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Aviation News Rundown: NTSB investigates fire, FAA reviewing ATC at Houston's Hobby Airport

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The video above is from Dude Perfect, the same group of guys at Texas A&M that threw a basketball into a goal from the top of a football stadium. This time they took to the air for what probably was an equally challenging shot.

 

Links to news stories are at the bottom of the post, but first we relay this release from the NTSB, which is investigating a fire on a Boeing 757 that caused the plane to divert 30 minutes into its flight.

 

In its continuing investigation of a fire aboard a Boeing 757 that diverted to Dulles Airport (IAD) enroute to the Los Angeles International airport (LAX) from New York’s John F. Kennedy International airport (JFK), the National Transportation Safety Board has developed the following factual information:

 

On Sunday, May 16, 2010, about 9:17 pm (EDT) the pilots on United Airlines flight 27, a Boeing 757, N510UA, noted a strong acrid smell and observed smoke from the Captain's lower front windshield.  The incident occurred about 30 minutes into the flight while the aircraft was level at 36,000 feet MSL. On board the aircraft were 7 crewmembers and 105 passengers.

 

The Captain and First Officer reported that they donned their oxygen masks and smoke goggles immediately after observing the smoke and fire. The Captain then gave control of the airplane to the First Officer and discharged a halon fire extinguisher.

 

The smoke and fire dissipated but then re-ignited. The Captain obtained a second bottle from the Purser.  The fire remained extinguished after this second

bottle was discharged. At approximately 500 feet MSL on final approach to Runway19L at IAD, the Captain’s windshield cracked. The landing was uneventful. The airplane cleared the runway, after which ARFF (Aircraft Rescue Firefighting) entered the aircraft to check for residual heat and fire. None was found and the airplane was towed to the gate for deplaning. There were no evacuation and no injuries to the flight crew or passengers.

 

Preliminary examination of the cockpit area revealed that the inner pane of the Captain’s windshield had cracked. One of the five terminal blocks attached to the inside of the lower left windshield was consumed by fire and the portion of the wire harness associated with this terminal block was significantly damaged by fire. There was significant sooting and paint peeling to the left hand side of the windshield airframe support.

 

The Captain’s windshield was moved and will be examined by Board investigators at the manufacturer.

 

Two previous windshield fire events on B757-200 aircraft prompted the NTSB to issue Safety Recommendation A-07-50 https://www.ntsb.gov/recs/letters/2007/A07_49_50.pdf.  The Safety Board investigators will look closely at the recovered hardware to determine if this latest event is related.

 

Other news worth noting:

A second near miss at Houston’s Hobby Airport (HOU) has led to the FAA launching an investigation into how ATC is handled there.

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip Two has flown to its launch altitude of 51,000 feet, pressurizing and powering up for the first time. How much longer until there is a single-engine Piper than can reach the moon?

Finally, be sure to check out the Google homepage today, which honors Pac-Man’s 30th birthday by altering its logo into a level of ghosts and power pellets that you can play. (Press the button to the right of the search button to get extra credits or to challenge a friend in two-player mode.)

The people at Google are the second-smartest group on the Web, right behind your friends here at GlobalAir.com.

TGI Fly-Day!

 

WSJ: Two commuter jets did not start second engine prior to takeoff

As we mentioned earlier today, the NTSB is in the process of hearing advice from experts on how to ensure pilots receive proper training and to ensure safety.

On the heels of this comes a report in the Wall Street Journal that two commuter airlines did not start a second engine prior to takeoff.

The pilots avoided emergencies in each case by turning off the runway before accelerating to takeoff speed.

In the wake of the Colgan and Comair crashes, these incidents further prove at the very least that such discussions are crucial to ensure competent pilots are behind the yokes.

At the most, combined with the warning in the earlier release from the panel that experience and integrity could decline, it sends an alarm that more must be done sooner than later to enforce proper training, whether by airline company mandate, FAA mandate or any guideline in between.

Sound off on what you think about the situation in the comments section below.    

Aviation News Rundown: Beware of future airline pilots? and Learn to Fly Day (maybe one can fix the other)

A panel of experts at an aviation safety forum this week issued a scary scenario for the sky in future commercial aviation. They told the NTSB that future pilots at airlines could be, in general, less experienced and ethical amidst an industry in which the workers will be in high demand as airlines begin hiring again.

The Associated Press reports in its coverage of the forum that the hardest hit will be regional airlines, which employ pilots with less experience at lower salaries. Fewer college students and military pilots are looking for work at airlines, as 42,000 pilots will need to be hired over the next 10 years. Flights will still need to be made, and some fear that this could compromise qualifications.

In other news, the FAA says widespread NexGen upgrades will come a little more quickly than initially anticipated. Quoted in the Dallas Morning News, Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbitt told the American Association of Airport Executives that the bulk of improvements will have occurred by 2016 rather than the forecasted 2018, as airlines rush to be competitive with advanced gear as the transition snowballs.

The first-ever International Learn to Fly Day (website) appears to have been a smashing success, as 40,000 people attended 450 events nationwide, according to the EAA. Check out coverage of events in Gainesville, Fla., Austin, Minn., and Fitchburg, Mass., where a flying car drew a crowd. 

Perhaps programs like this will help ensure the next generation of pilots are, in fact, experienced and ethical.  

A sole survivor of a crash 30 years ago reachest out to the sole survivor of the Libya crash

Norman Ollestad wrote a sort of open letter in the Los Angeles Times yesterday, directed to Ruben van Assouw, the 9-year-old sole survivor of last week’s airliner crash in Libya.

 

Ollestad, himself the sole survivor of a Cessna crash at age 11 that killed his father-mentor, his father’s girlfriend and the pilot, wishes for the boy to find solace in his aunt and uncle, as well as an emotional outlet.

 

After his experience, Ollestad said he wanted to go home, play with his friends. He wanted to make his life as normal as possible.

 

The letter writer, who last year published a highly acclaimed memoir (pictured above) of the 1979 crash and how it affected his life, said he could have benefitted from psychotherapy, a field that was somewhat socially frowned upon a generation ago.

 

“Ruben is special,” Ollestad writes. “Not even 10, he has endured two of the most monumental experiences a person can ever go through: The loss of a parent and a close look at death, his own mortality. I hope he is given the time and guidance to navigate this road to healing. In the bat of an eye he's been forced to grow up, a young boy facing the journey of a far older man.”

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