Saturday, April 13, 2019

Bordiuk Challenger II, N635DT: Fatal accident occurred April 15, 2018 in Friona, Parmer County, Texas


Thomas Jacob "Jake" Hefner

Jake attended and graduated from LeTourneau University with a Bachelor of Science and Mission Aviation Concentration Degree and was the Distinguished Graduate of his class.  Jake farmed, ranched and was an Aircraft Mechanic and Flight Instructor. He enjoyed guns, farming, ranching, flying but his greatest above all these were spending time with his family and Clayton “Mo” Sides. Jake was looking forward to being a great father. 

The Department of Public Safety identified the victims as Clayton “Mo” Sides, of Dimmitt, Texas and Thomas Jacob Hefner,  of Bovina, Texas. 
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The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lubbock, Texas
Rotech Flight Safety Inc; Vernon, British Columbia, Canada

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

 
http://registry.faa.gov/N635DT




Location: Friona, TX
Accident Number: CEN18FA140
Date & Time: 04/15/2018, 2100 CDT
Registration: N635DT
Aircraft: BORDIUK CHALLENGER II
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Unknown or undetermined
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional 

Analysis 

The flight instructor and the student pilot departed at sunset on a local flight in the airplane from a private airstrip adjacent to the flight instructor's home. About 25 minutes after takeoff, the flight instructor's sister was about 3 miles from the airstrip and observed the airplane fly over her position about 3 miles from the airstrip. She reported that the airplane was low, but nothing seemed unusual and both pilots waved to her. When the airplane did not return to the airstrip, the flight instructor's wife reported it overdue. The wreckage was located early the following morning. There were no known witnesses to the accident.

Postaccident airframe and engine examinations did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction. In the absence of any witnesses, or an identified preimpact failure or malfunction with respect to the airplane, the investigation was unable to determine the cause of the impact with the terrain.

The student pilot's toxicology testing was positive for dextrorphan and doxylamine in liver tissue but not in cavity blood; however, the levels present were far too low to have had any significant effects. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
An in-flight impact with terrain for reasons that could not be determined due to a lack of evidence.

Findings

Not determined
Not determined - Unknown/Not determined (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Enroute
Unknown or undetermined (Defining event) 

On April 15, 2018, about 2100 central daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built David Bordiuk Challenger II Special airplane, N635DT, was substantially damaged during an in-flight collision with terrain near Friona, Texas. The flight instructor and student pilot were fatally injured. The airplane was owned by the student pilot and was being operated by the flight instructor as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and the flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated from the Hefner Farms Airport (7TS9), Bovina, Texas, about 2020.

The flight instructor's wife reported that the flight departed "right at sunset" from an airstrip located immediately north of their home. About 2045, the flight instructor's sister was about 3 miles north of the airstrip and observed the airplane fly over a couple of times. She noted that the airplane was low, but that nothing seemed unusual. Both the flight instructor and the student pilot waved.


When the pilots did not return from the flight, the flight instructor's wife called both pilots' cellphones with no response. She checked the airstrip and the hangar/garage area, but the airplane was not there. She then contacted the local authorities to report the flight overdue. The airplane was subsequently located about 0100 the following morning. There were no known witnesses to the accident.

Flight Instructor Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 24, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Rear
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 06/09/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 11/11/2017
Flight Time:  632.4 hours (Total, all aircraft), 0 hours (Total, this make and model), 599.7 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 12.1 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 9 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Student Pilot Information

Certificate: Student
Age: 25, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: None
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:

The flight instructor's most recent logbook entry was dated March 31, 2018. His logbook did not include any entries related to a Challenger airplane. However, he had logged 11.1 hours in a Kolb Twinstar Mark III airplane. An entry dated April 10, 2016 included the remark, "Flight with [the student pilot] to get his Challenger."

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records indicated that the student pilot was issued a third-class airman medical certification in February 2012, with a restriction for night flying and color signal control. The medical certificate expired for all classes on February 28, 2017. The student pilot reported no civil flight experience at the time of the application. 



Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: BORDIUK
Registration: N635DT
Model/Series: CHALLENGER II SPECIAL
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1996
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: CH20295CW1294
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection:
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 800 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: Rotax
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: 503
Registered Owner: None
Rated Power: 52 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

The airplane was issued an FAA experimental, amateur-built special airworthiness certificate in August 1996. FAA records indicated that the registration was cancelled in August 2012 following a reported sale of the airplane. The necessary documentation to complete the registration process as required by the FAA had not been submitted. No additional documentation was on file with the FAA and the airplane remained unregistered at the time of the accident.

An individual reported that he had owned the airplane from 2006 until early 2016. He flew the airplane once in the spring of 2007. He recalled that during that flight he encountered turbulent wind conditions and he never flew the airplane again. He had several friends that would fly it occasionally. There were no issues with the airplane at that time. He stated that the airplane was sold to the flight instructor in early 2016. He did not file any paperwork with the FAA related to either the purchase or the sale of the airplane.

The flight instructor's wife stated that the student pilot purchased the airplane in early 2016. Her husband worked on the airplane re-wiring the electrical system and performing routine maintenance on the brake system. The first flight under the student pilot's ownership was on April 5, 2017; about one year after the airplane was purchased. The accident flight was the second flight since it was purchased by the student pilot.

A review of the available airplane maintenance records revealed that the most recent logbook entries were dated December 2004. A bill of sale, dated December 2006, was included with the airplane records. 



Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Dusk
Observation Facility, Elevation: CVN, 4216 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 15 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1956 MDT
Direction from Accident Site: 224°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR): 
Wind Speed/Gusts: 8 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 140°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 30.12 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C / -8°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Bovina, TX (7TS9)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Bovina, TX (7TS9)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 2020 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

The flight instructor's sister described the weather that evening as "very nice." It was clear and "not windy."

Sunset occurred at 2024 on the day of the accident, with civil twilight ending at 2050. The moon set at 2011 and was in a new moon phase. 

Airport Information

Airport: Hefner Farms (7TS9)
Runway Surface Type: Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 4159 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Vegetation
Runway Used: 22
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 1700 ft / 50 ft
VFR Approach/Landing:  None



Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 34.608333, -102.866111 

The accident site was located in a harvested corn field about 0.4-mile northwest from the departure airstrip. The airplane came to rest upright and was oriented on a south heading. An irrigation boom was located about 400 feet north-northwest from the airplane; however, no obvious signs of impact to the boom were observed.

Postaccident airframe and engine examinations were conducted by the NTSB investigator-in-charge with the assistance of a technical representative associated with the engine manufacturer. The examination did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction. A detailed summary of the examination is included in the docket associated with the investigation. 

Medical And Pathological Information

South Plains Forensic Pathology, Lubbock, Texas, performed autopsies of the flight instructor and the student pilot. Their deaths were attributed to blunt force injuries sustained in the accident. The FAA's Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens from the flight instructor and the student pilot. The flight instructor's toxicology testing was negative for all substances in the testing profile. The student pilot's toxicology testing was positive for dextrorphan and doxylamine in liver tissue but not in cavity blood.

Doxylamine is an over-the counter, antihistamine medication that can be used in combination with decongestants and other medications to relieve sneezing, runny nose, and nasal congestion caused by the common cold and allergies. This medication could impair the mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks (e.g., driving, flying, and operating heavy machinery). Dextrorphan is a metabolite of dextromethorphan, which is a cough suppressant.

Fuel Exhaustion: Cessna 172F Skyhawk, N8559U, fatal accident occurred January 27, 2018 in Williamsport, Warren County, Indiana

George P. Irick Jr. of Congerville, Illinois

George was a life member of the National Rifle Association, Single Action Shooting Society, a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and was a Shriner. He also was a member of the Our Savior Lutheran Church, Winfield, Illinois.
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The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Indianapolis, Indiana
Textron Aviation (Cessna); Wichita, Kansas
Continental Motors, Mobile, Alabama

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms


http://registry.faa.gov/N8559U




Location: Williamsport, IN
Accident Number: CEN18FA088
Date & Time: 01/27/2018, 0120 EST
Registration: N8559U
Aircraft: CESSNA 172F
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Fuel exhaustion
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Ferry 

Analysis 

The commercial pilot was ferrying the newly-purchased airplane cross-country for the new owner. The first leg of the trip was completed without incident. After refueling the airplane, the pilot departed and proceeded toward the destination in night visual meteorological conditions. After about 3 hours, 51 minutes of flight, the airplane descended and impacted trees and terrain about 9 miles short of the destination. Examination of the wreckage revealed evidence of fuel exhaustion; both main fuel tanks were intact, no fuel was observed inside the tanks, and no fuel smell was noticed at the site. The lack of damage to the propeller blades was consistent with the engine not developing power at impact. According to the manufacturer's performance chart, with full main tanks, the airplane had an endurance of about 3.7 hours. Therefore, it is likely that the engine lost power as a result of fuel exhaustion.

