Here are a few recent stories related to travel, aviation and space exploration that caught my attention and may be of interest to readers.

On March 5, 2021, American Airlines Flight 2555 from Miami to Newark Liberty International Airport with 95 passengers and six crew landed safely at Newark after the captain declared an emergency and shut down one engine over a possible mechanical issue. The issue was related to an engine oil pressure or volume indicator and not anything related to the MCAS system linked to two fatal 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 that prompted the MAX’s grounding for 20 months. I’d fly on the MAX if necessary, but give me a tried and true 15 or 20 year-old 737 or 777 that should have all the kinks worked out.

Having just bragged on the reliability of older aircraft, I will now shoot myself in the foot. On February 20, 2021, just after departing Denver International Airport on a flight to Hawaii, United Airlines Flight 328, a Boeing 777 with 231 passengers and 10 crew on board, experienced an engine failure and returned safely to Denver. The National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report attributes the failure to a fan blade that fractured apparently due to metal fatigue. Parts of the engine rained down on Broomfield, CO, a suburb a few miles west of Denver International. No one onboard or on the ground was injured although I wouldn’t be surprised if a few seats onboard needed cleaning after landing.

What you don’t want to see when you look out of an airplane window.


What you don’t want to see when you look out of your living room window.  

Air travel can be stressful for airline crews as well as passengers.  The South China Morning Post reports that on February 20, 2021, a male pilot and a male flight attendant on Donghai Airlines flight DZ6297 from Nantong to Xian, China got into a fight over the flight attendant allegedly failing to keep a first-class passenger seated while the pilot used the bathroom.  It must have been a real knock-down, drag-out battle because the flight attendant received a broken arm and the pilot lost a tooth.  I’d say they may have been nervous about getting swabbed where the sun don’t shine on landing for potential Covid infection, but this was a domestic flight.  Hat Tip:  ViewFromTheWing.    

Check out this Travel Pulse story to see the actions 11 major U.S. airlines are taking to protect passenger health during air travel.  The airlines are going to great lengths to build confidence that the chances of contracting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that can lead to Covid-19 disease, on a flight are almost nil.  I hope many of these procedures are retained after the pandemic is controlled.

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Electrostatic disinfectant spraying (Photo courtesy of American Airlines Media)

Also courtesy of the South China Morning Post, here is a 3.5-minute video detailing the experience of taking a Hong Kong Airlines flight to nowhere. Passengers had a good time on the flight. Hong Kong Airlines said it offsets the carbon emissions such flights create. I’ll wait on my air-travel-withdrawal fix until I’m actually going somewhere.

From the Out Of This World Department, NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover has been scouting for a spot to launch its experimental helicopter, Ingenuity. So far, the rover has covered about 230 feet (70 meters) in the search for an optimal flight zone.

NASA photo.

I hope you enjoyed these updates and your week is off to a good start. Be well and stay safe!