Confused about new air rules? Get in line

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Other Events

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Published and Written by Seattle Times news services and staff

By now, everyone knows the airport drill, its inconveniences offset by its clarity: Take off your shoes, pop your laptop in a tray, have your driver’s license ready.

But since a Christmas Day terrorist plot on a Detroit-bound jet was foiled, beleaguered travelers again have been beset by confusing, inconsistent rules.

Could you keep your blanket, as on Continental, or would it be snatched at the end of the flight, as on Lufthansa? Would security measures be visibly unchanged, as they were in Houston, or would passengers be surprised by a careful swabbing of their hands and purses, like those in South Carolina? Would entertainment systems be shut down on international flights, as they were Sunday on JetBlue, or would movies show again, as they did Monday?

“I just wish they’d have something, a list of rules, and stick to it,” said Sherri Hemmer, who used the restroom early on her Monday flight from Phoenix to Pittsburgh and then was annoyed to learn that a prohibition against moving around the cabin in the last hour of flight did not apply to her flight.

Passengers on international flights that arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Monday night said they experienced pat-downs as they boarded flights and a hand search of all carry-on bags.

“They took every item out of every one,” said Katherine Wimble, a University of Washington graduate student returning from a semester in Denmark. They even opened her umbrella and squished her pillow, she said.

Anna Cimburek, a college student returning from a family visit in London, said it was the most intensive security she’d seen in 25 years of flying.

“If that’s what’s required to keep us all safe, unfortunately, I guess it’s better than nothing,” she said.

The extra security led to delays of hours for the two flights — one out of Reykjavik, Iceland, and the other out of London’s Heathrow Airport.

In London, passengers went though security and, as they were boarding, were patted down again and their bags searched a second time. Flight attendants then discouraged passengers from moving around, said Stacia Kirby, traveling with her husband and children. Flight attendants, she said, kept saying, “The U.S. won’t let us do this; the U.S. won’t let us do that.”

But Kirby also said onboard measures weren’t as strict as some she’d read about. Passengers were allowed to have blankets and use iPods and computers, she said.

For flights originating in the U.S., the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been deliberately vague — and even a little random — about security measures in the past few days, in part to ensure potential attackers do not know what to expect.

“It keeps them guessing,” transportation expert and DePaul University professor Joseph Schwieterman said. By not making public a point-by-point list, he said, federal officials also retain flexibility, enabling them to target responses to certain airports or flights.

“There was criticism after 9/11 that rules could be way too cookbook — not allowing authorities to adapt them to different settings, to different airports,” Schwieterman said.

Yet, that careful unpredictability has made life far more confusing and inconvenient for travelers. After Sept. 11, 2001, stark fears were met with complicity and acceptance, but many people now seem to believe rules are more about reaction than protection.

“I think the security checks on the ground are the ones that make the most difference for safety,” said Daniel Kim, 36, who arrived with his family at Los Angeles International Airport three hours early for a flight to Frankfurt. “The whole one hour before thing, no getting up, what is that going to help, really? Will it get to a point when we can’t get up at all during the flight, or have to raise our hands to go to the bathroom? Where does it end?”

While the new TSA restrictions seem largely confined to international travelers, confusion, delays and angst seemed to spread across the nation in the wake of the thwarted attack on a Northwest Airlines flight.

The anxiety, however, appeared to be particularly intense on flights coming from Canada. Dianne Duncan’s trip to Los Angeles from Toronto, for one, involved a 10-hour security wait, four lost bags, a missed flight and rerouting, a thorough search of her belongings, and a full-body pat-down of her and her 5-year-old daughter.

“It was extremely strict,” said Duncan, who arrived at the airport at 9:30 a.m. Sunday and wasn’t screened until nearly seven hours later.

“Take note: There was no toilet, no water and no food for purchase,” she said. “There was one man to screen the men, and one woman to screen the women. There was a full pat-down. It was as if they were specifically searching for something.”

Once on board, passengers were not allowed to have anything under the seat, nor could they get up for the last 90 minutes of the flight. After missing a connection, Duncan was rerouted through Houston, where she was offered a hotel; she said she was afraid to leave the secure area.

While most chaos seemed limited to international flights, security checks were far from uniform within the U.S.

