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Volume 26, Number 19a
May 6, 2019
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Superjet Lands In Flames In Moscow: 41 Dead (Updated)
Russ Niles

New video has emerged showing the Aeroflot Superjet 100 that burned at a Moscow airport was not on fire when it landed but caught fire on the runway after an extremely hard landing and bounce. The right engine erupted in flames on the second impact in the fuzzy surveillance tape. At least 41 people were killed and an unknown number injured in the accident at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on Sunday. The aircraft was almost fully engulfed in flames by the time it had rolled out. The aircraft had just taken off on a flight to Murmansk with 79 people on board. Initial reports said an inflight engine fire occurred early in the flight but the video clearly shows the fire started on the ground.

The aircraft erupted in flames in full view of the main terminal and Russia's main investigative bureau has been called to investigate. The crew reported a lightning strike shortly after takeoff and returned to Moscow. There were reports the crew aborted one landing attempt and the accident happened on the second try. After the aircraft stopped, passengers jumped to safety on the front emergency slides and fled from the runway. Some of them were carrying baggage. The Superjet 100 has been in service for eight years and Aeroflot is the main operator. About 300 are in service. As alarming as the video shot from outside is (first video), the 21 seconds shot by a passenger is even more frightening.

What's New In Electric Airplanes?
Paul Bertorelli

At Aero in Friedrichshafen, Germany, in April, one full exhibition hall was loaded with electric airplanes and related technology. In this week's AVweb video, Paul Bertorelli takes a look at some of the new stuff on display.

Will Boeing Ever Dig Itself Out?
Paul Bertorelli

When Boeing finally digs itself out of the self-inflicted PR disaster of the 737 MAX story—if it ever does—I wonder how it will be graded on handling the crisis. I wonder, but I’m kinda disposed to think it will become a textbook case of how not to behave in the searing glare of catastrophic bad publicity.

I further wonder what the people who buy Boeing’s airplanes—Southwest, Delta, United and a host of foreign airlines—must have thought when, earlier this week, CEO Dennis Muilenburg insisted that the MAX line was designed properly and met certification requirements. This, of course, ignores that 370-plus MAX airplanes remain grounded, awaiting a software upgrade to the MCAS stability system. Muilenburg said Boeing’s review found no “technical gap or slip” in the MCAS software design.

In a factual sense, Muilenburg may be correct. But until all the investigations are done, including congressional inquiries, the question of certification fidelity remains open. Boeing will face a tsunami of lawsuits and not just from the families of the 346 victims of two MAX crashes, but from airlines losing revenue on their now-parked expensive assets. They’ll wish to be made whole.

What must have grated is Muilenburg’s implication this week that Boeing certified the airplane assuming that pilots could handle any anomalies with standard accepted procedures. He said pilots flying the crash airplanes didn’t “completely” follow procedures in place for runaway trim events, including amplified procedures following the Lion Air crash. Again, from what’s known at this juncture, that appears factually true.

Yet, according to a CNN report, Boeing never flight tested a failure scenario in which the single angle-of-attack indicator fed erroneous data to an MCAS subsystem capable of rolling in full nose-down stabilizer trim, a powerful potential control input pilots weren’t aware of. “Apparently, we missed the ramifications of the failure of that AoA probe,” a former Boeing test pilot told CNN.

Before the first crash of Lion Air 610 last October, pilots hadn’t been specifically informed of MCAS’s existence, although Boeing didn’t try to hide it. The aircraft manufacturer said that MCAS was not a significant enough addition to the 737 to merit mention in the flight crew operating manual, much less specific training. Along with new software that incorporates data from both AoA sensors, pilots will now get ground training on MCAS operation and potential failure modes.

Boeing did some fast pedaling on another sticky point. Southwest Airlines revealed this week that Boeing misinformed the airline about the functionality of AoA disagree lights that warn the pilots of anomalous AoA data. Southwest said Boeing’s documentation indicated the disagree lights were functional on the airline’s MAX airplanes, but it learned only after Lion Air that this was true only if the pilots’ PFDs were equipped with direct angle readouts. Southwest installed these only after the Lion Air crash.

Whether this was an innocent omission on Boeing’s part or willful obfuscation is a question that may be answered in court or in the ongoing inquiries. Either way, in the Part 25/121 world where every t is crossed and i dotted with logged revisions, it strikes me as sloppy attention to detail.

