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Brazilian police say the failure of two New York pilots to notice that the transponder aboard their Embraer Legacy 600 bizjet was
not working amounts to the criminal offense of "placing a vessel or aircraft in jeopardy" and are, according to a Brazilian newspaper, recommending prosecution. Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino were
delivering the Legacy from the factory to their employer, ExcelAire of New York, last Sept. 29 when the left winglet and part of the tail struck a Gol Airlines Boeing 737-800. The airliner crashed,
killing all 154 onboard, while Paladino and Lepore were able to land the damaged Embraer at a military base in the Amazon jungle. The pilots have steadfastly maintained (and radio transcripts appear
to support) that they were at the altitude assigned by air traffic control. The International Airline Pilots Association is criticizing the report, noting that gaping hole in the evidence and also pointing out that the charges belie the fundamental legal tenet that there must be criminal intent
involved. "As there does not seem to be any factual support for a finding that there was any intent by the Legacy crew to place their aircraft in danger, there should be no basis for prosecution under
Brazilian law," IALPA said in a news release. Meanwhile ExcelAire, Embraer and Honeywell, which made the transponder, are squabbling over whether the device was faulty. Honeywell steadfastly claims
that the transponder in the Legacy was fully functional during the accident flight. The pilots have said they'll return to Brazil to face the charges, and there's also a report that the Brazilian
Congress wants them to testify before a commission studying the accident.
It now appears that at least three Brazilian air traffic controllers could be charged with involuntary manslaughter for their role in
the collision between an Embraer Legacy 600 bizjet and a Gol Airlines Boeing 737, which killed all 154 aboard the Boeing last Sept. 29. Earlier reports from Brazil said a federal police investigation
ignored air traffic controls involvement because ATC is run by the military in Brazil and it would do its own investigation. But a fresh report from the Sao Paulo newspaper O Estado, quoted by Newsday, says the police probe has implicated three of the 10
controllers who were on duty at the time of the collision. The report has not been officially released yet, but O Estado says the police allege that the controllers gave incomplete instructions to the
Embraer crew, leading them to believe that they were cleared to fly their whole intended route at 37,000 feet. O Estado says the controllers actually expected the bizjet to change altitudes twice but
either didnt notice or didnt do anything about it if they did notice.
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) are calling on Brazils federal police to
drop criminal charges against two American pilots, in part because of concerns about the effect of the prosecution on future crash investigations. Jan Paladino and Joe Lepore, who flew the Embraer 600
that collided with a Gol Airlines Boeing 737 over Brazil last Sept. 29, will likely face charges based on their alleged failure to notice that their transponder wasnt working. In a joint news release, NBAA and FSF say the charges are premature because the crash investigation isnt complete.
They also say the decision to pursue criminal charges could put a chill on accident investigations, not only in Brazil but all over the world. "We are deeply concerned that the criminalization of the
investigation into the tragic accident of September 2006 could have a negative impact on aviation safety worldwide, FSF CEO Bill Voss said. While its not the first time criminal charges
have been laid in relation to an air crash, the news release says this case could be precedent-setting for its international circumstances. The worry is that the specter of criminal proceedings will
cause those involved in accidents to withhold information that might be crucial to the prevention of future mishaps. We are disappointed that Brazilian police officials continue down the road of
emphasizing 'criminalization' in the wake of last year's tragic accident, instead of recognizing the premium the international aviation community places on investigating the root causes of an
accident, so that safety improvements can be made," said NBAA President Ed Bolen.
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Lockheed Martin is looking for a 10-percent increase in the fees it's being paid to take over flight services. According to a report from the Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General, the
company, which was awarded a $1.8 billion contract to assume the function, says it's owed another $177 million, mostly because the FAA didn't supply accurate labor cost information. Lockheed Martin's
claims are now being assessed. Meanwhile, the DOT OIG also reported that the FAA has fined Lockheed Martin $9 million for failure to live up to service and performance guarantees. Pilots in the
Washington, D.C., area have recently complained that FSS changes have resulted in a sharp increase in dropped flight plans and that briefers, some of whom were in California, didn't know the
procedures for operations in the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) that surrounds the capital. The OIG is now preparing a report on FSS operations that will be released later this month. Most of
the OIG report delivered Thursday dealt with the FAA's funding request for 2008. The OIG noted the FAAs funding request has been tailored to fit the new user-fee-based structure being championed
by the agency. The OIG doesn't pass judgment on the user-fee structure, but it does say the agency has become noticeably better at managing its money, particularly with regard to large capital
projects. It says the agency seems to have curbed the runaway budgets and slipped schedules that plagued projects, but notes it has challenges ahead with the Next Generation Air Transportation System
and more mundane projects like an integrated communications system.