In Springfield, Mo., the Rev. Moses Berry, 59, an Eastern Orthodox priest, was patted down between his legs, across his chest and under his robes. But in Philadelphia, Current D’Ignazil, 20, a college sophomore bound for Pittsburgh, barely was acknowledged.

On flights from Milan to New York, people could move freely about the cabin. But on a jet from Acapulco to Chicago, passengers had to stay seated the last hour, even though they were outnumbered by crew members.

One TSA restriction that most annoyed the airlines was an order to shut off in-flight entertainment systems on international flights. Airlines objected, and the TSA apparently relented Sunday night and left the decision to the discretion of airline crews.

The TSA also relaxed rules that had prohibited passengers from leaving their seats, opening carry-on bags and keeping blankets or babies on their laps during the last hour of U.S.-bound flights, according to an official.

Crews were given authority to impose restrictions for shorter periods or not at all, the official said.

For original article follow the below link:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2010618707_airlinesecure29.html

Northwest Airlink flight diverted to Ford Airport after pilots feel faint, carbon monoxide found in cockpit

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Other Events

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Written and Published by By The Grand Rapids Press staff

CASCADE TOWNSHIP — A Northwest Airlink flight from Minneapolis to Cleveland got diverted to Gerald R. Ford International Airport on Wednesday evening after the aircraft’s pilots reported being faint.

Northwest Airlines Flight 3947 was en route from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to Cleveland’s Hopkins International Airport when the aircraft’s captain and co-pilot reported “feeling a little light-headed,” said Joe Williams, a spokesman for Pinnacle Airlines Corp.,  which operates the flight for Northwest.

That caused the 47-passenger CRJ200 to land at Ford Airport at 6:23 p.m., he said.

Airport emergency crews and emergency medical personnel tended to the matter, with traces of carbon monoxide found in the cockpit, airport spokesman Bruce Schedlbauer said.

The captain and co-pilot were treated at the scene. None of the 47 passengers nor the flight attendant were treated, Williams said.

The passengers were given the option to take other connections, and some opted to stay in Grand Rapids overnight and fly out Thursday, he said.

The flight departed Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport about a half hour late at 3:50 p.m. CST with a delay caused by non-scheduled maintenance, according to Northwest Airlines’ Web site.

Memphis, Tenn.-based Pinnacle Airlines operates flights in and out of Ford Airport through its Northwest Airlink service, which is affiliated with Northwest Airlines.

Pinnacle also does business as Delta Connection in partnership with Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, which acquired Minnesota-based Northwest last year.

For the original article follow the below link.

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2009/12/northwest_airlink_flight_diver.html

Attack Attempt Spurs Look at Air Security

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Discrimination

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By DANIEL MICHAELS

Published by the Wall Street Journal

The failed attempt to detonate an explosive device onboard Northwest Flight 253 is sparking new calls to rethink how authorities and airlines handle aviation security.

Reassessments also followed the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the abortive effort of “shoe bomber” Richard Reid to blow up an airliner in December 2001, and the discovery in the U.K. in 2006 of a plot to blow up jetliners using liquids smuggled onboard. Each event dramatically changed the screening of passengers, baggage and air cargo.

The latest incident is likely to focus attention on African airport security, as flights from the resource-rich continent increase amid instability and regional conflicts in many countries.

The recent attack, in which a Nigerian man traveling from Lagos through Amsterdam is alleged to have ignited an improvised bomb on a flight bound for Detroit, raises particularly difficult aviation-security issues.

The man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, carried small amounts of powder and liquid on board the jetliner, according to officials. Aviation-security regulators have long known that small quantities of dangerous substances can elude even advanced screening, so they have set rules that tried to ensure terrorists couldn’t sneak enough on board to seriously damage an airplane.

Politicians and security experts now are urging governments to install more advanced scanning equipment, but also to emphasize in-person assessments of passengers, known as profiling. Several members of Congress, including Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee Joseph Lieberman, on Sunday advocated wider use of new-technology full-body scanners.

Air-security experts caution that well-prepared attackers can still avoid detection. Drug traffickers routinely smuggle large quantities of narcotics inside their bodies and bomb components can be carried the same way. “There’s no silver-bullet technology, so we need to use behavioral analysis to select people for additional screening,” said Norman Shanks, an aviation-security consultant in England.

Such analysis looks at how people act, how they paid for their tickets — Mr. Abdulmutallab’s ticket was paid for in cash, often a red flag — and a variety of other factors.

