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Volume 25, Number 2a
January 8, 2018
 
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Flood Adds To JFK Woes
 
Russ Niles
 
 

There was more misery for those trying to get through JFK Airport in New York Sunday as a water main break forced the closure of Terminal 4 and took with it 38 gates, most of them used for international flights. Water poured into public areas and service areas, including a baggage handling area. It’s not clear how many flights have been affected but the departure board is a sea of red and yellow cancellations and delays. “Due to a water main break at #JFK Terminal 4 there are flight delays. Please check with your airline prior to coming to the airport,” the airport tweeted just before noon.

The flooded terminal was the culmination of three days of weather-related delays that included a ramp collision to further complicate the mess that started with a blizzard on Thursday. Some respondents to the water main tweet said they’d been stranded for three days and are looking at another three days before they get out. A YouTuber named Tony's-24/7 Eyes spent 24 hours chronicling the challenges of passengers and staff and he had plenty to work with.

JP Instruments 'Primary JPI EDM 930'
Low-Vis Takeoffs: There Oughta Be A Law
 
Paul Bertorelli
 

If there’s anything certain about second-guessing another pilot’s judgment after an accident, it’s this: The wreckage is Exhibit A if you insisted before the fact—or even after—that he shouldn’t have done whatever he did. If he pulls off what he shouldn’t have done without incident, he’s just crazy. But if he doesn’t, he’s crazy and stupid.

That seemed to be the reaction of whatever talking heads the local news outlets could roust up after a horrible accident here in Florida the day before Christmas. A Cessna 340 crashed on takeoff from Bartow, having departed in dense fog on a flight to Key West. Five people were killed in the accident. The ASOS had the weather at less than a quarter mile and 300 feet in calm wind. The local sheriff was aghast that the pilot would take off in such conditions, a perfectly understandable reaction. According to news reports, the 70-year-old pilot had earned his private certificate in 2010, but no reports that I could find gave his total time or time in type. He was a Florida resident, so that suggests not a lot of exposure to a range of IMC. Tellingly, he had the airplane towed to the ramp because he thought the vis was too low to taxi safely.

I know from long experience in writing about such things that this is a binary judgment-type accident. That’s to say some pilots would be as shocked as the sheriff was while others would say, so what? I’m in the second group, albeit with some qualifications. When I was learning to fly instruments and later, when I instructed, simulated zero-zero takeoffs were commonly practiced. Sometimes these were done under the understanding that they were just a proficiency exercise and sometimes not. I told students if you want to do this in anger, that’s your business. But you better bring an A-game because there’s little margin for error.

I have done such takeoffs myself and have concluded a couple of things about them. First, zero-zero is a misnomer. I’ve never encountered conditions where I couldn’t see at least a few hundred feet of runway centerline or enough to accelerate and rotate. Second, in a single, this is at the far edge of the acceptable risk spectrum for me and is outside it for many people who automatically say no. For that reason, I’d never expose passengers to this risk. I did once—in Florida, perchance—but never repeated it. Third, my reasons for doing it were sporting—just to do it. I never did a low-vis takeoff because I had to be somewhere. My rule has always been no trip is so important as to take on marginal risk just to get somewhere. Ever. It’s probably a distinction without a difference that people fearful of jumping out of airplane doors might not get.

Being a lawman, the sheriff would probably be shocked to learn that there’s no specific regulation against low-visibility takeoffs for Part 91 operators. He might opine that there ought to be. Breaking that down, what’s the valid argument against a Part 91 takeoff minimum, say the standard Part 135 minimum of 1 mile? My sole argument against it is the usual boilerplate against over-regulation. It would be just another line item in the regs meant to forestall—or at least discourage—a very rare kind of accident indeed. Part 91 exists to be not like Part 121 or Part 135. If you want to fly to those more restrictive guidelines, you’re free to do so. You could even have your own drug testing program.

Despite all our yapping about it, Part 91 remains—relatively—the wild west. As regulations go, it allows largely unfettered freedom to you, the individual, to operate your personal airplane as you see fit. That’s just the way it is and ought to stay. The abiding attraction of general aviation is that is that it affords the individual the ultimate responsibility: the freedom to decide and to sometimes decide for others.

John Young: A True Extra Terrestrial

The weekend’s news feed brings the sad announcement that astronaut John Young has died. He succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 87. Although less known or perhaps celebrated than the early crews of Apollo—Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Jim Lovell come to mind—he was inarguably the most accomplished of the NASA flight corps.

