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FAA issues safety warning for homemade planes

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Andy Gamache
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#1 Posted: 3/30/2010 19:34:56

 

The AP picked up this story and it's spread to most of the usual suspects. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to locate the source document. Does anyone have a link to the actual safety advisory?

http://wire.jacksonville.com/pstories/us/20100325/596218498.shtml
 

JOAN LOWY
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON — High-performance homemade planes like the one that killed a beach jogger last week in South Carolina are prone to stall, especially when going slower while waiting to land, and have been involved in a disproportionately large number of fatal accidents, federal officials warned Thursday.
The Federal Aviation Administration said in a safety advisory to pilots that the Lancair, which is built from kits, and others like it have design characteristics that allow the planes to fly much faster than most small planes. However, the agency says, those characteristics can also "expose pilots to additional risk during slowspeed operations while close to the ground and with little time to recover from an unintentional stall."
The agency also cautioned that since the planes are built by amateurs each one "may have unique flight handling characteristics."
An FAA analysis found that the planes have experienced fatal accident rates substantially higher than other small, personal use planes, including other types of planes made from kits, the advisory said.
Lancair kits are made by Lancair International Inc. of Redmond, Ore.
Joseph Bartels, owner of Lancair, said the planes won't stall if they are constructed and operated according to the company's specifications and FAA regulations. The problem, he said, is that pilots sometimes fly the planes at speeds slower than they are designed to fly.
Pilots should know a plane's speed limits since that information is provided, Bartels said.
The company's Web sites says it has sold 1,870 plane kits in 34 countries. The planes include both turbine and piston engine models, some capable of speeds up to 370 mph. A typical small plane is capable of speeds about 150 mph.
Pharmaceutical salesman Robert Gary Jones, 38, was listening to music while jogging on a Hilton Head Island beach when he was struck and killed by a Lancair. The plane took off from Orlando, Fla., and was en route to Virginia when it started leaking oil. The pilot was trying to land on the beach when the craft struck Jones. The pilot and a passenger walked away from the accident.
Eighty-two people in the U.S. were killed in 2008 in accidents involving planes built from kits, according the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association's safety foundation. Kit-built planes accounted for 18 percent of noncommercial plane accidents that year even though they logged less than 5 percent of the flight time, the foundation said.
The accident rate for kit aircraft, including amateur-built helicopters, is more than seven times higher than for other noncommercial aircraft, the foundation said.
Dick Knapinski, a spokesman for the Experimental Aircraft Association, disagreed with the foundation's calculations, saying there were fewer home-built aircraft accidents than portrayed.



Joanne Palmer
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#2 Posted: 3/30/2010 19:55:58

As usual, "the plane  is defective/at fault" rears its ugly head.  The directive is actually on the EAA front page http://www.eaa.org/news/2010/2010-03-26_bulletin.asp  All it does is warn owners of high performance kitplanes like Lancairs to be aware of their aircraft's stall spin characteristics.    In actuality the wing loading of these aircraft approach that of some twins that have been flown safely for years.  The real problem is that Joe Cessna 172 pilot gets in one and then is overwhelmed.  The key here is proper tranition training.  Just like you'd get if you were flying a T-6 Texan for the first time.



Andy Gamache
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#3 Posted: 3/30/2010 20:14:44

Thanks Joanne! That's exactly what I was looking for.

 

I like the way the article starts off with...

 

High-performance homemade planes like the one that killed a beach jogger last week in South Carolina are prone to stall, especially when going slower while waiting to land, and have been involved in a disproportionately large number of fatal accidents, federal officials warned Thursday.

Yeah... It's only the high-performance homemade planes that are prone to stall. I like the way they implied that the unfortunate accident on the beach was caused by stalling. The really sad thing is that Joe Public has no idea what a stall is.



Lincoln Ross
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#4 Posted: 4/1/2010 02:13:23
Andy Gamache wrote:

 

snip

Yeah... It's only the high-performance homemade planes that are prone to stall. I like the way they implied that the unfortunate accident on the beach was caused by stalling. The really sad thing is that Joe Public has no idea what a stall is.

