AVwebFlash - Volume 14, Number 11a

March 10, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVweb Exclusive back to top 

Taylorcraft Repossessed: Strut Customers Contacted

Taylorcraft Aviation LLC has been repossessed by its previous owners and that has affected an undetermined number of customers who had paid $3,500 for new lift struts but haven’t received them yet. J. Scot Ruffner, who is managing the repossession of the Brownsville, Texas, company for the former owner, Taylorcraft 2000 LLC, told AVweb he’s trying to contact everyone who paid for a set of struts before the Feb. 21 repossession date so they can figure out where to go from here. “Anyone out there who has paid for a set of struts and has not been contacted by me should call me right away (561-547-7931) so we can get an accurate picture [of how many are affected],” Ruffner said. Installation of the new, sealed struts eliminates the inspection requirements of an airworthiness directive (AD) issued last year to address corrosion issues in the original struts.

Taylorcraft Aviation had taken a number of orders for the struts but hadn’t filled any prior to the repossession. The new/old owners have built 13 sets of struts but they need final FAA approval before they can be shipped. Ruffner said that once they know how many unfulfilled orders are out there they can determine how to proceed and they’re trying to do the right thing. “There’s nothing we’d like better than to make good on all those orders,” he said, but he stressed that the viability of the company has to be considered in those discussions. Meanwhile, the type certificates, drawings, jigs, templates and everything else associated with the design that many consider the first and one of the best popular GA aircraft are for sale again and the owners are anxious to see it go to a viable home.

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Top News back to top 

ADS-B Wins Collier Trophy

And the winner is ... a work in progress. The National Aeronautic Association held its annual awards luncheon Thursday and, while historically the winner of the Collier Trophy is a person or an airplane, this year it was largely a concept. Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) was the winner of the award generally recognized as the epitome of aviation innovation and excellence. However, as a functioning tool in the grand aviation scheme, ADS-B is in its infancy and, as the cornerstone of the FAA’s NextGen airspace management system, the jury is still out on just how its implementation will play out over the next few decades. "Like all of aviation, things are changing. Processes and projects are becoming worthy of nomination," said NAA President Jonathan Gaffney.

For the record, the Collier Trophy is awarded for “the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year,” according to the NAA Web site. Other nominees may have more closely resembled those criteria. The other nominees included the Dassault Aviation Falcon 7X -- "the world's first civil aircraft to be designed in a totally virtual environment"; Commercial Aviation Safety Team -- "dramatically improving the safety of commercial aviation and saving lives in the US and around the world"; Epic Air Team VLJ -- "delivering from clean-sheet to flight their vision of a high performance, cutting edge VLJ in six months"; Airbus A380 -- "benchmark improvements in performance, efficiency, safety and environmental impact for new aircraft design"; and SBIRS/HEO Test and On-Orbit Operations Team -- "extraordinary achievement in space vehicle performance and efficiency."

Related Content:
On-site audio interviews from the NAA Awards Luncheon
Russ Niles muses on the Collier Trophy's relevance

AOPA: FAA Aircraft "Re-Registration" Equals User Fee?

AOPA says a three-year aircraft "re-registration" requirement proposed by the FAA may replace the current one-time $5 registration fee with a $130 fee to be paid every three years as a hidden user fee. The FAA's proposal is based on the goal of bringing the U.S. aircraft registry up-to-date and the "re-registration" requirement would replace the current triennial registration report. The FAA recognizes that the current aircraft registration fee of $5 hasn't been changed since the mid-1960s and no longer aligns with the FAA's costs to provide services, according to the FAA. The gray area, according to AOPA, lies in determining and applying the costs associated with updating a registry that has deteriorated over time. "Aircraft re-registration hasn't been required for three decades," writes AOPA, and now "nearly one third of the 343,000 U.S. aircraft registrations are possibly invalid." Re-registration, whatever the cost, would require aircraft owners to return a renewal notice with updated information (or reply online) within a three-month window.

Early responses would not be allowed and late responses would be penalized by inability to fly the aircraft until it was re-registered. The full proposal is long, but the FAA is seeking comments through May 28. Find the text online, here. The methods of response are listed under "Addresses" near the beginning of the text.

