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Eclipse Picks Pratt And Whitney Canada

Engine In Same Family As Mustang's...

As AVweb speculated two months ago, the Eclipse 500 and Cessna Mustang will use derivatives of the same engine. Eclipse Aviation announced Wednesday that Pratt and Whitney Canada (PWC) will build the engines for the five-place 500. The announcement comes three months after Eclipse terminated a contract with Williams International to supply power to the mini-jet. A month later, Cessna announced PWC would build the Model 615, a small engine developing 1350 pounds of thrust, for the Mustang. Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn told AVweb Wednesday the engine for his company's airplane will be designated the 610, a smaller version of the same engine, developing 900 pounds of thrust. Raburn said Eclipse is delighted to be working with Montreal-based PWC. "Pratt and Whitney Canada is the gold standard in engine manufacturers," he said. Raburn said many customers have e-mailed him endorsing the choice, even though it will mean the airplane will be delayed two years and its price is going up to between $950,000 and $1.2 million, depending on when the plane is purchased. Since abandoning the deal with Williams, Eclipse maintained it was dealing with two engine manufacturers. Raburn declined to identify the loser in the Eclipse competition. He did, however, applaud PWC's recognition of and commitment to the mini-jet market with the development of a new family of engines. The 610 isn't even off the drawing board yet and won't be certified until 2006, but Raburn said that won't halt development of the 500. The prototype will be off the ground soon sporting a couple of Teledyne drone engines.

...Eclipse Customers Trading Positions...

Raburn insisted that the engine switch has made most of those who have shelled out more than $150,000 to reserve an Eclipse even more loyal to the program. But for those who are having second thoughts, the company has given them two ways to bow out. Because the company failed to meet its schedule and price guarantees, any Eclipse position-holder is entitled to a full refund of the deposit. But the company is also allowing customers to sell their positions, either on the open market or amongst themselves, until March 7. Raburn said about 5 percent of the reserved spots on about 1,500 aircraft are available, but he predicts they'll all be snapped up before the deadline. The most coveted are the Platinum positions, which went to the first 160 people to hand over their deposits. Raburn said about 10 are available. The Platinum spots differ from the others because the $950,000 price tag is fixed and not subject to inflation. For others, their price is $950,000 in 2000 dollars and inflation could boost it by as much as 20 percent by the time they get their airplanes. Raburn said the Platinum positions will almost certainly go to current customers who want to move up to the head of the line. An Eclipse position-holder we spoke with says Platinum position-holders are looking for a $100,000 premium on their investments. Raburn said he's heard of a few Eclipse positions being advertised on eBay but the company is not releasing information on available positions until all existing customers have had a chance to move up if they want to.

...Safire Goes With Williams

Eclipse wasn't the only manufacturer making engine noise on Wednesday. Safire Aircraft announced its personal jet will be powered by the Williams FJ33, and may be the first personal jet to hit the market. Safire notes that the engine, which is a derivative of the FJ44 used in some other business jets, will be certified by the end of the year and that the first prototype will fly in early 2004, allowing first customer deliveries early in 2006. "Immediate availability of FJ33 for our aircraft flight test certification programs coupled with anticipated FAA engine certification in December 2003 provides Safire with a significant first-to-market advantage," said Safire CEO Camilo Salomon. The FJ33 chosen by Safire will produce 1,100 pounds of thrust and comes with dual-channel full authority digital engine control. They'll come with a three-year, 1,500-hour warranty. Michael Margaritoff, founder of Safire Aircraft, said the company went with a proven design because past experience has shown that new aircraft incorporating unproven engines have rarely been successful.  He said the Williams FJ44 has been a proven performer and the "conservative derivative approach" in developing the FJ33 will help ensure the smaller engine will be successful.


TSA Groundings Appealed

Two Saudis Suspended, Two Get Certificates Back...

