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The pilots of an Airbus A320 operated by JetBlue as Flight 194 out of Las Vegas for JFK Sunday told controllers "we've lost two hydraulic systems" before they declared an emergency, audio of the
event shows. Ultimately, the flight landed safely and the NTSB is investigating. But the flight itself was far from routine. In the air, the airliner began to swing from side to side and rolled into
steep banks. There were roughly 155 passengers aboard and some got sick. The pilots called Las Vegas to request a hold near the airport as they worked the problem. When asked by controllers, the
pilots described the problem as "right now, it's quite a few things, but the initial thing is, uh, uh, we lost our hydraulics, two, we've lost two hydraulic systems." It would be four hours before the
flight was safely on the ground again.
The pilots burned fuel and loitered in a holding pattern for nearly the duration of the flight. The NTSB is now seeking a cause for the aircraft's behavior. JetBlue used a replacement aircraft as a
red-eye flight to send affected passengers to New York. Audio excerpts from the flight were posted to LiveATC.net:
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The FAA should return all of its test questions to the public domain, so the aviation industry can help to review and revise the knowledge required of pilot applicants, an FAA rulemaking committee
said this week. The recommendation was one result of a six-month review of the FAA's knowledge tests. The committee also said
the FAA should do a better job of communicating with the aviation-training community about changes to tests, and should modernize the technology used to administer them. By the end of September, the
committee said, the FAA should create a stakeholder committee to help develop questions and to review standards and handbook content.
The GA fatal accident rate has stalled at "an unacceptable level of approximately one fatal accident per 75,000 flight hours," the report states. "Many of these pilots did not court risk,
but inadvertently exposed themselves and their passengers to risks they did not fully understand. because the system through which they are trained and tested currently has limitations." The
committee says that revising the training and testing methods used in GA "likely will improve safety among all affected categories of flight."
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A research team from Harvard University has developed a treatment for metal surfaces that will keep them free of ice and frost, the Harvard Gazette reported on Monday. "The technology prevents ice
sheets from developing on surfaces, and ice that is present slides off effortlessly," the Gazette reports. The researchers' new technology, called Slippery Liquid Infused Porous Surfaces (SLIPS), uses
nanostructures to create an ultra-smooth, slippery surface. "This new approach to ice-phobic materials is a truly disruptive idea," said Joanna Aizenberg, leader of the research group. "We are
actively working with the refrigeration and aviation industries to bring it to market."
Aizenberg and her team developed a way to coat metal with a rough material that locks in the lubricant. It can be applied over a large area, and it's non-toxic and anti-corrosive. Their tests have
shown that surfaces coated with the material remain "essentially frost-free" in conditions where conventional materials accumulate ice. "These results indicate that SLIPS is a promising candidate for
developing robust anti-icing materials for broad applications, such as refrigeration, aviation, roofs, wires, outdoor signs, railings, and wind turbines," the researchers said. Aircraft icing was a
factor in 388 general aviation accidents between 1990 and 2000, according to AOPA's Air Safety Foundation. Airframe icing has been on the NTSB's "most wanted" list of safety improvements since
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The FAA and NASA agreed this week to work together to create standards for commercial space travel to low Earth orbit and to the International Space Station. "This important agreement between the
FAA and NASA will advance our shared goals in commercial space travel," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. By working together, the two agencies aim to avoid creating conflicting
requirements and multiple sets of standards, and to advance safety for crews and the public. The FAA will provide a license to commercial providers to ensure public safety, and NASA will be
responsible for crew safety and mission assurance.
"This agreement is the next step in bringing the business of launching Americans back to American soil," said Charles Bolden, NASA administrator. Currently, astronauts working in the ISS must hitch
a ride from the Russians. "We are fostering private sector innovation while maintaining high standards of safety and reliability to re-establish U.S.-crewed access to low-Earth orbit," Bolden said.
SpaceX recently launched the first private spacecraft to dock with the ISS. Virgin Galactic is testing its space vehicles based on Burt Rutan's designs, and recently opened offices in Las Cruces,
N.M., where a spaceport is under construction to handle tourist flights into space.
