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March 23, 2015  -  No. 054

In This Issue
New FBO Safety Standard Protects Against Ground-Handling Incidents
MH17: Malaysia Airlines asks relatives for income tax returns to determine compensation
U.K. Regulator Takes Enforcement Action Against European Airlines
3-D printers save time, money in major aircraft repairs
Solomon Airlines receives second certification for safety
Helicopter Crashes Into Orlando Home, Killing Pilot
US Navy is testing an electromagnetic catapult to launch planes from aircraft carriers
Air Force facing increasing shortage of fighter pilots
F-35 jump jet gears up for crucial at-sea tests
ND farmers buy in to growing jet fuel
Chinese passenger jet flies on oil from sewers
Airplane giant Boeing granted patent for FORCE FIELD technology
AAIB Centenary Conference...'100 Years of Accident Investigation - What's Next?'
JOBS AVAILABLE (New Positions)
Curt Lewis & Associates, LLC - Services
New FBO Safety Standard Protects Against Ground-Handling Incidents

Regardless of what method an aircraft operator chooses to vet their groundhandling providers, operators should establish minimum safety, training and operational standards they require of their FBOs.

Business aircraft operators have periodically subjected their own operations to third-party safety audits. But not many operators expect their own ground-handling facilities to have been audited.

Business aviation has always been committed to safe operations, with safety management systems (SMS) being the latest product of continuing efforts to enhance safety. Hundreds of flight departments and air charter providers are in various stages of implementing an SMS, often choosing the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations
(IS-BAO). Many business aircraft operators also undergo third-party safety audits. And still more operators voluntarily implement various industry best practices. But do you know what safety policies and procedures your ground-handling provider has adopted?

"Many operators have invested substantial resources in growing their own safety management systems to improve safety and mitigate risk," noted Mark Larsen, NBAA's senior manager of safety and flight operations. "Operators should consider the safety of their asset when the pilot locks the doors and walks away for the night."


Dr. Benjamin "BJ" Goodheart, director of aviation safety and claims management at AirSure Limited, a Golden, Colo., aviation insurance broker, said operators are often unaware of the high potential cost of ground-handling incidents (see chart). AirSure's historical average for general aviation ground-handling-related claims is $105,000. The highest general aviation ground-handling-related claim managed by AirSure in recent years was nearly $7.5 million.

"Aircraft operators are often surprised by the total value of a ground-handling related claim, but the claim amount isn't just for repair of the aircraft," said Goodheart. Diminution of aircraft value when selling the airplane and loss of use of the aircraft while it is being repaired - which often means leasing or chartering another aircraft - make up a large percentage of ground-handling-related claims, he noted.

"Diminution of value of the [damaged] asset frequently ranges between 2 and 20 percent of the overall value of the aircraft, and knowing the true amount that an aircraft's value has been diminished is difficult [to determine] until the actual sale," explained Goodheart. "In a soft market, like we have now, damage history can make a big difference in the final selling price and length of time to sell the aircraft. If there are 20 aircraft for sale that meet the buyer's requirements, why buy the one with damage history?"

Goodheart handles hundreds of claims a year, and approximately 80 percent of them are related to ground-handling incidents, not flight-related events. Although ground-handling events are not likely to be fatal or result in serious bodily injury, their frequency demands operators' attention.


In 2012, the International Business Aviation Council, which manages the IS-BAO program, partnered with the National Air Transportation Association to develop a new ground-handling audit standard - the International Standard for Business Aircraft Handling (IS-BAH), which was officially introduced last May. This new standard incorporates many of the guidelines from NATA's popular Ground Audit Standard, as well as elements of that association's Safety 1st training program, but IS-BAH follows the format and existing procedures of the IS-BAO program.

"IS-BAH also gained a great deal of insight and guidance from the industry working groups that developed the initial drafts of the standard," said Jim Cannon, IBAC's IS-BAO program director. "IS-BAH will help ensure that registered ground-handling organizations are conducting their operations under a set of industry best practices. It will also help business aircraft operators using those facilities to verify that the organization has incorporated SMS processes."

IS-BAH covers areas such as safety management, organization and personnel, training and proficiency, facilities and ramp procedures, and more. The standard is based on SMS principles of defined policies and procedures, risk management, safety assurance and safety promotion. The integration of NATA's Safety 1st training concepts is a critical component.

"The IS-BAH standard mirrors the IS-BAO standard in format and intent but represents FBO/handling agency industry best practices," said Cannon. "Like IS-BAO, IS-BAH integrates the principles of safety management systems based on ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization] standards.


Goodheart is a strong supporter of IS-BAH.

"Many operators pay only cursory attention to a ground handler's practices and procedures, but they are interacting directly with their own safety system. It makes sense for IS-BAO-compliant operators to look for IS-BAH-registered facilities because they speak the same language, follow the same processes and demonstrate the same commitment to safety and continuous improvement."

"Adequate and frequent training [of FBO personnel] is so important," added Goodheart. "Business aircraft pilots typically attend extensive training twice a year. How often do line-service technicians attend training to operate the same equipment? Flight training has evolved dramatically in the past few decades, but ground training, aside from technological advances in delivery methods, remains essentially where it was 30 years ago. There are some fantastic training tools available, but frequency of training is often insufficient."

