AVwebFlash - Volume 17, Number 52b

December 29, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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2011: The Year of Safety? back to top 
 
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GA Accident Numbers Show Improvement

General aviation accidents and fatalities both declined in 2010 for the fourth year in a row, AOPA said last week. Based on data from the National Transportation Safety Board, the total of 1,435 GA accidents was the lowest in 20 years. Fatalities for the year totaled 450, down from 478 in 2009. AOPA's Air Safety Institute is analyzing the data for its annual report. "Complacency remains the enemy of safety," said Bruce Landsberg, president of the AOPA Foundation. "Most accidents result from causes that have plagued aviation for years. That story, unfortunately, is little changed."

At a symposium for flight instructors last summer, much time was spent discussing the fatal accident rate for GA and what the possible strategies might be to improve on it. AVweb's editorial director Paul Bertorelli did his own analysis of the data and wrote about his conclusions in this post to the AVweb Insider blog.

 
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Jacksonville Helicopter Crash back to top 
 

Three Die In Medical Helicopter Crash

A Bell 206 helicopter on a flight to retrieve a heart for a transplant patient crashed in the woods early Monday morning in Jacksonville, Fla., killing the pilot and the two medical workers on board. The crash ignited a fire that burned about 10 acres of forest. The NTSB said there was no distress call from the pilot or any other warning prior to the crash. "It looked like a normal flight," said NTSB investigator Jose Obregon. About 90 percent of the aircraft was destroyed in the fire, Obregon said, which will make it difficult for investigators to determine a cause. The pilot, E. Hoke Smith, 68, was president and founder of SK Jets, of St. Augustine, a charter service operating seven jets and two helicopters.

Smith had been flying since age 16 and served as a combat pilot in Vietnam, according to his company's web site. He routinely flew medical missions, especially during the holidays when he gave time off to his staff, his son, Derrick Smith, told The Associated Press. The National Weather Service in Jacksonville reported there was light fog with overcast conditions in the area but no rain when the helicopter went down, according to the AP. The crash occurred before the team reached the donor, and the heart was not recovered. Also killed in the crash were heart surgeon Luis Bonilla and procurement technician David Hines. Both worked for the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.

 
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Fatigue Debate Shows No Sign of Taking a Break back to top 
 

Complaints Intensify Over FAA Fatigue Rules

The union representing pilots who fly for UPS already has filed suit over new FAA fatigue rules that exempt cargo airlines, and now FedEx pilots also have expressed outrage over the rules' "casual dismissal of cargo pilots and their families." The rule "completely ignores the safety of cargo pilots and instead lets operators choose to ignore the safety improvements that will benefit pilots carrying passengers," said a statement from the FedEx Master Executive Council, which is part of the Air Line Pilots Association. ALPA welcomed the new rules last week but said it is "disappointed that cargo operations are being held to a lesser standard." According to the Wall Street Journal, ALPA officials now say they will fight against the regulations. Meanwhile, 2011 is shaping up to be the safest year ever for airline travel.

If the week finishes with no airline accidents, the total for the year will be about one passenger death for every 7.1 million air travelers worldwide, according to the Wall Street Journal. That will best the postwar record of one fatality per 6.4 million passengers set in 2004, the Journal said. "Safety is improving and it's improving faster than the industry is expanding," said Paul Hayes, director of safety at Ascend, the London consulting firm that analyzed the global data. The accident rate for Western-built aircraft, such as Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, and Embraer, is seven times safer than the rate for aircraft built in Russia and elsewhere, according to Ascend. The accident rate in Africa is about 40 times greater than in North America, but Africa has improved greatly in recent years while North America has remained flat, Ascend's analysis found.

 
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Batteries and Airlines: Due Diligence or Fear-Baiting? back to top 
 

The Lobby For Lithium Batteries On Aircraft

The Rechargeable Battery Association (PRBA) Wednesday took aim at a recent FA study about the risks posed to aircraft by lithium batteries, calling it "scare-mongering" and distracting from important safety issues. The FAA's Freighter Airplane Cargo Fire Risk Model (PDF) assessed the likely number of U.S.-registered fire accidents through 2020. The answer, according to the study, is about one every other year. The FAA's findings assumed batteries contributed to two key incidents it used to develop its risk model. According to the PRBA, "no facts are presented that indicate any involvement of batteries in the incidents." When the batteries do burn, there is little doubt about their destructive potential.

