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By Editor Staff

The famed Mexican-American pop singer Jenni Rivera and six other people died when their Learjet 25 crashed early Sunday morning. The plane crashed about 10 minutes after leaving Monterrey, in northeastern Mexico near the Texas border, en route to Mexico City. Investigators have released few details of the circumstances of the crash, but said the wreckage was spread over a fairly large area, with most of the plane broken up into small pieces on impact. The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team to Mexico, since the plane was registered in the U.S. to a company based in Las Vegas. The 1969 Learjet was damaged and rebuilt following a runway excursion in 2005 in Amarillo, according to FAA records. The plane had a different owner at the time of that accident. Rivera, 43, was the most famous female singer of the Mexican style of music known as grupero, a genre dominated by male artists.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gDrwCkrYeto_Fv2kYBsNgODXxZXQ?docId=98cf2decf148453db5820858b305b604

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By Editor Staff

While there are thousands of precision- and non-precision GPS approaches at airports across the U.S., there are few at the many small airports with short, narrow runways. A new study planned for next summer at Embry-Riddle could start to change that. The study will put instrument pilots through simulator sessions to see how well they can fly and land planes to current GPS minimums at airports with small runways. The study will determine whether existing GPS approach criteria will work at airports with less elaborate approach lights and shorter runways, which would leave pilots with less margin for error if they come in high or fast on the approach.

http://daytonabeach.erau.edu/news/erau-to-test-precision-landing-approaches.html

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By Jeff Pardo

You might not think of it this way, but for the vast majority of us who are based at non-towered or so-called “uncontrolled” airports, every time we take off, land, or practice flying in the traffic pattern, it can seem about as care-free as being in a combat zone. If you’ve ever been number three on downwind, or flown an older training aircraft into the sun while in the pattern at a busy airport (and then realized just how hopelessly crazed the windshield was), or had your own personal NMAC thrill as someone breezed blithely by not 100 feet away, then you know what I mean. I’ve experienced all three, and then some. Perhaps less dramatically, if you have ever silently fumed as some business jet called a five-mile final, or even if the most vivid trauma you’ve ever suffered was seeing what happened to the low-wing and the high-wing airplane that became as one while on short final near Tampa about five years ago, you’ve already had your initiation to the fracas. It’s no wonder why most midair collisions occur within ten miles of places like these. About the only positive thing I can say about this is, well, at least no one is shooting at you.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

A Sikorsky factory that equips Black Hawk and Naval Hawk helicopters for foreign militaries will close at the end of the year in response to shrinking orders as defense departments around the world cut their budgets. The 100,000-square-foot facility, which Sikorsky opened in 2007 after buying Schweizer Aircraft in 2004, employs 570 people, many of whom previously worked for Schweizer. The closure will be an economic blow to Big Flats, N.Y., and the area around it in western New York near the Pennsylvania border. Sikorsky said it will consolidate the Black Hawk and Naval Hawk production work at one of its facilities in Florida, but that it's not transferring any of the jobs from the New York plant. Sikorsky warned its employees that more cutbacks could come soon if $500 billion in U.S. defense cuts that are set to go into effect in January aren't forestalled.

http://www.stargazette.com/article/20120924/NEWS01/309240051/Sikorsky-close-Big-Flats-center-570-jobs-gone?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE

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By Reader Submission

With as many as 12 seats, 900 hp, and amphibious capabilities, the S-38 was a very useful airplane.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

See and be seen; at night, lights are inexpensive protection. They indicate the relative position of other aircraft, as well as their relative movement. If you add widely-spaced recognition lighting to an aircraft, lights that are pulsed, and stroboscopic lights that actually do flash, you'll be hard to miss. And at night, that's just what you want. Still, don't get too confident -- aircraft lights can blend in with city lights, or those in the night sky ... and not everyone will (though legally they must) have them on. It is always important to keep a sharp eye out for other aircraft.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

Do the skills required to earn the Instrument Rating make for safer Private Pilots, or does the rating lure good pilots into dangerous situations, making them less safe?  Continue»

By Greg Brown

'What's that light in the sky?' asked my wife, Jean. I looked back over my shoulder, and my jaw dropped. Near the horizon, a blinding beam projected downward as if from an alien saucer. We were on downwind in the traffic pattern, practicing night landings in darkness.

