Episode 117

This episode kicks off with a recap of the 2022 Aerospace Maintenance Competition. John applauds the talents of the more than 350 participants. More than 800 people attended the event!

Team and individuals earned awards and scholarships. More than 25 people also earned final interviews with companies in attendance to staff their maintenance crews.

Keeping with the maintenance theme, Greg and John cover the crash of Emery Worldwide Airlines Flight 17. Greg served at the NTSB investigator in charge. John also visited the crash site.

Originally thought to be caused by a cargo shift, the accident investigation revealed a maintenance error was the root cause. John explains the mistakes made during maintenance of the plane’s tail. It all comes down to simple bolts that were installed incorrectly.

Greg highlights the challenges of recovering the plane wreckage. The crash was into an auto salvage yard and caused a large fire. Investigators had to sift through everything to find the DC8 parts.

Following procedures can lead to maintenance successes and failures. This episode showcases those highs and lows.

Episode 116

Todd Curtis has decided to return to the cockpit after decades and he’s sharing his experience. Whether you are new to aviation or are rusty after a brief or long time away from flying, this discussion is for you.

Todd and John walk through the steps and how to have a safety mindset from day one.

  • How to find the right instructor
  • Having an honest health conversation with your doctor
  • Getting started
  • Approaches to preflight inspections and checklists
  • Making your logbook an essential reference.

Listen for tips that will help you fly safe!

April 27, 2022

A Week of Fatal Crashes

Episode 115

Greg Feith flies solo as he presents a roundup of recent fatal air crashes. The focus is on three accidents now under investigation that add to the escalation of fatal crashes this year.

Hear preliminary details related to the crashes that involved a Cessna 340 in Georgia, a Cessna 337 in California, and a Diamond DA40. Greg surfaces the issues that could make these accidents important lessons for all pilots.

With popular flying season starting, Greg asks every pilot to ask themselves “Am I ready?” before getting into the cockpit. He makes the point that flight airworthiness extends beyond the aircraft. The pilot also needs to be proficient, comfortable, and competent before takeoff.

“Benign situations can quickly escalate if a pilot is not prepared with the basics,” Greg says.

He wraps up with a case for the “WTF Files.” A stunt for Red Bull made headlines when an in-air pilot switch went wrong and one plane crashed. The FAA had issued a letter of denial for the stunt the day before. Aviation stunts can be entertaining, but this event compromised aviation safety.

Episode 114

This episode is about facts and their impact on the work of air crash investigators. Building a complete backstory with facts leads to an effective investigation.

Two recent accidents have few facts to work with. The available facts related to the 737 Max continue to be swept aside in favor of more headline-grabbing narratives.

John and Greg continue their effort to keep the focus on facts, conditions and circumstances to get to the real story of air crashes. These elements that lead to safety improvements.

They begin with a Cessna TU206 crash in Texas. Two pilots were killed when the plane crashed in a field. They discuss known details that could indicate striking something, a stall or lack of fuel.

A single pilot died when a Cessna 208 Grand Caravan used for a UPS cargo delivery contract crashed recently in Idaho. The plane landed inverted in a factory roof. Known facts included missed approaches, weather issues, and the importance of keeping on schedule.

Focus turns to the two commercial aviation accidents involving the 737 Max. John and Greg address listener comments related to the crashes, the planes, and Boeing. They cover the fallout from the Boeing-McDonnell Douglas merger and how that impacted the timeline for the plane’s certification.

Episode 113

John, Greg and special guest Geoffrey Thomas offer the facts about Boeing and the 737 Max. They call out the sensationalism of the Netflix documentary “Downfall” and dig into facts that offer a more true picture of the airline and issues that led to the Lion Air and Ethiopian crashes.

Geoff is a world-renowned multi-award-winning writer, author, and commentator and editor-in-chief at AirlineRatings.com. He is an outspoken no-nonsense but fair critic of many aspects of airline management, technological issues related to aviation, and those related to safety and the environment.

Facts aren’t sexy, they agree, but the safety of everyone from industry to government to the public depends on understanding the real backstory.

