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Crash investigators in Lexington, Kentucky Sunday gathered information from the wreckage and data recorders of
a Comair CRJ-100 that crashed and burned during a pre-sunup takeoff shortly after 6 a.m. at Lexington's Blue Grass Airport. Forty-nine of the 50 people onboard died in the wreckage, one -- the
co-pilot -- was pulled free. The airport offers crossing runways: 3,500 by 75-foot Runway 26, and 7,001 by 150-foot Runway 22. The aircraft damaged an eight-foot fence and scarred earth off the end of
Runway 26. It came to rest less than a mile beyond the end of that runway. Bombardier's CRJ-200 (and -100) model does not have leading edge slats and takeoff distance under standard conditions at maximum weight is listed at 5800-feet. (Delta and Bombardier Sunday offered conflicting reports that the aircraft was a CJR-100 and a CRJ-200, respectively.) When questioned about the clearance given to the flight, an NTSB
spokeswoman said yesterday, "there were references to Runway 22," and stated that data indicates the aircraft aligned to 260 (matching the shorter runway) for the takeoff roll. She declined adding
more details (analysis of voice and data recorders will begin in earnest, today). The shift for the one controller scheduled for duty at Lexington early on Sunday mornings would end at 6:30 a.m,
according to the St. Petersburg Times.
En route to Atlanta, it is not yet clear if the aircraft ever left the ground and the crash may have left the aircraft somewhat intact prior to the
post-crash fire. First officer James Polehinke, 44, was pulled from the shattered cockpit by police officer Bryan Jared and two airport officers, John Sallee and James "Pete" Maupin. The men were on
the scene minutes after the crash. Jared was treated for burns to his arms suffered during the rescue, according to The Associated Press. Polehinke was in critical condition after surgery at last
Weather was benign at the time of the crash. It had rained earlier but it had stopped by the time of the crash at 6:07 a.m. and winds were light. It was, however, dark and a Friday NOTAM suggests the
operating condition of certain runway lights may be in question. The taxi from terminal to runway is short and the shorter Runway 26 would have been the first reached by the aircraft en route to 22.
The flight's captain was hired by Comair in 1999 and had been a captain since 2004. The first officer had been flying with Comair since 2002. By the FAA's count, there has not been a major crash in
the United States since Flight 587 crashed on Long Island, N.Y., Nov. 12, 2001. (Not included in that count, an Air Midwest Beech 1900D crashed at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in 2003, killing all 21 aboard.) In Kentucky yesterday, Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn told the Chicago Tribune, "From what I
can see and where the bodies were placed, there was some reaction," suggesting passengers may have survived the impact, but not the fire.
According to the Aviation Safety Network, it was at
least the second time an airliner crew had initiated a takeoff roll on the shorter runway. According to ASN's report of Sunday's accident, an airliner lined up for takeoff on the shorter Runway 26 13
years ago but a controller caught the error and cancelled the clearance. A report of the 1993 incident, reported on the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System and quoted by ASN says, "Possible
contributing factors were poor visibility and wx (rain), confusing rwy intxn and twr's request for an immediate takeoff." Runway 26 (the short runway) and Runway 22 form a short-legged V with an
intersection about one-third of the way from northeast ends of the runways. Paving work has been done recently on the main runway and 600-foot overruns have been added also.
