By Russ Niles, Newswriter
IT'S SUN 'N FUN!
April 2 launches Sun 'n Fun 2003, and Florida Aviation Month begins Tuesday by decree of Governor Jeb Bush. With all that to look forward to, AVweb's special coverage begins today with a quick look at a few of the most interesting and influential players in general aviation. All are AVweb sponsors and all will be showing their best at the show. Watch this space for extended show coverage in Thursday's AVflash, and an AVweb Sun 'n Fun Special Issue headed your way Friday, with a post-show wrap-up to follow next week. If you can't make it to the show, just make sure you can make it to your computer. We'll take care of the rest.
Canadian Company Plans To Build New Beavers, Otters...
Decades after they were discontinued to make way for more modern designs, the legendary de Havilland Beaver and Otter bush planes could soon resume production. Beaver Aircraft Canada plans to build the historic aircraft -- as well as an amphibian called the Tri-Gull. The company is down to the short strokes in setting up a full-fledged manufacturing facility in a former truck factory in Kelowna, B.C. Service, engineering support and training will be done at the Vernon Regional Airport, about 35 miles from the factory. "It will be a wholly-built B.C. plane," said company spokesman Mark Sager. "We want it to be a real Canadian product." Sager, a Vancouver lawyer and businessman who owns three Beavers, said the idea to resume production was borne of a lopsided supply-and-demand ratio for the historic planes, which are sometimes considered to be the best bush planes ever built. Although there are many modern bush planes in production, the 50-year-old Otter (about 230 still flying) and Beaver (about 1100 still flying) designs continue to be hotly sought after. "I know from my own experience how hard it was to find a decent airplane," said Sager. Rebuilders search the world over for wrecks so they can obtain the certification plate and create a new aircraft around it. Sager said an Otter wreck was recently pulled out of the Ugandan wilderness for that precious plate. Assumption of the type certificates gives the company the right to build the aircraft from scratch to the same specifications as the originals.
...Original Jigs And Drawings Preserved...
A key component of the plan is the inclusion in the project of Viking Air, of Victoria, B.C. Viking rescued the original de Havilland production jigs and drawings in 1983. Since then, Viking has used the jigs to manufacture parts for the original aircraft and to reconstruct wrecked Beavers and Otters. Viking is also one of the leading modifiers of Beavers and Otters. One of the most popular retrofits is replacement of the original radial engines with modern turboprops. In fact, "new" Otters will only be available with turbine power. New Beaver owners will have a choice. Tri-Gulls will have turbine power only and will be aimed more at the recreation market. Of course, the aircraft will be available with all the avionics and comfort options offered in modern aircraft like autopilot, electric trim, GPS/Nav/Com as well as digital systems monitors. All that makes the airplanes more comfortable and pleasant to fly but it's the performance and carrying capacity that keep them in demand. The Beaver, first built in 1947, was among the first true STOL designs and its ability to get a heavy load in and out of short, rough wilderness strips quickly established its reputation. The Otter is basically a bigger version of the Beaver, with similar STOL abilities. But there's a reason you've never seen either aircraft racing at Reno. Even with 600 hp up front, they lumber along at about 110 knots.
...Company Says Market Is There
Anyone in aviation knows the terrible economic state of the industry, particularly the manufacturing sector, but Beaver Aircraft Canada is unfazed by the current doldrums. "Everything is cyclical," said Sager. He said prototype, flight testing and certification will take about three years and that's when many industry analysts predict recovery. The company is predicting sales of about 700 Beavers and Otters in the first seven years of operation and almost as many Tri-Gulls. The Beaver will cost about $900,000 U.S., the Otter about $1.05 million and the Tri-Gull $400,000. "We have a very tight niche market," he said. He anticipates steady demand for the aircraft. Sager said the company is nearly ready to start up. Despite support from the federal and local governments, Sager said the British Columbia government has been slow to embrace the concept. He said the company isn't looking for any government money directly but it is asking the province to establish post-secondary courses at local colleges to train the production, repair and service employees it will need to create the business. In Canada, the provinces have the responsibility for education programs. A decision is expected within a week. If the training programs are turned down, he said the operation might be moved to Quebec, where generous incentives have already been offered.
