AVwebFlash - Volume 15, Number 48a

November 30, 2009

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News: What Really Happened on Northwest 188? back to top 

FAA Releases Northwest 188 Transcripts And Audio

When controllers at Minneapolis Center first made contact with wayward Northwest Flight 188, they said, "I just have to verify that the cockpit is secure," and the crew responded "It is secure and we got distracted, we were, ah...". Transcripts released Friday by the FAA claim the next part of the sentence was unintelligible, but the issue was not dropped. When asked, "Northwest 188, do you have time to give a brief explanation of what happened?" the crew responded, "... cockpit distractions, that's all I can say." The crew was asked to elaborate six minutes later and responded similarly, "We're just dealing with some company issues here, and that's all I can tell you right now at this time." In interviews after the October 21 flight that took the Airbus A320, in radio silence, 150 miles past their destination of MSP, the crew told investigators they'd been using laptops trying to understand work schedule software. Cockpit security and an explanation weren't controllers' only concerns. Another was fuel.

The October 21 flight from San Diego to Minneapolis (and beyond) carried 144 passengers for an extra hour and fifteen minutes. Lost to radio communications for 78 minutes, controllers at Minneapolis asked other Northwest flights to check Denver's frequency. When finally reached by controllers, the crew said, "we're good on fuel," adding that the aircraft was carrying more than two hours' worth. The FAA has classified the incident as a "pilot deviation" (similar to flying at the wrong altitude). Find the list of transcripts online, here.

Related Content:
Our audio podcast mixes the audio together for you to listen.

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Putting Heat on the Quest for Tighter Icing Regs back to top 

FAA Proposes More Icing Regulations For Part 121

The FAA, prompted initially by a safety review initiated by a 1994 fatal crash, last Monday proposed rules that may require installation of enhanced ice-protection systems on aircraft and changes to procedures for crews operating under part 121. The FAA described its motives this way: "Neither the current operating regulations nor the certification regulations" in place "ensure timely activation of ice protection systems." The new rules are intended to stop accidents the agency has reviewed where it was determined that "the flightcrew were either completely unaware of ice accretion on the airframe, or were aware of ice accretion." Toward that end, the proposed rule would create a standard to ensure that ice protection on part 121 aircraft are activated in a timely manner. Mainly, this rule will be fulfilled through equipment, and the adjustment of specific airplane flight manuals, operating manuals and training programs.

The full text of the FAA's proposed rule is available online. The rule would somewhat overlap existing requirements in certain airworthiness directives, but would be more detailed and specific to the operation of individual aircraft. Comments are requested before February 22, 2010.

What He Didn't Know About His Life Insurance Cost His Family $500,000
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Aviation & Environment back to top 

Pilots Cite Environmental Concerns To Block Power Plant

After previously joining arms with local residents and environmental groups to halt a similar proposal, the California Pilots Association is citing pilot-specific environmental concerns in its fight against the proposed construction of a power plant near a non-towered California airport. Speaking for some 5,000 pilots in the California Pilots Association (CPA), Andy Wilson told the Contra Costa Times that the proposed Mariposa Energy Project power plant would produce an oxygen-poor plume of contaminants and hot ammonia "that could affect engine operation or the pilot's ability to see." The proposal would put a power plant roughly 2.7 miles south of Byron Airport, a county-operated field that sees traffic from ultralights through corporate jets, along with glider and skydiving operations. The pilots have sought the influence of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to draw attention to the "health hazards" they say would also come into play, due to the proposed 200-megawatt gas-fired plant's emissions.

The power plant is one of 31 under consideration statewide, according to the California Energy Commission. The CPA successfully worked with other groups to previously halt construction of a power plant proposed for a location about 1.5 miles south of Hayward Executive Airport.

