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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

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Clarification

The caption for the image on pages 26 and 27 of the August 2009 issue stated that it was an unmanned K-MAX aerial truck. Several people wrote in to point out that, in fact, there was a person on board and he can clearly be seen in the photograph. To clarify, the photograph was taken during Lockheed Martin and Kaman testing in July. There was a safety pilot on board, as can be clearly seen, but the pilot was there for safety purposes only. For an update on the program, see Rotorcraft Report, page 17.

Red Vs. White Lights

I believe the primary cause for mid-air collision accident over the Hudson River in August was failure of the "See and Be Seen" concept. This failure is demonstrable in the low-altitude environment where the visual background is confused by building structures. Both aircraft were being flown in the same direction, with the helicopter being overtaken by the fixed-wing aircraft.

This is precisely the scenario where helicopter visual conspicuity is most vital, yet it is precisely the situation that the FAA ignored when the certification rules for Part 27 helicopters were written. FAA requires Part 27 helicopters to use aviation red anti-collision light lenses, where white lights would be 80 percent more visible to following aircraft. Airplanes, on the other hand, are allowed to use red, white or red/white split lenses.

I have twice petitioned the FAA Administrator to allow the same provision for helicopters as for airplanes and have twice been rebuffed, on the bogus basis that a white, aft-facing strobe would cause reflection in the cockpit, despite the fact that a different section of the FAR already addresses that possibility. The two provisions in question are as follows:

  • 27.1401(a)(1) Consists of one or more approved anticollision lights located so that their emitted light will not impair the crew’s vision or detract from the conspicuity of the position lights; and

  • 27.1401(d) Color. Each anticollision light must be aviation red and must meet the applicable requirements of §27.1397.

The second petition, which pointed out the fact that I was only requesting a change to 27.1401(d) for color and not (a)(1) for vision impairment, was dismissed out of hand on the basis that the FAA had "more important things to consider."

Now that ineffective red strobes have become an apparently important factor in a high-profile fatal mid-air accident, perhaps the old saw that FARs are written in blood will be proven true again. This regulatory change will be written in the blood of another nine victims of FAA indifference.

Howie Fuller Senior Auditor CharterX Wyvern Consulting

V-22 Responses

Editor’s Note: The following comments are responses to Giovanni de Briganti’s column on page 48, August 2009 issue.

Obsolete

The U.S. Marine Corps "needs priority" on today’s battlefield(s) clearly subordinates V-22 enroute cruise speed in favor of conventional VTOL positioning, logistics and C4ISR (manned and unmanned) support. Current enemy tactics have "value obsoleted" the tiltrotor.

Dave Smith Consultant, Gardnerville, Nev.

Full Potential

Yes, let’s invest $29 billion on Giovanni de Briganti’s "other technology." How about putting him out in the middle of an Iraq desert and asking him how he would like to get picked up? There are some very bright people working to improve the V-22. Mr. de Briganti should look at its full potential.

Tom Boyle Owner 3-D Technologies

Scrap It

Folks, as a former marine aviator with several hundred flight hours as a CH53 crew chief, I suggest that the U.S. Marine Corps scrap the V-22. It won’t replace a CH46. Never, ever.

Steve Eaton

Sky’s the Limit

Transition through new technology is likely to result in some teething problems. Once they are addressed, the sky will be the limit for this magnificent machine. I dream to operate it!

Capt. V.V. Deshpande

Waste of Time

More than money, the V-22 is a waste of time (which can not be recovered) and effort that could have been better spent. There are better options available for anybody ready to see them with an open mind.

Name Withheld

Do you have comments on the rotorcraft industry or recent articles and viewpoints we’ve published? Send them to Editor, Rotor & Wing, 4 Choke Cherry Road, Second Floor, Rockville, Md. 20850, USA, fax us at 1-301-354-1809 or e-mail us at rotorandwing@accessintel.com. Please include a city and state or province with your name and ratings. We reserve the right to edit all submitted material.

R&W’s Question of the Month

How could the Hudson River mid-air accident have been prevented?

Let us know, and look for your and others’ responses in a future issue. Drop us a line with your thoughts at: rotorandwing@accessintel.com.

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