Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

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Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by ScudRunner »

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/Story?id=7192755&page=1


A Wing and a Prayer: Safety Concerns Over Red Bull's 55-Year Old Seaplane
Popular Marketing Tool Twice Grounded Over Concern about Aged Wings Failing
By ASA ESLOCKER, JOSEPH RHEE and ERIC LONGABARDI
March 30, 2009


The 55-year old seaplane used to market the Red Bull energy drink at major sporting events and air shows was decommissioned and disposed of by the Coast Guard in 1976 because they considered it no longer safe to fly given the age of its wings.
Some say 55-year-old seaplane used to market the energy drink is unsafe.

But it flies over the heads of hundreds of thousands of people a year under an "experimental airworthiness certificate" granted by the FAA in 2008.

In a written response to questions, a Red Bull spokesperson, Patrice Radden, said: "Neither Red Bull nor any of its pilots or flight crews have or would operate an aircraft that is known to be unsafe or in an unsafe manner."

Although the FAA certificate specifically requires the Red Bull plane to "avoid densely populated areas," the plane flew over festivities surrounding the Super Bowl last month in Tampa.

The aircraft is a Grumman-built HU-16E "Flying Albatross."

New Orleans Saints football star Reggie Bush, a Red Bull paid spokesperson, was filmed flying the plane in the left pilot's seat, climbing into the plexi-glass nose of the aircraft and sticking his head out of an open window.

"I stuck my head out the window which never in a million years I thought I would be able to do," Bush says on a Red Bull promotional video posted on the company's website.

Earlier this month, the Red Bull plane flew over thousands of college students on spring break at Lake Havasu, Arizona.

A spokesman for the FAA said the agency was "comfortable" with the use of the airplane, even if it is flying over the heads of thousands of people a year.

Red Bull says the plane is operated in full compliance with FAA regulations.

"It's terribly unsafe because the wing could fall off at any time," said Bill McNease, a former FAA safety inspector who helped initiate an earlier investigation of the plane when he was with the FAA in 2006.

"The long wing versions of this airplane have a definite, if you want to call it, drop dead time. When they reach a certain amount of flight hours, that's it," said McNease in an interview with ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross for Good Morning America.

The FAA investigation of the Red Bull plane followed the 2005 crash of a similar seaplane, operated by Chalks Ocean Airways in Miami.
Red Bull, energy, drink,
The Red Bull plane flies over thousands of college students on spring break at Lake Havasu, Arizona.

Twenty people were killed when the plane's right wing separated on take-off.

"There's the possibility that the same thing could happen" with the Red Bull plane, said McNease.

The FAA investigation relied on a confidential U.S. Coast guard report, obtained by ABC News.

The Coast Guard said it had stopped using the plane in 1976 because "all available service life appears to have been expended."

As of 1971, Coast Guard records show, the plane had logged 8,068 flight hours.

Yet in an application for an FAA airworthiness certificate 37 years later, in 2008, the owners of the plane who lease it to Red Bull claimed the plane had only 7,100 hours.

Somehow, the total flight time had been rolled back 968 hours, tantamount to rolling back the odometer on a used car.
Related

"You can't roll back hours," said former FAA inspector McNease.

The Red Bull spokesperson said the plane's owners relied on data it received when it bought the plane in 2000.

The plane's pilot, Lynn Hunt, refused to speak with ABC News about the plane's safety, saying, "I was told to tell you no comment."

In its written response to questions, Radden, the Red Bull spokesperson said it was "a misconception" that the plane had a "definitive life limit."

Radden did not directly answer the discrepancy in flight hours but called the official Coast Guard records "inconclusive and incomplete."

The FAA had actually grounded the plane in 2007 after the discovering of the flight hour discrepancy but relented after the plane's owners hired a Washington law and lobbying firm to protest.

Instead, the FAA issued the "experimental" airworthiness certificate, apparently giving some consideration to the economic plight of the owner, John Shoffner of Flight Management Resources.

"We hope this solution will allow Mr. Shoffner to realize some, albeit limited, economic value for his airplane," wrote Carol Giles, the assistant Deputy Director of Flight Standards Service at the FAA.

In addition to the restrictions of flights over heavily populated areas, the FAA said "no person may be carried in this aircraft during flight unless that person is essential to the purpose of the flight."

Red Bull said it strictly follows the FAA restrictions and "does not fly unauthorized people on the aircraft."

