Friday, October 12, 2012

Refurbished Vietnam-era chopper dedicated in South Carolina

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. --  Donna Pratt wasn't sure what to think when officials at the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum told her a refurbished H-3 helicopter on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown would be dedicated in part to the memory of her husband.

Pratt was 24 when her husband went down with two other crewmen aboard an H-3 that was the only chopper lost from the carrier during Vietnam. She worried the dedication would reopen old wounds from the war.

"But it didn't turn out that way. It turned out to be a joyous memorial," she said.

Pratt, of San Tan Valley, Ariz., and her daughter, Eileen Pratt Owen, were among 100 people who gathered on the flight deck of the carrier Friday to dedicate the helicopter.

The H-3 was a Navy workhorse during Vietnam and also helped recover astronauts at sea during the early days of the space program.

The Yorktown chopper was dedicated to Pratt, an aviation anti-submarine warfare technician 1st class, and to pilots Lt. Thomas Vincent and Lt. Charles Moran, who were aboard an H-3 heading off on a night combat mission on Feb. 25, 1965. The chopper developed electrical problems and crashed at sea.

Their names are painted on one side of the fuselage, while on the other side are the names of two aviators who are still living, Dr. Art Schmitt and James Dorsey. Schmitt flew sorties from the Yorktown and trained astronauts to fly fixed-wing aircraft. Dorsey was a member of the H-3 crew that recovered Apollo 8.

Donna Pratt said what the dedication really means came into focus during the brief ceremony.

"Now he has a legacy. Schoolchildren will hear about them, and they will know what they did," she said. "We were believers back then. He believed everything about this country that was noble and honorable and he believed he was doing a very important job that he loved."

Pratt's daughter, 7 months old when her father died, grew up hearing about him.

"I heard that he was a loving husband and a loving father and a hard worker," she said. "Recently I got to meet some of his crewmen and I learned a different aspect of him. He was a leader. He was older and they looked up to him at 27."

Such dedications, she added, "honors that era and gives them the recognition that maybe they didn't get immediately after Vietnam."

Friday's dedication was the first by a new aircraft naming committee at Patriots Point. The committee receives nominations from veterans and aircraft associations for people whose names should be placed on aircraft at the museum.

Those honored must have flown the type of aircraft on display, and preference is now given to those who flew in combat and flew off the Yorktown.

Aviation High School's exterior curves like an airplane fuselage

The Raisbeck Aviation High School building under construction near the Museum of Flight Airpark in Seattle is taking shape - an unusual shape.

SEATTLE —  The Raisbeck Aviation High School building under construction near the Museum of Flight Airpark in Seattle is taking shape - an unusual shape.

The building has an exterior skin of composite material shaped to resemble an airplane fuselage.

The Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce reports the three-story building is scheduled to open for the 2013-14 school year. Aviation High is part of the Highline School District but open to students across the area.

Shuttle Endeavour Arrives at First Stop in Westchester

LOS ANGELES (KTLA) -- The space shuttle Endeavour is on the streets of Los Angeles, en route to its final home at the California Science Center in Exposition Park. 

The massive spacecraft left the grounds of LAX at 2 a.m., rolling along at just 2 mph on the first leg of its 2-day, 12-mile trip.

It took up two of the four lanes as it traveled down Northside Parkway. A handful of vehicles led the procession, including a truck with an American flag fluttering behind it.

About 100 people gathered at Weschester Parkway and McConnell Avenue. Many had waited hours in the dark to get a glimpse of Endeavour.

The shuttle is being moved by four computer-controlled transporters that will help it negotiate complex turns and avoid streetside obstacles.

At points along the way, the 170,000-pound, 122-foot shuttle will be inches away from buildings and will protrude onto driveways and sidewalks.

Because of the shuttle's enormous weight, thousands of heavy steel plates have been laid down to protect city streets.

Endeavour made its first stop shortly before 6 a.m. Friday at Sepulveda and La Tijera in the Westchester, where it was greeted by crowds of admirers.

It will be there until about 1 p.m. while crews widen the computerized transporters carrying Endeavour so they can travel over medians on Manchester Boulevard.

People are welcome to go see the shuttle in Westchester, but it's not an official viewing site, so no special parking is being provided.

La Tijera Boulevard is expected to be closed between Sepulveda and Manchester until at least 5 p.m.

The shuttle will continue east on Manchester, passing into Inglewood at Glasgow Avenue, where it will gain stop for several hours for more power line work.

There, crews will also move the orbiter onto the dolly system that will tow it over the 405 Freeway beginning about 10 p.m. Friday.

