Rod Machado, a prolific aviation author and educator, is a voice of reason when it comes to how we can improve aviation safety, and his recent comments in response to an FAA notice on new training standards put a fresh spin on an old problem.
A Broward County, Fla. jury has returned a $100 million verdict in favor of a 31-year-old pilot who was severely and permanently injured on Nov. 10, 2007, when the Piper Pawnee he had been flying on a banner-tow mission crashed on approach to North Perry Airport, Hollywood, Fla. (KHWO).
Until this most recent, long and painful recession, the rule of thumb followed by those who analyze the business aviation market is that aircraft sales, new and used, follow an increase in corporate profits by about 18 to 24 months. Assuming this to be true, then business aviation should already be showing healthy growth and the completion and refurbishment segment should be close behind. But it hasn’t happened yet.
Aviation Partners has issued a Service Bulletin for the Hawker Beechcraft/BAE 125 Series 800A/B, C-29A, Hawker 800 and Hawker 800XP. The Service Bulletin provides instructions to reduce the maximum permissible altitude to FL340 from FL410. The altitude limitation is implemented by an Airplane Flight Manual limitation and placards installed on the instrument panel.
Aviation Partners and the FAA consider this Service Bulletin to be a safety-related limitation until a design change to preclude the oscillations is developed and FAA approved.
Loss of control in flight related to the inability to recognize an upset and controlled flight into terrain remain the primary causes of accidents involving transport aircraft.
As experts struggle to identify why the crew of Air France 447 lost control of their A330 over the South Atlantic Ocean nearly four years ago, the industry is also still struggling to develop the precision data needed to accurately reproduce a stall in a Level D simulator. The lack of accurate stall data limits entry and recovery practice because the computers running the simulators have no idea how the aircraft will actually perform.
The second Embraer Legacy 500 flew on Friday, officially entering the flight-test and certification program for the new fly-by-wire twinjet. Since its first flight on November 27, Legacy 500 S/N 1 has logged more than 44 hours over 23 flights. Initial envelope clearances have been completed, and late last month the aircraft started stall testing.
The FAA recently published a notice to operators, training managers and inspectors of the importance of AC 120-109, to reinforce the importance of adequate flight crew training on the use of aircraft stick shakers and pushers. The increased emphasis was the result of a September 2010 Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) to stem the numbers of loss-of-control accidents due to pilot unfamiliarity with stick pushers, as well as flight into icing and wind-shear conditions.
The European Aviation Safety Agency issued an emergency airworthiness directive December 4 for the angle of attack (AOA) probes of both the Airbus A330 and A340. The AD, which became effective December 6, results from an incident in which an A330 in the climb experienced a blockage of all AOA probes, leading to autopilot disconnection and activation of the alpha (angle of attack) protection system when Mach number increased.
At a time when aviation has achieved an extraordinarily high level of safety, regulators and safety organizations are pushing for more improvements in pilot training to preempt future accidents and ensure that new pilots entering the ranks start off with the right approach. One of the key areas receiving extensive examination is stall training, both in the early stages of ab initio training and how it is taught later to pilots who are flying sophisticated high-performance jets.