Recently, CEO Ross “Rusty” Aimer was interviewed on NRP about using cell phones on airplanes. Please click on the link above to hear the radio interview in its entirety.
We get asked this question all the time, “Why do I need to turn off my cell before takeoff on an airplane”? The answer is simple and easy to understand.
Airplanes have a lot of radio equipment on board to communicate with ground personnel. For example, pilots communicate with control towers, ATC (air traffic control), company dispatch, weather stations, to name a few. Also, the aircraft receives radio signals from satellites and navigation transmitters of all types. These are designed to help steer the aircraft safely through inclement weather conditions, allow for air traffic control to monitor and vector the aircraft, and permit the pilots to navigate around the world 24/7.
Every radio device transmitting and receiving signals on an aircraft are tested by the manufacture and the FAA to insure it’s safe use during all phases of the flight, in every condition possible (rain, ice, snow, winds, flying over the North Pole, etc). So lets say the aircraft has 10 on-board devices that are receiving and transmitting radio singles. Before the aircraft is allowed to fly with passengers, the manufacture and the FAA ensures that these 10 devices will not interferer with each other during all phases of flight (taxi, takeoff, cruise, descent, and landing) in all weather conditions. After extensive testing – the aircraft get it’s “OK” to fly and the radios are certified on that particular aircraft.
Now, lets take a Boeing 757 which seats approximately 185 passengers. In today’s digital world, lets say half of the passengers on board have cell phones, PDAs, computers with WiFi, or some kind of digital device with a transmit and receive function. What are the odds that 100% of the above “digital age passengers” are using the exact same device? If there was only one kind of electronic device – the solution would be easy. That particular device would be tested during all aspects of flight in all weather conditions. If it did not interferer with the aircraft systems – it would be approved and problem solved. However, we are in the digital age and we all have different combinations of wireless devices. How possible would it be to test every different combination of personal transmitting device against every different combination of on board electronic flight equipment? Then conduct these tests during all phases of flight in different weather conditions. If one could put together a test profile and test every possible combination (which would be nearly impossible) these tests would take years to complete and at a huge expense. It is much easier to simply power down and eliminate the possible concern of interfering with the very important on-board aircraft radio and navigation equipment.
The solution for now – simply turn it off and enjoy the flight.
In closing, it’s true that one or two or 10 cell phones turned on during takeoff will not really interfere with the radio capacity of a large Boeing 747. But what about 100 or 400 cell phones transmitting during a takeoff roll in heavy fog? We simply do not know what those effects would be and will never know as the combination of personal electronics are multiplying every year. So keep it safe out there for all of us. Please pay attention to your on board safety advisers (Flight Attendants) and turn it off when instructed to do so.
Bruce “Buck” Rodger, President
For more information please tune into the NPR radio broadcast above.
International Business Times author, PalashR. Ghosh, writes a new article on Air Koryo – North Korea’s airline, August 30, 2013.
“North Korea’s young new leader, Kim Jong-un, has made moves to establish closer trade ties with China, which could lead to more air traffic on the 500-mile Beijing-Pyongyang route.
It will be interesting to see if China plays a role in expanding the Air Koryo airline or if Russia maintains its dominant presence.
“China hasn’t yet gotten into major commercial airline manufacturing, so the North Koreans have to depend on their old Russian allies,” Langelaar said.
“North Korean pilots all receive their training from Russians — while the South Korean pilots are mostly trained by U.S. and EU pilots. KAL even has currently over 400 expat US and EU pilots on contract.” (1)
March 27, 2012 — Jet Blue Heroics
There is something to say about a U.S. flight crew being well prepared. The responsiveness and training of a heroic First Officer (FO) and the cabin crew — along with the passengers of the Airbus-320 — made the difference between a possible mid-air disaster and a mid-flight disruption. There is still more to discover about the events leading up to the psychotic-break exhibited by a JetBlue Captain in front of his crew and passengers.
What is known is that the Captain showed up unusually late to fly JetBlue flight 191 from New York to Las Vegas. The plane was in midair when he eerily told his co-pilot they wouldn’t make it to their final destination. When the Captain started to push random buttons and displayed unusual behavior, the quick-thinking FO got the Captain to back off the controls and leave the cockpit. Once the Captain was in the main cabin the co-pilot used the deadbolt feature of the enhanced flight deck door to ensure no one could get back inside. When the crew and passengers observed the erratic behavior, they stepped up to subdue the Captain. The FO flew the Airbus to an uneventful emergency landing in Texas mid-way along its scheduled route.