Although toxicology testing was positive for opioids, the relative amounts of these opioids detected in urine suggest that the source may have been the ingestion of poppy seeds rather than pharmaceuticals.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's mismanagement of fuel, which resulted in fuel exhaustion and descent and collision with trees.

Findings

Aircraft
Fuel - Fluid level (Cause)

Personnel issues
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Dark - Effect on operation
Tree(s) - Contributed to outcome

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering
Fuel exhaustion (Defining event)

Emergency descent

Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

On January 27, 2018, about 0121 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172F, N8559U, collided with trees and impacted terrain near Williamsport, Indiana. The commercial pilot was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by Kilo Aviation, LLC, Lacon, Illinois, under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a ferry flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The flight originated from Rickenbacker International Airport (LCK), Columbus, Ohio, at 2130, and was destined for Vermilion Regional Airport (DNV), Danville, Illinois.

According to a representative of Kilo Aviation, he and the pilot departed Marshall County Airport (C75), Lacon, Illinois, about 1330 in his airplane and flew to Orange County Airport (OMH), Orange, Virginia, arriving there about 1600. The pilot was to ferry the newly-purchased accident airplane back to C75. The pilot departed OMH in the accident airplane about 1730. The representative of Kilo Aviation departed in his airplane to attend business elsewhere. The pilot flew to LCK, arriving there shortly after 2000. According to the fuel invoice, the airplane was serviced with 31 gallons of fuel between 2056 and 2103. The pilot then departed LCK.

According to a report submitted by a Transportation Safety Specialist (air traffic control) with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Operational Factors (AS-30) division, using OpsView, radar, and Global Positioning System (GPS) data, he was able to recreate the airplane's flight track. The data depicts the airplane departing LCK and flying west-northwest and crossing into Indiana. At a point just south of Kokomo, Indiana, the airplane turns to a more westerly heading. The airplane continues to a point about 9 miles east of Danville, Illinois, where radar contact is lost.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 68, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: BasicMed None
Last FAA Medical Exam: 07/21/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 1000 hours (Total, all aircraft), 100 hours (Total, this make and model), 15 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft) 

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single- and multiengine land and instrument ratings. He also held a BasicMed certificate, dated July 21, 2017. According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) documents, he had logged an estimated 1,000 flight hours, of which 100 hours were in a Cessna 172.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Registration: N8559U
Model/Series: 172F
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1965
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 17252459
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 07/25/2017, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2300 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 9 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 4792 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Continental Motors
ELT: C91  installed, activated, aided in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-300-C
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 145 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Does Business As: Kent Cook Aviation
Operator Designator Code: 

The airplane, serial number 17252459, was manufactured in1965. It was powered by a Continental O-300-C5 engine, serial number 17252459, rated at 145 horsepower, driving a McCauley 2-blade, all metal, fixed-pitch propeller, model number 1C172MDM653.

According to the Cessna 172F "Cruise and Range Performance Chart," the airplane's total useable fuel quantity was 36 gallons. Flying at 5,000 ft at full power, the engine would consume about 9.8 gallons per hour and have an endurance of about 3.7 hours.

The airplane's two main fuel tanks held a total of 40 gallons of fuel (36 gallons useable). The airplane was also equipped with Flint Aero auxiliary fuel tanks (Supplemental Type Certificate SA1618WE) that provided an additional 23 gallons of fuel. However, the wing fuel filler caps for the auxiliary tanks were placarded inoperative, and the fuel gauges for the auxiliary tanks were placarded inoperative. No transfer fuel pump switch was found.