People identified as unusual in some way are flagged for more-detailed physical screening. The U.S. Transport Security Administration — which is investing in a wide variety of new-technology scanning devices — has also expanded training of so-called Behavior Detection Officers to analyze passengers at airports and boarding planes.

Some critics say the approach isn’t sufficiently precise. Supporters say it has long been used effectively by law enforcement agents who size up passengers at the end of their journeys. “Customs and immigration officials find people doing illegal things getting off planes every day,” said Philip Baum, who runs Green Light Ltd., an aviation security training firm based in London. “There’s no reason we can’t find them as they get on.”

Mr. Abdulmutallab faced some questioning during the security check before boarding the Northwest flight in Amsterdam, as required by TSA rules. Investigators are now assessing how he was questioned and searched, according to the Dutch Justice Ministry.

Explosive material in Mr. Abdulmutallab’s cabin baggage could have escaped detection by the scanners through which all passengers must place carry-on items. Some advanced scanners can also detect explosives, but must be programmed for each different chemical compound.

If Mr. Abdulmutallab had the explosives attached to his body — or inside — and there was no metal, then few existing scanners would have picked them up. The full-body scanners advocated by the U.S. politicians might have identified objects concealed from view, however.

Schiphol, Amsterdam’s Airport, is now testing these machines, but only on a voluntary basis because the European Union hasn’t resolved privacy issues raised by the images, which essentially show a person naked.

It remains unclear whether Mr. Abdulmutallab carried the explosive materials with him from Nigeria or obtained them in Amsterdam. Still, Nigerian officials say they are reassessing their own airport security.

Nigeria has been battling to improve airline security and safety for several years. Security checks in Lagos now can be thorough and time-intensive. Lagos is among the few African airports served by several non-African carriers, prompting additional scrutiny by foreign authorities.

Dora Akunyili, Nigeria’s information minister, defended the airport security in Lagos. “If you say Lagos is corrupt, so is Amsterdam,” she said Sunday in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “Our airport is not corrupt.”

Later, at a hastily called news conference, she said the international airport at Lagos had passed muster from the U.S. TSA this year. “However, in the light of the new developments, we have reinforced our security systems in all our airports,” she said. She offered no further details.

-Sarah Childress, Dough Cameron and Sudeep Reddy contributed to this article.

To access the original article please follow the below link.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126185654066205941.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_sections_news

Virgin Blue Boeing, Cathay Pacific Airbus 330 in near miss over Katherine, Northern Territory

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Crashes

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Written by Rebekah Cavanagh

Published by heraldsun.com.au

UPDATE 4.45pm: AIRLINES have played down a serious mid-air drama which saw two Melbourne passenger jets put on a collision course.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating how the Virgin Blue Boeing 737 and Cathay Pacific Airbus A330 passenger aircraft came to be on a collision course last Tuesday, and have described the incident as “serious”.

Virgin Blue flight DJ1457 was carrying 120 passengers when it was discovered it was flying into the path of Cathay Pacific flight CX135 south of Katherine over the Northern Territory last Tuesday, according to a report in the NT News.

Initial reports indicated they were heading towards each other on the same “reciprocal track” at 37,000 feet, after the Cathay Pacific flight was instructed onto the wrong path.

The north-bound Virgin Blue is understood to have been dangerously close to the south-bound Cathay Pacific flight heading south from Hong Kong to Melbourne.

The ATSB said it was not until the crew of the Cathay Pacific flight questioned the controller, and the controller then instructed them to climb to another flight path and cleared the aircraft to divert right, that a collision was avoided.

The Virgin Blue flight crew then told the air traffic controllers that they would divert right, and both planes passed each other safely.

“When the crew of the A330 questioned the controller, the controller instructed the A330 crew to climb to FL380 (38,000 feet) and cleared the aircraft to divert right of track,” an early report by the ATSB states.

ATSB investigators are treating the incident as “serious”.

Bureau spokesman Neville McMartin confirmed the ATSB had been notified on December 22 about “an incident involving an Airbus A330 which was southbound at 37,000 feet and a Boeing 737 which was on a reciprocal track”.

The fault is believed to have been made by Brisbane-based air traffic controllers.

The incident, while serious, was not enough to trigger the aircrafts’ automatic Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS), and had been given a lower level (Level 5) category by the ATSB.

Virgin Blue spokesman Colin Lippiatt said it was “inaccurate” to call the incident a near miss.

