AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 19, Number 5b

January 31, 2013

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Safety and Preparedness back to top 
 

Alaska Aviation Deaths Drop By Half

Eleven people died in Alaska aviation accidents in 2012, down from 21 deaths the year before, continuing a steady drop in aviation fatalities in the state, the Alaska Dispatch reported this week. Several safety initiatives were cited as likely contributing to the improvement, including efforts by the FAA Safety Team office in Alaska, which has promoted education for both operators and passengers. The state also has distributed many more weather-cams in remote areas to help inform pilots about weather conditions. Pilots have been encouraged to use shoulder harnesses, airbags and even helmets to prevent injury. ADS-B technology also has helped to prevent accidents.

NTSB Alaska Chief Clint Johnson told the Dispatch, "In the 15-year timeframe since I've been here, we've seen a steady decline in the sheer number of accidents. When I first started, it seemed like every single weekend we were going out on multiple fatals out on the Yukon or somewhere." Improvements are still needed in search-and-rescue technology, Johnson said. He told the Dispatch that many aircraft in Alaska are still flying with the old 121.5 emergency locator transmitters, instead of the newer and more reliable 406 ELTs. However, he said some operators do use consumer technology such as Spidertracks or Spot that uses GPS to track aircraft. AVweb's Mary Grady visited Alaska in 2004, when many of these safety strategies were just getting started; click here for that report.

Question of the Week: Are You More Safety-Conscious?

Alaskan officials attribute a steady decline in accidents and fatalities to increased safety awareness and the adoption of more safety-related gear.

Are you well-equipped, safety-wise?
(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.)

 
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Aviation Safety back to top 
 

CRJ Crash In Kazakhstan Kills 21

A Bombardier CRJ200 operated by a regional airline crashed on Tuesday in southeast Kazakhstan, killing all 15 passengers and six crew members on board. The jet had missed its first approach at the Almaty airport in fog at about 1 p.m. local time and was climbing away from the airport when it suddenly "veered off course and plunged to the ground," according to AFP. The wreckage was found near a village about three miles from the airport. "There was no fire, no explosion. The plane just plunged to the earth," Yuri Ilyin, a local emergency official, told Reuters.

Thick fog in the area reduced visibility to less than 100 feet, according to some reports, but the airport was still open. "The preliminary cause of the accident is bad weather," Deputy Almaty Mayor Maulen Mukashev told reporters. "Not a single part of the plane was left intact after it came down." The jet was owned by a local airline, Scat, which has been operating since 1997. The airline runs an extensive domestic service and a few international flights.

Guilty Plea Entered By Man Who Shot Plane

A man entered a guilty plea in federal court Tuesday for shooting at (and hitting) a crop-dusting airplane on Feb. 22, 2008, while it was flying near his hunting ranch in Texas. The man, Stephen Paul Riley, 41, will face sentencing in May. Court documents state that Riley shot at the crop duster, striking it numerous times with multiple bullets and nearly severing a rudder cable. Other bullets struck the aircraft's struts and tore a hole through flying surfaces on the aircraft's left side. Riley reportedly threatened the owner of Keeter Aerial Spraying prior to the incident. Local authorities have filed attempted murder charges in connection with the airplane shootings, the Wichita Falls Times Record reported Tuesday. Initial evidence against Riley was found through an unrelated search.

A search warrant executed in 2010 led to recovery of a video showing Riley firing a weapon at a different Keeter aircraft in July of 2007. The search warrant was granted to Texas Parks and Wildlife officials who were seeking evidence of illegal hunting on Riley's property. The video showed Riley firing more than 20 shots at the crop duster and during questioning Riley reportedly admitted to shooting at separate crop dusters on different occasions. Pilots were not injured. Riley's property includes a ranch that offers hunting outings for hunters of deer, turkey and other game animals. Both Texas Rangers and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are reportedly involved in the investigation as the case is prosecuted by a U.S. Attorney. Riley is free on bond pending sentencing set for May 21.