Last week Cirrus issued a mandatory Service Bulletin that requires the replacement of some control system parts that, in specific cross control circumstances, can cause the rudder and aileron controls to
jam. The Service Bulletin was issued a month after the controls jammed on a relatively new SR20 as a student pilot was lining up for takeoff at Leesburg, Va. According to the NTSB report, the student had applied full right rudder and full left aileron and both systems locked. His instructor
aborted the takeoff safely. Investigators found control system parts tangled together and were able to repeat the jamming action. In its Service Bulletin, Cirrus calls for new parts that will prevent
the entanglement and it also notes that the jamming has never been reported in aircraft with properly rigged controls. However, the relatively simple fix for the technical issue could affect a lawsuit stemming from the crash of New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidles SR20 last October. Although the
NTSB says pilot error was to blame and no mechanical irregularities were found in the plane, the lawyer for Lidles widow Melanie has filed suit against Cirrus claiming the crash was caused by a
failure of the flight controls. The suit alleges the aircraft have a history of flight-control-related crashes. The control inputs that caused the jam on the ground in Leesburg would put the aircraft
in a forward slip in flight. Lidle and his flight instructor Tyler Stanger were in a steep left turn when they hit a Manhattan apartment building.
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The FAA is painting a dismal picture of its own performance in an unvarnished attempt to gather support for its controversial
proposed aviation user-fee funding system. In a fact sheet released last week, the agency ties the funding
package directly to modernization of airspace management, which has been nicknamed NextGen. The Administrations NextGen Financing Reform Act, sent to Congress in February, will provide a
stable, cost-based revenue stream to fund the transition to NextGen, the fact sheet reads. The current tax system expires Sept. 30, so Congress must act now. Without airspace
modernization, the fact sheet warns, the system will reach gridlock by 2015. The fact sheet says one in four airline flights is delayed nationwide and, at the worst bottlenecks, 35 percent
of flights arrive or depart late. It says the current system simply cannot handle expected growth in air traffic that will see the number of passengers increase from the current level of about 750
million annually to a billion by 2015. Aviations ability to continue to play its traditionally dynamic role in our economy will be substantially diminished unless new NextGen technology
and procedures are put in to place now, the fact sheet warns. While virtually no one disputes the need to modernize the system, most general aviation groups -- as well as the DOT Inspector
General and Government Accountability Office -- say the current system of fuel taxes on GA and ticket taxes on commercial aviation are adequate fund the transition.
Columbia Aircraft founder Lance Neibauer is suing his former company for severance and for payment for rights to manufacturing
processes he invented when he owned the firm. The company, which makes the certified Columbia 350 and 400 high performance aircraft (and is not to be confused with Lancair, the kit-build company
Neibauer also founded) was taken over by its principal investor, the Malaysian government, and Neibauer was kept on as an employee until he was terminated in April 2006. Six months later, according to
the Bend Bulletin, Neibauer launched a lawsuit claiming severance of
$1.55 million. And in a separate action, launched in the last few weeks, Neibauer is claiming Columbia owes him $100,000 and $400,000 more over the next four years under an agreement signed in 2002.
Neibauer claims the 2002 deal entitled him to $500,000 in annual payments of $100,000 on his departure from the company for the rights to composite technology he developed for the aircraft.
Neibauers suit says the first payment was due at the end of last month. Columbia recently announced it is recalling employees furloughed six weeks ago as the company sold off excess inventory
and retooled for more efficient production. It sold 47 aircraft in the first quarter of this year, one more than it did in the same period last year.
