Lawmakers Mull Ban On Cellphone Conversations Aboard Planes

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on February 12, 2014

Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration made the monumental decision to allow the usage of electronics devices for communications and downloads when a plane is in the air, reversing course from years in which flyers were asked to switch things over to Airplane mode and shut off their devices in the midst of landing and takeoff.

However, not everyone is pleased with the idea of boarding a flight full of people that talk constantly on their cellphones.  The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of the United States House has given initial approval to a measure that would prohibit flyers from using the call function of their cellphones during a flight.  Although texts, emails, and similar things are currently permitted, and would continue to be with the proposed law, the FCC has yet to approve phone calls, although they’re drawing closer.

The law is largely geared toward what many could perceive as an annoyance, but there may also be a safety factor involved.  That’s the thinking one lawmaker cited upon voting for the measure.  The nature of what that safety issue would be is not disclosed at the link above.

One thing that the FAA is concerned about is distracted driving in the air.  Yesterday saw the organization passing a rule that would prevent pilots from using their own electronic devices for anything not involved in the actual procedures of flying the plane.

Investigation Shows Errant Plane Landings Are Surprisingly Frequent

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on February 11, 2014

When you purchase a plane ticket and then later board the plane, you go in with the assumption that you’re going to be taken to the destination printed on said ticket.  But as a new investigation shows, the number of planes that accidentally touch down in the wrong spot or come close to doing so is alarmingly high.

A new Associated Press article takes a look at this phenomenon, which many consumers may think is impossible in the modern world.  As it turns out, there are certain areas of California that are particularly susceptible to the dilemma.  The report looks at the plight of San Jose, where a military airfield lies fairly close (ten miles) to the public airport.  Pilots will see the former and begin the landing procedures, not realizing that they’re about to touch down in the wrong spot.

The Associated Press has been able to identify 150 instances of this in the last 20 or so years, but even this could be underreported.  Such situations receive inquiries from the Federal Aviation Administration, but requests to obtain details of any investigations were unsuccessful.

The report details the reasons why such things are even possible.  It has to do with pilots trusting their look at the environment rather than what their instruments are telling them.  Not surprisingly, areas with airports in relatively close vicinity to each other are the most susceptible, with pilots believing that their systems are simply suffering from slight miscues.

Boeing 767 Elevators To Be Inspected

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on January 28, 2014

Boeing 767s are in the spotlight after the Federal Aviation Administration issued a ruling that calls into question the safety of a component that is vital to flying.  The worry is that the elevators on these planes could contain faulty components that compromise a pilot’s ability to properly get a handle on the pitch of the 767s.  These elevators are responsible for the ascension and descent of the planes.  The FAA is asking that inspections be carried out in order to deduce whether or not this issue could endanger the planes and all those onboard.  At this point, there have yet to be crashes associated with the potential safety problem in question.

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Government Closure Hits Southern California FAA Inspectors

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on October 4, 2013

The government shutdown continues to have an impact on matters of safety across the country, and California is also feeling the sting.  A report from the Los Angeles Times outlines how Southern California safety inspectors working for the Federal Aviation Administration will have to go on leave until the shutdown is resolved.  This could pose a serious safety issue, considering the responsibilities placed upon these persons.  It’s these inspectors’ duty to ensure that mechanics and pilots obtain the proper qualifications prior to working on planes.  They also make sure that aviation repair shops are up to par.  Due to the furloughs, the investigation into the recent Santa Monica plane crash has also had to be halted.

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FAA Likely To Ease Limits On Mobile Device Usage On Planes

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on September 23, 2013

It’s a rule that has led to endless griping from commuters:  when you board an airplane, you must turn off your electronic devices during takeoff and landing.  Now, with complaints reaching a fever pitch and mobile devices more prevalent than they’ve ever been, the Federal Aviation Administration is likely to alter the rules.  An advisory panel is set to convene this week in order to address the rule, and their decision is expected to allow some form of electronic device usage (watching videos, reading e-books) while still banning phone calls and messaging.  The move comes after years of being unable to prove a connection between device usage and cockpit malfunction, although pilots have noted multiple anecdotal instances of an error taking place because of cellphone usage.

