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The French news agency AFP reported Wednesday (one day ahead of the official final report's release) that investigators have concluded that pilot error and technical malfunctions caused the crash
of Air France Flight 447 in 2009, killing all 228 aboard. "A source close to the case" told AFP that speed sensors on the Airbus A330 "froze up and failed" as the aircraft entered a line of
thunderstorms while flying from Rio to Paris. That information was reported more than a year ago in factual findings. However, the source also told AFP that the official report of the French Accident
Investigation Bureau, BEA, concludes that the captain then "failed in his duties," and "prevented the co-pilot from reacting." BEA is due to release its final report on the crash today
Earlier reports and updates to the investigation stated that the jet stalled at 38,000 feet and the crew never
verbally acknowledged that fact. The jet maintained a nose-up attitude and an angle of attack of more than 35 degrees throughout its 122-mph vertical plunge into the ocean some 600 miles off the coast
of Brazil. The captain was not present in the cockpit as the incident began. Soon after the aircraft entered stall, the airliner's angle of attack exceeded 40 degrees and full takeoff thrust was set.
Stall warnings activated and deactivated during the descent and cockpit displays delivered mismatched and rapidly changing airspeed values. Authorities have since called for replacement of the pitot
sensors used on the crash aircraft. Recovery of the aircraft's voice and data recorders involved undersea robots searching a 770-square-mile area of the ocean floor at depths up to 14,000 feet. It was
conducted with help from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. AVweb interviewed the organization's chief of operations last May. Click
here to listen to the podcast.
It was 75 years ago this week that aviatrix Amelia Earhart went missing, and on Tuesday yet another expedition launched with hopes of solving the mystery of her disappearance over the South
Pacific. The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery departed from Hawaii aboard a research vessel bound for the remote atoll of Nikumaroro. They plan to search the nearby ocean using a
remotely operated submersible, in hopes of finding wreckage from Earhart's Lockheed Electra. "This is the high-tech deep-water search we've long wanted to do but could never afford," says the TIGHAR
This is TIGHAR's 10th expedition in search of definitive evidence of the fate of Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan. In previous expeditions, the group has found various artifacts that it says support the theory that Earhart survived an offshore ditching and sought refuge on the
uninhabited atoll. Nikumaroro is about 1,800 miles from Hawaii, and 400 miles away from Howland Island, which was Earhart's planned destination. The expedition is expected to return to Hawaii in about
a month. The 75th anniversary of Earhart's disappearance is also marked by a special exhibition at the National Portrait
Gallery in Washington, D.C.
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Five C-130s were back in the air fighting wildfires in several western states on Tuesday after being briefly grounded following a fatal crash over the weekend. Four crew members were killed and two
were seriously injured on Sunday at about 6:30 p.m. local time when a C-130 from the North Carolina Air National Guard crashed while fighting fires in the Black Hills of South Dakota. "Operational
flying was suspended for one day to review flying and safety procedures, in the context of what is known so far about the crash," according to a statement from the Northern Command, which oversees the
airplanes while they are on firefighting duty. The cause of the crash is under investigation and no details have been released.
The airmen all were based in North Carolina. "Words can't express how much we feel the loss of these airmen," said Brig. Gen. Tony McMillan, commander of the wing. "Our prayers are with their
families, as well as our injured brothers as they recover." Sunday's crash was the first in the 40-year history of the MAFFS (Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems) program, which is a joint effort
between the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Defense. A series of crashes involving air tankers, including a C-130, operated by various entities, prompted the NTSB in 2004 to call for closer scrutiny of aging aircraft used in firefighting operations. The MAFFS-equipped aircraft are able to discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire
retardant in less than 5 seconds, covering an area 100 feet wide and a quarter-mile long.
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The JetBlue captain whose mid-flight meltdown a few months ago resulted in crew members calling for help by passengers to
restrain him has been found not guilty by reason of insanity of criminal charges related to the well-publicized incident. Clayton Osbon, a well-respected senior pilot with a clean record, began acting
irrationally on a New York-to-Las Vegas flight last March 27 and was ultimately restrained by a group of mostly ex-law-enforcement professionals headed to a security conference in Sin City. After the
nervous FO locked him out of the flight deck, Osbon ran the length of the aircraft ranting about terrorism and religion. The FO, with help from a commuting JetBlue pilot who happened to be on board,
landed the aircraft uneventfully in Amarillo, Texas. Osbon has been in jail, and on the JetBlue payroll, ever since.
