All posts tagged 'aviation news' - Page 8

Fly for MS: International flight for a cause that hits home

A pair of pilots and a photographer next week will begin a journey of thousands of miles, land in dozens of countries, and speak to hundreds of people — all to promote a single cause.

The trio represents Fly for MS, a startup non-profit that seeks to bring awareness, raise money and provide hours of flight to the many who suffer from multiple sclerosis.

Pilots Keith Siilats and Andrei Floriou (pictured above) will take off from New York with Florian Trojer, a volunteer photographer from Austria.

Floriou, a former financial investor, told the Wall Street Journal that he has red the $100,000 price tag to fly, so all money raised will go toward research and treatment.

Their Cessna 340 will make stops in Canada, Greenland and Iceland before dotting the European map. Landings in Russia, Turkey and Israel get sandwiched between a return swing through southern Europe and the flight home. [more]

In all, the tour will span 30 countries in 60 days, log 29,000 miles and use 150 hours of flight time. It will represent the home nations of 70 percent of the more than 1.2 million people affected by MS worldwide.

The team members involved with the project are equally as diverse and international as the voyage itself. They include a dozen 20-and-30-somethings, from college students to investment bankers, a police officer and a fashion model, hailing from the United States, throughout Europe and Israel.

Along the way, the group will give plane rides to sufferers so they can receive treatment or merely experience the joy of flight. Medical specialists also will be flown into cash-strapped MS hospitals to provide care.

“We will use the attention drawn by the boldness and record-making magnitude of our undertaking, which fascinates and fuels the imagination of people not previously familiar with MS, to inform them about the disease and the lives of those touched by it, their hopes and despairs, their challenges and unbelievable strength,” a statement from Fly for MS said.

To follow the journey and get updates from the group along the way, click here.

To donate in increments as little as $3, click here.

Did trojan malware cause plane to crash? New article says absolutely not

Cover page of an update to the Spanair investigation

The headline chugged across blogs and the Twitterverse last week: A Trojan virus could have played a role in the August 2008 crash of a Spanish airliner. Now comes a new headline: Absolutely not.

Yesterday, a blogger on tech site challenged the Trojan conclusion with sharp vigor. He contends that (at the least) people miscalculated the facts or (at the worst) reported them shoddily to attract viewers. Writer Ed Bott’s conclusion is that dots were incorrectly connected by reporters and readers made due to assumptions pulled from a poorly translated Spanish newspaper article, the original source

Well, what are the facts? Could corrupted software have brought down this aircraft?

First, as noted in the post and elsewhere, the Spanair crash that killed 154 of the 172 people on board of a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-82 on takeoff two years ago resulted from fully retracted flaps and slats.

The takeoff warning system meant to notify the pilots of this error did not engage. Other testing of the power plant and avionics computers showed nothing else wrong.  However, investigators say the warning system was on the same relay as the ram temperature sensor that maintenance technicians disconnected.

The events prior to takeoff put into question by some whether an infected computer, or other human action by the mechanics, could have prevented the tragedy. [more]

The DC-82 landed on a leg from Barcelona at Madrid-Barajas Airport five hours prior to a scheduled 1 p.m. takeoff on the remainder of its leg to Las Palmas, Spain, with the same crew. While on the runway before takeoff on this latter leg, the crew radioed the tower, reporting a high ram air temperature.

The aircraft return to the garage. Maintenance technicians, several of whom now may be charged with manslaughter on matters stemming from the crash, performed work on the sensor, then again cleared it for flight.  

Again, so where does the computer virus aspect come in?

The aircraft experienced similar ram-temperature problems on two prior flights. Had technicians recorded those instances and this into a Spanair database (any three faults), it would have triggered an alarm and presumably grounded the DC-82.

The Trojan virus infected this computer in question, perhaps causing a delay in the info being entered. However, according to Bott’s research, company policy mandated that employees enter data 24 hours after an incident.  None of those three incidents were recorded on the allegedly infected PC until after the plane had crashed,” he writes.

Bott goes as far as to scorn the media outlets who reported the outright likelihood of malware causing the crash, even saying that the editors should return to journalism school and/or hang their heads in shame.

Read the entire article here.

What do you make of this? Weigh in on our comments section about what role you think the maintenance techs or the infected computer may have had in the incident. If a virus didn’t cause this crash, could it contribute to a future one as avionics increasingly become dependent upon technology?

No pilot wants to be escorted by fighter jets: What to know about TFRs

Current TFR for Martha's Vineyard. Courtesy

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the level of security among aviation operations and presidential visits has increased sizably, and understandably so. In turn, the actions from time to time have affected the general aviation community.

