AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 17, Number 40a

October 3, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! MacGyver Mechanics Face Charges back to top 
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Paper Clip Repair Sparks Charges

Anyone who had maintenance or repairs done by WECO Aerospace Systems in Lincoln, CA before it merged with Gulfstream Aerospace in 2007 might want to comb their logs for the type and scope of work done and check their airplanes for paper clips. California residents Jerry Edward Kuwata, 60, of Granite Bay; Michael Dennis Maupin, 58, of Arbuckle; Scott Hamilton Durham, 39, of Roseville; Christopher Warren MacQueen, 53, of Lincoln; Douglas Arthur Johnson, 52, of Granite Bay; and Anthony Vincent Zito, 47, of Saugus have been indicted by a Sacramento federal grand jury on 36 charges of using unapproved parts in aircraft repairs. In at least one case, a paper clip was used, the indictments allege. The repairs apparently did the trick, at least temporarily, because there were no incidents reported that were directly related to the work but the long list of alleged corner cutting and fraud has raised the dander of prosecutors. There have been no reported problems since Gulfstream took over.

The indictment alleges the company didn't even have the equipment to do some of the work it signed off on and that those involved routinely ignored maintenance manuals and FAA regs. "The indictment alleges that these defendants knowingly cut corners in repairing aircraft parts and concealed the fact that they were not complying with FAA regulations. While it is fortunate that there are no aircraft crashes known to be associated with faulty repairs conducted by these defendants, their alleged conduct needlessly took risks with the safety of persons who used aircraft that they repaired," said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner, in a statement. "FAA regulations are intended to ensure the safety of air travel, and those who disregard them in order to increase profits should face serious consequences."

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Four-Year Investigation Draws to a Close back to top 

Drug Bust At Boeing Plant

A Thursday morning raid at Boeing's helicopter plant outside of Philadelphia resulted in the arrest of 37 current and former Boeing employees who authorities allege were associated with the purchase and sale of prescription drugs. The plant at Ridley Park produces the CH-47 Chinook and the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. It employs roughly 6,000 workers. The majority of those arrested reportedly worked in production at the facility. According to Boeing, the arrests were facilitated by its own internal investigation that began in 2006 after other employees reported suspicious activity to the company's internal ethics hotline. The company alerted federal law enforcement and a four-year DEA investigation followed. During that time production at the plant continued, with care, according to Boeing.

Of the 37 arrested, 23 were indicted on charges of illegally distributing prescription drugs including Xanax (an anti-anxiety pill), as well as painkillers Oxycontin and Actiq. Boeing says it cooperated with investigators throughout the four-year DEA investigation, which included undercover agents. The U.S. Attorney working the case said that all individuals charged had either bought or sold a controlled substance (or what the workers believed to be a controlled substance) from, or to, an individual working in cooperation with the FBI. According to the U.S. attorney, no accidents have yet been attributed to work performed by the people charged. Boeing told The Wall Street Journal that it took action to ensure that both its employees and its products were kept safe during the investigation to ensure "the absolute integrity and quality of products we produce for our customers."

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Aviation Safety Reports I back to top 

GPS Complacency Cited In Accident

A pilot's sole reliance on what proved to be unreliable GPS information during an approach in IMC is being blamed for the crash of Piper Cheyenne that killed six people in Australia in 2004. A coroner has ruled that the pilot didn't check the GPS information against other navigation instruments as the Cheyenne went off course and hit a ridge near Benalla. "It is reasonable to infer that he believed that operations were normal and that in 'scanning' the array of instruments before him he focused on information from the GPS unit," Coroner Paresa Spanos said. "Taking all evidence before me into account, I find that the accident which took the lives of all six deceased was caused by navigation with the GPS in dead reckoning mode." The coroner also found that an air traffic controller failed to warn the pilot that he was deviating from his filed course.

Earlier testimony revealed the GPS unit on the aircraft went to dead reckoning mode for unknown reasons. When the plane deviated from course, the controller twice noticed it but didn't query the pilot, believing he'd picked another route to the airport. "In doing so, he contributed to the accident as there was a lost opportunity for avoidance of the accident," Spanos said. The aircraft was on a well-worn route carrying lumber executives and family members from Sydney to Benalla. Pilot Kerry Endicott had made the flight weekly for almost 25 years.

