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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded,
Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
The NTSB last Thursday issued its most recent investigation update as it
works toward its final determination (expected this summer) of cause in
the vertical-fin-and engines-shedding crash of American Airlines Flight
587 in Belle Harbor, N.Y., on Nov. 12, 2001. And the high-stakes process
of assessing blame for the event -- which killed 260 people on the
aircraft and five more on the ground -- has swung into high gear. The airline, the Allied Pilots Association (APA), whose members were
at the controls, and Airbus, which made the A300-600 that crashed, have
reacted to the NTSB's latest release with public filings of their own
(AVweb was unable to obtain a copy of Airbus' filing to post
here). Each blames the other, to some degree, for the disaster.
STILL ON RUDDER CONTROL...
The foundation of American's claims is a phenomenon called aircraft
pilot coupling, which is "an unwanted, unexpected and abnormal
interaction between the airplane and pilot causing the motion of the
aircraft to be out of sync with the pilot's control inputs." The airline
cites a study done for the NTSB by Dr. Ronald Hess, of the University of
California, Davis, which showed the A300-600 rudder-control system to be
so sensitive that three pilots, including an Airbus test pilot, were
unable to adjust their control movements to deliver a half-travel rudder
position during a ground test. According to American, Hess described the
rudder-control system on the aircraft as "essentially an 'on-off'
system, meaning either full rudder deflection or none." According to The
Washington Post, Airbus blamed the pilots for using too much rudder.
ACCUSED OF NOT SHARING INFORMATION
American also suggests that Airbus knew before the accident about the
rudder peculiarities and failed to let the airline or government
agencies know about it. "Unfortunately, this accident never should have
happened and could have been prevented if Airbus had disclosed to
American, the FAA, or the [National Transportation] Safety Board what it
knew about the propensity of the flight control inputs that could cause
structural damage to the vertical stabilizer," American said in its
submission. The airline claims Airbus had known about the potential
problems for 12 years but didn't tell anyone and continues to regard its
internal communications on the topic as confidential. "The significance
of Airbus's decision not to share safety-of-flight information cannot be
overemphasized," the airline said. More...
CATCH UP TO PRIVATE SPACE RACE...
U.S. space entrepreneurs have been tackling the technological and
physical challenges of private space exploration for years but the
fledgling industry may be on the cusp of overcoming its biggest
obstacle. The government is poised to formally recognize its existence.
The House, Friday, passed H.R. 3752, a bill to regulate and promote a
commercial space industry. It still must pass the Senate and be signed
by the president. "We think H.R. 3752 is very carefully crafted
legislation which will help commercial human spaceflight develop in
America," said Jeff Greason, president of Xcor Aerospace, which has already developed and
tested rocket-engine prototypes with the eventual goal of providing
rides for space tourists. More...
X PRIZE PLANS BROADCAST
Of course, the legislators are barely a step ahead of the actual
creation of commercial human spaceflight. In fact, the X PRIZE Foundation is
so confident that private rockets vying for its $10 million prize will
start flying soon, it's signed a deal for the broadcast rights. Dan
Rayburn has been retained to produce a series of three-hour webcasts on
any of the more than 20 X PRIZE contestants that get to the manned, live
firing stage. Rayburn said he plans to use the latest (what else?)
streaming video technology to broadcast each event and that a huge
worldwide audience is likely. Sponsorships, of course, will be available
but don't look for beer commercials or cola challenges. The spots will
be reserved for technology companies "who wish to participate in this
once-in-a-lifetime event." More...
PILOT'S GUN GOES MISSING
Southwest Airlines and the Transportation Security Administration are
investigating the disappearance of a Federal Flight Deck Officer's
(FFDO's) semi-automatic pistol stowed in his luggage aboard a flight
from Las Vegas to Oakland. The pilots blame the TSA's insistence that
the weapons be checked in baggage, when they are deadheading, for the
disappearance of the guns. Pilots say that instead of picking up their
gun-laden luggage from the cargo area, as the rules state, they often
find it on the carousel with the rest of the passengers' bags. TSA
spokesman Nico Melendez said the flight deck officers' jurisdiction ends
at the cockpit door but Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) said that's asking
for trouble. "When you separate the pilot from his gun, whether you put
it in a lockbox or whether you make him put it in some other area, then
you lose that security," Allard said. More...
FLYER TAKES FIRST HOP
The Global Flyer, Scaled Composites' jet-powered creation intended to
circle the globe nonstop, had its first flight Friday and everything
seemed to work well. Scaled's Web site says test pilot John Karkow took
the long-winged, twin-tailed composite aircraft to 12,000 feet, cycled
the gear and flew it from near the stall (54 knots) up to 110 knots. The
descent and landing drag chutes were also tested. As AVweb told you in January, billionaire
Steve Fossett hopes to be at the controls of the ungainly-looking
creation to be the first to fly around the world nonstop and solo.