Red Bull said that under the terms of its FAA certificate it is permitted to "carry passengers from time to time."

Red Bull says its plane flies over big cities and events with large crowds, including the Super Bowl festivities, "under the direct authority of the FAA and by direction of air traffic control."

Last year the plane flew over 15 air shows and sports events including heavily-attended venues in suburban Washington, D.C., Detroit, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego and Las Vegas.

Eric Longabardi is a freelance journalist who is a frequent contributor to the ABCNews.com investigative page.
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by Siddley Hawker »

Does Red Bull have an Albatross? I know they have a Widgeon....
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by ScudRunner »

Check the Video in the link to the story its definitely an Albatross


And more
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSJ5ACt7zXo
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by HS-748 2A »

Great Vid there ... Too bad we just hear that drivel and not engine noise.

Aught to make Cat horney, that one.

Funny thing about rolling back the odometer.. Never thought of that one but I did work for an operator one time who's airplanes got just a little lighter ever time they were weighed. :rolleyes:

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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by linecrew »

HU-16E "Flying Albatross."
Really? They take the time and effort to write an article slinging sh!t at the classic machine but can't even do a simple 8 seconds worth of google search to get the phukeeng name right?? :roll:
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by Cat Driver »

Almost makes me want to go back to work. :smt040

I have a question for all you pilots out there.

Would you rather fly that Albatross doing that touch and go or do a touch and go in a Boeing or an Airbus? :?

I can state clearly that Red Bull is a class act and to get to fly for them you have to really jump through hoops....but it is worth it.

Here is our machine last year in Rotterdam.

http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e353/ ... m_02-1.jpg
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Last edited by Cat Driver on Tue Mar 31, 2009 8:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by Just another canuck »

That's easy... Albatross. :prayer: But it's all the other things that eventually attract to the Boeings and AB's, such as sked, pay, perks, location, etc., etc.
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by Invertago »

Cat Driver wrote:Almost makes me want to go back to work. :smt040

I have a question for all you pilots out there.

Would you rather fly that Albatross doing that touch and go or do a touch and go in a Boeing or an Airbus? :?

I can state clearly that Red Bull is a class act and to get to fly for them you have to really jump through hoops....but it is worth it.

Here is our machine last year in Rotterdam.

http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e353/ ... m_02-1.jpg
Are you flying it there Cat? If so... you are supposed to go between the pylons :smt040
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by Cat Driver »

Are you flying it there Cat? If so... you are supposed to go between the pylons :smt040
No the guys I trained over a period of three years were flying it in that picture.

My last flight in that airplane was in 2005 and it was in exactly the same river in down town Rotterdam.

Here are a few pictures showing where I flew the airplane...pylons are boring, I flew right through the bridge. :mrgreen:

http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e353/ ... C_9822.jpg

http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e353/ ... Bridge.jpg

http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e353/ ... 3R3481.jpg

http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e353/ ... 3546-1.jpg

Not a bad way to finish a career huh? And do it legally to boot. :mrgreen:

Now if only TC would let me train in Canada I could work part time. :mrgreen:

I bet Hedley would love to do that. :mrgreen:
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by cessnafloatflyer »

Not quite Montigue Harbour on Galiano...
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by bbb »

So easy - Albatross!

or several other fine aircraft.......
The whole sked, pay, benefits thing - well to read on some other threads there's not much left in the way of pay/benefits anymore, and some operators treat a sked as a rough outline of what your life will be like, as for location - nice place on the water doesn't sound too bad, does it?
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by ottopilot »

I'm refurbing and albatross at work and it is a sweet machine. Yes it's old but a lot of failures are preventable with maintenance checks. I would assume the red bull one is experimental? either way red bull has a great rep for being great with maintenance and it's no different than any old aircraft. Remember the "aging" aircraft thing is more to do with pressurization cycles and airframe hours not just age. Plenty of otters and beavers flying with super high times with out falling out of the sky???...

Any thoughts?
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by Skyhunter »

Cat Driver wrote:Almost makes me want to go back to work. :smt040

I have a question for all you pilots out there.

Would you rather fly that Albatross doing that touch and go or do a touch and go in a Boeing or an Airbus? :?
Depends which boeing you meant, they make the Hornet (after buying out Mac D)!...

