Briefing: August 2020



The struggle to find balance between pilot input and autonomous control of aircraft added another chapter with the revelation that the crash of a state-of-the-art military helicopter in April happened during a “conflict” between the pilot and the aircraft’s flight director. The Royal Canadian Air Force is investigating the crash of a CH-148 Cyclone, a militarized version of the S-92 with a full fly-by-wire control system, off Greece. All six crew were killed when the helicopter went into the Ionian Sea during a NATO exercise. Lt.-Gen. Alain Pelletier, commander of the Canadian Air Division said the aircraft’s flight director ended up “in competition with the inputs that the pilot was trying to actually induce in order to set the recovery. That element of conflict resulted because of the flight-control inputs.” Details of the nature of the flight condition of the aircraft were not released but Pelletier said it was a scenario that had not been tested during certification.


FAA Administrator admitted to Congress that both the FAA and Boeing “made mistakes” during certification of the Boeing 737 MAX and that steps are being taken to avoid a repeat. Dickson was in the hot seat before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and defended the agency’s responsiveness to investigations by lawmakers. Meanwhile, a whistleblower warned of systemic problems within the FAA and at Boeing that led to the issues with the MAX and predicted more crashes if they aren’t fixed. Curtis Ewbank told both the Senate and House committees dealing with the issue that similar problems exist in the 777X program.


CubCrafters introduced a tricycle version of its sport Carbon Cub, creating some controversy with tailwheel purists. But spokesman Brad Damm said the plane “surprised” some but it has been overwhelmingly praised by the 3000 people who have flown a demo version of the aircraft and with good reason. “A nosewheel-equipped XCub is a very easy airplane to fly that takes off shorter, lands shorter, and cruises faster than the tailwheel version,” he said. The trike version is available as a kit and CubCrafters will go after full Part 23 certification of the plane, dubbed the NX.


The Commercial Aviation Safety Team said rusty pilots flying much lighter airliners combined for a spike in reports of safety issues and in the issuance of safetyrelated warnings in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic response. In March, the team said it issued 50 warnings about the unusual conditions. Takeoff weights were dramatically reduced because of the scant passenger loads and aircraft were scraping tails and busting initial altitude assignments after takeoff. Although there were no serious mishaps, the FAA said it was keeping an eye on the situation. “We are closely monitoring the data we receive from voluntary reporting systems and have increased the number of information-sharing meetings we’re holding with operators,” the agency said in a statement.


The first type certificate for an all-electric airplane was issued to Pipistrel for its Velis Electro, which is powered by the Pipistrel-made E-811 motor. “The type certification of the Pipistrel Velis Electro is the first step towards the commercial use of electric aircraft, which is needed to make emission-free aviation feasible,” said Pipistrel Aircraft founder and CEO Ivo Boscarol. “It confirms and provides optimism, also to other electric aircraft designers, that the Type Certificate of electric engines and aeroplanes is possible.” The plane earned EASA certification in early June. The plane is primarily intended for training, has a 378-pound payload, cruises at 90 knots and an endurance of 50 minutes plus VFR reserve.


Australia is first in planning flying car races … Five-bladed Airbus H145 helicopter certified … Bird strike may have preceded fatal Snowbirds crash … The FAA is narrowing the scope of a Piper Cherokee wing spar AD … A police helicopter collided with a police drone … See for breaking news in general aviation.


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