Friday, January 31, 2014

14 Years Later, Drama of Alaska Airlines 261 Remembered

Oxnard, California -- Along the 14 hundred foot Port Heuneme Pier fishermen dangle lines into the Pacific while dog walkers, joggers and families enjoy the occasional sight of dolphins arcing their way through the water. On the beach, more dolphins are depicted in bronze on the memorial to the victims of Alaska Airlines Flight 261, which crashed 14 years ago today.

Eighty eight people died in the disaster - the result of a failure of the screw mechanism used for pitch control on the horizontal stabilizer. This was ultimately attributed to lax maintenance practices by Alaska Airlines and lax oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

ALPA To Pay Half of TWA Settlement But Stays Wholly Unremorseful

If the Air Line Pilots Association has accomplished one thing during its 12-year battle with their members from the former Trans World Airlines, it is this; it saved up money for the rainy day that has arrived. That does not mean, however that the leadership has learned how to be magnanimous in defeat. 

The union has agreed to pay $53 million dollars to settle the long standing lawsuit in which a court found it failed to properly represent the TWA pilots when their company was acquired by American Airlines in 2001. Insurance will fund half of the amount and ALPA the other. But paying up is not the same as fessing up. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Is $53 Million Fair Compensation for ALPA Betrayal?

Twelve years may be a long time to wait for justice, and it may not have arrived even now. Still, today the twenty three hundred pilots who worked for Trans World Airlines, and who wound up on the bottom of the seniority list when the airline was acquired by American in 2001 are closing in on a settlement in their lawsuit against the Air Line Pilots Association.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Leery of O'Leary, Ryanair's Charm Offensive Must Begin at the Top

Photo courtesy Ryanair
You heard it here first, folks; Ryanair, the airline passengers love to hate, has a plan to turn on the charm. And just in time, it would appear, given the ransacking of one of its planes in Nantes, France earlier this month. 

The 170 passengers were reportedly aggrieved when their flight from Rabat to Paris was delayed and then diverted due to the illness of a passenger and then a nighttime limitation on arrivals at the Paris Beauvais-Tille airport. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Boeing to the Dreamliner: “I Love You, Now Change”

Photo courtesy Boeing
I believe this to be true about the Boeing 787 Dreamliner:

Designers and engineers at Boeing are hard at work reworking the plane without its two lithium ion batteries. And, I suspect with less confidence, they have been doing this for quite some time. 

I believe this because this is a company that has built an empire on brilliance and creativity and surely it must know better than anyone else that it cannot survive under the barrage of publicity it receives each time one of its batteries does not perform as expected. And also because it can no longer be confident that it can tame the wild volatility that is the cobalt oxide lithium ion battery.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Aston Martin Test Drive Whets Appetite for Flying

Through the rain splattered window of the Aston Martin I was driving on 12th Avenue in Manhattan, I could see my bicycle parked forlornly outside the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. A plastic grocery bag protected the seat from the storm.

At 4:30 on a Monday night, traffic on the approach to the Lincoln Tunnel was at a crawl. These were not the ideal conditions for test driving a V12 DB9 Vanquish Volante, a car with a price tag of $200,400. But then again, I was hardly the company's target customer. The really serious potential Aston Martin owners would get their chance to drive this car in a few hours at what the newspapers like to call a "tony" bash. That's the kind where the folks in attendance resemble those in the movie, The Wolf of Wall Street.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Latest Salvo in Norwegian Battle; Recruiting an Army of Workers

Amelia Colon completes training in New York
Photo courtesy Norwegian
Who says the thrill is gone from the aviation business? Apparently not Amelia Colon, Olga Komissarova or Frank Cedeno. They are three of a number of enthusiastic new hires at Norwegian, the low cost carrier with ambitions to go global that is opening bases in Europe, Asia and yep, right here in the good 'ole U.S.A.

Not so fast, though. The airline's never-say-die boss, Bjorn Kjos first must solve two very big problems. The airline does not have the air operator's certificates it needs to have the right to fly on some of the routes for which it is so busy hiring staff