He flew in space six times. Twice on Gemini, twice on Apollo—including two trips to the Moon—and twice on the Space Shuttle. He commanded the first Shuttle mission in 1981, which marked the first time NASA had launched a manned system without preceding it with an unmanned test.

Young was a Navy veteran and an aeronautical engineer with a reputation for a piercing ability to understand and analyze complex spacecraft systems. He was highly critical in his career of NASA’s oversights in two major Shuttle accidents.

Last year, I read his autobiography, Forever Young. I recommend it. But my favorite anecdote about Young is mentioned in this clip from the film In the Shadow of the Moon. If you haven’t seen it—or heard Philip Sheppard’s fabulous score—I promise you this: You’ll watch it more than once.

As the Apollo astronauts enter their final years, we’ll be seeing more such announcements. And while I might have hoped they would all live forever, I’ll recuse myself from maudlin essays about the death of heroes. That’s an overused word and what people say when they can’t think of anything else. I never considered them heroes anyway, just the most visible stars in the bright constellation of remarkable people who put humankind on another planet. That’s legacy enough. I am privileged to have lived through it.

Mooney Ovation Flight Review
 
Paul Bertorelli
 
 

Mooney is showing off its new Ovation Ultra, with a new Garmin G1000 NXi from Garmin and--a first--a pilot's side door for the cabin. In this in-depth flight review video, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli explains how the Ovation Ultra compares to the competition, especially the Cirrus SR22.

Continental Motors || Angle Wave Cylinders for Lycoming
Friends Finish Missing Pilot's Mission
 
Russ Niles
 
 

Friends of a missing pilot have paid tribute to him by finishing the Pilots N Paws animal rescue flight that he was on last Wednesday. Dr. Bill Kinsinger was on his way from Oklahoma City to Austin in his Cirrus SR22 when the aircraft changed course and contact was lost by air traffic control. The plane tracked southeast over the Gulf of Mexico and F-16 pilots observed the pilot slumped over the controls but had to turn back before it is presumed the aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed in the Gulf. He and the plane haven't been found. Waiting for Kinsinger in Austin was a disabled old husky in need of medical care.

A day after Kinsinger went missing, fellow Pilots N Paws volunteers flew to Austin to pick up the old dog and take it back to Oklahoma City temporarily. From there, the dog will be flown to Las Vegas for the care it needs. "Whatever happened to Bill, you know, he did it for this dog out of the goodness of his heart, for the right reasons,” fellow pilot Justin Blackburn told KOKH. “So, it would be, you know, be kind of sad for me to not have that completed.” The dog was in a shelter and has lost the use of its rear legs. A rescue center in Las Vegas will coordinate its care.

Astronaut John Young Dead
 
Russ Niles
 
 

John Young, NASA’s longest-serving astronaut and the first to command the Space Shuttle, died Friday. He was 87 and died from complications from pneumonia. Young went to space six times, walked on the moon and was the only astronaut to take part in all of the Gemini, Apollo and shuttle programs. "If anybody deserves the title of legend it would be John Young,” Andrew Chaikin, who has written extensively on NASA, told NPR.

Young kept a low public profile but was a commanding presence within the organization. He retired in 2004 having served as the chief of the astronaut office, responsible for crew selection. "Astronaut John Young's storied career spanned three generations of spaceflight; we will stand on his shoulders as we look toward the next human frontier,” NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot said in a statement. Young flew two Gemini, two Apollo and two shuttle missions and considered the first shuttle flight the most dangerous. It was the first time NASA had ever launched a manned mission without first testing unmanned versions of the same vehicle.

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Ramp Collision Sparks Toronto Fire (Updated)
 
Russ Niles
 
 

An empty Sunwing Airlines Boeing 737 under tow caught fire on the ramp at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Friday evening after running into a WestJet 737, resulting in the emergency evacuation of the WestJet aircraft. No passengers were hurt but a firefighter was treated for chemical inhalation. The mishap further snarled traffic at Canada’s busiest airport after a challenging series of weather-related delays over the holidays. The fire, which may have involved the APU on the Sunwing plane, was quickly extinguished. It's not clear where the WestJet plane was hit, but the aftermath of the mishap curtailed operations at Terminal 3, the smaller of Pearson’s two main terminals.

