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An Indonesian helicopter rescue crew found the shattered wreckage of a Sukhoi Superjet 100 scattered over the side of a mountain early Thursday and there appear to be no survivors. The aircraft,
Russia's newest passenger jet, was carrying 44 passengers on a demo flight out of Jakarta, Indonesia, when it vanished from radar Wednesday morning and crashed into the near vertical wall of Mount
Salak. About 50 minutes into the flight, the crew asked to descend from 10,000 to 6,000 feet. Mount Salak is 7,254 feet high. Rescue workers were attempting to gain access to the site but all aboard
are presumed lost. The flight was carrying representatives of Indonesian airlines, along with five journalists and Russian embassy officials.
The airplane was on its second flight of the day. The mid-range Superjet, which entered service in April 2011, is the first completely new passenger jet produced in Russia in the post-Soviet era.
It carries up to 98 passengers for flights up to 2,800 miles. The project is a joint venture between Sukhoi, of Russia, and Italy's Alenia Aeronautica.
Tell MIT Researchers About GA's Challenges, Your Ideas and Concerns
The International Center for Air Transportation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is conducting a study of general aviation trends. Let them know what you think about fuel
costs, how to advance general aviation and why you fly. It takes ten minutes or less. AVweb will publish the results so will MIT.
The FAA needs to do a better job of overseeing safety lapses among air traffic controllers and other employees, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel said on Tuesday. The office, which investigates
complaints from whistleblowers, said the FAA and the Transportation Department have repeatedly failed to take "timely corrective action" in response to such complaints. "The public properly expects
zero tolerance for unnecessary risks," said Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner. Among the complaints cited by Lerner were inadequate oversight that allowed emergency-service helicopters to fly with improperly installed night-vision systems, imprecise language used by air traffic controllers in the greater New York area
that resulted in a near-collision, and ATC clearances issued without proper wake-turbulence separation.
The FAA has one of the highest rates of whistleblower filings per employee of any executive branch agency, the Office of Special Counsel said (PDF). Since 2007, the office has received 178 whistleblower disclosures from FAA employees, 89 of which related to
aviation safety. The OSC referred 44 of those to the DOT for investigation, and the DOT ultimately substantiated all but five of those referrals -- 89 percent -- in whole or in part. In several
cases, the whistleblower had to make repeat disclosures with the OSC because the FAA took inadequate steps to correct the concern or failed to implement any corrective action. "Preventive measures
could be far more effective if the Department of Transportation listened to its own employees' alarm bells and acted on them promptly," said Lerner.
Formerly known as the Air Transport Association of America, the trade group Airlines for America has asked the FAA to postpone a requirement to equip passenger jets with kits designed to keep them
from exploding. According to the group, the need for a delay can be traced back to the FAA. A 2008 FAA regulation requires that the kits be fitted to passenger jets to reduce the chance of volatile
fuel-air mixtures leading to fuel-tank explosions that could damage (and have destroyed) aircraft and kill passengers. The trade group says the process that would lead to the FAA's own approval for
those kits is behind schedule and that could force carriers to ground aircraft if they are forced to meet a 2014 deadline.
Per the regulation, passenger carriers have until December 2014 to fit half of their aircraft with devices that displace oxygen in fuel tanks and replace it with nitrogen. Airlines for America
represents Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines, among other major carriers. It says the FAA must approve those kits and has fallen behind the pace necessary to meet the 2014 deadline. An exploding
fuel tank is responsible for the second-worst aviation accident in the United States. On July 17, 1996, TWA Flight 800, a Boeing 747-131, fell into the sea off Long Island, N.Y., after exploding in
the air shortly after departing JFK International airport. All 230 people on the jet perished. The NTSB found the explosion originated with the jet's center fuel tank. The FAA has since estimated that
aircraft would suffer a fuel-tank explosion every four years, though some other measures have been put in place. In 2006, the
wing tank of a Boeing 727-200 exploded while the aircraft was on the ground at Bangalore, India. In 2001 a Thai Airways 737-400 exploded while sitting on the ramp at Bangkok. Click for earlier AVweb coverage.