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The FAA says it will actually have 200 more air traffic controllers on duty two years from now compared to
today's figures as it tackles the "retirement bubble" created 25 years ago when President Ronald Reagan fired two-thirds of the agency's controllers. However, a report (3.5 Mb file) on the necessity of hiring 11,800 controllers
over the next 10 years also notes that given the agency's penny-pinching of late "it will be extremely challenging to sustain the long-term hiring and training to meet the projected controller
staffing requirement." Despite the challenges, the FAA says it's on track to keep the consoles manned and it's doing so with a combination of efficiency and ramped-up hiring. "The controller workforce
plan ensures that the FAA will have the right number of controllers in place at the right time to address the controller retirement bubble," FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said in a news release. "We
are focusing on all aspects of the process, including recruitment, hiring, training and staffing requirements." The FAA report says that a total of 2,060 controllers will be hired by the end of 2007
and that improvements in training methods and equipment should reduce the amount of time it takes to produce a traffic-ready controller. The agency has also brought the hammer down on alleged abuse of
sick leave and other down time for already-qualified controllers and, among the new hires are more than 200 former automated flight service station employees who lost their jobs when Lockheed Martin
took over the contract to run the FSS system.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association says the FAA's math is a little fuzzy (or selective) and the reality is
there are now almost 1,100 fewer controllers (or 7 percent) on duty today than there were three years ago. "And that's a problem, because we certainly have not seen a 7-percent decrease in traffic
volume," NATCA spokesman Doug Church told AVweb. "Quite the contrary, in many locations. So you have fewer controllers working more traffic than ever before. Church said the FAA also seems to
underestimate just how upset the membership was when working conditions (the FAA's contract) were imposed on them in June. Church predicts many members will head for the door as soon as their
retirement numbers add up. Church said 25 percent of controllers will be eligible to retire by the end of 2007 and he noted that at the Dallas TRACON, seven controllers have left since July when the
FAA began implementing the terms of the imposed contract. "They are dangerously close to the edge as far as the absolute minimum number of controllers needed just to safely operate the system each
day," Church said. He also said it remains to be seen whether the hiring goals set out in the plan actually survive the budget process, noting that hiring totals for 2005 and 2006 were trimmed
In Print & Online, Trade-A-Plane Has Everything That Keeps You Flying
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Three dual engine flameouts on Beechjet 400 bizjets, including one that resulted in a dead-stick landing, have
prompted the NTSB to urge immediate action to resolve the problems that are causing the failures. "Dual-engine
flameout is an unacceptable risk that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible," NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker said in a news release. The flameouts occurred on July 12, 2004, near Sarasota, Fla.;
Nov. 28, 2005, near Jacksonville, Fla.; and on June 14, 2006 near Norfolk, Va. (There was also one in Brazil in 2000.) In two of the U.S. incidents, the pilots were able to restart at least one engine
but the crew of the third Beechjet had to glide to a landing. All the landings were without injury. The flameouts all occurred when the aircraft were between 38,000 and 40,000 feet and near areas of
convective activity. Evidence points to an icing problem with the Pratt and Whitney JT15D engines as the cause of the flameouts.
In its news release, the NTSB says an FAA engine icing specialist notes that thunderstorms blow a lot of ice crystals
into the upper-airway altitudes. Pratt and Whitney did a study on the phenomenon and discovered that if pilots don't turn on the engine anti-icing gear when this is going on, ice can build up on the
front inner compressor stator and cause a surge and/or a flameout. The NTSB wants the FAA to make sure pilots are aware of the potential problem and what to do to avoid it. The board is urgently
recommending the FAA require that engine icing systems be activated whenever aircraft are operating at high altitude near convective activity or when there's visible moisture in the air. It's also
suggesting that pilots be warned of the danger and that work begin on engine ice detector systems.
Cessna Offers to Cover $15,000 in Fuel Costs
From now until October 31st, Cessna is stepping in to cover the cost of your fuel! With the purchase of a new Skylane or Turbo Skylane from a participating dealer, Cessna will provide a $15,000
Multi-Service fuel card. To find out more about the program, contact your Cessna Sales Team Authorized Representative or call 1-800-622-7495. Offer expires
on October 31, 2006.Complete program details online.
