Are you Safe in our Skies and Airports? Tales of Security and Tragedy

By | July 20, 2007

It is a question we often ask ourselves…Perhaps a few bits of info should give you pause…

  • The body of an Asian male in his 50s was found in the nose gear wheel well of a United 747 yesterday at San Francisco International Airport. Counting the most recent victim, the FAA has tallied 75 stowaway attempts of this nature on 65 flights worldwide since 1947, 59 of which ended in death due to hypoxia or hypothermia. Temperature in the wheel well can drop to forty degrees below zero Fahrenheit. The man likely breached security in Shanghai, the plane’s previous port of call.
  • Safest Seat on a PlaneThe Consumerist referred us to an article stating you were more likely to die in a plane crash the closer to the front you sit…the opposite of where most people prefer to sit. A passenger in the back row is 20% more likely to survive…although he or she only has a 69% overall survival rate.
  • An Airbus 320, operating from Porto Alegre to Sao Paulo on Tuesday crashed during landing. The plane, operated by TAM, carried 174 people and crashed into a fuel station after skidding after the wet runway. This follows last year’s crash of a GOL plane which killed 150 people and was the worst accident up until this time.
  • Bradley International Airport in Hartford was partially shut down for about 40 minutes when a 78-year old Utah man tried to check a bag with a fake grenade in it.
  • A federal report alleges the FAA covers up air traffic control mistakes at Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport. The problems include planes that flew too close together, a controller who didn’t notify another when a plane was cleared for takeoff and more. The FAA is also accused of sometimes shifting the blame to pilots. One of the whistle-blowers claims that the agency often classified controller errors as pilot mistakes. As a result, about 100 pilot errors have been reported at DFW since January, which is a significant increase.
  • On July 9th, a man slipped past security at Oakland Airport and into the boarding area by entering through the exit lane. The resulting security scare caused delays and cancellations as the checkpoints were closed for more than an hour.
  • Federal inspectors were able to slip a fake bomb past the TSA five out of seven times they tried. In one case, the bomb was placed in the same bag as a bottle of water, which WAS confiscated. The TSA responded by claiming they anticipate a fair level of failure as the tests are designed to be incredibly difficult and thus inaccurate. Difficult is defined as finding water…leaving bomb? Have we forgotten what we are looking for?
  • Singer Clay Aiken got into an in-flight dispute when he put his foot on a woman’s armrest. Passengers were held on the plane until the FBI arrived to interview them…The FBI has nothing better to do than mediate disputes over personal space.
  • Actor Nick Nolte apparently was reported seriously drunk at Kauai Airport…The Consumerist has some tips for dealing with drunk Nick Nolte while your flight is delayed(a bit tongue in cheek).
  • A jet skidded off the runway in Santa Maria, Colombia, causing minor injuries as the Embraer 190 skidded half into the water. The plane was operated by Aero Republica, a subsidiary of Copa Airlines.
  • A flight attendant on a Continental Express flight operated by Expressjet ordered the plane returned to the gate after a toddler kept repeating “bye, bye plane” through the safety instructions. The flight attendant had ordered the mother to quiet the child, who was not crying or throwing a fit…and even suggested giving the child Benadryl. When the mother, who did not throw a fit either, refused, confused about the whole situation, she ordered the mother and child removed. Expressjet is investigating.

Feel safer now as you fly the not quite so friendly skies? And we’ve barely scratched the surface.