AVwebBiz Complete Issue: Volume 7, Number 42

October 28, 2009

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News: More Info on NORDO Northwest Flight back to top 

FAA Revokes Certificates of NORDO Northwest Pilots

The FAA has revoked the certificates of two Northwest Airlines pilots who overflew their destination airport last week while en route from San Diego to Minneapolis, the agency announced on Tuesday. The pilots were out of contact with air traffic controllers for an extended period of time and told NTSB investigators they were distracted while the first officer was showing the captain how to use a new crew scheduling procedure on their laptops. Air traffic controllers and airline officials repeatedly tried to reach them through radio and data contact, without success.

The FAA said the emergency revocations cite violations of a number of FARs, including failure to comply with air traffic control instructions and clearances and operating carelessly and recklessly. The revocations are effective immediately. The pilots have 10 days to appeal the emergency revocations to the NTSB.

NTSB: Northwest Pilots Distracted By Laptops

Two Northwest pilots who overflew their destination and went silent for over an hour last week were working on their laptops, in violation of company policy, the NTSB said on Monday. The first officer was showing the captain how to use a new crew flight scheduling procedure, and both pilots said they lost track of time. During their discussion, they did not monitor the airplane or notice calls from ATC. Neither pilot was wearing a headset, but both said they heard conversation on the radio. Also, neither pilot noticed messages that were sent by company dispatchers. Neither pilot was aware of the airplane's position until a flight attendant called about five minutes before they were scheduled to land and asked for an ETA. The captain said at that point, he looked at his primary flight display and realized they had passed their destination, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP). They then made contact with ATC and were given vectors back to MSP. The flight had originated in San Diego.

Northwest was recently acquired by Delta, which prompted the change in rules that the pilots were discussing. In a statement issued on Monday, Delta said the two pilots in command of Northwest Flight 188 are suspended until the conclusion of the investigations, but added that using laptops in the cockpit is strictly against the airline's flight deck policies, "and violations of that policy will result in termination." The NTSB said the captain, age 53, has been with Northwest since 1985 and has a total flight time of about 20,000 hours. The F/O, age 54, was hired in 1997, and has a total flight time of about 11,000 hours. Both pilots said they had never had an accident, incident or violation; neither reported any ongoing medical conditions, and both said they were not fatigued. They were both commuters, but they had a 19-hour layover in San Diego just prior to the incident flight. The Safety Board said the cockpit voice recorder was only a half-hour long, began during final approach, and continued while the aircraft was at the gate. The board will analyze data from the flight data recorder to see if any information regarding crew activity during the portion of flight where radio contact was lost can be obtained.

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But Prosper During the Current Financial Crisis

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Bombardier Prepares Corporate CSeries back to top 

Corporate CSeries Confirmed

The Montreal Gazette is reporting that Bombardier has confirmed it will build a corporate version of the CSeries airliner it currently has under development. The Gazette says Steve Ridolfi, president of Bombardier Business Aircraft, made the commitment during a meeting of aviation analysts at the National Business Aviation Association convention in Orlando last week. "Absolutely, there will be a corporate variant of the CSeries," he said. Ridolfi is also reported to have said that an updated version or a replacement for the top-of-the-line Global Express is also a possibility to maintain Bombardier's lead position in the intercontinental category. Gulfstream recently rolled out the G650, a long-legged luxury aircraft it says will be the fastest civilian aircraft in the air. Meanwhile, the airline version of the CSeries is getting some attention from the current market leaders in that segment, no doubt because forecasts indicate a need for 29,000 single-aisle airliners over the next 20 years.

Drew Magill, Boeing's director of marketing for commercial airplanes, told the Gazette that Boeing would vigorously defend market share for the ubiquitous 737, for which the CSeries will be a competitor. Current versions of the 737 seat up to 180 people while the CSeries tops out at 145 and Magill noted that Boeing's 737-600, essentially a shrunk version of the 700 and 800 series, with 125 seats, attracted only 59 orders. Bombardier countered that shrinking the larger design resulted in a less efficient small airliner and the CSeries will be at least 20 percent more efficient than the 600. Analysts also say that Boeing and Airbus are stretched because of development programs for larger aircraft and won't be able to develop replacements for the smaller workhorses until the end of the next decade, giving Bombardier a leg up in that market.

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AEA Weighs in (Strongly) on SMS NPRM back to top 

AEA Says Safety Management Systems Unwieldy

The Aircraft Electronics Association says the FAA's approach to safety management systems (SMS) is "an excessive, unwarranted and unjustified administrative burden" that is poorly thought out and has no identifiable justification or goals. The association submitted detailed comments on the FAA's Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (PDF) Monday and is clearly worried about the implications of the measures if they become regulations. "In addition, the agency has not clearly defined the hazard SMS is intended to address, but rather defines SMS to address 'unknown' hazards," the association said. "This mandate is not within the scope of current rulemaking practices." The AEA says SMS may have a place in multi-lateral organizations like airlines but they're not much more than paper chases for smaller companies. FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt championed the SMS proposal last week at the National Business Aviation Association convention but his message was out of step with the other speakers, who were all pumping the value and contribution of business aircraft, and perhaps didn't get the attention Babbitt hoped.

In his NBAA speech, Babbitt suggested aviation was analogous to the field of anesthesiology, which, in a culture of litigation-based fear, resisted thoroughly investigating the cause of numerous operating-room deaths over the past few decades. When those investigations were finally done by a committee of anesthesiologists, it was found that relatively simple precautions would have prevented hundreds of needless deaths. Babbitt said he hopes an SMS system would engender a similar culture of safety in aviation, not because there are a lot of accidents, but because there are so few that it's hard to spot problems or trends. "We've nearly eliminated the common causes of aviation accidents. But safety management systems will allow us to spot precursors," he said. "That's the data. That's the gold. That's where we need to dig."

