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Volume 24, Number 52b
December 27, 2017
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Demand Increases Appeal of Airline Jobs
Geoff Rapoport

After more than a decade of poverty-level wages for regional airline pilots, rising demand for air travel coupled with a shortage of military trained pilots is slowly making for a sellers’ market. FAPA, a consultancy that specializes in preparing pilots for airline interviews, says entry-level wages for new regional airline pilots had hovered around $22,000 per year during the recession, if you could get a job. Wendy Beckman, who runs the aerospace department at Middle Tennessee State University, told Marketplace, “You heard stories of people on food stamps and living at home and sleeping in crew lounges.”

These days, regional airlines are hiring as fast as they can to replace pilots going to the major airlines. FAPA estimates starting pay at the regional airlines has risen to almost $50,000 on average, though much of the first-year pay regional pay increases have been in the form of bonuses, which draw in new pilots without significantly increasing wages over a career. Fifty thousand dollars is hardly riches for a job usually requiring a college degree and often expensive flight experience, but it's a job flying airplanes. No one knows when single-pilot airliners or another recession will send pilots back to the unemployment lines. For now, young people drawn to a career in the skies are starting to believe it’s possible again.

China Nicks Another GA Property
Paul Bertorelli

I can recall almost to the day when I first became aware of the great breaking Chinese general aviation wave—or takeover, if you prefer. It was mid-June 2005 and I was riding with Michael Feinig, then Diamond Aircraft’s managing director, at breakneck speed down the autobahn to the company’s factory at Wiener Neustadt, Austria.

Diamond was involved in China much earlier than most of us realized and when I asked Feinig why, the answer was ominous: “We don’t think we have a choice.” I took that to have dual meaning. First, China would represent the next big market and second, the Chinese would become dominant in world GA no matter what happened. Better to have a friendly relationship than a hostile takeover. The first prediction hasn’t materialized, but with the sale of Diamond Aircraft to China’s Wenfeng Aviation Industry Co. Ltd, the second surely has.

At the risk of depressing you, I’ll run the major buys here, in no particular order. The country’s leading light aircraft manufacturer, Cirrus, is owned by China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA); Continental Motors is owned by China’s AVIC International, which also snapped up the assets of the then-bankrupt Thielert Aircraft Engines; Mooney is owned by the Meijing Group, which made its fortune in China’s real-estate market; Superior Air Parts was acquired by Weifang Tianxiang Technology Group, a Beijing-based holding company; Engine Components International was bought by Continental under the AVIC flag; Glasair Aviation is owned by the Jilin Hanxing Group, a private investment company; Brantly International Limited, a light helicopter manufacturer, is owned by Qingdao Haili Helicopters; Enstrom Helicopter is owned by Chongqing Helicopter Investment Company; Icon’s largest investor is Shanghai Harbor City Development Co. There are a few others, but this gives you the lay of the land.

If, at this point, you feel the urge to twist your pearls and swoon in a global case of the vapors, I know the feeling. But bring yourself around because in the end, it’s just bidness. Western commerce has unloaded these properties on the Chinese for a multitude of reasons all boiled down to one: None of them make much money or at least the kind of money western investors hunger for, which is ROI in the teens and robust quarterlies, year after year. Run your cursor down the list and ask yourself of how many of those companies have actually been bankrupt or approached the precipice and peered over the edge. The answer is most.

So if you set aside your angst and romanticism and you’re painfully honest with yourself, you’ll soon realize that investment capital had to come from the Chinese ATM, because it sure as hell wasn’t coming from western investors. People who complain about the Chinese taking over may wish to consider investing themselves, but most of us prefer the dividends from balanced international funds and, once upon a time, securitized mortgages.

So what does it all mean? Shortly after Continental was bought, I had a brief interview opportunity with the chairman of AVIC. Through a translator, I asked if Chinese investment in U.S. general aviation was part of larger plan or was it just opportunity buys. The translator’s eyes swelled to the size golf balls, which seemed to telegraph I’d asked a horribly prying question. She asked me to repeat it. I did. This was in Oshkosh, by the way, so I had no compunctions whatsoever about asking any questions related to aviation. If you come to OSH, bring your A game or stay home.