Manchester will be closed from Sepulveda Boulevard to Aviation Boulevard from noon until 5 p.m. Friday.

Additionally, the La Cienega and Manchester off-ramps from the south 405 will be closed from 10 a.m. Friday until 4 a.m. Saturday.

City officials warn that the public should anticipate traffic delays on the route and in surrounding areas throughout Endeavour's trip.

Instead of trying to catch the shuttle on the streets, people are being encouraged to go to one several dedicated public viewing areas.

The City of Inglewood is having an event on Saturday from about 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., and Endeavour will be on display for half an hour, in front of the Forum.

There will be free parking at the Hollywood Park Race Track. There is no overnight staying ahead of the event. Parking lots will open at 4 a.m. Saturday.

At around 2 p.m. Saturday, Endeavour will stop for about a half an hour for an event at the intersection of Crenshaw Blvd. and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

There is a dedicated area for the public to stand and view the stage, north on Crenshaw Blvd. from MLK. Space is limited, so you're encouraged to get there early.

Endeavour will reach its final destination at the California Science Center at around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Four large parking lots between Bill Robertson Lane and Vermont Ave., north of MLK, have been designated for public viewing.

Mass transit is recommended and available via the Expo Rail and bus line running along Exposition Blvd.

Interest in the shuttle has heightened since last month's flyover over Southern California atop a modified 747.

Since then, Endeavour has been in a United Airlines hangar at LAX, undergoing preparations for its trek across the city.

Crews have also been readying the route, including cutting down some 400 trees to make way for the shuttle, which did not sit well with many residents.

Officials have promised to replant twice as many trees as were removed -- and, in some cases, four times as many.

Workers will also have to raise overhead utility wires and temporarily take down hundreds of utility poles, street lights and traffic signals.

Southern California Edison says that about 400 customers will lose power temporarily as Endeavour rolls by.

The outages are expected to happen in the middle of the night or early morning, and won't last longer than four hours, Edison said.

The shuttle will be on display at the California Science Center starting on October 30.

Endeavour replaced Challenger, which exploded in 1986, killing seven astronauts.

Its name was chosen by schoolchildren after a ship built to cross the South Pacific in the 1700s.

Endeavour went on to fly 25 missions, including 12 to help construct and outfit the space station, and logged nearly 123 million miles in flight during 4,671 orbits.

Story and video:,0,131577.story

Whooping Cranes Follow Plane to Florida

GREEN LAKE, Wisconsin  - A group of young whooping cranes being led by small planes has started their long trek from Wisconsin to Florida.

The six cranes are the 12th group to take part in a project led by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership. It's an international coalition of public and private groups reintroducing the species in eastern North America.

One of the partners is Operation Migration, which is using two ultralight planes to lead the cranes.

The cranes left September 28 from the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area in Green Lake County. They were in Winnebago County in Illinois this week, where they were waiting out high winds before moving on.

The leader of the ultralight team, Joe Duff, says he hopes to arrive in St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge by Christmas.


Phenom 100 off runway in Brazil

Returning from Argentina Phenom 100 PR-PNM sn 144 while landing at Salgado Filho Airport, Brazil - in rain and 70 mph winds - went off the runway Oct 10 2012. Damage is unknown, but no injuries to the five persons on board.

(Thanks Rob!)

Gulfstream G650, Gulfstream Aerospace, N652GD: Accident occurred April 02, 2011 in Roswell, New Mexico

NTSB Identification: DCA11MA076
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, April 02, 2011 in Roswell, NM
Aircraft: GULFSTREAM GVI, registration: N652GD
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On April 2, 2011, about 0934 mountain daylight time, a Gulfstream GVI (G650) airplane, N652GD, was substantially damaged after impact with terrain during takeoff at Roswell International Air Center Airport (ROW), Roswell, New Mexico. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a company flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 flight. The two flight crewmembers and the two technical crewmembers were fatally injured. The flight had originated from ROW about 0700 for a local area flight.

The airplane was operating under a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Experimental Certificate of Airworthiness and was performing a take off with a simulated engine failure to determine take-off distance requirements at minimum flap setting.

Wingtip scrape marks beginning on the runway approximately 5,300 feet from the end of the runway lead toward the final resting spot about 3,800 feet from the first marks on the runway. Witnesses close to the scene saw the airplane sliding on the ground with sparks and smoke coming from the bottom of the wing, and described the airplane being fully involved in fire while still moving across the ground. The airplane struck several obstructions and came to rest upright about 200 feet from the base of the airport control tower. Several airport rescue and fire fighting (ARFF) units responded quickly and fought the fire.