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Keeping 'Em Flying back to top 

Precision Airmotive Tackles Fuel-Injection Servo Problem

If a brass hex plug is loose on your Precision Airmotive fuel control, don't fly your aircraft until the issue is resolved. Two incidents relating to RSA-10ED1 fuel-injection servos on Lycoming IO-540-K engines in Piper Saratoga/6X aircraft have led Precision Airmotive to call for immediate action. A brass hex plug has been found in two cases with damaged threads and hanging from its safety wire, out of its hole. One incident resulted in an off-airport landing that considerably damaged the involved aircraft. In each case, the servos had between 200 and 300 hours time since new. While the cause of the problem has not yet been confirmed, Precision Airmotive believes immediate action is warranted and is requiring immediate inspection of all aircraft with RSA-5 or RSA-10 servos "which have had a new, rebuilt, overhauled, or repaired engine and/or servo installed since August 1, 2006 to determine if the brass regulator plug is loose." A visual inspection isn't good enough.

"The inspection should be accomplished by attempting to turn the plug by hand, while taking care not to damage the safety wire or seal," according to the company. If the plug is loose, contact Precision Airmotive at 360-651-8282 and do not fly the aircraft until the issue is resolved.

Boeing Defends Southwest

Boeing is leaping to the defense of its biggest customer, issuing a statement saying it agreed with Southwest Airlines’ plan to continue flying 46 older 737s that hadn’t been inspected for specific fatigue cracks. “In Boeing's opinion, the safety of the Southwest fleet was not compromised,” Boeing said in a statement released late Thursday, a day after the FAA proposed fines of $10.2 million against the airline. $10 million of that fine is to be levied for 1,451 flights conducted on the 46 737-300s after Southwest blew the whistle on itself for not carrying out the fatigue crack inspections during the previous year. After discovering the lapse in inspections and reporting it to the FAA, the airline reinspected the aircraft and found six with small cracks, which were repaired. However, the aircraft remained in service during the 10 days it took to inspect them and that’s what the FAA is so cranky about. "The FAA is taking action against Southwest Airlines for a failing to follow rules that are designed to protect passengers and crew," said Nick Sabatini, the agency's associate administrator for safety. "We expect the airline industry to fully comply with all FAA directives and take corrective action."

Southwest, perhaps with some justification, is pointing out that it discovered the error itself and moved to fix the problem as soon as it could. Before launching any of the 46 aircraft involved, it checked with Boeing to see if that posed a potential hazard. “Southwest Airlines contacted Boeing for verification of their technical opinion that the continued operation of their Classic 737s, for up to ten days until the airplanes could be reinspected, did not pose a safety of flight issue,” Boeing said in a statement. “Based on a thorough review of many factors, including fleet history and test data, as well as other inspections and maintenance previously incorporated, Boeing concluded the 10-day compliance plan was technically valid.”

RoboSwift Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Flies

The first flight of RoboSwift -- a 3-ounce, 8-"feathered" propeller-driven micro-aircraft with morphing wings spanning (at their widest geometry) 20 inches and a standard tail -- ended in a tree, according to ChinaView.cn. That might be fitting, but the YouTube video of another flight tells a different story. (Beware of the graphic language spoken in another language and look closely for wing geometry changes.) The first flight took place under windy conditions and lasted about five minutes at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. RoboSwift sports four "feathers" per wing and its wings can be adjusted by folding those feathers over one another and by sweeping the feathers forward or backward. It is being developed by a student team that aims to participate in MAV08, a competition of unmanned Micro Aerial Vehicles to be held in India.

RoboSwift's intended purpose is to carry forward-facing onboard cameras to more naturally observe wild birds ... or, as the Dutch National Police Services Agency has announced it will fund the program, perhaps be used by government and law-enforcement agencies for surveillance (assuming the funding isn't charitable) by incorporating ground-looking cameras.

See the RoboSwift Youtube video, here.

