Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The tragic event of the deranged and frustrated Piper pilot (I learned to fly in a Cessna, so I think this applies to ALL Piper pilots. Okay, okay, just kidding!!) that went off his rocker last week, and crashed into the IRS building in Austin (sadly killing an employee) has no doubt got us all thinking 1) about the family of the IRS employee, and 2) about the family of the deranged lunatic. Our sincerest heartfelt sympathy goes out to those families.

We shall continue to reflect with sorrow over the sad consequences that childish and sad act of selfishness and evil had for the loved ones left behind. And, as "critic"-al thinkers, I have no doubt that most of us are also wondering what the longer term consequences to the General Aviation community might be, and how that act of deviance, might result in some further deviation from the norm we used to know in pre- 9-11 days, particularly regarding smaller airports where many of us hang out to watch planes and cheer the marvel of flight. (And drink beer when no one is watching, judging from the empties in the parking lots...). Or even perform delightful feats of challenging the laws of gravity- and probability, in my case.

(At least according to the many unkind, and unsolicited, critiques of my landing "style". No doubt, most are from jealous Piper enthusiasts, who are envious of a 172's ability to gracefully bounce about half a wingspan, instead of rather blandly plopping onto the runway- much like rather uncerimoniously dropping a wet towel. In stark contrast to the playful and spirited response of, say, dropping a golf ball onto a concrete sidewalk. From a third story window or so).

While we continue to grieve for the affected families of last week's tragedy, we also contemplate what coming actions might be taken in a constructive way, and perhaps well intentioned, but not quite so productive ways. One of our blog's great thinkers (and satirist/parody-ists) has put his formidable powers of analysis towards what might be the resulting aftermath of recent events.

Without further ado, here's our friend Black Tulips's first (of many, I hope) return engagement as a "headliner" (I suppose I give the Cessna's headliners a pretty good work out) on A.C. & E. :

February 20, 2010 – Washington, DC

The world still reels from the shock of Texas pilot Joseph Stack flying his Piper Cherokee into a Federal office building in Austin. The man’s grudge against the IRS ended in a fiery suicide attack. The Federal government has scrambled to react to this homegrown tragedy which some consider a domestic terrorist act. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is currently without a leader so Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has stepped into the breach. “This is Nine-Eleven all over again except the terrorist had lighter skin and no accent”, she said. “I told you this was going to happen. The Obama Administration gave business and general aviation one chance too many.”

Napolitano continued, “I am pleased to announce today the formation of the Total Air Marshal Program (TAMP). There are 240,000 active general aviation aircraft in the United States and an Air Marshal will be assigned to each aircraft. With over 600,000 active certificated pilots in the United States we can’t have an Air Marshal for every pilot – but we can have one for every plane.”

At this morning’s press conference she turned to Rahm Emmanuel, White House Chief of Staff, who said, “We are pleased with this rapid reaction to a domestic terrorist threat. We can’t let some retard in a bug smasher hold up tax collections in Texas. President Obama considers this an example of his dynamic and flexible Stimulus Package. Now there is a demand for 240,000 new jobs that weren’t there yesterday. Hotels and restaurants around the country will benefit from the Air Marshal’s spending.”

Emmanuel added with emphasis, “This should also make the Second Amendment folks happy as the Government is going to purchase a quarter million handguns. Nine millimeter is the preferred caliber as it will minimize collateral damage to pressurized aircraft.”
Next Randy Babbitt, Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), took the microphone, “We realize that some will consider this an inconvenience and overreaction. In order to ease the application of this rule we made several important changes to the Federal Air Regulations (FARs). No longer will there be a limit on the number of crew or passengers in one seat belt at a time – independent of age and weight. Also you can expect a new set of pages for your Pilots Operating Handbook (POH). Depending on runway length and density altitude, pilots need not consider the addition weight of the Air Marshal and their luggage. In other words aircraft owners can add about 250 pounds to takeoff weight without regard to center of gravity.”

Secretary Napolitano offered concluding remarks, “We realize some will consider this expansion of the Air Marshal program an intrusion. For that reason the Federal government is seeking wide diversity in the Air Marshals. For the older family-oriented flyers we will offer retired law enforcement officials. For the younger and more adventurous we have several possibilities. Several of Tiger Woods’ mistresses have signed up and are in training. However we do have a shortage of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Air Marshals… especially the latter. I encourage all who have an interest in joining the rapidly growing Total Air Marshal Program for a bright future in the United States Government.”