 
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Boeing, Batteries — And Billions in Business Costs? back to top 
 

No Quick Fix In Sight For 787

Almost three weeks into its investigation, and with the global fleet of Boeing 787s grounded, the NTSB said on Sunday it hasn't found the root cause of the lithium-ion battery fires aboard two of the Dreamliners. Investigators in Arizona found nothing wrong with the airplane's auxiliary power units, the NTSB said. On Monday, Japan's Transport Ministry said investigators found no problems at GS Yuasa, in Kyoto, where the batteries are manufactured. Inspectors now are checking the systems that monitor the battery. Meanwhile, a financial analysis by Jefferies & Co. found the grounding will likely cost Boeing more than $500 million, and in a worst-case scenario, up to $5 billion, according to Bloomberg.

Airline analyst Robert Mann told the Guardian that if the battery itself and the charging process are not found to be the cause of the problems, "you are left with intermittent faults, which are very difficult to track down, or some unintended consequence from a usage problem." He added that since both problems occurred on Japanese airplanes, which tend to fly shorter legs than the other 787 operators, perhaps those batteries were charged more frequently. "But I am grasping at straws," Mann said. "As is everyone. A lot smarter people than me are looking at this." On Wednesday, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney is expected to speak publicly about the airplane's problems for the first time, when he unveils the company's latest financial report.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Airline Employment Down, Slightly

The number of workers employed full-time by U.S. air carriers dropped 2 percent to 381,639 from November 2011 to November 2012, the Department of Transportation said Tuesday, adding to a recent downward trend. Though the overall number of employees recently saw 22 months of growth, the movement was subtle and began to reverse in late 2012. The DOT noted mergers and bankruptcy among the factors affecting the largest carriers. Employment figures rose sharply from about 1997 to 2000, peaking above 500,000, and have been mostly in decline since. The airlines with the most employees as of November were United, Delta and American. Together they represent more than half of all employees that either work full-time for a carrier or are deemed "full-time-equivalent" by the agency. The DOT's numbers are only current through November 2012, but it has now marked several months of decreases in employees.

Nearly 22 months of year-over-year increases began in November 2010. That has been followed by three months of decreases. Generally, over the same period the low-cost carriers have been posting increases, but not enough to offset the larger industry's downward trend over the long term since 2000. Only two major airlines saw growth when compared with their figures last November. United and Continental merged in 2010 and posted a 1.7 percent increase in employees from November 2011 to November 2012, according to the agency. Alaska Airlines managed a 3 percent increase. The agency identified low-cost carriers Allegiant, Virgin, Spirit, JetBlue, Frontier and now-merged Southwest and AirTran. As a group, low-cost carriers saw very slight increases year over year. The top five majors include United, Delta, American, Southwest and US Airways. Click here for the full report. 

Events Bring Aviation History To Life

It's a busy time of year for aviation enthusiasts -- coming up in the next few weeks are the debut of a new 3-D version of the 1986 film Top Gun in Imax theaters around the country, a tour of classic Commemorative Air Force warbirds in the Southwest, a symposium at Fantasy of Flight in Florida featuring five of the original Tuskegee Airmen, and a new Nova documentary re-examining the famous Lindbergh baby kidnapping case. The Top Gun film is in theaters for only a week, starting Feb. 8; tickets and locations can now be found online. CAF is launching its Southwest tour February 22 through April 4, featuring the famous B-29 Superfortress bomber Fifi, the only one of its kind still flying, and a changing roster of historic aircraft including a British Spitfire and a Japanese Zero.

The full schedule for the CAF tour, with stops in Arizona, California, Nevada, and New Mexico, is posted online. Fantasy of Flight's Legends & Legacies symposium with the Tuskegee Airmen will run Feb. 7 to 9, with five more symposia on aviation history scheduled throughout the year, featuring aircraft and airmen from the two World Wars and the Cold War era. Nova's documentary on the Lindbergh kidnapping case will air Wednesday, Jan. 30, on PBS and is also for sale as a DVD. Nova says the program will re-examine the famous crime with a team of expert investigators using state-of-the-art forensic and behavioral science techniques.

