As Boeing and airline officials sought to assure travelers of the overall safety of the world's newest jetliner, federal safety officials Thursday painted a graphic picture of a disaster averted, displaying the charred remnants of a battery that "spewed molten electrolytes" from its container shortly after landing in Boston earlier this month.
"This is an unprecedented event," National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said of back-to-back battery incidents aboard Boeing 787 Dreamliners in the United States and Japan.
"We do not expect to see fire events on board aircrafts. This is a very serious safety concern," she said.FULL STORY
U.S. regulators have ordered airlines to ground all U.S.-registered Boeing 787 Dreamliners until a fire risk linked to batteries aboard the jetliners is fixed.
The move comes on the day that two Japanese airlines, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, grounded their fleets of the 787 Dreamliner. That move came after an ANA 787 made an emergency landing in Japan after a battery alarm signal activated on the plane.
United Airlines is the only U.S. carrier flying Dreamliners. They have six.
"Before further flight, operators of U.S.-registered, Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration that the batteries are safe and in compliance," the FAA said Wednesday evening.
The Dreamliner has been beset by a string of mechanical and other problems for months, including reports of an oil leak, a fuel leak, engine cracks and a damaged cockpit window. Also, the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a January 7 battery fire aboard a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 at Logan International Airport in Boston.FULL STORY
[Updated at 11:13 a.m. ET] The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is safe to fly, according to U.S. aviation, transportation and industry officials. "We are confident about the safety of this aircraft, but we're concerned about these incidents," said Michael Huerta, FAA Administrator at a news conference this morning in Washington. He said a probe would focus on the aircraft's electrical components and how the electrical system interacts with mechanical components.
[Initial post at 8:05 a.m. ET] Federal regulators will announce Friday that they plan to carry out a "comprehensive review of Boeing 787 critical systems, including the design, manufacture and assembly."
The announcement follows a week of problems for the state-of-the-art airliner and is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. ET at a news conference with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Boeing Commercial Airplanes President Ray Conner.FULL STORY
A small plane carrying at least three people crashed into a home in eastern Florida on Friday after reporting a mechanical problem, officials said.
The Beechcraft BE35 aircraft was en route to Knoxville Downtown Island Airport in Tennessee, said Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration in Atlanta.
The plane was diverting to Flagler County Airport, near the coast about 30 miles north of Daytona Beach, when it crashed a mile east of the airport and into a house, Bergen said. There was no immediate information on injuries.FULL STORY
An Iranian air force helicopter crashed Wednesday, killing all 10 people on board, according to the semiofficial Fars News Agency.
"The helicopter was carrying five people who had been injured earlier in a road accident, as well as four crew members and one medic," a medical official was quoted as saying.
The five passengers worked for the Ministry of Education, another official said.
The crash took place near a hospital in the holy city of Mashad.
A Southwest Airlines plane that had just landed in Denver slid off the taxiway while heading to the terminal, the airline said Saturday.
CNN affiliates KMGH and KUSA said the incident occurred at 5 p.m. during a light snowfall and freezing temperatures.
The nose wheel of Flight 1905 from Oakland, California, went off the taxiway, said Southwest spokeswoman Katie McDonald.
The 125 passengers and five crew members were not injured. The airline was working to accommodate the passengers on other flights.
Passenger Brad Harris told KMGH the jet hit a patch of ice.
Passengers were taken on buses to the terminal at Denver International Airport.
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.FULL STORY
Smoldering wreckage was all that was left of a small home-built plane that crashed Tuesday, killing at least two, in a wide open, plowed field near Byron, California.
The single-engine Glasair III went down “under unknown circumstances” just under five miles from the next airport, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor.
[Update: 4:40 p.m. ET] Southwest Airlines has updated their Facebook page with information for customers affected by a computer glitch that has caused excessive credit card charges for countless people taking part in a 24-hour deal on Friday, and according to our readers writing in, during normal transactions as well .
