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A six-year-old boy climbed into the cockpit of a Eurocopter EC145 on display at an airshow in Mankato, Minnesota, on Saturday, and started up the rotors, "causing a panic and two minor injuries," according to a local ABC Radio news report. The medevac helicopter, which is owned by the Mayo Clinic, was unattended when the boy entered the cockpit and started to flip switches and push buttons. The helicopter team members, who were nearby, quickly reached the aircraft and shut it down. The propwash knocked over a nearby tent, and two bystanders were slightly hurt. The helicopter will get a thorough inspection before being returned to service, the Mayo Clinic said in a statement.

The incident occurred early Saturday afternoon on the first day of the Minnesota Air Spectacular at the Mankato Regional Airport. Agro Gushwa, a ticket taker at the show, told local reporters, "This kid started it up … The door was open ... and he just walked in." Gushwa said Mayo staffers responded within about a minute, and shut down the rotors within 90 seconds. Gushwa's shaky cellphone video of the incident shows the rotors turning fairly slowly, and the aircraft itself remains stable. Once he left the aircraft, the crying boy ran to his father, Gushwa said. The FAA is investigating the incident.

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An Indonesian air force C-130 transport plane that crashed into a residential neighborhood in Medan, Indonesia, during departure on Tuesday had one failed propeller as the pilot attempted to return to the airport, authorities said in a CNN report Thursday. There were 122 people on board, including military personnel and their families, with no survivors confirmed. At least 13 people on the ground were killed, CNN reported. The aircraft had taken off from Jakarta, the capital city, and made two stops before arriving at Medan. It crashed two minutes after takeoff as the pilot attempted a right turn back to the field. Witnesses saw it flying low, with flames and black smoke coming from it. 

This is the sixth crash involving an Indonesian air force plane in the last decade, and Indonesia's president has ordered a review of the aging military air fleet, CNN reported. One squadron of Hercules planes has been grounded as the investigation continues, the report said. The C-130 that crashed had been in service since 1964.

images: Reuters




image: CBS Philly

A Beechcraft A36 Bonanza crashed into a house in Plainville, Massachusetts, about 5:45 p.m. on Sunday, killing two adults and a child on board the airplane. The four residents of the house, a couple and two children, escaped unharmed, but their two-story Colonial home in a suburb about 30 miles from Boston was destroyed by fire. FAA officials said the aircraft had departed from Lancaster Airport in Pennsylvania and was headed for Norwood Airport in Massachusetts, about 20 miles from the crash site. The pilot told ATC he was in trouble, minutes before the crash. "I need help," he said. "The engine is sputtering … we're in IMC." ATC tried to steer him to the nearby interstate for an emergency landing.

An air traffic controller first gave the pilot vectors to head toward North Central Airport, in Smithfield, Rhode Island, about 7 miles away, but the pilot said he was unable to maintain altitude. The controller then steered him toward the I-495 freeway, which was about a mile away. Neighbors said they could hear the engine cutting in and out as the aircraft descended. The NTSB is investigating.

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The FAA says the operator of a Boeing 747 cargo aircraft that crashed in Afghanistan in April 2013, killing all seven on board, failed to comply with FARs when loading heavy military vehicles onto the plane. National Air Cargo Group, based in Orlando, Florida, didn't follow the 747 flight manual, resulting in cargo that was not properly restrained to prevent shifting during flight operations, the FAA said. During March and April 2013, the FAA says, National flew two Boeing 747s on seven flights while improperly loaded with one or more Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs), each weighing between 23,001 pounds and 37,884 pounds. The FAA has proposed a fine of $77,000. National Air Cargo has asked to meet with the FAA to discuss the case.

The 747 that crashed had been loaded with five MRAPs, and took off from Bagram Airfield. Dashcam video of the short flight shows that the crew apparently attempted to turn back to the field, but the aircraft then hit the ground and burst into flame. All seven on board were U.S. citizens. The NTSB is investigating the crash, but has not yet released a final report. According to a factual report completed in October, the cockpit crew had a discussion, while still on the ramp in Bagram, about a broken strap found by one crew member in the cargo hold, and a possible shift of the load during the landing in Bagram. The flight had launched from Chateauroux, France, then stopped in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, and stopped in Bagram to refuel. The final destination was Dubai.