Thanks BT- it's a great piece, with of course no disreverence for the deceased whatsoever- and I laughed harder than those whiny Piper guys who watch me land!


Phil Bell said...

Thanks BT,
I always enjoyed your great posts on EAC and EAC-NG, and it's a kick to be graced with another one here!

(BT and I discussed the aspect of grieving and sympahty, and be cheerfully assured- as I think we all concur- good humor is one of the best ways to celebrate life).

WhyTech said...

The world according to Baron:
“But that is a pointless comparison, isn't it? Overall GA includes landing planes on unimproved terrain in Alaska and cropdusting and seaplanes.If you want a meaningful comparison, you need to compare GA turbine (same equipment) private IFR flying (same missions) with Business aviation.If you did that, and adjusted for equipment capability/age, you'd arrive at the true difference between a professional crew (of 2) plus dispatch services, to the private single IFR turbine pilot.Yes, the professional flight department will have a better safety record. But it will hardly be 50 to 1. 5 to 1, maybe. But prob closer to 2 to 1 or 3 to 1.”

Barons wild ass guessing seems a bit off the mark when compared with data from Robert E. Breiling Associates, an authoritative compiler of aviation safety data. Here is rate per 100,000 hrs data for three SE turboprops (TBM700, PC12, PA46-500TP) for 2004, which is the last year for which I have the Breiling data broken out by make/model:
Three SE turboprops:
2.19/0.66 (all accidents/fatal accidents)
GA Overall:
6.41/1.25 (all accidents/fatal accidents)
0.093/0.013 (all accidents/fatal accidents)
Ratio of three SE turboprops to corporate:
23.6/50.8 (all accidents/fatal accidents)
Ratio of GA overall to corporate:
68.9/96.2 (all accidents/fatal accidents)

So while the owner flown turboprops are somewhat better than GA overall, they are nowhere near the corporate/exec numbers. The PA46-500TP was the worst of the owner flown turboprops with the following numbers:
6.97/3.49/75.0/268.5 (all accidents/fatal accidents/ratio to all corp/ratio to fatal corp)

The data for GA overall in 2008 is 7.11/1.25, and for corporate/exec is 0.075/0.000, so some likelihood that any changes in conclusions are insignificant.
My point was that the corporate/exec guys are doing things differently with respect to safety management, training, maintnence, etc, than the GA guys and getting much better results.

airsafetyman said...

"Here is rate per 100,000 hrs data for three SE turboprops (TBM700, PC12, PA46-500TP) for 2004, which is the last year for which I have the Breiling data broken out by make/model:
Three SE turboprops:
2.19/0.66 (all accidents/fatal accidents)....
The PA46-500TP was the worst of the owner flown turboprops with the following numbers:
6.97/3.49/75.0/268.5 (all accidents/fatal accidents/ratio to all corp/ratio to fatal corp)"

Something is off here. Breiling data indicates the fatal accident rate for the three combined turboprops is .66/100,000 flying hours. This is in the ballpark with my 'back of the envelope' computation of the PA-46-500TP fatal accident rate of .879/100,000 flight hours. How can the fatal accident rate of the PA-46-500TP, by itself, be an astonishing 3.49/100,000 hours? If my Jan 2009 ballpark fleet time of 569,000 hours (250 hours a year per airplane since manufacture) is anywhere near accurate, a 3.49 accident rate would mean the loss of 20 airplanes. The NTSB website is showing only five US registered airplanes involved in fatal accidents as of January 2010.

Also note that the Breiling website even has a gross typo on their 'Aircraft Specific Aircraft Analysis' page, referring to a PA-40TP in one place and a PA-46TP further down. The airplane is, of course, a PA-46-500TP. Not to be picky, but they should really proof-read their own website, especially before offering data for sale.

WhyTech said...
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WhyTech said...

"How can the fatal accident rate of the PA-46-500TP, by itself, be an astonishing 3.49/100,000 hours?"

Here is where the number comes from (2004 data):
Fleet hours: 114,755
Accidents: 8
Accidents per 100,000 hours = 8/1.14755 = 6.97
Fatal accidents: 4
Fatal accidents per 100,000 hours = 4/1.14755 = 3.49

This may not be representative for the 46-500TP over a longer time period due to a "relatively" large number of accidents/fatals in 2004. Based on your comment of 5 total fatals for the PA46-500TP to date it would seem that 2004 was a bad year for the Meridian. The data for 2004 are the most recent I have for these acft. If you have more recent or more comprehensive data, post it. An average of 250 hours per year for these acft seems on the high side to me. In any event, combining it with the other two acft tends to smooth the outliers and make the comparision to corporate/exec flying *only* a 50 to 1 ratio (or so).

baron95 said...

