If the HondaJet were being developed by a traditional business jet manufacturer, we would undoubtedly know a lot more about its future. Those who follow new-aircraft projects are used to receiving regular updates on milestones and test results along the way as the manufacturer seeks to reassure stockholders, lure new investors–or both.
In one of its longest investigations into a general aviation accident, the NTSB released its final report last month on the Oct. 10, 2000, crash of a Canadian-registered Bombardier Challenger 604 during a manufacturer’s test flight at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. The two pilots and flight engineer died as a result of injuries sustained from the accident.
The National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) is joining Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Fla., in a safety study of spin-training experience by flight instructors. The FAA does not require spin training except for flight instructors, but the “quality and depth of that training can vary widely,” said NAFI executive director Rusty Sachs.
Bell 206B JetRanger, Gentry, Ark., Feb. 21, 2005–An Air Evac Lifeteam JetRanger crashed shortly after takeoff while transporting a patient to a hospital in Springdale, Ark. The helicopter was substantially damaged, the patient was killed and the three crewmembers were seriously injured. The sky was clear and visibility was 10 miles.
HAWKER 700A, BEAUMONT, TEXAS, SEPT. 20, 2003–An instructor was preparing two pilots for their Part 135 competency and proficiency checks, doing stalls in a practice area near Southeast Texas Regional Airport, when the Hawker went into a spin and crashed. The NTSB blamed the flying pilot’s failure to maintain aircraft control and adequate airspeed.
Honda engineers built a non-motion simulator–the Honda Nonlinear Aerodynamics Flight Simulator–for test-pilot training and to evaluate the flight characteristics of the jet’s configuration. Tests conducted on the simulator include deep stall, spin, one-engine-out and deployment of the dynamic spin chute.
A sage old pilot once neatly captured the purpose of business aviation: “People buy airplanes because they want to go places…fast.”
Pilatus PC-12, Bellefonte, Pa., March 26, 2005–A PC-12 carrying six people crashed at about 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on an ILS approach to Runway 24 at University Park Airport (UNV), State College. The pilot, Jeffrey Jacober, and his five passengers were killed and the aircraft was destroyed. The occupants had departed from Naples, Fla., at 9:53 a.m., to attend a lacrosse game at Penn State.
Beyond the merriment that the very light jet is coming to market, the insurance industry is preparing to drop the curtain in the final act.
It’s an unusual fact that, unlike just about any other marketable items, very light jets (VLJs), alcohol and tobacco share one unique characteristic. Even if you have the money, the seller can refuse to sell them to you if you’re not qualified. What’s more, those qualifications are all based on time, measured in years for would-be drinkers and smokers, and in left-seat hours for would-be VLJ pilots. Of course, this is as it should be.