Monthly Archives: November 2009

FAA Computer Glitch Causing Delays

The Federal Aviation Administration is having computer problems – again, and it’s causing travel delays across the country.

Contrary to news reports, you do NOT have to file a flight plan to fly. However, the problem greatly affects the airlines, since commercial flights generally operate under so-called “Instrument Flight Rules” (IFR).

IFR flights do require filed flight plans, but flights flying visually (VFR) need not. Consequently more flights (even some commercial flights) are likely to attempt to fly under visual rules, where the pilot is expected to maintain separation from other aircraft without the assistance of air traffic controllers. Because of this, pilots must fly clear of clouds.

Authorities insist the situation does not threaten safety, since airliners will not take off until their paperwork is in order. However, some users may elect to take off under visual rules then request an IFR clearance enroute, or to fly VFR from takeoff to landing. Such flights require a greater level of pilot vigilance.

Bottom line: the capacity of the system is severely restricted, and it does add a measure of chaos, which in my opinion can indeed threaten safety.


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Happy Holiday Travel Tips

If you haven’t already made arrangements for the fast-approaching Holiday Season, you’ve already violated the first rule!


PLAN EARLY! Your total cost and stress levels for airfares, rental cars, and hotels are much lower when you book early. LATE NEWS – Airlines are announcing SURCHARGES for high density days like the Super Bowl. Shop and compare!

WATCH OUT FOR HIDDEN COSTS like unaccompanied minor fees, baggage fees, hotel parking fees, etc.

Cancellation Policies. Make sure you are clear what they are! If there’s a chance plans could change, consider paying more for the right to do so – or buy trip cancellation insurance.

Allow Plenty of Time. Late arrivals and missed connections will dramatically raise travel costs and stress levels. LEAVE EARLY; remember long lines and delays are “normal” for Holiday travel!

Check this video featuring Captain Jay on the subject.

Also read,|welcome|dl4|link3|

And check for more tips!

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Water Found on the Moon

After “bombing” the moon in early October, NASA now confirms they have discovered water there (see related blog post, Oct 9 below).


A month ago, NASA’s “LCross” space craft accomplished extensive mapping in orbit around the moon, and then its two sections crashed directly into a lunar crater. Only recently have scientists even questioned if the moon might be anything other than a dry, dusty rock, but analysis of the residual dust clouds from the two impacts confirm; water is indeed present.

“We are ecstatic,” said NASA Principal Investigator, Anthony Colaprete. “Multiple lines of evidence show water was present… ”

Colaprete goes on to hint the moon may contain even more surprises: “The full understanding of the LCross data may take years – the data is that rich.”

Finding water and other useful material on the moon should enhance NASA’s efforts to fly manned missions not only back to the moon, but also Mars some time in the next decade.

NASA had previously found evidence water was once on Mars, but new images indicate it still flows at the surface, if only for brief periods before it evaporates or freezes.


Scientists say the crater shown left was photographed dry in 1999, but the second image indicates water flowed through the same area as recently as 2004.

The presence of liquid water raises the probability that microbial life may exist on Mars.

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United Airlines Captain Arrested Drunk

London Police say they arrested Captain Erwin Vermont Washington out of the cockpit, as he prepared United Flight 149 at London-Heathrow Airport for the non-stop to Chicago.


Reports say a co-worker noticed the smell of alcohol and called police, who discreetly removed Captain Washington, age 51, from the sight of his 124 passengers and administered a breathalyzer test.

He failed.

United canceled the flight, and issued the following statement:

Safety is our highest priority and the pilot has been removed from service while we are cooperating with authorities and conducting a full investigation… United’s alcohol policy is among the strictest in the industry and we have no tolerance for violation of this well-established policy.

The incident is the latest in a series of airline misadventures over the past few weeks raising questions whether the level of professionalism in the cockpit may be declining dangerously. However, actual statistics indicate pilot infractions have actually declined significantly over the past two years.

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FAA’s Stinging Rebuke Sent to Northwest Pilots

Copy and paste the following web address to see the scathing revocation letter sent by the FAA to “distracted” Northwest Airline pilots after they overshot the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, according to (see related blogs October 23, 26, 27, 30 below for more background information).

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What the Heck Was That?

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