Li-ion Battery Devices Can Ignite, If Crushed in a Seat

(click on image to read the report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB))

(click on image to read the report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB))

The concerns about Li-ion battery ignition hazards grounded the Boeing 787 fleet in 2013, and they continue to make the news. The picture above is from a new investigative report about an actual fire on a Qantas 747. A passenger misplaced an electronic device and it became crushed inside the seat mechanism, creating a hissing sound and igniting. When crewmembers arrived, they “…observed an orange glow emanating from the seat….”

The concerns are not new. The Australian report cites a Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) issued by FAA in June 2009. Archived copies are linked below.


See also:
  • 9/23/2009 – archived copy of SAFO 09013 (1p)
  • 9/23/2009 – archived copy of Supplement to SAFO 09013 (2p)

[KSMO] Update: City Issues 30-Day Notices for Both Airport FBO’s to Vacate

It has been many decades of hard work, and the end-result may soon be here: closure of this unneeded airport to eliminate health hazards, add parks, and better serve the local community.

Airport neighbors are severely impacted, mainly by charter jets and repetitious flight instruction in the airport traffic pattern. Noise of course, but also lead, carbon soot, and other hazardous pollutants. Neighbors and the City have been trying since at least the 1970s to regain control of their local airport. They have judiciously refused to accept any new grant offer for more than two decades, with the goal of timing out FAA’s right to manage and control from afar in Washington, DC, via ‘grant obligations’. That timed out last year… but then FAA arbitrarily reset the timeout date to 2023.

Following the decisive vote by city council on August 23rd, formal letters were sent to both airport FBOs, Atlantic Aviation and American Flyers. Below is a scrollable PDF copy of a news report by a pro-aviation online media outlet; predictably, it contains plenty of bias, and the reader comments illuminate that bias even further.

Click on the image below for a scrollable view; the PDF file may be downloaded.

The other notable recent news at KSMO was the filing AGAIN of yet another Part 16 complaint, this time by Atlantic Aviation. FAA’s true role, as evidenced by their history, is to cover for industry players; this includes their dog-and-pony-show complaint program called ‘Part 16’. This is strictly an administrative review process, and it is used to create an illusion of legitimacy for those complaints, which routinely are filed by legal teams representing one airport tenant or a small group of elite airport operators. The resultant FAA paperwork, and the expense in time and money FAA wastes handling these Part 16 complaints, is both phenomenal and absurd.

An ‘FBO‘ is a ‘fixed base operator’. At most small airports, there is typically one FBO and they thus hold a monopoly on the profits to be gained selling fuel, providing instruction, chartering planes and servicing aircraft. Consistent with politics today, it is not uncommon for an airport authority to be cronyistic and award the lucrative FBO rights to connected friends. For example, at Santa Monica, millions of dollars in lease revenues were effectively forfeited by the City and instead given as a massive subsidy to Atlantic, when the City authorized lucrative subleasing of hangars and non-aviation office space by Atlantic Aviation lease. The lease payments to the City pale in comparison to the sublease revenues paid to Atlantic. Here are images from Atlantic’s latest Part 16 complaint, offering those numbers:

ksmo-20160913scp-item3-from-atlantic-aviation-fbo-inc-v-city-of-santa-monica-part-16-complaintsublease-revenues-to-atlantic-aviation

Item#3 in the Atlantic Aviation Part 16 Complaint: Atlantic is receiving $222K monthly by subleasing; they pay under $17K monthly to the City.

ksmo-20160913scp-top-portion-of-item6-from-atlantic-aviation-fbo-inc-v-city-of-santa-monica-part-16-complaintmonthly-rent-paid-by-atlantic-aviation

Item#6 in the Atlantic Aviation Part 16 Complaint: Atlantic pays the City $17K monthly; the collect $222K monthly in sublease revenues. Note that fuel flowage fees are a pass-through… a common practice nationwide, where the FBO collects a few cents per gallon as a small tax, then forwards it to the airport authority.

