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The Age of Aerospace

The Age of Aerospace celebrating Boeing’s 100th anniversary is now airing across the globe on Discovery Channel and Discovery Science and online.

The five-part series, explores the advancements in civilian, military and space technology around some of America’s greatest achievements, plus chronicles the history of Boeing and its heritage companies, Douglas, McDonnell, North American, Rockwell and Hughes.

Thus the Boeing group of companies can lay claim to have designed some of the greatest aircraft and spacecraft in history: The DC-3; P-51 Mustang, B-17 Flying Fortress, B-25 Mitchel, B-29 Super Fortress, B-47, DC-6B, 707, Super DC-8s, DC-9, 747, 727, 737, 777, 787, Gemini, Mercury, Apollo spacecraft, Saturn and Delta Rockets, F-4, A-4, F-15, F-18, F-22 jet fighters and C-17 airlifter. 

Read: She taught the world to fly

Produced by the New York based Documentary Group the series is absolutely fascinating for anyone interested in aviation but it is not, nor claims to be, the definitive history of Boeing or aviation.In fact another three episodes are to be produced this year.

The series traces the major events in aviation and Boeing’s pivotal role in shaping the future of things that fly.

The producers have brought together a range of aviation consultants, authors and commentators as well as Boeing executives who add to the excellent narration.

Boeing’s Chairman Jim McNerney and Vice Chairman & President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes Ray Conner are candid about the highs and lows of various aircraft programs particularly the 787. Editor and founder Geoffrey Thomas features in eps 1, 3 and 5 (Mr Thomas was formerly a Contributing Editor for McGraw Hill’s New York based Aviation Week and Space Technology).

The episodes are:

Ep 1: What Can't We Do? The premiere episode reveals how Bill Boeing, Donald Douglas, James McDonnell and their contemporaries took the invention of the airplane and forged an industry, delivering advancements in communication, transportation, and warfare.

Ep 2 Miracle Planes details the role American industry and planes, including the B-29, P-51 and the B-17, played in the Allied victory over Germany and Japan.

Ep 3: Shrinking the Earth explores three planes that launched the jet age: the B-47, the 707 and the 747, the world's first jumbo jet that reshaped global air travel. These three planes were made possible by secrets discovered in a German Forest at the close of WWII

Ep 4: In the Vastness of Space tells the story of Project Apollo, which accomplished landing the first humans on the Moon, and humankind’s first journey to the Moon on Apollo 8. Other topics include humanity’s future in space

Ep 5: Dreamliner reveals the technology, resources, and risk required to build commercial aircraft in the modern world through the story of the most recent revolution in jet design, the 787 Dreamliner

The episodes can be viewed online here; 

Check your regional or local program guides for broadcast times in your area.

Airlines need bigger profits!

Boeing loses to Airbus

Despite record results airlines are only just exceeding the cost of capital and need to make even bigger profits to buy both new aircraft and in the longer term launch new types that will be far more comfortable, provide genuine and sustained reductions in air fares and cut engine emissions.

The airline industry is forecast to make a record 5.1 per cent profit this year – or US$36.3 billion – and achieve a return on capital of 8.6 per cent just above the cost of capital of 7 per cent.

This level of profitability is historic after years of destroying capital which has led to hundreds of airlines either going into bankruptcy, Chapter 11 protection (US) or being forced to merge.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), “achieving returns that barely exceed the cost of capital means that airlines are finally meeting the minimum expectations of their shareholders. For most other industries this is the norm and not the exception.”

Over the past 40 years the airline industry on average has only made about 1.5 per cent net profit.

However the stark reality is that with airlines expected to carry 3.8 billion passengers this year it means they will make on average less than US$10 a passenger profit.

IATA Director General Tony Tyler is absolutely right when he describes this as “fragile rather than sustainable.”

Putting the airlines’ forecast record result of 5.1 per cent into perspective, the world’s 15 most profitable industries according to financial information company Sageworks (published on are:

Accounting (19.8 per cent net profit); Legal (17.8); Oil and Gas (16.4); Machinery rental and leasing (16.4); Dentists (14.9); Real estate lessors (14.1); Doctors (14.1); Real estate agents (14.1); Other health practitioners (12.1) Management of companies (12.6); Outpatient care (11.7); Schools (11.3); Activities related to real estate (10.8); Death care services (10.7) and Support of mining activity (10.4).

Airlines need bigger profits to both pay long suffering shareholders dividends and order new aircraft. Australia’s Qantas for instance only started to pay shareholders a dividend this financial year after a five year drought.