“The two aircraft were 20 nautical miles apart when both aircraft altered course and the Cathay aircraft also changed altitude to ensure they remained a safe distance apart,” he said.

“This was done in consultation with Air Traffic Control and the flight crew of both aircraft knew exactly where each aircraft was at all times.”

He said it was not uncommon for aircraft to pass each other during flight.

“This is why procedures are in place around the world to ensure adequate and safe separation (distance) between aircraft at all times,” he said.

“If anything, this instance simply demonstrates that those procedures work.”

Cathay Pacific has issued a statement saying its aircrew “acted appropriately”.

For the orginal article please follow the below link:

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/virgin-blue-boeing-cathay-pacific-airbus-330-in-near-miss-over-katherine-northern-territory/story-e6frf7l6-1225814138071

Small Plane Crashes Off Runway In Frederick

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Crashes

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Written and Published by WUSA9.COM

FREDERICK, Md. (WUSA) — Frederick City Police are investigating a small plane crash at the Frederick Airport that may have been the result of a botched theft attempt.

Lt. Clark Pennington, spokesperson for the Frederick City Police Department, says the incident was first reported around 2:14 Monday morning when a single-engine Piper Super Cub airplane crashed on the runway. Pennington says a Frederick City employee spotted a white male, approximately 50-60 years of age, piloting the aircraft on the runway when he lost control and crashed into a grassy area just off one of the runways. The man inside the plane fled the scene.

Following the crash, Pennington says officers from the Frederick Police Department, Maryland State Police and the Frederick County Sheriff’s office joined in the search for the suspect. The man was later located after a helicopter search and K-9 unit tracked the man in the woods near the airport. Pennington says he has been detained for questioning.

Investigators believe the plane was stolen from a nearby hanger on airport property. The Frederick Police Department is currently investigating the scene of the theft and searching the plane for more evidence.

Pennington says the investigation is ongoing, and is being coordinated with the FBI, FAA, and Frederick City Airport Management.

For orginal article please follow the below link.

http://www.wusa9.com/news/breaking/story.aspx?storyid=95306&catid=158

Wreckage probe nears end; Jamaica awaits details

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Other Events

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JUNO BEACH, Fla. —

The pilot of an American Airlines jet that overshot the runway in Jamaica said Saturday that he’s happy to be home with his family for the holidays, and praised his crew for their quick thinking and professionalism.

“This is the best Christmas,” Captain Brian Cole told The Associated Press at his South Florida home. “I am just so happy to be home with my family.”

Flight 331 skidded off the runway as it landed in Kingston, Jamaica, in heavy rain Tuesday night, arriving from Washington’s Reagan National Airport by way of Miami. The Boeing 737-800’s fuselage cracked open, the left main landing gear collapsed and the nose was crushed as the plane lurched to a halt at the ocean’s edge.

All 154 people aboard survived. Ninety-two were taken to hospitals, with no injuries considered life-threatening. The U.S. State Department said 76 of the passengers were Americans.

Cole walked away “pretty banged up” with bruises on his forearms, chest and stomach, but no broken bones.

“It’s a testament to the professionalism of American Airlines,” he said. “I have the highest praise for my first officer and eternal gratitude for the way the flight attendants reacted in their professionalism to get all the passengers home to their families, as well.”

Cole spent Christmas with friends and family, and chatted by phone with crew members and flight attendants Saturday as he relaxed at home, thankful that the outcome wasn’t much worse.

He said he could not speak further about the crash, because of the ongoing investigation.

Authorities investigating why the jetliner overshot the runway at Norman Manley International Airport will receive flight data next week that should help establish a cause for the accident that sent dozens to the hospital, an official said Saturday.

The study of the plane’s wreckage will end Sunday, and officials will then review flight data recorder information that is expected in the next few days, said Oscar Derby, director general of Jamaica’s Civil Aviation Authority.

“We are investigating every possible factor,” he said. “We are leaving no stones unturned.”

Work crews planned to remove the jet’s tail late Saturday because it was blocking 900 feet (270 meters) of the runway, limiting it to smaller aircraft, Derby said.

Offshore lights that help guide pilots into Jamaica’s main airport were not working at the time of the accident, but officials said they did not believe that contributed to the crash because pilots had been warned and the runway was fully lit.

The offshore lights have been out for more than a month and are scheduled to be replaced in February, Derby said.

