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30 November 2009

Passenger Electronic Devices Survey Results

Earlier this month, an article on free wireless Internet access in airplanes and airport terminals included a survey on suggested guidelines for use of personal electronic devices in airplanes and airports. A survey in the article asked several questions, and 35 members of the audience were kind enough to respond.

Using Electronics in the Sky

Not surprisingly, all but three of those responding have carried electronic devices on aircraft, with 26 reporting using a cell phone and an equal number admitting to carrying laptops or iPod type devices.

Most Think Guidelines Appropriate
One question was whether the suggested guidelines, which included using headphones, not displaying inappropriate images, and no cell phones in flight were appropriate. Of the 35 respondents, 23 thought they went far enough, four thought they didn't go far enough, and two thought they went too far. Six others were not sure.

Cell Phones in the Air Not a Popular Idea

The possibility of cell phone use in the sky brought out some strong opinions, with 11 checking the 'No' box and another 11 checking the 'Hell No' box. Coincidentally, 11 others checked the 'Yes' box.

Original Survey Questions and Choices
1. Do you think that these guidelines go far enough? (Yes, No, Not Sure, Other)
2. Have you traveled with a personal electronic device? (Yes, No)
- If you answered yes, what kind of device? (Cell phone, Laptop, iPod type device, game player, PDA, other)
3. Do you think that in flight phone calls should be allowed? (Yes, No, Hell No, Not Sure)

Other Comments
Perhaps the most interesting part of the survey was the variety of comments that were sent in. They have been included below with only slight editing for spelling and grammar:

- I think it depends on the circumstances. It's a hard one, because too much regulation is not good and not enough (regulation) leads to unhappy passengers which you really don't want in an enclosed space 32,000 feet in the air.

- I think that we have a right to view, read or whatever we want to do and for the phone call thing, what is the difference between talking on the phone or to another person on the plane? Get real!

- (Unless) it is an emergency written correspondence only

- In the old days they had a smoking section why not sections that allow certain things or even an internet cafe area.

- In-Flight content should not be limited.

- Life is evolution, and we must establish rules and education on behavior.

- The problem of one person's freedom running into other people's freedom from objectionable material already exists. You don't need WiFi to use your laptop or iPod on the plane.

- Too many already violate the law and confiscation of the devices is a must!

- Socks should be provided for mouths to passengers who insist on talking really loud on early morning and late night flights. And isolation booth for crying children like they used to have in churches would be a great idea.

Photo: gregoryjameswalsh

28 November 2009

Crash of an MD11 Cargo Aircraft in Shanghai is the Second Asian MD11 Crash this Year

Accident Aircraft Three Days Before Crash

28 November 2009; Avient Aviation MD11F; Z-BAV; Flight 324; Shanghai, China: An Avient Aviation MD11 crashed just after taking off from Shanghai's Pudong International Airport. The aircraft (registration Z-BAV) was on an unscheduled cargo flight (flight 324) from Shanghai, China to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan when it crashed. Three of the seven crew members were killed.

Reportedly, one eyewitness, who is a pilot based in Shanghai, stated that the main gear left the ground just before the end of the runway, with the aircraft gaining very little altitude, before impacting approach lights and antennas and falling back onto the ground. Another report indicated that the aircraft's tail struck the runway one or more times during takeoff.

Overhead View of Area of the Crash

About Avient Aviation
Avient Aviation is registered in Harare, Zimbabwe, but operates out of Great Britain. According to Flight Global and Avient Aviation, the airline owns four other cargo aircraft in its fleet, including three DC10s, and one Ilyushin Il-76, and operates 727 cargo aircraft as well. The accident aircraft, which first flew in 1990, had previously been registered to Korean Air (HL7372) and Varig Logistica (PR-LGD). It was delivered to Avient Aviation just eight days before the crash. According to, the aircraft had been in storage in Miami for about 17 months.

Accident Investigation
The investigation is being conducted by China's General Administration of Civil Aviation, with the assistance of the NTSB, FAA, aircraft manufacturer Boeing, and engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney. The investigating agency's phone number is (86) 10 6401-2907, their web site is at, and their email address is

MD11 Crash History
The most recent Shanghai crash was the second crash of an MD-11 this year. The previous crash was also in Asia and involved the crash landing of an MD11 at Tokyo's Narita airport on 23 March 2009. There have been a total of eight MD11 events that have resulted in either onboard fatalities or a destroyed aircraft. Five of these eight events involved MD11 cargo aircraft. In 1999, a Korean Air MD11 also crashed shortly after taking off from a different Shanghai airport.

23 March 2009 Crash of a FedEx MD-11 near Tokyo
Audio: MP3 | VideoiPod/MP4 | WMV | YouTube

For more videos, visit the YouTube channel.

About the MD11
About two hundred MD11s were built, and about 178 are currently in service. FedEx Express operates the world's largest MD-11 fleet with about 59 active aircraft. Well over half of all active MD-11s are flying as dedicated cargo aircraft, with many of them being converted passenger airliners.

25 November 2009

Airlines Fined for Stranding Passengers Plus The Best Passenger Safety Briefing Ever

Three Airlines Fined for Stranding Passengers Overnight
Earlier this year on August 8th, Continental Express Flight 2816, which was en route from Houston to Minneapolis and carrying 47 passengers, was diverted to Rochester, Minnesota because of thunderstorms where it landed about 12:30 am. The passengers and crew ended up stranded on the aircraft for over seven hours because the terminal had already closed for the night, and the employees who could have opened the terminal refused to do so.

This event attracted national attention at the time, and the US Department of Transportation (DOT) announced yesterday that it would impose $175,000 in fines on the three airlines involved. Continental Airlines and its regional airline partner ExpressJet, which operated the flight for Continental, were each fined $50,000. Mesaba Airlines, which was responsible for operating the terminal at Rochester, Minnesota, was fined $75,000.

This was the first time that the DOT has fined airlines for stranding passengers on the tarmac, but by no means was this the first time that passengers have been stuck on the tarmac for long periods of time. Earlier this month, had an article about the delay statistics made available by the DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The Best Passenger Safety Briefing Ever
When it comes to preflight passenger safety briefings, most passengers have sat through many of them, and most of them are not the least bit entertaining or memorable. The FAA does not dictate what information airlines should provide passengers during the preflight safety briefing. However, the FAA provides general guidance in Advisory Circular 121-24C, where one of the suggestions is that "The pretakeoff oral briefing should be given so that each passenger can clearly hear it and easily see required demonstrations. Flight attendants giving these briefings should speak slowly and distinctly."

Flight attendant David Holmes of Southwest Airlines created a preflight passenger briefing that ignored the advice about speaking slowly, and was both entertaining and memorable.

National Geographic Traveler published an extensive interview with David Holmes where he talked about his in-flight rapping. The following question and answer is the highlight of that interview.