And speaking of detail, Muilenburg reset the clock on why MCAS—Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System—was there in the first place. Early press reports—including quotes from Boeing—described it as a stall-protection system that automatically added nose-down trim at high angles of attack and load factors when the airplane was being hand flown with flaps and slats stowed.

But this week, Muilenburg said MCAS was never that. It was added to the airplane as stability augmentation at the extreme corners of the CG envelope, at light weights and aft CG. It was intended to improve control feel in circumstances where light pitch forces would normally be encountered.

In a serial story like this, journalists quite naturally resort to repetitive shorthand to describe a technical element. In this case, it was: MCAS, a stall-protection subsystem, or words to that effect. We used it in stories and so did every other media outlet. We did this for five months following the Lion Air crash, but Boeing never bothered to issue a statement clarifying it.

Should it have done so? I’m not sure, but I find it curious that it did not. It makes me further wonder if even Boeing had a good grasp of what MCAS was supposed to do and/or how it would do it. Maybe it’s just another item on a long list of things the company will have to explain to its customers and the flying public if it’s to restore the luster to the Boeing brand.

Note to Readers: No, it's not something you said. Because of persistent denial of service attacks against AVweb, we're moving the site to another platform. The commenting section will be unavailable for a time. We apologize for the inconvenience, but the site will be better for it in a week or two. In the meantime, if you have a comment, email us and we'll append it to the blog.

The first line of this story asks if Boeing will ever recover from their PR Disaster. Losing 2 aircraft and killing hundreds of passengers because of a problem with the design, certification and training provided for the 737 MAX 8 is far worse than a PR Disaster. The disaster was their decision to deliver a plane that requires heroic actions from the flight crew to preclude killing everyone on board. Their PR missteps following the two accidents complicated the issue, but Boeing's failure to handle the press effectively is the least of their problems.

Gary Lanthrum

Two great articles in particular this week: the “Possible Turn” and today’s “Grading Boeing”. Keep up the wonderful, informative work!

Ron Blum

How much are Boeing paying you? Everything Boeing did was WRONG, right from the design concept of the MCAS system, so how can they get anything more than an F.

Peter Butt

MCAS is an example of computer control being able to override a pilot's control. When we enable the computers to have the final decision have we verified that the data that they're using is accurate? In these cases the pilots were the ones with the right data, but the computers overrode them. How many other systems aboard our new planes( all manufacturers) have the final decision? One last thought, how secure is the data against deliberate intrusion?

Joe Phillips

As a retired Boeing engineer, I have to admit my interest in all the MAX articles, but I have some criticism too. The way the media has piled on to viciously attack Boeing is reprehensible. The way journalists act is like chickens in a coop - if one bird has an injury or a sore, the others peck the injury until they eventually kill the injured bird. It is the same bird-brain mentality that I now see in the media.

In any other country, Boeing would be a source of national pride. Take Ethiopian Airlines for example. The Ethiopians are justifiably proud of a successful business at home. Not so in America where we tend to jealousy attack anyone who is successful. I am at a loss to explain this thinking that is common in America.

Brian Behrend

"CEO Dennis Muilenburg insisted that the MAX line was designed properly and met certification requirements."

I find that unbelievable. He should listen to the screams of terror which undoubtedly came from the passengers and crew of the crashed aeroplanes before he is allowed anywhere near another aircraft.
Will never happen though, too close to the White House to ever let a simple thing like crashed airliners from keeping his nose in the trough.

John Patson

Great, even-handed coverage, Paul.

I hope that somewhere along the way, some parties look into the Root Cause(s) of how the737MAX came to evolve. I agree with Ralph Nader when he said: “...Congress bears some very serious responsibility.” The FAA has been struggling for funding since before 2000 and not getting it has caused the loss of real engineering depth in the intervening years. Then there’s the stretching of the 53-year-old 737 Type Certificate to avoid certification expense of a new airplane.

Later, probably with Boeing lobbying pressure and urgency to quickly certify new models, Organizational Delegated Authority came into existence. This ability to self-certify was touted by Boeing management as a “competitive advantage” as far back as 2010. I think that led to allowing failure modes to slip through (e.g. battery fires) which grounded the 787. The 737MAX is another example.

Greater than either was the philosophical shift to be “more like Airbus,” giving the computer control over the pilot with envelope protection using MCAS in a surreptitious way.

Possibly related, there was a minority stockholder proposal to stop stock buybacks. This was voted down, and apparently Boeing will spend $20B this year. I wish they would spend it on R&D. They may also need the money for the lawsuits, which Boeing apparently intends to get moved to foreign courts where the awards are lower. I hope the planned congressional hearings will encourage use of the U.S. legal system as this would provide better transparency.