Designs such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 are about 25 to 30 per cent more economical to operate than the aircraft they replace yet many airlines have been holding back on orders because of a lack of profits.

More importantly Boeing and Airbus need in the long term to replace the 180-seat 737 and A320 designs that were designed many decades ago.

Continuous upgrades of both types have seen significant reductions in fuel consumption and other efficiencies but that is not as good as a clean sheet design.

And that clean sheet design would also significantly increase passenger comfort.

But launching a new type costs Boeing or Airbus at least US$10 billion and big orders for airlines are essential to getting these off the drawing boards.

In 2011 Boeing launched the latest upgrade of the 737 – the MAX – but while the company wanted an all new design – the 797 – the airlines said no we can’t afford it.

Claims by some consumer groups in the US that flyers are being ripped off are absurd.

Travel has never been cheaper in real terms or compared to average weekly earnings.

For example in 1965 when domestic pure jet service (Boeing 727) in Australia was a few months old, a year’s salary would have purchased nine return flights across the country (Perth to Sydney) – today that number is almost 200! That comparison is true across the globe.

Certainly there is a lag between airlines making sustained reasonable profits and buying new aircraft or re-introducing creature comforts shelved during decades of lean times.

But many airline boards worry that the current profitability will quickly fade as oil prices start to rise again.

IATA’s Mr Tyler was warned that airlines should “enjoy the [current] trading conditions while they last but not get used to them.”

Food poisoning and laser lights are pilot dangers

Food poisoning and laser lights are the biggest causes of incapacitation of pilots according to Australia’s crash investigator.

The Australian Transport and Safety Bureau has issued the results of a survey that found that in the 5 years between 2010 and 2014, there have been on average 23 pilot occurrences a year reported where Australian pilots could not perform their duties. 

That is once every 34,000 flights.

Over 75 per cent of incidents involved commercial passenger flights and the ATSB reported that the other pilot was successfully able to continue the flight or divert to an emergency landing.

Some of the incapacitation cases have been quite bizarre including one where the co-pilot became air sick after the plane encountered severe turbulence.

The ATSB found that between 2010 and 2014, there were a total of 113 flight crew incapacitation occurrences reported to the ATSB and half of the incapacitation occurrences were related to gastrointestinal illnesses such as food poisoning or gastroenteritis. 

Laser strikes accounted for 13 per cent of flight crew incapacitation occurrences in high capacity operations. 

Between 2010 and 2014 there were 1,316 laser strikes in high capacity transport operations in Australia reported to the ATSB. 

However, only 11 during this period resulted in pilot incapacitation. 

The ATSB said that while the chances of incapacitation from a laser strike are low, when they occur, they can be serious enough to lead to total incapacitation of the pilot.

One of the most serious incidents involved a 787 captain did not have happy ending.  

The training captain who was flying the 787 suffered a suspected brain aneurysm just after touch down at Perth, Western Australia and the aircraft began to veer to the right and the other captain, who was checking her, took control of the aircraft to return to the centreline and completed the landing. 

The two other flight crew members supported the incapacitated captain and administered oxygen and she was later taken to hospital but died two days later.

IATA: Terrorism and suicide remain problems

The airline industry's leading association has warned that there are no easy solutions to pilot's mental health or terrorism that brought down two aircraft killing 374 last year. 

Yesterday the International Air Transport Association (IATA) issued its report card on airline safety and claimed that last year was one of the safest on record but it cautioned that there are still problems in countries such as Africa and parts of the CIS.

World's Safest Airlines.

Last year there was one major passenger jet aircraft accident for every 3.1 million flights which was a 30% improvement compared to the previous five-year rate (2010-2014) of 0.46 hull loss accidents per million jet flights.

The 2015 jet hull loss rate for members of IATA was 0.22 (one accident for every 4.5 million flights), which outperformed the global rate by 31% and which was in line with the five-year rate (2010-2014) of 0.21 per million flights but above the 0.12 hull loss rate achieved in 2014.

IATA says that the loss of Germanwings 9525 (pilot suicide) and Metrojet 9268 (suspected terrorism) that resulted in the deaths of 374 passengers and crew  are tragedies that are not, however, included in the accident statistics as they are classified as deliberate acts of unlawful interference.

Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO said that 2015 in terms of the number of fatal accidents, it “was an extraordinarily safe year.” 

“The long-term trend data show us that flying is getting even safer. Yet we were all shocked and horrified by two deliberate acts–the destruction of Germanwings 9525 and Metrojet 9268.”

