Mooney Aircraft has laid off all its employees and shuttered its Kerrville, Texas factory and has not responded to any media requests for explanation of what it means for the future of the brand and support for the existing fleet. According to a report from AOPA, the shutdown is being described as short term and more information will be forthcoming. The factory has a voicemail message that says there is no one there to answer questions. “Please be advised that all Mooney employees have been furloughed at this time,” the voicemail message says. Therefore, we are not able to respond to your inquiry.”
AOPA found a Mooney owner and filmmaker who has many contacts at the factory who said there are buyers in the wings. Jolie Lucas told AOPA she expects new ownership to take over and, for the short term at least, keep the supply of parts and engineering support coming. Mooney has been through a succession of owners since it was started in 1929 and is now owned by a Chinese real estate investment company Meijing Group.
According to Transport Canada, nearly 30 percent of fatal accidents are due to a loss of control during takeoff or landing. Often they are experienced pilots so how do you explain that? You better understand what is happening because it could happen to you!
Many accidents occur during a high banking turn to final. The pilot realizes that he is not aligned and tries to correct by a sharp 45 degree bank or even 60 degrees while raising the nose to keep his altitude. The result is the speed decreases and the plane pitches up.
At this altitude, it is unlikely to recover. What happens to your stall speed during a turn? At 45 degrees, the stall speed will be 20 percent higher than that in level flight and at 60 degrees it will be 41 percent higher. So, for example a Cessna 172R with a stall speed (Vs) of 51 knots (POH) will stall at 72 knots on a 60 degree turn.
The recommended approach speed is 65-75 knots. The pilot who is used to making his approaches to 70 knots and decides to make a 60 degrees turn while straightening the nose is likely to be in trouble. This has happened to many of us. The moral of the story is that if your approach is not stabilized and in line final way ahead, go around. The habit should be that when we feel discomfort with our approach, we should simply add power and try again. We won’t tell anyone!
Transport Canada says it may restrict occupancy of some float equipped Cessna 206 aircraft because the flaps prevent the rear cargo door from being opened normally. The Transportation Safety Board released its report on the landing accident of a Simpson Air 206 at Little Doctor Lake in the Northwest Territories on Aug. 16, 2018. All five people aboard survived the hard landing and the aircraft flipping but the three occupants of the seats on the right side of the plane drowned because they couldn’t get the main cargo door open. The pilot and passenger on the left side of the airplane went out through the pilot’s door. Although the final report was just released on Nov. 14, the TSB took the unusual step of issuing an interim safety letter last February. In the final report, it said TC had responded to its safety letter by saying it will ask the FAA to require Textron Aviation to redesign the door. In the absence of a hardware fix for the problem, TC has said it will issue its own airworthiness directive restricting occupancy of aircraft when it’s on floats.
The fault with the 206 is well known and no engineering solution has so far been found to remedy the hazard. The procedure now is to conduct a preflight passenger briefing to show how to open the secondary rear cargo door, which involves first opening the front cargo door and activating a floor pin with a handle mounted in the door jam. The multi-step process is not intuitive and the TSB said in its report that the three people died because they couldn’t get out. As for the cause of the accident itself, the TSB said an unstable approach led to a hard landing and subsequent bounce that the pilot did not recover.
The Ontario government is planning cut the aviation fuel tax in Northern Ontario by two-thirds in 2020. The proposal, announced at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre in Sault Ste. Marie on Tuesday, would slash the provincial tax from 6.7 cents per litre to 2.7 cents per litre effective Jan. 1. “Living in Northern Ontario can bring with it a higher cost of living, in part because of greater reliance on air travel and air freight,” said Finance Minister Rod Phillips. “That is why we are helping reduce costs in this region by cutting the aviation fuel tax rate.”
The government has done some calculations on how the tax cut should benefit Northern Ontario residents, suggesting a family of four in the North should save $230 a year on groceries while a monthly traveler from Thunder Bay to Red Lake should see a $135 reduction in airfare over the year. The announcement did not say how it would ensure the savings would be passed along to consumers instead of just being pocketed by operators. The tax cut would apply to aviation fuel purchased in Algoma, Cochrane, Kenora, Manitoulin, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Rainy River, Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Timiskaming districts.
Nav Canada will begin ADS-B surveillance of the two classes of airspace on the dates previously announced and the new system “will be used on a priority basis for suitably equipped aircraft. Non-ADS-B Out-equipped aircraft will be accommodated within the airspace until a performance requirements mandated can be implemented.” Antenna diversity seems to be the main issue. Because Nav Canada will use the Aireon satellite system for ADS-B surveillance, on-board equipment will require an antenna that points up. That’s at odds with the U.S. ground-based system that requires antennas that point down. There are hundreds of aircraft in Canada that routinely use Class A and B airspace that are not properly equipped and Transport Canada has not yet written the rules that will require compliance.
“Nav Canada will work closely with Transport Canada to develop a path towards a mandate. The postponement of the performance requirements mandate will provide time to develop the regulatory framework with Transport Canada to support an effective mandate,” Nav Canada said. “This will also provide additional time for the equipment certification process associated with antennae diversity requirements to progress considering potential future use cases in other airspace classifications.”
