Finally good travel news! Death matches ended at Colosseum

The Guardian, along with other outlets, are reporting on a huge life-saver for travelers – no more dodging crazy Roman drivers on the road in the heart of the Eternal City between the “Wedding Cake” at Piazza Venezia, and the Colosseo.

The death matches, of course, are those of human vs. machine.

Woman bicycles past the Colosseum on a totally empty road, with one cab and one bus far behind her, no other traffic.

Photo from the Guardian article. Photograph: Riccardo De Luca/AP, all rights reserved.

Rome bans cars on road to Colosseum as part of pedestrianisation plan | World news |

Now, it will be only human vs. a few machines – Roman buses and Roman taxicabs. Given what I’ve experienced of Roman bus and cab drivers, I still don’t give the humans much of a chance. Continue reading

Boeing: further flights of fantasy on Dreamliner battery problem

Boeing: Dreamliner battery tests should be done soon. From Boeing’s chutzpah-laden pronouncements at Friday’s press briefing in Tokyo:

Boeing says it still doesn’t know why batteries failed, but the fixes they have developed will cover any possible future problem, and the airliner should be back flying shortly.

(emphasis mine)

ANA 787 smokelinerWell, that’s a relief! They know that any possible future failure will not be a problem. No need worrying about those pesky root causes.

Look, I don’t pretend to be an aeronautical engineer. But I was a software engineer (yeah, I know, “not real engineers”), and I’ve been involved in plenty of QA, root cause analysis, risk mitigation, and similar failure post-mortems. Continue reading

NTSB Chair is honest, calls 787 problems very serious

Unlike the more politicized FAA, and the various folks claiming the 787 battery fire issues are simply “teething problems”, the US National Transportation Safety Board chairperson, Deb Hersman, is a straight-talker. She did a press conference where she presented a load of detail about what they do and don’t know, about the battery system, and how it is nowhere near a solution – because nobody is anywhere near an understanding of what went wrong.

Respected airline commentator Christine Negroni, who writes and contributes for the New York Times, MSNBC, and has written a book about the TWA 800 crash, highlights how the NTSB chair cut through all the BS.

Burnt battery casing and circuit boards and battery pack

A burnt battery pack from the 787. Photo courtesy of the linked Reuters article, origin NTSB.

The NTSB is also revisiting the claims by a whistleblower from the company that makes the chargers for the 787 battery. A company which had a disastrous fire that burned down its HQ building from a battery overload. A company which then fired and discredited the whistleblower.

Securaplane Technologies “got some ‘splainin’ to do”. But as Negroni points out in an earlier column, so do the various airline execs who keep claiming they have “faith in the Dreamliner¬®.