31 July 2009

The Air-Sickness Bag and Toilet Tax: Is the Airline Industry’s “Cheap Flight Revolution” Worth the Cost?

File Photo: MD-11 Taking Off (Not your no frills aircraft)

No-frills airlines have come under attack again for forcing passengers to opt-out of travel insurance when booking cheap flights —- a practice that contravenes European Union protocols.

Hidden Taxes

A few weeks ago the British the consumer watchdog Which? released a study revealing that budget carriers – including EasyJet, Jet2 and Monarch - automatically added travel insurance to online ticket purchases.

Selling insurance as the default option – whereupon customers must untick boxes to avoid paying for the insurance – is against European Union directives and is consequently banned. Lorna Cowan, editor of Which? explained: “With airlines still opting people into insurance, consumers could unwittingly buy a product which is of no use to them, and at up to £10 ( 16.44990 USD) per person this can add up,” she said.

“Buying insurance at the same time as your flights may seem like an easy and convenient option. But if you’ve already got an insurance policy, or it doesn’t provide the right amount of cover for you, it’s as useless as no cover at all.”

British Airways has also launched a website designed to illustrate the differences in service received by low-cost passengers when compared to more traditional airlines. Whereas everything from food & drink to priority boarding was included in the cost of a flight with BA, the airline is quick to point out, these represent additional costs of a ‘cheap flight’ with a competitor.

So, could this be the beginning of a backlash against charges which see passengers forced to pay for everything from checking-in at the airport to putting baggage in the hold and (perhaps most notoriously of all) using credit cards to pay for tickets at a cost of £5 ($8.22 USD as of 28 Jul 2009) per journey per person?

The Air-Sickness Bag and Toilet Tax

Unlikely. The cheap flights revolution is ingrained in the national consciousness to such an extent these days passengers are even willing to suggest which charges they would like to see introduced in the future.

When Ryanair suggested it would be able to cut the basic cost of tickets even further with the introduction of new charges, passengers were quick to endorse everything from a ‘fat tax’ for overweight passengers, corkage fees, and even a charge to smoke in a specially converted cubicle.

A plan to charge passengers to use the toilet – termed ’spend a pound to spend a penny’ – eventually triumphed, but was later rejected by the Irish airline. However, a plan to charge for sick bags has also been mooted of late.

So it seems not only do passengers begrudgingly pay the charges demanded of them, they would also be willing to pay more if it lowered the basic cost of a flight.

Are the “No-Frills” Carriers Here to Stay?

It seems the best course of action for dealing with low-cost carriers is to stoically bear the cost of travel. Think of a cheap flight as a ‘pay-as-you-go’ deal. While the original cost of travel – the flight – is included in the bargain, there are likely to be a myriad of other charges along the way.

By only using what you really need – and cutting costs, by carrying less luggage, for example – will the cost of travel fall. No-frills carriers are still likely to cost less than their flag carrier counterparts and, while this is the case, charges for everything for toilet paper to the use of a wheelchair seem likely to stay.

Southwest Airlines Plans to Bid for Frontier

Southwest Airlines Sports Illustrated Jet Landing In Phoenix
Southwest Airlines said on Thursday that it was preparing a bid, valued at a minimum of $113.6 million, for its low-fare rival Frontier Airlines, which sought bankruptcy protection in April 2008.
The Southwest bid potentially tops a $108.8 million offer for Frontier made by Republic Airways in late June, and which was given tentative court approval on July 13. Frontier confirmed that it had been notified of Southwest’s initial, non-binding bid.

Frontier Airlines In Denver

Under that plan, Frontier, which is based in Denver, was set to become a subsidiary of Republic, an airline holding company that owns Chautauqua Airlines, Republic Airlines and Shuttle America.

But Frontier was allowed to seek competing bids, and could terminate its agreement with Republic if it received a higher offer. The deadline for bids is Aug. 10, and an auction for the airline’s assets could be held in United States Bankruptcy Court in New York the following day.

If it is successful, Southwest plans to make a “substantial investment” in Frontier and operate it as a separate subsidiary, until the airline can be folded into Southwest, Ron Ricks, a Southwest executive vice president, said in a statement.

The airline did not say whether its offer would be in cash or if any financing would be involved. Mr. Ricks said Southwest is studying Lynx, a regional airline that is a subsidiary of Frontier, but did not know whether it would also try to acquire that carrier.

Like Southwest, Frontier is a low-fare airline that has been highly regarded within the industry for its customer service. But Frontier filed for bankruptcy last year after a dispute with its credit-card processor, although it has continued to operate since then.

“We are excited about the opportunity to submit a bid,” Gary Kelly, Southwest’s chief executive, said in a statement. “We see a strong fit between our company cultures, a mutual commitment to high quality customer service, and similar entrepreneurial roots.”

Frontier has 5,000 employees and 51 aircraft, while Southwest has 35,000 employees and more than 500 aircraft. One conflict between the carriers could be that Frontier’s fleet relies on aircraft made by Airbus, while Southwest only flies the Boeing 737.

Nonetheless, the purchase of Frontier by Southwest would greatly increase its operations in Denver, where Frontier ranks as the second largest airline, behind United, which uses Denver as a hub. United, however, would still remain in the lead, according to data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

If Southwest is successful, it would mark the second time in two years that it has purchased the assets of a bankrupt rival. Last year, Southwest took over the assets of ATA Airlines, which ceased flying, a move that gave Southwest access to gates at LaGuardia Airport. Southwest began serving LaGuardia on June 28.

In 2004, Southwest and ATA set up a code-sharing agreement and Southwest acquired ATA’s gates at Midway Airport in Chicago.

Go to Southwest Airlines’ Press Release »

28 July 2009

Crowdsourcing Airport Security Wait Times

Josh Sulkin, of FlyOnTime.us, has created this interesting little Twitter crowdsourcing experiment:

Hello All BlkAv8tor2003 Checking In!!!

TSA Security Checkpoint at Terminal C of Newark International Airport.

Here is something I found that may be helpful during your travels in the coming future. PDA's, IPhones and Blackberry smart phones will be able to check the wait time at security checkpoints via twitter. As popular as Twitter is becoming and getting used or attached to everything society does, why not check the security checkpoint lines. It's still in it's infancy but the theory of being able to find out how long the checkpoint lines are before you get there would be a good bit of information especially if your running a little late! (Not for my blog readers, they don't run late because they were prepared in advance) :-)

So follow the instructions and see what you find out and let me know if it works or what problems you may have incountered. You will need to know your 3 letter ID airport code (ex. Denver-DEN or Cinncinati-CVG) or you can go to the airport code link and look your airport departure or destination identifier. 3 Letter ID Airport Codes

I'm going to have my smart phone friends try it out and see what they think so I can get some feedback and as soon I do I'll post some of there comments and or concerns.

Let me know what you think!!!

Have a safe trip and remember "Be Proactive Not Reactive" when you fly and enjoy your trip!


From Josh Sulkin "I'd like to announce some major changes to the Apps For America 2 entry FlyOnTime.us, as well as ask for your help in a "crowdsourcing" experiment I'm conducting."

First the experiment...I originally wanted to incorporate the data from the TSA's airport security line wait time calculator into my website, but unfortunately they discontinued it for some reason:

It seems they are revamping it, but regardless it didn't provide the information I really want which is real-time data on the wait time at the airport security lines.
My proposal is for you to go to flyontime.us from your iPhone, Blackberry, or other smart phone when you enter a security line and tell me what airport you're at (a form for this will automatically come up if you're viewing the website on a mobile phone).