The Transportation Security Administration has suspended the airman certificates of two Saudi Arabian Airlines pilots and restored the flying privileges of two others. The Saudi Press Agency said airline lawyers are appealing the suspensions of Moen Hassan Zarie and Tarek Hassan Jifry under the recently announced rule that allows the TSA to order the FAA to suspend airman certificates if it believes those holding them pose a security threat. The airline was apparently able to convince TSA authorities that Nabil Mohammed Adawi and Khaled Fahd Al-Olayan were not security risks, and their certificates were returned Jan. 22, the Arab News reported last Saturday. Zarie and Jifry continue their battle. The still-suspended pilots appealed to the NTSB's chief administrative judge but, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal, he rejected the appeals because of the way the act creating the TSA is written. The judge said the 2001 Aviation and Transportation Security Act compelled him to assume that the TSA is correct in considering the two pilots security risks. The pilots are taking their case to another NTSB judge but he apparently said there can't be a hearing until the TSA makes public its now-classified evidence against them. That same act allows the TSA to keep the evidence secret for security reasons. We wouldn't even know this much about the case if the pilots hadn't taken their case to the NTSB, which still conducts its proceedings in public.

...Saudis To Issue Their Own Licenses

The loss of flight privileges in the U.S. can apparently ground a pilot in other countries because many countries issue pilots' licenses based on whether applicants are qualified to fly in the U.S. The Saudi government has apparently decided to sidestep that practice and, according the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, will start issuing its own licenses within a month. The Saudis believe the homegrown licenses will be valid in all other countries, including the U.S. Other Arab countries are doing the same, the paper said. FAA officials were not immediately available to comment. The FAA said the Saudis were among 11 whose certificates were suspended last August in an unpublicized move by the TSA and FAA. Aharq Al-Awsat said the Saudis lost their certificates in January but FAA spokesman Greg Martin confirmed Wednesday that the certificates in question were among the original 11 and no more suspensions or revocations had been issued. Publicity about the suspensions came at a delicate time in Saudi-U.S. relations. Negotiations are underway for the use of Saudi Arabian military installations for a possible invasion of Iraq.


Briefs...

Aussies Send Whyalla Engines Home For Investigation

As AVweb reported late last year, Australia's Transport Safety Bureau's (ATSB) investigation into the May 2000 crash of a Whyalla Airlines Piper Chieftain could tie directly to Lycoming's massive recall of potentially defective crankshafts. The ATSB's report on the crash concluded that the Chieftain's two Lycoming TSIO-JT2B engines failed "dependently," meaning that the failure of the left engine caused the pilot to select a higher power setting on the right engine, which subsequently failed. Now, the agency has filed a controversial application to have the engines of the crashed aircraft returned to Australia after being tested in the U.S. The ATSB served notice on South Australian Coroner Wayne Chivell to produce the engines in Adelaide by tomorrow. "The bureau wants a further look at the components, in particular on the left-hand engine," an ATSB spokesman said last Thursday. The agency reopened its investigation last November, after Textron Lycoming listed the crankshaft from the left-hand engine of the crashed Chieftain in a batch of parts that could have been built from faulty steel. Even with these facts noted in its application, the ATSB is encountering resistance from the accident victims' families. Attorneys representing the families of the eight victims claim the move by the ATSB could slash any potential damages claim because it may prevent them from having the case resolved in a U.S. court.

NOTE: For more background on this story, be sure to read John Deakin's August 2002 Pelican Perch feature article, which took a detailed look at the accident.

Two Men Flee After Trying To Buy Crop-duster

It could be viewed as an awfully suspicious incident, an elaborate hoax, or a simple misunderstanding, but the community of Beverly, Mass., is buzzing over the attempt by two men to buy a crop-duster at the local airport. It's being taken seriously enough that the Massachusetts State Police are investigating the incident, which occurred Feb. 11. The police won't talk about it but witnesses claim the men, who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent, went to Aviators of New England and asked the owner if they could buy the ag plane parked outside. When questioned by the flight school's owner, Richard Little, the men jumped in a pickup truck with Massachusetts plates and left the airport. Little then called the police. While their accents and ethnic origin raised some initial concerns, airport operators were more alarmed by their desire to buy an agricultural aircraft, because hardly any crop-dusting goes on in New England The owner of the airplane --  who wasn't at the airport at the time of the incident --  told local media outlets the plane has been converted for use as a banner-tower and all the spray equipment has been removed. Some at the airport are apparently taking the tale with a grain of salt. They told a Salem newspaper the lack of specific information points to an elaborate hoax or, perhaps, a simple misunderstanding.

