Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New York City Airports Installing Avatars That Get Chatty Upon Being Approached


The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is beefing up customer service at area airports — and getting some James Cameron-style help in the form of avatars. 

The avatar will be seen on a device that is a life-sized flat screen in the shape of a woman. She will dispense flight information and tips about services like shuttle bus and taxi pick-ups. It activates when a customer approaches.

Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye unveiled one of the computerized, talking avatars at a press conference at LaGuardia Airport Monday morning. He said the machines are meant to supplement the airport’s 350 flesh-and-blood customer representatives, who will soon be joined by 70 new hires.

However, the avatars are not interactive. Foye said he hopes a future iteration of the talking machines will hold conversations with passengers.

A total of five avatars are scheduled for installation at LaGuardia, JFK and Liberty Newark airports in early July.

The Authority also unveiled new airport apps and dozens of new information kiosks and electronic device charging stations to help travelers.

Source:   http://www.wnyc.org

Cargo passing through Ted Stevens International Airport is down 12 percent


ANCHORAGE - Cargo passing through Ted Stevens International Airport is down by 12 percent this year. 

 The airport remains one of the busiest in the world, but officials said congressional scrutiny of the bypass mail program is a long-term concern.

2.6 million metric tons of cargo landed at the airport in 2011 - the second most in America after Memphis, and the fifth most in the world.

Anchorage has geographical advantages that won't go away, but it isn't all blue skies right now.

Airport general manager John Parrott and Torque Zubeck, managing director of Alaska Air Cargo, gave an update on the air freight picture Monday to the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce.

"Location, location, location,” said Parrott. “We are absolutely blessed with being nine and a half hours from 90 percent of the industrialized world. That means if you make it or use it, we're in the middle of where it's made and where it's used."

Anchorage sits strategically between the rest of North America and Asia, which has made it one of the top refueling spots in the world.

But when the world economy is down, the effects are felt here.

"We're running about 12 percent down from last year on the cargo side,” said Parrott. “The good news is we're above 2009, which was the 'oh my gosh year."

Zubeck said some of the drop-off has been self-induced.

“I think one of the other issues in the state of Alaska is the investment in the oil and gas industry,” said Zubeck. “It's no secret that there was a change in the tax structure up here and to the extent that that huge economic engine isn't making as much investment up here, that certainly impacts the overall driver of the state of Alaska economy, and that's something we've seen in there."

Zubeck did not quantify the drop-off in cargo related to oil and gas.

But he's also concerned about a close call in congress on continuing the bypass mail program for Bush Alaska.

"We view it as a very efficient system to move goods at the cheapest cost for the consumers out to those areas. And we feel like it works very well, but it's something that looks odd to people in Washington."

Air cargo will continue to be a mainstay of the local economy, but external factors will affect the airport's rank.

Parrott also amazed the chamber audience with the amount of snow removed from the airport this past winter – 6.1 million tons.


Aircraft makes unscheduled landing in Kelowna airport

A Dash 8 passenger aircraft advised the air traffic control tower shortly after takeoff 2:34 p.m. May 22, that it appeared to have a mechanical issue.

As a precautionary measure the pilot requested to return to YLW. Kelowna Airport’s Aircraft Rescue Firefighters, Kelowna Fire Department, BC Ambulance and RCMP were on scene for standby.

The aircraft containing 55 people and 3,400 lbs of fuel landed safely at 2:48 pm without incident and taxied to the Gate.

The aircraft will have a mechanical review before continuing to its destination.

Reno Air Races secures insurance, announces changes to make event safer

 Instead of moving the spectators, officials organizing this year’s Reno National Championship Air Races will change the course for the fastest races to take the aircraft away from the crowds in the hopes of avoiding a repeat of last year’s deadly crash.

“We had a choice of moving the grandstands or some of the racing, so we are pushing some of the racing farther away,” Mike Houghton, executive director of the Reno Air Racing Association said at a news conference at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.

By moving a few pylons out, the course will be easier to navigate and will place lighter gravitational demands on the pilots, he said. The changes will “make it softer and safer and will pull the aircraft farther away from the crowds,” he said.

Houghton said they will also make the pilots go through special G-force training to ensure they can handle the physical stresses they’ll experience during the event. He also said they will look more closely at pilot age and medical certification and possibly add more barriers in front of spectators.

The association has already decided to move a fuel tank away from the runway and has added a safety director to the board, he said. These changes and others were recommended by a special “Blue Ribbon” panel the association formed to review the event to look for safety improvements.

The panel released its report on Tuesday.

But it’s not clear whether the association will limit or regulate the sometimes elaborate modifications that are made to some aircraft in an effort to make them fly faster.

“We still remain very saddened and focused on the tragedy that took place in September,” Houghton said. “That day will be forever emblazoned in our minds, and we will never forget the victims and the heroes of Sept. 16, 2011.”

Pilot Jimmy Leeward, 74, and 10 spectators died when his P-51 Mustang crashed, sending debris into the VIP box seating in front of the grandstands. At least 70 people were seriously injured.

Leeward had banked around Pylon 8 at about 530 mph when his aircraft, the Galloping Ghost, suddenly banked at about 90 degrees, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The G-forces likely knocked Leeward out, the agency said. His plane rolled, right and over, then crashed into the tarmac.

Some wondered if the air races would ever return to Reno.

In the months that followed the crash, Houghton said he focused less on the races but more on the fans, the victims, their friends, the participants and the community. But in January, Houghton announced that the association would hold an event from Sept. 12-16 at Reno Stead Airport.

The crash “was one of the most horrifying scenarios we could ever imagine,” Houghton said. But with the help of numerous experts, they will do “everything in our power to ensure this never happens again,” he said.

Safety remains No. 1, he said.

The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, which controls Reno Stead Airport, has granted the association a permit to hold the event there, but officials still must secure a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration.

As the association continues to implement improvements in the interest of safety, Houghton announced that they have secured a mandatory $100 million insurance policy, but said “it comes with a cost.”

The association faces a $1.7 million premium increase that has made this year’s finances tight, he said.

“We don’t usually ask for help,” Houghton said, but added that he needs the community to “step up to the plate — buy tickets.”

The event brings about $80 million to the Northern Nevada economy, he said, therefore the association will look to the community, to sponsors and to the casinos for support.

“We need that local support,” he said.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the races have been an important part of the Northern Nevada community for nearly 50 years and is confident it will continue.

“I have attended the races over the years and my former colleague, the late Senator Ted Stevens, attended the Reno show many times and always told me it was the best of its kind,” Reid said in a statement.

The panel’s recommendations and those made by the NTSB in April “will ensure the tens of thousands of spectators can safety watch and enjoy these races,” Reid said.

The NTSB has not completed its investigation into the crash but announced seven recommendations in April to help guide the association as it plans for the event, and the airport authority mandated those be carried out as conditions of the permit.

Houghton said many of the Reno Air Races panel’s findings were similar to the NTSB’s, and some have already been implemented.

The association has appointed Mike Stollings, a former flying supervisor with the Air Force, as the director of safety.

When presenting its recommendations on April 10 in Reno, NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman urged the association to require each aircraft to undergo an engineering evaluation to confirm that the airplane can handle race speeds and stresses.

Hersman pointed out that Leeward had never flown his aircraft at those speeds on that course before the day of the crash.

“We are issuing a safety recommendation to ensure that pilots and their modified airplanes are put through their paces prior to race day,” Hersman said in April.

The Reno Air Races panel addressed that concern, saying that the association should revise its procedures for any aircraft that has been altered in the area of weight, balance, structural strength, performance and other areas.

“RARA should require that any such aircraft must provide, as part of the RARA application process, the FAA approved substantiation, testing and approvals for said alterations,” the panel’s report said.

They also said that if a discrepancy is found during a technical inspection, the racing team should have to provide documentation that the problem has been corrected.

“To the extend necessary, RARA documentation should be changed to assure that uncorrected discrepancies do not ‘slip through’ the system,” the report said.

Source:   http://www.rgj.com

Weather messes up Cayman Airways schedule

Poor weather conditions in Havana, Cuba, caused the sudden closure of Jose Marti International Airport by Cuban officials Tuesday, forcing Cayman Airways flight KX832 to return to Grand Cayman.

Upon arrival back at Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA), all passengers remained on board (with the exception of three passengers who decided not to travel again) and the flight departed at 3:47 p.m. It was scheduled to arrive in Havana at 5:45 p.m., and flight KX833 was re-scheduled to depart Havana at 6:45 p.m., arriving in Grand Cayman at 6:45 p.m.

This occurrence has caused the delay of: flights KX106 which is was re-scheduled to depart Grand Cayman at 8 p.m., and arrive in Miami at 10:20 p.m.; and flight KX107 which is now re-scheduled to depart Miami at 11:20 p.m, arriving in Grand Cayman at 11:40 p.m.

Cayman Airways Express added 6 extra flights between Little Cayman and Cayman Brac this morning to shuttle passengers from Little Cayman who were not able to travel on Monday, May 21st due to inclement weather conditions causing the cancellation of all Cayman Airways Express flights. Passengers from Little Cayman were transferred this morning to Cayman Brac in order to connect with an added Cayman Airways jet flight, KX2402, which departed Cayman Brac at 11:40 a.m. and arrived on Grand Cayman at 12:18 p.m. today, Tuesday, May 22nd.

“All necessary Cayman Airways staff were on hand yesterday [Monday] to ensure that any affected passengers were informed as soon as possible of changes in their travel itineraries due to the inclement weather conditions, and to rebook them on the alternate flights where necessary,” said Cayman Airways President and CEO, Fabian Whorms.

“We sincerely thank our customers for their patience and understanding as we continue to put the safety of our passengers and crew first.”

Passengers who are booked to travel on any of these affected flights today may call Cayman Airways Reservations on 345-949-2311 (within the Caribbean) or 1-800-4-CAYMAN (within the United States) if they need more information.


Plane makes emergency landing at Bowman Field Airport (KLOU), Louisville, Kentucky

Three people were left unhurt Tuesday after a small, single-engine plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Bowman Field.

Trish Burke, spokeswoman for the Louisville Airport Authority, said the incident took place about 5:20 p.m. The plane, a Piper Lance, had issues with its main landing gear and had to land in the grass at Bowman Field, which is the plane’s home field, she said.

No injuries were reported in connection with the landing.

Flare Scare: Another UFO Near Miss on Landing Jet at Philadelphia International Airport (KPHL), Pennsylvania

A runway at Philadelphia International Airport was closed for about a half hour Tuesday afternoon after a pilot reported a possible flare being shot near his plane as he landed, US Airways told NBC10.

Airport police told NBC10 that the plane was about a mile and a half from the airport when the pilot saw a pop and a trail of smoke.

Piedmont Airlines (US Airways Express) flight 4321 from Elmira, N.Y. wasn't hit. The aircraft landed safely on runway 17 and taxied normally to the gate, the airline said.

None of the 34 passengers and three crew members on board the Dash 8 aircraft at the time of the incident were hurt, US Air said.

The alleged flare came from the area of Bartram and Island Avenues near the airport. As of 4:30 p.m. investigators had yet to find any evidence of a flare. 

Runway 17 was closed just after 2 p.m. and remained closed for around 25 to 30 minutes, the airport said.
The FAA reported no major delays following the incident.

Philadelphia Police also say they received a 911 call from someone claiming they saw a person at Lindbergh and Island Avenue near the airport shooting off a flare gun. Police went to the scene and say they found nothing.

If the person responsible for the alleged flare is caught they could be charged with risking a catastrophe, police said. The FBI is currently investigating. An FBI spokesman told NBC10 the incident is a non-event and they don't expect anything more to come of it.


Actress fights Antrak Air over 'unapproved fare' and treatment

Actress Luckie Lawson is at war with domestic air-carrier Antrak Air for what she said were unfair charges and treatment meted out to her and her crew at the Tamale Airport Tuesday.

The actress, speaking in an interview with Myjoyonline.com, said she is angry and disappointed in the carrier after she and her 2-man crew were asked to pay, through no fault of theirs, extra for their flight back to Accra from Tamale after the flight they were to travel with developed a fault.

The Aantrak Air flight, she narrated, developed a fault just as they were about to take off, and due to their safety, the captain of the flight advised that passengers aboard the flight use a different flight.

Due to that, 80 to 90 percent of the stranded passengers were airlifted on a Starbow Airlines flight to Accra while the remaining passengers, including her crew and herself, were asked to join another flight.

“They told us they will get as another flight to Accra,” Luckie disclosed, and was shocked to be told by management of Antrak Air in the Northern regional capital that they had to pay extra to join Fly 540 to Accra.

She explained that the fare for their Antrak Air flight cost GHS165 per head (GHS495 for three) and per the new demand, she is supposed to pay an extra amount of GHS48 per head (amounting to GHS144).

Efforts to get the regional manager of the airline to clarify the issue, she said, proved futile forcing them to pay the extra fee to enable them fly back to Accra.

“You mess up our day and now I have to pay extra to come back to Accra and they didn’t care. They were going to leave us there so we had to add extra money just to get on that flight,” The Familiar Strangers producer said.

Luckie stressed that, after that treatment, she “won’t let them go. It is not about the money, that is not important to me. It is the condition … it is the customer service … they don’t care.”

“They need to apologise because it was unfair. They can’t treat customers like that,” she lamented and hinted that she was going to take legal action against the airline for the treatment.

Meanwhile Mr. Oduro Saka, Sales Manager of Antrak Air debunked the allegations leveled against them by the actress, saying they explained the situation fully to the actress and the passengers and “it was wrong for her to say that”.

He said the airline would not ask a passenger to pay extra for a flight and whenever there is such a development, they refund fares to passengers so they get their own flights to their destinations.