Likewise, when you exit the security line, just click a button on the site to tell me so, and this way I'll know how long you were in line. If enough people do this, I can get real time statistics on airport security wait times.
I also wrote some code to monitor Twitter, so if you want you can just tweet this message when you enter airport security:

#airportsecurity xxx in and tweet this message when you leave the line:

#airportsecurity xxx out where xxx is an airport code like "ord" or "lax".

This way you don't have to go to my website but I can still monitor the real-time wait times. More information on this is available at:


I have no idea if this idea will work or be a total flop, but this is Sunlight LABS after all, so it seems like a good place to try this kind of experiment. So, if you're traveling some time soon, consider contributing your wait time. Also, if you like this idea, please spread the word (one way is to mention @flyontime and "TSA crowdsourcing" on twitter).

Airport Security Lines

This part of FlyOnTime is under development as travelers send in their security line wait times.
You can search real-time and historical wait times in the security lines at major U.S. airports.
When you go to the actual website all the airport codes, days of the week and times will be in a drop down box.

(city or code)
Day: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday

(optional) Time: 00:00 - 00:59 01:00 - 01:59 02:00 - 02:59 03:00 - 03:59 04:00 - 04:59 05:00 - 05:59 06:00 - 06:59 07:00 - 07:59 08:00 - 08:59 09:00 - 09:59 10:00 - 10:59 11:00 - 11:59 12:00 - 12:59 13:00 - 13:59 14:00 - 14:59 15:00 - 15:59 16:00 - 16:59 17:00 - 17:59 18:00 - 18:59 19:00 - 19:59 20:00 - 20:59 21:00 - 21:59 22:00 - 22:59 23:00 - 23:59

We gather all of our airport security line statistics from YOU, the users of this site. We depend on our users to tell us when and where they are entering and leaving an airport security line. You can contribute one of two ways:

1) On your smart phone's web browser

Visit flyontime.us from your iPhone, BlackBerry, or other smart phone and tell us what airport you're at and when you enter and leave a security line. If you're on a smart phone right now, enter our mobile site.

2) On Twitter

When you enter a security line, tweet this message: #airportsecurity xxx in and when you leave the line, tweet: #airportsecurity xxx out where xxx is an airport code like "ord" or "lax". The airport code is optional for the second message. Also, "in" and "out" can come before or after the airport code.

The following example will work too: I'm going to #airportsecurity in ord and I hope I make my flight.

22 July 2009

Teen misses flight home after scorpion sting at Sky Harbor

PHOENIX -- A scorpion at Sky Harbor Airport delayed a teen's trip home from vacation on Tuesday.

Cris Belfer, 19, said he had just hugged his friends outside the security checkpoint in Phoenix, and made his way into the secure area, when he felt a stinging sensation on his neck."It felt almost like somebody stuck a needle in you for a second and pulled it out," said Belfer.

The New Jersey resident quickly looked down and noticed a scorpion on his shoulder."I brushed it off and then stepped on it and killed it," said Belfer.The Phoenix visitor said he thought he would be okay and decided to proceed through the security checkpoint. But that quickly changed.Once through the checkpoint and at his gate, he began to feel the effects of the poison from the sting."I thought I would be fine, but I started feeling weird, kind of crazy," said Belfer.

He then called his friends who had dropped him off at the airport and Belfer went to an information booth."They were really nice and we called poison control, after talking to them, we decided to go to the hospital," said Belfer.

The 19-year-old was treated at St. Joseph's Hospital."I was there for about six hours,” said Belfer. “It was only precautionary because it was in my neck, so close to my head.”It's not clear if the scorpion fell from the ceiling inside the terminal or if another passenger carried it in.It's the second case of a passenger flying out of Sky Harbor to be stung by a scorpion.

MORE: Yikes: Gilbert man stung on airplane by 1 of 6 scorpions Earlier this week, a Gilbert resident was stung mid-flight on Southwest Airlines from a scorpion that's believed to have been inside his carry-on luggage.According to an airport spokesperson, the facility has weekly pest control service and cannot recall the last time a passenger was stung by a scorpion.

As for Belfer, Continental Airlines re-booked him on a flight home to New Jersey Tuesday afternoon."I have no hard feelings against Phoenix, I love Arizona, the whole thing was just crazy," said Belfer.

Southwest B737 near Indianapolis produces scorpion and medical emergency

The crew of a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700, flight WN-2093 from Las Vegas,NV to Indianapolis,IN (USA), reported about 20 minutes prior to scheduled landing and just prior to midnight, that a passengers had received a sting by a scorpion and requested paramedics to meet the airplane upon landing.

The aircraft landed safely about 18 minutes past midnight, the passenger was taken care of by waiting paramedics, but did not need to be taken to hospital.
6 scorpions were discovered in the carry on luggage of the passenger, the airplane had to be fumigated.

The airline reported, that the passenger had been going through his carry on luggage, when he felt numbness in his hand and arm and suspected a scorpion sting. They never had a scorpion on board of any of their airplanes before.

Survey Says United's Flight Attendants Are The Worst

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Well as we can see day by day the U.S. airline industry doesn't fair all that well compared to the world carriers when the traveling public is queried! Singapore Airlines is on top and if you follow the airlines in performance and service almost every year. (see the photos below and you will see why). With the fuel crunch, economic down turn and the airlines charging for everythingunder the sun it's no wonder the U.S. carriers don't score well. Excessive delays and passengers who think they are priviledged to fly don't really know how to travel in today's airline world and be ready for the ups and downs that may arise. So it’s still interesting to see what a bunch of random people think about what’s going on in the sky. Here in the U.S. most people will think a good airline trip is one that left and arrived ontime. There is a little more than that to it but here is a list of the best airlines of 2009!


Rank Airline
1 Cathay Pacific Airways
2 Singapore Airlines
3 Asiana Airlines
4 Qatar Airways
5 Emirates
6 Qantas
7 Etihad Airways
8 Air New Zealand
9 Malaysia Airlines
10Thai Airways

The annual survey of frequent fliers by Seatguru.com, the popular online guide to airline seating, doesn't have a lot of highlights for U.S.-based airlines.

U.S. carriers serve the worst food -- if they serve food at all, that is -- and have the least comfortable seats, the survey of 1,600 fliers found.

Apparently, people don’t like much when it comes to United. The airline scored the title of rudest flight attendants. Don’t worry American Airlines and US Airways weren’t too far behind for flight attendant friendliness. All three domestic carriers were neck and neck when it came to the quality of their in-flight dining: not good. The trio also didn’t do too well when it came to the coziness of seats.

The best? Singapore Airlines, followed by British Airways, Houston-based Continental Airlines and Air France. Many U.S. carriers have eliminated meal service on domestic flights.
One domestic carrier, JetBlue Airways, did come out on top for the most comfortable economy-class seats, according to the survey, while Singapore Airlines led the field for business class. The least comfortable: American, United and US Airways.

Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time performance, with 91% of its flights arriving within 15 minutes of schedule. Comair, a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, had the worst at 68%. Northwest Airlines Flight 803 from Atlanta to Honolulu was the most frequently delayed, being late a whopping 96% of the time. Northwest Airlines Flight 803 from Atlanta to Honolulu was the most frequently delayed, being late a whopping 96% of the time.

