Both the December 2012 crash of a Dornier Do-228 on takeoff from the Nepalese capital Kathmandu and the recent crash of an Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia at Lagos in Nigeria have called attention to the need to train pilots in the importance of both attaining and maintaining V2 (takeoff safety speed) before liftoff from the runway. In both accidents, the aircraft stalled and crashed shortly after liftoff.
The FAA published updates to the wake turbulence separation categories on October 22 for Louisville, Miami, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Atlanta and Philadelphia airports based on improved understanding of how wake vortices behave. Categories are now based on weight, certified approach speed and wing characteristics. Special consideration will be given to aircraft with limited ability to counteract adverse rolls.
Ronald Shabbot pleaded guilty on October 22 to falsifying an FAA return-to-service tag on an aircraft computer indicator. He was sentenced to 24 months probation. While working as a salesman at an aircraft parts repair facility in Fort Worth, Shabbot stole a computer indicator from inventory. He then forged another repair facility’s information on a return-to-service tag, indicating the part was in good working order and could be installed on an aircraft. Shabbot then advertised and sold the computer indicator on eBay.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued an airworthiness directive requiring inspections and possibly modifications to the Airbus A380, stating that cracks discovered during fatigue testing could “reduce the structural integrity of the wing.”
Next week’s Dubai Airshow, running from November 17 to 21, is set to provide yet more evidence of the soaring ambitions of the Gulf region’s air carriers, and Boeing’s new 777X twinjet seems set to be the main beneficiary of their relentless fleet expansion plans.
Airservices Australia commissioned two new ground stations to support its national automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) network as the country’s first ADS-B mandate approaches. Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) requires that aircraft flying above 29,000 feet be fitted with ADS-B avionics by December 12.
Five U.S. airlines have signed on to participate in the Federal Aviation Administration’s Data Comm equipment initiative, bringing the effort to 80 percent of its targeted number of airframes, according to contractor Harris. The company revealed the first airline to commit–United–at the Air Traffic Control Association conference last month. Non-disclosure agreements prevented it from immediately identifying the others.
The Lockheed Martin Skunk Works revealed a hypersonic aircraft design that can take off and land conventionally using turbine-based combined-cycle engine technology. The company said it has been working with rocket propulsion specialists Aerojet for several years on the project, using company funds. Although the design could lead to a Mach 6 unmanned strike aircraft, Lockheed Martin has dubbed it the SR-72, after the company’s SR-71 Blackbird manned strategic reconnaissance aircraft that reached Mach 3 but was retired in 1997.
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou ceremonially welcomed the first Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft at Pingtung airbase on October 31. Three days later, the island’s first six Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters arrived from the U.S. by sea. Neither event was publicized by the U.S. government or the contractors, no doubt because of concern that mainland China would react adversely.
South Korea’s air force would be best served in the near term by a mix of fighters that includes an advanced version of Boeing’s F-15, according to retired U.S. Air Force general and former chief of staff Ronald Fogleman. The F-15 would provide needed combat capability to counter the threat posed by North Korea right away, whereas Lockheed Martin’s F-35 will lack full combat capability until around 2020 when its Block 3F software is installed and tested, he said.