It looks like Europes space-based navigation system will be government operated after the consortium of companies that were to
build and run it effectively quit the project on Thursday. The consortium, led by Airbus parent EADS, had until May 10 to come up with a plan to get the Galileo project back on track and working
toward deployment. But, according to Reuters, the consortium was plagued by infighting and nervous of the $3 billion cost so it let the deadline pass. Shortly thereafter, European Union Transport Commission head
Michele Cercone said the government would take over the project. Cercone said the consortium wanted the EU to assume the debt and take all the risk out of deploying the system so it made more sense to
assume the project without them. The EU hopes to have the system partially operational by early 2011 and fully operational by 2012.
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The FAA seems intent on closing the Palm Springs, Calif., terminal radar approach control (TRACON) in three weeks despite unusually
strong public and political opposition. It intends to transfer the workload to the Southern California TRACON near San Diego on June 6. In recent weeks, local, state and federal politicians have asked
the FAA to reconsider, citing safety concerns, and there's even a bill pending in the House that would outlaw the move.According to the Desert Sun, a public meeting on Thursday, in which opposition was
virtually unanimous, apparently failed to move FAA officials, who insist service will improve. "If you stand back from the emotional for just a second and you look at the facts of what level of
service is going to be provided, it's going to be a vast improvement," Walter White, SoCal TRACON's support manager for airspace and procedures, said at the meeting. But opponents say closing Palm
Springs will add a specialized workload to the San Diego facility that it's not staffed or trained to handle. SoCal TRACON is one of the busiest, handling more than two million flights a year. Palm
Springs sees about 145,000 flights per year. Critics say SoCal is already stretched to the limit by manpower shortages to the point where operational errors are up threefold. They also say the
controllers in San Diego aren't familiar with the geography and conditions around Palm Springs. Those points have been made repeatedly by pilots; airport business officials; and civic, state and
federal politicians, but the plan remains to make the move June 6. "I have the feeling, sitting here this afternoon, that you're here to tell us something and you're not paying any attention to what
we're saying," Mort Gubin, a senior aviation medical examiner, said at the meeting.
Two Norwegian pilots have developed a system to warn pilots if theyre on a collision course with obstacles like cell towers,
wind turbines, radio masts or just about any other thing that sticks up in the air. The difference with this system is that its the obstacle itself that broadcasts the warning and theres
no need for additional equipment on the airplane to receive it. According to the Innovations Report, pilots Rolf Bakken and Morten Mork came up with the idea in 1999 and worked with SINTEF to develop it. The heart of the system is smart radar that can tell if
an aircraft is on a collision course with an obstacle. The radar is part of a technology bundle that is installed on the obstacle. If the radar spots an airplane moving its way, it activates powerful
warning lights mounted on the obstacle when the aircraft is 30 seconds from impact. If the lights dont get the pilots attention, at 20 seconds out a warning signal is broadcast on all VHF
aviation radio frequencies. There was no mention of the cost of each system.
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If youre waffling on which very light jet suits you best, Embraer has 130,000 reasons for you to make up your mind by July
1. Thats when the price of its Phenom 100 four-passenger (six-place) jet will go from $2.85 million to $2.98 million (January 2005 dollars). That puts the actual outlay for the Brazilian VLJ a
touch over $3 million. The news release announcing the price hike did not explain the reason, though the company did say it has a combined total of 400 orders for the Phenom 100 and its larger
stablemate, the Phenom 300. The first Phenom 100 is in final assembly at Embraers main plant in São José dos Campos, Brazil. Customer deliveries are expected in about a year. The
aircraft is powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PW617F engines and the flight deck features the Garmin G1000 integrated avionics system. The Phenom 300 will follow the 100 into production in 2009. It
will seat six passengers.
Spokane Airways is taking Spokane International Airport
and its board of directors to court, claiming the airport owes it new digs to replace the buildings it was forced to vacate to make way for a new control tower. According to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, the FBO says its deal with the airport stipulates that if it has to move,
its up to the airport to find comparable space. The business, which has about 100 employees, occupied six buildings that have to be demolished to clear sight lines for the new tower, which opens
in August. The company was moved to smaller quarters and says its lease requires "relocation or substitution of other premises be at the expense of the [Airport] Board." The airport says that lease
was legally terminated and suggests the demand is excessive. The airports lawyer, Kevin Roberts, said it would cost the airport up to $15 million to build the kind of facilities the
company is demanding, and he insists theres no requirement in the agreements for taxpayer-subsidized new construction. "They're trying to get something not required under Washington law," he
told the Spokesman-Review. A hearing is set for next week, but the airport is trying to get the case dismissed before that.
