Browsing Tag: Safety

The rear of the slate is de-laminating on this American Airlines Boeing 757 on flight 1990.

The rear of the slate is de-laminating on this American Airlines Boeing 757 on flight 1990.

Last Saturday American Airlines flight 1990 was about to take off from Miami to Orlando, when a passenger noticed a bit of damage to the wing’s right slat. As the flight of the Boeing 757 progressed the passenger, who wishes to remain anonymous, noticed the small damage had spread to the width of several feet and he notified one of the flight attendants.

WESH of Orlando spoke with American spokesperson, Tim Smith, and he confirmed that the Boeing 757 did have some de-lamination on the plane’s right wing. He stated the plane was taken out of service and ferried back to Miami to have repairs completed. Smith stated the de-lamination occurred on the rear of one of the wing’s slats, and even if the problem had affected the operation of the slat, the slats simply make the plane more aerodynamic but do not affect the plane’s ability to fly safely.

“I really do want to assure folks that safety wasn’t compromised and no one was in any danger because of this,” he said.

Some others aren’t so sure. Eric Norber of Orlando FAA Safety Team feels that the pilots should have made an emergency landing. At first glance this might look like a serious incident, but I am not so sure.

First off the flight from Miami to Orlando is extremely short and it might have taken longer for the pilot to make an emergency landing back in Miami versus continuing to Orlando. Obviously American felt it was not a safety risk, since the plane was flown back to Miami with no passengers aboard.

Ice or debris on the leading edge of slats can cause a loss of lift and serious issues, however the damage was on the rear of the slats and appears to be mostly cosmetic. While the rear of the slat is make of laminated composite material, the front part is made of alloy and the damage would not been able to spread.

That being said, I will continue to find out more information about this incident, but on the most part, this might just be a non-incident (except for a few interesting photos).

Someone on Airliners.net also posted a very cool image showing how the rear of the slat (this photo is of a Boeing 747, but still similar construction) is to the front.

Thanks Chris S for pointing this story out!

Image: WESH
A passenger gets scanned in a body scanner.

A passenger gets scanned in a body scanner.

Ah body scanners. One of my favorite topics to write about (or hate on). If you have missed out on previous posts let me re-cap why I don’t like them:

* They violate our privacy. Not just people seeing your almost-naked bodies, but those that might have a disability and really don’t want some TSA agent to see it.
* They can be avoided. All you have to do is say, “no,” and you can get a pat-down. Not even trying, I avoided the body scanner and a pat-down.
* I hate the, “what about the children,” argument, but do you want your child’s scans looked at by some stranger?
* They already have been, and I assure you will continue to be, abused.
* There is now talk that these scanners give you more radiation than once thought.
* They cost a lot and do nothing more than provide a false sense of security for passengers.

Now Senators Bob Bennett (R-UT) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have introduced a bill to require all commercial airports to have and use body scanners by 2013. The bill is called the Securing Aircraft From Explosives Responsibly: Advanced Imaging Recognition Act. If that is too long for you, there is a fun acronym: S.A.F.E.R. A.I.R. Act. I wonder how much time they spent on the acronym versus seeing how this bill would really make passengers safer.

The Senators feel the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been spending too much time testing out the body scanners and need to get them installed ASAP nationwide. Currently the scanners are installed in only 48 airports across the US.

The bill requires that body images “cannot be stored, transferred, copied or printed,” and it forbids security personnel from having cameras near the machinery. Of course we all know that every TSA agent has followed all the rules already associated with the body scanners (that is sarcasm). I understand that most TSA employees take their job very seriously and do not abuse the system, but it only takes a few to make the whole agency look bad.

I have written a lot about these scanners and seem to have people just argue that they are better than nothing or if you don’t like them, don’t fly. I haven’t seen how the system is currently planned to be set up, how it makes us any safer. I would love to be proved wrong on this.

Thank you Chris Salman for point this out!

