Airports - Page 10 Aviation Articles

Handguns at the Security Checkpoint: Don't Do It.



According to a recent post on The TSA Blog, at least two passengers a day are caught at security checkpoints with a gun in their carry-on luggage. According to the post, when the passengers are caught, the most common response is "I didn't know it was in the bag." Unfortunately, that excuse works for the TSA just about as well as "the dog ate my homework" works for a high school teacher.

Once caught, a passenger potentially faces a number of consequences. First, the subsequent interaction with and interrogation by local law enforcement will quite often result in the passenger missing his or her flight. Next, the passenger could face criminal prosecution for violation of 49 C.F.R. 1540.111 which prohibits carriage of a weapon on your person or accessible carry-on luggage if security screening was required before boarding of the aircraft. The passenger may also be prosecuted under other local statutes that prohibit possession of a handgun at a checkpoint or in the secured area of an airport. [more]

Finally, and in addition to criminal prosecution, the TSA could also initiate a civil penalty action seeking to impose a civil penalty/monetary fine against the passenger for violation of 49 C.F.R. 1540.111 The penalty could range in amount from $1,500 to $7,500, depending upon whether or not the handgun was loaded. The civil penalty action is similar to an FAA enforcement action and does not provide as many constitutional rights and protections as a passenger would have in a criminal proceeding.

The TSA recommends, and I concur, that all passengers double check their carry-on baggage BEFORE arriving at the security checkpoint to confirm that they do not have a handgun or other prohibited item(s) in their luggage. Seems like a "no-brainer" to me. But, if you are caught "packing" at a checkpoint or in the secured area of an airport, hire an aviation attorney to help protect your rights.

For more information on the restrictions placed upon firearms at airports and in aircraft, please read my article on the topic: Carrying Firearms On Aircraft.

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


Current TFR for Martha's Vineyard. Courtesy FAA.gov

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 GlobalAir.com 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.

Tracking hurricanes and other weather on GlobalAir.com

 

 

Entering mid-August, between now and mid-September historically is the peak time for hurricane formation. Though there fortunately are no storms at sea presently, this time of year often leads to aircraft loaded with scientific data flying into the eye of the deadly storms.

OK, so you are probably not going to be flying into a hurricane anytime soon, unless you pilot a P3 or G-IV for NOAA (or a C-130 for the Air Force Hurricane Hunters). Still, that does not mean you cannot track them when they form via our Airport Resource Center, which provides local and national aviation weather for the entire United States.

Whether the sky is threatening or friendly, you can rely on our information to help you plan flights, (though we obviously discourage using these maps for navigational purposes).

By clicking on our Airport Resource Center weather section you get access to data on icing, turbulence, convection, PIREP, METAR, TAF, AIRMET, SIGMET, satellite imagery, radar loops, surface maps, winds aloft, temperature, NEXRAD, precipitation, rain, snow, sleet, thunderstorm, enroute and prognostic charts. All of it is up to date and comes from NOAA, ADDS and DTC DUATS.

The images above were taken from our web site just as Hurricane Gustav made landfall in Louisiana in 2008. [more]

Keeping with the hurricane theme, the late summer of 2008 was a rather active time for the cyclones. A mere two weeks after this image, Hurricane Ike made landfall near Galveston, Texas. This storm created a bit of GlobalAir.com history when its remnants combined with an upper-level disturbance once over land.

It resulted in a freak-occurrence, no-rainfall, hurricane-force windstorm that closed airports in our region, including Louisville International (SDF), our now-home of Bowman Field (LOU) and Cincinnati/ Northern Kentucky International (CVG). Hundreds of thousands lost electrical power for days, including our office then located near downtown.

The event led us to increase our backup capability to help ensure you get the accurate aviation information from us when you need it. We encourage you to check out our Airport Resource Center for flight info, weather, and even to find a hotel, golf course or $100 Hamburger stand. Happy travels!

Can communities and small airports use Social Media to bring air transportation solutions to their people?

 

Over the years of growing our business, I have had the opportunity to meet many airport directors in communities looking for ways to improve air service to their airports. My brother runs an airline in the western US providing air service to many communities through the Essential Air Service (EAS) program funded by the DOT. He has probably been through 100’s of presentations from airports and their support organizations – chambers of commerce, economic development boards and city governments.

All of these airports and the communities they serve want good air service. Why?

They consider air service as a necessary ingredient for business and economic development. When you can connect to the rest of the world by air you can bring business in to your community and create jobs and prosperity. When you are disconnected from the rest of the world you lose out and no one wants to lose out. 

Over the past two years the situation has not gotten better for small airports.

In fact it has gotten worse because airlines have pulled out of many small markets either entirely or they have reduced service to the point that it no longer offers any convenience to the business traveler. Because of the geographic and demographic rules of EAS subsidies, many small airports don’t qualify for the subsidy. They are just a little too close to another airport with airline service but too far away to be convenient. Or they are not quite large enough as a market.  

So far no one has come up with a real solution that fixes the problem of the demand for convenient air travel at a reasonable price in small markets.

Small airlines like Cape Air are doing a good job of filling some of the holes but there are still a lot of airports looking for solutions. Charter companies like my company are glad to pick you up at a small airport and take you anywhere. Our problem is price. We are still to expensive for the average traveler.

As I have sat in on meetings over the years I usually hear the field of dreams story. “Build it and they will come” or in this case “show up and fly and we will fill up your aircraft with happy paying passengers”. If that was the case then why aren’t the airlines showing up and fighting for those passengers?

One of the major issues I see is that no one can really tell you or me today where people really want to go. At best, over the years, consultants to the airline and airports put together a marketing study based on DOT statistics showing Origin and Destination (O&D) traffic flow between cities based on airlines published data. With some statistical tweaking the consultant shows that a quantity of people in a community are flying to or from some close by hub airport and they would all rather leave from the home field if they just could. Those stats rarely translate into a reality for the airline or the home airport because the stats don’t correctly indentify the traveler’s true intentions.

So the question to ask is how we identify the true intentions of travelers, to really know when and where they want to go, and what it is worth to them for someone to meet their intentions.

If, in a perfect world with perfect knowledge at our fingertips, we could reach that point of knowledge could we then meet those intentions with the fleet of aircraft available in this country?

Change gears with me now and think about what is happening in the world of social media: 400 million and counting on Facebook, people tweeting every minute of the day, geo-location technology that knows where I tweet or text from, linked in profiles, and applications like TripIt that tell everyone where I am going and how I am getting there. In the past few weeks Facebook has gotten slapped for their use of the information they have been collecting on all of us but at the end of the day I predict that we will not slow down telling everyone else everything about us. Privacy or no privacy we seem more than willing to let the world know just about anything.  

How could communities and small airports use the power of this information from Social Media to match traveler’s intentions to the supply of travel services? Could they build their very on communities online with the purposes of sharing travel intentions between travelers?  If so they could have the real knowledge of who, where, when and how much as opposed to the statistics that don’t seem to mesh with reality?

Something to think about isn’t it!

You can contact me at [email protected]

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

[youtube:dLymisVND-4]

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!

 

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