AVwebFlash - Volume 17, Number 42a

October 17, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Reconstructing the Circumstances back to top 
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Brake Mistake Might Have Led To Crash

Russian media is reporting that investigators believe the crash of a Yak-42 that killed all members of an elite Russian hockey team last month may have been caused in part because the brakes were on during the takeoff run. As we reported at the time, the chartered trijet aircraft crashed in the Volga River moments after takeoff from Yaroslavl's Tunoshna Airport in clear weather. Russian investigators have since been running simulations and they point to the braking issue as the first stage of the accident chain.

Test pilot Vasily Sevastyanov, who took part in the simulations, told a Russian television network that a "braking force" caused an abnormally slow and long takeoff run. He speculated one of the pilots elected to continue the takeoff despite the slow speed and the aircraft stalled into the river. Investigators haven't publicly commented on the cause of the crash except to say that all the aircraft's systems appeared to be functioning normally. The lone survivor of the crash, the aircraft's flight engineer, told the TV station he couldn't say whether the brakes were on or not. The crash killed 44, including seven crew members and virtually the entire Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey team, which included several National Hockey League veterans and head coach Brad McCrimmon, a former NHL all-star defenseman from Saskatchewan.

French Board Objects To Publication Of Cockpit Conversations

The French aviation accident investigation board, the BEA, on Thursday condemned an author's disclosure of cockpit conversations among the pilots who died in the Rio-to-Paris Airbus flight that crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in June 2009. A book by Jean-Pierre Otelli, Erreurs de pilotage, Tome 5 (Pilot Errors, Volume 5), includes literal transcriptions from the cockpit voice recorder that had not been published in the official reports, which included only excerpts. "This transcription mentions personal conversations between the crew members that have no bearing on the event, which shows a lack of respect for the memory of the late crew members," the BEA said in a statement (PDF). According to Bloomberg News, Otelli's book reveals "confusion, a lack of coordination, and denial among the flight crew as the jet plunged through the night sky toward the ocean surface."

The BEA said its investigation is not yet complete, and "any attempt at interpretation at this stage is partial and, as a result, can only fan the flames of the controversies of the last few months, which is harmful to all concerned … only an in-depth analysis of the facts will enable all the causes of the accident to be determined." The board said its final report will be published by next June. According to the Daily Mail, the full transcripts in Otelli's book show that the pilots were confused and the senior captain failed to take control of the situation after being recalled to the cockpit in the final moments of the flight.

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Research and Development back to top 
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Green Flight Challenge Final Results

The CAFE Foundation on Thursday released the final results from its NASA Green Flight Challenge, held two weeks ago in California. The figures show a "profound difference" in energy use between the two electric-powered winners and the runners-up, which were powered by gasoline and hybrid engines, according to Dean Sigler, posting at the CAFE blog. Those differences are "surprising," Sigler said, since all the competitors were "extremely clean" motorgliders, with lift-to-drag ratios between 25-to-1 and 35-to-1. Possible explanations for the differences could be the low cooling drag for electric aircraft and the overall efficiency of the electric motors, Sigler said. Detailed statistics for the four competing aircraft, including fuel consumption, time, and distance, are now posted on the CAFE blog.

According to NASA, the winning aircraft, Pipistrel's Taurus G4, made good use of the multi-body concept, with a twin-fuselage design. "This accomplished a 61 percent useful load fraction (or empty weight fraction of 39 percent)," NASA said in a news release. "This span-loading structural benefit is similar to that accomplished by the NASA Hybrid Wing Body concept. The Taurus G4 also achieved a motor/controller efficiency of 96 percent, and utilized the largest battery pack ever assembled for auto or aviation use of 100 kilowatt hours, which included a 30-minute reserve capacity." The competition showed that small aircraft can achieve "twice the efficiency of the most efficient production automobiles today, while traveling at over twice the speed," NASA said.