"I am so pleased IBAC has developed this new standard for FBOs," said Steve Charbonneau, senior manager of aviation training and standards at Altria Client Services Inc. "The NBAA Safety Committee has been pursuing this type of initiative for years, and we're happy to see forward movement through the new IS-BAH program."

"We've been tracking hazard and incident reports over the last few years and we've noticed a trend that the majority of our incidents are ground-handling related," Charbonneau continued. "We are taking this risk very seriously. As a result of a recent incident, we are considering the possibility of starting a desk audit questionnaire to begin to discern which FBOs have done thorough training and might be on their way to meeting the new IBAC standard."


Aircraft operators for decades have periodically subjected their own operations to third-party safety audits, but not many operators expect their ground-handling facilities to have been audited. Larger and more sophisticated aircraft operators sometimes implement a proprietary audit to monitor their ground handlers' operations and safety programs, but the typical flight department or air charter company simply does not have the resources to oversee organizations that provide ground handling.

"Aircraft operators often have a list of qualifications for choosing an FBO - fuel price, loyalty points earned, quality of facilities and overall customer service," said Goodheart. "Safety often lies near the bottom of the qualifications list, and operators may not get that far. If the fuel price is right and loyalty points are awarded by an FBO, that's the winner."

With the debut of IS-BAH, companies now have a new tool to vet the FBOs they use. There is also a good financial reason to look at a ground services provider's insurance coverage. "If there is a ground-related claim and the FBO involved is under-insured or liability is unclear, the aircraft operator might find themselves taking the hit for the claim," said Goodheart. "It pays to know who you're doing business with."


Regardless of what method an aircraft operator chooses to vet their ground handling providers, operators should establish minimum safety, training and operational standards they require of their FBOs, and operators should implement procedures to verify those standards are being met on an ongoing basis.

"For business aircraft operators
that have incorporated an SMS, the IS-BAH program provides an excellent model to monitor third-party vendors, such as FBO and handling agencies," said Cannon.

And in the short time since IS-BAH was introduced, "the reaction from the FBO/ handling segment of the industry has been tremendous, far more positive than we had anticipated," said Cannon.

For more information, visit NBAA's IS-BAH resources page at www.nbaa.org/is-bah, and NBAA's aircraft insurance resources at www.nbaa.org/insurance.

This article is reprinted with permission from the September/October 2014 Business Aviation Insider, published by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).


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MH17: Malaysia Airlines asks relatives for income tax returns to determine compensation

The son of a passenger killed on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 has been asked to supply them with details of his mother's income tax returns, payslips and mortgage payments to support a claim for damages that his lawyers say should not be means tested.

Tim Lauschet's mother Gabriele Lauschet, who was a teacher in Terrey Hills and engaged to be married, died when the aircraft was believed to have been shot down by a surface-to-air missile over Ukraine last July. He has received a $50,000 advance payment so far.

He told Fairfax Media he felt he was being made to "grovel for a pittance".

In the letter from Malaysia Airlines "Post Accident Office" the company asked Mr Lauschet for a shopping list of nine different documents so it can assess the "loss of financial dependency upon your mother at the time of her death".

The airline said assessment of damages would be in accordance with the general laws on damages applying to claims in NSW.

But his lawyers, Sydney law firm LHD representing a dozen other relatives or families from Australia, Malaysia and New Zealand, argued that under the Montreal Convention, which spells out compensation levels, there is no need for any award to be means tested.

Aviation lawyer Jerry Skinner, a co-associate of the firm and based in the US, who helped negotiate $10 million in compensation from Libya for families of the Lockerbie disaster, said the convention means victims of MH17 should each be entitled to compensation of $185,000 no questions asked.

"Nowhere in the Montreal Convention itself does it say that the law of the individual victim's nation state will determine the quantum of damages," he said

"We have asked them to tell us what the legal basis is for them taking that position. They will not answer the families that have asked them that question. If you say there is some local law that provides for proving damages, tell us what it is."

Mr Springer said the Montreal scheme was to bring some fairness to international claims for deaths and injuries.

"This seems to be contrary to the whole purpose of it," he said.

Mr Lauschet said the airline was asking a lot of questions about his mum's finances and his own to try and value her life and evaluate how dependent on her her was.

"Instead of beating around the bush why can't they simply say that they will give me the amount that they are supposed to under the Montreal Convention for mum's death but for more than that I'll have to give details of our finances," he said.

"It's like all the families of the victims are on a plane a few hours behind MH17 and on the same flight path. They will come crashing to the ground only much more slowly," he said.

"It's like they see bringing mum home as the end of it but it's not. How can ordinary Australians fight an international battle on their own."

"The letter says: 'We share in this grief that you are suffering and she (Gabriele), like all other passengers and crew who were onboard this flight, remain forever in our hearts.'

"I felt sick when I read that. Are they serious? Malaysia Airlines doesn't think that or it wouldn't be trying to make me grovel. The Montreal Convention is meant to protect us from that isn't it?"