Contrails Make Clouds Say Researchers

No, this is not a ChemTrail airticle, but the UK's Met Office has concluded that high level contrails do have a global and localized effect ... on sunshine levels. One contrail studied by the office turned into a high level cirrus cloud that, at the peak of its formation, "covered an area of more than 20,000 square miles," Met Office Research Manager, Jim Haywood, told the UK's Times Online. According to the study, vapor trails laid down by aircraft along high traffic flight paths can reduce sunshine levels by as much as 10 percent whereas a lone contrail reduces light by less than one percent. Atmospheric conditions dictate how long the contrails remain in the sky and most dissipate quickly, said Hawyood. But some can last much longer, stimulating reactions in the surrounding stratosphere, "because the extra ice and soot act as 'nuclei' around which more water can condense," wrote the Times. Cloud cover aside, researchers say that the aviation-induced cloud cover can have other effects.

Intuitively, shade reduces heat, but researchers believe that high level cloud cover like that sometimes produced by contrails overall trap more heat than they reject. The overall effect then is a positive warming effect, which may be added to the three percent of greenhouse gas emissions that aviation is thought to contribute.

Fly Safely. Reduce Your Work Load. Increase Your Fuel Economy. Fly Intelligently.
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Just in Time for Holiday Gift-Giving! back to top 

One-of-a-Kind Metalplane Up For Auction

A 1929 Hamilton Metalplane, the only one of its kind that has been restored to flying condition, will go on the auction block soon in Scottsdale, Ariz. The airplane is hangared in South St. Paul, Minn., and will remain there until a new owner takes possession. The airplane was No. 22 of only 29 built, and was originally owned by the Canadian Forestry Service. After a long useful life in Canada, Alaska, and Washington State, it was fully restored in Minnesota in the 1970s. It was flown to airshows and won several awards, including Grand Champion trophy at the Antique Airplane Association National Convention in 1975 and the Silver Age Champion award at Oshkosh in 1976. Interested bidders can preview the Hamilton on Dec. 12-13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Fleming Field Airport in South St. Paul. The aircraft will be sold in an auction conducted by Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale in January. No reserve price has been set.

Click here for more details about the sale. Last year, the same auction company sold a Ford Tri-Motor for over $1 million. The Hamilton Metalplane No. 22 was mainly used a floatplane, and accumulated just over 5,000 hours before its restoration. Since then, it has logged less than 50 hours in the air. It last flew in June 1978.

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A New Wrinkle on Saving the Concorde back to top 

Concorde's Heathrow Home At Risk

Officials at London's Heathrow airport say they just can't find a good spot to display their Concorde and may have to get rid of it, a prospect that has Concorde fans up in arms. "The Queen of the Skies should now be the Queen of Heathrow," said Ben Lord, spokesman for the Save Concorde Group. Instead, the airplane has been shuffled around from place to place, and is now stored behind a maintenance hangar. Earlier this year, the airport tried to sell off the airplane to a buyer in Dubai, but the deal fell through. Plans to display the Concorde in British Airways' new terminal also did not materialize. "Heathrow is the world's most congested airport and finding a permanent location is not proving straightforward," an airline spokesperson told the London Times. "We are looking at a number of options for the aircraft including a permanent home at Heathrow but have not made any decisions." Lord said his group would vehemently oppose moving the airplane. "Heathrow played a vital role in the 27 years of Concorde's commercial lifetime, and it's critical that Alpha Bravo remains there," he said.

"We don't deny that finding a suitable location at Heathrow is a difficult issue," Lord said. However, the London Olympics are coming up in 2012, and he hopes to have the display issue worked out before then. "We'd even go so far as to say that we wouldn't expect BA to pay for this and we would put a fundraising initiative in place to raise the funds needed to relocate Concorde to a new, permanent location," Lord said. "Alpha-Bravo" (G-BOAB) is one of 20 Concordes that were disbursed to airports and museums around the world when the fleet was grounded in 2003.