Source: RawStory.com Image: CRozeman
Trans States Airlines ERJ-145

Trans States Airlines ERJ-145

Last month I told you about two flight crews who forgot to start the second engine on their regional jet before take off. Yes, people can make mistakes, but this is a pretty big mistake.

Since then I have found more information on one of the incidents. It turns out that the Trans States pilot who forgot to turn on his second engine, was not a new pilot, but a very experienced one. Michael White, the airline’s former chief pilot and currently its director of flight operations is the one who made this mistake.

White is stating that his second engine shut down on its own and Tran States is supporting his statement. Two pilots who were flying in the passenger cabin at the time said they felt the second engine was never started, which contradicts White’s story. The FAA isn’t buying White’s version of events and has opened an enforcement case to see if White is trying to cover up his mistake. The Wall Street Journal is stating that pilots have told investigators they have felt intimidated to back up White’s version of this story.

“We don’t believe that any member of management has tried to dissuade pilots from telling anything,” an airline spokesperson told the FAA. He added that the FAA has “never told us there was any kind of investigation involving intimidation or coercion,” of pilots.

After the incident White was barred from flying passengers, but has since passed a proficiency test and is once again able to fly.

I was able to speak to a Trans State’s pilot about this situation, via email. Due to their obvious fear of repercussions, I will not be using their real name. For ease, I shall call them “Pilot Smith.”

Smith confirmed that White is not your average pilot, “The Captain [White], who was on a line check (which is a type of test we are required to do, once a year for currency in the aircraft) and is our director of operations (aka management). He is someone who hardly EVER flies and yet dictates our rules and regulations on a daily basis, with emphasis based on punishment if WE (pilots) do not follow them.”

Smith talked to me about how much they love their job, but it has only been getting more difficult. Most pilots have to put their time into regional jets before moving on to larger aircraft to make more money and have better hours. However, due to the poor economy, pilots are having to spend more time and are becoming more experience. Even though they have the hours and the experience, they still are “stuck” in the regional airlines realm. Smith feels, “It is of the utmost importance to keep safe, fly smart, and offer the best customer service I can to our passengers.” However Smith stated it is difficult to do all of that, while having to work so many hours and being in a hostile work environment.

No matter what, Smith loves flying and will continue to keep doing what they love, “I love flying an airplane and will never miss the feeling of taking off into the great blue yonder.”

I have a feeling the truth about this will come out. The date logs should be able to show if the engine was started or not. If it turns out that the engine did stop on its own, I will be the first to apologize to White and Trans States Airlines. However, if it turns out that White didn’t start his engines and the airline was part of a cover up…well let’s just say I won’t be happy and you will know about it!

Image: AV8NLVR
Ben Gurion International Airport outside of Tel Aviv.

Ben Gurion International Airport outside of Tel Aviv.

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog calling body scanners a “joke” and I was quite harsh on the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) decision to move forward with them.

Don’t get me wrong. I fly a lot. I like my life. I am all about protecting it and those who fly with me. But, I am not about the TSA wasting money for “security theater.”

After I posted my thoughts, the TSA posted a blog titled, “Advanced Imaging Technology – Yes, It’s Worth It.” It seem to be a rebuttal to those of us who have voiced concern about the TSA moving forward with the body scanners. However, TSA’s explanation is short on actual specifics of how the body scanners will stop someone from doing harm to airlines and passengers.

In my previous blog, my biggest issue was people could choose to avoid the scanners. If you didn’t want to be scanned, you could opt to get a pat down. For privacy reasons, it is great they offer this alternative, but for safety reasons it makes no sense. Why use all this pricey equipment, if someone who wants to do harm can just avoid it?

Their blog does a wonderful job explaining how these high-tech body scanners can pick up the smallest illegal items, but nothing about how scanners can be avoided or steps that are being taken to stop more privacy violations. I posted the question directly to the folks at TSA Blog, but never got a response, even though they did answer other people’s questions.

Over on my Seattle PI syndication I currently have 45 comments from readers who feel strongly (on both sides) about the body scanners. This shows me there are quite a few other people out there that have grave concerns about these scanners. I have been told a few times, “okay smart guy, how about stop just complaining and provide a solution” (okay, maybe not exactly like that, but you get the idea).