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In Wake of San Francisco Crash, FAA Issues New Pilot Training Rules

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on July 10, 2013

In the wake of this weekend’s plane crash in San Francisco, safety advocates and lawmakers started leaning on the Federal Aviation Administration to enact rules related to pilot training as quickly as possible.  Now, that pressure has apparently borne fruit, as the FAA today announced that they would be adopting new rules for pilots, effective almost immediately.  Starting next week, the minimum amount of time that a first officer will have to fly will be increased to 1,500 from the current 250 hours.  And if one wants to become a pilot, they will have to fly as a co-pilot for 1,000 hours. The hope is that this rule, combined with training requirements the FAA plans to introduce in the next few months, will increase knowledge and pilots’ ability to respond properly to emergencies.

For more information about the new rules, follow this link.

FAA Committee Could Alter Rules Regarding Electronics on Planes

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on August 30, 2012

Anyone who’s traveled on a commercial airline has likely either wondered or griped about the fact that all approved electronic devices must be stowed when the plane is getting ready to head out.  Then, when that same plane is about ready to touch down for the landing, it’s time to repeat the drill.  The exact ramifications of leaving an electronic device on have yet to be accurately deduced, but nevertheless, it’s still an important step whenever boarding a plane.  However, that could all change come March of next year if a Federal Aviation Administration committee decides the rules are due for an update.

First, a brief background on why this rule is around in the first place.  It might come as a shock to hear that electronics are not actually banned by the FAA from being used during the landing and takeoff of flights.  That comes with the caveat, though, that for an airline to permit their use, they must first submit every different device to tests meant to ensure that they don’t interfere with the cockpit or other onboard electronics systems.  With the continued proliferation of Smart phones, tablets, MP3 players, and more, it would be next to impossible to test every device, so airlines opt to just ban their usage outright at the aforementioned times.

But whether due to the grumblings of passengers or a change in the way the rule is perceived, the FAA now plans to revisit the ordinance to see if alterations could be made that would theoretically allow electronic usage during landing and takeoff.  The FAA announced their intentions in March, but it was only earlier this week that they said they would be convening a committee to look into the issue for half a year.

There is no word yet on who is going to be on that committee, but in addition to calling upon the public to give their opinion, the FAA is expected to bring together pilots, flight attendants, and representatives from passenger associations, mobile device makers and carriers, airlines, and airplane manufacturers.

Although the exact people haven’t been picked, once they are, the group will meet to discuss the issue up until March of next year, at which part they will announce their findings.  But before you start arguing with a flight attendant that the FAA is changing the rules and you’re within your rights to play Angry Birds at takeoff, keep in mind that this committee could very well decide that the directive should stand as is.

People should also realize that one thing not being considered is allowing passengers to begin using cellphones in mid-flight.  We’re still a long way off from that brave new world, if it ever gets here at all.

Lake Mead Helicopter Tour Accident Kills 5

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on December 8, 2011

News sources reported that a luxury helicopter tour of the Las Vegas Sunset Strip and Hoover Dam crashed into a mountainside Wednesday evening, taking the lives of the pilot and four passengers near Lake Mead. The tour was operated by Sundance helicopters in Las Vegas.

According to National Park Service spokesman Andrew Munoz, the accident occurred in the River Mountains surrounding Lake Mead just before 5pm on Wednesday. The crash, which was remotely witnessed by numerous people, happened about 4 miles west of Lake Mead and roughly 30 miles from the Las Vegas Strip. The scene is not accessible by road an initially slowed a rescue and recovery effort until early Thursday. A park ranger rode a 4-wheel drive vehicle to scene in the meantime to protect the bodies and scene until the investigation could begin.

Ian Gregor, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, stated that the helicopter was an AS-350, and could hold up to six passengers during an air tour. The FAA is unclear as to what may have caused the accident, as the weather was mostly clear Wednesday in that area.

The identities of the victims have yet to be disclosed as officials are continuing their investigation.

As a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, I’m deeply saddened to learn of this tragic accident. In my time as a personal injury lawyer, I’ve seen the devastating effects that accidents similar to this have had on the family and friends left behind, and I offer my most sincere condolences as they mourn their loss.

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