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Controversy and Accolades back to top 

Passenger Says Cessna's F-16 Intercept Launched By "Lies"

Pay your bribes in Thailand, or else. That's the message being broadcast by an Australian who says he witnessed bribes being asked of his pilot by two Thai individuals. The next day, the Cessna 208 he was aboard was intercepted by two Singaporean F-16 fighters. Presently, the Cessna's pilot (another Australian) is facing a potential trial in Singapore and a maximum penalty of one year in jail, plus a $3,900 fine. The Australian says his companion purchased the Cessna in Thailand, was asked for bribes and refused to pay. The next day, while flying the aircraft on a test flight in Thailand, he says the aircraft developed a landing gear problem. The Cessna's pilot (currently being held in Singapore) then requested a flight plan to an alternate airport in Singapore, according to his travel companion. Granted permission by radio, the information apparently was not transferred to Singaporean authorities who instead heard the aircraft was stolen, not registered, and had left Thai airspace under suspicious circumstances, according to the pilot's companion. The Cessna was then escorted to land at Changi Airport, Singapore, where commercial airspace was closed for 50 minutes as the drama played out.

The Cessna's pilot has been charged with flying an aircraft without a certificate of airworthiness. His potential jail time and fine are yet to be determined.

Michelle Goodman's Historic Distinguished Flying Cross

For the first time, the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) has been awarded to a woman, Flight Lieutenant and helicopter pilot Michelle Goodman, 31, of the Royal Air Force. Flight Lieutenant Goodman earned the medal by last June flying her Merlin helicopter through heavy fire and mortar rounds into the center of Basra, Iraq, at night to rescue a seriously injured soldier. She flew at 160 mph at very low level across a hostile city using night vision goggles; her aircraft was hit with enemy fire and she executed an approach and landing at an unfamiliar landing site that was taking mortar fire and shrouded in swirling dust. Goodman kept the aircraft on the ground for a full five minutes as her crew retrieved the injured rifleman. She then flew her aircraft, which detected a missile threat and automatically launched countermeasure flares, through a path covered very closely with friendly artillery fire to distract enemy forces. Flight Lieutenant Goodman could have elected not to take on the mission at all, determining that it required too much risk, "But if it was me lying down there," she told The Daily Mail, "I'd like to think there was someone prepared to come and get me."

The aircraft touched down at a British Field Hospital 14 minutes after launch. Before the flight, Goodman had asked her crew if they were up to the task and they agreed. Without Goodman's leadership, and her Incident Reaction Team, the wounded man would have died within 15 minutes. Goodman has completed three tours in Iraq. The DFC is one of the highest military decorations offered, below only the Victoria Cross and Conspicuous Gallantry Cross.

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News Briefs back to top 

Comair Crash Sole-Survivor Polehinke Looks Skyward

James Polehinke, first officer, pilot flying and sole survivor of the August 2006 Comair CRJ-100 crash that killed the other 49 aboard at Lexington's Blue Grass Airport, is "determined to fly again," according to a report by The Associated Press. The accident took place after the crew of Flight 5191 was cleared for a 6 a.m. pre-sunup departure from the 7,000-foot lit Runway 22, but taxied past it and attempted departure from the 3,500-foot unlit Runway 26. The aircraft hit the airport fence, a berm and trees before crashing 1,000 feet beyond the runway. Polehinke, then 44, was pulled from the wreckage by police officer Bryan Jared and airport officers John Sallee and James Maupin. Polehinke suffered multiple injuries that resulted in loss of his left leg and brain damage -- he reportedly has no memory of the crash or the incidents leading up to it. He is on medical leave with Comair and is being sued by relatives of some of the crash victims.

Security Screening Proposal

It’s hard to imagine a less romantic place than an airport security screening line-up but it set the stage for an impromptu (and ultimately successful) marriage proposal by a young Canadian man. Aaron Tkachuk, 24, of Prince George, British Columbia, planned to pop the question to his high school sweetheart Jennifer Rubadeau on a moonlit beach in the Caribbean while the couple enjoyed a respite from a particularly miserable winter in their central B.C. home. However, the engagement ring he tucked in a sock in his carry-on bag appeared unusual on the X-ray and the security screener at the Prince George airport wanted a closer look. “The guy pulled out the ring and he was like: 'Oh, no.' He felt terrible," Tkachuk told The Vancouver Province. "That was it -- the cat was out of the bag. We were all stunned, so I just opened up the case and said: 'Will you?' and she said: 'Yes.'"

