AVwebBiz Complete Issue: Volume 10, Number 22

June 6, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! A Second Look at Firefighting Fleets back to top 
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Sunday Flights Test Aerial Firefighting

Two events involving Lockheed P2V firefighting aircraft this Sunday graphically displayed the dangers and skills required to safely fight fires with aircraft, and also renewed calls for fleet modernization. As the week began, pilots Todd Tompkins and Ronnie Chambless were killed fighting a blaze in Utah. Witnesses say the wing of their 1962 P2V appeared to touch the ground in a rocky canyon before the aircraft impacted in the active drop zone. The crash reportedly left a 600-yard debris field that was later consumed by the same fire the crew had been fighting. Another P2V fighting another fire south of Reno executed a safe landing at Minden, Nev., in a stiff crosswind with one wheel up. There is video of the second event.

Ground crews working with the pilots who were killed in the Utah crash attempted to protect the wreckage from the fire so they could extract the bodies of the pilots. The were unable and were forced to complete the task after the fire burned through. Loss of those pilots adds to at least 14 other aerial firefighters lost since 1990. The company that operated the aircraft, Neptune Aviation, grounded its remaining fleet to debrief mechanics and flight crew. All air tankers operated by the company have since returned to service. At Minden, pilots of another P2V owned by Minden Air Corp. successfully landed their aircraft in stiff crosswinds with the leeward left main gear stuck in the "up" position. (See video at right.)

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Months ago, the head of the Forest Service sent Congress a new air tanker strategy that also called for fleet modernization. Bids are being evaluated on a next generation of aircraft for the service. Currently, exclusive-use contracts account for much of the nation's aerial firefighting capability and should add seven more aircraft through 2013.

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Decoding the Business of Bizjets back to top 

Trade Commission Analyzes Bizjet Industry

Building business jets is a tough, competitive, complicated enterprise and the industry is enduring hard times, according to a U.S. International Trade Commission report (PDF) released last week. That may not sound like news to most of those in the industry but the report is a stab at explaining how all those factors add up to the current state of affairs. "Competition is strong, frequent cutting-edge updates are necessary, and demand is cyclical," the report says. It was ordered by the House Ways and Means Committee.

While the business is a difficult one, the report points out that there are at least seven companies besides the six main players that want to enter the market. While the conclusions of the report may not be terribly illuminating to those living it, there is considerable detailed analysis of the external and internal forces at work, although many of the names and organizations in the footnotes will also be familiar to those who follow the industry.

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(Re)Building an Eclipse from the Ground Up back to top 

Eclipse Production Begins (Slowly)

The first Eclipse 550 will be produced over the course of 12 months concurrent with retooling and validation of the production line that will create it, but the next jets will be built faster, Eclipse Aerospace told its dealers Friday. Following the first jet's 12-month production cycle, the second aircraft is expected to emerge from the line about two months later, followed by a third, 30 days after that. Eclipse is targeting a production capability of more than 50 aircraft per year in 2014, depending on market demand. Eclipse says deliveries will begin in 2013. The rough delivery framework wasn't the only announcement relevant to Eclipse shipments.

Eclipse also announced the Eclipse International Dealer organization. That organization represents 30 countries worldwide and the dealers have inked deals to purchase new Eclipse 550 jets. It's expected that dealers will start seeing those jets in 2014 and 2015. The Eclipse 550 is based on the original Eclipse 500 Very Light Jet, but offers upgraded systems including auto-throttles, enhanced vision systems and redundancy for the flight management system. The company's management team and board of directors all signed the fuselage of the first production aircraft, Serial Number 1001, at a dealers' meeting Friday.