Light Attack Aircraft Test Rejected

Embraer and Hawker Beechcraft have another adversary in their competition to supply a light attack version of their training aircraft to the U.S. military. Both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have rejected a $17 million proposal to deploy four turboprop aircraft outfitted with precision-guided munitions to Afghanistan to see how they worked in a close support role for ground troops. Embraer was offering its militarized Super Tucano trainer and Hawker Beech has an attack version of its Texan II trainer it was hoping to supply for the experiment. Despite high-level support from both the Navy and Air Force, lawmakers apparently aren't interested, according to NavyTimes.com.

It's the second year in a row Congress has nixed the proposal, which was started by the Navy as a project called Imminent Fury. In that project, the Navy, joined later by the Air Force, put a Super Tucano through its paces and determined a battlefield assessment was warranted. Hawker Beech joined the competition and the plan was for four aircraft to Afghanistan for six months. The military proposed a $22 million plan last year and shaved $5 million from it for the latest try but the congressional committees still weren't biting. The idea hasn't been completely abandoned, however. The military might use 50-year-old OV-10 Broncos in the role.

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Aviation Safety back to top 

Jet Crashes At Airshow In China, One Killed

One pilot ejected, but another crewmember of the JH-7 "Flying Leopard" jet performing in an airshow in China was killed on Friday when the aircraft nosedived into the ground and burned. The jet, operated by China's air force, was performing near the northern city of Xi'an. The pilot who ejected landed safely, suffering only minor injuries. The crash is under investigation and so far no cause is clear. The accident was caught on video, showing the jet nosing over from level flight and diving almost directly into the ground. Click here to watch.

The aircraft has a two-seat tandem cockpit to accommodate a pilot in front and a weapons load officer in the back seat, according to airforce-technology.com. The back seat is fitted slightly higher than the front seat to provide clear visibility of the battlefield. Each seat has its own back-hinged canopy. It's not yet clear which crewmember ejected.

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News Briefs back to top 

GAO Finds FAA Airport Oversight Needs Work

The FAA needs to do more to ensure safety on the surface at airports around the country, according to a report issued this week by the Government Accountability Office. The agency should develop and implement plans to track and assess runway excursions and extend its oversight to ramp safety, the GAO said. Also, the report noted that the number of reported errors by air traffic controllers has nearly doubled from 2008 to 2011. While much of that increase may be attributed to changes in reporting procedures, the GAO said, the trends may also indicate an increase in the "actual occurrence of incidents." NATCA President Paul Rinaldi on Thursday issued a statement noting that, "The most important piece of the GAO study is this: the 'FAA has taken several steps to further improve safety at and around airports.' … We take this report very seriously, and we are working every day to ensure Americans' safety in the skies."

The FAA issued a statement saying it is "committed to ensuring the safety of our aviation system." Over the past several years, the FAA has transitioned to a non-punitive error-reporting system at its air traffic facilities, the statement said. "This cultural change in safety reporting has produced a wealth of information to help the FAA identify potential risks in the system and make corrections. As a result of this culture change, the FAA expected to see an increase in reported operational errors. More information will help us find problems and take action before an accident happens, which will help us build an even safer aviation system."

Jeppesen Joins Aviation Green Alliance

The Jeppesen company has joined the Aviation Green Alliance as a founding member, the Lindbergh Foundation announced this week. The foundation launched the Alliance earlier this year to support industry efforts to address emissions, noise, efficiency and other environmental concerns in the aviation industry. Jeppesen CEO Mark Van Tine said the group "offers an opportunity for aviation-related companies and individuals to share best practices and establish innovative programs to help guide environmental stewardship." Other members of the group include Hawker Beechcraft, Cessna and Bombardier.

"With the Lindbergh Foundation's mission and history deeply rooted in aviation, we felt it was the Foundation's responsibility to step forward and lead a grassroots rally to support tangible, measurable, and sustainable environmental progress by the aviation industry," said Larry Williams, president of the Foundation. "We hope other like-minded individuals and companies … will come forward and help Lindbergh Foundation's Aviation Green Alliance lead the way."