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Hangar63, Banyan's Aviation Store at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, will hold a customer appreciation day June 2 with special sales, prizes, food and free flying using simulator software in
a Gulfstream II fuselage...
Cirruss G3 series of turbonormalized SR22s is even cooler now that theyre available with air conditioning. Earlier turbos didnt offer that option
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration sent investigators to the New York terminal radar approach control center in Westbury, N.Y., to look into the carbon monoxide incident that
sickened some on-duty controllers April 25
The Air Force says its getting close to perfecting sense-and-avoid systems for UAVs, something the FAA says they have to have before they can mix it up with regular traffic.
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eyes are "outside" 100 percent of the time, once the takeoff begins. The oil pressure and temperature have been checked on the runup, and must be ignored until well after liftoff. Absolute attention
is required to keep the airplane straight, and to set the angle of the wings to the horizon.
Airspeed? Who needs it? It is a reference only. The instructor might say, "Climb at 50, but look at the angle of the wing, let the airplane stabilize, then check to see if that angle produces the
airspeed you want. Get the angle for climb firmly fixed in your mind." Power settings? Surely, you jest. The throttle is set wide open, and it's never enough until you want to level off or descend.
Depending on the prop installed (cruise prop or climb prop), the RPM may get too high at some airspeed, and that will require reducing throttle.
In this class of airplanes, we're 100 percent "eyes outside," except for a brief glance now and then to make sure the oil pressure and temperature are OK. Frankly, if things get bad up in front of the
firewall, you will probably not catch it with a look at the instruments. Things will sound funny, feel funny, smell funny, or look funny first.
These airplanes will usually have a "slip/skid" indicator, the old ball in a curved tube of liquid. Do we use this to fly the airplane? Of course not. We use that to validate the feeling in
"the seat of the pants," or to develop it. Instructors know without looking, or should. But the instructor could lean to the side, allow a peek, and say, "Look at this ball, can't you feel yourself
sliding to the right, just like this little ball?" Turns, chandelles, lazy eights, loops, rolls, and other dynamic maneuvers should be done so that the ball never strays very much from the middle, and
beginning students tend to focus on it until they learn the "feel." After that, the eyes might glance at the ball, but the primary focus is outside, on the horizon, and looking for other traffic, to
include airplanes, birds, balloons and lawn chairs.
Bigger, And More Fun
Take the North American AT-6, the standard trainer once World War II got going. The 600-hp engine had a gear-driven supercharger, capable of developing about 39 in. of manifold pressure (MP) at sea
level, but was limited to 36 in. for takeoff. This meant that the pilot had to regulate throttle movement to keep it to 36 in. The T-6 had a narrow main landing gear and a tailwheel. Like all
tailwheel aircraft, its natural tendency is to swap ends on the ground, so it is mandatory to keep the eyes outside on the takeoff and landing rolls. At least the student or PIC sits up front in this
MP is first set by feel, then the pilot might take a quick glance at the MP gauge to see where it is. Do not try
to set it while looking at it; you'll lose the aircraft for sure. The eyes should flick to the gauge and immediately back to the runway, then the brain thinks of the picture it has just seen, and the
throttle is moved a bit. In fact, there's more: During that brief glance, the pilot must remain aware of the events unfolding outside the aircraft by a conscious decision to use peripheral vision. I
find that I seem to move my head back, and I open my eyes even more widely than normal, to keep that peripheral vision going for me during that very fleeting look at the MP.
