Three helicopters being used to warm crops against cold temperatures and frost overnight in Western Palm Beach County, Fla., crashed in the early morning hours of December 8 in separate accidents between 2:10 and 7:40 a.m. The accidents involved two Robinson R44s and one Bell 206L-3. Only the pilot of the 206, the most extensively damaged of the three aircraft, sustained serious injuries.
It should go without saying that private jet passengers generally enjoy more space, more comfortable seats and more advanced cabin systems than their airline counterparts. But the benefits of all these luxuries can be badly undermined by inadequate humidity levels in the cabin that can make the VIP traveler as weary as an economy-class pauper at the end of a long flight.
No one likes to endure the sticky feeling of excess humidity, but lack of humidity in aircraft cabins at altitude can be a major cause of discomfort and travel fatigue.
Bombardier Learjet 60, Palm Springs, Calif., March 31, 2007–N244X, operated by Jet Solutions, suffered a loss of power in its left engine while cruising at 41,000 feet msl. The pilots told investigators they heard a loud bang and the twinjet began to vibrate. They shut down the left engine, declared an emergency and diverted to Palm Springs Airport. No one was injured.
The FAA has issued a final rule that prohibits Part 91K, 135 and 121 operators from taking off with “polished frost”–meaning frost buffed to make it smooth–on an aircraft’s wings, stabilizers and control surfaces. The new rule takes effect at the end of this month. Previous FAA guidance recommended removing all wing frost before takeoff, but allowed it to be polished smooth if the aircraft manufacturer’s recommended procedures were followed.
For parched Dubai 2009 visitors here in the desert it is hard to imagine that excessive humidity could be an issue. But no matter what the local outside environment, it can soon become a problem inside an aircraft full of people, not only in terms of passenger and crew comfort, but also in terms of the amount of fuel burned in carrying the excess payload of water generated by condensation.
Savings of up to 40 percent on jet fuel for the Rolls-Royce 250 turbine-engine family? That is the prospect offered by Frontline Aerospace, said company CEO Ryan Wood in describing an emerging aviation technology called gas turbine recuperation.
With ever larger numbers of ultra-long-range business jets taking to the skies, individual complaints about dry air in the cabin have grown to a chorus of demands for humidifiers. But while manufacturers would like to oblige, most have yet to come up with a system that is both airplane and people friendly.
A preliminary report issued by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Board on the January 4 crash of Challenger 604 N90AG at Birmingham, England, raises a suspicion that frost or ice on the wing may have been a factor. The aircraft, operated by Epps Aviation of Atlanta on behalf of agricultural machinery manufacturer Agco, had arrived the previous evening at 8:39 p.m. after a nonstop flight from West Palm Beach, Fla.
Comments are due today on an FAA draft letter of interpretation released April 3 on the meaning of the term “known icing conditions.” At press time, 82 comments had been filed, mainly by individuals.