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Cessna Shows Stability Heading into 2010 back to top 

No Citation Cancellations Next Year

Cessna has had no business jet order cancellations for the coming year. According to MarketWatch, however, the good news does not extend beyond 2010 and there are cancellations in 2011 and later. It quoted Scott Donnelly, incoming CEO of Cessna's parent company Textron, as saying the future cancellations are "reflecting customer uncertainty ... three years out in the future." Combining that with a few new orders, Donnelly is predicting Cessna will build 275 business jets and possibly "a few more" in 2010. Textron also stayed in the black in the third quarter, if just barely.

Textron posted a profit of $4 million in the previous three months, translating to a penny a share. That's down from $206 million, or 83 cents a share, from the same period last year. Still that was good news for investors because most analysts thought Textron would fare much worse. Share prices shot up more than six percent after the announcement to $19.50 a share and analysts are predicting the stock will hit $25.

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News Briefs back to top 

Richard Whitcomb, Revolutionary Aircraft Designer, Dead At 88

Engineer Richard Whitcomb, whose innovative ideas are incorporated in the design of most aircraft flying today, died in Newport News, Va., on Oct. 13. Whitcomb "was the most important aerodynamic contributor in the second half of the century of flight," according to historian Tom Crouch, of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. Whitcomb won the Collier Trophy in 1954 for his development of the "transonic area rule," which reduces the shock wave drag that occurs near the speed of sound. "We built airplane models with Coke-bottle-shaped fuselages and lo and behold the drag of the wing just disappeared," said Whitcomb. "The wind tunnel showed it worked perfectly." In the 1960s, Whitcomb's supercritical wing design was revolutionary, according to NASA. The airfoil design was flatter on the top and rounder on the bottom with a downward curve on the trailing edge. That shape delayed the onset of drag, increasing the fuel efficiency of aircraft flying close to the speed of sound.

In the 1970s, Whitcomb developed his third significant innovation -- winglets. Other engineers had suspected that end plates added to the wingtips could reduce drag. But Whitcomb showed that the structure would work best if it was an airfoil. Winglets are found on a wide range of aircraft today and improve fuel efficiency. Whitcomb worked at the NASA Langley Research Center, in Virginia, from 1943 until he retired in 1980. "Dick Whitcomb's three biggest innovations have been judged to be some 30 percent of the most significant innovations produced by NASA Langley through its entire history," said Langley chief scientist Dennis Bushnell. "That's from its founding in 1917 to the present. He is without the doubt the most distinguished alumnus of the Langley Research Center."

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Who's Where back to top 

Promotions at Marquis Jet

Henry Schachar has been promoted from President to Executive Vice Chairman of Marquis Jets. Ken Austin will take over as President. (Austin was formerly Executive Vice President.) Both have been with the company since 2001, and Schachar is co-founder.

Who's Where? You Tell Us

Get a promotion or a new job? Your colleagues want to know about it, and AVwebBiz can get the word out. Drop us a line about the staff appointment, with a nice recent photo, and we'll do our best to include it in our new section, "Who's Where." The items will be permanently archived on AVweb for future reference, too.

Books on Human Factors from the AVweb Bookstore
Human Factors
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A Guide to AVweb's NBAA 2009 Coverage back to top 

NBAA Convention 2009 Coverage Round-Up

A complete recap of our podcasts, videos, blogs, and news reports from the 2009 NBAA Convention in Orlando, Florida.

Click here.

Ho, Ho Holiday Gift Guide Offer
It's time to promote your gift items and stocking stuffers to AVweb's 255,000 readers worldwide. Display your items starting now for one low price to generate instant orders until 12/31. We'll promote the Holiday Marketplace in every newsletter. Click here to visit the Gift Guide and have your product featured on AVweb.
Tell Your Friends: Read AVweb, Win a Handheld MFD back to top 

It's the Final AV8OR Prize This Year ... And Your Chance to Win!

Bendix/King by Honeywell is helping us give away one last AV8OR handheld MFD unit this year! All you have to do is click the image at right to enter your name and e-mail address. And no, we're not going to rent or sell your name, but Bendix/King by Honeywell may send you information on the AV8OR. You may also forward this newsletter to friends and invite them to sign up for AVweb so they can qualify for the AV8OR prize drawing, too. (We won't spam them, either, but we hope they will sign up for our AVwebFlash and AVwebBiz newsletters.)

Deadline for entries is midnight EST on Wednesday, November 4, 2009.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.

(There's nothing to buy. All you need to do is be registered with AVweb.)

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Flight 188, Continued — Did the Security Apparatus Do It Right?

According to the Air National Guard, the F-16s stayed on the ground. If that's true, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli thinks it's good thing, showing a level of restraint that may mean things are going in the right direction with regard to aviation security.

Read more of his thoughts in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog.

AVweb Insider Blog: We'd Prefer You Were Sleeping, Actually

The crew of Northwest Airlines Flight 188 said it got into a discussion about airline policy that was so engaging that they, well, goshdurn flew 150 miles past the destination airport. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli argues that it would be better for all concerned if they were actually sleeping.

Read more.

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

Video: Near CFIT — Close Call with Terrain

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

The circumstances of this incident are unclear (and the subject of much speculation in the forums), but the result is pretty clear. The people aboard this Bonanza came within a tree branch or two of becoming victims of controlled flight into terrain (CFIT).

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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."

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 200,000 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.

Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebBiz Team

AVwebBiz is a weekly summary of the latest business aviation news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.

The AVwebBiz team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Scott Simmons

Jeff van West

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