Bell Helicopter delivered the first Bell 429 light twins to customers in Nigeria last week. They are also the first Bell 429s to be shipped to operators on the African continent. One of the helicopters was handed over to the Nigeria Police Air Wing (NPAW) and the other went to the Nigeria Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). The NPAW will use the Bell 429 for general law enforcement, surveillance and force projection, while the NEMA will fly the aircraft for disaster relief and humanitarian support missions.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has confirmed that the February 20 crash of a Beech Premier IA at Thomson-McDuffie County Airport (HQU) in Georgia (30 miles west of Augusta) occurred as the jet attempted to go around and did not involve a runway overrun, as local officials had initially reported. Five of the seven people aboard the aircraft were killed. Both pilots survived, suffering serious injuries.
Methods for ensuring pilot competence are high on the list of necessary requirements to improve global pilot training, which has been an industry hot button since the crashes of Continental 3407 and Air France 447. “Graduation from a flight training program does not end a pilot’s learning nor does [earning] a license or rating necessarily demonstrate a pilot’s true level of competence,” said Robert Barnes, president of the International Association of Flight Training Professionals (IAFTP).
A recent research study concluded that 1 in every 60 passengers who climb aboard a regional airliner will strike his head on the cabin entryway, while 1 in every 141 will sustain some sort of head injury when he does. Regional airliner doorways are typically much shorter than those employed on larger transport-category aircraft.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) conducted a fresh audit of the aviation safety system run by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) in what regulators there hope will lead to an upgrade of that nation’s Category 2 safety status to Category 1. Such an upgrade would spearhead the move to allow Philippine airlines to operate to the U.S. and Europe. The FAA downgraded the Philippines to Category 2 over safety concerns in 2009, with Europe blacklisting the carriers in 2010.
Timothy Hershman, a Kona, Hawaii, resident, was indicted by a federal grand jury last week for falsely reporting a potential hijacking aboard an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 en route to Seattle from Kona. Hershman called the FBI office in Honolulu January 17 and reported a hijacker might be aboard the aircraft, which caused the Oregon Air National Guard to scramble two F-16s to escort the aircraft to a safe arrival at Seattle, where the hoax was discovered.
The NTSB has launched a go-team to investigate a fatal accident at Thomson-McDuffie County (Ga.) Airport involving a Beechcraft Premier I yesterday. According to the Safety Board, the twinjet (N777VG) “overran the runway during landing and crashed into the woods” at about 8 p.m. last night, killing five. The pilot and one passenger survived with unspecified injuries, according to an FAA preliminary report.
The reintroduced Los Angeles Residential Helicopter Noise Relief Act has little chance of being enacted, according to government information website GovTrack.us. S.208 seeks to force the FAA to impose regulations governing helicopter operations in the Los Angeles area. GovTrack.us estimates that the bill has a 4-percent chance of getting out of committee and a 1-percent chance of being enacted.
While filming a stunt for the Asian version of the popular TV show “Top Gear” in which a Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 races a Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter across a racecourse finish line, the pilot of the Cobra lost control of the aircraft and struck the ground. The pilot escaped with minor injuries but the Cobra was destroyed in the crash. The stunt was planned to duplicate one that ran on the original BBC show in 2008.
The Transportation Trades Dept. of the AFL-CIO union group says the clock is ticking toward a March 1 federal “sequestration” deadline the organization says will imperil the U.S. National Airspace System, with $483 million in cuts to the FAA’s operations budget. Sequestration will entail mandatory furloughs among agency employees, including air traffic controllers, aviation safety inspectors and systems specialists.