The last annual inspection was performed on July 7, 2016, and the last 100-hour inspection was performed on July 25, 2017. The engine was overhauled to factory limits on July 28, 2008, when it had accrued 4,525 total hours. The engine had accrued another 257.7 hours since major overhaul, totaling 4,782 hours. At the time of the accident, both the airframe and engine had accumulated 4,782.7 hours.  

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: KDNV, 697 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 9 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0135 EST
Direction from Accident Site: 270°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 5000 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 21 knots / 29 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 200°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.09 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 9°C / -1°C
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: Columbus, OH (KLCK)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Danville, IL (KDNV)
Type of Clearance: VFR Flight Following
Departure Time: 2130 EST
Type of Airspace: Class E; Class G 

At 0135, the reported weather at DNV, located 8 miles to the west of the accident site, included:  wind, 200° at 21 knots, gusting to 29 knots; visibility, 10 miles; ceiling, 5,000 feet overcast; temperature 09°C.; dew point, -01°C.; altimeter setting, 30.09 inches of mercury.

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 40.230556, -87.411111 

The wreckage was located in hilly, wooded terrain at an elevation of 621 feet above mean sea level. Measurements indicated that the airplane struck trees on a magnetic heading of 180º and came to rest inverted on a magnetic heading of 282º.

Examination of the wreckage revealed extensive compression damage to the forward fuselage. Both wings had leading edge crush damage. All four corners of the airplane were identified. All flight control surfaces remained attached to the airplane. The fuel selector handle and valve were in the "BOTH" tanks selected position. A small amount of fuel was found in the firewall fuel strainer. Both main fuel tanks were intact. No fuel was observed inside the tanks and no fuel smell was noticed at the site. The two-bladed propeller remained attached to the crankshaft. One propeller blade was slightly bowed aft about two-thirds of the way from the hub to the tip. The other propeller blade was bent aft about half-way from the hub to the tip. No chordwise scratches or leading-edge damage were observed on either any of the propeller blades.
On March 28, 2019, the engine was examined at the facilities of AMF Aviation, Springfield, Tennessee. The top spark plugs were removed and exhibited light and dark colored combustion deposits. The electrodes exhibited normal worn-out signatures when compared to the Champion check-a-plug chart. The cylinder combustion chambers were examined with a lighted borescope with no anomalies noted.

The oil screen was free of debris. The crankshaft was rotated by hand using the propeller. Continuity to the accessory section and throughout the valve train was obtained. The magnetos produced spark on all six top ignition leads when the crankshaft was rotated, and impulse coupling engagement was heard.

The throttle and mixture arms on the carburetor moved freely by hand from stop to stop, and the throttle actuated the accelerator pump. The fuel inlet screen was free of debris. The carburetor was disassembled; no anomalies were noted. There was no fuel in the carburetor. The carburetor air box was free of obstructions. The examination of the engine did not reveal any anomalies that would have prevented normal operation and production of power. 

Medical And Pathological Information

Central Indiana Forensic Associates, Fishers, Indiana, performed an autopsy on the pilot. Death was attributed to "blunt force trauma to the head, chest, and abdomen." A toxicology screen performed by NMS Labs found that the pilot had 0.20 mcg/ml caffeine in peripheral blood, 0.25 mcg/ml warfarin in peripheral blood, and 300 ng/ml opiates in urine.

The toxicology screen performed by FAA's Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, found no evidence of carboxyhemoglobin or ethanol. Metoprolol at 0.408 (ug/mL, ug/g), morphine at 0.013 (ug/mL, ug/g), hydromorphone at 0.028 (ug/mL, ug/g), codeine, and warfarin were detected in urine. Warfarin was also detected in blood.

According to FAA records, at the time of his last medical exam on August 25, 2016, the pilot reported dermatologic conditions, atrial fibrillation, and a hernia repair. He reported using metoprolol (a beta blocker used to control the heart rate in atrial fibrillation), warfarin (a blood thinner used to prevent strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation) and testosterone. None of these medications are considered impairing. Because of his atrial fibrillation, he was granted a special issuance third-class medical certificate limited by a requirement to wear corrective lenses and marked, "Not valid for any class after 8/30/2017." The pilot applied for status under the BasicMed program, and it was granted in July 2017.

