Saturday, June 29, 2013

NTSB Goes Pro-Active in Defense of TWA 800 Investigation

In the past, the decision makers at the National Transportation Safety Board might have tried to hang tough through the crescendo of publicity for the soon-to-be-aired TWA 800 conspiracy documentary. But that's not the way this board behaves. On Tuesday, they'll launch a counter-offensive, inviting journalists into the NTSB Training Center in Ashburn, Virginia. There, several of the men who worked on the 4-year investigation will take questions and explain what led them to the conclusion that the mid-air explosion of the Boeing 747 was the result of a long-standing design problem and not a criminal act.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

ATSB to Europe and USA: Take Another Look at the A380

Damage to the engine on QF 32. Photo courtesy ATSB
It would take some really big news to eclipse the release of the final report by Australian air safety investigators into what happened to Qantas Flight 32, an event on the world's newest and largest airliner that came thisclose to disaster. The Australian prime minister might have to be ousted, for example. Or an American might have to spill state secrets and become an international fugitive. Whoops, those are the stories on the front page today relegating everything else -including the just-released findings of the Australian Transportation Safety Board - to the inside pages.  

No worries. Here, in brief are some of the highlights from the 300 page report.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Documentary on TWA 800 Should Spark Review


It has taken 17 years but the most qualified of the amateur investigators into the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 seems to have found his voice in a powerful documentary that's making headlines this week. Tom Stalcup teamed up with Kristina Borjesson in the (too long by half) 90 minute documentary. Together they raise intriguing questions about what might have caused the explosion that brought down the Boeing 747 on a flight from New York to Paris on July 17, 1996. All 230 people on board died.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Will the Star Alliance Terminal Make Passengers Feel Like Royals?

A computer generated image of the soon-to-open terminal
photo courtesy Heathrow Airport
Hmmm, how to properly thank the authorities at Heathrow for giving Star Alliance airlines their very own terminal at the busy airport?  I know! I know! It's brilliant. Name the £2.5 billion building after the Queen!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Jaws Syndrome? That’s a Teething Problem

Boeing brings the 787 to Ethiopia in 2011
I have a double major in aviation and journalism - I bring it up to make this point: Several things are happening with the Dreamliner. Some are serious and some are ordinary, new-airplane glitches, dare-I-say, teething problems

The causes of the recent 787 flight cancellations in Japan may fall in the latter category but grand or minor, the Jaws syndrome means that each nip of the teeth will gnaw on the still-rehabilitating reputation of the Boeing 787.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Helping International Arrivals And Airlines Too

Does it strike anyone else as odd that of all the foreign airports in all the world, Abu Dhabi International would be one of the few to offer immigration pre-clearance for travelers heading to the United States? Let me answer my own question. Yes it does. Several members of congress - also flummoxed by this proposal have added an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security budget appropriation, that's essentially a not-so-fast-there, yank on the leash to DHS.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

South African Airways: Entertainment Before, During and After the Flight

Saturday afternoon I flew from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to Cape Town on South African Airways Flight 347, to attend the International Air Transport Association Annual General Meeting. I was pretty sure it would be an on-time flight since Monwabisi Kalawa, the airline's new chief executive was on the plane. Of course he was in business class and I was back, way back in seat 27F.  

What I did not know was what a great vantage point that seat would give me for all the goings-on before, during and after we landed in Cape Town. Here are some of the highlights with photos to match: