Archive for the 'airline safety' Category

Friday Fun – Future Airline Safety Message

With the record high fuel prices these days, airlines are trying to get extra revenue (actually getting back some part of their lost revenue) by charging for services that otherwise used to be free (included in the price). Here is a funny vision of how our safety messages may look like in the future, if the current trends in in the pricing of airline services continue.

by balint01

Friday Fun – Airport Security

It’s been a while since our last Friday Fun post, so here we go again.

Is this how airport security really works? It would explain a few situations, I guess…

by balint01

Are You A Passenger Or A Criminal?

Cavity search, biometric data, pat-down, body screening. What is next? A regular passenger is checked more often than an average criminal in jail. Is it really necessary?

As CNN reported yesterday (April 16), two majos US airports – Los Angeles LAX and New York JFK – will start to use body screening machines. The machines had been tested in Phoenix, Arizona and apparently it proved to be useful as more passenegrs chose to go through the body screener than having a pat-down.

When I read this part of the article, I was really surprised. I am not pleased by a pat-down, still I would prefer it to a body screening machine, where all bits of my body could be seen for a complete stranger. May be it just my “feminist aggression” that says: no, I have the right to decide who can see my body.

Then I kept on reading and I understood it:

Travelers will continuously and randomly be selected to go through the machine. While signs will inform them of the pat-down option, screeners will not announce that choice. But passengers electing not to go through the millimeter wave machine will be given the option of the pat-down.

You have the right, you just won’t be informed about it. Now that is nice, isn’t it? Bad news for passengers departing from the US is that TSA is planning to buy 30 more machines. Once a business is blossoming…

Body screeningI understand it, that they just want to protect us, regular travellers from being blown up on a passenger jet and I agree that airline safety is first priority for them, but is it really necessary? Is there anything on earth that this wil show on a human body and those beeping gates do not filter out? Is it still about safety?

Basically it has become a nightmare to fly in or out of the US. Hours of queues at the immigration when travelling in including fingerprint and eye check and now body screening when travelling out. Why is it much more simple in the EU?

(photo by USA Today)
By Szafi

Indonesia Grounds Adam Air

Indonesian authorities have withdrawn the Operation Specification Adam Air Sky Connection (Adam Air). The carrier is grounded as of March 19 and has three months to make safety improvements or it will have its AOC (Air Operator’s Certificate) revoked.

Shortcomings noted by the Ministry of Transport include that the airline carried out operations not in accordance with their AOM (Aircraft Operations Maintenance). Also, personnel training was not carried out in accordance with the company’s training program. And maintenance was carried out, not in accordance with the Maintenance Manual.

Adam AirAdam Air was founded in 2002 by two persons, a well-known Indonesian businessman called Agung Laksono and a lady called Sandra Ang. It was named after Sandra Ang’s son. The airline started operations on 19 December 2003 with 2 Boeing 737s. There were discussions about selling 20% of the stakes – even Qantas was among the expected investors -, but after the crash of flight 574 on 11 February 2006 international investors backed down, although there were no fatalities or injuries in that accident.

Since the crash there have been continuous talks about the safety records and management style of Adam Air. According to talks they bribed their pilots to fly unsafe planes. Today’s decision of the Indonesian ministry was a logical effect of serious reports from the pilots of the airline about safety issues and corruption.

You can read more about Adam Air here.

By Szafi

After Series Of Crashes SAS Buys Q400s Again

Following a series of serious crash landings last year, SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) decided to stop operating Bombardier Q400 Dash 8 type in October 2007.

A debate between the manufacturer and the airline started right after the decision was made. Investigations showed that in all cases the source of the indients was the landing gear. Therefore it was not just Bombardier involved in the discussions; Goodrich, the manufacturer of the landing gears also took part.

Finally the three parties came to a very strange agreement. SAS will receive a compensation of approximately 165 million dollars. The weird part of the agreement is that SAS orders 27 new Bombardier aircrafts and 13 of the new planes will be Q400s. This means that a few months after SAS refused to continue the operation of Q400s, it orders 13 new ones.

Although the spokesman of the airline said the Q400 NextGen is modified in several ways compared to the old ones, still it looks a little bit strange for me.

Luckily I am not the CEO of the airline, nor am I in the board of directors. It must have been a tough situation to decide on the signing of such an agreement. I am wondering how they will communicate this to their passengers.

I am interested in your opinions about it. I recommend this video to everyone interested in this topic.

By Szafi 

Southwest Airlines Flew Unsafe Planes

This is the title of a CNN article that says that as of March last year Southwest Airlines flew 117 planes without regular safety checks. If that is right, it is the most serious violation of safetly regulations in the US.

