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This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by …

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Airspace And Agendas

Alphabet Groups Push For Meigs Revival...

It may have faded from the headlines (in the mainstream press, anyway) but the fight to reopen Meigs Field (CGX) is far from over. Just this week, three aviation organizations rallied their members to keep the pressure on Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. On its Web site, EAA notified the flying public that The Friends of Meigs Field and the Meigs Action Coalition are in need of support from "EAA members and aviation enthusiasts who want to see Meigs Field preserved." NBAA and AOPA also advised their members of pending legislation that could be crafted to reopen Meigs. In testimony on Monday before the Illinois Senate General Assembly, NBAA officials opposed legislation that addresses Illinois airport needs without including the reopening of Meigs. David Vornholt, a member of the NBAA's Airports/Heliports Committee, testified in support of Meigs for the NBAA at a May 12 committee hearing on Senate Bill (SB) 802. AOPA Vice President of Regional Affairs Bill Dunn was also on hand to tell the Illinois Senate panel Monday evening that they cannot ignore Meigs Field as the legislature contemplates changes to the Chicago-area system of airports. "Chicago's airports are not independent; they operate as a system," Dunn said. "When considering the future of Chicago's air transportation system, you must not ignore the need to reopen Meigs Field."

...While Newspaper Questions Disney TFR

Aside from the Meigs issue, EAA also notified its members of a newspaper article that challenges the logic used to enforce a TFR over the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. The Orlando Sentinel published a story on May 11 that questions the need to have flight restrictions over the Disney complex and the alleged behind-the-scenes pressure used by park officials to get the TFR in place. The paper also questions the need to have security at the Disney theme parks on par with such sites as federal research labs, weapons depots, and nuclear military installations. According to the article, the no-fly zone was granted without any input from national security agencies, such as the Secret Service, Defense Department, Office of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration. "Without public debate or even a request from the new Homeland Security Department, Congress bent its own rules to help Disney secure the no-fly zones at the urging of at least one well-connected company lobbyist," the Sentinel wrote. The Sentinel's report also links theme-park lobbyists and some key U.S. senators who helped include the no-fly zones in the legislation. Joe Kittinger, a retired Air Force colonel, said politics, not security, closed the airspace. "Disney tried to make that restricted airspace for years but couldn't until now because the airspace belongs to the people, not to a corporation," said Kittinger. "They've achieved it now under the guise of national security, and there is absolutely no reason for it."


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Hush-Hush News Conference Friday

Bombardier's New Engines Emerge…

Is the aviation world about to be set on its ear with the introduction of new piston powerplants? It would appear so. Although Bombardier/Rotax continues to be coy about what its plans are, AVweb has learned that it will announce at Oshkosh the introduction of at least two new certified aircraft engines, the V220 and the V300T. Although Bombardier officials refuse to confirm the specifics, we believe these engines are four- and six-cylinder V designs with single overhead cams and FADEC-controlled fuel and ignition systems designed to run primarily on low-octane gasoline. They sound like evolutions of the Rotax 936 the company had on the test stand a few years ago. (Multi-fuel might be an option.) The company invited us to a super-secret pre-announcement party on Friday, but only in exchange for signed non-disclosure agreements. We declined. Like their ultralight cousins, the new engines will achieve weight reduction through smaller displacement and higher RPMs to deliver the advertised horsepower (which we haven't pinned down). That means some kind of reduction drive, and, although nobody has more experience with reduction-drive aircraft engines than Bombardier, it's something other manufacturers try to avoid in piston engines. From a maintenance and technical point of view, the design and serviceability of the gearbox is as important as the engine.

...Turbocharged Model Likely...

The larger variant of the new engine is probably turbocharged; even we can surmise what that "T" means. We don’t know if they're fuel injected but we can’t see how any cutting-edge engine technology that hopes to deliver both performance and efficiency would be carbureted. The engines were developed in Rotax's Gunskirchen, Austria, plant during the past five years. Rotax is hardly a newcomer to the aircraft-engine world. Its two-cylinder, two-cycle powerplants are the standard for ultralights and some experimentals. Diamond used the four-cylinder 912S and 912F models in its successful Katana trainer with results best described as mixed. In the original Katana, the 80-hp, four-cylinder, four-stroke Rotax 912F delivered marginal climb performance and mixed service history. A later variant, the 912S, upped the horsepower to 100, which helped, but not enough to keep Rotax in the game. Diamond switched to Continental’s IO-240B for its follow-on Evolution/Eclipse aircraft. In retrospect, the Rotax engines delivered acceptable but not outstanding service history. They proved challenging to service in the field, and overhaul costs were nearly twice what had been promised.

...Bombardier Big Enough To Challenge Textron

Bombardier is a Canadian company based in Quebec and is a conglomerate with a business breadth somewhat similar to another big player in the piston-engine world, Textron, whose Lycoming division currently owns the OEM market for light aircraft engines. The company's aerospace segments build the Lear and Challenger jet lines and oversee the Flexjet fractional ownership business. Bombardier also makes equipment for the mass-transit industry and has a well-established foothold in the recreational and marine industries, the primary market for its Rotax piston-engine line. (It also owns Evinrude and Johnson, the outboard motor makers.) Curiously, Bombardier recently announced its intent to sell off the recreational division, of which Rotax is a part. A new company is being formed to distribute the GA engines, and Rotax will maintain business as usual, according to the company. By Oshkosh, we should have some photos to show you … that is, unless someone leaks them between now and then.