National Geographic Traveler - The Federal Aviation Administration has some pretty strict requirements about in-flight safety announcements. How did you ensure that you met those, while still maintaining your artistic integrity?

David Holmes - Everything we have to say is carefully scripted for us -- all the safety information. As you know, one challenge is getting people to listen -- the other is making sure they have all the info. Why shouldn't it be fun?

Why not indeed.

24 November 2009

Anniversary of the Plane Crash that Killed Singer Melanie Thornton

Eight years ago today, singer Melanie Thornton was killed in the crash of a Crossair Avro RJ100 near Zurich, Switzerland. The aircraft was on a flight from Berlin, Germany to Zurich, Switzerland when it crashed into a wooded area about two miles (3.2 km) from the runway during a night approach to Zurich's airport. Thornton was one of the 24 passengers and crew killed during the crash. Also killed were two members of the pop trio Passion Fruit, Maria Serrano-Serrano and Nathaly van het Ende. The third member of the group, Debby St. Marteen, survived.

Prior to her solo career, Thorton led the dance act La Bouche to a series of hit CDs including "Sweet Dreams," and "S.O.S." Ms. Thornton left the group in early 2000 for an independent career. At the time of her death, she was on tour to promote her solo album "Ready to Fly". The CD, which included the single "Heartbeat," had been scheduled for release two days after the crash. Another single, "Wonderful Dream," had also been chosen for a Coca-Cola TV commercial.

Accident Investigation Findings
The Swiss accident investigation report implied that the aircraft flew into the ground in a controlled manner as a consequence of the crew allowing the aircraft to descend below the minimum descent altitude without having the required visual contact with either the approach lights or the runway

Melanie Thornton Wikipedia Page
Swiss Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau Accident Report
Fatal BAe/RJ100 Plane Crashes
Fatal Events Involving Celebrities

23 November 2009

Holiday Air Travel Advice That Will Keep You and Your Family Out of Trouble

In the US, this week marks the beginning of holiday travel season with Wednesday, shaping up to be the busiest travel day of the year. For many, this may be the only time this year that they will travel by air, and for some, it will be their very first time in the sky.

For novice and veteran fliers, there are many things that can ruin your trip, from missed connections and lost baggage to having some of your carry on items confiscated by airport security. Please review the following pieces of advice, you may find something that will help you avoid problems, or help you deal with them should they happen to you.

Get to the Airport Early
Assume that getting to the airport, parking, going through check in, and going through security lines will take longer than usual. Arrive early, and do what you can to avoid delays. If you are only taking carry-on bags, print out your boarding pass before getting to the airport and go straight to the security gate.

Keep Track of Any Flight Changes
A day or two before your trip, check with your airline to see if your flight's schedule has changed. If you can, sign up for phone, email, or text messaging alerts from your airline to find out about any last minute changes to your schedule. Keep your cell phone with you and have the airline's customer service or reservations number handy just in case you run into problems and have to call the airline directly.

In the US, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires travelers over the age of 18 to have some sort of photo identification issued by a state, local, or national government agency. This would include driver's licenses, passports, and military ID cards but would not include student ID cards or employee ID badges.

If you do not have these kinds of IDs, you may be able to present alternative documentation to the TSA. Non-US/Canadian citizens are not required to carry their passports if they have documents issued by the U.S. government such as Permanent Resident Cards. Those who do not should be carrying their passports for domestic US travel.

Depending on the level of security in place when you are at the airport, the security agents may insist on searching every bag, package, and suitcase. Be prepared by arriving at the airport at least a half hour earlier than usual.

Flying with Holiday Food
During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, traveling with food is fairly common. You should be aware that some food items are banned from carry on baggage because they contain liquids or gels. While you can carry cakes, pastries, and pies with you in the cabin, the following should either be in checked baggage or left at home:

* Cranberry sauce
* Creamy dips and spreads (cheeses, peanut butter, etc.)
* Gravy
* Jams, jellies, and syrup
* Oils and vinegars
* Salad dressing
* Salsa
* Sauces
* Soups
* Wine, liquor and beer
* Gift baskets with one or more of the above items

There are exceptions for small amounts of gels, liquids, and aerosols, and more generous exceptions for medically related items, but for most items, if you can pour it, pump it, squeeze it, spread it, smear it, spray it, or or spill it, you probably can't take it with you. Visit to find out what you are not allowed to take on an airplane.

Duty Free Items
If you are traveling to or from the US, you should make sure that you don't run into problems with duty free liquids like alcohol, perfume, and cosmetics. provides detailed advice on how to deal with these kinds of duty free items.

If you carry gifts, either in checked or carry-on baggage, make sure they are unwrapped. TSA has to be able to inspect any package and would have to unwrap a gift to do so. You can ship wrapped gifts ahead of time or wait until you arrive at your destination to wrap them.

Baggage Issues
There are three baggage issues that become important during the holidays. The first is that most US airlines are charging you for every checked bag, so using carry-ons only will save you some money. Second, if you do check one or more bags, be prepared to deal with a lost, stolen, or damaged bag. That means if it is valuable to you and you can't deal with having it lost or stolen, keep it with you on your person or in your carry-on bag. That includes things like money, jewelry, medicine, passports, eyeglasses, and laptop computers.

The third potential problem is that if there is no space in the overhead bins, you may be forced to have your carry-on bag checked. If this happens, be prepared to take out any valuables from your carry on before a cabin crew member or a gate agent takes it away.

Unaccompanied Children
If you have a child who will be traveling alone, you should be aware of your airline's specific rules on this kind of travel. has detailed advice on travel by unaccompanied children, including having the child carry a copy of all contact information and if the child is old enough, a working cell phone. Brent, a flight attendant with a major US airline, wrote to and offered the following additional advice:

I liked that you suggest having the unaccompanied minor carry a copy of all contact information. One issue I run into is illegible handwriting on the form we use that stays with the child. This form is filled out by hand by the guardian of the child when they present the unaccompanied minor for the flight.

Although the agent who accepts the child and inputs the information in to the computer should check for legibility, this is often not done. Flight attendants don't have access to any information on the company's computer system while on board the aircraft, so we must try to make out poor hand writing in the event we must contact the adult listed. It seems like a minor issue. But when you are on board an aircraft we must be able to effectively utilize the few resources we have.

Also, as you mentioned, cell phones for unaccompanied minors are a very good idea. I don't have any problem contacting an adult for an unaccompanied minor from my cell phone in the event of a delay. However, this might be more than some flight attendants are willing to do. It also opens the flight attendant up to sharing personal phone contact information with a stranger that some flight attendants might not be comfortable with that.

