August 7th, 2013
04:51 AM ET

Fire shuts down Nairobi airport

A massive fire shut down Nairobi's Kenyatta International Airport on Wednesday, causing extensive damage and a potentially huge toll on Kenya's tourism and commerce.

The blaze had engulfed the airport's entire international terminal, Ken Mijungu of CNN affiliate NTV reported.

No casualties were reported from the fire, which sent a large plume of thick black smoke into the sky.

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Filed under: Air travel • Aviation • Kenya • Travel • World • World Update
House OKs measure to end controller furloughs
April 26th, 2013
12:58 PM ET

House OKs measure to end controller furloughs

[Updated at 12:58 p.m. ET] In rare bipartisan accord, normally quarrelsome U.S. lawmakers passed a measure designed to end budget-related air traffic controller furloughs blamed for widespread flight delays.

The House of Representatives approved the legislation, capping a major congressional initiative as delays snarled traffic at airports. The House vote comes a day after unanimous approval by the U.S. Senate.

The measure - which is expected to be signed into law by President Obama - gives the Transportation Department budget planners new flexibility for dealing with forced spending cuts.

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Filed under: Air travel • Aviation • Barack Obama • Budget • Congress • Consumer safety • District of Columbia • Economy • FAA • Jobs • Labor • Politics • Travel
March 15th, 2013
06:09 AM ET

U.N.: Drones kill innocent people

A group of farmers is on its way to tend to crops. Suddenly, a missile slams into its midst, thrusting shrapnel in all directions.

A CIA drone, flying so high that the farmers can't see it, has killed most of them. None of them were militants.

It's a common scenario, a United Nations human rights researcher said Friday in a statement on drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal region of North Waziristan.

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Filed under: Aviation • Military • Militia • Pakistan • Taliban • Terrorism • United Nations • World Update
February 20th, 2013
09:53 PM ET

Plane carrying 7 crashes in Georgia

A jet carrying seven people crashed Wednesday in east Georgia, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The Hawker Beechcraft 390/Premier I jet landed at about 8:30 p.m. at Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport in Thomson, and ran off the end of the runway, said FAA's Kathleen Bergen.

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Iran's Qaher-313 fighter plane
February 8th, 2013
11:55 AM ET

Iran's newest warplane something from 'GI Joe?'

First it was monkeys in space (or not) and now it’s “GI Joe” fighter jets. Not the best of times for Iran’s aviation and aerospace programs, at least if you listen to the skeptics.

First there were doubts about Tehran’s claim it sent a monkey into space in late January.  After photos of two different monkeys that were aboard the alleged one-monkey space shot surfaced, Iran media said there was a photo mix-up and, yes, there was just one Iranian monkey in space.

Then this week Iran unveiled what it said was its new high-tech stealth fighter plane. The jet shown in pictures on the website of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been the butt of jokes all week from aviation bloggers.

“This aircraft looks a lot like an old GI Joe toy,” wrote one blogger.

And from another, “This has to be a joke, right?”

Click through the gallery above to see the bloggers' comments and evidence in the photos.

Iran unveils "flying boats"

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Filed under: Aviation • Iran • Military
FAA allows Dreamliner test flights
Battery problems have grounded Boeing's 787 Dreamliner fleet.
February 7th, 2013
08:07 PM ET

FAA allows Dreamliner test flights

After three weeks on the ground, Boeing's 787 Dreamliner soon will return to the skies - but only so engineers can test the plane's troubled electrical and battery systems, the Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday.

The FAA approved test flights for the Boeing planes with strict conditions to assure safety: Only essential personnel will be on board, crews must continuously monitor the plane for battery-related problems and tests will be conducted over unpopulated areas.

"These flights will be an important part of our efforts to ensure the safety of passengers and return these aircraft to service," the agency said.
Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said in a statement that the company is "confident" the tests could be conducted safely, and said one Boeing aircraft has been designated for the test.

The Dreamliner is the first commercial aircraft to make extensive use of lithium-ion batteries, which can hold more electrical power in a smaller, lighter space. However, dangerous problems with batteries overheating have caused the 787 fleet to be grounded.