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Briefs...

FAA Says Pax Are Fatter

The FAA has recognized the growing girth of Americans by revising weight-and-balance estimates used for loading aircraft. Under current guidelines, an adult passenger flying in winter is estimated to weigh 185 pounds, including clothing and carry-on luggage, while the same passenger is calculated at 180 pounds during summer travel. Recently, the FAA ordered 15 airlines to check passenger weights. The survey showed that passengers and their bags generally are heavier than the estimates by 20.63 pounds, carry-on bags were higher by 5.72 pounds and domestic checked bags by 3.81 pounds. After reviewing the results of its survey, the FAA released new guidelines on Monday, adding 10 pounds to its estimate for passengers and five pounds to luggage. In addition, checked bags now will be estimated to weigh 30 pounds rather than 25. The new guidelines come as the NTSB released more information on the crash of a Beech 1900D airliner in Charlotte, N.C., earlier this year, in which it was suggested that weight-and-balance issues may have been a factor. You may remember AVweb's first report on the crash of US Airways Flight 5481, a commuter flight with 19 passengers and two crew aboard operated by Air Midwest, out of Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. Destined for Greenville-Spartanburg, the Beech crashed immediately after takeoff, killing all 21 on board. From the beginning, the aircraft's weight and balance was scrutinized, but preliminary reports, and a subsequent AD, suggest problems with the rigging of the elevator. Under the new guidelines some airlines changed their weight estimates and now carry only 18 passengers on a 19-seat plane. Airlines, which have 90 days to implement the new guidelines, will have the option of using their own estimates if they survey their passengers' weight, which is sure to be a popular line of questioning at the check-in counter.

Wichita Lends Bombardier A Helping Hand

The Wichita City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved an incentives package for Bombardier Aerospace's plant in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports that Bombardier's rent of city-owned land will be chopped by $36,000 a year. According to the newspaper, the city also agreed to split with county officials the $550,000 bill for repaving Learjet Way near the plant. The city aid comes after federal and state officials stretched eligibility requirements for unemployment benefit extensions to laid-off aerospace workers at Wichita plants. "We want to be partners," Wichita Mayor Carlos Mayans said. "This is more an investment in this company because they have been a solid company in our community." About 900 Bombardier workers have been laid off in the past year and a half. In addition, the company has given notice that it may close one of its six aircraft manufacturing plants in North America and Europe. Bombardier has begun recalling some of its furloughed workers and reports it will continue to do so in the near future. The company continues to do well in the regional-jet market, reeling in another deal to supply up to 275 50- and 75-seat RJs to US Airways in a package that could be worth $10.4 billion.

Coast Guard Adds To Air Patrol Fleet

A European flavor has been added to the aircraft fleet patrolling the U.S. coastline. The Coast Guard has ordered two EADS CASA CN235-300M Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA). The new aircraft, made by the same European consortium that makes Airbus jetliners, are the first in a multiyear, multi-aircraft acquisition in the Integrated Deepwater System's (IDS) modernization program for the Coast Guard. The IDS Program is aimed at modernizing and replacing the Coast Guard's aging surface and air fleet. Delivery of two stock airframes is scheduled for early 2006 with modification to the aircraft to be completed by late 2006. The total number of CASA CN235-300M aircraft to be introduced has not been disclosed, but the Coast Guard says "the right mix of the CASA, the medium-range aircraft, and the HC-130 patrol aircraft, the long-range aircraft, will provide the Coast Guard the ability to meet overall system requirements." This mix of ships, airplanes, helicopters, and unmanned air vehicles ensures full interoperability while meeting the full range of Coast Guard missions, including homeland security.

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Cirrus Keeps Growing

While most of the aircraft manufacturing industry struggles to remain aloft, Cirrus Design claims to be on a growing sales trend. The company boasts 800 employees and an equal amount of aircraft. The company recently released some data to support this claim. Cirrus says its has experienced an increase in production for the SR20 Version 2.0 and optional ice protection and primary flight display (PFD). Over 800 aircraft are in the Cirrus fleet, with over 500 customer-owned SR22s. In addition to the increase in production, Cirrus also announced it is now accepting trade-ins of any brand of aircraft. "The unique trade-in program has resulted in a flurry of sales activity for our company," said John Bingham, Cirrus executive vice president of sales and marketing. His boss, CEO Alan Klapmeier, said having the only certified single with a PFD is helping sales. "That fact has helped to set us apart from other manufacturers and is generating a great deal of interest in our SR20s and SR22s."