Quizzed what might have caused the Antrak Air flight from flying Tuesday, Mr. Saka explained that after the passengers had boarded the flight and it was ready to take off, the captain of the flight noticed some smoke coming out of the engine and therefore had to cancel the flight.

The actress, and her crew, has since arrived in Accra. 


Waggonner Excalibur, N165AW: Accident occurred May 22, 2012 in Buhl, Idaho


NTSB Identification: WPR12LA225 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, May 22, 2012 in Buhl, ID
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/15/2012
Aircraft: WAGGONNER EXCALIBUR, registration: N165AW
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

During his first time operating the newly-assembled airplane, the pilot/airplane builder performed a series of high-speed taxi tests on the taxiway. The pilot stated that, after traversing the length of the taxiway several times, the airplane became airborne in the gusty wind. The pilot increased the engine power, and the airplane continued to ascend. He maneuvered near the airport for about 10 minutes and then decided to return. While on final approach to the runway, the airplane was unstable, and the pilot performed a go-around. On the second approach, with the airplane about 30 feet above ground level, the pilot lost control, and the airplane descended in a nose-low attitude into the terrain. The pilot reported no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation. About the time of the accident, the wind was reported to be at 9 knots, gusting to 19 knots.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot’s failure to maintain control of the airplane while on final approach, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall.

On May 22, 2012, about 1640 mountain daylight time, a Waggonner Excalibur, N165AW, collided with terrain during an approach to the runway at the Buhl Municipal Airport, Buhl, Idaho. The owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot, the sole occupant, sustained serious injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage. The local personal flight departed from Buhl about 1630. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

In a written statement, the pilot reported that he arrived at the airport earlier in the morning and assembled the airplane; he had never flown it prior. After the fuel pump was replaced, he had an Airframe and Powerplant mechanic examine the airplane and received verbal confirmation from him that it was in airworthy condition. The mechanic did not sign the airplane’s logbooks due to inadequate records from the previous owner. The pilot then taxied the airplane for about an hour.

The pilot further stated that during taxi, a gust of wind lifted the airplane airborne and he decided to add engine power. He maneuvered the airplane for about 10 minutes and decided to return to the airport. The first approach to the runway was unsatisfactory and he performed a go-around. On the second approach, with the airplane about 30 feet above ground level (agl), he experienced a loss of control and the airplane dove in a nose-low attitude into terrain. He was transported to a nearby hospital.

The pilot reported no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

According to witnesses, the pilot was performing a series of high speed taxi tests on the parallel taxiway located south of the runway. After several times of traversing the length of the taxiway, the airplane taxied onto the active runway at the midfield point. The airplane then accelerated down the runway and became airborne in the gusty winds. The witnesses heard the engine power increase and the airplane continued to ascend. The airplane maneuvered near the airport for about 10 minutes and then approached back to the runway. While on final approach, the airplane appeared unstable and the pilot performed a go-around.

The witnesses further stated that the airplane made several turns and the pilot appeared to be attempting to return back to the runway. With the airplane about 20 feet agl, the airplane stalled and descended into the terrain. The airplane came to rest near the approach end of runway 27 with the engine still running.

A routine aviation weather report (METAR) generated by an Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS) at Magic Valley Regional Airport, Twin Falls, Idaho (located 15.5 nautical miles west from the accident site), indicated that about 15 minutes after the accident the wind was variable from 260 to 330 degrees at 9 knots with wind gusts at 19 knots.

A responder on the scene of a plane crash Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at the airport in Buhl. 

A man looks over a crash involving a small plane Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at the airport in Buhl.

Buhl police investigate a crash involving a small plane Tuesday at the Buhl Municipal Airport. The male pilot was taken from the scene by air ambulance.

  Regis#: 165AW        Make/Model: EXP       Description: EXCALIBUR
  Date: 05/22/2012     Time: 2240

  Event Type: Incident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Unknown

  City: BUHL   State: ID   Country: US


INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   1
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    

  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Taxi      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: BOISE, ID  (NM11)                     Entry date: 05/23/2012 

BUHL • A man was injured after a plane crash Tuesday afternoon at the Buhl airport, authorities say.

The man was transported from the scene by Air St. Luke’s, but emergency dispatchers did not know if he was taken to St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center in Twin Falls or to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise.

Dispatchers received the call about the crash at 4:20 p.m.. They reported the plane landed upside down and no flames were visible.

Michelle Jones was heading west on 4200 North Road in Buhl when she saw the small red and white plane tilting back and forth in the sky. The plane stalled, she said, then quickly lost speed and fell at an angle from the sky before crashing in the grass near the landing strip at the airport.

Jones, a nurse, turned around and headed back to the airport to see if she could help.
When Jones arrived, she said, she saw the man slumping out of the door of the plane. She then helped stabilize him as other first-responders arrived.

Jones said the man had a head injury and possibly a broken foot along with other injuries.
While Jones didn’t want to identify the man before his family learned of the incident, she said she does know him.

“I just met him yesterday,” she said. “He’s a really nice guy.”

No one from the Buhl Police Department was immediately available for comment Tuesday evening.

The Buhl Fire Department, Buhl police, Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office, Air St. Luke’s, and local paramedics all responded to the crash.


Buhl, Idaho (KMVT-TV) - A local Buhl man is in the hospital this Tuesday afternoon after his light weight experimental aircraft crashed out at the Buhl Airport.

According to one of first responders on the scene...

At approximately 4:15, a man flying a new experimental aircraft, called a "Light Weight Excalibur", lost control on his approach to land and crashed into a field about 30 yards past the end of the runway.

Residents living in the area saw the plane flying erratically around the airport and soon after the accident occurred.

We talked with one of the first responders on the scene and asked her how the man was doing when she arrived.

"When you do an assessment on a patient you're supposed to do, ask him if they are alert and responsive times 3. Which means you have to know your name, you have to know where you are at and you have to know like the season. He was not responsive at all... he was alert times zero. It was scary, but they got him in the ambulance and he was alert times one with him knowing his name."   Said First Responder, Michelle Jones.

The man was taken to Saint Luke's Magic Valley by ambulance and his condition is not known at this time.

Officials from the FAA were en route to the Buhl Airport to begin the process of finding out what exactly happened.


Golden age or bubble? Plane-makers walk the line

Kyle Peterson,  Reuters

7:41 p.m. CDT, May 22, 2012

CHICAGO (Reuters) -    From a chilly perch in Burnsville, Minnesota, Tim Zemanovic has an usual perspective on the global aircraft market, which is booming - some say overheating - as the world's largest plane-makers pump out jets as fast they can.

Zemanovic, the head of Aircraft Demolition, a company that tears down and recycles unwanted airplanes, says his five-year-old business has never been stronger as airlines expand and replenish their fleets with fuel-efficient planes.

"This year, I expect to do double the work we did last year," he said. The company destroyed 24 planes in 2011, and an industry trade group estimates more than 12,000 aircraft will be retired in the next 20 years.

Zemanovic's story reflects a golden age for commercial plane-making - where strong air traffic, underpinned by stunning economic expansion in China and India, supports demand for new jets and there is no shortage of third parties willing to finance those purchases.

Or it may be evidence of unsustainable demand.


As Boeing Co and Airbus race to bag as many orders as possible, they are ramping up production 57 percent by value between 2011 and 2014, according to some estimates, with hot-selling narrowbodies - single-aisle planes with about 150 seats - leading the way.

But the pace comes with risk, according to experts who say manufacturers are taking more orders than they can expect to deliver.

An order bubble is swelling, they say, and warn it is possible that if some shock to the chronically unstable airline industry - volatile fuel prices, terror attacks, economic recession - makes airlines rethink their expansion plans or replenishment needs, demand could sink, aircraft values could fall and planes could roll off assembly lines without buyers.

"The problem with a bubble is you don't know it is a bubble until it bursts and then everyone wants to get out," said Adam Pilarski, senior vice president at AVITAS, an airline consulting company that also works with aircraft lessors and lenders.

Some airlines already are rethinking their purchase plans. On May 16, Southwest Airlines Co , a loyal Boeing customer, deferred deliveries of 30 Boeing 737s it was to receive in the coming two years, aiming to save more than $1 billion in capital spending. Earlier this month, Australian carrier Qantas delayed delivery of two Airbus A380s to help cut spending.

Moreover, critics say the airlines' scramble for new planes comes on top of a rise in aircraft orders from third-party buyers like aircraft leasing companies that essentially bear the risk of aircraft ownership for operators.

This rise in speculative activity has already stretched the demand for aircraft in markets like India that have seen rapid expansion but where several carriers now face financial problems.

"I believe there is a bubble, and it is important to think about what happens when it bursts and what happens with aircraft retirements and values," Pilarski said.

Indeed, Zemanovic said Aircraft Demolition is chopping up younger and younger planes for scrap. The company recently destroyed a well-used 10-year-old Boeing 737, which typically has a life cycle of closer to 30 years, because its Saudi Arabian owner wanted a newer model and decided the parts of its 737 had more value than an intact plane.

The list prices for new planes did not decline during the last recession, but Boeing and Airbus have accused each other in the past of granting steep discounts to win a price war.


Aircraft manufacturers are aware of the risk, but they stand by their forecasts.

"The last thing we want to do is build more airplanes than the market needs," said Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

"If we do that, the values of our airplanes go down, the residual values go down for our customers. It's not good for us. It's not good for our customers."

Boeing and Airbus, which dominate the market for large jets, are both predicting a staggering $4 trillion market for new jets over the next 20 years with a sharp increase in deliveries.

Boeing forecasts a market for 33,500 new passenger planes and freighters between 2011 and 2030 thanks to robust growth in China, India and other emerging markets.

Population growth, urbanization and a burgeoning middle class with extra disposable income are underpinning the sharp growth in aviation demand in the world's two most populous nations, China and India.

India's domestic network alone is expected to generate the world's fastest air traffic growth over 20 years. Manufacturers say the prospects for growth are further spurred by the low starting point, reflecting the dominance of rail.

To meet anticipated aircraft demand, Boeing is ramping up production on all of its commercial programs - most notably the narrowbody 737, which is going to 42-a-month from the current 35-a-month. Airbus is also increasing production on its competing A320 narrowbody jet to 42 planes a month from the current rate of 40 per month.

Together, the rate increases for the two narrowbodies represent perhaps the most ambitious peacetime ramp-up in airplane production and draw on an increasingly global supply chain. Airplane production is already at record levels.

Both plane-makers are revamping these best-selling 150-seat jets from mid-decade with new engines to deliver fuel savings of 15 percent. The decision sparked a stampede of orders even as storm clouds gathered over the economy and European banks scaled back exposure to the sector due to the region's debt crisis.

Popularity of the upgraded narrowbodies is sure to erode the value of the earlier generations, but soaring fuel prices keep pressure on airlines to stock their fleets with the most fuel-efficient planes.

"Fuel prices have gone up significantly in recent years and all the forecasts are that they will remain high, and you simply can't compete if you are operating an older aircraft that is maybe burning 15-20 percent more fuel than your competitor," said Tony Tyler, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).


Airbus sales chief John Leahy dismissed talk of a production bubble and defended the industry's demand projections.

"I have been selling commercial airliners for 28 years. Approximately every five years we go through the cycle of industry gurus predicting asset bubbles, shortage of financing and imminent collapse. It hasn't happened yet, and it won't," Leahy told Reuters.

In May, both Boeing and Airbus parent EADS posted higher quarterly profits helped by commercial aircraft sales.

Neither manufacturer is saying demand growth will happen in a straight line without upsets or airline failures on the way. Both believe the combination of hundreds of old planes needing replacement and emerging market growth will hold up demand.

"This industry doubles every 15 years in seat-mile capacity, the demand side of the equation. That is one of the strongest growth stories you can see. It is hard to imagine an asset bubble in the supply side when you are feeding into an industry that is doubling in size every 15 years," Leahy said.

Boeing's Tinseth said that in the last 10 years, cancellation or conversions affected less than 2 percent of the backlog, underlining real demand for the aircraft. That means that more than 98 percent of the company's orders were filled.

Furthermore, Boeing and Airbus typically overbook their delivery slots to ensure they always have a buyer for planes if another customer cancels or defers an order.


Some observers believe the highly cyclical aircraft market is overdue for a correction.

Airbus and Boeing notched up a combined 2,529 orders in 2011, the highest number since a record 2,881 in 2007. Orders plummeted in 2008 and again in 2009 amid economic recession. But they picked up the following year.

Through it all, deliveries - which is when airlines get paid - held strong, suggesting airline customers have a strong commitment to their growth and fleet replacement plans - at least for now.

The fact that combined deliveries dipped only 4 percent in 2008 from 2007 - Airbus deliveries actually rose - reveals a departure from the historical trends that suggest deliveries should shadow the rest of the economy, said Richard Aboulafia, aerospace analyst at Teal Group.

"Any other previous event that even vaguely resembled this would have produced a painful downturn," he said, adding that jet-makers may eventually have to curb production rates to match weaker demand.

"There's nothing wrong with taking orders," he said. "It's the production ramp-up that is an issue."

For Boeing, Aboulafia said a more appropriate production rate on narrowbodies is less than 40 per month, compared with its plans to build 42 each month.

IATA has warned that its airlines worldwide face more than $8 billion in losses this year if Europe's politicians fail to come to grips with the region's debt crisis.

Some economists fear that deeper turmoil in the 17-nation currency area could spill over to other regions and cripple the Asian profit machine that underpins recent orders.

If anticipated demand fails to materialize, plane-makers are not the only ones that might be hurt.

"You could say there's a new aircraft production bubble," said John Walsh, an aerospace consultant at Walsh Aviation.

"And if that bursts, then people who have built brand new plants and have excess capacity as suppliers will be hung out to dry for a little while until the market catches up with them."