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Plane crash in Antarctica likely left no one alive
January 26th, 2013
04:57 AM ET

Plane crash in Antarctica likely left no one alive

Authorities found the wreckage of a plane that crashed days ago in Antarctica in a condition that suggested no one survived.

Searchers found the damaged plane, a Twin Otter aircraft carrying three people, close to the summit in Queen Alexandra Range, in Antarctica.

The plane "appears to have made a direct impact that was not survivable," Maritime New Zealand said Saturday.

The condition of the three Canadian crew members aboard the aircraft had been unknown since the the flight went missing Wednesday.

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Filed under: Air travel • Antarctica • Aviation • Uncategorized
Pilot in JetBlue incident to be released
Pilot Clayton Osbon, shown in a booking photo, was arrested after an apparent meltdown aboard a JetBlue flight in March.
November 9th, 2012
11:28 AM ET

Pilot in JetBlue incident to be released

A JetBlue pilot arrested after an apparent meltdown aboard a March flight will be released with conditions, including continuing mental health treatment, a federal judge in Texas ruled Friday.

In July, Clayton Osbon was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He was charged following a March 27 incident on a JetBlue flight from New York to Las Vegas. Early in that flight, the plane's co-pilot became concerned about Osbon's bizarre behavior, according to an FBI affidavit. Read more about the pilot's release.

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October 30th, 2012
02:41 AM ET

Flights canceled at Japanese airport after unexploded shell discovered

Dozens of flights were canceled in and out of a northeastern Japanese city on Tuesday after construction workers came across an unexploded shell believed to be from World War II buried near a taxiway.

Airport authorities in Sendai said they had canceled all 92 flights, national and international, scheduled to use the airport Tuesday after the discovery of the shell late Monday under an unpaved area beside the taxiway.

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Airlines let travelers change tickets, fee-free, due to Hurricane Sandy
October 26th, 2012
09:45 PM ET

Airlines let travelers change tickets, fee-free, due to Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy is still a threat, not a reality, to many would-be travelers - but not for long.

That's why airlines are offering passengers the opportunity to tweak their travel plans in advance of the storm, which isn't expected to hit the U.S. East Coast in full until late Sunday or early Monday.

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September 6th, 2012
10:38 AM ET

'Fly away dohm': Russia's Putin shows endangered cranes the way

He's helped tranquilize tigers and has taken skin samples from whales. On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin took off on his latest project in species protection, teaching endangered Siberian cranes how to migrate.

Putin piloted an ultralight aircraft over the Arctic Yamal Peninsula, trying to train the cranes to follow the ultralight from the Kushevat ornithological station and sanctuary where they have been raised to a wintering ground set up for them in southern Uzbekistan, more than 2,000 miles away, RIA-Novosti reported.

The ultralight guidance is necessary because no cranes have made the trip before, so they can't lead the way.

The new wintering ground was set up because a trip to the birds' traditional wintering grounds in India has become hazardous because of poaching in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Kremlin said in a statement, according to the Moscow Times.

Photos: How Putin cultivated his populist image

Putin made three flights Wednesday, the first to familiarize himself with the ultralight and the second and third with the birds. One bird followed Putin in the first test, and five followed in the second, according to RIA-Novosti. But only two of the five were able to keep up with Putin during the 15-minute flight.

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Filed under: Animals • Aviation • Birds • Russia
August 20th, 2012
03:52 PM ET

Amelia Earhart: The evidence we almost lost

Famous aviator Amelia Earhart seemed to vanish from the sky 75 years ago, but she never disappeared from the American psyche.

Now, the man responsible for leading a 24-year charge to solve one of America’s greatest mysteries explains how an  image that might finally crack the case was almost lost forever.

75 years later, the mystery of Amelia Earhart solved?

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August 19th, 2012
11:44 AM ET

75 years later, the mystery of Amelia Earhart solved?

Debris discovered in the depths of the South Pacific may be remnants of vanished aviator Amelia Earhart’s plane.

“A review of high-definition underwater video footage taken during the recently-completed Niku VII expedition has revealed a scattering of man-made objects on the reef slope off the west end of Nikumaroro,” The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery reported on its website.

The question researchers are now asking: Do these new images reveal parts of the same plane captured in a 1937 photo of Nikumaroro.