With this transition, the City is intending to take on the expense (and reap the considerable revenues) from directly leasing properties they own, and from selling fuel at the airport. And, along with those benefits, City aims to slowly reassert the local control that never should have been taken away by FAA.


UPDATED 9/23/2016
See also:
  • 9/22/2016 – Letter to FAA, by a North Westdale resident. excerpt: “…only those wealthy enough to own and fly personal jet aircraft seem to be served by you and your office…” (1p)
  • 9/19/2016 – Motion Asking FAA to Issue Cease & Desist Order (6p)
  • 9/19/2016 – ‘City to Santa Monica FBOs: You Have 30 Days to Vacate’ .. (article by Matt Thurber, AINonline, 2p)
  • 9/15/2016 – Notice to Vacate, issued to American Flyers (2p)
  • 9/15/2016 – Notice to Vacate, issued to Atlantic Aviation (3p)
  • 9/15/2016 – ‘Santa Monica evicts private airport operators’.. (article by KPCC SoCal Public Radio; includes link to audio)

FAA’s NextGen in Phoenix: Two Years, Zero Relief

kphx-20160918-2-years-ago-faa-broke-phx-graphic-by-s-dreiseszun

(click on image to view source Post at ‘Let’s Make Some Noise’)

It was two years ago today that FAA flipped on the switch for a new set of RNAV procedures in and out of Phoenix. Noise complaints jumped: from 469 the year before to more than 13,000 in 8-months. A group who unexpectedly became activists emerged, seeking to restore health and liveability in places like Laveen, and in the historic residential neighborhoods trending to the northwest of the airport, such as along Grand Avenue.

According to the documents used to justify the changes, the changes would help the airlines to save a few million dollars each year, because flights would make their turns lower and closer to the airport. When profitable corporations save money, it appears as increased corporate profits; CEOs get bonuses, shareholders smile too. But, who pays for this, and what are the impacts, the costs? Indisputably, more people are losing sleep, more conversations are being broken, and more schoolchildren are being distracted. If a true cost-benefit analysis had been done, the benefits to the airlines would NOT justify the costs imposed on the communities.

Here’s something to ponder: if you spend just a few minutes crunching the numbers, you can establish that if every person living in the Phoenix area paid a $1 annual head tax, that tax could be given to the two hub airlines at KPHX (Southwest and American) to PAY THEM to revert to the older routes. Flights would resume using the natural noise mitigation corridor that was used for decades, the Salt River lineation east and west of the parallel runways. Airline profits might actually INCREASE (since the head tax total likely exceeds the fuel cost for reverting the departures), and flightcrews might even get a bit more money in their paychecks (if they add a minute or two to their logged flight-time). Most importantly, substantial relief would be realized by hundreds of thousands of citizens.

Of course, even a trivial head tax such as this should not be needed. What is needed is a federal agency that works for the People, too, not just for the aviation industry; a federal agency that truly weighs the costs and the benefits, to protect as many people as possible from the real adverse impacts caused by repetitive airline flights near major hubs.

Any Progress Two Years Later?

kphx-20141016scp-g-martin-reading-formal-faa-statement-to-the-people-of-phoenix

Glen Martin in Phoenix, 10/16/2014: body language says it all.

Essentially, no progress. Many are trying, but FAA continues to act bureaucratically incapable of doing anything.

Of course, when weather has blown through Phoenix, FAA immediately alters the flights paths … so, the agency has shown they CAN implement change quickly, as needed. But, despite the flood of complaints and the news stories and even lawsuits, FAA just bungles along, providing no help toward a remedy. One of the most memorable examples of bungling: when Regional Administrator Glen Martin paused in disbelief, while reading an official statement to impacted residents; even he could not stomach the lies.

kphx-20160830scp-lawnsigns-portion-of-flyer-re-nextgen-enviro-failures

Yard sign in a Phoenix neighborhood

If there is a silver-lining in this mess it is the activists. From day one, people cared. They spoke up, they asked questions, they attended hearings, they worked to protect their homes and their families. An extraordinary number of the best citizens in Phoenix refused to ignore the changes, and refused to accept lame non-answers by elected officials and FAA representatives. They became educated and worked together to educate others. And, they set clear examples for others across the nation to follow, when other communities are impacted by FAA’s fraudulent NextGen debacle.