Aviation is playing a key role in the emergency evacuation of a First Nations community in remote northwestern Ontario. The Bearskin Lake First Nation is under a state of emergency due to flooding from an ice jam on the Severn River. The order to evacuate came Wednesday. Since there are no year-round roads or rail lines to the rest of the world, aircraft are the only practical means to perform the evacuation but it’s not that straightforward in this case. The flooding has blocked access to the airport.
Evacuees are now being ferried over the washed-out road to the airport by helicopter. At least three flights left the small community on Wednesday. About 360 people will be flown out to Sioux Lookout and the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General is coordinating the evacuation. “This effort will take several days,” ministry spokesman Brent Ross said in a written statement. “Our top priority remains the health and safety of the residents who are dealing with this unfortunate situation.”
With the federal election now over and Prime Minister Trudeau laying out the priorities for the new minority government, one of his party’s key commitments has aircraft owners across Canada concerned. The Liberal Party announced, as part of their election platform, a new ‘Luxury Tax’ to be levied on certain vehicles valued at or more than $100,000. Among the list of affected vehicles are privately registered aircraft.
The plan, costed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), was vague on additional details. The PBO estimated, with “high uncertainty” that revenues from the new tax could reach as high as $600 million in the near term. Though not specified, the wording of the announcement implied the tax would be levied on the whole amount, not simply the portion at and over $100,000. Similarly unclear is whether the tax would apply to any aircraft, or only to new aircraft. The proposed tax would also apply to boats and cars of similar value. Being an excise tax, it would in turn likely be subject to GST or HST where applicable, and possibly provincial sales tax too.
“COPA, along with other aviation industry groups, has serious concerns over the impact that such a measure could have on the future of General Aviation in Canada,” said Bernard Gervais, COPA’s president and CEO. “While the idea is, at the moment, a simple campaign promise, members can be assured that their association will be front and centre advocating against any such measures that might be proposed in legislation.”
Implementing the proposed tax would require legislation to be approved by Parliament, which cannot be tabled until the House resumes sitting following last month’s general election. In the meantime, COPA invites concerned members to contact their Member of Parliament. We have included a template letter below for members’ use. We encourage anyone writing to his or her MP to copy us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact details for MPs can be found on the Parliament of Canada website. Email addresses for MPs are generally formatted as FirstName.Lastname@parl.gc.ca.
The people of Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, mark Remembrance Day in a way different from many other parts of Canada. East of town, along the Trans-Canada Highway, there are a pair of spots that have special significance for the area.
The first is a Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery. Found there are the graves of over 100 airmen from the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada who died in the area during the Second World War. Most of those deaths were the result of plane crashes in the vicinity of Gander airport (CYQX), a major staging area for trans-Atlantic flights during the war.
A short distance away is a memorial to the 248 American troops and the eight aircrew members who were accompanying them when their chartered Arrow Air McDonnell Douglas DC-8 crashed on takeoff on December 12, 1985 on the final leg of a flight home from a peacekeeping mission in the Sinai Peninsula. The memorial is named The Silent Witness.
The two-kilometre stretch of highway where both of these sites are located will be named Remembrance Way at a ceremony on Remembrance Day, November 11.
“Along this very short stretch of highway are two very prominent reminders of the sacrifices made by servicepeople around the world,” Gander’s mayor Percy Farwell said in advance of the ceremony. “With the signage, it’s a reminder every day of that sacrifice,” he added.
Lest we forget.
Top photo credit: Canada Aviation and Space Museum
An Airworthiness Directive (AD) that affects Diamond Aircraft Industries models DA40, DA40-D, DA40-F and DA40-NG was issued last week. The AD addresses the potential for deterioration of the fuel tank hose connection. Rubber parts from the hoses have been found in the fuel tank and gascolator according to reports.
The action required by the AD is to replace existing parts (according to a list found in the AD) with replacement parts supplied by the manufacturer.
Complete details can be found in the appended AD below.
The Transportation Safety Board on Thursday of this week held a news conference to announce the release of a new, and lengthy, report titled ‘Raising the bar on safety: Reducing the risks associated with air-taxi operations in Canada.’
The TSB stated that this sector of the Canadian aviation industry has more accidents and causes more fatalities than all other sectors of commercial aviation combined.
In Canada, air-taxi operations include those commercial operations using aircraft (other than jets but including helicopters) that are licensed to carry fewer than 10 passengers. Such operations can be found throughout Canada, including in remote areas.
“We found that accidents in this sector of aviation boil down to two underlying factors: the acceptance of unsafe practices and the inadequate management of operational hazards,” said TSB chairwoman Kathy Fox. “And although overall, commercial aviation in Canada has shown improved safety performance over the past 10 years, air-taxi operations remain at higher risk.”
Glen Whitney, the report’s investigator in charge, added, “…these accidents really boil down to a pair of key underlying factors [including] a slow incremental drift toward accepting unsafe practices…”
The report reiterates past recommendations for improving the safety record of this sector and adds four new ones.
View the full TSB report by clicking here, from where it can also be downloaded in PDF format.