Thursday, September 30, 2010

Art imitates life in the not-so-hilarious-world of EMS helicopters

So when my son walks into my office and sees me in front of my computer watching an animated short film, I can’t expect him to believe me when I say, "Really honey, mommy's working."
Animated stories of the FREEWAY PATROL
In fact, I was working, watching this You Tube video sent to me by a gentleman in Texas who found himself in practically this same situation, the latest victim of an epidemic of overuse of medical helicopters.  

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Challenges of Next Gen and Airplane Emissions

Cruise pollutants?
There's good news and there's bad news in Flying Lessons today. First the bad news. The very smart folks over at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have just released the results of a study that seems to suggest that unregulated airliner pollutants cause as many as eight thousand cardiovascular, respiratory and cancer deaths each year.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Southwest Airlines Acquires AirTran

How much did Southwest Airlines covet access to the traffic-rich airports in Atlanta and New York? Enough to offer AirTran Airways more than $7 a share for stock selling at $4.5, that's how much.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Steven Chu's A-ha Moment

I'm unlikely to ever win a Nobel Prize, but today I have something in common with the 1997 winner of the prize for Physics, Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Like me, Dr. Chu believes Flying Lessons can and should be applied elsewhere, starting with the oil industry.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Swimming in what?

Yep, that's me - in a silica mask that is a byproduct of
geothermal energy production
Today I swam in the waste product of Iceland's power generating station while smearing silica grease on my face. I'd paid the equivalent of $50 for the privilege and I can assure you swimming in the searingly hot water while a cold breeze played over the surface was magical; an experience I'll never forget.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Volcano is quiet but dispute over closing of European airspace remains unsettled

The week-long closing of European airspace due to ash from Iceland’s erupting volcano was very likely unnecessary beyond the first two days, a number of experts told the Atlantic Conference on Eyjafjallajokull and Aviation meeting at Keflavic Airport in Iceland this week. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Art, ash and aviation in Iceland

Well, with a little embarrassment I confess that my expectation of what a volcano would look like  was derived from the Tom Hanks movie Joe Versus the Volcano. After an afternoon spent flying above the site of the Eyjafjallojokul eruption I have come to realize that a volcano is not a discreet thing resembling an upside down funnel, it is a complex geological system. In this respect it matches commercial aviation which the volcano brought to its knees this past April.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Three days of safety talks -- Wrap up from Japan

My sister toasts Capt. Kohli's excellent
presentation at the ISASI conference
With all the 21st century tools and technology, very few air accidents go unsolved anymore.  But  that is not to say that determining with the cause of an accident is easy. On the contrary sometimes the easy answer is the wrong answer and no one knows that better than Samir Kohli, head of safety for the Saudi Aviation Flight Academy

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What maternal mortality rates have to do with air safety

Attendees at the annual meeting of the International Society of Air safety Investigators are an experienced - may I say largely grizzled lot.  Over beers (or sake) you’ll hear members recounting crash investigations that included nights spent swatting misquotes, hairy helicopter rides to inaccessible mountain passes or days spent holding back sea sickness while towing black box beacon locaters from the back of boats.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Japanese teach experts a lesson in air safety and apologies

Dinner with friends in Tokyo
An important part of Japanese culture is revealed on the first page of the traveler’s Japanese phrase book. Along with how to say “hello,” “please,” and “thank you”  are the words for “excuse me” and “I’m sorry,” sentiments essential in Japan.
I’m here in Japan with my sister, to attend the annual conference of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI) and we added a few days in Tokyo to our itinerary.