Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, Naches, Wash., Oct. 7, 2007–The commercial pilot and nine passengers died when the Caravan crashed in the mountains near Naches, at 7:59 p.m. No flight plan was filed for the flight from Star, Idaho, to Shelton, Wash., and the pilot did not obtain a weather briefing. There was an airmet for icing, low-level turbulence and mountain obscuration.
The sagging demand for turboprop airplanes cost 450 Bombardier workers their jobs last month, as the Canadian company handed out layoff notices to 310 production employees and 140 support personnel at its de Havilland plant in Toronto. The cuts affected some 9 percent of de Havilland’s 5,000-strong workforce.
Cessna 208B Caravan, Cross City, Fla., Sept. 5, 2007–The Paragon Air Express Caravan lost power and made a forced landing in trees. While the Caravan was at cruise at 11,000 feet, the engine suddenly failed and the engine gauges went to zero. The commercial pilot declared an emergency; ATC told him that Cross City, 29 miles away, was the closest airport.
A second incident involving the collapse of a right main landing gear shortly after touchdown on a Bombardier Q400 operated by SAS has prompted an OEM recommendation.
SAS said last month that Bombardier would owe it at least SKr500 million ($77 million) in compensation for the grounding of its Q400 turboprop fleet. Two separate incidents of collapsed landing gear on SAS Q400s prompted Bombardier and Transport Canada on September 12 to call for the grounding of some 85 airplanes worldwide.
The NTSB last month made an “urgent” recommendation to the FAA in response to the December 2005 fatal runway overrun at Chicago Midway Airport, calling for the agency to require operators to conduct arrival landing-distance assessments before every landing based on existing performance data and actual conditions, and to incorporate a safety margin of at least 15 percent.
SAS has again grounded all 27 of its Bombardier Q400s after the right main landing gear on one of its airplanes failed to fully extend upon landing in Copenhagen on Saturday. Flight SK2867 from Bergen, Norway, carried 40 passengers and four crewmembers, none of whom suffered injuries from the incident.
UK-based Britten-Norman, which is set to resume manufacturing its piston-powered Trislander regional/utility airplane, production of which was suspended in 1980, also disclosed that it is offering new customers of its Islander piston twins the option of choosing diesel engines. The airframer is evaluating the new 300-hp SR305 diesel under development by France’s SMA and believes the powerplant could be available by year-end.
In the aftermath of July’s well publicized engine-out ditching of a Pilatus PC-12 in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Russia, industry observers are asking how this and other recent accidents have affected the statistical reliability of single-engine turboprops and if sales of these aircraft are suffering.
The empty hangars at Oberpfaffenhofen airfield outside Munich reflect a stark impression of the decline Germany’s aerospace industry has experienced over the past decade. But if one were to look hard enough, signs of renewal have begun to emerge at this extensive industrial site, where Dornier GmbH built scores of aircraft for more than 60 years.