A. Tom Jensen

I’m still at a loss to understand why the crew didn’t simply turn off the electronics and fly the airplane. Is that too much to expect of a crew?

John Hodges

The bad PR was inevitable, given the scenario of two crashes with near-identical causes, both attributable to engineering management.

Using FAA’s establishment of Organizational Delegated Authority (ODA) as a cause of weak oversight is really tangential. If the Certification Engineering Group at Boeing were transformed into FAA employees, would the outcome have been any different?

Delegating low longitudinal stability, nose-up pitch with power, and clean stall avoidance to a computer programmer is just a really bad idea. Besides the current fatal results, the mindset which enables automation at all levels “because you can” is allowing the foolishness of inserting a 200 hour copilot into the airplane on the basis that he’s good at computer games.

And was the value of selling a better specific range by substituting software for a larger horizontal stab really worth it?

Bill Davies

“The disaster was their decision to deliver a plane that requires heroic actions from the flight crew to preclude killing everyone on board. “
~ Gary Lanthrum

“MCAS is an example of computer control being able to override a pilot's control. When we enable the computers to have the final decision have we verified that the data that they're using is accurate? In these cases the pilots were the ones with the right data, but the computers overrode them.”
~ Joe Phillips

What is heroic about turning off two switches to stop runaway trim? And a computer can override a pilot only if the pilot doesn’t turn off the computer.

Now, there are definitely problems with the initial implementation of MCAS, and Boeing should bear the brunt of the blame. Its failure shouldn’t put the plane into an abnormal situation. But... the prior crew to the Lion Air crash flipped the switches and flew the plane normally after that. Were they superhuman? Doesn’t that successful outcome kind of prove what Boeing has said all along? And why is it U.S. and European crews haven’t had this same disaster befall their airlines, despite flying far more flights for years?

I suspect that when the final report(s) come out, the problem will not be as entirely one-sided as much of the press (and comments) seem to believe. These accidents will likely shed some light on the fact that not everyone who sits in the pointy end is equally competent and/or well-trained (Asiana Flight 214, for example). Provided, of course, the local governments release all the data. Just remember, these accident investigations are not being driving by an independent body like the NTSB. Witness the differing conclusions as the investigation progressed on EgyptAir Flight 990.

Alas, I suspect my comments will be dismissed as racist or jingoistic. Or, at best, heartless. That may be the case, despite my best intentions. But, if the only focus is on the hardware and not the wetware, the problem will occur again, just with a different failure as the trigger.

Finally, until the final report(s) come out, all of these comments (my own included) are just opinion and speculation.

Kirk Wennerstrom

Sure they will ... once they get their collective heads outta their butts, stop “hacking-up” a 50+ year 737 type certificate, and stop trying to re-invent the 757.

Phil DeRosier

The MCAS story may be the most public, and by far most consequential, representation of larger and more wide spread issues at Boeing. Add in the recent action by the Air Force in twice halting deliveries of the KC-46 because of factory FOD issues and similar complaints for 787 FOD issues in the South Carolina plant. Had to imagine that coming from an AS9100 Quality Organization, especially happening again after corrective actions. The WSJ had an interesting article about the Boeing factory test pilots not being in the engineering loop for the MCAS and were barely aware of its existence during development.

I am still trying to understand how any safety review of an automated system (MCAS) with a single point of failure (single AOA configuration) would allow it to exert any authority on a flight control surface. There is certainly enough other data available from other sources to cross check the AOA value for reasonableness.

I once admired Boeing’s CMMI Level 5 development process, I am now wondering if the process has become an end to itself where common sense and experience no longer need apply. Perhaps it is time for Boeing to start looking at why these internal breakdowns are occurring and fix them along with the MCAS software.