A child with a properly charged cell phone and contact information can be very helpful. This often helps to calm the nerves of the child's parent or guardian and the child because of the separation. A quick chat on the phone with a responsible adult representative of the airline who is on board the child's flight can make all the difference when it comes to peace of mind. I have heard the relief in many parents and grandparents voices.

General Baggage Issues
Carry-on Bag Issues
Travel by Unaccompanied Children
Top 10 Tips for Children Traveling Alone
What You Are Not Allowed to Take on an Airplane.

Photos: Eileen Mansoorian, TSA

20 November 2009

Update to the Investigation into the 17 January 2008 Crash of a British Airways 777 in London

At SAE's recent 2009 AeroTech Congress and Exhibition, which was held in Seattle earlier this month, a Boeing fuels systems expert provided an update on the investigation of the January 2008 crash of a British Airways 777-200 (Flight 38, G-YMMM).

In the January 2008 crash, the flight from Beijing to London was routine until the the aircraft was on final approach, when both engines had an uncommanded power reduction, or engine rollback, which caused the plane to land short of the runway. Although the aircraft was seriously damaged, only one of the 136 passengers was seriously injured, and there were no serious injuries among the 16 crew members.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) of the UK is heading the investigation, and has released several interim reports, most recently in March 2009. In that report, a buildup of ice in the fuel system was identified as a likely cause of the uncommanded power reduction.

The most revealing insights provided by Boeing was that this kind of fuel icing problem was identified in the 1960s with the B-52, and the lessons learned from that experience led to changes in fuel system design that largely eliminated the problem. The January 2008 British Airways event, and a subsequent November 2008 rollback event involving a single engine on a Delta 777, led to a very thorough review of both the 777 fuel system and to the dynamics of fuel icing.

Among the more surprising findings from fuel system tests (which included system components from the accident airplane) was that in some situations, 777s flying with Rolls Royce engines can have ice form in the fuel system, and that ice could in turn block fuel flow at the fuel oil heat exchanger.

It was a difficult problem to study because ice formation was somewhat unpredictable in that tests similar environmental and fuel flow conditions may have produced significant amounts of ice in one test, and very little or no ice in another test.

In spite of the difficulty Boeing had in recreating the conditions that could cause icing, solving the problem was relatively easy. Changes in the fuel oil heat exchanger, plus changes in flight crew procedures, will be enough to prevent these kids of icing events in the future.

AAIB is still investigating this accident, and when the final report is released, will review the report and summarize the findings in the News.

For more details on this investigation, including videos summarizing previous Interim reports from the AAIB, visit

Report on March 2009 AAIB and NTSB Updates
Watch or listen to the report below, or read the transcript
Audio: MP3 | VideoiPod/MP4 | WMV |  Google Video | YouTube

For more videos, visit the YouTube channel.

19 November 2009

Free Airborne WiFi Makes it More Likely That You Will See Inappropriate Inflight Entertainment

Recently, Google announced that it would provide free wireless access at 47 airports throughout the US, and on domestic US flights on Virgin America. While this is a temporary promotion, it represents a progression that will probably lead to universal, and likely free, Internet access in airport terminals and in aircraft.

While online access is something that most passengers will welcome, there are a few issues that have not been resolved, and likely will not be resolved by laws or regulation, and that is the issue of what is acceptable online behavior in an airport or on an airplane.

While laptop computers, cell phones, and other personal electronics have been around for more than a generation, only in the last few years have these technologies have made it easy to play videos, and the costs dropped so much that almost anyone can afford to have some kind of electronic device that can play audio files or video files, or stream audio and video online.

The problems come when one person's freedom to read, hear, or watch almost anything imaginable runs into another person's freedom from objectionable material. In the years before there were iPods and laptops, about the worst thing that a passenger could bring on board was a magazine featuring nudity (magazines still widely available in airport newsstands).

While there are no federal guidelines for what kind of content is allowed on PEDs, most flight attendants would likely use a common sense approach similar to the one described in a November 12, 2009 Washington Post article written by Monica Hesse. She quotes a flight attendant who said that he flights attendants don't do anything about what people are watching unless it is disturbing other passengers. has provided general guidelines for how a passenger should behave with their personal electronic devices. When it comes to wireless activity in the terminal, and especially in an aircraft suggests the following guidelines:

  • Don't Make Noise When playing music or other audio content, use headphones or earphones. If you are using a laptop, video game, or other device where you need the visuals but don't need the audio, turn the audio off. If that isn't possible, don't the device.

  • Don't Display Inappropriate Images - Inappropriate images generally include sexually oriented material, material depicting extreme acts of violence, or other images that could be upsetting to other passengers. You can display these kinds of images only if no one else can see your display, but few seats in an aircraft or in a terminal would likely have this amount of privacy. This rule holds true

  • Avoid Phone Calls While in Flight - It may be tempting to use in flight online access to make calls on Skype or some other VOIP service, but don't. It unlikely that your seatmate will take kindly to an unwanted conversation, and though it may be possible to make a call in privacy from the lavatory, but would you want to admit that in public later on?

  • Read Whatever You Want - If someone is close enough to read what you are reading, then that person is violating your privacy.

Please Take the Time To Respond to Our Survey

The survey is now closed. The results of the survey are available here.

Photos: hfabulous, Wikipedia

18 November 2009

Updates on Two Recent Qantas Accidents Involving an A330 and a 747

Second Interim Report on Qantas Accident of 7 October 2008
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) released its second interim report about a 7 October 2008 event when a Qantas A330-300 (VH-QPA, Flight 72) experienced an unexpected and rapid change in altitude while the aircraft was in cruise at 37,000 feet. The accident resulted in injuries to 110 passengers and nine crew members.

The first interim report identified two significant safety factors. First, one of the air data computers provided incorrect data that was not detected by the aircraft systems. Second, the aircraft's flight control computers did not process some of the aircraft's attitude data in a specific situation.

The second interim report did not identify the cause of the October 2008 event, but detailed the safety actions that have been taken that would prevent a recurrence of the event, including modifications to the A330's primary flight control computer and changes in flight crew operational procedures.

The ATSB addressed the possible relationship between the October 2008 Qantas A330 event and the June 2009 crash of an Air France A330-200 (F-GZCP, Flight 447). Although both investigations are ongoing, the ATSB pointed out several key differences between the two events:

• The air data computers on the two aircraft were different models, and constructed by different manufacturers.

• The cockpit messages and maintenance fault messages from both flights showed a significantly different sequence and pattern of events, with the maintenance messages that were transmitted by the Air France aircraft prior to the accident showing inconsistencies between the measured airspeeds and the associated consequences on other aircraft systems. No such messages were recorded by by the Qantas aircraft.

• The airspeed sensors (pitot probes), which were a issue of great concern in the Air France Accident, were not an issue in the Qantas accident because they were different airspeed sensor models made by different manufacturers.

