The European Aviation Safety Agency issued an emergency airworthiness directive December 4 for the angle of attack (AOA) probes of both the Airbus A330 and A340. The AD, which became effective December 6, results from an incident in which an A330 in the climb experienced a blockage of all AOA probes, leading to autopilot disconnection and activation of the alpha (angle of attack) protection system when Mach number increased.
At a time when aviation has achieved an extraordinarily high level of safety, regulators and safety organizations are pushing for more improvements in pilot training to preempt future accidents and ensure that new pilots entering the ranks start off with the right approach. One of the key areas receiving extensive examination is stall training, both in the early stages of ab initio training and how it is taught later to pilots who are flying sophisticated high-performance jets.
Tamarack Aerospace has unveiled the first of what it promises will be a series of active winglet systems designed to relieve wing bending loads caused by winglets. The company’s active technology load alleviation system (Atlas) should be certified and available for installation on Cirrus SR22 G1 and G2 piston singles early next year, but Tamarack is also testing Atlas, which includes new winglets, on a Cessna CitationJet 525. Tamarack brought the Atlas-equipped CitationJet to the NBAA Convention in Orlando and gave demonstration rides during the show.
The NTSB has blamed the April 2, 2011, flight-test crash of a Gulfstream G650 on an aerodynamic stall and an uncommanded rolling moment that the pilots were unable to control. However, the Board also notes that it was the manufacturer’s rush to complete its aggressive flight-test schedule for obtaining certification that set the stage for the stall and uncontrollable roll.
The new MD 302 standby attitude module (SAM) developed by Mid-Continent Instruments and Avionics offers avionics installers another option for standby instruments, especially in panels with little extra space. The MD302 is entirely self-contained and provides attitude, altitude, airspeed and slip information in a small package measuring just two inches by five inches and weighing 1.6 pounds.
CenTex Aerospace received FAA STC approval for its Halo 250 conversion for King Air 200s today. The conversion raises the mtow for 200-series King Airs from 12,500 to 13,420 pounds and moves the turboprop twin into the commuter category. Included in the Halo 250 conversion are new safety systems that provide improved stall warning in icing conditions, aural over-speed warning, elevator out-of-trim warning, engine fire extinguisher capability, emergency cabin lighting and illuminated escape path floor markings.
The International Committee for Aviation Training in Extended Envelopes (Icatee) published an article this summer in the ICAO Training Report that said, “The number-one cause of commercial jet transport fatalities…[is] loss-of-control-in-flight (LOC-I).” Icatee chairman Sunjoo Advani said, “[The problem] cannot be simply solved through technology or through current pilot training paradigms.” Coincidentally, Boeing’s statistical summary of commercial jet airplane accidents worldwide operations 1959–2011 showed more fatalities caused by LOC-I accidents than by any other.
The FAA released AC 120-109 on August 6 to address its concern about loss of control. The agency said some pilots are reacting incorrectly to aircraft stall indications, as in the case of the 2009 crash of Continental Express 3407 in Buffalo, N.Y. The agency also has concerns about pilots’ failing to recognize the insidious onset of an approach-to-stall during routine operations in both manual and automatic flight.
Diamond Aircraft brought D-Jet prototype S/N 003 to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh last week, displaying publicly for the first time the jet’s new upswept wingtips. “At this point the aerodynamic configuration is frozen,” said Diamond president and CEO Peter Maurer. The new wingtips have “a positive effect on the stall speed and roll control, but also the overall aesthetics,” he added.