SavannahNow/Savannah Morning News
Gulfstream crash: The right approach
Posted: October 12, 2012 - 12:02am

FEDERAL SAFETY officials scolded Gulfstream’s management this week for actions they say contributed to last year’s crash of a new business jet that killed four company employees.

American businesses have a responsibility to protect their workers from harm. That’s a major challenge in some endeavors, such as testing expensive new aircraft in a highly competitive industry.

But it’s important to know what the limits are and to respect them, as opposed to pushing them too far. That’s when people can get hurt.

In the case of the fatal Gulfstream accident on April 2, 2011, experts with the National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday that Gulfstream officials failed to properly evaluate warning signs from previous test flights of the company’s ultra-high-speed G650 business jet.

That’s the new $64 million aircraft, manufactured in Savannah, that received certification from the Federal Aviation Administration in September last year. The company said it expects to deliver its first G650s to customers later this year.

Deborah Hersman, NTSB chairwoman, chided Gulfstream’s management for decisions it made during the flight testing process and prior to the crash of the G650 during takeoff trials in New Mexico.

Killed in the accident were all four Gulfstream employees on board: experimental test pilots Kent Crenshaw and Vivan Ragusa and technical specialists David McCollum and Reece Ollenburg.

“Two prior close calls should have prompted a yellow flag, but instead of slowing down to analyze what had happened, the program continued full speed ahead,” Ms. Hersman said in her opening comments.

“In this investigation, we saw an aggressive flight test schedule and pressure to get the aircraft certified,” she said. “Assumptions and errors were made, but they were neither reviewed nor evaluated when review data was collected.”

That’s troubling. While mistakes happen and people make incorrect assumptions when pushing new aircraft to the limit, it’s important to look back and not rush things too quickly, especially when lives are on the line.

To its credit, Gulstream has taken full responsibility for the accident. Even better, according to Ms. Hersman, the company recognized that many changes needed to be made in its testing process. It has started to implement them, including the appointment of an aviation safety official who reports directly to the firm’s president.

“Safety is Gulfstream’s first priority,” the company said in a prepared statement Wednesday. “Since this accident, we have redoubled our efforts to strengthen the safety culture in flight test and throughout the rest of the company. We are committed to continuous safety improvement.”

That’s not just good business. It’s responsible management from one of this area’s largest, most valued and community-minded employers.

Improving safety is easier said than done in this line of work. Testing new aircraft involves pushing the envelope. It’s inherently risky. The test pilot’s job is to find the limits of an aircraft’s performance. At the same time, it’s the company’s job not to push their test pilots too hard in the competitive desire to bring a new product to market against fierce rivals.

Ms. Hersman is correct. She said no one can change what happened in New Mexico last year. “But we owe it to the four flight test professionals who lost their lives to make sure we learn from it,” she added.

Exactly. The NTSB is taking the right approach here, and so is Gulfstream, The entire aircraft industry should pay attention and become better educated.


Corvette-Size Electric Motor Seen Changing How Jets Taxi

Bloomberg News

By Thomas Black on October 12, 2012


As fuel prices continue to soar, airlines are studying new technology that may save more than $200,000 per jet every year. The breakthrough only sounds mundane: It’s all about how planes taxi.

Travelers are familiar with the sight of low-slung airport tugs pushing aircraft away from the gate so the main jet engines can crank up safely. Thrust from the kerosene-slurping turbofans then powers planes into position for takeoff.

Now, equipment makers such as Honeywell International Inc. (HON) are devising electric motors that weigh about as much as V-8s in Chevrolet Corvettes yet pack enough torque to move 180,000-pound (81,650-kilogram) jets, letting pilots taxi without relying on main engines or diesel tractors.

“You could have tug-less airports,” said Ian Davies, chief of engineering and maintenance for EasyJet Plc (EZJ), Britain’s largest discount airline. “It might fundamentally change how we operate in airports.”

Taxiing on electric power is an example of how technology, in this case motors so small they fit in the hub of a jet’s nose wheel, can revolutionize something as routine as an airliner’s journey between the terminal and the runway.

“It’s a simple concept, but it’s complex to integrate into an aircraft,” said Olivier Savin, chief of Safran SA (SAF)’s Green Taxiing System Joint Venture with Honeywell. “Integration is the key to success.”