"Information and update for Customers who recently experienced multiple bookings in error:
The overwhelming response from Customers who took advantage of our August 3 limited time offer launched to celebrate three million Fans on Facebook, created website performance issues at various times during the day. We realize that some Customers were charged more than once for the same reservation and we want to ensure you that we have all hands on deck, actively working to process refunds for any duplicate charges incurred.
Here is a status of those efforts:
First, we want you to know that we are working to identify duplicate bookings and charges and are proactively cancelling those additional reservations, actively processing refunds to the Customer. In order to process the refunds as quickly as possible, we have called in additional staff to support these efforts.
For those Customers who used debit cards and have received overdraft fees as a result of the additional charges, we will process a reimbursement for all overdraft fees that were caused by duplicate charges from Southwest for a single purchase. If you incurred overdraft fees, please fax documentation of those fees via a letter from your bank or a copy of your account showing the fees to 877-506-0154.
Southwest Airlines is committed to providing Customers with exceptional service both online and onboard. It is our goal to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and minimize any inconvenience to you, our valued Customers."
When Southwest Airlines offered a limited-time promotion on Friday to celebrate reaching three million fans on Facebook, it seems they accidentally racked up duplicate charges on the credit cards of their loyal customers.
The LUZ2LIKE promo code was meant to offer customers 50% off when booking a round-trip with their "Wanna Get Away" fares during seven specific travel dates in the fall. The promo, which arrived by e-mail to customers, only lasted until midnight on Friday.
On Saturday, their Facebook page was flooded with differing stories describing the trials, unresolved issues and even a few happy endings for customers trying to shake off the excess charges. Some lucky folks even posted that they sailed on through the process without a glitch.
When Southwest became aware of the problem, they offered a statement on Twitter, and a similar, expanded version on their Facebook page.
"Thank you for your excitement in taking advantage of the limited-time offer we shared today in celebration of reaching three million Fans on Facebook. Due to the overwhelming response, we experienced some site performance issues at various times throughout the day. We apologize to our Customers for any inconvenience and are proactively cancelling any duplicate itineraries that may have occurred."
Bobi Fox, a customer who wanted to take advantage of the promo code, shared her experience with CNN. She purchased directly off of Southwest's website.
"Customers who purchased tonight got no tickets, no confirmation, and many, like me, were charged on their credit cards repeatedly until credit card companies stopped the purchase process – some customers say they have been called by their credit card companies questioning fraud purchases," she said. " My credit card might be typical, my purchase was repeated 9 times (cost in excess of $2300 for a one pair of round trip tickets from STL to SLC). This is not unlike what everyone else is experiencing. Current wait time hold with Southwest customer service: More than two hours."
[Updated at 6:04 p.m. ET] Authorities have re-opened security checkpoints and upper-level doors at a O'Hare International Airport terminal in Chicago after a brief disruption due to unspecified "possible suspicious item," the Chicago Department of Aviation said.
The item in Terminal 2 "was cleared and determined to be no threat," the department said, adding that there was "minimal disruption to flight operations."
The checkpoints and doors were re-opened shortly after 4 p.m. CT, or 5 p.m. ET.
[Initial post, 5:03 p.m. ET] "Suspicious activity" at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has prompted authorities to close security checkpoints at the airport's Terminal 2, Chicago Department of Aviation spokesman Gregg Cunningham said Thursday afternoon.
Upper-level doors at the terminal also have been "temporarily secured," but the terminal hasn't been evacuated, Cunningham said.
Cunningham said no details of the suspicious activity are available.
Dutch authorities have joined the FBI in conducting criminal investigations into the discovery of needles in six sandwiches aboard four Delta Air Lines flights from Amsterdam to the United States, a military police spokesman in the Netherlands said Tuesday.
One person was injured when he bit into a sandwich containing a needle, Delta and Dutch officials said.
That passenger, James Tonjes, said he thought the object was a toothpick at first.
"When I pulled it out, then I found out it was a needle," he said Tuesday.