Discovery News reports that the 1937 photo of the island's western shoreline was taken three months after Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared. The shot by British Colonial Service officer Eric R. Bevington, “revealed an apparent man-made protruding object on the left side of the frame.” Forensic analysis of the image “found the mysterious object consistent with the shape and dimension of the upside-down landing gear of Earhart's plane.”

"The Bevington photo shows what appears to be four components of the plane: a strut, a wheel, a wom gear and a fender. In the debris field there appears to be the fender, possibly the wheel and possibly some portions of the strut," TIGHAR forensic imaging specialist Jeff Glickman told Discovery News.

TIGHAR launched the expedition last month, working on a theory that Earhart and Noonan became stranded and ultimately met their deaths on Nikumaroro Island after their Lockheed Electra plane was swept out to sea 75 years ago.

The group’s ninth expedition to the island kicked off with a chorus of excitement and criticism around the Internet. Researchers ultimately returned to the U.S. admitting they had found no obvious signs of the plane.

But new analysis of an underwater debris field may prove the researchers found exactly what they were looking for.

"Early media reports rushed to judgment in saying that the expedition didn't find anything," Ric Gillespie, TIGHAR executive director, told Discovery News. "We had, of course, hoped to see large pieces of aircraft wreckage but as soon as we saw the severe underwater environment at Nikumaroro we knew that we would be looking for debris from an airplane that had been torn to pieces 75 years ago."

Glickman told Discovery News the group has reviewed less than 30% of the high-definition underwater video taken on the recent expedition, which launched July 12 and concluded on July 24.

TIGHAR theorizes that Earhart and Noonan landed on Nikumaroro Island then called Gardner’s Island after failing to find a different South Pacific island where they were planning to land. The pair is believed to have landed safely and called for help using the Electra’s radio. And in a twist of fate, the plane was apparently swept out to sea, washing away Earhart and Noonan’s only source of communication. U.S. Navy search planes flew over the island, but not seeing the Electra, passed it by and continued the search elsewhere.

"What makes this the best expedition is the technology we've been able to assemble to search for the wreckage of that airplane," Gillespie told CNN last month. "We have an autonomous vehicle. We have multibeam sonar above the University of Hawaii ship we're on right now. We have a remote-operated vehicle to check out the targets (and a) high-definition camera. We're all set."

Gillespie told Discovery News that if further analysis of the Bevington photo continues to support TIGHAR's theory, the group will seek to recover the objects from the ocean’s depths.

Do clues to Amelia Earhart mystery lurk beneath the sea?

Finding Amelia Earhart: New clues revealed

Will mystery of Amelia Earhart be solved?

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Earhart searches find no obvious signs of her plane
Amelia Earhart with her navigator, Capt. Fred Noonan, before their fateful flight in which they disappeared.
July 24th, 2012
05:53 AM ET

Earhart searches find no obvious signs of her plane

A team of searchers looking for proof that Amelia Earhart crashed on a remote Pacific atoll 75 years ago were on their way back to Hawaii Tuesday without any concrete evidence to prove the aviation pioneer crashed on Nikumaroro.

"Big pieces of airplane wreckage were not immediately apparent," the group behind the search, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, said on its website.

"As is usually the case with field work, we’re coming home with more questions than answers. We are, of course, disappointed that we did not make a dramatic and conclusive discovery, but we are undaunted in our commitment to keep searching out and assembling the pieces of the Earhart puzzle," the website said.

The TIGHAR group left Honolulu on July 3 on its ninth effort to search for wreckage of the Lockheed Electra that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were flying when they disappeared on an around-the-world flight in 1937.

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Do clues to Amelia Earhart mystery lurk beneath the sea?
Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan before they famously disappeared in 1937.
July 2nd, 2012
02:04 PM ET

Do clues to Amelia Earhart mystery lurk beneath the sea?

A deep-sea expedition will launch from the shores of Honolulu on Tuesday in an attempt to solve the mystery of vanished aviator Amelia Earhart, according to the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery.

The group will launch its Niku VII expedition 75 years after the first ship set sail in search of Earhart, her navigator Fred Noonan and their Lockheed Electra aircraft.

The initial launch was set for Monday, but was pushed back to Tuesday because of a scarcity of flights to Hawaii, according to the expedition’s daily reports Web page.

