TIME Aviation

The TSA Seized a Record Number of Guns in 2014

TSA: How to Travel by Commercial Airflight With A Firearm
After filling out a brief disclosure form, commercial air flight travelers are allowed to transport unloaded firearms in locked, hard-sided cases as checked luggage only, as can be seen in props provided by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Dulles International Airport on Wednesday, June 11, 2014, in Washington, DC. The Washington Post—Getty Images

Security agents found six per day on average

The Transportation Security Administration kept especially busy in 2014: A record high of 2,212 guns were seized from carry-on luggage, marking a 22% increase over 2013 numbers.

The TSA found an average of more than six firearms per day, the agency said Friday, and of those seized, 83% were loaded. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport saw 120 guns seized, the most of any airport.

Passengers who try to bring firearms onto a plane in their carry-on bags can be arrested and criminally charged.

TIME Aviation

Why Airlines Don’t Talk About Safety In Their Ads

People stand in the main terminal at Washington Dulles International Airport is shown October 2, 2014 in Dulles, Virginia. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Fliers don't want to be reminded of the risk

Looking around at modern airlines’ slogans, you might notice a common trend: Few of them stress safety. Not Delta’s “Keep Climbing,” not American Airlines’ “The new American is arriving,” not JetBlue’s “You Above All.”

There was a time when this wasn’t the case. Safety was often mentioned in air travel ads when the aviation industry was still nascent in the 1920s and 1930s — back then, airlines had the tricky task of convincing travelers to try a then-unproven means of getting about.

The trend lasted until the late 1980s, when Pan Am launched reassuring ads amidst terrorist threats targeting American airliners flying across the Atlantic. Those threats, however, eventually took form as that year’s fatal bombing of Pan Am Flight 1o3, which claimed 270 lives in the air and on the ground.

The Pan Am attack, says aviation security expert Glen Winn, is ultimately what convinced airlines to quit bragging about safety.

“Leading up the destruction of Pan Am 103, [Pan Am] had advertised themselves as not only the safest, but also the most secure,” Winn said. “Airlines since then have been really careful how they say what they say.”

Safety has since all but disappeared from airlines’ advertisements. And when airlines are required to discuss safety during on-board safety demonstrations, major brands are trying to make them more fun, revamping their in-flight safety videos to transform mandatory prepare-for-the-worst briefings into informative musicals and short films.

Why the shift? Yes, Worldwide commercial aviation deaths per year have declined. But no airline can guarantee passengers total immunity from harm. And several high-profile disasters over the past few months, like Malaysia Airlines Flights 370 and 17 as well as AirAsia Flight 8501, have put travelers especially on edge. Putting the “S-Word” in slogans or commercials, airlines have found, doesn’t reassure passengers — it just reminds them of the random chance of danger their next trip might bring, however slight it may be.

“When you talk about safety, you bring up a bad taste in people’s mouths,” said Andy Trinchero, executive director of marketing at aviation marketing firm. “It’s something that people don’t even want to hear about, really.”

TIME Aviation

Cheaper Fuel Could Save Delta $2 Billion in 2015

Delta Air Lines says it could see savings of more than $2 billion in 2015 over last year’s levels, citing lower fuel prices as a factor that can help the airline book double-digit earnings growth for the upcoming year.

Airlines like Delta are seen as one of the greatest beneficiaries of tumbling oil prices in recent months, as fuel is a great cost to the industry. Some publications, such as The Wall Street Journal, have begun to speculate U.S. airlines could use the fuel savings to pay down debt or reward shareholders with stock repurchases. Meanwhile, some politicians are calling on an investigation as to why plane tickets are still so high despite the steep drop for the price of fuel.

Delta’s latest results indicate it is a mixed blessing. The company’s fourth-quarter results for 2014 came with a $1.2 billion charge tied to fuel hedging. That charge led Delta to book a $712 million loss for the period. But excluding those hedging adjustments, Delta said fuel expenses tumbled $342 million, driven by lower market prices and higher refinery profits.

Delta is also seeing a tailwind to the upcoming fuel savings it will see this year.

“We expect a net year-over-year fuel price benefit of $500 million in the March quarter and will work throughout 2015 to maximize the benefit of fuel savings to our bottom line,” said Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson.

Delta is also in an unusual position because it has owned a Pennsylvania refinery since 2012, a move the company made to help it navigate turbulent swings in fuel prices. Operations at the refinery produced a $105 million profit for the latest quarter. Delta’s refinery primarily provides jet fuel for the benefit of the airline, though the company sells fuel by-products to third parties from time to time.

And beyond the fuel benefits, Delta and other airlines are aided by more demand for travel. Overall revenue climbed 6% to $9.65 billion, bolstered by a 4% increase in traffic on a 3.7% increase in capacity.

TIME indonesia

AirAsia Flight 8501 Climbed ‘Beyond Normal’ Speed, Officials Say

AirAsia aircraft tail storage is recovered
AirAsia aircraft tail is recovered from the Java Sea on Jan. 12, 2015, in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia Denny Pohan—Demotix/Corbis

The plane reportedly climbed at 6,000 ft. per minute before stalling

An airplane that crashed in Indonesia late December was climbing at “beyond normal” speed before it pitched into the Java Sea, the country’s Transportation Minister said Tuesday.