Glance at the MP, back outside, set the throttle by feel. Make sure the airplane is going straight, glance at the MP again, back outside. It's a very methodical, planned process at first, eventually
becoming second nature. One need not be anal about these settings -- anything within an inch or two will do. Once accustomed to the airplane, a single glance and a singe correction is usually all that
The T-6 also has a retractable gear, with a big lever down low, well below the left knee. Most of them also have a hydraulic power pack actuator lever, also low on the left side, aft of the gear
lever. To move the flaps or gear in any direction, it is necessary to first push the power pack lever to get pressure and then move the gear or flap lever. After a few seconds, the power pack lever
moves back to OFF on its own. Woe unto the hapless trainee who looks down to find those levers! I am probably the most laid-back, relaxed instructor I know, but there are a very small handful of
things that will make me yell, and this is one. As an instructor, sitting in the back seat, I can tell if the person up front looks down. No matter how much he tries to hide it, there is a subtle
movement of the head that gives it away, every time, drawing a scream, "Don't look down!" What the student doesn't realize is that, in addition to the head movement, there is also a stick movement --
forward. Guaranteed, every time. So here we are, about to pull up the gear right after takeoff, and we simultaneously nose down a bit. Do you see what's wrong with this?
During the WWII training, pilots were required to pass a blindfold test before flying the airplanes. They were required to touch and identify every single "thing" in the cockpit, blindfolded. Not a
bad test. I now believe the specific intent was to keep them from having to look down in the cockpit to find things when their eyes were supposed to be outside (during formation flight, for example).
Airplanes That Can Bite
Now let's move to the Pitts Special, the single-seat aerobatic airplane first made famous in the early '50s by Betty Skelton in her "Little Stinker." This tiny airplane
was a rattlesnake on the ground, with a vicious need to go anywhere but straight. It was also quite blind forward. If you took your eyes off the outside for a split second, you'd lose it. In this
one, you'd push full throttle in for takeoff, and never look inside at all. I once flew the tiny "Grey Ghost," a famous Goodyear racer that was even worse.
Now that we've had our little trip down Nostalgia Lane, let's step forward in time to the modern aircraft. Invariably, the tailwheel will be on the wrong end, making it a "training wheel" to us old
fossils. OK, I admit that gives superb visibility straight ahead. That's almost cheating. Many of these airplanes will have fancy displays and engine monitors, right up to full "glass" cockpits. Some
will have superchargers that can exceed engine limitations if the pilot doesn't limit throttle movement, but many are regulated so that the pilot cannot exceed the preset limit. All have feature-laden
panels that are no more useful during takeoff than the Cub's.
Let's start with any typical, small, single or twin, runup complete, taxiing onto the active runway, all checks complete.
As the aircraft lines up with the runway, you should take a very quick glance at the whiskey compass and another at the HSI or heading indicator, and then note that they correspond with each other
and the runway you intend to use (see "Wrong Way" at right).
Now, with the runway validated, apply power in the usual manner. If you want to hesitate for a quick check of the engine as you begin to apply power, fine. I don't like it, because the prop will pick
up dust, gravel, and debris, eroding the prop. I like to let the airplane roll freely, apply power over a few seconds, take one peek at the engine instrument of choice (engine monitor, in my case),
check to see that I've applied the power I want and then ignore everything else on the panel, "eyes outside."
With most of these airplanes, it's possible to "regulate" the power (if needed) with quick glances, while keeping the runway environment in easy peripheral view, no tricks necessary. If full throttle
will do the job, set it and forget it. No real need to even check the MP with a normally-aspirated engine. Once the power is set, a quick glance at the engine monitor (graphical view) is a good thing,
or at the fuel flow, if installed. You've already set the MP, the prop governor should be controlling the RPM, and at this point, your maximum attention should be on the runway and what's ahead. You
may or may not be able to avoid that deer on the runway if you can see him, but you damn sure can't avoid him if you don't!
Far too many pilots begin watching the airspeed indicator, looking for takeoff speed. Bad move, in my opinion. I absolutely do not care what the speed is. My only
concern is to allow the airplane to lift off and fly when it wants to. How? In the vast majority of these nosedragger aircraft, if you wait until some decent speed (visually, or by "feel"), then lift
the nose until the nose gear strut extends fully, that attitude will serve you well for the liftoff and first few hundred feet of climb. Play with this a bit, see if you can lift the nose, feel where
the strut "tops out," then where it actually lifts the nosewheel off. There's a pretty obvious difference in "feel" between those two points. If you do this a couple of times, you will begin to see
the exact attitude you need for the liftoff by looking at the cowling and the runway -- while you look on down the runway for that deer, or another airplane pulling onto the runway. Once you know that
"picture," you'll use it, and the little "bump" (as the nose strut reaches full extent) out won't be needed.