Following the terror attacks that day, the FAA grounded all air traffic. Four hijacked commercial aircraft forever changed the way we look at our nation’s security and the way we regulate our sky.

These security measures sometimes present new problems for private pilots. Whereas a TFR was mostly a bowl of unknown alphabet soup to many who stayed close to home and flew VFR a decade ago, it now can lead to serious consequences in any corner of the country if you fly at the wrong place at the wrong time.

No pilot wants to end up in the same situation as Charles “Lee” Daily.

Daily piloted the Cessna 180 floatplane this week that entered a presidential TFR. NORAD scrambled a pair of F-15s from the 142nd Fighter Wing Division of the Oregon Air National Guard, near Portland, to respond the Seattle area, where President Obama was visiting. [more]

The two planes broke the sound barrier, and thousands of residents heard the resulting two loud booms that registered on the Richter scale in western Washington. Phone lines jammed as scores of concerned citizens called 911 dispatchers to report what sounded to them like an explosion.

Those who didn’t hear the sonic boom immediately were later treated to another sort of noise: Widespread coverage of the mishap on local news broadcasts, where the pilot called the incident “a simple, stupid mistake” on his part.

NORAD spokesman Lt. Desmond James said more than 3,000 jets responded to possible air threats in the continental United States since Sept. 11, 2001. Aircraft have flown more than 57,000 sorties supporting domestic defense initiatives during the same timeframe.

The commanding officer of the responding Air National Guard unit told local reporters that the sonic boom resulted as the F-15s flew over a less populated area, after the pilots received clearance for supersonic speed to deliver “the fastest response possible.”

As far as how or why the jets received clearance for a response that included supersonic speeds, James said NORAD cannot comment on an ongoing investigation. Some things that personnel consider when making such decisions include the type of aircraft voilating restricted airspace, the elevation, location, speed and direction of travel, and whether or not the pilot is in contact with aviation authorities.

So what is the best way to avoid being this situation? 

As of now, it is ultimately up to an individual pilot not to end up like the Seattle floatplane pilot, stuck unknowingly in the 10-mile no-fly zone for general aviation at the center of a TFR. The AOPA issued a statement this week noting the work amongst the GA community to ensure private pilots avoid such mishaps.

“This incident demonstrates how a careless mistake can have far-reaching consequences,” said Craig Spence, AOPA vice president of operations and international affairs. “When one pilot makes the news for violating a TFR, it can set back progress we’ve made on improving access for the hundreds of thousands who haven’t.”

We, as well, do our best here at to provide the best information to aviators in the most accessible way possible.

Avoid TFRs by frequently checking this link to get up-to-date listings from the FAA. Also search for local airport information and check current NOTAMs by clicking on the appropriate tab in our Airport Resource Center.

Those in the Martha’s Vineyard area of the Massachusetts peninsula currently are under a TFR, as the president and his family vacation there this week. Last year marked the first presidential vacation in the area since Sept. 11, 2001. Some aviation businesses, such as that of a scenic biplane tour operator, expected large economic losses during that period last year. Strengthening security by restricting airspace can sometimes leave unhappy people at smaller airports.

Throughout the past three decades, TFRs generally have become more frequent and, certainly in the last decade, more restrictive. Yet it is something with which we all must comply. In order not to see that fighter jet on your wing, we highly recommend looking out for TFRs well before completing your pre-flight checklist.

Presidential TFRs, for the sake of security, ofen do not get posted until 24 to 48 hours before they take affect.  

Let us know what you thought of the situation in Seattle. What do you think can be done better to ensure every private pilot is aware of what is going on around his or her home airport? At what point in the flight-planning process do you check for TFRs? Weigh in by posting a comment below.

A look at the increasing trend of shining lasers at aircraft

FAA images via

Although government officials have tried to do more to prevent people from pointing lasers at aircraft, the number of reported incidents in America and elsewhere continues to grow.

Aviators need keep the issue in mind, especially when flying at night and when taking off or landing at airports near residential areas. When the intense, pulsing light of a laser hits the window of a cockpit, it can temporarily blind a pilot and compromise safety of the flight.

A 2004 FAA study showed that 75 percent of pilots exposed to a laser beam in the cockpit reported difficultly operating the aircraft (study pictured above). The shorter the distance and stronger the light, the more likely a pilot may have to abort a landing or take evasive action to get away from the beam.

Though Congress has yet to pass successfully a law to criminalize the act on a federal level (bills died in 2005 and 2007), many states have passed laws making it illegal to point a laser at an aircraft or have charged offenders under welfare endangerment or criminal mischief statutes. Other countries, including Britain and parts of Australia, have outright banned the use of some lasers in order to protect those in aircraft.