Mr Tyler warned that “while there are no easy solutions to the mental health (of pilots) and security issues that were exposed in these tragedies, aviation continues to work to minimize the risk that such events will happen again." 

Safety by the numbers:
•    More than 3.5 billion people flew safely on 37.6 million flights (31.4 million by jet, 6.2 million by turboprop)
•    136 fatalities compared to 641 fatalities in 2014 and the five-year average of 504. Including those who lost their lives in Germanwings 9525 and Metrojet 9268, the 2015 figure was 510.
•    68 accidents (all aircraft types), down from 77 in 2014 and the five-year average of 90 per year
•    Four fatal accidents (all aircraft types) versus 12 in 2014 and the five-year average of 17.6
•    6% of all accidents were fatal, below the five-year average of 19.6%
•    10 hull loss accidents involving jets compared to 8 in 2014 and the five-year average of 13 per year
•    Zero jet hull loss accidents involving passenger fatalities, down from three in 2014, and the five-year average of 6.4 per year.

While most regions improved their safety Africa (3.49) and the Commonwealth of Independent States remain problem areas.

Mr Tyler said that airlines on the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) Registry experienced only 4 jet hull loss accidents (none fatal) and one fatal turboprop hull loss accident. 

The total accident rate (all aircraft types) for IOSA-registered carriers was nearly three times as good as the rate for non-IOSA carriers (1.14. vs. 3.23) last year; and over the five years 2010-2014, the rate is more than three times better (1.48 vs. 4.99). 

As of 12 February, 408 airlines were on the IOSA registry. For IATA’s 262 member airlines, IOSA registration is a requirement. That some 146 non-member airlines are also on the registry is evidence that IOSA is the global benchmark for airline operational safety management.

"Now in its 13th year, IOSA continues to be recognized as the gold standard for airline operational audits. In 2016 we will continue to tweak IOSA to ensure we are maintaining the highest standards of quality assurance in the audit process," said Tyler.

IOSA is a major part of the safety rating system which is endorsed by aviation’s governing body the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). 


10 things that will get you on China’s banned list for life

Whilst we all moan and groan about certain types of people and their behaviour on a plane, thankfully, for the most part, we are all pretty clued up on the etiquettes of flying, or so we think.

Chinese airlines however, have recently put together a somewhat bizarre list of things that will get you banned from ever flying again should you think of doing them. Bizarre becaue we think, 'who would do that?' well… the list was put together because these things have all happened not so long ago.

Here's the ten things you are simply not to do in China (or anywhere for that matter!)

1. Blocking the airline counters, security lines or gates

This first prohibited deed came about following an incident last year in Bangkok wherein Chinese passengers, apparently angry about the delay of their flight to Chongqing, blocked the airline counter. The passengers apparently starting singing the Chinese national anthem as a sign of protest.

2. Rude or violent speech/conduct inside the airports or airplanes

Although this may have come about from many instances, in one example, last year a Chinese passenger in economy class on a United Airlines flight caused a massive scene when demanding to be changed to first class.

3. Acts of violence or threats towards the cabin crew

The friendly staff in the sky are there to offer you complimentary beverages and assist you in ways that will make your trip more enjoyable. They are not, however, there for you to pour hot water on when you find fault with their service, like a passenger did on a flight from Bangkok to Nanjing last year.

4. Ignoring the instructions of the cabin crew

For most passengers, disregarding instructions from the crew by doing things like unfastening your seatbelt or using your cell phone during takeoff or landing might get you a stern warning. However, the CATA now reserves the right to keep you off airplanes for life if you decide to break the rules!

5. Opening the emergency door or cockpit without permission

They are called “emergency doors” for a reason. Declaring you want to disembark before others and needing to breathe fresh air while the plane is moving to a gate is definitely not a valid explanation.

6. Breaking through the gate in an attempt to board

When you refuse to pay the additional fees for excessively heavy carry-on luggage and try to forcibly board the plane by breaking through the gate, you are going to get seized by the airport staff. And get a ridiculous warning made about your behavior for everyone to read.

7. Destructive acts in the airport facilities and of airport equipment

Two years ago, after missing his second flight of the day, one passenger blew his top anddestroyed a bunch of airport equipment before being arrested. Not only would you be blacklisted for this one, you’d probably be banned from even entering that airport as well.

8. Making false bomb threats

Calling in five bomb threats in quick succession and forcing five different planes to make emergency landings probably isn’t the best way to complain about a company you are dissatisfied with. The Better Business Bureau is almost certainly a superior avenue for your dissatisfaction.