Fellow billionaire Richard Branson is waiting in the wings as a backup
if Fossett can't make the trip. In 1986, Voyager became the first
aircraft to circumnavigate the earth nonstop but it had two pilots
DISSOLVES ATC DIVISION
Boeing is scaling back its bid to revolutionize the world's air traffic
control system because the existing setup seems to be working just fine
... for now. The Chicago-based firm announced Thursday that it was
dissolving its Air Traffic Management division, likely because it didn't
have any customers for the satellite-based, computer data link-dependent
system. The air traffic division was hatched in the halcyon days of 2000
when airline traffic was growing so fast that the control system seemed
on the verge of collapse in some areas. Since 9/11, interest has
evaporated in the system as more conventional technological solutions,
and the outright intervention by government to reduce congestion by
decree, as happened in Chicago two months ago with the forced reduction
of flights to O'Hare, seem to be favored. More...
HELPS MAP CHINA FOR VFR
Talk about your VFR landmarks. How about a 6,000-mile-long stone wall?
The Great Wall, as it's come to be known, is just one of the things
mapmaker George P. Sempeles had to work with as he helped the Chinese
begin the enormous task of creating VFR charts for the world's
third-largest country. Sempeles, of Winchester, Va., works for the FAA's
National Aeronautical Charting Office and recently spent time in China
teaching government engineers how to create the charts. China, you see,
is entirely IFR (i.e., controlled) airspace. But that's about to change
as the country learns to like the things money can buy and private
aircraft ownership is one of the reforms. "Their task now is to actually
learn and implement the entire industry of general aviation," he said.
Well, there are others willing to teach those skills and they'll most
likely be at the China GA Forum 2004 May 25 to May 28.
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TARGET TEENS FOR FIGHTER PILOTS
Every kid's dream, every parent's nightmare? The Royal Australian Air
Force is said to be looking in malls, skateboard parks and high schools
to fill the cockpits of its fighters. The air force is reportedly
planning a recruiting drive aimed at teens as young as 13, according to
the Weekend Australian. "The importance of influencing, where possible,
13-to-17-year olds is now recognized as a more effective strategy for
fast-jet pilot recruiting," the paper quoted an air force report as
saying. Apparently it's easier than simply retaining the existing pilots
by paying them more. The report says almost two-thirds of Aussie fighter
jocks quit after their compulsory 10-year service because of low pay and
poor management. More...
AIMS FOR TOP SPOT
Last year it was Boeing's surrender to Airbus. Could this be the year
overtakes Cessna as
the world's leading producer of piston singles? If the early numbers are
any indication, it could be shaping up that way. Although it's
projecting to build at least 500 aircraft this year (vs. 459 in 2003),
Cirrus took orders for 100 planes in January and February, about twice
the projected number, and has ramped up production to two planes a day.
Cessna expects to build about 600 piston singles in 2004. "We want to be
the number-one manufacturer," Cirrus marketing spokesman John Bingham
told The Wichita Eagle. Cessna isn't going to relinquish the top spot
without a fight, however. More...
A SURVEY, GET $1,000 WORTH OF FREE STUFF FROM SPORTY'S
Venture Development Corp. would like to know what you think about
in-flight weather systems and they're conducting a short multiple-choice
survey this week to find out. We've checked these guys out and this is
bona fide market research. Click on the link here, complete the survey
and you'll be eligible for a no-strings-attached $1,000 gift certificate
from Sporty's. The drawing will be held next Monday and we'll report the
winner. Survey link:
Chafing problem prompts inspection of Lancair 300, 350 fuel pressure
Controllers went silent to remember murdered colleague...
Autopilot was implicated in Egyptian 737 crash...
Jet simulators were added at two Embry-Riddle campuses...
Saturday was Tuskegee Airmen Day in Oakland, Calif....
Muslim flight engineer claimed discrimination was behind failed
promotion bid. More...
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ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
"Caveat emptor" -- buyer beware, as they say. Watch out when someone
asks you to sign something that says you'll pay whatever it takes for a
service. In this case, the problem occurred when a pilot tried to get
de-iced so he could fly home.
As the Beacon
Turns #74: Backcountry Dreaming
Deep in the middle of a Colorado winter, AVweb's Michael Maya Charles
remembers summers spent in the river valleys of the west -- finding
remote airstrips from which to explore the natural world -- miles from
anyone and from his usual perch in the stratosphere. More...
FEEDBACK ON AVWEB'S NEWS COVERAGE AND FEATURE ARTICLES:
mail this week about no-fly zones, aging and accidents, and aviation
FLY INTO SPRING WITH ASA
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From our "been there, done that" files...
On my first cross-country with friends after passing my private pilot
checkride (back in the late Paleolithic...), I was in the runup area,
working through the pre-takeoff checklist. An uncharacteristically
subdued voice said from the rear seat, "If she still has to read the
directions, I don't think I want to go!" More...
Sponsor News and Special Offers
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MIKE BUSCH'S SAVVY SEMINAR COMING TO MEMPHIS, VAN NUYS,
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PILOTS COMMENT AFTER READING IFR: A STRUCTURED
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We Welcome Your Feedback!
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