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Aviation Safety: Nigerian Crash Update back to top 

American Pilot, Recorders Among MD-83 Crash Details

Early details emerging about the MD-83 that crashed Sunday in Nigeria, killing all 153 aboard and possibly scores more on the ground, include reports that the jet's voice and data recorders were recovered Monday and that the captain was an American. The jet's flight crew reportedly included the American captain, an Indian co-pilot and an Indonesian flight engineer. The crew reported a technical problem while approximately 11 miles out on approach to the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos. The jet crashed one minute later. Early reports state that witnesses heard a loud vibrating sound and saw the aircraft flying in an unstable manner before flipping over and impacting three buildings in a local suburb. At 22 years old, the aircraft's age alone may bring its operator Dana Air, and regulators, additional problems. 

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an official noted that the airliner was 22 years old and that a ban was in place on planes older than 20 years old, The Guardian reported Monday. Dana Air is an Indian-owned company and was operating the aircraft out of the Nigerian capital of Abuja for Lagos. The crash aircraft had reportedly suffered a bird strike and lost power in an engine two months prior to Sunday's crash. Its long-term history includes work for Alaska Air, which purchased the jet in 1990 and appears to have operated it through 2008. Following the crash, crowds from the local suburb surged toward the accident site and Nigerian police used tear gas to disperse the crowd, according to an AFP reporter. Buildings impacted by the aircraft include a two-story residential building, a print shop and a church. One resident told reporters that churchgoers were lucky that services had just finished when the accident took place.

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Aviation Safety: Jackson Hole Overrun Update back to top 

NTSB: 757 Speedbrakes, Reversers, Pilot Failed

An American Airlines 757-200 that ran off the departure end of a snowy Runway 19 at Jackson Hole Airport on Dec. 29, 2010, actually had a chance of stopping, the NTSB announced Tuesday. None of the 185 aboard Flight 2253 were injured, but the aircraft suffered minor damage and passengers were rattled. (AVweb video.) The NTSB found that the Boeing, flown by the co-pilot, touched down normally about 600 feet beyond the runway threshold. The speedbrakes failed to automatically deploy and when the first officer attempted to deploy the thrust reversers, they did not respond properly. The NTSB found mechanical causes for each mechanical failure. It also noted that the jet could have stopped on the runway even without the reversers if the pilots had reacted differently.

According to the NTSB, the captain, acting as the monitoring pilot, "failed to identify the non-deployment" of the speedbrakes upon landing and instead  stated "deployed" shortly after touchdown. Then, when the thrust reversers failed to deploy, the captain joined the first officer in concentrating on that problem. Because of that, said the NTSB, "neither pilot recognized that the speedbrakes had not automatically deployed." The investigation found that had the captain acted promptly to manually deploy the speedbrakes after landing, the jet could have stopped on the runway with 1900 feet remaining. The Board found that a "latent assembly defect" caused the problem with the speedbrakes. As for the reversers, the investigation determined that that failure was caused by "a rare mechanical/hydraulic interaction" that occurred "as a result of an unloading event at the precise instant that the first officer commanded their deployment." The NTSB has made safety recommendations to the FAA regarding pilot training and aircraft manufacture relevant to this event.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Airborne Remembrance

Today, 68 years ago, 13,000 men from two storied airborne divisions stepped out of nearly 1,000 C-47s and into history. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli pays tribute to the men and one of the most important days in history.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Has NEXRAD Eliminated the Thunderstorm Accident?

Maybe not, but we sure see a lot less of them these days. But radar hasn't changed what's probably the nastiest risk in severe storms: hail. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli talks about the risks.

Read more and join the conversation.

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Who's Where back to top 

Bero to FlexJet

Christopher Bero

Christopher Bero is Flexjet's new director of marketing. He was formerly strategic marketing advertising manager at Samsung Mobile Electronics.

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.

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

Video: Diamond Multi-Purpose Platform DA42

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

Diamond has diversified its market to the military, law enforcement and even media realms with the DA42 Multi-Purpose Platform. Diamond Airborne Sensing's Markus Fischer took AVweb through the product at Diamond's factory in Wiener Neustad, Austria.

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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.

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 world's premier independent aviation news resource.

The AVwebBiz team is:

Tom Bliss

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Scott Simmons

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Jeff Van West

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

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].

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