Now, Tkachuk thought he’d left nothing to chance in plotting the proposal. Not only did he spend six months designing the perfect ring, he thought he’d covered all the bases in ensuring it was properly presented to his future bride. He even phoned the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) in advance for advice on sneaking the ring aboard the flight without violating any rules. It was a CATSA employee who advised him to hide the ring in a sock in the carry-on where it would be spotted for what it was on the X-ray. “It was supposed to be a classic romantic moment, but ended up more like a romantic comedy,” Tkachuk said. “At least it's a story we can tell our kids one day." Rubadeau said she was stunned when she saw the ring. "I was shocked that it all happened so fast," said the 23-year-old events coordinator. "It was pretty amazing and a strange place for it to happen. I had no idea it was coming, but it was pretty cool." The couple is now back from their holiday and making plans for an Aug.3 wedding.

On the Fly ...

A British Airways CityFlyer captain and a ground employee have been fired after the pilot allowed the groundworker’s father to fly for free in the cockpit from London to Milan. The pilot was fired for breaching security rules, the groundworker for fraud ...

The FAA may resume “courtesy inspections” of new homebuilt designs after the Congressman representing the district that is home to Lancair and Epic Aircraft complained that the freeze on inspections could harm the companies. The FAA halted the inspections as part of a review of homebuilt rules ...

The Air Force will officially retire its fleet of F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighters by late April. At least two celebrations are planned to mark the career of the radar-deflecting aircraft, which are being replaced by equally stealthy but much more versatile F-22 Raptors.

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Reader Voices back to top 

AVmail: Mar. 10, 2008

Reader mail this week about ADS-B, AFSS, ATC and more.

Click here to read this week's letters to the editor.

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 200,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

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New on AVweb back to top 

CEO of the Cockpit #80: The Urge to Merge

Another airline merger ... maybe. This time it's close to home for AVweb's CEO of the Cockpit, so he's sucking on oxygen.

Click here for the full story.

A folded newspaper fell into my lap as I was sitting in the "king seat" awaiting pushback in Newark. It was a USA Today with the headline, "Two Biggest Airlines Set to Merge," appearing above the fold. My co-pilot, Chet, had dropped it onto my dormant daddy parts and then flopped into his own lambs-wool covered "co-king seat" in an unhappy funk.

"I knew it!" he said. "It looks like the inevitable has happened and the airline world as we know it is coming to an end. Now I'll never make captain. It is bad enough the retirement age is now 65, pushing me back five years in seniority progression; now we're going to merge with these guys and they are all senior to me."

I normally don't pay much attention to merger rumors. If I did, I would have no time available to worry about important things like who the next American Idol would be and how much money I'd have to pay for my next fill-up of the family's eight-cylinder soccer shuttle. This particular rumor had the appearance of truth, so I decided to pay a little more attention to it. After all, USA Today doesn't publish colorful pie charts about airline delays on their front page unless they have a reason ... or if Britney has had a slow news day.

Apparently, our group of large, subsonic, people movers would soon merge with their large group of large, subsonic, people movers to form an even larger group of large, subsonic, people movers. Unless, of course, you count the large, subsonic, people movers we would no longer have to own or use because we had combined our operations. That is where Chet's fears were based.

If the combined companies needed fewer subsonic people movers, they would need fewer pilots to pilot them. Because Chet is a pilot and because he is a relatively junior one who has just come off of furlough, it looked like he might be going back to his father-in-law's Ford dealership to change oil and put cardboard floor mats into F-150 pick-ups instead of 777 school next year if this merger went through.

Why the CEO Bailed on Business School

I gave up any hope of getting a business degree in college way back when I tried to take Accounting 101 and had that argument with the teacher about why numbers didn't always have to add up as long as you still had money in your account. Also, liberal-arts classes had better looking women. My decision resulted in me knowing a lot about the feminist movement and airplanes but damn little about business, mergers, sinking debentures, hostile buy-outs, casual Fridays, all-hands sales motivation meetings and quarterly whatnots.

The only reason I can figure that airlines would want to merge is because the media has told them that it is a good idea. It can't be a good thing for the senior managers. With fewer companies come fewer cushy jobs with golden parachutes. How could they possibly make their money and be on each other's board of directors if there were fewer of them to go around?

I was about to comment on this to Chet when I got further good news from Wanda, our senior flight attendant.

No Bottle, No Throttle

"Guys," she said, "I hate to tell you this but we don't have enough usable walk-around oxygen bottles to dispatch. The MEL (minimum equipment list) says we need four and we only have two with any oxygen in them -- the other two are empty.

