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TECHNICAL SNAGS WITH AVWEB? WE'RE WORKING ON FIXES

A number of readers have contacted us noting problems reading the new AVflash and the AVweb Web site itself. For starters, some find the text too large ... for others, it's too small. Beginning this week, both the HTML version of AVflash and the site itself have scalable fonts adjustable via browser setting. (The default size is medium.) For best results, we recommend upgrading to the latest version of whatever browser or e-mail program you're using. We're working on a few other glitches, too, and appreciate your comments and your patience as we work to make AVweb's free service ever better.


Lycoming Gets Ready For Repairs

FAA Approval Expected This Week...

Almost half the crankshafts needed to fix engines caught in the Lycoming recall have been forged and have passed a rigorous quality-control process, a company spokesman told AVweb this week. Sue Bishop, manager of corporate communications for Lycoming's parent company, Textron, said there now are 559 shiny new cranks waiting for installation. "We're just waiting for final approval from the FAA," said Bishop. "We hope to have that in the next week," and then, "we should be able to do about 30 a day." Bishop told us that as soon as the FAA, which has been monitoring the program closely, gives the thumbs-up, the company can start reassembling the first of between 1,100 and 1,400 300-plus-horsepower, turbocharged IO-540 engines that need new crankshafts. "My guess is, that can begin the very next day," she said. "We're still on target to have all the engines repaired during the second quarter (of 2003)." The work will be split between the Lycoming factory and about 30 authorized service centers worldwide.

...New Processes, More Training...

The crankshafts were recalled via Service Bulletins 552 and 553 in August and September, after several failed. The failures were traced to improper heat treatment during the forging process at Interstate Forging in Navisota, Texas ... a problem that previously plagued Lycoming's -360 series. The faulty temperature control caused the metal to become weak and brittle. Bishop said the replacement cranks have been through a multi-stage system of checks and tests to ensure they are up to standard. Under the watchful eye of the FAA, the new crankshafts are produced with a press forging that incorporates automated induction heating, and the temperature is monitored at the furnace exit. Impact testing is done on each new crank, and they are also analyzed under a scanning electron microscope. More training and instructions have been given to Interstate staff, and their work is audited more frequently.

...Exact Number Still Unknown

Lycoming still doesn't know exactly how many crankshafts will have to be replaced. All 950 engines covered under SB 552 must be redone -- but SB 553 called for core sampling the crankshafts of 736 more engines to see if they needed replacing. As of last week, 372 tests had been completed and 260 engines were returned to service. Repairs will be done on a priority basis and, in fact, some engines have already been fixed. Bishop said Lycoming was able to find enough crankshafts forged prior to the heat-treatment problems to get the California Highway Patrol's fleet of Cessna 206s back in the air. Law-enforcement agencies top the priority list, followed by engines needed by airlines. After those are done, the remainder will be fixed basically in the order they come into the repair facilities.


Briefs...

Aviation World's Fair Officially Defunct

The company that almost brought you an Aviation World's Fair in Newport News, Va., this year is hoping to salvage some of the effort in France in June. Tom Kallman, president of Aviation World's Fair Inc., in an open letter posted on the World's Fair Web site, said he's hoping to stage some special events and take heritage aircraft and displays to Paris. Kallman said his company decided to cancel the World's Fair after it was unable to find a suitable site to replace Newport News. The Virginia event was cancelled, according to Kallman, after the state and city stopped funding the project in early October. Kallman said he and directors scouted seven alternative locations in the U.S. and Europe before deciding they didn't have time to move the event. Kallman isn't saying what the Paris events will entail but he's promising more details on his company Web site "very soon."

And The Winner Is ... Airbus or Boeing?