Of course Singapore Airlines did the best when it came to pretty much everything. They blew away the competition with their food, flight attendants, and most comfortable business class seats. Too bad they aren’t offering a domestic JFK to LAX route anytime soon.

Besides service and quality, the survey also had some information regarding other in-flight, uh, entertainment. Flyers shared their most memorable gross-out items, and crushed bananas, dirty diapers, and “mystery stains” were some of the gems that you can look forward to on your next flight. As far as seatmates are concerned, people want to fly with the President and First Lady, but if they’re too busy, they’ll settle for Brangelina or Posh ‘n Becks.

Statistically, there’s not too much information from where these number were pulled, or how many travelers contributed their two cents. That’s why we’re opening up to you; we want to know if you agree with these results. Is United Airlines the biggest failure in the sky, or is there an airline that’s even worse? Most of the people surveyed flew at least eight times last year.

20 July 2009

Obama's Historic All-Female Marine One Crew

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As an aviator any "first" that come along, I love to hear about them. So here is President Obama adding to the list which now includes the first Historic All-Female Marine One Crew front and back, including the aircraft Crew Chief!!!

That's what I'm talking about and it's great to see that even the President believes in the Marines and it's corp of female pilots who trained very hard I'm sure to make it to the pinnacle of their aviation careers thus far!

First I blog that an African American female aviator makes a trip across country at 15 years of age under the guidance of a Tuskeegee airman and now this and all of this is in the light of the 40 year annivesary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon!

This is why I love aviation in all areas because it's always exciting to see what "we" as aviators can get ourselves into and then share it with the world!!!

Good job and keep the blue side up to the ladies of Marine One!!!

It was another first in presidential history.
President Obama left the White House on Thursday for Andrews Air Force Base, the Marine One helicopter that lifted off from the South Lawn was piloted by the first female helicopter aircraft commander in Marine One history. Maj. Jennifer Grieves of Glendale, Ariz., flew her first Marine One mission in May 2008,
In honor of Grieves' last day in the rotation, the Marines assigned two other female officers -- Maj. Jennifer L. Marino, of Palisade, Colo., and Sgt. Rachael A. Sherman, of Traverse City, Mich. -- to complete the crew. And that all-female crew was another first.
Marine Corps Maj. Jennifer Grieves is interviewed at the White House in Washington, Friday, July 17, 2009

WASHINGTON — Jennifer Grieves wanted independence, exposure and something she could be proud of when she joined the Marine Corps. She got all that, and more — including a place in history as the first woman to ever pilot Marine One, the president's helicopter.
For about 40 times in the past 14 months, she has been the one responsible for ferrying President Barack Obama, former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney to and from Andrews Air Force Base, and other points in their world travels.

Maj. Jennifer Grieves waits on the South Lawn of the White House for President Barack Obama to board Marine One, Thursday, July 16, 2009, on her last day in her rotation as pilot of Marine One. Grieves is the first female Marine One pilot, and the Marine One crew is made up entirely all women today in honor of her achievement. She was designated the helicopter aircraft commander of Marine One in May, 2008.

Her 14-month rotation as a "Marine One" ended Thursday with another first: An all-female crew, led by Grieves, landed on the South Lawn of the White House to take Obama to Andrews for a day trip to New Jersey and New York.
For Grieves, now a major, enlisting was not about piloting the president or being the first woman with the responsibility.
"It's just about being a Marine," she says matter-of-factly.
Grieves, 38, joined nearly 20 years ago in her hometown of Glendale, Ariz., seeking broader horizons. Until then, her only exposure to the military was a grandfather who had served in the Navy.

"I think I just wanted some independence. I wanted some exposure. I wanted to be a part of an organization that I could be proud of," she said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press. "I had no idea initially that it would turn into something that I've been more proud of than anything else in my life. I got lucky in that respect, and I made a good decision and it ended up turning out very well."

Grieves came to helicopters by chance. A college mentor recommended that she take an aptitude test. She did, and it pointed her toward flying. She was accepted to flight school and "ended up realizing that I should have wanted to do that ever since I was a kid."
"It's something I love," Grieves said of flying; she can fly three different types of helicopters.
A supervisor who had served in the Marine One squadron recommended that she apply. She joined in 2005, spent a couple of years as a co-pilot and then became qualified to fly vice presidents and visiting heads of state.

She was given the ultimate responsibility, being designated a "Marine One," in 2008.
The native of Alameda, Calif., said she didn't realize the significance of her achievement until her rotation ended Thursday. Next comes leadership school in Quantico, Va., starting in August. Grieves expects to finish in June 2010 and return to flying, either in North Carolina or Afghanistan.

"Yesterday, I realized that it might be significant, and it might be important," she said, adding that she was proud of her crew and all the Marines who support her. "And I guess, a little bit, I'm kind of proud of myself, too."

Marine One pilot Maj. Jennifer L. Grieves, of Glendale, Ariz., left, copilot, Maj. Jennifer L. Marino , Palisade, Colo., center, and crew chief Sgt. Rachael A. Sherman, Traverse City, Mich., take off from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 16, 2009, with President Barack Obama aboard. Grieves, the first female Marine One pilot, is on the last day in her rotation as pilot of Marine One. The Marine One crew is made up entirely all women today in honor of her achievement. She was designated the helicopter aircraft commander of Marine One in May, 2008.

On Thursday, Obama greeted Grieves and her co-pilot, Maj. Jennifer Marino, of Palisade, Colo., as he boarded. Once on the tarmac at Andrews, he walked up front and told them how proud he was, she said. He gave her one of his personal presidential coins.
"He said he's always felt like he was in good hands with all of us," Grieves said.
There's little time to get to know the president, but that isn't Grieves' job.
"Our job is to fly him, to be professional, take him from A to B and to take him there safely," she said.

Her first day flying Bush, "I was a nervous wreck. I was extremely nervous," she said.
She remembers he boarded and came to shake her hand. "He kind of did a doubletake," at the sight of a woman in the pilot's chair. They greeted each other and "he smiled at me and I knew. I kind of felt what he was thinking and he walked back to the back and he was great ever since, just like President Obama," Grieves said. "I think the fact that they both have daughters makes it a little more special for them."

15 July 2009

Youngest African American Female To Have Completed Flight Across Country

Kimberly Anyadike

15-year-old Kimberly Anyadike became the youngest African-American female pilot to ever fly across the United States, finishing a 13 day flight and 23 cities with the help of her safety pilot, 87 year old Tuskegee Airman, Levi Thornhill.

Anyadike, who met over 50 Tuskegee Airmen during her trip, says she "wanted to inspire other kids to really believe in themselves," and that she wanted to pay tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen along the way, as "They left such a great legacy. I had big shoes to fill.

All they wanted to do was to be patriots for this country. They were told no, that they were stupid, that they didn't have cognitive development to fly planes. They didn't listen. They just did what they wanted to do." A clip of the pilot, below:

“Tuskegee Airmen Briefing” Toni Frisell 1945

Anyadike is believed to be the youngest African American female to have completed the journey, and among the youngest people in the nation (regardless of race or gender) to have done so.