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By Chad Austin

Accident records show that airports with short runways -- less than 2500 feet -- can present some real challenges to pilots of high-performance aircraft.  Continue»

By Chad Austin

We've had a number of accidents at a nearby airport with a "short" runway. The reason I say it is "short" is because at 3000 feet, it isn't a mile long - judging by the number of planes that have gone off the end of the runway and into the creek, some pilots need it to be. If you are the type of pilot that can learn from the mistakes of others, read on...  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

Last week we looked at some 'shared expense' situations involving Private Pilots.  Continue»

By Laurel Lippert

It looked like a fair morning to depart Oshkosh on the final day of EAA's AirVenture. We entered Hangar B for a short meeting-just long enough to find a gray sky with threatening clouds waiting for us when we emerged. The 1948 Cessna 170 was packed tight with all our camping gear, and, after eight days using port-a-potties, my husband Tom and I agreed all we really needed was to fly far enough to find a real bed and bathroom.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

Frustrated that the FAA is acting too slowly in reviewing restrictions on in-flight electronics, Sen. Claire McCaskill said she would introduce legislation to force the issue if the agency doesn’t speed up its process. In a letter last week, McCaskill (D-Mo.) said that the FAA’s rules are outdated and contradictory, since the agency earlier this year said that iPads could be used in the cockpit in all phases of flight in lieu of paper charts and approach plates. The letter asserted that the FAA’s current rules, which only allow inflight electronics above 10,000 feet, aren’t based on any scientific rationale, and that failing to update the rules will cause passengers to lose faith in the agency’s regulatory abilities.

http://thehill.com/blogs/transportation-report/aviation/272309-mccaskill-threatens-legislation-on-airplane-electronic-device-rules

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By Chad Austin

Every once in a while, we do things that we regret...  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Recently this column focused on the collision between a Cessna 172 and a Piper Cheyenne just west of the Denver Class B airspace. Five aboard the two airplanes died in the tragedy; six on the ground were hurt, and at least two homes were heavily damaged.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

I knew the pilot of the Piper Cheyenne turboprop that January 24 collided with a Cessna 172 near Denver. Midair collision -- it's a terrifying prospect. Running into another airplane, followed by an uncontrollable descent to the earth, may be the greatest fear among general aviation pilots.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

A team of Italians searching for World War II planes and boats sunken off of Sardinia's coast may have found a mostly intact Messerschmitt Me-323 "Giant." There are no surviving examples of the hulking 6-engine plane, which transported tanks and other heavily equipment to German battle fronts in North Africa and the Mediterranean in World War II. The plane had a 180-foot wingspan and a cruise speed of only about 120 knots, making it an easy target for Allied fighter planes. The wreckage was found in about 200 feet of water, 8 miles off the coast of Sardinia, roughly consistent with the location of an Me-323 shot down by a British long-range fighter in July 1943. Searchers said the plane is largely intact, including its engines, fuselage and wings. If correct, the find would make it the only surviving Me-323.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-two/9541566/Massive-Luftwaffe-plane-wreck-found-off-Sardinian-coast.html

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By Reader Submission

The Sch-2 was built in the Soviet Union, with production beginning in 1930.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

If the atmosphere had the same density throughout its vertical extent as it does at sea level, where would outer space begin?  Continue»

By Chad Austin

As I entered the downwind leg, the controller informed me he had visual contact, and cheerfully confirmed I was cleared to land ... then, he did something that I had never encountered in my life – he said “Check Gear Down.”  Continue»

By Reader Submission

The American Aeronautical Corporation was the U.S. contractor for the manufacture of the Italian-designed, three-place Savoia-Marchetti S-56-B.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

In some ways VFR flying can be more challenging than flying under instrument flight rules. Apart from the subtle logistics of reading instruments, knowing where you are, and controlling where you're going, IFR flying is almost entirely built upon procedures and doing what you're told.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

A circling approach can be an uneventful VFR circle-to-land, or it can be the dicey, high-stakes IFR ordeal that some pilots won’t go near -- and that's what we're talking about.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

'VFR Flight Not Recommended....' How often have you driven instead of flown, only to fume the entire way as you drove through good flying weather?  Continue»

By Chad Austin

In my years as a pilot, I’ve had some bad days. I’ve been socked in, hundreds of miles from home, stuck to the ground by hard IFR. I’ve had instruments fail in flight, minor electrical problems ... even an instructor that seemed intent on killing me...  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Two months ago I could casually jump in an airplane and fly about wherever I wanted...  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

