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Technical issues resulted in AVwebFlash being delivered later than usual today. The issues have been resolved and we should be back to normal on Wednesday. Thanks for your patience.

The Air Force is considering allowing its dwindling pilot population to moonlight as airline pilots as a way of keeping them available for active duty. Senior brass are reportedly giving pilots more latitude in shaping their own careers with active duty flying as part of the mix. “Are there alternative ways that we can do [pilot] hiring?” Air Mobility Command Commander Gen. Carlton Everhart told the Air Force Times. “Are there alternative ways that we can keep people to stay in longer? Are there alternative ways that we can hire people on active duty, and then they can go out to the airline job, come back to active duty, or vice versa?”

Although the pilot shortage is the worst among fighter jocks, all branches of the service are feeling the pinch and by 2020 the Air Force could be short as many as 12 percent of the pilots it needs to maintain the current tempo. The Air Force has increased the retention bonus for pilots eligible to leave the service from $25,000 to $35,000 and even gotten rid of tasks that pilots don’t like doing, but it’s not enough. More than half of eligible pilots still leave as soon as they can instead of the 40 percent that used to jump to civilian life. “Bonuses help, but we can’t compete. We just can’t,” Everhart said. The Air Force has already spoken with some airline CEOs about sharing pilots. Australia and the U.K. already have arrangements with airlines and the programs are reported to be successful, the Times reported.

Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau will convene a “workshop” with the leaders of the country’s airlines to ensure everything possible is being done to avoid a repeat of a widely publicized drunk pilot incident earlier this month. A heavily drunk Sunwing Airlines captain was pulled from the cockpit after passing out before a flight from Calgary to Regina, Saskatchewan, and then to Cancun. His blood alcohol readings were more than .24, three times the legal driving limit in Canada and clearly in violation of Sunwing’s 12-hour bottle-to-throttle rule. All Canadian airlines ban alcohol use at least eight hours before flight crews (including cabin staff) report for work but Garneau, a former air force pilot and astronaut, said in a letter to the airlines he wants to ensure their internal checks are working. “The incident in Calgary reminds us all of the need to ensure that protocols are up to date and that they are being implemented with all the required resources, including measures designed to confirm pilots’ fitness to fly,” he wrote. They must respond in writing to Garneau by Feb. 15 outlining their programs and how they’re implemented. Canada does not have a system of random drug and alcohol tests for flight crews like the U.S. does and airlines and pilots appear to be trying to head that kind of initiative off. 

Most airlines responded publicly with assurances that the multiple layers of checks are effective at preventing the alcohol- or drug-impaired from actually getting airborne. Sunwing noted that the pilot involved, a Slovakian national in Canada on a temporary work permit, was reported by staff at every step of his journey to the cockpit that morning, including his first officer who put a final stop to the flight. The Airline Pilots Association issued a statement in support of Garneau’s letter but included a reminder about the layers of safety that are in place. “Multiple safeguards, including regulation [CAR 602.03], various safety programs at each individual airline, ALPA’s internationally recognized Pilot Assistance Program, and flight crew monitoring on every flight to ensure that crewmembers comply with government regulations and company policy, provide a thorough and effective approach to advancing aviation safety,” ALPA’s Canadian board of directors said in a news release.

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Divers have recovered the cockpit voice recorder, human remains and debris from a Cessna 525 Citation that crashed in Lake Erie on Dec. 29. There were six people on board the business jet when it crashed just after taking off from Burke Lakefront Airport in downtown Cleveland for Columbus. The aircraft was owned and flown by Columbus businessman John T. Fleming. His wife, their two sons and a neighbor and his daughter were on the plane. The group was returning from a Cleveland Cavaliers basketball game in a trip arranged as a holiday treat for family and friends.

In addition to the CVR, which was intact, divers found a seat, part of the tail and other pieces of the aircraft on Friday. The search had been hampered by poor weather, including 15-foot swells in the lake. The recorder has been sent to the NTSB lab for analysis and a full investigation will be done once the remainder of the debris has been recovered.