(Reporting by Kyle Peterson; Additional reporting by Tim Hepher in Paris; Editing by Patricia Kranz and Matthew Lewis)


New Mexico says Kirtland jet fuel spill could be larger

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - State environmental officials say a massive jet fuel spill threatening Albuquerque's water supply could be much larger than originally thought.

Officials have previously estimated the decades-old spill from Kirtland Air Force base to be about 8 million gallons. But state geologist William Moats, who made the original calculations, recently estimated the spill could be as large as 24 million gallons -- or twice the size of the spill from the Exxon Valdez oil tanker in Alaska in 1989.

Jim Davis, head of the New Mexico Environment Department's resource protection division, calls Moats' newest calculation a "first-order estimate" based on new data from Air Force monitoring wells. Still, he emphasized that no one really knows how large the spill is. And he says he is confident it can be remediated, no matter what the size.


Female pilot boots 'sexist' passenger

SAO PAULO—A Brazilian airline says one of its female pilots tossed a passenger off a flight because he was making sexist comments about women flying planes.

Trip Airlines says in a Tuesday statement the pilot ejected the man before takeoff as he made loud, sexist comments upon learning the pilot was a woman. The jet continued on to the state of Goias after a one-hour delay.

The passenger involved in Friday's incident has not been identified. He was met by police at the plane and escorted out of the Belo Horizonte airport. Police at the airport have not responded to calls and it isn't known if the man has been charged with anything.

Trip says it won't tolerate disparaging remarks made about any of the 1,400 women working for the airline.


FAA pulls plug on homeowner reimbursement plan

DANIA BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- An airport expansion plan that would have meant big bucks for homeowners is now grounded. 

 After more than 25 years of battling within the City of Dania Beach, the groundbreaking ceremony for Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport's expansion finally took place Jan. 23.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood attended the long-awaited ceremony, where he officially announced the massive expansion of the south runway at the Broward airport would proceed.

According to a computer simulation, the expanded runway will extend over US 1 and will contain a series of 12 bridges and tunnels. The runway itself will then be elevated to extend its length. LaHood said, "This is a big deal because of the jobs."

However, the Dania Beach city commission is now about to resume the decades-long battle on behalf of the roughly 2,000 homeowners who live near the airport. The Federal Aviation Administration has denied a plan to pay cash to those who would be most affected by the excess noise from the closer runway.

The plan entailed payments of up to 20 percent of a home's value if the homeowner did not sue. Dania Beach Commissioner Anne Castro said, "I think litigation will be happening. It's the only way to preserve legal rights for people, including the city ... There might be a chance we get an injunction to stop the construction until some of the matters are resolved."

"What we asked for was completely, never done any place else in the country," said Kent George, Director of Aviation, "and they said, 'You can't do it. It's not in the EIS -- Environmental Impact Statement -- nor is it in our regulations, nor is it eligible for funding, so consequently, you can't do it.'"

Homeowners expressed anger about the FAA's decision. Homeowner Brenda Chalifour said, "We devalue your property as much as we possibly can, and down the road, when you just can't take it anymore, for whatever reason, we'll buy it for a penny on the dollar."

According to George, no matter what decision the City of Dania Beach makes, the airport expansion plan will proceed.

Read more: http://www.wsvn.com

2012 Cessna 206: Board Approves Use of Seized Money to Purchase in Airplane for Sheriff's Office

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors today approved a request by the sheriff's office to purchase a $700,000 airplane using money seized during criminal investigations.

The agency plans to buy a single-engine 2012 Cessna 206, which will replace an aging 1980 Cessna 206, an outdated model that has become too noisy for suburban, semi-rural surveillance, according to the sheriff's office.

The total cost of the new airplane is $682,731 for the plane, plus $31,013 in add-ons such as communications equipment and high-resolution cameras.

The plane will primarily be used by the San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force for surveillance operations in drug cases, though the aircraft will be made available to any regional law enforcement agency in need of an aerial resource, according to the sheriff's office.

Besides having been proven to be a valuable asset for law enforcement, the sheriff's plane is also a "priceless resource" when used in search-and-rescue operations, the sheriff's office said in a letter to the board.

Between July 2010 and June 2011, the sheriff's current aircraft was used in 158 operations.

Any purchases made by law enforcement agencies with money seized during criminal investigations need to be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice. The department's Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section called the purchase of the new airplane a "permissible expenditure," according to the sheriff's office.

--Bay City News

Source:  http://pacifica.patch.com

2 pilots arrested for leaking license exam question paper

New Delhi: The CBI has arrested two pilots, including one from Air India subsidiary Alliance Air, in connection with the alleged leakage of a question paper of commercial license examination.

HS Malhotra of Alliance Air was arrested on May 18 and Siddarth Chowdhury of Indigo airline was arrested a day earlier.

The two were produced separately before a magistrate who remanded them to CBI custody till May 23, Press Information Officer of the agency RK Gaur said.

The two pilots were arrested as part of the ongoing probe by the CBI to unearth the racket involving leakage of question paper pertaining to Commercial Pilot License (Technical) examination, he said.

A case was registered on April 20 last month under various sections of the IPC on the allegations relating to leakage of question paper ahead of the examination that was held on March 15.

The examination for this paper was declared null and void by the DGCA on March 27.

The CBI had been approached by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) with a complaint about leakage of the question paper, Mr Gaur said.

It was alleged that the partially vetted question paper was taken out from the Office of Chief Examination Officer of DGCA, which was later passed on to the other pilot and finally reached Lalit Jain, who was arrested by CBI on May 15.

A payment of several lakh was made for the leakage of the paper, the CBI alleged.

Thereafter, the question paper was scanned and sent through e-mail to various candidates allegedly by Jain and the same set of questions were forwarded by the candidates to other people through e-mail as well.

Jain, who is at present in judicial custody, is an accused in a Delhi Police case of last year for forging commercial pilot licenses. 


Red Arrows given official go-ahead for 2012 season displays

Group Captain Dave Bentley said 2011 had been "extremely challenging" 

The Red Arrows are preparing for their first public display of the season after being given the official go-ahead.

The Lincolnshire-based aerobatic display team has to be granted its Public Display Authority each season.

The team has been learning to fly as a seven this year following the deaths of two pilots in 2011 and the departure of its first female pilot.

However, the team will still fly high-profile flypasts with nine aircraft.

Group Captain Dave Bentley, who is in overall command of the Red Arrows, said 2011 had been "extremely challenging".

"The 2012 display is an energetic mix of formation and precision flying, and I know how much the Red Arrows are looking forward to the forthcoming season and enhancing their reputation as one of the world's premier aerobatic display teams," he said.

"2011 was an extremely challenging year for the Royal Air Force aerobatic team, both air and ground crew alike.

"The award of Public Display Authority is recognition of the entire team's hard work and commitment."

The team returned to its home base at RAF Scampton this month, after eight weeks of intensive training in Cyprus.

They performed a flypast for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Muster and Parade at Windsor Castle on Saturday.

The first public display will be at Folkestone on 2 June.

Red-tailed hawk chicks removed from airport nests


SEA-TAC AIRPORT, WASH. -  Red-tailed hawk chicks hatched just five weeks ago, but they're already big enough it takes two hands to hold them.  In another two weeks, they would start to fly, and for the people who run Sea-Tac airport, that's a problem.

"They're very naive at that age," said Bud Anderson, with the Falcon Research Group.

For more than a decade he's overseen the removal of young hawks from nests sitting high in cottonwood trees surrounding the airport. When the birds start to fly they are very vulnerable to aircraft.

"They don't know what planes are," said Anderson.

Birds are a hazard around airports.  So-called "bird strikes" happen when planes hit birds.  Most often it's the bird that loses, but large birds have broken through cockpit windows injuring pilots, clogged engines and caused other damage.  The most well-known case happened when a US Airways A320 lost power in both engines after flying through a flock of geese on takeoff in New York.  The crew safely belly landed the plane on the Hudson river with no loss of life.

Adult hawks are not a problem, says Anderson. There are at least two nesting pairs.  Anderson says one is a 12-year-old male who's remained clear of air traffic.  Sea-Tac likes the adult hawks because they can help drive out other bird species, but the young are a different story.

The chicks are taken to a farm in Skagit county, where they learn to fly and hunt.  Anderson says none of thee chicks has ever returned to Sea-Tac.

A total of five chicks were removed from two nests on Tuesday.

REDjet is not dead – it’s just resting…

Customer: “Now that’s what I call a dead
airline. It has ceased to be, it has expired and gone to meet its maker. This is an ex-parrot ex-airline…”
Pet shop clerk: “No it’s not. It’s just resting.”

by Robert

It is now 68 days since REDjet ceased operations.

Ninety percent plus of the staff has moved on. The majority of the signage at Grantley Adams is gone and what remains looks like nothing more than an oversight. Barbados and Trinidad pulled the licenses. They still spool-up the jets once every two weeks, but no serious maintenance is happening. Soon the jets will sit in the Bajan sun deteriorating in the salt air and suffering from that most deadly threat to an aircraft’s health: not flying. REDjet hasn’t updated their website or put out a press release since March. Our accidental Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, was talking nonsense at the beginning of May saying the Barbados government had not abandoned REDjet: but then we learned the the government hadn’t even requested the airline’s financial statements to that date. Stuart was only shining people on with his comments.

On the weekend a CADRES poll revealed that Barbadians do not want public money funding REDjet. The DLP needed a poll to tell them that? Nobody else did.

We are within six months or less of an election and the ruling DLP is not going to touch the REDjet landmine in this economic climate. Besides, after the results of CADRES’ leadership poll Prime Minister Stuart has a lot more on his mind than trying to bail out Bizzy Williams and his friends over their hobby airline.

REDjet is dead, dead, dead – and those who disagree are more and more sounding like the pet shop clerk in Monty Python’s famous Dead Parrot sketch. How Dad used to roar over that one! He’d probably get just as much of a laugh over Prime Minister Stuart trying to explain to the voters why his government would put our good tax money into REDjet just to nail it back onto the perch.

REDjet is expired. It is an ex-airline. It has ceased to be.

Can we please move on to the coming election and how the DLP lied about Integrity, Transparency and Accountability Legislation – and how Owen Arthur and the Bees are no better?

Source:  http://barbadosfreepress.wordpress.com

Lancair IVP-TP (built by Carlos Garza), Raleighwood Aviation LLC, N321LC: Fatal accident occurred February 03, 2012 in Boise, Idaho

NTSB Identification: WPR12FA089 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, February 03, 2012 in Boise, ID
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/08/2014
Aircraft: GARZA LANCAIR IV-TP, registration: N321LC
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The amateur-built, experimental, high-performance airplane was fueled to capacity and the pilot had planned a cross-country flight. During an initial takeoff, the airplane climbed to about 60 feet above ground level (agl) before touching back down; the pilot transmitted to the air traffic controller that he had a problem. The controller asked if the pilot needed any assistance, and the pilot responded that he was going to taxi back and "see if I can figure it out," indicating that there was not a catastrophic failure and the pilot was intending to troubleshoot the problem. The pilot then taxied to a ramp area where the airplane was stationary for almost a minute and a half. Although the pilot's actions during this period are not known, it is likely that he was attempting to troubleshoot a problem with the airplane because the recorded engine parameters are consistent with the pilot cycling the propeller. 

Thereafter, the pilot stated his intention to stay in the traffic pattern, and he taxied the airplane back to the runway. The airplane became airborne about 18 seconds into the takeoff; the pilot then made a request to turn back to land. The airplane turned to the left and continued to climb until it reached its peak altitude of about 320 feet agl. Witnesses indicated that the airplane then entered a spin, completed about one revolution, and impacted terrain in a nose-low attitude before coming to rest in a dirt area between the parallel runways. A fire started upon impact. 

At the peak of the airborne portion of the first rejected takeoff, about 5,860 feet of runway remained. When the pilot made the request to turn back to land during the second takeoff, over 5,160 feet of runway remained, but because the airplane was 260 feet higher and had a higher airspeed than previously, the pilot likely thought he would not be able to land on the runway surface straight ahead. A performance study indicated that the airplane experienced a loss of thrust during the accident takeoff about 1 second before the pilot's request to return. 

Postaccident examination revealed no evidence of a preimpact uncontained engine failure, inflight fire, or flight control system malfunction. Fuel system continuity could not be confirmed due to thermal damage incurred during the postcrash fire. Review of the engine parameters revealed that, during the accident takeoff, the greatest anomaly in the airplane's parameters was that the fuel pressure dropped to a minimum psi while the fuel flow increased and the torque delivered to the engine shaft (Q) increased excessively. Shortly thereafter, fuel pressure recovered when the fuel flow reduced and Q retarded to an idle setting. Q also dropped to an idle setting during the previous takeoff. The reason for these variations could not be explained. In comparing prior flights to the accident flight, the maximum Q attained during takeoff climb was lower than the Q for the accident takeoff, and the fuel pressure did not drop to the same level as during the accident flight, which are indicative of a problem with the airplane.

The airplane was equipped with a Turbine Starter Limiting/Monitoring System, capable of limiting power by restricting fuel flow, which was designed to act as a start sequence controller, an engine protection limiter, and an engine monitor/recorder. It is possible that this system/installation malfunctioned and engaged during the accident takeoff; however, the system was destroyed in the postcrash fire and could not be examined. Consequently, no determination regarding its performance during the accident flight is possible.

The data showed that the pilot's most recent flight in the airplane was 6 days before the accident, at the same airport. During that flight, he also performed an initial rejected takeoff, suggesting that he was possibly having problems at that time; he made a successful flight thereafter, but remained in the traffic pattern. 