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Accident Reports back to top 

Pilots Killed In Pawnee/Glider Collision

The FAA and NTSB are investigating why a Piper PA25 tow airplane and a Schleicher ASW 27 high-performance sailplane were involved in a collision over Middletown, Calif., that killed both pilots involved; there were no passengers. The FAA said both aircraft were approaching the same runway from different directions, but did not specifically state that the aircraft hit head-on. The accident occurred at 11 a.m. Saturday at Crazy Creek Air Adventures, which offers glider flights and open-cockpit biplane rides from its facility near Napa Valley wine country. Contacted by Lake County News, Jim Indrebo, owner of Crazy Creek Air Adventures, noted the active investigation, adding only, "I can't say much about it."

The Schleicher ASW 27 is a modern 15-meter-class single-place glider with a 48-1 L/S ratio at 54 knots, a maneuvering speed of 116 knots, and a minimum sink rate of 102 ft/min. The PA25 design, called the Pawnee, has been flying since the 1950s and is an externally braced low-wing single seater available with a 235-hp Lycoming.

Truck Collision Destroys Two Cessnas

Click for larger image

A man who was driving past the airport at Gillespie Field near San Diego, Wednesday, apparently fell unconscious and rode as passenger as his pickup truck (and his dog) went through a fence and plowed into a row of parked aircraft near the local flying club. The 57-year-old driver awoke safely under the wing of a small plane. He and his chocolate Labrador appeared unharmed and there were no other injuries or fire, but two Cessna 152s were destroyed and a third aircraft was damaged. The damage -- including aircraft and the airport fence -- was estimated by an employee of Golden State Flying club at about $200,000, according to East County Magazine. The driver was checked by paramedics and police, who arrived quickly on the scene. There are no indications that drugs or alcohol were involved.

The accident is currently under investigation. Gillespie Field is approximately ten miles northeast of San Diego and does not offer any airline service. It is protected by a wrought-iron fence where the truck made its unwelcome entrance at approximately 4:20 p.m.

Online Aircraft-Specific Ground Schools
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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

AVmail: November 30, 2009

Each week, we run a sampling of the letters received to our editorial inbox here in AVmail. One letter that's particularly relevant, informative, or otherwise compelling will headline this section as our "Letter of the Week," and we'll send the author an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you" for interacting with us (and the rest of our readership). Send us your comments and questions using this form. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail (just in case your letter is our "Letter of the Week"); by the same token, please let us know if your message is not intended for publication.

Letter of the Week: Ramp Delay Shouldn't Have Happened

The overnight ramp delay is a classic example of the level of absurdity our commercial airline travel has reached. These people should not have been held on the aircraft overnight, nor should they have been "allowed to deplane but held in a sterile part of the airport". They should have been allowed to deplane and go to a local hotel where they could spend the night with dignity and a little comfort.

They were not departing; they were arriving. They had already been through the security procedures. The plane was from Texas, not an International flight with Customs considerations. The bigger question is why should it make any difference if TSA was available or not. You do not have to pass through security to get off an airplane.

The entire situation is simply ludicrous. Are they going to distribute the fine money fined to the people who were actually inconvenienced by this nonsense? Hardly. We live in an era where regulation has been completely divorced from reality.

Thank God for GA, but if we are not diligent the same stupidity will insidiously creep into the system.

Paul Feather

Portable Electronics in the Cockpit

This is subject matter for the airlines, not the federal government. There is nothing inherently "distracting" about electronic devices; just like there is nothing inherently evil about firearms. Either used improperly could result in an unintended consequence. The aviation industry should urge, no demand, the FAA step out of this now.

Floyd Sanderson

Another Successful Ditching

Five to ten years ago (not sure of exact date), a fellow I know was flying a Caravan from Windsor to the Toronto area, at night, in icing, in late October. He was with another pilot, receiving icing training. They were over Lake Erie when they had an engine failure. Rather than turning left and going north to the closest shore, they turned right and went the long way around (whoops). As they were descending the check pilot announces "FIRE." They had some sort of engine fire. They dealt with all that and eventually did a perfect landing in the lake. It was so perfect, in fact, that their ELT did not go off. They did not know this at the time.