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Aviation Safety Reports II back to top 

Plane Hits Ferris Wheel; No Injuries (Updated)

The 52-year-old Australian pilot has answered the obvious question. Paul Cox told rescuers he didn't see the Ferris wheel. "The next thing I knew, I was stopped inside the Ferris wheel," he said. "I had no idea for a few minutes and I was just hoping no one got hurt." There are likely to be some more probing inquiries from Australian authorities in coming days, chief among them why a Ferris wheel was allowed off the end of the grass strip at Old Bar, perhaps within about 50 yards of the threshold. Initial reports focused on the collision and the safe rescue of the plane's occupants and the five kids on the Ferris wheel, none of whom were hurt, but an AVweb reader has provided a different perspective on what might have happened. "The Ferris wheel was about 50 yards from the southern threshold of the runway," Jens Meinecke told AVweb. "The guy was doing a missed approach from the north and with the nose high on climb out did not see the wheel."

As might be expected, there was some luck involved in the safe outcome. The ride would normally have been packed with kids, but rain was threatening so there were only five occupants. The plane missed the occupied seats and got tangled in the bracing wires. The fire department used a crane to get everyone down.

DC-9-50 Nearly Loses Engines On Hard Landing

click for photos

On Sept. 26, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-51 operated by Aeropostal landed at Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela, with enough force to crack both engine pylons at the airframe, leaving them dangling at the rear fuselage sides. None of the five crew and 125 passengers were seriously injured and all were evacuated onto the runway after the aircraft was stopped. The jet, registered YV136T, is more than 35 years old. The flight, VH 342, according to the Aviation Safety Network, had operated from Caracas and landed at Puerto Ordaz in a manner that has been described as "very hard." This is one you really have to see to believe. We expect your letters, anyway.

A passenger told El Nacional that the impact with the runway had been hard and that afterward there was a slight burning smell in the aircraft. Passengers were reassured by the crew and aided with evacuation. The aircraft was later towed from the runway. It was a regularly scheduled domestic flight. No local weather reports were immediately available. According to El Universal of Caracas, the investigation is being initiated by the JIAAC, the civil aviation accident investigation agency of Argentina. The incident aircraft was fitted with Pratt & Whitney JT-8D-17A (HK3) engines. It was first operated commercially by Finnair from October of 1976 through March of 1984 and has since served with Alisarda, Linea Aeropostal Venezolana, and Aeropostal.

Click for photos.

Safety Board: Switch Mistake Nearly Flips ANA 737

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On Sept. 6, an ANA 737-700 with 117 aboard rolled through 130 degrees of bank and lost more than 6,000 feet of altitude partly due to poorly placed switches, according to Japan's Transport Safety Board's (JTSB's) preliminary report. No serious injuries were reported. Flight NH140 was cruising at 41,000 feet out of Okinawa for Tokyo when the captain left the cockpit. Upon his return, the co-pilot reached for what he thought was the control that unlocks the cockpit door and moved it to the left. The preliminary report states that the pilot instead grabbed and moved to the left the rudder trim control, which on the incident aircraft shares a similar position at the rear of the control pedestal. The four-year old jet then reacted to that control input as it should.

In response to the control input, the jet rolled left past 130 degrees and pitched 35 degrees nose-down. It lost 6,300 feet and pulled 2.68G during recovery. Be the time the aircraft had stabilized it was flying more than 200 degrees off course at an altitude of 34,700 feet. The aircraft had entered the maneuver while flying on autopilot, according to JTSB, but was upset by a left turn input recorded at the rudder trim control. Two flight attendants suffered minor injuries. ANA apologized Wednesday for the incident and said that it had not reported the incident until the following day. ANA said it will take measures to ensure that pilots double-check the location of the controls whenever anyone leaves or enters the cockpit. Additional measures may follow. The event may have overshadowed the Wednesday arrival of ANA's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet at Tokyo's Haneda Airport. The company is the launch customer for the aircraft.

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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

AVmail: October 3, 2011

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.

Thanks to all those who elaborated on the third class medical "Question of the Week," but there isn't enough cyberspace to run all of your responses. Here's a sampling, starting with two letters that make the point and counterpoint.

The Right Track

I fully agree with the AOPA/EAA proposal. It would open the Sport Pilot classification to a wide selection of used, certified airplanes with a lower cost and better load capacity (especially for us big guys). The Sport Pilot rule has been a big disappointment in regards to the types and cost of airplanes available to fly under the rule. It has certainly kept me from participating.

Steven Riddle

On the Other Hand ...

I don't think a driver's license should replace a third class medical, as the Florida department of motor vehicles just sent me a new license good for eight years, and they haven't even seen me in over six years. For all they know, I might have a seeing-eye dog, plus the fact I'm 79 years old. I only fly now with a CFI or another licensed pilot for safety reasons, although I'm still current.

Richard Schwartz

Bigger Is Easier

I bought a Cessna 162 for my wife to learn in. I also figured there would be future use if I did not pursue the time and expense for a special medical exemption. Well, it's a fun plane to fly but harder to fly than a 182 and a little less safe in some conditions.

A 182 is a very stable, safe plane, and the constant speed prop makes power settings fixed, requiring less work. Why would this type of plane not be allowed for driver's license medical?

