ABC Raises Questions About Red Bull Albatross

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An FAA spokesman told ABC News the agency is "comfortable" with the way Red Bull operates its restored Grumman Albatross seaplane -- but former FAA safety inspector Bill McNease told reporters the airplane is "terribly unsafe, because the wing could fall off at any time." The ABC story also notes that the airplane operates under an "experimental airworthiness certificate" and flew above Super Bowl activities in Tampa last month despite the fact that it is supposed to avoid densely populated areas. "Neither Red Bull nor any of its pilots or flight crews have or would operate an aircraft that is known to be unsafe or in an unsafe manner," a Red Bull spokeswoman told ABC. Red Bull also said the airplane is operated in full compliance with FAA regulations, according to ABC.

The report includes dramatic video of a "similar seaplane" crashing into the ocean off Miami after its "aged wings had snapped off." The airplane in that video is a Grumman Turbo Mallard G-73T, while Red Bull's seaplane is a Grumman HU-16E Albatross. The NTSB found the probable cause of the Mallard accident, in which 20 people died, was the in-flight failure and separation of the right wing, which resulted from the operator's inadequate maintenance program and the FAA's inadequate oversight.