The episode covers factors that influence operations of Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers. The role of Boeing’s acquisition of McDonnell Douglas is discussed. They separate facts from emotion to show that business pressures can sideline safety needs.

Episode 112

Greg and John dive into the latest details emerging about the China Eastern Flight 5735 crash on March 21. They also cover the backstory and impact of the Aerospace Maintenance Competition coming April 25-28.

The Chinese Government has allowed the NTSB to assist as technical advisors in investigating the China Eastern crash. Greg and John talk about what that means for getting to the facts.

They share insights from previous accidents with similar themes to this crash, including the documented repair of a previous tail strike on the aircraft and incidences of deliberate crashes.

Their sights turn to the upcoming maintenance competition in Dallas in conjunction with Aviation Week Network’s MRO Americas. More than 80 teams from around the globe will compete this year.

Teams represent educational institutions, commercial airlines, repair and manufacturing companies, general aviation and space. Up for grabs are prizes as well as bragging rights as the best of the best.

Episode 111

A recent helicopter crash in Texas took the lives of a student pilot and a flight instructor. Helicopter fleets are growing – are there enough highly qualified flight instructors to keep pace with the demand?

Greg, John and Todd look at the initial information about this tragedy. They explore known safety issues with Robinson 44 helicopters. The tail boom appears to have been cut by the main rotor blade, a topic of a Robinson safety bulletin.

Citing data that reflects a surge in helicopter manufacturing, they wonder if there are enough flight instructors to train pilots to safely fly these aircraft.

This episode also examines a Piper PA22 Tri-Pacer crash in Arizona for the “WTF Files.” Three strikes were against the pilot and passenger before they ever took off: an expired registration, no insurance, and an unreported chronic medical condition. On top of that, they did not use the safety shoulder harnesses in flight.

Hear the details that led to the crash about 10 minutes after takeoff. The official cause is fuel exhaustion leading to engine loss, but there is much more to learn.

Episode 110

The ultimate tragedy of a runway crash at the Compton airport is that is never should have happened. For Greg, Todd and John, it’s a textbook example of what not do to as a pilot.

They explore the many bad decisions made by the pilot of a vintage T28 Warbird that landed on top of a Cessna 152.

As they review the information in the NTSB docket about the accident, Greg concludes, “there was no logic in decision making and operational discipline.”

Get the full analysis of what went wrong. The emphasis of this episode is the critical responsibility of the pilot in command to ensure safety before, during and after flight.

Greg and John also share takeaways following presentations to a flight department in Arizona. They highlight how structure and procedures can improve flight safety.

Episode 109

The investigation is ongoing related to a Dec 2021 fatal crash involving a Cessna 208B and a powered glider. Both pilots were fatally injured in the accident that appears to have happened when the glider was higher than permitted altitude. The impact separated the plane’s right wing.

The Cessna was operated as a Part 135 cargo flight, and the powered paraglider was operated as a Part 103 personal flight. Greg says all indicators were that the Cessna pilot was doing routine cruise altitude operations and never saw the motor glider.

Greg, John and Todd examine the information released by the NTSB. They also talk about other incidents with pilots experiencing untraditional aircraft creating hazards to aviation.

They call for all pilots to follow the rules of the aircraft they are flying to ensure their own safety as well as others in the sky.

Episode 108

Efforts continue to get to the bottom of the crash of MH 370. Eight years after the crash, John and Todd are in touch with the people who are working to find the wreckage and uncover the facts.

John shares the latest developments from a group in Australia advocating to move the search area to the south. Hear the evidence that points to the crash being a murder/suicide event.

Sanctions on Russian commercial aircraft and planes operated by Russian interests are in the news. Companies that provide support are cutting ties. Aircraft leases are being canceled.

Todd shares an update on his effort to update his pilot certification. His goal is to earn an instrument rating in a glass cockpit.

“One of the biggest changes is that the technology that was in airliners in the 1980s is now in general aviation aircraft,” Todd says. “I have a new perspective on the challenges general aviation pilots face with new technologies and systems.”

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