Aviation/Airport Stories We Are Following for the Week of August 19 – 23, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013.

More Fallout and Analysis of the AMR/US Airways Merger Antitrust Lawsuit.

First the fallout: Teamsters, seeking to organize employees of American Airlines drop their effort blaming the lawsuit.  http://bit.ly/16CDUZU At the same time US Airways CEO is seeking labor union support in the wake of the lawsuit.  http://onforb.es/1cU1V23 Both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal ran editorials positing that the antitrust lawsuit was arbitrary and/or a case of too little too late.  http://nyti.ms/19DZL5a http://bit.ly/160GJ0E

Mysteries Still Abound with UPS Crash.

Over the weekend, investigators reported that both the autopilot and the autothrottle were engaged until moments before impact.  Robert Sumwalt, the Senior NTSB official at the site said that the autopilot remained engaged until the last second of recorded data, even though the pilots received a “rate of descent warning” indicating the plane was descending too quickly. http://bit.ly/19tlqto http://bit.ly/16WFnGY

Tuesday, August 20, 2013.

Another FOIA Lawsuit – This One Regarding TWA Flight 800.

One of the Co-Producers of the recent documentary about the crash of TWA Flight 800, Thomas Stalcup, filed two lawsuits in MA last week alleging that he received inadequate responses to Freedom of Information requests to the Missile Defense Agency and the Naval Special Warfare Command regarding the crash of TWA Flight 800. One of the ongoing allegations by investigators has been that a missile brought down TWA Flight 800. http://bit.ly/16Ix453

Wednesday, August 21, 2013.

Climate Change and Aviation Industry, Not So Big in the U.S.

While Europe has been on the forefront of developing regulations regarding the effects that aviation has had (and will have) on the climate. As a Huffington Post blogger pointed out yesterday, the aviation sector accounts for 6% of all industrial climate emissions – and that is larger amount. http://huff.to/1arqHok  ICAO, the U.N. aviation agency is supposed to release its plan in late September, but it is likely that it will put off the decision once again.  http://bit.ly/17K25Cg Meanwhile, back in the states, airlines have been banned from complying with the European standards by the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011. http://bit.ly/1f2bZ4U

Sen. McCaskill Wants New FAA Rule on Personal Electronics on Planes.

Earlier this month, Sen Claire McCaskill (D-MO) sent a letter along with 9 of her Senate colleagues to FAA Administrator Huerta asking him to hurry the process up of new regulations concerning the in-flight use of Portable Electronic Devices (PED).  The Senators are pushing for an expedited treatment of the Aviation Rulemaking Committee’s findings once it reaches consensus. http://bit.ly/14WiyAj

Thursday, August 22, 2013

“Process Patents” At Heart of Lawsuit Against Airlines.

Copytele, Inc.’s subsidiary Loyalty Conversion Systems filed 10 patent infringement lawsuits against 10 airlines in connection with their frequent flyer programs.  LCS alleges that the airlines, in converting frequent flyer miles to other rewards, such as hotel stays, rental cars, infringe on LCS’ process patents.  LCS claims that 16 of its patents cover the numerous aspects of the points conversion process which are used by both the airlines and their partners. http://bit.ly/19zKHCr  In its accompanying press release, Copytele brags that it “now has 20 active lawsuits across 5 patented technology areas.” http://bit.ly/18MkAHg

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pilots Need to Be Taught to Pay Attention.

In an article in USA Today, Bart Jansen writes about how better and more reliable cockpit technology has led to fewer crashes, but could leave pilots less attentive.  http://usat.ly/1dzAkB3 Because the technology is reliable, it is human nature to pay less attention to working systems, but what happens when they malfunction?  Will pilot training about how to properly monitor the automated systems help?  This topic was explored a little over a month ago after the Asiana crash http://yhoo.it/154QOjP and it promises to be a topic of discussion in the future due to the UPS crash where there seemed to be no mechanical reason for either crash.

FAA Issues Policy to Improve Workplace Safety for Aircraft Cabin Crewmembers.

OSHA and FAA announced on Thursday, August 22, 2013, that air cabin crew members will receive workplace protections. Since 1975 FAA has claimed exclusive jurisdiction to crafting workplace regulations for airplane crews due to its legal authority over all things aerial. But in the 2012 FAA reauthorization bill, Congress required FAA to work with OSHA to develop a policy on when OSHA requirements would apply to crew members. This policy is the result of those discussions, which gives OSHA authority to develop requirements, so long as they do not conflict with FAA regulations. http://1.usa.gov/13Wnw0A http://bit.ly/14paP1U

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