Update on Qantas 747 Decompression Event
On 25 July 2008, a Qantas 747-400 (VH-OJK, Flight 30) experienced a rapid decompression while cruising at 29,000 feet after an oxygen cylinder that was part of the emergency oxygen system exploded and blew a hole in the fuselage. In their second interim report on the decompression event, the ATSB reported that there is no evidence of a safety problem with the oxygen bottles of the type involved in the accident.

ATSB reported that among the actions taken by Qantas were a fleet-wide safety inspections of oxygen system installations and a revision of flight crew emergency procedures, including the introduction of a new depressurisation checklist. Also, various tests have not been able to replicate the cylinder failure that initiated the accident.

Additional Information
You can find more details about these three accident investigations, including links to the interim reports from the investigating authorities, at the following pages:
Qantas 747 Depressurization Accident 25 July 2008
Qantas A330 In Flight Upset Accident 7 October 2008
Air France A330 Crash 1 June 2009

17 November 2009

How to Share and Reuse Content for Your Web Site, Blog, or Newsletter

All of the content on and on online resources exist there for the benefit of the traveling public. In order to promote greater public awareness of airline safety and airline travel issues, allows anyone to use most material without limitation. Typical ways that you can reuse the material include web sites, blogs, newsletters, audio or video productions, books, or research reports. Resources
There are a number of online and offline resources where the copyright is owned or controlled by creator Dr. Todd Curtis, or by, LLC. These properties include,,,,,, the Conversation at podcast (including the videos at's YouTube Channel, and the Todd Curtis books Understanding Aviation Safety Data and Parenting and the Internet.

Material That Can Be Used Without Limitation
Facts such as dates, locations of accidents, and other raw data can be freely used without limitation. Also, there are also no limitations on basic ideas that are described in the various online resources, for example the mathematical formulas used to determine fatal event rates.

Crediting the Use of Content
Any written or multimedia content on an resource can be reprinted or reused for non-commercial use in a web site, newsletter, blog, or other publication so long as no substantial changes are made in the text and if credit for the source of the material is included. That credit should state credit and URL is included: Dr. Todd Curtis If you use complete video or audio programs, they already have copyright information included, so no further notification is needed. However, please identify the source if you only reuse a portion of an video or audio program. You can find links to all audio and video files at

Permission for Commercial Use
If you want to use related material for some commercial or for-profit use, please contact for permission.

Limitations on Some Content
The copyrights to some the photographic and video content within an resource are not controlled by If you are unsure of who owns the copyright, either don't use the material or contact for guidance. Please review the disclaimer statement on the web site for other key limitations. This disclaimer statement applies to all material.

16 November 2009

Find Out Which Airlines Had Flights Delayed Three Hours or More This Year

Every passenger knows the feeling of frustration that comes when the airplane is on the ground and you have to wait in a long line just to get the chance to take off, or even to park at a gate. Sometimes this waiting game can go on for several hours. Last week, identified US airline flights that had delays of four hours or more in 2009. In today's article, we are offering a different set of statistics from the US Department of Transportation (DOT) that provide summaries of flights delayed two hours or more, and details about individual flights delayed at least three hours.

One of the most reliable sources of information for US airline data and statistics is the DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). One of its newest reports provides information on departure delays that includes details on individual flights that were delayed three hours or more, as well as summaries of departure delays by airline and by airport.

One table provides a monthly summary of tarmac delays from October 2008 to September 2009, and it shows that over that 12-month period, there were about 6.5 million flights and 1,097 experienced tarmac delays of three hours or more. June 2009 had the most delays of this type with 278, and November 2008 and September 2009 were tied for the month with the fewest delays at seven.

Click to see larger picture

Much more detail is available on the September 2009 summary, where the BTS listed the record of individual carriers with significant tarmac delays.

The BTS breaks down information by individual carrier. For example, if you review the September 2009 carrier summary for delay data, you will find how many times each of the reviewed airlines had delays of two hours or more.

All the charts mentioned in this article also provide links to spreadsheets so you can download the data and more easily perform your own detailed analysis.

While the BTS data is quite detailed for larger airlines, data from all airlines are not included in these reports. Only the 19 largest airlines are required to report air travel statistics to the DOT. This would exclude delay information from smaller airlines and from non-US airlines.

Do You Have an Extreme Delay Story? - Please Share it With Us
The delay data provided by the DOT is quite valuable in that it provides everyone with a good general understanding of how bad delays can get. If you have been on a plane in one of these extreme delay situations, we'd like to hear from you. Please visit the Online Complaint Form and share your experience, even if it did not involve an airliner flight in the US. We'd like to post one or more of these stories on

13 November 2009

RwandAir Jet Crashes into VIP Terminal in Kigali and Kills One Passenger

12 November 2009; RwandAir CRJ-100ER; Flight 205; Kigali, Rwanda: A RwandAir CRJ-100ER was on a scheduled flight from Kigali, Rwanda to Kampala, Uganda, ran into a terminal at the Kigali airport, killing one of the passengers. All three crew members survived, but one of the 10 passengers was killed.

The aircraft reportedly had and unspecified engine problem shortly after taking off and the crew returned to the airport. According to eyewitnesses, the plane first taxied to a parking position on the apron, but then accelerated, knocked over blast fences, and hit the concrete wall of the airport building containing the VIP lounge. The nose gear collapsed and the forward portion of the aircraft penetrated the building up to about the position of the forward passenger doors.

According to the airline, the aircraft involved in the crash was leased from the Kenya-based airline Jetlink Express.

Main Terminal at Kigali Airport

The tragedy was not limited to the crash site. A Rwandan newspaper reported that an ambulance carrying one of the injured flight crew members struck and killed a pedestrian while transporting the crew member to a local hospital.

Crash Location at Building with VIP Lounge

This was the third fatal plane crash that killed a passenger on a CRJ jet. The most recent fatal event was a 27 August 2006 crash of a Delta Connection CRJ-100 at Lexington, KY. Two other CRJ passenger jets have been destroyed in crashes, and in one of them the captain was killed.

UPDATE: RwandAir Statement from 13 November 2009

The following is a statement from RwandAir on the accident at Kigali International Airport where flight number WB205 bound for Entebbe taxied and hit the VIP building. This flight was operated by Jetlink Express Limited on behalf of RwandAir.

At 1240hrs yesterday flight number WB205 took off for Entebbe with 9 adults and an infant. A crew of three - captain, first officer and an engineer manning the flight and two RwandAir flight attendants were on board the flight. Two minutes into the flight, the Captain called the control tower asking to land back because of a technical problem with the engine's thrust lever (throttle).

The aircraft safely landed and taxied into the parking bay. However as the ground crew went to put on the back wheel chocks, the aircraft suddenly accelerated, turned right and hit the eastern wall of the VIP building after covering a distance of about 500 meters. After hitting the wall, the flight attendants aboard the aircraft initiated an evacuation sequence and the passengers escaped through the over-wing emergency door and walked away from the aircraft to the terminal building.