The WestJet plane had just landed, bringing holidayers back from Cancun, and many took the trip down the slide to the cold ramp in shorts and flip-flops in subzero temperatures. The aircraft was stationary and waiting for a gate when the Sunwing plane, which was being pushed back from the gate, ran into it. “Due to the position of the aircraft on the laneway, WestJet guests required evacuation via emergency slide,” a WestJet statement said.

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Survey On Test Fees
 
AVweb Staff
 
 

Pilots who have an instrument ride or any other certificate or rating tested by an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) are being asked to let the Flight School Association of North America (FSANA) know how much they pay for the flight. The group is conducting a survey to see how rates compare. “While FSANA is not engaging this survey in an effort to dictate any pricing, we are working to better understand what pricing exists, if it varies based on certificate or rating, and if it varies regionally throughout the country,” the organization said in a news release. All information is gathered anonymously and securely.

Virtually all DPEs are freelancers and set their own rates for certificate and ratings rides. The FSANA will compile the results and release the data at its annual conference in San Diego Feb. 12-15.

Picture of the Week
 
 
Going places is the great thing about personal aviation and some, like Poppy, get to go to some pretty nice places. Jake Ruhl shot this of his obviously appreciative dog near Bend, OR.

See all submissions

Brainteasers Quiz #239: Have A Little Fun, Already
 

The FAA can be so serious when discussing regulations and safety of flight -- which are important -- but many of us began flying simply because it was fun. To keep it safely enjoyable, simply ace this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

Short Final
 

We flew a group of customers from North Carolina to Canada for a factory visit. This was a part 91 corporate trip, in a King Air 200.When we returned several days later, our Canadian airport had turned into the ice planet of Hoth: not just snow but ice everywhere. We got clearance to taxi from ground and I was barely moving trying to steer with just differential thrust. An airport vehicle called for clearance to move and he was told to hold for the King Air taxing out. The following exchange took place.

Airport vehicle: "What King Air?"

Tower: "I don't see him. Oh wait, there he is. He is BARELY moving"

Me, in my obviously Southern drawl: "Hey, we are doing the best we can!"

Tower: "Don't you have spikes on your tires?"

Me, in an even deeper Southern drawl: "Well we bought some chains, but nobody onboard knows how to put them on!"

Tower: "Sounds of multiple people laughing."


Dan Moore

Meet the AVweb Team
 

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Russ Niles

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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.

October 1, 2017, Klamath Falls, Ore.

Cirrus Design SR22

At about 1043 Pacific time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain while maneuvering in a remote mountainous area. The private pilot and the passenger received fatal injuries. Instrument conditions were reported in the area at the time of the accident.

Before departure, a retired U.S. Air Force F-15 pilot queried the accident pilot about the weather. The pilot replied he would climb above the clouds if needed and look for a hole to get down through. If he could not find a hole, then he would return to the departure airport. A state trooper conducting fish and wildlife surveillance reported hearing the airplane pass overhead on a westerly heading “at a very low altitude, in the clouds.” He stated “the engine was screaming” and that clouds were at tree-top level. The airplane started a left turn, followed shortly by the sound of a crash.

October 2, 2017, Tonopah, Nev.

Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1230 Pacific time when it impacted a dry river bed. The solo private pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot topped off the accident airplane with about 52 gallons of fuel, then departed for an airport 306 nm away, flying at approximately 1000 feet agl. The flight was proceeding normally until the engine lost power and would not exceed 1500 rpm. He configured the airplane for a precautionary landing and landed into the wind. As the nose gear settled down, the airplane stopped abruptly, nosed over and came to rest inverted.

October 2, 2017, San Juan, P.R.

Cessna 182D Skylane

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1048 Atlantic time when it collided with terrain during landing. The private pilot was fatally injured; a pilot-rated passenger was seriously injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot was cleared to land on Runway 9, behind a flight of two Blackhawk helicopters, shortly after they had cleared the runway at midfield. The airplane touched down just past midfield, bounced and came to rest in the grass infield, inverted.

October 3, 2017, Virginia Beach, Va.

SE5A Experimental

At about 0830 Eastern time, the aircraft was substantially damaged during a forced landing after a partial loss of power during initial climb. The solo airline transport pilot sustained minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed for the test flight. The accident airplane’s assembly recently had been completed; the accident flight was its first.