She left from Compton at the end of last month on a small red-tailed Cessna. The tail of the plane was painted red in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen who she hoped to honor:

They [The Tuskegee Airmen] left such a great legacy. I had big shoes to fill . . . All they wanted to do was to be patriots for this country. They were told no, that they were stupid, that they didn’t have cognitive development to fly planes. They didn’t listen. They just did what they wanted to do. (LA Times)

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Video above is after the completion of the cross country trip

Anyadike’s co-pilot was also a Tuskegee Airman and during the 13 day trip, she stopped in 4 different states along the eastbound leg of the trip to meet surviving members of the all African-American Air Force unit. 50 Airman signed her small plane in thanks. Many were glad to see the legacy of African American pilots continuing into the next generation.

TAM is also a shining examples of black people doing for themselves. Founder, Jamaican-American, Robin Petgrave started the program to inspire youth and get them off the streets and away from exploitation. It is currently supported by the Association of Black Pilots and the Tuskegee Airman Chapter in LA, as well as the KIPP school (open to all inner city youth seeking college prep education). And TAM is part of a larger community effort to help inspire kids from Compton that many locals have spoken out in praise of and helped support through time, effort, media, and funds.

In a world where we are still willing to kick children out of a pool for being the wrong “complexion” or to disparage the intelligence of young girls while encouraging them to see their power in flesh and product, Anyadike offers a critical alternative of hardwork, knowing one’s history, and daring to dream. The collective effort of women and men from Congress to Compton ensured that the youngest black female pilot just made a safe and historic flight around our nation. Her skills and accomplishment will no doubt inspire other young girls and nationally disparaged youth; they certainly inspired me.

Anyadike also understands the importance of continuing the legacy, stating her other main reason for taking the flight amidst discouragement from others was:

Given that the first all African-American female crew (pilot, co-pilot, and flight attendants) flew only a year ago, Anyadike’s significance to women’s aviation cannot be underestimated. Not only does her flight represent an important shift away from a largely male, or male only, tradition in aviation (black or white) but was also part of the efforts of several strong women to keep the program where she learned to fly alive.

Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum, designed to inspire at-risk and low income youth to not only learn to fly but also to take hold of their dreams, was largely supported by female Congressmen. Senator Diane Finestein and Congresswoman Richardson have been key advocates for the program and were also on hand to meet Anyadike when she reached the East Coast. Congresswomen Juanita Millender-McDonald and Figueroa have been important local advocates for the program, taking their accomplishments to the hill.

Congresswoman Millender-McDonal also helped spearhead efforts to get the program re-funded under the Bush administration; those effots were stopped by then-Pres Bush, citing Katrina rebuilding as his reason, tho many believe it was part of a longstanding tradition of Republicans to refuse to fund targeted programs regardless of how beneficial they may be. While Bush failed to see the significance of the program, the male pilots behind the program were much clearer on its goals and were just as keen as the women involved to ensure female representation and gender equity in the program.

Tuskeegee Airman Thornhill, Anyadike & Petgrave

Crash Update: Air France A332 over Atlantic on Jun 1st 2009, aircraft impacted ocean

The BEA has concluded their press conference introducing the results of their investigation and their preliminary report so far.The key sentences have been (according to simultaneous English translation by BEA):- No technical problems with the airplane before the takeoff.- The airplane did NOT break up in flight.-

The 24 ACARS messages refer to the loss of airspeed (pitot tubes)- The airplane also lost information about the direction the airplane was going to.- The airplane hit the ocean in a flat attitude at high vertical speed. - Weather was a classic ITZ scenario.Nothing had been found before June 6th, then the first bodies and parts have been found.

Parts from the nose to the tail of the airplane have been found including parts of the structural body of the airplane, one part of the engine and parts of the main cabin have been recovered. No clothes have been found, recovered life vests were not inflated. 51 bodies were recovered.One of the cockpit walls has been found deformed.

A large part of the crew rest room has been found, impact marks indicating that something came from the bottom up to the top. The debris recovered so far suggests, that the airplane did not break up in flight, but went down vertically.Three other flights (IB-6024 [A343, Rio De Janeiro GIG-Madrid MAD 12 minutes behind AF-447], LH-507 [B744, Sao Paulo GRU-Frankfurt FRA] 20 minutes behind AF-447, AF-459 [A332, Sao Paulo GRU-Paris CDG 37 minutes behind AF-447]) tracked the same route to TASIL between FL350 and FL370 around the time of the crash.

They all had to avoid storm cells and diverted from the airway between 11 and 80nm. They experienced moderate turbulence. All three flights had problems to establish communication with Dakar. There were no satellite phone conversations from those crews.The weather in the Intertropical Convergence Zone was a classic scenario with storm cells. The airplane had started the engines at 22:10Z and got airborne at 22:29Z. Last radio communication was at 01:35Z. No transfer had been completed from Rio's control to Dakar control. An attempt by the AF-447 crew to establish contact with Dakar Control has been detected at 02:01Z (the wording to the means of communication was unclear, supposedly it was a digital data transmission via ACARS). No distress call was detected.

First alerts were sent at around 8:30 (unclear whether GMT, local Europe, local Brazil).The BEA refuses to believe, the black boxes would not be found, however stated, that the search for the recorders will be terminated on July 10th.The Original BEA English translation said: The airplane went down vertically, a review of French wording offers a different picture however stating, that the airplane came down in a flat attitude at high vertical speed.The full preliminary report has just been published: French Version (13MB) and English Version (3MB).

13 July 2009

British Airlines Flight Delay For Missing Ashtray!!

This just about takes the biscuit.....

Passengers on the Boeing 747 to Mexico City were told that the plane could not take off until the "vital" part was found.

The plane was grounded while airline staff searched for another ashtray to replace one that had been removed from a lavatory door.

The captain even suggested that ground crew "go and rob one" from another aircraft or even have the entire door replaced, according to the Daily Mail.

Eventually a suitable tray was found and the jet took off 25 minutes late.

British Airways apologised for the delay but said that it was only abiding by European flight regulations.

"It is a legal requirement, under air navigation orders, to have ashtrays because while smoking is not permitted on flights, if someone were to light a cigarette on board there must be somewhere to safely extinguish it," a spokesman for the airline said.

"We apologise to customers for the inconvenience but their safety is always our overriding priority."

Passenger Fixes Faulty Airliner (Kind Of)

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Well here is something you don't here everyday in the airline industry. Passenger fixes the plane? Well not quite, he was not your garden variety passenger. He was an airline engineer (mechanic) if it's the possible UK translation. More times than not these passengers would have had to wait till a engineer could have been flown out to work on the plane and then wait it out. Kudos for another airline employee lending a helping hand!!!

This is a old school move from the airlines of yester-year where union issues didn't stop the employees from helping another airline out of a jam and doing it as a "professional courtesy" (like that exist in any industry anymore) but it does remind me of my favorite movie of all time, "Airport" made in 1970. This is an aviation classic and my favorite because it shows you all the aspects of what the airline industry is all about. Go rent it and see for your self, it's a movie way ahead of it's time! I'll post the movie trailor so you can check it out for yourself! Any true lover of the airlines should have seen this movie and have it in their personal library!!!

I'm sure in the end this engineers superiors will see this as a good opportunity to give one of their own employees some additional praise. I say bravo and I'm sure the crew thanks you for taking there 8 hour delay and turning it into 35 minutes! He obviously was confident in the fix because when the airplane arrived in Glasgow he was on board!!!

Thanks to Keith Lomax of Thomson Airways for helping his flight crew in a tight situation!!!

Nice to see someone step up!

(Read the full story below!!!)

As I always say "Be Proactive Not Reactive" and enjoy your flight!!!

