The aircraft modification business represents American enterprise at its best–dozens of small companies each turning out a variety of unique products aimed at what traditionally appears to be a narrow segment of the worldwide marketplace. Modification specialists are inventors–critical thinkers and dreamers who often see solutions to problems the rest of us assumed were unfixable.
CESSNA 208B, PARKS, ARIZ., NOV. 8, 2002–At approximately 10:20 a.m. Cessna N514DB, operated by Brown County Financial Services LLC of Snyder, Texas, was destroyed when it crashed following an uncontrolled descent near Parks. The instrument-rated commercial pilot and his three passengers were killed. The aircraft was operating IFR as a Part 91 flight in IMC from Las Vegas to Midland, Texas.
Flight testing of the 1,800-nm G160 Ranger, which first flew last March, continues at Grob-Werke’s aviation facility in Tussenhausen, Germany. If all testing goes as planned, the seven-seat turboprop single will receive FAA/EASA certification in the third quarter.
Ask most professional pilots about either the USAir accident in Pittsburgh or the United Airlines crash in Colorado Springs, when the Boeing 737s flipped upside down before impact, and the discussion often focuses on whether it was wake turbulence, a roll cloud or a rudder hard-over that caused the crashes.
HAWKER SIDDELEY HS-125-700A, BEAUMONT, TEXAS, SEPT. 20, 2003–While the crew was practicing stalls, Hawker N45BP, operated by Starflite, of Houston, was destroyed when it went down 15 miles northwest of the Beaumont airport. All three pilots on board were all killed.
The Sino Swearingen SJ30-2 that crashed on April 26 was not equipped with a spin recovery chute, nor was it required to be. In addition, to date there are no reports that use of such a chute would have changed the outcome of the accident, in which the pilot was killed. The FAA requires chutes on aircraft during some certification flight tests, but the accident occurred during a company flight test.
CESSNA 425 CONQUEST I, SAN JOSE, CALIF., MARCH 6, 2002–At 10:35 a.m., Conquest I N444JV experienced a loss of control and broke up in flight in IMC. The aircraft was destroyed and the instrument-rated private pilot and two passengers were killed. The aircraft had departed Reid-Hillview Airport (RHV) in San Jose six minutes earlier and was en route to La Paz, Mexico, on an IFR flight plan.
When Charles Lindbergh began planning one of the first truly long cross-country solo flights in 1927 everyone understood the risks inherent in a 3,000-mile journey in an airplane powered by a single 223-hp Wright J5 engine. Failure meant he’d probably end up as a shark snack. Luckily, he didn’t have the boss on board.
If the HondaJet were being developed by a traditional business jet manufacturer, we would undoubtedly know a lot more about its future. Those who follow new-aircraft projects are used to receiving regular updates on milestones and test results along the way as the manufacturer seeks to reassure stockholders, lure new investors–or both.
In one of its longest investigations into a general aviation accident, the NTSB released its final report last month on the Oct. 10, 2000, crash of a Canadian-registered Bombardier Challenger 604 during a manufacturer’s test flight at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. The two pilots and flight engineer died as a result of injuries sustained from the accident.