The airplane was started, taxied and fast-taxied (with the tail up) the previous day. The accident flight began after normal taxi and run-up operations. According to the pilot, the engine ran “perfectly” as the aircraft accelerated and became airborne. At about 200-300 feet agl and more than of the way down the runway, the engine began losing power. After turning back toward the airport, the pilot realized he did not have sufficient power to reach it and headed for a recently harvested corn field instead. The approach and touchdown were normal, but the airplane’s landing gear was damaged by corn stalks and failed. The airplane nosed over and came to a stop. The engine had accrued about six total hours of operation since major overhaul.

October 3, 2017, Blythe, Calif.

Cirrus Design SR22

The airplane sustained substantial damage at about 1521 Pacific time during an emergency landing after a reported loss of engine power. The flight instructor and commercial pilot sustained minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

After an uneventful takeoff, the two climbed and leveled off at a cruise altitude of about 11,500 feet msl on a flight to deliver the airplane to its new owner. About 1.5 hours into the flight, engine oil pressure started to decrease, and they decided to divert. Shortly thereafter, the engine completely lost power. The two pilots elected to activate the airplane’s parachute system.

October 4, 2017, Salters, S.C.

Cessna 401B

At about 1745 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain while maneuvering. The commercial pilot and the passenger were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

A witness watched the airplane take off and, about 10 minutes later, the pilot made a low pass over the grass strip and then began a steep climb. The witness stated the airplane rolled left and the left wing dropped. The airplane became inverted and descended in a nose-low attitude. The airplane’s wings were level before it disappeared behind trees. It came to rest in an open field surrounded by trees about a mile southwest of the departure airport.

October 5, 2017, Hillsboro, Ore.

Piper PA-24-250 Comanche 250

The airplane sustained substantial damage at about 1420 Pacific time during a hard landing. The flight instructor and student pilot sustained serious injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

During a practice short-field, full-stop landing, the airplane was slow and the instructor called for a go-around just before the student flared. During the go-around, the airplane stalled and struck the runway hard, substantially damaging the fuselage and wings.

October 5, 2017 Santa Ynez, Calif.

Glasair Super II RG Experimental

At 1053 Pacific time, the airplane made a forced landing to a grassy field following a loss of engine power. The pilot/owner was not injured but the airplane was substantially damaged on rollout when it impacted a perimeter fence and a dirt berm. Visual conditions prevailed.

Preflight, taxi and run-up were normal and there were no problems with the first full-stop takeoff and landing. Shorty after the second takeoff, the engine stopped producing power. The pilot initiated a left turn to enter the pattern, but he had to make a forced landing in an open field. During the landing, the airplane collided with a perimeter fence. Examination confirmed fuel was present in the tanks.

October 6, 2017, Sugar Grove, Ill.

Piper PA-34-220T Seneca III/IV/V

The airplane sustained substantial damage during a forced landing to a corn field at about 0706 Central time, following a loss of engine power on its right engine shortly after takeoff. The pilot and passenger were not injured. Instrument conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan had been filed. The flight was originating, with Wichita, Kan., as the intended destination. The airplane received substantial damage to its fuselage and both wings.

October 6, 2017, Sweetwater, Texas

Bellanca 17-30A Super Viking

At 1329 Central time, the airplane experienced a total loss of electrical power. About 18 minutes later, the engine lost all power during cruise flight. The pilot performed a forced landing to a field, but the airplane received substantial damage on impact with terrain. Visual conditions prevailed.

October 6, 2017, Centre Hall, Penn.

Ercoupe 415-C

The airplane experienced a partial loss of engine power after takeoff at about 1415 Eastern time and was substantially damaged during the subsequent forced landing. The solo private pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

After takeoff, the airplane had climbed to 200 feet agl when it experienced an “appreciable” loss of engine power, the flight controls became “sluggish” and the airplane would no longer climb, according to the pilot. The pilot performed a forced landing to a field directly off the departure end of the runway. During the landing roll, the airplane struck fences, resulting in substantial damage to both wings.

Examination revealed the left, right and fuselage fuel tanks were intact and contained fuel. The engine was rotated by hand and compression was confirmed on all but the No. 2 cylinder. The No. 2 exhaust valve was stuck in the open position without rocker-arm contact through several rotations of the crankshaft.

This article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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