"The crew that brought the airplane in must have used them on a passenger on the way up from Miami and forgot to put it in the logbook," she said. "Can you call downstairs and have them send a couple more up?"

No problem, we'll put Chet right on it. I saw Chet putting on his headset and, as he leaned over to the center console to make sure the ramp frequency was on number two, I felt the urge to pontificate.

I don't know why we don't just keep a few bottles of medical oxygen on board. We can't come up from Florida without using at least one of our crew walk-around bottles to help out a wheezing geezer and we know they won't pay the money that we charge them for pre-planned medical O2 anyway.

"Ops says they don't have any spare bottles," Chet interjected as he took off his headset. "We're dead in the water and can't dispatch unless we can get spares elsewhere."

Are there any other planes coming in for a few-hours sit? Maybe we can steal a few from them and they can steal from yet another airplane until the geniuses down in our main base send some spares up. We used to have maintenance here along with beaucoup spare parts, but we gave them up years ago as a cost-cutting move. Why have adequate maintenance and spares when you can get away without them most of the time? What does the public think we are running here? A scheduled airline?

Will a Merger Help Passengers Breathe?

Just then, a ramp agent appeared behind my seat and told us we'd have to wait for our fuel today because the truck was broken. They had called out the ground-support equipment (GSE) mechanic and he had already arrived to fix it.

"There you go," said Chet. "Another win-win!"

I was beginning to see a connection here. Would one really huge, poorly managed and money-losing company be a better deal for the world than two relatively smaller, poorly managed and money-losing companies?

How did this merger thing work?

I've been though my share of them. Like any other airline person, I have gotten my share of "Good news, we're merging!" memos from Harvard and Georgia Tech business school grads. I know the drill, but if our airline can't provide adequate oxygen bottles to operate, what makes us think that merging with another airline will get us more usable bottles? In other words, from an operational, airplane-flying standpoint, what is the point?

Do merged airlines fly better? Are their pilots a happier bunch? Not in my experience. Even when our airline was the stronger of the two partners and bought another airline that was on the verge of death, their pilots weren't happy campers at all. Many of them spent their time either bitching about the deal they got on the merged seniority lists or talked all day about how much better, easier and happier things were with their old airline.

We had merged with four other airlines so far in my career and I'm still sitting here on the ramp in Newark without fuel and adequate oxygen bottles to go flying. Would buying one more airline make it better?

I'm beginning to think we are the addicts of the aviation world ... or worse yet, incompetent cannibals.

Merging Doesn't Lower the Price of Gas

The GSE mechanic we had laid off last year and then rehired on a part-time basis -- without benefits or retirement -- had fixed the fuel truck. We were taking on one kind of gas -- the Jet A variety -- but were still awaiting the other kind of gas -- the O2 -- variety to get underway. Chet had picked up the paper he had given me and began to read me snippets of the merger article.

"The main stumbling blocks," Chet read aloud, "are the two pilot groups who said they were going to court tomorrow to sue each other over seniority-list integration issues. This haggling may delay or even kill the proposed merger between these two airline giants."

I find it interesting that the newspaper reporter has failed to mention that our proposed merger hasn't convinced oil producers to lower the price of a barrel of oil by 50 bucks, I said. That is the real problem, not the size of the companies or their pilot's seniority snit-fits.

The Clank-Clank of Dispatch Redemption

We sat staring out of our windows for a moment listening to the whir of the stand-by gyro and the whoosh of the radio-rack fans when we heard the wonderful sound of the heavy footfalls of a ramp worker boarding two walk-around oxygen bottles that he had gotten from somewhere.

"Somewhere" turned out to be the MD-88 that had just docked next to us at an adjacent gate. They need three bottles for dispatch, but they weren't scheduled to leave for another hour and with only a half-load of passengers to annoy. We were full of people who could write complaint letters and were already 10 minutes past push-back time.

We were operating on a shoe-string, but an FAA approved and legal shoe-string. I only hoped that the next airline we bought and devoured would come with adequate mechanical and safety equipment spares, a competent management team and a clue.

It was then, in my moment of pre-pushback bliss, that the agent told me we had another delay: To fix the fuel truck, the GSE mechanic had borrowed parts from the tug that was hooked to us to push us back. It was going to be an hour before he could get back to the airport with the parts to fix it.

