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30 October 2009 Survey Results Plus American Airlines 777 Turbulence Event near Tokyo

Survey Results for The Text to Speech Narrator
Since last week's debut of the Macbook's text to speech function as a podcast narrator, many of you responded to the survey about this narrator and have given some valuable feedback. There were 78 responses, 63 of whome listened to the entire podcast. Of these 63, 10 said would not listen to this narrator again and 12 others were not sure if they would do so again. Most of those who would listen to this narrator again agreed that it would be appropriate for shorter podcasts.

Based on these results, this narrator will likely be used again, mostly for shorter episodes, or to supplement other audio content. Visitor Survey
In an earlier survey about what resources visitors use at, most of the 35 who responded said that they visited multiple related sites or services, with,, and the podcast being the most popular choices.

Roughly half of the respondents have not listened to or viewed one of the podcasts. If you haven't done so yet, I invite you to check out one of the podcast videos that are hosted on YouTube. You can find all of audio and video podcasts are at

Only a few of the 35 admitted to using any social media resources. Also, when asked what they wanted changed, the most popular response was adding more photos. A article from last month addresses both points to some extent. In Ten Free Social Media Things You Can Do, provided suggestions for free and easy to use social media tools you can use, as well as an example of tools that are actively used at Based on your feedback, some of them will be used on a more regular basis throughout's network of sites.

By the way, some social media resources are in the right hand column. You can join the email notification list so you can get an email whenever this site is updated. You can also click on the Twitter logo and subscribe to's Twitter account. If you don't have a Twitter account, you can easily sign up. Also, if you use Google Reader or another kind of RSS reader, you can click on the appropriate link or icon and subscribe that way as well. If you have no idea what RSS is all about, that will be covered in a future article.

American Airline Turbulence Event near Tokyo
Earlier this week, came across several small article news articles about a turbulence event involving an American Airlines 777 (N777AN), Flight 61, near Tokyo on Monday (26 October 2009). Reportedly, nine passengers were injured and five, including three children, were treated at a local hospital after the aircraft landed. The plane encountered turbulence over the Pacific Ocean, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) southeast of Tokyo's Narita airport. The aircraft landed without further incident about 14 minutes later.

Passengers reported that the airplane had already experienced strong turbulence for about 20 minutes. Also, the 'fasten seatbelt' signs had been on for about 45 minutes before the event. There were 228 passengers and crew members aboard the Boeing 777.

Since this was an event that happened in Japan, and because it did not cause substantial aircraft damage or fatal injuries, it is unlikely that information from this incident will be in the accident and incident databases of the FAA or the NTSB. If you find any additional sources of news about this incident, please leave a comment and a link to that information.

Related Resources
Turbulence Risks
Selected Fatal Turbulence Events
Air Canada Turbulence Event from 2009
Child Restraint Advice from the FAA

Report About Air Canada Turbulence Event from January 2008

29 October 2009

New Videos from's Site

The newest videos from include two military crashes and one dramatic incident at sea.

B-52 Crash from 1994
The first is a dramatic crash of a B-52 at Fairchild Air Force Base in 1994. The article has several dramatic videos and photos from this fatal crash, but the story behind the crash, especially the social dynamics of the USAF unit involved in the crash, is even more interesting.

Helicopter Crash at Sea from 1999
A training exercise can go from routine to tragedy in a matter of seconds, as the video from this USMC crash from 1999 shows. While it looks like survival was unlikely, 11 of the 18 crew members were rescued.

The Chopper Was Wrecked, But All Survive
In this crash, a helicopter managed to hit a hanger and tear itself to pieces, but everyone walked away. This article has the video, as well as links to the NTSB's findings.

Almost a Helicopter Crash at Sea
In this video, reportedly involving a Greenpeace ship, a helicopter comes very close to crashing into the ship's helipad, or into some of the ship's crew members. Remarkably, everyone walked away from this one.