CNN’s article quotes from documents submitted by FAA to  congressional investigators with the recommendation to call a hearing as soon as possible to find out more about the reason of this quite unusual business decision of the airline.

The FAA investigator said the airline’s managers knew the planes were unsafe and unairworthy, but still they kept flying them that way putting passengers’ (and crew’s) lives at risk.

I myself was kind of shocked reading the article and I am wondering what you think about it. If this story is true and one of the oldest and most prestigous low cost airlines did that, that will completely destroy the image of low cost airlines.

Here is the full article.

We’ll follow the story.

By Szafi 

Lufthansa Plane Landing in Strong Crosswind

Over the past weekend, we have experienced some strange weather all around Europe, with really strong winds and huge storms. There was one major incident reported, where a Lufthansa plane flying from München attempted to land in Hamburg, in a really-really strong sidewind. The report mentioned that the wing has touched the runway, but if you take a look at this footage of the actual landing attempt, you’ll see that it was not just a small touch… The plane landed safely at the second try.

The Airports in Münich and Frankfurt were closed for several hours on Saturday as well.

I suppose there were several other tough landings around the airports of Western Europe over the weekend, very similar ones to this, which was recorded earlier, in January this year, at London City Airport, by a Swiss AvroLiner. We can really see how important the landing gears are to such airliners…

[Kata and Gábor, thanks for the links!]

Here is a collection of other crosswind landings.

by balint01

British Airways Boeing 777 Incident at London Heathrow

British Airways flight BA 038 inbound to London Heathrow, from Beijing, China today at 12:42 pm local time (12:42 GMT) has crash landed just a few meters off the beginning of Heathrow’s Southern runway (unlucky?). From another point of view, it crash landed just a few meters off of a congested two way road, just inside the boundaries and fences of Heathrow Airport (lucky!!).

BA Boeing 777 after emergency landing at Heathrow - by

According to the first reports by BBC and declined to be commented by British Airways, the aircraft has lost some (or all) of its power and avionics systems while descending to the airport, and it equals to a miracle that the pilot managed to reach the territory of the airport by gliding this huge bird “nose up”, and not crash-land into the heavily populated residential areas of West-London. This is the FIRST Report, only a few hours after the crash, so as investigations will take place, the findings may change the descriptions of the cause.

All 136 passengers and 16 crew escaped the aircraft, with 13 of the passengers (among them 7 British and 3 Chinese) reportedly being treated in a nearby hospital with minor injuries.

Scotland Yard has quickly stated that the incident is not terrorism related.

BA chief Willie Walsh, while praising the crew for doing an “excellent job,” declined to comment on the possible cause of the accident, which is being to be probed by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). He further added that “The captain of the aircraft is one of our most experienced and has been flying with us for nearly 20 years,” he said.

What is known at this moment, is a few eyewitness explanations:

Eyewitness Neil Jones, who has a general aviation pilot’s licence, said the plane had been making a “very, very unusual approach,” and the engine sounded louder than normal. “The aircraft was banking to the left and it was coming in very low over the surrounding houses. The plane was significantly lower than it would normally be,” he told the BBC. “You could see the pilot was desperate, trying to get the plane down. The aircraft hit the grass and there was a lot of dirt. The pilot was struggling to keep the plane straight. He did a great job,” said Jones. Another witness said the Boeing had come in at a “funny angle,” and, with its undercarriage down, had slid along the grass in a “plume of smoke.” The plane had hit the ground with a “big impact and a loud noise.”

The 6 year old Boeing 777-200ER, registration G-YMMM, was built by Boeing in 2001 and is one of 43 in the British Airways fleet. The plane is powered by two Rolls-Royce Group Plc Trent 895 engines and had accumulated 23,476 flying hours as of Dec. 31, 2006, (according to data on the Web site of the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority) and was immediately surrounded by emergency vehicles, including fire engines and ambulances, as a carpet of foam was sprayed. The wheels of the plane, which had a routine maintenance check in December, were still in the field where it crashed, several hundred meters from the runway.

Officials said delays were expected after one of Heathrow’s two runways was closed for almost two hours with an air exclusion zone imposed to help regulate traffic at one of the world’s busiest airports. The runway has since been reopened for take-offs only.

