CDC Investigates Bat on Airplane But Not Toxic Fumes

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Other Events


In the news today there is a report of a bat (yes the small black kind) that flew onto a Delta flight. The bat swooped around the cabin of the aircraft but did not share its saliva before it escaped through the cabin door. As a result, the Center for Disease control got involved and followed up with and interviewed 45 (out of 50) passengers. Wow. When will we see a similar response to exposure to burning engine jet oil or hydraulic fluid on airplanes?

It is estimated that at least once a day an airplane full of passengers and crew is exposed to contaminated toxic air. See Murawski and Supplee, An Attempt to Characterize the Frequency, Health Impact and Operational Costs of Oil in the Cabin and Flight Deck Supply Air on U.S. Commercial Aircraft, Journal of ASTM International, Vol. 5, No. 5. The effects of exposure to the organophosphates, volatile organic compounds and other toxins release by these burning fluids is serious. It is time that the CDC and the FAA react after suspected fume events by following up with passengers and interviewing them. Now, when people smell a “dirty socks” odor on a plane they have no reason to believe that it may be burning jet engine oil. We the public have a right to know what we are breathing on airplanes.

For more information about the effect and treatment of breathing contaminated bleed air, visit our website. 

G-forces focus of NTSB air race safety suggestions

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Other Events


Preventing pilots from losing consciousness from sudden high gravitational forces was among a set of recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board to try to avoid a repeat of last year’s horrific air race crash in Reno that left 11 people dead and 70 spectators seriously injured.

At a news conference Tuesday, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman released the agency’s recommendations and preliminary investigative findings of the Sept. 16 crash at the Reno Championship Air Races.

Investigators said pilot Jimmy Leeward, 74, was traveling at 530 mph around an oval, aerial track when his modified P-51 Mustang experienced some type of “upset” — a significant event that caused the plane to pitch skyward while making a turn, then roll and slam into the ground nose first near box seating.

Hersman said instruments from the aircraft showed the plane exceeded 9 Gs, and that appears to have incapacitated the pilot as blood rushed from his brain.

“We know very well that that is the limit for human beings, and it is very difficult for people to maintain awareness at 5 Gs — 9 Gs is significant,” she said.

The NTSB recommended that pilots in the Unlimited Class undergo special training to learn how to mitigate the potential effects of high G exposure. The board also said the air races should evaluate requiring pilots to wear special suits to minimize G-forces.

Experts say F-16 fighter pilots, who wear special flight suits, can typically take 9 Gs, but only for a limited time. And those are modern planes designed with tilted seats intended to help keep blood flow to the brain. Average roller coasters expose riders to about 2 to 3 Gs, but only for brief moments.

Tom Rose, a commercial pilot from Mississippi whose father died in a crash at the Reno races in 2002, said it might be possible to require pilots to wear G-suits to counteract excessive pressure changes. But he said it might not be practical, and it might not have helped Leeward.

“The thing that happened out there with the G-load he incurred, I don’t know if a G-suit would have mattered. With 10 Gs, slam, it hits you like a baseball bat.”

Rose said some older aircraft may not be set up to accommodate G-suits. But he added that they probably could be retrofitted.

“I don’t know what it would cost,” he said. “But in the scheme of things it’s not something they can’t do.”

Mike Houghton, president of the Reno Air Racing Association that sponsors the annual races, said his organization will consider all the NTSB’s recommendations, and said G-force training is already being implemented.

But he doesn’t think flight suits are feasible. The gear costs anywhere from $14,000 to $20,000 and could make maneuverability difficult for pilots in the cramped cockpits, he said.

Leeward’s Galloping Ghost was rounding the eighth pylon when the upset occurred and massive G-forces came into play, said Howard Plagens, NTSB’s lead investigator. From that point, no more than 8 seconds passed before the plane crashed.

A final report on the cause of the crash is still months away, though it’s expected to be released before this year’s air races, scheduled for Sept. 12-16. Plagens said the Galloping Ghost’s final seconds will be thoroughly scrutinized.

“That 8 or 9 seconds is going to get a lot of written words” in the final report, he said.

Still photos also show that a part of the tail known as the elevator trim tab came off after the plane was already out of control. Aviation experts shortly after the crash had theorized the part’s failing may have caused the plane to go down.

Hersman said her agency was not trying to stop the air races. “We are here to make it safer.”

Another safety recommendation would require pilots to provide an engineering evaluation that includes flight demonstrations to show modifications made to planes are structurally sound.

To ramp up the aircraft’s speed, the wingspan on Leeward’s plane had been shortened from about 37 feet to about 29 feet, and flight controls were changed.

A mechanic in 2009 certified that the Galloping Ghost, after undergoing modifications, was “controllable throughout its normal range of speeds and throughout all maneuvers to be executed.”

But the NTSB noted there was no indication the plane was evaluated “while operating within the speed and flight regimes that would be encountered on the race course.”

“Our investigation revealed that this pilot in this airplane had never flown at this speed on this course,” Hersman said. “We are issuing a safety recommendation to ensure that pilots and their modified airplanes are put through their paces prior to race day.”

Houghton, however, said Leeward likely would have opened the throttles during practice rounds.

Other safety recommendations involve changes to the race course layout and where fuel trucks and spectators are located.

Hersman said it’s possible that putting more distance between the planes and the spectators could have helped, but stopped short of saying the tragedy could have been prevented by such a change. “I don’t think we can say what the outcome would have been,” she said.

The association’s event at Reno Stead Airport is the only event of its kind, where planes fly wing-tip-to-wing-tip around an oval, aerial pylon track, sometimes just 50 feet off the ground and at speeds that can top 500 mph.

Houghton said he welcomed the NTSB recommendations and most were “doable.” But he doesn’t think having them in place last fall would have changed the course of events.

“I don’t think any of these would have had an impact on the tragedy we experienced,”

The association must still get a waiver from the FAA and a permit from the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, which owns the airport, before the September races can be held.

The full story can be found, here.

For view additional information gathered by Brodkowitz Law about the 2011 Reno Air Race Crash, visit our website or contact us for more information.

Plane makes emergency landing at Newark Liberty International Airport

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Other Events


Photograph courtesy of ABC7, for this and more pictures, click here.

On February 27, 2012, a Shuttle  American aircraft, operated as United Express (d/b/a United Airlines) Flight 5124, crash landed at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) when the nose landing gear failed.  The flight originated in Atlanta, Georgia at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL).  Following the terrifying emergency landing, passengers deplaned onto a foam covered runway via the plane’s emergency chutes.

Prior to landing an indicator light came on in the Embraer 170 aircraft, indicating that the gear was not down.  The pilot did a fly by at the Air Traffic Control Tower and it was confirmed that the gear was in fact, not down.  The pilot immediatly declared an emergency and asked for fire rescue to meet the plane.

The full story can be found, here.

Additional pictures from the scene of the crash, can be found, here.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) does not appear to be investigating.

If you were injured at any time during this event, either during the crash landing, evactuation, etc. you may want to consult with an attorney at your first opportunity to learn of your rights.  If you have been contact by a “representative” from the airline, you may be speaking to an attorney hired by the airline.

If you have any questions regarding this information or would like to learn more about Brodkowitz Law‘s work representing injured passengers of commercial airline flights, visit our website or contact us for a free consulation.