 
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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 
 

Avgas Safe: Leaded Car Gas May Disappear This Year

Innospec, the American owned company that is the world's sole producer of tetraethyl lead (TEL), the octane booster for gasoline, has reportedly told its shareholders it will stop producing the additive for automotive fuel by the end of this year but will keep making it for avgas. The company says on its website that it will continue production as long as aviation needs it even if it doesn't make it for cars anymore and it has a plan for making it work. "Plans are already in place to ensure our plant can safely and economically manufacture TEL solely for the aviation market while it seeks a technical and cost effective alternative," the website says.

Earlier this year the British magazine Specialty Chemicals ran a story about how the British press had been critical of the company for continuing to ship the toxic chemical to the six remaining countries in the world (Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Burma, Yemen and North Korea) that still allow leaded car gas. Innospec makes the chemical in England. The magazine said the company told its shareholders it had hoped to be out of the automotive TEL business by the end of 2012 and has set its sights on the end of this year. "Innospec is still producing and selling TEL to a very limited number of countries for use in motor gasoline," the magazine quoted the company as saying in a statement. "The timing of the exit from the business is designed around the conversion of these countries to unleaded gasoline. We have openly indicated that we expected these conversions to take place over the past few years, but it seems that in some cases the introduction of unleaded fuel in these countries has been delayed."

Danbury Chute Pull Aircraft Out Of Fuel

The NTSB says a Cirrus SR20 that parachuted to safety last week in Danbury, Conn., was out of fuel. In its preliminary report on the incident, which was widely publicized in the mainstream media, the NTSB says the aircraft, with a flight instructor, another pilot and a third person on board, was on final for the Danbury Airport when the pilot flying radioed to air traffic control that the aircraft was "out of fuel." Investigators later were able to drain just 26 ounces of fuel from the tanks and none had spilled when the plane settled to the ground about three miles from the airport.

The report says the flight originated in Danbury and the trio flew to Groton and landed. They were returning to Danbury when the prop stopped. The round trip was about 150 miles if both legs were flown direct. After making the radio call, the pilot pulled the parachute handle and the aircraft settled in some trees in a residential area, breaking off the empennage. There were no injuries. There was a remote data module on board and a memory card in the avionics and both have been sent to the NTSB's lab for analysis.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

Have you signed up yet for AVweb's no-cost weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz?

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."

 
Aerial Tribute || Every Cloud a Monument
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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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Opinion & Commentary back to top 
 

AVweb Insider Blog: LSA's Failure to Launch

Last week's Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida had record attendance, according to the organizers, but anemic sales suggest tire-kickers outnumber buyers in the thousands. The market forces to change this still aren't in evidence. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli speculates on why.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Video: Pardo's Push -- McDonnell F4 Phantom

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

"Pardo's push" of March 10, 1967 was preceded by a similar event. In 1952, fighter ace Robbie Risner pushed fellow flyer Joe Logan 60 miles. The two men were flying F-86 Sabre jets and successfully cleared hostile territory, but Logan bailed out over water, was tangled in his canopy lines, and drowned. Risner was deemed a hero, but by Pardo's account, pilots were not encouraged to partake in similar activities.

Pardo's push may have saved the lives of pilot Earl Aman and his weapons system officer, Bob Houghton. But it would be decades before their efforts were recognized by the Air Force. Bob Pardo and Steve Wayne eventually earned the Silver Star for the act.

Pardo was later quoted saying that they'd gotten Earl and Bob back, and that's all they wanted.

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to watch on YouTube

 
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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 
 

FBO of the Week: Michigan Aviation (KPTK, Pontiac, MI)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Michigan Aviation at Oakland County International Airport (KPTK) in Pontiac, Michigan.

AVweb reader John Keller sang their praises on his nomination form:

We arrived in the CE-525 when it was 7 °F with light snow. Two line personnel [were] there to greet us with rental auto planeside. A little paperwork for the car, and a crew car [arrived] for the pilot, complete with directions to hotel and dinner. [The] airplane went into their warm hangar in a short while. Outstanding service from all personnel — especially fueling, hangaring, and getting ready to depart on a cold and snowy morning. We will be using this excellent FBO for several more trips in the future months.

Way to go, Michigan Aviation!

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!

 
Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 
 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Our latest winning photo comes from Royce J. Blankenship of Panama City, FL. 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

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

Avionics Editor
Larry Anglisano

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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