The Crash and Rescue team at Kigali International Airport ensured that all the passengers and crew were rushed to King Faisal hospital for evaluation and observation as needed. The entire crew has been tested for substance abuse.

Of the passengers rushed to the hospital, six passengers were immediately discharged after evaluation. While two passengers went home, three others were put in hotels by RwandAir. One passenger departed for Entebbe on RwandAir flight number WB105 last evening. Three others flew out this afternoon to Entebbe.

One passenger sustained two broken ribs and a punctured lung and is admitted. The passenger who is the mother of the infant was kept overnight for observation while family members took the infant home, she has also been discharged today.

It is highly regrettable that one passenger died in hospital, the cause of death is yet to be determined. However, RwandAir is in touch with the family and is assisting with the funeral arrangements.

While the cabin attendants were treated for minor injuries and discharged, the cockpit crews are still admitted at the hospital. The Captain sustained a broken leg, the First Officer sustained a broken ankle and the Flight Engineer had bruises but was kept for observation.

The management of RwandAir would like to commend, the management and staff of King Faizal Hospital for their efforts in assisting with the patients in their care. The airline is maintaining dialogue with each of the passengers who were on this flight to ensure all the after effects of this incident are dealt with amicably.

The aircraft involved in this incident is a bombardier manufactured 50 seater Canadian Regional Jet -100 series. The aircraft registration number 5Y-JLD is registered in Kenya and owned by Jetlink Express Limited which was operating flight number WB205 on behalf of RwandAir at the time. It is worth mentioning here that prior to getting into lease arrangements with Jetlink Express, RwandAir along with Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA) as the aviation regulator, conducted independent audit of Jetlink Express, her maintenance facilities and crew capabilities to determine safety and airworthiness of the operation.

All operations with the Jetlink CRJ aircrafts have been suspended while investigations of this incident are ongoing and RwandAir passengers have been rebooked through partner airlines. Note that only flights to Johannesburg and Nairobi have been affected by this suspension. However flights to Entebbe, Kamembe, Bujumbura, and Kilimanjaro will be operated as normal but with time changes. All passengers booked are advised to contact any RwandAir office for travel information.

Soon after the aircraft taxied into the VIP building, and after the evacuation, different organs at the airport concerned were swift to deal with the wreckage and ensured that any potential danger to the airport was contained. After long hours of careful efforts and amid heavy rain the wreckage was moved to a safe area away from the operational area.

RwandAir is thankful to RCAA management, the security organs, all men and women who worked until midnight to resolve this problem.

The accident investigations started immediately after the accident and will be headed by Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) who licensed the aircraft, supported by RCAA who own the accident scene and we recommend that the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) be invited as a neutral party to help with the investigations.

Over the last few months, RwandAir has been working vigorously towards the acquisition of its owned fleet of aircrafts delivery of which is scheduled before the end of the year. Over the next few days, the airline is going to fast track the delivery of these aircrafts. In her bid to ensure the highest standards of safety, RwandAir has secured and retained the maintenance services of Lufthansa Technic for its expected fleet. Further, to head her technical and flight operations going forward the airline has retained qualified and experienced personnel like the Chief Pilot who has over 17,000 flying hours with renowned airlines and the Director of Operations with over 40,000 flying hours.

RwandAir would like to reaffirm its commitment to upholding the highest safety standards and would like to see this incident swiftly investigated so that its esteemed customers and the public are reassured of continued and reliable safe operations.

RwandAir Corporate Communications

Phone: +250 252503687

Fax: +250 252503686

New crash videos and more stories of questionable airline customer service

Latest Crashes from
The two most recent crash videos are both from 2009. The first is of a very closeup view of a float plane that crashed just after takeoff from a lake in Anchorage, AK. The photographer had to duck, and was barely missed by the plane.

The second features a landing that appears to be a normal landing of a Piper Aztec on Saint Barthélemy island in the Caribbean. Things don't end well as the aircraft goes beyond the runway and ends up partially in the water.

Featured Complaints from
Since the site's launch earlier this week, several other noteworthy airline complaints were added.

One woman on a flight from San Antonio who exhibited flu-like symptoms was very stressed out by her experience, which included medical treatment in the terminal, a late arrival, and uncompensated costs from missing a connection. Also interesting was the current guidance that the Centers for Disease Control has given to passengers and airlines about the threat from the H1N1 virus (swine flu).

A passenger on a flight from Mexico to the US was quite upset by the lack of compensation for costs associated with a late flight. That same passenger would likely be more upset if he knew just how little US airlines are required to provide as a result of flight delays.

12 November 2009 invites you to add to the Facebook page, submit articles, and contribute to the podcast

If you have been a regular reader of the, have made a habit of visiting, or have checked out some of the audio and video podcasts, then you definitely have an interest in what we try to do with the various related online resouces. We'd like to ask you to take the next step and add to what we have.

Over the years, the most popular source of outside material has been the Complaint System, with many of those complaints forming the foundation of the new site. Several recent changes make it easier than ever to contribute in other ways. Whether it is writing, photography, personal stories, or community building, we have several new options.

Expanding the Facebook Profile
At's updated Facebook page, you can now add post messages, videos, photos, or links on that page. If you are not already registered with Facebook, you must do so to add content.

Add to's Newes Social Network
While Facebook is a household name, there are other social networking resources out there, some of which make it very easy to create a community resource. We are asking you to check out's site at Airline Safety and Plane Crashes - The Social Network of Created using the services of Ning, this site allows anyone to contribute photos, videos, blog posts, and even upcoming events. Like Facebook, you have to register before adding content, but registration is free.

Add to the Podcast
If you have a question or comment for the podcast The Conversation at, you can now easily send it to us by phone. Simply call at 408.905.6295 and record your thoughts in the voice mail system. You can also send an audio file to (MP3 only) and we will consider including it in a future podcast. Although we are looking for short recordings of one minute or less, feel free to forward longer pieces for consideration.

Submit an Article
Feel free to submit an original article for publication on this site, or on one of the other sites. You can write about anything that seems relevant for's audience. For guidance on the length of the article, please read this article on the "Gettysburg Criterion." Origianlly created for email, it also works for blog posts.

We would really like to see articles that include photos, videos (especially on YouTube), or other information to go along with your written submission.

Recommend an Online Resource
If you know of a blog, web site, podcast, YouTube video, or any other online resource that would be of interest to the audience, please send it to us.

