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Cessna said in a news release on Wednesday that it is fully committed to the Model 162 SkyCatcher despite two accidents during the flight test program, in which two airplanes were destroyed. "The need
for a modern, cost-effective two-seat trainer aircraft has never been greater, and we believe we are well positioned to meet that need," said Cessna CEO Jack Pelton. "The SkyCatcher program is an
important part of our strategy." Pelton said that in the most recent incident, last Thursday, the aircraft was undergoing a very aggressive spin test regime -- power on and cross-controlled -- when it
entered a spin that was not immediately recoverable. This spin test was one of more than 500 flown to date using various combinations of center-of-gravity positions, power settings, flap settings and
control inputs. The pilot deployed the airframe parachute in accordance with the flight-test procedure and emerged from the aircraft unhurt after it touched down.
Last September, an earlier test aircraft was destroyed when the pilot parachuted to safety after being unable to recover during aggressive spin testing. "We test all our aircraft well beyond the
limits of what is expected in normal operation," Pelton said. "By the time a Cessna aircraft enters service we have the highest degree of confidence in the design, flight characteristics, manufacture
and quality of the aircraft." Pelton added that company engineers have obtained valuable data on the crashworthiness of the aircraft and the operation of the Ballistic Recovery System (BRS) airframe
parachute as a result of the two incidents. The BRS is offered as an option on the SkyCatcher. "We are making every effort to minimize the impact on deliveries to our customers," Pelton said. The
SkyCatcher is a two-seat light sport aircraft powered by a 100-horsepower Continental O-200 engine. The program was launched in 2007.
As was the case with the first Skycatcher prototype crash, an unrecoverable spin led to the loss of the second and last flying Cessna
162 last week. The second airplane had been fitted with a larger tail as a result of the first crash. And, as in the first crash, there were complications with the parachute recovery system that led
to the aircraft being wrecked, according to preliminary report issued Tuesday by the NTSB. The report says
the test pilot set up an unspecified "planned test condition" and the aircraft entered a "rapid and disorienting spin" from which the pilot couldn't recover. Unlike the previous accident, in which the
ballistic parachute recovery system failed to deploy, the chute opened this time but caused further problems in the rest of the accident sequence.
According to the report, the parachute had been modified to be jettisoned by the pilot in flight. After the aircraft stabilized, the pilot tried several times to release the chute but couldn't.
Possibly concerned that his actions would unpredictably cause the chute to release, he considered taking his chances with his personal parachute but had run out of altitude and elected to ride the
airplane down instead of bailing out. Initially, damage to the airplane was limited mostly to the landing gear but because the pilot was unable to release the parachute on the ground, the wind caught
it and the airplane was dragged more than half a mile until it caught in a fence. It ended up inverted and heavily damaged.
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The NTSB on Wednesday released factual findings from its investigation into the Feb. 12 crash of Colgan Air Flight
3407 in Buffalo, N.Y, in which all 49 on board and one person on the ground were killed. A preliminary examination of the airplane systems has revealed no indication of pre-impact system failures
or anomalies, the NTSB said. The flight data recorder shows that the stall warning and protection system, which includes a stick shaker and stick pusher, activated at an airspeed and angle-of-attack
consistent with that expected. The Dash 8-Q400's stick shaker will normally activate several knots above the actual stall speed to provide the flight crew with time to initiate stall-recovery
procedures, and it activates at a higher airspeed than normal when the de-ice system is active, since icing elevates stall speed. The FDR data indicates that the stick shaker activated at 130 knots,
which is consistent with the de-ice system being engaged. When the stick shaker activated, there was a 25-pound pull force on the control column, followed by an up elevator deflection and increase in
pitch, angle of attack, and G force. The data indicate a likely separation of the airflow over the wing and ensuing roll two seconds after the stick shaker activated while the aircraft was slowing
through 125 knots and while at a flight load of 1.42 Gs. The predicted stall speed at a load factor of 1 G would be about 105 knots.
