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The Army has confirmed that one of its Blackhawk helicopters hit a drone while patrolling over New York City on Thursday. The collision occurred about 7:30 p.m. over Staten Island, Fox News reported. The station obtained photos of the marks left behind by the drone along with one of its rotor arms. Debris was found in the oil cooler and there were marks on the fuselage and rotor blades.

The helicopter was at about 500 feet providing security for the U.N. General Assembly when it hit the drone, said Lt. Col. Joe Buccino of the 82nd Airborne in Fort Bragg. Mechanics swapped out the rotor blades and put the Blackhawk into service the next day.

After complaints from members about discriminatory fuel pricing and high ramp fees at airports with only one FBO, AOPA is putting some muscle into finding ways to force FBOs to lower their fees. Earlier this week, AOPA convened a panel of FBO owners, airport managers and GA pilots to discuss ways to fight the fees. “This is really only about a number of places, mostly large FBOs with a monopoly position, where a particular set of circumstances have come together and resulted in egregious fees and pricing practices," says Ken Mead, AOPA’s general counsel. Mead continued, “That, combined with consolidation in the FBO industry, has pilots concerned about what the future might bring. We welcome this diverse and experienced group to advise AOPA on how we can work to empower airport boards, pilots and elected officials to find the right balance between reasonable pricing for pilots and profitability for FBOs.”

In late August, AOPA assisted seven pilots with filing FAA Part 13 complaints for airports with pricing identified as particularly egregious in member surveys. Airports that accept FAA funds for airport improvements are required to meet certain standards regarding reasonable public access to airport facilities. 14 CFR Part 13 provides an informal complaint mechanism for people who believe these standards are not being met. Number one on AOPA’s list was OK3 Air at Heber City Municipal Airport in Utah. Heber City (36U) is the closest airport to the ski resorts in Park City, Utah. OK3 is reported to be charging $6.36 per gallon for 100LL, according to AirNav.com.

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An unusual collision sent the pilot of a light aircraft to the hospital for observation and left the pilot and passenger of a helicopter unscathed at a private strip near Clearwater, Florida, on Saturday. Zack Taylor, the owner of Clearwater Air Park, told local media the Piper Arrow was landing and hit a hovering Robinson R22 helicopter from behind. The airplane got the worst of the mishap and ended up flipped on the grass missing part of a wing. The helicopter pilot was able to set it down without further incident.

Taylor told reporters he heard no radio calls from the inbound aircraft. It's not clear whether the aircraft was on the runway or just above it when the collision occurred. The local fire department was called to deal with a fuel spill. The extent of damage to the helicopter wasn’t included in the local reports.

An Italian air force pilot is dead after his Typhoon fighter crashed in the ocean during an airshow near Rome on Sunday. Capt. Gabriele Orlandi’s jet failed to recover from a loop and hit the water about a mile offshore from Terracina, about 30 miles south of Rome. Horrified spectators were watching from a beach when the aircraft pancaked at a high rate of speed. There was no visible attempt to eject.

Orlandi’s wife and parents were reportedly in the audience. Orlandi's routine was the feature event of the show. His body was found about 90 minutes after the crash. The Italian air force is investigating. Video below might be disturbing for some to watch.

A contest sponsored by Lightspeed and CloudAhoy is inspiring general aviation pilots to draw in the sky. Contestants make line drawings using the path of their airplanes, recorded using CloudAhoy, a smartphone-based GPS flight tracking app. The concept, on a larger scale, was popularized in the last few years by jet aircraft manufacturers who used the extremely long flights required for certification, particularly ETOPS testing, to sketch out a shape with their radar track.

Most entrants have submitted roughly 100 miles of data for their drawings. One early entrant has flown over 300 miles to trace the Texas Longhorns logo, inside a drawing of the state of Texas, west of Houston. The overall winner will receive a Lightspeed Zulu 3 headset. Second and third will win Lightspeed flight bags. The contest closes Oct. 3.