John Salak

Paul Bertorelli wrote: "In a serial story like this, journalists quite naturally resort to repetitive shorthand to describe a technical element. In this case, it was: MCAS, a stall-protection subsystem, or words to that effect. We used it in stories and so did every other media outlet. We did this for five months following the Lion Air crash, but Boeing never bothered to issue a statement clarifying it."
I am nothing more than a Airbus pilot; and I immediately understood from reading the original media coverage that MCAS was in fact just what the acronym MCAS said it was - Manuevering Characteristics Augmentation - !
I find it disingenuous for Mr. Bertorelli to justify calling MCAS a stall protection system just because Boeing failed to correct the media's incorrect reporting. I truly expect more from AVweb, and from Mr Bertorelli, as I've enjoyed his writings for years.
Matthew Nowell

Lycoming 'When can an engine give you 200 extra flying hours?'
737 Dunked In Navy Base Overrun (Updated)
Russ Niles

There were no fatalities among the 143 people aboard a Miami Air Boeing 737 that went off the end of the runway at Naval Air Station Jacksonville Friday night. The plane was on a flight from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba when it ended up in shallow water in the St. John’s River about 9:40 p.m. local time. Thunderstorms and heavy rain showers were reported in the area at the time. The runway at the base is 9,000 feet long and the aircraft stopped about 1,000 feet off the end. Passengers reported a hard landing and bounce followed by the plane rocking back and forth before exiting the runway. A total of 21 people were taken to Jacksonville hospitals but Tom Francis, a spokesman for Jacksonville Fire Rescue, said none of the injuries were critical and the patients were in “good condition” according to KJAX.

The aircraft was on a return flight from Guantanamo Bay and departed the Jacksonville base earlier Friday morning. The passengers were a mix of military personnel, families and civilians. Several pets in the cargo hold were killed. Miami Air is a Miami-based charter airline that operates six Boeing 737-800s. It has been in operation since 1990 and markets to government organizations, sports teams, entertainers and corporate clients. Updates as they become available. It has several military contracts and flies regularly to the base in Cuba.

Report: Even Boeing Test Pilots Lacked Details About MCAS
Paul Bertorelli

Test pilots on the Boeing 737 MAX weren’t provided key details on how the MCAS stability system functioned and apparently weren’t aware of its aggressive trim capability. The Wall Street Journal reports that MAX flight test pilots were also unaware that MCAS relied on data from a single angle-of-attack sensor.

The report follows a revelation earlier this week that Boeing misinformed Southwest Airlines about the operability of AoA sensor disagree lights that would have warned pilots about faulty AoA data. Boeing’s documentation said the 34 Southwest MAX aircraft had operable disagree lights, but Southwest learned after the Lion Air MAX crash last October that the lights operated only if PFDs were equipped with direct angle readouts, which Southwest aircraft didn’t have. The readouts were installed after the Lion Air crash.

Boeing admitted over the weekend that it waited 13 months to tell the FAA that making the AOA disagreement alert an extra-cost option was an unintentional error. It said it didn't tell the FAA because the display didn't affect safety. “Neither the angle of attack indicator nor the AOA Disagree alert are necessary for the safe operation of the airplane,” Boeing told Reuters.“They provide supplemental information only, and have never been considered safety features on commercial jet transport airplanes.”

The Journal reported that when MAX development began in 2011, the company sought and welcomed pilot suggestions on aircraft under development. But under restructuring and cost control, the previously independent flight test group lost influence in the developmental process. “About midway through the MAX’s development … a senior pilot recalls warning a Boeing executive about taking pilots out of the loop: ‘Something is going to get by, and it’s not going to be pretty,’” the paper reported.

The story follows a report by CNN earlier this week in which a former Boeing test pilot said, “Apparently, we missed the ramifications of the failure of that AoA probe.” But a senior Boeing executive told the paper he hadn’t heard about such concerns and that consolidation of the flight test group strengthened it by making more resources available throughout the company. He said restructuring added no additional cost pressure.

A test pilot who flew some late-stage MAX flights said he was informed about MCAS generally, but without details, and was unaware of its single AoA sensor architecture. MCAS—for Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System—is under intense scrutiny in both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines hull losses, in which 346 people were killed.

MCAS was thought to have been added as a stall-protection subsystem. But in a press conference this week, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said it was actually installed as a stability augmentation system meant to improve control feel at light weights and extreme aft CG when the aircraft was being hand flown. In its original iteration, MCAS was capable of automatically rolling in nose-down stabilizer trim intermittently at the rate of 0.27 degrees per second. MCAS could apply full nose-down stabilizer trim.

Regardless of its purpose, MCAS relied on data from a single AoA sensor, although the airplane has two. Software revisions Boeing has developed for the MAX series will incorporate dual AoA data, plus error-detection filtering. It’s not known if trim limits will be restricted.

Boeing was criticized for not providing airlines and crews with any information on MCAS in Flight Crew Operations Manuals. Boeing deemed the system too minor to merit mention and believed it required no additional training.

