Here we go again.  Another aviation tragedy and another National Transportation Safety Board recommendation that could have prevented the crash was not acted upon by the Federal Aviation Administration. This time a hot air balloon crashed Saturday in Texas killing sixteen people.  Initial reports are that the balloon crashed into high intensity power lines. Reports are that the balloon, operated by a company named “Heart of Texas,” caught on fire and was found burning on the ground when first responders arrived.

According to a CBS news story dated July 30, NTSB safety investigators warned two years ago that balloon accidents were imminent and recommended that  the Federal Aviation Administration impose greater oversight on commercial hot air balloon operators, government documents show. The FAA rejected those recommendations.

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VTOL Electronic Aircraft

Just when we thought that we had a problem with drones, now Engineering and Technology Magazine reports that a German start-up is developing a personal electric plane that can take off and land vertically in a small area without the need for complex infrastructure.

Lilium, the firm behind the concept, described the plane as combining the best from helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, while avoiding their respective drawbacks.

It lands and takes off from almost anywhere like a helicopter, but is quieter and more manoeuvrable, eschewing the need for long runways required by current fixed-wing aircraft.

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UPSTREAM: Don’t Sacrifice Helicopter Safety During Low Oil Prices and Industry Cutbacks

May 9, 2016

The Editors of UPSTREAM, the International Oils and Gas newsletter published out of London, printed the following editorial which urged that helicopter safety should not be dependent on market economic forces and cutbacks related to those forces: Helicopter safety is priority number one The latest helicopter deaths in the North Sea are another grim reminder […]

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Severe Turbulence Terrorizes Passengers

May 6, 2016

Editor’s Note: I can tell you that this is no small trauma.  As a passenger aboard a Chautauqua Airlines Saab 340 years ago, the crew decided to fly us through 45 minutes of severe turbulence.  Horrible wingovers, descents, ascents—we were like a cork on a violent ocean.  I really thought for those 45 minutes I wasn’t […]

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Early Indications Point to Gearbox Failure on CHC Super Puma

May 2, 2016

The British Airlines Pilots Association (BALPA) said the “ripples” of the crash would spread far beyond Norway in part because the most recent crash has been preliminarily liked to gearbox issues — a problem which seems to be recurring in the Super Puma. BALPA’s General Secretary, Jim McAuslan, said: “The worldwide helicopter pilot community is united […]

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Super Puma Norway Heliopter Crash

May 1, 2016

A video has emerged purporting to show the main rotor system disintegrating during the final moments of the flight of the helicopter as it flew from the Gullfaks oil field to the Norwegian city of Bergen. The helicopter has been grounded by several European nations. It has also been reported that maintenance was deferred on […]

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Criminalization of Aviation: Does It Enhance Safety?

May 30, 2012

Now comes an announcement from Greece that a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer has received a ten-year prison sentence for allegedly not re-setting a cockpit switch on a Helios Airways 737-300 which crashed in 2005 after its oxygen supply ran out and the pilots and many passengers fell unconscious. The criminal sentence is made even more […]

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Safety is never an issue – until there is an “issue”

January 25, 2012

Safety is never an issue – until there is an “issue” is an element of business that has been imprinted in my life from early years. At my elementary school, teachers would parade the class through the “Crime-mobile”. My fellow students and I saw car accidents, gunshot wounds, amputations and overall some considerably macabre images. Of course, all of this left a lasting impression. From that time forward I have been intrigued to learn how these “bad” things continue to occur and ideally how they can be prevented.

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Contributing Factors In Helicopter Crashes

May 10, 2011

In February we began a series on the causes of helicopter crashes, so I consider it very timely that Katy Waldman from The Slate Magazine recently contacted me for an article on about the causes of helicopter crashes. As I discussed with Ms. Waldman, there is no simple answer to why the helicopter accident rate […]

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Ten Extra Knots and 100 Extra Feet — Always a good thing?

May 3, 2011

On the famous list of “Things That Do You No Good in Aviation” are the following: the airspace above you, and the airspeed you don’t have. There are more of course, but I want to focus on these because, in the past two decades of looking at controlled crashes following engine failures, I have come […]

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