Thursday, July 28, 2016

Bell 525 Broke Up Mid Flight Says NTSB - Charles D'Alberto

The Bell Helicopter 525 Relentless that crashed earlier this month during a test flight broke up in midair, the National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday.

Although NTSB investigators have not released their preliminary findings of the July 6 crash in Ellis County that killed two pilots, it appears the main rotor struck the front and back of the helicopter, causing the helicopter to break up in mid-flight, said NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson.

“The signatures indicate that the main rotor struck both the tailboom and the nose,” Knudson said. “The probable cause of the inflight break-up is still under investigation.”

No cause has been ruled out yet and investigators are still looking at all systems in the helicopter, Knudson said. The preliminary report is usually issued within 30 days of the crash and should be available in early August.

According to FlightRadar24, the helicopter was traveling 199 knots (about 229 mph) at an altitude of 1,975 feet immediately before the crash. Throughout its one-hour test flight, radar data shows the helicopter increased and decreased speed several times.

The Bell 525 was on a test flight when it went down in a pasture near power lines. Bell and the NTSB are trying to determine the cause of the crash.

Video from Bell Helicopter and WFAA-TV

To help investigators determine the cause of the crash, Bell Helicopter employees are using an engineering simulator to evaluate the data and providing test results to the NTSB, Knudson said.

In an interview with Rotor & Wing International this week, NTSB investigator John Lovell said the “data indicates that main rotor [rotations per minute] dropped significantly” and the main rotor blades “appeared to have dropped from their normal plane of rotation.”

Bell is testing computer-controlled flight controls, known as fly-by-wire, on the 525 Relentless, a large aircraft that can seat up to 20 people. Since it is the first commercial helicopter with the system in the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice proposing special conditions to establish safety levels for the helicopter design.

Bell Helicopter had hoped to complete the certification process for the 525 in 2017, but the crash has delayed certification as well as first deliveries to customers.

“We do remain committed to the 525 program and will work to ensure the aircraft will be a safe, reliable and high-performance helicopter,” said Textron chief executive Scott Donnelly last week. Textron owns Bell Helicopter.

Posted By Charles D'Alberto


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Commercial helicopter crashes in Lake County – Charles D’Alberto


The Lake County Sheriff’s Office reports a commercial helicopter pushing water off of cherry trees crashed Saturday afternoon in the Yellow Bay area.

Lake County Sheriff Don Bell says in a press release that at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Lake County deputies responded to a report of a commercial helicopter crash.

When deputies arrived, the helicopter was only occupied by the uninjured pilot.

It’s believed the helicopter made contact with a nearby power line which caused the accident. The pilot was able to maneuver the aircraft down after making contact with the power line.

Bell told MTN News that the helicopter suffered between $40,000 and $100,000 in damage. The Federal Aviation Administration will further investigate this incident.

Bell says more information will be released as the investigation proceeds.

Posted By Charles D'Alberto


Dio benedica tutti i soggetti coinvolti in questo tragico incidente in #Puglia :-(

Chinese plane makes miraculous landing after hailstorm cracks cockpit windows – Charles D’Alberto

Charles D'Alberto
A plane made a miraculous landing in China after hailstones caused severe damage to its exterior, with the cockpit windows being so cracked the pilots had almost zero visibility, while – to make matters worse – there were fist-size holes in the fuselage.

The South China Airlines Airbus A320 plane was heading from Guangzhou to Chengdu on Saturday when it encountered the adverse weather conditions. Pictures on social networks showed that large hailstones had caused significant damage to the aircraft, local media reported, as cited by the South China Morning Post.

Some of the holes were so big that a person would have been able to fit their fist into the damaged sections. Despite the low visibility for the pilots, they were thankfully able to rely on their navigation instruments inside the cockpit to bring the aircraft safely down onto the runway.
“After the plane landed, maintenance staff checked over the plane and established that the radar cover on the front of the plane, both pilot windshields and parts of the body of the plane were damaged,” South China Airlines said in a statement on its Weibo account, according to the Mail Online.
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Although the plane’s outer coating was damaged, thankfully its interior was untouched, which is made of strong protective materials. The airline said that no injuries were reported, but the same cannot be said for the aircraft, which will have to undergo some repairs before it is put back into service.

Damage to planes in severe hailstorms is not as uncommon as one might think. In August 2015, a Delta Air Lines jet was caught up in adverse weather conditions during a flight from Boston to Salt Lake City, and was forced to make an emergency landing in Denver. The aircraft managed to make a safe landing, and it wasn’t until later that the passengers realized just how much damage the storm had caused.

