American FAA Approves Use Of Smartphones/Tablets During Takeoff And Landing

Up until now if you were using a tablet, smartphone, notebook/laptop or any other electrical device during the takeoff or landing procedure on a flight then you’d of been asked to turn those electrical devices off – irrespective of what you’re doing on them. For many years this has long been the standard procedure for the airline industry. That’s all about to change though after the American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ruled otherwise, reports Engadget. a 28 member committee decided that flyers should be able to use “most” devices during takeoff and landing on the condition that most connectivity is not engaged – e.g. you should not be streaming data and you should not be engaged in voice calls. The FAA recommends that flyers should be able to continue to work away on documents, listen to music or watch videos (providing these are all done from local storage – no streaming).

Amazon was part of the 28 member committee in the FAA which developed this new ruling and they stated that:

“We’ve been fighting for our customers on this issue for years – testing an airplane packed full of Kindles, working with the FAA, and serving as the device manufacturer on this committee…This is a big win for customers and, frankly, it’s about time” Said Amazon’s Drew Herdener.

If the FAA decides to continue with the recommendations it is anticipated changes could come into effect by early 2014, though the airline industry is expected to be slower to adopt the new standards. Indeed the ruling does not necessarily mean anything will change either as the FAA can ignore the recommendations generated by the 28 member committee.

Image courtesy of Engadget

Worldwide Airline Delays Caused By Sabre Reservation System Crash

According to reports from Russia Today a huge outage in the Sabre airline reservation system overnight has been labelled as the cause of recent worldwide flight delays. The IBM system went down at 05:20 GMT (12:20am ET) on Tuesday morning and the company confirmed the outage stating that its team was working on fixing the situation. Within 2 hours they had managed to fix the system and get it back online again but not at the expense of causing delays and causing temporary mayhem to the air travel industry.

Sabre is used by many airlines all over the world including Alaska Airlines, American, Cathay Pacific, Frontier, Jet Blue, LAN, Quantas, United, Virgin America and Virgin Australia. Some airports were exempt from the problems as they do not use the Sabre system while affected Airlines and Airports resorted to manual checking-in processes in order to get flights out as close to on-time as possible but of there were inevitable delays to the check-in process for many flying with any of the affected airlines.

Image courtesy of IBM

Hybrid-Electric Airliners Expected By 2050

While we already have hybrid-electric cars, such as the Toyota Prius, our aviation is still dominated by oil-based fuels. This will be problematic as oil supplies start to dwindle and become more expensive. That is why engineers and scientists with the European Aerospace Consortium EADS and Rolls-Royce are currently developing a hybrid electric propulsion system, Inhabitat reports.

The new aircraft is dubbed E-Thrust and due to its hybrid nature it will burn considerably less fuel than its totally oil-powered counterparts. There are many positive benefits of this for the airline industry. Firstly, less oil-fuel consumption should reduce overall costs of flying as oil prices continue to soar. Secondly, the reduction in oil-fuel consumption will reduce harmful emissions released by the airline industry. Finally, the electric engines run much quieter and will dramatically reduce noise pollution.

Should everything run smoothly and to timetable we can expect to see these new Hybrid-airliners operational by 2050. In my opinion this is a case of too-little too-late as oil supplies will already be dwindling and pollution from air travel will have already reached dangerous levels. As an innovation this is great but as a means of fighting climate change 2050 simply isn’t an ambitious enough target.

Image courtesy of Inhabitat

U.S Admits To Discussing Flight-Blocking With Countries Over Snowden

Yesterday there was an incident that saw Bolivian President Evo Morales forced to land in Austria after suspicions that Edward Snowden was onboard. His plane was refused entry into airspace of Portugal, Spain and France on the way back to La Paz and this has left a bitter taste in the mouth of Latin American countries who are now taking the matter to the UN with an official complaint. Since that incident the U.S state department has come out and admitted that it has been actively speaking with countries about denying airspace and land access to any transport carrying Edward Snowden.

Speaking with the Guardian a U.S spokesperson stated that:

“We have been in contact with a range of countries that had a chance of having Snowden land or travel through their country but I am not going to outline which countries or when the contact happened”

This comes after the U.S president said last week that he would not bother to interfere in Snowden’s flights. Now that the USA is worried about the fact Snowden might actually get away and get political asylum and has made a complete u-turn on its previous statements. While the U.S didn’t admit to being responsible for the incident with Bolivia’s Evo Morales, nearly everyone suspects they were the culprits. Also given these talks with other countries about airspace blockades took place in the last ten days, it is highly likely the USA was responsible.

Image courtesy of AFP Photo/Patrick Domingo

Air China Jet Allegedly Hits UFO

The Chinese seem to be having a bit of a run in with UFOs recently if all the stories are to be believed. After sightings of UFOs in the Hubei province amid Alien hysteria, a new story has emerged via the Sun of an Air China jet hitting a UFO while flying 26,000 feet above ground.

A Boeing 757 passenger plane hit something at 26,000 feet and passengers reported hearing a loud thud and the plane losing its balance for a moment. Once successfully landing at the destination airport, it was clear that whatever hit the passenger jet caused a large dent in the nose cone of the Boeing 757.

Specialists say that the dent is simply too big and deep to have been caused by hitting a bird or multiple birds in a flock, a more likely explanation is that the plane hit a surveillance drone of some kind. Naturally “UFO” enthusiasts have been getting quite excited and see the plane as hitting a UFO as the only possible explanation to the dent in the nose cone. These UFO enthusiasts believe that the truth will never be known regardless because of the secretive nature of the Chinese authorities.

Image courtesy of the Sun

Woman Sues Airline For $170K Over Spilt Coffee

It is something that we are always warned about – be careful with hot coffee because spilling it can be dangerous. This is something Lourdes Cervantes found out when travelling on Continental Airlines. The Texan was making a flight from Madrid, Spain to Newark, USA and had some coffee in flight. The flight attendant place a cup of hot coffee onto her table when the passenger in front reclined their chair resulting in boiling hot coffee being spilt all over Cervantes. The result was second-degree burns to her thighs and “permanent scarring and disfiguration” according to the lawsuit.

Lourdes Cervantes is now suing Continental Airlines for a staggering $170,550 (€131,394) in damages even though Continental Airlines staff were not responsible for the spillage. The reason for Continental Airlines still being liable is explained by the LA Times who broke this news:

“The suit cites the Montreal Convention of 1999, which makes carriers on international flights liable, under certain conditions, for injuries or deaths of passengers on such flights”

Continental Airlines have refused to comment due to company policy about pending litigations. What do you think about this case? Should she be suing Continental Airlines, the person who reclined their chair or is it just an unfortunate event of which she accepted the risk when she chose to get a coffee?

Image courtesy of event supplies