28 October 2009

Airline Safety and Aging Aircraft - Why Flying in an Older Plane May Not Be Unsafe

As part of the's ongoing effort to show you what goes on behind the scenes, this article highlights one of the many questions that Dr. Curtis and get asked about various airline safety issues. The following questions were asked of Dr. Curtis by a travel magazine in August 2009. We hope that the questions and the answers address some of your concerns as well.

Question 1
Would it be accurate to say that it's hard to imagine that planes get safer as they age?

Thanks for taking the time to write to me. As for your questions, the first one is a bit more involved than it would first seem. To make a long story short, as a plane gets older, specifically the kinds of aircraft that are used in airline service in the US, Canada, and other countries with a similar high level or regulatory requirements, it becomes more expensive to maintain and to keep an aircraft in airline
operations. Part of this is due to the normal wear and tear that any complex machine would face with regular use. Part of it is also due to evolving requirements.

Over time, the number of requirements for airliners tend to go up rather than down, and some of these changes may require a retrofit of an aircraft. Depending on the change, it could be much more expensive to change an existing aircraft than it would be to incorporate changes into new aircraft.

On the one hand, over time an older airliner aircraft will likely face fewer risks because changing requirements, plus the collective experience of the aviation community, tend to reduce the likelihood of some dangerous conditions as well as reduce the potential for physical risks faced by passengers and crew. On the other hand, newer aircraft designs would in most cases already have the changes incorporated into the design and may have additional changes that were not mandated by the authorities but may have been included by the manufacturers because those changes makes the aircraft easier or cheaper to operate while at the same time reducing the likelihood of conditions that could lead to accidents.

If an aircraft is flying in a country with weak or nonexistent regulatory oversight, older aircraft will likely not have the kinds of changes and improvements that would be required in places such as the US, Japan, Australia, or the EU, and would likely be more of a risk than a newer aircraft flying in the same country.

Question 2
We're also curious about how old a plane can get in the U.S. before the FAA or DOT believes it is at an increased likelihood of being unsafe - do you have any idea on when this is?

Your second question is also not as easy to answer as it may seem. In short, there is no FAA age limit for airplanes. So long as the the aircraft operator is following the proper regulations and procedures and the airplane has been properly maintained and has passed the appropriate inspections, an airline can fly a plane of any age.

As far as whether the FAA thinks that older aircraft have an increased likelihood of being unsafe, I can't say. I am unaware of any study or document from the FAA that identifies any direct relationship between the age of an individual aircraft and the likelihood of a particular aircraft model being in an accident. There are however many FAA, DOT, and NTSB resources that provide historical details on accidents, accident rates, and certain other safety related events associated with an airline or aircraft model.

Related Resources
Top Ten Airline Safety Questions
Top 10 Airline Safety Tips

27 October 2009

NTSB Update on Northwest A320 Incident Highlights Serious Potential Safety and Security Issues

The NTSB continues to investigate last week's incident where the pilots flying Northwest Airlines Flight 188, an A320 carrying 144 passengers and five crew members, stopped communicating with air traffic control while in cruise and later overshot its destination airport by about 150 miles. The incident was on October 21, and on Monday October 26th, the NTSB released some information about the the flight. The following key events in the flight and the early investigation include a combination of information provided by the NTSB, Delta (which owns Northwest), and others:

- The incident occurred during Northwest Airlines Flight 188, a scheduled domestic airline flight from San Diego, CA to Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN.

- The flight crew stopped communicating with air traffic control while the aircraft was cruising at 37,000 feet.

- The two flight crew members were interviewed separately on Sunday October 25 for a total of about five hours

- Neither pilot has had any previous accident, incident, or violation.

- Neither pilot reported any ongoing medical condition.

- Both pilots stated that they were not fatigued and did not fall asleep or doze during the incident flight.

- Both pilots had a had a 19-hour layover in San Diego just prior to the incident flight.

- Both pilots said there was no heated argument during the incident flight.