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2012 July 23-29
Don't miss aviation's most exciting week, July 23-29! Highlights include salutes to the Tuskegee Airmen and Doolittle Raiders, anniversary celebrations for the Piper Cub (75 years), Vans Aircraft (40
years), and a special tribute to EAA Founders Paul and Audrey Poberezny. Several air show performers will make their Oshkosh debut, including the Brazilian Smoke Squadron, Team RV, and the SkyHawks.
AirVenture.org/tickets to buy your tickets now and save.
Volunteer Pilots Volunteering a Little Less Gas
Volunteer pilots flying for Patient AirLift Services (PALS) may now be partially reimbursed for fuel costs related to charitable flights, PALS recently announced. The program is FAA-approved and it
means that "pilots can receive reimbursement for fuel costs incurred when flying patients in need of medical treatment during charitable missions." That change is the result of an exception granted to
PALS by the FAA that "is in the best public interest," according to the FAA's acting deputy director of flight standards service, Melvin Cintron. Said Cintron, "The FAA wants to encourage this kind of
volunteerism and public service for the common good of our citizens."
PALS believes reimbursement will improve their ability to expand service. "The benefit to both PALS and the patients it serves is that
pilots, who are limited to the number of missions they could afford to fly due to costs of fuel, will now be able to participate in a greater number of volunteer missions," PALS chairman Joseph Howley
said. PALS provides need-based free air transportation to people who need medical care but for whom commercial air travel may be financially impossible. Pilots who fly for the organization donate
their time, piloting skills and aircraft, and are responsible for all costs associated with their flights. Increases in fuel costs have raised the price for those volunteer pilots. The new
reimbursement program will assist pilots in their service.
The Nonin 9590 Pulse Oximeter
Now you can have American-made quality at a new low price. Personally recommended by pulse oximetry expert Senior AME Brent Blue, M.D. Trusted Nonin technology and a four-year
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Denny Fitch, the off-duty United Airlines DC-10 instructor who worked the throttles in the crash landing of Flight 232 at Sioux City, IA on July 19, 1989 died of brain cancer on May 7. Fitch, along
with 184 others survived in a legendary feat of airmanship credited with initiating the now-standard concept of crew resource management. "Nobody had a right to walk away from that," Fitch told the
Sioux City Herald just after the accident, in which 111 people died. Fitch was deadheading from United's training center in Denver to his home near Chicago when he heard the bang that signalled shards
of turbine blades on the tail-mounted No. 2 engine slicing through lines supplying all three hydraulic systems on the aircraft. As the engine shook itself to a final smoking death,the only controls
left were the power settings for the wing-mounted engines. After reassuring a flight attendant that everything would be alright, Fitch headed for the cockpit.
He arrived to find a crew working desperately to save an aircraft that had no business flying and took the only seat available, on the floor behind the throttle quadrant, and began figuring out
what he could do. It wasn't much but the four pilots found they could keep the aircraft under control in a right turn that they broadened for 40 minutes as they headed for the closest available
airport in Sioux City. It likely would have looked like a Slinky on FlightAware. Against tremendous odds (no one was able to duplicate the feat on simulators afterward) they got lined up for the
runway. The right wing dug in and the plane tore apart but there's never been any question that the crew's skill led to the luck that allowed more than half the people on board to survive. It's
something that guided Fitch's life as a line pilot and motivational speaker from that point. "He couldn't pass me without hugging me or telling me how much he loved me," Rosa Fitch, a flight attendant
on the airplane who became his second wife after his first wife also died of brain cancer, told the New York Times.
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The NTSB announced this week that it will hold a two-day forum next month to examine safety issues related to general aviation. "Each year, hundreds of people are killed in general aviation
crashes, and thousands more are injured," said board chairman Deborah Hersman, in a news release. "Tragically, the circumstances leading to these accidents are often repeated over and over, year after
year. If we are going to prevent future fatalities and injuries, these common causes must be addressed." Last year, the safety board added "General Aviation Safety" to its "Most Wanted" list of
transportation safety improvements.
