Aviation roundup: March 28th, 2008

Miscellaneous news from the world of civilian flight:

  • American Airlines is performing safety inspections on the wiring harnesses of their MD-80 fleet.  300 flights were cancelled on Wednesday, and a further 132 were cancelled yesterday.  In unrelated news, there are a lot of unhappy people wandering terminal concourses all over North America, waiting for a flight home.
  • Toronto’s Pearson International Airport was dropped from a University of British Columbia review of airport efficiency (at its own request).  The review had concluded that CYYZ had the highest landing fees in the world, and was not as efficient as other major air hubs.  Pearson also fared poorly on a Transport Canada scorecard, when compared to other airports like Calgary and Vancouver.  Don’t feel bad, fellas.  Trying harder to score better ratings next year sounds a lot like work; it’s easier just to be excluded from competition.
  • Viking Air has landed an order for three new DHC6 Twin Otter Series 400 aircraft, from the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights parachute team.  Not refurbs.  Not overhauls.  Not converted.  Brand spanking new construction, which Viking can do since it bought the type certificates for the DHC6 (and many other de Havilland Canada planes) from Bombardier.  CF AIRCOM also operates Twin Otters (as transport and SAR aircraft) in 440 Transport Squadron, based in Yellowknife, NT.  No doubt we’ll be evaluating replacements for the C-17 by the time they select a new northern utility aircraft.

And from the Air Force Association:

  • The US Air Force has three separate studies underway to evaluate the useful life of its F-15 Eagle fleet.  The fleet was grounded for several months following the in-flight breakup of a 26-year-old F-15 due to unanticipated metal fatigue in longerons attaching the cockpit to the rest of the airframe.  One of the studies involves destructive testing of the airframe, to allow inspection of parts that will be pushed beyond their expected life-span if 177 Eagles remain in service through 2025.  Hands up, everybody that expects OPFOR air forces not to field a fifth-generation fighter before 2025.
  • The commanding general of USAF’s Air Combat Command says the Air Force needs no less than 558 F-22 Raptors, but only asked for 381 “purely because of affordability”.  Meanwhile, it is only authorised to purchase 183.  That sound you are hearing is not “Taps” being played for the impending end of America’s global air dominance.  No.  Definitely not that.
  • A civilian firm contracted by the Defense Logistics Agency may be at fault for an error in which Minuteman ICBM nose-cone fuse assemblies—and not the requested helicopter batteries—were shipped to Taiwan.  Not having any Minuteman missiles which might need nose-cone fuse assemblies, Taiwan placed the errant parts in storage and notified the US government.  Courier companies and pizza joints all over North America were heard to exclaim “See! It’s not just us.”
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