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Landings: Opinions: Safer Aircraft vs. The Pursuit of the Advertising Dollar

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By: Patrick Puckett
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This is a copy of what was written to AOPA concerning their lack of concern for safer aircraft being produced. Kinda like Dale Earnhardt and NASCAR. Somebody builds something that will better protect you, but the so-called powers that be thumb their noses. I believe that the end is coming to the crushing of the Preston Tucker's of the world. (Let me know if you don't understand.)

A few days ago, an Extra 400, (N-14-EX), suffered a catastrophic engine failure after a sudden and total oil loss which resulted in an immediate seizure of rod bearings 5 & 6 on the crankshaft, which then caused the breakage of those connecting rods and their expulsion through the crankcase and then the cowling. The aircraft was being demonstrated to a customer and was in the pattern at Deer Creek airport north of Phoenix, Arizona, when the incident occurred. The demonstrator pilot took control of the aircraft and with cars to dodge on the ramp to the freeway, and then with some trees to bank the wing over along side the freeway ramp, he was able to put it down on the ramp. There was no time to extend the gear, and as they exited the aircraft with no physical injuries whatsoever, their body weight caused the left wing tip to lean to the left touching the roadway.

All of the above was so stated to emphasize the fact, that had this aircraft been a PA-46, and under the exact same conditions and circumstances, there would be a very high probability that no one would have survived. There would be instead, parts, and fuel, bits and pieces, and fire all around the site. One reason that this is true, is that the insurance investigator that was covering this incident was called to go to investigate a very similar event involving the direct competition to the Extra-400, --- the Piper PA-46-350-Mirage. No one survived.

In fact the PA-46 has repeatedly killed many a pilot and passenger when under the same conditions, the E-400 would have given them a far better chance to survive. When will aviation writers begin to see that advertising dollars do not relate to human lives? I have nothing to gain by writing you and telling you this, ---- except the knowledge as a metal building contractor/engineer that the E-400 is so exceptional, and outstanding in its design and construction, that the PA-46 is almost a dinosaur in comparison. The E-400 has about 3 times the G loading, with interior components specifically designed to withstand 40 plus G's upon a crash impact. I have never read in AOPA about how safe the E-400 is. But I do continue to read and hear of accident after accident of the Malibu, with no survivers, or severe injuries. There is even a dedicated website that covers just how severely a PA-46 can be damaged, and how it can kill or severely mame its occupants. N-14-EX is such a wonderful counter example, it simply is getting a new engine, and a new belly re-skin, which is just a few days away from completion. I know of no PA-46, or very few other types that can have this done in the same time. I started flying in 1968 and have flown many different types since then, including the E-400. It is my sincere hope that AOPA and other Flying advocates will begin to start telling it like it is, and quit putting advertisement dollars ahead of lives and safety. You can train until you're blue in the face for any and all types of failures, but when you need your aircraft to help protect you upon a nasty landing, then which design would you rather be in? I find it very hypocritical to have AOPA, & ASF claim to be safety conscious and yet not tout the new, safer designs that will save lives when all else fails. AOPA readers deserve better, --- don't you think???

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NOTE: Reviews and Opinions do not necessarily represent those of Landings, its personnel and employees.

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