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Bruce Landsberg, AOPA

Jeff Skiles, EAA

Two highly visible aviation experts are making career changes. AOPA announced this week that safety advocate Bruce Landsberg will retire from his position as president of the AOPA Foundation and executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Institute. Landsberg spent 22 years at AOPA and led the association's safety efforts. And Jeff Skiles, who signed on with EAA to promote aviation safety and education after taking a break from his airline job following the famous ditching in the Hudson, has moved on to consider the next step in his career. Skiles said he'll continue to contribute to EAA as a writer, volunteer and member. "It has been a true privilege to be part of the EAA staff, as I was able to meet so many dedicated members and local chapters who are wonderful ambassadors for EAA and aviation," Skiles said.

AOPA said it has named Jim Minow, a GA pilot with an extensive background in the nonprofit world, to head the AOPA Foundation. George Perry, who formerly served in the Navy as an F-18E squadron commanding officer and recently worked for Cirrus Aircraft, will lead the Air Safety Institute. Landsberg spoke with AVweb about aviation safety in this 2013 podcast, and Skiles talked about aviation education and careers in 2011.

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Malaysian Airlines has been losing cabin crew at a higher than normal rate recently and the leader of its biggest union says there's no mystery there. Abu Malek Ariff told AFP some employees "are now afraid to fly." Since the missile attack on one of its aircraft in Ukraine, which followed the March disappearance of another Boeing 777, it's believed that family pressure has also convinced some of the flying staff to find other work. At total of 186 people quit following the Ukraine incident. More than 500 people, including 27 crew, are either dead or missing without a trace in the two incidents. "Following the MH17 incident, there was a spike in crew resignations but the number has now decreased to acceptable and routinely expected levels," the airline said in a statement. "Many cited 'family pressure' as the reason for their resignation due to the MH17 and MH370 tragedies." Meanwhile, Thai Airways is denying reports that it's facing an exodus from its cockpits over the airline's troubled financial situation.

A local report said 200 pilots quit suddenly because they're worried about the deficit the state-controlled carrier is running and the debts it's running up. The airline told a news conference Monday that 30 pilots have quit but it hasn't affected operations. Thai Airways announced earlier this year that it is restructuring after more than a year of heavy losses and will lose about 25 percent of its workforce by 2018. The airline now has 24,000 employees operating a mostly aging mixed fleet of Boeing and Airbus aircraft and faces stiff competition from carriers springing up in neighboring countries. Restructuring of the airline was ordered by the ruling military junta, which has given orders to a so-called "super committee" to restore the airline to world-class status over the next five years.


file photo

A police helicopter crashed about 9 a.m. Sunday while trying to rescue an injured climber in the Picos de Europa mountain range in Spain, killing all three crew members on board. A fourth crew member, who had already exited the helicopter to aid the climber, survived and called for help. "They were carrying out a mountain rescue when their helicopter hit the wall of a mountain and was thrust down the slope," officials said in a statement. Some sources reported the area was engulfed in fog during the rescue attempt, but a government official said the weather was good at the time of the accident.

The helicopter, operated by the Guardia Civil, had two police officer/pilots and two mountain-rescue experts on board. The climber, who had a broken ankle, was later rescued by another helicopter and taken to a hospital.

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The NTSB said on Monday it has revoked the party status of both the Independent Pilots Association and UPS Airlines relative to its ongoing investigation of UPS Flight 1354, an A300-600 air cargo flight that crashed on approach to Birmingham, Alabama, last August, killing both crew members on board. The board said it took the action because IPA and UPS "violated the terms of the party agreement that each had signed at the start of the investigation." The NTSB said both IPA and UPS "took actions prejudicial to the investigation by publicly commenting on and providing their own analysis of the investigation prior to the NTSB's public meeting to determine the probable cause of the accident."

"NTSB investigations depend heavily upon technical input from the accident parties," said Acting Chairman Christopher Hart. "If one party disseminates information about the accident, it may reflect that party's bias. This puts the other parties at a disadvantage and makes them less willing to engage in the process, which can undercut the entire investigation." The NTSB said the IPA issued a news release on Aug. 13, without first consulting with the NTSB, providing its own analysis of the accident, which is explicitly prohibited in the party agreement. UPS, also without first consulting with the NTSB, posted comments on a website responding to the IPA press release in which it also provided its own analysis. "Neither action is acceptable," said Hart.

In its letter to the union (PDF), the board said statements in the press release concerning the UPS 1354 flight crew's fatigue "impermissibly prejudges the results of the NTSB's continuing investigation of the accident and its forthcoming findings and probable-cause statement regarding the accident." In its letter to UPS (PDF), the board said it was "greatly concerned with UPS Airlines' failure to consult with us" before responding to the news release from IPA posted on the Air Cargo World website. The NTSB held an investigative hearing on the accident in February, but the probable-cause report and meeting is still pending.


