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I'm a pilot obsessed with flying and all things aviation. This podcast series covers more than a century of commercial aviation and how its shaped the world. Aviation is now safer than its ever been, but it took one hundred years of learning and often through accidents and incidents to reduce the risk of flying.
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This episode we’re going to take a look at commercial airliners that have hit obstacles near runways and how three accidents in the small town of Elizabeth New Jersey in 1951 and 1952 led to rules about clear ways and re-zoning. It’s important though to stress how the rules have changed improving safety particularly with regard to clear ways. Take …
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This is episode 37 and we’re dealing with bird strikes. The most famous of these was US Airways flight 1549 from New York City's LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte.Pilot Sully Sullenberger and first officer Jeffrey Skiles ditched the Airbus A320 in the Hudson River off Midtown Manhattan after a bird strike led to both engines failing - All 155 on board…
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This is episode 36 and its icy cold out there - it’s time to check out the incidents involving icing - starting with a short list and general description of the causes, then focusing on the two Aeroflot Atonovs accidents in 1971 and a design fault in the ATR-72. There’s an unfortunately long list of commercial airliners lost due to icing, more than…
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The British government was focused on making dirigibles the transport of choice in the 1930s - competing with the Germans to produce the largest, most luxurious and most convenient way to travel across its empire. In the summer of 1930 two variants were created, one designed by a government team known ironically as "the socialist" airship as it was…
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We’re going to look at a few examples of trigger happy pilots and missile operators, starting with the 5th April 1948 Gatow Air Disaster over Berlin as the Cold War ramped up after the Second World War. A British European Airways Vickers VC.1B Viking airliner crashed near RAF Gatow air base, after a Soviet Air Force Yakovlev Yak-3 fighter aircraft …
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A listener asked me to take a closer look at the crash of a Lear jet in 1999 that was carrying golfer Payne Stewart so here we are. Of all the crashes we’ve looked at this has to be one of the more frustrating and needs quite a bit of sleuthing. The main reason is the NTSB still has not published a final report and probably never will. The basic fa…
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We’re focusing on Air Canada Flight 797 that developed and in-flight fire that turned into a conflagration after it landed and the doors were opened. 23 passengers burned to death of were asphyxiated in that terrible incident. The response to this was crucial to global aviation safety as it led to rules such as airline manufacturers having to ensur…
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This is episode 30 and I am delighted to have special guest Jim Spaeth join us for this episode to talk about his experiences at TWA.His life intersected with a number of accidents and he had a unique view of events he’s going to describe working as a salesman, ticketing agent and senior manager at TWA. He’s written a book called Up, Up and Astray,…
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We’re going to cover an example of what happens at low altitude when pilots activate the Take Off/Go Around or TOGA switch by mistake. When there’s turbulence and a lack of situational awareness, this can be deadly as you’ll hear. A number of aircraft recently have crashed because of pilots inadvertently activating this switch and I’m going to expl…
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It was some trepidation that I’ve decided to eventually cover the Pan Am Flight 103 disaster over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 which killed 259 passengers and crew as well as 11 people on the ground. Very few aviators or people interested in aviation are not aware of what happened to the Boeing 747 when a bomb loaded on board with other luggage ble…
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We’re focusing on the US-Bangla Airlines Flight 211 that came in too high and fast at Kathmandu Airport on 12th March 2018 then slid off the runway and burst into flames. 51 of the 71 on board died including both aircrew. Of all the accidents I’ve covered so far – this has to be one of the worst examples of cockpit resource management – it verges o…
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This is episode 26 and we’re focusing on one of the most conspiracy-theory speckled accidents in history, the October 1986 crash of a Tupolev TU-134 jetliner that was carrying Mozamibican president Samora Machel. 37 of the 43 aboard died. To say that the accident is shrouded in controversy is a bit like asking if Vladimir Putin thinks he’s Catherin…
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This is episode 25 – and I’m going to take a closer look at the Pakistan international Airlines Crash in Katmandu in 1992 along with a Thai Airlines accident there a few week earlier. The Pakistan crash comes via a suggestion by a listener called Herman. Thanks for the chat the other evening and also a big thank you for your great suggestion Herman…
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This is episode 24 and comes courtesy of a suggestion by one of my listeners called Russell – surname withheld as he’s an operating commercial pilot. Don’t want to upset the corporation you know. First of all, a big thank you to Russell for the research documents and information provided. This has helped a great deal preparing for this episode.We’r…
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This is episode 23 and we’re dealing with flying boat accidents. You may be surprised to hear but one accident in particular involving an Imperial Airways flying boat in 1939 set in motion the use of specialised carb heaters for all aircraft. The safety inspector also recommended that all passengers should be instructed in the fastening of lifebelt…
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This is episode 22 and we’re going to hear more about an accident in the skies over India that was the final push in the drive to deploy traffic collision avoidance systems known as TCAS. Initially we need to go back to the days days of commercial aviation in 1922. Unfortunately the first collision between aircraft took place almost immediately as …
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This is episode 21 and we’re taking a close look at the Mount Erebus disaster where an Air New Zealand McDonald Douglas DC-10 crashed on 28th November 1979, killing all 257 passengers and crew. At first it looked like straight pilot error - a CFIT or controlled Flight Into Terrain accident. But that would change as inquiries led to court cases.Of a…
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This is episode 20 and it’s all about helicopters. Thanks first of all to Martin Darlington who hosts History by Hollywood podcast and is a highly experienced helicopter pilot and instructor. He has agreed to help with the more technical aspects of helicopters as we probe two specific accidents and the improved safety that they helped bring about. …
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It was Australia that initiated the mandatory installation of cockpit voice recorders after an accident in 1960, while we’ll also probe a mid-air collision involving United Airlines and Trans World Airlines aircraft over New York in the same year. That led investigators to call for more information when accidents were being analysed.So let’s find o…
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This episode we’ll probe the Tenerife disaster on 27 March 1977 which remains the most deadly aviation accident in history. 583 people died when two Boeing 747s collided on the Canary Island of Tenerife - one operated by KLM and the other by Pan Am.This led to a major aviation safety initiative the known as Cockpit Resource Management or CRM which …
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This episode explores an accident at a time of Covid-19 – which may be too recent to have a direct effect on civil aviation safety and yet the causes appear to be directly linked to poor Cockpit Resource Management otherwise known as crew resource management. It has caused many an incident and accident, unfortunately. The Pakistan crash which took …
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This episode is fraught because we just don’t know what happened to Malaysian Flight MH370 and many pilots would say any sort of scientific conclusion is going to be a jump to a conclusion. However, I am going to take you through this event again and describe what the likely scenario was on that terrible morning back in 2014. Part of what we do as …
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This is episode 15 and its all about unusual accidents including one that most likely involved a crocodile. But let’s start with what was called the first ever jetliner crash in 1953.That was an incident involving a de Havilland DH-106 Comet 1A registration CF-CUN operated by Canadian Pacific Airlines at Karachi-Mauripur RAF Station (OPMR) in Pakis…
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This is episode 14 and I was expecting to continue with the planned series but I’m afraid the world has changed in the last few weeks. Needless to say, if anything has to be done right now, it’s to understand what may happen to commercial aviation in the future. Some airlines are close to bankruptcy, others are being bailed out. Most have cut back …
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