Richard N. Aarons

Richard N. Aarons
Negative Torque Sensing vs. Autofeather 

Recently much correspondence has passed about our staff pilots, technical writers and several readers regarding our understanding — and sometimes misunderstanding — of engine-out performance of FAR Part 23 and SFAR 23 twins and appropriate pilot actions in the event of power loss.

Helicopter Night Obstacle-Avoidance Accident
Investigating a major helicopter accident is rarely easy. Helicopters go where no other aircraft can.
Accidents in Brief (July 2015) 

Selected Accidents and Incidents in June and May 2015. The following NTSB information is preliminary. 

Update: Gulfstream IV Accident at BED
Lessons that have come to light during the ongoing investigation of the May 31, 2014, crash of a Gulfstream IV departing Laurence G. Hanscom Field (BED), Bedford, Mass., center on the importance of checklists, completing all checklist items according to manufacturer guidance and understanding that safety systems can fail, silently leaving the crew unprotected from casual neglect.
Gulfstream Flight Ops Information

On Aug. 18, 2014, Gulfstream issued a reminder to all Gulfstream flight crews of the importance of proper preflight checks of the flight control systems. This letter circulated as the company and NTSB investigators explored the potential failure modes of the GIV gust lock system. The notice — in part — follows:

AFM and Investigators’ Comments

The information below includes items from the GIV Airplane Flight Manual and the NTSB investigators’ comments.

Gust Lock

The Before Starting Engines checklist contained within the AFM, Section 2 — Normal Procedures included the item:

(70) Gust Lock — AS REQUIRED

The Starting Engines checklist included the item:

(4) Gust Lock — OFF

From the Tapes

This excerpt from the CVR recording seems to demonstrate that power-up and acceleration was normal until 80 kt. and V1. At that point, comments are heard about “. . . lock is on,” and “can’t stop.” The FDR shows no indication of a stop-to-stop control check anytime from engine start to takeoff roll.

Losing The Airport In Low Visibility Conditions 

Fly airplanes long enough and you’ll misidentify something sooner or later — a visual reporting point, a taxiway that looks like a runway, a lighting matrix that seems to be an airport, a waypoint that’s been fat-fingered, and so forth.

Recently, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) had cause to research incidents in which flight crews misidentified ground features as an airport environment or runway. Here’s what the bureau’s incident review revealed:

Australian Occurrences

Below Minimums and Unstabilized Approaches 3
Stabilized approaches are always important for a reasonably good landing, but they are absolutely essential for a safe approach at minimums. If, for some reason, you are forced into a below minimums approach, then conducting a stabilized approach is vital in the true sense of the word.
Convair’s Failed Engine-out Return

This month we are looking at another recent approach stall accident involving a large airplane with a highly experienced pilot serving as PIC. The NTSB says the FAA’s oversight of the operating company — Fresh Air Inc. — was lax, the operation of the airplane was sloppy and the crew coordination was poor. Training records were haphazard and de facto SOPs did not comply with the aircraft flight manual (AFM).

NTSB to FAA: Take Another Look at Part 125 Effectiveness 

Pilots operating under Part 125 are not required to receive any specific training as defined by the FARs. However, per 14 CFR 125.287(b), captains are required to meet certain experience requirements, and both pilots are required to receive an annual competency check. In addition, per 14 CFR 125.291(a), each pilot-in-command (PIC) must receive an instrument proficiency check every six months. The instrument proficiency check is generally a more comprehensive check, so Part 125 allows the pilot to substitute an instrument proficiency check for the competency check. 

Water Injection and Autofeather – Accident Factors 

Many of today’s pilots never had the opportunity to operate aircraft with big, radial, piston engines. These powerplants are beefy and complex and have systems to extract extra energy from heat and to deal with high heat and pressures. A water injection system, also known as anti-detonation injection, or simply ADI, is one of them. Another is an auto feathering system, designed to accelerate the feathering of a failing engine while preventing the manual feathering of the running engine. Choosing to use either or both systems creates takeoff weight restrictions.

CFIT at the South Pole 

Investigators from Canada’s Transportation Safety Board often do their on-scene investigations under difficult circumstances, but working in Antarctica can be just about as difficult as it gets. This month, we’ll look at the loss of a de Havilland DHC-6-300 Twin Otter and its crew of three in a controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) accident on Mount Elizabeth, Antarctica. The airplane belonged to Kenn Borek Air Ltd. (KBAL).

Oklahoma MU-2B Accident – A Mishandled Engine Out

N856JT, a Mitsubishi MU-2B-25, crashed into wooded terrain near Owasso, Oklahoma, on Nov. 10, 2013, about 1546 CST.

Investigators collaborated on a meticulous analysis of this accident.

Fatal Balked Landing 

Five passengers were killed and two pilots suffered serious injuries when Beech Premier 390 — N777VG —crashed during a balked landing at Thomson, Georgia on Feb. 20, 2013. NTSB has completed its investigation with a finding that the probable cause was “the pilot’s failure to follow airplane flight manual procedures for an antiskid failure in flight, and his failure to immediately retract the lift dump after he elected to attempt a go-around on the runway.

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