Friday, March 30, 2012

JetBlue's Chilling Tale - What Airline Passengers Never See

As JetBlue Flight 19 flew at cruise altitude on its way from New York to Las Vegas on Tuesday, passengers were surely shocked to see the captain, Clayton Osbon, racing down the aisle of the A320.

A newly released affidavit by Amarillo-based FBI Agent John Whitworth, describes the bizarre scene in which Capt. Osbon emerges from the forward bathroom and, rather than returning to the cockpit, walks to the back of the airplane stopping along the way to ask a male passenger "if he had a problem."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Unstable Approach to Pilot Hiring?

This is the question being asked today, two days removed from the episode on board a JetBlue flight when the captain's erratic behavior forced the co-pilot to lock him out of the cockpit; Is the process of hiring pilots sufficient to assure that they have the required mental stability for the job?

When the question was put to me this morning by Stephanie Abrams of The Weather Channel, I said, overall, yes. Look at the successes over the years. Millions of flights, thousands of passengers "actin' the fool" and getting booted, sometimes arrested for mental breakdowns or simple air rage. One can't expect all that misbehavior to remain in the back of the plane. Pilots are human too.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Panic Time When Aviation Stories Come Crashing In

Once again documenting the ups and downs of aviation has me on the run. Was it April 2011, when I wrote, "I am living in fear. I am terrified of my inbox. The ringing of my telephone sounds like the dun-dun dun-dun soundtrack of Jaws."  Here we are 11 months later and the crescendo of  events is even more bizarre than last year.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Time for Another Look at US Airways?

Full disclosure, before last week, I hadn't flown on US Airways in years. Sure, I'd written a bit about the company, some positive posts, some not so. But when US Airways "media day" in Phoenix  coincided by lucky coincidence with an already scheduled visit to Arizona to tour Marana Aerospace Solutions near Tucson, (about which, more later!) I took the opportunity to attend and hear what the airline's executives have to say. They have quite a story. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

India Aviation - It's Incredible and That's Not Good

The contrast is like day and night. In the span of 24-hours I have written about two countries with vastly different views of the importance of aviation to their national future; Turkey and India.

In my story in today's International Herald Tribune, I interview folks who are agog over the rapid growth and ambitious plans of the formerly overlooked Turkish Airlines. Of Turkish, Ralph Anker of writes Istanbul is "the most diverse hub in Europe."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Throttle to Bottle - Some Runway at Chilean Vineyard

Spend too much time at the big airports as I do, and its easy to slip into believing that behemoth centers of people-moving is what flying is all about. It's not.

On a beautiful, sunny summer day here in the southern hemisphere, I was reminded how wonderful it is to power down by visiting two small airfields in Chile where flying remains true to the poetic narratives of Antoine Saint Exupery, Richard Bach, Ernest K. Gann and others.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Mayday on Air France Flight to Israel

It is easy to imagine the terror of the 130 people on board Air France Flight 2240 on Wednesday when flying at 28,000 feet, some passengers reported hearing a constant beeping noise in the cabin. Unable to determine what was causing the sound and fearing for the worst, flight attendants told the pilots there was an unidentified item on the plane that could be a bomb. The pilots declared a Mayday and the plane landed at Basel/Mulhouse Airport on the France-Switzerland border according to Flight Radar 24 which tracks the flight here. But for twenty uncertain minutes these travelers did not know what was going to happen.