The NTSB's examination of the FDR data and preliminary evaluation of airplane performance models show that some ice accumulation was likely present on the airplane prior to the initial upset event,
but that the airplane continued to respond as expected to flight control inputs throughout the flight. The board has conducted reviews of the weather conditions, the aircraft maintenance records, and
tapes of ATC communications with the flight crew. Accident investigators have interviewed the air traffic controllers on duty at the time of the accident, as well as flight crew who had recently flown
with and/or provided instruction to the accident crew. Investigators will perform additional examinations on the dual distribution valves in the airplane's de-ice system, which uses pneumatic boots to
remove ice from the leading edges of the wings, horizontal tail and vertical tail.
The Safety Board is also examining several other areas potentially related to the accident, including the circumstances of a recent event involving a Dash 8-Q400, operated by Colgan Air, in which
the airplane's stick shaker activated during approach at Burlington, Vt. That airplane subsequently landed without incident. The safety board is also reviewing reports of airplane deviations resulting
from distortion of the instrument landing system (ILS) signal for Runway 23 at BUF, which was reported in a Notice to Airmen. To date, investigation into these reports has not revealed any connection
to the accident flight, the NTSB said. The NTSB will conduct a public hearing on this accident, May 12-14, in Washington, D.C. The hearing will cover a wide range of safety issues, including icing
effect on the airplane's performance, cold-weather operations, sterile-cockpit rules, crew experience, fatigue management, and stall-recovery training. "Flight 3407 is the deadliest transportation
accident in the United States in more than seven years," said NTSB Acting Chairman Mark Rosenker, in a news release on Wednesday. "The circumstances of the crash have raised several issues that go
well beyond the widely discussed matter of airframe icing, and we will explore these issues in our investigative fact-finding hearing."
This accident has been the topic of wide discussion in the aviation community. Click here to go to AVweb's Insider Blog, and find several posts about the
accident. Click here for the full text of Wednesday's NTSB report.
At a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon in Montana, members of the NTSB said that so far nothing points to a likely cause for Sunday's fatal crash of a Pilatus PC-12, in which 14 people died. One
of many mysteries is why the pilot chose to divert to Butte, when Bozeman was the flight's intended destination. "It's a question," Mark Rosenker, the NTSB's acting chairman, told reporters. "There's
a lot of questions, but it begins with that question." The pilot, Ellison "Bud" Summerfield, did not declare any emergency. Rosenker said Summerfield's voice betrayed no sign of stress when he spoke
with ATC about the diversion. Investigators will be retrieving more ATC tapes from Salt Lake City and they may request cellphone records for the airplane's passengers to see if they can find any clues
for the reason the pilot diverted. Rosenker also said an engine performance recorder was found in the wreckage, but added that it might not offer much help. "It will tell us about the engine and how
it's doing, [but] it is not designed for accident investigation," he said. NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said the safety board already has examined the issue of a known problem with the aircraft's
elevator controls, which was addressed in an FAA Airworthiness Directive in March, and determined it had nothing to do with Sunday's crash. Although the 10-seat airplane was carrying 14 people, and
icing was reported in the area, neither weight-and-balance issues nor icing factors seem to be standing out as likely causes to the NTSB. Seven of those on board were small children, and the airplane
was certified for flight in icing conditions. "Nothing is off the table in this investigation," Rosenker said. "But nothing also, at the same time, is leading us to specific working theories."
The NTSB also said on Tuesday that the airplane's flaps were in the up position, and the landing gear was extended. Also, the airplane's position seemed to be neither on a final approach to the
airport's northerly runway nor in a standard traffic pattern, but well off to the side of the runway. That could suggest that the pilot may have attempted a steep turn to enter the downwind leg of the
runway approach -- a maneuver that could be especially dangerous if the airplane was heavy or off-balance, or if there was ice. The three young families on board were on their way to a ski vacation at
Big Sky Resort and their original destination was Bozeman, Mont., which is closer to the resort. In addition to the pilot, the victims were: Erin and Amy Jacobson of St. Helena, Calif., and their
children, Taylor, 4, Ava, 3, and Jude, 1; Michael and Vanessa Pullen of Lodi, Calif., and their children, Sydney, 9, and Christopher, 7; and Brent and Kristen Ching of Durham, Calif., and their
children, Hailey, 5, and Caleb, 3. For reports from Tuesday's press conference, see The New York Times, CNN, and the Los Angeles Times.