- Both stated there was a distraction in the cockpit.

- The pilots said there was a concentrated period of discussion where they did not monitor the airplane or calls from air traffic control even though both stated they heard conversation on the radio. The discussion, which began during cruise, concerned a new flight crew scheduling system that was put in place after Northwest's recent merger with Delta.

- The pilots stated that at cruise altitude they were using cockpit speakers to listen to radio communications rather than their headsets.

- Neither pilot noticed messages that were sent by company dispatchers.

- Each pilot used a personal computer while they discussed the airline crew flight scheduling procedure.

- Delta Airlines, which has already suspended both pilots until the conclusion of the investigation, stated that using laptops or engaging in activity unrelated to the pilots' command of the aircraft during flight is strictly against the airline's flight deck policies and violations of that policy will result in termination.

- Both pilots said that they lost track of time.

- Neither pilot was aware of the airplane's position until a flight attendant called about five minutes before the scheduled landing time and asked about the aircraft's estimated time of arrival. It was at that point that the captain reviewed his instruments and realized that the airplane had passed the destination airport.

- Both pilots said there are no procedures for the flight attendants to check on the pilots during flight.

- When asked by air traffic control about the nature of their problem, they replied "just cockpit distraction" and "dealing with company issues".

- The NTSB planned to interview other company personnel, including the flight attendants, on Monday October 26th. They also plan to anlayze air traffic control communications.

- Preliminary data from the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) revealed that the recording was 30 minutes in length, and that it began during final approach and continued until the aircraft was at the gate, and that cockpit conversation were recorded by the crew's headset microphones (which were not used by the crew during at least part of the flight), but not by the cockpit area microphone. Also, part of the 30 minute recording included some period of time after the incident flight.

- The flight data recorder, which contains data from several hundred aircraft parameters, captured the entire flight, including the portion of flight where there was no radio communication from the flight crew. Investigators are examining the recorded parameters to see if any information regarding crew activity during the portion of flight where radio contact was lost can be obtained.

Issues Suggested by this Event
A number questions remain about this incident, some of which can't be answered by the NTSB, the FAA, or the airlines involved. Most deal with the national security implications of this event.

Potential Safety and Security Issues: Based on earlier reports, the aircraft was out of radio contact for well over an hour and flew over the Minneapolis area without being challenged by military aircraft. While the aircraft did not execute any maneuvers that would have been considered hostile, there were apparently no military aircraft in the air, or any other military assets on the ground to deal with the aircraft if it had been hijacked or otherwise no longer under the command of the flight crew.

Deficient Safety Databases: While some past incidents involving pilots overflying their destination or not responding to radio communications from the ground, there are no legal or regulatory requirements to report these events in publicly available aviation safety databases such as those managed by the NTSB and FAA. As a result, any estimate of the likelihood or frequency of these kinds of events will likely severely underestimate the risk to the public.

Cockpit Voice Recorder Technology: The cockpit voice recorder did not record the portion of the flight where the crew was out of radio contact. While the FAA allows airlines to install recorders with a 30 minute limit, there are models available with a two hour capacity, more than enough to have recorded for the entire time that the crew was not responding to the radio.

Sources for this Article:NTSB, Delta Air Lines,, CNN

Other Resources
Delta Airlines Statement 26 October 2009
NTSB Investigation Update 26 October 2009

26 October 2009

Where Is the Safest Place to Sit on an Airplane? - Takes a Stand

A common question for this site, one that is answered briefly on's Top Ten Airline Safety Questions page, is about the safest place to sit on a plane. Last July, Business Traveller Asia-Pacific asked Dr. Todd Curtis of about these issues, and what follows are their questions and's response.

Business Traveller Magazine
In the wake of the Air France and Yemenia crashes, we feel it is appropriate to bring up once again the question about how one can survive a plane crash. Having done some preliminary research into the subject, I have uncovered some tips but would still like some expert opinions on the matter.


