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The remembrance stone in Roissy, France
Just over ten years after the deadly day, a French court has found Continental Airlines guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the July 2000 crash of the Air France Concorde, which took the lives of 109 passengers and crew and another 4 on the ground. So just how did this come to be, that another airline is convicted of murdering the entire flight of another airline? It all goes back to a small piece of metal.
The tragedy of the Concorde AF Flight 4590 is well known, but here's a sentence to refresh your memory: a Continental Airlines DC-10 flew out of Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport. The plane wasn't properly maintained, and a 12" x 17" piece of titanium (that shouldn't have been on the plane anyways) fell of it onto the runway at CDG. The Concorde took off next, and the metal strip burst a tire, pieces of which then ruptured a fuel tank, which then did all sorts of damage and turned the Concorde into a flaming projectile that crashed into a motel outside the airport. The structural fragility of the areas damaged in this crash caused all Concordes to be grounded for the time being, and all Concordes ceased flying in 2003.
Airplane News / A380 / Qantas / Airplanes / Airline News / Airbus / Accidents / → All Tags
Over the busy weekend, flight 31 took off from Sydney to London with no issues, and the airline’s head honcho—Alan Joyce—even hopped aboard to ensure passengers that these planes and his airline are totally safe.
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Supplies being dropped to the Carnival Splendor
On Monday, the Carnival Splendor cruise ship suffered a small engine room fire, which caused the shipwhile some 200 miles off the coast of San Diegoto loose power and call in tugs from the mainland. The ship is now operating on auxiliary power and its 3,299 passengers and 1,167 crew members have been subsisting on Pop Tarts, croissants, Spam and other relief groceries dropped to the ship by Navy helicopters.
With no phone signals, internet connection or even properly working toilets, the "conditions on board the ship are very challenging."
Although we can't hear the tales of misery from the Splendor guests quite yet, we do know someone who has experienced a similar situation. Kathy, who was kind enough to share her story with us, was stuck onboard a crippled cruise ship for three days as well, albeit a couple decades ago.
Kathy's three days of hell, at sea:
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The news surrounding the "uncontained engine failure" onboard a Qantas A380 flight last Thursday hasn't gotten any better over the weekend; the planes remain grounded, after more oil leaks were discovered in other engines. Although they had hoped to have the double-decker superjumbos back in the skies by today, there is now no telling when the issues will be fixed (although we're hoping pretty soon).
The A380s currently grounded belong to Qantas and Singapore Airlines, as they are the airlines operating the plane with the Rolls Royce Trent 900 problem engines. Lufthansa's few A380s also fly with the Trent 900s, but they've only grounded one just to check. The other A380s still flying, from Emirates and Air France, instead have Engine Alliance GP7200s so they aren't necessarily at risk of this same issue.
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Our intimate picture of an A380's Rolls Royce Trent 900 engine
Update 10am EST: Singapore Airlines has also temporarily grounded their 11 A380s.
No, a Qantas superjumbo A380 plane did not crash last night just after takeoff from Singapore's Changi Airport, as some early online reports blared. Yes, a Qantas A380 did meet with trouble when one of its four engines blew, raining debris down on Batam, Indonesia, but thankfully it was able to shut down the engine and safely return to Changi Airport with all 433 passengers and 26 crew unharmed.
Luckily no tragedy occurred as no one was killed or even injured; the only tragedy now is that passengers booked on Qantas may not have a chance to fly one of the fancy double-decker planes as the airline is removing their six from service until the cause of the Rolls Royce Trent 900 engine fail has been determined. For those booked on other airlines flying the A380 still
Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Lufthansa and Air Franceyou could have a look at our photo gallery on How to Evacuate an Airbus A380, but really we don't think there's anything to worry about.
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Back in September, a UPS plane caught fire and crashed in Dubai, tragically killing two American pilots. The FAA has spent the last month investigating and, while they're not certain of anything, they're pointing a suspicious finger at the cargo of lithium batteries that the airplane was carrying in its cargo hold. In response, the safety organization is suggesting that airlines move future lithium battery packages to the area reserved for so-called Class C cargo, which is safer and more fire resistant. They're also proposing more stringent regulations for customers to identify shipments of the batteries.
Apparently lithium-ion and lithium-metal batteries are vulnerable to something called "thermal runaway." Once they heat up past a certain point they can release their energy, heating up more, which causes them to release more energy, until something explodes. If there are a lot of batteries in the same place and even just one explodes, the resulting fire can heat up the rest of the batteries past their own tipping points. That scenario plays out about how you'd expect, which is what the FAA suspects may happened on the UPS flight.