See also… (blue dates link to online content)

8/30/2016
FAA’s NextGen Failure: a Case Study in Phoenix
aiR Post with a scrollable copy of the 4-page flyer produced by the noise office at Sky Harbor Airport. The flyer identifies some of the many failures found at Phoenix and other NextGen implementation airports.
3/28/2016
Aviation Noise Psychology: How Repetitive Routes May ‘drive you crazy’
aiR Post with scrollable copy of an in-depth article about KPHX noise impacts, written by Caitlin McGlade.
10/30/2015
NextGen: A Formal Complaint by Phoenix Neighborhoods
6/24/2015
GIGO: Lessons Learned from FAA’s Bad NextGen Deployment at Phoenix
aiR Post looking at how FAA manipulated the review process to ensure implementation of impactful procedures that were never meaningfully reviewed. Includes a scrollable PDF copy of the CatEx signoff by Caroline Poyurs.
6/22/2015
The Investigation of the KPHX NextGen Departure Procedures Implementation
aiR webpage featuring a scrollable PDF copy of the 22-page investigative report by Kaplan Kirsch Rockwell LLP. This webpage includes links to the extensive collection of exhibits, too.
6/1/2015
City of Phoenix Files Lawsuit Against FAA’s NextGen Implementation
3/23/2015
Noise Study for KPHX RNAV-NextGen Route Changes
214pg report by Landrum & Brown, quantifying impacts at 37 sites.

FAA & Other Agencies, Using Pay-to-Play and Other Tactics to Deny Us Our Rights Under Federal FOIA Laws

It is a separate issue, yet thoroughly intertwined: the ongoing revelations about Hillary Clinton’s emails on a private server, expose the fact that our elected officials and agency leaders – all the way to the top, and regardless of which party has the White House – are waging a war against our citizens’ right to see what government officials are doing. As such, they are ensuring we can have no real Democracy.

(click n image to view source article at Washington Examiner)

(click on image to view source article at Washington Examiner)

Our FOIA Laws were passed by Congress in 1966. An incredible amount of careful deliberation went into defining the rules needed to be followed, to ensure transparency. FOIA was signed into law by LBJ, on 7/4/1966. The original laws have since been amended to incorporate electronic media. As President Obama wrote in his brilliant FOIA memo on the day he was inaugurated, January 21, 2009:

“…the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open Government.”

Words are wonderful things, but they need to be backed up by actions. Such has not happened since January 2009. Simply, although FOIA is a critical tool for government transparency, accountability, and performance, it is being side-stepped and ignored. At FAA (and elsewhere), here is what they are doing:

