Thursday, May 27, 2010

U.S. Airlines: Now with Stars Upon Thars ...

If you happen to be one of those fine people we call AVSIG Members you may now read, rate, and comment on U.S. airlines in our Airline Travel section. Our goal is to provide some guidance on specific U.S. major air carriers with the understanding that there is no magic numerical means of differentiating among carriers that share the lowest accident rates in the industry.

Statistically speaking we have been at a happy place with U.S. domestic carrier accident rates for some time now.

But browse our Accident & Incident listings and you will find major carriers making emergency landings each week. Smoke odors in the cabin. Hydraulic leaks. Miscellaneous warning lights. These unscheduled landings are service failures to some, indicators of ill-maintained aircraft to others, and proactive caution to others yet. You will also see accounts of hard landings, gear lock failures, and security breaches. Pilots who miss Minneapolis. Indicators of perfection sought but never gained in some cases and loudly-chirping canaries in coal mines in others.

Links to the A&I listings are provided for each carrier (currently requiring a manual CTRL+F search in your browser, as our forum's UBB search engine su ... well ... remains a cruel joke) but we think there's always more to reading the tea leaves of major air carrier safety culture than just these events.

We believe FAA fines for unspoken but institutionalized revenue-over-caution policies like deferred maintenance/inspection and outed-by-strong-headwinds low-fuel airport diversions mean something too.

And if you're flying the typical U.S. hub-and-spoke carrier we believe it's also useful to consider your chances of being sent to Chicago in January on BigBox Airlines Connection Operated by You Ain't Never Heard of Us Airlines ... where your working-up-to-the-big-leagues low-pay pilot may have only just recently gotten off his or her wait shift at Red Lobster.

We've made For and Against comments that we hope you find helpful, except in cases where they're not helpful. (Not every airline has a compelling "for" or "against" attribute. In recognition of the fact, never mind that aviation safety is serious business, we've here and there slipped some throwaway lines in, since it's so hard for you to (actually) hurl tomatoes at us via the internet). We'll be counting on the AVSIG braintrust to add insight to this project along the way.

Wishing you safe and happy travel this summer ...

M.O.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Aviation Accident & Incident Update for May 24, 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

May 23 - All four aboard a helicopter were killed after crashing near a highway in Schleiz, Thurinigia, Germany.

May 23 - A Skywest Airlines CRJ200 was forced to make a nose-gear-up landing at Ontario International Airport near Los Angeles after the nose gear failed to extend after a flight from San Francisco. No injuries were reported.

May 22 - A KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Fokker F70 was removed from its flight schedule and searched after airline personnel discovered the aircraft had been entered by unknown parties overnight at Linkoping City Airport in Sweden.

May 22 - The pilot of a Fairchild M62 World War II training plane made a safe emergency landing in a soybean field near Fairborn, Ohio, after the aircraft's fuel pump quit.

May 22 - An Air India Express 737 overshot the runway and crashed in a ravine during a landing attempt in Mangalore, India killing 158 of 166 aboard. Steady rain was reported at the time of the crash. (AVSIG Discussion)

May 22 - A Socata TB-20 Trinidad was missing and presumed crashed in mountainous terrain near Happy Camp, Oregon. Residents in the area reported a loud crash shortly after air traffic controllers lost contact with the flight.

May 21 - The pilot of a Beech 90 made a safe emergency landing at Fulton Field in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada after smoke filled the cockpit in flight. The pilot first reported the smoke 40 miles out from the airport.

May 21 - The pilot of a Long-EZ was killed after crashing during a landing attempt at Wakefield Municipal Airport in Wakefield, Virginia.

May 21 - Both aboard a single-engine plane were injured after crashing shortly after takeoff from Bakersfield, California. The pilot reported having engine trouble.

May 20 - All four aboard a Cessna 172 were injured after overshooting the runway and crashing into a residential yard during a landing attempt at Kobelt Airport in Wallkill, New York. No injuries were reported on the ground.

May 20 - A JetBlue pilot was taken into custody in Boston after reportedly threatening in an e-mail sent to his estranged girlfriend to crash the plane he was scheduled to fly out of Logan International Airport. JetBlue denies the report and states the pilot was removed from the trip for health reasons.

