Friday, February 27, 2009

Heathrow is just dangerous where it is

Last year, the BA038 flight narrowly avoided catastrophe when the Boeing 777 crash-landed just short of Heathrow's perimeter fence after nearly shaving houses, gliding only 6 meters above cars on the A30.

Yesterday, the Turkish Airlines 1951 crashed 3km north of Schipol's runway.

There are striking resemblances between both accidents: in both cases, the Engines stalled and as the BA038 AIBB report implies, it's quite a miracle in both caes that there was no fire after impact, despite the landing gear perforating the fuel tanks and the fire switch not being activated in the proper squence for the British Airways flight.

Where there are differences though, is in the configuration of the airports: Schipol has been built away from Amsterdam, to allow for approaches over the North Sea and minimise nuisances. In passing, Netherlands, and especially Noord Holland, is the densest European country.

This muddy field explains largely why most of the Turkish Airlines 1951 passengers escaped unharmed despite the fuselage breaking in three sections on impact. Note that Turkish has a good safety reputation and that the Boeing 737-800

If a two engine aircraft (I keep thinking four engines are better...) lost power in the same way while on final approach to Heathrow it would end up right on Cardington square, Hounslow. In the best case, it would be a small aricraft falling on a single nearly empty house like the Continental 3407.

Heathrow flight paths are directly above 2 millions people, a 747 crash on Richmond high street would be way more ugly...

See also: Heathrow is not safe: chilling crash map

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Highway Robbery In Richmond

St Margarets Road loading bayBBC NEWS | England | London | Loading bay takes £1,400 in fines
A London council has taken an average of £1,400 in parking fines per day from a single loading bay, it has emerged.

Over 20 months 10,000 fines were incurred at the St Margarets Road bay in Twickenham, south-west London.

Not much to add, the council continues to see cars as giant piggy banks.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Why were school closed today?

The weather reports were not that bad yesterday, yet most schools in Richmond were closed.
BBC NEWS | UK | Education | More schools 'might have opened'

Has common sense been abolished, and is the "health and safety culture" prevailing on the needs of working parents?

Monday, February 02, 2009

Snow! How un-prepared are we?

It's lovely here today... if you don't HAVE to go to work: over 15 cm of snow fell overnight (the heviest for 18 years), more to come today.

But how prepared are we for something that may not be so frequent, though that may change with "global warming" bringing more erratic weather patterns?

Not that well it seems:
  • The roads were pretty chaotic this morning, with several motorways closed due to jacknifed lorries. The question to ask: why allow articulated lorries to drive when it's snowing?
  • London seems to have virtually no snow plough and gritting doesn't help much.
  • This meant there were no busses, at all, this morning.
  • Only one tube line was fully functional -even though I thought they were running underground and thus not affected by snow. The question to ask: are there contigency plans to get essential staff to their positions?
  • Same for the trains.
  • City aiport had to shut completely, Heathrow had only one runway operational early in the morning and quickly shut the other one and a large de-icing backlog and a planed slipped on the taxiway, Gatwick stayed about open,
  • In terms of information, TFL was very good, National Rail was pointing on the operating companies' web sites which did not any good for South West Trains whose web site was down. Shame on them!
  • On the school front, they were of course shut (never mind if some parents need to go to work) but some class reps send SMS'es early this morning and some updated their web site at 07:31! (note: sending an email at 09:30 doesn't help).

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