Two months ago, Scene Systems — a litigation support firm — released its animation of Flight 1549’s crash into the Hudson. I posted here that, in all likelihood, the animation would not be admissible in court. The legal objection would be that the animation “lacked foundation.” For example, without information from the Airbus’ black boxes

Cory Lidle’s wife and Tyler Stanger’s family are suing Cirrus Design, alleging that a problem with the plane’s flight controls caused Lidle and Stanger’s plane to crash into a Manhattan hi-rise.

Miles O’Brien, a former CNN correspondent, calls the lawsuit frivolous, because the NTSB concluded the cause was pilot error.  According to O’Brien, "in our litigious society, the facts don’t matter for much."

O’Brien is missing the fact that the NTSB’s conclusion is marred by a built-in conflict of interest.


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Hawaii Helicopter - Jurvetson photoThe Hawaiian Helicopter Tour Industry is Big Business.   Each year, more than 1 million people take an aerial tour of Hawaii.  That equates to one out of every 10 visitors to the islands.  Most of the tours are in helicopters.  The business generates more than $200 million annually, and supports countless jobs.

A helicopter is a great way to take in the islands’ natural beauty.  And that is what the tour companies sell.  "Fly into the heart and heat of an active volcano" advertised one operator.  "Fly close enough to feel the waterfall’s cooling mist" offered another.

But the Helicopter Safety Record is Terrible.  Flying too close to the terrain features, tangling with the islands’ unpredictable "micro-weather," and substandard maintenance practices have resulted in a long list of fatal accidents. As a result, year after year, Hawaii’s aviation safety record stacks up


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A reader of this post concerning air ambulance accidents asked, “Can the FAA really get away with ignoring the NTSB?"  The answer, to date, is "yes."  And there’s nothing the NTSB can do about it.

The whole reason the NTSB exists is to learn from accidents and make safety recommendations so that similar accidents won’t happen again.

Actually, the black box is day-glo orange.  And there are two of them.

The first is the Cockpit Voice Recorder. It records not just what is said in the cockpit, but also all the background mechanical sounds that provide clues to determining the chain of events leading to the accident.  The NTSB, along with other parties to