The airliner landed at Glasgow only 35 minutes late

Holidaymakers avoided a long delay to their flight home when a passenger fixed a mechanical problem with their plane.

Passengers on Thomas Cook flight TCX9641 from Menorca were told to expect an eight-hour wait while an engineer was flown out from the UK.
One passenger then identified himself as a qualified aircraft engineer and offered to try to remedy the fault.

He was successful, and the plane landed in Glasgow only 35 minutes late.
A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook said the company followed strict procedures to ensure the man was qualified to work on the aircraft, a Boeing 757-200, during the incident on Saturday.
The passenger worked for another airline, Thomson Airways, which has a reciprocal maintenance agreement with Thomas Cook.

It was reassuring to know the person who had fixed it was still on the aeroplane
Keith Lomax
"When they announced there was a technical problem he came forward and said who he was, " she said.
"We checked his licence and verified he was who he said he was, and he was able to fix the problem to avoid the delay.

"We are very grateful that he was on the flight that day."
Holiday maker Keith Lomax, from Stirling, was travelling home from a week's break with his wife when the plane's captain announced the expected delay.

"We were in the plane, ready for take-off, when he announced there was a technical problem and that an engineer might have to be flown out from Manchester to fix it," he said.
"Then a stewardess told us there was an engineer on board and they were checking out to see if he could work on it. He was obviously successful. When he came back onto the plane there was a round of applause from the back of the aircraft.

"It was reassuring to know the person who had fixed it was still on the aeroplane. What are the odds of something like that happening?"
Chris Browne, managing director of Thomson Airways, said she was "delighted" that one of the company's engineers came to the rescue of fellow passengers "even when the flight was that of a competitor".

She added: "This kind of initiative exemplifies Thomson's company philosophy of exceeding customer's expectations and it makes all of the team at Thomson Airways extremely proud.
"Flight delays can be very frustrating for everyone involved so it was gratifying that a qualified Thomson engineer, who has been with the company for 27 years, was in the right place at the right time."

10 July 2009

"My God They're Throwing Guitars Out There!!!"

This is everywhere today, but it's still great. Canadian, musician Dave Carroll, was sitting in an airplane at O'Hare when he heard those words from another passenger. But I don't need to tell the story, as the music video does it very effectively.


Apparently United now says they get it, and wants to use the video for in house training on how to handle a customer complaint. I'd say the price for that would be at least $1200, plus production costs. See Shiny Objects for more information and links to stories about the saga.

The actual guitar smashing happened in March 2008. Carroll admits he didn't file an official claim for the smashed guitar within United's 24-hour window, but he says he told three employees at O'Hare, who refused to help. There were no agents around when the flight landed in Nebraska at midnight, and he and his band, Sons of Maxwell, were tired and about to leave for a week-long tour.

After "United Breaks Guitars" hit the big time on YouTube this week, the Chicago-based carrier quickly responded, the Tribune reported. A managing director of customer service called Carroll and apologized, going so far as to ask if United could use the video internally to train its people.
All this is well and good, and maybe Carroll's video will actually help United deal more fairly with its customers when they have a legitimate complaint. But if it doesn't, where does that leave the rest of us? Posting YouTube videos every time a big company screws up? Hmmm.

I started writing this with Dave Carroll's website (http://www.davecarrollmusic.com/) open, but when I went to click a link it 403ed, and then after a few minutes started redirecting to his myspace page so I assume the singer's personal site has been overwhelmed. The band is Sons of Maxwell (http://www.sonsofmaxwell.com/), and that site is still up and you can buy their music there.

Thanks to Cockpit Conversation


U.S. Pet Air Travel Regulations

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates air transportation of pets within the U.S. and all airlines are required by law to follow the guidelines below. Individual airlines may impose further restrictions or fees for flying with your pet. For the individual policies of each airline, refer to our Airline Pet Policies page (http://www.bringfido.com/travel/). If you will be traveling from the Continental United States to Hawaii or a foreign country, please consult our International Pet Travel page for additional regulations imposed at your destination.

U.S. Pet Air Travel Regulations


· When booking a flight on which you wish to bring your pet, call the airline directly to make the reservation and confirm that there is a space available for your pet on the flight.
· 24 to 48 hours before your flight, it's a good idea to call the airline and reconfirm that you will be traveling with your pet.
· Advance arrangements are not guarantees that your pet will travel on a specific flight. Airlines reserve the right to refuse transport of an animal for reasons like illness, an improper carrier, or extreme temperatures. Airlines can also refuse carriage of an animal that demonstrates aggressive or violent behavior.
· Animals travel under less stress when they are accustomed to their carrier before they travel. In the weeks prior to your trip, put your dog into his carrier as often as possible for trips around town.
· Please note that pets are not allowed to travel with unaccompanied minors on any airline.


· The USDA requires that your pet be offered food and water within four hours before you check in. Since a full stomach might be uncomfortable for your dog during travel, we recommend feeding him right at four hours before the flight, if possible.
· While its best to refrain from feeding your dog right before the flight, you can (and should) give him water right up to the time of travel. Just be sure to empty the dish before checking in so it doesn't spill during the flight. If you're checking the dog, leave dishes in the carrier so an airline employee will be able to provide your pet with food and water in the event of an extended wait before or after the flight.
· Exercise your pet before leaving for the airport. Carry a leash with you so you can walk your pet before you check in and after you arrive at your destination. This will help your dog calm down prior to and after the flight.
· Arrive at the airport early, but not too early. You will not be allowed to check your pet in more than four hours before the flight. Most airlines recommend arriving two hours before your flight when you're traveling with your pet. Passengers traveling with pets must check in at the ticket counter. No curbside or self-service check-in is allowed.


· Whether your pet is a Chihuahua or a Great Dane, there is a pet carrier to match. The majority of carriers are made of hard plastic with holes for ventilation. No part of the animal is allowed to protrude from the carrier. As a result, wire carriers are not permitted. Soft-sided carriers are permitted in the cabin only.
· Carriers must be big enough to allow the animal to stand, turn around and lie down comfortably. If the pet carrier does not allow the animal to do this, the airline will refuse transport.
· Carriers must have a solid, leak-proof floor that is covered with a towel, litter, or other absorbent lining for accidents that might occur during transit.
· Carriers must be well ventilated with openings that make up at least 14% of the total wall space. At least 33% of the openings must be located in the top half of the carrier and the carrier must have rims to prevent ventilation openings from being blocked by other cargo.
· Carriers should have either grips or handles, so airline employees don't have to put their fingers inside and risk being bitten.
· The carrier should contain two empty dishes, for food and water, along with feeding instructions and your signature certifying that your pet was offered food and water within four hours of your flight's scheduled departure.
· Mark the carrier with your pet's name and include identification tags with your home address and phone number as well as the address and phone number of someone who can be reached at your destination.
· You should mark "Live Animal" on the top and side of the carrier, with directional arrows indicating the proper position of the carrier.
· Do not put a leash or muzzle with the animal, either inside or attached to the outside of the carrier, during transit.
· Kennels can contain one adult dog. Two puppies will be allowed together if they are eight weeks to six months old, weigh more than 20 pounds each, and are fully weaned.