Fairfax emailed questions to the airline on Friday evening asking why the relative was being told damages would be based upon a review of the economic loss or loss of financial dependency upon a lost parent when their lawyers indicated the $180,000 should be paid without means testing.

A spokeswoman said that the timing of a response was very difficult because of the approval process in Malaysia.


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U.K. Regulator Takes Enforcement Action Against European Airlines

Aer Lingus, Wizz Air and Jet2 are now subject to enforcement action, says authority

The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority is taking enforcement action against three European airlines, including Aer Lingus, over the treatment of passengers when flights are disrupted. 

LONDON-Britain's aviation regulator is taking action against Aer Lingus and two other European carriers over their treatment of passengers when flights are disrupted and expressed concern over the actions of Ryanair Holdings PLC.

Aer Lingus, budget airlines Wizz Air and Jet2 now are subject to enforcement action, the U.K.'s Civil Aviation Authority said Saturday. The CAA said the move comes after a six-month review of how carriers act on issues, such as how they deal with passengers when flights are delayed.

The regulator said the three airlines are failing to meet European Union rules on passenger rights.

The CAA also said it was reviewing how Ryanair, Europe's biggest discount carrier by traffic, deals with passenger claims in case flights are hit by technical problems.

"Airlines are well aware of the support they must provide when there is disruption," CAA Chief Executive Andrew Haines said. The issue was clarified last year when airlines challenging payment requirements lost their case, he said.

The CAA said Aer Lingus, which British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines Group SA is trying to acquire, and the other two carriers will need to make changes to their policies, or "face the prospect of a court order."

Jet2, a Dart Group PLC unit, and Hungarian carrier Wizz Air, which recently had an initial public offering, are failing to make required payments for flight disruptions and cutting short the period during which passengers can make their claims, the CAA said. Aer Lingus and Jet2 were separately accused of not providing passengers information on their rights under European Union rules.

Aer Lingus said it was working with the CAA and that its "procedures, relating to the provision of information to customers affected by operational disruption, are fully compliant with all the relevant regulations." Ryanair said it complies fully with European air passenger rights rules.

Wizz Air spokesman Daniel de Carvalho said in a statement, "The U.K. CAA is well aware that Wizz Air is reassessing these cases and has confirmed to the U.K. CAA itself, some time ago, that it will apply the U.K. CAA's own list of extraordinary circumstances in the relevant cases." The airline said it took the decision to reassess the cases after a recent court ruling.

In its response, Jet2 called the CAA's announcement "materially inaccurate." The airline said it paid compensation for disrupted flights and that it abides by court decisions and complies with law. It also said that no enforcement action had been taken since the CAA had so far failed to undertake the necessary consultation with Jet2 before such a step can be made.

The CAA said it would publish more information on airline performance on March 23.


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3-D printers save time, money in major aircraft repairs

What do you do when a crack in your F/A-18 requires a million-dollar fix and six months of labor? Send in the 3-D printer.

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest, an aviation repair shop based at Naval Station North Island, California, is home to three state-of-the-art 3-D printers, a technology that can rapidly fashion custom parts. Those initiatives are transforming fleet maintenance:

1. Multiple platforms. The machines arrived two years ago thanks to Gabe Draguicevich, manufacturing deputy program manager, who saw an unfulfilled line in his budget for additive manufacturing - the technical term for 3-D printing.

Rather than spend the $1.2 million on one machine, he divided it up among three, all printing in plastic:

A stereolithography machine, which uses a laser to carve an item out of liquid resin.
A fused deposition modeling machine, which builds items drop by drop, like a hot glue gun.
A selective laser sintering machine, which bonds powdered material together to make a solid item.
2. Rapid fixes. In 2012, Northrop Grumman and Naval Air Systems Command were testing the X-47B unmanned jet's landing capabilities and observed the aircraft's tailhook was bouncing over the arresting cable instead of latching on. The hook point wasn't a good fit.

"Northrop came back and said, 'Well, at minimum it's going to be eight months. It could be as much as a year before we can create a new part,' " Draguicevich recalled.

It was costing the program about $250 a day to wait around for the next test, so NAVAIR went to FRCSW, whose engineers elongated the hook point's nose and printed it up overnight on their stereolithography machine. They sent the plastic model to Pax River, which tested it and sent it back for some modifications. Once it was perfect, they carved it out of metal and sent it to NAVAIR.

"In five weeks we did the whole project, start to finish," Draguicevich said.

3. Legacy upgrades. The 3-D printers have also come in handy for updating old F/A-18A-D Hornets, which some have likened to fixing classic cars.

As FRCSW works to extend the Hornets' airframe life from 6,000 hours to 10,000, jets have shown up with a bulkhead crack that would cost about $1 million and about six months to replace, FRCSW spokesman Mike Furlano said.

Instead, the 3-D printing team came up with a tub fitting to reinforce the bulkhead, modeled with a 3-D printer and then manufactured in-house from aluminum. That brought the repairs down to $25,000.