Airbus may sell more airliners than Boeing in the next year but that doesn't necessarily have Boeing execs jumping off ledges. What they might lose in civilian business should be more than made up in defense contracts born of the war on terrorism and the future effects of that war on its European archrival. In 2002, Boeing delivered about 80 more airliners than Airbus (down from a 200-plane gap in 2001) and the companies are predicting that Airbus will build 300 planes to Boeing's 275 to 285, according to a Reuters report last week. Indeed, Airbus is turning up the pressure on Boeing's home turf by opening an office in Wichita and launching lavish advertising campaigns on this side of the pond. But while airline execs might be swayed by a smooth line, the Defense Department isn't likely to get much of its hardware built in Europe anytime soon, not while production lines and the voters that man them are ready and waiting in Seattle and elsewhere. Boeing expects to cash in on the Pentagon's $14-billion budget increase which is thanks, in large part, to the war on terrorism. And if there's a war with Iraq, the European and Asian travel markets, where Airbus is strongest, will likely get hit harder than North America, says the Reuters report.

TIME Pulls Controversial Ad

GA may not be a threat to nuclear power plants but its supporters can certainly get the attention of TIME Magazine. TIME decided last week to pull a self-promotion ad that some of us who fly took exception to -- and let the magazine editors know about. The ad depicted two light aircraft tied down, with a nuclear power plant looming in the background. The caption read: "Remember when only environmentalists would have been alarmed by this photo? Join the conversation." Well, AOPA invited its members to engage in that dialogue and President Phil Boyer said scores of pilots put pen to paper and fingers to keyboard. TIME President Eileen Naughton emailed Boyer, saying the magazine never intended to malign GA but to illustrate how "commonplace images have the power to provoke us to see things differently" after 9/11. Apparently the AOPA response made TIME's management see things differently, also. "Out of respect for the general aviation industry, TIME has removed this ad from its media schedule," Naughton wrote.

Glider Pilots Plug Security

While it might be considered unlikely that gliders will be used to rain terror from the skies, the Soaring Society of America is trying to minimize even the remote chance that the perception exists. And along they way, the group has prepared a thoughtful and comprehensive guide to everyday security that could apply to almost any aviation environment. "The promotion of responsible flying and enlightened security conscientiousness (sic) will help in assuaging public fears of general aviation," says the group's Secure Our Aviation Resources (SOAR) program guide. The guide doesn't really break new ground in any of the common-sense suggestions it makes regarding aircraft, ramp and airport security issues, but it does put them all in a logical and reasonable package that wouldn't hurt any pilot to read from time to time. If you want a copy for your hangar or the club bulletin board go to the SOAR Web site.

Pre-Sun 'n Fun Races Set

Seen the Unlimiteds growl around the pylons at Reno and got the itch? Well, Sun 'n Fun might be the place to scratch it. The 21st running of the Sun 100/Sun 60 Air Races will be held the week before the annual EAA Fly-In at Linder Regional Airport at Lakeland, Fla., April 6-13. The Sun 100 will run April 3 and is for homebuilt aircraft while the Sun 60 is for certificated aircraft and runs April 4. Basic entry requirements are an airworthy aircraft, a current pilot's certificate and proof of $1 million in liability insurance. Just like Reno, the racers will cover a triangular course and radio-equipped spotters will spot any ... pilot-created unauthorized course modifications. Race aircraft will take off at 20-second intervals and the best time in class wins. Classes have been established for various aircraft configurations but the fine-tuning of the categories occurs on race day, when, for example, three RVs of similar horsepower might be pitted against each other. The 15 seconds (or less) of fame that come with the winners' announcements is the only official prize. Aircraft Spruce and Specialty Co. is sponsoring the race. Each race is restricted to 75 aircraft and registration forms are available at info@aircraftspruce.com.

Sound-Proofing Noise Complaints

It's possible that in some remote part of the country, $74,000 will get you a decent place to live. In Key West, it gets you a quieter place to live -- if your house is currently beside the airport. Best of all, the federal government will pick up the tab. Up to 300 houses ringing the airport are in line for the sound-insulation treatment, which stops noise complaints via specially designed doors, windows and insulation that cut the noise level by 8 to 11 decibels. (They're designed to keep the noise out, but likely will reduce complaints from inside, too.) So far, just 21 homes have been retrofitted at a total cost of $1.5 million, an average of $74,000. But residents who want the package apparently have to make a little noise themselves. "I would love to just write a check," Airport Manager Peter Horton told the Keys News. "But this is a government program with lots of hoops to jump before, during and after." Key West residents have already done a fair bit to reduce the airport's impact, such as growing vegetation barriers, lobbying for a midnight to 6 a.m. flight curfew and convincing the local school board that the end of the runway wasn't the best place for a new high school.