Everyone knows a stall is what happens when the plane runs out of money.



Jim Zane
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#5 Posted: 4/1/2010 07:01:27

Unfortunately, We live in an era where it has become a liability to enjoy the freedoms we once held so dear. So now the uneducated media has been allowed to circulate stories in a sensationalist light regardless of the damages and repurcussions of this kind a of irresponsible and plain negligent reporting. I hold the EAA partly to blame because while we all post our opinions what really needs to happen is the EAA host an "Educate the media function" where a representative of every publication whether it be print or electronic is present to learn what exactly an airplane is! and how they are built inspected and flown. You don't see this kind of reporting for the thousands and thousands of fatal motor vehicle accidents. where innocent bystanders just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. You dont see the media blaming the car manufacturers they way the blame the aviation community because automotive corporate lawyers would be serving liable papers ina heartbeat. but the aviation community doesn't share those deep legal pockets. So it falls on the EAA in my opinion to set the record straight and put a stop to this blatant disregard for accuracy let alone truth in reporting on aviation related stories..

 

 



David Reid
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#6 Posted: 4/1/2010 18:14:00

Jim...I take exception to your comments.

It's NOT the EAA's job!...it's OUR job to set the media straight! Write letter...make phone calls! 

For years and years, since 1903 the media has loved this sort of reporting of blantant disregard for the FACTS! You can tell in the FIRST paragraph this journalist has not a CLUE as to what she is reporting! She has not researched and/or confirmed her information OR sources. She has no more idea what a "stall" is than the people she is reporting to... trying to make them THINK she does!

She is only "Collecting Ammunition" for the big gun lawyers that wants to sue everybody and ANYBODY even related to the incident. The pilot...ATC...FAA...airplane/kit manufacturer...engine/prop manufacturer...people on the beach that didnt WARN the guy to get out of the way for PETES SAKE!!!...The people that made his MP3 player he was wearing and didnt hear anything!!!...ANYBODY with deep pockets is what the lawyers are going for!

The reason the airplane came down was due to a busted crankshaft at the flange and he lost the prop....lost all the engine oil...and yes you guessed it, coated the windshild and his forward vis was "O". When the prop departed I'am sure he went tail heavy...no prop disc drag to slow him down. He didnt stall but he had his hands FULL!...and the last thing on his mind was someone on the beach at 0600 local...it was still dark!

It's all "Sensationalizing"...and thats what sells papers!

Every news cast I EVER heard about a GA or EXP plane down, ALWAYS ended with..."And the pilot did not file a flight plan"...leading the public to assume THATS why they went down...and it makes me mad as hell!

Further more almost every aircraft that goes down in my area...soon or later...I know the "Real" Story...and the media always screws it up!

I have offered, free of charge, my services to every radio and TV station in North Florida and South Georgia...including every newspaper to be a "Friend of the press/media" to set them straight and get there story reported accurately BEFORE press or Air on aviation related issues....and not ONE has taken me up on it.

So, as stated before...it's NOT EAA, BAA. AOPA, GAAMA, or any other organizations job to set the media straight. It's OUR job!

 

...and a little help from the NTSB would be nice. After all...THEY are FOR PROFIT, though they dont claim to be.

I'am off my soap box now.

Dave

(still friends)?



Ron Wanttaja
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#7 Posted: 4/2/2010 02:20:49
.... I hold the EAA partly to blame because while we all post our opinions what really needs to happen is the EAA host an "Educate the media function" where a representative of every publication whether it be print or electronic is present to learn what exactly an airplane is! and how they are built inspected and flown.

Well...it makes no difference what EAA or anyone else sets up to try to educate the media, communications always requires a receiver as well as a transmitter.  Back when I was Seattle EAA president, I called a number of media outlets and suggested they put me on their rolodexes or whatever for a technical resource regarding homebuilts. I got polite thank-yous, but no phone calls.

You have to look at it from the other side.  People in the new media don't have a lot of time to do deep background research on every article they right.  They have to get it done, NOW, and move on to the next story.  A while back, I called a local station to complain that they'd identified the wreckage of an airplane as a homebuilt, just because it was fabric covered (the plane was a Tripacer).  The answer I got was, "We called it a homebuilt because that's what the police said."  There's really very little you can do to fight this, other than cherish those reporters who happen to be on our side.