Goodyear officially launched its newest blimp over the weekend, with a christening ceremony and a ceremonial flight from its base in Akron, Ohio. The airship, built from aluminum and carbon fiber, is the first of a new generation of blimps built for Goodyear by the Zeppelin factory in Germany. The former blimp fleet recalled Goodyear's heritage, with traditional controls including a ship-like wheel to control the elevator. The Zeppelins are larger -- about 250 feet long -- and use fly-by-wire controls and swiveling engines for precise maneuvering. Goodyear will add two more new Zeppelins to its fleet over the next four years, as the older blimps are retired.

Goodyear invited ABC News reporter Robin Roberts to christen the airship "Wingfoot One" before Saturday's flight. Roberts said her great-grandfather moved to Akron in 1918 to take a job with Goodyear. The company has built and operated more than 300 lighter-than-air vehicles since 1917. AVweb's Mary Grady flew a similar Zeppelin airship in 2009, in Long Beach, California, during a pilot demo day. That operation folded in 2012 and the airship was returned to Germany.

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BendixKing has a new integrated avionics suite for the turboprop market.  The AeroVue, which trickles down from advanced avionics found in transport category and business jets, is a three-screen system with autopilot, dual AHRS, cursor-control device (CCD), plus cabin internet connectivity.  In this video, Aviation Consumer's Larry Anglisano takes a look at the system in BendixKing's King Air, which was on display at AirVenture 2014 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.


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Sooner or later, I knew it was coming: Connie Edwards' aircraft collection wasn't going to molder away in his hangar forever and this week, the day arrived. Over the weekend, the U.K.'s Sunday Express announced that Edwards' collection of about a dozen World War II era fighters had been sold for $17 million to a European dealer. I have to imagine that Edwards isn't entirely happy to see them go, but at 80, he also probably knows it's time. Tragically, he lost his 41-year-old son to a traffic accident a year ago this Friday and figures family interest in the airplanes may have ended.

I met Edwards about 17 years ago, and spent a bit of time with him in the cockpit of his immaculately restored Consolidated PBY. Edwards had brought the airplane to Grand Cayman where it showed up on the ramp during what was then the islands' International Aviation Week. Although I was one of the principal organizers of that event and the Cayman Caravan, which brought U.S. pilots to the islands, I didn't know the PBY was coming. But there it was. At the time, Edwards owned a hotel on Grand Cayman, so technically, he was on a business trip not related to our event.

I'd never been in a PBY—and haven't since—but it was interesting to see how nautical it was. It looked as much like the inside of a naval ship as an airplane. I remember seeing rope cleats on some of the inside bulkheads. The airplane was a hybrid of sorts, restored to some original and some modern standards. My memory might be failing me, but I think it was the same PBY that made the evening news a few years earlier when it got dunked and capsized in the U.K. Edwards brought it over the pond to the U.S.

We were doing parachute demos on Cayman Brac that year and Edwards casually mentioned using the PBY as the jump ship. That would have been novel and I would have jumped at the chance, so to speak. But the single belly hatch available for exit was just too tight, so we ended up using a Seneca instead. Booooring.

The same couldn't be said of Edwards, however. Our news story explains how Edwards ended up with his remarkable collection of unique World War II fighters, having traded them as an IOU for his pilot duties during the 1969 filming of The Battle of Britain. He was a mere 35 then, but was well enough known in the warbird community to be the go-to guy, along with three other Texans, for flight duties in that film. It didn't hurt that they were already in the U.K. buying aircraft that would eventually be used in the film. His Spitfire, a Mark IXB, the most-produced of all the Spitfire Marks, also appeared in another blockbuster, The Longest Day.

I knew about his collection but didn't really appreciate the extent of it, especially the original Bf 109, also used in The Battle of Britain. I'm not sure if that one was Spanish built, but my impression is that it has the original Daimler-Benz 605 engine. There are also nine Buchons, which are Spanish-built Merlin-powered 109s. I'd heard Edwards speak about the differences between the airplanes, but I must have forgotten how much he felt the Daimler-Benz-powered Bf 109 to be the best of the lot, including the Spitfire and the P-51 Mustang. But in this nice video done by Mike Fizer, you can hear him talk about it and see some of the airplanes in the collection. It's worth the time to watch it.

So now the airplanes escape from Texas out into the wild. I guess that's both sad and good. Edwards' legacy is so fascinating that you almost hate to see him part with them. But nothing is forever, including ownership of some of the most unique aircraft in the history of aviation. A tip of the hat to Connie for keeping them preserved for posterity for nearly half a century.

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