11 November 2009

United Airlines Pilot Arrested and Charged for Being over the Alcohol Limit While on Duty

A United Airlines pilot was arrested Monday (9 November 2009) at Heathrow Airport near London, England and charged with being over the alcohol limit while on duty. According to information released by the airline and by police officials, the pilot was part of the flight crew for United's Flight 949, which was scheduled to operate from London to Chicago. He was arrested after a co-worker suspected him of being under the influence of alcohol. The flight was canceled and 124 passengers were put on other flights.

United has removed the pilot from duty pending an investigation. The pilot is scheduled to appear in a British court on November 20th.

This is not the first time that a United Airlines pilot has been arrested in the UK for an alcohol related reason. In October 2008, a United Airlines first officer was arrested on the flight deck of a United Airlines 747 that he was about to help fly from London to San Francisco. Blood tests revealed that the amount of alcohol in the pilot's blood was about three times the UK limit for pilots. In the UK, the limit 20 micrograms of alcohol for each 100 milliliters of blood in their system, or a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 percent.

FAA Rules on Alcohol
It may surprise many passengers that it is not illegal for a pilot to operate an airliner with alcohol in his or her system. In the US, the FAA has very detailed regulations regarding the use of alcohol by airline pilots. According to Federal Aviation Regulations 121.458, flight crew members:

- Must report for duty with an alcohol concentration less than 0.04

- Are not allowed to consume alcohol while on duty

- Are not allowed to perform crew member duties within eight hours of using alcohol

When it comes to alcohol use, pilots must comply with the rules of the appropriate aviation regulatory authority, as well as the rules of their airline. While the FAA or other regulatory authorities may allow pilots to consume alcohol prior to flying, and to even have measurable amounts of alcohol in their system, individual airlines may have far stricter rules on alcohol use. To their credit, most airlines also provide resources for an intervention for alcohol abuse for employees who need it.

One final note. Please keep in mind that the pilot in the most recent alcohol related event in the UK has been arrested and charged, but has not been convicted of any crime or of any violation of any US or UK aviation regulations.

Additional Information
FAA Brochure on Alcohol Aimed at General Aviation Pilots

10 November 2009 Lauches Airline Complaint Blog

Have you ever felt like complaining about your airline service or security screening experience, but weren't sure it was worth it? Or maybe you thought your experience was the worst thing possible? The new site that features complaints from the Complaint System and other news and information about passenger service and airport security issues.

The Complaint System has been up and running for several years, and is a constant source of insights and surprises. This site will serve as an ongoing educational resource for passengers, security personnel, and other air travel professionals by including advice for further action and links to appropriate resources for resolving customer service issues and other kinds of complaints.

Have a Complaint? - Share it with Us
If you have an airline complaint that you would like to share with the world, please visit's Online Complaint Form where your complaint (edited for content and without personal identifying information) will be reviewed and either published here or forwarded to the appropriate organization.

09 November 2009

134 Flights Delayed on Tarmac for Four or More Hours from January to August 2009

In the last several years, airlines in the US have occasionally received very negative media attention when an aircraft gets stuck on a tarmac for several hours as passengers wait helplessly for relief. Sometimes the terminal is literally right outside their window, but they have no choice but to sit and suffer.

These events often make the news, but not always. The US Department of Transportation (DOT), which includes the FAA, has quietly included some very detailed information about these events. Reviewing their monthly Air Travel Consumer Report reveals some very interesting information. According to recent reports that cover January through August 2009, there have been a number of occasions where one of the 19 airlines required to report such data to the DOT by this report have had tarmac delays of over four hours.

Delay Summary
From January to August 2009, there were 134 occasions where a regularly scheduled flight was delayed four our more hours on the tarmac. The longest delay was seven hours and 43 minutes. The airline with the most delays in this list was Delta with 32. Of the 19 airlines tracked by the DOT, four, Alaska, Frontier, Hawaiian, and Skywest, had no flight with tarmac delays of four hours or more.

If you would like more information, such as the origin and destination airport, or the date of the occurrence, you can view the spreadsheet with the delay information

Airline Codes Used in the Air Travel Consumer Report
If you take the time to download these reports, you may have to decode some of the two-letter airline codes used in the document. The codes for the 19 airlines reporting key consumer data to the DOT are below:

FL AirTran Airways
AS Alaska Airlines
AA American Airlines
MQ American Eagle Airlines
EV Atlantic Southeast Airlines
OH Comair
CO Continental Airlines
DL Delta Air Lines
XE ExpressJet Airlines
F9 Frontier Airlines
HA Hawaiian Airlines
B6 JetBlue Airways
YV Mesa Airlines
NW Northwest Airlines
9E Pinnacle Airlines*
OO SkyWest Airlines
WN Southwest Airlines
UA United Airlines
US US Airways

Airlines in bold had no tarmac delays in excess of four hours during the first eight months of 2009.

Pinnacle Airlines volunteered to submit their data. The other 18 must report based on requirements of the DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

07 November 2009

The Evolution of Social Media's Role at

An earlier article featured an audio podcast that discussed the role social media played in how the public found out about the January 2009 ditching of a US Airways A320 on the Hudson River. This article features a video based on a presentation that's Dr. Todd Curtis gave at the 2009 Bird Strike North America conference. 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 its information.

Video and Audio Podcast Links (7:01)
Audio: MP3 | VideoiPod/MP4 | WMV | YouTube

Related Articles
How Uses Social Media
Social Media Insights from
Social Media's Role in Airline Safety

Additional Social Media Resources Creates Online Radio Station
Social Media's Role in Airline Safety
How Uses Twitter with a Mailing List
Ten Free Social Media Things You Can Do
AirSafe Media's Social Media Blog.

06 November 2009

Jetstar A330 Malfunction May Have Link to Air France Atlantic Ocean Crash

The 1 June 2009 crash of an Air France A330 is still under investigation, and a recent incident involving the same aircraft type may shed light on that crash.

According to a report in the Herald Sun newspaper, In the predawn hours of October 29the, the pilot of a Jetstar Airbus 330-200, Flight JQ12, reported that many of the instruments in the cockpit blacked out for about six seconds while the aircraft was passing through storm clouds midway between Japan and the Australia.

During the six-second blackout, the automatic pilot malfunctioned and fluctuating readings were transmitted by one of the jet's three airspeed indicators. Afterwards, the instruments returned to normal and the aircraft proceeded to its destination, landing about five hours later without further incident.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority are investigating this incident, and are reportedly looking for any similarities between this event and the events that led to the crash of Air France Flight 447.

I'd like to thank Paul for sending this story to We welcome input from the community, including suggestions for articles or new content. Please feel free to contact with your suggestions, or to leave suggestions in your comments to this article.