Want to read more from AVweb's CEO of the Cockpit? Check out the rest of his columns.

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Post-Crash Care

You've just crashed in a remote area. You and your passengers are injured. Will you have the equipment and knowledge to survive until you're rescued?

Click here for the full story.

A small plane crashes in a remote area, with no hope of rescue for several days. The survivors know basic survival techniques but have only rudimentary first-aid skills. How does the pilot-in-command sort, assess and treat injuries when the first-aid kit just went up in smoke? What kind of leadership qualities will that person need? What ethical dilemmas will the leader likely face during the ordeal? A pilot who crashes in a remote area must be prepared to provide pre-hospital care without support from or contact with a physician.

There are many books and training programs about survival after a small-plane crash landing ... how to find water, how to prepare a shelter, build a fire or signal for rescue. But one aspect of survival frequently overlooked is first aid in a remote and hostile environment. This type of first aid involves assessing and treating injuries to you and your passengers -- possibly for an extended period -- while awaiting rescue. While this article alone won't accomplish that goal, it will at least demonstrate the need for training and provide some ideas on how pilots can prepare and equip themselves.

Assessing Injuries

Any assessment of injuries must begin with the basics, conveniently known as the ABCs -- for airway, breathing and circulation. Using this "checklist," we assess and fix any immediate, life-threatening injury. Examples can include a closed or compromised airway, ensuring the victim is breathing and has a heartbeat, and is not hemorrhaging.

Once the three items on this checklist are complete, we move on to a more thorough assessment of the victim's injuries. Paramount in this process is being mindful of the potential for spinal injury: Keep the victim as motionless as possible throughout the examination until you are certain no spinal-cord injury exists. Try to keep the victim's head aligned with the midline of his or her body at all times.

Start at the top of the victim's head and work your way down, using both hands, looking at and feeling the body. One of the things you're doing here is looking for blood. Carefully move the flat of your hand under the neck, back, buttocks and legs, frequently checking your hand for blood. Keep in mind the old truism from emergency rooms that the worst injury will be in an area of the body least exposed.

Move all the way to the victim's toes. If your examination finds blood at any point, stop and expose the skin whenever possible, preferably by removing clothes, not cutting them. If you must cut the clothing, tape them back together after the exam to retain warmth. (You do have a roll of duct tape in your airplane's equipment, right?) Generally, I recommend leaving footwear on the feet; once removed, they will be difficult to replace due to swelling. Also, if there is a fracture, the shoe or boot will serve as a splint.

This part of the assessment is not "stop and fix"; if you discover a fracture or laceration but it's not hemorrhaging, don't stop. Continue with the exam until you have inspected the entire body -- there may be something critical just beyond the next joint.

Now that the top-to-bottom examination is complete, it's a good time to try to get some medical history: Does the victim need any personal medications for conditions like diabetes, angina or seizures? Were the medications aboard the plane and can they be retrieved? It might be a good idea to learn about any such conditions among your passengers before taking them on a cross-country flight.

Triage And Treatment

You have three passengers. You managed to get everyone to safety, despite a severe gash on your upper leg that is bleeding heavily. Your co-pilot is unconscious and bleeding from a scalp wound. An elderly passenger is gasping for breath and rubbing his left arm. His wife is sitting on the ground, clutching her elbow and screaming, "I'm hurt, I'm hurt!" Whom do you treat first?

Triage, a French word that means "screening," has become associated with the sorting and allocating of medical care in the field, based on need and the available resources. In this case, a primary resource is the caregiver's knowledge and ability to treat others.

There are several types of sorting categories, depending on the medical facility or group performing triage. For our purposes, however, there are only three: immediate (for the life-threatening injuries); later (for broken bones and lacerations); and last (for everyone else). Remember: You cannot treat and take care of your passengers if you are suffering from life-threatening injuries yourself. So ... who gets treated first? That's right: You do. Then, you attend to the head injury, the possible heart attack and, last, the hysterical woman with a possible dislocated elbow.

One tool we can use to help decide who needs what and when is taking the victim's vital signs. These include the rate and quality of the heartbeat and respirations, the temperature and color of the skin, and the relative size of the eyes' pupils. Together, these vital signs can be thought of as the body's "engine instruments" and should be used to help us decide if the victim is going into shock, or if the airway or lungs have been compromised.