9. Entering the ramp areas, runways, or taxiways

Three years ago, passengers who were angry about flight delays broke onto the runways in Shanghai and Guangzhou in protest of them before being restrained. Forget blacklisted, those actions could potentially get you killed.

10. Acts that bother other customers or interfere with the duties of the flight staff

Calmly letting your child defecate in the aisle when someone else is using the toilet is not only bad airplane etiquette, it’s bad everyday etiquette as well. There are plenty of other instances that this warning could apply to, but that one takes the smelly cake.



Caviar at Mach 2


On February 7, 1996, a scheduled British Airways flight set a world speed record that will never be broken in our lifetime. The fastest passenger flight in history was made twenty years ago between London’s Heathrow Airport and New York’s JFK, a distance of 3, 000 nautical miles, flown in only two hours and 53 minutes. The airplane was the incomparable supersonic Concorde.

On that epic transatlantic run, British Airways Concorde G-BOAD, the tenth Concorde built, was piloted by veteran Captain Leslie Scott and First Officer Tim Orchard. The official FAI-recorded flight time was two hours, 52 minutes, and 59 seconds. “Alpha-Delta” was the highest-time Concorde flown with 23,397 hours, and currently resides at the Intrepid Air Museum in New York. Its maximum cruising speed of Mach 2.04 (1,350mph) was faster than man’s very first Mach 2 flight achieved with the experimental rocket-powered Douglas D-558-II in November 1953.

There have been numerous stories of how Concorde’s speed was used in unique ways by high-end clientele. There was the New York tycoon who saved more in interest than the cost of his ticket by closing a deal in London the same day the contract was written, or the rock star who had his personal barber flown by Concorde to New York to administer a trim before the singer’s concert at Madison Square Garden that same evening. The airplane was chartered by numerous travel groups for round-the-world supersonic tours of everything from museums to golf courses.

Read: Concorde to start charter flights by 2020?

However, there was one short-lived Concorde service that never quite made the headlines, yet offered the mass public a chance to experience the near-supersonic realm – or at least a full afterburner takeoff. Flown as an interlink with British Airways and Air France in 1979, Braniff International Airlines established Concorde flights from Dallas, Texas (DFW) to London and Paris, respectively, with a fuel stop and crew change at Washington’s Dulles International Airport (IAD).

Due to FAA regulations, the aircraft’s registration was changed from British or French to U.S. using ScotchCal adhesive numbers for flights from DC to Dallas, and the aircraft was restricted to subsonic speed while flying over land. (The cabin Machmeter read “Mach 0.99” during cruise.) All three cockpit crew wore Captain’s stripes, and all 100 passengers were afforded sumptuous First Class service. The best part, however, was the air fare for this two-hour flight. While it may have cost as much as $6,000US to fly one-way transatlantic, one-way fare from IAD to DFW was only $79US.

Man falls out of hole in plane mid air after a bomb is detonated

Daallo Airlines, a Somalian regional carrier, was operating flight D3159 from Somalia to Djibouti when a bomb went off 5 minutes after takeoff from Mogadishu Airport, ripping a hole in the side of the fuselage.  

Passengers on board the flight reported hearing a loud bang but it wasn't until the smoke cleared that they saw the gaping hole in the fuselage. It was forced to turn around and perform an emergency landing at the Raas Cabaad-based airport, where it was met by emergency crews. 

           See the dramatic footage from inside the plane

Whilst the plane landed safely, a 55 year old man – who turned out to be the person who brought the bomb on board – was found 19 miles north of the airport. Locals in the area reported seeing someone fall out of the plane at the time of the incident. 

The airline's captain and crew are being praised for their efforts in getting the aircraft and all bar one of its 74 passengers and crew on the ground safely. Vladimir Vodopivec, 64, the plane's Serbian pilot, told Blic : "I think it was a bomb."

"Luckily, the flight controls were not damaged so I could return and land at the airport. Something like this has never happened in my flight career. We lost pressure in the cabin. Thank God it ended well."

According to CNN, initial tests show explosive residue indicating the aircraft may have been the victim of a terrorist attack.

This incident comes less than two weeks after a beach-side restaurant in Mogadishu was targeted by Islamist group Al-Shabaab. Suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the popular hotel restaurant on January 21, killing 20 people.

According to a week before that attack, the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group claimed responsibility for killing dozens of African Union peacekeepers during a raid on their base in southwestern Somalia.

