The Dutch Safety Board has detected a pattern of aircraft autopilot systems misinterpreting radio signals given by airport instrument landing system (ILS), which has led to minor incidents so far, but could lead to disaster if not addressed. And just like computer programmers trying to reproduce bugs to be able to identify a problem, the Dutch Safety Board ordered test flights and were able to reproduce the dangerous conditions that were unknown to the international aviation community until now.
On May 31, 2013 a Boeing 737-800 landing at Eindhoven airport was given instructions to land, and as usual, upon approach it switched on the autopilot for ILS landings, which uses radio signals: one type of signal says ‘pitch up’ and another says ‘pitch down’. Due to the steeper than usual approach of the Boeing, the autopilot went ‘pitch up’ instead of ‘pitch down’, while the plane already had the brakes on, the landing gear out and was decreasing its speed, a recipe for stalling the plane. The pilots took control of the plane, did a go-around, and safely landed the aircraft with the autopilot off.
In this case and other similar incidents elsewhere with different planes, the crew had a limited response time to disconnect the autopilot and recover the aircraft, a potentially dangerous situation according to the Dutch Safety Board. About 1,500 to 2,000 major runways worldwide use an ILS, while planes all around the world use an autopilot system that has this glitch.
Someone’s fear of flying just got real, but not mine though, I love flying.
If you want real details, watch this English-language video:
The Germans refer to it as ‘Wanderlust’, and the technical term is dromomania, “an uncontrollable psychological urge to wander”. Dutch tax law student Valentijn Kuperus is not only constantly on the go, but tries to do it as cheaply as possible. I can imagine that if you’re on a student budget and have the urge to travel that saving money as well as planning is something you excel at very quickly. And what a lawyer he is going to make, but he’ll never be in his office.
Kuperus knows all about saving air miles, bonus programs and travel sites. He has learned all about online travel booking by spending three to four hours a day looking for deals. Last month Kuperus flew to in Abu Dhabi, UAE and Cape Town, South Africa. However, he spent all of 90 minutes in Abu Dhabi, but was very happy to accumulate thousands of frequent flyer miles by stopping there.
Simply put, Kuperus is clearly addicted to travel and needs it like a fix, a lot like a record collector needs to constantly dig crates to score a great record for next to no money.
Contrary to most of us who like to fly as directly as possible to our destination, Kuperus would rather pile up as many layovers as possible because that’s how he can score the most points to then be able to travel some more. He has even taken flights that earn him more air miles than they cost. He once landed a deal flying from Paris to Sri Lanka for 7,50 euro, a mistake on the part of the airline and a great find for him.
Kuperus has already visited 57 countries, with about 11 more coming up soon. His passport is so full of stamps that he needs to get a new one every two years. This year’s Christmas trip reads as follows: Brussels-Ljubljana-Istanbul-Cairo-Abu Dhabi-Bangkok-Singapore-Beijing-Seoul-Taipei-Ho Chi Minh City-Taipei-Hong Kong-Amsterdam.
He plans to do some studying while flying as well. He has good travel tips on his frequent flyer blog.
A popular tourist activity on the Caribbean volcano island of Sint Maarten is fence surfing.
As you can see in the photo the runway of Princess Juliana International Airport starts right behind Maho Beach. Fence surfing is holding on to the fence that separates the runway from the beach and waiting for planes to take off in order to experience the jet blast.
In 2000 a Swiss woman by the name of Hartmann was blown onto a rock and injured. Instead of accepting that exposing yourself to the forces of a Boeing 747′s engines may not be the smartest thing she could have done, she sued the airport. Part of her complaint was that the signs which read “Warning! Low flying and departing aircraft blast can cause physical injury!” weren’t clear enough. Dutch courts usually have little patience with stupidity and so the complaint was rejected.
Mrs Hartmann took the case all the way to the Dutch Supreme Court which surprisingly agreed with her on the issue of signage. In what came to be known as the Jet Blast Decision the Supreme Court argued that “in order to decide if a warning can be considered a sufficient protection against a certain danger, it has to be determined if the warning will lead to either an action or the abstinence of an action that will avert the danger”.
The sign has been changed since then. Law professor Edgar du Perron points out in a recent online lecture at Universiteit van Nederland (a cross between MIT OpenCourseWare and TED Talks) that a further problem, one the new sign shares with the old one, is that the sign is attached to the fence—when people see warning signs attached to fences, they assume that the danger is on the other side of the fence.
Recently a curb was added to the beach because the jet blasts were eroding it. Although this prevents tourists from slamming into the rocks directly behind the wall, these days the tourists slam into the wall (warning: graphic video and stupid comments).
Named after a house that is in turn named after the Prince album Controversy, the Controversy Tram Inn in Hoogwoud, North Holland features overnight stays for the entire family in city trams and railcars converted into five rooms. As well, there are all kinds of other vehicles strewn throughout their farm estate.