Aerobatic Pilot Aims For Loophole...
One of the air show circuit's rising stars is hoping the Transportation Security Administration can provide a loophole in its stadium overflight ban big enough for him to fly through. Michael Mancuso (solo performer and former member of the award-winning Northern Lights aerobatic team) was to become the first-ever official show pilot for the Indy car race circuit. But the orange alert and the war in Iraq have put the brakes on that deal. Apparently the TSA is (generally) OK with multiple performers flying at air shows ... but not one pilot flying air shows near race tracks. "It's too bad because we were so pumped up about this," said Mancuso. Since 9/11, anyone wanting to fly over a major sporting event or other activity at a stadium seating more than 30,000 people has needed a waiver from the flight restrictions that keep aircraft three nautical miles and 3,000 feet from the stadiums. Mancuso had his waivers in place for the Miami and Phoenix Indy races but they were cancelled when the nation's security posture increased to orange from yellow. He said he understands the need for increased security but the practical application of the waiver ban doesn't make much sense.
...NOTAM Inconsistencies Revealed
Mancuso's only hope may be the broad interpretation of a section of the NOTAM that allows pilots to apply for waivers "for operational purposes of an event, stadium or other venue." He said he's been told that as an official event pilot his act might be interpreted as an operational part of the Indy races. A TSA spokeswoman contacted by AVweb over the weekend said she couldn't reach officials able to respond until today. Although the FAA issued the NOTAM, the TSA is responsible for issuing waivers, according to FAA spokesman William Shumann. Mancuso's situation illustrates some apparent cracks in the logic behind the NOTAM. He noted that air shows sometimes attract far more people than sporting events and are not covered by the NOTAM. Mancuso also wondered about the fate of an air show in Georgia that's held at a racetrack and also noted that the NOTAM applies to stadiums with seating capacity of more than 30,000 -- even if there are far fewer fans actually in the stands for an event. "Common sense says this is absurd," he said. The waiver ban will keep him out of up to 10 Indy race events. "It's costing me a ton of money," he said.
EAA is rallying its New York members to battle a proposed law that would raise the minimum age for piloting an airplane in that state to 17 ... and quite possibly complicate long cross-country flights for younger students from bordering states. Four Republican State Assembly members have introduced the bill, ostensibly to prevent an incident similar to one in Tampa, Fla., in 2001 in which a 15-year-old student pilot stole an aircraft and crashed it into a building. EAA says it's one more example of a state trying to venture into federal jurisdiction. Earl Lawrence, EAA's government expert, said regulating pilots is clearly the FAA's responsibility and the law would be toothless. "What the 15-year-old in Florida did is already illegal under the existing federal regulations," Lawrence said. "The passage of a state law will not change or reduce the chance that another 15-year-old will steal an aircraft." The law would prevent 16-year-olds from obtaining their student pilot certificates and it would also ban 15-year-olds from getting their glider certificates. Young pilots under 17 from other states would presumably also be banned from flying in New York. Lawrence said the FAA and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are already taking steps to prevent aircraft theft by anyone, regardless of age. Members are encouraged to write bill sponsors Bob Barra (14th district) Tom Alfano (21st district), Tom Kirwan (100th district) and David Townsend (115th district) to register their complaints.
Well, chances are your airplane already meets New Jersey's "two-lock" rule. After much hair-pulling and teeth-gnashing by the alphabets over the rule, announced by the state a week ago, it now appears the normal precautions most of us take are enough for New Jersey. For instance, the two locks can be the door and magneto switch ... even if they use the same key. The law went into effect on Friday and covers any aircraft left at a state-licensed aircraft facility for more than 24 hours. AOPA representatives got the interpretation in a meeting with state officials last week. However, the AOPA delegation also looked for some concessions. They asked that the requirement be lifted at air carrier airports, since the TSA looks after security matters there, and they also urged that the rule be suspended when the terrorism threat level goes down to "yellow" or lower. The state officials promised to consider those ideas as well as to gather public input on the rule. New Jersey is also buying 200 AOPA Airport Watch signs to hang around its 47 state-licensed airports. Although the rule went into effect March 29, there won't be any immediate enforcement right away, AOPA representatives were told.
