"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
-Oscar Wilde
Brilliant at Breakfast title banner "The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
"...you have a choice: be a fighting liberal or sit quietly. I know what I am, what are you?" -- Steve Gilliard, 1964 - 2007

"For straight up monster-stomping goodness, nothing makes smoke shoot out my ears like Brilliant@Breakfast" -- Tata

"...the best bleacher bum since Pete Axthelm" -- Randy K.

"I came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum." -- "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (1954-2015), They Live
Saturday, October 30, 2010

Unsafe at any size
Posted by Jill | 11:16 AM
Last week I flew a US Airways 737 to Charlotte, NC even though I was headed to Chapel Hill. I didn't want to fly direct because the only airline flying direct to Raleigh-Durham from Newark was Continental Express through its regional affiliate, ExpressJet. After the January 2009 Buffalo crash of a Continental Express plane, after which we learned that pilots for regional airlines have less experience, work crushing schedules, and are paid peanuts, I didn't want to trust my life to one of these regionals.

Instead, I dealt with a too-fast approach and landing, a ridiculous line at the Avis/Budget rental car counter, and a cancelled return flight.

But at least the planes I were on did not spring holes at 31,000 feet:
It's harrowing enough when a commercial airliner mistakenly announces an emergency landing over water -- or, for that matter, when air passengers capture footage of an actual emergency landing on their cell phones. But passengers on a recent American Airlines flight from Miami to Boston experienced a much more vivid sense of airborne peril when a 2-foot hole opened up in the plane's fuselage about 30 minutes after takeoff.

The Boeing 757 was cruising at 31,000 feet Tuesday when the cabin began to decompress rapidly -- a "super-terrifying" experience, a passenger told WSVN-TV in Miami. The flight was carrying 154 passengers and six crew members.

But soon enough, the crew established emergency procedures: The passengers donned the oxygen masks that drop down when cabin pressure decreases, and the pilots were able to reverse the flight and land the damaged plane safely at Miami International Airport.

"The crew declared an emergency and made a normal landing. There were no injuries," American Airlines said in a rather terse statement. "The aircraft has been taken out of service."

Once the plane was on the ground, inspectors discovered the problem -- not that it was exactly easy to miss. A 2-foot-by-1-foot hole had opened just above the "A" of the logo near the plane's front left cabin door. Initial reports indicate that the plane probably took off with a smaller crack in the fuselage -- and that wind pressure caused it to expand after the jet's takeoff. However, investigators say that they have yet to isolate the precise cause of the hole. Both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

As mistermix notes, we're told that being bombarded with radiation by semi-skilled TSA workers every time we get on a plane is necessary for our safety in the air, but we're also being told that businesses, including the airline industry, are so burdened with regulation we can't even institute the kind of regulations that would make airlines take unsafe planes out of service. After all, it's easier to just deal with the lawsuits if hundreds of people die because too-old planes or planes serviced by outsourced, non-FAA-certified mechanics, are not taken out of service when they are no longer safe. The airlines are allowed to do financial cost/benefit analysis with YOUR LIFE.

Tomorrow I'm getting on a plane. It's a 737. Hopefully it won't fall apart in midair. But show the above-lined article to your friends who are tempted to vote Teabag on Tuesday and tell them that this is what Teabag America is going to look like.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share
Anonymous Charlie O said...
Jill, Big hint, join a rental car frequent renter program. No lines. I hate waiting in lines for rental cars and rarely, rarely ever do anymore.