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In its annual list of "most wanted safety improvements," the NTSB on Wednesday said general aviation pilots and their passengers too often are "dying due to human error and inadequate training."
The safety board investigates about 1,500 GA accidents per year, with about 400 fatalities, and sees "similar accident circumstances time after time." Improved education and training, and screening
for risky behavior, are critical to improving GA safety, the board said. GA maintenance workers also should be required to undergo recurrent training, the board said, to keep them current with the
best practices for inspecting and maintaining electrical systems, circuit breakers, and aged wiring.
The NTSB noted that GA has the highest accident rate within civil aviation -- six times higher than for Part 135 operators
and about 40 times higher than for transport-category operators. Moreover, while the overall GA accident rate has remained about the same over the last 10 years, the fatal accident rate has increased
by 25 percent. Pilots should be trained to use all available sources for weather information, the NTSB said, including the internet and satellites. Also, they should train on flight simulators that
are specific to the avionics they will be flying. Also, the NTSB said FAA tests should cover the use of weather, use of instruments, and use of glass cockpits.
Earl Weener, a member of the safety board with extensive experience in the aviation industry, spoke with AVweb's Mary
Grady after Wednesday's news conference to provide a deeper look into the NTSB's process and their suggestions for improving GA safety. Click here to
listen to that podcast.
The NTSB this week released its annual list of most-wanted safety improvements, and for the second year in a row general-aviation safety made the top 10. AVweb's Mary Grady spoke with
Earl Weener, a member of the safety board with extensive experience in the aviation industry, to provide a deeper look into the NTSB's process and their plans for improving GA safety.
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What was the only flying B-29 Superfortress, the Commemorative Air Force's (CAF's) Fifi, has been grounded due to an engine problem suffered by the aircraft's number two engine, and the
cost of repair has launched a fundraising initiative. According to CAF, the problem became evident during "the last flight of the season." Acquisition of parts needed for the repair could exceed
$250,000 and the Keep Fifi Flying campaign has set the goal to raise whatever funds are necessary to return the aircraft to flight.
The goal is consistent with CAF's larger mission, which is to preserve and demonstrate the living legacy of aviation history.
When healthy, Fifi has remained flying to the tune of 100 volunteer work hours and $10,000 consumed for each hour the bomber stays in the air. The engine problem became evident while the
aircraft was airborne, but the crew was able to return the aircraft to the ground without additional damage. CAF's goal to "perpetuate the spirit in which these aircraft were flown in defense of our
nation -- honoring the courage, sacrifice and legacy of the greatest generation" takes money. Fifi is seen as a traveling component of the story that educates the public, firsthand, about the
sort of personal experiences earned by the men who flew similar aircraft in service to their country. Now, says CAF, "we need your help, each one doing a little bit, to continue to spread the
message" and keep Fifi flying. CAF operates 156 vintage aircraft based in 27 states. It is a non-profit educational association supported by 9,000 members.
A small town in Lancashire unveiled a memorial to the Supermarine Spitfire over the weekend, to commemorate a fundraising effort during World War II when residents donated about $8,000 to buy an
airplane for the Royal Air Force. The stainless-steel sculpture features a one-twelfth-size Spitfire with a wingspan of about 12 feet. It flies at the top of a soaring pedestal, erected on a traffic
island in Darwen, "on The Green, near the White Lion Pub," according to the Lancashire Telegraph.
The memorial was built by apprentice engineers at the WEC Group, a local metal firm, who worked on it for two years. The project cost about $275,000, according to the BBC. The original Darwen
Spitfire entered service in 1941 and is believed to have been shot down somewhere over Holland about six months later. "Darwen was the smallest town in the UK to finance a Spitfire during World War II
and the Spitfire memorial will be a lasting reminder of the town's contribution to the war effort," a spokesman for WEC said at the ceremony.
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It was November 2001 when an Airbus A300 operated by American Airlines crashed in New York after losing its rudder and vertical stabilizer in flight, killing 265 people, and on Friday, the FAA
issued its final rule to address the problem. The FAA revised its
proposed rule, which would have required a change to the rudder pedals to limit travel, to allow for an alternative
proposed by Airbus -- a warning system and more crew training. The FAA estimates rudder-pedal changes would cost about $200,000 for each of the 215 airplanes affected, but the Airbus warning system
would cost just $108,000, or as little as $73,000, depending on the age of the aircraft's computer system. Operators have four years in which to develop and implement the fixes.
