It’s the week of the annual AirVenture Extravaganza. What’s new? What’s different? What’s the same? You’ll hear that from all the usual sources, so I won’t repeat here. As always, with such a large aggregation of aircraft in such tight quarters the opportunity for mishap is increased. The NTSB will have a massive presence this year in forum presentations to help pilots get their minds right. Maybe they’ll come up with a new angle.
The week had a rough start with two fatal accidents involving experimental amateur-built aircraft and one fatal involving a Cessna. No details to report and no way of knowing if they had any connection to the show.
Cirrus had a successful chute deployment that resulted in no serious injuries to the aircraft occupants after an engine stoppage; again—not related to Oshkosh.
This week at the AOPA tent in Oshkosh, the Air Safety Institute is demonstrating a mobile app version of the ASI Flight Risk Evaluator. Aside from the fact that it’s mobile, when delivered later this fall the app will streamline the decision-making process. Once loaded with personal and aircraft information, you will only need to put in the departure time and destination airports. The app will then auto-load weather and airport data to provide the pilot with a red, yellow, or green assessment with some educational insight. In the accident situation listed below, I can assure you that the assessment would have been bright RED!
More good news for Cirrus was that the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the Appeals Court decision to overturn a $16.4 million verdict against Cirrus and the University of North Dakota Aerospace Foundation. Briefly, a VFR pilot took off into scattered night IMC in an SR22 and crashed. The pilot had recently purchased the aircraft and had taken the factory training. The contention was that the training contract syllabus stated that pilots would be trained in using the autopilot to escape inadvertent flight into IMC.
That syllabus particular item was left unchecked—hence the lawsuit. The Supreme Court said, “An airplane manufacturer’s duty to warn does not include a duty to provide training to pilots who purchase an airplane from the manufacturer. A pilot may not recover in tort against an airplane manufacturer when the duty owed to the pilot by the manufacturer was imposed only by contract.” The court pointed out that there were ample warning and instructions elsewhere in the POH and in the training classes.
Despite the positive outcome, this is a Pyrrhic victory—the suit cost millions to defend, there are two families that are left fatherless with the desire to find someone at fault other than the deceased pilot, and GA is not enhanced in the view of the public—despite the misuse of the equipment. We should continue to educate strongly about VFR into IMC and not oversell GA’s transportation utility to new pilots.