In-Flight Emergency With VIPs On Board Prompts Call For
The Cessna Citation known as N1VA, the aicraft that ferries
around Virginia Governor Mark Warner and members of his cabinet,
was cruising along toward south Florida March 9, when suddenly, all
hell broke loose. A warning horn blaired. Oxygen masks dropped from
the ceiling. The pilot made a rapid descent to get under 10,000
feet, where passengers would be able to breath without the
"You could hear the sound around the door, but there was nothing
blowing around," said Thomas L. Robertson, former president and CEO
of Carilion Health System, in an interview with a Richmond (VA)
newspaper.The plane made an emergency landing in Tampa.
Turns out the problem was a faulty door seal on
the Citation II. It was repaired and the aircraft, which had been
carrying members of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, was
returned to service in late March. But now, Virginia's Aviation
Department wants to upgrade the 15-year old aircraft which
currently has about 5800 hours on the Hobbes meter. And that won't
"If we're going to continue to fly, I think it should be
upgraded," said Charles Macfarlane, director of the Virginia
Department of Aviation, in an interview with the Richmond
Times-Dispatch. That's going to cost approximately $1.2
Who's Going To Write The Check?
The Virginia Aviation Department relies on the state legislature
for special funding needed to repair and upgrade its fleet of
aircraft. However, like most states these days, Virginia is
struggling financially. The Aviation Department's budget has been
cut almost in half. As far as that extra little allocation for
repairs and such? Yeah, right. It's in the mail.
But McFarlane (right) isn't giving up. "I'm
not suggesting we fly unsafe planes," Macfarlane said at an April
23 meeting of the Virginia Aviation Board. "I am suggesting we
should be flying our most important state officials and the state's
customers with up-to-date technology."
McFarlane was quoted in the Times-Dispatch as saying
the real question was: How much is the State Legislature and the
governor willing to gamble? "I couldn't imagine anything worse than
to get a call saying something has happened to one of the state's
One member of the Virginia aviation board, Robert Johnson of
Roanoke, was even stronger in his assessment. He told the
Times-Dispatch, "we might as well put a sign on our
airplanes, 'Enter at your own risk.'"