Tonjes said he has been placed on medication to prevent HIV.FULL STORY
Three Americans died when a private jet crashed at a small airport in the south of France, a local official said Friday.
Two men, aged 24 and 51, and a 30-year-old woman were on board the plane when it crashed at Castellet airport, said Didier Couve, spokesman for the Prefecture of the Var department.
The three were the only people on the plane, Couve said.
A spokeswoman for the airport said emergency services are on site.FULL STORY
An Indiana man is demanding a direct apology from a Transportation Security Administration agent in Florida who, the man says, spilled his grandfather's ashes during an airport bag check - and then laughed off the incident.
And John Gross is also demanding that the TSA release any security surveillance tapes of the incident - tapes that the federal agency claims simply don't exist.
Gross, 30, was returning home from visiting family in Orlando, Florida, on June 19, carrying with him a portion of his grandfather's ashes that had been passed along by an uncle - a "real sentimental kind of guy," says Gross - when he approached TSA screeners. A female agent wearing blue latex gloves inspected the contents of his bag, says Gross, including the jar clearly labeled "Human Remains."
"I said, 'Please be careful, these are my grandpa's ashes,'" Gross told CNN Wednesday. But, he said, the agent proceeded to stick her finger in the jar then accidentally spilled its contents on the airport floor.
She then laughed, according to Gross - not an uproarious cackle, but a chuckle that he found offensive nonetheless.
"She thought it was funny," he said. "I wanted to smack her."FULL STORY
Scientists have raised an aviation alert level around a remote Alaskan volcano after a small eruption produced an ash cloud several miles high.
Cleveland Volcano, on the Aleutian Islands southwest of mainland Alaska, erupted briefly Tuesday afternoon, creating an ash cloud at an estimated height of 23,000 feet above sea level, said Steve McNutt, a volcano seismologist at the Alaska Volcano Observatory and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
The observatory on Tuesday raised its color-coded alert for aviators to orange, the second most serious of four levels, and warned on its website that "additional sudden explosions of blocks and ash are possible with little or no warning."
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."
Should we fear drones? Readers who commented disagreed. FULL POST
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.
The race to the presidency now turns toward the general election in November. CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.
Today's programming highlights...
10:00 am ET - TSA customer service hearing –Some critics say the TSA's customer service record leaves much to be desired. TSA chief John Pistole testifies on how the agency is working to fix that.
An American Airlines passenger was restrained Friday after his flight landed in Miami, a spokeswoman for the Miami International Airport said.
Authorities were called to the scene of American Airlines Flight 320, which had departed from Montego Bay, Jamaica, spokeswoman Maria Levrant said.
CNN affiliate WSVN reported that the passenger tried to rush the cockpit, and was restrained by two other passengers before authorities arrived at the scene.
Editor's note: U.S. and international intelligence agencies have broken up an attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound jetliner, a U.S. counterterrorism official told CNN. Follow further developments here.
[Updated at 6:09 p.m. ET] A U.S. official told CNN the plot was disrupted "well before it was ever a threat to the United States.”
The official added that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was the group responsible for the plot.
"We believe AQAP produced the device, and we believe it was intended to be used by a suicide bomber on an aircraft," the official said. "The device and the plot are consistent with what we know about AQAP’s plans, intentions, and capabilities. They remain committed to striking targets in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the Homeland, and Europe. And AQAP is probably feeling pressure to conduct a successful attack to, from their perspective, avenge the deaths of Bin Laden and (Anwar al-Awlaki).”
The official added, as others have, that the device has the hallmarks of their previous bombs including the failed assassination attempt on Saudi security official Mohammed Bin Nayif as well as the failed 2009 Christmas Day bombing.
"While similar, a preliminary review of this device shows that it has some significant differences from the device used in the Christmas day attack," the U.S. official said. "It is clear that AQAP is revamping its bomb techniques to try to avoid the causes of the failure of the 2009 device."
The official said the FBI was thoroughly examining the device.
The U.S. official added it believed that the threat from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is due in part to territorial gains they were able to make during Yemen's political standoff in early 2011.
