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Volume 25, Number 20a
May 14, 2018
 
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Southwest 1380: “Flew Like a Rock”
 
AVweb Staff
 
 

In an interview with ABC’s 20/20 news magazine, the crew of Southwest Flight 1380 said the aircraft rolled sharply left and vibrated violently “kind of all at once” after it suffered an uncontained fan failure on April 17 near Philadelphia. Although the flight landed safely, one passenger was killed when engine debris pierced a window and she was partially ejected from the depressurized cabin. 

“It was very disorienting to have all these things happen at once. And I actually couldn’t make heads or tails of what was going on,” First Officer Darren Ellisor told ABC in the interview  that aired on Friday. “Your instincts kick in, you know, stuff that you've prepared for … ever since you started flying … and this training just takes over,” Ellisor added. Ellisor was the pilot flying but after the engine failure, Captain Tammie Jo Shults took over flying and radio work while Ellisor worked emergency procedures.

The cockpit was so noisy that Shults and Ellisor had to communicate with hand signals. “We had some switchology to do. Then it was really just back to flying. We had to use hand signals, a lot of nodding and pointing,” Shults said. When asked by a passenger later how the aircraft flew, Shults said “like a rock.” The 737 touched down in Philadelphia at about 162 knots, about 30 knots faster than normal.

Several passengers were interviewed for the report and said they remain traumatized. One, Hollie Mackey, was in the aisle seat in the same row as 43-year-old Jennifer Riordan who died after her upper body was pulled out through a debris-pierced window. Mackey said she and another passenger were unable to pull Riordan back into the cabin until the pressure equalized and the aircraft reached a lower altitude. Attempts to revive her were unsuccessful.

Shults told ABC that she traded the trip with her husband, who's also a Southwest Captain, so she could coach their son at a track meet. Interestingly, she also said passengers occasionally refuse to fly when they realize a woman is in the cockpit. "Every once in a while, a passenger would look at me and see the stripes and say are you flying?," she said. Shults was one of the pioneering women in military aviation and flew fighters in the Navy before leaving the service to join Southwest.

The NTSB continues to investigate the accident, which was Southwest’s first fatality. The airplane was en route from New York to Dallas when a blade in the left CFM56-7B engine fan departed, essentially destroying the fragment containment systems meant to prevent debris from damaging the aircraft structure.   

GA Piston Sales: Barely Above A Flat Line
 
Paul Bertorelli
 
 

As I was putting a sharp pencil on last week’s GA production numbers from GAMA, I couldn’t decide if I was looking at a flat calm mill pond or the dead quiet before some kind of storm. So I graphed out a decade worth of production numbers and I’m going with a pond that could be about to have a rock thrown into it. Let me explain.

First, the graph. If it shows anything, it depicts a market that, while not in utter decline, is hardly robust. It should remind editorial writers to keep the actual numbers in mind when writing upbeat stories about the state of the market. I’m not sure I did when I wrote this. In my weak defense, the second-day story is supposed to put things in perspective.

A caveat here: The graph is first-quarter numbers only, which is all I have for 2018 comparison so it made sense to compare these across the board. The bright spot is that soaring red line that represents Cirrus. Trace it all the way back to 2011 and you’ll see the company is doing well, and especially so since 2014. Then look at the blue line. That’s Cessna’s bumpy trend downward since 2011. The directionality of this output carries through for the year-end production totals, too, although Cessna beat Cirrus in some of those years. If you’re wondering about Mooney, its production is so low as to drop into the noise at the scale of the graph. Similarly, to reduce clutter, I didn’t plot Beechcraft sales, but I did fold those into the Textron data from 2014 forward.

In explaining Cirrus, several things are at work, in my view. The first is they got the product right and found a cohort of buyers who resonate with its modern ethos as a comfortable luxury traveler with the added safety of the BRS system. And those buyers are loyal repeat customers. Many of them are stepping into the Vision Jet. Not to be dismissed is the Cirrus sales force. Want a ride in one? The salesman will call you back.

