"The story of how the nation’s third-busiest commuter railroad declined so rapidly is a tale of neglect and mismanagement that represents an ominous symbol of the challenges facing mass transit systems across the United States in an era when governments are loath to raise taxes." On September 29, a New Jersey Transit train headed into the Hoboken terminal crashed, killing one woman, and injuring 108 others.
In 2014 a Gulfstream plane crashed and burst into flames in Bedford, Massachusetts, killing seven people (NTSB animation). Aviation writer Ron Rapp argues that the cause was not defective equipment or simple complacency, but the normalization of deviance, whereby "people within [an] organization become so much accustomed to a deviant behavior that they don’t consider it as deviant, despite the fact that they far exceed their own rules for the elementary safety." This was also considered to be a factor in the crashes of the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia. The creator of the concept and author of The Challenger Launch Decision, sociologist Diane Vaughan, is interviewed here. (transcript)
Previously on the blue. Raphael Pirker, a.k.a. "Trappy" was the first person ever to to fined by the FAA for the commercial operation of a drone. However, instead of paying up, Pirker decided to contest the ruling with a little pro bono legal help. Last Thursday evening, the judge issued his ruling. The judge dismissed the FAA's case, agreeing with the defense that since the FAA never created any legally binding rules for small drones to begin with, they cannot now apply rules that would be used for a pilot flying a full size manned aircraft to drone operators. For now, the ruling means that commercial operation of SUAS in the United States is, basically, legal. Within 24 hours of the ruling, the FAA appealed the case to entire board of the NTSB. SUAS experimenters who have been waiting in the wings are pleased with the ruling.
After investigating a tragic crash involving two school buses and a third passenger vehicle in Missouri last year the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended this week that state and local governments ban all forms of cellphone communication while driving, including texting and talking using handsfree devices. [more inside]
The Deadly Cost of Swooping In to Save a Life (single-page version): Deregulation and America's health care system combine to make medical helicopters increasingly dangerous.
"We're going to hit houses, dude," (NYT Reg. ), Alone in their 50-seat commercial jet, the two young pilots decided to see what it could do...A few minutes later, though, both engines were dead, and the pilots were struggling to glide to an emergency landing at an airport in Jefferson City, Mo. (or the non-registration Jefferson City NewsTribune version, or the NTSB site)
The pilot did it. Remember the EgyptAir crash? NTSB says it was a "deliberate act", but EgyptAir won't accept that explanation instead insisting there was a problem with the plane.