After the landing, they decided to open the doors and climb out. The water pressure was so great they could not open the doors. They sat there while the cockpit slowly filled with water and they eventually opened the doors and climbed onto the top of the fuselage.

Meanwhile, search and rescue helicopters were coming for them, but they were having trouble locating the plane, without the ELT signal. The pilots could see the helicopter flying around, with the searchlight, really close and they were eventually picked up and all was good.

Although some things could have been done better, the fact that they kept flying the plane until they landed made all the difference in the world.

The plane was raised, rebuilt and is now being used for skydiving.

Don Gravelle

Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own Letter to the Editor with this form.

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 

Flight 188 Tapes Released

File Size 3.8 MB / Running Time 4:08

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

The FAA released air traffic control recordings of the exchanges concerning Northwest Flight 188 on Oct. 21 as it overflew its destination by 150 miles. AVweb's Russ Niles snipped the highlights of those tapes and prepared this report.

Click here to listen. (3.8 MB, 4:08)

AVweb Insider Blog: Let the Captain Take Charge on the Ramp

If the Captain could make the call — he's the PIC, right? — then we might not need passengers' rights groups to protect the pax from unreasonable treatment and epic delays. That's the argument put forth by AVweb editor-in-chief Russ Niles on the AVweb Insider blog.

Stop by to see what he has to say and add your own comments.

AVweb Insider Blog: Ed Stimpson a Modest Giant in GA

Guest blogger Drew Steketee remembers Ed Stimpson in the latest installment of AVweb Insider.

Read and add your own comments.

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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Exclusive Video: IFR Checks Out the Garmin G600 for Instrument Approaches

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

IFR Magazine's Jeff Van West flew Garmin's corporate Mooney to see how the G500/600 retrofit glass cockpit performs for instrument approaches. He also looks at how the unit stacks up against fully-integrated systems like the G1000.

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Exclusive Video: Product Minutes — New Products at AOPA Summit

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

Our cup did runneth over AOPA Summit last week, but we managed some time to shoot another brief video on cool products we saw, including a Cirrus engine modification from Next Dimension, Flightline Systems' new AuRACLE Engine Monitor for legacy twins, a nifty flashlight that's really a glove, and a new Cessna 210 inspection guide from the Cessna Pilots Association.

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Find the Perfect Gift (Or Sell Your Gift Item) Here!
Ho, Ho Holiday Gift Guide
It's time to shop for special gift items and stocking stuffers for every pilot or aircraft enthusiast on your list. Click now to visit AVweb's Holiday Marketplace.
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Lebanon Aviation Services (Floyd W. Jones Airport, Lebanon, MO)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Lebanon Aviation Services at Floyd W. Jones Airport (KLBO) in Lebanon, Missouri.

AVweb reader Bill Lanman stopped in over the holiday and tells us how LAS rolled out the Thanksgiving welcome for a weary traveler:

A full course buffet of homemade food and freshly baked pie made my stop at LBO a real treat — all for a small donation! Last year I stayed overnight, and they paid for my cab to and from the hotel. The pilot is truly king here! Great people and service. I stop here whenever in the area, and I recommend any pilot flying through do the same.

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!

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

This is a nice one from a few years back. I know the captain of the aircraft, so I'm sure it's authentic. A South African Airways B747 just off LHR had a problem and said they were returning and would need to dump fuel for landing.

London Departure:
"You are approaching Windsor Castle, and the Queen is in residence. Hold the dump until you have passed Windsor."

SAA 747:
"Phone the Queen and ask if she would like the fuel or the aircraft."

Bob Allison
via e-mail

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

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Scott Simmons

Jeff van West
Mariano Rosales

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.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.