When the chairman heard the question, he seemed equally startled. The answer was a dissembling vagueness that led me to believe AVIC was simply marching along with the 12th Five Year Plan, which called for investment in aviation, and the Chinese were finding opportunity buys in the U.S. This made perfect sense to me.

Some have worried that China is picking up sensitive defense technology, which is a concern if you think cast-iron cylinders and half-century-old fuel injection systems are all that stand between the fall of the Republic and the continuance of the American Way. It’s true that Diamond has some pretty sophisticated autonomous aircraft technology so perhaps the Europeans may balk a little. (But I doubt it.)

Recently, the august think tankers at Rand Corp. took a run at analyzing the impact of China’s GA investments. You can read it here. One of the conclusions was: “China’s accelerating investments in the U.S. aviation industry notwithstanding, the significance of these activities is questionable. These deals were almost all small scale, each worth less than $500 million.” There were three exceptions, but those deals either fell through or didn’t represent meaningful impacts.

The larger worry is that Chinese industry will challenge the West in the large commercial aircraft field. I’m not even mildly worried about that. For one thing, the Chinese are far short of building commercially competitive airliners and, anyway, Boeing has enough lawyers to bury them in paper for at least the next century.

On the other hand, the net positive is easy to see. Continental is building a new factory in Mobile, Cirrus got its jet done and it’s selling well and Diamond will have money to fund what has been one of the most creative runs of new aircraft in GA history.

You know what? I’ll take it.

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Jim Peitz's Aerobatic Bonanza
Russ Niles

After decades of beating himself up in extreme aerobatics in an Extra, Jim Peitz traded up to the leather and cross-country comfort of an aerobatic Bonanza. His airshow fans and his wife Cathy approve. We spoke with him at the 2017 Abbotsford International Air Show.

Electronics International 'Aviation Alert! Short video on how EI saved this pilot's life
A320 Slides Off Taxiway In Boston
Mary Grady

A JetBlue Airbus A320 slid off a taxiway shortly after landing on Runway 27 at Boston’s Logan Airport, at about 7:20 p.m. on Monday night, the FAA has reported. No one was hurt, and all the passengers were evacuated via airstairs. The flight had originated in Savannah, Georgia. Passengers who spoke to the media said the airplane had landed straight but then started to slide and spin while taxiing, and ended up in a snowbank. About three inches of snow had fallen at the airport earlier in the day, but the runways had been cleard by noon.

“The aircraft exited the runway onto Taxiway E and slid off the Taxiway in the vicinity of taxiways E and P,” FAA spokesman Jim Peters told AVweb in an email on Tuesday. “The FAA is investigating.” According to a statement from JetBlue, buses transported the passengers from the aircraft to the terminal.

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Pilot Who Flew Last WWII Mission Dies
Russ Niles

The pilot who flew the last combat mission of the Second World War died in Florida last week of lung cancer at the age of 93. Army Air Force Lt. Jerry Yellin was with another aircraft attacking Japanese air bases on Aug. 15, 1945, when Emperor Hirohito announced the unconditional surrender of Japan. Yellin’s wingman, a younger pilot named Lt. Philip Schlamberg, whom Yellin was mentoring, was shot down and killed. Yellin didn’t know the war had ended until he landed in Iwo Jima as the radio transmission telling forces to stand down didn’t reach him.

Yellin left the Army a short time later with a Distinguished Flying Cross, an Air Medal and a serious case of post-traumatic stress disorder. He spent much of his life protesting war and trying to help fellow veterans who’d had trouble rejoining society after the war. In recent years he has been the national spokesman for the Spirit of ’45, a nonprofit organization that promotes the legacy of World War II veterans.

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Textbook Ditching Near Miami
Russ Niles

An unidentified banner pilot starred in what could become an instructional video on how to ditch an airplane when his Piper Pawnee had engine trouble in the Bay of Biscayne near Miami last Friday. The video, shot from a boat full of people who didn’t seem to realize the gravity of the situation until the plane hit the water, emerged over the weekend. It shows the bright yellow work plane stalling just above the waves and remaining upright in the water despite the sturdy forward main gear plunging in first. The pilot was uninjured and swam to the boat.

The aircraft remained afloat and was later recovered. The nature of the failure wasn’t reported and neither was the name of the pilot. The incident occurred about 3:16 p.m. on the busy stretch of water.