If you’re instrument rated and current, you almost certainly own at least a modest complement of IFR charts and approach plates. But the odds are that you still make a number of flights under visual flight rules, and if you’re like me, you probably always have a couple of current local sectionals in your flight bag. And then there’s the other half of us who only fly in visual conditions, and who don’t ever so much as look at an IFR chart or approach plate (or quite truthfully for new pilots, those who haven’t yet seen one). If you’re in that latter half, you might be missing out on a few things.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

When there’s more to the meaning than the words show, you had better know what you’re saying -- here’s our final installment on talking the talk...  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

Are you sure we’re all speaking the same language?  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

In order to safely and smoothly fly through our system you must do more than just talk the talk, you must understand the hidden meaning behind the talk -- thinking you understand isn’t good enough.  Continue»

By Chad Austin

If you take just about any airplane apart at the joints between control surfaces, you will find movable bearings connected to rods.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

Researchers at MIT have developed a prototype miniature robotic plane that can make knife-edge turns and split-second adjustments to its flight path to avoid obstacles. The prototype is about two feet wide and weighs a little more than a pound, including an onboard motion-capture camera to help it maneuver. In laboratory flight tests, the plane made it through horizontal and vertical obstacles that were narrower than its wingspan by flexing and bending its wing surfaces. A remote computer analyzes the plane’s trajectory and detects obstacles using data from the onboard camera. It then sends control signals to tiny motors that can rapidly change the angle of attack of each wing. In the near term, the researchers hope to understand the complex aerodynamics at work, since airflow is rarely smooth when performing rapid extreme maneuvers such as the knife-edge turn. Eventually they envision small robotic planes able to navigate through forests while avoiding obstacles, just like birds.

http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/new-aircraft-capable-of-fast-accurate-and-repeatable-flight.html

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By Editor Staff

The Learjet 25 carrying the Mexican singer Jenni Rivera and six other people nosedived at speeds approaching of at least 430 mph in the flight’s final seconds last weekend, Mexican authorities said. It’s still not clear what led the plane to crash about 60 miles from Monterrey, Mexico, following a concert there, though officials said the aircraft had lost contact with air traffic controllers. The plane was cruising at 28,000 feet before the crash and impacted rugged terrain at about 9,000 feet MSL. Rivera was in final discussions to purchase the aircraft from an American company, and the flight from Monterrey to Mexico City was to have been its final demo flight before the sale. One of the plane’s owners said Rivera was planning to buy the 1969 jet for $250,000. In a related development, U.S. officials said the plane’s owner, Starwood Management, and the company’s representative, Esquino Nuñez, were under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency. The DEA seized two other planes owned by that company earlier this year.

http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2012/12/12/jenni-rivera-wanted-to-buy-plane-died-in/

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By Thomas Turner

Very recently, in the dark of night, six persons aboard a piston twin died near Joplin, Missouri.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

For several months we’ve been looking at the pandemic Landing Gear-Related Mishap (LGRM) rate in certified, piston-engine, retractable gear airplanes. Wrapping up, here are 10 Tips for Avoiding LGRMs.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Gear-up and gear-collapse accidents (what I call collectively 'Landing Gear-Related Mishaps,' or LGRMs) account for nearly half of all reported incidents in certified, piston-powered retractable gear (RG) airplanes. There is a fairly strong correlation between these LGRMs and, of all things, a weather phenomenon-strong or gusty surface winds. How might surface winds exceeding 15 knots contribute to gear up and gear-collapse accidents?  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Nearly half of all reported mishaps in retractable-gear airplanes are related to the landing gear system. The vast majority of those appear to be related mainly to pilot action or inaction, often under the stress of distraction. There is a small component of the Landing Gear-Related Mishap (LGRM) record, however, that is a function of aircraft maintenance.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

They're back!!! More stuff to exercise your gray matter...