A Texas group in the Midland/Odessa area is revving up plans to build the Orenda 600, a geared aircraft engine based on
an 8-cylinder big-block Chevy racing engine. Trace Engines holds all the rights to the engine, which went into production in the late 1990s in Nova Scotia but was dropped by Orenda Aerospace's parent
company Magellan Aerospace about five years ago. According to the Odessa American, Trace Engines now expects to spend about $20
million to set up a manufacturing plant for the engine, which previously achieved certification but has yet to make much impact on the commercial market. When originally developed, the engine was
touted as a low-cost replacement for turbine and radial engines in the 600-hp range -- Trace says that market still exists. According to the newspaper report, the deal was sealed last Thursday and
Curtis Leonard, a local lawyer who helped put the deal together, said there's a new aircraft manufacturer two years away from starting production "that exclusively needs and uses this engine" (and no,
we haven't the faintest idea who he might be talking about). The Orenda weighs in at 750 pounds (minus cooling system) and with its twin turbochargers is said to be comfortable in the flight levels
where it uses less fuel than comparable Jet A-powered products. The Texas plant is anticipated to be in full production in three years with 115 employees.
The FAA has announced it will no longer mail certain airworthiness-related documents to affected owners and operators as
the first stage of its program to eventually distribute all of this kind of material electronically. According to Helicopter Association International, starting last Friday, the agency stopped mailing
corrections to Airworthiness Directives that don't trigger a new amendment number or AD number. The corrections will continue to be published in the Federal Register and on the FAA Web site. The agency is also trimming its postage bill by sending mailed
copies of engine-related ADs only to those who have registered those engines and not to the aircraft owners and operators referred to in the AD. Emergency ADs will continue to be mailed and faxed but
final rules relating to those ADs will not. No more Special Airworthiness Information Bulletins (SAIBs) will be mailed but you can receive them by e-mail by subscribing on the SAIB page on the FAA Web
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Sierra Industries has
obtained a supplementary type certificate (STC) to install modern engines on a classic bizjet. The company says that by putting Williams FJ44-2A engines on the Cessna Citation 500 and 501 series, the
30-year-old jets can compete with modern designs in terms of performance and endurance. It calls the faster-climbing, faster-cruising, longer-legged creation the Stallion. "The Stallion offers the
exhilarating performance that comes with a substantial power increase and provides owners with choice when it is time to overhaul engines," Sierra CEO Mark Huffstutler said in a news release. With the
2,300-pound thrust Williams engines (the original JT15-Ds put out 2,200 pounds) and the efficiencies inherent in the more modern design of the engines, the Stallion climbs fully loaded directly to
43,000 feet, cruises 30-40 knots faster and goes about 150 to 200 nm farther on a tank of gas, depending on power settings. The Williams conversion costs about $1.4 million.
The iconic airport labelled as the first to use that particular term will close next month. Development pressure and what
appears to be an almost complete lack of community support has sealed the fate of Bader Airport in Atlantic City. A local newspaper reporter was credited as the first to use the term "air-port" in
describing the facility in 1919. The name stuck. Bader has been in continuous operation since 1910, making it one of the oldest in the U.S. (College Park in Maryland opened in 1909) and saw its share
of firsts, including being the launch point for the first attempt to cross the Atlantic by air. Development of Atlantic City International Airport 15 years ago shifted interest and business from Bader
(though Bader is closer to and a few minutes from casinos and beaches) and there are now only about a dozen aircraft based there. AOPA has opposed the closure, but developers are licking their lips
over the potential of the site, which is a stone's throw from the famous boardwalk and is billed as the choicest piece of real estate on the Eastern Seaboard. "The gambling interests were stronger
than the aviation interests," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. The city is reportedly asking $1 billion for the land, which could become the site of a casino or housing.
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Scottsdale, Ariz.'s planning commission has passed a motion that would ban landing aircraft in
residential areas. Commission spokesman James Heitel said legislation with that intent has been on the books for 20 years but the motion passed last week clarifies the old law and makes it "black and
white" according to a report in The Arizona Republic. The new rule fixes a problem that
might hardly exist. The Republic states, "Scottsdale planners say that to date, only a handful of residents have landed aircraft on their properties," but the community's apparent failure to deal with
another planning issue has prompted the pre-emptive strike against those who might want to change that condition. Traffic headaches are mounting in the affluent community and the planning commission
is afraid that hopping over the gridlock might soon become attractive to those who can afford it. One homeowner has filed suit against the city's 2003 decision to outlaw helipads as "accessory uses"
in residential areas.