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Picture of the Week
Some of the busiest airspace in the world was the setting for a video shot by Karl Klingebiel and Gary Winterboer as Mujahid Abdulrahim flew the camera plane for them over LAX. Nice work everyone.

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Short Final

Heard at ILG (Wilmington, DE) on a Sunday. ILG is a training site for ATC, and also has very, very patient controllers.

Tower: Cherokee XYZ, let me explain how we do things. When I give you a clearance, you need to read it back so I know you understood.

Cherokee XYZ: OK, I understand.

Tower: OK, but you haven't read back the clearance.

Cherokee XYZ: Oh, I'm sorry.

Tower: No need to apologize, but I need you to read back Cherokee XYZ cleared touch and go, Runway niner.

Cherokee XYZ: Oh, I understand. I'm cleared.

Tower: I don't think you're understanding. When I clear you, I need you to read this back: "Cherokee XYZ is clearedtouch and go, Runway niner."

Cherokee XYZ: OK, got it.

Tower: You haven't read it back, though!! Please read back.

Cherokee XYZ: Cherokee XYZ cleared to land, Runway niner.

Tower: If you want to do a full stop, I can clear that instead of a touch and go.

Cherokee XYZ: I'd prefer to do a touch and go, though.

Tower: OK, then you need to read back clearance for a touch and go. Let's try this one more time: Cherokee XYZ cleared touch and go, Runway niner.

Cherokee XYZ: Cherokee XYZ, Cleared touch and go, Runway niner.

Tower: Excellent! That was perfect.

I had to stop laughing before reporting in.

Joshua Zide

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Meet the AVweb Team

AVweb is the world's premier independent aviation news resource, online since 1995. Our reporting, features, and newsletters are brought to you by:

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AVwebFlash (reaching 101,000 subscribers 167X/year) and our website, AVweb.com (450,000 unique visits monthly) inform and entertain GA industry leaders and owner-pilots who fly and buy. Our subscribers operate more than 120,000 airframes including turboprops, owner-flown jets, high performance twins, singles and training aircraft.

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General Aviation Accident Bulletin

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.

September 13, 2017, Nantucket, Mass.

Cessna 402B Businessliner

At about 0723 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged during a rejected takeoff. The commercial pilot sustained minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot later stated he accelerated the airplane to between 90 and 95 knots and lifted off. The airplane achieved a positive rate of climb and the pilot retracted the landing gear. However, after becoming airborne the pilot was fighting with the controls to keep the airplane’s nose up. The pilot used manual trim and verified the autopilot was not engaged, however, the nose-down tendency continued. He rejected the takeoff and executed an emergency landing on the remaining portion of the runway.

Examination revealed the elevator trim tab was deflected approximately 24 degrees up (airplane nose-down), while the cockpit trim indicator depicted a nose-up trim condition. Further examination revealed the elevator trim tab pushrod was separated from its actuator but remained connected at the elevator trim tab. A drilled bolt was recovered from inside the horizontal stabilizer but the associated washer, castellated nut and cotter pin were not located.

September 14, 2017, Machias, Maine

Beech C23 Sundowner

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1130 Eastern time during a forced landing following a total loss of engine power. The solo private pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

While in the airport traffic pattern and turning to a left base leg for the runway, the engine began to run rough. The pilot verified that the mixture was full rich and the fuel boost pump was on. He also applied carburetor heat, but the engine lost all power about 15 to 20 seconds later. The pilot turned the airplane directly toward the runway but didn’t have enough glide range and landed in a grass area just prior to the runway. During the landing, the landing gears sank into soft ground and the nosewheel touched down hard, which collapsed the nosegear. The airplane spun 180 degrees and came to rest upright in the grass.

Some 20 gallons of fuel per wing were removed from the airplane while the magnetos, fuel boost pump and engine-driven fuel pump tested satisfactorily. The carburetor was intact and clear of debris. The fuel bowl was also absent of debris. The propeller was rotated by hand and continuity was noted in the camshaft, crankshaft and valve train.

September 15, 2017, Glenwood Springs, Colo.

