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General Aviation Safety
On September 16, 2011, about 1626 Pacific daylight time, a modified experimental single-seat North American P-51D, N79111, collided with the airport ramp in the spectator box seat area following a loss of control while maneuvering during the unlimited class1 gold race at the NCAR at Reno Stead Airport (RTS), Reno, Nevada. The airplane was registered to Aero-Trans Corp, Ocala, Florida, and operated by the pilot as Race 177, the Galloping Ghost, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The commercial pilot and 10 people on the ground sustained fatal injuries; based on preliminary information, 66 people sustained serious injuries, and numerous minor injuries were reported. The airplane fragmented upon impact with the ramp. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local air race flight, which departed RTS about 10 minutes before the accident. Numerous photographs and videos of the accident sequence have been collected from the public during the investigation, and an airplane performance study is being conducted. Based on available information, the airplane was established in a turn while passing pylon 8 on the 10-pylon course (see figure) when it experienced an upset. Its airspeed was about 460 knots (530 mph) at this time. After the initial roll upset, it entered a severe rolling climb maneuver and traveled a downward spiral flightpath to impact the ramp in the box seat area. Preliminary findings in the NTSB’s ongoing investigation point to the need for safety improvements regarding evaluation of aircraft with structural or flight control modifications, the unlimited class course design, and training for air race pilots concerning potential physiological effects of high g4 operations.
TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Revise Federal Aviation Administration Order 8900.1, Flight Standards Information Management System, volume 3, chapter 6, section 1, paragraph 3-151 and Advisory Circular 91-45C, "Waivers: Aviation Events," to correct inaccurate and incomplete information and reconcile all differences and inconsistencies between the documents.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Open - Acceptable Response
Reno, NV, United States
Pilot/Race 177, The Galloping Ghost, North American P-51D, N79111
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Open - Acceptable Response)
Safety Recommendation History
We note that 8900.1, FSIMS, volume 3, chapter 6, section 2, “Requirements for Air Race Class Accreditation and Letters of Authorization for Air Race Organizations Prior to Issuance of a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization for an Air Race Event,” was updated on May 15, 2015, and requires that all future air races comply with the changes that were adopted by the Reno Air Race Association in response to our recommendations. We also note that the changes to Order 8900.1, volume 3, chapter 6, section 1, paragraph 3 151, and AC 91-45C are in final coordination and that you expect to publish both of these documents by the end of this year. Pending our review of the published documents, which should contain accurate and consistent information, Safety Recommendation A-12-8 remains classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
-From Michael P. Huerta, Administrator: As reported in our letter to the Board dated June 26, 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) evaluated FAA Order 8900.1 , Volume 3, Chapter 6, Section 1, Issue a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization for an Aviation Event, and Advisory Circular 9 1-45C, Waivers: Aviation Events. As a result, we are updating both documents to correct inaccurate, outdated, and incomplete information, such as removing or connecting all references to air racing to align with published guidance discussed below and addressing incorrect formulas and conflicting language identified by the Board's subject recommendation. The changes to both of these documents are in final coordination, and we expect that they will be published in late 2016. Within Order 8900.1 , the FAA also created a new section that specifically addresses air races. Volume 3 Chapter 6 Section 2, Requirements for Air Race Class Accreditation and Letters of Authorization (LOA) for Air Race Organizations Prior to Issuance of a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization for an Air Race Event, was initially published September 28, 2012. This new section established a new and separate process to accredit air race organizations and air race classes and approve air race courses. This section was updated and re-published on May 15, 2015. to incorporate new policy developed through Notice 8900.231, Certificate of Waiver for an Aviation Event - Air Race, to address several recommendations issued by the Board to the Reno Air Race Association (RARA), ensuring that the changes adopted by RARA to meet the recommendations are required for all air races moving forward. This notice can be found at: http://fsims.faa.gov/wdocs/notices/n8900 _23 l.htm. The new section of Order 8900.1 can be found at: http://fsims.faa.gov/PICDetail.aspx?docld=8900.1 %2c Vol.3%2cCh6%2cSec2. I will keep the Board informed of the FAA's progress on this safety recommendation and provide an update by August 2017.
We note that the FAA is currently drafting a revision to Order 8900.1, “Flight Standards Information Management System,” adding section 2 to Volume 3, Chapter 6; this new section specifically addresses air races and will replace the information previously contained in Volume 3, Chapter 6, section 1, paragraph 3-151. According to the FAA’s response, the revision will correct any inaccuracies or omissions, and AC 91-45C will also be revised accordingly. Pending completion of these actions, Safety Recommendation A-12-8 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
-From Michael P. Huerta, Acting Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agrees with this recommendation and began drafting in July 2011 a revision to FAA Order 8900.1, Flight Standards Information Management System, with regard to air racing. The draft includes creating a new FAA Order 8900.1, volume 3, chapter 6, section 2, which specifically addresses air races. The information on air races previously contained in FAA Order 8900.1 , volume 3, chapter 6, section I, paragraph 3•151 would be transferred to the new section. We plan to add policy to correct any inaccurate and incomplete information. In conjunction with updating FAA Order 8900.1, we plan to update AC 91-45C, Waivers: Aviation Events, to reflect the new guidance and reconcile any differences or inconsistencies with FAA Order 8900.1. I will keep the Board informed of the FAA's progress on this safety recommendation and provide an update by June 2013.
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