The USDA requires that your pet must be at least eight weeks old and fully weaned before traveling. Only pets in good health are permitted to fly. Airlines will not transport animals that are violent, ill, or in physical distress.
All pets crossing state borders, with the exception of guide dogs, are required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to have a rabies immunization and valid health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian within 30 days of travel. If your pet is traveling via cargo, or if you are a breeder, dealer, or research facility transporting a dog, the health certificate should be issued no more than 10 days before departure.


According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, in most cases, dogs should not be given sedatives or tranquilizers prior to flying. An animal's natural ability to balance and maintain equilibrium is altered under sedation, which can be dangerous when the kennel is moved.
Whether your dog is flying in the cabin or as a checked pet, he will be exposed to increased altitude pressures. This can create respiratory and cardiovascular problems for dogs which are sedated or tranquilized. Snub-nosed dogs (American Staffordshire Terriers, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Brussels Griffins, Bull Terriers, English/French Bulldogs, English Toy Spaniels, Japanese Chins, King Charles Spaniels, Lhasa Apsos, Pekineses, Pugs, Shar-Peis and Shih Tzus) are especially affected.
While sedation is generally not advised, the decision on whether or not to prescribe a tranquilizer for your pet should be made by your veterinarian. If your veterinarian decides that tranquilizers are medically necessary, the name of the drug, the dosage, and how the drug was administered should be indicated on the dog's carrier.


Extreme hot and cold temperatures can pose a health risk to pets. In summer, choose early morning or late evening flights. In winter, choose mid-day flights. Whenever possible, book nonstop or direct flights and avoid weekend and holiday travel.
If you are traveling to or from a destination where the temperature is (or is forecasted to be) either below 45F or above 85F (75F for snub-nosed dogs), you will need a letter signed by your veterinarian stating that your pet is acclimated to extreme weather. If the temperature is below 20F or above 95F, your pet will likely not be allowed to travel in the cargo area even with a letter of acclimation. And some airlines will not accept snub-nosed dog breeds in their cargo areas at all during the summer months.

More airlines embracing furry travelers

Hello All BlkAv8tor2003 Checking In!!!

Now that summer is here and many people have pets they want to include in their vacation plans. Knowing how to fly with Fido is just as important as flying with your child and can be a uneventful experience if the proper planning is excuted before, during and after your trip. Plan for the worst conditions for your pet by having the proper medication or seditives, shots, pet carriers, water and duration should be considered just to name a few. Here is the link to the rules for traveling on the airlines with your pet dog or cat. http://www.bringfido.com/travel/us_regulations/

Flexability will be important if your traveling with your pet in the cabin vs your pet flying as cargo or baggage. Certain aircraft type cannot carry pets on board (found when flying into smaller airports) and you should contact your airline and find out for yourself if your total trip is pet friendly.

There is a new airline flying around the U.S. that specializes in pet carriage and you can read more about that here on my blog site. First pet-only airline launches service for “pawsengers”

Pet Airways

So again I can't stress it enough, if you want to travel with Fido "THINK" ahead and be prepared for changes because you flying with a dog.

Remember to Be Proactive Not Reactive and Have a Great Flight!!!


(CNN) By Stephanie Chen-- A few weeks ago, Tony Hoard, a 57-year-old manufacturing worker in Indiana, boarded a flight on Midwest Airlines to Las Vegas, Nevada, with his Australian Shepherd. The flight attendant smiled at the two and said, "Welcome aboard."

Hoard has flown with Rory, his furry 40-pound companion, in coach more than 15 times on Midwest, the Wisconsin-based airline that boasts "The Best Care in the Air." Each time they fly, Rory wears a harness and sits strapped into a seat.

"Rory gets the window seat," said Hoard, whose dog has won a series of Frisbee competitions. "He likes to look out the window when the plane takes off and naps the rest of the way."
Blame America's pet obsession, but in recent years, more members of the airline industry are embracing dogs and cats on board. Midwest Airlines may be an extreme example, letting select dogs sit in the same seats as humans, but other airlines are relaxing their pet policies by letting smaller cats and dogs come into the cabin area.

About a year ago, Midwest began allowing certain "celebrity" dogs that appear in canine competitions, shows or advertisements to sit in seats.
"They are just passengers with four legs instead of two," said Susan Kerwin, who oversees the pet program at Midwest Airlines.

The pet travel frenzy has spurred the creation of an airline catering exclusively to pets. This month, Pet Airways, the nation's first pet-only airline, will begin flying in five major cities, including New York and Los Angeles, California. It's an alternative to shipping larger pets in the cargo area of a plane, where there have been pet injuries and even deaths.

Chart: Compare some of the common airline fees and regulations


"The owners can check a bag with them," explained Alyse Tognotti, a spokeswoman for Pet Airways. "Or if they have a special blanket or toy, basically anything that will take stress out of traveling."
On each Pet Airways flight, services include potty breaks and experienced animal handlers checking up on the animals every 15 minutes. Nervous parents can track their pets online.
Southwest Airlines was the latest airline to join the pet-loving bandwagon in May, when it permitted small dogs and cats to travel in the cabin area. The pets must sit in an approved kennel that fits under the seat.

"I wasn't going to fly Southwest Airlines," said Katie Chapman, 37, of Louisville, Kentucky, who is mom to a friendly 18-pound Cairn Terrier that resembles Toto from "The Wizard of Oz." Since the airline has changed its policy, she plans to take her puppy on a Southwest flight to California this fall. "I'm so glad now that she will be able to go with me."

Each year, airlines transport hundreds of thousands of pets in the cargo and cabin areas. Continental reported moving 270,000 pets last year in cabin and cargo, more than triple the number moved before the airline's pet program officially kicked off eight years ago.

The Federal Aviation Administration doesn't have restrictions on whether animals can be in the cabin area, but airlines must allow service dogs for the disabled on board. Only cats and dogs are allowed in the cabin areas on most airlines. In the cargo area, other pets like rabbits, birds and lizards can be stowed.

The cost of flying your furry friend ranges from $75 to nearly $300 each leg. It's a hefty price tag, but profit-bleeding airlines are happy to offer the option.
Pets can even rack up frequent flier miles. After three flights with Midwest, the pet can earn a fourth flight free. Continental and Jet Blue Airways' programs credit the pet's trip on the owner's frequent flier account.

But one airline is catering to allergy-ridden customers who don't want pets in the cabin. Last year, Frontier Airlines banned pets from the cabin area because officials said pet allergies are common among their customers.

Ann Kerns, a 63-year-old teacher in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, experienced continuous wheezing on a four-hour US Airways flight to Phoenix, Arizona. At the end of the flight, she was shocked to find that there had been a cat sitting under her seat.

"What would have happened if I went into an attack at 35,000 feet in the air?" she asked.
In 2008, the American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology wrote letters to Congress expressing concern about pets riding in the cabin area after some patients became ill from their flights. The letters didn't go very far, officials said.

Airlines say they have had few allergy injuries on board. The airlines limit the number of pets in the cargo area to about five. The aircraft is disinfected and cleaned routinely, so dander and hairs aren't a problem, airline officials say.

But not every traveler has had smooth experiences with pets on board.

Terry Trippler, a travel expert, recalls an unpleasant incident years ago when a dog had diarrhea three rows in front of him.
"You could certainly smell it," he wrote in an e-mail. "The only real way to solve the problem is no pets in the cabin."

06 July 2009

Ryanair is considering proposals to make some of its customers stand during flights.

Ryanair is considering proposals to make some of its customers stand during flights.