But I can still see why some would chose the Albatross.
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by HS-748 2A »

I concur otto. There's no reason why an airplane like that can't be maintained safely indefinately with an appropriate maintenance / inspection schedule, barring finding cracks or corrosion which would render the airplane B.E.R.

If you visit Basler DC-3's site, you'll note that their plan for continuing airworthiness of those now 60-65 year old airframes is just an inspection program and standard repairs.

It does help when we're not talking about pressurised aircraft.

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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by iflyforpie »

The highest time aircraft I worked on had 90,000 hours and 150,000 cycles and was still in daily service. It was pressurized, made in the early 1950s, and had several slightly lower time stablemates.

I find it hard to believe that a plane made by the 'Iron Works' where the WWII philosophy was 'if you're going to build it strong, you might as well build it twice as strong' would have any structural issues if it was maintained correctly and not crashed too hard. :)
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by xsbank »

Some aircraft, like Trackers, have finite lives - that means that after a certain number of hours you have to spend many times the value of the airframe doing serious rebuilding, like spars, etc. That just means that anything can be rebuilt, for a price. You can bet that DC3s would only be found in museums if they had structural limits like a Tracker.

The Albatross was retired because it needed those big repairs, many times the value of the airframe, plus it was not possible to certify them in Canada, hence their scarcity up here. Otherwise, they would have had a great market flying the coast, where in the past we only saw Mallards.
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by HS-748 2A »

xsbank wrote:Some aircraft, like Trackers, have finite lives - that means that after a certain number of hours you have to spend many times the value of the airframe doing serious rebuilding, like spars, etc. That just means that anything can be rebuilt, for a price. You can bet that DC3s would only be found in museums if they had structural limits like a Tracker.

The Albatross was retired because it needed those big repairs, many times the value of the airframe, plus it was not possible to certify them in Canada, hence their scarcity up here. Otherwise, they would have had a great market flying the coast, where in the past we only saw Mallards.
In reference to what I said XS, I did not mean that can airplane can continue to fly in excess of a limiting AD or manufacturer's directive. I just meant that that type of airframe, like the DC-3, is indefinately repairable.

iflyforpie, what sort of big iron was that? Sounds abit like a certain 7F 727...
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by iflyforpie »

HS-748 2A wrote: iflyforpie, what sort of big iron was that? Sounds abit like a certain 7F 727...
It was (is as far as I know) a Convair 580.

Looked up the TCDS for the Albatross and there is a an airframe time limitation due to the installation of 7075 T6 spar caps in certain S/Ns. The airframe time limit is a separate number for each affected S/N.

http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guida ... /A33SO.pdf

Wonder what happens at the end of their lives? Houseboat anyone?
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by Ogee »

Fabulous pics Cat. What do you know about the Albatross and how does it compare to the Canso.
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by Cat Driver »

I never flew an Albatross but from talking to pilots who have flown them they will handle far bigger waves than a PBY and they are far less prone to porpoising.

Yeh, one of the reasons I like to post those pictures is because it gives a few pricks in TC something to read and think about knowing that while I was flying in the airshow circuit in Europe they were driving a desk in a little room at 800 Burrard.

I look at it as a sort of karma. :smt040
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by bmc »

Hey Cat....where is that machine based? Curious to know if it'll be in the area this summer. We had the white UK based machine here in Geneva a couple of summers ago splashing in the lake.
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by xsbank »

Have you seen the Ju-52s flying out of Dubendorf (Zurich)? They are called Ju-Air (don't get excited, Niss its YOO-Air :wink: ) and they do numerous sightseeing flights for the museum-goers.

I know, they aren't supposed to float.
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by Pirate Pilot »

We had a free day last Sept. after the Reno air races and we went down to the Carson City, Nv airport. There is a shop at the airport that is restoring Albatrosses and making them into very large flying RV's. They had one all done up and 2 on the ramp ready to get started on. We wanted to see if we could take a tour but it was too late in the day. Boy, you would be the big hit at the marina or the RV park with one of those :smt040
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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by Old Dog Flying »

Put in a few hours in this "A" model...I know we didn't have the "A"s but when you can afford to operate one of these for fun, you can paint it up any way you like. These were taken in Midland, TX about 1996 during the CAF festivities. Nothing like mountain flying in something like this with low ceilings.

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Re: Oh Nooz!! Safety Concerns Over Red Bull 55 year old Seaplane

Post by bmc »

Cottonmouth was Jerry Jane's machine, wasn't it?
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