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Germanwings A320 Crashes in the French Alps

Sad news today, as a Germanwings Airbus A320 crashed in the French Alps while enroute from Barcelona, Spain to Dusseldorf, Germany with 150 souls on board. There were 144 passengers on the flight and 6 crew members, who all perished in the crash.

The wreckage has been located by a French search helicopter shortly after 11 am local time and confirmed no survivors.  Investigators have began the painstaking process of unravelling why the plane crashed. Flight 9525 took off without incident from Barcelona and reached it’s cruising altitude of 38,000 feet, when it entered into a controlled descent as it crossed over the French coastline in excellent weather.

The jet began to descend in a straight line for 85 nautical miles before it crashed into the foothills of the Alps near the French town of Prads-Haute-Beleone.   The jet was within gliding distance of the French Riviera airport of Marseille, which has a runway over 11,000 feet long.  Altitude was being lost at a constant rate and it’s ground speed dropped slightly, according to radar data, suggesting the plane was in a controlled descent.   The descent lasted 8 minutes before the plane impacted the terrain.

The A320 involved in the crash was put in service in 1991 for Lufthansa and flew for many years until being transferred to it’s subsidiary, Germanwings.  The captain has flown for the airline for 10 years and has accumulated 6000 hours in the A320.

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Adding Skis and Rockets to a Lockheed C-130 Hercules

This airplane is the ski-equipped variant of the C-130 Hercules.  With added rockets and skis, this is one cool airplane, and it is used in the Arctic and Antarctic.

It is equipped with four jet-assisted takeoff rockets – that’s right, rockets – on each side of the fuselage. The rockets aid in adding maximum power for short or rough and unimproved runways.

Watch as this tough airplane takes off in the Arctic.

Watch more cool videos like the dead stick landing of a Cessna Caravan or the world record-making inverted flat spin.


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Cirrus SR22 Deploying it’s Parachute

Cirrus SR22 ditched at sea off the coast of Maui due to an engine failure caused by fuel starvation. The pilot was able to successfully ditch his aircraft after running out of fuel 250 miles off the coast of Maui.  Apparently the pilot was ferrying the plane from the west coast of the U.S. to Australia.  The aircraft, N7YT is registered to Cirrus aircraft. The aircraft was headed for Kahului, Hawaii and after 14 hours and 30 minutes of flight, the engine ran out of fuel and it was ditched in the ocean.

The deployment was a planned one, and the pilot notified the Coast Guard which allowed them to take this amazing footage of the ditching. The Coast Guard was ready for the rescue and no one was hurt in the incident.

The Cirrus aircraft parachute system comes standard on every aircraft.

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Dead Stick Landing of Cessna Caravan

This Cessna 208 Caravan experienced catastrophic engine failure when metal from the gearbox passed through the compressor and turbines, destroying the turbine blades and killing the engine.

Engine failure is a pilots’ worst nightmare!

The pilot did a great job gliding the plane in for a safe and smooth landing.

Do you remember what to do in the event of an engine failure? Review your forced landings and how to select a suitable field.


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Landing Gear Failure of a Virgin Atlantic 747-400

This Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400 landed safely in Sussex after a landing gear malfunction.  Flight VS43 out of London Gatwick on December 29 was headed for Las Vegas and landed in Sussex after a minor mechanical issue with the hydraulic system made a return necessary.

The plane spent a few hours circling to burn and dump enough fuel to meet the aircraft’s maximum landing weight requirement. The 747 landed with only four of it’s available five sets of landing gears deployed. Credit goes to the talented pilots who made a textbook soft landing in this incident.

The Virgin Atlantic is 13 years old.

Check out more videos of emergency landings.

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Emergency Operations: Field Selection

We all learn the very important procedure of forced approach.  One of the most important parts of the procedure is choosing the field.

The video below shows that generally, there are three kinds of fields that you will have to choose from: dark brown, light brown and green. Do you know the characteristics of each that makes them a suitable or unsuitable landing spot?

For example, did you know that a green field with cattle grazing will mean that the surface will generally be smoother than if there was no cattle?  Obviously the cattle will present an obstacle to be avoided, but an area on the same field with no cattle will likely be a good landing surface.

A dark brown field will often mean that the surface is usually freshly plowed, and will to too soft for landing, often causing your aircraft to flip.  Your best bet is often a light brown field.  Oh, and how about roads and dealing with obstacles such as power lines?

Once we have selected a field we must find a way of getting down to the ground. One of the most popular methods we are taught is the low key / high key procedure, though there are other methods.

The Smart Pilot website features many aviation safety related videos and are well worth a watch! We are happy to post their videos here too, so keep checking back for more.