But the most important "instrument" of all is the level of consciousness, or LOC. The LOC can be evaluated by determining if the person is alert and oriented to time and place, only responds to voice, only responds to pain, or does not respond at all.

Another technique worth mentioning is "clearing" the spine. In urban first aid, we expect an ambulance to arrive within 10 to 20 minutes, and we're taught to keep the victim's head and neck immobilized and wait for the paramedics. In wilderness first aid, it may be days before rescue and you won't want to completely immobilize someone if they don't need it. So, you'll need to conduct a more formal spinal assessment, one based on evaluating neurological function, which will tell you if a victim's spinal cord has been injured.

The examination used to "clear" the spine asks questions such as: Was the injury severe? Is the victim sober? Is the victim distracted from your questions and probing by pain or emotional distress? Is there pain, tingling or numbness in the extremities? Is there pain or tenderness when you touch along the spine? Can the victim move his/her head without pain?

If they pass this exam, they can get up and move around as well as they can tolerate. If not, keep them immobilized.

In-Flight Emergencies

What constitutes an in-flight medical emergency, and what can you do to help while maintaining control of the aircraft? The answers depend on what's going on with the patient, but any situation becomes an emergency when the person becomes confused, lethargic or unconscious. Other signs of a medical emergency can include sudden and severe pain, shortness of breath, sudden weakness, difficulty in speech or a seizure.

The first thing to do should be obvious: Fly the airplane! Next, ensure the distressed passenger can't interfere with the controls. Engage the autopilot and move the passenger seat back; if necessary, manipulate the seat adjustment lever, pitch the airplane up and let gravity do the work. If the passenger is unconscious, lower the seat back no more than 45 degrees while ensuring the head is supported and there is an adequate airway. Of course, if there are other passengers who can help, let them help stabilize the patient while you concentrate on flying the airplane.

If there are no other passengers aboard who can help, do not try performing CPR, even with the autopilot engaged -- you'll be wasting precious time. Instead, concentrate on declaring an emergency and making sure ATC knows you'll need an ambulance on landing. If you beat the ambulance to the airport, don't wait for it before starting CPR.

Once on the ground, pull off the runway onto grass or a taxiway, shut down, pull the passenger out of the airplane and onto the ground, assess the ABCs discussed earlier and perform CPR as necessary. Let the ambulance come to you. While waiting on an ambulance and if the airplane is equipped with oxygen and the patient is conscious, administer O2 to the patient until help arrives.

Ethical Dilemmas

Ethical dilemmas in medical care traditionally apply only to health care professionals. However, many of the same issues can arise in the wilderness setting for someone who is called upon to administer first aid without benefit of medical training, advice, guidance or equipment. The combination of limited skills, limited resources and the likelihood of a prolonged delay before rescue brings up several considerations.

For example, the decision of what goes into your first-aid kit, how well-trained you are to use it, and how well you can improvise with the resources available determines the limits on treatment you are willing to accept for yourself and your passengers. On the other hand, no matter what first-aid supplies you carry or how well trained you are, limits to available care still exist. So, just as you should do when making decisions when airborne, know your limitations. An untrained person's capabilities and their decision-making abilities will vary widely.

The responder must weigh the chance of performing a procedure that may benefit the patient against the possibility of doing further harm. Sometimes, the person feeling responsible for the others may take steps that will place the survivors at further risk. For example, do you abandon your passengers to go in search of food, water or rescuers, or stay, knowing that a potential rescue may be delayed? What if you are the only one with first-aid or survival skills? Of course, there are no easy answers to these questions, only more questions.


This article is by no means a complete course in wilderness first aid. For that, you'll need to sign up with a local ski, climbing or hiking club, as one example. Meanwhile, think about what equipment you want to carry and play the "what-if" game on every flight.

And while the unthinkable may never happen to you, it's best to ask yourself these kinds of questions in advance and think through the consequences of your actions at least once. Then, if the unthinkable does happen, you will have desensitized yourself to the very real chaos of a life-threatening emergency. And that just might give you an edge on living through this emergency to fly again.

Wilderness survival is very much like getting to Carnegie Hall -- it takes practice.

More AVweb safety articles are available here. And for monthly articles about safety, including accident reports like this one, subscribe to AVweb's sister publication, Aviation Safety.