There is no other keener observer of how the crew and passengers reacted than the CEO of Aero Consulting Experts www.aeroconsultingexperts.com, Rusty Aimer, a retired airline Captain and a former Boeing instructor pilot for the B-787. Aimer was interviewed on KNBC-TV in Los Angeles. Here is what he had to say:
While the events on the JetBlue flight sound something like a storyline out of a Dean Koontz novel, they were nothing short of miraculous in the outcome. You can thank a quick thinking co-pilot, a well-trained cabin staff, and passengers that are reactive in a post-911 world.
More will surface about this particular outbreak, however the fact remains that the daily stress of being an airline pilot grows (CNN Money ranks airline pilot as #3 in the top 10 of America’s most dangerous jobs). Pilots are now facing a volatile age of airline restructuring, contract negotiations, pension reductions / terminations, and fatigue. While new flight rules concerning the number of hours a U.S. pilot can work — taking affect next year — should help pilots manage fatigue, a larger debate is looming.
For example, The FAA and some of the airlines believe 250 hours of flight experience is enough to fly a commercial plane full of passengers. Groups representing pilots and other flight crew members argue that at least 1500 hours of flying time is recommended before a person flies commercially.
Flying in America is still extremely safe thanks to the airmanship, professionalism and experience of flight-deck crews and cabin staff. However, the outside pressures are mounting as we have witnessed by the emotional outbreaks of an American Airlines Flight Attendant recently and now a JetBlue Captain. The management of US carriers, the FAA and unions need to take responsibility and work with it’s respective groups to mitigate these outside pressures before someone really gets hurt.
It won’t be until early 2012 will the full impact of the American Airline bankruptcy be known. However, if the past is any indication of what the future could look like a review of the 2002 United Airlines bankruptcy (BK) is a telling story.
Today, a UAL captain is likely making half of what he made 10 years ago. A captain with 20 years of experience is making $140,000 — 50% of where he was at and well below what he expected when he joined the airlines. The pay picture is bleaker for UAL first officers (F/O) who are making $90,000 annually — more than a 50% drop from the $175,000 salary they had 10 years ago. It’s the UAL pilot retirees that suffered the most answering the call “to save the company.” The salary cuts went along with decreases in healthcare benefit cuts, changed work rules, lower stock value in the company’s ESOP and drops in annual pay increases.
A retired UAL 747 captain responded when asked if the company’s BK impacted his retirement: “My benefits went from about $10-12,000 per month to just under $2000. I am currently getting about 18% of what I earned and paid for with my money over 39 plus years. I lost my retirement home, my airplane, my water ski boat, my symphony and opera tickets… I lost my ability to retire and went back to work and now I’m a FAA consultant. Worst of all, I lost my ability to dream.”
One pilot who joined UAL in the 1990s remembers airline management and the union reps saying “on my first day, they said to start living the (pilot’s) dream… it felt like we basically won the lottery.” The promise of a long-term job and an upper-income lifestyle all the way through retirement was the balance for hard work, long trips from home and shouldering the safety of thousands of passengers.
Now as one UAL F/O said, raising a family of four on a F/O pay means driving used cars and selling the family home to help pay for the kids college. The 747 captain went on to tell us that his son followed in his footsteps and is a commercial pilot. Today he’s responsible for recruiting flight crews for the AA subsidiary, American Eagle. With the pay dropping like a brink in the sky and retirement benefits going out the window the American Eagle manager is finding it tough recruiting the best pilots to AA.
Usually, ACE aims to be objective and represent the fairness of both sides. However, on airline BK it sometimes becomes personal. ACE is unique among aviation-expert witness practices in that the consultants are all UAL pilots each with as much expertise on the ground — from airline finances, manufacturing and flight line operations — as they do in the air. www.aeroconsultingexperts.com
Airlines said they must re-organize financially to keep up globally. The result is often times the shedding of old contracts that kept the airliners locked into unprofitable routes, and pensions and pay agreements that were made during the airlines boom years.
There is the core of the problem, the boom-and-bust cyclical nature of the airline business. Wall Street lenders resist unexpected trends and now require management to smooth out the ups and downs. Employees see greed is behind the dismantling of the nation’s legacy airlines, pointing out that Southwest Airlines does it well having the highest paid pilots, operates a lean system and pays relatively modest bonuses to company executives.