4. Metal. Vice Adm. David Dunaway, head of NAVAIR, has called for 3-D printing with metal in the next three years.

That's a tall order, Draguicevich said. It would require being able to get the parts the same every time, which their machines can't guarantee.

"The brilliance behind what he did - he pressured everybody to look at it seriously and come back with a plan to make it happen, whenever it can happen," he said.

There's also the matter of the material: The Navy's aircraft are mostly aluminum, which their printers can't work with, he said. It's possible to print with steel or titanium, but those only make up 5 to 10 percent of an aircraft, he added.

"Our role as leaders is to challenge our employees to find creative solutions to warfighter needs," Dunaway told Navy Times in a March 18 statement. "As part of NAVAIR's initiative to adopt innovation as a standard practice, we occasionally set goals to inspire our talented workforce's efforts to apply rapidly evolving technology in achieving those solutions."

5. In the fleet. 3-D printing's most practical application would be on a ship, Draguicevich said, where sailors could print bits and pieces like caps, screws and medical supplies that often run low underway. Sailors on the amphibious assault ship Essex in 2014 fashioned deck drains and oil caps with their 3-D printer as part of the fleet's first test.

"When we talk about 3-D enterprise, the amount of parts that are going to be 3-D printed in the future are probably less than 10 percent," he said. "Probably more like 2 to 5 percent."


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Solomon Airlines receives second certification for safety

HONIARA, Solomon Islands - Marking yet another major benchmark in its 53-year history Solomon Airlines has been awarded with its second IATA Operational Safety Audit Certification* (IOSA).

Announcing the news, Solomon Airlines' CEO, Captain Ron Sumsum was quick to recognize each one of the national carrier's team members, all of whom he said played a key role in helping the airline achieve this highest of international aviation safety standards.

"Year on year we have continued to perform and achieve those highest of standards based on our International Air Operator Certification (AOC)," Captain Sumsum said.

"This in itself has been the forerunner for Solomon Airlines ensuring these safety principles apply to all our operations, both domestic and international.

"The IOSA Certification previously achieved has already resulted in a much stronger commercial alliance with our fellow Melanesian regional partners Air Niugini and Air Vanuatu, both of which are IOSA-certified.

"We are now awaiting further audits by other potential airline partners who view our IOSA certification as a means to developing new code-share agreements and other partnerships with Solomon Airlines.

"Having achieved this secondary IOSA certification, we will now begin the process of implementing the recently introduced E-IOSA** procedure, the applied process intended to become a systematic approach in the way we do business well into the future."

Captain Sumsum added he hoped this second IOSA achievement will be the catalyst for a review of the airline's current associate membership with a view to it achieving its goal of full IATA status in short time.

*IOSA is an international flight safety standard and a mandatory requirement of International Air Transport Association (IATA) membership.

In order to receive IOSA certification, Solomon Airlines has again successfully completed an operational safety audit covering all aspects of the carrier's operations - from air safety and inflight procedures, engineering and maintenance, management, ground and cabin crew performance and cargo handling. The audit is required to be performed every two years.

** E-IOSA is the result of industry demand for a more effective IOSA audit. Under E-IOSA, an Operator will be required to complete ongoing internal assessments using the IOSA Standards and Recommended Practices (ISARPs).


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Aircraft's Hard Landing results in injuries to Occupants

UPDATE - The parties involved are identified as 65-year-old Robert Coester from Gilbert, Arizona, and 71-year-old Charles McCurry from Pennsylvania.

The initial investigation indicates the F-1 Rocket brand single engine plane, owned/built by Charles, lost power on its final approach to the Sedona Airport. Realizing the aircraft would be unable to make it to the Sedona Airport, Robert stated Charles (an experienced pilot of 34 years) took control of the aircraft making a banking maneuver directing the aircraft in a southern direction. According to Robert, Charles was able to land the aircraft in a safe area on Chavez Ranch Rd. The aircraft sustained heavy damage during the landing.

Robert was ground transported to the Verde Valley Medical Center in stable condition with head injuries including a broken left ankle. His injuries are not life threatening. Charles was ground transported to the Sedona Medical Center where he was subsequently air lifted to the Flagstaff Regional Medical Center with multiple facial fractures, facial lacerations and contusions to his lungs. Despite the injuries sustained by Charles, hospital personnel stated he was in stable condition.

The NTSB is investigating. The plane has since been removed from the crash site.

PRELIMINARY INFORMATION At approximately 11:30 am today, YCSO deputies were dispatched to a fixed wing aircraft down on Chavez Ranch Road and Cathedral Vista Drive, an area south of the Sedona Airport. The plane, an F1 Rocket experimental model, contained two occupants who both received apparent non-life threatening injuries. EMS personnel were on scene to treat the injured parties. The pilot was transported to Verde Valley Medical Center and his passenger to the Sedona Medical Center.

The plane had flown from Chandler to Prescott earlier and was in the process of flying to the Sedona Airport when it went down.

NTSB and FAA have been notified and will be conducting the investigation. The cause of the crash is under review. Names of the involved parties will be release once verified.