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AVweb Insider Blog: Collier Irrelevance?

Be sure to visit our new blog, AVweb Insider, for personal insights and commentary on the aviation industry from our staff of writers and editors. Today, editor Russ Niles scratches his head in confusion over the NAA's decision to award the prestigious Robert J. Collier Award to an untested, mostly hypothetical technology.

Read more.

Dual Antenna Traffic Systems Simply Perform Better
Avidyne's dual-antenna TAS600 Systems detect other aircraft sooner and more accurately, avoiding the shadowing effects inherent with single-antenna systems. TAS600s actively interrogate other aircraft, providing timely alerts and precise locations of conflicting traffic. Starting at just $9,990, the dual-antenna TAS600 provides full-time protection and higher performance. For safety, you want the whole picture. TAS600 is now certified for the Cirrus SR20 and SR22! For details, call Avidyne at (800) 284-3963 or go online.
AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

T-34 Mentor Homecoming

File Size 6.7 MB / Running Time 7:18

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In conjunction with this year's 35th Anniversary of the Beechcraft Heritage Museum at the Tullahoma Regional Airport (THA) in Tennessee, one of America's premier warbirds, the T-34 Mentor, will come home. AVweb's Mike Blakeney spoke with Brad Hood of the T-34 Association about this first major gathering of legendary Beechcraft T-34 Mentors in many years, scheduled for October 15-19, 2008.

Click here to listen. (6.7 MB, 7:18)

Video of the Week: P-51 Mustang Landing

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

This week's video (from LiveLeak.com) puts you at the controls of the P-51 Mustang Crazy Horse, complete with CFI walking you through the landing procedure. A big thanks to AVweb reader Robert Reid, who brought this to our attention.

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If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

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."

Exclusive Video: Dassault Falcon 7X Fly-by-Wire Business Jet

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

Dassault has introduced a jet that changes the playing field for business jet manufacturers, operators and pilots. That jet is the $40 million Falcon 7X. In this exclusive video, AVweb video editor Glenn Pew takes us inside the Falcon 7X.

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Join NAA and Help Shape the Next Century of Flight
It's a great time to join the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), the nation's oldest aviation organization. At $39 a year, NAA membership is a terrific value for any aviation enthusiast! Members receive the Smithsonian's Air & Space magazine, plus access to aviation records, product discounts, and much more. Call (703) 527-0226 to become an NAA member, or sign up online.
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Tropical Aviation Corp. (TJIG, Isla Grande, San Juan, Puerto Rico)

Nominate an FBO | Rules | Tips | Questions | Winning FBOs

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Tropical Aviation Corp. at Isla Grande's Fernando Rivas Dominicci Airport (TJIG) in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

AVweb reader Robin Fraser made a compelling case, insisting that Tropical "was the best FBO we used in an entire month of cross-country flying" from Saskatchewan to BVI. "They easily deserve to be recognized as the 'FBO of the Week,'" writes Robin, and based on his account of the trip, we tend to agree:

The service at Tropicana Aviation was nothing less than excellent. From fueling at customs the moment we arrived and excellent pricing to the assistance in parking, everything was top-notch. The front desk staff arranged transportation and accomodations on a moment's notice and were exceptional with their service. The General Manager was there to meet us and offer his assistance and also introduced us to the owner of the business. Facilites were excellent and the staff took care of flightplans and the very low airport fees (less than 7.00 for the night!).

Keep those nominations coming. For complete contest rules, click here.

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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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Overheard in IFR Magazine's 'On the Air' Section
Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"

I'm a CFI who was flying into Vero Beach, Fla., and it's widely known that one of the tower controllers often flies to work. The winds were favoring the single runway, so the parallel runways were not in use, and the tower was busier than usual. While flying the pattern with a student, I heard the following:

"Vero Beach Tower, Cessna XXXX inbound for landing, full stop."

Tower (with what sounded like a straight face, though it couldn't have been):
"Cessna XXXX, remain clear class Delta, expect one hour delay."

[We weren't that busy, so I was shocked.]

"Um, but I'm your replacement!"

Tower (now laughing):
"Oh! Cessna XXXX, report left base, runway 4!"

More AVweb for Your Inbox back to top 

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry. Business AVflash is a must read. Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/.

Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

AVwebFlash is a weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Managing Editor
Meredith Saini

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

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