Entries in Planes (8)


Plane Carrying George W. Bush Diverted

SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages(DALLAS) -- A plane carrying President George W. Bush was diverted from Philadelphia to Louisville, Ky.  Saturday night after the pilots reported smelling smoke on board, officials said.

“The flight President Bush was on was diverted to Louisville, and after a brief stop there we made it home safely to Dallas late last night,” Bush spokesman Freddy Ford said in a short statement.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


TSA to Allow Pocket Knives on Planes

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As the nation braces for potentially extended airport security lines because of the federal budget sequester, the Travel Security Administration (TSA) has announced they will allow small pocket knives and certain sporting goods on planes for the first time in more than a decade.

TSA Administrator John Pistole announced the change Tuesday at an aviation security conference in New York.

Starting April 25, passengers flying on U.S. flights will be allowed to carry small pocket knives — blades less than 6-centimeters, up to two golf clubs, ski poles, as well as sporting sticks used for hockey, lacrosse and billiards. Baseball bats will remain on the no-fly list, though wiffle-ball bats and souvenir baseball bats (less than 24-inches long) will be allowed.

“These are popular items we see regularly,” agency spokesman David Castelveter told Bloomberg News. “They don’t present a risk to transportation security.”

The move comes following a recommendation by a TSA working group that such items are not a security threat. The move will conform to international rules that currently allow the small knives and sporting goods.

“Frankly, I don’t want TSA agents to be delayed by these,” Pistole told the audience. Adding that TSA screeners at Los Angeles International Airport in the last three months of 2012, seized 47 of the small knives per day.

The Flight Attendants Union Coalition, which represents the 90,000 flight attendants on carriers nationwide, blasted the announcement calling it “poor and shortsighted.”

“Continued prohibition of these items is an integral layer in making our aviation system secure and must remain in place,” the statement said. “As the last line of defense in the cabin and key aviation partners, we believe that these proposed changes will further endanger the lives of all Flight Attendants and the passengers we work so hard to keep safe and secure.”

Razor blades and box-cutters, like those used by the 9/11 terrorists, will still be banned.

“There is just too much emotion involved with those,” Pistole said at the conference.

The Transportation Security Administration announced last week they would be reducing ”frontline workforce,” those who screen passengers prior to accessing a flight gate, and thereby lead to increased passenger wait times at airport security checkpoints.

The cuts come from a freeze of airport security screeners hiring and cutbacks on overtime, due to sequestration.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


New Firefighting Planes on the Way, But No Help Now

iStockphoto/Thinkstoc(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Forest Service Wednesday said four private companies have won contracts to provide seven “next-generation” firefighting airplane tankers, although they won’t help with wildfires now raging across Western states. The current fleet contracted to fight fires is an average of 50 years old.

The new planes will be jet-powered, fly at 300 knots (about 345 mph) and carry 2,400 gallons of retardant. But the seven new tankers won’t be much help against the 15 large wildfires burning in Western states. Only three of the seven planes will fly this year, and not until late summer, according to a Forest Service news release. The remaining four will not be available until 2013.

A series of high-profile crashes in 2002 and 2004 led to stricter safety standards that eliminated dozens of aging air tankers from the fleet. The number of available planes dropped from 44 in 2006 to only 11 at the beginning of this season. Critics have complained that the Forest Service has moved too slowly to modernize the fleet.

The agency’s own fact sheet calls for as many as 28 large air tankers.

In recent days the Forest Service has called on tankers borrowed from the Canadian government as well as state firefighting agencies in Alaska and California.

One of the companies awarded new contracts Wednesday is Neptune Aviation Services of Missoula, Mont. One of its planes crashed June 3 while dropping retardant on a fire in Utah, killing both pilots.

A preliminary report released Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board did not cite a cause. Neptune removed another of its older tankers from service in February after finding a crack in a wing.

In addition to Neptune, contracts were awarded to Minden Air Corp. of Minden, Nev.; Aero Air LLC of Hillsboro, Ore.; and Aero Flite Inc. of Kingman, Ariz.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Forest Service Adds More Air Tankers to Fight Fires

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Facing a season of potentially dangerous wildfires and a dwindling number of large air tankers to help fight them, the U.S. Forest Service Wednesday took steps to add four more planes to its fleet.

The additions will bring the federal fleet of large air tankers up to 13, still far below the number that critics -- and the forest service itself -- say are needed to fight fires adequately from above.

A series of high-profile crashes in 2002 and 2004 led to stricter safety standards that gradually eliminated dozens of older air tankers from the fleet, dropping the number of available air tankers from 44 in 2006 to only 11 this season.

That number fell to nine Sunday, after two pilots were killed when their tanker crashed while dropping fire retardant in Utah.   Another tanker was damaged when its landing gear failed and the crew was forced to make a belly landing in Nevada.  Nobody was injured in that incident.

The causes are under investigation, but the incidents highlight concerns over the age and safety of the firefighting tanker fleet. Both planes were the same model Lockheed P-2V -- airplanes originally designed for the U.S. Navy in the 1940s.

“The average age of the fleet is over fifty years,” Tom Harbour, director of aviation and firefighting management for the Forest Service, told ABC News. “They’re old.”