A simulation of the accident flight indicated that, during the airplane's left turn, the angle of attack at which the wing stalls was exceeded. A former engineer and general manager of the kit manufacturer stated that if the engine failed during takeoff, the airspeed would rapidly decay, and the pilot would have to push the nose down to maintain flying speed. He noted that following a loss of power, the nose would remain in a nose-up attitude, and unless the pilot made corrective pitch inputs (reducing the angle of attack) within about 4 to 5 seconds, the airplane would rapidly reach a critical angle of attack and stall, which would result in the wing simultaneously dropping. It would not be possible to recover from the stall at altitudes below 1,500 ft agl.

Based on the results of the simulation for the accident flight, witness statements, statements from a former employee of the kit manufacturer, it is likely that pilot was attempting to return to a runway (either the takeoff runway or the parallel runway). The pilot did not push the nose down to maintain flying speed and stalled the airplane well below 1,500 ft agl, and the airplane was spinning when it impacted the ground. Although beyond the end of the takeoff runway was flat, unpopulated hard-dirt surface, suitable for a straight-ahead emergency landing, it is unknown why they pilot chose to return to the airport rather than lower the nose and land there.

Twenty-six percent of Lancair airplanes have been involved in accidents, and 19 percent have been involved in fatal accidents. In 2008 and 2012, the FAA convened two safety groups specifically to address the airplane's "unusually high accident and fatality rate compared to other amateur-built aircraft." The study noted that based on the statistics, the kit was involved in fatal accidents at "a rate that is disproportionate to their fleet size." As a result of studies developed by these safety groups, the FAA acknowledged that accidents would continue to occur if no action was taken. Thus, the FAA issued a notice that Lancair pilots should "review and thoroughly understand all information regarding stall characteristics and obtain specialized training regarding slow flight handling characteristics, stall recognition, and stall recovery techniques;" install an angle-of-attack indicator to better predict a stall; and have their airplane evaluated by an experienced type-specific mechanic to ensure proper rigging, wing alignment, and weight and balance. The notice was recalled shortly after its release and another notice was released later to include other high-performance experimental amateur-built aircraft.

When asked about what he disliked about the flight characteristics of the airplane, the pilot had told a technician who refueled the airplane that it was "squirrelly." According to the FAA, depending on the complexity of the systems installed, pilots likely will require orientation and specially-tailored training to operate this airplane safely. Although the pilot was properly certificated in accordance with existing Federal Aviation Regulations and his estimated flight experience in the airplane was 13 hours 40 minutes, no evidence was found indicating that the pilot had received flight instruction in the accident airplane model, even though he was aware that insurance companies required him to do so in order to receive coverage.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A loss or commanded reduction of engine power during the initial climb for reasons that could not be determined because of postaccident impact damage and fire destruction to engine systems and components. Also causal were the pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed and airplane control while attempting to return to the runway despite unpopulated, flat terrain immediately ahead that was suitable for an emergency landing; his decision to take off again with a known problem; and his lack of training in the make and model airplane.


On February 03, 2012, at 0856 mountain standard time, an experimental amateur-built Lancair IV-TP, N321LC, impacted terrain following a loss of control while on the initial takeoff climb from Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho. The airline transport pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The local personal flight was originating from Boise when the accident occurred. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed.

Numerous witnesses located at the airport observed the airplane on an initial rejected takeoff and on the subsequent accident flight. A majority of them stated that, during the initial rejected takeoff, the airplane departed 10R and climbed to about 5 to 10 feet (ft) above ground level (agl) before touching back down on the runway. The pilot taxied back toward the west end of the airport. Shortly thereafter, the airplane departed 10R again and climbed to about 100 to 200 ft agl. It then began to roll to the left while rapidly losing altitude. The airplane completed about one revolution and impacted terrain in a nose-low attitude. The airplane came to rest in a dirt area between runways 10R and 10L, and a fire started upon impact. Airport personnel responded to the accident and extinguished the fire with a fire suppressant. 

The Boise Air Traffic Control (ATC) Facility provided the recorded radio communications between the pilot and controllers. The pilot was initially cleared onto runway 10R and instructed to "line up and wait." About 1 minute later, he was cleared for a departure to the south, and the airplane took off from the 9,760 ft long runway about 0846:38. He transmitted to the controller 40 seconds later that he was going to "land here and stop… we got… we got a problem." An ATC controller asked if he needed any assistance to which he responded by saying, "negative, I'm going to taxi back and see if I can figure it out." About 9 minutes later, he told the controller that he would like to depart and stay in the traffic pattern for a "couple laps." The tower controller cleared the pilot for takeoff at 0854:40, and at 0855:44, the pilot made his last intelligible transmission when he requested that he would "like to turn back in and…uh…land… coming back in…uh…three." An indiscernible transmission was made 9 seconds later that may have been the pilot saying "Boise." 

Flight track data recorded from the airplane's onboard global positioning system (GPS) by the onboard Aerosonic Op Technologies Electronic Flight Instrumentation System (EFIS) was extracted from compact flash memory cards recovered from the wreckage. The EFIS data consisted of 23 parameters with 1 sample taken every 5 to 7 seconds. The recorded data covered the last 14 start cycles of the EFIS, and the last start cycle included data from the accident flight and the rejected takeoff immediately preceding the accident flight. The EFIS data for the last start cycle spanned from 0838:03 to 0856:00, or 25 minutes 57 seconds, with the airborne portion of the accident flight consisting of the last 28 seconds, from 0855:32 to 0856:00. Comparing the times of the pilot's radio transmissions (as recorded in the ATC transcript) to the times of events recorded in the EFIS data revealed that the ATC transcript time lags the EFIS time by about 23 seconds. The EFIS times are used in this report, and the times of radio transmissions recorded in the ATC transcript have been adjusted accordingly (by subtracting 23 seconds). 

A review of the data (see Figures 01 and 02 in the public docket) revealed that after the engine started at 0838:39, the airplane made a continuous taxi (as indicated by variations in groundspeed and heading) from 0844:18 to 0846:07, at which point the nose was aligned with the runway heading (around 100 degrees). From 0846:07 to 0846:32, the airplane remained stationary on the centerline about 270 ft from the approach end of the runway with the torque delivered to the engine shaft (Q) remaining around between 13 to 14 percent, consistent with an idle setting. 

The airplane began the takeoff roll at 0846:32 and became airborne about 0846:59. The airplane climbed 60 ft over the next 10 seconds to 2,845 ft msl, which was the highest attained altitude on that flight and corresponded to about 3,900 ft from the arrival end of the runway, which equates to about 40-percent down the runway with 5,860 ft remaining. At this time, 0847:09, the airplane had reached 108 kts (the highest airspeed of the flight); the pitch attitude had decreased from 8.1 to 4.4 degrees nose-up; the Interstage Turbine Temperature (ITT) had decreased from 581 degrees to 376 degrees Celsius (C); Q had dropped from 89.6 to 13 percent; and fuel flow dropped from 56 to 20 gph. The pilot transmitted that he was going land, and the airplane touched down around 0847:21. The pilot made a right turn to the south to exit onto taxiway D. The airplane continued northwest along taxiway B, made a turn west to taxiway F, north onto taxiway J, and taxied on the ramp toward the pilot's hangar.

When the airplane was adjacent to the hangar (about 175 ft north of the hangar door), the pilot maneuvered to have the nose on a heading of about 060-degrees. From about 0852:25 to 0853:51, the airplane was stationary, and it is unknown what the pilot's actions were during that 1 minute 26 second period. The engine parameters indicated that the propeller rotation speed (Np) fluctuated from about 1,140 rpm, down to 490 rpm, and then up to 1,614 rpm, which corresponded to Q values of about 14, 29 and 34 percent, respectively.

Thereafter, the pilot taxied back to runway 10R (a 1 minute 4 second trip to the hold-short line) and turned on the centerline about 110 ft from the arrival end of the runway, where the arrival threshold makings were located. The airplane began the takeoff roll at 0855:14 and became airborne about 18 seconds later at 0855:32, which corresponds to being positioned about 1,780 ft from the arrival end of the runway (see Figure 02 in the public docket). Immediately after becoming airborne, between 0855:32 and 0855:44, the fuel pressure dropped from 26 to 15 psi and then to 14 psi; fuel flow increased from about 54 to 65 gph; the airspeed increased from 99 to 104 kts; and Q increased from 104 to 113 percent torque. 

At 0855:44, the pilot made his request to turn back to land, and the data began to show significant changes in the recorded parameters at this time. The airplane was in a 12-degree nose-up pitch attitude and had climbed to about 205 ft agl, corresponding to about 4,150 ft from the arrival end of the runway and about 200 ft right of the runway's centerline. The airplane rolled from 1.7 degrees right to 1.6 degrees left; the airspeed increased from 124 to 132 kts; the fuel flow decreased from 65 to 56 gph; the fuel pressure increased from 14 to 31 psi; Q decreased from 113 to 66 percent; and a drop in Np of about 70 rpm was recorded.

The airplane continued to climb for 10 seconds until 0855:54, when it reached about 320 ft agl, the highest altitude attained during the flight. The data revealed that at this point, the airplane was in a 16-degree bank to the left, and it continued to roll to 49 degrees within 6 seconds. Additionally, Q had reduced to 16 percent; ITT dropped to 379 degrees C, the lowest during the entire flight; fuel flow had reduced to 19 gph; the fuel pressure remained around 32 psi; and the gas generator speed (Ng) had reduced to around 62 percent. The last 4 data points, encompassing the last approximate 16 seconds of the flight, revealed that the heading changed from 107 to 21 degrees, with Q decreasing from 16 to 14 percent. The accident site was located about 400 ft north of the last recorded position. 


A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman and medical certification records revealed that the pilot, age 51, held an airline transport pilot certificate with category ratings for multiengine land, multiengine sea, and single-engine land airplanes. His certificate was endorsed with a type rating in the Cessna Citation (A/CE-500 and 525S), and he was authorized to act as pilot-in-command in the experimental Hunter Viperjet. He additionally held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine sea airplane rating. The pilot's most recent first-class medical certificate was issued January 2011, with no limitations.

The pilot's personal flight records were not recovered. On his last application for a medical certificate the pilot reported a total flight time of 3,600 hours. 

1.1.1 Lancair Familiarity/Experience

The pilot's brother recalled that in August the pilot had looked at and considered purchasing a Lancair IV-TP, but decided against that specific airplane because it was "rough" in appearance. In December, the pilot told his brother that he had found the accident airplane in North Carolina and had been looking for a Lancair IV-TP for several months in an effort to make quick/fast flights. The pilot had written a series of emails trying to determine how to acquire insurance and was told that to obtain insurance he would need to complete a training program for Lancairs, despite his flight experience in turbine high-performance airplanes. The facilities that provide such training reported that they did not receive any inquiries about training from the pilot. 

The recorded EFIS data, which included data from the multifunction display (MFD) and primary flight display (PFD) were used to estimate the pilots' total flight time in the Lancair. The pilot received delivery of the airplane on December 31, 2011, and then it was fueled twice on January 3, 2012, first with 43 gallons and then later in the day with 61 gallons. The MFD indicated the airplane was flown in Boise about 40 minutes on December 31 and about 50 minutes on January 2. The airplane completed a 2 hour 30 minute flight from Boise to Sandpoint, Idaho, on January 4 and then returned later that day. 

In addition, EFIS data indicates that the airplane completed a roundtrip flight from Boise to Sandpoint, Idaho, totaling about 2 hours and 40 minutes. On January 11, the airplane made a roundtrip from Boise to Richland, Washington, totaling about 2 hours 5 minutes. The following day, the airplane made a roundtrip from Boise to Bullhead City, Arizona totaling about 4 hours 15 minutes. The last flight recorded before the day of the accident flight was on January 28, when the airplane was flown in the traffic pattern in Boise for approximately 40 minutes. 

The flight times recorded above sum to 13 hours 40 minutes, are presumed to be the pilot's total flight experience in the Lancair. No evidence was found indicating that the pilot had received flight instruction in the accident airplane or in any other Lancair IV-TP.

1.1.2 Personal History

Over approximately 10 years prior to the accident, media interviews of the pilot appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, and trade journals. Many of these articles were reviewed and used with NTSB interviews of the pilot's family, friends, and aviation connections to help give insight to the pilot's history. The pilot started his employment at Micron Technology, Inc., in 1983 and was promoted 11 times to become the company's president in 1991 and chief executive officer (CEO) in 1994, the position he held at the time of the accident. Various sources indicate that the pilot had owned over 20 airplanes and participated in various airshows.

The pilot was described as having a passion for high-risk recreation. He participated in activities such as motocross, skydiving, race car driving, and flying high-performance airplanes. He had experience flying a variety of airplanes including, but not limited to: Extra 300, Fairchild PT19, Aero L29, Hawker Hunter, Aviat Husky, Boeing Stearman, and Cessna Citation. The pilot was involved in an accident in July 2004, when he was performing an aerobatic maneuver and did not allow adequate clearance from the ground resulting in a collision. 

Friends and family of the pilot classified his health as "excellent," and his spouse reported that he did not take any medications nor did he regularly use alcohol. She stated that he slept well and regularly. She estimated that the night prior to the accident, he went to bed around midnight and awoke around 06:00-07:00, which was normally the amount of sleep he would get. She believed he was going to Glendale, Arizona, on the day of the accident, and he had indicated that he would be back to their house in Boise around 1630. The pilot's spouse and brother both indicated that there was nothing different in the pilot's life or big changes that had occurred prior to the accident; he appeared to be in excellent health and regularly exercised. A corporate pilot that flew the Micron Technology, Inc., jet regularly recalled that the pilot returned from Miami, Florida at 1205 the morning of the accident, which was the last time he saw the pilot. The exact time the pilot returned home is unknown. 


