Pointing lasers at aircraft will cost offenders big time

Pointing lasers at aircraft can cost pilots their lives. The FAA has decided to increase the penalty. This prank is to cost the offenders a hefty fine – up to $11,000. Some pen-shaped laser pointers have been reported around a thousand times in the USA in 2011, and 2,836 incidents were reported last year.

It may seem a harmless prank. However, when a laser pen user aims at an aircraft, it turns into a dangerous hazard as the laser light is reflected everywhere. When the beams re reflected into the pilots’ eyes, the can get blind, and cause a crash.

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Airlines extra fees in 2010: $22 billion!

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the American carriers have made a lot of money thanks to add-fees – $22 billion in 2010.

For instance, Matt McCall, the president of Penn Financial Group reports in the following video that he had to « pay 50 dollars for 4 inches » exceeding the standard luggage size the night before.

Most people pay such add-fees as they do not want to change bags in the very last minutes. It depends on the airlines – as in the video – but the fee for overweight carry-on bags can be twice as expensive. Some passengers are willing to pay add-on fees if needed.

However some other passengers may not have time to perform the luggage change required, and they pay add-on fees just before departure. So they pay, and the airlines rake the add-on fees revenue which is to increase even further:

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INDIA’s Fighter Aircraft Deal – RAFALE & TYPHOON still incompetition

The Indian Air Force Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) should be a European fighter jet. India shortlisted the Eurofighter Typhoon and the French Rafale for a $12 billion fighter jet deal. 126 fighter aircraft are to be ordered! As controversial rumours have spread for months through the Internet and the Indian channels, nobody could be certain of the sort of decision that could be made. For instance, remember this idea of purchasing two different combat aircraft that was issued a few months ago. Then, the news came right out of the blue yesterday April 28, 2011. Indeed the American, Russian, and Swedish jetfighters have been discarded.

According to the video hereafter,

The high-flying American campaign to win the $10 billion multirole combat aircraft tender has crashed.

The Indian Defence Ministry confirmed that the F/A-18F Super Hornet and the latest F-16IN were out of the race. Neither of these U.S. fighters would have met the Indian Air Force’s technical requirements during the trials that were also submitted to the JAS-39 Gripen; the MiG-35; the Rafale; and the Typhoon.

RAFALE aerobatics at La Ferté Alais Airshow 2010
RAFALE La Ferté Alais 2010 - Xavier Cotton http://passiondesavions.blogspot.de/

One may wonder why the Gripen was not selected in this competition. Well, this excellent aircraft is not equipped with any arrestor hook, and that is probably why it has not been kept in the race for this tender.

According to previous articles in this very website, the assumption that a Rafale might have shot down an F-22 Raptor plus some other rumours about the French combat aircraft performance left my readers in utter disbelief two years ago.

It is important to notice that the Rafale purchase is a rather expensive option. However, it should also be noted that, in spite of the modest political clout of France in India, as well as its price tag – $90 million – the Dassault Rafale remains in the final competition. A transfer-of-technology amendment might be added to the contract.

As the Super Hornet and the Super Viper have been rejected, this is a deep disapointment for Lockheed Martin; McDonnell Douglas; Boeing; General Dynamics; as well as a real watershed in the geopolitical approach in Asia.

Photo courtesy: Xavier Cotton http://passiondesavions.blogspot.de/

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Charges of forgery in alleged fake pilot licenses

The Indian DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) is getting through a major crisis – following a nose-wheel landing performed by an Indian pilot last January, investigators have found out a string of fraudulent grade sheets since late 2010.

Twenty-nine pilots have been arrested, and twelve other pilots have been held under arrest. However, the vast majority of the Indian pilots – around 8,000 – are deemed to be genuine pilots i.e. officially certified.

Watch the video:

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7 major airlines outsourcing 40% of their maintenance

A Boeing 737-300 has recently been forced to perform an emergency landing after an explosive depressurization due to a rather big hole in its fuselage. Reports suggested that some MRO (Maintenance; Repair; and Overhaul) operations had been outsourced to El Salvador, and might have caused such an accident.

However, the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) said that the last heavy « C » check – the last major MRO operation on the aircraft – was performed at the Dallas Southwest maintenance facilities in March 2010.

The TWU (Transport Workers Union) has condemned the use of aircraft repair stations outside the USA, calling on Congress and the Federal Aviation Administration to toughen the FAA’s oversight – Watch the video:

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