Critics say the U.S. Forest Service -- which contracts with private aviation companies to fly the tankers -- has moved too slowly to modernize the fleet. The agency has taken bids for the next generation of tankers it says will be faster, safer, and more efficient. Those contracts will be awarded on June 25.

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat whose home state of Oregon has had its share of fires, is urging his colleagues to waive the waiting period so the contracts can be awarded earlier. “The sooner the Forest Service can award these contracts, the sooner the companies that receive the awards can begin to prepare to deliver those next-generation air tankers and get them out fighting fires,” Wyden said Tuesday during a speech on the Senate floor.

One of the newly-available tankers announced Wednesday will come from Canada, and another from the state of Alaska. Two more tankers will come from California’s state firefighting agency, CalFire. The forest service is also calling up five large helicopters capable of dropping 700 gallons of water or fire retardant.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NYPD Can Shoot Down Planes, but with What?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The NYPD is capable of shooting down planes in the event of another 9/11-style attack on New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday, but it's unknown exactly what weapons the police have at their disposal, and whether their arsenal includes surface-to-air missiles.

"The NYPD has lots of capabilities that you don't know about and you won't know about," Bloomberg told reporters Monday, echoing recent comments by police commissioner Ray Kelly.

"Do you mean to say that the NYPD has the means to take down an aircraft?" Kelly was asked by 60 Minutes on Sunday.

"Yes," he replied, "I prefer not to get into details, but obviously, this would be in a very extreme situation."

It would have to be an extreme situation, given the danger of shooting down a large plane over a heavily populated area like New York City. It's also not entirely clear legally, whether cops -- unlike the military -- could shoot at an unarmed jet.

Neither Bloomberg nor Kelly would specify what weapons the NYPD has its disposal. Many believe New York's top cop was referring to the helicopter-mounted Barrett .50 caliber rifle, known since 2005 to be in the city's counter-terrorism arsenal.

The Barrett, a high-powered sniper rifle, could easily disable a car, truck or small plane, and is often used by the Coast Guard to stop boats carrying drugs, but it likely could not take down a large commercial passenger jet, like those flown into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

To shoot down a large jet, the NYPD would almost certainly need to use a missile or a large caliber machine gun. The NYPD would not confirm to ABC News which weapons Bloomberg and Kelly were referring to, or were in the city's arsenal.

Bloomberg said there was "not any one technology, not any one weapon" that the city would rely on completely in the event of an air attack.

"The main thing that keeps us safe is the 55,000 people who work for the police department," he said. "The 1,000 dedicated to intelligence and counterterrorism. The 35,000 who are uniformed and on the street every day." The mayor added that the city spends $8.5 billion on policing annually.

During the 9/11 attacks, U.S. Air Force jets were scrambled, but they required the approval of the president to fire on hijacked planes. Requests for comment on who is currently empowered to authorize a shootdown if New York City faced an imminent threat were not immediately answered by the NYPD.

In the ten years since 9/11 the NYPD has made counterterrorism a top priority, taking into its own hands operations that were once solely within the purview of the federal government, including gathering intelligence overseas and acquiring military-grade weapons.

Lower Manhattan today is carefully watched 24-hours a day by a $150 million network of some 1,000 closed-circuit cameras, and another 2,000 are expected to soon dot other parts of the city.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Planes Collide on Ground in Chicago

Jupiterimages/ Images(CHICAGO) -- A pair of Delta planes made contact while on the ground at O'Hare Airport in Chicago Friday evening, but the collision caused no injuries, an airport official said.

Delta confirmed two planes collided to ABC News affiliate KSTP of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. -- the destination of one of the flights.

That plane, Flight 2207, an Airbus 319, collided with an MD80 bound for Atlanta as it pushed back from the gate in Chicago just before 8 p.m. CT, Delta said. A passenger on board the Minnesota-bound plane told KSTP it was struck on the right wing.

Damage to the plane was being assessed, Delta told KSTP.

Passengers from Flight 2207 and Flight 1777, the Atlanta-bound plane, were removed from the planes as Delta tried to accommodate them on other flights, ABC News Chicago affiliate WGN reported.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Two Planes Collide on Tarmac at JFK Airport

WABC-TV(NEW YORK) -- A superjumbo jet collided with another plane while trying to take off from John F. Kennedy International Airport Monday night, leaving both planes grounded with damage.

According to ABC News affiliate WABC-TV in New York, the wing of an Air France Airbus A380 clipped the tail of Comair Flight 6293 just after 8 p.m. while it was taxiing for departure.  The Comair plane had just landed in New York from Boston and was waiting on the tarmac to let the passengers off.

Both planes were damaged in the collision but none of the passengers were harmed.

The planes are currently being inspected.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FAA Implements New Procedures Following Control Tower Incident

John Foxx/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Following the midweek incident at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport where an air traffic controller fell asleep while on duty, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has implemented an interim plan to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

In a statement, the FAA announced that effective immediately, all radar controllers have been directed to contact air traffic control towers to ensure that a controller is prepared to handle an approaching flight. Personnel have also been instructed that if contact cannot be made with a control tower, proper procedures require personnel to offer pilots the option of diverting to another airport.

“I am determined to make sure we do not repeat Wednesday’s unacceptable event,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt in a statement.

Babbitt also said that he has ordered a nationwide review of the air traffic control system to ensure appropriate backup procedures and equipment are in place and are being used.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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