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An Air Force C-17 has become the latest target of a green laser attack. The crew of the big cargo plane reported they were at 4,000 feet over the Jersey Shore on Saturday when the cockpit was illuminated. No one was hurt and the aircraft continued its flight. The laser strike occurred about 9:15 p.m. as the aircraft flew near McGuire Air Force Base, according to the New York Daily News. Police were dispatched but no arrests were made, although in the rare circumstances when a case is prosecuted, the courts send a stern message.

Last week a Bay City, Michigan, man was sentenced to more than a year in prison for pointing a laser at a police helicopter. He pleaded guilty to a single count stemming from an incident that occurred in January of 2016. Such prosecutions are few and far between, however. On a single night last August, the FAA said it received 15 laser strike reports.

A Boeing 737 appears to have sustained damage after striking a drone during approach into Mozambique’s main airport on Thursday. It could be among the first confirmed collisions between an airliner and unmanned aircraft, but details were scarce regarding the type of drone and whether any witnesses on board saw it. LAM Mozambique Airlines, the nation’s flagship carrier, reported that the incident occurred during the B737-700’s approach to the airport in Tete. The crew heard a “crash” that sounded like the aircraft struck an object, but proceeded with a normal landing. Eighty passengers were on board, the airline said.

Photos of the Boeing after an inspection on the ground show multiple gashes and cracks on the nose of the jet. While the crew thought initially there was a bird strike, the damage indicates the jet struck something else, as described in a USA Today report. Airline crews around the world have reported possible drone encounters in the past year, increasing concerns over unauthorized flights into busy airspace, but there hasn’t been confirmed evidence of a strike. In March 2016, the crew of a Lufthansa Airbus A380 reported seeing a drone near Los Angeles International Airport. The following month, reports of a British Airways A320 striking a drone were debunked as an investigation turned up no evidence of a drone, but possibly another small object such as a bag.

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AVweb’s General Aviation Accident Bulletin is taken from the pages of our sister publication, Aviation Safety magazine and is published twice a month. All the reports listed here are preliminary and include only initial factual findings about crashes. You can learn more about the final probable cause in the NTSB’s web site at www.ntsb.gov. Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more about Aviation Safety at www.aviationsafetymagazine.com.

October 1, 2016, Taylor, Texas

Beechcraft C23 Sundowner

At about 0925 Central time, the airplane was destroyed after impacting trees and terrain during final approach. The pilot and the child passenger were seriously injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Initial reports showed the airplane experienced a complete loss of engine power when about one half mile from the runway. During the accident sequence, both wings were separated at the wing root and the fuselage came to rest upright about 20 feet beyond initial impact with trees. The airplane was immediately involved in a fire. The pilot removed the child passenger, exited the airplane and walked to a nearby rural residence.

October 1, 2016, Hickory, N.C.

Culver PQ-14A Cadet

The airplane was destroyed at 1310 Eastern time when it collided with trees, terrain and a commercial building during a forced landing shortly after takeoff. The solo commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Preliminary information indicates the airplane’s engine stopped producing power while taxiing for takeoff. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot reported the airplane was “having engine problems” and announced his intention to return. The controller cleared the airplane to land on any runway. Radar data revealed the airplane was about two miles south of the departure airport when it reversed course; the radar track ended in the vicinity of the accident site, about a mile from the approach end of the runway. Witnesses described the engine sound as “sputtering” and “revving up and down.”

October 1, 2016, Laurel, Miss.

Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee 140

At about 1019 Central time, the airplane was substantially damaged during a forced landing after a total loss of engine power while executing a go-around. The student pilot/owner was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

During the pilot’s first landing attempt, he realized he was too high and elected to go around. The pilot applied full power and the engine responded. He retracted the flaps and turned off carburetor heat. At that point, the engine started running rough. He turned carburetor heat back on, checked that the electric fuel pump was still on and switched fuel tanks, but engine power did not increase. The pilot was unable to maintain altitude and made a forced landing to a field adjacent to the airport. During the landing, the left main landing gear hit a large hole resulting in substantial damage to the left main gear, left wing and an engine mount.