1. Some sources say that sitting at the back of the plane is better while others say sitting along the aisle and close to an exit is a smarter choice. Does where you sit in a plane really make a difference to your chances of survival in a crash?

2. If your answer to question 1 is yes, which then is the best place to sit?

3. What are the other factors in play that contribute to one’s chance of survival?

4. What can plane passengers do to increase their chances of survival should a crash occur?

Dr. Curtis Responds
As you can imagine, I've fielded quite a few questions about safety over the past month. In my opinion, the circumstances around airliner crashes in the first half of 2009 have resulted in far more media coverage than I normally see. The Yemenia crash had several things going for it. There were many recent media reports about the Air France 447 crash leading up to the end of June because of the missing black boxes and the fact that their locator beacons were scheduled to run out of power at the same time. Add to that the fact that it was an Airbus and that there was a sole survivor meant that there was much more attention paid to this event than to the average crash involving a developing country's airline.

As for your questions, where to sit on the plane to heighten survival chances depends very much on the circumstances of the crash. In my opinion, it does not really matter where you sit in most fatal crashes because the level of fatalities often are either very low, with less than 10% casualties, or very high with over 90% fatalities. In the first case, the aircraft is usually relatively intact and the aircraft is either relatively undamaged or the damage does not keep passengers from exiting the aircraft. In the latter case, the aircraft is usually severely damaged or destroyed, with no survivors or a few survivors.

What makes an analysis of where to sit particularly difficult is that in most cases where there are a substantial number of fatalities and survivors, there is either no major investigation of the crash, or the investigating authorities do not make an effort to map out where people were sitting at the time of the crash. In some of the few cases where I have seen a seat map, the report often mentions that the map represents where passengers were scheduled to sit, not where they were actually sitting at the time of the crash.

To answer your last question, it isn't a question of where you sit, but rather a question of how you behave when you are a passenger. For example, a passenger who is aware of where the nearest exits are, who has reviewed the emergency information for the model aircraft they are on (typically provided on a card in the seat pocket), and who listens to the crew safety briefing has given himself or herself the opportunity to respond quickly and effectively if there is an emergency. Also, it helps to keep alcohol consumption to a minimum, since it may affect your ability to respond to an emergency situation.

Airline emergencies are extremely rare. If one occurs while you are a passenger, your best defense is ability to act quickly and appropriately in order to escape danger and survive.

One More Thought - New Rules Will Make All Seats Safer

Several years ago, the FAA changed the rules for airline seats to make them more sturdy in the event of an accident. Starting in 2009, seats must be able to withstand crash forces that are up to 16 times the force gravity (roughly the forces experienced in a 30 mph automobile collision). This is much higher than the previous standard of nine times the force of gravity. These 16g seats are much more likely to withstand the dynamic loads that the aircraft would experience in a crash with survivable impact forces, allowing passengers a better chance to escape the aircraft after such an accident.

Airplanes that were certified after 1988, for example the 777 and A380, were already required to have these seats. While most new airliners are based on models that were certified after 1988, some new airliners based on older designs, such as the 747-400, still had 9g seats installed. Starting October 27, 2009, all airliners will have to meet this standard.

Airplane Airbags
To comply with the new 16g requirement, some airlines will use airbags for some seat locations. These airbags may be incorporated in the seat belt or it could be attached to another part of the aircraft.

Basic Crash Positions
The FAA provides guidance on the kinds of crash positions that you should take for various situations. The video below has suggested positions for regular coach seats, rear facing seats, and for other situations. If you can't play the video, you can also download the audio podcast or the video podcast below:
Six Basic Crash Positions Podcast: MP3, MP4, WMV

Six Basic Crash Positions

Send Us Your Thoughts
We welcome your comments and questions. Feel free to add your comments to any of the articles on this site. You can also contact us at by phone at 408.905.6259, or in writing at the feedback form at

25 October 2009

Podcast About the Recent Northwest Airlines A320 Overflight Event and the Delta 767 Landing Incident

The latest episode of the Conversation at reviews two events from the week of October 19, 2009 that could have become major airline disasters. In Atlanta, a 767 landed on the taxiway instead of the runway, and in Minneapolis an airline crew stopped communicating with the outside world for over an hour while flying past its destination by well over 100 miles.

