People have seen unexplained objects in the skies for decades. The US Government and other entities are finally discussing these events publicly, an important development for aviation safety.
“These events have an impact on flight crews and systems and are important to look at,” says Todd Curtis.
Now falling under the classification, unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP), these events have been cited by the US Government as impacting national security and public safety. Todd and John discuss how these events impact aviation safety.
The episode looks at the July 2023 hearing in the US House of Representatives that included testimony from three military veterans who either witnessed or investigated UAP events. John and Todd share their perspectives on the aviation safety aspect of UAP issues, including the difficulty of understanding what may be behind these phenomena when there are few trustworthy sources of information.
Aerobatic fun led to tragedy in the fatal plane crash that killed composer James Horner. His aerobatic maneuvers in a high performance Tucano aircraft ended with a high speed crash in the canyons of California.
Horner wrote music for dozens of movies, including Titanic, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and Avatar. Horner was the sole occupant of a high-performance Tucano turboprop aircraft. He crashed while performing a number of low-level maneuvers.
John and Todd discuss the findings of the accident report. They ask key questions about the accident that were not answered by the NTSB.
The report does not indicate whether Horner, who had nearly 900 hours of flight experience and nearly 80 hours in the make and model of the accident aircraft, had experience performing the kinds of maneuvers performed during the accident flight.
Take a closer look at this tragic accident to learn how to bring aviation safety into your flight plan!
Todd Curtis, Greg Feith, and John Goglia discuss the risks of aviation thrill-seeking. They look at aviation disasters from the NTSB database that involve experiences outside of standard FAA regulations.
The FAA allows certain commercial operators to offer voluntary high-risk experiences to the general public. “Top Gun” aerobatic rides, balloon flights, and sight-seeing flights are some examples. Existing rules allow for a wide range of leeway in FAA approval for these types of flights. Oversight may be minimal.
They evaluate a plane crash where a thrill ride resulted in the loss of the aircraft and crew. The high-impact collision occurred in Four Corners, California.
Anyone considering one of these experiences needs to consider the aviation safety risks involved. Thrill seeking can be a deadly experience.
John and Greg also share insights from AirVenture 2023, including new safety products from various manufacturers and concerns about the insurance needs of older pilots.
Todd Curtis, Greg Feith, and John Goglia interview historian and author S.C. “Sam” Gwynne, about his latest book, “His Majesty’s Airship.” The book tells the story of the crash of the British R101 in France in 1930.
The book discusses how the airship R101 was a key part of the British government’s plan to cut by more than half the time it took to travel to distant parts of its empire such as Australia and India. The R101 crashed during its first commercial flight.
The aviation disaster killed 48 people. Among those lost was the commander of the airship, who 11 years before had also been the first person to command an airship on a round trip journey across the Atlantic.
While the Hindenburg disaster is better known, this tale has many intriguing impacts on the evolution of rigid airships and aviation safety.
Todd Curtis and John Goglia discuss the use of carbon fiber in the Boeing 787 airplane and the Titan submersible. Prompted by listener questions, they explain why the carbon fiber is subjected to completely different – and riskier – conditions in the case of the sub that got international attention when it imploded on June 18, 2023.
The Titan accident is under investigation by American and Canadian authorities. The submersible used a novel design that included using carbon fiber to construct a major portion of the hull.
Todd and John compare the use of carbon fiber in a submersible compared to the use in aircraft, specifically the 787. They explain the radically different effects that a rapid decompression would have on an airliner at cruising altitude versus a catastrophic implosion in the depths of the ocean.
They also compare the unique design of the Titan with more traditional submersible designs. Two aspects that get the attention of these safety experts:
A F28 airliner crashed shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport due to icing that degraded the lift on the wings. Just 3% leading edge wing contamination would have been enough to cause this aviation disaster.
Todd Curtis, Greg Feith, and John Goglia highlight the safety findings related to the 1992 plane crash of USAir Flight 405. The aircraft had no devices to keep the leading edge of the wing clear in the cold and snowy weather conditions. The crash caused 27 fatalities.
John shares firsthand knowledge of the deicing procedures in place in 1992. Those procedures have have changed, in part because of this accident.
Greg, Todd, and John compare this plane crash with similar events to provide insights related to this aviation disaster. The result is valuable aviation safety insight for pilots, mechanics and anyone involved in aviation today.
Dollars over lives? Greg Feith and John Goglia discuss Part 135 and “Part 134 ½” charter operations. They offer numerous aviation safety benefits of being (and using) a properly certificated charter company. It costs more but leads to safer operations.
John and Greg cover the plane crash of Lear 25A in Teterboro, New Jersey to illustrate the value of proper charter operations. They review key findings of the NTSB report, including the lack of planning for a short repositioning flight and lax enforcement of Part 135 rules.
The first officer was only cleared to act as second in command of this flight, but the captain allowed the first officer to fly all but the last 15 seconds of the flight. At that point of the flight, the aircraft was in an unstable approach, and crew actions allowed the aircraft to stall and crash short of the runway.
Hear how increased use of flight data recorders with quick access recorder capabilities can help Part 135 operators as well as safety investigators improve the aviation safety of charter flights. John and Greg argue the equipment can help avoid aviation disasters.
flight safety detectives episode 174 - aviation safety lessons from first flight into a special use airport
A flight instructor chose to have a pilot take his first flight in an airplane into a special use airport and the result was a different learning experience than planned. The aircraft experienced a hard landing that led to a fracture of the right wing spar.
Todd Curtis, Greg Feith, and John Goglia discuss this accident in Puerto Rico that involved a Britten-Norman Islander aircraft. The instructor pilot chose to take a new pilot on his very first flight with the airline to a small airport that had a very challenging approach.
The new pilot was a highly experienced 737 pilot who had no recent experience flying this aircraft model. The instructor allowed the new pilot to continue the approach even though the aircraft was about 100 feet above approach altitude shortly before landing.
The Flight Safety Detectives question the instructor pilot’s decision to choose this challenging approach for the transitioning pilot’s first flight with the operator as well as the decision to allow the landing to continue. Also discussed is the NTSB’s decision to not investigate or nor report key issues about events leading up to the crash, including the aircraft operator’s training and procedures.
John shares his long history dealings with cargo door issues. He shares how door engineering has evolved over time. He also explains the rush to convert passenger aircraft to cargo aircraft that came about in the 1980s due to many airlines getting into the air cargo business.
Todd and John discuss several aviation disasters involving cargo doors, including one involving a United Airlines plane near Honolulu.
Some flight plans have aviation safety risks baked in. Todd Curtis and John Goglia discuss a runway excursion accident involving a student pilot who in the same flight was attempting to satisfy both a night currency requirement and a 250 nautical mile training flight requirement for an instrument certification.
The plan literally went off track during the attempted takeoff at the fourth stage of the flight plan.
“They bent some metal, no one was injured, but there is a lot to learn from this incident,” John says.
The original plan involved a flight of well over 400 nautical miles of night flying, well exceeding the training requirement. The plan also involved landing and takeoff at two busy airports. Due to traffic, weather, and fueling station issues, two unplanned fuel stops were added.
Todd and John talk about the decisions made before this flight began that created unnecessary safety risks. Among the takeaways was the need to make better flight plans and to change those plans as circumstances unfold.
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