"Those territorial gains have allowed the group to establish additional training camps," the official said.
[Updated at 5:58 p.m. ET] Defense Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed the plot during a press conference on an unrelated issue.
"What this incident makes clear is that this country has to continue to remain vigilant against those that would seek to attack this country," Panetta said. "We will do everything necessary to keep America safe"
[Updated at 5:36 p.m. ET] CNN Terrorism Analyst Paul Cruickshank says one of the key things officials will be looking at is the exact make-up of the device and how it may be similar or different to the device used in the attempted bombing of an airliner in 2009.
Cruickshank said the suspect in the 2009 attempt, dubbed the "underwear bomber" wore the device for a long time as he traveled throughout Africa and it may have become desensitized. Tests on this device may allow officials to learn more about what changes al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula may have been made following the failed bombing.
[Updated at 5:20 p.m. ET] Matt Chandler, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, released a statement saying that they had no specific threat about an active plot against the U.S.
The Department of Homeland Security statement added that the incident showed that enemies still have a high interest in targeting air transportation, which underscores the continued need for increased security at airports.
The statement reads:
“We have no specific, credible information regarding an active terrorist plot against the U.S. at this time, although we continue to monitor efforts by al-Qaeda and its affiliates to carry out terrorist attacks, both in the Homeland and abroad. Since this IED demonstrates our adversaries’ interest in targeting the aviation sector, DHS continues, at the direction of the President, to employ a risk-based, layered approach to ensure the security of the traveling public.
"These layers include threat and vulnerability analysis, prescreening and screening of passengers, using the best available technology, random searches at airports, federal air marshal coverage and additional security measures both seen and unseen. DHS will continue to work with our federal, state, local, international and private sector partners to identify potential threats and take appropriate protective measures. As always, we encourage law enforcement and security officials, as well as the general public, to maintain vigilance and report suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities.”
[Updated at 5:16 p.m. ET] The FBI released a statement Monday afternoon saying that the device was seized abroad.
It reads in full:
"As a result of close cooperation with our security and intelligence partners overseas, an improvised explosive device (IED) designed to carry out a terrorist attack has been seized abroad. The FBI currently has possession of the IED and is conducting technical and forensics analysis on it. Initial exploitation indicates that the device is very similar to IEDs that have been used previously by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in attempted terrorist attacks, including against aircraft and for targeted assassinations. The device never presented a threat to public safety, and the U.S. government is working closely with international partners to address associated concerns with the device. We refer you to the Department of Homeland Security, including the Transportation Security Administration, regarding ongoing security measures to safeguard the American people and the traveling public."
[Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET] CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellen reports that a counterterrorism official said they do not believe the attack was planned to coincide with the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden.
Officials said they believed the device never posed a threat to the public and heralded the thwarted plot and recovered device as a sign that American intelligence capabilities have improved.
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.
Spirit Airlines is raising its fee for carry-on bags to up to $100. Most other airlines let you bring the bags for free, and our readers were wondering whether this move signifies a new trend for the airline industry. Some commenters said they are eager to see an incentive for fliers to check their bags instead of carrying them onboard.
Many readers said they were tired of watching people try to cram too much stuff in the overhead bins.
kafoste: "I think the first checked bag within weight limits should be free..and charge for second and onward..as far as carry ons..should be no cost for briefcase or laptop sized bags, purses etc...but yes the rest trying to stuff everything they own into a carry-on should be charged..have seen too many delayed planes due to someone jamming a bag into an overhead storage that doesnt fit but they try to make it 'fit' ..."
This commenter says they are already shipping bags rather than taking them on planes.
stonrdude: "They can kiss my carry-on. I do not fly Spirit nor am I about to start. It is greed and price gouging. If they cannot afford it, they should not be in business. Passengers have a choice, even if I had to pay that fee one time, I would never go back to Spirit. I already send my bags UPS. No hassle, no fuss. I have no Spirit."
These readers said the fees could actually be a good thing. FULL POST