Officials with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board remained in Jamaica helping with the investigation, he said.

Associated Press writer Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report.

To access the orginal article follow the below link.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2010601805_apcbflightovershootsrunway.html

Plane Overshoots Runway in Jamaica

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Crashes

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Written by Jack Healy

Published by The New York Times

An American Airlines flight carrying more than 150 people skidded off a rain-slicked runway as it landed in Jamaica Tuesday night, hitting a fence and plowing into a sandy embankment before it came to rest a few feet from the Caribbean Sea.

No one was killed in the accident, which knocked off the engines of the Boeing 737-800 and cracked its fuselage, but about 90 passengers were treated for minor injuries at hospitals around Jamaica’s capital, Kingston, according to a statement from Norman Manley International Airport.

Tim Smith, a spokesman for American Airlines, said two of the 148 passengers had been admitted to the hospital for observation. Mr. Smith said he did not know the extent of their injuries, but said they were not life-threatening. Investigators from the United States and Jamaica have begun the work of trying to determine how the airplane overshot the runway, and whether rain and wind played a role in the crash, officials said.

The Federal Aviation Administration supplied a plane for six National Transportation Safety Board investigators and one F.A.A. safety investigator, which left Washington at about 9 A.M. The Safety Board referred reporters to the Jamaican Civil Aviation Authority, which, by international treaty, the Safety Board is assisting. It seemed likely, though, that the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder would be decoded in the United States, probably by the Safety Board itself.

The flight originated from Washington, D.C., then stopped in Miami before taking off at about 9 p.m. for Kingston.

Photographs from the scene Tuesday night show distraught-looking passengers being wheeled through the airport and into hospitals, some holding towels and shirts to their heads, others with cuts and bruises on their faces.

In interviews with Jamaican newspapers, passengers said the plane, American Airlines flight 331, landed in pouring rain after a turbulent flight from Miami. Some passengers clapped as the plane touched down at 10:22 p.m., they said, but then it started skidding.

“The plane crashed and broke almost in front of me,” one passenger, Naomi Palmer, told the Jamaica Observer.

Passengers started screaming as the plane slid down the runway, crossed a road, smashed through a perimeter fence and then crashed into a sandy embankment, according to the passengers’ accounts. The lights went out, and suitcases and bags popped out of the overhead bins and fell onto passengers.

“We just buckled and bumped,” another passenger, Natalie Morales-Hendricks told NBC’s Today show. “It was like being in a car accident. People were screaming. I was screaming, covering my face and hands, and the next thing you know, we’re at a standstill.”

The flight’s six crew members — who were not seriously injured — helped the passengers make their way off the plane through the emergency exits, and into the rain.“When I came off the aircraft I saw that we were about 10-15 feet from the sea and boulders, so I walked on the beach to the road, where we were picked up by a bus,” Robert Mais, a passenger, told the Jamaican Gleaner newspaper.

Mr. Smith of American Airlines said both engines had come off and that the fuselage had cracked in two places. Passengers told Jamaican newspapers that they could feel rain inside the cabin once the plane came to a halt.

American Airlines would not name the captain and first officer, but said that both were experienced in this aircraft. The captain had nearly 2,700 hours as a captain on the Boeing 737, and the first officer, more than 5,000 hours in that job on that plane, airline officials said.

Airline officials said Tuesday was the first day of work for the pilots in a flight sequence that was supposed to last several days. They took the airplane from Reagan National Airport, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., to Miami, departing at 3:37 P.M., seven minutes behind schedule, and then from Miami to Kingston.

Tim Wagner, a spokesman for American, said that he had heard reports that the captain had suffered a minor injury to the arm or wrist, but that none of the cockpit crew or cabin crew appeared to have been seriously injured. “I suspect at minimum they had bumps and bruises like everyone else,” he said.

The airline sent a plane from its Dallas base after midnight, with support personnel. Boeing, which built the plane, also sent representatives to Kingston.

 

For the original article please follow the below link.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/24/world/americas/24jamaica.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=jamaica%20&st=cse

Dreamliner No. 2 takes off on second flight test for 787

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Other Events

Published by Seattle Times

Dreamliner No. 2 takes off from Paine Field in Everett on Tuesday morning.

Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner No. 2 took off from Paine Field in Everett at approximately 9:10 a.m. Tuesday, a week after the first flight of Dreamliner No. 1.