Len Blair

Gear Up?

This is a great idea and past due. However, why the fixed gear restriction? If you're too incapacitated to flip the gear switch, you're certainly too incapacitated to fly the plane! Seems to be to be an unnecessary/unreasonable restriction.

Pete Johnson

Another Approach

A worthy goal, but the FAA is not in the business of giving up territory. A better idea would be to increase max weight for light sport aircraft to 1,600 lbs. Many economical and reliable two-seat aircraft would suddenly become available. Too easy!

Al Jenkins

I have no interest in dropping the third class medical if night is excluded. I have little interest if IFR is excluded.

Andy Durbin

Two Out of Three

I enjoy your news coverage and "POTW." In today's gallery there is a nice photo taken from an interesting perspective titled "Dakota Cockpits Alive!" The plane in the foreground is not a Dakota; it's a DC-2.

From this angle, notice the different engine cowlings than on the DC-3 and the "headlights" at the bottom of the nose. If viewed from the front, the narrower fuselage and shorter wingspan of the DC-2 are also evident.

Harold Moritz

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

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Test Your Knowledge back to top 

Brainteasers Quiz #164: Down to Minimums


ATC does not treat IFR and VFR pilots equally, but VFR pilots can benefit from a grasp of IFR procedures. See how much you know about the dark art of instrument procedures by unraveling this quiz.

Take the quiz.

More Brainteasers

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Medical Proposal Doesn't Go Far Enough

Is a little freedom better than none? In a guest posting to the AVweb Insider blog, Potomac Airfield owner David Wartofsky argues that the answer is a resounding "no" and that it's time to abolish third class medicals entirely for those flying aircraft that weigh less than 6,000 pounds.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: How Old Is Too Old?

Jimmy Leeward's tragic P-51 crash at Reno last week raised the emotional issue of age and piloting abilities. We might not like to hear it asked, but it's a fair question even if the pilot's age had no bearing on the accident. There's no easy answer, either, other than to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli shares some reflections of his own.

Read more and join the conversation.

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AVweb Audio — Are You Listening? back to top 

Podcast: Inside the EAA/AOPA Medical Certificate Proposal

File Size 9.8 MB / Running Time 10:41

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If you've been hearing rumors that the FAA may soon change medical requirements for many pilots, chances have never been better that those rumors are true. AVweb's Glenn Pew spoke with EAA vice president of industry and regulatory affairs Sean Elliot to see what dates and details had already been laid out in a plan, what pilots might expect, when they might expect it, and what compromises might come. It would not be wise to hold your breath, but this cooperative effort is well organized and backed by recent real-world statistics on the safety of flight operations without an FAA medical check. Listen to this podcast for details of the effort as it stands now.

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Click here to listen. (9.8 MB, 10:41)

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

Video: 'IFR' Magazine Learns How Jeppesen Prints Approach Plates

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Glacier Jet Center (KPGI, Kalispell, MT)

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

It's been a busy week for FBO nominations on AVweb.com — but when all was said and done, we had to give this week's blue ribbon to Glacier Jet Center at Glacier Park International Airport (KPGI) in Kalispell, Montana.

AVweb reader Mark Fryburg had high praise for the staff and facilities at Glacier:

Best FBO service I've ever received in my 29 yeas of light aircraft flying. From my first e-mail to book a tie-down and rental car through ramp service and tourism advice, they constantly offered to help and promptly delivered on their promises. A three-man ramp crew greeted us to park, fuel, and unload our Debonair then load luggage in the car. The front desk staff was equally helpful. Everything was delivered on time and as promised. Everyone was courteous and friendly. And my non-pilot wife felt especially welcomed.

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

While flying southbound IFR in good VMC conditions to Sun 'n Fun two years ago, we overheard the following conversation:

Cessna 1234 (sounding like a student pilot) :
"Approach, request flight following."

"Cessna 1234, what is your location -- altitude and destination?"

Cessna 1234:
"We just departed Salisbury. 1,500 feet."

"What is your destination?"

Cessna 1234:
[A few unintelligible words mumbled, with no definitive answer.]

[Long pause.]

Approach (laughter in his voice) :
"Would you like me to select your destination?"

Cessna 1234:
"Where do you recommend?"

Howard McVay
via e-mail

Heard Anything Funny on the Radio?

Heard anything funny, unusual, or downright shocking on the radio lately? If you've been flying any length of time, you're sure to have eavesdropped on a few memorable exchanges. The ones that gave you a chuckle may do the same for your fellow AVweb readers. Share your radio funny with us, and, if we use it in a future "Short Final," we'll send you a sharp-looking AVweb hat to sport around your local airport. No joke.

Click here to submit your original, true, and previously unpublished story.

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.

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