The FAA might not be ready for it but that's not stopping the Air Force and NASA from trying to develop "synthetic vision" to enable its pilots to fly and fight in any weather. Synthetic vision uses satellite navigation and a computer to present a virtual image of the terrain around the aircraft allowing the pilot to "see" where he is going regardless of weather or darkness. Similar technology is coming to GA. "There's no doubt in my mind that there's tremendous military benefit to this technology," Thomas Schnell, director of the University of Iowa's Operator Performance Laboratory, told Wired News "As long as you could receive a GPS signal, you could fly using synthetic vision -- no matter the weather." ... and assuming the aircraft was still physically capable of flight. Well, it seems like the FAA would like to let the military work the bugs out before certifying such systems in civilian aircraft. As AVweb reported earlier, the agency is allowing the use of "enhanced vision" systems that amplify existing visual cues, but it's specifically banning the use of the computer-generated pictures. Meanwhile, NASA and the Air Force have already tried out synthetic vision systems in a modified C-135 and NASA is sinking $100 million into research. It hopes to test a system at the airport in Reno in June or July.
From the one-more-thing-to-avoid-while-flying department -- final testing starts Wednesday on a radar system that could have us sharing the skies with pilotless aircraft. Researchers at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California have been working on the Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology (ERAST) program for four years. The system gives remotely piloted aircraft the ability to detect "incoming obstacles" at a range of six nautical miles, theoretically giving the drone time to signal its ground-bound pilot, by line of sight or satellite relay, to take corrective action. The researchers are the first to admit that flinging a pilotless airplane into the nation's airspace is a risky venture. "Part of the technical stumbling blocks of unmanned aerial vehicles is the inability to equal the level of safety of a manned plane," Glenn Hamilton, the project manager, told Space.com. Without the collision-avoidance capability, he predicted the FAA would severely restrict where and when remote control aircraft can fly. The heart of the system is a lightweight radar originally developed by a Canadian company, Amphitech International, to help helicopter pilots avoid power lines. It's been mounted on Proteus, the Scaled Composites-designed high-altitude, long-endurance drone.
Some Massachusetts businesses and aircraft owners are taking the business of restoring GA to health into their own hands. They've formed the Massachusetts Business Aviation Association. "The purpose of this non-profit association is to protect, promote and advocate the interests and needs of business and general aviation (in Massachusetts)," the group's announcement said. The MBAA plans to deal with issues like safety, security, operations and the environment and represent aviation interests in government and community relations. The MBAA is now actively recruiting members from corporate flight departments, air charter companies, businesses and their employees at 44 public-use airports and owners of the 2,700 private aircraft based in the state. The first president of the organization is John I. Williams, vice chairman of Sentient Jet, a private jet membership company based in Norwell. He said the MBAA will work closely with other advocacy groups, like AOPA and NBAA, on issues of common concern.
The order book at Raytheon could shrink by $1.75 billion according to an SEC filing by the company. Raytheon had been counting on a $900 million order from an unnamed company for its new Hawker Horizon bizjet. Market conditions and developmental delays mean the order "could be restructured or canceled," the Associated Press reported the filing as saying. Another $850 million order from Flight Options LLC is also in jeopardy. Raytheon may take over the struggling fractional-ownership company. Meanwhile, at its home base in Wichita, employees are trying to stop the company from contracting out their work to outside companies. The Wichita Eagle reported that the workers planned a rally called "Stand for Wichita's Jobs" on Saturday. The rally was to take dead aim at Raytheon's recently announced proposals to send parts and subassembly work elsewhere, including Mexico. By 2006, the company plans to do only final assembly in Wichita. Such a move could eliminate 3,000 Wichita jobs, according to union officials. They claim the jobs will be lost forever regardless of an improvement in market conditions.