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Traffic in the airspace over Denver has been restricted because managers at the Terminal Radar Control center (TRACON) say they don't have enough experienced controllers to handle the volumes that
once were possible, according to an internal FAA memo that was written last month. Kevin Stark, acting air traffic manager for the FAA at the Denver Center, wrote: "The Tracon has indicated that the
loss of a large number of their experienced employees, the relative inexperience of many of their current controllers, and the increase in volume has created a situation they can no longer accept.
They have indicated that the volume issues created by eight different routes flowing into their airspace routinely creates situations that put their controllers at risk, and they are unable to provide
the level of service our customers deserve." Kathryn Vernon, the FAA's director of Western Terminal Operations, told CBS4 of Denver, "As the letter is written, I would agree with you it sounds alarming. ... [However,] there is not a safety issue in the Denver airspace and Colorado airspace."
Doug Church, spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, told AVweb the problem proves what NATCA has long been saying: "That forced labor rules and pay cuts would drive
out a significantly higher number of experienced controllers into early retirement and attrition, leaving the agency ill-equipped to handle today's traffic demands, let alone be able to train the next
generation of controllers being hired." Stark's memo notes that an airspace redesign is already underway for the region, but "this is a long-term project and we do not anticipate any immediate
results from this effort." He said FAA will "continue to be mindful of the Tracon's identified issues while looking for ways to improve the service to our customers and increase our flexibility."
Church said that in Denver, there are plenty of routes into the airport, lots of space and lots of runways, "and the FAA is having to restrict flow due to a controller staffing problem." Click here to read the full text of the FAA memo from Kevin Stark.
On Monday, the FAA issued an emergency airworthiness
directive grounding all Sikorsky S-92 helicopters, the type that crashed off the Newfoundland coast on March 12, killing 17 people. The FAA said investigators found two main gearbox studs had
broken. "Failure of a stud ... could result in rapid loss of oil, failure of the main gearbox, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter," the FAA said. A similar failure had occurred in a July
2008 accident. "The failures have been tied to fretting and galling of the original titanium studs," the FAA said, "therefore, we are requiring the removal of all titanium studs and replacement with
steel studs." The helicopters cannot fly until the replacement is complete, the FAA said. The aviation authorities in Canada and the UK have issued similar mandates. Sikorsky, based in Stratford,
Conn., said in a news release on Monday that the majority of the worldwide fleet of S-92 helicopters has already complied with the requirements of the AD.
The company said it has delivered 91 of the S-92 helicopters, and contacted all operators on March 20 after broken titanium studs were found during the crash investigation in Canada. "The
investigation is continuing, and no determination has been made that the broken studs contributed to the accident or if they resulted from it," Sikorsky said in the news release. Operators were
notified "as a safety precaution." As of Monday, at least 50 of the fleet had already completed the retrofit, Sikorsky said. "While the investigation remains ongoing, our priority has been to maintain
safety and eliminate any potential risks," said Marc Poland, vice president of Sikorsky Global Helicopters. "The operators are reacting quickly, and we are doing all we can to encourage full and rapid
compliance." Canada's Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation into the March 12 helicopter accident. The pilots in that accident reportedly declared a mayday minutes before the crash,
citing a problem with the main gearbox oil pressure. The aircraft appeared to fly a controlled descent from 9,000 feet but lost control near 800 feet, according to early reports. Only one person
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The National Business Aviation Association and the Alliance for Aviation Across America have both asked JetBlue to stop an ad campaign that appears to be a satirical attempt to cash in on the ongoing
public relations problems suffered by business aviation. The campaign invites "bigwigs" to use the airline instead of flying privately. In response, the Alliance has run an ad noting the large areas of the U.S. not served by JetBlue. In a podcast interview with AVweb, Alliance spokeswoman Selena Shilad said JetBlue's ad is an example of the distorted view of general aviation being
presented by some and her organization decided it was time to hit back. NBAA President Ed Bolen wrote JetBlue CEO David Berger asking him to pull the ads, noting that businesspeople are among the
biggest customers of the airlines when their service makes sense.
However, he said, airline travel often isn't feasible for business travelers whose multiple destinations, special requirements or off-the-grid stops make it nearly impossible. "It's unfortunate to
see that your ad campaign overlooks these realities, and promotes a caricature that does not represent the people and companies that need business aviation to compete and survive, especially in
this challenging economic climate," Bolen wrote.