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By Chad Austin

BEWARE OF WHAT YOU CANNOT SEE ON AN AIRPLANE. That lesson hits home with the plight of a friend, the owner of a perfect, low-time Cessna 182, who had some problems with his nose gear. If you think this sounds like kind of a drag ... read on.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

An instrument rating may be the best present a pilot can get (after a brand new airplane), but there is another gift that might prove just as much of a lifesaver...  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Perhaps the ultimate unforgivable sin in aviation in aviation is fuel exhaustion, and while you may never do it chances are you'll come close...  Continue»

By Editor Staff

It stands as the only unsolved crash in Australia: In August 1981, a Cessna Centurion with five people aboard went down after picking up ice as it tried to cross a mountain range about 100 miles north of Sydney. The area is rugged with no roads and mountain peaks about 4,500 feet high, conditions that stymied searchers for two weeks after the crash and left the exact crash site unknown. Now, two researchers say they’ve narrowed down the location of the crash to two square kilometers and assert that the remaining fuel onboard didn’t catch fire, making it harder to locate the crash at the time because there would have been no ground scar. The researchers hope their work will prompt a new search team to locate the wreck, not only to recover any remains, but also to try and determine what caused the crash.

http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/08/01/3558303.htm?site=newcastle

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By Jeff Pardo

What if I told you that there is more to the graveyard spiral than most people realize?  Continue»

By Editor Staff

The FAA received reports of nearly 10,500 bird strikes in the U.S. last year, a five-fold increase since 1990, according to a new report from a federal oversight office. And those rising numbers are bad news for the agency that is supposed to track bird strikes and mitigate the problem, the report said. In short, the report said the FAA isn’t doing enough to reduce the numbers of bird strikes. But the FAA said it has already taken steps the report recommends, like improving a database that collects details on bird strike events, and documenting which strategies work well to keep birds away from airports. Often using federal funds, airports have tried a variety of tactics, from reducing standing water and tall grasses to installing noise cannons and using chemicals to ward off birds. Airports generally can’t kill nuisance birds, since many are protected by various federal laws. Many bird populations have recovered in recent decades as pesticides like DDT have been banned. And some of the populations that have rebounded the most are the ones that also cause the most damage in bird strikes: Canada geese and birds of prey.

http://travel.usatoday.com/flights/story/2012-08-23/Report-Bird-strike-data-for-planes-is-skimpy/57257818/1

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By Editor Staff

The final report on the crash of Air France 447, which killed all 228 people on board, targeted poor pilot training and a lack of communication in the cockpit as significant causes, even though a failure of the Airbus A330’s pitot tubes catalyzed the accident chain. When the pitot tubes iced up, airspeed readings became inaccurate and the autopilot disconnected. But the pilots didn’t properly troubleshoot the problem, instead pitching the plane up as much as 40 degrees as the stall warning blared intermittently. Even when the captain returned to the flight deck, no one recognized that the plane was in a high-altitude stall for most of its two-minute descent before hitting the ocean. And the flight crew failed to communicate to one another what each was doing, let alone come up with a plan of action to fix the problems and resume normal flight. Since the accident, Air France and many other airlines have revamped their training to include recoveries from high-altitude stalls. French safety officials also noted that it took hours for search and rescue efforts to begin, even though the air traffic controller in Senegal had access to a new radar-like display using GPS data that showed the position of the Air France flight and other aircraft in that area of the Atlantic Ocean.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303962304577508540148466200.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

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By Thomas Turner

“I’m on a mission,” wrote an iPilot reader, ”there’s a huge problem lurking on the general aviation horizon...'  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

It's not always easy to get into an advanced / well equipped airplane when your experience is minimal, but there are ways within your power.  Continue»

By Reader Submission

I'm strictly VFR. I don't mind flying in the haze and have flown over water in five miles visibility at night -- those of you who think it's foolish should go back to flight school.  Continue»

By Mark Roberts

On a bumpy flight from Pueblo, Colorado to Centennial Airport in Denver, a strong wind gust hit us like a big ocean wave crashes into a boat.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

Six people are missing and searchers have lost the ELT signal from a De Havilland Dragon DH84 that apparently crashed after flying into clouds about 50 miles northwest of Brisbane, Australia, on Sunday. The 1934 biplane is one of only four remaining airworthy Dragons in the world. The plane, with a pilot and six passengers on board, was returning to an airport north of Brisbane after an air show about 150 miles northwest of the city. The pilot made a distress call to controllers that he had encountered clouds and needed help navigating the rest of the way home. A short time later, officials received an ELT signal in the same area as the Dragon, and they lost radio communications with the pilot. Interviews with friends of the pilot indicated that the plane probably only had basic cockpit instruments that would have made IFR flying difficult or impossible. Pilot Des Porter, 68, rebuilt the De Havilland Dragon about eight years ago. The plane was largely destroyed when it crashed in 1954, killing Porter’s father and brother, and injuring Porter himself, who was 10 at the time.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-10-01/six-feared-dead-after-vintage-plane-disappears/4289656

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