More detailed descriptions of these two incidents are in the article from 23 October 2009. The podcast that is based on this article, which you will find below, is a bit unusual. Previous episodes of the Conversation at were hosted by Dr. Todd Curtis. This show features a computer-generated narrator. We ask you to listen to the show and tell us what you think about this narrator.

Northwest Airlines A320 Overflies Airport and Delta 767 Lands on Taxiway by Mistake (4:37)

Evaluation of Text-to-Speech Narration conducted a survey of this narration by computer generated voice, and you can see the results of the survey in an article published on 30 October 2009.

23 October 2009

Two Recent Scary Incidents: Northwest Airlines A320 Overflies Airport and Delta 767 Lands on Taxiway by Mistake

This has been an unusual week with two airliner incidents which did not result in any injuries or damage, but which had the potential to become catastrophic plane crashes.

Airliner Lands on Taxiway Instead of Runway
On 19 October 2009, Delta Air Lines Flight 60, a 767 on a scheduled flight from Rio de Janeiro to Atlanta, GA, mistakenly landed on a taxiway at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport. The aircraft had been cleared to land on the 12,000-foot long runway 27R, but instead landed on the taxiway which is parallel to the runway. The FAA reported there were no other aircraft on the taxiway and the landing and rollout were normal.

The runway lights for runway 27R were illuminated but the localizer and approach lights for 27R were not turned on. The taxiway was active but was clear of aircraft and ground vehicles at the time the aircraft landed. The wind was calm with 10 miles visibility. The landing occurred at about 6 am, a little over an hour and a half before sunrise.

The NTSB is investigating this event, and it will likely generate extra scrutiny within the organization. Runway safety has been an area of great concern for the NTSB for many years, and has been one of their Most Wanted Transportation Safety Improvements since 1990. Among the recent runway related events that the NTSB has investigated was a September 2008 near collision of a regional jet and a small Cessna at Allentown, PA, and the fatal crash of a Comair regional jet in Lexington, KY in August 2006.

Related Information
Additional Details from the Professional Pilots Rumor Network

Airliner Overshoots Airport by 150 Miles
On 21 October 2009, a Northwest Airlines Airbus A320, Flight 188 from San Diego, CA to Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, with 147 passengers on board, stopped communicating with air traffic control while the aircraft was in cruise at 37,000 feet.

Authorities were concerned that the flight was being hijacked and had military jets on standby at two locations to intercept the aircraft, though no aircraft were launched.

About an hour after the crew stopped communicating, the aircraft flew over the destination airport and continued northeast for approximately 150 miles. Air traffic control then reestablished communications with the crew and requested that the flight proceed to Minneapolis. The aircraft was out of radio contact for about 75 minutes. The crew landed the aircraft without further incident.

Overview of Final Stages of the Flight

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the crew was interviewed by the FBI and airport police. The crew stated they were in a heated discussion over airline policy and they lost situational awareness. The Safety Board will interview with the crew and review the data on the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder. While the flight data recorder has the capacity to record all data from the flight, the cockpit voice recorder would have only recorded the last 30 minutes of the flight. The two pilots have been suspended from flying while Delta (which owns Northwest) conducts an internal investigation.

This isn't the first time that an airliner has overflown its destination. On 13 February 2008, a Go! airlines jet on a flight from Honolulu, HI to Hilo, HI and with 40 passengers on board overflew Hilo by about 26 miles after both pilots fell asleep during cruise. After the crew woke up, the flight landed in Hilo without further incident.