New safety regulations announced by the FAA were influenced in part by the 2009 crash of Continental Flight 3407, but they may not be implemented until 2013 and that time frame has angered some
safety activists. Rules affecting pilot rest requirements and training passed through Congress two years ago attached to an implementation date of Oct. 1, 2011. The FAA, citing the large volume of
public comments they received, has announced that the final rule will not be ready until Oct. 19, 2013. Some surviving family members worked together to push for changes amid concerns over pilot rest
and training requirements. The FAA says it's working aggressively to improve safety.
The FAA said in a statement that it "continues to work on a final rule to update the commercial pilot training requirements," BuffaloNews.com reported. The agency says it is also working to improve
stall and upset recovery training requirements. A man who lost his daughter in the crash of Flight 3407 told the newspaper, "Once again, we are reminded that we can never relax, and that we must read
the fine print in each and every one of these monthly government reports, or else these lobbyists are going to run circles around us." Airlines have opposed the application of new fatigue rules. The crash of Flight 2407 near Buffalo, N.Y., killed all 49 aboard,
plus one on the ground. Neither pilot of Flight 3407 had slept in a bed the night before the accident. The NTSB did not cite fatigue as a causal factor affecting the crash.
The "age indicator" on some in-cockpit weather displays can show a time stamp that's off by as much as 20 minutes, the NTSB warned in a safety alert issued on Wednesday. "Even small time
differences between the age indicator and actual conditions can be important for safety of flight," the safety alert (PDF) says, "especially when considering fast-moving weather hazards, quickly developing weather scenarios, and/or fast-moving aircraft." The NEXRAD "age-indicator" on the cockpit
display indicates the time the mosaic image was created, not the time of the actual weather conditions. The NEXRAD image is always older than the actual weather conditions, the NTSB said.
The NTSB said it has investigated two fatal weather-related aircraft accidents in which NEXRAD images displayed to the pilot were presented as one minute old on the age-indicator, but contained
information that was up to five to eight minutes behind the real-time conditions. The mosaic images, which are available to pilots via flight information service-broadcast (FIS-B) and private
satellite weather service providers, are created with radar data from multiple radar ground sites. When a mosaic image is updated, it may not contain new information from each ground site. "Let your
fellow pilots know about the limitations of in-cockpit NEXRAD," the NTSB says, and always get a preflight weather briefing.
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Although airline passengers are paying higher fares and being charged to haul bags, they're apparently happier with the airline experience than they were a couple of years ago, according to a new
consumer satisfaction survey. The Michigan-based American Consumer Satisfaction Index reported this week that at 67 on a scale of 100, customer satisfaction with the airline industry is as high as
it's been for decades. In 2012 alone, the industry gained 3.1 percent in approval points, this despite higher fares, more crowded flights and fewer scheduling options. What's going on here? "I think
in part it's because customers are becoming cleverer when they fly at avoiding the various fees. We're finding that while passengers aren't terribly satisfied with checked baggage fees, fewer of them
are checking baggage," says ASCI director David VanAmburg.
And perhaps with no bags to get lost or charged, passengers breeze through the airport more seamlessly. If they also pack lighter as a result, airlines benefit through reduced fuel consumption.
Ironically, the deep discounters such as Spirit Airlines have the best satisfaction ratings because customers go into the deal knowing what to expect. Traditional mainstream carriers such as Delta,
United and American are at the bottom of the satisfaction scale, according to ASCI. In the most recent survey, JetBlue displaced Southwest as the satisfaction leader, perhaps, says VanAmburg, because
Southwest is merging with AirTran, which may be causing some service ripples. Although the airlines are doing better than a year ago, as an industry, they lag other segments and remain in the bottom
three among 47 industries ASCI surveys, including hotels, fast food and full-service restaurants. For more on ASCI's airline survey, check out
AVweb's podcast with David VanAmburg.
A constellation of 66 new satellites that will be launched starting in 2015 will make it possible for operators to track their aircraft anywhere in the world, even across oceans and remote regions
where coverage is not currently available, the project partners announced on Tuesday. Iridium Communications is providing the technology, and NavCanada is the launch customer. For routes that operate
in oceanic airspace, the new Aireon satellites will provide a "quantum improvement" in efficiency, said NavCanada CEO John Crichton. For example, NavCanada said, flights across the North Atlantic
should save $100 million per year thanks to more efficient routing. The satellites, which are scheduled to be online by 2017, will communicate with the ADS-B devices on airplanes.