Codeine is an opioid analgesic; morphine and hydromorphone are two of its active metabolites; all of these substances are psychoactive and impairing when present in blood at significant levels. However, small amounts of these opioids found in urine can be due to the ingestion of poppy seeds rather than pharmaceuticals.

Aerion Supersonic: Reno, Nevada

A Private Jet May Break the Sound Barrier

The Concorde last flew in 2003. Aerion CEO Tom Vice plans a new 12-seat plane that can travel at Mach 1.4.



The Wall Street Journal 
By Tunku Varadarajan
April 12, 2019 6:19 p.m. ET

Reno, Nevada  -  Operating out of rental offices near a cluster of gaudy casinos is a quiet little company that’s making the most audacious bet in contemporary aviation. Aerion, founded only 15 years ago, is poised to build the world’s first civilian supersonic aircraft since the Concorde—whose first flight took place 50 years ago last month.

Although it was built in the slide-rule era, the Concorde was “an amazing technological accomplishment,” says Tom Vice, Aerion’s chairman and CEO. “It gives Aerion a source of inspiration, and also of lessons learned. It was a noble experiment, but not a sustainable one.”

In Mr. Vice’s telling, Aerion is building a supersonic anti-Concorde. Its aircraft, the AS2, is not a behemoth but a 12-seat business jet, expected to be flight-ready in 2023 and delivered to customers by 2026—assuming the Federal Aviation Administration will relax its blanket ban on civilian supersonic flights over U.S. territory.

The plane will fly at a speed of up to Mach 1.4—40% faster than the speed of sound, or a bit more than 1,000 miles an hour. Aerion has already presold 24 aircraft at $120 million each: 22 to Flexjet—a company that provides fractional ownership of private jets—and two to “high-net-worth individuals” whom Mr. Vice declines to name.

The Franco-British Concorde was a massive government-funded project executed by state-owned companies. Only 14 planes were ever put into service, and the last one was retired in October 2003, too polluting and noisy for 21st-century regulators. “The Concorde, when it flew into either JFK or Heathrow, was really loud,” Mr. Vice says, grimacing. “Ear-piercing, bone-shattering! It had four after-burning engines! That noise level would not be tolerated by the public today.” If a Concorde were “landing at Reno Airport—four miles away—while we were having this conversation, we’d probably have to pause.”

Concorde also made no money for Air France and British Airways , which had the aircraft foisted on them by their governments. And its emissions were risibly high by today’s standards. For all its mechanical magic, the plane was raucous, dirty and money-losing—the last because of its high development cost, limited market and lack of profitable routes.

In contrast, Aerion is privately held, without a trace of government on its ledgers. Boeing recently purchased a significant stake, acquiring two seats on the five-person board. Robert Bass, the Texan billionaire who first seeded Aerion in 2003, is still the largest investor.


Aerion “seeks no favors from the FAA,” Mr. Vice adds. It is determined to ensure that the AS2 complies with existing environmental regulations, which are onerous. “We have to build an aircraft that doesn’t just meet the need of speed,” he says, “but also the needs of market economics, and those of the regulators.” He is adamant that his craft must meet the FAA’s latest noise standard, known as Stage 5—“the most strict standard out there.”

An improbable green streak runs through Aerion. The AS2 will be designed to fly “100% on biofuels, since we’re committed to a significant reduction in emissions,” Mr. Vice says. Aerion has selected a fuel called SPK, a bio-derived synthetic paraffinic kerosene that isn’t yet mass-produced. It’s currently available only “in small quantities, from a refinery out of Los Angeles.”

Mr. Vice, 56, went to work in 1986 for Northrop Corp. while still an undergraduate in aerospace engineering at the University of Southern California. “I was the lowest of the low engineers,” he says. “Bottom rung. And I would work 10- to 12-hour days and then drive to the campus to attend classes.” Northrop assigned him to work on the B-2 Stealth Bomber even before he’d graduated. “I must have been viewed as pretty bright,” he says, not quite coyly. Mr. Vice eventually became head of Northrop’s Aerospace Systems—overseeing an $11 billion business with 23,000 employees—before moving to Aerion in March 2018.