Posted By Charles D'Alberto


Monday, June 27, 2016

Russian Helicopters and Avicopter to develop AHL rotorcraft - Charles D'Alberto

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Russian Helicopters, part of State Corporation Rostec, will cooperate with the Chinese state company Avicopter to develop the AHL (advanced heavy lift) heavy helicopter. A corresponding intergovernmental agreement was signed by the Russian and Chinese parties in Beijing in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“China is our oldest strategic military and technical partner, and we are happy that our cooperation has extended to the civil sector,” said Russian Helicopters CEO Alexander Mikheev. “Joint development of the civilian advanced heavy helicopter by our company and Avicopter will not only contribute to the further development of cooperation with the Chinese party in high-tech sectors, but also to the strengthening of friendly ties between Russia and China in general. Russian Helicopters has unique competence to create heavy helicopters and is ready to assist our Chinese partners to implement this project.”

According to the document, the Russian and Chinese parties will jointly develop the advanced heavy helicopter for its subsequent serial production in China, aiming to meet the demand at the Chinese market. Russian Helicopters will contribute its technologies to the project and will also provide technical parameters as well as develop individual AHL systems on the contractual base.

The Chinese side will be responsible for the organization and implementation of the AHL program in general, including engineering design, creation of prototypes, performance of tests, certification, preparation and serial production, as well as market promotion and general coordination of activities.

Posted By Charles D'Alberto


Thursday, June 23, 2016

India launches 20 satellites in single mission - Charles D'Alberto

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The rocket carries the highest number of satellites on a single Indian mission and the third highest in history.

India has successfully launched a rocket carrying a record 20 satellites, as its space agency looks to grab a larger slice of the lucrative commercial space market.

The rocket carries the highest ever number of satellites on a single Indian mission and the third highest in history.

It blasted off on Wednesday from the southern spaceport of Sriharikota, carrying satellites from the US, Germany, Canada and Indonesia.

Most of the satellites will enter orbit to observe and measure the Earth’s atmosphere, while one of them aims to provide service for amateur radio operators.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, known to be highly ambitious about the country’s space research programme, described the launch as “a monumental accomplishment” for the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar told the national NDTV news network: “Each of these small objects that you are putting into space will carry out their own activity, which is independent of the other, and each of them will live a wonderful life for a finite period.” .

Frugal space programme

The business of putting commercial satellites into space for a fee is globally growing as phone, Internet and other companies, as well as countries, seek greater and more high-tech communications.

In 2008, India launched 10 satellites on one rocket, setting a world record that has since been broken by the United States and then Russia.

Pallava Bagla, a science editor with the privately run Indian TV channel NDTV, told Al Jazeera that it was significant feat and symbolised why big tech companies were flocking to India.

“It’s like dropping off, one by one, school children from a bus travelling at high velocity” he told Al Jazeera. “It’s a tricky maneuver because you don’t want the mothership and the ‘babies’ to collide with each other.”

“India offers launch costs that are fifty percent cheaper than the rest of the world, so if Space X, Arianespace or NASA can do it at $100, India is willing to do it at $50,” he added.

India is competing with other international players for a greater share of the commercial launch market, and is known for its low-cost space programme.

In 2013, the ISRO sent an unmanned rocket to orbit Mars at a cost of just $73m, compared with American space agency NASA’s Maven Mars mission that had a $671m price tag.

The successful mission was a source of immense pride in India, which beat rival China in becoming the first Asian country to reach the Red Planet.

In May, the ISRO launched a rocket carrying an experimental spacecraft it hopes will mark an important step towards the country’s first re-usable space shuttle.

Posted By Charles D'Alberto


Monday, June 20, 2016

Military aircraft accidents costing lives, billions of dollars - Charles D'Alberto

