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Tamarack Continues to Investigate CitationJet Winglet Incident

Aircraft Lands Safely at TPA

Tamarack Aerospace Group, the Sandpoint, Idaho-based engineering concern founded to advance aerospace technology and efficiency, announced on Friday, 31 March 2023 that a successful emergency landing conducted by a Cessna CitationJet equipped with the company’s proprietary SMARTWING technology remains under investigation.

Upon completing subject landing, the pilot set forth that the aircraft—one of three SMARTWING-equipped CitationJets operated by the ownership entity—had handled remarkably well and remained readily controllable throughout the unscheduled descent, approach, and landing. The pilot and the aircraft’s owner are in communication with authorities, and further investigation will be conducted to fully assess the event and the aircraft before repairs are undertaken and the jet is returned to service.

On the evening of Thursday, 30 March, the pilot of the CitationJet experienced what he characterized as “bumps” in the vicinity of St. Petersburg, Florida at FL270. Compelled by experience and perspicacity to visually inspect his aircraft, the aviator observed the CitationJet’s left winglet had separated in flight. Following standard procedures, the pilot declared an emergency, slowed the aircraft and conducted a smooth and successful emergency approach and landing at Tampa International Airport (TPA). The final minutes of the damaged aircraft’s flight were recorded by an airborne news helicopter.

The video depicts the CitationJet, sans left winglet, in a controlled, normal descent attitude. The aircraft’s landing gear is lowered and its flaps deployed. After an unremarkable landing within the touchdown-zone of TPA Runway 10 and a smooth roll-out, the CitationJet exits the runway via a high-speed taxiway and comes to a controlled stop. Neither fire nor leakage of fuel or hydraulic-fluid is observable in the video. A TPA emergency vehicle attends the stopped aircraft as a matter of protocol.

The unnamed pilot reported his initial concern dissipated after he’d slowed and trimmed the aircraft and determined it remained wholly controllable, stating: “I felt comfortable with the plane.”

Initial investigation of the incident indicates the winglet had been functioning normally throughout the flight, and likely separated from the CitationJet’s wing after being acted upon by an external cause—e.g., bird or lightning strike.

Pleased with the incident’s outcome, Tamarack Aerospace Group president Jacob Klinginsmith remarked: “We are obviously grateful that nobody was injured in this strange incident. We’re still investigating, but it appears that external factors caused the winglet to be ripped from the aircraft. Our certification and engineering process served this pilot very well because he was obviously able to control the airplane and make a very smooth approach and landing. During certification, we successfully flight tested a one winglet removed scenario simulating a bird-strike, lightning strike, or any other abnormal event to the winglet, so we would expect the plane to handle as well as the pilot described.”

Differing from conventional, passive winglets, Tamarack’s Performance SMARTWING technology automatically controls wing bending during turbulence and other inflight events by effectively “turning off the winglets”—thereby alleviating wing-loading. This is accomplished via load-sensors and a camber surface capable of responding to system inputs in fractions of a second. The Active Winglet/load-alleviation system is fully automatic, requires no pilot action, and functions independently of other aircraft systems. What’s more, installation of Tamarack’s Performance SMARTWING requires no aircraft structural reinforcement.

Tamarack works with new SMARTWING upgrade owners and operators to ensure safe aircraft operations. The FAA-approved WINGS Pilot Proficiency course addresses the aspects and safe operation of the Tamarack upgrade, and may be viewed by following the FMI link at the end of this article.

FMI: www.tamarackaero.com

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