The Lancair IV-TP is an amateur-built experimental airplane constructed mainly of composite materials. The high-performance, pressurized airplane is equipped with four seats, retractable tricycle landing gear, and traditional flight control surfaces. The accident airplane received a special airworthiness certificate in the experimental category for the purpose of being operated as an amateur-built aircraft in March 2007. The builder started construction of the aircraft in November 2004 and completed the aircraft in January 2007. The equipment on the airplane was not a standard Lancair installation for a IV-TP, rather, a firewall forward package provided by an outside supplier (not Lancair); Walter/General Eclectic M601E was the standard installation.

The airplane was equipped with a Diemech Turbines, Inc. M601D engine, serial number (s/n) 864030, and, according to the manufacturer, is rated at 724 shaft horse power (SHP). The Diemech M601D is a two-spool engine consisting of a gas generator which drives a power turbine which drives a reduction gearbox. The gas generator compressor is a mixed configuration consisting of two axial flow stages and one centrifugal stage. Inlet air enters the compressor section radially just forward of the accessory section and travels forward through the two axial stages and one centrifugal stage. The exiting compressor air enters an annular combustor arrangement for mixing with fuel for the combustion process. The expanded flow path gases are then directed to the gas generator turbine by the gas generator turbine nozzles. The remaining expanded flow path gases exiting the gas generator are then directed to the power turbine for the final power extraction before exiting the engine forward of the compressor inlet. 

The power turbine then drives the propeller system by means of the reduction gearbox. The accessory gearbox which is located on the aft end of the engine drives all engine accessories by a direct shaft coming from the compressor spool. Typical engine accessories are the main fuel pump, fuel control unit, starter / generator which are all on the rear gearbox and the propeller governor, which is driven by the reduction gearbox located at the front of the engine. 

The airplane was equipped with a constant-speed three-bladed Avia Propeller V508/E/84/B2 (s/n 120651110), that was manufactured in 1981; the blades were 84 inches in length. The propeller governor was a Jihostroj LUN7815.02-8 (s/n 853059), and the overspeed governor (limiter) was a Jihostroj 065-2600 (s/n 903-071). 

1.2.1 Maintenance Records

The airplane's maintenance records were obtained from the pilot's hangar, where they were located with maintenance-related documents/manuals for his other airplanes. In addition, information was obtained from the FAA and Jihostroj Aero Technology and Hydraulics, the manufacturer of the fuel control unit (FCU) installed on the airplane.

According to the records examined, the airplane, serial number 003, had accumulated a total time in service of about 375 hours when the pilot purchased it on December 31, 2011. The most recent condition inspection was recorded as completed on April 11, 2011, at a total time of 339.3 hours. During that inspection, it was noted that the airplane was modified with removable rudder pedals (co-pilot seat) and the outside air temperature (OAT) probe was relocated to the bottom of the right wing tip, where the winglet is affixed to the right wing. According to the logbooks, the most recent maintenance was performed on June 27, 2011, and consisted of an interior "refurbishment" which included these noted maintenance actions: the interior panels and seats being reupholstered in leather, replacement of the carpet, seatbelt re-webbed. 

A review of the airplane's documents further revealed that the Diemech Turbines, Inc. M601D engine was originally manufactured in 1986 as a Walter 601D and was installed on the airframe with a time in service of 2,950 hours; the last major overhaul occurred before the engine was installed on the accident airframe. The logbook indicated that on April 04, 2011, the engine was inspected in accordance with the Turbine Power Technology 300-hour scope sheet at a tachometer time of 339.3 hours. The Turbine Starter Limiting/Monitoring System (TSLM) recorded the engine total time (since being installed on the airframe) at the time of the accident as 387.5 hours, equating to 387 cycles. 

1.2.2 Configuration/Instrumentation

The engine's SHP at 100-percent Q was 724 SHP and at 112-percent it was 810 SHP. According to Lancair experts, during a normal takeoff rotation speed would be about 75 kts and would be flown about 90-percent Ng. Due to the fast acceleration, a reduced power setting ensures the pilot's ability to operate within limitations. The maximum value of Np was 2,080 rpm.

The engine controls were actuated by three levers located on the center panel of the cockpit. The left lever, the throttle, controlled the power at forward and reverse propeller thrust ratings. The middle lever controlled propeller speed and feathering. The right lever, the condition lever, actuated the fuel shut-off valve and, if the emergency circuit was on, it controlled engine power by metering the fuel flow. 

The airplane had fabricated winglets. The avionics package included an Aerosonic Op Technologies EFIS that was tied to the PFD and MFD and a backup Dynon EFIS. The Op Technologies system enabled the pilot to have visible on the PFD all basic flight instrumentation, a navigation display, and engine instrumentation. Upon application of power, the system would automatically display the airspeed, attitude, altitude, and vertical speed indicators on the upper portion of the screen. 

1.2.3 Fuel System

The airplane's fuel system was non-standard for a Lancair IV-TP installation. It was equipped with long range fuel tanks that increased the capacity of the fuel system to 175 gallons and consisted of four fuel tanks: left wing (58 gallons), right wing (58 gallons), aft auxiliary (24 gallons) and the belly (30 gallons). The amount of unusable fuel was 5 gallons. The fuel system included three low-pressure electric fuel pumps, all of which could be activated by the pilot: one main pump and two transfer pumps (rated at 40 to 50 gph and 28-psi). 

The aft tank, located behind the pilot's seat, was routed through a transfer pump and check valve to the left wing tank; the fuel was added to this tank via a filler cap on the top of the tank accessed through the baggage door. The left tank fuel pickup was located at the lower wing root and routed to the fuel selector. The belly tank was routed through a transfer pump to the right wing tank. The right tank fuel pickup was located at the lower wing root and routed to the fuel selector. 

From the fuel selector, the fuel flow continued via the main electric fuel pump to the pressure header tank. The pressure header tank was comprised of a 1 gallon stainless- steel cylinder with a 10 micron filter affixed to the bottom. The pressure header tank was designed for the fuel to be fed from the electric fuel pump into its main housing and when the fuel pressure was adequate, the fuel would be forced through a 10 micron filter attached to the bottom and continue up through the enclosed center core of the tank. From the tank, the fuel continued by the fuel pressure sensor and then the fuel flow sensor to the fuel control unit (FCU), meaning the pressure and flow displayed on the instrument panel were based on what the pressure header tank was supplying to the FCU. At the top of the header tank was a check valve that ported excess fuel back to the fuel selector, which would then route that fuel to the wing tank that was selected. The fuel selector in turn, had two return lines, one connected to each wing tank. 

1.2.4 Prior Issues

The pilot had emailed the airplane's prior owner on January 12, 2012, stating that he had noticed that fuel from the aft fuel tank was feeding slowly to the left wing tank even when the aft fuel pump was not on, which he assumed was due to the fuel valve not closing completely. The pilot additionally stated that it was "not a big deal," but that it had happened on "both flights" he took. On January 18, the pilot emailed the prior owner again stating that the left fuel tank would constantly weep, and fuel would run down the bottom of the wing to the root and drip under the fuselage (near the wheel well). He additionally noted a strong odor of jet fuel from behind the co-pilot seat and queried the prior owner as to his thoughts if the fuel was coming from the aft fuel tank as it feeds to the left fuel tank. 

The previous owner responded by stating that he had only experienced the left fuel tank leaking when it was near full fuel. He noted that as for the odor, he was not aware of any reason for the smell of fuel in aft cabin. According to a Lancair IV-TP expert, when full fuel is added to the wings and the air temperature rises, the fuel will trickle through the vents. The fuel will then follow the wing shape and flow down to the wing root, where there is a fuel odor in the cockpit.

A corporate pilot employed at Micron recalled flying the accident airplane with the pilot on two occasions; he had not flown a Lancair IV-TP before and the purpose of the flights was for him to try flying it. On the first flight the corporate pilot was positioned in the right seat, and they traded off flying while performing a series of touch-and-go practice takeoffs and landings in the Boise traffic pattern. The second flight was later in January, and they flew roundtrip from Boise to Sandpoint. He recalled that while on the ground in Sandpoint, they had folded the left seat back in an effort to store luggage in the rear. In manipulating the seat position, the teeth became misaligned; they were unable to return the seat's position back to upright; and it remained wedged in a reclined 45-50 degree angle. The pilot originally wanted the corporate pilot to fly the return leg, but he could not operate the airplane with the seat that far reclined so the pilot flew back to Boise from the right seat. 

From reviewing the pilot's email communications and interviewing his friends and family, it appeared that he was satisfied with the airplane in general.

1.2.5 EFIS Data

The airplane's past EFIS flight data was retrieved in an effort to ascertain the parameter values during the last approximate ten flights. A review of those flights (excluding the accident flight) revealed that during takeoff the following was common:

-Q: the maximum torque attained during the takeoff climb was usually between 80 to 95 percent. 
-Pitch: the average maximum pitch was 13-degrees nose-up, with the highest being 18-degrees nose-up.
-Fuel Flow: the fuel flow values varied between 50 to 65gph, with the majority between 50 and 60 gph.
-Fuel Pressure: the fuel pressure values during takeoff varied between 27 to 35 psi, with a majority between 28 to 30 psi. At no time was the fuel pressure recorded as dipping below 25 psi with the exception of one ground run where it momentarily dropped to 0 in conjunction with other parameters not being recorded consistent with the pilot manipulating an electrical power source. 
-ITT: the ITT values during takeoff were between 500 to 600 degrees C (According to a Lancair expert, this would normally be between 650-720 degrees C).
-Np: the Np values reached a maximum between 2,000 and 2,080 rpm. 

A review of the EFIS flight data additionally disclosed that on January 28, 2012, the last flight prior to the accident flight, the airplane performed a rejected takeoff in Boise. During that flight, the airplane reached a maximum airspeed of 46 kts and likely did not become airborne. The fuel flow during the first 5 seconds dropped from 42 to 18 gph (idle), with the fuel pressure remaining consistent around 30 to 32 psi. Additionally, Np decreased from about 1,970 to 1,245 rpm; Q decreased from 52 to 12 percent; and ITT dropped from 505 to 380 degrees C. The airplane landed and taxied back to the runway, departing again about 2.5 minutes later on an uneventful flight where the pilot performed touch-and-go takeoffs and landings in the traffic pattern. 

1.2.6 Fuel Pressure and Fuel Flow

Based on the airplane's records, it is believed that the airplane was equipped with a fuel supply monitoring system (FSM), although the unit was not identified/recovered in the wreckage likely due to the extensive fire damage. The fuel pressure warning was set to be activated at 6 psi. The airplane plans show that it was to be equipped with three fuel flow sensors, each positioned between one of the three fuel pumps and the header tank, although it is not know where in actuality they were located on the airplane. The system was designed to give the pilot a warning indication of a low fuel flow. The low-fuel pressure transducer was fitted to the main fuel pump supplying to the header tank, which was where the low level warning indicator senor was fitted. Given that, during the accident flight, the recorded flows and pressures did not drop below the set parameters, it is not likely the pilot received any such warning. 

1.2.7 Fuel Quantity

Local fixed based operator (FBO) personnel fueled the airplane several minutes before engine start on the day of the accident at the pilot's request. A sample of fuel from the truck used to refuel the airplane was obtained, and the refueling technician was interviewed. The EFIS recorded data indicated that both tanks contained 58 gallons of fuel at the start of the initial takeoff attempt, and just prior to the accident (the second takeoff attempt), the right tank contained 54 gallons and the left contained 58 gallons. According to the refueling technician, the pilot had requested that the airplane be refueled to capacity, and the records indicated he purchased 102 gallons of Jet A. The technician recalled filling the wing tanks first, followed by the belly tank and then the aft tank. 

1.2.8 Emergency Circuit

The engine was designed with an emergency circuit for engine control if the FCU becomes faulty, and the pilot is unable to control Q with the throttle. The emergency circuit becomes effective by the pilot turning-on the isolating valve (ISOL) switch in the cockpit. To use the emergency circuit, the power should be reduced to idle (via the throttle lever) and the condition lever (right lever) placed in the idle position (normal fuel-on mid-position and labeled). The ISOL switch can then be selected on, and thenceforth the condition lever can be used as a throttle.

Diemech's Operations Manual states that "if a reduction in torque and an increasing ITT occurs, the probable cause would be mechanical" and that "the ISOL will not work and we suggest you land the plane soon." It further states that "if a reduction in torque, N1, and/or ITT occurs and adding of power does not make a change, there is a probable problem with the FCU…," and the pilot should "reduce power to idle (throttle) and make sure the condition lever is in the indent position +/- 1/3 forward." It states that thereafter, the pilot can "select [the] ISOL valve and use condition lever as throttle.

Several Lancair IV-TP owners with many hours of flight experience in the airplane stated that the process of engaging the emergency circuit takes several seconds, and there would likely be insufficient time to activate the ISOL switch and reapply power to the engine if under 500 feet agl. This time limitation is based on the pilot awareness and reaction time, rather than a mechanical limitation. 

1.2.9 Weight and Balance 

NTSB investigators estimated the airplane's gross take-off weight (GTOW) and center of gravity. The estimate assumed that the airplane had 112 gallons of Jet A fuel distributed in the wing tanks, and that the belly and aft tanks were full. The GTOW was estimated to be 3,837 pounds, with a center of gravity at 90.13 inches aft of datum. The weight and balance record in the airplane indicated that the maximum allowable takeoff gross weight was 4,300 pounds, and the allowable CG range was from 86.5 to 94.5 inches aft of datum). A sheet detailing the weight and balance computations is appended to this report.

The Lancair-recommended maximum GTOW for a Lancair IV-TP with the turboprop engine and winglets was 3,550 pounds. FAA regulations governing amateur-built aircraft identify the builder as the manufacturer of that individual aircraft and, as such, the builder is allowed to set the weight limits, including maximum GTOW, at any desired value.