The investigation into this week's Northwest Airlines event is ongoing, and it may be months before that investigation ends and a cause is determined. However, the full report on the go! Airlines event is available below.

go! Airlines Event Information
NTSB Factual Report
NTSB Probable Cause Findings
NTSB Full Narrative

Listen to the podcast of this article

22 October 2009

Want to Improve - Fill Out This Month's Survey and Tell Us How

Welcome to's October 2009 survey. We've made several changes over the last few months, and we want to get your feedback about your experience with and the podcasts, blogs, web sites, or other resources associated with

Please answer one or more questions. We'll provide a summary of the results next month.

19 October 2009

An Interesting Way to Visually Describe Your Risk of Dying in a Plane Crash uses many methods to describe airline risk by airline, by aircraft, or by region of the world. The Information is Beautiful web site has a very impressive display of airline safety data that summarizes plane crash data from several sources.

Just as interesting is the many comments this display has received. I recommend that you check it out for yourself at the Information is Beautiful web site and to leave your own comments.

Additional Resources

Recent Video Ranking Aircraft Models

Note: Word cloud graphic from Information is Beautiful

16 October 2009

How Uses Social Media to Better Serve Its Audience and Why You or Your Organization Should Too

The January 2009 ditching on the Hudson River showed how important social media was as a source of news and information, and it also showed how freely available social media resources can sometimes allow an individual to be as influential as the largest news media organization. This show provides a general definition of social media and then provides specific examples of how it was used by to expand the site's audience and to enhance the usefulness of the site's information.

This episode of the Conversation at is based on a presentation Dr. Todd Curtis gave at the 2009 Bird Strike North America Conference in Victoria, Canada. The original audience was full of aviation safety professionals and wildlife biologists, but the subject of the presentation was relevant to any organization trying to figure out how to use social media more effectively.

Listen to the Podcast

The Evolution of Social Media's Role at (7:02)

The role of social media in aviation safety community was previously covered in this site, as well as at the site

Previous Articles
How to Include Free Content in Your Site Creates Online Radio Station

Previous Articles
Social Media's Role in Airline Safety
How Uses Twitter with a Mailing List
Ten Free Social Media Things You Can Do

Another site with related information is

15 October 2009

Third Anniversary of the Plane Crash That Killed New York Yankees Pitcher Cory Lidle

Three years ago this week, on October 11, 2006, New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle, Cory Lidle and his flight instructor Tyler Stanger were killed when their aircraft crashed into a 50-story building on the upper east side of Manhattan. One person on the ground sustained serious injuries, two people on the ground sustained minor injuries, and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and postcrash fire.

The sequence of events was reported to be as follows:

- The aircraft departed the airport at Teterboro, NJ at about 2:30 p.m.

- After traveling south along the Hudson River west of Manhattan, the aircraft cirlcled the Statue of Liberty at about 2:36 p.m.

- The aircraft proceeded to travel around the southern tip of Manhattan and then north along the East River on the east side of Manhattan, climbing to an altitude of about 800 feet at about 2:39 p.m.

- Shortly after the aircraft flew past the United Nations building and the Queensboro Bridge, it was seen to veer toward Manhattan at about 2:41 p.m., and radar contact was lost about a minute later.

- The aircraft, which had been flying north and with a 13-knot wind coming from the east (from right side of the aircraft), made a sharp turn to the left, crashing into the north side of a 50-story building on 72nd Street, at about the 333 feet (101 meters) above street level.

The accident was investigated by the NTSB, and they found that the crash had several probable causes, including pilot decision making before and during the flight.

For more details, including additional photos and links to the FAA and NTSB reports, please visit's Cory Lidle page.

13 October 2009

Loose and Missing Screws on a Continental Airlines 737 Flying from Newark to Austin in September 2009

Back in August, the AirSafe News had a story about a Jat Airways 737 flying with numerous loose screws. One of this site's readers claims to have been an eyewitness to another loose screw event, this time involving a Continental Airlines 737. The first photo shows the right engine and strut, and in the second closeup picture, one screw appears to be completely missing and another appears to be loose.

