Three strikes have led to increased federal attention for American Airlines. The last month hasn’t been kind to the airline. In two instances, planes bumped wingtips with during landings in Charlotte, North Carolina and Austin, Texas and another overshot the runway in Jamaica. The FAA released a statement on Friday indicating that it would review these situations in case they’re symptoms of a larger problem. American Airlines, of course, is cooperating with the FAA in this matter.
And, this comes on top of the airline’s customer service debacle, in which a flight attendant threw a nutter over a passenger’s request for orange juice (still no word on whether disciplinary action or litigation has occurred).
This doesn’t change my perspective on American as the one to beat in 2010. A little extra FAA scrutiny doesn’t change much, and if the airline comes out the other end with no problems – and, better, resolutions – this extra look will soon be forgotten.
A gun was fired in the cockpit and so was the pilot. In March 2008, on a flight from Denver to Charlotte, US Airways pilot Jim Langenhahn’s gun discharged, an action taken by his employer shortly after. Now that his 18-month disciplinary suspension is over, he’s back in training and getting ready to take to the friendly skies. The Associated Press didn’t mention whether the current program involves targets.
A federal arbitrator’s decision is what’s leading to Langenhahn’s reinstatement, but he won’t be allowed to pack heat on board. He was strapped in 2008 because of a 2002 federal law that permits pilots to carry handguns onto the plane – as long as they complete a Transportation Security Administration program that includes a week of weapons training. The law was passed following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.
Support from the US Airways pilots’ union helped, along with a Department of Homeland Security position that found the holsters pilots used to be faulty. The holsters, DHS found, increased the likelihood of an accidental discharge.
Yesterday there were two stories out there about rest stop closings. This story is about an airport, an airplane and a more problematic situation than a rest stop being closed when one is desperate to stop. If a rest stop is closed there are options. The side of the road works in a pinch. In the case of the airplane in a decent towards an airport, but the airport turns out to be closed, there’s a bit more involved.
The pilot needs to quit descending asap and head somewhere else, in an ideal case, somewhere close by. Thankfully, that is what happened when US Airways flight 3203 was about to land at the Charleston, South Carolina airport but found the airport closed. The pilot turned the plane around to head back to where it came–Charlotte, North Carolina.
The airport isn’t closed all the time, but just some of the time–after midnight and only until August 9. Usually, it’s open 24-7. Two runways are getting fixed. A lightning strike had delayed the plane from take off after taxing out to the runway and the pilot knew he wouldn’t have enough time to make it to the airport before the witching hour, but thought the tower would stay open a tad longer. Nope.
Once back in Charlotte after state hopping the Carolinas, the passengers were given rooms, meal vouchers and status as being on a flight with an issue that almost never, if ever, happens. [The Post and Courier]
Keith Wright, a New Yorker (damn!) felt restricted by more than just cramped airline seating today. On a flight from Charlotte to Los Angeles, he ditched his clothing and did not respond (vocally, at least) to flight attendant requests to put them back on. The mile-high nudist also wouldn’t accept the cover of a blanket.
As a result of Wright’s defiance, the US Airways flight was diverted to Albuquerque, where the passenger was met by federal authorities. According to the FBI, he’s now in federal custody, with a charge of interfering with flight crew members and attendants. Once Wright got off (the plane), the flight continued to its planned destination.
Every story has a moral: you’ll have no problem getting a blanket from a flight attendant if you strip.
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