flight risk
October 15, 2020

Fly the friendly skies, if you must — but don't expect others to be flying with you.

United Airlines doesn't anticipate business demand getting back to "normal" until 2024, CNBC's Carl Quintanilla reports, after the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the airline industry into a near-shutdown. Per Quintanilla, United CEO Scott Kirby revealed the prediction on a Thursday conference call, echoing what some analysts predicted in April.

Despite the bleak forecast, Kirby expressed optimism at United's trajectory moving forward on Thursday, saying the airline has "turned the corner" and "gotten through the initial phase of the crisis."

"We can see the light at the end of the tunnel," Kirby told CNBC. "It's a long tunnel, it's gonna have ups and downs."

In its third quarter, United posted $1.8 billion in losses, averaging around $25 million a day, and was operating at 70 percent capacity compared to 2019. The reported losses, which were bigger than expected, follow United's announcement last month that it will begin offering COVID-19 tests to passengers traveling from San Francisco to Hawaii.

And if you're gonna risk pandemic travel, might as well get a lei out of it. Marianne Dodson

July 24, 2020

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued another blow to Boeing's reputation.

On Friday, the FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive to airlines that fly any Boeing 737 planes, warning that the engines of jets that have been in storage longer than a week could suddenly fail. The agency is demanding those airlines immediately inspect any planes that have recently been in storage to prevent any "forced off-airport landings," its directive said.

"Four recent reports of single-engine shutdowns" due to check valves corroding and "being stuck open" prompted the FAA to issue its directive. "Corrosion of these valves on both engines could result in a dual-engine power loss without the ability to restart," leading to a "forced off-airport landing." Any airplanes that have been in storage for a week or more — which is a good amount because of the COVID-19 pandemic — and haven't been flown more than 10 times since their storage will have to immediately be inspected.

It's been a rough past year for Boeing after two crashes of its 737 MAX planes led to the grounding of the entire model and revealed an error in the jet's autopilot function. Further issues suggest the plane won't fly again before October. Kathryn Krawczyk

February 20, 2020

Fourteen Americans who contracted coronavirus on a cruise ship in Japan were transported back to the U.S. against the wishes of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Washington Post reports.

A total of 328 Americans were quarantined on the Diamond Princess ship for weeks before test results showed 14 of them had the COVID-19 virus, the Post writes. The U.S. State Department had said no one with the infection would be allowed on a flight. But it fought with the CDC to transport the infected people, who weren't showing symptoms, back anyway on the same flight and separated from those not infected by a "plastic-lined enclosure," the Post writes. State eventually won, but the CDC reportedly refused to puts its name on the press release announcing the flight.

More than 600 people on the ship contracted the coronavirus, and two passengers, both in their 80s, died on Thursday. South Korea also reported its first death from the disease on Thursday as case numbers there swelled by about two-thirds, per the Post. China reported new coronavirus numbers of Wednesday that seem to show spread of the infection is slowing, with 394 new infections and 136 deaths added in the past week, CBS News reports. Kathryn Krawczyk

April 1, 2019

As the first hints of spring signal the migration of all sorts of birds back to their warm-weather homes, advocacy groups are looking to solve a perennial problem for our avian friends: windows.

As many as hundreds of millions of birds die each year in the U.S. after flying into windows, Popular Science reports. Clean, streak-free windows might provide a lovely view for humans, but birds aren't able to perceive glass, and even when it doesn't kill them, the collisions can stun or seriously injure the birds, leaving them unable to fly off.

And with so many birds dying, the ecosystems and even the economy can be affected. Birds play a vital role in controlling insect populations, and Michael Mesure, executive director of a nonprofit called the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), points out that the bird-watching industry is a huge draw for tourism. "People fly from one corner of the planet to another to add a bird species to their list," he says. "With birds gone, it'll affect the economy, too."

While bird-safe glass has proven very effective at curbing the number of collisions, it can be tedious and potentially expensive to replace all the windows in your house. One cheaper alternative that advocates have suggested comes in the form of stickers and window decals. Regardless of the shape or color, stickers can help birds see that there is an obstacle preventing their flight, and greatly reduce the number of crashes this migratory season.

Maybe it's time to trade in the Windex for a sheet of stickers — the birds in your neighborhood will thank you.

Read more about other methods of bird-proofing your windows at Popular Science. Shivani Ishwar

November 2, 2017

The State Department announced Wednesday that it will revoke the passports of convicted sex offenders, forcing them to reapply for the document if they wish to travel outside the country. If offenders are granted a new passport, it will be marked with an identifier reading: "The bearer was convicted of a sex offense against a minor, and is a covered sex offender pursuant to (U.S. law)."

The State Department also clarified that offenders will not longer be eligible to receive passport cards because they're too small to fit the notice.

The effort is being implemented to comply with the "International Megan's Law" passed last year. The law aims to prevent child exploitation by providing wider notice when convicted offenders are traveling.

Affected offenders will be notified of the change as soon as the State Department gets a list of their names. But until everything is formalized, offenders are still free to travel abroad with their old passports, the department told The Chicago Tribune. Kathryn Krawczyk

February 14, 2017

Actor Harrison Ford is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration after landing his private plane on a taxiway at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, on Monday, instead of on the runway as instructed. Ford's mix-up caused him to fly right over an American Airlines passenger plane that NBC News reported was "loaded with 110 passengers and a six-person crew." The plane, headed for Dallas, safely departed the airport minutes after the close call.

Ford can be heard asking on air traffic control recordings, "Was that airliner meant to be underneath me?" At this point, air traffic controllers informed the 74-year-old actor that he had landed on the taxiway, which is a violation of FAA safety rules.

This isn't Ford's first risky flight either. A longtime collector of vintage planes, Ford just two years ago crashed a 1942 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR on a California golf course after the engine failed. In 2000, Ford's aircraft "scraped the runway" when he was making an emergency landing at Lincoln Municipal Airport in Nebraska, and before that, in 1999, Ford "crash-landed" a helicopter when he was taking a flight lesson, NBC News reported.

But Ford has had his good moments as a pilot, too. NBC noted he's even been inducted as a Living Legend of Aviation.

Depending on what the FAA investigation concludes, Ford could receive a warning letter, or his license could be suspended. Becca Stanek

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