"It's like a fireworks display," an engineer told Bloomberg news. "They explode. They shoot fireballs. They emit smoke. Sometimes they spray flaming liquid," the engineer said. Airline pilot unions are pushing for the FAA to take seriously that potential threat. Early in December, those unions made their concerns clear, stating that existing standards are "generally recognized as inadequate." The comments came after news reports that a deal struck as part of negotiations for long-term funding of the FAA blocked new rules. Manufacturers that include Apple and Panasonic say those new regulations, originally proposed by the Obama administration, could cost them $1.1 billion per year. The PRBA's current rebuttal of the September 2011 safety study makes clear its position should the topic be revisited during new talks regarding FAA funding. A current funding extension expires in January.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

TSA Crooners Sooth Holiday Crowds

While it might be hard for travelers to sing the praises of the U.S.'s airport security apparatus, that doesn't stop the TSA employees at LAX from belting it out for their customers in what has become a holiday tradition at one of the country's busiest airports. Uniformed, but smiling, dozens of the people who take your shampoo away and reach for places only your doctor usually examines charmed the holiday crowd with a pretty creditable rendition of a modern classic. Click here to view the video on the L.A. Times site.

Design A Paint Scheme, Win $1200

If the Pipistrel Panthera delivers on its performance numbers it could set a new standard of performance for four-place piston travel, but it could more certainly deliver 1,000 EUR to whoever submits a winning livery design. The company has opened a competition and is providing three digital images -- a side, top and bottom view -- for aspiring designers to use as their blank canvas. Pipistrel plans to unveil the Panthera, with the winning livery paint scheme, in 2012. The aircraft aims to cruise 1,000 nm with four aboard, fly into and out of grass or hard-surface runways, and burn 10 gallons per hour in cruise. Panthera's cruise will drive it at 200 knots behind a Lycoming IO-390. The deadline for submissions is looming, and there are specific guidelines.

Contestants need to submit their contributions to Pipistrel at contest@pipistrel.si and beware time-zone considerations when meeting the Jan. 10, 2012, deadline. The winning design will be chosen by Pipistrel. The designer will have his or her name adorned on the aircraft and win the 1,000 EUR reward. The winner will also relinquish to Pipistrel applicable copyrights. Contestants are warned to take note of the aircraft's interior colors and composite structure. The winning design will not see sun-facing surfaces painted with dark colors or colors that clash with the aircraft's interior. Full details for the contest, with guidelines and restrictions, are available here.

 
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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 
 

Embraer Legacy 500 Rolls Out

click for photos

Embraer's latest business jet, the Legacy 500, saw daylight on Dec. 23 and the Brazilian planemaker is pinning a lot of its future in the business jet market on the clean-sheet Legacy 500 and its follow-on, the Legacy 450. As we reported from EBACE 2008, the new aircraft fill the gap between its light and lighter Phenom 300 and 100 models and big-cabin 600 and 650 platforms. The rollout occurred at Embraer's headquarters in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, where the mid and super-midsize 450 and 500 will be built. First flight of this aircraft, the first of three test articles, is expected by the third quarter of 2012.

No. 1 will undergo ground and static tests before taking flight, and Embraer isn't predicting certification and delivery dates yet (first deliveries were originally planned for 2012), but given the economic climate the program seems to be on track. The Legacy 500 has a standup cabin for up to 12 people. With four people enjoying the fully flat reclining berths it will scoot along at Mach .82 for 3,000 nm.

Click for photos.

Pilot Hiring Made Easy?

An Austin, Texas, software firm says it has taken a lot of the work out of hiring pilots with an algorithm that sorts through the resumes of thousands of pilots to find those suited to specific jobs being offered. Pilot Credentials is now handling FedEx's and Southwest's candidate screening through a database of potential pilots that allows hiring managers get the information they need quickly. "It has saved our recruiters countless hours on the phone," Rocky Calkins, Southwest's hiring manager, told the Austin American-Statesman. "Being able to streamline the process has shaved a lot of time off a very time-consuming process." The company says it will now start marketing the system to other airlines.

Co-founder Richard Trocino said he started the company after doing a contract pilot hiring project for FedEx. He said he quickly came to appreciate the complexities of the process and huge amount of time spent by recruiters to find the right candidates. "Aircraft pilots are among the most difficult professions to hire for," Trocino said. "There is so much at stake and such strict oversight. The Pilot Records Improvement Act sets record-keeping guidelines that result in tons of time-consuming paperwork." In his system, the 10,000 registered pilots keep their profiles updated and the software does the rest for recruiters.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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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2011, We Barely Knew Ye back to top 
 

Question of the Week: 2011 Year-in-Review

As 2011 draws to a close, we want to know which GA news coverage was most compelling to our readers.

