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|AVflash! Welcome to the Far Future,
SQUADRON OF PICKLED SPITFIRES FOUND
Aviation historians and
warbird enthusiasts are drooling at the discovery of at least 12 and
maybe as many 20 perfectly preserved brand-new Spitfire Mark 14s buried
in Myanmar, which was formerly Burma. Thanks to the tenacity (and
apparently considerable diplomatic skills) of British farmer David
Cundall, the lost squadron of pristine fighters was found where they
were buried by U.S. troops in 1945 when it became clear they wouldn't be
needed in the final days of the Second World War. At least a dozen of
the aircraft, one of the latest variants with their 2,035-horsepower
Roll Royce Griffon engines replacing the 1,200-1,500-horsepower Merlins
in earlier models, were buried without ever being removed from their
original packing crates. It's possible another eight were also buried
after the war ended. After spending 15 years and $200,000 of his own
money, Cundall was rewarded with visual proof of the magnitude of his
discovery. "We sent a borehole down and used a camera to look at the
crates," he told the Telegraph. "They seemed to be in good condition."
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FORCE REOPENS LIGHT AIR SUPPORT CONTRACT
The Air Force will
formally reopen the bidding process for a light air support aircraft
contract on Tuesday with the release of a draft request for proposals.
The decision will presumably allow Hawker Beechcraft to re-enter its
AT-6B in the competition for the $1 billion deal, which was briefly
awarded to Sierra Nevada Corp and its version of the Embraer Super
Tucano. The Air Force cancelled the deal with Sierra Nevada earlier this
year after it said it discovered unspecified irregularities in the
contract process while preparing a defense for a lawsuit launched by
Hawker Beech. The final draft of the RFP will be issued on Apr. 30 and
the contract will be awarded sometime in 2013. More...
BEECH WARNS SHAREHOLDERS
Hawker Beechcraft has warned
shareholders it may not be able to stay in business in its current form.
"Management has concluded that there is substantial doubt about the
Company's ability to continue as a going concern," the company said in a
delayed year-end filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The
company had earlier warned the ominous warning was coming. The Form 10-K filing bluntly assesses the company's
future prospects and it's not a pretty picture. Many analysts have
determined a Chapter 11 reorganization is inevitable. The company is
awash in red ink and has lost almost $1 billion in the last two years
against a shrinking backlog of about $1.13 billion. It has more than
$2.3 billion in debt, has already missed some interest payments and may
miss more. "Due to the fact that we have recurring negative cash flows
from operations and recurring losses from operations, we will need to
seek additional financing," the filing states. 'There is substantial
doubt that we will be able to obtain additional equity or debt financing
on favorable terms, or at all, in order to have sufficient liquidity to
meet our cash requirements for the next twelve months." New CEO Steve
Miller spun the financials as positively as he could, saying the company
will "decide on a path forward for Hawker Beechcraft that will include a
plan that will put the company on firm financial footing and better
position Hawker Beechcraft for the future." More...
HOUSE FOR JOB-SEEKERS AT SCALED
For the first time ever,
Scaled Composites, in Mojave, Calif., will open the hangar doors on
Saturday, April 21, and invite job-seekers to come in and talk to the
staff about job openings at the company. "We have a lot going on and we
need to do some hiring," company spokesman Elliot Seguin told
AVweb this week. "It's very unusual that we invite people in like
this, but we're very busy with a lot of projects, and we've accelerated
our hiring efforts." The job fair coincides with an Open House event at
the Mojave Airport, open to all, so it's a unique opportunity for those
who are interested in exploring job options to also get a sense of the
culture of the airport, Sequin said. More...
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The unorthodox five-place Synergy aircraft concept gained critical attention
with its public introduction about one year ago and, as AVweb
learned Thursday, it may soon be taking another enterprising turn.
Aircraft are generally designed to do one thing very well (high-speed
cruise, for example), often at the expense of other things (like fuel
burn, slow flight, or landing speed and distances). Aerodynamically,
that is where John McGinnis' Synergy hopes to be different. It seeks to
integrate into one highly efficient package multiple aerodynamic
principles that McGinnis says aren't often used together, or to their
full effect. The designer has reason to be confident his aircraft
succeeds in the task while bending to fewer compromises across the
flight envelope. McGinnis told
AVweb Thursday that his project's progress, like most others,
is funding-dependent and he has plans to take new approach there, as
well, with an effort that could roll out next week. More...
P2010 FIRST FLIGHT
manufacturer TECNAM flew a new offering, the 133-knot cruise, 180-hp,
four-place, high-wing P2010 for the first time, Thursday. The aircraft
is formed from carbon fiber and metal components and has a full-flying
stabiliator. It makes use of a Lycoming IO-360-M1a, the "Lycoming Light"
engine and an externally braced wing. The company, which has sold more
than 3,000 aircraft (mostly in Europe), prides itself on its attention
to pilot and passenger comforts and says it has logged 50 confirmed
orders ahead of its attendance at the Aero 2012 trade show in
Friedrichshafen, Germany, next week. It also offered a relatively
detailed account of the flight trial. More...
