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The FAA moved on Friday to cast doubt on the accuracy of aviation safety data that will be released by NASA today. NASA will release results of four years of telephone surveys with pilots taking part
in the National Aviation Operations Monitoring Service (NAOMS). The report is expected to suggest that close calls in the air and on the ground happen more frequently than the FAA has reported. But in
a news conference with members of the mainstream media on Friday, Peggy Gilligan, the FAAs deputy associate administrator for aviation safety, said the NASA report is based on anecdotal
evidence, not the "hard data" the FAA collects. "We collect hard data, while the NASA study is based on pilot perception," Gilligan said. "They may give the best answer to their knowledge, but it
might not be the way the FAA collects data." The report will be released on New Years Eve to honor a promise made by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin to Congress two months ago. Griffin was
called to testify to a congressional committee about NASAs decision to withhold results of the $11.3 million survey despite a freedom of information request from The Associated Press. NASA told
the AP it wouldnt release the results because doing so might undermine consumer confidence and hit the bottom lines of airlines. Griffin told Congress hed release the survey results by the
end of the year after staff had a chance to go through the data to ensure no ones privacy was violated.
In a 269-page report released last month (28.5 MB PDF), the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) took a
thinly veiled stab at reciprocating engine manufacturers, alleging that industry-wide "poor communication, complacency, lack of knowledge, distraction, lack of teamwork, fatigue, lack of resources,
pressure, lack of assertiveness, stress, lack of awareness, and accepted norms" contributed to 20 engine-failure-related aircraft accidents reported to the ATSB between January 2000 and December 2005.
The report, titled "Aircraft Reciprocating-Engine Failure: An Analysis of Failure in a Complex Engineered System," states that 1,270 reciprocating multi-engine aircraft flew a total of about 220,000
hours during the study period. The events detailed in the report "are dominated by combustion chamber component melting, plain bearing breakup or movement, and the initiation and growth of fatigue
cracking in components that are designed to have a life not limited by fatigue."
Engine reliability has declined, the report suggests, because manufacturers have failed to effectively gather and act upon information on the performance of engine sub-systems and components.
"Recurrent propulsion system failures suggests that system adjustment or correction, through an effective feedback process, is not occurring," the report states. For more information on reciprocating
engine management and the ATSB's history dealing with engine hiccups, read John Deakin's August 2002 Pelican's Perch column. Deakin is a regular
contributor to AVweb.
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Cirrus Design, on Thursday, secured a long-sought-after lease of the former Northwest Airlines hangar at Duluth International Airport (DLH), where Cirrus is based. According to the Duluth News Tribune, Cirrus plans to use the 189,000-square-foot building to design and build
"the-jet." Under the terms of the 25-year proposed lease with the city, Cirrus agrees to create 200 full-time jobs over the next seven years, the News Tribune article stated. The Duluth Economic
Development Authority plans to finalize the lease at its next public meeting on Jan. 3, but Cirrus has reportedly already started moving into the building.
The lease comes on the heels of reports last week that the privately held aircraft manufacturer is considering an initial public stock offering or seeking a new major investor. Cirrus executives
were unavailable for comment over the weekend but according to the News Tribune the company is downplaying suggestions the current lead investor, Bahrain-based Arcapita Bank, which owns 58 percent of
the company, is anxious to divest. "Since day one, we knew that Arcapita would develop an exit strategy at some point. But Arcapita is not looking to pull out of this company any time soon,"
spokeswoman Kate Dougherty told the newspaper.
The first flight of the appropriately named Electra electric-powered open-cockpit aircraft took place Sunday, Dec. 23 at 11:50 a.m. local time at the Aspres sur Buech airfield, Hautes Alpes. The
braced-shoulder-wing taildragger flew a closed circuit for 48 minutes powered by lithium polymer batteries, traveling the equivalent of a little more than 31 miles. (A quick look at the aircraft
suggests the airframe itself was chosen more for expedience than for its high-performance characteristics). Piloted by test engineer Christian Vandamme, the flight was achieved in cooperation with
APAME, the French association for the promotion of electrically motorized aircraft that created it. According to APAME's Web site, "This flight uses
the electrical engine for light aircraft respecting the environmental context and the control of energy costs." It also builds on the success of the Electron Libre ultralight trike (powered
hang-glider), which flew for 22 minutes in calm air on Aug. 25 from Aspres sur Buech airfield.
