Monday, April 23, 2018

21st Century Aviation: Still A Man’s World?

Capt. Tammie Jo Shults’ recent heroic action would have been called “the miracle at Philadelphia Airport”, but is the prevailing sexism at the aviation world prevented her from becoming “the next Sully”?

By; Ringo Bones 

Maybe it was the tragic death of passenger Jennifer Riordan of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 – where a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 carrying 149 passengers developed a fault with one of its CFM56-78 jet engines and was forced to make an emergency landing at Philadelphia Airport back in April 17, 2018 – but the social networking world was set alight by posts hailing the pilot Capt. Tammie Jo Shults as a hero who safely landed the stricken plane. It was no mean feat because without the quick action of Captain Shults, Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 would have ended in tragedy because for a few harrowing seconds, the stricken aircraft rolled to an angle of 41 degrees after one of the plane engines exploded and yet Captain Shults managed to land the plane safely. Tragically, 43 year old mother of two Jennifer Riordan was nearly sucked out of the plane after a few pieces of shrapnel of the exploding engine smashed the window next to her causing rapid decompression in the cabin that nearly blasted her out of the jet. Nearby passengers managed to pull her back in and tried to revive her but she died from her injuries. 

Capt. Tammie Jo Shults is a New Mexico native who graduated with university degrees in biology and agribusiness before joining the military. Her first choice was to join the US Air Force as a military aviator but at the time, USAF doesn’t yet allow women aviators so she applied for the US Navy as a naval aviator but only served as an instructor for 10 years because the US Navy still bans women from doing frontline duty. She ended her active service in 1993 after achieving the rank of lieutenant commander. Her husband Dean Shults also works as a pilot for Southwest Airlines. 

Is the 21st Century aviation world still largely a man’s world? Well, most folks today probably only knew one woman aviator – i.e. Amelia Earhart, but I bet most of them probably don’t know the record setting test flights made by test pilot Jacqueline Cochran with an F-104 Starfighter back in 1964 even though there’s a major airport named in her honor. Sadly, this could be the main reason why Capt. Tammie Jo Shults is currently not as big as Capt. Sully Sullenberger.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Self Piloting Passenger Aircraft: The Future Of Civil Aviation?

Despite of the current regulatory hurdles, are self-piloting of autonomous passenger aircraft the future of civil aviation?

By: Ringo Bones 

Uber first announced its own concept of self piloting / autonomous passenger aircraft after making a situational advert on what happens if their self-driving car service got snarled by heavy traffic. According to Uber, solution is already at hand via its very own self piloting or autonomous passenger aircraft – and the possibility of it entering service is sooner than you think.  

The ride-sharing firm Uber and Urban Aviation are already partnering with Bell Helicopters and already have a flying prototype of their “pilotless air taxi” which a fleet could enter service as soon as 2020 current regulatory hurdles permitting. But the good news is NASA and the United States Federal Aviation Administration is already developing new air traffic control systems specifically designed to accommodate the upcoming fleets of autonomous air taxis once they enter service by 2020. 

Currently, a number of firms have already joined the bandwagon on pilotless air taxis and pilotless / autonomous passenger aircraft. A Mainland Chinese firm Ehang and Germany’s Volocopter already made a flyable prototype capable of carrying four passengers plus a pilot in case the autonomous computer fails. All of the firms who had released plans to offer a pilotless air taxi service say that the “pilot” only serve as a technician if the autonomous flying computer develops problems but most of the time, the “pilot” will be serving as a de-facto ambassador to the passengers to allay any fears or doubts that they have on their self-flying technology. 

Technically, all of the pilotless air taxis are battery powered, capable of carrying 4 to 5 passengers and has a range of between 60 to 100 miles which make them a very viable alternative to avoid being stuck in rush-hour traffic when commuting from one city center to another which has recently classivied this class of aircraft as “urban air vehicles”. The good news is that the batteries they use to power their aviation grade electric motors are the latest ones that are able to be fully charged between 5 to 15 minutes.   

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017: The Safest Year For Air Travel?

Given that there are no commercial airline crashes for the entire year last year – will 2017 go down in history as the safest year for air travel?

By: Ringo Bones 

 Even though it is a proven fact – statistically at least – that flying is the safest form of travel, groups in charge of monitoring air safety are quite surprised that 2017 turned out to be the safest year for air travel given that not a single tragic airline crash occurred for the entire year. There were no passenger jet crashes anywhere in the world for the whole of 2017, according to separate reports made by Dutch consultancy firm To70 and The Aviation Safety Network. 