Data Limitations of and Suggested Additional Aviation Safety Resources

As many visitors to this site know, we have made a commitment to making a reliable resource for airline safety and security information. While we strive to make the information in the site, and in related sites link,, and, informative and useful. is the site with the most data, especially about fatal airline crashes, but there are important limitations to that data, and anyone who uses the site for research or for other purposes should be aware of the key limitations. Listed below are those key limitations, as well as links to additional resources that go beyond the range of what is in

The Events Most Closely Followed by
The site focuses on airline events involving jet aircraft since 1970, specifically plane crashes and other events that resulted in the death of one or more passengers. Within the site are lists of fatal events for selected airlines and for selected aircraft models, as well as pages summarizing the key aviation safety and security events for each year from 1996 onwards. While lists for specific airline models may have events that occurred before 1970, airline specific lists have events from 1970 onwards.

Aircraft Types Covered
While some events involving propeller-driven events are included in the site, these are in most cases limited to aircraft models that are flown by major airlines in the US and western Europe. Most events involving smaller aircraft are not included.

Jet Airliner Model Limitations
Some jet airliner models such as the DC8. Caravelle, and 707, may be listed as a fatal event in one of the airline pages or one of the annual review pages, but there are no comprehensive listings for these models. Those models with a comprehensive listing, which would include pre-1970 events, are on the fatal events by model page.

Many of the newer airliner models, such as the regional jets from Embraer, don't show up on the site because they have not been involved in a crash or accident that was fatal to a passenger.

Not all fatal airliner crashes are included in the site, and some that are are not counted when it comes to computed event rates for aircraft models. For example, after the March 2009 FedEx crash in Tokyo, a new page was added for FedEx that included that notable FedEx accidents and other events, but none of those events would have counted towards's fatal event rates for those aircraft models because FedEx had no events involving passengers. Also excluded from the statistics are flights where the public could not buy a ticket. Private or military accidents involving airline type aircraft are excluded, for example the crash that killed Commerce Secretary Ron Brown that involved an Air Force CT-43 (a modified Boeing 737) .

Computation of Fatal Event Rates
The page listing fatal event rates for selected airlines or fatal events rates for selected models use a specific formula
for creating the values that takes into account the percentage of passengers killed . While only events killing passengers are included in the calculations, the number of flights for an aircraft model include types of flights, such as cargo flights, that are normally not considered by The effect is that fatal event rates are slightly lower than they would be if I strictly limited flight operations data to
relevant passenger flights. Definitions uses terminology such as 'fatal event' that is unique to the site and is distinctly different from safety and accident related terms used by organizations such as ICAO and NTSB.

Sources of Information only uses information that is accessible to the general public. While some of the the most detailed and wide ranging sources of information are available online, other offline sources have been used as well. The most reliable online sources include the accident and incident databases of the NTSB (you can search the entire database or search it by month) and FAA, as well as these resources:

Flight International Magazine has an excellent annual roundups of accidents and serious events (written by David Learmount), and they can be found through the site You have to use their internal search engine to find safety reviews, but it is worth it. Evey year the magazine publishes a comprehensive review of airline accidents and incidents, typically in one of the January issues of Flight International magazine.

The web site has a very comprehensive listing of accidents, incidents, and fatal events, plus a very easy to navigate online database of events.

The New York Times has usually been head and shoulders above most newspapers when it comes to details about famous events and many of the more obscure ones. They also allow online searches of their entire history of articles.

There are a few offline sources that may be much harder to get to, but
if you find them it could be quite useful:

NTSB: Many of their older (pre mid-1990s) studies and accident reports
are not online, but could be in Federal Depository libraries or some
university Libraries.

ICAO: This UN organization publishes accident summaries from around the world. Although many are in English, some are not. If you can find them at all, it will likely be at larger research libraries.

Creating Your Own Analysis Method
One last resource you may want to use is from the book ,
Understanding Aviation Safety Data. Written by's creator Dr. Todd Curtis, one of its chapters describes in detail the general method used to create much of the content of You can download this chapter at You can also take a free email-based course that covers the same material as this chapter. You can sign up for the "How to Ask an Aviation Safety Question" class at and get the lessons mailed to you over the course of a few weeks.

05 November 2009

Amerifligt Aircraft Escapes Disaster After a Serious Bird Strike over Arizona

On 4 November 2009, an Ameriflight Beech C-99 aircraft (N330AV) was cruising at about 11,000 feet in the vicinity of Show Low, AZ when one or more birds struck the aircraft and penetrated the windscreen. The pilot, who was the lone occupant of the cargo aircraft, sustained minor injuries to his face and shoulder and was able to land the aircraft without further incident at Show Low, AZ.

For additional photos from this incident, please visit

Warning: Some of the photos on the article may be very disturbing to some viewers.

Related Resources
Bird Strike Risks to Aircraft

How to Protect Your Laptop and Your Computer Data When Going Through Airport Security

The recent arrests of the couple accused of stealing over 1,000 checked bags from the Phoenix airport highlighted one of the baggage theft risks that airline passengers face each time they fly. Another ongoing problem inside the airline terminal is the risks passengers face of having their laptop computer lost, stolen, or damaged.
The two areas of risks are taking the computer through security and inside the airport terminal.

Putting Laptops in Checked Baggage
There is a very simple way to avoid this problem-just don't do it. There is the obvious risk of a lost, damage, or stolen checked bag. Also, airlines often load bags on top of one another in the cargo hold of your flight. Hundreds of pounds of pressure in conjunction with the low temperatures in unheated cargo compartments may lead to cracks or damage to the laptop screen or damage to other components.

Taking the Laptop Through Security
In the US and in most other countries, laptops have to be taken out of its carrying case or out of your carry-on bag as you go through the x-ray scanners at airport security. To protect your laptop, you should do the following:
  • Place laptops in a bin by itself before you put it through the x-ray machine.
  • Keep your laptop in sight at all times. You may be delayed getting through the metal detector or you may be pulled aside for additional screening. If this happens, make sure you keep your laptop in sight. If you are traveling in a group, one thing that you can do is to have the first person through security be the person who takes care of all the laptops.
  • Reclaim and secure your laptop as quickly as possible once you are through the screening process.

Laptop Security in the Terminal
If you decide to use your laptop during the time before boarding, take the same precautions that you would in any other public space. Don't leave your laptop unattended, and if you the airport has free wi-fi access, avoid doing anything online such as online banking that requires a secure connection.

Other Laptop Security Hints
In addition to protecting your laptop from loss, damage, or theft, you should also take the time to protect the information on the laptop. One way to do that is to separate the data from the laptop. For most users, the information on a laptop is far more valuable than the laptop itself. One easy way to protect against the loss of data is to either backup your data before you travel, or plan to keep any important or sensitive data data separate from the laptop in a device such as a flash drive, CD-ROM, or or external hard drive. Of course, these data storage devices should always be with you or with your carry-on bag, and not in any checked bag.

If you are unwilling or unable to separate the data from the laptop, at least put some kind of password protection on the laptop or on individual files or directories within the laptop.

