June 20, 2013 | Kendall Creighton Pledge Allegiant-Not Laissez ‘FAA’ire Tuesday, June 18, 2013 Dry-Mouth Allegiant Air Passengers Endure Grueling Stranding Dripping with sweat, racked by nausea, Allegiant Air passengers were stuck for hours in 110-degree Vegas heat on a recent weekend. They took their minds off the misery and discomfort by breaking into a karaoke version of R. Kelly’s famous song “I Believe I can Fly.” Video was captured by a passenger and uploaded to YouTube where it has been viewed over 1.1 million times The uploader, a 30-year old banker from Phoenix, Ariz, told NBC News she saw one passenger vomit and two passed out on the floor. Passengers took turns in groups of three and four fanning elderly passengers on blood pressure medication who complained of nausea. She said that the airline only passed out small bags of ice and that the airline didn’t serve water until the plane was in the air, because they were told, “it would only delay the flight further.” “At the very least, DOT needs to investigate as well as the FAA and the local District Attorney,” said Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights. “If an airline knowingly herded passengers into a second, no air-conditioned airplane in 100+ degree heat for another two hours, rather than let them wait in the terminal, this could be reckless endangerment, a criminal offense, as well as a violation of aviation safety rules.” Laissez ‘FAA’ire Safety Takes a Back Seat at the FAA FAA Flying Blind FlyersRights attended a recent House Aviation hearing on Boeing’s 787 problems titled “Lessons Learned.” Yet all we learned was the FAA allows Boeing to help write its own safety standards, develop its testing protocol and then perform those tests. Everything is wonderful, Ladies and Gentlemen! Deep research, proposed changes, testing… but where is the root cause of the problem? Witnesses testifying were Peggy Gilligan, FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety and Mike Sinnett, Chief Engineer for the Boeing 787 Program. Watch the webcast here. Boeing still did not announce what the problem was. One can test the equipment to the death but it is not going to be safer. Root cause first, fix next, preventive action at last. Nobody admitted in anything, only slogans that it will be safer because they say so. For decades the FAA had used what it calls “designated airworthiness representatives” to certify that planes meet government safety standards. They were experts chosen and supervised by the agency. But in 2004, the agency changed the process of selecting those designees, ruling that aircraft manufacturers could choose their own employees to certify their planes. This laissez-faire certification system is projected to save the aircraft manufacturers $25 million through 2015. A pittance when compared with Boeing’s $80 billion in revenue for 2012. Boeing, FAA Criticized for Coziness The former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, James Hall, wrote in the New York Times that “one thing is clear, the FAA and the industry it regulates share a cozy relationship that sometimes takes a front seat to safety.” The aircraft maker had essentially persuaded the FAA to let them certify their own aircraft so they could save money. This type of conflict of interest contributed to the grounding of the 787 Dreamliner in January and the speed with which the airplane was approved to return to service. More Than 100 Batteries Failed on 787 Fleet The first problems with Boeing’s lithium-ion batteries emerged in 2006 with a devastating lab fire in Arizona. A single battery was connected to prototype equipment that exploded, burning the whole building down. More than 100 of Boeing’s lithium-ion batteries had to be returned to their Japanese manufacturer, according to a report released by the Seattle Times. Citing unnamed sources of someone “inside the 787 program with direct knowledge,” the Times reported that as many as 150 batteries were sent back to Japan before the Federal Aviation Administration grounded Boeing’s troubled plane. Officials with Boeing declined to mention the overall number of batteries sent back. Incredibly, Boeing testified that none of its battery tests detected any problems in an April 2013 NTSB hearing. An Innovation Too Far? Given all this, the FAA’s judgement to approve Boeing’s plans to fix the battery seems shortsighted and represents a complete failure of government oversight. Why was the agency so quick to accommodate Boeing in approving the safety of the airplane, without even knowing the cause of the battery problem? This calls attention to Boeing‘s considerable political clout, wielded by legions of lobbyists, fueled by hefty political campaign contributions and by the company’s importance as a huge employer and the nation’s single largest exporter. Few companies are positioned as well as Boeing to fend off a damaging public investigation. If the pilots of Boeing’s customers, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, have all recently paused for thought, shouldn’t passengers, operators and Congress? Fix the problem. Flyersrights feels that Boeing and the government should not be applying short-term ‘band-aid’ fixes. This was a near-miss event that should be a major wake-up call. Otherwise, a tragedy is likely around the corner. The flying public deserves better, from Boeing, the FAA and Congress alike. FlyersRights’ Partnerships: Flybag ™ – the must-have TSA-compliant toiletry kit for the efficient traveler. Enter code: ISTILLFLY and you’ll receive one dollar off AND another dollar will be donated to FlyersRights! Visit FlyBags.com. Check out the FlyersRights Napa wine shop. You can’t miss with any of these great wines. Kate Hanni, Founder of FlyersRights Paul Hudson, President of FlyersRights Founded by Kate Hanni in 2007, FlyersRights is funded completely through donations and our Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) charity, to which contributions are tax deductible. Thank you for your continued support!