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Washington  A rash of recent military crashes has cost the lives of several service members as well as billions of dollars worth of damages. The wave of accidents has raised questions about the training of pilots and the maintenance of aircraft, with top brass pointing to slashed budgets and aging fleets strained by prolonged conflict.
Last week, an MH-60S helicopter crashed in the James River in Virginia during a training mission. Earlier this month, two F-16C fighter jets collided in the skies over Georgia.
In the first incident all of the helicopter crew were rescued and in the second the two South Carolina Air National Guard pilots managed to safely eject. But a few days earlier, a Blue Angels pilot was killed when his jet crashed. An Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration squadron jet crashed the same day, but that pilot managed to successfully eject.
During congressional testimony in March, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. John Paxton, acknowledged the growing rate of accidents.
"We are concerned about an increasing number of aircraft mishaps and accidents," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
He blamed funding shortfalls for the increase, saying, "If you don't have the money and you don't have the parts and you don't have the maintenance, then you fly less."
He continued, "If you fly less and maintain slower, there's a higher likelihood of accidents. So, we're worried."
The Navy has suffered the heaviest losses of the three military branches since October 2014.
From that time through April 2016, the Navy has reported accidents that total over $1 billion in damages, according to statistics provided to CNN by the Naval Safety Center. They included a Marine AV-8B Harrier jet that crashed off the East Coast during takeoff in May, costing about $62.8 million, and a Navy F/A-18A crash in Nevada in January that cost $71 million. Both pilots survived.
In joint congressional testimony in April, the senior naval leadership overseeing aviation, Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Jon Davis and Rear Adm. Michael Manazir, reiterated Paxton's contention that planes and funds are running short.
"We continue to have lower than acceptable numbers of aircraft available to train and fight," he said.
Grosklags said that the 2013 budget cuts known as sequestration had caused the Navy to lose about 10% of its maintenance crews for some of its older planes, including the F/A-18, which first entered service in 1983 and whose planned 30-year life-span has been repeatedly extended due to increased combat operations and lack of replacement jets.
The issue is compounded by the fact that the Navy's replacement plane, the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter, has been repeatedly delayed and is not scheduled to reach initial operating capability until 2018.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been beset by spiraling costs, failed testing and schedule delays. The F-35 program had originally promised 1,013 fighters by fiscal year 2016 but has only delivered 179 as of April. The Navy's version will be the last to reach initial operating capability.
The Marines, however, suffered the deadliest military aviation tragedy in years when two CH-53 helicopters crashed while on training flight in Hawaii in January, killing 12 Marines. The Navy estimates that the crash cost nearly $110 million.
Describing the CH-53s in March, Davis said, "They are getting old and wearing out. We can only keep them going for so long."
When Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, asked about the increased rate of accidents in March, the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller, attributed the increase in "our mishap rate" to a lack of training resources.
"The simple fact is that we don't have enough airplanes to meet the training requirements for the entire force," he said.
The Air Force, for its part, has also experienced a significant number of accidents.
Since October 2014, the Air Force has had 27 "Class A mishaps," accidents that result in a fatality, loss of an aircraft, or property damage of $2 million or more involving fixed-wing aircraft, an Air Force public affairs officer told CNN.
But Air Force Public Affairs Officer Capt. Annmarie Annicelli noted that the rate of accidents has decreased in 2016 compared to fiscal year 2015, saying that at this point last year, the Air Force had 13 Class A mishaps compared to eight this year.
According to an analysis of the statistics provided before the June incidents, the Air Force has lost over $526 million in damaged or destroyed aircraft since October 2014, nearly half of that from downed F-16s, another plane that is due to be replaced in part by the long-delayed F-35A.
During that period, the Air Force lost a B-52 Stratofortress after a crash in Guam in May, a C-130J transport plane after an October accident in Afghanistan and a RC-135 crashed in April 2015. The latter two crashes resulted in $174 million in damage to both the planes and surrounding environment.
Gen. David L. Goldfein, the Air Force vice chief of staff, also told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March that the average age of the Air Force's aircraft is 27 years old. The F-16s involved in Tuesday's collision first entered service in 1993.
The Army has also faced issues with its aircraft, primarily helicopters such as the UH-60 Black Hawk and AH-64 Apache.
The Army's Combat Readiness Center told CNN that the Army had 19 Class A aviation accidents resulting in 6 fatalities from October 2014 to October 2015, including a UH-60 crash near Fort Hood, Texas, which cost the lives of four soldiers.
Appearing at the same Senate Armed Services hearing with Neller, the chief of staff of the Army, Gen. Mark Milley, said the increase in Class A accidents "has our attention," citing efforts to increase training hours for helicopter pilots.
"Our aircraft accidents have increased and we are very concerned about it," he said.
Top military leaders have said that while they want to increase training, they have had to prioritize combat operations at the expense of other activities in an era of restricted budgets.
Goldfein told Congress, "25 years of continuous combat coupled with budget instability and lower-than-planned top lines have made the Air Force one of the smallest, oldest and least ready in our history."