Because each aircraft is unique in its construction, the builder must determine the stall speeds for that particular aircraft. Documents relating to the stall speeds specific for the occurrence aircraft were not found during the investigation. 

1.2.10 Performance Study

The performance parameters used were based on the recorded EFIS data, and on computer simulations in which the airplane's flight controls were manipulated so as to approximately match the flight path of the airplane recorded in the EFIS Global Positioning System (GPS) data. The simulations used a simple model of the Lancair IV-TP (flaps in the retracted position), a weight of 3,807 lbs (the estimated GTOW less the recorded fuel flow during the flight), and the weather conditions recorded at the time of the accident. The engine power in the simulation was based on recorded propeller speed (Np) and engine torque (Q) data. The complete simulation report is in the contained in the public docket for this accident.

The Lancair IV is an experimental aircraft constructed by individuals from "kits" provided by the designer, Lancair International, Inc. Lancair was not able to provide any usable aerodynamic or performance data with which to construct a simulator model; consequently, the simulator model used in the performance study was based on theoretical aerodynamic relationships grounded in classical aerodynamics and the airplane's geometry; a report of flight tests of another Lancair IV-TP; estimated stall speeds provided to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB); estimates of angle of attack, lift, and drag based on the recorded PFD/EFIS data from the accident flight of N66HL ( NTSB accident # WPR12FA180); and comparisons with other aircraft. 

The objectives of the simulation were to:
-obtain a "match" of the recorded EFIS GPS positions using the recorded pitch and roll information and engine power.
-verify the self-consistency of the recorded data by comparing the EFIS data to self-consistent simulation data.
-provide estimates of performance parameters that were not recorded on the EFIS.
-quantify the lift coefficient (CL) required to fly the final maneuver recorded by the EFIS and determine its proximity to CLmax (the value of CL at stall). 

Two simulations were conducted, one used a nominal model of propeller efficiency (n) throughout the takeoff, and the second introduced a sudden, artificial drop in n at 0855:43 in an effort to better match the airspeed decay recorded on the EFIS. In both simulations, the CLmax of 1.3 was reached before the end of the EFIS data, consistent with the airplane's maneuvers resulting in a stall. 

The 100% values of shaft horsepower (724 SHP) and Np (2080 rpm) result in a 100% value of torque (Q) of 1,828.1 foot-pounds. Consequently, the actual Q (in ft*lbs) on the propeller shaft could be computed from the percent Q recorded by the EFIS by multiplying by (1,828.1/100). The thrust delivered by the propeller was computed from the computed SHP, the true airspeed, and a model of n. The simulation SHP was limited to the maximum nominal SHP of the engine (724 SHP), even though the NP and Q recorded on the EFIS indicated higher power levels early in the takeoff. The fidelity of the simulations could be improved by allowing the engine to achieve these higher power levels, though the conclusions would not be materially affected.

The EFIS data matched the simulator scenario that included the sudden drop in n at 0855:43 (that reduced the simulation thrust) better than the scenario that did not include a drop in n. The n drop was merely a means for reducing the simulation thrust while preserving the engine power implied by Q and Np values recorded in the EFIS data. It is unknown whether the required drop in thrust indicated a modeling error in the simulation (e.g., an unaccounted-for dependency of the airplane's drag on the power level, etc.), an actual malfunction in the propeller or other part of the propulsion system, or some other phenomenon. 

The n-drop simulation was able to follow the EFIS flight track fairly well (until about 08:56:00, when the EFIS recorded a large drop to a pitch angle to -6.7-degrees, which the simulation did not duplicate). The results of the simulation could be used to determine additional information about the flight, such as angle of attack and CL values required to fly the EFIS track. The nominal simulation (without the n-drop), in contrast, started to deviate from the recorded EFIS speed and position data shortly after the pilot's "turn back in" request. These results indicate that the n-drop simulation represented the actual aircraft better than the nominal simulation. The n-drop simulation indicated that the airplane reached the flaps-up CLmax of 1.3 at about 0856:00. 

1.2.11 TSLM

The airplane was equipped with a VR Avionics Turbine Starter Limiting/Monitoring System (TSLM). It was designed to act as a start sequence controller, an engine protection limiter, and an engine monitor/recorder. The unit was capable of in-flight power limiting and utilized an analog controller to activate the Electro-Hydraulic Transducer (EHT) valve, which was a component of the electrohydraulic transducer on the FCU. The EHT valve was used to limit the power generated by the engine by restricting the fuel flow. 

The electrohydraulic transducer controlled pressure in the compartment of the main metering needle in the FCU and thus the needle's position. Therefore, the fuel supply is dependent on the control signal from the integrated electronic limiter unit. It is designed as an independent subassembly mounted on the FCU body. 

Although not identified in the wreckage (due to the post accident fire damage), the airplane should have been equipped with a limiter -disabling toggle switch in the cockpit enabling the pilot to select the limiting function off. 

The TSLM's main display in the cockpit (designed to fit in a standard 2.25 inch hole) showed the following 6 parameters in real-time: ITT, N1 (compressor speed), Np, Q, oil pressure and voltage. Each value was given in both numeric decimal and a bar-graph form; if a parameter was exceeded, and therefore subject to being limited, the value would flash. Following a flight, the data could be extracted and read out on the manufacturer's computer program, TSLM Link., which was the method in which the unit's data was recovered after the accident.

The TSLM's exceedances on the accident unit were set with the following parameters:
Full limiting ITT= 715 degrees
Beta limiting Np= 1900 rpm
Full limiting Compressor rpm (N1)= 101.5 percent
Full limiting Np= 2080 rpm
Full limiting Q = 104 percent
Enable Full (in-flight) limiting= No
Enable beta prop limiting= Yes

The recorded data showed the number of times each of the following exceedances were reached since the engine was overhauled and installed on the airplane:
ITT reached Max ITT= 32
ITT exceeded 800 degrees= 3
Max N1= 1
Max Np= 58
Max Q = 96

According to the manufacturer of the TSLM, exceedance graphs are triggered (recording starts) when one or more of the 6 parameters goes one digit above the set max limit, and recording stops after all 6 parameters have dropped to their max limit or below it for at least 5 seconds. It is thus possible to get multiple parameters exceeding at the same time and end up with only one graph. The ITT exceedance is further monitored at two levels (upper and lower). If an exceeding parameter should dip below its max limit and within 5 seconds go above it again, it would result in another exceedance event/entry grouped with the same graph.

For example, oil pressure on the TSLM is measured to the nearest 1 psi. Thus, with the max limit set at 39 psi, a recording is triggered when oil pressure measures 40 psi or more. Parameters are tested at 100 per second (every 10ms), but recorded at 10 samples per second. Thus within 100ms from reaching 40 psi or more, graph capturing starts. The recording graph stops after oil pressure stays at 39 psi or below for 5 seconds (if no other parameter exceeds during this time).

The system on the airplane was set up so that limiting could only occur while the airplane was on the ground (determined by a squat switch), and/or, the Np limiting could only occur with the propeller in beta. An Np exceedance would only be visible in the cockpit if beta was activated, otherwise it would just show in the recording. If the limiter is limiting, the pilot would see the TSLM light illuminate followed by a reduction of power (the pilot is able to advance the throttle and override the reduction in power). 

For the unit to register the propeller in beta, the pilot would have to manipulate the propeller lever back past the flight-idle gate into beta phase, which would ground a microswitch and display beta mode by illuminating a light on the panel. If the microswitch grounded due to a malfunction in the switches system, the TSLM would perform as if the airplane was in beta and limit Q by restricting fuel. There was no recording/capturing on the TSLM specifically for beta mode or EHT activation unless it occurs while an exceedance recording (abnormal event) is in progress.

Upper ITT exceedances are defaulted to record if the engine reaches in excess of 800 degrees C, and lower ITT exceedances are defaulted to record if the engine reaches in excess of 735 degrees C. A lower exceedance requires borescope inspection, and an upper exceedance requires a teardown inspection. The N1 exceedances were set at 100 percent, and the purpose was to protect the turbine rotors from stretching to the point of serious damage by contacting the engine casing as well as protecting all rotors from encountering catastrophic vibration modes.

The TSLM would show EHT activation via a graph line named "EHT+" (green) that would display TSLM input to indicate a current was flowing in the return wire; the other "EHT" line (blue) would display the output controlled by the TSLM.

1.2.12 TSLM Data

A review was conducted of the airplane's recorded data on the manufacturer's TSLM Link program, which captures the exceedances although the values of the parameters that caused the exceedances are not available (only a graph). The last start before the accident flight was recorded as occurring at 386:37:00, which refers to the total hours, minutes, and seconds that the engine had operated since it was installed on the airplane. At the time of the start of the accident flight, the engine had accumulated 387:13:00 hours. The exceedance summary showed that the engine encountered an Np exceedance at 386:49:27 which continued for about 5 seconds. An oil pressure exceedance occurred at 386:52:00 and continued for about 5 seconds. The last recorded exceedance for that flight was an N1 exceedance, which was the only N1 exceedance ever recorded for the engine. It occurred at 386:57:34 and was recorded as occurring for 5 seconds although the graph showed that N1 was between 77 to 79 percent (with the maximum limit set at 101.5 percent). It is unknown if the exceedances occurred in flight or on the ground. The manufacturer did not know what could cause the trigger of this exceedance graph without the engine reaching that exceedance, although a representative stated that in the field he had seen such exceedance graph histories with erroneous charting (i.e., the exceedance was real, but the data plotted in the chart was erroneous).

The flight on the day of the accident had a start recorded at 387:13:00 and the graph looked similar to the previous start graph. The TSLM recorded six exceedances between this startup and the end of its data, although it was not possible to accurately match the with the EFIS data. The first exceedance was an Np exceedance and recorded as occurring at 387:29:40, equating to 16 minutes and 40 seconds after start and captured 5.5 seconds. The graph displayed that N1 stayed between 92 and 95 percent and ITT oscillated from about 580 to 600 degrees C. Np appeared to peak just above 2,080 RPM (the maximum limit) and level out at 2,000 RPM; the EFIS data showed that about 16 minutes and 40 seconds after the flight the Np was transitioning from 1,114 to 1,774. There were 5 exceedances that occurred thereafter, all of which were ITT exceedances that were recorded as occurring at 387:30:00. The first exceedance was an ITT lower exceedance, the second was an ITT upper exceedance, followed by a lower exceedance with the remaining two being upper exceedances. Of these recorded exceedances, only two graphs were produced, one of which was 24.90 seconds and the other was 22.80 seconds. The longer duration graph showed very little fluctuation in values, and ITT was recorded as being around 950 degrees C. 

The shorter graph showed a rise in ITT from about 470 degrees C up to about 875 degrees C within 0.25 seconds and continued to rise to the same 950 degree C valuation of the longer graph. Additionally, the green EHT+ line indicated that current was flowing to the wire for the first 0.25 seconds that the graph was displaying the recorded parameters.

1.2.13 Handling

The technician that refueled the airplane before the flight stated that while he was rolling up the fuel hose, he conversed with the pilot about the airplane's flight characteristics. He queried the pilot as to what he liked about the airplane, and the pilot responded that the speed capability reached about 300 to 310 kts with a range of about 1,000 to 1,200 miles. When asked what he disliked about the airplane, the pilot noted that it was "squirrelly." 

The Micron corporate pilot that had flown with the pilot in the accident airplane stated that he had frequently flown for the pilot in a professional capacity. He had known the pilot about 14 years, but only flew with him for about 15 to 20 hours. Most of that time was the corporate pilot getting checked out to fly one of the pilot's airplanes. 

The corporate pilot further stated that the accident airplane was the most responsive airplane he had ever flown. He described the airplane as characteristically having an abundant amount of power and that the controls needed very little pressure/manipulation to maneuver the airplane. He recalled that any pitch movements or power changes needed to immediately be compensated with rudder adjustments due to the drastic change in yaw. He remembered that the pilot wanted to add strakes or a fin on the airplane to help with the controllability. He further stated that the pilot was unfamiliar with the panel, which made the airplane even more challenging. 

According to a Lancair IV-TP expert with many hours of flight experience in various models/configurations of the airplane, the governor was originally designed for blade lengths between 99 to 106 inches. Due to the accident airplane's shorter propeller blade length of 84 inches, the pilot could easily encounter an overspeed condition. Therefore when accelerating for takeoff, it was crucial for the pilot not to advance the engine power too quickly, so as to allow the governor enough time to make the required propeller pitch changes without over speeding the propeller. 

The expert additionally stated that around the time of the accident, he tested a new propeller governor for an Avia Propeller (not the same governor as the accident airplane). On the first flight, the propeller's beta light illuminated during takeoff (even though it was not in beta), and the engine was limited when the propeller exceeded 1,900 RPM. He quickly realized that the engine was being limited and reduced Np via the propeller lever. He remarked that during this event, the airplane was almost not flyable due to the amount of rudder pedal input needed during the frequent changes in power resulting from the limiter's effect on the engine. 

A former Lancair engineer and general manager was interviewed with regards to the Lancair IV-TP handling characteristics; the complete interview is contained in the public docket for this accident. He stated in the circumstance of a sudden power reduction in the Lancair IV-TP, the airspeed will rapidly decay, and the pilot must push the nose down to maintain flying speed. He noted that following a loss of power, the nose would remain in a nose-up attitude, and unless the pilot made corrective pitch inputs (reducing the angle of attack) within about 4 to 5 seconds, the airplane would become unrecoverable. He added that the airplane would rapidly reach a critical angle of attack and stall while simultaneously rapidly dropping a wing (the wing that would drop would depend on the particular airplane and how it was constructed). If the airplane stalled in such manner at traffic pattern altitude, there would be no possibility of a pilot recovering. According to the former employee, the departure from controlled flight and the abrupt wing drop are the characteristics that would make the situation unrecoverable. 

