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Liberal Opinion Blog. Boston, Massachusetts. Political Democrat, Independent. Debunk Republican Lies, Misinformation

Archive for October, 2009

Pilot Fatigue

When I heard about that North West Airlines flight that bypassed the Minneapolis airport and kept on going…for another 150 miles, two thoughts immediately flashed through my mind:

1. What if they didn’t have enough fuel?

2. Pilot Fatigue?

Now those pilots say they were having a “heated discussion” about airline policy. Some people think they were sleeping. Whatever they were doing, that was scary!

I’ve been really afraid of flying since Lockerbie, because I was in London, and had just passed through Frankfurt around that time. Since then, airplane crashes and near misses have only reinforced my fear.

Hearing about that incident where pilots, TWO pilots, just let the plane fly itself to wherever on a straight line is not very reassuring.

I decided to look into Pilot Fatigue…and found a report from NASA (America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration). The NASA report outlines the findings from a study the agency did on pilot fatigue and its implications for aviation safety.

The Deputy Associate Administrator in the Office of Aero-Space Technology at NASA testified at a Congressional Hearing on Pilot Fatigue in August, 1999. 10 Years ago!

He told the Aviation Subcommittee of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, United States House of Representatives, that Pilot Fatigue is a significant safety issue in aviation.

He testified that: “Rather than simply being a mental state that can be willed away or overcome through motivation or discipline, fatigue is rooted in physiological mechanisms related to sleep, sleep loss, and circadian rhythms. These mechanisms are at work in flight crews no less than others who need to remain vigilant despite long duty days, transmeridien travel, and working at night when the body is programmed for sleep”.

According to the NASA official: “Flight crews routinely respond that fatigue is a concern, often admitting to having nodded off during a flight and/or arranging for one pilot to nap in the cockpit seat”.

The crewmembers napped one-at-a-time in a three-person cockpit with minimal disruption to normal flight operations and no reported or identified concerns regarding safety. The benefits of the nap were observed throughout the critical descent and landing phases of flight. The planned nap appeared to provide effective and acute relief from significant sleepiness experienced by crews in three-person nonaugmented flight operations.

• He told Congres: The Fatigue Countermeasures Program submitted a draft advisory circular to the FAA in January 1993 on “Controlled Rest on the Flight Deck.” Regulatory provisions that would sanction the appropriate use of planned cockpit rest remain under review. Several non-U.S. air carriers have already implemented the procedure.

Congress apparently asked NASA to conduct the Study. NASA’s Ames Research Center created a program to examine whether “there is a safety problem of uncertain magnitude, due to transmeridian flying and a potential problem due to fatigue in association with various factors found in air transport operations.”

Researchers came up with a number of recommendations and countermeasures to address Pilot Fatigue in the cockpit.

Is anyone (Sixty Minutes, Oprah?) asking if the FAA implemented those measures and how many US CARRIERS HAVE SIGNED ON?

Do I have to stop blogging and go do some investigative journalism (which I was trained to do)? I’m sleeping – blogging is much easier! Just like Networks/Media Outlets are sleeping – because it’s also much easier to hire bloviates who promulgate spin, opinion and bull – instead of dealing with FACTS – which by the way are inconvenient things!

If they were indeed arguing, or “heatedly discussing” – maybe those two should NOT work together anymore? Please argue while having a drink (preferably orange juice) at a club – NOT up in the air where it causes you to go 150 miles off course.

I also found this article that appeared in USA TODAY in JUNE. 2009.

Airlines, pilot unions and federal officials have until September first to develop new rules to limit fatigue among pilots, the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday in an unusually aggressive move to reach agreement on one of the industry’s most contentious safety issues.

The National Transportation Safety Board has cited fatigue as a factor in several recent crashes, including a February crash near Buffalo that killed 50 people.

The board revealed last month that both pilots on that flight had not gotten a full night’s sleep before the accident.
The NTSB lists combating fatigue as one of its “Most Wanted” safety improvements.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt called on airlines and pilot unions to begin meeting with federal officials by July 15 to come up with recommendations on how long pilots can work each day.
The committee will have until September to present their findings, Babbitt said in a news release. “Now is the time to push these initiatives forward,” he said.

An effort to get unions and airlines to reach a compromise in the 1990s failed, leaving 50-year-old rules that scientists who study fatigue say do little to promote safety.

Under current rules, pilots generally can fly up to eight hours a day. Their workday, which includes time on the ground between flights, can extend up to 16 hours. There are no restrictions on flying during the middle of the night or making numerous takeoffs and landings.

Curtis Graeber, a scientist who has studied pilot fatigue for nearly 30 years, said that research can better predict how long pilots should work than simple hourly limits.

Factors such as how many days in a row a pilot has worked and whether rest periods allow for a good night’s sleep should be used to limit flying time, Graeber said.

Airlines in Europe, Australia and New Zealand have begun adopting such rules. Graeber said he is not hopeful that the groups can reach agreement in this country.

“Getting that kind of consensus has proved challenging in the past,” he said.

Pilots have rejected attempts to extend the amount of time they can fly and airlines oppose changes that would restrict scheduling.
Airlines and the Air Line Pilots Association say they support the government’s effort.

DO YOU NOTE THE SENTENCE BEFORE THE LAST? > Pilots have rejected attempts to extend the amount of time they can fly and airlines oppose changes that would restrict scheduling.

Why not just put a squadron of fighter jets on standby – to escort runaway planes…and bill the airlines/Pilots Union?!

That would get somebody’s attention!

(Please remember: I’m ONLY posting on SUNDAY’S now, due to other commitments).

