Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Colgan Flight 3407

Image courtesy of

On the night of the 12th Feb of this year Colgan flight 3407 crashed on approach to Buffalo airport in New York killing 49 people. In the NTSB preliminary hearing into the accident it has bcome clear that the pilots engaged in idle conversation which was essentially distracting their attention at what was happening to the aircraft at a critical moment in the flight. As they configured the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 for approach the airspeed bled from a comfotable 185 knots to that appraoching stall speed at around 130kts. As there was icing conditions the crew had selected a function which adds several knots to the normal flight stall speed giving that extra margin of safety. However it would appear that the Captain, Marvin Renslow, may have perhaps misinterpreted the aeroplane's stall response (known as the stick shaker) and pulled back on the control column (instead of pushing forward in a normal aerodynamic stall), perhaps believing he was experiencing a tail-plane stall. A tail-plane stall occurs in certain icing conditions and is a poblem for certain types of aircraft. The SAAB SF340 which Capt. Renslow had previously flown was one of those aircraft. Although the investigation is far from over inital indications are that lack of concntration, fatigue, inexperience and inadequate training are all factors which led to this avoidable crash. Each of these factors deserve a blog post in their own right, detailing specific issues but for the moment this brief outline will be enough for us all to digest for the present.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Samuel Beckett Bridge

Yes yes, its another new bridge for Dublin this time the newest addition is the Samuel Beckett Bridge which arrived into Dublin Port this morning from Rotterdam. The barge, on which this €59m structure lies, took eight days to traverse the English channel and the Irish sea before arriving into Dublin Bay. The bridge has four lanes, footpaths and cycle tracks and is due to be opened sometime next year. Next year? Why next year?!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry

There really are some fantastic places in Ireland to photograph. Granted we are known as the Emerald Isle but sometimes the scenery is just crying out to be photographed in black and white. This shot is taken in Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry. In fact it is just off the Ring of Kerry scenic route and we are looking across the bay to Waterville. There's a great golf course there too and one which Tiger Woods has played himself during his own preparations for the British Open.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ford Mustang

Since I started driving I've been lamenting the lack of interesting and fun cars for sale in the Irish market. Ok so my main gripe is basically I want a Ford Mustang, is that a lot to ask for? Look at it its, graceful, sleek and damn fine. I can just imagine the raw sound of that beast and then the very name... Mustang. Yes I know boys with toys but I can dream...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

PhD students? Manual labour? Never!

The humour will probably be lost of most of you but I don't care so enjoy watching our PhD students getting their hands dirty doing some manual labour! Imagine that, actually avoiding their nerd qualities for once. I promise I'll come up with something more interesting next time!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Historical Irony ?

When I visited the Vietnam memorial in Washington D.C. almost two years ago I snapped this picture of two men reading the names of dead soldiers. To this day I cannot decide whether the t-shirt the gentleman on the right is wearing is a deliberate act of optimism or purely ironic given the context. Maybe you can decide.

Friday, May 1, 2009


I got bored one day and decided to disassemble our old Dell computer, all ten years of it. I hadn't actually turned it on in the last three of those but it whirled up first go when I pressed the button. Too bad that was its last time to be booted up before it got booted out.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

La Guardia Approach

Taken by the Flushing Library on Main St., this Air Tran 737 makes a low swoop over the Queens suburb on final appraoch to one of LaGuardia airport's north-easterly runways. Those of you who visit my Twitter page will recognise this as the background photograph to it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Patrick Harten

(Photo AP)

Patrick Harten is the voice of calmness heard on the air traffic control recording from the Hudson river landing of US Airways flight 1549. Last Sunday (20th April) he competed in the Boston Marathon finishing in a time of 2:58:58 wearing the number 1549. Although organisers don't normally allow requests to use specific numbers, they made an exception on this one occasion allowing Mr. Harten to recognise his own role on that day in New York City. An air traffic controller by day and a triathlete outside of work his time to complete the course was a personal best. Ironically, the marathon distance is about the same as that from LaGuardia airport to Teterboro airport, the former the origin of flight 1549 and the latter the airport the one Mr. Harten tried to direct the flight to land. Life is full of miracles and coincidences... or is it?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

787 Dreamliner

(Photo courtesy of the Boeing Company)

As the airline world falls foul to the deepest recession since World War II there are exciting times ahead in the Pacific Northwest of the United States where the Boeing company will soon roll out their newest and most ambitious incarnation since 1994. The blogosphere is rife with speculation that the new 787 Dreamliner will roll out of the factory in Everett, Washington late on Sunday night to the flight line in preparation for its first flight by the end of June. From an engineering perspective the aircraft is a break from the traditional nuts and bolts regime of aircraft manufacture. Sections of the aircraft have been assembled as single completed units in facilties all over the globe and then joined on the final assembly line in Washington. But as pointed out by Boeing's own blogger Randy Tinseth, this is the first new aircraft to have its production completely documented by blogs, enthusiasts' photographs of shipments and assembly line manufacture. It might be two years behind schedule but I'm sure it will be well worth the wait for not only us the passengers but the airlines themselves who have ordered a staggering 850+ all before it has even flown.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Pigeon House

The twin smoke stacks of Poolbeg power station (known locally as the Pigeon House) are almost an institution of the Dublin skyline, being visible for miles around the city. Although they are a regular theme of Dublin photographs I particularly liked the silhouette effect the hazy weather conditions portrayed that day. Aside from this the contrast of themes in the picture I found were particularly interesting: carefree Spring kite fliers next to the raw industrial might of a coal-fired power station.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Midday moonlight

This photo was taken by me on Bull Island in north Dublin on an April afternoon. The photo depicts the kite of a kite surfer riding the waves out of frame. The object is remeniscent of a crescent moon low on the horizon and gives rise to the title of the photograph.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Only in Ireland would you get paid more for being unemployed...

A friend of mine recently brought this article to my attention in which an unemployed man with with four children actually earned more money by being on unemployment benefit and allowances than he did when he was in full time employment. The author of the above article claims that he actually earns over €10,000 more. Only in Ireland would something as ridiculous as this actually happen and its no wonder that we are in the biggest financial hole we've ever dug for ourselves. But of course nothing is going to change this as unions still run this country and we will always be the most backward thinking nation in the developed world as long as this continues.