This doesn't mean you can't sneak a peek at the airspeed, just to make sure it's rising normally, and "looks right." But even that can mislead.
I really hate to see a light-plane pilot watching the airspeed indicator for some certain speed, then "rotating" to take flight. The word "rotation" was coined for a jet maneuver, not for prop
aircraft. I consider it inappropriate and an affectation in props. I know a lot of well-meaning folks use it, but shouldn't.
Hold that attitude after liftoff, eyes still outside. Be like Snoopy: "Here's the WWI ace, scanning the skies for the enemy."
When you are sure there will be no further contact with the runway, reach for the gear switch, feel it, think about it, and move it, but don't look at it. If it's a strange airplane, then wait
until you have more ground clearance, then "peek for it." Get out of the habit of looking down for it. Stay outside the cockpit. Sometime after the gear is up, and before reaching pattern altitude,
glance at the airspeed, and make sure you're roughly at the speed you want. If there's a small error, who cares? If it's larger, then make a mental note to correct that attitude on the next takeoff.
If it's really off, you forgot the pitot cover. None of these are problems, for that attitude will keep you out of trouble.
By the way, I'm not going to get into the old argument about when to retract the gear. I don't think it really matters, and I pull it up pretty early, as soon as I'm sure I won't touch down again from
a gust, or ham-handedness. If you want to leave it out, be my guest.
One more shot at aviation mythology: VX and VY are speeds for specific purposes in certification. They are not for everyday use, and should never be used unless there is a
specific problem that requires them. I cannot recall ever using either in the
In the unlikely event you are executing a zero-zero takeoff (practice or otherwise), then you will indeed start looking at the flight instruments much earlier, but that's a special technique beyond
the scope of this column.
If you are launching into low clouds, then all the above applies until you're about to enter them. At that point, you need to transition to instrument flying, with most of your attention on the flight
But your job of looking outside is not over just because you're in the clouds! More often than not, you will have a mile or more visibility, and will be able to see other traffic before you meet in a
most unfriendly manner. It is impossible to judge how far you can see without some known object being in view. It is very possible to be in full VFR/VMC conditions and not be able to see a thing! This
is the reason for some of the convoluted language for logging instrument time.
As a direct result of this recent exchange, I've looked hard at my own operations on the magnificent Gulfstream IV with a fresh perspective. It's much more complicated than I thought, and I find
there's room for improvement in my own techniques.
A takeoff in the G-IV is "sporty," to say the least. Maybe not up to F-16 standards, but things happen about as quickly as in any civilian airplane. The Newhall departure out of Van Nuys is also
"interesting," as are the departures out of Teterboro. Both have major restrictions, and the FAA is deadly serious about prosecuting anyone violating them, for good reason. In both places, there is
heavy traffic right overhead, also at very low altitudes. An altitude "bust" will not only get you violated, but could get you dead. There are a growing number of airports with RNAV departures that
require fancy equipment (dual FMS backed up by dual or triple GPS) and where the autopilot is required immediately after takeoff. Experience has shown that human pilots cannot produce the
accuracy required. (Whether it's really required is another story.)
At Van Nuys, the airport elevation is 800 feet, and the mandatory level-off is only 1,700 feet. That's only 900 feet to climb, and it happens really quickly. There's also a noise problem, calling for
a rapid, steep initial climb for that 900 feet. It's a challenge. Add to that a lot of GA traffic on the very close parallel runway, and it can be something of a zoo.
There are many different techniques for noise abatement. All reduce safety, some more than others. But we're stuck with them. I try to make the best of them, making them as easy as possible, but some
are horrible no matter how they are done.