First Sunday Post – Parenting.

I always thought that I would not be a good parent because I have a Type A plus personality – quick temper, no patience (notice how many media types have this similar type of personality, with a super big ego?). 

However, I struggled along. I have dreams of becoming a Top Model or winning Survivor (TV reality show) and writing that winning screenplay. But although none of these have happened (yet!) I have managed to not live vicariously through my son. 

Well, confession: I used a mixture of threats, cajoling and bribes to get him to take an instrument at school. I wanted piano, he’s going for drums. But so far, I have not paraded him on national T.V…and there’s been no vomiting. Again, not yet! 

I’m not one of those people who think that parents should not profit off their kids. The little buggers profit off us for decades, sometimes forever! Go ahead, profit off them. Raising a kid is not easy and if that kid has a particular talent or skill that can help take that family off difficult times into the good life. I say, GO for it.

However, please parents, DO NOT USE THESE KIDS AS YOUR MEAL TICKET, even if he/she/they…is/are that meal ticket. 

I cannot stand to see parents parade their little girls on stage pushing them to do things the kids don’t want to do. Some do like it, some do have a natural bent for it and for them it’s OK. But many kids don’t, yet these parents push these kids into the limelight or on stage, because they are blinded by dollar signs. 

I used to take my son to auditions and I would overhear the coaching, the handling, and the managing – the prodding and the bullying and the cautioning: Say this. (You can tell from the parent’s tone/attitude and the child’s reaction which ones are being coerced.) Do this. Don’t do that it will ruin your hair/costume, whatever…and I’d feel sorry for those kids. 

Yes, sorry for those kids. We see what happens to child stars when they are not grounded, and even to some that are grounded. 

We forget that Einstein was not an actor or a basketball player. But he’s more famous and respected and honored than any sports star or Hollywood celebrity will ever be. 

(Please let me know if I am wrong, but:) Bill Gates was not a child star. 

Mother Theresa was not a child star. 

Jay Leno was not a child star. 

Marie Curie was not a child star. 

Do you remember the name of that cute little girl who played Bill Cosby’s youngest daughter on the Cosby show? 

Do you know who Bill Clinton is? HE was not a child star, but she (Keshia Knight Pulliam) was. Which person (not character) do you remember offhand? Would you recognize her in the street today? Would you recognize Clinton? Does she have Secret Service protection?

I’m just throwing out names at random to show that our kids DO NOT NEED TO BECOME YOUNG CELEBRITIES AND OVERACHIEVERS to leave their mark on the world. 

However, in the race for fame, celebrity, money and book deals (which is apparently ALL that counts these days) some of us, parents, seem to be seeing our kids as cash cows that we reckon we should milk every few hours! 

What set me off? The balloon story out of Colorado! 

I came home Thursday afternoon (Oct. 15, 2009) and there was this hot air balloon (home made) drifting in the sky. According to news reports, there is/was a 6-year-old inside and now he’s not, and maybe the kid fell out! 

What! A 6-year-old in a hot air balloon! What was he doing in the balloon, I’m asking my son? Why was he in the balloon in the first place? Was an adult with him? Did he fall out? What if he did fall out? 

I have visions of a broken body in a tree somewhere…

 And then…and then…we learn the kid was safe, hiding in his attic all along. 

Wow! Ok, that’s good. But…? 

Then I listen to the emergency calls and I learn the dad calls a local TV station and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) first, before calling 911. BEFORE calling 911?

 Your 6-year-old son is drifting off in a hot air balloon and 911 is your third call?

 Did he want to ensure that the government did NOT blast the balloon out of the air? Then the best thing would be to call 911, wouldn’t it?

If my son doesn’t get home from the school bus within minutes I’m calling him – where are you? And if for some reason I can’t reach him, I’m already thinking of what to tell the police to convince them that no, he didn’t run away and has never done this sort of thing before.

 So am I going to say it’s a hoax? Nope, can’t say that because for one, I’m afraid of lawsuits. This family seems to have a lot more money than I do. (Plus I make cookies; they make hot-air balloons!) They have an attic atop their garage – I don’t even have a garage! Or a parking spot!

 Police plan an announcement…I’m waiting to hear it.

In the meantime, please parents, (I think) it is better to have an emotionally secure, stable, well-adjusted kid who is not a celebrity, but doing well at school and has friends etc…than one who is getting chased by paparazzi or is paraded on live T.V. and has their embarrassing bodily malfunctions televised worldwide.

 And (in an unrelated incident) would I have let my kid sit on the floor at an awards show just to hold Pamela Anderson’s train? According to news reports, the 9-year-old girl did not have her own seat – she had to sit at Pamela’s feet all night!

Too much to say about this one…but WE are the sanctimonious finger-waggers who criticize child labor in India and other developing countries, where these kids work TO SURVIVE…AND SUPPORT ENTIRE FAMILIES.

See Why I Rave About Hypocrisy!

What do you think?

Sunday Blogger

Hello there… 

I just launched an online endeavor. 

I’ve wanted to do it for more than a year, but I was dragging my feet. I got the paperwork, set things up and was afraid to take the plunge.

I finally launched this week and it’s looking promising. But it takes a lot of my time. And I won’t be able to blog every day like I used to. 

So I’ve decided to bcome a Sunday Blogger

I got the idea from a report I saw on TV about a woman who only blogs on Sundays. I thought – perfect! I don’t have to give up blogging – and I can use my weekdays to focus on my enterprise! 

I will have a new post on Sunday.

Please come back. I still have lots of opinions…on everything, and I’m still NOT afraid to say them – well, most of them! 



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