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FAA Strengthens Warnings to Prevent Plane Crashes

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Seattle, WAAmid concerns about recent international plane crashes, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has strengthened its warnings for pilots of Boeing 737 aircraft. The updated warning includes a reminder that pilots not ignore their cabin pressure warning horn, orders preflight briefings and orders changes in operations manuals.

PilotsAccording to the Wall Street Journal, the tougher warnings are related to a crash in Greece that took the lives of 121 people in 2005. The crash occurred after pilots, who ignored a cabin pressure alarm, lost consciousness. The plane flew on autopilot for 2 more hours until it ran out of fuel and crashed.

The cockpit warning horn can indicate a number of problems, depending on whether the plane is on the ground or in the air. On the ground, the alarm can indicate that the plane's pre-flight configuration is incorrect, potentially causing a failed take off. If the alarm goes off while the plane is in the air, the alarm indicates a loss of cabin pressure and that pilots must put on oxygen masks to prevent losing consciousness.

The FAA reportedly received reports that pilots and flight crew did not pay proper attention to the alarm, despite updated warnings in 2006. Based on that, the FAA has decided to further strengthen the warnings.

The Boeing 737 is the best-selling commercial jet in the world. More than 6,000 have been ordered since the 737 was first launched in 1965, with 5,397 still in use around the world.

Meanwhile, the families of people killed when Pan Am flight 103 was bombed over Lockerbie, Scotland will begin receiving their compensation money soon, if they have no already. The plane was bombed in 1988 and killed all 269 passengers and crew members on board, which included 180 Americans. Eleven people on the ground were also killed in the incident.

The money to pay victims' families comes from a fund set aside for American victims of Libyan-related terrorism in the 1980s. Libya has been paying into the fund, which stands at around $1.5 billion.

In other news, the families of 2 men who died in December 2007, when the plane they were in crashed have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the pilot's estate. The pilot, who was also killed in the crash, allegedly failed to properly control his plane. According to the lawsuit, the plane was coming in for a landing in foggy weather when the pilot became disoriented and unable to determine his plane's bearing in relation to the ground. The pilot was cleared for a landing, but did not line up with the runway properly—instead it veered around and turned sharply to the right which descending almost 2,000 feet. The plane then climbed 2,700 feet before crashing down to the ground, with such an impact that the nose of the plane was buried in the field it landed in.

The FAA's strengthened warnings will not help people in single engine planes, but it will help people who fly on 737s avoid a potentially fatal accident. The unfortunate thing is that once again people had to die before a safety issue was taken seriously.

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