The forum, "General Aviation Safety: Climbing to the Next Level," will take place June 19 and 20 in Washington, D.C. Among the key issues the forum will address are pilot training and performance,
pilot access to and use of weather-related information, and aircraft design and certification. Panelists participating in the forum will represent industry, government, academia, and professional
associations. Hersman and all five members of the safety board will participate. The forum is open to the public and will be webcast live at NTSB.gov.
A $20 million class action lawsuit has been launched against Air Canada by passengers aboard a Toronto-Zurich flight that was mistakenly thrown into a dive by one of the pilots. As we reported, at least 16 people, 14 passengers and two flight attendants, were hurt when the first officer, who had just awoken from a
sanctioned in-seat nap, spotted an oncoming Air Force C-17 and thought they were on a collision course. Moments before, he'd mistaken the planet Venus for the C-17. The military plane was 1,000 feet
below the 767-300 at 12 o'clock. The FO pushed the Boeing into an emergency dive, dropping 400 feet. It then, just as abruptly, climbed 800 feet before settling into level flight with the captain
under control. Seven of the injured were taken to hospital when the aircraft arrived in Zurich three hours later. But it wasn't the incident itself, which happened in January of 2011, that pushed the
passengers to legal action. Their statement of claim alleges the airline "actively covered up the true cause of the terrifying episode."
The suit alleges Air Canada blamed turbulence for the upset, offered modest cash settlements to the injured and asked some passengers to sign indemnity waivers. It wasn't until Canada's
Transportation Safety Board issued its report on the incident that the passengers learned what really happened, the suit alleges. "I have been lied to for 15 months by this airline," Jaragina-Sahoo
told the Canadian Press. She was
pregnant and was thrown against the ceiling of the aircraft. She accepted $3,500 for medical expenses and lost time at work from the airline. "Obviously, I would not have settled for the amount they
offered me had I known it was a human error rather than just a course of nature." Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said the airline considers the suit without merit and will defend
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"I know it's a bit off-norm for the 'Question of the Week,'" writes AVweb reader Michael Sullivan, "but I work at a car dealership, and I see a ton of pilots
(professional and non-professional) come in here. I'm curious to see what the pilot population is driving."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
GNS 430W/530W Users: Aren't You Tired of Twisting Knobs?
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Ya gotta give the two Air Force officers who went on record dissing the F-22's oxygen system credit. It took a set of stones to do that. The larger question is what will the Air Force do about
this flawed super fighter, the most expensive fighter aircraft in U.S. history by orders of magnitude? In his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli asks, "Are they really
holding Lockheed Martin's feet to the fire to fix this thing?"
IAFTP Has Been Invited by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
... to participate on the "Content, Quality, and Consistency of Pilot Training" panel of its 2012 General Aviation Safety Forum during June. Our focus will be the sharing of best
training practices and some of the issues involved. Add your comments here:
The story of William Rankin's ejection at 47,000 feet and 500 knots is legendary, not only because the fall took him 40 minutes, but also because he lived to talk about it. There are
other and more recent cases of people who have been drawn into thunderstorms under canopy and not every one ends in survival.
Fly More for Less
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AVweb reader Jack Addison discovered our latest "FBO of the Week" -- Jet West at Salinas Municipal Airport (SNS) in
We had landed at Monterey, California and found [another venue] wanted $25 per night to stay for my wife's race at Big Sur. Their fuel was expensive, and there were no tie-down ropes or chains with
the in-concrete loops. We ferried over to Jet West at Salinas, were greeted, tied down with three chains provided, and fueled up at $5.99 and no more charge for four nights. When we returned, the
ground crew had put orange cones 3' high at each wing tip for protection. As a bonus, my wife walked over to Sean Tucker and got his autograph! Jet West, SNS likes general aviation!
Peter Drucker Says, "The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It"
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