Cirrus Design SR22

At about 2010 Mountain time, the airplane impacted trees and terrain while maneuvering in mountainous terrain. The non-instrument-rated private pilot and three passengers were fatally injured; the airplane was destroyed. Night instrument conditions prevailed.

The pilot was receiving VFR flight following from ATC. Radar data show the airplane on a westerly heading, then turning southwesterly at about 11,000 feet msl. Subsequently, the airplane climbed to about 12,000 feet msl and proceeded northwest for about 12 miles. The airplane then turned back to the southwest in a gradual descent. The last radar position was at 2009:32 and 11,400 feet msl, about mile south of the accident site location.

At 2008, a weather station at 10,600 feet msl and about 16 miles south-southwest of the accident site reported wind from 240 degrees at 11 knots, gusting to 23 knots and varying between 210 and 280 degrees; mile visibility, fog and an overcast ceiling at 200 feet. According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, sunset was at 1917 and the end of civil twilight was at 1944.

September 15, 2017, Watsonville, Calif.

Cessna T210N Turbo Centurion

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1300 Pacific time while landing. The private pilot and passenger were not injured. The airplane’s nose landing gear separated and the aft fuselage was punctured and torn. Visual conditions prevailed.

Examination of the accident site revealed impact marks on the approach end of the runway. Debris was found near the impact marks, and the nose landing gear was found further down the runway. The airplane came to rest on the left side of the runway. The pilot later stated there were no mechanical anomalies with the airplane and that the approach and landing was normal. He further stated he didn’t know how the nose landing gear separation happened.

September 16, 2017, North Branford, Conn.

Mooney M20C

At 1300 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it collided with trees and terrain. The airline transport pilot/owner and the passenger were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Earlier on the day of the accident, the pilot/owner flew to another airport about 60 nm away to pick up the passenger. Both fuel tanks were topped off and line personnel witnessed the pilot sample the fuel before he departed with the passenger at about 1230. Witnesses near the accident site did not see the airplane or hear engine sounds, but they heard what sounded like a “crash” in the trees. The three-blade constant-speed propeller remained attached to the crankshaft flange and was largely intact. There was no evidence of rotational scoring and two of the blades were not damaged. Weather reported nine miles southwest of the accident site included variable wind at three knots, visibility of 10 sm and broken clouds at 1400 feet.

September 16, 2017, Sedona, Ariz.

Cessna 208B Grand Caravan

The airplane collided with a light pole at about 1430 local time while taxiing. The pilot and eight passengers were not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage to its left wing. Visual conditions prevailed for the Part 135 on-demand air taxi flight.

After landing, the pilot was instructed by ground control to follow a truck on the A6 taxiway to transient parking. Transient parking had been moved to the east side of the ramp and was only accessible by taxiway A6 during a fly-in and car show taking place at the time. As the pilot followed the truck, he noticed several airplanes whose wings overhung the taxiway’s right side. Ground personnel were available to clear the airplane on the right but not on the left. The airplane impacted a light pole with its left wing. The light pole was positioned about 65 feet from the taxiway’s centerline.

September 20, 2017, Rhine, Ga.

Cessna 150G

At about 0605 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain shortly after takeoff from a private airstrip. The solo student pilot was fatally injured. Night visual conditions prevailed.

Witnesses heard the airplane depart the private grass airstrip at about 0600. They said the pilot made a left 360-degree turn—as he was known to do—before they diverted their attention. Another witness heard the airplane depart, followed shortly thereafter by the sound of a crash. The student pilot was scheduled to take his private pilot checkride the following day in St. Simon’s Island, Ga. On the morning of the accident, he planned to pick up his flight instructor at a nearby airport before flying to St. Simon’s.

September 23, 2017, Ainsworth, Neb.

Mitsubishi MU-2B-40

The airplane was destroyed at about 1028 Central time when it impacted terrain 3.5 miles from its departure airport. The solo private pilot was fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan had been filed.

The airport manager watched the airplane depart and enter clouds. Several witnesses in the vicinity reported hearing the airplane take off and a loud noise shortly thereafter. The wreckage was located around 1800 that night. At the time of the accident, the wind was 360 degrees at 10 knots, visibility was 1 sm in mist and overcast skies were at 500 feet. The temperature and dewpoint were both 48 degrees F.

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

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