FAA investigating Red Bull plane swap attempt that ended in crash
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will investigate a Red Bull plane swap attempt that ended in a crash on Sunday.
The FAA confirmed to The Hill on Monday that it will look into the failed stunt attempt that happened in Arizona, saying one of the two single-engine Cessna 182 aircraft used for the event crashed after spinning out of control mid-flight.
The two pilots on board the planes were able to evacuate and land safely.
“The FAA will investigate Sunday evening’s attempted Red Bull Plane Swap in Arizona. One of the two single-engine Cessna 182 aircraft used in the stunt crashed after it spun out of control. The pilot landed safely by parachute. The other pilot regained control of the second aircraft and landed safely,” the agency said in its statement to The Hill.
In a letter, the agency also said it has denied Red Bull’s request for an exemption from an FAA review in the case because it could not show the stunt was not a safety risk.
“Because the FAA cannot conclude that the operations for which relief is sought (i.e., an operation without a pilot in the airplane and at the controls) would not adversely affect safety, and because the petitioner can continue to perform this demonstration in compliance with FAA regulations by including an additional pilot for each airplane, there is no public interest in granting the exemption request,” the agency wrote in its letter.
Red Bull pilots Luke Aikins and Andy Farrington, who both have FAA commercial pilot certificates and have conducted more than 20,000 skydives, attempted the stunt during an event called the “Plane Swap,” which was sponsored by the energy drink company and streamed on the streaming platform Hulu.
Aikins told USA Today in a statement that they conducted tests before the actual stunt, adding that his plane losing gravity midflight caused the eventual nosedive.
“I thought I left Andy a good plane. I’m trying to think of what else I could have done to make it better for him when I left,” Aikins said. “We do what we can to prepare for this stuff and we hope it never happens. This is the best outcome of a bummer situation, really.”
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