Another Reason To Always Aim For The Centerline

We can only imagine the contents of the cockpit voice recorder after the crew of this United Airlines A-319 touched the nose gear down at O'Hare International Airport (ORD) in late November. According to the NTSB preliminary report, the plane had taken off from O'Hare on a flight to Los Angeles with 77 passengers and five crew aboard, and the crew was unable to retract the nose gear. The plane returned to O'Hare and when the nose gear touched it was rotated 90-degrees to the direction of travel. The tires blew and the wheels ground down to the axles but the pilots managed to keep the aircraft on the blacktop, which survived fairly well, too. There were no injuries. According to the NTSB, the plane had flown just four cycles since undergoing "heavy maintenance," which included overhauling the nose gear.

The Passing Of A War Ace

Joe Foss, one of the U.S.'s greatest World War II flying aces, died last week at age 87. Foss shot down 26 Japanese aircraft during the Battle for Guadalcanal. Of their service branch, only fellow Marine Gregory "Pappy" Boyington shot down more planes, with 28 victories -- but historians argue that since six of his silhouettes came as a volunteer for the Flying Tigers in China before the U.S. joined the war, the real honor may be due Foss. Foss never let the second-place standing keep him from rising to the top in his civilian endeavors. He became governor of his native South Dakota in the 1950s, was the first commissioner of the American Football League and president of the National Rifle Association. A memorial service will be held Thursday in Scottsdale, Ariz.

AD Watch

Owners of potentially troublesome Hartzell propellers should soon be able to replace them with upgraded versions. Hartzell recently gained certification for its MV series propellers and their installation will eliminate the need for extensive periodic inspections and testing of the older model props. If this means you, see the full Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.


On The Fly...

A man who stole a motorglider and threatened to crash it into a Frankfurt bank building landed the aircraft safely Sunday after talking by phone with the brother of an astronaut killed in the Challenger space shuttle explosion. The man was arrested after he spent more than an hour circling over downtown Frankfurt, at least once diving the aircraft before pulling up. The man spoke with Charles Resnick, brother of late astronaut Judith Resnick. Resnick said he didn't know the man and doesn't know if his sister knew him. "I can't say I understand any of this," Resnick told CNN.

Frontier Airlines officials are scratching their heads (perhaps right where their headsets go) as to why one of their mechanics allegedly threw a wheel chock into a running aircraft engine to prevent it from taking off from Denver last week. An FBI spokesman said the mechanic apparently thought there might be something wrong with the plane. "There certainly were other options he probably could have taken to prevent the flight from departing," Frontier spokeswoman Elise Eberwein was quoted as saying in the Washington Post...

The National Aviation Hall of Fame opens Thursday with a ribbon cutting by four of its inductees. Test pilots Scott Crossfield and Joe Kittinger, Enola Gay pilot Paul Tibbets and astronaut Joe Engle will officially open the facility, which is adjacent to the U.S. Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Festivities start at 10 a.m...

Two Lufthansa pilots who tested positive for alcohol as they were getting ready for a flight from Helsinki to Frankfurt reached a deal with the airline to leave their jobs. "We did not fire them, but they are no longer working for Lufthansa," said a company spokesman. The two were in the cockpit Dec. 20 when police, acting on tips from people in the airport, asked them to take an alcohol test. Their blood-alcohol readings were not released...

There were no airline fatalities in the U.S. in 2002, the third time in 10 years (1993 and 1998, too) that's happened. The banner year came after a tragic 12 months in 2001 when a total of 525 died on U.S. airliners. A total of 265 of those were on four airliners hijacked and deliberately crashed by terrorists on Sept. 11. The November 12 crash of American Airlines flight 587 in Belle Harbor, New York took the lives of all 260 aboard.


Short Final...

More from our "Employee Relations" file...

(Two company DH8's on final into Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.)

Controller: CO1234, your traffic is company DH8, at your 11 o'clock, 3,000.

CO1234: Roger Saskatoon, have company DH8 in sight, too close for missiles, going to guns.

Controller: Roger ... please avoid hitting tower.

Contributions to Short Final are welcomed at sf@avweb.com.

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