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Helicopter Crashes Into Orlando Home, Killing Pilot

A helicopter crashed into an Orlando home Sunday afternoon, killing the pilot.

The Robinson R44 helicopter crashed into a home close to the downtown area on Alameda Drive near Edgewater Drive just after 2 p.m., NBC affiliate WESH reported.

Assistant Chief Hezedean Smith of the Orlando Fire Department said the helicopter hit a 2-story attached garage apartment and not the main part of the home. Firefighters arrived to find the structure on fire, with flames coming from the home. Investigators said heavy smoke could be seen for several miles.

Once responders extinguished the blaze, firefighters entered the heavily-damaged building and found the pilot deceased.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. At this time, the origin and destination of the flight, as well as the name of the pilot, have not been released.


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US Navy is testing an electromagnetic catapult to launch planes from aircraft carriers

For almost as long as aircraft carriers have existed, they've been equipped with steam-powered catapults to help fighters and bombers get airborne. That's a remarkably old-fashioned technology when you're launching stealth fighters that cost upwards of $20 million each.

The US Navy is now testing a replacement system called the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) aboard the new USS Gerald R. Ford. It uses a burst of electromagnetic energy to launch planes much more smoothly and efficiently than the old steam catapults. Aircraft carriers range from big to gigantic as far as ships go, but the runways simply aren't long enough for most planes to generate sufficient lift before they tumble off into the water. So, you need something to coax planes into the air a little faster, but steam catapults come with drawbacks.

A steam catapult takes up a great deal of space and weigh in excess of 1,300 pounds. These systems take a long time to recharge after each launch, and the launch itself is rather abrupt. There's no smooth acceleration with a steam piston, resulting in increase wear on the body of the aircraft. Steam catapults also, surprisingly, use more power than the EMALS system. The switch to an electromagnetic linear motor drive allows for smooth acceleration, improved reliability, and a much more efficient design.

The EMALS platform works by using an electric current to generate magnetic fields that propel a carriage down the track built into the runway. Attach a plane to the carriage, and you've got an electromagnetic catapult. EMALS has been tested with the F/A-18, E2D Advanced Hawkey, and upcoming F-35 among others. One important aspect of this system is that operators can adjust the launch speed based on the weight of the aircraft.

The ground-based EMALS tests have all been successful, but the upcoming tests aboard the USS Ford will be the main event. If all goes as planned. the US Navy could permanently move away from the archaic steam catapult.


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Air Force facing increasing shortage of fighter pilots

The Air Force doesn't have enough fighter pilots in its active duty cockpits due to force structure cuts and increased airline hiring, leading to a long-term drop in those available to train new pilots and test new aircraft, service leaders told lawmakers Thursday.

The active duty Air Force is 520 pilots short of its total manning requirement, with that projection expected to get worse in the near future due to an increase in private airline hiring luring the pilots away and continued cuts to the service's fleet, according to joint testimony to the Senate Armed Services committee by William LaPlante, the assistant secretary for acquisition; Lt. Gen. James Holmes, the deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements; and Lt. Gen. Tod Wolters, the deputy chief of staff for operations.

"The shortfall evolved from force structure reductions that cut active duty fighter squadrons and fighter training squadrons to a number that cannot sustain billet requirements," the testimony states. "As a result, the Air Force is currently unable to produce and experience the required number of fighter pilots across the total force."

The service is prioritizing its overall manpower to keep operational cockpits full, causing a drop in air operations expertise during higher-level planning and a drop in fighter pilot experience for trainers and test programs.

"Without these fighter pilots, the Air Force will be very challenged to continue to provide the air supremacy upon which all our forces depend," the testimony states.

The Air Force projects that the airline industry will hire about 20,000 pilots over the next 10 years, and with changing requirements, the companies will target military aviators at an increased rate, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

Budget restrictions have limited the total amount of flying hours available for flying, causing frustration among pilots. This frustration will return if sequestration comes back, Welsh said.

The Air Force uses big bonuses to try to keep its pilots around. The service offers Aviator Retention Pay payouts for eligible pilots who agree to serve for nine more years, at a rate of up to $225,000. Fighter pilots, other valuable pilots and combat systems officers who sign up for five more years can also get a $125,000 bonus.

About 840 airmen were eligible for the bonuses last summer, including 245 fighter pilots. In 2013, 132 fighter pilots signed up for the bonus, with 82 percent taking the nine-year contract. Another 483 total pilots took the five-year bonus.


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F-35 jump jet gears up for crucial at-sea tests

The blue-green team is gearing up for operational tests that could build momentum for the embattled F-35B Lightning II - or add more fuel to the fire of outspoken critics.

The first shipboard operational test period for the Marine Corps' short take off and vertical landing version of the Joint Strike Fighter is scheduled to take place May 18-30 aboard the amphibious assault ship Wasp. Six of the jets will participate, four out of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, and two from MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina.