Cessna, on the hand, seems focused on the institutional sales that have made the 172 such a mainstay. Volume wise, it’s still Cessna’s leading seller. Cessna’s dealer network was once the crown jewel of general aviation marketing. You couldn’t open a car door without bumping into a Cessna banner and a salesman to make the pitch. Two years ago, amidst some industry grumbling, they switched to factory direct. In my view, that’s just never been as effective. In the contemporary world of low-volume airplane selling, Cessna—Textron, really—evidently thought it made sense. I’m not so sure.

So when I saw last week’s quarterly numbers—just 23 piston airplanes for Cessna—my immediate reaction was to wonder if Cessna can sustain a business plan with that kind of volume. Or if the company will want to. Textron is anything but a sentimental company. It suffers little delay in hacking off underperforming products and appendages.

Note that just in the past two years, Cessna has dropped the Skycatcher LSA, the TTx high-performance single and, last week, the JT-A Skyhawk. In the last three months, Textron sold one each of the Baron and G36, according to GAMA. High margins on those airplanes, probably, but is such low volume worthy of the overhead? Does the parts and service tail make it worth sustaining them? I’m not sure I want to know the answer.

What if Cessna did exit the piston business? It’s not like it hasn’t done it before and under similar circumstances. I’m occasionally asked about this very scenario, as though a guy with a blog and a bad attitude has a clue. Could Piper step up? It already has, to a degree. Piper has bagged some nice, albeit not enormous, trainer orders recently. It can rightly claim a 31 percent increase in volume for the first quarter, but that’s only eight airplanes.

Piper’s model is bifurcated. Sell the hell out of the high margin M-Class airplanes and buttress that with a companion build-to-order business for piston singles and twins.

But look at the graph. Cessna’s numbers are small and so are Piper’s. How much business is really there is a mirage, in my view. In fact, I am more and more given to the conviction that demand for training airplanes, while real enough, is overblown because we in the aviation press continue to pump the narrative. Yes, there’s a pilot shortage and yes trainers are needed. But I’m skeptical that those lines are going to trend sharply upward. I think we’ll see little clutches of sales, not great gaggles.

For what it’s worth, the current sales environment ought to be about as good as it gets. According to the IMF, the world economy is steaming along at 3.9 percent growth and emerging economies are doing a point better than that. The U.S. is at 2.9 percent and the Dow flirts with new records.

Informed bystanders argue that, duh, look at the prices of these things to explain the flat lines. That’s part of it, I’m sure, but so is value, evidently, because a fully equipped SR22 costs more than $900,000. For the first quarter, that model alone sold at twice the rate of Cessna’s entire output.  

Two years from now or five, we can just resurrect this blog and plug in new numbers and dates. Will that blue line for Cessna still be there? What’s your guess?

AC Air's Remote Control Tugs
 
Larry Anglisano
 
 

For many aircraft operators, a tug is a must-have hangar accessory. Chino, California-based AC Air Technology has devised a unique take on the tug with its line of remote-control tugs running on rubber tracks. The tugs attracted lots of attention in the outdoor exhibit area at this year's Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, Florida. In this video, Aviation Consumer Editor Larry Anglisano takes a close look.

Duo Bails Out Of TBM Avenger
 
Russ Niles
 
 

A Chicago pilot and his passenger survived bailing out of their TBM Avenger on May 7 over northeastern Arizona. Ron Carlson and Kenny Franzese hit the silk near Fort Apache in Navajo County after an apparent engine failure in the freshly restored warbird. The two were ferrying the big single-engine torpedo bomber from Phoenix to Chicago when things went wrong. "I was on the instruments and a big bang in front, and everything just started shaking,” Carlson told NBC’s Chicago affiliate. Carlson told AVweb in a podcast interview here was no place for a forced landing on the rugged terrain below and smoke was filling the cockpit and he was also afraid he wouldn't be able to see if he tried for a landing. He told Franzese to abandon the aircraft.