The former employee added that in the scenario of a sudden power reduction during takeoff due to FCU malfunction, there would be no time for the pilot to adjust the propeller to coarse pitch, use the ISOL valve, and then use the condition lever as the throttle control. If the pilot does not immediately pitch the nose in a 4 to 5 second timeframe, the airplane will stall. By the time the pilot identifies that there is an engine problem and configures the levers accordingly, there would be no time to recover the airplane. He advises that pilots use a go/no-go decision altitude of 1,500 ft agl, where, regardless of the situation, they will land straight ahead in the event of an engine failure if under that altitude. He clarified that if the engine torque reduces to idle during takeoff, there is no possibility of turning back to the runway until at least 1,500 ft agl. This is because of the airplane's heavy wing loading, and its glide ratio of about 7:1 at a fine propeller pitch and 18:1 at full feather (where the best glide speed is about 120 kts indicated).

The former employee opined that the accident airplane's stall speed (in the accident configuration) would likely have been in excess of 80 kts indicated. He estimated that the airplane's approach speed would have been about 110-120 kts indicated. 

The former employee further stated that a pilot cannot use full engine power during takeoff on the ground, because the IV-TP was not designed for such a high-horsepower engine and does not have enough rudder authority to compensate for the p-factor at full power, and will consequently depart off the left side of the runway. He noted that having fuel in the baggage area (the aft fuel tank) greatly affects the airplane's center of gravity, and the airplane will be extremely sensitive in pitch. 

According to a Lancair IV-TP expert, he had performed a variety of tests in the airplane which included stalling in a variety of scenarios, configurations, altitudes and power settings. He stalled the airplane from 31,000 to 15,000 feet incrementally with 1-4 G's of loading. After hundreds of stalls and over 1,500 hours testing in the Lancair IV-TP he offered the following remarks. 

He stated that the airplane will stall and the nose will drop about 15-degrees and with symmetrical wings, will remain straight ahead. A wing can drop left or right depending on slight induced yaw. For the straight ahead stall and subsequent recovery it is critical to keep the ball centered or the wing will drop. It is very sensitive to a ball slightly out of center. During recovery it is very responsive to lowering the nose and reducing the angle attack above all else. The recovery is immediate with a reduction in angle of attack. Never is power applied until 20 percent above the indicated stall speed. If power is on during the stall entry he will reduce to idle immediately upon stall onset.


A routine aviation weather report (METAR) for Boise was issued at 0853. It stated: skies clear; visibility 10 statute miles; wind from 110-degrees at 5 knots; temperature 28 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 19 degrees Fahrenheit; and altimeter 30.14 inHg. 


The wreckage was located at an estimated 43 degrees 33 minutes 45 seconds north latitude and 116 degrees 12 minutes 57 seconds west longitude, and at an elevation of about 2,860 feet msl. The accident site was in the grassy median just north of a paved service road that runs between parallel runways 10L-28R and 10R-28L and between taxiways D and C. The wreckage was about 1.25 nm from the beginning of runway 10R and about 0.4 nm from the end of the runway. 

Past the end of the runway, there lies about 0.8 nm of flat, unpopulated hard- dirt surface. Beyond that lies a sand-gravel pit and several buildings, with flat terrain between. To the north (left) of the runway heading, the interstate was oriented northwest-southwest and crossed the extended runway centerline about 2 nm from the end of the runway. On a bearing of about 175-degrees and 1 nm away was a 1 nm- long closed runway; flat terrain extended in that direction for 3 nm. 

The first identified point of impact consisted of a crater in the soft terrain where a propeller blade was imbedded; small pieces of airframe and debris surrounded the disrupted dirt. Numerous portions of the airframe were located in the debris field leading from the initial impact to the main wreckage, the largest of which was a majority of the right wing. The main wreckage was located in an upright position about 80 ft from the initial impact point on a magnetic heading of 046 degrees. The main wreckage had sustained thermal damage and consisted of the engine, inboard portion of the left wing, and fuselage (from firewall to aft baggage area).

Pictures and diagrams of the wreckage location and surrounding terrain are contained in the public docket for this accident.


The Ada County Coroner's Office, Boise, Idaho, completed an autopsy on the pilot. The FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team at the Civil Aviation Medical Institute (CAMI) performed toxicological testing of specimens collected during the autopsy. The results of the testing were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and listed drugs.


The complete examination reports are contained in the public docket for this accident. 

1.6.1 Airframe Examination

The cowling was separated at the firewall and showed no evidence of fire damage. The top section remained intact, and both sides were affixed to portions of the bottom section. The lower area of the bottom section was not present although numerous sections of skin (around 1 foot by 1 foot) were identified as being part of that section due to distinguishing features (e.g., vent slots, intake curvature, etc.). The inside skin contained a loose dirt covering in areas, but there was no oil, soot, or discoloration noted. 

The firewall and engine mounting brackets had sustained crush damage and were thermally deformed. The nose wheel over-center links were crushed forward and upward toward the engine (hyper-extended), consistent with the landing gear being down during the accident sequence since the gear was crushed in the opposite direction of the normal aft retraction movement.

The cockpit area had sustained severe thermal damage. The avionics were charred, with wire bundles exposed and partially melted. The front seat frames were partially attached to the wing spar and the floor section was mostly consumed by fire. The throttle lever was in the idle position with the gate locked. The propeller lever was full forward. The condition lever was in the full forward position. 

There was no evidence of pre impact mechanical malfunction or failure with the flight control systems.

The electric fuel pumps were consumed by fire. The pressure header tank remained attached to the engine mount structure. After removal, pressurized air was forced through the center tube while blocking the outlet tubing, and no leaks were detected. The header tank was then cut open to reveal the welded tube in the center; there was no evidence of any anomalies. The screen on the return line was clean.

1.6.2 Engine Examination

A complete teardown inspection was performed on the engine. An external examination revealed that the blow-off valve was in a fully open position, which was an indication that the turbine was below 75 percent N1. The FCU first and second stage elements had sustained impact damage precluding investigators from observing if air was in the system. 

The mechanical fuel pump was removed and disassembled revealing that its shaft was intact and bent from impact. The pump's supply line was severed, and the screen filter on the pump contained small dirt particles which were consistent in appearance with fire retardant entering the pump following the initial impact. There was no evidence of excessive wear or pre impact damage. 

A borescope inspection of the fuel slinger, inner combustion chamber, outer combustion chamber, compressor turbine nozzle, compressor turbine and power turbine revealed no evidence of catastrophic malfunction or failure. The borescope inspection of the first stage compressor revealed that it contained a layer of soot consistent with post -accident fire. The compressor could not be turned due to the impact damage of the case which lead to the blades making contact with the stators. No evidence of failure or blade damage was found. 

The main oil filter was removed and found free of debris. Removal of the 205 bearing filter revealed several small carbon particles that, according to a Lancair expert, were a sign of normal operation. There was no metal found in the oil filters. The front magnetic chip detector contained a fine metal sludge, which according to a Lancair expert was also normal for this detector. The rear chip detector contained one fine metal splinter, and the filter was clean. Both screen filters from the front gearbox were removed and contained no metal particles.

Visual inspection of the propeller revealed that the feathering fly weights were forward in the fine pitch position. The spinner had sustained aft crush damage and was wedged against the fly weights. Two blades remained secured in their hubs, and the third blade had broken free and was found in the initial impact point at the beginning of the debris field. The beta block on the propeller governor was attached and not damaged. The propeller governor linkage position was in the full fine pitch position (take off position). 

Disassembly of the engine revealed that the power turbine guide vane was intact, and there did not appear to be contact with the power turbine blades. The nozzle guide vane shroud showed light non-rotational rub marks on the surrounding case, consistent with case ride; there was no curling or indication of rub of the blade tip knife seals from the power turbine blades. 

The number two bearing, bearing housing, and rear shaft were intact and showed a dark coloration, which experts stated was consistent with normal operation. Further disassembly revealed that the compressor turbine (also referred to as the gas generator turbine) blades were intact. There were no rub marks on the shroud that surrounded the blades.

The compressor turbine guide vanes leading edges, concave surfaces and inner band all were clean of debris or metal splatter. The compressor turbine guide vane was intact. The inner combustion chamber liner shell was an orangish coloration which experts state was similar in color to when it is manufactured (from ceramic coating); its bracket was similar in color, in indication that it did not come into contact with the slinger ring (attached to the compressor shaft).

The accessory gearbox was removed. The aft face of the inlet air housing was intact and the vanes contained a film of dirt/debris. The first stage compressor blades were intact. The second stage compressor blades showed evidence of light rub with the slight curling of several blades at the trailing edge tips in the opposite direction of rotation (clockwise). The number one bearing was clean and intact; its outer race showed signatures no real rotational signatures. The impeller vanes were intact with no evidence of rub and were black in coloration. There were no obvious rub marks on the respective stators and casing.

The examination revealed no evidence of pre impact mechanical malfunction or failure that would have precluded normal operation.

1.6.3 Fuel Control Unit

The FCU was removed, and the input shaft appeared to be intact. The shaft could be rotated by hand and there was no binding. The condition lever and power lever on the FCU were bent and their positions at the time of impact could not be determined. The power linkage position of the beta and reverse thrust slide indicated that the throttle was about 1/3 forward into the power position, which according to a Lancair expert, would be about 15 degrees on the FCU indicator and around 70 percent N1. A complete teardown inspection of the FCU was conducted and the complete examination report is contained in the public docket for this accident. 

The cap to the governor cavity was removed, and the spring and flapper valve were noted to be a red/brown coloration, indicative of corrosion. The speeder spring was removed, and the fly weights appeared to be closed inward, which is the position at rest and also consistent of an under-speed condition. The entire accessory gear box spline shaft was removed, revealing that the balls were corroded and frozen in place. Examination of the gear teeth and shaft revealed no evidence of wear or failure. The area between the flapper valve and the delta p diaphragm was clean; the rubber was pliable. The main metering valve was removed with no anomalies noted.

The accelerator cavity contained a liquid consistent in odor and appearance to that of jet fuel. The altitude compensation cavity contained trace amounts of red/brown coloration, consistent with corrosion. The fuel screen (last chance filter) from the overflow fuel valve to the altitude compensation cavity was clean and free of debris. The teeter valve located between the screen and the bellows was a red/brown coloration. The electro-hydro transducer was removed with no anomalies noted. 

The emergency throttle lever (engine shutoff) was removed, and the spline teeth were geared on the emergency throttle valve. The emergency metering valve pressure regulator was in the closed position and took force to remove (normally a loose fit). There was a hard black substance on the piston that was located near the center. The emergency solenoid was removed and found in the non-activated position (which is the at rest position when no electricity is applied to the circuit). 

The FCU had red/brown coloration in numerous areas, consistent with numerous areas being corroded. A fuel sample from the main metering valve orifice was tested, in an effort to detect if any water was present in the sample; no water was present, which is consistent with exposure to fire retardant following the initial impact.

The main metering valve had areas of corrosion that aligned with it being in the closed position, which correlated with ground idle. The emergency control lever and corresponding valve were in the open position (over the 40-degree detent). The lack of corrosion in the acceleration cavity was consistent with no increase in power (or necessity for the acceleration circuit when the FCU was functioning). The areas with the most pervasive areas of corrosion were the governor and the main metering valve cavity, which were interconnected via a large orifice and the corrosion signatures were consistent with fire suppression fluid entering the FCU after impact. 

Numerous parts could not be examined due to the condition of the unit (corroded) precluding their removal. The examination revealed no evidence of pre impact mechanical malfunction or failure that would have precluded normal operation.


1.7.0 Lancair

Lancair International, Inc. is based in Redmond, Oregon and founded in 1984. The Lancair fleet includes a wide range of aircraft from early 235, 320 and 360 two-seat models to the two-seat Lancair Legacy, fixed-gear Lancair ES, the IV, the pressurized IV-P, the turbine IV-TP, and the latest model, the Evolution. Over 2,000 Lancair kits have been sold in more than 34 countries.

The Lancair IV was a progression from the Lancair 235 and the 320. The kit manufacturer wanted to build a four-place retractable landing-gear airplane that had competitive performance to that of certified aircraft. According to Lancair, the IV is essentially a scaled-up version of the 320 with a 30-ft. wingspan and a turbo-charged 350-hp reciprocating engine equipped with a three-blade constant-speed propeller. Since its introduction in 1990, the Lancair IV has broken numerous speed and altitude records for its class type and at altitude has reached sustained speeds in excess of 340 mph (with no tailwind). The entire airframe is constructed of vacuum-formed, oven-cured, prepreg carbon fiber. The company estimates a build time of approximately 2,500 hours. 

The former Lancair engineer stated that he worked for the company from March 2002 to April 2009 as a General and Engineering manager, with his last project consisting of helping in the design of the Evolution. He stated that the Lancair IV was originally designed for a reciprocating Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) engine (a turbocharged and non-turbo charged model) with a gross weight of about 3,200 pounds (with an empty weight of 1,800-1,900 pounds). Thereafter, with the desire to increase performance, Lancair designed the airplane to be fitted with a TCM turbocharged and modified and pressurized the airframe, resulting in the Lancair IV-P. The addition of the structural enhancements to the wing increased the gross weight to about 3,550 lbs.

In 2001, Lancair selected the Walter/General Electric 601E as the test trial turboprop engine to design/retrofit the airframe for higher performance. As part of this design modification, the airframe structure underwent several significant changes including: the nose became about 13 inches longer (more with the inclusion of the propeller and spinner), and the fuel tank located in the belly increased from 9.5 gals to 35 gals. With the heavier airframe structure and engine/equipment, the gross weight increased.

