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Snake actually on a plane

Reuters: "The three meter-long (9.1 foot) non-poisonous Amethystine python appeared about an hour into the Qantas flight between Cairns in northern Queensland and the Papua New Guinean capital of Port Moresby on Thursday." Rob

How safe is safe?

The precautionary principle comes up a lot when you're talking about the side effects of technology in the real world. When you don't have evidence that something is dangerous — but you suspect it might be — you could cite the precautionary principle as a reason to ban or limit the use of that thing. It's a messy idea, though, and I'm still not sure what to think about it. On the one hand, technology is often available before data on the wide-ranging effects of that technology are available. Do you use it or not is a legitimate question. On the other hand, following the precautionary principle in a blind sort of way can lead to things like this. Maggie

Composited, time-accelerated video of airport traffic

Filmmaker Cy Kuckenbaker composited four and a half hours of San Diego International Airport traffic into 25 seconds. "With an even blue background it’s fairly easy to key out each airplane and put them together. The bridge in this shot is an added time lapse under the 1st Street bridge in San Diego." Kuckenbaker was inspired by Ho-Yeol Ryu’s incredible composite photo of airplanes at Hannover Airport. "All Landings at San Diego Int Airport Friday Nov 23 from 1030am to 300pm" (via Colossal)

Solar Impulse plane lands, completing world's first intercontinental flight powered by the sun (photos)

Photo: REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

The Solar Impulse plane project president and pilot Bertrand Piccard lands after a 19-hour flight from Madrid at Rabat's International airport, June 5, 2012. The plane landed in Morocco on Tuesday, completing the world's first intercontinental flight powered by the sun to show the potential for pollution-free air travel.

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Solar-powered airplane "Solar Impulse" attempts transcontinental flight

Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

A Solar Impulse aircraft takes off at Payerne airport May 24, 2012, piloted by André Borschberg. The Solar Impulse HB-SIA prototype aircraft, which has 12,000 solar cells built into its jumbo-jet-sized wings (about 200 feet long), attempted its first intercontinental flight from Switzerland to Morocco with a few days for a technical stop and a change of pilot in Madrid. This flight will act as a final rehearsal for the 2014 round-the-world flight.

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Flying the Hello Kitty skies (photo)

Almost as much fun as the "Unicorn Chaser" plane Boing Boing named for Virgin America airlines! A passenger looks out of an Airbus A330-300 aircraft of Taiwan's Eva Airlines, decorated with Hello Kitty motifs, in Taoyuan International Airport, northern Taiwan, April 30, 2012. Taiwan's second-largest carrier, Eva Airlines, and Japan's comic company, Sanrio, which owns the Hello Kitty brand, collaborated on the second generation Hello Kitty-themed aircraft which was launched on October 2011. There are currently three Hello Kitty-themed Airbus A330-300 aircrafts flying between cities such as Taipei, Fukuoka, Narita, Sapporo, Incheon, Hong Kong and Guam. More photos here, and we've previously blogged about the earlier generation of the Hello Kitty planes on Eva. (REUTERS/Pichi Chuang)

Gorgeous photos of jets flying too close to the beach

Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) on St. Maarten has an extremely short runway (7152 feet) that forces jets to get mighty close to people at Maho Beach. 

Photographer Josef Hoflehner has taken some amazing shots of this phenomenon. 

FAA to review in-flight gadget policies, maybe, eventually

The US Federal Aviation Administration today announced it is exploring ways to make it easier for airlines to allow travelers to use connected gadgets like phones, iPads, and tablet PCs during plane takeoff and landing.

A statement released today says the FAA is “exploring ways to bring together all of the key stakeholders involved” (airlines, plane manufacturers, consumer electronics producers, and unions representing flight attendants) to discuss the possibility of testing devices to determine if they are safe for passengers to use during the most critical phases of flight.

“No changes will be made until we are certain they will not impact safety and security," read the statement. FAA rules currently require fliers to shut down their electronic devices when the plane's altitude is below 10,000 feet.

Snip from Nick Bilton at the NYT's Bits blog:

Abby Lunardini, vice president of corporate communications at Virgin America, explained that the current guidelines require that an airline must test each version of a single device before it can be approved by the F.A.A. For example, if the airline wanted to get approval for the iPad, it would have to test the first iPad, iPad 2 and the new iPad, each on a separate flight, with no passengers on the plane.

It would have to do the same for every version of the Kindle. It would have to do it for every different model of plane in its fleet. And American, JetBlue, United, Air Wisconsin, etc., would have to do the same thing. (No wonder the F.A.A. is keeping smartphones off the table since there are easily several hundred different models on the market.) Ms. Lunardini added that Virgin America would like to perform these tests, but the current guidelines make it “prohibitively expensive, especially for an airline with a relatively small fleet that is always in the air on commercial flights like ours.”

More at the New York Times, Associated Press, and Wall Street Journal.

Photo: "Person Holding a Business Phone While on a Plane," Jim Lopes, Shutterstock.

Soviet Union announces F-22


Photos: Sukhoi; U.S. Air Force photo by Scott Wolf

Russia's new Sukhoi T-50 stealth fighter (right) may remind you of something else. [via Metafilter]

3 things you need to know about biofuels

Why care about liquid fuel?

There’s a reason we use different forms of energy to do different jobs, and it’s not because we’re all just that fickle.

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NC teen stowaway breaches US airport security, hides in plane wheel well, dies, falls in Boston

The mangled body of a 16-year-old boy from North Carolina mysteriously dropped from the sky down to a Boston suburb last month. Authorities now believe the teen breached airport security, and managed to hide himself inside the wheel well of a US Airways Boeing 737. He is believed to have then fallen to his death as the plane lowered its landing gear on approach to Boston's Logan Airport.
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The corpse of Delvonte Tisdale, 16, was found in a quiet neighborhood in Milton, Mass., Nov. 15, below a flight path to Logan.

"It appears more likely than not that Mr. Tisdale was able to breach airport security and hide in the wheel well of a commercial jet airliner without being detected by airport security," Norfolk County District Attorney William R. Keating said at a news conference Friday afternoon.

Mr. Keating said he alerted federal authorities and the Charlotte Airport that the teenager was able to breach airport security and get onto the plane. While the case is a tragedy, Mr. Keating said, it also underscores fears that someone with malicious intention could do the same thing.

At the risk of pointing out what is very much apparent: all the TSA's invasive body-scanning and crotch-groping failed to prevent this. What if this kid was a suicide bomber stowaway, strapped with explosives? How did this happen?

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Will recent "parcelbomb" threat block inflight WiFi and cellphone use?

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[Image: Bricked Sky, submitted to the Boing Boing Flickr Pool by Cameron Russell]

Over at New Scientist, Paul Marks speculates that "the long-awaited ability to use a cellphone or Wi-Fi connection on an aircraft might become a casualty of the latest aviation security threat."

It is not yet known whether the cellphones in the printer bombs were intended to be triggered remotely. They may have been intended simply as timers, as in the 2004 Madrid train bombings. But future devices could take advantage of wireless communication.

In-flight Wi-Fi "gives a bomber lots of options for contacting a device on an aircraft", Alford says. Even if ordinary cellphone connections are blocked, it would allow a voice-over-internet connection to reach a handset.

"If it were to be possible to transmit directly from the ground to a plane over the sea, that would be scary," says Alford's colleague, company founder Sidney Alford. "Or if a passenger could use a cellphone to transmit to the hold of the aeroplane he is in, he could become a very effective suicide bomber."

Aircraft bomb finds may spell end for in-flight Wi-Fi (New Scientist)