Piper PA-23 Final Rule Coming Soon

Apache owners take note: A new FAA final rule is going into effect June 23. This amendment adopts a new Airworthiness Directive (AD) that applies to certain New Piper Aircraft Inc. model PA-23, PA-23-160, PA-23-235, PA-23-250, and PA-E23-250 airplanes that do not incorporate a certain design flap control torque tube or torque tube assembly. This AD, which goes into effect on June 23, requires owners/operators to repetitively inspect the flap control torque tube for cracks, corrosion, wear, or elongation of the attachment bolt holes (referred to as damage), and requires the replacement of any damaged torque tube with either an improved design flap control torque tube or flap control torque tube assembly.

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Ex-Ansett Pilots Sue For Training Wages

While Ansett Airlines is no more, the labor issues it once dealt with are still very much a present-day issue. Thirty-six pilots of the defunct Australian carrier are suing the company's administrators for more than $716,000, claiming they should have been paid wages for training in January 2002 as preparation for the aborted takeover by Tesna, a company that agreed to pay almost $300 million for Ansett's business but withdrew just days before scheduled completion. The angry ex-Ansett aviators are demanding they be paid for the time they spent training to fly Airbus A320 aircraft. The group claims that, in December 2001, the administrators and the pilots made a facilitative agreement ensuring that between Dec. 22 and Feb. 28, 2002, the pilots could participate in training to ensure they were qualified to fly the Airbus fleet proposed by Tesna. The pilots also claim the airline staff acting for the administrators, including pilot managers, directed or asked them to train on ground-based flight simulators, computers and in the air to qualify for Airbus certificates. They argue that, by undergoing training, they "rendered services" and therefore are entitled to compensation. Company administrators deny the charge, claiming the pilots were always told the training would not be attributed to further employment with the new Tesna-backed airline.

Survivor Recounts Horrors Of Recent Congo Accident

On Monday, AVweb reported on an incident in which a Russian-made airliner's cargo door opened in flight. We still don't know how many people were sucked from the aircraft to their deaths but the Associated Press found some passengers who managed to hang on through the decompression. The AP said Congo police Lt. Ilunga Mambaza described a scene of panic in the hold of the plane, crammed with people and cargo, when the bay door in the rear suddenly opened for no reason. Mambaza latched onto a truck in the jet's cargo hold as the door blew open. "When the back door opened, I fell down and lots of boxes covered me," Mambaza said. "Lots of my colleagues were sucked out by the wind. I don't know how many because I fainted." His wife, Bebe Kahoma, said the women on the plane were more fortunate: "Us women, we had a little bit of luck because we had been placed close to the cabin, therefore far from the door, but we sustained some damages." The flight crew returned the IL-76 to Kinshasa. About 100 people aboard returned safely. We should note Ukraine's defense ministry, which owns the plane and leases it for use in Congo, denied that anyone died and disputed significant details of the survivors' accounts.


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On The Fly...

A family won $9.55 million for the 80 acres they lost to airport expansion in Cincinnati. The land was needed for a new runway at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. The airport had offered and paid the family more than $4 million, but a continuing dispute over fair market value went all the way to Boone Circuit Court and the judgment was awarded...

AOPA opened the doors to its Kill Devil Hills Pilot Facility. AOPA donated the funds to construct the 900-square-foot Pilot Facility at the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Several hundred pilots and visitors from around the country flew into the park and nearby Dare County Regional Airport at Manteo to attend the grand-opening ceremonies...

Like a parent, Boeing wants just the right name for its new 7E7 jetliner. A new Web site will offer information on the aircraft and give visitors the ability to suggest names and styling options for the new airliner. AOL members will have access to a 360-degree animation of the new plane for 30 days before it's available to the general public, for instance, and a special issue of Time for Kids distributed last week highlights the 7E7 and the history of flight...

On Tuesday, the FAA hosted about 1,000 metropolitan area elementary, middle and high school students at the Potomac Airfield in Fort Washington, M.D, to foster interest in aviation careers. A listing of the participating schools can be found at the FAA Web site...

The Civil Air Patrol is also hosting an educational effort for school kids. Atlanta will host the 37th annual National Congress on Aviation and Space Education (NCASE), March 24 -- 27, 2004. "Teaching Today for Tomorrow" will focus on preparing students for future aerospace industry careers. The NCASE is a national standards-based conference and draws educators from throughout the nation each year. It is jointly sponsored by the Civil Air Patrol and the Air Force.


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AVweb's Picture Of The Week...

*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***

We received over 120 pictures last week. Congratulations to this week's winner, Harold Prior, of Hannibal, N.Y. His photo, titled "Playing in the dandelions," features the Tyler 11, an experimental, one-of-a-kind airplane designed and built by Chuck Tyler. This all-wood airframe is powered by a VW engine with reduction drive, and boasts a propeller hand-carved from Cherry wood. Great picture, Harold! 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 300 responses to our question last week on the Centennial Of Flight Celebration. The vast majority (69 percent) of those responding indicated the Wright Brothers' work should be celebrated via this yearlong project. Only 1 percent felt it is an all-around bad idea to commercialize this historic event. In addition, 11 percent indicated this celebration should have more of a global perspective.

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

*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***

This week, we would like to know your thoughts on GA glass cockpit packages. Thanks to Austin D. Nixon for suggesting this week's topic. 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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