His parents separated before he was born, so for a time “I was raised by a single mother,” says Mr. Vice, whose surname is his mother’s maiden name. She married a U.S. Air Force officer, and young Tom lived on bases in Hawaii, Korea and the Philippines. Guiding a supersonic plane to market is the culmination of a decadeslong love affair with aircraft. His stepfather was “a mechanic in electronics and weapons, and so I was around airplanes even when I was in 11th and 12th grade.”

I have had to squeeze these biographical details out of Mr. Vice, who is much more comfortable discussing airplanes than his personal life. A tall, lean man, dressed in Nevada-casual jeans and a blue shirt, he becomes animated when talking about the history of civilian flight.

“The greatest leap in speed on the civil side occurred in 1958,” he says, “with the Boeing 707, which created a series of high-speed flights that hadn’t been accomplished before.” After that came a long period of stagnation. “It took 55 years to go from the Wright Flyer to the 707. That’s 7 miles per hour at ground speed in 1903 to 550 miles per hour in 1958. But it’s been 61 years since the flight of the first 707, and we’re still stuck at pretty much that speed.”



Speed has accelerated greatly “in almost every area,” says Mr. Vice, “except civilian flight.” That he finds difficult to explain. “There was a period of just incredible acceleration with the Concorde,” he says, but civil aviation has fallen back to its languorous 1950s pace since that craft was grounded. The focus in flight is on endurance, not speed.

This brings out the philosopher in Mr. Vice, even as it makes him indignant. “We’re disrupting the future of mobility with our supersonic AS2,” he says with a wonky earnestness. “Time is humanity’s most precious resource.” He recently spent 12 hours going from Los Angeles to Tokyo for a four-hour meeting, then took 10 hours to come back. It must have been a tedious flight, for he recalls the food he ate: “Airlines think about what these long flights do to us. They think about the menu, what’s good and what’s bad. Nonstarchy food like cauliflower is perfect for a long-haul. But I don’t like cauliflower. I don’t think cauliflower is the answer to global mobility,” he says, unamused.

Had he flown to Tokyo on Aerion’s AS2, he’d have shaved a couple of hours off his airborne time each way (even though that distance is at the limit of the plane’s range, which would mean flying subsonic part of the way). Aerion’s own calculator tells us that its craft would make a flight from New York to London two hours shorter, and one from New York to Los Angeles quicker by an hour. From London, you’d save three hours on a flight to Sydney and 90 minutes to Dubai.

Mr. Vice invites me to reckon the number of hours I’ve wasted on planes in the past 20 years, before bemoaning the sacrifices he’s made by “spending time on planes instead of being with my colleagues, or growing my business, or watching my daughters’ piano recitals . . .” His voice trails off, then rises to express a bombastic statement: “We’re going to build a machine that gives back time to humanity.”

So why build a business jet? Why not a big, fast commercial airliner? “I’ll go back to Concorde as a guiding lesson,” Mr. Vice answers. “We asked ourselves: Was there a market for a large plane? What market was it? What are the economics, the cost of developing it, and the return?” Aerion concluded such a craft wouldn’t make economic sense in the current climate. A business jet is easier to put together and caters to customers who are relatively insensitive to fluctuations in fuel prices.

The market appears to bear out the decision. “We don’t start delivering airplanes until 2026,” Mr. Vice says, “and yet we’re already seeing demand for the aircraft. We have a $4 billion development cost, so we have the economics to pay back the development cost.” He does not rule out bigger planes “down the road.”



Aerion’s most fundamental challenges are technical. Foremost was finding a suitable engine that would enable the AS2 to fly supersonically over water and at very high subsonic speeds over land. “An engine did not exist,” says Mr. Vice. “We looked at every single engine in the U.S. and overseas, and there just wasn’t one.”

The past 60 years have seen “tremendous R&D and new technology for subsonic engines,” he continues. “But what’s required for an efficient subsonic engine is almost the opposite of what’s required for an efficient supersonic one.” For the AS2’s precursor, the AS1, Aerion used “a military engine that we were trying to modify for the commercial space.” But the project was a flop. “Not all of the things worked the way we wanted them to,” Mr. Vice sighs.