Franzese went first and clung briefly to the wing before letting go. Carlson followed and both were pretty banged up but mobile when they landed. Carlson had a broken rib and sprained ankle and Franzese needed surgery to fix a major facial injury. They spent a night separated before they found each other on a gravel road the next morning. Franzese followed a gravel road and found help, returning in a pickup truck with two forestry workers. "An hour later I was taking a rest and boom, a pickup truck comes by with Kenny in it," Carlson said. "So I know at that point, the adrenaline just went out and the next thing I knew I had a cold Gatorade in my hands--so that was the best thing.” The wreckage of the aircraft has not yet been found.

Carlson bought the aircraft in flying condition in Australia in 2017 and it underwent restoration in Stockton, California. He was flying it home from restoration when the mishap occurred. The Avenger was built for the U.S. Navy but spent most of its life in Canada, first in the Royal Canadian Navy and then as a waterbomber in British Columbia before going through various owners in the U.S. and finally being exported to Australia in 2006. The plane was re-registered in the U.S. in 2017 and underwent a thorough restoration, including making the wing-mounted machine guns functional. They get demonstrated in this short video shot two days before the crash.

Podcast: Bailing Out Of A Warbird
 
Russ Niles
 
 

Ron Carlson's first parachute jump is one to remember. He and his passenger Kenny Franzese bailed out of a TBM Avenger over the mountains of Arizona on May 7. He was interviewed by Russ Niles for this extended (15-minute) podcast.

Picture of the Week, May 9, 2018
 
 
A Beechcraft D17S Staggerwing at the 2018 Staggerwing and Radial Reunion at Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport (KCRG).

See all submissions

Lycoming 'When can an engine give you 200 extra flying hours?'
Brainteasers Quiz #243: Put The Civil In Civil Aviation
 

The seemingly infinite possibilities of flight are easily achieved by expanding the frontiers of our self-induced limitations -- whatever that means -- so be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid in acing this quiz. (Yes, that's a cheeky allusion to Almost Famous, likely to spark hangar discussions among incensed Goethe scholars.)

Click here to take the quiz.

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Aviation Organizations Seek Weather Station Access
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

Fourteen aviation organizations including AOPA, EAA and GAMA are asking the FAA to reconsider its position on not allowing pilots access to weather data from hundreds of non-federal weather stations. Currently, non-federal weather stations must be equipped with AWOS-III or better to be included in the FAA’s Weather Message Switching Center Replacement (WMSCR), which collects, processes and disseminates aviation weather products to NAS systems, airlines, and international and commercial users.

The organizations sent a joint letter to the FAA last August asking the agency to remove the AWOS-III requirement and to change the VFR weather station standard to require fewer maintenance visits. The letter states that the inclusion of data from lower-level and non-AWOS stations has the potential to increase safety, help prevent unintentional flight into IMC and assist with go/no-go decision making. Reducing required maintenance visits will, the groups believe, save money without impacting safety. The FAA denied the requests, but both AOPA and EAA have said they are continuing to pursue the issue.

The FAA told AVWeb that the AWOS-III requriement is in place in order to meet national and international policy requirements. The agency went on to say that "[it] is reviewing current policies and is investigating refinements to procedures and infrastructure as part of future acquistions under NextGen Weather Systems."

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DOT Selects Participants For Drone Testing
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

The U.S. Department of Transportation has chosen ten state, local and tribal governments to participate in the FAA's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program (UAS IPP). The selected governments are located throughout the U.S and will work with private sector participants to collect information on drone operations. “Data gathered from these pilot projects will form the basis of a new regulatory framework to safely integrate drones into our national airspace,” said Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.

UAS IPP participants will identify ways to balance local and national interests, improve communications, and address security and privacy risks. The program is scheduled to last for two and a half years and does not involve any federal funding. Specific areas of study include night operations, flights beyond the pilot’s line of sight, package delivery, detect-and-avoid technologies and the reliability and security of data links between pilot and aircraft.

The FAA received 149 applications for the program. Before getting started, the ten participants will work with the FAA to finalize their concepts and define responsibilities. A list of the selected partner governments selected can be found here.

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 website 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.

February 2, 2018, Las Vegas, Nev.

