Aircraft Accidents and the Threat to Passenger Safety Part Three

About two years ago I was on a domestic flight; the flight attendant (FA) made the announcement to turn off all electronic devices, e.g. cell phones, and prepare for flight. She walked up and down the aisle to see if all were belted in, tables were stowed and all devices were turned off.
There was a salesman who kept hiding his cell phone during this inspection, smugly concealing it from the FAs intent on passenger safety. He continued to play his game until the moment the jet started to push back.
At that moment an FAA inspector flashed his credentials at the man, warned him that since the flight was now active the FAA inspector now warned the man that if he did not turn off and put away his phone at once, he would be violated per FAA Order 2150.8.
The salesman could not comply fast enough; stuttering and sitting low in his seat for the rest of the trip. There was eager applause from neighboring passengers who were also upset by the disobedient salesman.
How would the FAA inspector make good his threat to fine him? He did not have the authority to detain or arrest the man for identification. However, the flight crew has the ability to call ahead to the arriving airport and have Security detain the man until his identity could be determined. And believe me, flight crews are more than happy to oblige.
One can pull FAA Order 2150.8: The FAA Compliance Bulletin up on any search engine. If you go to Appendix B, page B-28 and B-29 one can see the various violations and their fines, all of which are not only possible, but very likely. The salesman could have easily received three violations: B-3-p (1): Interfering with a Flight Crew (instructions) which is an $11,000 fine; B-3-p (6): Acts in a Manner that Poses Imminent Threat to the Safety of Aircraft (not turning off his phone), which is a $27,500 fine; and B-3-q (6): Operating a Portable Electronic Device, which is an $11,000 fine. That amounts to a $49, 500 phone call. One can even be fined between $550 to $4,400 for refusing to wear a seat belt when instructed.
POINT: the rules are made for the safety and security of ALL passengers. Failure to follow the rules – as in the British Airways engine fire evacuation in McCarran airport – results in death and injury, and rarely to the irresponsible party. The ones who log jammed the evacuation should be heavily fined; it’s the only way to get the point across.

Aircraft Accidents and the Threat to Passenger Safety Part Two

Before I begin, let me point out that my wife works with children with mental and physical handicaps; their disabilities are valid; their dependence on comfort animals is legitimate. A blind person who is absolutely dependent on the trained guide dog is a legitimate companion to the visually handicapped person.
Back in November 2014 a woman was kicked off a US Airways flight because her pig was stinking up the cabin. What is so extraordinary about this story was the fact the pig was kicked off because of its odor, not because it was a 70 pound pot-bellied ‘comfort’ pig. In this coddled, entitlement society we live in, people are openly and blatantly abusing the very correct freedoms given to the handicapped in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Designed to give relief to genuine people-in-need, e.g. the blind passenger, and allow their guide animal to accompany their owner into the cabin of the passenger airliner. The comfort animal is supposed to be trained to deal with other passengers; it is not to roam free, but restrained.
Today, anyone can claim a ‘handicap’ and therefore be allowed the ‘comfort’ animal to sit with them on the airliner. If the passenger next to them is allergic to animals, it is the allergic passenger who is moved, not the ‘handicapped’ person.
Airlines are starting to make this practice more available, providing pet areas and free rein in the terminals. What I feel is more critical is that the uncontrolled wave of animals on airliners creates a dangerous situation.
I challenge anyone to go through a cabin fire simulation. The cabin is smoke filled; you are forced to crawl looking for aisle lights while doing your best to locate the emergency exit in the midst of chaos. It is a scenario that a preflight briefing cannot prepare you for.
With the incompetent passengers going back for luggage causing logjams during the British Airways evacuation in McCarran, we must ask ourselves, would an animal running underfoot in an emergency evacuation be any less dangerous?

Aircraft Accidents and the Threat to Passenger Safety Part One

British Airways flight BA2276 caught fire on a runway in Las Vegas’s McCarran Airport on Tuesday; the evacuation was successful, all having survived by using the escape slides. One passenger, Jacob Steinberg, a reporter for The Guardian a British tabloid had tweeted – according to CNN – that, “a few people had cuts or bruises from the emergency slide.” A second comment was missing from his report in The Guardian where he stated that people shouldn’t criticize passengers who took their carry-on luggage with them during the evacuation.
Truly unbelievable!
I can understand why The Guardian did not include that opinion in their article; it portrays Mr. Steinberg as a selfish fool who would put the lives of innocents of all ages and gender in incredible danger just to rescue their laptop or overnight bag. The unequalled incompetence of that statement is indicative of how little value the self-centered put on other human life that they would risk the safety of others for their own personal property. Mr. Steinberg should be fined by the FAA for ‘interfering in the duties of a flight crew member’, a $5000 fine, as well as other fines including the endangerment of passenger safety.

Aircraft Accidents and Quality

Recently an airline in Europe had dispatched an Airbus with both its engine cowls unlocked; the aircraft took off, shed the two sets of cowls, and then declared an emergency before returning to the airport of origin with wing damage and an engine fire.
When the investigation was over the findings were indicative of a perfect example of system failure; the mistakes were blinding, the errors simple and repairable. To anyone who worked inside the airline industry, the recommendations should have been as simple and effective as the idiom, “once bitten (burned), twice shy”.
You would think.
Unfortunately the occasion was missed. The mistakes made were glaring; the recommendations-to-be-made vital to safety, speaking not only to the industry’s practices, but to the airline’s distinct problems. So why would this opportunity at positive change be lost. It is my feeling that the investigatory branch may have the pulse of operations and engineering, but just as with the NTSB, they don’t understand airworthiness issues. More importantly, they do not understand maintenance cultural issues.
And that will prevent them from being effective.