In Tuesday's court proceedings, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lou Robinson ruled that Osbon suffered from a "severe mental disease or defect" at the time of the incident and sent him to a federal
mental health facility for assessment until at least Aug. 6. If he's able to prove "by clear and convincing evidence" that he's not going to be a future danger to others he might be released.
Otherwise, he'll be committed. JetBlue is standing by their captain, continuing his pay and helping his family. "We can confirm he is still employed, on inactive status, with JetBlue," spokeswoman
Alison Croyle told media inquiries.
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As the Red Bull Stratos project continues preparations to break Joe Kittinger's long-standing freefall record with a jump from a balloon at over 120,000 feet later this summer, the team this week
released an animation of what the experience will be like for skydiver Felix Baumgartner. The video shows the balloon and the capsule suspended beneath it climbing through the atmosphere into the
blackness of space, with the Earth's curved surface far below. Baumgartner pauses on the capsule's threshold to take in the view before leaping off. Red Bull says Baumgartner may reach supersonic
speed on his descent.
No date has been set for the jump, but a 90,000-foot test jump is expected to launch from Roswell, N.M., sometime in the next few weeks. "After that one is completed, we hang out waiting for the
right moment to do the BIG ONE!!," Baumgartner posted recently on his Facebook page. Kittinger's record of 102,800 feet was set in 1960. He was an Air Force test pilot working with the space program.
The Red Bull team has been working on the project since 2005.
The Brazilian air force has offered to pay for damage to that country's Supreme Court building and the U.S. Navy has offered an explanation to San Diego residents after two separate supersonic
incidents since last Friday. Residents across at least 40 miles of coastal communities near San Diego experienced a two- to three-second rumble Friday at approximately 12:45 p.m. that shook windows
and raised concerns after local Marine bases and the Navy initially denied responsibility. The Navy later revealed that two F/A-18s had gone supersonic some 35 miles off the coast as part of a "family
day" ahead of July 4 celebrations. Monday in Brazil, two Mirage 2000 jets participating in a national flag exchange ceremony buzzed the country's Supreme Court building at low altitude and high speed.
The flight shattered the building's three-story tall glass facade.
Many San Diego residents are familiar with earthquakes, which led to some confusion about Friday's event -- windows and buildings shook, but the earth didn't. Local news stations reported fielding
calls from hundreds of residents who either reported the noise or were seeking answers. And the U.S. Geological Survey recorded more than 500 reports collected from area residents who logged in
online. Friday evening, Lt. Aaron Kakiel, a spokesman for the Navy, cleared the air. He told local news stations that two aircraft from the USS Carl Vinson participating in a "family day
offshore" had caused two sonic booms heard around the county. The event in Brazil took place to the cheers of a crowd collected to watch the event, which wasn't meant to include damage to
government buildings, but appears to have shattered nearly all windows in the Supreme Court building designed by famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. Several other buildings sustained some damage
as well. The Brazilian flyover was captured on video, here. And the USS Carl Vinson flyby was captured on video, here.
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China Airborne, the new book by James Fallows is a journalist and pilot's journey through the complex and often contradictory quarter of the world that is modern China. Aviation and
aerospace development is, by government fiat, China's next big thing. And no one can predict its success or failure, says Fallows.
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Hawker Beechcraft laid off another 125 workers in Wichita last week, and six bids are under consideration from potential buyers of the company's assets, the Wichita Eagle reported on Monday. The company said no final decision has been made regarding
a sale, but the bids were solicited as the company continues to restructure under bankruptcy protection. "The Debtors are continuing to evaluate potential sale alternatives and may elect to
incorporate one or more sale or plan sponsorship transactions into the plan," according to the bankruptcy filing, the Eagle reported.