Where are the eyes in the G-IV? That will be the subject of another column.
severe turbulence. At 31,000 feet there was a 100-percent probability of severe turbulence. The 1900 Upper Air Sounding for Jacksonville showed at 24,100 feet a 100 percent probability of severe
There were no pilot reports (PIREPs) recorded over Georgia between 1900 and 0700 in the FAA database. After 0900 there were several reports of light to moderate turbulence reported between FL330 to
FL350, and one isolated report of moderate to severe turbulence at 7000 feet over Georgia. A Boeing 727 pilot who was in the vicinity of the accident flight stated he was at FL310 in IMC with light
chop and possible light rime icing when he heard the initial "Mayday" call. He was asked by the controller to descend to FL270 feet and attempt to contact the accident airplane. The 727 pilot was
unable to contact the accident airplane. He remained in instrument flight conditions with the same approximate flight conditions.
The NTSB's review of in-flight weather advisories revealed there were no areas of organized turbulence forecasted.
The pilot used a DUAT session to file IFR from Mount Pleasant, Tenn., to Titusville, Fla. The pilot listed himself as pilot, checked NOTAMS and terminated the DUAT briefing at 12:39:53. No en route
weather information was requested during the DUAT sessions. There was no record of the accident pilot contacting any FAA Automated Flight Service Station to receive a formal weather briefing.
The Airline Transport Pilot had logged 3569.4 hours, of which 35.6 were in the Rockwell 690B. The pilot's first recorded flight in the Rockwell 690B was on October 21, 2002; the pilot had flown the
aircraft an additional 10.2 hours between March 7, 2003, and March 23, 2003.
The aircraft had no recorded accident or incident history. The year before, its engines had been upgraded to the more powerful "Dash 10" configuration. The pitot system check and transponder
inspection was conducted on April 4, 2002, and the airplane had accumulated some 150 hours total time since the engine refurbishment.
The crash debris was oriented on a magnetic heading of 024 and extended for 8081 feet. The left and right elevators were located 2351 feet down the debris line and 3233 feet to the left. The left
outboard wing section was located 4235 feet down the debris line and 16 feet to the right. The vertical stabilizer was located 5839 feet down the debris line and 127 feet to the left of the debris
Continuity was confirmed from the broken rudder-cable arms to aft of the cabin area. Continuity was also established from both flight-control yokes to the aileron master-bellcrank aft of the cabin
area, and elevator control-cable continuity was confirmed from the elevator bellcrank, also to the aft cabin area. The elevator-control torque tubes were separated between the control columns and the
The right-wing-spar upper cap was attached to the wing root, and the right wing was displaced aft. The upper spar cap was bent downward 24 inches outboard of the aircraft centerline. The right wing
outboard of the right engine nacelle
was bent upward. The left wing was attached to the wing root, and was displaced forward. The leading edge of the left inboard wing sustained wrinkling one foot outboard of the wing root, and a dent
in the leading edge with aft crushing was noted four feet outboard of the wing root. The left aileron was not recovered. There were no major discrepancies with either engine.
Two pieces of the left wing, two pieces of the right wing, a piece of fuselage skin, upper and lower pieces of the vertical stabilizer, a piece of rudder, a piece of the left horizontal stabilizer,
and a piece of the right horizontal stabilizer were submitted to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for further examination. All fracture surfaces were overstress fractures.
There was no evidence of preexisting cracking or fatigue observed on any fracture surface. Fracture surfaces that were not damaged generally appeared matte gray and were on slant planes. The left
wing, and left and right horizontal stabilizer fractured in downward bending. The right wing fractured in upward bending. The vertical stabilizer fractured from the fuselage with the leading edge
moving upward relative to the fuselage. The rudder tip fractured moving to the left and aft relative to the rudder.
A number of placards and warnings about flying in turbulence are included in the airplane's Pilot's Operating Handbook. Among them is this note: "Since a finite period of time is required to reduce
speed from the onset of turbulence, a speed reduction should be accomplished in anticipation of suspected turbulence, whenever possible."
The NTSB found the probable cause of this accident, in part, to be, "An in-flight encounter with unforecasted
severe turbulence in cruise flight resulting in the design limits of the airplane being exceeded due to an overload failure of the airframe."
It's easy to look at the lack of an explicit turbulence warning for pilots flying in this area and blame forecasters for this accident. But, the clues that turbulence was present in the area were
there. Whether the pilot could have seen and recognized these clues for what they were if he had obtained a full weather briefing or used his DUAT session to look more closely at the en route weather
is anyone's guess.