Diamond Twin Pushes Economy Envelope

Diamond Aircraft continues to turn heads with a piston twin that appears to put the fuel-economy figures of the most miserly singles and the performance data of the most spirited high-performance piston aircraft to shame. The company released test data on its DA42 Twin Star earlier this week. The all-composite, diesel-powered aircraft ripped along at 201 knots TAS on 80-percent power at 18,000 feet. But perhaps even more startling was that at max economy setting, it held a respectable 110 knots IAS using just three gallons per hour of Jet A or diesel. That's far less than a Cessna 152 would use at the same speed. A Diamond news release says that at minimum power settings, the aircraft has a theoretical range of 2,200 nm and an endurance of 19 hours on standard fuel load. Most people want to get there quicker, however, and at 75-percent power and 10,000 feet you'll be going 181 knots and using 10.7 gph of cheaper fuel. Diamond is hoping for a price of $360,000 and North American deliveries of the Twin Star in mid-2004.

Arming Cargo Pilots, Part II

Cargo pilots might soon be able to carry firearms in the cockpit. Congress is currently working on legislation to close a gap in the Homeland Security Act that excludes cargo pilots from carrying firearms aboard their aircraft. If passed, the new wording would allow 10,000 cargo pilots to train and carry weapons in the cockpit after undergoing background checks. When it was originally drafted, the Homeland Security Act allowed all pilots to arm themselves, but it was later amended to permit only airline pilots flying passenger routes to receive the training and subsequent permission to carry firearms, much to the dismay of professional pilot organizations and unions. "There are no federal air marshals on cargo flights and we cannot allow these jets to be used for future terrorist attacks," said Rep. Don Young (R-Ala.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  Duane Woerth, chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association, was delighted by the move and said the group will work with Congress to pass what it says is a "greatly needed improvement to aviation security."

Family's Private Air Show Draws Fire

It's OK to show off to your relatives, but when it involves low-level aerobatics in an F-15, it might be best to let others in town know. The impromptu display by the F-15 included at least four low-flying passes, loops and barrel rolls over Geneseo, a town of 6,400 in western Illinois. At the controls was Maj. Whitney Sieben of the Oregon Air National Guard, a Geneseo native. He said he was putting on the show for his grandmother. Sieben pre-arranged the display with his family by e-mail. The fighter pilot's uncle, State Sen. Todd Sieben (R-Geneseo), joined in the fun, as he flew a Grumman Tiger, at times in formation, with the F-15 Eagle.  Apparently, the local air traffic control facility and Quad City International Airport controllers were advised of the impending air show, but residents and town officials were kept out of the loop. The result was a swarm of phone calls to the local law enforcement. "People were concerned,'' said Geneseo Police Chief Tom Piotrowski.


On The Fly...

A major snowstorm on Monday closed airports and affected aircraft operations from the Ohio Valley to the mid-Atlantic region. Several major airports were affected, with New York's JFK International reporting 25 inches of snow and hundreds of flight cancellations. Ronald Reagan Washington National was also closed on Monday and nearby Dulles operated with a single runway throughout the day. At nearby Baltimore-Washington, more than 400 flights had been canceled, forcing about 150 travelers to spend the night at the airport. In all, about 1,100 cancellations were reported between the major New York and Washington, D.C., airports...