October 1, 2016, Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Cessna Model 172S Skyhawk SP

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1808 Eastern time during a precautionary landing. The commercial pilot and passenger were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

After a normal takeoff, and at 2500 feet msl and five miles northwest of the departure airport, the pilot noticed the oil temperature had risen to 245 degrees, the gauge’s red line. After informing ATC of his intention to return, the engine began running rough. After touchdown, the airplane bounced and was substantially damaged before it came to rest on the runway. The pilot stated that he did not go around or abort the landing because of the potential engine issue. Examination revealed the airplane had contacted the runway on its nose landing gear, which was bent forward and in contact with the lower engine cowling. Further examination also revealed that the propeller, the firewall, the lower forward fuselage skin and the floorboards were damaged.

October 2, 2016, Togiak, Alaska

Cessna Model 208B Grand Caravan

At about 1154 Alaska time, the airplane sustained substantial damage upon impacting steep, mountainous, rocky terrain. The airplane was being operated as a scheduled VFR Part 135 commuter flight. The two commercial pilots and one passenger aboard sustained fatal injuries. Visual conditions prevailed at the nearest airport.

Poor weather conditions prevented first responders from locating

the accident airplane until about 1630. The airplane’s fragmented wreckage was located on the southeast side of a steep, loose-rock-covered mountainside. The initial impact point was located north of and about 200 feet below the 2500-foothigh mountain’s summit. The wreckage path extended southeast to the main wreckage, which was located downslope on the southeast side of the ridgeline at the 1550-foot level. A post-crash fire incinerated a large portion of the fuselage and right wing. At 1156, the destination airport’s weather observation included calm winds, seven statute miles of visibility in light rain, scattered clouds at 3900 feet and an overcast at 4700 feet. The temperature was 45 degrees F, with a dewpoint of 43 degrees F.

October 2, 2016, Mandan, N.D.

Volaircraft 10A Darter

The airplane was destroyed at about 1557 Central time by a post-impact fire after it landed short of the runway. The solo student pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed. According to local authorities, the airplane landed short of the runway and skidded to a stop beside it. After the pilot exited uninjured, the airplane caught fire and was destroyed. The pilot did not report any mechanical problems prior to the event and there were no witnesses.

October 2, 2016, Clarendon, Texas

Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee 180

At about 1520 Central time, the airplane was involved in a forced landing after its engine stopped producing power. The solo student pilot sustained minor injuries; the airplane was substantially damaged. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot reported that while in cruise flight the engine stopped producing power and he performed a forced landing to a field. During the landing, the airplane’s wings and firewall were damaged.

October 2, 2016, Rosamund, CA.

Cessna R172K Skyhawk XP

The pilot/owner and three non-pilots flew the airplane to another airport for lunch. The outbound flight was uneventful. After lunch, the four returned to the airplane.

The pilot later reported the preflight inspection and taxi to the

run-up area were normal. During the before-takeoff checklist, he noticed the two fuel tank gauges indicated different quantities from one another. The pilot decided to shut down the engine and physically “stick” the tanks to accurately determine the total fuel quantity, which he determined were satisfactory.

When the airplane was about 20 feet above the ground, it stopped climbing. The pilot “immediately recognized something was wrong,” according to the NTSB, and aborted the takeoff. The pilot was unable to stop the airplane on the runway, and it sustained substantial damage to the fuselage as a result. None of the occupants were injured. After the accident, the pilot determined that he had left the control lock in for the takeoff. Investigation revealed the manufacturer-issued control lock had been installed backward by the pilot. A yoke-mounted iPad limited the pilot’s view of the installed control lock, which reduced the potential for visual detection.

