Aviation Industry Coverage
Use this comprehensive story pack to aid in your investigation of the airline industry, including information regarding the FAA, Accident and Incidents Database Records, and the Aircraft Registry.
Broadcast: After Breaking News, What's Next?
This tipsheet is comprised of many useful web links covering topics of aviation accidents, automobiles and trucks, political campaign data, federal spending, U.S. court system, crime, business records, weather and more.
Muckety: Exploring the paths of power and influence
The author offers a guided tour of the muckety.com social network analysis website. The tipsheet is full of screenshots to show the step-by-step process of using the website. The tipsheet goes in to great detail about how to create maps of social networks on Muckety.com. It also explains the various features and tools of the website.
Tips for Covering Aviation Stories
This tipsheet offers a lot of advice for reporters on the aviation beat. Tips include learning aviation lingo and making contact with a local Air Traffic Controller's Union.
Contact List for Aviation Stories and Data
This tipsheet is a list of sources for reporters beginning investigations about aviation. The tipsheet includes contact information for NASA, NTSB and the FAA.
Some key aviation databases
The author discusses some sources that will be helpful for reporters covering aviation and airports. The resources he suggests include airline on-time performance data, which his on-time arrival and departure data for nonostop domestic flights. He also suggests using Form 41 data, which airlines are required to submit to the DOT with information about every route flown nationwide. Banstetter also recommends using the origin and destination survey. For every resource, Banstetter explains where to find the data and what sorts of stories are hidden in it.
The February 2009 crash of Continental Flight 3407 revealed "a little-known trend in the airline industry: major airlines have outsourced more and more of their flights to obscure regional carriers." These smaller carriers operate with different safety practices with pilots that are often paid less, with less training and fewer flight hours.
"Safety for Sale"
The Federal Aviation Administration is under fire after WFAA-TV reveals that thousands of aircraft mechanics licensed by the FAA, had "questionable" training. The poor training and slow reaction by the FAA could be connected to two deadly airplane crashes. The series also revealed that repair facilities hired foreign mechanics through "immigration loopholes" who were unqualified and often could not speak English.
Under the Radar
Every year the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been given a grant, which then will be distributed to airports. The question is where does this money come from and how is it spent? The answer to the first half is the commercial-airline passengers, who pay the ticket taxes which in turn becomes the grant. The second part of the question is answered by not the improvement of airline travel, but rather the private pilots who fly corporate and recreational planes.
The nation's medevac programs are dominated by private companies with stiff competition and widespread safety failings. The high rate of accidents in the medical helicopter field is due to entrenched complacency. The Post uproots the severe lack of safety in a field the public typically views as heroic.
Bird strike rates at U.S. Airports
Airplanes landing and taking off at airports in Sacramento, Kansas City, and Denver have been the most liekly in the nation to hit birds , according to an NPR analysis of new data from the Federal Aviation Administration. Wildlife researchers believe they can alert birds to oncoming planes if they can come up with an appropriate visual signal, such as pulsating LED lights currently being tested.
This dataset consists of information on aviation accidents and incidents reported to the Federal Aviation Administration. NICAR has records for accidents occurring between 1973 to present with weekly updates.
NICAR provides the data in two ways: As a one-time purchase or by one-year subscription, updated weekly.
The database goes beyond the NTSB accident database in that it also includes incidents, which are defined as "events that do not meet the aircraft damage or person injury thresholds contained in the NTSB definition of an accident." For example, the database contains reports of collisions between aircraft and birds while on approach to or departure from an airport. "Aircraft accident" means an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and until all such persons have disembarked, and in which any person suffers death or serious injury, or in which the aircraft receives substantial damage.
The Aircraft Registration Database, which is maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration Civil Aviation Registry, contains information on more than 360,000 registered aircraft, including all aircraft owned by individuals, businesses and government in the United States. Resident aliens may also register planes in the U.S., as long as they are not registered in another country at the same time.
The registration table available from NICAR consists of only those aircraft currently registered as of the date the data was updated by the FAA.
NICAR provides the data in two ways: As a one-time purchase or as an annual subscription with monthly updates.
This dataset also includes three additional tables. One lists all individuals/businesses registered as aircraft dealers and another lists all individuals/entities that requested to reserve a particular N-number.
The FAA Airmen Directory is a listing of pilots and other airmen and their certified ratings. Non-pilot airmen include mechanics, repairmen, parachute riggers, ground instructors, dispatchers, flight navigators and flight engineers.
The data only lists those pilots who did not opt to have their information withheld under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act, which took effect in April 2000. Although this database is an incomplete listing of the airmen certified in the United States, no more than 10 percent of the total pilots withhold their information from the database, according to Barry Farnsworth, FAA airmen data contact.
Names, addresses, dates of medical certification, type of flight certificate and ratings are included in the data. Certificate refers to whether they are a pilot, flight instructors, repairman, etc. Ratings refer to the type of plane they are certified to fly.
NICAR provides the data in two ways: As a one-time purchase or annual subscription with monthly updates.
The Federal Aviation Administration Enforcement Information System (EIS) database contains current and historical data on FAA enforcement actions against airlines, pilots, mechanics and their designees. The data include enforcement actions from 1999 to August 2008.
All types of planes are included: passenger jets, cargo planes, helicopters, corporate/executive planes, military aircraft and foreign air carriers that are traveling in the United States. The data include enforcement actions against a variety of aviation personnel: commercial and private planes, student pilots, flight radio operators and navigators, mechanics, control tower operators, flight instructors and foreign airmen.
Violation categories include: maintenance, hazardous materials, security, medical, drug testing, flight operations, aircraft alterations, training and near mid-air collisions.