Aerion resolved the engine problem in the only way it could—by getting a new one, “the first supersonic engine in 55 years.” It is called the Affinity and was developed by General Electric . Mr. Vice argues that the engine could be one of the most significant breakthroughs in the history of aerodynamics: “We’ve built an engine that provides the level of efficiency, the low emissions and the thrust for supersonic speed.” Without getting into specifics, he makes clear Aerion’s deal with GE is exclusive: “We have ensured that our competitors cannot gain access to our engine for a very long period of time.”

There are two other entrants in the supersonic civilian field, but Mr. Vice professes to be unruffled. Denver-based Boom Supersonic is working on a 50-seat Mach 2.2 plane, and Boston-based Spike Aerospace plans a Mach 1.6 business jet with a capacity of 18 passengers. Neither has Aerion’s range of partners—which include Honeywell as well as GE and Boeing—nor an engine. And Boom has an FAA problem, suggested by the name: “The challenge they have is that if you fly at 2.2, you have to try to get the regulations changed to allow for that kind of noise,” Mr. Vice says. “I don’t think the regulators will ever get there.”



Aerion faced a similar problem when it tried to adapt military supersonic engines for the AS1. “The military engines are very sophisticated and efficient,” Mr. Vice says, “but they’re operating in military corridors.” They couldn’t be used for “flying in and out of airports that people live around—JFK, Teterboro, Charles de Gaulle, LAX.” Anyhow, for national-security reasons, a military engine wouldn’t be exportable.

Noise is a major issue with all aircraft. A partial solution is bypass fans, which distribute air to make engines quieter and increase fuel efficiency at subsonic speeds. But while they can also reduce the noise of supersonic engines, it comes at the cost of reducing thrust and cruise speed. The Affinity offers a compromise—a moderate-bypass engine. The bypass ratio is large enough to help the AS2 meet FAA noise standards, but not so large as to hinder supersonic speed.

The bypass ratios do limit maximum speed to Mach 1.4, but the AS2 would still be “the fastest subsonic airplane in history and the only supersonic business jet ever,” says Mr. Vice. What’s more, the AS2 will be able to fly over land at Mach 1.2—20% faster than sound—without producing a boom on the ground.

“That would be a first,” he says. Mach 1.2 is also known as “Mach cutoff, the fastest airspeed at which a sonic boom will dissipate before reaching the ground.” Aerion has trademarked the capability to fly at Mach cutoff speed as Boomless Cruise. He credits the achievement to a “convergence of technology”: “aerodynamics, an understanding of atmospheric phenomenology, real-time satellite information, and exquisite new sensors on the airplane.”

Even if the AS2 can fly over land with no sonic boom, the company must reckon with Federal Aviation Administration regulations that prohibit supersonic overflight of the U.S. The Federal Aviation Administration “is starting to look at the permissibility of overflight again,” Mr. Vice says. “So we’re going to be building this technology and showing it to them, proving that we can fly this reliably, at this speed, with no boom on the ground.”

Is he confident the Federal Aviation Administration will change the regulation? “Absolutely.” Then, he promises, “we’ll be the first aircraft in history to fly at supersonic speed over the United States.”

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.wsj.com

Aero Vodochody L-39C Albatros, owned and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, N580LL: Fatal accident occurred October 08, 2017 near Wilbarger County Airport (F05), Vernon, Texas

Jay William Starr Baxley passed away on October 8th, 2017 in Vernon, Texas. Jay was enjoying one of his many passions, flying.


The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lubbock, Texas


Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms 

 
http://registry.faa.gov/N580LL


Dr. Jay Baxley, a Vernon, Texas dentist, poses with his aircraft. 

In 1984 Jay received his private pilot’s license and over the next several years commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine and instrument airplane, also type rating in the Aero Vodochody L39.  Flying was Jay's greatest passion.  Jay would tell anyone that being in the air above the clouds was the freest and best feeling he had ever experienced.  

Location:  Vernon, TX
Accident Number: CEN18FA004
Date & Time: 10/08/2017, 1300 CDT
Registration: N580LL
Aircraft: Aero Vodochody L39C
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On October 8, 2017, about 1257 central daylight time, an Aero Vodochody L39C, N580LL, collided with terrain 1/2 mile south of Wilbarger County Airport (F05), Vernon, Texas. The commercial pilot was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight, which originated from F05 about 1153.

