AVwebFlash - Volume 18, Number 27b

July 5, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Coaxing Secrets from the Oceans back to top 
 
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Source Reportedly Leaks Air France 447 Conclusions

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 (Thursday).

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.

75 Years Later, Earhart Search Continues

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 website.

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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Back into the Breach back to top 
 

C-130s Resume Firefighting After Fatal Crash

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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Behind JetBlue Pilot's Erratic Behavior back to top 
 

JetBlue Pilot Ruled Insane

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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News Briefs back to top 
 

Red Bull's Long Jump Set For This Summer

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.

Sonic Booms Raise Concern, Cause Damage

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 back to top 
 

Podcast: James Fallows Goes to China

File Size 13.6 MB / Running Time 15:35

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

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.

Click here to listen. (13.6 MB, 15:35)

AVweb Insider Blog: 'China Airborne'

On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli discusses the new book China Airborne by James Fallows and its findings.

Read more and join the conversation.

 
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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 
 

More Layoffs At Hawker; Bids Considered

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.

Grand Canyon Restrictions Stopped

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."

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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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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New on AVweb.com back to top 
 

Question of the Week: Have You Fudged a Flight Medical?

Australia has liberalized medicals for recreational and private pilots, and the U.S. seems poised to do the same.

Have you ever fibbed to your air medical examiner?
(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.)

Brainteasers Quiz #173: Call Me a Taxi

Brainteasers

Inside a big sky, little mistakes are easily masked before ATC calls a foul. But on the ground, the margin for error shrinks, and one slip across a hold-short line could ruin your day. Save that day by acing this quiz.

Take the quiz.

More Brainteasers

 
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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 
 

FBO of the Week: Dutchess Aviation (KPOU, Poughkeepsie, NY)

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

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!

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

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.

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

Video: 'Aviation Consumer' Takes the Show on the Road with Five Folding Bicycle Reviews

The July issue of our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, features a blow-by-blow comparison of some of the best folding bikes for pilots we could find. See them in action in these five video reviews by Consumer's Jeff Van West.

Video: ANA 767 Hard Landing Creases Fuselage

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

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.

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If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

 
Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 
 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Our latest winning photo comes from Charlie Zabinski of Garden Grove, CA. Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.
 
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
Tom Bliss

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Webmaster
Scott Simmons

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Contributors
Kevin Lane-Cummings
Jeff Van West

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? Your advertising can reach over 225,000 loyal AVwebFlash, AVwebBiz, and AVweb home page readers every week. Over 80% of our readers are active pilots and aircraft owners. That's why our advertisers grow with us, year after year. For ad rates and scheduling, click here or contact Tom Bliss, via e-mail or via telephone [(480) 525-7481].

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.

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 or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

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