Despite the actions, however, the number of incidents and arrests continue to grow.

Just today, police in El Cajon, Calif., charged a 20-year-old man with a felony of pointing a laser at an aircraft. Officers say the man directed a beam into the windows of a police helicopter. The suspect’s friends reportedly said he wanted to see if officers would arrive if he pointed it at them. Well, he got his wish and then some.

Meanwhile in Atlantic City, N.J., pilots have filed 10 complaints this summer, stating they were targeted with lasers while flying into the airport there. Boardwalk venders in nearby Ocean City reluctantly agreed to stop selling high-powered pointers, which local government officials think are the culprit. [more]

North of the U.S. border, a man in Calgary, Canada, was charged this week after an incident similar to the California case, also involving an idiot, a laser and a police helicopter. The newspaper report, linked here, said the officers involved will remain grounded until doctors determine whether any long-term damage resulted from the exposure. After seeing the beam, the police donned protective eye gear and circled the area until they determined a location of the laser. Ground units then moved in and arrested the man, who said he merely pointed the laser at a mirror in his house and it accidentally reflected into the chopper’s windows.

Other notable incidents include several aircraft targeted near Seattle-Tacoma in 2009, prompting initial fears that the actions may have been be related to terrorist groups, though that was unfounded. A coordinated laser attack in Sydney, Australia in 2008 involved four laser beams that honed in on approaching planes, which led to the provincial government there outright banning the devices.   

A decade ago, when the FAA first looked into the issue of lasers and aircraft, the Western-Pacific regional field office reported 150 incidents between 1996 and 1999. By 2009, at the time of the Seattle-Tacoma incident, the agency said 150 laser-aircraft cases were reported in the first two months of the year alone.

Canada has seen a similar trend, reporting only a handful of cases a few years ago. Pilots filed more than 100 reports in each of the last three years, with the total for 2010 looking like it will be even higher.


The issue has become so widespread that it has been lampooned. The tech web site once offered a fictional “PlaneTag” laser device on its site as an April Fool’s gag, even offering to cover the first $25,000 of a user's fine.

However, lasers can also be an aviator’s friend, as well, warning them not to fly into restricted airspace, possibly mark areas for holding patterns, or to potentially be used as a military tool to track and destroy enemy missiles.

Additional tools soon will help pilots identify and track a laser beam. Earlier this summer, the FBI contracted the laser company Optra to develop a Laser Event Recorder tracking system to be installed on aircraft to capture a laser signal and pinpoint it with GPS, creating evidence on a USB drive to help convict a culprit.

In the meantime, perhaps, pilots can replace their traditional aviator sunglasses with this pair of laser-resistant shades. At least then, they can still look cool and not get blinded when flying.

NTSB issues preliminary report on Roush Airventure crash; update on injuries he received

The NTSB issued its preliminary report late last week into the Beechcraft Premier crash landing of NASCAR team owner Jack Roush that occurred last month during EAA Airventure 2010 in Oshkosh, Wisc.

It cites amateur video taken during the incident, which hospitalized Roush and a passenger with serious but not life-threatening injuries. The agency said in its report that the video shows Roush’s aircraft overshot the centerline of the runway after a left base turn for final “before entering a slight right bank simultaneously as the nose of the airplane pitched up.”

“The airplane then turned left toward the runway centerline and began a descent,” the preliminary report continues. “During this descent the airplane’s pitch appeared to increase until the airplane entered a right bank and struck the grass area west of the runway in a nose down, right wing low attitude.”

The report indicated that no mechanical failure of any sort is suspected as a factor.

Roush spoke to media this weekend, saying that the proposed path of his flight conflicted with that of another aircraft. However, the NTSB preliminary report did not make mention of this. [more]

I was put in conflict with the flight plan of another airplane close to the ground, and I was unable to address the conflict and keep the airplane flying,” Roush is quoted as saying to the AOL web publication Motorsports. “I ground-looped the airplane.”

On, an MP3 posted of the Wittman Regional Airport (OSH) air traffic control tower recording indicates that one controller doubted whether Roush could complete the instructions he received. This NTSB preliminary report also does not mention this.

Roush’s facial injuries received in the crash are discussed at further length in the Motorsports article, including his losing sight in one eye and suffering a broken jaw.  Shortly after being transported to a local Wisconsin hospital, Roush was relocated to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

UPDATE: AvWeb now reports that the voice saying, "don't think so," on the ATC recording likely is Roush himself.

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