“Meanwhile, the technical staff is very glad of the extra day,” a recent blog post from the group said. “There are always glitches, stuff that doesn’t work quite the way it should, tests that need to be run, toothpaste to be bought, and the additional time will allow for these issues to be resolved while still in port where there are stores and cell phones and other markers of modern civilization.”

Once out of the port, the crew will set sail for Nikumaroro Island in the South Pacific, where researchers believe Earhart landed, was stranded and ultimately met her death during her doomed attempt at an around-the-world flight in 1937.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery has been investigating the mystery surrounding Earhart’s death for 24 years, has launched eight prior expeditions and has developed a comprehensive theory of her disappearance and last days on earth.

“This is the hi-tech deep water search we’ve long wanted to do but could never afford,” the group said on its website. The expedition is funded by corporate sponsors and charitable donations.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery theorizes that Earhart and Noonan landed on Nikumaroro Island - then called Gardner’s Island - after failing to find a different South Pacific island they were set to land on. The pair is believed to have landed safely and called for help using the Electra’s radio. And in a twist of fate, the plane was swept out to sea, washing away Earhart and Noonan’s only source of communication. U.S. Navy search planes flew over the island, but not seeing the Electra, passed it by and continued the search elsewhere.

"What makes this the best expedition is the technology we've been able to assemble to search for the wreckage of that airplane," Rick Gillespie, executive director for The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, told CNN on Monday. "We have an autonomous vehicle. We have multibeam sonar above the University of Hawaii ship we're on right now. We have a remote-operated vehicle to check out the targets (and a) high-definition camera. We're all set."

At a conference in Washington, D.C., last month, the organization announced its newest study suggesting that dozens of radio signals once dismissed were actually transmissions from Earhart’s plane after she vanished. Discovery News reported that the group has discovered there were 57 “credible” radio transmissions from Earhart after her plane went down.

Earlier this year, the organization also discovered what is believed to be a cosmetics jar once belonging to Earhart on Nikumaroro Island.

"All these things we can't explain unless the woman we think was there, was there," Gillespie said.

More on Amelia Earhart:

Finding Amelia Earhart: New clues revealed

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Overheard on CNN.com: Unmanned drones ignite domestic surveillance debate
June 14th, 2012
10:30 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Unmanned drones ignite domestic surveillance debate

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Unmanned drones have gotten many readers talking. A Monmouth University poll showed there was strong support for using unmanned aircraft to track down criminals, combat illegal immigration or carry out search missions. On the other hand, respondents oppose using drones to do routine work such as patrolling traffic. Here on CNN.com, the thought of using drones to catch speeders, for example, has made some readers a little nervous.

A commenter using the nickname "Rand Paul" (we don't know if it's really the Kentucky senator) posted what became the comment of the day on Thursday's Mash-up post:

"I saw George Orwell riding on a drone last night. He was waving."

As it turns out, the real Sen. Rand Paul's opinion article about drones got many of our readers talking. Paul writes of the legislation he's introduced:

"This bill protects individual privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of these drones. The Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2012 will protect Americans' personal privacy by forcing the government to honor our Fourth Amendment rights."

Paul: Don't let drones invade our privacy

Should we fear drones? Readers who commented disagreed. FULL POST

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Poll: Catching criminals is fine, but don't use drones for speeding tickets, Americans say
The FAA says many universities, companies and government organizations are developing and producing 155 drone designs.
June 13th, 2012
02:30 PM ET

Poll: Catching criminals is fine, but don't use drones for speeding tickets, Americans say

Go ahead and use drones to track down criminals, to combat illegal immigration or for search-and-rescue missions. But to issue traffic citations?

No way, say Americans.

A recent Monmouth University poll showed there was overwhelming support for using unmanned aircraft in a variety of circumstances, but routine police work was not one of them.

Fewer than a quarter of the 1,708 adults surveyed last week said they would OK the use of drones to issue speeding tickets. Sixty-seven percent said they opposed the idea, and 10% had no opinion. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points (view a PDF here).

Compare that with the approval ratings for other drone applications: illegal immigration (64%), rescue missions (80%) and locating criminals (67%). The poll also indicates that 64% of Americans would be concerned about their privacy if U.S. law enforcement agencies began using drones with high-tech cameras.

