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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.
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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.
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
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.
Continental Motors Factory Parts A Look Inside Our Engines Did you know that all major component parts for CMI engines are manufactured in modern production cells that continuously pursue quality and value while
reducing costs to you? CMI's original quality equipment parts, to name a few, include magnetos, cylinders crankcases, fuel injection systems, crankshafts, camshafts, pistons, rods, rocker arms, and
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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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.
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 Gunfilm 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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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."
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
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.
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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.
"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.
Peter Drucker Says, "The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It"
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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Michigan Aviation at Oakland County International Airport (KPTK) in Pontiac,
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.
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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