Update: first good resolution pictures on

Update: Video of the Crew’s Press Meeting on Telegraph TV, so you know who made sure that such an emergency situation was handled as best as possible: 

Update: In the preliminary report The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the flight had been normal until that point but then the Boeing 777 descended rapidly. The report states: “At approximately 600ft and two miles from touch down, the autothrottle demanded an increase in thrust from the two engines but the engines did not respond.” This means that so far the first theory has been confirmed by pre-liminary investigation findings. This was the first ever crash involving a Boeing 777 aircraft, which is considered as one of the most advanced jets in the sky today.

by balint01

How To Survive An Air Crash?

Even though Air Transport is by far the SAFEST way to travel, air crashes occur every once in a while. Fortunately the industry is working hard to avoid such situations, and the number of passenger fatalities on revenue flights DECREASED IN 2007 by 20% to 631 from 790 in 2006. You have to look at these numbers knowing that more than 2.5 billion people travel each year on airliners. According to statistics this basically means that the chance of somebody losing their lives in an air accident is 1 to 9 million! This means that you would have to fly more than 50.000 times in your life to challenge your faith this way.

SAS MD80 after crash landing - EVERYBODY survived, due to quick and proper instructions by the flight attendants and due to everybody following those!

Most of the irregular operations on an aircraft however, do not end in an actual crash. But if you’re on that particular flight (like one of the 15 in 2007 that were involved in fatal accidents) there are a few things which you should know, which can actually save your life! The following tips can increase your chance of survival, so they’re good to keep in mind!

1. Wear long pants, long sleeve shirts and lace boots!
Try to avoid comfortable slippers or elegant high heels as they make moving around the wreckage much harder. Also loose dresses can easily get stuck which also make your moves much harder. If you know that the route will take you above cold areas (like Canada at winter or the Himalayas in Asia), take a warm sweater or jacket with you onboard. Following an accident one of the most important things it to keep the body warm. Long pants and long sleeve dresses may also protect against possible fire burns.

2. Sit in the back rows by the aisle!
In most of the cases, the crash itself can be survived and then you need to move away from the wreckage as quick as possible. For this you should sit close to an emergency exit and in an aisle seat! According to statistics, those sitting in the back rows have 40% more chance of survival than those sitting in the front.

3. Read the Safety Card!
Safety Card by Qantas It may be boring after a while, but let’s pay attention to the safety demonstration before each flight, and even take a look at the Safety Card as the information may be used. The emergency exits are also located at different parts of different aircraft types, you should note those before take off as well. If sitting next to an emergency exit, you should be comfortable about how to operate and open it. This could be your duty if the flight attendants get injured for example.

4. Prepare an Emergency Plan in your head!
If you know the plane is going to crash or emergency land, you have a few minutes to prepare before the actual situation. In this time, check the exits again, and possibly count the number of rows in between. This may be useful in case of darkness or smoke in the cabin as you actually may not be able to see the exit. Let’s try to identify the type of soil where the plane would land. If it’s water, don’t inflate the lifejacket as if the cabin gets filled up with water, it would press you against the ceiling, making escape impossible. Also if you land on water, take a sweater or the blanket along against getting cold.

5. Always fasten your seatbelt!
It may be uncomfortable, but keep the seatbelt fastened throughout the whole duration of the flight. Also make sure it’s tight, as in case of a crash landing, the distance between the body and the belt may multiply the g-force on the body. Also you should be aware of how to open the belt the quickest way, as after the accident, speed counts the most. If you have time before the crash, remove any sharp objects from your pockets (pen, pencil, etc., even eyeglasses) as they may cause injury. Best if you don’t even have those on you!

6. Take on an Emergency Position!
If you are aware that the plane will have a crash, try to chock up yourself as much as possible. Move your seat to an upright position, and take on one of the emergency positions:

Brace Position

A) If the seat in front of you is close, put one your palms on the back of the seat, cross the other hand and put the other palm on your lower arm, and move your forehead on the two lower arms. Never cross your fingers!

Brace Position 2.

B) If the seat in front you is farther away, lean forward and put your chest on your thighs and place your head between your knees, take hold of your ankles with your hands.
In both cases, leave your feet on the ground, a little bit below the line of the knees. These positions also prevent damage to your spine at the crash.

7. Don’t move until the plane comes to a complete stop!
Most of the cases passengers survive the first crash, but the fuselage may “bounce” and most of the injuries happen at this time. Try to place your hand luggage under the seat in front of you and not in the overhead bins, as if a bag is there, it may prevent your feet or legs from being caught in that space.

8. Keep calm!
It is very hard to keep calm and not panic right before and after such a crash. Let’s think about which direction is the safest to go, and try to give maximum chance for your survival by thinking calmly about how to do it!