One way to avoid the hazards and hassles of taking your laptop out for security screening is to use alternative electronic devices. Unlike the situation with laptops, special screening is not required for small data-related devices like Internet enabled phones such as the iPhone or Blackberry, PDAs, flash drives, and other small data-related devices.

Related Resources
Baggage Basics for Checked and Carry-on Items
Carry-on Baggage Advice
Top 10 Baggage Tips
Top Ten Tips for Dealing with Security
Overhead Baggage Risks
Hazardous and Prohibited Baggage Items

04 November 2009

Phoenix area couple accused of stealing more than 1,000 airline bags - How to protect your baggage

On Monday November 1st, police arrested a Phoenix-area couple who were accused of stealing up to 1,000 bags and other items from the baggage claim areas of Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport. The arrests came three weeks after police first observed suspicious behavior near one of the airport's luggage carousels, when one of those who was arrested this week was seen parking his car, taking a piece of luggage from one of the baggage claim carousels, and getting back into his car. Police began conducting surveillance on him after he was arrested on a theft charge and released. A police review of airport surveillance tapes revealed that he may have entered the terminal at least 64 times in the previous few months, but had not taken a flight from that airport in at least a year.

Getting the stolen items back to their rightful owner may be difficult because the suspects stripped off all identifying tags. The suspects may have also sold some of the items at garage sales and swap meets. Police said people who believe they may be victims should call 602-495-7808.

This event was noteworthy only because of the scale of the thefts. The risks that passengers face from baggage theft are not unique to Phoenix. Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport is like many airports in the US and around the world in that once your bags arrive at the baggage carousel, there are no airline or airport employees who check to see if baggage is going to the rightful owner.

Reducing Your Risks
While every passenger is at risk of having a checked bag lost or stolen, There are a number of things that every passenger should do to keep their checked bags from being stolen or to minimize the impact of a lost bag.'s Top Ten Baggage Tips page has a number of suggestions, including:
  • Travel with only carry-on luggage
  • Put your contact information inside and outside every checked bag
  • Immediately report the loss of checked luggage
  • Don't pack valuable items in checked luggage
The kinds of things you should not put in checked bags include medicine, computers, electronic files, legal documents; credit cards, checks, or other financial documents; cash, jewelry, and items of great sentimental value.

Police reported that when they were searching the home of the arrested couple, one of those arrested was attempting to destroy a number of items, including passports, credit cards, and identification cards.

If you plan on avoiding checked baggage problems by taking carry-ons, has additional advice about carry-on baggage, such as checking with the airline ahead of time to find out what their policy and limitations are for bags in the cabin. Even with carry-ons, you should make plans to check that bag. On some smaller aircraft and on very crowded flights, there may not be room for your bag and you may have to check the bag at the last minute. You should prepare for this by keeping valuable items in a smaller bag or container that you can take out of the carry-on and keep with you on the plane.

Compensation for Lost Bags

Should any of your luggage be lost, delayed, stolen, or damaged, you will very likely be eligible for some kind of compensation from the airline or even the airport, but you must act immediately after you find that your bags are missing. also provides advice for how to go about the compensation process.

Related Resources
Hazardous Materials and Prohibited Items

03 November 2009

Reporter Allegedly Fired for Writing Stories About Emirates Airlines Safety Violations

In a story published on 29 October 2009, Reporters Without Borders discussed the firing of Courtney C. Radsch, a US journalist who recently lost her job at the Al Arabiya news website ( in the United Arab Emirates for posting information about safety violations by the national air carrier, Emirates Airlines.

The article, which was based in part on information obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request from the FAA, was first published on 4 October 2009 and she took it down about six hours later, in part out of pressure from Al Arabiya and also out fear of being arrested and fined by the government of the UAE. After being fired, she had her work visa canceled, and has subsequently left the UAE.

You can read the full story at her Arab Media blog. The name of the coauthor, who is still working at Al Arabiya, was removed from the story. It is otherwise intact.

The accident that was discussed in Radsch's story was a March 2009 landing accident in Melbourne, Australia involving an Emirates A340. The investigation into that accident was featured in an article last May. The article includes links to the preliminary accident report, as well as to a press conference involving the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. encourages you to read Radsch's article, and the preliminary findings of the ATSB investigation. Please feel free to leave comments on this article or to contact with other information that may shed light on the circumstances around the Emirates accident, or about the efforts to keep that story out of the the public eye, especially in the UAE.

Additional Comments
You can find a number of additional comments from aviation professionals at the Professional Pilots Rumor Network.

01 November 2009

Recent Questions and a Comment to About Loose Screws, Pilot Pay, and Crash Free Airlines

In this new feature from the News, we will bring to you some of the issues that have been brought up in recent months by the audience. Some of them will be comments from past articles on this site, others are from questions sent to us by audience members or the media.

Can't Find Airline on Site
Question: Hi Great site. However I can't find any reference to Air Asia or Air Asia X on either the airlines with no fatal incidents or the airlines with fatal incidents page. - Karen

Answer: covers a wide range of airlines, but the list of airlines without a fatal crash is limited to larger airlines. However, we do add airlines on occasion, and after you contacted us, we have decided to add the larger of the two airlines, AirAsia to the list.

During the review, we found that the lists contained several airlines that are no longer in service, and during the updates for those pages, discovered an overlooked fatal accident from 1999 involving Uni Air. For more on this lost event, visit's review of 1999 events.

Comment from Article on Missing Screws on a Continental 737
Why is this even "news"? I'm willing to bet there is more than one airliner flying over the 48 states right now that have loose or missing screws. During a preflight walkaround, a cockpit crewmember cannot see the top of the engine pylon. Also, it is not normal practice for maintainence to inspect the aircraft between flights unless there is a good reason. If a passenger or Flight Attendant reports a loose screw to cockpit, then maint. will be notified. There are countless screws on most Boeing jets,and it is not unusual to find them missing or loose during preflight. They are fixed before we fly. - Anonymous
Read the Full Article

The Role of Pilot Pay and Airline Safety
The following question was from a comment to the article How Much Does a Pilot Make?
Question: So, does that (how much a pilot is paid) directly correlate to the level of safety and dadication and your chances of making it to your destination alive or unharmed? - Anonymous
Answer: How much a pilot is paid can be very high or very low depending on the country where an airline flies, the agreement pilots may have with an airline, pilot experience, or even government regulations. However, in the US, Canada, EU, Australia, Japan, and other countries with major airlines, the levels of training and experience for even new airline pilots is quite high, and civil aviation authorities like the FAA have both high standards and the ability to enforce those standards. While pilot judgment has often been a factor in airline accidents, and while better judgment, as well as higher pay, comes with experience, is not aware of any study or formal finding of any major aviation safety organization that points out any significant connection between pilot pay and the ability of a pilot to fly safely.

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