Here we are in 2012, nearly 110 years since the Wright Brothers made the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air flight, and with some notable exceptions aircraft design over the years has become about as conservative and uninspired as a bowl of Jello.
In February 2011 the FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive calling for removal of chemical oxygen generators from airplane lavatories, or emptying the generator and restowing the masks. (By the way, no one told the passengers that there was no longer any supplemental oxygen supply in the bathrooms.) While security wasn’t mentioned in the AD, apparently there was a safety problem. Or as the FAA so confoundingly put it in the new final rule, which rescinds the 2011 AD, “This AD was prompted by reports that the current design of the oxygen generators presents a hazard that could jeopardize flight safety. We are issuing this AD to eliminate a hazard that could jeopardize flight safety and to ensure that all lavatories have a supplemental oxygen supply.”
During the 2012 Farnborough International airshow, United Aircraft president Mikhail Pogosyan did what no chief executive of a Western aerospace company would even consider: comment publicly on the findings, or lack thereof, by investigators of a fatal accident before the relevant authorities had
I’m pretty sure Mrs. Nussbaum never knew. It had to be obvious there were about 50 small trainer aircraft passing over her pool every day, but then the Nussbaum’s farm was close to the airport and there was flight training.
A recent Aviation Maintenance Alerts published by the FAA highlights a problem that should never, ever come up in aerospace: a design that allows mechanics to install something opposite the way intended. In this case, according to AC 43-16A No. 407, mechanics installed the elevators on a Piaggio P.180 Avanti upside down. After doing so, the mechanics were even able to rig the elevators according to the aircraft maintenance manual (AMM) instructions. Although installed upside down, the twin-turboprop was able to fly, and it did. According to the FAA’s Alerts, “During flight, this reversed elevator installation greatly influenced elevator trim authority—additionally causing the airplane yoke to be in a noticeably different longitudinal position.” The Alerts goes on to note that Piaggio has added a note to the AMM, warning mechanics about this potential problem. The FAA added, “A very simple way to ensure the correct elevator is installed on the proper side is to verify the location of the static wicks—they must be on the upper surface of the elevator.”
Sen. Claire McCaskill is the latest politician to take a poke at the FAA, this time over an $860 million contract to train new and current air traffic controllers. According to the Missouri Democrat, who is chairman of the Senate subcommittee on contracting oversight, the program will run out of money by August, more than one year before the contract is scheduled to end.
Thank you, William Shakespeare, for that bit of all-too-tempting advice, as voiced by Dick the Butcher in the bard’s Henry VI: “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” These words came to mind immediately on reading reports on June 14 that 10 passengers from a Jet Blue flight are suing the airline following an incident in which one of its pilots broke down, began acting erratically and had to be subdued by passengers.
The eagerly awaited proposed changes to the FAA’s Part 145 rules that govern repair stations domestically and abroad are finally out. Talk about years in the making! Twenty-three years if we go back to the first public hearings in 1989, a mere 13 from the 1999 issuance of the original NPRM that first proposed many of these same requirements.
NBAA’s No Plane-No Gain information campaign was created several years ago to combat the image of business aircraft portrayed in mainstream media as the private conveyances for top-level company executives heading to a teetime.
Recently, my wife and I attended a college-planning event at our son’s high school. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that Andre was 5 and we were taking notes at an orientation session for parents of new kindergarteners, but here we are. He’s 17 now and, with a little luck and a lot of our money, he’ll be heading off to college next year.