All the submitted artwork is available for viewing here on the Lightspeed website.

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Two brothers in Seattle, working as Egan Airships, have built a drone that combines features from both fixed-wing aircraft and blimps to create an aircraft that can hover, take off and land vertically, and fly at up to 40 mph. The 28-foot-long aircraft weighs less than 55 pounds and uses a patented streamlined envelope design, rotational wings and an extended tail. It’s powered on both the wings and the tail. It offers smooth flight and acceleration for nearly stable platform filming, the company says, and an unpowered descent speed of 9.5 mph should engines fail. The Plimp aircraft is expected to be commercially available by early next year, the company said.

The inflated portion of the Plimp aircraft is filled with helium, which is not flammable, and provides part of the lift, which is supplemented by lift created by the rotational wings. Due to its buoyancy, the company says, the Plimp is more efficient than helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft for surveillance and inspection operations. The aircraft is highly visible for miles, so line-of-sight rules can be adhered to for much greater distances than conventional drones, the company said. Its size and visibility also enhance collision avoidance. The aircraft can be operated remotely by a pilot and flight technician, and does not require a runway or launch/recovery system to operate. “Technology advancements in carbon-fiber composites, ultra-thin bladder materials and battery technologies have allowed Plimp aircraft to meet drone performance objectives today,” said Egan Airships co-founder James Egan.

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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.

June 8, 2017, Bennett, Colo.

Bellanca 17-30 Viking 300

At about 1340 Mountain time, the airplane was forced-landed in a field. The commercial pilot and passenger sustained serious injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

The airplane was flying in the traffic pattern when the pilot reported a loss of engine power. Another pilot in the traffic pattern observed the accident airplane in the field. Examination revealed the fuel selector was positioned to the left main fuel tank, which contained less than two gallons of fuel. During recovery, the airplane’s other three fuel tanks were drained and about 45 gallons of fuel was recovered.

June 10, 2017, Carpinteria, Calif.

Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II/III

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1430 Pacific time when it impacted terrain while maneuvering. The solo private pilot was seriously injured.

While en route, the pilot encountered a cloud-covered coastline and began to descend to get the ground in sight. At 2100 feet agl, he was still in a thick cloud and could not see outside. The pilot later wrote that after he failed to make a decision to climb or contact ATC for assistance, he crashed into a mountain ridge. The airplane came to rest upright on a westerly heading with its left wing bent back at mid-span. The pilot was able to contact emergency responders by cell phone. Search and rescue personnel subsequently located the downed airplane and rescued the pilot. A strong presence of fuel was detected at the accident site. The pilot reported no mechanical anomalies with the airplane that would have precluded normal operations.

June 11, 2017, Gordonville, Fla.

Cirrus SR22

At about 1200 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it impacted a power pole, trees and terrain while on approach to land. The solo private pilot was seriously injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot was interviewed and stated he was “high” on downwind and that during the final approach, the airplane was descending “rapidly.” The pilot added power to complete the landing, but “nothing happened” as he “hadn’t reset [the] mixture.” According to the pilot, he lacked the time and the altitude to “remedy the problem.” The airplane came to rest in a church yard about ½ mile from the runway threshold. Examination revealed evidence of fuel, and continuity was established from the cockpit to the flight control surfaces. Initial visual examination of the engine did not reveal any anomalies.

June 12, 2017, West Creek, N.J.

Cessna Model P206A Stationair

At about 2255 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged during a forced landing. The solo commercial pilot sustained minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed for the post-maintenance test flight.

The maintenance included installation of new cylinders. Earlier that day, the pilot flew an uneventful hour. At the destination, the pilot performed a go-around, climbed to between 1000 and 1200 feet msl, then flew traffic pattern. While on downwind at between 1200 and 1500 feet msl with the auxiliary fuel pump on, the engine sputtered and quit, and the propeller stopped. The pilot was unable to restart the engine. He turned toward the runway while maintaining best glide speed but the airplane impacted trees then the ground about ¼ nm before the runway and came to rest inverted.