By Ben Leach
Published: 7:00AM BST 06 Jul 2009

Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, plans to make some passengers stand

The low-cost airline would charge passengers less on "bar stools" with seat belts around their waists.

Michael O'Leary, the chief executive, has already held talks with US plane manufacturer Boeing about designing an aircraft with standing room.

He is now seeking approval from the Irish Aviation Authority before ordering a new fleet of carriers, according to The Sun.

A Ryanair spokesman told the newspaper: "If they approve it, we'll be doing it."

Mr O'Leary is reported to have got the idea from the Chinese airline Spring, which has put forward similar plans. It estimates space could be made for up to 50 per cent more passengers and costs could be cut by 20 per cent.

It is not the first time Ryanair has come up with a controversial proposal for cutting costs. Earlier this year Mr O'Leary suggested passengers could be charged £1 to use the on-board lavatories.

In an interview on BBC television he said that the low-cost airline was looking at the possibility of installing a coin slot on the lavatory door so that "people might actually have to spend a pound to spend a penny."

Mr O'Leary also considered introducing a "fat tax" for overweight passengers.

05 July 2009

US Airways Flight Diverted After Man Disrobes Mid-Flight

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A US Airways flight to Los Angeles was diverted to Albuquerque after a passenger removed all of his clothing mid-flight, forcing flight attendants to cover him with a blanket before he was arrested, authorities said Wednesday.

Keith Wright, 50, of the Bronx in New York, was taken into custody by airport authorities after he disrobed while sitting in his seat in the back of Flight 705 on Tuesday evening, authorities said. The plane was carrying about 148 passengers from Charlotte to Los Angeles, the airline said.

Wright was unresponsive when a flight attendant asked him to put his clothes back on, said Dan Jiron, a spokesman for the Albuquerque airport. "She asked him on more than one occasion to put on his clothes. She covered him with a blanket and he took that off," Jiron said.

Wright punched and kicked the flight attendant, who asked two off-duty law officers for help, according to a criminal complaint. A Los Angeles police officer and sheriff's deputy helped the flight attendant subdue and handcuff Wright before the flight landed, Jiron said.

Roger Finzel, an assistant federal public defender representing Wright, said he has not yet met with his client and had no information about the case other than what was in the complaint.

Wright told the FBI he is suffering from a bipolar disorder and had not taken his prescribed medication before leaving New York that morning, the criminal complaint said. Wright told the FBI he recalled nothing about the flight or his behavior, it said.

Wright had been seen dancing in a crowded boarding area before the flight, but when approached by Flight Service Supervisor Claudia Kearney, he told her he had drunk one beer. Kearney told the FBI she did not smell alcohol on him and determined he was well enough to travel, the complaint said.

US Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder could not confirm that Kearney worked for the airline.

Passenger Ginny Keegan of Detroit was sitting in the front of the plane, when there was commotion coming from the back. The people on the flight were notified of a violent passenger as the plane began to approach Albuquerque, but Keegan said no one was fearful.

"No one was really panicking. The flight attendants seemed to handle it very well," she said. Keegan said the man was "completely naked" as he was taken in handcuffs off the plane.

As the plane took off again, Keegan said the usual announcement to please fasten your seat belts came over the loudspeakers with a twist. The message included "a reminder to everybody to please keep your clothing on. It got a couple chuckles," Keegan said.

The flight attendants also were dealing with an unrelated onboard medical emergency at the same time, which exacerbated the situation, the FBI said. The aircraft was diverted because of the medical emergency, and Wright's actions were a secondary reason for the unplanned landing, the complaint said.

Wright is in federal custody on a federal charge of interfering with flight crew members and attendants. He is expected to appear in federal court in Albuquerque on Thursday.

03 July 2009

Toxic Plane Air Sickens Flight Attendant, Suit Says!

(CNN) -- The last time Terry Williams can remember being headache-free was in December. A chronic migraine has plagued her ever since. So have balance and vision problems, a tremor in her left arm, a prickly sensation in her feet and a loss of childhood memories.

Terry Williams hugs her two boys -- Jake, left, and Zack -- in 2006, before she says toxic cabin air made her sick.

Terry Williams hugs her two boys -- Jake, left, and Zack -- in 2006, before she says toxic cabin air made her sick.

The ailments, she says, began on April 11, 2007. Williams, then a veteran American Airlines flight attendant of 17 years, noticed a "misty haze type of smoke" on flight No. 843 as it taxied toward a gate in Dallas, Texas.

That "fume event," as it is known, and the physical maladies she felt afterward drove Williams, 40, to file a product liability lawsuit late Tuesday in Seattle, Washington, against Boeing and McDonnell Douglas, aircraft manufacturers linked to the MD-82 aircraft she was on. Her claim: Toxins in the cabin's air made her sick and a design flaw -- the lack of filters and sensors -- left her unprotected.

They "knew or should have known that toxic nerve agents, contaminates, and dangerous fumes could bleed into the plane's ventilation system, causing serious and irreversible health effects," her attorneys said in a written statement.

Boeing spokesman Todd Blecher said he was "aware of the lawsuit" but couldn't "discuss details of it at this time."

He then added, "Regarding the issue that the suit appears to raise, I can say that we believe that the air in airplane cabins is safe." Video Watch Williams discuss her suit »

McDonnell Douglas is no longer in business. It merged with Boeing in the late 1990s to form The Boeing Company, so Blecher said he spoke on behalf of both entities.

"Since we're not named in the suit and it was just filed, we have no comment at this time," said Tim Wagner, a spokesman for American Airlines. "We'll watch the lawsuit as it progresses."

The 'same color as antifreeze'

Between a tickle in her throat, cough and headache, Williams thought she had the start of a common cold when she stepped off the flight in question. But she says the symptoms grew worse and included a nasal discharge she described to CNN as "neon green, the same color as antifreeze."

Within several weeks, Williams says, she had to make repeated visits to emergency rooms before a neurologist told her she'd been the victim of toxic exposure.

Since the early 1960s, air in passenger jets has typically combined re-circulated existing cabin air with air bled off the engines. The air pulled into the engines is cooled and compressed before it is pumped into the the plane. It is this so-called "bleed air" that Williams' suit claims was contaminated. See how "bleed air" enters a plane's ventilation system »

Leaks in the seals that keep engine oil in place could cause chemically-laden fumes to enter the air stream, said William Nazaroff, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at University of California, Berkeley.

"A specific chemical of concern is tricresyl phosphate," he said, a chemical compound used in nerve agents and pesticides. "Historically, there have been some neurotoxic health consequences from high human exposures to TCP [tricresyl phosphate]."

How often "fume events" happen, and how often they are reported, is disputed.

A National Research Council report in 2002, using data from three Canadian airlines, said on one aircraft model nearly four out of 1,000 flights had a fume event.

The Committee on Toxicity in the United Kingdom, a group made up of independent experts who advise government agencies, said in September 2007 that pilots reported events in 1 percent of flights and that maintenance inspected and confirmed incidents in 0.05 percent of flights.

"These frequency estimates may all sound low, but consider that there were 10.65 million flights on U.S. registered aircraft in 2008. Even 0.05 percent of flights translates into about 14 events per day," said Judith Murawski, an industrial hygienist with the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, who has studied the issue for more than nine years.

Most of the flying public has never heard of "fume events," and employees, especially in this economy, may stay mum for job security reasons, says Murawski. Flight attendants who become too sick to work -- and Murawski estimates there have been hundreds -- usually file a workers' compensation claim, which Williams has also done.