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JET TO FLY ON COOKING OIL
Recycled American cooking oil was
chosen by Qantas to help power an Airbus A330 on a commercial flight
from Sydney to Adelaide, Friday, and to raise awareness about
alternative fuels as part of a biofuel trial flight. The fuel produced
by Dutch firm SkyNRG uses the cooking oil and that product will be mixed
with conventional jet fuel for the flight. SkyNRG fuel has already been
tested by KLM, Chile's LAN and Finnair. Other airlines have successfully
flown aircraft on biofuel, including Air New Zealand, which in 2008 flew
a Boeing 747 on a 50:50 blend of jatropha plant-based biofuel and Jet A.
Qantas says its flight this week is a step toward a larger goal.
VALLEY AIR TAXI CONCEPT?
Surf Air hopes to make a $700,000-per-month gamble
that people will want to pay hundreds of dollars each month for access
to flights in one of two PC-12s flown between set airports on the west
coast. The company plan includes service to Palo Alto, Monterey, Santa
Barbara and Los Angeles with memberships ranging from $790 to $1490 per
month, beginning this summer. Surf Air memberships offer an
"all-you-can-fly" format that operates on a Netflix-like system. Members
paying $1490 can set up to six one-way reservations at a time. Once the
first trip is fulfilled, the queue refreshes to include the next
reservation in the member's queue. The company is founded by two
brothers under the age of 33, and may depend on the acquisition of 500
members to cover monthly expenses. More...
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NEW EUROPEAN PILOT RULES
Something that is a likely
topic of discussion as AERO 2012 gets under way in Germany this week is
the new EU pilot certificate rules as they apply to non-European pilots.
AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Jan Brill, the managing
editor of Pilote and Flugzeug magazine, about the immediate and
long-term effects of the controversial rule. More...
BOOM OVER UK
At least one of two RAF Typhoon interceptors
broke the speed of sound over England Thursday responding to what
appears to have been an errant hijack code entered into a helicopter's
transponder. When the code reached controllers, they attempted to
contact the helicopter. When those efforts failed, a Quick Reaction
Alert was issued and the Typhoons were launched. The jets caught up with
the helicopter somewhere near Bath, but not before bathing a swath of
British countryside, from Bath to Swindon, Coventry, Rugby and Oxford,
in sonic boom. London will host an opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympic
games in July, and for some residents, the initially unexplained
wall-shaking noise was more than disconcerting. More...
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|The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You!||back to
APRIL 16, 2012
Letter of the Week: Proper Phraseology
The recent incident
involving the missed emergency call in Denver is a classic example of
why proper phraseology is so critical to aviation safety. The controller
is expecting to hear an initial transmission that starts with "Denver
Tower" or at least "Tower" (or "Center" or "Approach") followed by the
company name and then the flight number. The first transmission from the
radio operator in this case was a garbled "fifty-nine twelve." I
listened to this segment of the recording five times and wasn't able to
understand the "fifty-nine" part until the fifth try, and I was
listening for it.
The subsequent exchange only reinforces that the
pilot clearly (but only) said "fifty-nine twelve" the second time but
the controller was listening for a transmission that began with a
company name, not a number. As a result, he was scrambling all over the
place looking for a call sign ending in 12.
Factor in the issue of
the rogue radio operator in the area (these incidents are unusual but
happened twice in two different locations during my tenure as a
controller) and one might understand how this could further confuse the
Had the radio operator in the aircraft been in the
habit of initiating transmissions by stating the facility name first
and/or using the company name in the call sign we wouldn't be writing
this. Maybe if you are talking to a company dispatcher you can get away
with flight number only but abbreviated IDs to ATC will get you in
Apparently United 5912 was inside the marker
when all of this occurred, but I cannot find a complete recording so as
to calculate or guesstimate the amount of time that transpired between
the first emergency call and the last. The reason I bring that up is
because a 7700 squawk would have alerted the whole world to the location
of an aircraft with a problem, and the emergency equipment would
probably have been rolling by the time UAL5912 touched
Click through to read the rest
of this week's letters. More...
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OF THE WEEK: GAMA AVIATION AND BLUE SKY FLIGHT SCHOOL (IGOR I. SIKORSKY
AIRPORT, STRATFORD, CT)
Our latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon is a joint award to
the civic-minded folks at Gama Aviation and Blue Sky Flight
School on the campus of Igor
I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport (KBDR) in Stratford, Connecticut.
AVweb reader Bud Turner recently enlisted Gama and Blue
Sky on behalf of some future pilots:
I'm an Aviation Merit Badge Counselor for the Boy Scouts of
America. When e-mails went out from the local EAA Young Eagles chapter
looking for volunteers, Tom Miller, himself an Eagle Scout, immediately
offered up Gama's hangar and provided pizza for the boys for lunch. In
addition, Mike Becker from Blue Sky Flight School donated a Grumman
Tiger for three hours, and one of his CFIs signed up to take the boys up
for a flight up and down the Connecticut coast line. Bravo Zulu to both
for the outstanding support of the BSA and Young Eagle
Keep those nominations
coming. For complete contest rules, click
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in
the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here
next Monday! More...
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ATC questioned a confused student
"What are your
"After this cross-country
flight, take my check ride and get my private license."
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