AVweb will be attending the Aircraft Electronics Association's annual show in Dallas, and word is that there will be more product
announcements than ever. To give our newsteam a chance to cover all the announcements, we'd appreciate companies with news to share to get it to us in advance (embargoed as necessary) so we can give
each one the attention it deserves. Send your announcements to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you signed up yet for AVweb's no-cost weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz?
Delivered every Wednesday morning, AVwebBiz focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry, making it a must-read.
Add AVwebBiz to your AVweb subscriptions today by clicking here and choosing "Update E-mail Subscriptions."
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Be a guest with Cutter Aviation at one of our seven FBO locations around the Southwest, and we'll reward you for every fuel purchase you make. With Phillips 66 WingPoints and AvFuel Avtrip,
you'll get fantastic benefits and can bank on the famous customer service we've built our 81-year history on! Sign up online for double or triple WingPoints or AvTrip points on your
A Pennsylvania airport will be the first GA field to get money from the federal government's stimulus package, AOPA
reported this week. Allegheny County Airport, near Pittsburgh, will get $2 million to renovate a taxiway and relocate a ramp. "The money will definitely be put to good use," airport manager Dave
Shaw told AOPA. "Not only will it straighten out the taxiways, but it will also make space in the upper-west ramp for future development to allow us to continue to grow and thrive." More money should
be coming soon for "shovel-ready" GA projects, AOPA said. Meanwhile, lots of GA companies are offering promotions of various kinds to try to stimulate their own economies. Socata this week announced a
new co-ownership program for buyers of its TBM 850 turboprop, offering one-third shares. The program
cuts ownership costs and provides professional management services, the company said.
Also this week, Continental Motors said it will offer rebates of $1,000 to $2,000 on factory-rebuilt engines through April 15, on top of a recent
price cut of 10 percent. "Aircraft owners may want to research the many benefits of installing a genuine factory-new or factory-rebuilt engine versus an overhaul service prior to reinvesting in their
aircraft," the company said in a news release. American Legend Aircraft Company also announced this week a new "Aeronomic Stimulus," reducing its
price on the next five Legend Cub LSAs sold to $99,895. Many more GA airports should expect a cut from the $1.1 billion allotted to airports in the $787 billion stimulus package, AOPA said. The funds
will go to projects such as taxiway improvements, additional lighting, and the construction of aprons, and it is in addition to money provided for airports by the FAA's regular Airport Improvement
Randy Babbitt, who served as president of the Air Line Pilots Association during the 1990s, is expected to be nominated by the Obama administration to be the next FAA administrator, the Wall Street Journal has reported. Babbitt's name has been in the rumor mill for a while, and he's
considered to be a compromise candidate who is likely to be acceptable to both airline types and labor leaders, according to the WSJ. The administration is apparently feeling pressured to fill the
long-vacant post quickly, due to the recent run of aircraft accidents in the news. Neither the White House, nor the FAA have confirmed the appointment.
The new administrator will face not only questions about safety but a wide range of challenges, including negotiating a new contract with air traffic controllers, getting the NextGen overhaul on
track, and resolving conflicts over how the agency should be funded. Babbitt is currently a partner in the aviation practice at Oliver Wyman Group, a management-consulting firm owned by New York-based
Marsh & McLennan Cos., according to the WSJ, and questions may be raised about whether his work there included lobbying on behalf of clients he may now be in charge of regulating. AVweb will
have updates on this story as it develops.
Another new company is trying to rise from the ashes of Eclipse Aviation, as Eclipse 500 Services aims to provide
maintenance support to the orphaned fleet. The company is staffed by former Eclipse Aviation mechanics and engineers...
A pilot in Italy has been convicted of manslaughter in connection with a 2005 accident when he prayed for help and didn't take action. Sixteen people died when the ATR-72 crashed into the sea. The
co-pilot was also convicted, and both were sentenced to 10 years in prison, The
Associated Press reported this week...
Bill Boisture will take over as CEO at Hawker Beechcraft, replacing Jim Schuster, who is retiring. Boisture
formerly was president of NetJets and Gulfstream Aerospace.
New ASF Safety Quiz Test Your Air Safety Skills Now!