Frank and Irma Appel have restored a four-berth train carriage and four themed tram bedrooms in either end of two city centre tram railcars that used to run on the streets of Amsterdam and Germany. You can’t help but join in the lifestyle that Frank and Irma have created! They themselves sleep inside a London Double Decker bus, installed in the living room, and their kitchen and breakfast area is a converted French van. Their house is decorated with cars, and motor paraphernalia.
You can’t miss the house, it has a Mig fighter plane right outside.
After almost 21 years, someone is finally going to film a fictional story about Amsterdam’s world famous ‘Bijlmer disaster’ (‘Bijlmerramp’), where an Israeli cargo plane taking off from Schiphol Airport crashed into two blocks of flats and killed some 40 odd people, wounding many more. The ‘Bijlmer disaster’ is known as the worst aviation disaster in the history of the country.
The plot of the film entitled “Into Thin Air” by Dutch executive producer Maarten van der Ven will be a 50 minute film about a 50-year-old man living in one of the flats whose wife has died. One day a 13-year-old (we don’t know if it is a girl or boy) comes to live with him from Ghana, and just when his life gets better, the plane crashes into their flat.
On 13 April 1999 I came to live in the Netherlands in the flat right in front of this monument, unaware of the entire story. The next day on April 14 while I was unpacking my things with major jetlag, a local camera crew came to the door and asked me in Dutch what I thought of the report on the Bijlmer disaster, which had taken seven years to investigate. I didn’t speak Dutch back then so I just nodded and shooed them away. When my Dutch roommate got home, I told him about the camera crew and he took me to see this tree, the ‘tree that saw it all’, and explained to me what had happened.
Once a year, KLM publishes a popular wall calendar containing beautiful photos of its destinations. KLM will be taking a different approach this year. Photos submitted by social media fans, passengers and employees will play a central role in the 2013 KLM Fan Calendar. It’s going to be a genuinely ‘social’ calendar containing travel photos from people around the globe
Or don’t. Some people believe that crowdsourcing is a newfangled way for companies to get things done for free or cheaply, although I cannot imagine KLM not receiving enough good pics for its calendar.
Although it has been around for two years, the Schiphol Airport Library deserves more exposure, especially since it offers a free service, something that you’d be hard pressed to find at any airport. English Breakfast radio in Amsterdam interviewed head librarian Jeanine Deckers who explained that Singapore’s Airport also started up a library, based on the one at Schiphol.
The library takes up a 90 m2 space and is located in the non-Schengen area, past security, near the Rijksmuseum (State Museum) area. It features about 1,250 books, including translated Dutch fiction in 30 languages, photo books, videos and music on iPads. They don’t offer the most recent books, which is fine with the book sellers at the airport. People also donate books to the library, which apparently more than makes up for the few books that are not returned. The library is also open 24/7 and doesn’t need any staff.
This means that I have walked passed it numerous times without knowing it was there, and that I will try and check it out this month when I walk by it once more. My excuse is not having any layovers at Schiphol; I usually have those in London or Paris.
A group of nine pilots from the 99th RAF Squadron arrived in Landsmeer near Amsterdam today after four days of cycling from the UK. They were welcomed with a fanfare by the mayor like heroes. Every year they go to the monument to commemorate their deceased Squadron members. And since the British army is cutting back on expenses, the nine men couldn’t fly over and so they decided in true Dutch style to bike 750 kilometres.
The first question RTVNH (Radio and Television North Holland) had for one of them in true British understatement style was “how are your buttocks?”.
Way back in 2007 we had already posted on the flying car, announced by Dutch company PAL-V, and in 2009 we posted about PAL-V finally demoing it and it didn’t fly.
Earlier this year  Pal-V promised a demonstration of its technology, it disappointed the collected international press by showing a gyroscope and a Carver, but not the hybrid that everybody has been waiting for these past years.
And since third time’s the charm, here below is the video of the flying car, uploaded just yesterday. The PAL-V can be used in road traffic as well as in the air, offering a choice of driving or flying. It can reach speeds of up to 180 km/h on land and in the air, and should have a normal petrol version and biofuel version. I wonder about licenses, insurances, pundits, and the rest of the fallout, but one thing at a time.
The idea is to check Facebook or LinkedIn when you check in to pick where you want to sit according to people’s profiles. KLM believes that would be a good call for business flights and making contacts.
As far as ordinary flights are concerned, I’d be more inclined to eliminate who I wouldn’t want beside me, including any type of person who takes up too much space or makes too much noise, be it tall, big, with small children or a loud mp3 player. Of course, nobody would have to allow this kind of linking to social media, as it could also be used for evil.
What if some strange man who accosts single women during flights sits next to me? He picked me, but I surely didn’t pick him. Or a thief. Just saying.
Great idea for business, but I can foresee a lot of issues for anyone who is tall, big and has small children.