WhyTech/ASM - thanks for the data.

WhyTech, don't forget the important part of my comment "adjusted for equipment capability/age".

If you want something to compare to the TBM850 (which is almost universally owner-flown), compare it to the Caravan, which is largely airline (FedEx) flown.

Pick those two. Introduced at about the same time, both single TBs, similar avionics (even got G1000 upgrades at the same time).

What are the total/fatal accident rates for those two types?

baron95 said...

As for government regulations...what can I say...

How about the wonderful disclosure of NHTSA today:

- The Car Connection estimates that the average "modern luxury car has something close to 100 million lines of software code in it, running on 70 to 100 microprocessors."

- NHTSA (the FAA-equivalent regulator for cars and highways), made the news today:
"NHTSA officials told investigators that the agency doesn't employ any electrical engineers or software engineers."

WhyTech said...

"What are the total/fatal accident rates for those two types?"

To quote you, “But that is a pointless comparison, isn't it? "
Just as with your comments re Alaska and ag flying, the missions are very different.

"If you want a meaningful comparison, you need to compare GA turbine (same equipment) private IFR flying (same missions) with Business aviation"

This is what I have done. Fedex is not "GA private IFR flying (same msssions)" to use your words.

airsafetyman said...

Whytech, Thanks for the note. I can only find five PA-46-500TP accidents to date. As of the end of 2004 I can only count three. As of the end of 2004 Piper had produced 191 airframes. At my estimated 250 hours/year/airframe the fleet hours at the end of 2004 would have been 157,750 hours. Doing the math the rate comes out to 1.9 fatal accidents/100,000 hrs. as of the end of 2004. Since then there have only been two more fatal accidents so the rate would have dropped considerably as the fleet time has increased. But, however you slice it the rate is still very high.

WhyTech said...

"As of the end of 2004 I can only count three."

I am not asserting the correctness of the Breiling data, but I have no way to challenge it. A footnote in their report states that their data sometimes is not identical to NTSB due to accidents missing from the NTSB database.

WhyTech said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WhyTech said...

"Fedex is not "turbine GA private IFR flying (same msssions)" to use your words." Nor, is it corporate/executive flying.

According to Breiling report: " It should also be noted that the CE-208 Caravan Series significantly impacts the overall single engine accident statistics due to its high utilization in a utility function and in an increased adverse operating environment."

airsafetyman said...


I found the missing PA-46-500TP accident. It was N155BM that crashed on take-off in bad weather near Daytona Beach, FL, on December 17, 2003. The NTSB website has a report on it by tail number but the search engines do not list it. Crunching the numbers, again, I guestimate the accident rate at the end of 2004 is 2.53/100,000 hours with the four fatals. At the end of 2009 it is 1.05/100,000 with a total of six fatal accidents.

Floating Cloud said...

Gentlemen, gentlemen, please!

No more talk of such morbid statistical thoughts! It’s enough to bring an airplane down just thinking about all those numbers! If this continues I shall slit my throat! But I won’t, because even though I have yet to get up into one of my hubby’s beloved Skycathers er Skycatchers I have finally found my calling...

I am going to be a SKY Marshall. I hear they want women, TIGER women…grrrrr (giggle) but believe you me I am not a transgender one. I hear my calling and uncle O is pointing with his finger at me saying “give thyself!”

I am so excited, because this means I can wear a firearm, which will be hidden of course, in my Victoria push-up bra’s secret compartment. I will be the third seater on any one of your flights, merely a stand-by passenger with just a little extra baggage who happened to catch a flight... you’ll hardly notice me at all.

No matter what, the sky isn’t falling, and as much as I would like to stuff a lot in someone’s Piper(there's a story only Phil knows), I’ll be a lady and trust all shall be well for those who are honest and give their lives to GA. Oh my goodness I think I am about to sing America the Beautiful…
America, America...God’s grace does shine on thee!

Mary Rose, Woman from UNCLE

baron95 said...

That is a program that is a Joke - Federal Air Marshal.

Aren't these the guys that shot a mentally handicapped man that was running AWAY from the aircraft on the jet bridge?

Aren't these the guys that forgot a loaded hand gun on the aircraft lavatory during flight?