Not since the startup of the U.S. airline industry before the Great Depression in the 1920s has there been as many consolidations and bankruptcies among aviation companies as in the past 25 years. When a company declared bankruptcies in the 1920s the president of the failed business might throw himself under a train; and now a CEO of an airline in Chapter 11 is likely to be handed a golden parachute worth millions of dollars.
November 15, 2011 by AC Carrier
Timeout: B-787 Training Glitch
Japan’s ANA airline — the 787 Launch Customer — moved the number of pilot training days from the Boeing-recommend course of five days to five weeks. United Airlines — the first US airliner to receive the 787 early next year — followed suit allowing at this time 11 days for training 787 pilots, company told The Wall Street Journal, the newspaper that broke the news story earlier this month.
Boeing competitor, Airbus was quick to exploit the apparent double-talk — since pilot training issues are a key decision in an aircraft purchasing. Despite the questions, Boeing holds to its claim that a five day training period is sufficient for a 777 pilot to migrate to the 787. Boeing has said it’s not unusual for airlines to load up a new training syllabus with lots of extra materials, a case that ANA and UAL agreed.
At ACE www.aeroconsultingexperts.com , Rusty Aimer, CEO of the company was hired by Boeing to be a 787 Training Captain following a career as UAL Captain. He points out the difficult many pilots have in learning the HUD (Heads Up Display)
where critical flight data is projected — or float — near the bottom of the windshield allowing the pilot to monitor the instruments while looking out of the front window (saving the pilot of having to scan back and forth between the lower instrument control panels and outside).
While the 787 has a HUD the 777 does not; nor does the 777 have many of the other systems that are standard in the 787, Aimer said. “The only commonality between 777 and 787 is the basic instrument panel lay out, overhead panel and of course two engines,” said Aimer. At first glance the layout and equipment looks the same but the systems are held together by a very expensive web of fiber-optics.
The issue of training pilots on the new 787 is for now the biggest complaint lodged against Boeing in the first full month of 787 flight service. There have a been a few reported minor incidents involving the landing gear systems that weren’t working correctly and another incident where a passenger bridge dinged the side of the jet’s synthetic membrane or cowling.
That raises another background issue about the 787, because of production delays around its revolutionary design. Boeing outsourced around the globe the jet’s design and manufacturing for two reasons. One, the countries that did the outsourced work would be more enticed to buy the plane. Economist argued that the move ironically diminished the ranks of the highly-educated and trained, and heavily unionized workforce — in the Pacific Northwest. Unions used the opportunity to manufacture a new plane to boast wages and benefits. The first decision paid off; and the second one back fired. When all the pieces of this huge jig-saw puzzle were shipped into Seattle for the final assembly it was found that the aircraft did not fit together. It took much longer to retool and redesign the bad parts than if they were thrown away and designed correctly from the start. These manufacturing problems caused more than three years of delays causing some people to call the new jet, “7-LATE-7.”
The Reno Air Race Crash Impact
Almost anyone who has piloted an aircraft, especially a vintage or experimental type, may feel like they have cheated death at one time or another. The fear of death is a natural part of an unnatural act of flying. After all, it’s been said: “If God wanted man to fly he would have given him wings.” No one is immune from the emotions around flying. You can read later in this blog how even the aviation experts at Aero Consulting Experts (ACE) had their brush-ups against death while flying.
Pilots know that the laws of propulsion and physics are on their side giving lift to aircraft. The combination allows for current-day jets to lift close to a million pounds at takeoff and fly at speeds of over 500 mph, while doing it safely. This phenomenon makes flying not only one of the safest forms of travel but makes the entire event seem almost routine.
However, routine was not the case for a vintage World War II P-51D Mustang airplane — aptly named the “Galloping Ghost” — at the September 17, 2011 National Championship Air Races in Reno, NV. The accident killed pilot, Jimmy Leeland of Florida and created one of the largest “mass-casualty situations” in sports aviation history. Tragically, Jimmy’s plane crashed into a group of spectators killing 11 people and injuring nearly 70 other people. It was the first crash in the Reno event’s history where spectators have died (the previous tally was 19 pilots killed at the Reno races since the start in 1964). The cause of the accident is still under investigation.
It is well known that there is a certain amount of risk and danger involved in air racing. People will often say upon hearing of a racer’s death “at least they died doing what they loved.” However, in Reno nothing can be said or done to undo the pain and sorrow that this unforeseen event caused. What we now have — borrowing the words of NTSB investigators — is an opportunity and an obligation to learn the lessons at Reno that could prevent another accident of this type from occurring in the future. In other words, the show must go on. The air race circuit is one of aviation history’s most endearing and oldest traditions.