But even a cursory examination of the weather patterns, high winds at altitude and the unpredictable nature of springtime weather should have merited the pilot taking a closer look at the en route
weather he was about to face.
Once a complete briefing is obtained, we need to fly the airplane in a fashion that anticipates what was in the forecast. In this instance, that wasn't possible, since the pilot never obtained a full
weather briefing. With an extra five minutes at the DUAT terminal, the outcome could have been much different.
More accident analyses are available in AVweb's Probable Cause Index. And for monthly articles about safety, including accident reports like this one,
subscribe to AVweb's sister publication, Aviation Safety.
Know WAAS Up With Your Garmin?
Announcing Volume 2 of the VFLITE GNS 530W/430W Advanced Training Series. Use it to leverage all the new functions the WAAS-enabled GNS 500W/400W series offer. It's real computer-based
training that lets you become proficient with procedures while at the comfort and safety of your computer's desktop. On sale now for only $99.VFLITE programs also
available for the classic Garmin GNS 530/430; GPSMap 496, 396, 296, and 196.
AVweb posts audio news on Mondays, plus a new in-depth interview each Friday. In last Friday's podcast, you'll hear an interview with
Teal Group's Richard Aboulafia. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Air Journey's Thierry Pouille; Epic Aircraft's Rick Schrameck; Cessna's
Jack Pelton; Embraer's Ernest Edwards; LAMA's Dan Johnson; Piper's Jim Bass; DayJet's Ed Iacobucci; AOPA's Andrew Cebula; Hawker Beechcraft's Jim Schuster; Avfuel's Craig Sincock; Comp Air's Ron
Lueck; and VistaNav's Jeff Simon. In today's special podcast, hear David Wartofsky, owner of Potomac Airfield, talk about AFSS problems.
Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.
Pilot Journey Isn't Just for Students & Instructors; There's Something for Everyone
You know Pilot Journey's Discovery Flight program converting leads to students. However, all pilots can find something at Pilot Journey: Pilot e-mail accounts, pilot eCards; a
pilot cruise with seminars; AvCareers, where position wanted and positions available are listed; and much more.
is the pilot's choice online.
AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Million Air at KHHR in Hawthorne, Calif.
AVweb reader Steve Hamerslag couldn't say enough good things about this facility.
"This is a new FBO on the field. When I arrived the ramp personnel were waiting to help with securing the aircraft. I was offered a short lift on their cart to the office, but I elected to walk the
short distance. Upon entering the lobby I was helped immediately and efficiently. I was planning on taking a cab to my destination five miles away, but they insisted that they take me in their
courtesy van. They even have a free soda machine on top of the normal coffee and tea. When I was departing, the line crew helped remove the chocks and offered me a cold bottled water as I did my walk
around. Million Air KHHR has very friendly and efficient staff. The fuel was even reasonably priced!"
AVweb is actively seeking
out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
Choose the Flight Explorer Edition Right for You Flight Explorer is an information system tracking commercial and general aviation flights. With the Flight Explorer Personal Edition, view air traffic for the U.S., Canada, or New
Zealand and monitor and display real-time delay information, TFRs, SUAs, and more. With the Flight Explorer Pilot Edition, view weather along a route, receive alerts with your preliminary
flight plan, and have an e-mail sent to someone on departure or arrival.
Click here for more
information and to subscribe
Man's best friend is the dog, but the electric companies' best friend may well be the helicopter. Last week, we saw how helicopters do thankless jobs like tree-trimming around power lines. This
week, let's take a look at some other (pretty impressive) line maintenance that could only be done with the assistance of pilots. (Courtesy of YouTube user harrison359.)
Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it,
there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."
There is an approach into San Francisco (KSFO) known as the Quiet Bridge Visual. During this approach, commercial operators fly to the bridge and match up with another aircraft for the parallel
NorCal Approach: United Four Five Three, report traffic 10 oclock one mile, a Skywest Brasilia in sight, and slow to one seven zero.
United 453: Traffic, bridge, airport, parking lot, and my car in sight.
NorCal: United Four Five Three, roger, cleared for the visual two eight right, enjoy your days off, contact tower.
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 Contributing Editors Russ Niles (bio).
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