Will flying one day be as taboo as smoking is today, at least in most of Europe? Will it become socially unacceptable in the future to travel by air? Experts who see an unprecedented attack on air transport’s environmental footprint are posing these questions, challenging the industry’s growth for the first time in several decades.
Agusta A109A II, Edmonds, Wash., Sept. 29, 2005–The NTSB could not determine the reason for loss of control during the maneuvering flight, which resulted in “an in-flight collision with water.” The helicopter was returning to base at night, over the ocean. It followed the coastline at 800 feet msl, then turned away from the shore at about 9:13 p.m.
Eurocopter AS 350-B3, Yellow Pine, Idaho, Aug. 13, 2006–The AS 350 was destroyed and the commercial pilot and three passengers killed when the helicopter crashed 18 miles west of Yellow Pine. The helicopter was being operated by Evergreen Helicopters, of McMinnville, Ore., under contract to the U.S. Forest Service. The helicopter had flown from Krassel Helibase to take a relief fire lookout to Williams Peak lookout tower.
Sikorsky S-76A++, Eugene Island, Gulf of Mexico, Oct. 22, 2006–The Petroleum Helicopters S-76 was destroyed when it crashed into the Gulf of Mexico while landing at the offshore platform Eugene Island Block 259, in VMC. The 16,848-hour ATP-rated pilot was not injured and the 1,731-hour commercial copilot received only minor injuries.
A solar flare 10 times stronger than anything researchers had previously observed or predicted surprised scientists last December, not only because of its size and strength, but because of the effect it had on GPS receivers and other communications systems. Now scientists are looking at previous data and trying to understand how these flares affect satellite signals, in the hope that they can one day prevent further disruptions.
Summer is almost upon us in the northern hemisphere, but the FAA is embroiled in two significant icing-related issues: a proposed new rule for when de-ice systems are activated and a new interpretation of the term “known icing.”
FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said last month in a speech to an emissions colloquium at ICAO in Quebec that “aircraft greenhouse-gas emissions might become a serious barrier to aviation growth long-term.” Also at the colloquium, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Ian Waitz presented preliminary research that says in one estimation, aviation emissions may result in a few hundred premature deaths a year and contribute to climate
Phase One of a proposal by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to improve airspace capacity will require aircraft owners in the UK to upgrade to a Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR) Mode-S transponder by March 31, 2012. In addition, all new installations of SSR transponders must be Mode-S compliant beyond March 31 next year.
The Solar Impulse has made significant progress toward its aim of being the first solar-powered aircraft able to fly at night. The team initiated by famous balloonist Bertrand Piccard began construction of the 200-foot-wingpsan prototype just four weeks ago. Flight tests should start next year.
European politicians and the wider environmental lobby have made it clear that aviation is firmly in their sights in the struggle to halt what is broadly perceived as manmade global warming. Yesterday, here in the opening session of the EBACE conference, the business aviation community made it clear that they aren’t hiding from the issue.