Al-Shabaab has been blamed for several major terrorist attacks throughout the region, such as the April 2015 assault on Garissa University in Kenya, which killed 148 students.

One year prior to that, Al-Shabaab killed 65 people over a 24-hour period around the Kenyan town Mpeketoni. The group also carried out a raid on Nairobi's Westgate Mall in 2013 which killed 67 people.

The terror group claims it wants to overthrow the Western-backed Somali government.

The investiagtion into this attack continues and all on baord are being questioned. 

Daallo Airlines is a Somali-owned airline based at Dubai Airport Free Zone. The airline operates scheduled services in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East and scores a 2/7 on the Airlineratings safety ratings

Air France 747 tribute flight

Air France has paid tribute to the Boeing 747 that has served it well for 45 years with a magnificent formation flight with France’s crack aerobatic team, the Patrouille de France.

The French airline once had a massive 68-strong fleet of 747s but flew its last passenger flight – AF439 – from Mexico City to Paris CDG on January 11.

Then just a few days ago the airline flew the Queen of the Skies around France’s Camargue region, in formation with the French Acrobatic Patrol’s 12 Alpha Jets.

Today smaller more fuel efficiency twin–engine aircraft like the Boeing 777, 787, Airbus A330 and A350XWB are replacing 747s in the world’s fleets.

While some airlines have opted for the A380 for most the super jumbo is too big.

However some airlines like British Airways love their 747s and are planning to keep them flying through to 2020.

‘Safety videos’ replace ads in air battle for hearts and minds


The once stodgy chore of regulatory compliance that no-one watched, airline safety videos, have been re-invented as the carriers vie for customers' loyalty and 'bums on seats'.

The explosion of new media platforms like Youtube, Facebook and Twitter means airlines can get the attention of millions of wannabe travellers for a fraction of what it used to cost provided they can devise “content” that interests them. 
In the past decade, but especially in the past three years, the records have been tumbling with video marketing analyst estimating there were around 50 million viewings of airline safety videos on social media in the 2014-15 year – an 80 per cent leap on the year before. 

In October 2013, the fledgling Virgin America – the product of a difficult birth in 2007 and only just startling to break even after years of losses and still without the critical mass to launch an expensive, conventional TV advertising campaign – released what many analysts believed would be a hit that would take years to surpass.

The all-singing-all-dancing showbiz video tagged #VXsafetydance smashed the airline industry’s record for “social media engagement”, racking up more than 11 million views on Youtube over the next two years.
But the analysts underestimated Air New Zealand – the “small airline at the bottom of the world”, in the words of its marketing guru Mike Tod – which has been working on new ways of talking to consumers for around seven years.
“We have to do things differently to get noticed and talked about,” Tod said in an interview on the Linked In network. He estimates that Air NZ videos have already been seen by close to 50 million people.

Air NZ’s 2009 Bare Essentials, a video notionally about safety in which pilots and cabin crew appeared “nude” covered only in body paint and stockings, was edgy and risqué, going on to attract 7.5 million sets of eyeballs on Youtube.
But in 2012 the first of its safety videos inspired by the Hobbit movies, An Unexpected Briefing, was seen by 12.5 million people.
That led to the second in the series, 2014’s modestly titled The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made , which still holds the Youtube record for the “genre” with 15.3 million views.
However, with safety videos becoming the leading form of marketing “content” the industry is aiming at its customers, other airlines are now showing just what can be achieved.

In the run-up to Christmas 2015, Qatar Airways, released its first safety video featuring the stars of one of the world’s most glamorous football teams, FC Barcelona, as part of its global “branding” campaign, Going Places Together. The video has become an instant hit.

Instead of taking two years to hit double-figure million views on Youtube like Virgin America’s #VXsafetydance, it smashed that barrier in just a month, racking up 11.2 million views.
Safety videos are just one component of the new world of social media marketing that technology has enabled in the past decade, but those at the coalface swear by their ability to woo new customers.

“What we have learned with recent videos like our final Hobbit instalment [The Most Epic Safety Video …] and the Sports Illustrated collaboration [Safety In Paradise] is that these pieces of content can put bums on seats,” says Air NZ’s Mike Tod. 
“We saw a significant spike in sales to the Cook Islands immediately following the launch of the Sports Illustrated collaboration and we had an online sales day record in the US when the latest Hobbit safety video launched,” he says. 
“Interestingly, in the period following the launch of the Bear Grylls-fronted video  shot on the Routeburn track in the [NZ] South Island, the Department of Conservation saw the number of people using the Great Walks increase by more than 10%.”