Ignasius Jonan told a hearing into the AirAsia Flight 8501 crash that the plane stalled after climbing at 6,000 ft. per minute — faster than a fighter jet, the Jakarta Post reports. A total of 162 passengers and crew are believed dead.

“The average speed of a commercial aircraft is probably between 1,000 and 2,000 ft. per minute, because the aircraft is not designed to soar so fast,” he said.

The update comes a week after the recovery of the plane’s “black boxes,” a flight-data recorder and cockpit-voice recorder.

Investigators have ruled out terrorism after reviewing the black boxes and are considering human error, technical malfunction and inclement weather as possible causes for the steep climb and the crash.

[Jakarta Post]

Read next: Search Crews Locate Missing AirAsia Flight’s Fuselage

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Aviation

Search Crews Locate Missing AirAsia Flight’s Fuselage

AirAsia aircraft tail storage is recovered
AirAsia aircraft tail is recovered from the Java Sea on Jan. 12, 2015, in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia Denny Pohan—Demotix/Corbis

Official hopes it brings "some form of closure" to families

Search crews located the fuselage of missing Air Asia Flight 8501 on Wednesday, officials said, marking a breakthrough in a the search for the plane’s scattered wreckage and the missing passengers’ remains.

“The [rescue team] has located the fuselage of the AirAsia plane in the Java Sea,” Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen wrote on Facebook, saying the fuselage had been found by a remotely operated vehicle in the Java Sea, 2 km away from the tail. The flight en route from Indonesia to Singapore vanished over the Java Sea on Dec. 28 with 162 people on board.

The Facebook post included images of the submerged wreckage, which showed a section of the wing and AirAsia’s slogan “Now Everyone Can Fly” legibly printed on the side of the plane.

“I hope that with the fuselage located, some form of closure can come to the families of the victims to ease their grief,” Ng wrote.

TIME Aviation

Qatar Airways Plans to Live Stream Flight Data from Black Box Recorders

Comercial Bank Qatar Masters - Day Two
A Qatar Airways plane flys over head during the second round of the Comercial Bank Qatar Masters at the Doha Golf Club on January 23, 2014 in Doha, Qatar. Ross Kinnaird—Getty Images

"Qatar Airways will, I hope, be the first airliner to introduce this in all our planes”

Qatar Airways wants to be the first airline to stream flight data from black boxes to operations centers on the ground in real-time, so that rescue crews won’t miss a beat in the event of a disturbance during flight.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said a new flight tracking system was currently being tested in preparation for a fleet-wide deployment, Bloomberg reports.

The push for the new system comes in the wake of disappearances last year of Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia flights, which prompted frenzied searches for black box data, which can record vital clues about the plane’s location and flight conditions before it went down. Indonesian divers retrieved black boxes from missing Air Asia Flight QZ8501 Sunday, after the plane with 162 passengers crashed into the Java Sea.

“Once this has been proven and all the bugs have been cleared then Qatar Airways will, I hope, be the first airliner to introduce this in all our planes,” Baker said.

Read more at Bloomberg.

TIME Aviation

A Plane from New York to London Almost Went Supersonic

British Airways aircraft are parked on an apron at Heathrow airport during the first day of a strike by cabin crew on March 27, 2010 in London.
Peter Macdiarmid—Getty Images

"It's just like surfing," a pilot said

Passengers on a flight from New York to London last week got to their destination more than an hour early thanks to strong winds that helped their plane reach near-supersonic speed.

The British Airways flight made the trip in 5 hours and 16 minutes at ground speeds of up to 1,200 km/h (745 mph), CNN reports. The sonic barrier, or the speed of sound, is broken at 1,224 km/h (761 mph).

Not only was the unusually fast flight a boon for the passengers, but, according to a former British Airways Pilot, riding jet streams is fun for the pilots, too. “It’s just like surfing,” Alastair Rosenschein told the Telegraph.

Read next: Nike to Sell ‘Back to the Future 2′ Shoes This Year

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TIME Aviation

The AirAsia Flight 8501 Data Recorder Has Been Retrieved

Indonesian crew of the Crest Onyx ship prepare to hoist recovered wreckage of AirAsia flight QZ8501 at port in Kumai on January 11, 2015. Indonesian divers on January 11 found the crucial black box flight recorder of the AirAsia plane that crashed in the Java Sea a fortnight ago with 162 people aboard, the transport ministry said. Adek Berry—AFP/Getty Images

The cockpit voice recorder has also been located but remains buried under wreckage

One of two data recorders belonging to the AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea on Dec. 28 has been brought to the surface, according to Indonesia’s top search and rescue official.

F.H. Bambang Soelistyo, the head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), told reporters in Jakarta that “we succeeded in bringing up part of the black box that we call the flight data recorder,” the BBC reports.

He said recovery had been made at 7:11 a.m. local time.

Divers have meanwhile also found the cockpit voice recorder, but are unable to retrieve it because it is buried under heavy wreckage, the Associated Press reports.