The era of barnstorming in aviation history in the 1920s was an important stage between the early development of flying (the Wrights) and the launch of commercial aviation in the 1930s (and later the mass production of fighter aircraft used in WWII). Charles Lindberg credits his early barnstorming days as among the best years of his life; when he learned to endure harsh flying conditions and when he was able to save enough money to buy the Spirit of St Louis.
The love and the lore of the solo pilot performer though never died. Today, nearly 75 years later people still crave for the roar of a vintage WWII fighter plane or watch a 1920s era aircraft recreating some of man’s most daring moves in the sky. By the 1950s the era of the exhibition flying was launched again with the Commemorative Air Force and the spinoff of regional air shows.
There are several ACE consultants who know all too well the trill and tragedy around air races and crashes. In fact, one of them, Kent Holiday an avid fan of WW II era flying, and a seasoned pilot in the P-51 Mustang, attended the Reno air races and was at ground zero. He was there at the day of the crash and will soon post his story here. To learn more about this pilot please see Kent’s bio .
The author of this blog, and an ACE aviation public affairs specialist, AC Carrier, launched a journalism career by witnessing and reporting for The Arizona Daily Star on the crash of an A-7D Corsair. This unfortunate accident resulted in the death of two students near the University of Arizona. The experience of witnessing and writing about the Tucson jet crash lead Allen Carrier (AC) to a career with U.S. Rep. Norman Mineta (D-CA) who later became U.S. Transportation Secretary in the Bush Administration during the New York 9/11 Terrorist Attacks.
And that is where we find ourselves today: starring at an air accident again. Even the next day after the Reno crash, a pilot died in a West Virginia air show in front of hundreds of spectators. All of this comes a month after seven people from one family died in a crash in Alabama when the plane’s engines failed less than two miles from the airport. And so it goes, the great flying tradition continues. It is part of the human spirit, this competitiveness that pushes us to try and outdo one another. The air race will continue.
Blog #2: September 6, 2011
One of the great things about living in the modern age of air travel is the way technology continues to push aviation into new historical “firsts.” Take for instance the recent announcement by Japanese airliner, ANA regarding the new Boeing-787 Dreamliner’s first international route starting January from Tokyo Haneda International Airport (HND) Japan to Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) Germany. The 787, the world’s most modern aircraft (there may be some push back from the B-747-800 or A380 supporters) is up, up and away after nearly 20 years of development.
And regarding the super large B-747-800, the FAA — and its European counterpart — this summer gave their OKAY for the world’s largest cargo plane to operate internationally. The flight agencies said the B-747-800 Freighter is compliant with airworthiness regulatory requirements and added that Boeing produced “a safe and reliable aircraft”.
The 747-800 High speed rejected takeoff.
While some things may be getting bigger in the air, other developments on the ground will shrink. United Continental Holdings (UAL) announced it would do away with the trusty flight bags, currently part of the required cockpit equipment. The 25-pound flight bags — used to carry route maps, aeronautical navigational charts, flight manuals and operating procedures — will be replaced soon with a new Apple iPad carrying an app that has the same function as the flight bag but weighing only 1.5 pounds.
UAL will have 11,000 iPads in its pilot’s hands this fall. The move follows Alaskan Airlines (ASA) use of the devise last year. American Airlines (AA) announced it too will follow ASA and UAL. Airline officials estimate that nearly 2.5 million pieces of paper a year will be save PER AIRLINE.
At ACE, the expert witness practice is also evolving. After three years of operations ACE first, announces a name change. ACE stands for Aero Consultating Experts (ACE) and replaces MyAviationExperts.com. The company has a new web site: www.aeroconsultingexperts.com
ACE in the past three years is continuing to grow with a goal of becoming one of the biggest aviation witness practices, aviation consulting firms to include media and film, in the U.S. Among the new team members are two former United B-747-400 Captains; who in addition to flying have extensive knowledge of air traffic control and cockpit communication technology development, aircraft power plant and air frame maintenance, air safety procedures, business banking and finance, as well as an expertise in corporate reputation management and public affairs. The newest consultants join a seasoned group of professional who have extensive cockpit flying experience globally; and who, too, have flown regularly for United Airlines, served as US Air Force fighter jet fighter trainers; as well as flown as private-pilots. Some of the team members with a passion as aviation hobbyists are experts with almost every type of antique and experimental aircrafts.