Airbus says its alternative system will require the installation of a warning light on the glareshield directly in front of each pilot and an associated "stop rudder inputs" aural warning, in
addition to revising the airplane flight manual and reinforced flight-crew training. NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said in a letter to the FAA that a warning light alone, with no mechanical changes to
the rudder system, "will not rectify the unsafe condition." The FAA, however, said it has determined that the warning light, together with a loud verbal warning and flight crew training, "will prevent
the flight crew from exceeding the ultimate design loads that could result in failure of the vertical stabilizer." Besides the 2001 crash, rudder inputs caused excessive loads on the tail in at
least two other Airbus incidents, the NTSB said, but no crash or loss of life occurred.
Three Civil Air Patrol members on their way to an FAA safety seminar took off from Hawkins Field Airport in Jackson, Miss., on Tuesday afternoon in a Piper PA-32, and moments later all three died
when the airplane crashed into a house and caught fire. Killed in the crash were Col. John E. Tilton Jr., former member of Civil Air Patrol's Board of Governors and Alabama Wing and Southeast Region
commander; the Mississippi Wing's standardization/evaluation officer, Lt. Col. David Williams; and Capt. William C. Young, finance officer for the Maj. James McKinnie Composite Squadron, CAP said in a
press release, Wednesday.
One of the aviators on board called the tower for a clearance to return, but within minutes the airplane was down. The owner of the aircraft, a student pilot, was not on board, but one of the men
in the airplane was his flight instructor. One person in the house suffered minor injuries, the AP said, but it wasn't clear if anyone else was in the house. The pilots were en route to a safety
seminar in Raymond, Miss., just 30 miles away. Roger Latham, the airplane's owner, said he had owned the airplane for about two and a half years and it was in mint condition. According to the AP,
Latham had planned to join the others on the flight but decided to go hunting instead. An FAA safety seminar scheduled for Tuesday evening at the John Bell Williams Airport in Raymond featured a fish
fry and talks about downlink weather and airman medical topics. Col. Carlton Sumner, Mississippi Wing commander said of the crash, "The CAP family is deeply saddened by this tremendous loss. These
fine men served selflessly in the military and/or in CAP. Their legacy will be marked by tireless service, devotion to duty and with great personal integrity and character. They touched innumerable
lives as friends, business associates, mentors, instructors and leaders."
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Video has emerged of a the moment a Cessna 525B Citation CJ3 with two crew members and one passenger on Nov. 11 overran runway 35R at Sao Paulo, Brazil, bouncing over a berm and crashing a
perimeter fence and barrier, seriously injuring its pilot. A copilot and passenger were the only other people onboard and both suffered minor injuries. The aircraft, operated by Tropic Air, was
damaged beyond repair. There was no fire in spite of the trip's violent conclusion that stopped the jet just short of an active roadway. Weather reports just prior to and after the late afternoon
accident (17:27, local time, 19:27 Zulu) show a near reversal in wind direction.
The preliminary accident report states that "in the course of one hour the wind direction changed 140 degrees with the temperature dropping three degrees Centigrade." It continues to say that
"Towering Cumulus clouds was approaching, reaching the airport about 21:00 UTC." Prior to the aircraft's arrival (19:00 Zulu) winds were reported at 300 degrees and nine knots. At 20:00 Zulu,
winds were reported at 160 degrees and 13 knots. The jet's impact with a berm and barrier were captured by surveillance camera footage and appear to show impact with the berm and barrier resulting in
high G events for the aircraft and its occupants. In 2007 a TAM Airlines Airbus A320 overran the airport's runway 35L, missing safety barriers, killing all 187 people onboard. Video of the more recent
Citation event, below.
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Jonathan Trappe, who has flown his unusual lighter-than-air system over Lake Michigan (launching from Oshkosh)
and across the English Channel, is now planning to attempt a trans-Atlantic flight next summer. This Friday, in Leon, Mexico, he plans to test-fly the seven-foot-long lifeboat that will hang suspended
as a gondola beneath 365 helium balloons. Trappe has been scouting launch sites along the coast of Maine, and hopes to land somewhere near Paris -- although anywhere along the west coast of Europe or
Africa will do.