Beechcraft Model 95 Travel Air

At about 1105 Pacific time, the airplane departed the runway after landing. The flight instructor and student pilot were not injured but the airplane sustained substantial damage to its left wing. Visual conditions prevailed.

According to the flight instructor, they were practicing single-engine approaches by simulating failure of the left engine. The airplane was low on the approach, and the student was instructed to add power to the right engine. The student advanced the right engine’s throttle, but there was no increase in power/thrust. The flight instructor told the student to push both throttles full forward and make a go-around. The right engine returned to full power but the left one failed to produce thrust. The airplane entered a VMC roll toward the “failed” left engine and impacted terrain.

February 4, 2018, Cleveland, Ohio

Raytheon 400A Beechjet

The airplane overran the end of the runway at about 1924 Eastern time during a landing. The two airline transport pilots and the two passengers were not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. Instrument conditions prevailed for the Part 135 on-demand air taxi flight, which operated on an IFR flight plan.

The pilots abandoned their first approach due to wind conditions and ATC vectors. They then conducted a straight-in approach to Runway 24R and landed in the touchdown zone. They applied maximum braking but the airplane did not slow down and skidded off the runway into the engineered material arresting system. An initial damage assessment of the airplane indicated substantial damage to the fuselage and a collapsed nose gear.

At 1900, observed weather included wind from 330 degrees at 15 knots, gusting to 25 knots, four miles of visibility in mist and an overcast at 700 feet.

February 5, 2018, Carrabelle, Fla.

Sonex Trainer Experimental

At 1125 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain after a loss of engine power during the initial climb after takeoff. The private pilot—who was also the airplane’s owner/builder—was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

According to a witness, the flight’s purpose was to test the engine, with which the pilot/owner had been having problems. When the airplane was about halfway down the 4000-foot-long runway on takeoff, he heard the engine lose power. According to the witness, the airplane was about 100 feet above the runway when the pilot made an “aggressive bank” to the left. The airplane stalled and descended straight down to the ground. The airplane came to rest upright in a nose-down attitude about 250 yards north of the airport. There was no post-impact fire.

February 6, 2018, Patterson, La.

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

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1715 Central time during a forced landing following loss of power from both engines. The pilot, pilot-rated passenger and another passenger were not injured. A third passenger sustained serious injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

According to the pilot, the fuel gauges indicated about 45 gallons “a side” during the preflight inspection. After a 30-minute flight to pick up passengers, the airplane proceeded out over the Gulf of Mexico to photograph an oil rig. The rear door had been removed for the mission, limiting airspeed to 130 KIAS. Fuel gauges indicated about 40 gallons per tank before the second takeoff.

A passenger’s GPS tracking application reported that the accident flight departed at 1347 and arrived at the oil rig at 1514. Photography was completed at 1607, and the pilot turned toward the departure airport. According to the passenger, the pilot decided to divert to a closer airport at about 1628. The first engine lost power at about 1708, followed by the second one about 1715. The pilot executed a forced landing to a canal. Recovery personnel did not observe a fuel sheen on the water. No fuel was observed in the tanks.

February 6, 2018, Santee, Calif.

Cessna 182T Skylane

At about 0654 Pacific time, the airplane impacted an industrial storage facility. The pilot/owner, one passenger and a family dog were fatally injured; another family dog was not injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. Instrument conditions prevailed. The preliminary NTSB report fails to note whether the private pilot was instrument-rated.

The flight departed at about 0645, before the control tower opened. Witnesses reported low-level fog. The accident flight also was captured on video, which showed the airplane make a turn back toward the departure airport. The airplane was flying in and out of fog before it entered a spin and dropped below the rooftops of several buildings. Witnesses reported the airplane was in a nose-high attitude when it turned back, with its wings rocking back and forth, before it started to spin and impact the ground.

February 7, 2018, Fargo, N.D.

Piper PA-24-260 Comanche 260

The airplane was involved in a runway excursion when its landing gear collapsed at about 1800 Central time while landing. The pilot and passenger were uninjured. The airplane sustained substantial wing damage when it contacted a runway sign. Visual conditions prevailed.

