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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Feedback March 2011

Ongoing For Years

This situation (see “FAA to Clear Up ‘Vague’ Public Aircraft Regs” on page 12) has been ongoing for years. Former AFS-1 James Ballough was asked by Congress to stop the excessive loss of life in the EMS helicopter community. Hundreds of flight crews, doctors, nurses and innocent patients lost their lives over the years because FAA’s former management did nothing for years. If anything [former FAA management] has the blood of these people on his hands for doing nothing. Let hope John Allen steps up and stops this once and for all!

Richard Wyeroski

Former FAA Inspector

(Editor's Note: Mr. Wyeroski is a member of the FAA Whistleblowers Alliance.)

About Time

It’s about time, the federal government should not be responsible for an accident by a commercial air carrier conducting a commercial operation (carrying passengers for hire) just because the entity that hired the aircraft is a federal agency and the passengers are federal employees. Put the responsibility where it belongs, on the FAA and air carrier. You asked for it, you got it.

Casey Barnes

FAA’s Tom Salat

I’m filled with a great sense of pride for the many attributes that have been bestowed on my brother (See “FAA’s Tom Salat Passes Away,” August 2010, page 19), my best friend and someone I admired, respected and loved dearly.

Barbara Ippolit

The Real Truth

It is interesting that the NTSB would be accused of coming to the wrong conclusion (See “Co-Pilot Disputes NTSB Report,” January 2011, page 11), but it is possible. Normally, NTSB is extremely professional, very thorough and honest. There have been times when they were not, either because they were pressured or they just did not want to follow the real truth.

I was a pilot (captain, instructor, check airman and test pilot) and manager at an airline years ago, and this airline had an accident, which appeared to have involved power “roll back” during a takeoff. NTSB seemed to take everything the engine maker told them at face value, without doing (or wanting to do) any independent testing. The engine manufacturer basically claimed that a power rollback was simply not possible, and accused the crew of pulling the power back by mistake.

▶ R&W Question of the Month: What changes should FAA make to rules governing public-use aircraft?
Let us know, and look for responses in a future issue.

NTSB sent the investigator-in-charge (IIC) down to watch us do a couple test flights. I was the test pilot and the IIC was in the jumpseat. Ironically, when we tried to take off with the power set up the way the crew had stated they had done (and was recorded by the VCR and FDR), the engines behaved just like on the accident day, and power rolled back! We did three attempts to take-off, with the same results—power rolling back each time and us being unable to reach takeoff speed (due to the reduced power).

When I confronted the IIC with the results, which he had personally witnessed, he told me that because the aircraft is not “instrumented for a test flight” with vanes and special probes, we (NTSB) will just have to go with the manufacturer’s opinion, even though he had witnessed the event!

Sure enough, NTSB’s final report pinned the accident on crew error (notwithstanding the test flights). I was floored that the report didn’t even mention that the test flights had taken place, nor that it totally disproved the engine maker’s pet theories. I was flabbergasted. After reading that report, and seeing how NTSB can at times (not always, but certainly at times) be completely dishonest (in the face of clearly contradictory evidence), it left me very disappointed and convinced that just because a report comes from NTSB, it does not mean it is correct. The report could just be a fantasy! It is a sad thing to have to acknowledge, because I know a number of very dedicated and honest NTSB investigators, but I also realized that there are others who are unprofessional and dishonest. It is possible that since some of the engine parts of the Carson Helicopters crash were misplaced, or the custody chain was broken, the data relied upon to make the findings could be flawed. I am not accusing the NTSB of being misleading in this particular accident investigation, but there is evidence such a thing has happened in the past. Since it happened in the past, it is possible the NTSB could be wrong or misleading again.

Harold Coghlan
Vice President, Operations
Magic Express Airlines
Birmingham, Ala.

Correction: In the Jan. 2011 Executive Outlook, page 26, Aviall CEO Dan Komnenovich’s name was misspelled.

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