Feds to audit Boeing 737 MAX's FAA certification

U.S. Transportation Secretary Chao told DOT inspector general to conduct an audit of the FAA's certification process for the Boeing 737 MAX 8.

Schadenflying: the super-rich are getting ripped off like crazy on their private jet billings

Private jet companies generate a flurry of impenetrable invoices for their customers, with separate bills for crew, catering, fuel, airport fees, etc, and these represent a bonanza for scammy invoice-padding (like billing $5,300 to deliver 240 nonexistent sushi boxes to an empty plane). What's more, the gougers victims are so rich the often don't even notice the overbillings: a third of private jet owners are worth $500,000,000 and up. Read the rest “Schadenflying: the super-rich are getting ripped off like crazy on their private jet billings”

A service to help airline passengers get compensated for lost bags, delays, cancellations and overbookings

Airhelp is a service that helps airline passengers in 30 countries file claims (for delays, lost bags, overbookings, and cancellations) structured to increase the likelihood of paying out; the bots have made $930m in successful claims to date, and the company behind it only collects a commission when a claim succeeds. Read the rest “A service to help airline passengers get compensated for lost bags, delays, cancellations and overbookings”

Trump's shutdown: LaGuardia shut, Philadelphia and Newark airports limping

LaGuardia is closed and PHL and Newark are facing major delays because there aren't enough TSA workers willing to work without pay to keep them open. I'm supposed to be flying from Burbank to Oakland today for the Grand Reopening of the Public Domain at the Internet Archive and I'm getting really nervous. Read the rest “Trump's shutdown: LaGuardia shut, Philadelphia and Newark airports limping”

TSA agents, unpaid for 30 days, are blasting explicit hip-hop in airport terminals

Say you work at the government agency with the lowest morale of any Fed job and then Cheeto Hitler decides to treat you like a casino contractor and not pay you, for thirty days, and recommends that you do chores for your landlord to stop from getting evicted -- what do you do? Get musical: playing Sicko Mode or No Sleep Til Brookly or Misery Business or perhaps the theme from Halloween? (via Reddit) Read the rest “TSA agents, unpaid for 30 days, are blasting explicit hip-hop in airport terminals”

Bug in reservation system used by 140+ international airlines exposes passenger data and allows for manipulation

Noah Rotem got an intriguing error message from El Al's reservation system ("PNR: https://fly.elal.co.il/LOTS-OF-NUMBERS-HERE*) and by tugging at the loose thread it revealed, he was able to view any "Passenger Name Record" in El Al's system, allowing him to "make changes, claim frequent flyer miles to a personal account, assign seats and meals, and update the customer’s email and phone number, which could then be used to cancel/change flight reservation via customer service." Read the rest “Bug in reservation system used by 140+ international airlines exposes passenger data and allows for manipulation”

Drone sighting closes Heathrow

Last month, London's Gatwick airport (the second busiest airport in the UK) was closed for several days after drones were sighted in its airspace. Read the rest “Drone sighting closes Heathrow”

760 flights diverted from Gatwick airport after drone scare, affecting 110,000 passengers

On Wednesday night, in a "deliberate act of disruption" (but not "a terror attack") someone flew a drone of "industrial specification" into the airspace of London Gatwick airport, the city's second-busiest, causing all flights in and out of the airport to be suspended; the disruption has affected 760 flights carrying 110,000 passengers (so far) and the ripple effect is expected to last for "several days." Read the rest “760 flights diverted from Gatwick airport after drone scare, affecting 110,000 passengers”

UK minister says airlines used "exploitative algorithms" to split up families unless they paid extra

UK Digital Minister Margot James has vowed to crack down on "exploitative algorithms" used by airlines that deliberately split up families' seat assignments if they did not pay for pre-assigned seats; James says that the airlines used these algorithms to coerce families into paying for pre-assigned seating. Read the rest “UK minister says airlines used "exploitative algorithms" to split up families unless they paid extra”

Cathay Pacific leaks 9.4 million travelers' passport numbers and other data

Cathay Pacific started investigating a potential breach in March; by May they'd learned of breaches to a system with 9.4 million travelers' data on it, then for some reason they didn't tell anyone about it, until now: "The following personal data was accessed: passenger name; nationality; date of birth; phone number; email; address; passport number; identity card number; frequent flyer programme membership number; customer service remarks and historical travel information." They are sorry if you are upset: "We are very sorry for any concern this data security event may cause our passengers." Read the rest “Cathay Pacific leaks 9.4 million travelers' passport numbers and other data”

A database of instructions for making different paper airplanes

Fold N Fly is a visual database of paper airplane designs, sortable by aerodynamic properties (distance, airtime, etc), and difficulty of folding. Some pretty exotic designs, too! (Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest “A database of instructions for making different paper airplanes”

"Like Lord of the Flies": working at the TSA really sucks

A new report summarizing three years of investigationsfrom the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the TSA calls out the agency for its "toxic leadership culture, misconduct, mismanagement, whistleblower retaliation and obstruction," citing these as the reason for the agency's 20% annual attrition rates. Read the rest “"Like Lord of the Flies": working at the TSA really sucks”

The history of wingwalking as told by a wingwalker, whilst walking on a wing

There's no one better to teach you about the history of folks walking on the wings of planes than a fella walking on the wing of a plane. I mean, that's pretty much as gonzo as you can get. Read the rest “The history of wingwalking as told by a wingwalker, whilst walking on a wing”

TSA + CBP test new facial recognition tech & computed tomography scanners at LAX

A new facial recognition technology screening system will soon be used on some travelers who pass through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Read the rest “TSA + CBP test new facial recognition tech & computed tomography scanners at LAX”

TSA: the fact that our secret surveillance program hasn't caught anyone means it's working

Late last month, the Boston Globe published a blockbuster scoop revealing the existence of "Quiet Skies," a secret TSA program that sent Air Marshals out to shadow travelers who were not on any watchlist and had committed to crime, on flimsy pretenses like "This person once visited Turkey." Read the rest “TSA: the fact that our secret surveillance program hasn't caught anyone means it's working”

Quiet Skies: Air Marshals are following thousands of random Americans through airports and on planes, for no articulatable purpose

Federal Air Marshals are furious that they have been tasked to follow thousands of Americans who are not on any watch-list and not suspected of any crime; they shadow these people (who are selected for surveillance on the basis of flimsy criteria like once having visited Turkey) and send minute-by-minute updates to the TSA, noting whether their targets are sleeping, using more than one phone, waiting until the last minute to board their planes, observing boarding areas from a distance, and other innocuous behaviors. Read the rest “Quiet Skies: Air Marshals are following thousands of random Americans through airports and on planes, for no articulatable purpose”

Watch pilots eject at over Mach 8 on test track

Servicemembers willing to undergo dangerous test pilot duties are remarkably brave. The military is now conducting tests on different body sizes to ensure women serving as pilots get the same safety benefits. Read the rest “Watch pilots eject at over Mach 8 on test track”

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