Top Letters And Comments, November 8, 2019

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Wanna Bomber Thrill Ride? Sign The Waiver

Paul B…an interesting article. However, I question the term bombers in the statistics.

Since 1982, the FAA has investigated 22 WWII era bomber accidents. That implies B-17’s, B-25’s, B-24’s, B-26’s. But it seems to me the total number of flyable WWII bombers would be hard pressed to total more than 40, of which the highest number happens to be today with the shift to painstaking restorations.

If the FAA is including WWII era “bombers” who were/are used for firefighting, crop dusting, and mosquito abatement (which was relatively popular use for these types of airplanes throughout the eighties and early nineties) then the inclusion of those highly worked airplanes being flown by a variety of pilots with a variety of skills, flown consistently under less than ideal conditions, would certainly skew the stats inappropriately for those flying under LHFE exemption.

Outside of the recent Collings accident, no one has been killed in a LHFE flight. Yes, two other B-17’s had mechanical issues that caused two more B-17 accidents, but no fatalities as I recall.

Another side to this is not much public or media comments when a WWII fighter like a P-51, Corsair, T-6, T-28, etc., or other vintage fighter is involved in an accident with fatalities. Outside of the aviation press, hardly a mention. I am not advocating that there should be more rage for the fighter losses. And your article’s premise is waivers, passenger consent, with transparent explanation of the risks involved. But I question how the statistics are used to prove a point for or against continuation of LHFE flights with well-informed passengers signing a well-crafted waiver.

Jim H.

In the end the insurance companies will be the ones who will ultimately determine if the risk is worth covering. I know of a B-25 owner years ago who stopped giving rides due to lack of any insurance coverage. The problem with the FAA grounding these aircraft is they will come up with criteria that will ground everything with a radial engine and ground perfectly airworthy planes. I wonder how the accident rate of these older WW2 bombers compare with piston powered twin engine light aircraft built since 1945? A lot of those airplanes are used in pt135 air carrier service and most have very marginal single engine performance. None of the small planes can come close to the engine out performance requirements of most turbine twins, and were never certified as such. I wonder how many passengers/customers of those pt135 operators inform passengers of that?

Matt W.

A New Homebuilt And Rusty Pilots

Great article. The Lancair Owners and Builders Organization has looked hard at EA-B safety in the Lancair community, including a deep dive into the NTSB database. That effort proved what should have been obvious to everyone, which is that flying in an untested, unproven, experimental aircraft with which you are not already deeply familiar is a very hazardous undertaking. Armed with that data, LOBO petitioned the FAA for a rule change regarding who may be aboard during Phase I flight test for newly minted EA-B aircraft. The result is AC 90-116, Additional Pilot Program (APP) for Phase I Flight Test.

If appropriately documented on the aircraft’s Special Airworthiness Certificate, the APP allows the owner of a new EA-B aircraft to have an appropriately rated and experienced pilot aboard during those critical first few hours.

Mark S.

Poll: Is Garmin’s New Autoland System Revolutionary?

  • No, not really revolutionary. Probably evolutionary. Whilst the fidelity of the equipment and that it seems certified for emergency use is evolutionary the reality is that many organisations have been teaching techniques consistent with auto-land procedures in current technology aircraft, ProLine for example, in the event an issue presents itself where an auto-land type of approach and landing is favourable to the alternative of running out fuel and crashing into unsuitable terrain. The USA has plenty of options with appropriate diversion airfields but countries like Australia, a similar size to the USA but one where probably all instrument rated pilots could name every ILS in the whole country, does not exactly have an abundance of airfields by comparison. Hence arrivals at places like DARWIN are akin to going to a remote island. Often inadvertent unforecast fog can be encountered and fuel states can be an issue. That the formal consideration of the technology is at this level is becoming a reality is a blessing but it has been around for many years already, just not formally.
  • It solves the wrong problem. Pilots aren’t dying in the left seat. We need help getting a plane in the ground sometimes while we are still alive.
  • Is this necessary?
  • A more expensive parachute.
  • Clever automation, but how many times has the scenario for which it was designed actually occurred?
  • It’s dangerous.
  • More automation to dumb down pilots even more. In GA, we need to keep flying FOR REAL!
  • How will abuse be prevented?
  • Adds an element of safety.
  • This will lead to more accidents and the erosion of piloting skills.
  • It’s for dead people who don’t want their plane scratched.
  • No, I worked on auto land for military vehicles in the 1980s. The technology has been around a long, long time.
  • Could be a life saver, don’t commercial and military already have it in limited authority?
  • How long have the airlines been using autoland….
  • Crashes looking for smoking holes.
  • No, Diamond already did it.
  • Poor substitute for better flight training.
  • I thought the big jets already had this capability?
  • Now no need to fret over the dwindling number of pilots.
  • VP already did it.
  • It’s for rich people with health problems.