June 12, 2017, Suffolk, N.Y.

Cessna Model 172M Skyhawk

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 0615 Eastern time during a forced landing to a golf course. The solo private pilot incurred minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

While en route, the pilot heard a “loud pop” and the engine experienced a total loss of power. The pilot checked the fuel selector and mixture, and then searched for a place to perform a forced landing. He declared an emergency, unsuccessfully attempted to restart the engine and turned toward a golf course. During the landing, the airplane struck a tree, which resulted in substantial damage to the right wing. When the engine’s left and right magnetos were removed, and when the propeller was rotated by hand, neither magneto drive gear would rotate.

June 13, 2017, Ruidoso, N.M.

Beech Model E90 King Air

The airplane impacted terrain at about 2210 Mountain time, some 2400 feet southeast of the departure runway during initial climb. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and post-crash fire. The commercial pilot and a passenger sustained fatal injuries. Night visual conditions prevailed.

The airplane wreckage path was distributed along an approximate heading of 138 degrees and was about 168 feet in length. Both propellers were separated from the engines and were resting along the debris path. Both propellers exhibited S-shaped bending, leading edge damage and chordwise scratching consistent with being under power.

June 18, 2017, Ketchikan, Alaska

de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver

The float-equipped airplane impacted water and subsequently sank during an attempted takeoff. Of the seven occupants on board, the commercial pilot and four passengers sustained minor injuries, and two passengers were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed for the FAR Part 135 on-demand sightseeing tour flight.

According to the pilot, the takeoff was unremarkable but the airplane “wasn’t climbing efficiently.” The pilot realized the airplane wasn’t going to be able to successfully clear a heavily wooded area in the intended direction of departure. He lowered the nose and initiated a 180-degree turn to the left, but the airplane impacted water after about 130 degrees of turn. The two floats separated, and the airplane began to sink. The pilot and six passengers successfully egressed the sinking airplane and swam to shore. The airplane subsequently sank. Another floatplane subsequently extracted the accident pilot and passengers from the shore.

June 22, 2017, Carlsbad, Calif.

Cessna Model 421B Golden Eagle

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1325 Pacific time when its right main landing gear collapsed. The commercial pilot receiving instruction and flight instructor were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed for the post-maintenance test flight.

After verifying everything was working properly, a second landing was performed, after which the pilot let the airplane roll out the length of the runway with minimal braking. As the airplane slowed to about 10 knots, the pilot noticed a “severe wobble as something may have been out of balance.” Subsequently, the right main landing gear collapsed and the right wing and elevator struck the ground.

June 24, 2017, Fort Myers, Fla.

Piper PA-28-181 Archer II/III

At about 0748 Eastern time, the airplane impacted a building and terrain during takeoff. The pilot incurred serious injuries; the pilot-rated passenger was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

According to the pilot, preflight, start and ground operations were normal, with no water or debris in the fuel. On the takeoff roll, he verified engine rpm at 2450. He lifted off at 65 KIAS and pitched the airplane to accelerate to 80 KIAS. At 75 KIAS, he felt a loss of power and noted engine rpm was decreasing. He switched fuel tanks and applied carb heat, but the engine continued to lose power.

The pilot decided to make an emergency landing on a nearby street. The airplane came to rest against a building across the street from the airport. All major components were accounted for at the scene. The engine compartment, cockpit, cabin area, empennage and the majority of both wings were consumed by post-crash fire. One propeller blade exhibited “S” bending; the other blade was fractured in several pieces.

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

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We don’t often find cause to clap for the meddling regulatory overreach of the FAA, but the agency won one this week that I, for one, am personally cheering. U.S. District Judge William G. Young said the city of Newton, Massachusetts (near Boston) can’t require drone operators to register their machines with the city, nor can it restrict them from flying below 400 feet. A suit against Newton’s law was filed in January by Michael Singer, a local physician and inventor. To be accurate, the FAA wasn’t directly involved.