Despite of the tragic and scary chapter that we call 9/11, the number of airliner accidents has been in a slow and steady decline during the past 20 years. Harro Ranter, president of The Aviation Safety Network said: “Since 1997 the average number of airliner accidents has shown a steady and persistent decline, for a great deal thanks to the continuing safety-driven efforts by international aviation organizations such as ICAO, IATA, Flight Safety Foundation and the aviation industry.” 

The Dutch consultancy To70, estimated there was now one fatal accident for every 16-million flights, although its report was compiled before the Costa Rica crash occurred. While the Aviation Safety Network’s report shows that the accident rate now stands at one fatal passenger flight accident per 7,360,000 flights. If cargo planes were included, a report by the Airline Safety Network shows that there were a total of 10 fatal accidents, resulting in 79 deaths for the whole of 2017, compared with 16 accidents and 303 lives lost in 2016. The organization based its figures on incidents involving civil aircraft certified to carry at least 14 people. Could civil aviation industry’s safety record get better in the coming years? Sadly, fake president Trump already claims that the 2017’s air travel safety record was the result of his “presidency”.     

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Lufthansa Pilots Christmas Miracle

By refusing to follow “illegal” deportation orders, did Lufthansa pilots manage to perform a so-called “Christmas Miracle” in the course of 2017?

By: Ringo Bones 

According to Deutsche Welle – in the course of 2017, German pilots stopped 222 planned flights whose purpose were to repatriate Afghan asylum seekers back to their home country they are fleeing from, Last year, the European Union signed a so-called deal with Kabul – which many saw as “Hitlerian” – to start deporting asylum seekers back to so-called “safe areas” in Afghanistan, which instantly drew criticism from human rights groups such as Pro Asyl. Amnesty International said nearly 10,000 Afghans are at risk of torture, kidnapping and death in their home country. 

The majority of the stopped flights, 85, came from Germany’s main airline Lufthansa and its subsidiary Eurowings. Around 140 refusals occurred at Germany’s largest airport – Frankfurt Airport. Some 40 took place at Dusseldorf Airport where Pro Asyl and other campaigners staged the #WelcomeUnited protest against deportation of asylum seekers. A spokesman for Lufthansa Michael Lamberty, told local Westdeutsche Allegeimeine Zeitung that pilots sometimes had to cancel flights due to security reasons. 

In 2017 so far, Germany had processed more asylum applications to a total of 388, 201 – more than any of the other EU countries concerned, according to the German immigration office Bundesamt fϋr Migration und Flϋchtlinge. About 210,000 of these requests have been rebounded, but they usually are accepted in appeal case. Given that this all happened in the course of 2017 but the news report only came out about 20 days ago, many had labeled the actions of the German pilots refusing such “Hitlerian” deportation orders as a “Christmas Miracle”.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

United Airlines: Too Unfriendly To Passengers?

With the latest forcible removal of a passenger incident, is United Airlines getting more “unfriendly” in recent years? 

By: Ringo Bones 

To those old enough to remember the 1970s and the 1980s, United Airlines’ slogan - “Fly the friendly skies” – seems so surreal in the wake of hijacking incidents by PLO affiliated “terrorists”. Fast forward to our pos-9/11 world, it seems that United Airlines is getting more “unfriendly” to the casual, unwary passenger. But is there some truth to this? 

The latest incident of the forcible removal of a Vietnamese-American doctor named David Dao captured by an amateur smartphone camera footage taken by a fellow passenger of the incident has since gone viral a few days ago has resulted in some negative repercussions to the famed airline company when it comes to its existing policy when it comes to overbooked flights – i.e. it’s stocks closed lower a few days ago following the incident. And it also fueled the “liberal conspiracy theory scene” of the rollback of civil liberties enjoyed by non-white Anglo Saxon Americans during the Obama administration giving credence to the concerns that in Donald J. Trump’s America, its going to be a “reckoning day” for non-white Anglo Saxon ethnic groups and hence Dr. David Dao and his legal team stating that his forcible removal incident is much worse than the hardship he endured during the Fall of Saigon during his exodus for political asylum into America. 

Back in 2009, United Airlines got under fire on the shabby treatment of country music star Dave Carroll’s guitars that eventually resulted in United Airlines paying millions of dollars to Carroll to the damage and mental anguish due to the damage of his guitars used in his musical tour at the time. And just last month, a group of female passengers were denied entry because they were wearing supposedly “inappropriate” leggings by United Airlines’ standards.