In addition to much healthier sales, GAMA had some other good news to share with attendees at its annual industry review and outlook meeting. Despite the high-profile accidents at the end of last year, the NTSB’s preliminary statistics on the number of general aviation accidents last year show a decline of about 8.7 percent. Fatal accidents were down 11.6 percent.
Word was circulating last month that the weight of the Quiet Technology hush kit fitted to the Gulfstream III that crashed on November 22 while landing at Houston to pick up former President Bush might have played a role in the accident.
A meeting late last month between the FAA’s top regulatory officials and business aviation interests will likely result in renewed emphasis on new and existing aviation safety programs rather than any sweeping regulatory changes. The meeting came in the aftermath of six fatal turbine business aircraft accidents since late October.
In the year before April 26, 2003, when Sino Swearingen’s number-one SJ30-2 prototype crashed after entering an uncommanded and unrecoverable right roll during high-speed flutter testing, company engineers were attempting to deal with lateral stability issues with the twinjet, according to the NTSB’s recently released factual report on the accident.
While the NTSB determined that “unnecessary and too aggressive” rudder inputs by the first officer broke the vertical stabilizer off American Airlines Flight 587, there was plenty of blame to spread among the airline, U.S. and French aviation regulators and Airbus Industrie, builder of the A300-605R that crashed into the community of Belle Harbor, N.Y., on Nov. 12, 2001.
Performing intentional stalls at too low an altitude and the flight instructor’s “inadequate supervision” were blamed by the NTSB for the crash on September 20 last year of a Hawker 700 operated by Starflite Management of Houston near Beaumont, Texas. Two pilots, both preparing for a Part 135 competency check, and the instructor were killed.
When Congress passed the FAA reauthorization bill late last year, it opened the path for the Jackson Hole, Wyo. airport authority to impose a ban on Stage 2 aircraft (less than 75,000 pounds) without the need for an FAR Part 161 study. Last month the airport issued a notice of proposed rulemaking for its Stage 2 ban.
The NTSB, which has long called for the FAA to require cockpit voice recorders on smaller turbine airplanes, is now calling for the installation of so-called “video image recorders.” Such recorders obtain not only audio information like that from CVRs and event data like that from FDRs, but also information about the environment outside the cockpit window.
Kidde portable fire extinguishers that have been determined to be faulty must be replaced in some 39,000 aircraft, according to a recent AD. The manufacturer said the units involved “do not represent a safety problem,” even though they do not comply with technical requirements. The affected extinguishers (P/N 898052 with S/Ns from V-432001 to W-389653 and built between 1995 and 2002) exceed the maximum allowable discharge time of 10 seconds.
Thousands of seat-belt buckles and attachments installed in airliners and corporate jets are the subject of two separate recommendations. The FAA published a special airworthiness information bulletin alleging that D-ring-type fittings can inadvertently release the seat belts attached to them. The agency recommends that all D-ring seat belt attachment fittings be replaced with an improved design fitting.