The new job cuts are the latest in a series, totaling 906 jobs lost so far this year, according to the Eagle. Hawker filed for Chapter 11 in May, citing a loss of over $600 million last year and a
heavy debt load. CEO Robert Miller said he expects Hawker to reorganize and emerge as a more competitive company. AVweb Editorial Director Paul Bertorelli offered his analysis of the company's
situation and options in a recent AVweb Insider blog; click here to join the conversation.
Some last-minute political maneuvering by Nevada and Arizona congressmen from both sides of the aisle has stopped the National Parks Service from imposing more restrictive anti-noise regulations on
air tour operators in Grand Canyon National Park. The Parks Service wanted to introduce rules that would have resulted in the "substantial restoration of natural quiet" to the park by limiting flights
in such a way that two-thirds of the park would have been free of audible aircraft 75 to 100 percent of the time. It also would have encouraged operators to buy quieter aircraft by allowing them more
flights in those aircraft. Aviation groups were concerned about the proposed regulations on philosophical grounds in that they would have effectively given the Parks Service control over airspace. But
the politicians who banded together to shoot down the initiative had more practical concerns.
About 1,250 people work in the air tour business in Arizona and Nevada and the Parks plan was seen as a threat to the continued employment of at least some of them. Rep. Paul Gosar, who led the
legislative effort, said the bill, which essentially maintains current flight frequencies and routes, prevents and "unwarranted assault" on the air tour industry, noting that operators are voluntarily
investing in quieter aircraft and taking other steps to minimize the impact of noise in the park. "I am pleased to end the war on those rural Arizona jobs," he said in a statement. But
environmentalists and conservation groups say it's the park that's under attack and they're appalled at the political sleight of hand that occurred. "This bill means that the Grand Canyon is going to
stay noisy from air tours, and it's a good example of the effects of money on politics when you look at the stealth way that this was done," said Rob Smith, senior organizing manger for the Sierra
Club in Phoenix. "The Grand Canyon is one of the 10 natural wonders of the world. It shouldn't sound like an airport."
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Ascension Scattering: A Dignified Final Tribute for Any Aviator
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AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Dutchess Aviation at Dutchess County
Airport (KPOU) in Wappingers Falls(/Poughkeepsie), New York.
Dutchess recently hosted the Cessna Pilots Society for its annual fly-in, and multiple CPS pilots were impressed enough to nominate them. Reader Jeffrey Chipetine wrote:
The FBO was heavily tasked as our operational tempo included daily fly-outs and New York Corridor tours. Fuel requests were filled quickly and with a smile. Many flights were "all seats full" and
required careful, accurate fueling to keep the weight & balance inside the envelope, and Dutchess Aviation did it right every time. Service with a smile was the rule! The FBO enthusiasm was met
equally by the airport maintenance personnel and by those manning the Tower Cab. The airport was spotlessly clean, the grass trimmed like it was being manicured. An unused building was even retasked
to serve as our unofficial clubhouse for the event, complete with restrooms, A. C., and even a grill for afternoon burgers on the deck. The airport manager, Ed Rose, directs a dedicated and
impressive staff. ATC was equally friendly, with multiple rapid-fire requests for clearances to begin flying the NYC Corridor Tour handled without a ruffle. From-out-of-the-area pilots were made to
feel welcome and comfortable. While this is a nomination for "FBO of the Week," the award for the overall excellence we enjoyed during our stay really demands that the entire crew at KPOU be
recognized. Nicely done, all!
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An All Nippon Airways Boeing 767-300 carrying 193 passengers was damaged during a hard landing at Tokyo Narita airport, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. The ANA jet touched down on Runway
16R. Airport weather reports show winds at 230 and 16 knots gusting to 29 at that time, suggesting a potential crosswind component of more than 27 knots. However that may have affected the pilots and
aircraft, security camera footage shows the airliner came down first on the right main, then on the nosewheel alone, before porpoising into a second impact that appears to impart visible flex on the
airliner's forward fuselage. No injuries were reported, but an early post-flight inspection clearly showed buckling and creases in the fuselage skin forward of the wing root. Japan's transportation
safety board is investigating.
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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