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There is a popular saying that "the future will be blogged." Well, forget that. The future will be completely caught on smartphone video, such as with the emergency landing of a Delta Connection (operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines) jet last night after some of the landing gear failed to deploy. Flight 4951 from Atlanta, Georgia to White Plains, NY made the landing at New York's JFK Airport after the pilot radioed in the issue, and luckily the worst thing that happened was the airplane got a little scratched up.
Two passengers managed to keep their phone cameras rolling while bracing for impact, as the flight attendant repeated a command to "stay down." The regional jet landed on the runway, with the pilot balancing the plane on the remaining landing gear until the final moments, when gravity took over and the wing hit the ground, shooting a trail of sparks, which you can see in the video. All passengers and crew were unharmed and were even able to leave the plane normally, albeit onto the tarmac.
It’s been a little bit since we’ve talked about airbags on airplanes, but it seems like they are finally beginning to gain some traction. As the economy gets better and airlines start ordering more planes, it’s likely that we’ll start seeing these more frequently up in the sky.
Despite their cost, the airbags are beginning to catch on all over the aviation world. These new safety systems aren’t just for the planes with overhead bins, as general aviation operators have begun to install them as well. Even flight training schools have added seatbelt airbags to all of their orders. There’s no rules for flight training schools just yet, but it’s nice to see people being proactive.
Consider this an update on a story that we first began running down last July, when the FAA finalized a rule more or less forcing airlines to install airplane airbags. Technically the rule only instructed airlines to ensure that passengers could survive forces up to sixteen times the earth's gravity, which is how it got the creative name the "16g rule." There are a number of ways to do that, enticingly by increasing the distance between individual seats. But since that's obviously not going to happen, instead we're getting in-flight seatbelt airbags:
The seatbelt airbag is quickly becoming ubiquitous. In fact, if you're reading this onboard a commercial flight, you may be wearing one now. You can recognize it if the fixed portion of your seat belt (the non-buckle end) is thicker, measures about 3/4" and has a leather cover...an airplane bag tucked into the passenger's seatbelt is quite different than an automotive bag located in the dashboard...it deploys away from you, not towards you."
The death of a whale trainer at the hands of one of SeaWorld Orlando's killer whales yesterday affected more than just the one amusement park. The fatal accident occurred in the middle of a public performance at the Florida SeaWorld location, resulting in the closure of that whole park for the day but also the closing of the Shamu attractions at other SeaWorld parks around the country.
The killer whale attractions at SeaWorld San Diego and SeaWorld San Antoniobut not the whole parkswere shut down just in case as SeaWorld as a whole takes a closer look at the safety procedures and the details behind the Orlando incident.
Although SeaWorld Orlando reopened today, Shamu Stadium remains closed and the whale at the center of the investigationTikikum, who's been in captivity for 30 years after being captured off Icelandsits in a holding tank. We think it's time for a another sequel to "Free Willy."
· Killer whale Tilikum drowned trainer by her ponytail [Guardian UK]
· Cars line up as SeaWorld Orlando reopens a day after trainer's death; Shamu Stadium closed [Newser]
· Animal Travel [Jaunted]
[Photo: Kids Family Vacations]
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So despite the tragedies of several crashes and the rash of people acting stupid on airplanes and thus endangering the whole airplane, the IATA has declared that 2009 was the second safest year for air travel. The International Air Transport Association measured how many accidents there were with how many flights flew in western-built jets throughout the year, and the results are surprisingly low:
Last year's global accident rate equated to 0.71 aircraft hulls lost per million flights, an improvement on the 0.81 in 2008, but short of the 2006 record of 0.65, the International Air Transport Association said in a report. IATA said the 2009 rate was a 36 percent improvement on 2000 levels.
That means that 2009 saw one accident for every 1.4 million flights, which as everyone knows is still a better safety record than driving, bicycling, and boating. Hopefully 2010 will be an even safer year, and we're so far on a good run with no major airline incidents in the last one and a half months.
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A planeful of people headed down to Kingston, Jamaica for the holidays got the shock of their lives last night when their flight, American Airlines 331 from Miami, overshot the runway during a horrible rainstorm. The plane bounced on the runway, crashed through the fence at the end of the tarmac, skidded across the roadway and lost some landing gear and at least one of its engines before coming to rest on the beach, just short of the ocean.
All 154 passengers and crew survived, but some 91 injuries have been reported, including broken bones and more minor scratches. Since this was technically a crash, the airport closed and other Kingston-bound flights were diverted to other Jamaica airports.
This incident, and the general scary island-y nature of Kingston's Norman Manley airport and its one sea-bordered runway adds it to our ever-growing list of the World's Most Dangerous Airports. To check out a picture of the American Airlines accident, head here.
· American Airlines Flight Narrowly Avoids Sea on Landing In Jamaica; Injuries Reported [NPR]
· Light injuries as plane overshoots runway [National Post]
· Travel Accidents [Jaunted]
[Image: Google Maps]