A picture is sometimes worth thousands and thousands of words. Alphabet groups and others have drained a few ink barrels in their quest to make the FAA supply graphical TFRs and it looks like the FAA has finally listened. The most recent batch of TFRs around military installations now comes with graphics on the FAA Web site. AOPA President Phil Boyer recently lobbied key Congress committee members to order the agency to provide the graphics as part of the upcoming funding allocations. Boyer also asked the FAA to make the graphics available on DUATS. Thanks to the war in Iraq and the increased security posture, there are dozens of TFRs throughout the country and Boyer said the graphics would help ensure compliance. The FAA action seems to keep a promise made by FAA administrator Marion Blakey. "You need a good picture. You're going to get it," she is quoted as saying at last year's AOPA Expo. AOPA is also asking Congress to ensure that the Transportation Security Administration is consulted on all TFRs "to prevent a proliferation of politically driven, non-security-related airspace restrictions ..."
Certain Hartzell propellers on some Socata aircraft must have their de-icing boots removed and replaced and the prop inspected and reworked to prevent corrosion.
A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would supercede an AD on 175,000 Lycoming direct-drive engines on action taken after a prop strike. Instead of just applying to aircraft with significant prop damage, it will apply to any engine that's suffered a sudden drop in RPM by contacting water, tall grass or any other medium that might not damage the prop. The crankshaft gear assembly has to be inspected following such an incident.
An AD has been enacted to require replacement of all part number 892-51-0-035-0 engine mount assemblies on certain Socata aircraft. The mounts can crack. It supercedes a previous AD on mount cracking that exempted that particular engine mount.
The FAA (or is it the TSA?) eased restrictions ever so slightly at Washington- and New York-area towered airports covered by the ADIZs on the weekend, allowing pilots and students to do some pattern work. From 0600 Saturday to 02000 Sunday, those staying in the pattern didn't have to file a flight plan and they were given a universal transponder code of 1234. ATC contact and requests for the special treatment were mandatory and the relaxation didn't apply to the DC-3...
When the Vatican closed its airspace it probably didn't have this in mind. A 26-year-old Austrian was arrested Friday after hang-gliding into St. Peter's Square to hang an anti-war banner. Seven other people on the ground, apparently waiting for the early morning landing with cameras and more banners, were also detained...
The King Air carrying Sen. Paul Wellstone was flying perilously slow just before it crashed near Eveleth, Minn. Oct 25. The NTSB says the twin was going just 76 knots, well below the 99-knot minimum non-icing speed in the King Air manual and almost half the 140-knot minimum set for icing conditions. The crash killed Wellstone, his wife and daughter, three campaign aids and both pilots...
Lancair will debut its electric de-icing system at Sun 'n Fun. The ThermaWing system uses a multi-layered tape powered by the engine alternator that cycles and rapidly transfers power to multiple sections of the tape. The tape is bonded to leading edges of the wings and horizontal stabilizer. A heated prop and an optional removable window plate complete the package. A new flat instrument panel will also be unveiled...
It was the Shuttle Columbia's leading edge and not the underside of its wing that was hit by insulation falling from the fuel tank on launch. That's increased speculation the shuttle was destroyed by the entry of superheated gas into the wing from a breach in the leading edge...
Your special-issuance medical could be a casualty of the war in Iraq. Two of the five FAA doctors who review those applications have been called up and a single replacement doctor won't be on staff until the end of April. That means first-time applications will take three months and re-issuances two months. You can speed up the process by making sure all the records and paperwork are complete.
Frustrated Controller at LaGuardia on a busy day: "Skyhawk 735 do a one minute 360 for spacing on the final".
Veteran, cool, knowledgeable pilot "A standard rate-turn 360 degrees takes two minutes"
Controller: "Do a 180 and back 'er in".
Contributions to Short Final are welcomed at email@example.com.
LIGHTSPPED 20XL GETS MAKEOVER!
The 20XL is back, and better than ever! The 20XL/2 brings back the popular model with a new, even smaller, battery box and the Aux Audio 3G input, at a new LOWER price of just $395. HEAR for yourself during Sun 'n Fun at LightSPEED's booth #D-051-053. Get more LightSPEED for LESS.
REBATE, PERSONALIZED SERVICE PROFILE & WARRANTY ARE YOURS WITH TopCare (TM) cylinders from Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM). Be safe; be sure with factory-original cylinders from TCM. State-of-the-art manufacturing standards insure every cylinder meets exacting manufacturing and quality and specifications. For rebate details, technical information, warranty features, and dealers visit TCM during Sun 'n Fun at booths #N-093-095 & N-100-102, or online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/tcm.