Evaluators will assess the stealth jet's integration and operation within the full spectrum of flight and maintenance operations, as well as supply chain support while embarked at sea, said Maj. Paul Greenberg, Marine Corps spokesman. Lessons learned will "lay the groundwork" for future deployments, he said. The aims of the at-sea tests include:

Assess day and night take-offs and landings, weapons loads, and extended range operations.
Assess aircraft-to-ship network communications.
Evaluate the landing signal officer's launch and recovery software.
Test the crew's ability to conduct scheduled and unscheduled maintenance.
Determine the suitability of maintenance support equipment for shipboard operations.
Assess the logistics footprint of a deployed, six-plane F-35B detachment.
The F-35B remains the centerpiece of Marine fixed-wing modernization because "it supports our doctrinal form of maneuver warfare and our operational need for close air support in austere conditions and locations potentially inaccessible for traditional fighters," Greenberg told Navy Times on March 17."The Lightning II will provide effective close-air support to our Marines and sailors when they need it the most."

Twenty-one alterations were required to equip the Wasp for regular operation of the F-35B aircraft, according to Matt Leonard, spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command. Each alteration will be made on all L-class ships during planned availabilities and in line on newly constructed ships in advance of the F-35B's arrival.

Among the biggest challenges has been the downward force and heat of the F-35B's engines as it lands, which has burned the nonskid deck. A new highly tolerant, temperature resistant thermal spray coating was applied and has been successfully evaluated aboard Wasp during F-35B, V-22, AV-8B and other helicopter flight operations, Leonard said.

The Wasp also underwent seven "cornerstone" alterations that provide necessary electrical servicing upgrades, expand weapons handling and storage, provide for the F-35B Autonomic Logistics Information System, secure access facilities, and relocate the flight deck tramline for flight safety.

The Wasp is the test ship for the F-35B and has not made a major deployment in over a decade.

While the Air Force's decision to replace the venerable A-10 with its F-35A variant has nabbed headlines, some analysts and lawmakers remain critical of the Corps' next-generation jump jet for three reasons. It has the shortest range and smallest payload of any F-35, its capabilities are reduced and it's the most expensive. An Air Force F-35A airframe and engine runs $77.7 million, as compared to $105.5 million for the F-35B, and $89.7 million for the F-35C, according to an April 2014 Congressional Research Service report. The Marine Corps also plans to buy the carrier-based F-35C.

Supporters point out that few (if any) potential adversaries can beat the fifth-generation fighter, and this design amounts to a leap ahead for reconnaissance, electronic warfare and close-air support missions

"This actually doesn't just replace the F/A-18, the AV-8 or the EA-6. It's a fundamentally different capability," Marine Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford said in March 10 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. "It's a transformational capability. It'll do everything that those three aircraft will do, but also, in terms of the information environment, it'll do a significant amount more for the Marine air-ground task force."

Initial operating capability for the F-35B is scheduled for July.



ND farmers buy in to growing jet fuel

University of Florida's North Florida Research and Education Center planted carinata as part of a study. The photo reveals November, December and October plantings from left to right.

This season, western North Dakota farmers have agreed to plant 6,000 acres of an alternate crop - jet fuel.

Canadian seed producer Agrisoma Biosciences sought farmers this winter to plant carinata, a variety of mustard seed that can be made into a biofuel indistinguishable from petroleum products. One potential consumer, the U.S. Navy, is targeting carinata to help reach its goal of serving half of its energy needs with non-oil sources by 2020.

Agrisoma had a goal to have 4,000 acres planted. It filled that in three days then exceeded it, getting farmers to commit to 6,000 acres stretching from the southwest to the Canadian border, said Agrisoma representative Garret Groves.

"We've had pretty good success," said Groves, adding that many of the farmers were looking for a new oil seed to add to their rotation.

Carinata looks similar to canola, only a little bushier. Many driving past fields where its being grown near Mott, Carson, Tioga, Ray, Williston, Noonan and Flasher probably won't notice the difference.

John Rickertsen, research agronomist at the Hettinger Research Extension Center, said he planted his first test plot of carinata this past year and the harvest was good.

Plant times are about the same as canola, going in the ground between April 20 and May 5, and carinata is supposed to be more drought resistant. It also grows well on marginal lands.

The benefit of jet fuel made from carinata is it has lower carbon emissions. It can be used as a direct replacement for jet fuel, with no blending or engine changes required, Bliss said.

Carinata also works better than canola and similar crops as a biofuel because it produces more and better quality oil with high amino acid content, said Christine Bliss of the University of Florida when Agrisoma introduced the crop to farmers during the North Dakota State University Hettinger Research Extension Center's annual Western Dakota Crops Day. In Florida, 3,500 acres of carinata are were planted as a winter crop.

Carinata also has the benefit of not being a food crop.

The carinata planted is expected to yield between 1,800 pounds and one ton per acre, according to Groves, who said Agrisoma's success will be measured by whether or not the farmers who plant it this year agree to plant it again in following years and on more acres. Agrisoma aims for North Dakota farmers to contribute acres to its goal of 50,000 acres planted next year.

Can't beat beets

Another biofuel crop garnering North Dakota farmers' attention are beets.

