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In the News: What's Going on in the Skies?

John Deiner

It's turning out to be a particularly difficult week if you're an air traveler, though isn't every week particularly bad these days?

In case you missed it, some developments:

* Today, American Airlines has canceled about 200 flights, according to a report by the Associated Press, "so its crews can inspect some wire bundles aboard its MD-80 aircraft." About half have been at American's hubs in Chicago and Dallas. According to the blog Joe Sharkey at Large, the MD80s will return to service throughout the day

* The Passenger Bill of Rights took a big hit yesterday when a federal appeals court struck down a New York law designed to help stranded travelers. According to a story by The Post's Frank Ahrens, "In response to record delays at U.S. airports over the past two years, New York enacted a passenger bill of rights requiring airlines to provide food, water and bathrooms for passengers stuck in a grounded aircraft for more than three hours. The law . . . was thrown out by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which ruled that individual states cannot make laws regulating airlines."

* On Monday, two planes made unrelated emergency landings in Poland so they could toss off unruly passengers who, it turns out, were filthy drunk. According to the AP report, "Polish prosecutors will decide whether to detain the men. They could face up to three years in prison or fines for provoking emergency landings."

* And did you catch the still-evolving horror story from this weekend? A pilot's gun went off in a US Airways cockpit -- while the plane was in flight. Yeah, a gun. Since 9/11, pilots have been allowed to carry firearms. According to the L.A. Times travel blog, "The US Airways pilot whose gun went off March 22 as he was coming in for a landing in North Carolina has been grounded pending an investigation. . . . Dwayne Baird of the TSA was quick to point out that no one was injured and the plane wasn't incapacitated as a result of what has been called an "accidental discharge." Baird also confirmed that the handguns that some pilots carry are loaded and ready to go. Pilots who complete a training program are issued H&K 40-caliber semi-automatic handguns, he said."

But wait, there' s more: The Charlotte Observer reports that the pilot's bullet went through the fuselage; click here to take a look at the photos.

Makes you feel even better about flying, doesn't it?

By John Deiner |  March 26, 2008; 1:18 PM ET  | Category:  Air Travel , Airline Industry , John Deiner
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An accidental discharge is when the gun fires with out any human manipulation. They are rare. I can't stress how rare.

Negligent discharges are when the gun fires at a time that the person using it does not intend. These include situations where the user pulls the trigger accidentally.

I'm guessing that the US pilot falls into the second category.

But, in general, yes, the pilot having a gun makes me feel a lot safer.

Posted by: Liz | March 26, 2008 9:00 PM

New item to add:

Terminal 5 at Heathrow opened today. The BBC reports that the first few flights left without any of the checked baggage. I suppose BA's staff have to adapt to the new terminal, but it certainly makes you question whether BA were telling the truth when they blamed the BAA's antiquated baggage-handling system in the other terminals.

Posted by: Rich | March 27, 2008 9:42 AM

First the gun was discharged, next the pilot will be discharged.

Posted by: Tom | March 27, 2008 5:45 PM

First the gun was discharged, next the pilot will be discharged.

Posted by: Tom | March 27, 2008 5:45 PM

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