The engineer further stated that other aerodynamic changes occurred during this modification. Specifically, with the increase of nose length, the airplane's pitch and yaw axes were destabilized, and with the larger diameter propeller (that had greater inertia), the three axes were destabilized further. In effect, these changes resulted in the nose section becoming a destabilizing "flying nose," that, in response to an increase in pitch, would produce lift, generating an additional nose-up pitching moment. With the airplane's increased empty weight, the wing loading increased dramatically, which he estimated at upward of 40-45 pounds per square foot. With the laminar flow wing design of the airplane and the already-existing aggressive stall characteristics, the stall characteristics were aggravated further which makes the Lancair IV-TP a challenging airplane to fly, which without adequate training, makes it a dangerous airplane because it was not designed for such a high horsepower engine. 

1.7.1 Lancair Fleet and Accident Rate

The following breakdown was provided by the Lancair Owners and Builders Organization (LOBO) and gives the best estimate of the accident rate for the Lancair fleet (see figure 03 in the public docket for the graph): 

Lancair Model : Flying, Accidents, %Accidents, Fatal, %Fatal Accidents
Lancair 200/235 103 32 31% 16 50%
Lancair 320/360 301 76 25% 28 37%
Lancair ES 96 4 4% 3 75%
Lancair IV/IV-P 240 51 21% 27 53%
Lancair IV-TP 57 15 26% 11 73%
Legacy 121 27 22% 14 52%
Lancair Evolution 50 2 1% 0 0 
Totals 922 207 22% 99 9%

The figure shows that at the time of this report, of the 57 Lancair IV-TPs that were registered (and presumably flying), there is an accident rate of 26-percent and a fatal accident rate of 19-percent. 

1.7.2 FAA and Lancair

The FAA convened two safety groups specifically to address the Lancair's "unusually high accident and fatality rate compared to other amateur-built aircraft." The purpose of each group was to "bring the issue to attention of the FAA so appropriate action may be taken." These internal FAA groups were initiated by the Office of Accident Investigation and Prevention (AVP)-100 and were conducted over the course of a six-month period in both 2008 and 2012-2013. The end conclusion of the studies determined that the FAA has the ability and, given the safety findings that surfaced over the studies, "the responsibility to expose its findings and take the appropriate safety enhancement actions it believes would reduce the likelihood of certain Lancair accidents."

According to copies of the notes from the studies, there were internal FAA concerns that any agency requirement imposed upon Lancair would be analogous to the FAA becoming involved in experimental aircraft design certification or in some way intruding in an area for which it had no authority. There was also concern that taking action on Lancair would create a precedent throughout the amateur-built aircraft industry and that the FAA would then be forced to take action on every safety issue affecting an amateur-built aircraft. There were limitations concerning the FAA's role which was centered on the general airworthiness inspection when the aircraft is submitted for airworthiness certification (unless there is specific safety data available). 

The FAA did note in response to these concerns that they indeed have the "statutory and regulatory responsibility to issue airworthiness certificates to amateur-built aircraft and the existing guidance [FAA Order 8130.2F, Section 153 (a)] on this process specifically permits the FAA to impose operating limitations deemed necessary in the interest of safety." As of this publishing of this report, the current guidance is FAA Order 8130.2G, Chapter 4, Section 9, Paragraph 4104 (a), since FAA Order 8130.2F was cancelled April 16, 2011. Further, the authority of the FAA is flexible and imposing limitations is authorized in 49 USC 4704 (d)(1), which provides that "the Administrator may include in an airworthiness certificate terms required in interest of safety."

In specific reference to the Lancair IV-TP, the FAA remarked that certified and experimental aircraft with similar high-performance characteristics require specific training. On numerous occasions (e.g., Viperjet, Robinson Helicopters, Mitsubishi MU-2), the FAA has made type-specific safety determinations when finding that the safe operation of such aircraft requires specific training, proficiency and/or equipment. It was noted in both the studies that many of the Lancairs would be classified as Technically Advanced Aircraft (TAA), with an EFIS-equipped cockpit. 

These conclusions were derived based on accident statistics of a sample between 2004 and 2008 that disclosed amateur-built aircraft experienced a fatal accident rate of about 5-6 accidents per 100,000 flight hours; the overall general aviation accident rate for that period was about 1-2 accidents per 100,000 hours. Lancairs' fatal accident rate in the same time period was about 7-8 accidents per 100,000 flight hours. Specifically, in 2008 Lancair comprised 3.2-percent of the amateur-built aircraft fleet and 19-percent of the fatal accidents that occurred that year, with 78.6-percent of Lancair accidents being fatal. 

The study noted that based on the statistics, Lancairs are involved in fatal accidents at "a rate that is disproportionate to their fleet size."

The study found that with extensive use of laminar flow airfoils, low thickness, low surface velocities, gradual velocity changes and low skin friction, Lancairs' stall characteristics are critical (abrupt, unusual) when compared with more traditional certified aircraft. In character, "the stall occurs abruptly, even during a slow deceleration just above 70 kts with a 20-degree pitch break and a wing drop as much as 50 degrees."

As part of its 2008 safety review, the FAA remarked that there were "strong indications" that Lancair would be receptive to FAA directives that would result in incorporation of type-specific training and stall warning devices as part of its kit sales. 

As a result of the Lancair Task Force, recommendations were made to FAA management in November 2008. The recommendations included: publishing an article in FAA Aviation News, issuing a SAIB with regards to flight training and equipment recommendations on applicable models, drafting an InFO based on the SAIB, revising the language for the passenger warning placard applicable to amateur-built aircraft, initiating informal resolution in coordination with industry, and tracking accident data regularly in order to identify any changes in the Lancair accident trends.

The FAA issued InFO notice 09015 on September 25, 2009, with the subject of "Safety Concerns of Lancair Amateur-Built Experimental Airplanes." The notice indicated that while Lancairs represented a little over 3-perecnt of the amateur-built experimental aircraft fleet, they contributed to 16-percent of all amateur-built fatal aircraft accidents in the prior 11 months, of which 65-percent of those were fatalities. In the four years prior, 53-percent of Lancair accidents were fatal, and a majority were a result of the pilot experiencing a loss of control of the airplane while in the traffic pattern. The notice further stated that pilots must take the following corrective actions for safe operation:
-review and thoroughly understand all information regarding stall characteristics and obtain specialized training regarding slow flight handling characteristics, stall recognition, and stall recovery techniques.
-install a high-quality angle of attack indicator to provide a warning of impending stall.
-have their airplane evaluated by an experienced Lancair mechanic to ensure proper rigging, wing alignment, and weight and balance.

The notice was recalled shortly after its release; this is the only InFO notice that has ever been recalled. Although the original InFO (InFO 09015) was supported by LOBO, Lancair contested that they were not the only manufacturer to have a high-performance amateur-built airplane. As a result, InFo 09015 was retracted and InFO 10001 was issued March 09, 2010, which expanded the InFO to include other aircraft with the same characteristics and covered "amateur-built experimental Lancair and other amateur built airplanes possessing high wing loading and stall speeds in excess of 61 knots."

1.7.3 Lancair Training

According to LOBO, experimental aircraft, almost by definition, are often equipped with novel systems and configurations that are not available in certified aircraft. Depending on the complexity of the systems installed, pilots likely will require orientation and specially-tailored training to operate them safely. With the Lancair, many of the airplanes are equipped with EFISs, autopilots, multiple radios and support systems that, although they can provide tremendous capabilities, significantly add to operational complexity. When transitioning into a Lancair, most pilots simultaneously have the task of learning new complex avionics and the handling characteristics of the high performance airplane, with operating manuals that vary widely in accuracy and completeness. 

There are three sources of Lancair training that most insurance companies accept as a prerequisite for coverage. The LOBO has a FAA Industry Training Standards (FITS)-accepted training syllabus and provides CFIs that have completed qualification training in specific models of Lancair aircraft and that are located throughout the US. High Performance Aircraft Training (HPAT) provides training in customer-owned aircraft at designated US locations on an annual schedule. Elite Pilot Services additionally provides training specializing in the Evolution. 

The training both sources offer emphasize demonstrations of the feelings and visual observations associated with the airplane's unique handling characteristics. This includes the difference in the glide ratio with coarse and fine pitch propeller settings, the nuances of entering the traffic pattern and maneuvering at a higher altitude (1,500 ft agl vs the normal 1,000 ft agl) to allow ample time to make a stabilized approach, the lag in engine response when adding full power, how to perform a power-off landing, and execution of a go-around (not using full power).

1.7.4 Experimental "Second Owners"

A "second owner" is a purchaser of an experimental aircraft that was not involved in its construction/build and registration/certification process. There is an inherent difficulty in reaching and influencing second owners before they start flying their newly purchased aircraft due to a delay in the title transfer being published (the only way for the public to be made aware of a new owner). First owners normally have years learning about their aircraft during the building process, including critical subjects such as any unique handling or operating characteristics of the aircraft they are building. More importantly, the experience/knowledge required to complete such a project makes it much more likely the original builder has sought the following: information about FAA and industry standards, the assistance of the kit manufacturer, and interaction with aircraft type/model clubs. In contrast, second owners have access to a fully functional aircraft almost immediately after making their purchase. 

1.7.5 Lancair Community

The LOBO conducted a survey of its members concerning mandatory Lancair training during February 2012. A total of 126 complete surveys were returned for analysis. Of the 126 respondents, 97 percent were Lancair aircraft owners and 69 percent were the builder of record for their aircraft. The results showed a majority supported mandatory training in regards to the potential for lower accident rates and lower insurance premiums. Eighty-one percent agreed or strongly agreed in supporting mandatory training that could lower the accident rate, while seventy-seven percent agreed or strongly agreed in supporting mandatory training if it could lower insurance premiums.

Private planes assembled from kits have been involved in more crashes and deaths than other small aircraft because pilots are often ill-prepared to fly them, a U.S. safety study found. 

Planes like those that Micron Technology Inc. (MU) Chief Executive Officer Steve Appleton and singer John Denver were piloting when they died are more than three times more likely to be in a fatal accident, the National Transportation Safety Board said today. Ten of 102 accidents in home-built planes last year occurred the first time a pilot flew them.
Home-built small planes are classified as experimental by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and have fewer regulatory restrictions than similar factory-built planes, the safety board said. It voted to recommend requiring pilots to conduct fuel-system testing, file flight-test plans and use the latest electronic gear to record flight data. 

“This has been an issue for a while,” Robert Sumwalt, a NTSB board member, said at a hearing in Washington today after describing Denver’s crash almost 15 years ago. “It involves a lot of pilots. Hopefully we can drive the accident rate significantly down as a result of this study.” 

Unlike with a factory plane, pilots of home-built aircraft must test fly the craft themselves. Flight tests are not always conducted according to FAA recommendations and pilots are often not prepared to assess whether the plane is in working order, the study found.

Micron’s Appleton

Pilots who bought a used home-built plane often had similar difficulties on initial flights, according to the study. While the FAA has guidance for how to test the planes, the regulatory agency doesn’t check to ensure that it was done. 

“There’s really no excuse for not having an effective flight-test program,” Earl Weener, a NTSB member, said at the hearing. 

Of about 224,000 U.S. general aviation aircraft, 33,000 were built from plans or kits, according to the safety board. About 1,000 are made each year, Dick Knapinski, a spokesman for the Experimental Aircraft Association, said in a phone interview. The group welcomed the board’s suggestions, and is working on implementing several recommendations, he said. 

The association, based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, represents more than 160,000 pilots and other enthusiasts, according to its website. The group helped the safety board survey owners for its study.

Lower Cost

Home-built models range from simple designs made mainly from wood to high-performance aircraft built with carbon fiber. They have been growing in popularity because they typically cost less than factory-built planes and appeal to hobbyists, Knapinski said. 

The home-built Lancair IVP-TP plane that Micron Technology’s Appleton was flying when he crashed and died Feb. 3 in Boise, Idaho, was equipped with a turbine engine and was pressurized to fly at high altitudes. This model can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Knapinski. 

Appleton’s plane crashed shortly after takeoff as he was attempting to return to the airport, according to the safety board. Investigators haven’t established a cause. 

One of the best-known accidents involving home-built planes was one that killed Denver on Oct. 12, 1997, in the ocean just off Pacific Grove, California

Denver had 2,750 hours of flight time and had been approved to fly many aircraft types, including Learjets, according to safety board records.

Inadequate Training

Denver owned the plane that crashed, a Long EZ home-built model designed by Scaled Composites LLC of Mohave, California, for about two weeks and flown it a handful of times, the safety board found. The company, now owned by Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC), was founded by spacecraft designer Burt Rutan. 

The accident occurred after fuel in one tank ran out and the engine stopped running as Denver attempted to switch to the other tank, the safety board ruled. Denver’s inadequate training in the plane contributed to the accident, the agency said, as did a relocated fuel switch that was difficult to reach. Because the plane was a home-built model, there were no U.S. rules on moving the fuel switch, according to the safety board. 

One of the biggest causes of accidents was engine failure and the safety board voted to recommend that pilots be required to test a new plane’s fuel system before its first flight. 

Home-built plane owners should also be required to submit a flight-test plan to the FAA, the safety board recommended.

Recording Data

Pilots should also be encouraged to use the latest electronic gear to record data from test flights to provide a more detailed record of a plane’s performance, according to the safety board. 

The FAA is reviewing the safety board’s recommendations, the agency said in a statement. An initiative already under way to help pilots avoid losing control of aircraft, a leading cause of home-built accidents, may address some safety board recommendations, the FAA said. 

The purpose of the study wasn’t to discourage people from building their own aircraft, Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the safety board, said in an interview after the hearing. 

The home-built segment of the market has helped drive innovations such as computerized cockpit electronics and the use of composite materials, Hersman said. Several safety-board employees have built planes in their spare time.
“They are the heartbeat of aviation,” she said of hobbyists who fly those models.