The FAA is also working with Iridium, and is expected to be the second customer for the technology, according to Reuters. "Because the insight and control of air traffic management through
space-based ADS-B is unparalleled, the FAA will be engaged with Iridium and its Aireon partners in setting the specifications and configuration of space-based ADS-B surveillance," said Chris Metts,
vice president of FAA's air traffic program. The new technology "will enable commercial airline operations to be more efficient, safer and more environmentally friendly," according to Iridium's news
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The company presented three post-bankrupcty plans this week, none of which are likely to be slam dunks. It didn't mention selling the assets or merging with another player such as Cessna or
Gulfstream. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli sorts through the possibilities. Whatever follows, HBC will have a fierce competitive environment against the well-established
Do you push the throttle up to max, nudge the pitch and worry about the trim later? Or do you prefer to modulate the power to see if you can handle the pitch change forces? On the AVweb
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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.
Letter of the Week: The Way to Oshkosh (Whew)
Regarding your "Question of the Week": About every second year, myself and a few mates leave Geraldton, Western
Australia and drive four hours to Perth, overnight and then fly commercial six hours to Sydney. There's usually a four-hour wait and then we fly to L.A. (just 15 hours). Then we wait four hours
before we're on to Minneapolis (another four-hour flight) and then on to Appleton.
It's a long way but worth every bit. I would come every year if I could.
For the last several years, we have been bringing all the grandkids who have turned six years old by the show time. 2012 sees five of 'em going, with one more to start in 2013. This year they
range in age from seven to 17. Ages for 2013 will be six to 18. None of their parents fly. It was simply something Dad did. Maybe I can get one of the grandkids flying. We have a ball at OSH
camping in a tent and a camper.
Terry and Jan Wendling
Nearly every year, aviation buffs from our city of Mora, Minnesota gather and fly down together in one or two of our personal planes. Two of our group fly Cessna Centurions, and it is usually one
of those we take to AirVenture.
After five years of driving with friends, this year I am flying my J-3 Piper Cub with 200 other Cubs to Oshkosh for the 75th anniversary of the J-3 Piper Cub.
I read a few of the letters to the editor about the air tanker situation and noted that someone listed the CL-415 as a new tanker.
While you can buy them new, they are only effective in various parts of the country where scoopable water exists. They are extremely effective when water is available.
There is another option out there that doesn't get as much press: the Fire Boss (AT-802 outfitted with floats and scooping system). They are about $3 million and much cheaper to operate. They
hold roughly half the water of the CL-415, but given you can operate a fleet of them for what it costs to buy a 415, you can put as much or little water on a fire as you want very efficiently. Europe
and Canada have had much success with them.
For those who don't recognize the name, Charlie is the vice president of engineering for Wipaire and designed the innovative floats his company builds for the Fire Boss.
Russ Niles Editor-in-Chief
Giving the Gears
Regarding the gear-up landing by the air tanker: The 4th Army Flight Detachment had the right main gear fail to
fully extend and lock down on a U8-F (Queen Air 65). Maneuvers to get it to lock down were unsuccessful, and the pilots finally retracted the gear (the right gear remained in trail position), killed
and feathered the right engine and used the starter to align the prop blades for maximum clearance.
They then set up for a long straight-in to a foamed runway at Randolph AFB. The pilot flew the plane, and the co-pilot killed the left engine once they had the runway made and again used the
starter to position the prop.
The result was the right gear folded back into the wheel well, the gear doors ripped off, they lost a couple of antennas on the belly and got some scrapes on the belly skin and on the left gear
doors. The aircraft was put on jacks, the gear was lowered manually and pinned down, and the aircraft was flown back to its home base at KSAT for repairs that afternoon.
Allen G. Weisner
When Francis Gary Powers is awarded his Silver Star later this month, it will not be 50 years after his historic flight,
but rather 52. (2012-1960 = 52)
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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.
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