In his complaint, Singer said the December 2016 law essentially banned drones from the city limits of Newton and was thus counter to federal law under a doctrine called preemption. That essentially supports the FAA’s view that it and it alone is the agency solely responsible for regulating things that fly. In its legal rejoinder to Singer’s suit, Newton argued that the federal government allows localities to co-regulate aviation. Judge Young wasn’t buying that argument: “This [Newton’s ordinance] thwarts not only the FAA’s objectives, but also those of Congress for the FAA to integrate drones into the national airspace.”

Right call, right language. Young’s ruling was, however, just another signpost on what will surely be a long and bumpy road toward integrating drones into the national airspace. The FAA is often reviled—and I’ve done some of the reviling—for its plodding, sclerotic performance in promulgating drone regulations. But like a drunk weaving up to the bar before last call, it’s getting there, however slowly.

I know readers of this blog are understandably fearful of the profusion of remotely piloted vehicles buzzing around. I don’t share the fear, but I don’t dismiss it either. Either way, if you’re involved in GA at any level, you should be happy about this decision, just as you should be happy with a court finding overturning restrictive noise ordinances at East Hampton Airport earlier this year. That’s because governments at the state, city and county level are necessarily concerned with the narrow complaints of their local constituencies.  The old money at Sag Harbor might just as soon convert East Hampton Airport back to pasture land but, failing that, let’s pass an ordinance to keep those noisy jets and helicopters from using it. The overbearing federal government via the FAA pushes back and often relies on the courts to make its directives stick.

The Newton decision may prove to be of more than local import, at least for a time. Other local governments are entertaining ordinances to prohibit the use of drones in their communities and those with smart city attorneys will hear the message for what it is: Tread carefully.  

The judge left open the question of whether the city could regulate more broadly on noise and privacy issues and he essentially invited the city to recast the law to avoid the preemption issue. In other words, Newton could legislate noise requirements that apply to all vehicles, not just those that fly. It could also write specific privacy statutes to protect property owners and individuals who want to be left unmolested by the prying eyes of a flying GoPro.

Compared to what threat drones may or may not represent, the privacy issue is all but incomprehensively complex. Privacy is under constant threat from data mining, from facial recognition, from surveillance cameras, from RFID chips, from smart power meters, from cloud computing and ad infinitum. Drones, take a number. If you want real privacy, lease a cave in Afghanistan. Except we’ve got a cloud of drones over there, too.

Without specifically saying so, Judge Young contributed directly to what, in his opinion, he said was the FAA’s requirement for “a delicate balance between safety and efficiency.”  Although he might not have intended it that way, the efficiency in this context is the ability of the unmanned aviation segment to expand and thrive without undue hindrance from a mess of local laws and regulations. That has to be balanced against reasonable protection of the public from being brained by one of these things. No single court decision will settle this once and for all. Think of it as a paint-by-the-numbers picture that’s slowly becoming discernible. We’ll get there eventually.

Steve Hinton Jr. set a record for the fastest speed recorded by a piston-powered aircraft over four 3-kilometer runs in early September and he spoke with AVweb's Russ Niles at the National Championship Air Races about how that kind of flying compares to pylon racing at Reno.

Picture of the Week
Picture of the Week

We like dynamic air-to-air photos and this certainly qualifies. Shot somewhere over New England by Andy Zink, it's a fitting POTW. Thanks, Andy.

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I heard the aircraft part of this conversation to Grand Forks FSS at 21:05 local time recently. I was too far away to hear the controller but they wanted to know the time off for the aircraft. 

Cessna 1234: “I was airborne at 9:05, pause, err, ahh, make that 26:05" 

 No further calls were made.


 

Harv Penner 

 

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