As readers now know, ACE launched its own written blog on current cockpit updates to legal briefings and aviation news. Readers will find useful information how ACE selects its experts and manage clients in the startup of assignments. All of these resources are in a new and expanded website.
In the past there years the ACE expert witness practice has been involved in four successful verdicts on behalf of clients who have represented commercial airline passengers in a New Jersey state court to a federal case that involved the U.S. Homeland Security Department and airline personnel.
The expert witness practice’s mission is to bring objectivity and fairness to any legal team or litigation situation; news organization or film and video production. In short ACE strives to provide the most accurate portrayal of flying and flight operations that can be achieved. ACE makes that promise based on its successful track records in the courthouse and by the comments made by clients and the news media.
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Welcome to the first blog report from ACE — Aero Consulting Experts. We are a group of aviation enthusiasts, commercial airline pilots, experts in flight equipment and avionic technologies who are not only passionate about flying and surprisingly committed to justice and fairness. You see, we have channeled our love of aviation into careers — ranging from the cockpit to the policy tables in Congress — and in to law by serving as expert witnesses and aviation consultants. As flight experts we are committed to seeing the best representation of the flying industry wherever it may show up — from the courts of law to movie studios. It is our goal with this blog to share some of our insights around federal and international law, aviation history, technology and regulations that govern the growth and expansion of the global airways.
At the start of this blog we said this was the first ACE blog in an industry out-done by firsts. In fact we’re entering a new era of flight having just closed out the first century of modern flight. That is if you are counting — like we are — that the birth of aviation as we know it started in 1903 when the Wright brothers of Dayton, Ohio (my home town!) launched the first successful sustained powered flight by power near Kitty Hawk, NC. The record was set by brother Wilbur who on a second turn at the helm flew 852 feet in about one minute traveling about 30 miles an hour into a strong head wind of 20 mph.
Next year, in fact we’ll sadly be remembering the lost of the great aviation pioneer, Oliver Wright who died in 1912. By the way, brother Wilbur went on to live until 1947.
Before we go too far, we don’t want to lose some of our readers who may in fact rightly argue that the Wright brothers may have flown the world’s first airplane but they weren’t the first men to take to the skies. Setting aside the French balloonists and the English “flying parachute” inventors from the mid-1880s, some people might say the modern aviation movement started at the end of man’s first flight into air. That would be the intrepid German hero, Otto Lilienthal (1848-1896) who launched off a hillside outside of Berlin in 1896 in a “flying-wing” contraption that lifted him 50 feet into the air before the glider stalled and he fell back to earth. Lilienthal — his back broken — died of his injuries the next day.
So in the coming decades we’ll be celebrating many of the achievements of the first century of flight. And hopefully, we’ll capture most of them in this blog. Until then we’re concentrating on what we do best and that flying passengers and goods around the world while on earth we contribute our expertise to the legal community to make sure truth and accuracy exist in the courtroom. While we captured here many firsts about flying we’re again acknowledging our own firsts at ACE — this blog — and our new website AeroConsultingExperts.com as well as the launch of our expert witness consultating business. See you in the skies!
There are alarming increase in reports from pilots who think they have been zapped by laser inflight.
From what I understand some of these encounters have come from police, traffic and news helicopter pilots.
Most of whom operate at low levels, in congested metropolitan areas and mostly look down through floor board plexiglass type openings typical in these rotorcraft.
Commercial and fixed wing pilots spend less time in low altitude flying and typically look slantly down to the ground during take off and landings.
Laser encounter can momentary cause blindness in pilots and occupants and obviously dangerous to the safety of flight.
Fractional ownership companies have been near the epicenter of the business aviation industry’s economic turmoil, and their leaders seized on challenging times to reduce flight operations and shrink cost footprints, says a new report. “The largest players—NetJets, NetJets Europe, Flexjet, Flight Options and CitationAir—have realigned their operations, reduced debt, lowered their employment base, cut back fleets, and reduced expenses such as charter purchasing, sales and marketing,” reports Plano, Texas-based consultancy Rolland Vincent Associates. At least two major fractional players—NetJets and Flexjet— already have returned to profitability. “NetJets generated pre-tax earnings of $158 million in the first nine months of 2010, which wipes clean the aggregate pre-tax losses that Berkshire Hathaway had previously incurred since acquiring the company in 1998,” Rolland Vincent says.