Air NZ is already plotting the next in what has become an annual safety video – “with some household names who we would love to have on board”, according to Tod – which is anything but a bureaucratic regulatory compliance, as the NZ regulator has allowed the airline creative licence as long as the underlying safety message gets through. 
In the meantime, it is devising new video challenges to connect with its customers like the tear-jerking Santa Stop Here released before Christmas 2015.

US crash investigators most wanted list!

Aviation safety doesn’t just happen. It’s hard-won, composed of lessons learned from accidents and incidents. Its’ the job of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, one of the smallest yet hardest-working organizations in Washington, D.C., to chronicle what goes wrong when an airplane crashes and issue recommendations to fix the problems.

The Safety Board just issued its ‘Most Wanted’ list for 2016, improvements aimed at making almost all modes of transportation safer. As often happens, aviation concerns either led, or were near the top of, the list. At least five of the ten ‘Most Wanted’ improvements are related to commercial aviation. The NTSB wants U.S. regulators to:

Require medical fitness for duty
NTSB says, “When safety-critical personnel, such as public vehicle operators (in many cases that means pilots) have untreated medical conditions that prevent them from doing their jobs effectively, people can be seriously injured or die.” 

The Safety board cites a case in which a FedEx Boeing 727 cargo jet flew into the ground while on approach to Tallahassee, Florida “because the pilot had a severe color vision deficiency which made it difficult for him to correctly identify the color of the airport’s PAPI lights that were warning him the flight was too low.” Three people were injured in the crash.

NTSB recommends a comprehensive medical certification system for safety-critical transportation personnel that includes—among other things—a complete medical history taken at prescribed intervals that includes medications, conditions and treatments as well as physical exams; and an exam to identify personnel at high-risk for sleep disorders. 

End substance abuse in transportation
The Safety Board says, “Our new reality” is that drugs or alcohol can affect the ability to operate any vehicle, including aircraft. NTSB recently studied drug use among all fatally-injured pilots. What it found was sobering: “The prevalence of potentially impairing drugs increased from an average of 11 percent of fatally-injured accident pilots during the period from 1990-1997 to an average of 23 percent of accident pilots during the period 2008-2012…The most commonly found impairing substance was diphenhydramine, a sedating antihistamine found in over-the-counter medications.”

As to what can be done, the Safety Board concedes, “Unfortunately, for most drugs, the relationship between the amount consumed and crash risk is not well understood. We need more and better data to better understand the scope of the problem and the effectiveness of countermeasures.” 

Expand the use of recorders to enhance transportation safety
Stating flat-out that “no single tool has helped determine what went wrong [in an accident] more than recorders,” NTSB recommends the use of cockpit image recorders—not merely voice and flight data reorders. Noting that in a crash “data and/or voice recorders may have been present. But some questions could have been answered only through the data provided by an image recorder. Image recorders can help fill in the gaps.”

This isn’t a new recommendation on the part of the Safety Board. Previous suggestions that video recorders be installed in the cockpits of airliners have been met with opposition among some pilots.

Strengthen occupant protection
The Safety Board says it’s investigated “many accidents where improved occupant protection systems…could have reduced injuries and saved lives.” 

The 2013 crash of an Asiana Boring 777 at San Francisco International illustrates the issue, where “a lack of restraint use led to some tragic consequences.” NTSB says, “While 99 percent of passengers survived…two of the three fatally injured passengers were ejected from the airplane because they were unrestrained.”

The Safety Board is especially keen to see improvements in rules regulating child restraint. Ironically, “While we are required to secure our luggage and even small items such as snacks and beverages during takeoff and landing, the [U.S.] Federal Aviation Administration exempts the most vulnerable passengers—children underage two—allowing them to travel unrestrained, or on an adult’s lap.”

The Safety Board wants to see increased use of existing restraint systems, systems that “preserve survivable space and ensure ease of evacuation.”

Reduce fatigue-related accidents
Fatigue can have terrible consequences. “Nearly 20 percent of the 182 major NTSB investigations [of accidents affecting all modes of transportation] completed between January 1, 2001 and December 31, 2012 identified fatigue as a probable cause, contributing factor or finding.” One of the most glaring instances was the August 14, 2013 crash of a UPS A300 cargo aircraft at Birmingham, Alabama. Both the captain and first officer died.

As to what can be done, the Safety Board says, “Over the past three decades a great deal of research has been done. But research only goes so far; we must implement what we have learned.”

Lessons that were hard-won indeed.



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