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I'm Not an A&P, I Just Play One on TV back to top 

Duct Tape Airplane On Mythbusters

Can an airplane covered with duct tape actually fly? That question seems to have already been answered in 2009 by an Alaska pilot who fixed significant bear damage to the fuselage and tail of his Super Cub with the fabled repair-all and reportedly flew it away, presumably toward a more permanent solution. The tale and the accompanying photos made the rounds on the Internet and caught the eye of someone at the Discovery Channel's popular Mythbusters television program, They have since wrapped up their investigation.

The ever-inquisitive Mythbuster gang took their skepticism to a new level, however, and covered an entire Belite airframe with the gray matter. Photos of the finished creation appear to show an airworthy device but we'll all have to wait until this Wednesday at 9 p.m. to see how well it flies.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Another Week, Another Ditching

The Coasties got great video of a Cessna 310 ditching off Hawaii last week, making the local media swoon over the pilot's steely-eyed skill. Yawn. Happens all the time, and there are good reasons why water landings have such a high survival rate. Paul Bertorelli has the recap in his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Yellville Turkey Drop -- FAA Is on the Case

When the FAA said it's going after pilots for dropping live turkeys in Yellville, Arkansas, we couldn't resist a blog on the topic. After all, how often do you get to use "Les Nessman" in a keyword search string? Paul Bertorelli has the hijinks in his latest post to the AVweb Insider.

Read more and join the conversation.

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Looking Back on NBAA back to top 

NBAA Convention 2011: Complete Coverage Round-Up

Click here for all our news stories from the NBAA Convention — 2011 and previous years.

AVwebAudio newsletter has the complete run-down of this year's multimedia coverage:

Want to get AVwebAudio in your inbox every Friday? Just log in to AVweb (or create a free account in the upper right corner of this page) and visit AVweb.com/profile. Choose "Update E-mail Subscriptions" in the profile center, and from there, you can add or drop any AVweb newsletters.

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AVweb Audio — Are You Listening? back to top 

Podcast: The China Syndrome

File Size 6.7 MB / Running Time 7:20

Bose® A20™ Aviation Headset

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

The Chinese influence was front and center at NBAA in Las Vegas last week, and it had people talking. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with the Teal Group's Richard Aboulafia about how the Chinese market might affect general aviation -- and his observations may surprise some of you.

This podcast is brought to you by Bose Corporation.

Click here to listen. (6.7 MB, 7:20)

Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Branson JetCenter (KBBG, Hollister, Missouri)

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

AVweb reader Robert Inman discovered our latest "FBO of the Week" — Branson JetCenter at Branson Airport (KBBG) in Hollister, Missouri. Robert writes:

The initial service here was very courteous and professional. [My] aircraft was fueled promptly, a rental car was waiting on ramp, and all the paperwork [was] filled out and ready to go. When weather prohibited our planned departure, the people at Branson JetCenter went far beyond expectations in providing comfort to my wife and me, providing a courtesy car for lunch transportation and finally a rental car and hotel accommodations. The next morning, the aircraft was in front of the building at 0700, ready for our departure. These folks know the meaning of service!

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

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 255,000 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.

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

I had been holding at Colts Neck VOR in the New York ATC system for about an hour — which was not uncommon in the late '60s — with others arriving in early evening from the South and the Caribbean.

One of the co-pilots in the holding pattern asked us to monitor a discreet frequency, on which he asked all the aircraft their position and speed in the hold, then asked if they could increase or decrease their speeds slightly. Eventually, he got all the aircraft turning over the VOR, to start a new outbound leg, at the same time!

We heard the controller shout, "Hey! Where are all my aeroplanes? I've just got one great big blob!"


Alan Murgatroyd
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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