May 20 - The pilot of a helicopter was killed after crashing near Gippsland, Victoria, Australia. The helicopter reportedly struck utility lines before the crash.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

From the Everybody's Thinking It File

Today Polish and Russian authorities have released one significant new piece of information on April's Smolensk Tu-154 crash that killed 96, including the Polish president, first lady, and several high-ranking Polish government officials: voices of two or more non-cockpit personnel are heard on the cockpit voice recorder minutes before the crash ... and the crew apparently ignores a cockpit warning to increase altitude just 18 seconds before the crash.

It's clear that Russia is in charge of this "joint" investigation, and as that nation's political culture has never nurtured Lance Itoesque media lackeyism, don't count on getting details of just what kind of non-cockpit personnel conversation we're talking about here anytime soon.

We're going to guess, based on statements from Smolensk air traffic controllers that clearly suggest that the president's plane was coming down one way or another in the lousy weather on April 10, that no one was discussing the latest cuts on Dancing with the Stars.

As an aviation safety organization that knows better than to speculate on air crash causes, let's put the above educated, insightful guess in our Everybody's Thinking it but this is Off The Record File, a safe bet for a worldwide internet blog. (Did you hear that gunshots are heard on a post-crash video taken by a videographer in Smolensk who was later assassinated by Elvis at Jack Ruby's night club? Mikey, Pop Rocks, Messy Gastric Explosion. See? Everything hides in plain sight on the web).

We might as well fess up to more aviation mishap mind reading while we're making the case for reading the minds of the Polish presidential transport crew:

Each week when we compile aviation accidents and incidents we can't help but notice a preponderance of apparent weather- and fuel-related general aviation crashes on Sunday evenings.

Mind Reading: Gotta be into work on Monday morning.

When Jessica Dubroff's plane crashed in a rainstorm during a whirlwind, media-hyped "child pilot solo record" tour in 1996 we couldn't help but notice the TV crews waiting at each stop on the itinerary.

Mind Reading: The instructor (and true pilot-in-command) must have been thinking more about meeting the next cluster of television cameras than making a safe departure decision in Cheyenne.

And even with the newest information on the circumstances of the crash in Smolensk, it's hard not to keep reading minds along with everyone else who is privy to the same sparse third-hand information we possess regarding this event.

The crew of a presidential transport full of government and military brass that is already an hour-and-a-half behind schedule en route to a make-it-or-miss-it national commemoration is advised by air traffic controllers at least twice to land at another airport after thick fog blankets its destination primitive instrument airport, but nonetheless presses on before crashing in the woods short of the runway.

Mind Reading: Your bosses and your bosses' bosses ... the latter of which just happen to be as high up as bosses go in your country, really want to be wheels-on-the-ground to commemorate an important national event. A diversion means your choice between missing the time or the place. And you're a relatively young military (read "no union to cover you butt") crew. Your careers may be negatively impacted by failing the mission, even if the alternative is really failing the mission. (The New York Times lends some credence to this kind of speculation with a report that President Kaczynski ordered his pilot to land in poor weather in Tbilisi, Georgia in 2008, only to be countermanded by the pilot, who is presumably still alive if not highly decorated).

Add to this the ultimate throw-down for a planeload of politicians and military bosses: the press plane made it in just ahead of you. Journalists on the ground with stories to write, perhaps stories about those too-timid, or those too-bold.

Have at it with international cover-up subterfuge, but no tight-lipped KGB spook made up the impossible-to-ignore nuances of this all-too-familiar get-there-itis air crash scenario ... especially after we're done reading minds here.

M.O.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Accident & Incident Update for May 17, 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

May 17 - A Pamir Airways flight has crashed in the mountains of northern Afghanistan. Heavy fog and rain was reported in the area at the time of the crash. The fate of the reported 46 aboard is unknown at post time. More ...