David Ripplinger, bioproducts and bioenergy economist for the North Dakota State University Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics said 2014 yield trials from the Carrington and Langdon Research Extension Centers have shown great promise and meetings were held around the central and eastern part of the state last week to gauge interest in planting a variety of the crop called energy beets as a biofuel rather than the food variety currently planted throughout the Red River Valley.

Ripplinger said the bioindustry is seeking low-cost, low-carbon sugar that can be used to produce fuels. In the U.S., this sugar comes almost entirely from corn but beets may be an alternative.

In Langdon, trial planting of beets provided enough sugar to produce 934 gallons of ethanol per acre in 2014. Corn was lost to frost in 2014 but, in 2013, enough corn was produced to make 285 gallons of ethanol. In Carrington, beets yielded the equivalent of 614 gallons of ethanol while corn yielded 495.



Chinese passenger jet flies on oil from sewers

 From the sewers to the skies: cooking oil dredged from gutters fuels Chinese passenger jet

From the sewers to the skies: cooking oil dredged from gutters fuels Chinese passenger jet
The crew of Hainan Airlines receive bouquets of flowers after a Boeing 737 plane completed China's first commercial flight powered by biofuel at the Beijing Capital International Airport Photo: Imaginechina/Corbis

A plane powered by "gutter oil" completed its first commerical flight in China on Saturday.
It was an elegant solution to two of China's most pernicious problems: its vast consumption of fossil fuels and the unfortunate tendency of restaurants to recycle cooking oil dredged from the drains.

* China embraces organic food after scandal of cooking oil from the sewers

The Hainan Airlines flight took 156 passengers and eight crew members from Shanghai to Beijing using a 50-50 mix of waste cooking oil and conventional jet fuel.

"Hainan Airlines is demonstrating our environmental commitment by showing that aviation biofuel can play a safe and effective role in China's air transport system," said Pu Ming, the company' vice president, who also piloted the plane.

Enterprising collectors scoop up sewage from gutters outside restaurants, filter it and then sell the oil for reuse.
The practice, a major health risk, has drawn the attention of local governments in recent years.

* Top 10 Chinese food scandals

China National Aviation Fuel group and Sinopec, a state-owned oil and gas company, supplied the fuel mix that powered the Boeing 737.

Ian Thomas, president of Boeing China, called the flight a "significant milestone".
Sustainably produced biofuel - which can be made from algae and plants as well as waste oil - can reduce carbon emissions by 50-80 percent compared to petroleum through its life cycle.

China, which requires more than 6,000 new aeroplanes in the next 20 years to meet passenger demand, is considering biofuel as an important way to cut carbon emissions.
"This [flight] represents an earnest commitment from Sinopec to continuously advance scientific and technological innovation and promote green and low-emission development," said Lv Dapeng, a Sinopec spokesperson.

The flight provides some much-needed positive publicity for Sinopec, one of China's energy giants that was criticised in the wildly popular documentary "Under the Dome" by journalist Chai Jing.
"Shouldn't Sinopec, a giant state-owned enterprise with more than $400 billion in revenue last year, take some social responsibility?" Chai said in the film that was viewed more than 150 million times in its first three days of release.

In 2008, Virgin Atlantic carried out the first biofuel-powered flight between London and Amsterdam using a mix of babassu and coconut oil.



Airplane giant Boeing granted patent for FORCE FIELD technology

BOEING has successfully obtained a patent for a 'Force Field'-like technology designed to protect targets from fatal explosions and shrapnel.

Unlike the force field Marvel's Fantastic Four, right, Boeing's system will not deflect direct hits 

The multibillion US company, which sells airplanes, rockets and satellites, was last week granted a patent for a new "Force Field" or "electromagnetic arc" technology.

Unlike typical science fiction visions of a force field, Boeing's system will not be designed to deflect direct hits
The futuristic defence system is similar to technology seen in dozens of popular science fiction properties, including Star Wars, Star Trek and the Fantastic Four.

However, unlike the technology dreamt up by George Lucas, Boeing's "Force Field" will not be able to deflect direct impacts.

Instead it will aim to protect a vehicle or building from the shockwaves and shrapnel emitted by a nearby impact.

Boeing's patent, which was first filed in 2012 but only approved last week, claims the shield will be generated by lasers, electricity and microwaves.

An illustration filed with Boeing's US patent to demonstrate how the system could work in the field

The Chicago-based company's shield will not permanently surround a target but will only appear briefly after an explosion.

This is because a plasma shield, held in place by an electromagnetic field, will also deflect light - leaving anyone protected the "Force Field" completely blind (far from ideal for soldiers fighting in an explosive military situation).

A similar shield system was announced by researchers at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), back in 2010.

The DSTL, which is the research and development branch of the Ministry of Defence, claimed it would be possible to incorporate supercapacitors inside armour plates on the outside of a vehicle.

If timed correctly, scientists at the DSTL claimed the system, which would last for only a fraction of a second, would be able to deflect incoming rounds and projectiles.

An early version of a similar electric armour technology is being trailed by DSTL.




AAIB Centenary Conference

'100 Years of Accident Investigation - What's Next?'