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A New Zealand helicopter pilot who single-handedly put out a wildfire while flying with night-vision goggles in winds gusting to 40 knots has been awarded the Federation Aeronautique International
(FAI) Outstanding Airman Award. According to the Southland Times, well-known pilot Richard "Hannibal" Hayes
received the honor last week from FAI Chairman Pierre Portman for some pretty tricky flying near Queenstown, N.Z., in November of 2005. More than 100 residents were evacuated as a fire advanced toward
their homes and Hayes was the only pilot available with a night-vision rating. Hayes worked alone through the night and managed to contain the fire. The high winds and heat combined to make the flying
even more dangerous but Hayes dumped load after load of water ahead of the flames to keep them contained. The previous FAI award went collectively to the helicopter pilots who rescued victims of
Hurricane Katrina in September of 2005. Hayes apparently ducks publicity and did not make himself available for comment.
With no prop, no forward visibility and three people in his charge
(one of them, his daughter), 7,400-hour pilot Barry Cox landed a 1988 Piper Malibu at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport Thursday after suffering catastrophic engine failure just minutes into his flight.
Offering up a late nomination for understatement of the year, "It was exciting," Cox told the Aspen
Times. The incident unfolded around 10 a.m., about ten minutes into the flight and only 147 hours after the Malibu's Continental had been remanufactured. Cox had piloted the Malibu out of
Aspen-Pitkin to 16,000 feet and about eight miles north of the airport. It was then and there that oil suddenly turned the windshield an opaque brown, a sight that was followed by a loud sound that
likely signified the propeller's departure from the aircraft. Cox radioed the Aspen tower to inform them of his situation and impending return before offering calming words to his frightened daughter,
"I was just saying, 'We're OK, we can glide from here and make it.'"
Cox told the newspaper that he managed to line up intentionally high and fast, waiting to lower the gear, and landed before the tower-summoned fire department and police arrived. Cox won
handshakes from those present on the ground and accolades from at least one witness who told the paper the landing was "one of the more tremendous things I've seen."
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Targeting aircraft owners, renter pilots, flying clubs, flight schools and FBOs, AOPA has teamed with the TSA to create an online
interactive course to help ensure the safety and security of aircraft and airports. The course acts as an extension of AOPA's Airport Watch program and "will meet TSA's Recurrent Security
Awareness Training requirement for flight and ground instructors, flight school employees and FBOs who have direct contact with flight students." AOPA hopes these efforts help strike a balance that
both fulfills national security needs and protects pilots from security-related incidents. Said AOPA president Phil Boyer, "All pilots have a responsibility to help ensure the safety and security of
our airports and aircraft."
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found that while the overall rate of airline mishaps between 1983 and 2002 remained stable, the number of those attributed to
pilot error decreased 40 percent. Weather-related pilot mistakes dropped by 76 percent, those attributed to mishandling wind or surface conditions dropped by 78 percent, mishaps attributed to poor
crew communication declined 68 percent, and mishaps during takeoff declined 70 percent. Overall, mishaps during the study's survey period were increasingly attributed to ground crews and "congestion"
on airport taxiways. The largest increase in mishaps was found in handling aircraft near the gate -- when the aircraft was being pushed back or standing still, mishaps more than doubled. Those
increases were attributed to increased airport congestion and pilot error was found to be the least common factor in those situations. The findings, published in the January 2007 edition of Aviation,
Space, and Environmental Medicine, attribute the shift to better training and technological improvements that aid pilot decision-making.
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The Royal Air Force maintains its pilot corps is the epitome of crack professionalism after a pilot trainee was seriously burned at a graduation party when someone set fire to the sheep costume he was
wearing. According to metro.co.uk, the 26-year-old man was celebrating his new wings with other
freshly minted pilots at a "family-oriented" event when a 23-year-old man, who is not a member of the RAF, set him alight, causing burns to 14 percent of his body. No, we dont know what RAF
pilot graduation tradition involves a sheep costume (but we may be willing to be enlightened). The happy news is the young pilot is expected to make a full recovery and return to his unit shortly.