Trappe plans to fly at altitudes of about 18,000 to 25,000 feet, with a canopy over the lifeboat to keep him warm and dry. He'll also carry oxygen, ballast, food and water, and survival gear in
case he has to ditch short of his goal. Trappe has set up a crowd-sourced fundraising site at indiegogo.com to help raise
money for the venture, which he says will also be the subject of a television documentary.
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Some airline executives are saying a combination of retirements, airline expansion, and an imminent change in FAA
rules that could set a minimum of 1,500 hours for first officers will create a pilot shortage, but CBS news analyst Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger said the airlines are employing "scare tactics." In
a story in Sunday's Wall Street Journal, Dan Garton, CEO of American Eagle, said the impact
of the FAA's proposed new first-officer rule "is going to become much more visible when regionals have to decrease their flying" for lack of pilots. The airline may have to eliminate service to some
smaller cities, he said. Sullenberger said on CBS on Monday that airline executives are crying wolf, with the aim to pressure the FAA into reducing the first-officer requirements in the final version of the new rule.
"This [rule change] is not a surprise to anyone," Sullenberger said. He added that earlier this year, during a congressional hearing, a Regional Airline Association official said that out of 18,000
pilots flying on regional airlines, only 100 might not be compliant with the new rules, mainly because they weren't yet 23 years old, which is one of the proposed new requirements. "We've known these
rules were coming for several years," Sullenberger said. JetBlue CEO Dave Barger said in an October speech, according to The Wall Street Journal, that the industry is "facing an exodus of talent in
the next few years" and could "wake up one day and find we have no one to operate or maintain those planes." Sullenberger said the airlines have the means to solve their own problem: "When the
airlines create working conditions and have wages that will attract qualified, experienced pilots, they will have enough applicants."
Cessna and China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Company, Ltd. (CAIGA) have finalized a deal to assemble Citation XLS+ business jets in China. The deal, which was announced as a strategic
partnership earlier this year with CAIGA parent AVIC involving the assembly and sale of Caravans in China, will involve subassembly and parts production in Wichita with assembly, paint and flight
testing for in-country aircraft to take place in Zhuhai, the site of Airshow China, which is on this week.
"This is an exciting opportunity for Cessna, given the tremendous growth potential of the region and our ability to bring high quality, proven aircraft that people have come to expect from Cessna,"
said Scott Ernest, president and CEO. Cessna and CAIGA will jointly manage the venture but Cessna gets to pick the manager. "Customers can expect rigorous testing and quality controls that are the
hallmark of our reliable aircraft family," said Bill Schultz, Cessna's senior vice president of business development for China.
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Here at AVweb, we try to pause and reflect on our veterans every November 11 but sometimes, when there's not a news story to hang your reflections and thanks on, you have to takes to
the air in your Piper Cub and do some proper reflection. That's what Paul Bertorelli did Sunday in an effort to find the right way to say "thanks" to all those who've served.
For aviation, last week's election may represent some interesting possibilities. Unfortunately, most of them involve budget cuts and possibly the delay or elimination of programs most of us
consider important. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli observes that, to a degree most of us have never seen, aviation's outlook is tied to larger taxation and policy considerations.
Welcome to the world of the challenged special interest group.
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.
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On Saturday, November 10, Piper Aircraft celebrated its 75th anniversary as an aircraft company. AVweb was there and got a look at some terrific vintage aircraft as well as
Piper's latest line of M-class airplanes.
AVweb reader Clay Anderson works alongside Maverick at Joe Foss Field Airport (KFSD) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota - and has plenty of good things to say about them:
I started a flight school with one aircraft at my home airport less than a year ago. I've gotten to know [the people at Maverick Air] over the last several years as they were trying to get onto the
long-time monopolized field. When I opened up [my business], they immediately offered me a discount on gas. Last week, they towed my flat-tired Cessna Skyhawk safely to my hangar for a new tube and
tire. They jumped at the chance to let me have a nice, smoke-free ground school in their new board room. I just can't say enough about Maverick Air Center in Sioux Falls, SD. They are trying to
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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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