October 3, 2016, Fulshear, Texas

Fokker DR-1 Triplane

At about 1800 Central time, the airplane experienced a loss of engine power and was involved in a forced landing. The solo airline transport rated pilot was not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed for the post-maintenance test flight.

The airplane’s construction had just been completed and the engine installed. Numerous tests were performed before the accident flight. Later, the pilot departed and experienced a partial loss of engine power during the initial climb, and the airplane was not able to maintain altitude. The pilot made a forced landing into a tree nursery about one mile from the departure airport.

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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With the Model T and the assembly line that produced it, Henry Ford taught the world a seminal lesson in mass production and economics. Some two decades later, he got schooled himself when General Motors caught up and demonstrated a fundamental truth about selling stuff in a consumer economy: Markets stagnate and so do sales unless the products are constantly refreshed and improved. Improbably, the Model T survived for 18 years before the Model A displaced it, driven by intense competition from GM.

This renew-or-die Darwinism is a constant in every industry, including aviation. While the changes in new models often amount to little more than incremental nudges, the new models that do appear—I’m thinking of Diamond’s DA62 and maybe Icon’s A5—do represent enough change to stimulate sales, even if they aren’t market disrupters. If you plot the aircraft units-sold curve against model—and avionics—introductions, the line has just enough spikes to see an effect here and there.

But game changers? Not really, despite the marketing department's inseparable love for that phrase. Engines haven’t changed fundamentally in 40 years; at the upper end, airframes are incrementally faster, but perhaps not more structurally efficient than the best the 1970s produced. They’re safer by dint of better seatbelts and seats, airframe parachutes and more reliable instruments that, increasingly, intervene to keep the pilot from losing control or improve situational awareness to keep him or her from running into something. It’s arguable if, taken together, these improvements are more sustainers than expanders.

I was ruminating on this the other day when flipping through the Bluebook looking for some engine specs. Across the four decades I’ve been flying little airplanes, I asked myself what product or technology I absolutely would not fly without. Couldn’t think of anything to do with engines or airframes. Glass panels? I like them just fine, but I’m agnostic. Glass or steam; whatever. GPS? Nice, but I can still use VORs and those map reading skills I learned so long ago haven’t atrophied. I feel about airframe parachute systems as I do about glass. I like and believe in them, but I’m not a fundamentalist about it.

That left only a single technology I wouldn’t fly without: the lowly aviation headset, with noise cancelling please. But really, just any noise attenuating headset. If you learned to fly, say, from the early 1980s forward, you probably can’t imagine not using a headset and probably with an intercom, too. But much before that, even though aviation headsets were available, they were far from common. When I started lessons in a Cessna 152, we cranked the speaker volume up to max, had trouble hearing all ATC transmissions and screamed at each other to be heard over the cockpit din.

When I started in Cubs a couple of years later, it was worse. Rag wings attenuate zero engine, prop and slipstream noise and if you don’t believe that, peel off your headset in one and soak in the clatter for a minute. Now multiply that times 60 for the typical lesson. Having headsets radically improves in-cockpit and ATC communication and massively reduces the stress of not being able to hear. I’ve been doing a lot of body flying in a vertical wind tunnel lately and even with good, custom-molded earplugs, it’s loud and communication by eye contact and hand signal is barely adequate. It reminds me of the days of being whapped with a rolled up sectional in a Cub. (There are Bluetooth helmet communicators, but I don’t know if they’ve been tried in the tunnel.)

Headsets, or at least my use of them, arrived a little too late to do me all the good they might have. All that exposure to threshold-level noise has taken a toll on my hearing that it would not have if I’d used headsets from day one, as students today are lucky to do. So what’s the bigger game changer, having a glitzy glass panel that shows me real-time winds aloft or having the same hearing acuity I had when I was 30? The answer should be obvious.

This week, Garmin unveiled its follow-on product for the popular G1000 EFIS suite. It's called the G1000 NXi and Aviation Consumer's Larry Anglisano took a demo flight in Garmin's King Air to sample the new system.

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ATC: D-EABC Bremen Information

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