Archive for February, 2010

Of Flashlights and LSAs.

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

tecnamNews flash!!!! LSA’s may not be quite as dangerous as some attorneys and their purported “experts” thought. The NTSB’s preliminary accident report involving a Tecnam LSA in Ft. Worth, Texas is now public. This accident generated a lot of media attention because it involved a high school aviation program where students actually get to fly. The flight portion of program was run under contract by a former Tuskegee Airman and a retired American Airlines employee.

Witnesses saw the LSA spin in from altitude with a student and CFI on board. The local newspaper quoted an attorney who noted that LSA aircraft were built to “relaxed standards” implying that they were less safe than FAA-type certificated aircraft. A self-proclaimed expert who sells services to the legal profession also noted that he was seeing more LSA accidents recently. Relative to what? More LSA aircraft are entering the fleet and flying more hours so with greater exposure there might well be more accidents even with a reduction in rate. Is it responsible to make such pronouncements in this context?

Fast forward to the NTSB investigation where a flashlight was found adjacent to the stabilator control linkage in the tail cone. The forward end of the linkage was fractured. This may have occurred during routine maintenance and points in a completely different direction than the speculators would have you believe. A preliminary review shows Tecnam P2002 with a very good safety record to date. The one fatal accident in type was a midair collision.

I understand the media’s desire for instant analysis but perhaps accuracy should come first. Better to say we don’t know than to believe the speculations of those who stand to gain financially from these tragedies. Choose your sources carefully. Maybe lawyers could practice a bit more restraint in talking to the media – you’ll get your day in court, if there’s a case. But then maybe I’m being naive. Ready, Fire, Aim !