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Mesa Airlines Pipistrel Velis Suffers Engine Issues, Uses Chute

Damage Appears Significant, But Two POBs Onboard Walk Away

A Pipistrel Velis Club (as detailed by insignia on the side of the fuselage), one of the fleet apparently destined for service with Mesa Airlines and owned by same, has gone down in Cross City, Florida, after suffering 'engine issues' while approaching the airport.

The aircraft used an airframe parachute to affect a safe 'landing' despite the nearly motor-glider properties of the airframe. The aircraft impacted in a field, suffering extensive damage from what appeared to be a nose-low attitude at point of ground contact. One media report suggests that 'strong winds' affected the outcome of this accident.

There are some interesting questions surrounding this aircraft accident. The "Velis" is normally an electric aircraft, but pictures from the site show a prop and engine configuration associated with the Rotax installations seen on the Alpha Trainer series.... and worse than that, the FAA database lists the aircraft's powerplant as 'turbo-prop.'

This airframe is also fairly efficient, the Alpha Trainer is often operated as a motor-glider (about a 20/1 L/D as I recall)... so using the chute after engine issues is a bit of a head-scratcher since one would have to have VERY few safe places to go, while approaching the airport, to resort to the chute instead of allowing the aircraft's efficiencies to get them to safe(r) territory.

Emails to Right Rudder Aviation, who is reportedly managing the import of these aircraft for the Mesa Airlines program, have not been answered. Textron bought the Pipistrel operation earlier in the year, with some controversies surrounding alleged contract violations targeting the former US Distributor and some questionable behavior of Right Rudder Aviation. Textron has steadfastly refused to address those issues when questiopned by by email and during public press conferences (NBAA).

Mesa Airlines purchased 29 Pipistrel training aircraft, with the option to buy an additional 75 over the next year. The new fleet will be the backbone of the Mesa Pilot Development Program (MPD), a major initiative to close the pilot shortage gap.



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