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A380 Scrapping Begins
Russ Niles

Only 12 years after their entry to service, crews have begun dismantling two Airbus A380s for scrap at a French airport. The ex-Singapore Airlines airframes were the first to carry passengers in 2007 and were returned to a leasing company by the airline after their 10-year term expired. The leasing company made the call to part them out after it couldn’t find any buyers. The cannibalization began last week at Tarbes Lourdes Airport near the Spanish border.

First to go were the Rolls-Royce Trent engines. Both aircraft have empty nacelles, already. One is missing its radome and the rudders are gone on both. The Singapore livery was painted over before their flight to the mountains more than a year ago. Singapore still has 19 A380s but the airline is opting for volume over luxury with older 379-seat versions (with 12 private suites) being converted to carry 471 passengers.

uAvionix Introduces Drone Avionics Line
Kate O'Connor

uAvionix has announced a new line of certified avionics for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). The company says its ping200X Mode S ADS-B transponder and truFYX Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation source are designed to enable UAS type certifications and Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) mission capabilities.

“The UAS market has evolved to the point where UAS Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are now executing serious efforts to achieve aircraft type certifications,” said uAvionix President Christian Ramsey. “Leveraging certified equipment not only for ADS-B, but also as the primary position source for BVLOS autopilot navigation, helps our customers achieve those goals. Until now, certified solutions meeting the Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP) profile of unmanned systems simply didn’t exist.”

The ping200X weighs in at 50 grams and is a 250W Class 1 Level 2els Mode S transponder. The company expects certification by July 2019. According to uAvionix, the 40-gram truFYX will be “the world’s first SBAS GPS position source certified under TSO-C145e as a Class Beta 1 device.” It was previously certified as an integrated component uAvionix’s skyBeacon ADS-B unit. Certification is expected by the end of May.

Air Force Changing Pilot Training
Russ Niles

The Air Force is planning to churn out better new pilots faster using virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) in a simulator-intensive program that also prepares them for a new readiness posture. An extensive analysis in says commanders want to get away from the traditional classroom, trainer and operational training progression in favor of more “competency-based learning” using VR for the training scenarios and AI to grade the students’ progress while they’re in the sim. "Those are two things that are poised to make a revolutionary change in how well we train pilots and in how long it takes us to train pilots," Gen. Mike Holmes, the commander of Air Combat Command, said in an interview with "I want to see how fast and well I can produce experienced pilots.”

New pilots will still fly airplanes and their new mount will be the Boeing T-X, which won a recent competition to supply a next-generation trainer. Most current trainers are decades-old designs but the T-X will be equipped to train new pilots for the battle scenarios of the future. Most air force operations in the last 20 years have been in largely uncontested airspace but the rise of sophisticated aerial combat equipment in countries that could be engaged in future conflicts means new trainees will be facing enemies with equipment that is on par with theirs. The Air Force is facing an acute pilot shortage and is working on retention programs to stem the flow of disgruntled personnel to the airlines.

Industry Round-up, May 3, 2019
AVweb Staff

This week, AVweb’s news roundup uncovered reports on a new investment in Southern Airways, an operational expansion for Airstream Jets, the launch of a flight training academy and a successful aviation safety event in the U.K. Southern Airways Corporation has announced a strategic minority investment by SkyWest. According to Southern, the investment will boost the company’s recruiting capabilities by providing a career pathway “from flight school through Southern's cadet program.” Southern Airways Corporation is the parent company of Southern Airways Express and Mokulele Airlines.

Jet card provider Airstream Jets is expanding its operation in the northeastern U.S. with a new office located in Signature Flight Support's new South Terminal at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport (TEB). The new office will be led by President of Operations at Airstream Jets Debbie Higgins and the company plans to add additional staff in 2019 and 2020.

Ohio-based Skyblazer Academy has formally launched its flight training program. The nonprofit organization intends to provide scholarships for the full cost of a private pilot license to all of its cadets. Finally, the U.K.’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation (APPG-GA) is lauding the success of this year’s Duxford General Aviation Safety Day. The event was hosted at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and supported by the APPG-GA.

Top Letters And Comments, May 3, 2019

uAvionix SkyBeacon ADS-B Installations

In his article on the uAvionix SkyBeacon, Larry Anglisano said that a pilot could ask ATC if they see his ADS-B. It is true that ATC has the capability to see whether an aircraft is ADS-B equipped, we discourage pilots from asking that question. It encourages unnecessary frequency congestion and the controller cannot provide any meaningful ADS-B performance information.