In aviation, you've got a split second to make the right decision. Put your safety skills to the test and take the Air Safety Foundation's online safety quiz. New quizzes are posted every
other week on topics from icing and stall/spin awareness to emergency procedures and more. Quizzes only take minutes to complete minutes that could save your life.
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Our resident crank, Paul Bertorelli, has just learned that the F-35 will be called the Lightning II. Can't the Air Force do any better than this? he asks in the latest installment of our AVweb
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Last week, the TSA appointed Juan Barnes as a security liaison to GA encouraged the general public to e-mail him their concerns. So we put the question to AVweb readers: What
do you have to say about the TSA's current policies and practices?
Not surprisingly, a solid majority of the readers who participated in our poll (55%) thought that GA security is just fine exactly the way it is. At the other end of the
spectrum, only three readers (!) thought there were significant risks posed by GA and that the TSA should be doing more make America's skies safe.
For a complete (real-time) breakdown of reader responses, click here. (You may be asked to register and answer if you haven't already participated in this poll.)
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
Plenty of parties government and otherwise stand ready to pump money into the
aviation industry to help it weather economic hard times. But where should it be spent? We'd like to hear which segment of aviation should get the lion's share of "stimulation."
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 email@example.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
Put AeroExpo Europe - Prague and AeroExpo Europe - London on Your Show Schedule AeroExpo Europe - Prague (May 22-24, 2009) will showcase everything from ultralights to helicopters to business aircraft in the heart of Europe, marketing to the European and emerging Eastern
European and Russian markets. AeroExpo Europe - London (June 12-14, 2009) includes aircraft from light aircraft, pistons, and turboprops through to VLJs (very light jets) and all parts and
services for these general aviation aircraft.
Go online for
exhibitor and attendee details.
We visited SheltAir on another pilot's recommendation, and Robert and Miguel [at SheltAir] lived up to their reputation. [They] totally impress[ed] us with VIP service, fair parking and fuel prices,
an over-the-top welcome, and friendship!
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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Each week, we go through dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of reader-submitted photos and pick the very best to share with you on Thursday mornings. The top photos are featured on
AVweb's home page, and one photo that stands above the others is awarded an AVweb baseball cap as our "Picture of the Week." Want to see your photo on
AVweb.com? Click here to submit it to our weekly contest.
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
AVweb readers must be packing their bags for Friedrichshafen and Dallas, because our submission bag was a little lighter than usual this week. The last few times that's
happened, we've been blessed with an extra-good crop, and this week was no exception. Even though there were barely 60 pics in this week's ballot box, we had a hard time whittling down the selection
and choosing a single winner ... .
No stunts, colorful skylines, or even airplanes in this week's top photo, believe it or not just a thoughtful moment capturing discreetly by Deborah
Grigsby Smith of Englewood, Colorado. The Ace in question is USAF Brigadier General Steve Ritchie, who served as a
keynote speaker at the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame's 2009 induction ceremonies.
Tim Adams of Eleva, Wisconsin snapped this shot from his balloon. "The ripples [you see] on the water are from ... [us] touching down on the
water surface," writes Tim, who goes on to tell us, "The picture was taken minutes after I asked my girlfriend to marry me. (She said yes.)"
Tom Hesbach of Port Republic, Maryland reports that he and his family flew into MD1 "on a whim" and paid a visit to the Massey Air Museum. "They have a lovely DC-3 there in a yet-to-be-restored state that they'll let you walk through," writes Tom. "My 11-month-old
daughter couldn't resist getting some yoke time!"
A quick note for submitters: If you've got several photos that you feel are "POTW" material, your best bet is to submit them one-a-week! That gives your photos a greater chance of
seeing print on AVweb, and it makes the selection process a little easier on us, too. ;)
A Reminder About Copyrights:
Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to
release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or or send us an e-mail.
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:
Publisher Timothy Cole
Editorial Director, Aviation Publications Paul Bertorelli
Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles
Contributing Editors Mary Grady Glenn Pew
Features Editor Kevin Lane-Cummings
Webmaster Scott Simmons
Contributors Jeff van West
Click here to send a letter to the
editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)
Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.
Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team.
If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your PDA or handheld device), there's also a text-only
version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.