There were eight witnesses to the accident, and their accounts of the sequence of events varied. All the witnesses agreed that the airplane made a pass over runway 20; estimates of the airplane's altitude varied from 50 to 300 ft above ground level. One witness thought the airplane may be conducting a go-around. The airplane then made a sharp left bank; witnesses estimated the bank angle between 45° and 90°. Two witnesses thought that the pilot was trying to do a "barrel roll." One witness stated that the airplane entered an inverted attitude and "spun to the ground"; other witnesses stated that the left wing hit the ground before the airplane impacted terrain.

Another witness, who was driving north along the highway adjacent to the airport, saw the airplane fly by at low altitude. He stated that the airplane's nose came up slightly and that it entered a steep left bank such that, "you could see the whole profile." He then saw a fireball and black smoke.

A GoPro camera was recovered from the wreckage and sent to NTSB's Vehicle Recorders Division. The GoPro had a 64GB internal microSD card that was catastrophically damaged during the accident; the data was unrecoverable. 



Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 56, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/25/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 1124 hours (Total, all aircraft), 8 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft)

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single- and multi-engine land and instrument airplane. He also held a type rating in the Aero Vodochody L39. His second-class Federal Aviation Administration airman medical certificate, dated August 25, 2017, contained the restriction, "Must wear corrective lenses." On the application for that medical certificate, the pilot estimated that he had accrued 1,124 total hours of flight experience, 17 hours of which were accrued in the previous six months.

Jay Baxley, DDS

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Aero Vodochody
Registration: N580LL
Model/Series: L39C
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1984
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 432921
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 08/08/2017, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 10028 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo Fan
Airframe Total Time: 1441 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Ivchenko
ELT:
Engine Model/Series: AI-25TL
Registered Owner: Bravo Charlie Mike One LLC
Rated Power: 3792 lbs
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

The airplane was manufactured in Czechoslovakia in 1984. It was designed as a training aircraft for Warsaw Pact countries. The airplane was equipped with an Ivchenko AI-25-TL turbofan engine, rated at 3,792 lbs of thrust.

The most recent condition inspection of the airplane and engine was completed on August 8, 2017, at an airframe and engine total time of 1,440.5 and 894.7 hours, respectively. At that time, the engine had accrued 107.7 hours since last overhaul. The transponder, altimeter, and encoder were also checked and re-certified.

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KF05, 1265 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1255 CDT
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 14 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 210°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 29.7 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / 6°C
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: Vernon, TX (F05)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Vernon, TX (F05)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1245 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

The 1255 automated observation at F05 recorded wind from 210° at 14 knots, 10 miles visibility, clear skies, temperature 28°C, dew point 6°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.70 inches of mercury. 

Airport Information

Airport: Wilbarger County (F05)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 1265 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 20
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5099 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Unknown 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 34.211667, -99.289167 

The on-scene investigation revealed a 40-ft long ground scar, consistent with the left wing contacting the ground, which led to a 50-ft long crater. The airplane broke apart, leaving a 580-ft long debris path aligned on a 170° magnetic heading. There was evidence of a flash fire of the surrounding grass likely ignited by vaporized fuel. The airplane itself was fragmented and burned. The right wing separated, and the aileron was missing. The left wing was destroyed. The empennage was identified. The engine compressor showed signatures consistent with rotation followed by sudden stoppage. The guide vanes were broken or crushed, and there was scoring of the engine case. Flight control continuity could not be established due to impact damage, but pushrod movement was identified when the elevators and rudder were moved by hand.

Medical And Pathological Information

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Tarrant County, Texas, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The pilot's death was attributed to "multiple traumatic injuries due to (an) airplane crash." The toxicology report was negative for ethanol and drugs. Carbon monoxide tests could not be performed. Although thermal injuries were present, the trachea showed no soot deposition.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens of the pilot. Testing revealed 24 (mg/dL) ethanol in muscle tissue; however, putrefaction of the samples was noted, and the ethanol was likely from sources other than ingestion. Additionally, ondansetron was detected in liver and muscle tissue. Ondansetron (Zofran) is a non-sedating serotonin 5-HT3 receptor antagonist used mainly as an antiemetic to treat nausea and vomiting.