Meanwhile, the RAF is saying this sort of thing hardly ever happens. In a statement, an unnamed spokesman stressed that it was a non-military attendee of the party who is facing charges as a result of
the incident and that such shenanigans are officially frowned upon. "RAF pilots are well disciplined. In this job they have to be. Social events are restricted to a handful each year and all are held
at weekends," the statement read. "The RAF has a strict no-drinking policy during the working day. There is no place for a drinking culture in RAF flying training and I reiterate that no RAF personnel
have been accused of wrongdoing in this case."
Up to 500 passengers were stranded on American Samoa, some for more than a week, after a pilot reportedly flattened a mechanic and the airline they were contracted to, South Pacific Express,
suspended flights. According to the e-Travel Blackboard an altercation between the two on Dec. 21 ended with the
mechanic laid out. The pilot, a first officer, was immediately fired. The mechanic and the airlines chief pilot were "recalled" by the owner of the aircraft, Freedom Air, which forced the
airline to suspend service. That left 500 holiday visitors to the tropical island without a way home. The pax were rebooked on other airlines but their flights were already packed with holiday
travelers. By Dec. 28, there were still about 100 South Pacific Express pax waiting for flights. According to Radio New
Zealand International South Pacific Express has announced a new flight crew will be sent to Samoa today to resume regular service.
A man who was injured and his wife, who was killed, in a Michigan plane crash Thursday were the parents of a young woman killed in a plane crash in 2006. Yatish Joshi and his
wife Louise Addicott were aboard a Cessna 310 that went down near East Bay Township. Their daughter Georgina Joshi, 24, was the pilot of a plane that crashed in Indiana killing all five aboard
The medical bills for the lone survivor of Comair Flight 5191 have topped $1 million and the insurance company covering them is asking for repayment from the airline. First officer James
Polehinke suffered brain damage and various severe injuries in the crash at Lexington, Ky, which killed 49 others on the plane
Gerry Beck, the P-51 pilot killed in a collision with another Mustang at EAA AirVenture last year has been named to the North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame. Beck was well known for his warbird
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Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something that 130,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news
tips via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
Attention, Cessna Owners and Pilots! Join the fastest-growing and best association for Cessna Flyers the Cessna Flyer Association (CFA), since 2004 providing same-day parts locating, faster answers to technical
questions, an informative monthly magazine, online forums, national and regional events, an annual gathering, seminars, member discounts, and more for only $40 yearly. The CFA is
located in the Blue Hangar on the Waupaca Municipal Airport (PCZ) in Waupaca, Wisconsin, 35 nm NW of Oshkosh. For more info, visit
AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to 1st Class Air at KSPI in Springfield, Illinois.
With storms criss-crossing the U.S. for the last few weeks, many of our most glowing recommendations have come from pilots who found themselves trapped in less-than-ideal conditions far from home.
AVweb reader Scott Bartley was in just such a position, stopping at Springfield because of bad weather a little further north. When weather put the kibosh on his flight, the team at 1st
Class air checked in Scott's crew car and got him a rental, and when he need to get back to the plane a day early (just after Thanksgiving!), 1st Class had it ready for the air. "Everything went
smoothly despite my ever-changing plans," writes Scott. "This FBO will remain on my list of planned stops for all trips north."
AVweb is actively seeking
out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
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No more than any other airplane, according to Suburban Air Freight's Geoffrey Gallup. Aviation Safety magazine's Jeb Burnside interviewed Gallup to learn more about recent attention
directed at the Caravan. The January issue of Aviation Safety features an in-depth article on how Cessna, the industry, and the FAA
worked together to better understand how to fly the airplane in winter weather.
Ring in 2008 with a musical melody and a little fun on the runway, courtesy of Chesapeake Sport Pilot's Helen Woods.
(Experienced CFIs, take note of that link they're hiring!) In case you're wondering whether these musical antics are appropriate, we should point out that the, er "stylings" shown herein were
part of a charity fundraising drive to benefit Cancer Research UK.
Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it,
there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."
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Returning to Princeton, New Jersey in a Seminole, I was proudly clipping along at 140 knots and can only assume that my deep voice and professional-sounding tone led to us appearing to be more
than we were:
"New York approach, Seminole Two Two Eight, 5000."
"Seminole Two Two Eight, Morristown altimeter 30.08. Proceed direct Solberg, maintain 5000. Were you given any speed restrictions? If so, you can resume normal speed."
"Direct Solberg, 5000, Two Two Eight. And we're a Seminole. This is normal speed."
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