The witness, who goes by the name conscious_consumer, in the blog about this event, describes being on Continental Airlines Flight 350 (Newark, NJ to Austin, TX) and seeing loose and missing screws on part of the engine strut. While no date was given in the blog, the two photos have a date stamp of 28 September 2009.

Seeing something like this may make any passenger uncomfortable, as the following description of the event from conscious_consumer shows:

I was aboard Continental flight 350 EWR – AUS @ 7:15AM EST) and looked out of my window and realized that something about the mounting (I am sure it’s not the proper technical term but I hope I’ll get my point across using it) of the engine caught my eye. It looked like one of the screws was not all the way in, creating an odd looking shadow – which was catching my attention. When I took a closer glance, I noticed that, right below the odd looking screw, an entire screw appeared to be missing.

Key Questions

Given the potential seriousness of these loose and missing screws, the kinds of questions posed by the News in its earlier story about Jat Airways should be asked again:

- Were the flight crew or maintenance crew aware of the loose and missing screws before the flight?

- Did the maintenance and flight crews follow procedures with respect to the missing and loose screws?

- Are the airline's procedures consistent with Boeing's recommended procedures for this model of the 737?

- Are the airline's procedures consistent with FAA regulations?

- How many flights did this aircraft make before the condition was corrected?

- Are missing screws a common occurrence with aircraft in the Continental fleet?

Comments and Feedback
The News would like to ask its readers for feedback, especially from pilots, maintenance technicians, and airline safety professionals, about this particular event. Any information or evidence that would confirm that this event occurred would be especially welcome. Feel free to leave comments on this site, or to contact at

You can also file an official report with the following organizations:

FAA Aviation Safety Hotline - You can call the 24-hour hotline at 800.255.1111 or fill out the online form at for issues related to improper maintenance activities, aircraft incidents, bogus parts, and violations of FAA regulations.

NASA Confidential Reports - Pilots, cabin crew, maintenance crew, and other aviation professions with direct knowledge of this issue can confidentially send a report to NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS).

12 October 2009

12th Anniversary of the Plane Crash that Killed Entertainer John Denver

Twelve years ago, on October 12, 1997 singer, songwriter, and actor John Denver was killed when a Long-EZ aircraft he was flying crashed into the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of Pacific Grove, CA. John Denver was the only occupant of the aircraft.

The accident was investigated by the NTSB, and they found that the crash had several probable causes, including pilot decision making before and during the flight.

For more details, including links to the full NTSB reports, please visit Details on additional accidents involving celebrities is available at

11 October 2009

How to Include Free Content in Your Web Site or Blog

If you have a web site or blog, and you want to add content, especially new content and podcasts, we are now offering you a very easy way to do it. All you have to do is include a few lines of code into your web site or into your blog, and you will get a listing that includes a title, a short description, and a link to the content. The code that you need for each option is below:

The News
This option provides the widest range of data. This code will provide links to the most recent additions, changes, or updates on the main web site, the podcast The Conversation at, and noteworthy breaking news items about aviation safety and security. For an example of what this would look like, visit the home page.

Copy the Following Code
<script src="" type="text/javascript" ></script><noscript><p>Subscribe to RSS headline updates from: <a href=""></a><br/>Powered by FeedBurner</p> </noscript>

The Conversation at Podcasts
This option provides will provide links to all of the podcasts produced by, going back to the original podcast in 2005. This will give you the title of the podcast and a link directly to the file. Each audio podcast is in the MP3 format, and the video formats are in one of the following formats: MP4, M4V, or WMV. For example of how this would look, visit the podcast page.

Copy the Following Code
<script src="" type="text/javascript" ></script><noscript><p>Subscribe to RSS headline updates from: <a href=""></a><br/>Powered by FeedBurner</p> </noscript>

The Conversation at Blog
This option provides will provide links to the blog of the podasts. This code will show only the most recent episodes, and in addition to a direct link to the media file, it will also provide a link to the background information for that show.