Creditors are reportedly waiting in line, as United Air Lines draws closer to shutting down operations.  Recent reports indicate the struggling carrier may not emerge from its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing and that has the financial buzzards getting ready to get whatever scraps they can. While the carrier's loan covenants require it to meet a schedule of reductions in operating losses and break even by October, creditors are preparing to dissect the airline, piece by piece, if necessary. Stay tuned to AVweb for developments on this story...

A Russian-made airliner carrying as many as 302 passengers crashed in southern Iran on Wednesday. The Antonov -- which was carrying mostly military personnel -- was on a domestic flight from Zahedan, on the Pakistan border, to Kerman, about 500 miles southeast of Tehran. Unfortunately, the jet never arrived, as it crashed about 50 miles from its destination. Some reports indicate the passengers were members of the elite Revolutionary Guard, part of Iran's Islamic regime...

A new $7.5 million Learning Center at the National Aviation Hall of Fame is offering a unique "human" look into the history of aviation. Officials of the new facility -- which is adjacent to the Air Force Museum in Riverside, Ohio -- say the purpose of the new museum is to teach the history of aviation through the stories of the men and women who made it happen. Topics of interest include: the first pilot who can claim the first romantic adventure in midair, and why astronaut Gus Grissom wore a panty girdle on his first flight into space...

Cirrus has expanded its horizons to the opposite end of the earth. The company announced this week that it delivered its first aircraft to a New Zealand customer. The SR22 was among the 15 percent of the company's production that goes outside the U.S. There are now Cirruses flying in Canada, South America, Australia, Mexico, South Africa and Europe...

Adam Aircraft recently celebrated the first flight of its A500 aircraft, production-002. The initial flight of the A500-002 took place at Centennial Airport in Englewood, Colo., on Thursday morning, Feb. 13.  The flight lasted approximately 35 minutes and reached an altitude of 13,000 feet. The A500-001 made its first flight July 11, 2002, and has flown 122 hours over 62 flights. The A500 is a twin-engine, inline-thrust, pressurized, six-seat aircraft...

On Monday about 10 percent of Air France flights were cancelled as a result of a four-day pilot strike. The carrier's main pilot union -- which demands higher wages -- is threatening to eventually halt 50 percent of flights in the airline's second strike in two weeks. Air France called the action an "absurdity of the strike in the current air transport context, which is certainly the worst in its history, especially with war looming in the Middle East."...

The first U-2 reconnaissance flight over Iraq on behalf of the United Nations inspections program took place on Monday. The flight -- which had been a source of contention between the Middle Eastern country and the U.N. for a few weeks -- was completed without incident.  Iraqi officials had originally objected to the U-2 flights, contending they couldn't guarantee the safety of the plane if it was flying over Iraq at the same time as U.S.-British air patrols were operating in the "no-fly zones" of northern and southern Iraq.


AVweb's Picture Of The Week...

*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***

We received over 100 pictures last week. Congratulations to this week's winner, Dan Dominguez, of Newark, Calif.  His photo, titled "10,000ft sunrise over Bali," captures one of many beautiful sunrises enjoyed by Dan and his other crew members. This picture was taken on an educational and record-setting around-the-world flight in 2000, entitled "World Flight 2000." Great picture, Dan! Your AVweb hat is on the way.

To check out the winning picture, or to enter next week's contest, go to http://www.avweb.com/potw.


AVweb's Question Of The Week...

*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***

We received over 500 responses to our question last week on the new D.C.-area ADIZ. The vast majority (76 percent) of our respondents felt this ADIZ is a useless idea, as the terrorists will always find a way to carry out their attacks. Only a few (3 percent) of those responding felt this is a necessary step to protect our nation's capital.  A slightly larger group (5 percent) were not sure if this is a good security measure or not.

To check out the complete results, please go to http://www.avweb.com/qotw.

*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***

This week, we would like to know your thoughts on arming GA pilots. Please go to http://www.avweb.com/qotw to respond.

Have an idea for a new QOTW?  Send your suggestions to qotw@avweb.com. Note, this address is ONLY for suggested QOTW questions, and NOT for QOTW answers.

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