'Bleed air' research spans decades

The Federal Aviation Administration does not dismiss the possibility of fume events and the potential health dangers.

"The concerns are reasonable and are being investigated," the agency said in a written response to CNN's questions about the issue. "These symptoms" -- including memory loss, vision impairment, tremors, headaches and vomiting -- "have been attributed to exposure to tricresyl phosphate (TCP) and other breakdown products of hydraulic fluid, fuel, deicing fluid and engine oil," it said.

The statement also said, however, that the same symptoms occur as a result of other neurological conditions. The FAA said researchers at seven universities involved in Airliner Cabin Environment Research, or ACER, are trying "to assess the level of exposure to toxic chemicals in aircraft and to correlate any verified exposures with crew and passenger symptoms."

The first known written report about exposure to toxins on airplanes -- entitled "Human Intoxication Following Inhalation Exposure to Synthetic Jet Lubricating Oil" -- was submitted in 1977 by a team of doctors, including those affiliated with a pulmonary-toxicology lab at a VA Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their investigation focused on a case of a "previously healthy" 34-year-old military pilot who became "acutely incapacitated" while flying after being exposed to "aerosolized or vaporized synthetic lubricating oil," the doctors wrote in the report. They said further investigation was "definitely warranted."

In 1986, the National Research Council, an operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, conducted -- at the request of Congress -- an independent study and produced a report entitled, "The Airliner Cabin Environment: Air Quality and Safety." In this, the council raised myriad concerns about air quality in cabins, including exposure to contaminants.

NRC was enlisted again by Congress about 15 years later. The result was the 2002 report, "The Airliner Cabin Environment and the Health of Passengers and Crews." In its own language responding to the NRC's recommendation regarding air quality and ventilation, the FAA said it "has not kept pace with public expectation and concern about air quality" and cannot guarantee protection from contamination "because no airplane design incorporates an air contaminant monitoring system."

In its statement to CNN, the FAA said it "supports all of the NRC's recommendations and continues to monitor the development of data on cabin air contamination to ensure the health of the flying public."

Christiaan van Netten, an environmental toxicologist in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, devised a simple device to measure air quality on planes. Seventy-five of the hand-held monitors were used in a study conducted by the Occupational Health Research Consortium in Aviation, a project that was funded by the FAA. Van Netten says he's not at liberty to talk about the results because this report was submitted last month and is currently being reviewed by the FAA. But he said more comprehensive and transparent air-quality testing would only help the industry.

"When you don't have access to real information, people go from one extreme to another," he said. "By not addressing the facts, you open yourself up to all sorts of wild speculation."

Others also report exposure

Tristan Loraine, an English pilot who said he was forced to retire because contaminated bleed air made him sick, thinks the airline industry is more concerned about profits than protecting passengers and employees. His experience drove him to create a documentary titled "Welcome Aboard Toxic Airlines."

He and others say it's difficult for doctors to diagnose exposure and that the effect on individuals -- based on differing immune systems, enzyme levels, medications -- varies dramatically. For this reason, there's a chance Williams alone may have reported a reaction to the fume event on her flight.

Clement Furlong, a research professor in the departments of medicine and genome sciences at the University of Washington, has worked since 2005 to develop a simple blood test to determine if a person has been exposed to contaminated bleed air. He says he's getting close.

"If we have 10 boxes to check to be there, we've checked off nine," he said.

Terry Williams is not the only person claiming ill-effects of bad cabin air. Her attorneys also represent twin sisters, 45, who say they were sickened on a Southwest Airlines flight in January -- one that was diverted for what they called an "unexplained malfunction."

A spokeswoman for Southwest Airlines, Brandy King, confirmed that the flight had been diverted but would not say why and would only add, "We are actively collecting information and reviewing the sequence of events."

Another aviation attorney out of Chicago, Illinois, represents 20 U.K. passengers who say they became sick two years ago on a charter flight to Orlando, Florida.

"There's been enough research to show that indeed this is a problem, and it's now time to implement solutions," said Christopher Witkowski, director of air safety, health and security for the union AFA-CWA.

The issue gained traction in the mid-1990s, Murawski says, because by then most airlines had banned in-flight smoking and people began noticing other smells and hazes. But after 9/11, she says the industry's priorities turned full-throttle to an entirely different safety issue.

Changes on the horizon

Those concerned about fume events point to recent developments that give them hope.

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, set to roll out soon, does not use bleed air and instead compresses atmospheric air from outside the plane. Blecher, the Boeing spokesman, said electrical system advances that improve efficiency -- and not concerns over bleed air -- inspired the change.

Meanwhile, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009, which passed in the House and is now in a Senate committee, calls for research and development of sensor and air cleaning technology to remove "oil-based contaminants from the bleed air."

The Australian government's Civil Aviation Safety Authority set up an Expert Panel on Aircraft Air Quality to review this issue. And on Wednesday, the United Kingdom Parliament held a debate about aircraft air quality, specifically discussing design flaws that might expose people to toxic fumes.


Williams, who lives outside Seattle and has 3- and 4-year-old boys, said she's pursuing the lawsuit because she doesn't want others to suffer.

"I'm often unable to play with my children. I feel like I'm depriving my kids of a mom and my husband of a wife," she said, her voice cracking. "I walked off that plane and have never been the same. ... If I can educate anyone and help raise public awareness to stop this from happening, hopefully changes can be made to keep people healthy."

01 July 2009

Be Careful What You Say To A United States Marine Corp Pilot, It Might Just Make His Day!!!


In addition to communicating with the local Air Traffic Control facility, all aircraft
In the Persian Gulf AOR are required to give the Iranian Air Defense Radar (military)
A ten minute 'heads up' if they will be transiting Iranian airspace.

This is a common procedure for commercial aircraft and involves giving them your
Call sign, transponder code, type aircraft, and points of origin and destination.
I just flew with a guy who overheard this conversation on the VHF Guard (emergency)
Frequency 121.5 MHz while flying from Europe to Dubai . It is too good not to pass along.

The conversation went like this...

Iranian Air Defense Radar: 'Unknown aircraft you are in Iranian airspace. Identify yourself.'

Aircraft: 'This is a United States aircraft. I am in Iraqi airspace.'

Air Defense Radar: 'You are in Iranian airspace. If you do not depart our airspace we will launch interceptor aircraft!'

Aircraft: 'This is a United States Marine Corps FA-18 fighter. Send 'em up, I'll wait!'

Air Defense Radar: (no response ... Total silence)

When all else fails - ANZ's (Air New Zealand) Naked Flight-Safety Video

Hello All BlkAv8tor2003 Checkin In!!!

Here is one of the reasons why I love the world of airlines! This is marketing genius and there is no better way to promote your airlines next ad campaign than proving to your passengers that you have "Nothing To Hide", well Air New Zealand took it to the next level!!!

Bravo, to my airline friends "Down Under!!!"

By Kieran Daly on June 26, 2009 12:04 PM

You remember the Air New Zealand body-paint ad based on the "nothing to hide" tagline - as opposed to low-cost carriers who hide extra fees in their booking conditions - well they've, er, extended the concept to the flight-safety announcement. (Once you start writing about risque stuff, everything sounds dodgy.)

The original ad.

Air New Zealand staff have nothing to hide

Air New Zealand staff have nothing to hide - behind the scenes

Safety bloopers.