Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Kiwis Go a Long Way to Sell a Short Take-off Plane in China

Damian Camp (L) with Jin Qiansheng of CAIB (R)
Jet lag be damned, Damian Camp spent a good part of Tuesday night in Wisconsin celebrating, even though - by Kiwi time and his own body clock - it was 3:00pm tomorrow in Hamilton, New Zealand.

Camp's got $9 million reasons to be happy, his tiny Pacific Aerospace Limited just landed a contract to sell airplanes in China.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

An Enduring Love for the Mechanics of Flight

Al Blackman and tthe mural of him at the hangar
At a time when most of us are racing to keep up with the next big thing, what are we to make of Al Blackman? As I reported in today's New York Times, Blackman, aged 86, has been working at the same job for 70 years. Yep, you read that right 7-0 as in seventy. Years.

"Every day I get up and am thankful for the day," he told me yesterday when I met him at the American Airlines maintenance hangar at JFK airport.  A mechanic since he was a freshly-minted, 16-year-old  graduate of Aviation High School in Manhattan, he has never grown tired of turning a wrench, though these days he's supervising other mechanics as a crew chief in Hangar 10.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Boeing Takes a Lesson From Yogi Berra

The wreckage of TWA 800 burns on the Atlantic July 1996
What timing is this? Here we are on the16th anniversary of the crash of TWA Flight 800 and Boeing is making me feel like Yogi Berra.
The famous American League baseball player once described watching Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris hit home runs as being like "deja vu all over again."

Friday, July 13, 2012

Boeing Cited For Worker's Loss of Legs

Boeing has been cited by Washington State authorities for a serious safety violation at Paine Field, after a worker was pinned under a B787 airliner for 30 minutes in February.

In it's final report into the accident the state department of Occupational Safety and Health said the plane maker did not enforce and supervise its own safety procedures on the field. The investigators also found that the workers were not using adequate task lighting. Boeing was fined $3,600 for the first infraction and nothing for the second. The report did not state how the penalties were calculated.

Josh Diver, 30, was pulled under the quarter million pound jet, which was destined for Japan Airlines, as it was being moved. He was hospitalized in critical condition and one week after the event, both legs had to be amputated.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kudos to Airport Security Paying Attention in Sharjah

That's an infant on the X-ray monitor. Photo from Sharjah Airport
Airport security workers don't get much respect and some times it's warranted, like the TSA agent I saw watching TV on her iPod behind a pillar at JFK's international arrival hall last year.  

But kudos and moomtaz to the alert officer assigned to the monitor at Sharjah International Airport's immigration station last Saturday. Eyes where they were supposed to be, the agent happened to spot an infant being smuggled into the country packed in its mother's handbag.

Pilot Error? Let's Talk Airplane Error in Flight 447 Crash

One heartbreaking takeaway in the 224 page final report into the crash of Air France Flight 447 is that in the year prior to the plane's plunge into the Atlantic on June 1, 2009, there was plenty of warning that something like this could happen.

I'm not talking pilot error. Far too much attention has already been paid to how the pilots handled the problems arising on the flight. It is frustrating to see the seriousness of the situation in which these men found themselves dismissed by armchair aviators.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Airbus Southern Venture Makes Boeing Sleepless in Seattle

Are they sleepless in Seattle? I'm guessin' the answer is yes, now that Airbus has confirmed it is fixin' to build a A320neo assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama, less than 650 miles from Boeing’s just opened Dreamliner factory in South Carolina. Mobilians and their new best friends the French, are grinnin’ like country bears