Aren't these the guys that were required to dress up in suits on flights to Miami and Hawaii, and had to pre-board the plane, and still got mad if you asked them if they were FAM?

What is their function on a flight?

Prevent a non-firearm break into the cockpit or take down a bomber?

Ordinary passengers are the ONLY ones that have done that to date - 100% of the time.

The only 9/11 problem was the ridiculous policy of "do all the hijackers want". Even the last flight, Flight 93, the passengers, successfully defeated the hijackers plans once they have even a hint of their intentions.

I still maintain, that the absolute easiest way to take an American flight is to follow armed LEOs around the airport - once they go to the bathroom take them down quietly and retrieve their weapon, and board a flight.

Second easiest way, is to make the FAM (still very easy), and take their weapon.

Anyway - nice joke - GA FAM.

But the joke is on us on all the "for show" useless TSA crap.

baron95 said...

Eurocopter announced plans to build sell a diesel-powered piston Helo within 5 years.

If true, that could boot piston-diesel powerplants for GA. Eurocopter said their effort will focus on reducing weight from existing diesel piston engines.

Lets see.

airsafetyman said...

"Eurocopter announced plans to build sell a diesel-powered piston Helo within 5 years."

Well, if anybody could it would be Eurocopter, but since all helicopters are studies in advanced vibrations and harmonics, and do their best to come unglued for any excuse, putting a diesel in one seems like they are asking for it, even if they do get the power/weight ratio of the engine where it needs to be.

Black Tulip said...

"Eurocopter announced plans to build sell a diesel-powered piston Helo within 5 years."

It's a little early for April Fools. Will it have big dual exhaust stacks that reach almost up to the main rotor blades? Will it have the Mack truck bulldog on the nose? How about aluminum fuel tanks on each side hanging between the fuselage and skids?

airsafetyman said...

Well, here it comes folks. The TSA is going to commission a "study" on iddy-biddy airplanes hitting buildings - despite the fact that they have been inadvertently doing so since about 1903. That's only 107 years. Yes, and there is no more "criminal" activity in our great land, now it is all "terrorist-related", the better to make you and me bend over and accept the TSA nonsense. They still are not "sure" if the Austin dude had a 55-gallon drum of gas or not. Apparently a large steel drum is pretty hard to find, although the aluminum fuselage and tail was quite recognizable in after-crash photos of the building. One "expert" witness, a retired NTSB investigator who teaches at Embry-Riddle, opined on how the fire seemed more intense than 40 gallons of fuel would make. Well, the capacity of the garden-variety Cherokee is 50 gallons and of the accident airplane, a PA-28-236 with the Lycoming 540, it is 77 gallons. But what the hell, anything to get your pretty face on TV? Now we can await eagerly the results of the study!

baron95 said...

So predictable.

And what are the results of a lone dude parking a truck with fertilizer in front of a Federal building?

Oh - never mind. That was a truck.

This is a plane.

Ooohooohoooohhhhoooooo - The flying boogie man.

I say the real danger is that a 777 co-pilot may have tax problems, or union-employee related problems, etc. And he is legally armed - what if he shoots captain and flies the 777 into a building?

I say from now on flight crews should be exempt from income tax, criminal prosecution, divorce actions, employment discipline, traffic tickets and anything that might upset them.

How ridiculous have we become?

Black Tulip said...
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Black Tulip said...


Brings to mind the EgyptAir 990 copilot - scary.

eclipse_deep_throat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eclipse_deep_throat said...


I've just stumbled on an article on NetJets. Considering how bad the economy has been, I suppose it is somewhat comforting to see that even Warren Buffett isn't immune to the storm. NetJets appparently lost $711 million in 2009. It was also necessary for Berkshire Hathaway to guarantee the NJ debt ($1.9 billion) in order to prevent the company from going t/u. WOW...



Barry said...

Re Epic (Aircraft Investor Resources, LLC)
Filed 2/24/10
Trustee’s Motion for Orders

"... Bids. Any third party (other than Harlow) that is interested in being a participant in the Auction (defined below) and acquiring all or substantially all of the Assets (each a "Bidder") must submit a "Bid" as provided herein prior to 3:00 p.m. Prevailing Pacific time on Wednesday, March 24, 2010 (the "Bid Deadline")."

"... A hearing to approve the Proposed Sale to the Stalking Horse Bidder or, alternatively, the transaction that is the subject of the Prevailing Bid to the Prevailing Bidder, as the case may require, shall be conducted at 9:30 a.m. (Prevailing Pacific Time) on March 30, 2010, or at such later time as determined by this Court."
- - - -

The above is the proposed order. Others may object to this order, though not likely.