What was the top general aviation news story of 2011?
(click to answer)

Last Week's Question: Results

Want to see the current breakdown of responses? Take a moment to answer the question yourself, and then you can view real-time results.

What's On Your Mind?

Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"?
Send your suggestions to .

NOTE: This address is only for suggested "QOTW" questions, and not for "QOTW" answers or comments. (Use this form to send "QOTW" comments to our AVmail Editor.)

AVweb Insider Blog: 2011 Year in Review

If you really want to know what happened in the world of aviation, you could ask Kevin Garrison. Even though he slept through most of it, he had enough waking moments to write today's year-in-review post for the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

 
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Opinion & Commentary back to top 
 

AVweb Insider Blog: Airline Travel -- You Just Expect Too Much

Sure you do, says Paul Bertorelli on the AVweb Insider blog. He comments on a minor little incident in Kansas City last week that shows how people will screw themselves just to keep from helping the airline with an on-time departure. All because the airlines unbundle everything now, making customers feel like bait-and-switch victims.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Can Glamorizing a Criminal Help Aviation?

Colton Harris-Moore is an airplane thief and con artist. Is he the inspiration for a new generation of pilots? In his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, Russ Niles explains how a big-budget Hollywood treatment of Harris-Moore's story could (sadly) overshadow AOPA's initiatives, the EAA's Eagles programs, the Sport Pilot Rule, and third-class medical reform when it comes to boosting pilot outreach.

Read more and join the conversation.

 
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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 
 

FBO of the Week: St. Johns Industrial Air Park (KSJN, St. Johns, Arizona)

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

AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" can be found at St. Johns Industrial Air Park at KSJN in St. Johns, Arizona.

"At an altitude of nearly 6,000, feet the service of this county-run facility is always friendly and very price-competitive," writes AVweb reader Andrew Heller.

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!

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

Video: Got an Oily Hangar Floor? This Stuff Can Spruce It Up

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

Many of us dream of a gleaming gray expoxy-coated hangar floor illuminated by the glare of bright lights. But most of us actually have oil-stained concrete, dingy from years of abuse. If your floor is stained badly, a product called ReKrete can help improve it. Aviation Consumer's Paul Bertorelli demonstrates the product in this brief video.

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.

Video: F-106 Corn Field Bomber, Convair Delta Dart

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

This is an unusual story. The jet you're looking at is an F-106 Delta Dart. A storied interceptor in its day, it was built to exceed an Air Force requirement for 1.9 mach and continuous flight at 57,000 feet. It did both. And in December 1959, it set a speed record, of 1,525 mph, or about 2.3 mach, while flying at 40,000 feet. Its pilot at the time, Major Joseph Rogers, claimed the record might not be accurate. He was still accelerating, he said, at the time.

But this particular jet is famous for a different reason.

As the story goes, the aircraft you see here on February 2, 1970 flew itself into the ground -- a snowy field in Montana, where its engine continued to run for another hour and 45 minutes. Grounded, pilotless and still under power, with its radar still sweeping, the jet sometimes crept forward foot by foot through the snow as a small collection of onlookers watched. Its pilot, 1st Lieutenant Gary Foust, had ejected roughly two hours before that show was over. Foust's trip was just as interesting. He'd lost control of the jet while flying a mock engagement that led his and two other jets into harsh maneuvers in the thin, unforgiving air at 38,000 feet. Attempting to match a high-g reversal by another pilot, Foust's jet bucked. He entered a flat spin, and the jet fell, spinning slowly like a model on a turntable. The flight's two other pilots came to his aid, calling out recovery procedures. But by 15,000 feet the result seemed certain, and an instructor in one of the other jets ordered Foust to eject. Foust obeyed.

But for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and it could be it's that law that saved the jet. As Foust shot up, the jet's condition changed -- just enough for it to recover on its own and head off for the horizon. Legend has it that one of the observing pilots said on frequency, "Gary, you better get back in."

In the end, the jet was recovered, rebuilt and put back to work as tail number 80787. But it was forever known as the Corn Field bomber. Delta Darts were phased out in the 1980s.

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.

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

Picture of the Week Is on Holiday ...

... but will return with a double-shot to kick off 2012 next week.

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.

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 twice-weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the world's premier independent aviation news resource.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Publisher
Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Webmaster
Scott Simmons

Contributors
Kevin Lane-Cummings
Jeff Van West

Advertising Director, Associate Publisher
Tom Bliss

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 phone, 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.