Geoff Peck, whose software creation evolved into one of the most popular flight planning services on the Internet,
died earlier this month when the Piper Arrow he was flying crashed in the mountains of Colorado while he was returning to his California home from EAA AirVenture. Peck, a computer scientist, devised a
program to translate weather information into plain language. That breakthrough evolved into Enflight. According to the preliminary NTSB report, Peck was making a forced landing at the 12,000-foot level of the Rocky Mountains near
Salida, CO., on Aug. 7 when one of the Arrow's wings hit a tree and the plane skidded to halt in rocky terrain. An unidentified passenger in the plane was injured.
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The first female space tourist will head to the International Space Station Sept. 14. Anouseh Ansari, the name sponsor for the Ansari X Prize competition, will join NASA astronaut Michael
Lopez-Alegria and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin on the launch of a Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan
The FAA has written new rules governing commercial rocket launches. The rules are largely in response to the aftermath of the Columbia breakup and are aimed at protecting people on the ground
from launches that go awry. They take effect in a year
An Airbus A380 has flown with new GP7200 engines made by Engine Alliance. The engines, capable of making 81,000 pounds of thrust, were developed from other widebody engines made by GE and Pratt
and Whitney and 82 of the 140 orders for the superjumbo are specifying that engine.
For AVweb subscribers who prefer their news straight from the horse's mouth, AVweb posts fresh audio news issues each Monday, plus interviews, Friday. We call them podcasts, but no iPod
is required. Check our audio news index and hear what you've been missing.
Find exclusive interviews featuring Cessna's Jack Pelton on his company's LSA, TCM president Bryan Lewis, NATCA president John Carr, New Piper CEO Jim Bass, Hal Shevers for Sporty's Pilot Shop, Light
Sport guru Dan Johnson, Excel Jet's Bob Bornhofen, Adam Aircraft's Joe Walker, FAA administrator Marion Blakey, Cirrus Design's Alan Klapmeier and more. AVweb's Podcast index, is online, now. Listen up.
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AVmail: Aug. 28, 2006
Reader mail this week about exploding batteries, synthetic fuel, circling approaches and more.
Join NAA and Help Shape the Next Century of Flight
It's a great time to join the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), the nation's oldest aviation organization. At $39 a year, NAA membership is a terrific value for any aviation
enthusiast! Members receive the Smithsonian's Air & Space and NAA's Aero magazines, plus access to aviation records, product discounts, and much more. Call (703) 527-0226 to
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Gordon Richardson II writes, "We stopped at MKO with a flight of Texas bound AT-6s on the way home from Oshkosh, and what a treat! The operators gave us some courtesy cars to go get some lunch.
They were friendly, helpful, and had great fuel prices. Not to mention a nice airport."
Now that sounds like a top-notch stopover!
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
Attention, Cessna Owners
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Award-Winning VFLITE Computer-Based GPS Training Just FAA-Adopted
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I was in the pattern at KSRQ shooting a bunch of touch and goes in a Piper Cherokee. The tower called with my next landing clearance. The conversation went something like this...
Tower: Warrior 12345, cleared touch and go, runway 22.
Me: Cherokee 12345, cleared touch and go, runway 22.
Tower: Cessna 12345, roger. Winds 240 at 5.
Me: 12345 is a Piper Cherokee, sir. Roger Wind.
Tower: Warrior 12345, copy.
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Knowledge Is Power; Knowledge Is Also a Safety Factor When Flying IFR
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Sundowner, Musketeer Owners: Power Flow Is Now FAA-Approved Power Flow Tuned Exhaust System is now FAA-approved for the Beechcraft 23 series with Lycoming O-320 & O-360 engines. More RPM, better climb, saves fuel at current speeds. First shipments
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AVwebFlash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.
Today's issue was written by news writer Russ Niles (bio).
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