Investigators hope that the evidence contained in both devices will help explain why the Airbus A320-200 went down with 162 lives lost as it flew from Indonesia’s second city, Surabaya, to Singapore.


TIME Aviation

AirAsia Jet’s Tail Lifted From Sea, but No Black Boxes Found

Part of AirAsia flight QZ8501 is lifted onto a Crest Onyx ship as navy divers conduct operations to search for black boxes of the aircraft in the Java sea on Jan. 10, 2015.
Part of AirAsia flight QZ8501 is lifted onto a Crest Onyx ship as navy divers conduct operations to search for black boxes of the aircraft in the Java sea on Jan. 10, 2015. Prasetyo Utomo—AFP/Getty Images

PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia (AP) — A tail section from the AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea late last month, killing all 162 people on board, became the first major wreckage lifted off the ocean floor Saturday, but the all-important black boxes were not found inside.

The red metal chunk, with the words “AirAsia” clearly visible across it, was brought to the surface using inflatable balloons.

The cockpit voice and flight data recorders, located in the plane’s rear, must have detached when the Airbus A320 plummeted into the waters Dec. 28, said Indonesian military commander Gen. Moeldoko. Their recovery is essential to finding out why Flight 8501 crashed.

However, Moeldoko, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, said pings believed to be coming from the black boxes were detected Saturday. Their beacons emit signals for about 30 days until the batteries die, meaning divers have about two weeks left to find them.

“I am fully confident that the black boxes are still not far from the tail,” Moeldoko said.

The debris was brought up from a depth of about 30 meters (100 feet) and towed to a ship, where it was hoisted onto the deck. The vertical stabilizer was still largely intact, but the attached jagged fuselage was ripped open and tangled by a mess of wires.

The tail’s discovery earlier in the week was a major breakthrough in the slow-moving search, which has been hampered by seasonal rains, choppy seas and blinding silt from river runoff.

But Suryadi Bambang Supriyadi, operation director of Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency, said Saturday that he was still focused on finding the main section of fuselage, where most of the bodies are believed to be entombed. Several large objects have been spotted in the area by sonar, but they have not yet been explored underwater. So far, only 48 corpses have been recovered.

“This is what the families have been waiting for,” Supriyadi said. “They have been crying for 14 days.”

The last contact the pilots had with air traffic control, about halfway into their two-hour journey from Indonesia’s second-largest city, Surabaya, to Singapore, indicated they were entering stormy weather. They asked to climb from 32,000 feet (9,753 meters) to 38,000 feet (11,582 meters) to avoid threatening clouds, but were denied permission because of heavy air traffic. Four minutes later, the plane dropped off the radar. No distress signal was issued.

Meanwhile, Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan cracked down on five airlines Friday, temporarily suspending 61 flights because they were flying routes on days without permits. Earlier, all AirAsia flights from Surabaya to Singapore were stopped after it was discovered that the low-cost carrier was not authorized to fly on Sundays.

Jonan also sanctioned nine more officials for allowing the AirAsia plane to fly without permits, bringing the total to 16.

TIME indonesia

Signals Have Been Detected From the AirAsia Jet’s Data Recorders

Indonesian navy divers, left, prepare to depart from the vessel KRI Banda Aceh to conduct operations to lift the tail of AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 in the Java Sea on Jan. 9, 2015 Adek Berry—AFP/Getty Images

A salvage operation for the tail section is also under way

Indonesia says it has detected signals from the black-box recorders of downed AirAsia Flight 8501 and is racing to reach them.

S.B. Supriyadi, director of operations for Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) in Pangkalan Bun — the Borneo town that has become the center for search operations — told the BBC, “A ship detected the pings. The divers are trying to reach it.”

A salvage operation involving helicopters and lifting balloons was also launched Friday in a bid to recover the tail section of the jet, which lies at a depth of 30 m (100 ft.) in the Java Sea, about 30 km (20 miles) from where the flight lost contact with air-traffic control, Reuters reports.

Authorities had been hopeful that the flight-data recorders would be found with the tail, since the flight recorders are housed in that section of the Airbus A320-200. But Santoso Sayogo, an official at Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee, told Reuters it appeared the boxes and tail were not together.

The crash of the AirAsia jet — which went down on Dec. 28 with 162 on board as it flew from Indonesia’s second city Surabaya to Singapore — has meanwhile given fresh impetus to the use of ejectable black boxes on commercial flights. These are flight-data recorders that can be deployed from a descending aircraft and float on water, instead of creating the recovery problems that salvage crews are now facing.

Citing an anonymous official from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Reuters reports that ejectable black boxes will be on the agenda at an important ICAO safety conference next month.

“The time has come that deployable recorders are going to get a serious look,” the official told the news agency.

Ejectable data recorders are already used on military aircraft and on many helicopters, but they are more expensive to produce and have not been tested on large commercial jets.

However, some experts believe that transmitting data in real time would be a better option.

“The current fixed recorders are highly reliable and cost effective and it is rare to not recover them,” Mike Poole, a Canadian authority on flight recorders, told Reuters.

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