- - - - -

Harlow Aerostructures (Phil) has submitted an "Asset Purchase Agreement" to the Court. Purchase price $2 mil cash. At this point Harlow is the only bidder. Harlow is requesting a breakup fee (4% of purchase price) if another bidder acquires the assets.

Barry said...

The only value with Epic may be the LT (and it does not perform to specs). The jet is not viable, a real can of worms there!

Black Tulip said...

As the poster in the Post Office says, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is".

airtaximan said...

I believe

baron95 said...


And it is not like the market doesn't already have Goldilocks SE Turboprops for sale in various sizes:

- Slow/Cheap Hauler - Caravan
- Light/Cheap personal flying - Meridian
- Fast/Medius - TBM 850
- Kind-of-fast/Large - PC12.

And the Epic? A nice looking plaything.

Why people put money on these paper promises is beyond me.

At least, when Ken put his deposit on a $800K twin jet, the next least expensive jet was Citation I+ at $4M.

gadfly said...

Since none of the comments of late have much if anything to do with "Phil's" careful study, I'll join the distraction . . . having come across something I find of beauty. Take a look . . . it "flew me" thousands of miles at extremely low altitude, combining the best of diesel engines, electrical power, fuel economy (between 10 and 15 gallons per mile, at 5,000,000 pounds "MTOW", with a range of 12,000 nautical miles, with a "time aloft" of two months . . . food being the critical limitation)considered one of the most complex vehicles of any size ever invented, even including the "Space Shuttles".



(Of course, we had a "flight crew" of 85, with zero passengers. By the way, "Dr. Seuss" was correct . . . I've eaten "green eggs and ham" . . . the rancid butter covered the taste. )

(By the way, after serving in the "Silent Service", A&P school was a piece of cake.)

gadfly said...

Here's a few more pictures, from the "birth" of this beautiful boat, to its final demise . . . going through a series of modifications. Keel laid in 1944 . . . launched in 1947 . . . commissioned in 1948 . . . and its final dive (in the Atlantic, truly a disgrace to this elegant boat of the Pacific at Pearl Harbor).




After its final modification, with a "bubble making hull", to create a "stealth hull", with a twenty foot extended hull, and a newer "sail", in 1979, considered an "old lady" of the deep, it became a target for an "over the horizon" torpedo in the Atlantic . . . thousands of miles from its normal home:


The problem with the "torpedo test" is that no self respecting sub would be sitting on the surface . . . but the Navy had a new toy . . . a brand new fish (torpedo) . . . and our old boat was considered the target. We talked with the guy that set up the "radio controlled" steering for that final day . . . and I have a copy of the actual video/movie taken.

For the "in between time", read the book, "Blind Man's Bluff", . . . the "boat" in chapter two, "Whiskey A-Go-Go", the USS Gudgeon SS-567 didn't do so well. They had just "relieved us" . . . we had almost been caught, but got away after being down far too long. 'Summer of 1957 . . . place: Vladivostok Harbor! It was over forty years before we learned what took place after we left the Russian naval base. Submarines do not even share "info" between the "boats", hence the term, "Silent Service".

It's interesting to experience the loss of oxygen over time . . . although "at altitude" an aircraft doesn't have the added additional problem of rising CO2. After about 20 hours without fresh air, and as "O2" approaches 16 percent (from the normal 21%), the "smokers" can no longer keep their cigarettes lit. As "CO2" rises toward 2 1/2 percent, things begin to get serious, and the "CO2 absorbent powder" must be spread out on some torn-open mattress covers, being careful not to stir up the gray dust, as it's like breathing powdered glass . . . not fun! Heat rises as all air conditioning and circulating fans are shut down, to minimize sound.

There are a series of experiences that have application for aircraft, giving a better "first hand" training exercise in things that apply to aircraft at high altitude . . . although, aboard a sub, things happen over hours rather than minutes or seconds.

In both cases, the human body needs air to stay alive . . . and lacking oxygen, the brain simply goes "numb", and then, "lights out". 'Been "close", but obviously survived.


baron95 said...

Submarines may be cool, but never as exciting as this

If you can't fly the meatballsky, you better have a lot of thrustsky.

Phil Bell said...

New headline post is up!
(Not as colorful as BT's great post...it would be interesting to have BT and ole' Ben in the same room).