  • Ignoring FOIA requests: just like the Secretary of State did in the article/link shown above, FAA and other agencies are choosing to outright ignore FOIA requests. This is not legal. Legal recourse for citizens is in the U.S. District Courts. However, the district courts are bogged down with both a wholesale indifference and processes that are deplorably byzantine, to the point of making it impossible for justice to be served. The Judges are all political appointees, thus inclined to serve the power status quo in DC. We can have all the laws we want but, if the laws are not enforced, they mean nothing.
  • Delaying & Side-stepping: with time, even the best of laws become ruined by workarounds. There are so many ways FAA fails to comply with the FOIA Laws, yet excuses off their failures. Some of these include:
    1. they’ll spend months delaying on your reasonable request for a fee waiver, and use their indecision to rationalize that the FOIA request could not be started until the the fee waiver issue was resolved.
    2. they’ll claim the FOIA request was never ‘perfected’, lacked specificity, etc.
    3. they’ll use ‘Pay-to-Play’ to intimidate regular citizens away from using the FOIA Laws (see below).
    4. they’ll pretend to not comprehend even the most explicit FOIA request. Even more, they may not call to clarify but process it anyway, building months and years of delays producing a series of response packages that slowly migrate back toward the real response … but only IF the requestor sticks with it for all that time.
    5. they’ll route the FOIA request to multiple offices and refuse to produce ANY responsive records until all offices have finished their seperate sub-response; and, at least one of those offices will never finish … so nothing ever gets released.
    6. they’ll sweep the floor and compile all sorts of unrelated documents so a request that should have cost nothing (under 100 pages and less than 2-hours administrative time to produce), instead costs hundreds of dollars and swamps the requestor with thousands of pages of irrelevant records.
    7. they’ll cry to the People, to the media, and to Congress that they just lack resources and cannot comply with burdensome FOIA laws. It is like declaring, “Pay us more and maybe we’ll do our job,” and Congress does nothing to compel them to perform. Of course, all of this happens while ignoring the simple reality that:
      • they have full-time paid FOIA specialists on staff;
      • the vast majority of their workload is arbitarily added and focused on obstructing the release of disclosable records; and
      • if they ‘erred on the side of disclosure’, their workload would all but disappear.
  • Pay-to-Play: a very effective way to obstruct the FOIA Laws is to demand exorbitant payments and watch the requestors withdraw their FOIA requests. No pay, no play. This violates the spirit and the law within FOIA. Agencies are expected to grant fee waivers, and are also expected to routinely waive requests that require minimal time to produce (e.g., less than 2-hours of administrative processing, and less than 100-pages of responsive records). There is also the Office of Information Policy guidance initiated in 2008, that precludes agencies assessing fees for simple FOIA requests, if the agency fails to comply with the 20-day time limit:
20081231scp-portion-of-guidance-new-limitations-on-assessing-foia-fees-doj-oip-opening-para

(click on image to view an archived copy of the OIP Guidance)

Despite these clear requirements, all of which are aimed at ensuring the People can easily see inside government operations to keep those operations from running astray, FAA and other agencies routinely use Pay-to-Play.

Latest Draft Noise Maps Made Public for JFK & LaGuardia Airports

The New York City area has many neighborhoods that are substantially impacted by airport noise, including new NextGen procedures. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that all three NYC major airports (KEWR, KJFK, KLGA) serve not only the large local population, but ALSO many people from around the world who use these airports to travel THROUGH NYC (while not actually visiting). More through passengers translates to more flights, thus more pressure to cram too many arrivals into each hour. This works well for for airline profits, but is terrible for the quality of life of local residents.

Part of the collection of tactics Av-Gov Complex uses to nullify citizen involvement in local airport noise mitigation plans is to bog down processes with long delays. Multiple overlapping committees are formed, with large memberships. The committees are seeded with pro-aviation players who reliably spin and reset the process (imagine how impossible it would be to fully bake a cake, if you kept pulling the cake out of the oven; that’s what these committee members do).

Len Schaier is a retired electrical engineer who serves on the Technical Advisory Committees (TACs) for both the JFK and LaGuardia airports. He recently shared this insightful email (scrollable PDF below), attaching the latest draft noise maps being studied by the two TACs (also below, as JPEGs).

Click on the image below for a scrollable view; the PDF file may be downloaded.

kjfk-20160914cpy-preliminary-noise-impact-contours-55dnl-thru-75dnlklga-20160914cpy-preliminary-noise-impact-contours-55dnl-thru-75dnlHere’s the bottom line, as seen by aiREFORM: people are losing sleep and quality of life, and they need relief, not years from now but RIGHT NOW! The DNL metric itself is flawed, yet FAA and industry players (aka the Av-Gov Complex) continue using this metric to obscure impacts and to obstruct and delay long overdue changes needed by people. So, …

  • Should the DNL threshhold be reduced, from the current absurdly high 65 DNL to the international impact standard of 55 DNL? Absolutely.
  • Should DNL be replaced or supplemented with new noise metrics that recognize the impact of repetitive noise patterns? Absolutely.
  • Should we delay further, wasting any more time bringing relief – and enabling a decent night’s sleep – for the impacted residents? Absolutely not!

