Air Safety in 2020?

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A modern Sikorsky S-76B helicopter, flying since 1987 in different configurations, plows into the hills of Calabasas, in north Los Angeles county.  A great sports icon, his daughter and seven others perish in an instant, because of fog? The aircraft has a capacity of 6 passengers, and two pilots.  Nine people were aboard on the faithful day.   In 1959, three great rock’n’roll stars and their pilot perished in Minnesota on the way to another Rock’n’Roll show.  Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper gone, because of weather and fog upon take-off, in an under-powered Model A, V-Tail Bonanza, probably overloaded with equipment and with the carburetor icing up.  In 1971, Audie Murphy died with six others aboard his Aero Commander 680, probably overloaded…..the Aero Commander 500 was far superior which was less weight and had more powerful engines.  They said Audie Murphy was in financial ruin, they said that Audie Murphy was maybe drunk.  The accusations against the dead, seem to be a way of life.  It is always seemingly…finally determined as Pilot Error.

Then there is the case of the Boeing 737-Maxi!  Here is a design that started out as a wonderful 737 and with changes in 1994, had been flying safely for years.  Then, in order to compete with the AirBus 380, Boeing started to customize this design……adding larger engines which thusly could create stress cracks in the Air Frame and wings.  Remove weight by taking out the shrouding from the rudder cable (an NTSB directive in 1994) which would prevent the rudder cable being cut in the event of an engine failure.  Then they concluded that even though there were many changes to the software and aircraft performance, that Pilots didn’t need extended Simulator time to fly the plane.  The details of conflicts in the reporting of the software and the fact that if pilots did not respond to a wrong message the plane would crash in just 10 seconds……these were very bad judgments and extremely dangerous to those purchasing and flying these aircraft.  All for the sake of cost cutting, greed and thinking they could just play the odds to compete with AirBus.

Studying crash sites of any aircraft are hugely disturbing, but the Kobe and Gianna event of recent seems even more so.  Initially, the report was that the Helicopter was flying about 2576 feet altitude, with the ground in those mountains at near 1356.  They said the that Sikorsky was rapidly gaining altitude and then fell suddenly at 4000 feet per minute, which was then revised to 2000 feet per minute.  “Smashed into smitherines” would be a conservative estimate of the crash site.  Most helicopters, should they lose power will “auto-rotate” and in most cases deaths occur, but the helicopter remains basically intact, losing rotor blades or other parts, but not blasted into small pieces, as was the case with this crash.  Over 500 Sikorsky S-76’s have been made and have been flying safely since 1987 and are known as Corporate Executive Aircraft in the industry.  The Large Cabin S-76 can carry 13 passengers and two pilots.  The B model, which was the aircraft in question again was a six passenger two pilot configuration.  Was this aircraft overloaded?  The bad cocktail is:  Weather and an overloaded aircraft.  Was their foul play?  It is not out of the question.  Did the Helicopter find itself too close to the hills and attempted to ascend too rapidly and in fact become consistent with helicopter pilot loss of control known as Potential Rotor Stall?

These questions need to be answered.  What seems most strange is that with several hundred of these helicopters have been flying since 1987, without much reported incidents.  We need to see the stats from Lockheed-Martin and Sikorsky.  The cautionary tale here is that nothing is certain in life and the great passing of one of our many heroes and angels…still can stagger our imaginations.  The great Pirate Coach, his wife, the Mom and basketball coach…..all aboard, we will miss each and every one……with all our hearts.



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About Ron & Anna Winship

Independent News Producers/Writers and Directors for Parker-Longbow Productions. Independent Programming which includes a broad variety of Political, Entertainment and Professional Personalities. Cutting Edge - a talk the flagship of over 30 URL websites developed or under development. The Winships have been blogging for the Orange Juice since back when nickels had buffalos on them, and men wore onions attached to their belts, because it was the fashion back then.