It is way too soon to speculate about what might have caused the Gulfstream IV runway excursion crash at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass. on May 31, but the NTSB preliminary report’s focus on the gust lock system raises some questions.
As the air transport industry’s heavy hitters gathered in Doha for IATA’s June 1-3 annual general meeting (AGM), thoughts turned to heavy iron—namely, prospective widebody developments that stand to upset the competitive status quo as early as the Farnborough Air Show in July.
Many of us in aviation in the U.S. haven’t been paying much attention to our neighbor to the north. Canadians are known for being somewhat quiet and unassuming. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that quiet and unassuming doesn’t mean they’re not busily working on practical solutions to important issues. In fact, there’s a lot going on in Canada that we in the U.S. could learn from in the aviation arena.
When it comes to song topics, love is number one, but travel may be a close second. In a gazillion tunes, it seems, someone is hopping on or off a train, boat or plane.
As I write, the whereabouts of the missing Boeing 777 operating as Malaysia Air Flight 370 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing remains unknown. The Prime Minister of Malaysia has announced that analysis of satellite data suggests the airplane crashed in the south Indian Ocean but no debris linked to the aircraft has been found.
Spending a week in China at the Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition is a refreshing reminder that as much as countries like China want to put general aviation to work, the actual implementation is going to be nothing like what aviation-minded westerners are used to. It seems we have a naive desire to see general aviation in China replicate the landscape of non-commercial aviation in the U.S., Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
As I write this from my seat on a Boeing 777 bound for China, I realize I no longer have the same degree of nonchalance I had on previous long-haul flights. I am aware the airplane, one of the most modern jetliners in the sky, is functioning exactly as intended, the comforting whoosh of its powerful engines omnipresent as it courses smoothly through the air above the Arctic Circle, yet in the back of my mind, thoughts drift to another triple-seven, also China-bound, which more than a month after its disappearance still has given investigators little clue as to where it actually ended up and why.
The incidence of lasers being pointed at aircraft is rising at an alarming rate, jumping by more than 1,000 percent since the FAA started tracking data in 2005. Last year, according to FAA data, so-called “lasing” incidents averaged 11 per day. With this proliferation comes greater potential for an aircraft accident, with injury and loss of life both to aircraft occupants and to people on the ground.
“Within the next decade we’ll be flying people to Australia from New York in about two hours, developing spaceships that will cross continents outside the Earth’s atmosphere and then pop them back into the atmosphere. Then we’ll move on to much bigger commercial jets [traveling] at many times the speed of sound.”
We owe the FAA a debt of gratitude for the most excellent job the agency has done to provide data to aid our flying. It is amazing that for a relatively small cost pilots have access to a wealth of navigation information. Much of it—VFR charting especially—is gorgeous, pretty enough to hang on a wall or use as wrapping paper after the expiration date.
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