May 16 - A United Airlines 757 made a safe emergency landing at Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C. after fire broke out in the cockpit during a flight from New York to Los Angeles. Passengers reported an electrical burning smell 30 minutes into the flight. (AVSIG Discussion)

May 16 - A Cirrus SR22 overran a runway at Huggins Memorial Airpark in Timmonsville, South Carolina after the pilot reportedly realized he was "out of runway" during a landing attempt. The aircraft came to a rest on a public highway. Authorities closed the road for several hours after the incident.

May 16 A Piper PA-46 crashed into a house shortly after departing Clearwater Air Park in Clearwater, Florida, slightly injuring its three occupants. No injuries were reported on the ground, however a post-crash fire caused extensive damage. Witnesses reported the the plane, which was loaded with relief supplies bound for Haiti, struggled to gain altitude and struck utility lines before the crash.

May 16 - Three passengers were removed from a Pakistan International Airlines flight at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport after becoming unruly upon hearing that the flight would be making an unscheduled stop.

May 16 - The pilot of an experimental plane sustained minor injuries after flipping on landing in a field short of Sheboygan County Memorial Airport in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin. The pilot reported engine trouble before the crash.

May 15 - A Cathay Pacific flight was escorted to Vancouver International Airport by Canadian Forces F-18 fighters after a bomb threat was made against the flight. The aircraft landed without further incident.

May 15 - All three aboard a single-engine Cessna were safe after making an emergency gear-up landing at Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose, California. The pilot circled the airport for over an hour to burn fuel after it became apparent that the landing gear would not extend.

May 15 - A United Airlines 757 made a safe emergency landing at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas after developing an electrical problem shortly after takeoff from Los Angeles.

May 15 - A Saudi Arabian Airlines flight made a safe emergency landing in Sharourah after the crew detected smoke in the cockpit during a flight from Sharourah to Riyadh.

May 15 - A crop-dusting helicopter crashed in a field in Honey Creek, Wisconsin, slightly injuring the pilot. Witnesses reported that the pilot had just taken on a full tank of fertilizer and attempted to turn shortly after liftoff when one of the helicopter's sprayers made contact with the ground.

May 15 - A powered parachute crashed into the lone tree in an otherwise empty field during a takeoff attempt in Geelong, Victoria, Australia. Both occupants were rescued in good condition.

May 15 - Both aboard a Yak-52 were killed after crashing in the Atlantic Ocean off St. Port Lucie, Florida. Witnesses on the beach reported seeing the aircraft make a low pass and sharp turn before the crash.

May 15 - A Blue Wing Airlines twin-engine Antonov with eight aboard was missing and presumed crashed in rough terrain near Paramaribo, Suriname. Weather was reported as poor in the area at the time of the crash.

May 15 - Two people and seven sled dogs were rescued by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter in good condition after crashing in a helicopter near Seward, Alaska. The aircraft reportedly tipped and made contact with the ground in heavy wind and snow.

May 14 - The pilot of a Piper Super Cub was killed after crashing near Susitna Landing, Alaska. Witnesses reported the aircraft clipped a tree before the crash.

May 13 - An Aerogal 737 made a safe emergency landing in Cali after experiencing pressurization trouble during a flight from Quito to Bogota.

May 13 - A Piper Seneca operated by CTA Cleiton Taxi Aereo crashed near Manaus, Brazil, killing all six aboard. The crash reportedly occurred approximately 15 minutes after takeoff.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Afriqiyah Airways Crash in Libya



Image from Libyan Television









Breaking ...

An Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A-330 crashed during a landing attempt at Tripoli International Airport in Libya. One official estimated over 100 fatalities at post time. More ...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Aviation Accident & Incident Update for May 10, 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

May 9 - Pakistani authorities in Karachi arrested a man who was attempting to board a Thai Airways flight to Muscat after finding batteries and an electrical circuit in one of his shoes during passenger screening.

May 9 - The pilot of a Berkut Jet was uninjured after crashing near Loveland, Colorado. The aircraft's engine reportedly exploded before the crash.

May 9 - A Piper Cherokee crashed near Livermore, California, killing both aboard. Heavy rain and hail was reported in the area at the time of the crash.