The best way to verify the correct functioning of ADS-B equipment is by requesting a Public ADS-B Performance Report (PAPR) - which Larry also mentioned. This is what the FAA and ATC prefer.

I really enjoyed the article, by the way.

Paul Von Hoene

Folks, really not happy with your article yesterday regarding the uAvionix ADS-B wing-tip beacon. Your articles are usually very accurate and un-biased, but this one was the worst-case scenario!

I have helped or done 20+ installations using this device and the comments about it taking 4 hours are simply not normal or accurate. The vast majority that I have done or assisted with are installed in 15-20 minutes, and the setup or configuration using a phone or iPad rarely takes more than 20-30 minutes.

Then the comments about the 337 paperwork and such extending the time needed to 4 hours is sad to see as well. uAvionix have a long list of air-frames that are on their STC list and one of those requires a simple logbook entry then the validation flight.

I have no association with uAvionix other than I am one of their "Qualified Installers" and an A&P/IA. Hope that in the future you can re-address this and tell aircraft owners the truth and not the "worst-case" scenario as was done in this case.

Joe Abrahamson

The (Im)possible Turn

Finally, this argument is getting addressed with logic. For example, sailplane training includes tow rope break response. At 200' AGL in most trainers, options were 30 degrees or so left or right. Above 200' a return to the airport was not only possible, but sometimes required full air brakes and slips. To cement the idea, students call out 200' during the tow, they practice returns from this elevation, and the turn-around callout and a "surprise release" is part of the practical exam. Why not make it a part of normal takeoff chatter along with "airspeed alive"? Of course sailplanes have glide ratios that can approach 60:1 and your mileage in a C152 may vary, but the point is that a decision should be based on plane/pilot combinations that have been practiced and proven (at altitude) so that at some callout altitude a return to the runway becomes not just possible, but the best option.

As my CFI said, the best response to a lot of flying questions is: "It depends."

John Lerchen

Undoing An Upset

All that talk about upsets with definite emphasis on spins, but NOTHING on spiral departures, which evolve rapidly into big descent rates and nose down one hole crashes too.

Bill Simpson

I must take issue with your use of the term deep stall in reference to doing a "falling leaf." In a deep stall you lose effectiveness of all or a portion of your rudder and/or elevator. In a falling leaf both remain effective (except at the moment of stall break), otherwise you would not be able to perform the maneuver.

Bill Post

Reporting Fires In The Air

Here in Southern California we have two seasons...wet and dry. Our dry season is also called "Fire Season." Last year in late fire season I noticed smoke coming from one of our local hills. This is where a fire had developed and extinguished. However, I could see the fire had reignited.

I didn't know how to report the fire so I tried calling Riverside tower (KRAL) and gave them the position of the fire. I was flying from my home airport KAJO to KHMT for a breakfast flight. KHMT is also the base for firefighting tankers. Within ten minutes of my report I could see a flight of three fast moving aircraft at my twelve on my ADSB screen and same altitude. I descended and I could see three fire bombers flying toward the fire.

A week later while flying to Riverside Airport the controller heard my aircraft ID and asked if I was the one who reported the fire. He said the fire fighter wanted to thank me for the early warning. My report was the first they knew of the re-burn.

It is my belief that many pilots may see smoke and either think someone already knows about it or they don't know how to report it. Pilots could help during fire season if we were trained on how to spot fires and how to properly report them. It made me feel that my flying that day was a benefit to our firefighting efforts and not just another breakfast flight.

John Miller

Short Final: Altitude Reporting

Best radio call I ever got to make:

I was a student pilot in the USAF, on my T‑38 cross country. Our final leg was a short hop from ABQ to home at Reese AFB (Lubbock, Texas). Of course, all surplus gas would be consumed with approach and landing practice.

Departing ABQ, the TRACON asked for an expedited climb to something like FL220 and to “report passing every 2000 feet.”

With the blessing of my instructor, I had the true privilege of lighting both afterburners, pitching up, keying the mic and saying, “Reese 69 passing 12,000, 14,000, 16,000, FL180, FL200, leveling FL220,” then releasing the mic.

Climb rate in full afterburner exceeded 6000 FPM, which was the mechanical limit of our VSI.

Jim McIrvin
Warrenton, VA
Brainteasers Quiz #255: The Wind Is Your Friend

Even when tilting at windmilling propellers, pilots must understand the many ways seemingly innocuous air moves and scoffs at the best laid flight plans of those who wish to ace this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

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