The production system that promises to support a reduction in final assembly times for the Boeing 737 from 10 to 9 days this year should become still more efficient with the introduction of a new automated panel assembly line (PAL) by early 2015. Built by Mukilteo, Washington-based Electroimpact, the PAL fastens stringers to wing skin panels at twice the rate Boeing now can manage using the current process at the 737 plant in Renton, Washington.
Trans World Airlines
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) last week denied a 2013 petition to re-examine the causes of the July 1996 accident in which TWA Flight 800 exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean soon after takeoff from New York John F. Kennedy International Airport. A group called The TWA 800 Project filed the petition, claiming that a “detonation or high-velocity explosion” (possibly a missile) brought down the Boeing 747.
I remember well that night 17 years ago when TWA Flight 800 exploded and crashed off the coast of Long Island, killing all aboard. I was settling down with some friends at my brother’s Manhattan apartment to watch a game between the Red Sox and their arch-rival Yankees when the game broadcast was interrupted by news that an airliner had crashed soon after takeoff from JFK International.
Conditional labor contracts offered to employees of bankrupt American Airlines by its would-be merger partner, US Airways, provide for only marginal improvements over offers they have received through the bankruptcy process, according to US Airways chairman and CEO Doug Parker.
Dealing with explosive mixtures in the fuel tanks of transport aircraft used to be high on the NTSB’s most-critical list. The subject evolved after the 1996 explosion of the center fuel tank of a TWA Boeing 747 just after departure from JFK Airport.
After asking for a show of hands from air charter operators who are experiencing difficulties filling pilot vacancies, FAA deputy director of flight standards John Duncan told attendees at this week’s NATA Air Charter Summit that he gets involved in discussions about pilot shortages in a lot of different venues. “From an academic standpoint, it’s going to be interesting,” he said. “But from a community standpoint, it’s probably going to be a little painful. This is an interesting dilemma for the aviation community.”
But this doesn’t mean the company will close down, fire all its employees and have a big, yard-sale type auction of all its possessions. Far from it. Chapter 11 is a useful process for companies in financial difficulties, in that it gives them protection from creditors while they seek ways to get things back to a reasonably normal state. And that recovery process can take several months, during which time the company’s management remains in exclusive control to take whatever actions it wishes before requesting its emergence from Chapter 11.
The 14th anniversary of TWA 800 came and went this past July 17. Except for family members of the victims, few remember anniversaries of tragedies after the 10th year has passed. The media and general public might lose interest, but for those working to prevent a future disaster, the memory of the Boeing 747 midair explosion remains vivid and concerns about preventing a similar future disaster remain strong.
The FAA issued a final rule that requires all new commercial airliners to have systems that significantly reduce the risk of center fuel tank fires and those that were built after 1991 to be retrofitted. Although the November 2005 NPRM would have included some transport-category aircraft operated under Part 91, the final rule does not.
As Chautauqua Airlines took delivery of its first four 44-seat Embraer ERJ-140s on December 1, the Air Line Pilots Association prepared to intensify efforts to bar the Indianapolis-based airline–or any carrier other than American Eagle–from providing feed for American Airlines under the American Connection marketing identity.
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