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Series of local incidents and crashes leave us puzzled, saddened

The truth is simpler than the numbers themselves: Flying is overwhelmingly safe.

Me, you, or anyone, is more likely to be killed behind the wheel of a car or walking across a busy street than we are in an airplane. Aircraft incidents are so rare, yet unfortunately so tragic, that when they happen they make major news.

Strangely, and in Sunday's case sadly, a recent rash of mishaps and crashes have burdened our community of Louisville, Ky., with more than its share of bad luck.

Nearly a month ago, a Michigan man reportedly ran out of fuel and crashed just outside of the airport fence on approach to Louisville International (SDF). He was hospitalized with minor injuries, but local media seemed more concerned with guns and ammunition found in the aircraft. He was flying here for a gun show.

A second incident at the same airport a week later involved a UPS cargo jet and a faulty computer warning. In this case, an emergency was declared; the pilot landed safely, and the plane was cleared again for takeoff later that night.

Then the bad winds shifted to nearby Bowman Field (LOU), where GlobalAir.com is located.

As warbirds and stunt aircraft arrived for the Thunder Over Louisville airshow, landing gear failed on a Strikemaster, shutting down a runway for much of the afternoon but causing no casualties.

This area has seen much more than its share of incidents in recent weeks. Sadly, not all of them saw its participants walk away.

A Piper Malibu en route to Bowman crashed Sunday night in southern Indiana, killing a Colorado couple.

No cause has been determined, but the night was cloudy with storms in the area. Witnesses reported hearing the engine sputter before impact. So far, it has been a tough year for fatalities in the two-state region that we locals refer to as Kentuckiana.

Media reports say six people died in regional crashes since the New Year. These incidents come in addtion to two other minor runway mishaps here at Bowman last week, only one of which even appeared to warrant an FAA report. Sometimes all the little things seem to add up to something slightly larger if you spend enough time somewhere to see enough happen.

It's almost second nature for a journalist to see something take place more than twice then lump it all together as a trend, but the only two shared traits of any of these cases are relative location and the involvement of aircraft. From weather to equipment or pilot error, a simple lapse can lead to a grave mistake in aviation.

Here is to seeing a great deal less of them in our neck of the woods.  

 

Morning Rundown: EBACE and WestJet Quarterly Profits

EBACE continues to be the focus of the business aviation world this week, and within it that focus continues to be the beaten-up, yet-recovering economy. Of the largest media organizations covering the trade show in Geneva, two focused on the recovery among bizav groups, though with differing headlines.

A piece in The New York Times leads by discussing whether the Icelandic volcano could have threatened EBACE altogether under the headling Forecast for Business Jets: Slow Climb.

On a somewhat different side of the coin, UK wire service Reuters reports from EBACE that optimism among participants is high and notes that business aviation is recovering more quickly than its commercial cohorts in a article entitled Business aviation recovering fast - Eurocontrol.

Aviation Week's Benet Wilson showcases static displays from EBACE, including offerings from Boeing, Bombardier and Dassault. As the first day of EBACE wraps up, we expect an update from longtime GlobalAir.com contributor Jeremy Cox of JetBrokers, Inc. His complete gallery of posts for our site can found here.

UPDATE: European Business Air News (EBAN) has this link for all press releases coming from EBACE.

One final tidbit this morning, Canada's WestJet released its first quarter earnings this morning, showing an impressive 20th consecutive quarter of finishing in the black ink. However, the 2010 numbers are down somewhat from its 2009 counterpart. The release does not go into Volcano-Gate or any other drawn-out explanation or analysis of the figures, other than to note a compensation package for an outgoing executive and increased fuel costs.

Cox recently posted a breakdown of the first quarter market in used business jets on his blog. Check it out here.

Morning Rundown

The big news of the day in the commercial aviation world, and the story most likely to be followed by national media, is the pending merger between United and Continental. Critics contend that an approved deal could launch passenger ticket prices skyward.

Tom Belden of the Philadelphia Inquirer says US Airways, which operates the bulk of flights into and out of the city, won't necessarily have to fret over such a merger. He says US Airways is running a far more reliable airline than it did in recent years. However, he concludes more work by the company is left to be done.

In other United news, the company issued a release over the weekend touting it has completed the first commercial flight in the United States using synthetic jet fuel.

The big news among business aviation, of course, is EBACE, which kicks off tomorrow in Geneva, Switzerland. Cessna will feature a CJ4 and Citation X with winglets at its booth. Aviation Week's Benet Wilson walks the convention floor and brings us a preview with photos. It appears the big story for those who walked in during construction over the weekend was a Liverpool-Chelsea soccer match on the HondaJet TV screens.  

On the heels of the volcanic ash shutdown in Europe, Robert Mark of Jetwhine.com looks at how much the airlines lost as flights were grounded and suggests now may be the time for comapnies to put money into researching the phenomenon.

And, finally, private aviation could take a hit in North Carolina, where cash-strapped lawmakers will consider slashing the state's fleet of aircraft by more than one-third.

Pilot flees after Bonanza hits Toyota Prius

Boulder County, Colo., was the site of a not-so-typical fender bender Wednesday as a plane got tangled up with a car.

A wind gust and hard landing sent a Beechcraft Bonanza careening.

It hit a Toyota Prius before the pilot fled, said local authorities there, who added that the scene could (rather obviously) result in federal charges. Read the full story from KUSA-TV in Denver.

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