May 9 - A Continental 777 made a safe emergency return landing to Newark Liberty International Airport after the crew noted a hydraulics failure shortly after takeoff.

May 8 - Four, including a flight attendant, were injured after a Continental Express flight encountered turbulence during a flight from Cleveland, Ohio to Albany, New York. The flight was met by paramedics in Albany.

May 8 - A United Airlines 767 bound for Belgium made a safe emergency return landing to Dulles International Airport in Virginia after blowing a tire on takeoff.

May 7 - A British Royal Air Force Hercules transport made a safe emergency landing at RAF Brize Norton after the landing gear failed to extend.

May 7 - A United Airlines 747 returned to Sydney, Australia after reportedly clipping its tail on takeoff. The flight landed without incident.

May 7 - A single-engine plane operated by the California Highway Patrol crashed near Ocotillo Wells, California, killing the pilot. The aircraft was engaged in highway speed surveillance at the time of the crash.

May 7 - No injuries were reported after a Robinson R-22 helicopter crashed near Mendon, Utah. The pilot reported that the engine failed at 1,500 feet prior to the crash.

May 6 - Authorities met an ExpressJet Airlines flight at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport after the crew reported an unruly passenger on approach to the airport.

May 6 - A single-engine Cessna crashed in a field near the city grid in Somerton, Arizona, killing the pilot. The pilot was reportedly dropping sterile fruit flies in the area at the time of the crash.

May 6 - Authorities evacuated a concourse at Sea-Tac International Airport in Washington after a baggage handler discovered a smoking bag in luggage that was being loaded on a Delta Airlines flight. The bag was found to contain batteries and electronics.

May 6 - A U.S. Air Force C-130 made a safe emergency landing at Salt Lake International Airport after smoke filled the cockpit during flight.

May 6 - The pilot of a Vans RV-8 escaped serious injury after crashing shortly after takeoff from Prague Municipal Airport in Prague, Oklahoma. The pilot reported that the plane lost part of its propeller before the crash.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Aviation Accident & Incident Update for May 3, 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

May 2 - The pilot of a hang glider was killed after crashing during an emergency landing attempt in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. The glider reportedly struck cabling before the crash.

May 2 - Both aboard a single-engine Piper were killed after crashing near Elizabeth, Indiana. Witnesses said the aircraft spiraled out of the sky.

May 2 - The pilot of a single-engine plane escaped injury after crashing during a takeoff attempt from a private airstrip near Los Alamos, California. The pilot stated that a gust of wind caused his wingtip to strike a parked pickup truck during takeoff roll.

May 2 - A single-engine plane made a safe emergency landing on its nosegear in Medford, Oregon after the main gear failed to extend.

May 2 - The crew of an Airbus A-320 operating as a passenger charter made a safe emergency landing in Tolmachyovo after a navigation system failed during a flight from Moscow to Krasnoyarsk.

May 2 - A Jet Airways Canadian Regional Jet made a safe emergency return landing to Kolkata, India after the crew was forced to shut down an engine shortly after takeoff.

May 1 - A United Airlines flight from Chicago declared an emergency upon reaching its destination in Philadelphia after a suspicious note was found aboard the flight. The aircraft landed without incident.

May 1 - A South Carolina National Guard AH-64 Apache helicopter crashed at McEntire Joint National Guard Base near Columbia, South Carolina, killing one and injuring one. The aircraft was engaged in training maneuvers at the time of the crash.

May 1 - An Air Canada Jazz Dehavilland Dash 8 made a safe emergency return landing to Prince George, British Columbia after smoke was detected in the cockpit shortly after takeoff.

May 1 - A single-engine plane crashed on takeoff from Springbank Airport in Calgary, Canada, slightly injuring the student pilot. The student was reportedly practicing solo takeoffs and landings. Strong wind gusts were reported in the area at the time of the crash.

May 1 - A China Airlines flight made a safe emergency landing in Hangzhou, China after a passenger reported having a bomb in his luggage. No bomb was found.

April 29 - A single-engine Cessna made a safe emergency landing at Belfast Municipal Airport in Belfast, Maine after smoke filled the cabin shortly after takeoff.