We had that happen in Seattle last summer, with a reporter from the Seattle Times doing a great piece  on one of our more colorful local homebuilders.  Even with a bunch of us helping her, she still got a couple of things a little wrong.  Great article, though.

"You dont see the media blaming the car manufacturers they way the blame the aviation community because automotive corporate lawyers would be serving liable papers ina heartbeat. but the aviation community doesn't share those deep legal pockets."

One word:  "Toyota."
pilot_beer.jpg



Ron Wanttaja
Jim Zane
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#8 Posted: 4/4/2010 05:52:52

Still friends..

 

I'd just like to clarify when I say the EAA I am talking about all of us. Because "we" are the EAA.  but you are right sensationalism sells papers for sure. 

Lets not forget every organization exists because of it's membership it's why we create these organizations to give strength to our voices by sheer weight of numbers. An individual can do something for sure but as you yourself point out 1 persons voice goes unheeded without the strength of many voices to bolster it. 

News media often treat 1 outspoken person as a "crackpot" but thousands as a revolution. Although the EAA was started as a group of people who shared  a "hobby" it has grown to become a massive advocacy group that benefits it's members for sure.

As such the EAA as "our" organization should not stop with just lobbying congress but should strongly lobby the news media as well for fair reporting. I don't see anything wrong with that. 

I wonder what would happen if every time an avaition related story was reported incorrectly not just 1 person wrote or emailed that news organization but instead thousands and thousands of people followed up to "get it right" how long before news organiztions fearfull on the verbal and electronic onslaught would begin to check themselves more closely on these things.?

 

In other words use the same tactics to lobby the media the way we do when lobbying congress for legislative changes.

 

....Hands Back Soapbox

 

Jim

 

 

 

 

 

  



Tom Hackel
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#9 Posted: 4/4/2010 20:59:47

I would have to go back and check but I seem to recall that plane had just been serviced and the propeller had broken free was the reason it made the emergancy landing. The enging was running and the windshield was covered with oil.

Hardly a STALL condition....... On a mission now.

Tom



Tom Hackel
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#10 Posted: 4/4/2010 21:19:36

 

EDIT......

Yes, No Prop glide in with a running turbine. Reasonable article.

http://www.wistv.com/Global/story.asp?S=12148843

 



Doug Babb
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#11 Posted: 4/6/2010 13:14:47

Cont. TSIO-550 installed, no evidence of a  turbine in the picture of it on the beach.



Steve Bartus
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#12 Posted: 4/29/2010 22:19:38
Doug Babb wrote:

 

Cont. TSIO-550 installed, no evidence of a  turbine in the picture of it on the beach.

I second that. Absolutely no evidence of turbine. That was all "Journalistic made up hype" Look at the photos. Where's the exhaust pipes?

 



Bryan McGrath
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#13 Posted: 5/1/2010 03:19:27

 There was an article some time ago here in Australia about the (early) Lancair. The original CAA (CASA) report on its handling characteristics is quite negative. It goes on to say that it is longitudinally unstable and should not be flown without a revised horizontal tail. I'll try to track down the article...



Joanne Palmer
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#14 Posted: 5/1/2010 09:19:36

There is some info here...http://www.eaa1000.av.org/fltrpts/lanc360/hq.htm

  There are also links to other articles on this issue and the big tail Lancairs.  Note these do not apply to current Lancair designs.

Joshua Gardner
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#15 Posted: 5/12/2010 18:59:38

It's not necessarily high performance planes that are prone to stall at slow speeds, just planes with higher stall speeds. Not that I'm saying anything about this particular accident, since I haven't done any further research, but this shows the disregard of facts of the media. I think the thing is, it's not that they just want to get paid (I'm sure that's a big part of it) but it's also "who can get there first?" "Who can get the story out first?". It's a race to print it out, so the facts are overlooked. Also, after "high performance planes", the article only refers to the Lancair specifically, and then only that one accident specifically.