After the pilot landed and boarded a passenger, the airplane would not start. The pilot used a ground power unit to start the engine and ran the airplane for about 10 minutes to charge the battery and verify the charging system. The pilot then taxied to the runway but did not verify ammeter output during the run-up. After departure, all the radios were inoperative. The pilot re-entered the traffic pattern and received a green light from the tower.

Without electrical power to lower the landing gear, the pilot initiated the manual gear extension procedure but was unable to remove the handle’s cover plate. After bending the cover back, he performed the manual gear extension procedure and observed the wingtip mirrors indicate the gear appeared to be down. On touching down, the landing gear collapsed and the airplane slid off the runway, impacted the sign.

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

For more great content like this, subscribe to Aviation Safety!

Top Letters and Comments: May 14, 2018
 
AVweb Staff
 
 

 Mechanic Shortage

Regarding legislation that creates a program and funding to help with the shortage of aviation mechanics, I submit something that is a factor in the equation.  Several weeks ago in the Phoenix area there were protests demanding the minimum wage go to $15 per hour.  McDonalds was targeted by supporters of pending legislation.  

In the Want Ads, in the same reporting paper there was an ad wanting an A&P mechanic with at least five years experience.  Starting wage was $20 per hour.  A burger flipper will be getting $ 15 and the repair station wants to get a five-year experience A&P to work on multi-million dollar G650s and pay $20 per hour?  Why is there an aviation mechanic shortage? Well DUH!

Homer Landreth

Should More LSAs Be Used in Training?

More? I think the question should be "should certain Light Sport Aircraft be used in training." Consider the Piper Cub. Many versions qualify as LSA. You can get your private license in a Cub. Two-seat trikes are now LSAs. If you want to get LSA qualified, you can do it in a trike.

High-end LSAs can be used for an IFR checkride, not because they are IFR certified, but because they can adequately demonstrate the candidate's ability to fly under the hood, with a qualified pilot, such as an examiner, on board.

Jeff Parnau

From the point of view of someone who wants to see GA prosper, the answer is unequivocally yes.  

If I put myself in the place of someone running a flight school, the answer is less clear.  I could perhaps acquire a fleet of LSAs for less than certified aircraft, but the 1320-pound weight limit almost certainly means some instructor/student combinations won't be able to fly.  I'd be forced to acquire some certified airplanes to supplement my LSAs.  What's the right ratio of certified to LSA?  With Americans weighing what they do these days, will it make sense for me to have more than one or two LSAs, period?

I watched a local flight school deal with this conundrum.  Several years ago, they acquired two C162 Skycatchers to supplement their fleet of 172s.  Having already had my PPL, I only needed to get checked out on the aircraft.  I loved flying those airplanes. I thought the handling and performance were superior to a 150, the systems were simple, visibility was excellent, the stoke- style control was cool and unique, and situational awareness was great with the Garmin G300 system.  

The big problem was the weight.  At the time, I weighed about 170 pounds and my wife weighed--well, I shouldn't say an exact figure--but she weighed significantly less than me, and far less than your typical male instructor.  With the two of us on board, we could just barely put full fuel on board.  My point is, while the 162 was a great machine, it was completely hamstrung by its weight limit.  Doing flight training with my preferred instructor, who was north of 200 pounds, would have been impossible.  Heck, training with a typical male instructor would have been impossible.  So, after a few years of having the C162's on the flight line and probably not renting them much, the flight school sold them both.  

I realize this is significantly over 200 words, but clearly there's a lot to say about LSAs.  If we could just get the gross weight increased even 100 or 150 pounds across the board, that would breath new life into these machines and massively increase their utility.  It would of course be incumbent on OEMs to prove the structures can handle the weight increase.

Hunter Myers

Listening to the Cabin Briefing

I do listen and read the card because I listened to talk by Al Haines about UAL 232. To get people to listen and use the cards, here are some thoughts, all requiring some research:

Confederate--if you can get some people in the cabin to listen and read the cards, others should. In other words, any deadheading crew should always listen to the brief, read the card, and thus passively encourage others to do the same.