Only two test pilots are aboard, with Randy Neville at the controls and Mike Carriker who commanded last week’s first flight this time riding in the right seat as co-pilot.

Initially the jet headed east and then turned south over the Olympic Peninsula. Following its flight test, it will land at Boeing Field in Seattle.

Though the plane is painted in the colors of the first 787 customer, All Nippon Airways (ANA) of Japan, this jet will not be delivered to ANA. The first three of the six flight test airplanes are considered too heavy and have been modified and remodified too much to be sold to an airline. They will be used only for test flights.

 

for original:

 http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/boeingaerospace/2010568452_secondflight23.html

3-hour limit placed on airline passengers’ tarmac waits

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Other Events

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Written by Kim Geiger

Published by Los Angles Times

Reporting from Washington - The U.S. Department of Transportation is ordering airlines to allow passengers to leave an airplane if it has been stranded on the tarmac for three hours, a response to recent flight delays that left passengers stuck on idle airplanes for long periods.

The time limit applies to domestic flights, but operators of international flights will be required to specify their own time limits for deplaning . For both domestic and international flights, the rule includes exceptions for instances in which deplaning would present safety or security concerns, or if it would be disruptive to airport operations.

The rule also requires that airlines post flight delay information on their websites and adopt customer service plans to address complaints relating to flight delays and cancellations. Airlines also will be required to provide food and water within two hours of a delay.

“Airline passengers have rights, and these new rules will require airlines to live up to their obligation to treat their customers fairly,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.

The rule was sparked by a series of recent tarmac delays, such as one case involving a Minneapolis-bound flight that was diverted to Rochester, Minn., and sat idle on the tarmac for nearly six hours before passengers were allowed to leave the plane. The Transportation Department fined three carriers involved in the delay.

The department is considering rules that would require airlines to disclose baggage fees and to disclose the full price of advertised flights. Also under consideration are rules to require stronger reporting of and contingency plans for tarmac delays.

the rest here: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-tarmac-delays22-2009dec22,0,6346702.story

Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a breath of fresh cabin air

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Fumes

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Written by Charles Starmer-Smith

Published by Telegraphic.co.uk

The new lightweight plane, which is designed to cut fuel costs by 20 per cent, has been hailed as the answer to the problem of contaminated air that scientists claim affects up to 200,000 British passengers each year – known in the industry as aerotoxic syndrome.

Since 1963, all commercial aircraft have used the “bleed air” system, whereby compressed air is drawn through the engines and into the cabin. The air passes through filters that remove bacteria or viruses but do not remove fumes or vapours from the engine – so if there is an oil or hydraulic fuel leak, toxic chemicals can contaminate the air supply.

On its new Dreamliner, Boeing is to pump fresh cabin air from a separate source (away from the engines) for the first time since the Fifties. This had previously been deemed too expensive.

“This marks a serious milestone in aviation history, with the long-awaited first flight of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner,” said Tristan Lorraine, a former commercial pilot and spokesman for the Global Cabin Air Quality Executive (GCAQE), which represents thousands of airline staff. “The GCAQE urges other manufacturers to design aircraft with this new ‘bleed-free’ design and stop using out-of-date technologies, which fail to protect passengers and crews from being exposed to toxic chemicals.”

Earlier this year, undercover investigators claimed to have found high levels of a dangerous toxin on several planes using the bleed-air system. Of 31 swab samples taken secretly from the aircraft cabins of popular airlines, 28 were found to contain high levels of tricresyl phosphate (TCP), an organophosphate contained in modern jet oil as an anti-wear additive, which can lead to drowsiness, respiratory problems and neurological illnesses.

Dr Mackenzie Ross, a clinical neuropsychologist at University College London, has claimed that contaminated cabin air may affect up to 200,000 passengers each year. A Telegraph Travel investigation last year disclosed that hundreds of incidents of contaminated air had been reported by British pilots.

Reports linking exposure to contaminated air with long-term harm to health have led to an increase in the number of passengers and crew seeking redress. Earlier this year a former American Airlines attendant, Terry Williams, 40, launched a lawsuit against Boeing over illnesses she claims were caused by toxic fumes.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said that investigations were continuing, but that there was no evidence of a link between cabin air and ill health.

the rest here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/6839234/Boeing-787-Dreamliner-is-a-breath-of-fresh-cabin-air.html