Under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which President Barack Obama signed in February, the Federal Aviation Administration is charged with developing a plan “for the safe integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system as soon as practicable, but not later than September 30, 2015.”

The act is in response to the strict FAA regulations on drone use. It loosens those restrictions, allowing many government agencies to get swifter FAA permission to operate the unmanned aerial vehicles. It also allows any "government public safety agency to operate unmanned aircraft weighing 4.4 pounds or less," if certain criteria are met.

The FAA has authorized drone use for dozens of entities, including more than 20 universities, the U.S. military, local police forces, the FBI, NASA and the U.S. departments of Agriculture, Interior and Energy.

Drone uses vary greatly, according to an FAA document issued in March that outlines how drones will be used in six test ranges.

Not only can their objectives encompass everything from surveillance to searches to air quality testing, they can take many forms. Wingspans range from 6 inches to 240 feet. Weights run the gamut from 4 ounces to 16 tons.

"One thing they have in common is that their numbers and uses are growing dramatically. In the United States alone, approximately 50 companies, universities and government organizations are developing and producing some 155 unmanned aircraft designs,” according to the FAA.

The agency says it will select the test ranges in late 2012, with the first location becoming operational in 2013. The FAA currently has a test site at New Mexico State University, which it’s been using since June 2011.

There have been few incidents with domestic drone use, aside from an accident this month when a $176 million Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk went down in a marsh outside Salisbury, Maryland.

Outside the U.S., however, there has been widespread opposition to American reliance on drones to take out terrorists. A recent Pew Research Center poll showed that the U.S. was the only country among 20 surveyed that approved of using drones to kill extremist leaders in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

FULL POST

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June 7th, 2012
01:21 PM ET

Small plane forced to land after violating presidential airspace restrictions

A small plane was forced to land in Chino, California, after a pilot violated airspace restrictions in place for President Barack Obama's visit, FAA spokesperson Allen Kenitzer told CNN.

Kenitzer had no further details about the incident.

The military also intercepted a private plane Thursday morning in the vicinity of Fullerton, California, Kenitzer said. The aircraft, a Mooney M20, landed at Chino at 6:04 a.m. PDT. The FAA is investigating.

The incidents on Thursday followed a similar issue on Wednesday when a fighter jet intercepted a single-engine airplane northwest of Los Angeles for breaching a temporary airspace restriction, according to a military news release.

The temporary restriction violated by the Cessna aircraft coincided with a campaign visit to the city by Obama, who was on a one-day fundraising swing through the state.

"After intercepting the aircraft, the F-16 followed it until it landed without incident, at approximately 4:58 p.m. PDT where the plane was met by local law enforcement," according to a statement issued by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

The president spoke at a gala for the gay community in Los Angeles, on his third fundraising trip to the Golden State in the past month. Earlier in the day, he attended two campaign events in San Francisco.

NORAD's mission is to protect U.S. and Canadian airspace against possible threats and may require planes to change course or land.

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Filed under: Aviation • Barack Obama • California
June 5th, 2012
05:14 AM ET

Data, cockpit voice recorders found in Nigeria crash

Nigerian authorities found the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder from the deadly weekend plane crash, emergency officials said Tuesday.

The devices will help investigators piece together what caused the crash.

Meanwhile, heavy rains have prompted a suspension of recovery efforts, officials said.

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U.S. pilots find high demand, high pay overseas
Foreign carriers are turning to U.S. pilots to fly their increasing number of jetliners.
June 4th, 2012
11:06 AM ET

U.S. pilots find high demand, high pay overseas

The pilot of the Nigerian jetliner that crashed in Lagos, the country's largest city, on Sunday was an American, said Oscar Wason, Dana Air's director of operations, on Monday.

Wason did not identify the pilot by name or hometown, but he is among a legion of U.S. pilots now captaining jets for foreign airlines, said Kit Darby, an aviation consultant in Peachtree City, Georgia.

"A lot of U.S. pilots are working overseas, more than ever before," Darby said. "It's pretty common."

Darby said that as airlines have consolidated in the U.S., the job market for experienced airline captains has become "stagnant." Experienced captains are losing seniority, and it may take them 10 to 20 years to get a captain's position back, he said.

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