Let’s get on with it … use the 55 DNL contours on these maps to earnestly formulate solutions that give relief to the tens of thousands of people currently impacted at these two airports. Think outside the box this time. Press FAA to scale back hourly flow rates at these airports, so the community is better served with less noise and pollutant impact.

NextGen: Brace For Noise Impact!


FAA and the airline industry have been implementing NextGen routes at major hub airports across the nation. Sadly, the routes are destroying neighborhoods, as the design process fails to properly consider how repetitive airplane noise patterns undermine peace and quiet, critical to residential quality of life. The focus instead is on tweaking airline profits upwards: maximizing ‘runway throughput’ by removing decades-old noise abatement procedures at all airports.

FAA’s role in this mess is two-fold: to provide cover for the industry’s profit goals, and to nurture a public perception that the federal government supports these changes. FAA’s more traditional role has always been said to be aviation safety (though even that is debatable, when you look closely at the FAA track record). It is due to this aviation safety role that FAA mandates all airlines conduct a sufficient briefing, the scripted event we all experience on each commercial passenger flight just prior to taking off.

Of course, as defined by past Congresses, one of FAA’s ‘other roles’ is to manage aviation environment impacts. Perhaps FAA should mandate pre-impact briefings for the millions of citizens being impacted by NextGen changes. In that spirit, here is a card produced by one of the many creative NextGen victims impacted in the Phoenix area, where two of the final four major airlines, American and Southwest, operate huge through-passenger-sort facilities, aka ‘hubs’:

(click on image to view source post at Twitter)

(click on image to view source post at Twitter)

Shouldn’t FAA brief Congress, and all of us homeowners nationwide, so we can Brace for the Noise Impact that NextGen is?

Global Action Week Against Aviation Growth & Airport Expansion Projects

From an email sent out by GAAM…

Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM) is helping to mobilize for a ‘Global Action Week: Stay Grounded. Aviation Growth Cancelled Due to Climate Change’. The initiative is spearheaded by Vienna-based ‘System Change, Not Climate Change!’. The event is taking place end of September/beginning of October to coincide with the annual assembly of the UN aviation organization (ICAO) in Montreal. Groups and individuals from all continents are invited to join in to say NO! to more aviation growth and airport expansion projects.

As of this writing, major actions are planned in Vienna, London, Mexico City, Notre-Dame-des-Landes (near Nantes, France), and Istanbul. Mexican activists fighting a destructive aerotropolis project near Mexico City have already come up with a very impressive program (see archived copy ‘GAW-Mexico’ in Spanish, English and French).

Any input – big or small – will help to make a difference. Activities may vary from:

  • public awareness raising campaigns (e.g. by producing articles, statements, petitions; photos/videos; writing letters to concerned authorities/companies, etc.);
  • meetings to discuss the issues;
  • photo exhibitions;
  • artistic performances (street theatre, concerts);
  • family-friendly peaceful walks;
  • tree-planting events; and,
  • flash mobs to protest rallies.

Concerned groups and citizens are encouraged to sign on and share the global petition, called ‘No aviation growth! No false climate solutions!’.

Undoubtedly, aviation is a massively polluting industry and one of the fastest growing sources of carbon emissions. Yet, climate change is still conspicuously absent from any discussion around aviation growth. Aviation was excluded from the Paris Agreement signed by the world’s nations at the UN conference (COP21) last December. Therefore, we believe it is high time to step up public pressure at the global level:

  1. to stop unnecessary and destructive airport expansion schemes;
  2. to ensure that aviation is included in all climate change agreements, targets and regulations; and
  3. to achieve actual reductions in aviation emissions instead of false solutions (such as the fake remedies of ‘offsetting’ projects and biofuels).