Use the Following Code
<script src="" type="text/javascript" ></script><noscript><p>Subscribe to RSS headline updates from: <a href=""></a><br/>Powered by FeedBurner</p> </noscript>

The Media Blog
This option provides will provide links to blog. This site is focused on web site development, with an emphasis on the tools, procedures, and techniques that have gone into the production of the related online resources.

Copy the Following Code
<script src="" type="text/javascript" ></script><noscript><p>Subscribe to RSS headline updates from: <a href=""></a><br/>Powered by FeedBurner</p> </noscript>

This option provides will provide links to blog, which provides information on mortgage related issues, such as how to deal with foreclosure threats, and .

Copy the Following Code
<script src="" type="text/javascript" ></script><noscript><p>Subscribe to RSS headline updates from: <a href=""></a><br/>Powered by FeedBurner</p> </noscript>

08 October 2009

EPA Changes Rules for Airline Drinking Water

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a change of rules when it comes to aircraft drinking water. The change isn't due to any recent dramatic event, but from research the EPA conducted several years ago.

In 2004, the EPA tested 327 airliners and found that 15 percent tested positive for the presence of coliform bacteria. Coliform bacteria are organisms that are present in the environment and in the feces of all warm-blooded animals and humans. Coliform bacteria will not likely cause illness. However, their presence in drinking water indicates that disease-causing organisms could be in the water system.

EPA Actions
Since 2004, the EPA worked with airlines to come up with a new set of rules that all US airlines have to follow. The short story is that the water systems on just about all airliners have to be regularly tested for the presence of coliform, and their water systems flushed and disinfected.

Airline Actions
Airlines that operate in the US have a choice of how frequently the systems have to be tested and cleaned. If the aircraft has its system flushed and cleaned at the minimum rate of once per year, it must be tested at least once each month. If the airline chooses the minimum testing frequency of once per year, the system must be flushed and cleaned at least once per month.

If coliform bacteria or other contamination is discovered on an aircraft, passengers and crew will not be able to drink the water from that aircraft's water system until it has been flushed and disinfected, and has passed another set of tests.

What Should You Do?
The EPA suggests that passengers with suppressed immune systems or others concerned may wish to request bottled or canned beverages while on the aircraft and refrain from drinking tea or coffee that does not use bottled water. Keep in mind that the water used to prepare coffee and tea aboard a plane is not generally brought to a high enough temperature to guarantee that pathogens are killed.

If you don't have a suppressed immune system, but you are still concerned about water quality, you should also avoid drinking any water from the airplane's water system, including coffee or tea prepared on board.

Past Events is not aware of any case in which aircraft drinking water contamination led to the serious injury or death of a passenger. However, it doesn't mean that it's never happened, it just means that such events have not been mentioned in any of the public aviation safety databases that are routinely reviewed by If any readers of the News know of any docuemented cases, feel free to leave a comment and a link to the data.

Background on EPA Aircraft Drinking Water Rule
Drinking Rule Fact Sheet

07 October 2009

How Much Does a Pilot Make?

Airline pilots are a highly trained and very closely regulated group of professionals who have the lives of their passengers and crew in their hands every time they fly. Both the flying public and professional pilots often wonder how much these professionals get paid for their expertise and experience.

For many airlines, especially those in the US, pilots negotiate with their airlines to determine how much flight crew members get paid. One web site, has put the pilot contracts and pay rates for many airlines in one convenient place. There you can find out that first year first officer at Colgan Air makes $21 per hour with a guaranteed minimum of $1,575 per month (about as much as an army private), while the most well-paid senior captain at Southwest makes $198 per hour with a guaranteed minimum of $15,444 per month (about as much as a four-star general).

The next time you fly, think about how much, or how little, the folks in the front of the plane are making.

Note: 2009 military pay data from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.