I would really hope someone out there with experience in air safety, could find a better solution. Talking to people about airport security I kept being told to check out out how Israel works their airport and airline security. So, I did and what I found looks like they might be on to something.

Isreal’s security allows for greater security, but less inconvience for travellers. And it must work. Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, Israel’s larget hub, has not had a security breach since 2002.

“It is mindboggling for us Israelis to look at what happens in North America, because we went through this 50 years ago,” said Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy, in an interview with TheStar.com. He’s worked with the RCMP, the U.S. Navy Seals and airports around the world. “Israelis, unlike Canadians and Americans, don’t take shit from anybody. When the security agency in Israel (the ISA) started to tighten security and we had to wait in line for — not for hours — but 30 or 40 minutes, all hell broke loose here. We said, ‘We’re not going to do this. You’re going to find a way that will take care of security without touching the efficiency of the airport.”

Their security is a multi-layer system:

LAYER 0: Intelligence
Before anyone even leaves for the airport, Isreal has strong intelligence network, trying to determine particular threats and dispose of them before they even reach the first layer.

LAYER 1: Roadside Check
Before you can even get to the airport, security stops every car and asks two questions, “How are you? Where are you coming from?” The answers aren’t nearly important, but more of how the person responds. Security officers are trained to detect nervousness and distress. Not the amount that a lot of people feel from flying, but those that occur when you are about ready to kill yourself and many others.

LAYER 2: Outside Guards
Armed guards are stationed outside the terminal and are trained to observe passengers. Any sort of odd behavior or strange baggage, you will be pulled aside for additional questioning and possible searches.

LAYER 3: Bag Inspections
Passengers that look suspicious or are just random will be pulled aside to be scanned by a metal detector and have their bags scanned.

LAYER 4: Ticket Agent Questions
Now, you have fully made it into the terminal. The ticket agent will take your documents and ask you a series of questions, the whole time, looking directly into your eyes, “which is very embarrassing. But this is one of the ways they figure out if you are suspicious or not. It takes 20, 25 seconds,” said Sela. Again, they are specially trained to detect body language that would show the person means to do harm. Also, passengers are not allowed to group up, which would provide a group target for a terrorist.

LAYER 5: Bag Termination
Let’s say a terrorist has made it through the first four layers of security and still is able to get his bomb to the ticket agent. Every bag is screened right away. If a bomb or suspicious material is found, they do not evacuate the whole terminal, like you would see in America. Evacuation causes panic, more targets, and a huge delay. Instead, scanners have bomb boxes near by and a suspected bag is put into the box, which can contain an explosion of up to 100 kilos of plastic explosives. People within a few meters of the suspected bomb need to be cleared and the rest of the airport is able to go through its normal business. “This is a very small simple example of how we can simply stop a problem that would cripple one of your airports,” Sela said.

LAYER 6: Body and Luggage Check
You would think this is like America’s security check, but Sela says, “Here it is done completely, absolutely 180 degrees differently than it is done in North America. First, it’s fast — there’s almost no line. That’s because they’re not looking for liquids, they’re not looking at your shoes. They’re not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you.”

All these layers have solid security, but they also get passengers from the parking lot to their gate in less than 25 minutes. Now, that is impressive. Sela feels the TSA could move in this direction, but they are on the wrong path. “Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes … and that’s how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys.”

Yes, this is profiling, but I think it is the good kind of profiling. Racial profiling = wrong, behavior profiling = right. Sela said, “To us, it doesn’t matter if he’s black, white, young or old. It’s just his behaviour. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I’m doing this?”

Do the Israelis have a good security system? I think so, but I don’t think it could easily be used the exact same way in America. We definitely don’t do well with seeing people with large guns walking around and this system would be vulnerable to racial profiling. I do think looking at behavior profiling would be a better use of resources than spending money on machines that people can skip all together.

Sources: TheStar.com & Vancouver Sun Image: iamxande

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