9. Take on the Oxygen Mask!
You should always take on your own mask, before helping others. In case of loss of cabin pressure these masks are only required for a few minutes, while the pilot navigates the plane to a lower flight level, where the outside pressure is high enough so that you can breath normally. Don’t be afraid to take it off and leave it behind after this has happened.

Safety Mask Demonstration

10. Protect yourself from the smoke!
In most of the cases, the fire and the smoke after an accident takes the most fatalities. The smoke inside the cabin is usually thick and has poisonous gases. The best you can do is to put a cloth in front of your mouth and nose. If you have a chance, make the piece of cloth wet, even with your own urine if there is no other way, it also reduces the risk of internal injuries if your bladder is empty. It may sound disgusting but it works and may save your life!

11. Leave the aircraft immediately!
The most important after a crash has happened is to leave the wreckage immediately! Don’t sit around stunned and waiting for instructions, GET MOVING as soon as possible. In the aisle or if it’s not possible, on the top of the seats, try to avoid crawling underneath as other passengers may bury you. If there is a fire or smoke, according to studies, you have about two minutes to leave safely. Quick evacuation is what helped all onboard to survive the China Airlines’ accident last year.

12. Leave your luggage behind!
You may have “valuable” things in your carry-on luggage, but leave them all behind, as the most valuable thing you have is your own life and such bags would only reduce your – and that of other fellow passengers – chance of survival as they slow you down and may get stuck, etc.

14. Check the other side!
Check the other side of the exit, as if there is fire or any other danger, it’s better to try on the other side.

Emergency Exit opening instructions

15. Quickly move away from the wreckage!
As soon as you’re outside the plane, get away from the wreckage as quickly as possible, as an explosion or fire could happen at any second. At the same time, if your plane “landed” in a remote area, don’t move too far away, as the rescue teams will look around the wreckage for survivors. If we land on water, swim as far as you can. The best is to remove your shoes, and any other non-useful dress items in the cabin or before jumping in the water as those make swimming only harder, but don’t leave a sweater or a jacket behind.

16. Follow instructions by flight attendants!
In general, if the flight attendants have survived the crash, always follow their instructions, as they have been trained for such situations. They may not be nice, rather rude with short, straight sentences in a militaristic tone, but that’s what helps in such a case.

If everybody follows these instructions, all passengers can get out of a crash-landed plane very quickly, just take a look at this video of an evacuation test on the new Airbus A380 super-jumbo!

We hope none of us would have to use any of the items in this article, but it’s always better to be prepared!

by balint01

FAA Ban On Lithium Batteries – What’s The Point?

Ban on lithium batteries in checked baggeges

To help reduce the risk of fires, air travelers will no longer be able to pack loose lithium batteries in checked luggage beginning Jan. 1, the US Transportation Department said Friday.

Bag under x-ray

Illustration: Bag under X-ray

Passengers can still check baggage with lithium batteries if they are installed in electronic devices, such as cameras, cell phones and laptop computers. If packed in plastic bags, batteries may be in carryon baggage. The limit is two batteries per passenger. The ban affects shipments of non-rechargeable lithium batteries, such as those made by Energizer Holdings Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co’s Duracell brand.

“Doing something as simple as keeping a spare battery in its original retail packaging or a plastic zip-lock bag will prevent unintentional short-circuiting and fires,” Krista Edwards, deputy administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, said in a release.

The Federal Aviation Administration has found that fire-protection systems in the cargo hold of passenger planes can’t put out fires sparked in lithium batteries. The National Transportation Safety Board earlier this month said it could not rule out lithium batteries as the source of a cargo plane fire at Philadelphia International Airport last year.

What is the point?

Taking a look at the ruleit turns out that there are many illogical parts in it. Just to mention some:

- there are lithium and lithium ion batteries, the regulation affects only the lithium ones.

- 2 batteries carry around the same volume of risk as 4 or 8 batteries.

- no, a zipped plastic bag does not protect anything from catching fire in case of a spark

- there is a much higher risk of explosion when these batteries are under usage or charging and it is allowed to charge or use your laptop for example during the flight.

- the regulation affects planes leaving from the US. But if you fly to Europe you can carry as many batteries as you want on your return journey.

So what is the real intention behind this regulation? Well, my idea is that besides causing more troubles to passengers just because authorities do not have tools to filter out the bad guys from the mass, the problem they needed solution for is that they were afraid that any bombs or explosives can be launched with the use of a series of batteries. That is why they limited it to 2 per passenger. Will it protect us? We’ll never be able to tell.

By Szafi

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