Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "airplanes" ...

  • Lost Horizons: Small Airports Covet Cheap Radar System, But the FAA Bars It

    The Wall Street Journal looks at aviation safety problems related to the lack of radar screens at small airports. The story points to three midair collisions that occurred in year 2000 because of the lack of "one of the simplest and oldest air-traffic-control tools." The article cites Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) statistics showing that across the country, 90 busy airports are in need of radar, and examines the advantages and disadvantages of the two main available radar systems - Tardis and Raytheon.
  • Wing Commander: At Boeing, an Old Hand Provides New Tricks In Battle With Airbus

    The Wall Street Journal looks at the battle between the two major rivals in the airplane business - Boeing and Airbus. The story focuses on a "critical sales pitch at prestigious Singapore airlines" in May 2000, which ended with Singapore selecting the planes of Boeing's main rival, Airbus. The article examines the role of Joe Sutter, "the living legend in the world of big jets," in today's management of Boeing Co, and finds that he has helped Boeing to beat back the challenge posed by the new Airbus A380.
  • Gateway to Gridlock

    In a four-part series, "The Tribune set out on a journey to find out why air travel has gotten so bad, dispatching reporters to seven airports and five air traffic control towers across the country on September 11, 2000, a day chosen by the airlines and federal aviation officials. The dramatic events of that storm-tossed Monday show how quickly a fragile system can be brought to its knees" in part one. "Parts two through four examine how bad planning and petty politics have allowed U.S. air travel to choke on its own growth."
  • Plane Speaking

    NBC News Dateline reports on "a simple, yet deadly problem: mis-communication between commercial pilots and air traffic controllers." The investigation reveals that although "English is the defacto language of aviation, ... a lack of oversight has led to a breakdown in simple communication." It documents how poor language skills have hindered communication between foreign pilots and U.S. controllers, as well as between American pilots and controllers abroad. The report shows that the problem is widespread, because the Federal Aviation has failed to enforce a standard. The investigation uncovers a tape "that documented how poor language skill contributed to the crash of an American Airlines plane into the side of a mountain in Cali, Columbia." It also details numerous differences between the standard aviation phraseology in the U.S.A. and the rest of the world.
  • Filthy Flights

    A WJLA-TV investigation delves into bad hygiene problems on the airplanes. The two-part series reveals the results from an analysis of samples collected from tray tables, armrests, doorknobs, bathrooms, pillowcases and blankets on the planes of several airlines. What the analysis finds "could make you sick ... fecal coliforms ... or, human waste." The investigation shows how passengers can get a flu, but nothing changes.The key finding is that "the threat to passengers goes far beyond ... respiratory problems ....passengers can and have died" as a result of bad hygiene in airplanes. The story reports on a record detailing how a "Korean woman suffering from tuberculosis flew fro Honolulu to Chicago and then on to Baltimore" and how "twenty-nine passengers subsequently tested positive for tuberculosis."
  • Control issues: How the pilots fly the plane varies a lot from airline to airline

    The Wall St. Journal reports on how different airlines prefer their pilots to fly. At issue, of course, is how safe their methods are. "Southwest forces its pilots always to have their hands on the throttles and requires that all landings be made by people, not computers."
  • Pets on Planes

    KTVT reports that "we learned that 5000 pets are injured or die on airplanes every year. We first received the support of a local humane society and then took a dog named Rex on a series of flights around the country. We had temperature and humidity sensors inside the kennel and traveled on the same aircraft as Rex. We had Rex examined by a veterinarian at every destination and was always in good health. One airline lost the dog, another left him in the rain, another left him alone and without water, another left him on the hot tarmac when it was 90-plus degrees outside."
  • Near-Miss Communications

    WABC-TV Channel 7 Eye Witness News investigated why two foreign 757 jumbo jets nearly collided on the JFK Airport in New York in June of 1998. The investigation revealed that this near-miss and an Avianca jet crash that killed 73 people 10 years ago "resulted from foreign pilots inability to clearly understand English, the international language of aviation."
  • (Untitled)

    In Wisconsin, a teenager must take a 30 hour classroom course intended to help them become safer drivers. Using a hidden camera, WTMJ recorded the full three-week course offered at one commercial driving school in Milwaukee and found the kids in that class received only 17 hours of the required 30 hours of instruction. The rest of the time they were allowed to goof off, often playing with toy cars or paper airplanes while the instructor disappeared from the classroom altogether. Sometimes the students themselves were out of the classroom because of unauthorized breaks and early dismissals.
  • (Untitled)

    In July of 1996, we learned that two airplanes guided by controllers at the Indianapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center flew dangerously close together. This was not an isolated incident. A three-month WISH-TV I-Team investigation revealed that these incidents, called operational errors, were up dramatically at this facility, giving it the worst record for a facility of its kind in the country. Through Freedom of Information Act requests, WISH-TV obtained dramatic audio tapes of controllers in trouble at the Indianapolis Center. (November 4, 6, 7, 8, 1996)