Look to research like this "Dealing with Resistance in Initial Intake and Inquiry Calls to Mediation: The Power of 'Willing'"  Key words that may get people to help during the brief.

Also, the same researcher from mentioned aboe researched key words in publications. For example, getting people in hotels to re-use towels through more effective little sayings on the cards in your bathroom.

Bill Tuccio

Well, this is a first.  I was the first to respond to the Sunday click-bait question!

I actually do always watch the briefing, find the exits, and read the safety card.  In fact, my wallet pattern is a safety card:

Neil Cormia

In your survey, I said I don't listen to airline cabin briefings. But that's only because I've heard them so many times that I could recite the briefing myself, without a cue card. I have over 1 million miles flying on American Airlines and probably an equal number of miles on all other airlines, combined.

I do, on every flight, observe the location of the nearest exits and count the rows, both in front of me and behind.

Peter Murphy

Understanding FSS...Not

Ref Paul Berge's blog  on FSS and DUATs, What pilots need is a flow chart explaining the FAA's organization plan with a pizza coupon if you finish. Just when I thought I understood Flight Service Stations (forget DUATS), the name changes to something unexplained; the functions, says the FAA, are the same; they are not, say the FSDOs. Lockheed Martin reaches in with a lovely new website that leaves me in total confusion. 

Used to be I thought, you opened and closed flight plans with a FSS; you could get weather advisories; you could be handed to an appropriate facility or given their radio frequency. Now, they say, everything has changed and it all remains the same.

So is it "Radio," or "ACAS," or "LEIDOS"? And before we all go ICAO, how does this all lay out on a flat surface? Do I have to take the name FSS out of my software?

Richard Herbst

Southwest Emergency

The Southwest emergency is not a good example because its a relatively straightforward emergency descent, secure, and divert. I think an autonomous system could probably do that now at least as effectively as an average crew.

But I have my doubts about a lot of other scenarios. Smoke, gusty conditions, microburst, windshear caused by rotor, GPS jamming or multiple failure, failures caused by lightning strike  and son. I sit in an airliner to perform the routine and manage the unexpected and unforseen.

There are times that pilots make things worse but that’s unusual. In general, we get it right and work through problems. The worst thing about the potential of autonomous flight will be the transition between the two--the thought of pilotless aircraft interacting with ones with pilots terrifies me!

Tom Moutrie

I commend the crew of the Southwest flight for safely bringing their charges to the ground after an uncontained engine failure. However, as a 36-plus year pilot for another carrier, I admit I am a little surprised that so much is being made of what is actually not such a difficult flying situation for any well-trained airline crew.

I personally landed at least half a dozen twin-engine airplanes with engines shut down, and a couple of those were after catastrophic engine failures. I was fortunate that none involved parts penetrating the fuselage or injuring or killing passengers. But had that happened, I would have flown the airplane (or managed the copilot doing so) in exactly the same manner.

Airline pilots safely land airplanes with engines shut down on a regular basis, and though this one was particularly unfortunate for the passenger who was killed, the demands on the flight crew are really no different than any other engine-out situation. I also wonder if the gender of the captain, (obviously not the one flying the jet because she was managing the emergency and doing the communicating) has had a bit too much to do with the kind of coverage received.

During my career, I flew with many highly-qualified and skilled women. But I think the goal of getting people to accept women in their rightful place as members of professional airline crews would probably be furthered by our not making so much of their genders when they just do their jobs, professionally and successfully, exactly as do their male counterparts. If we want women on the flight deck to be seen as normal, then why shouldn't we treat them normally, instead of like something unusual?

Ron Cox

Airliner Autonomy

Twenty-plus years ago, when I worked for Sperry/Honeywell, we investigated several 1.5, 1 pilot and no-pilot cockpit and avionics designs.  Sperry did remote pilot aircraft starting in WW I, WW II and made drones out of hundreds of surplus airplanes for the military.  It will happen, just a matter of time.

Larry K. Clark

Of course automation could handle it. But I think it will be many years before AI will be sophisticated enough to weigh the options and make the decision to ditch an airliner in a body of water. Like, say, the Hudson.

John Mininger



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