BUY. SELL. FLY. NOTHING HELPS YOU DO THAT LIKE TRADE-A-PLANE (TAP).
In print and online, it's the Aviation MarketPlace with everything that keeps you flying. Subscribe today! Stop by TAP's Sun 'n Fun booth A-1 of the Trade-A-Plane Hangar for a FREE print copy and demo of the Web site. Or go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/tap.
THE AVWEB EDITION OF FLIGHT EXPLORER LETS YOU SEE WHAT ATC SEES.
The AVweb Edition of Flight Explorer is the PC-based graphical aircraft situation display that shows a real-time picture of all IFR aircraft in-flight over the U.S. and Canada. Whether you're tracking a friend's trip, or want to learn more about the system in action, Flight Explorer has the information for just $9.95 a month. Go to
USED AIRCRAFT GUIDE IS NOW ON SALE! SAVE 25% OFF THE REGULAR PRICE.
Buying or selling you can't afford not to know all the facts, Aviation Consumer's Used Aircraft Guide supplies you with all the specs on all aircraft. Order at http://www.aviationconsumer.com/books/66-1.html.
DON'T HAVE A LOW-LEVEL CARBON MONOXIDE MONITOR? SUN 'N FUN SPECIAL: $99.95!
Low levels of carbon monoxide can be hazardous in aircraft because the effects of CO and hypoxia are cumulative. Even a low-level CO leak may be an early warning of a life-threatening engine problem such as cracks or holes in the exhaust system. Don't take chances! The CO Expert 2002 from Aeromedix will warn of CO levels as low as 5 parts per million! Be safe, order today at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/aeromedi.
RYAN OFFERS ACTIVE 9900BX TAS WITH AUDIBLE POSITION ALERTING & FREE CD!
"Traffic! 12 o'clock, high one mile!" is what you will hear-LOUD AND CLEAR-from Ryan International's TSO-certified 9900BX TCAD with "Audible Position Alerting." Enhance your flight safety by installing a Ryan TCAD. SUN 'N FUN ATTENDEES: Come by Ryan's Booth D071-072 to learn more about flying with the Ryan 9900BX and receive a FREE informational CD, or go online to locate a dealer near you.
COMM 1 RADIO SIMULATOR TM OFFER: FREE HEADSET WITH ANY PURCHASE!
Fly confidently by training with Comm 1 audio interactive CD-ROMs designed to teach pilots how to build radio skills and confidence on the ground in order to communicate safely and professionally in the air. See all Comm1 programs and new interactive Navigation training programs at Sun 'n Fun booth C-061 and attend the FREE Comm 1 forum on April 2 and 4 at 10AM. More details at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/comm1.
AEROSHELL IS PULLING OUT ALL THE STOPS FOR SUN 'N FUN!
Put AeroShell's activities on your Sun 'n Fun "to do" list. Patty Wagstaff, Jamail Larkins and the AeroShell Aerobatic Team will be signing autographs at AeroShell's Booth #C-085-089 85-89 on Friday, 9:45-10:45 for Patty; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, noon to 1 p.m. for the AeroShell Team. The AeroShell Forums presentations will be given by Ben Visser every day except Tuesday, at 10 a.m. in Tent 9. Alternating topics will be "Care & Lubrication of Piston Engines" and "AvFuel." These are important safety forums no pilot should miss. Go online for details at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/shell.
WHAT THE NTSB FOUND MIGHT HELP YOU AVOID DOING THE SAME THING!
The NTSB completed its investigation into the crash which killed members of the Oklahoma State University football team after the airplane had a partial electrical failure in IMC. Investigators found that the pilot did something simple which made his spatial disorientation worse. Full details in the March issue of NTSB REPORTER. Order your subscription at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/ntsbrepo.
SHARE THE WEALTH. TELL YOUR PILOT FRIENDS ABOUT AVWEB AND AVFLASH!
For their FREE subscription send them to http://www.avweb.com/profile.