Eclipse has retired its Total Eclipse series of aircraft, and instead will offer a new factory-refurbished twinjet called the Eclipse Special Edition, the company said this week. The SE, based on the original Eclipse 500, will include nearly all the features of the factory-new 550 jet, including a dual Avio integrated flight management system, anti-skid brakes, a new standby display unit, PPG glass windshields, an upgraded interior and a two-tone paint scheme. The SE jet also comes with a three-year factory warranty and maintenance program. That offer "further demonstrates our goal of simplifying aircraft ownership and providing clarity, convenience, and peace of mind for our customers," said Alan Klapmeier, CEO of One Aviation, the parent company of Eclipse.

The new product will simplify the buying process, said Ken Ross, president of One Aviation. "There are so many different configurations, options and completion levels in the Total Eclipse line that it's confusing for potential customers," he said. "In keeping with our goal to make purchasing and owning an Eclipse simple and transparent, we have introduced the Eclipse SE with the same standard features and available options as the new Eclipse 550." The Eclipse SE will sell for a base price of about $2.2 million.

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Aircraft Spruce co-founder Bob Irwin died June 26 at his home in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Irwin and his wife Flo started Fullerton Air Parts in 1955, Aircraft Spruce in 1965 and ACS Products Co. in 1983, building the business into the largest supplier of aviation supplies in the U.S. In addition to his business interests, Irwin had a doctorate degree in chemical engineering and worked in propulsion testing for Aerojet General during the 1960s.

Before Irwin became a pilot, he was a Link trainer instructor in the Second World War. He got his pilot certificate in 1948 and remained an active pilot for 50 years, logging more than 2,200 hours in his BT-13, Navion and Navion Rangemaster.


Solar Impulse 2 launched from Nagoya, Japan, en route to Hawaii, on Sunday, and early Monday morning the unique solar-powered aircraft passed "the point of no return," the team announced. The team expects it will take at least five days to make the unprecedented trip. Pilot Andre Borschberg is piloting what will be the longest-ever solo flight, and it also will be the longest distance ever flown by an aircraft powered solely by the sun. The flight also will be the eighth leg in the aircraft's journey around the world, which began in Abu Dhabi in March. From Hawaii, the team plans to fly across the Pacific to a site in the Southwestern U.S.

The launch was the third attempt for the team, which had prepared to take off last week from Nagoya but then cancelled over weather concerns. They had previously launched from Nanjing, China, late in May, intending to cross the Pacific, but chose to land in Nagoya when the weather window deteriorated. For this flight, the team took off with no media announcement, and flew for 10 hours to the decision point before announcing the attempt. From here on, they are counting on the weather to remain suitable for the fragile airplane. "Now, we go for it," team leader Andre Piccard said on Monday morning. "That's a feat of exploration and adventure." The flight is being tracked live online at the project's website.

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I was listening to NPR on Saturday morning when a brief news item mentioning SpaceX’s planned Sunday launch said two previous launches to resupply the ISS had failed. I couldn’t help but wonder: what are the chances? Actually not that high—or low, depending on how you want to look at it. The SpaceX Falcon blew up 150 seconds into the launch phase and before staging.

It was the 19th launch of a SpaceX booster, but hardly the first vehicle loss. It took SpaceX three tries to get a successful launch, having started in the space biz in 2006, a record that’s hardly unusual in a high-risk, high-difficulty business like space launches. Given that the two previous ISS resupply launches also failed, I figured the chance of a hat trick to be remote. You can see why I’m not in the aerospace risk analysis field.