Airbus, EasyJet

The prospect of annual savings topping $200,000 a jet from lower fuel use and less ground time has stirred interest from planemaker Airbus SAS and airlines such as EasyJet and Alitalia SpA. The first new aircraft with electric-taxi technology may be in production in as few as three years, and older planes may get the gear as soon as 2013.

Airlines face the highest sustained prices ever for jet kerosene, the industry’s largest cost, based on data compiled by Bloomberg. United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL), the world’s biggest carrier, says it burns $25,000 of fuel a minute. Jet fuel for immediate delivery in New York Harbor has averaged $3.12 a gallon in 2012, more than four times as much as a decade ago.

Taxiing on one engine has become a common fuel-saving practice for twin-engine jets in recent years, and planes already make electricity when they’re at the gate by running small turbine engines known as auxiliary power units.

What’s new today is the convergence of airlines’ hunger for more efficiency and recent advances in miniaturizing electric motors to propel a plane at the 20 miles (32 kilometers) per hour it may need for taxiing.

How Heavy?

The Honeywell-Safran team estimates its unit would weigh a maximum of 880 pounds, while startup WheelTug Plc said its electric-taxi technology is only about 300 pounds. Another entry, a venture between L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. (LLL) and Crane Co. (CR), isn’t commenting on the heft of its system.

WheelTug’s motor fits in the hub of a jet’s front wheel and is just 5 inches wide, Chief Executive Officer Isaiah Cox said. That’s half as broad as two years ago, when the Gibraltar-based company still had to attach the motors outside the hub, he said.

“It’s like packaging an elephant into the nose wheel of an airplane,” Cox said.

That would eliminate the cost of a push-back from a tug, which runs $50 to $150, and the consumption of about 55 gallons of fuel taxiing before and after takeoff, based on average burn rates and ground times at U.S. airports, Cox said.

WheelTug says its system may save about $500,000 a plane annually, including benefits such as less wear on engines.

Eliminating Tugs

Honeywell and Paris-based Safran say the savings may exceed $200,000 per plane a year by paring fuel use and ground time, and eliminating charges for tugs’ services. Stamford, Connecticut-based Crane also says taxiing on electricity would cut noise, reduce emissions and shrink the risk of having a jet’s main engines ingest tarmac debris.

Meshing small electric motors and new cockpit controls won’t be the only challenge for Morris Township, New Jersey- based Honeywell and its rivals.

Suppliers will have to convince airlines that the savings will make up for the extra fuel burned in flight from the equipment’s added weight, said Tim Campbell, president of St. Paul, Minnesota-based Mountain Vista Consulting and the former chief of regional operations for Northwest Airlines Corp.

Airport tugs also would need to be on hand in case a plane’s APU fails, Campbell said in a telephone interview.

Boeing, Airbus

Boeing Co. (BA) isn’t “actively pursuing” electric taxi, Terrance Scott, a spokesman, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Airbus is talking with “potential suppliers” for an electric taxi system, Martin Fendt, a spokesman, said in a telephone interview, without identifying them. “It’s certainly something we’re keen to see where the potential is.”

WheelTug’s focus is to fit its electric-taxi system to existing jets, and it has installation agreements with Alitalia and El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (ELAL) The company has a target of late 2013 to get the first units onto planes.

The Honeywell/Safran and L-3/Crane groups are concentrating instead on persuading planemakers to adopt the technology for new aircraft. Their systems drive the main landing gear. Honeywell and Safran expect to run trials with a Safran-owned Airbus A320 by mid-2013. L-3 and Crane tested their team’s unit in December on a Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA) A320.

Airlines have powerful incentives to act, said Scott Whitfill, who oversees about 70 tugs as North America maintenance director for Worldwide Flight Services.

‘Not Cheap’

“If airplanes were able essentially to back themselves out and I didn’t have to supply a push-back tractor, that would impact the cost of my handling for the airline,” Whitfill said in a telephone interview. “Push-backs are not cheap.”

Savings from the electric motors would be greatest on single-aisle jets such as the A320 and Boeing’s 737, whose frequent short-haul flights mean more time taxiing. Wide-bodies land and take off less often because they fly longer routes.

“It’s huge,” said Rick Jones, vice president of Crane’s aerospace unit. “It’s looking to us like it’s going to be a compelling value proposition for the airlines.”

Davies of Luton, England-based EasyJet is convinced. The carrier’s 215-plane fleet consists entirely of jets from the A320 family. That makes it one of the airlines that would benefit from electric taxi, and it’s preparing to test the Honeywell-Safran system.

“There’s no doubt to me that the technology is there. It will work,” Davies said. “Let’s say 40 years from now, maybe all aircraft will have this.”