashing into a field near Winslow, Arkansas. Witnesses said the aircraft struck the ground in a nose-down attitude.

February 6 - A helicopter crashed shortly after takeoff from St. Lucie International Airport in Florida, slightly injuring the pilot.

February 5 - All three aboard a Southwest Medevac helicopter were killed after crashing near Fort Bliss, Texas. The aircraft was reportedly engaged in a training flight at the time of the crash.

February 5 - Both aboard a helicopter were killed after crashing into a mountainside near Dajabon, Dominican Republic. The helicopter was reportedly engaged in Haiti relief efforts at the time of the crash.

February 5 - An engine cowling from an Atlas Airlines 747 cargo jet fell into a mall parking lot as the aircraft approached Miami International Airport. The aircraft landed safely and no injuries were reported on the ground.

February 4 - A British Airways flight made a safe emergency landing in Dusseldorf, Germany during a scheduled Budapest-London flight. Smoke was reported coming from one of the engines prior to the decision to divert.

February 4 - A Loganair flight en route from Sumburgh to Inverness made a safe emergency landing in Caithness, Scotland after the right engine began trailing smoke.

February 4 - The pilot of a Cessna 414 made a safe landing in Opa Locka, Florida after the nose-gear on the aircraft failed to lock in-place. The aircraft touched down nose-down with both props contacting the runway during the landing.


Copyright 2010 www.AVSIG.com

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Blessed be the Nag

Stuck at the Gate Stories

Recently this ‘drome & farm blogger was sitting on a Delta flight that was ready to depart Atlanta, but just not quite ready. Halfway out to turn-and-burn our plane came to a halt and the captain came over the intercom.

Apologies ... a warning light’s gone dark ... just a fifty-cent bulb that should take about a twenty minutes to replace ...

As most airline travelers know, the 20-minute bulb replacement on an airliner lives in the very same time-space continuum as the 20-minute wait at Applebee’s at six on Friday night – a time-space continuum where time is multiplied by three and space is cramped. (I didn’t have the heart to break the news to the fellow in my row who got on his phone to add exactly 20 minutes to his pickup time at our destination. As they say down south, “Well bless his heart”).

An hour went by with the usual PA updates from the captain.

Hey ... I see the guy with the bulb now ... say ... anybody onboard have a screwdriver? ... if so, the TSA would like to speak with you, and we’d like to speak with the TSA ...

Most everyone in the cabin just headed off to Blackberry Land or pretended to be fascinated with the inflight magazine, but here and there were malcontents.

The guy sitting next to me, who had earlier cheerfully introduced himself by saying that he had gotten a seat upgrade at the gate and was under the impression he wouldn’t be stuck sitting by anyone during the flight, was miffed at the delay.

“So a light bulb that warns them about something that never happens burned out. You’d think they could just fix that when they get there.”

This man had been busily inking a flow chart on the back of a Subway napkin before pushback – who knows for what kind of work and for what kind of result, but hopefully not for any sort of high-stakes project.

A few rows back a surviving Valley Girl whined into her cell.

“They’re like freakin’ that this bulb is burned out.”

Almost too fun to imagine her on an airliner with warning bulbs with something to warn about that are left burned-out, freakin' over plummeting to earth .

***

Another airport, another flight. (Long story – too long for the internet).

Two baggage handlers are loading the aft cargo hold of a regional turboprop. Like lots of freight handlers, they’re mad at the freight.

What joker checked a bag that’s four-feet long and weighted like a Mexican Jumping Bean?

The unwieldy thing goes up the conveyor ... the heavy leading end pulls it right off the top of the belt and sends the whole affair over the edge before the guy in the cargo bay, who just knows this is going to happen, can get to it. He watches the lumpy bag go over sort of like he's judging a science fair demonstration (Oh, snap! ).

The guy on the ground retrieves the fallen package and hoists it back up to the guy on the plane, and that guy wrestles the heavy, shifty bag to the top of the pile of smaller bags ... just like they don’t teach in the Stacking Boxes semester in high school Occupational Work Experience class. This is also the last bag loaded, and there is plenty of space between the none-too-form-fitting cargo net for the bag to fall, during, say, rotation.

“Hope they didn’t load our plane that way,” says a woman who may never have even taken a Occupational Work Experience course in high school.

In one of those scenes that’s more reassuring for airline passengers, than, say, seeing someone wearing captain’s bars walk out of the terminal bar, a guy wearing captain’s bars – the one who’s about to be spending some time way up in the air in the airplane with the big heavy slinky bag sitting at the top of a loose pile of haphazardly-piled luggage – takes time-out from looking over tires and props to go visit the rear luggage compartment.

From a cross-the-way-airplane vantage point it looks like he’s saying something like, “Say, fellows ... I’m expected in St. Louis tonight alive along with all those faces in the windows up there, so ... um ...”

The bags are restacked.

Major carrier airline safety has enjoyed very low accident rates recently, but there are reminders all around us that accidents are still waiting to happen with the help of just a few complacent people. A culture of safety vigilance in the cockpit is just part of the equation.

M.O.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Accident & Incident Summary for February 1, 2010

[Accidents & Incidents published by www.AVSIG.com are preliminary and not meant to reflect the complete or official record of aviation accidents/incidents and their causes.]

2010

February 1 - A single-engine Cessna made a safe emergency landing on the New Jersey Turnpike near Cherry Hill. The aircraft was reportedly engaged in traffic survey at the time of the incident. (AVSIG Discussion)

January 30 - The pilot of a T-34 made a safe emergency landing at Vermilion Regional Airport in Vermilion, Illinois after the aircraft's nose-gear failed to fully retract on takeoff from the airport. The pilot reportedly circled the airport for four hours to burn fuel before the landing.

January 29 - A single-engine plane en route to Mobile, Alabama from Bessemer made a safe emergency landing at Bay Minette Municipal Airport. The aircraft was reportedly low on fuel.

January 29 - A Republic Airlines Embraer 175 operated on behalf of US Airways made a safe emergency landing in Montgomery, Alabama during a scheduled Charlotte-Pensacola flight after being struck by lightning.

January 29 - A Continental Airlines flight bound for Bogota from Newark was diverted to Jacksonville over concerns that a no-fly list passenger was aboard the flight. Federal Bureau of Investigation officials in Jacksonville cleared the passenger and the flight continued to Bogota.

January 28 - A single-engine plane with two aboard made a safe emergency landing on Interstate 75 near For Lauderdale, Florida. The aircraft was en route to Opa Locka Airport when the pilot reported engine trouble.

January 28 - A single-engine plane attached to TransPac Aviation Academy crashed near a trailer park in Phoenix, Arizona, killing the student pilot. The aircraft reportedly clipped utility lines before the crash.

January 28 - A twin-engine Philippine military plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Cotabato City, Philippines, killing all eight aboard and injuring several on the ground. The crew was reportedly attempting to turn back to the airport at the time of the crash.