In due course, they’ll figure out what happened and move forward. NASA says the ISS crew isn’t in danger of going on short rations unless a fourth mission fails. Hey, how likely is that? (Never mind.) But I did see that one NASA official confidently said “there is no negligence here,” referring to Sunday’s SpaceX failure. Really? Maybe a bit soon for that sort of pronouncement for when ^%$& happens, it usually has someone’s or a group of someones’ fingerprints on it.

I’m not casting blame, mind you, but trying to reel in a segue to a book I’ve been reading, Stanley McChrystal’s new Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement For a Complex World. This is an interesting piece of work that’s part management treatise, part sociology theory and part academic dissection of organizational dynamics. The theme of the book is McChrystal’s comparing his experience as a commanding general in Iraq with other organizations that have faced complex challenges in a chaotic world. In 2004, Iraq certainly was that. As have other military leaders, McChrystal says lavishly trained and equipped U.S. forces were in no way prepared to cope with a metastasizing insurgency whose outlines bore no resemblance to anything taught at West Point. He examines his experience through the lens of many historical organizational and leadership successes and failures and one of these was NASA’s Apollo program.

Apollo is commonly thought of as a towering technical success and it was, but without the supremely competent organizational method developed by George Mueller, man might still be trying to get to the moon. Mueller, you may recall, introduced the idea of all-up testing, replacing tests of individual systems and components with fewer tests of larger, integrated elements. Thus it was that only the second Apollo vehicle to fly a manned mission, Apollo 8, went into lunar orbit, testing many systems for the first time. More important, Mueller and NASA had discarded the traditional command-top-down management style in favor of a decentralized approach that knocked down at least some of the silos that are naturally erected inside large, complex organizations.

In his analysis, McChrystal compares NASA’s organization during the Apollo years to a foreign counterpart and not the Soviet Union, but ELDO. ELDO? What the hell is that? I consider myself a bit of a space nerd and I’d never heard of it, either. It’s the European Launcher Development Organization, a precursor to the European Space Agency that, in the early 1960s, was on a parallel track with NASA with the goal of developing a booster suitable for commercial space operations. ELDO was a consortium of six countries, including Australia.

As McChrystal tells it, ELDO suffered a string of failures not because it wasn’t technically competent, but because of shortfalls in organizational communication. The silos weren’t talking and ELDO never figured out a solution before dissolving the effort in 1974. Of course, it’s well understood that by the early 1970s, NASA was losing the Apollo bubble and even as early as 1967, following the Apollo 1 fire, management and organizational oversights were at fault more often than technical blinks were. This proved true of both Shuttle accidents, as well. And remember the Mars Climate Orbiter that burned up because one working group was using the metric system while another the imperial? More silos.

And that gets back to SpaceX’s launch failure on Sunday. I’m sure they’ll track down the precise cause, but I can’t help but wonder if they’ll also discover that it has an organizational element. Undertakings as demanding as hurling things into space are technical challenges to be sure. But they have proven to be far greater organizational challenges for it is the organization that provides the focus and marshals the resources for the rocket scientists to do their thing. And it’s the organization that will be—or should be—capable of detecting that fatal gap between what one group thought another was doing and what both actually weren’t doing. SpaceX has roots in the tech sector and that industry is no more immune to silo construction than government agencies are. People are people, no matter who they work for.

I wonder if Elon Musk will be chewing on that thought this week.

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Pipistrel is taking orders for its pure-electric Alpha Electro aircraft.  AVweb's Paul Bertorelli recently went to Slovenia to fly the aircraft and prepared this video report.

What Everybody Ought to Know About the CGR-30P from Electronics International

After several years of market silence, Scottsdale, Arizona-based TKM Avionics is under new ownership and says it's working hard to improve the factory support of existing TKM slide-in radios while also planning an improved product line.  Aviation Consumer editor Larry Anglisano talked with TKM's Joe Gavin at Sun 'n Fun 2015 in Lakeland, Florida, for an update on the company.

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Picture of the Week

Allen Macbean of American Fork, Utah serves up our latest "Picture of the Week." Click through for a better look and for more breath-taking reader-submitted photos.