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For years, there’s been a cardinal rule for flying civilian drones: Keep them within your line of sight. But that's starting to change as aviation authorities prepare to cautiously relax some of the safeguards they imposed to regulate a boom in off-the-shelf consumer drones. Drones can now soar out of their pilots’ sight to inspect power lines across the forested Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia. They’re tracking endangered sea turtles off Florida’s coast and monitoring seaports and railroads in the U.S. and Europe. Businesses want smoother rules that could open your neighborhood’s skies to new commercial uses, but privacy advocates and some private pilots have concerns.
The number of U.S. flights being canceled is slowing down, but plenty of travelers are facing long delays as they try to get home from trips over the July Fourth holiday weekend. By late Monday afternoon on the East Coast, more than 2,200 U.S. flights had been delayed and more than 200 were canceled, according to FlightAware. The good news is, that's fewer delays and cancellations than we've seen in recent days. Industry experts say airlines are struggling because demand for travel has recovered from the bottom of the pandemic faster than anyone expected. That's causing airports to be almost as crowded as they were in 2019, before the pandemic.
Rescue teams searching for missing crew members from a Chinese engineering ship that sank during a weekend storm have saved a fourth person and recovered 12 bodies. Chinese officials say the crew member rescued on Monday is in stable condition. Three other members of the 30-person crew were rescued on Saturday. Officials are attempting to identify the 12 recovered bodies. The vessel, a floating crane, was hit by the tropical storm on Saturday and snapped in two before sinking.
The Fourth of July holiday weekend is jamming U.S. airports with the biggest crowds since the pandemic began in 2020. Newly released numbers show 2.49 million passengers went through security checkpoints at U.S. airports Friday, surpassing the previous pandemic-era record of 2.46 million reached earlier in the week. The increase is the latest sign that leisure travelers aren’t being deterred from flying by rising fares, the ongoing spread of COVID-19 or worries about recurring flight delays and cancellations. In an even more telling indication, the average passenger volume at U.S. airports for the past week is nearing the same level as in 2019.
Rescue services in Hong Kong say an industrial support ship operating in the South China Sea has sunk with the possible loss of more than two dozen crew members. The accident occurred Saturday about 186 miles south of Hong Kong. Authorities dispatched planes and helicopters to aid in the rescue with at least three people from the crew of 30 brought to safety. The Hong Kong Flying Service did not give the name or origin of the vessel but said in a statement that crew members were negotiating difficulties brought on by Severe Tropical Storm Chaba, which was packing maximum winds of 68 miles per hour. The storm made landfall in the western part of the coastal province of Guangdong later Saturday.
The fireworks are still a few days away, but travel for the July Fourth weekend is off to a booming start. The Transportation Security Administration said Friday that it screened more people on Thursday than it did on the same day in 2019, before the pandemic. Travelers so far seem to be experiencing fewer delays and canceled flights than they did earlier this week. But it's still early. Leisure travel has bounced back this year, offsetting weakness in business travel and international flying. Still, the total number of people flying has not quite recovered fully to pre-pandemic levels.
If you're flying this holiday weekend, be prepared for crowded airports, full planes, and higher-than-normal chances that your flight will be delayed or even canceled. Airlines have stumbled badly over the last two holiday weekends, and the number of Americans flying over the July Fourth weekend is expected to set records for the pandemic era. Problems have been popping up already, with high numbers of cancellations this week, some of them caused by thunderstorms that snarled air traffic. Tracking service FlightAware says American Airlines canceled 8% of its flights on Tuesday and Wednesday, and United Airlines scrubbed 4% of its schedule on those same days.
Three people were killed and dozens others were injured Monday when an Amtrak passenger train traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago struck a dump truck and derailed in a remote, rural area of Missouri. A Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesman says two of the people who died were on the train and one was in the truck. It was not immediately clear exactly how many people were hurt, the patrol said, but hospitals reported receiving more than 40 patients from the crash and were expecting more. Officials say Amtrak's Southwest Chief was carrying about 207 passengers and crew members when the collision happened near Mendon at a rural intersection on a gravel road with no lights or electronic controls. The Highway Patrol said seven cars derailed.