Royal Aeronautical Society, London - 14 October 2015



In 1915 the first UK 'Inspector of Accidents', Captain G B Cockburn, was appointed to investigate the underlying causes of aircraft accidents in the Royal Flying Corps.  George Cockburn had learned to fly as a civilian, had competed in the Grande Semaine at Rheims in 1909 and was a founder member of the Royal Aero Club's 'Accidents Investigation Committee' in 1912.  His appointment, as a professional air safety investigator, led directly to the formation after the war of the Accidents Investigation Branch as a civilian government organisation - now the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), part of the UK Department for Transport, and based at Farnborough, Hampshire.






AAIB Centenary Conference

To celebrate the centenary of the appointment of the UK's first professional air safety investigator, the AAIB is planning a one-day conference on 14 October 2015, entitled '100 Years of Accident Investigation - What's Next?'.The conference will be hosted and administered by the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) at 4 Hamilton Place, London. 


The exciting technical programme will be supported by speakers from a number of UK and overseas organisations, including the AAIB, major aircraft/engine manufacturers, operators and government regulators.  Should you wish to present at the conference, please submit a presentation proposal in keeping with the conference theme, no later than 25th April 2015, to: enquiries@aaib.gov.uk


Registration will open soon, via the RAeS website, but in the meantime please save the date!


2015 NSC Aviation Safety Committee Meeting

Meeting Dates: May 13-14, 2015

Meeting Location:
Embassy Suites Charleston Area Convention Center

5055 International Blvd
North Charleston, South Carolina 29418
(843) 747-1882
Hotel Reservations:

The preferred method is to book your hotel room online
For phone reservations call 1-800-362- 2779 and mention the National Safety Council

Registration Form
View the Meeting Agenda

Highlights of the ASC's 87th annual Seminar & Section meeting include:
* Updates and discussion on topics affecting each one of us including:"Airgonomics", HFACS, OSHA and Ramp Safety
* Learn New Ideas - Participate in discussions relating to aviation ground safety and grow your skills
* Tour of Boeing's South Carolina Facility. In Charleston, Boeing fabricates, assembles and installs systems for aft (rear) fuselage sections of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and joins and integrates mid body fuselage sections. The site is also home to the company's newest 787 Dreamliner final assembly and delivery facility.
* Networking and Benchmarking Opportunities
Should you have any questions, please contact Tammy Washington, NSC Staff Representative at or 630-775-2227.


Upcoming Events:


Fundamentals of IS-BAH

March 31, 2015

Houston, TX  USA




IS-BAH Auditing

April 1, 2015

Houston, TX  USA




Fundamentals of IS-BAH

June 15, 2015

St. Hubert, Quebec  Canada




IS-BAH Auditing

June 16, 2015

St. Hubert, Quebec  Canada




Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF)

NTSB Training Center, Ashburn, VA

March 10-11, 2015



ERAU NextGen 101 Seminar
April 21-22, 2015.
Washington D.C.



FAA Helicopter Safety Effort

three-day safety forum 

April 21-23, 2015 

Hurst, Texas



ERAU OSHA & Aviation Ground Safety Seminar

Daytona Beach, FL

Apr.13-17, 2015



ERAU Aviation Safety Program Management Seminar

Daytona Beach, FL

Apr.20-24, 2015



Fundamentals of IS-BAO

April 23, 2015

PCAT Safety Smackdown, San Antonio TX  USA



IS-BAO Auditing

April 24, 2015

PCAT Safety Smackdown, San Antonio TX  USA




Safety Smackdown
Partnership for Corporate Aviation Training
San Antonio, TX
April 20-22, 2015


WATS 2015
21-23 April
Orlando, Florida, USA


ERAU Aircraft Accident Investigation Seminar

Daytona Beach, FL

Apr. 27-May 1, 2015



GWBAA Safety Standdown
April 30th
NTSB Academy


ERAU Advanced Aircraft Accident Investigation Seminar

Prescott Campus, AZ

May 4-8, 2015



IATA Cabin Operations Safety Conference
May 5-7, 2015
Paris, France


ERAU Aviation SMS Seminar

Daytona Beach, FL

May 12-14, 2015






Manager E-Learning and Training Support
Menzies Aviation

AOD Safety Specialist

Fedex Express

Safety Management System (SMS) Analyst
Piedmont Airlines



General Atomics Aeronautical Systems


General Atomics Aeronautical Systems



Manager Airport Operations Safety in Portland Oregon

Alaska Airlines 



Safety Risk Manager
Air Astana


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"Flight Safety Information" is a free service of:   

Curt Lewis, PhD, CSP, FRAeS
(Targeting Safety & Risk Management)  

PH:  817-845-3983

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Skype:  curt.lewis2


Curt Lewis & Associates, LLC is an international, multi-discipline technical and scientific consulting firm specializing in aviation and industrial safety. Our specialties are aviation litigation support, aviation/airport safety programs, accident investigation and reconstruction, safety & quality assessments/audits, system safety (PRA), human factors, Safety Management Systems (SMS) assessment/implementation & training, safety/quality training & risk management, aviation manual development, IS-BAO Auditing, airfield/heliport lighting products, patent infringement/invalidity expert testimony and Technical Support.