Well aware of the criticisms, the aviation industry is going all-out to make sure that discussions at the forthcoming ICAO assembly will focus on how aviation supports ‘sustainable development’. The Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), for example, has published a glossy, image-cultivating report, entitled ‘Aviation: Benefits beyond borders’ (July 2016) that provides good insight into the industry’s green-washing attempts and among other things makes preposterous claims on how aviation will help to achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals (see attachment: aviation-SDGs). An archived copy of the full ATAG report can be viewed/downloaded here.

The Global Action Week will be a good opportunity for concerned people to preempt the industry’s nonsensical arguments. Solid evidence will be presented, showing the real and substantial harm done by aviation expansion:

  • …harm to local communities around the world,
  • …harm to the environment,
  • …and harm to our climate.

Please let GAAM know your ideas and plans for the Global Action Week! And, please regularly check here for updates on the campaign.

The text above was derived from an announcement by Anita Pleumarom, GAAM co-ordinating team.

Aviation Biofuels: Just Another Example of Industry Greenwashing

Here is a pair of opinion-pieces regarding the use of biofuels by commercial airliners. Pro versus con.

On this page is the 9/5/2016 anti-biofuels response by the co-director of BioFuelWatch; on the next page is the 9/4/2016 pro-biofuels greenwash piece, by the editor of BioFuels Digest.

Click on the image below for a scrollable view; the PDF file may be downloaded.

To view an archived copy of the pro-aviation opinion piece, click here.

NextGen Impacts, Reported in Baltimore Sun Article

“This NextGen system … has been a huge detriment to the quality of human life to us little ants on the ground … (and has ruined) the ordinary pleasure of sitting in your backyard and listening to the birds and the trees.”

– Barbara Deckert, Homeowner near KBWI

Yet another example of FAA imposing NextGen to benefit airline profits at the expense of local community quality of life. Same patterns found across the nation, too:

  1. FAA imposes NextGen changes to increase ‘runway throughput’, enabling improved profit margins for the airlines; the airlines are thus able to pack more departures or arrivals into compressed time blocks … which means neighborhoods now have to contend with a ‘drip, drip’ of repetitive aircraft noise;
  2. to justify these changes, FAA exaggerates benefits while ignoring not only the local community impacts but also ignoring the increased fuel consumption and CO2 pollution due to delay turns commonly imposed during the enroute phase of the flights;
  3. more and more people lose sleep, and lose the calming benefit of being able to peacefully enjoy their backyard;
  4. residents deal with the noise the only way they can… organizing locally, and submitting noise complaints;
  5. in short time, residents realize their noise complaints are being ignored by the airport authority;
  6. when residents air their concerns with elected officials, those officials try to appeal to FAA to correct the problems, but FAA ignores them, and frequently lies in the response letters;
  7. when reporters get involved, no matter how hard they work to fully cover the story, FAA refuses to cooperate, and does not offer an official to answer questions.

Click here to view an archived PDF copy of the online article (9/10/2016, by Colin Campbell at The Baltimore Sun).

FOIA: A Neo-Journalist Calls for Less Government Transparency

It’s a sad day when a person such as Matthew Yglesias, pretending to be a journalist, advocates AGAINST transparency by public officials. (Q: has the term been created yet, can we just call him a neo-journalist?[1])

Below is an interesting pair of articles, archived in PDF form. The articles evolved out of ‘scandals’ engineered by the mainstream media, related to the Hillary Clinton campaign. This all connects in no small part to the extraordinarily revealing online document disclosures by Wikileaks and others, including:

Whether we are talking about presidential candidates or federal agencies, it is beyond dispute that the People need transparency and accountability by our public servants, and where transparency is impeded, there will be no accountability.

Click on the images below for a scrollable view;
original articles: Yglesias, Taibbi;
downloadable PDF files: Yglesias, Taibbi.

[1] The prefix ‘neo’ seems to have taken on a new meaning of ‘false and intentionally deceptive’, as in ‘neoconservative’ and ‘neoliberalism’.


See also:
  • aiREFORM’s FOIA webpage
  • FAA’s Favorite FOIA Exemptions – the exemptions Yglesias argues for have existed for more than fifty years, and are increasingly abused by FAA bureaucrats and others.