AVweb AVFlash - Volume 20, Number 4d
July 31, 2013
Tone Changes At EAA AGM
For the second year in a row, hundreds of EAA members attended the annual EAA business meeting but this year’s mood was entirely different. In contrast to last year’s contentious meeting, the members generally expressed their satisfaction with the evolving direction of the EAA and Chairman Jack Pelton’s leadership. Some of last year’s speakers made a point of returning to thank the EAA leadership for listening to their concerns and making notable changes this year. Last year, members’ comments at the open-mike focused on their dissatisfaction with the flightline Chalets, the scheduling of the annual members' business meeting on Saturday (after many of the active pilots and builders have returned home), the perceived inability of members to influence the selection of board members (due to EAA’s aggressive proxy policy), and a sense that EAA’s volunteers were not recognized and honored to the degree they felt that they deserve.
Jeff Point, AirVenture’s homebuilt parking chairman, reminded Pelton and other EAA leaders present that he warned the board last year that they were on the verge of losing much of their volunteer force. Point added that while there was still considerable work ahead to continue healing the relationship of the board with its volunteers, he felt that great progress has been made over the last year and thanked the EAA leadership for their effort. In a departure from EAA’s general practice of using the leadership’s proxy assignments to select association insiders to Class I board positions (the only member-elected EAA directors), member-nominated James Clark was selected as a director in his first year running. Clark, from South Carolina, is an MIT graduate, former AT&T vice president, a current performer with Team Aerodynamix, and RV builder/pilot.
Lycoming Pushing For Unleaded AVgas
Moving the general aviation fleet off of 100LL and onto an unleaded fuel will bring positive changes and features to powerplants that pilots will want, Lycoming's Michael Kraft said Wednesday at AirVenture. The company says moving from leaded fuel would unlock the full feature set of its iE-2 FADEC engine for the GA market in part because leaded fuels contaminate certain FADEC sensors (octane, for example) "immediately." If that potential could be unlocked, said Kraft, Lycoming's full FADEC would be more advanced than turbine or automotive engines. And Kraft made clear he doesn't believe the obstacles involved in finding a lead-free solution are technical.
"I'm above 99.8-percent confident that there are technical solutions," he said, adding that regulatory structure and logistical supply and distribution issues were more relevant concerns. FADEC engines, he said, struggle through the regulatory process for the simple fact that the regulations were not written with consideration for that kind of technology. Changes to Part 23 (which moved Tuesday through the Senate Commerce Committee) will help, but changes to other sections could be more useful, he said. Meanwhile, the company has a different approach to the development of Jet-A burning powerplants. Lycoming has heavily invested in developing a parts service and support infrastructure for SMA Jet-A burning engines and Kraft says the company intends to continue that support. Kraft said diesel engines created new opportunities, but conditions including initial purchase price, local fuel availability and distribution channels were as likely to influence purchase decisions as were operational efficiencies. In some cases, said Kraft, "gas can be more efficient and less costly."
More New Airplanes In The Works At Tecnam
At EAA AirVenture this week, the Tecnam exhibit resembles a sea of aircraft, including five airplanes being shown at Oshkosh for the first time. The Italian planemaker, celebrating its 60th year in business, arrived this week with a long list of new products, updates, and data to share with their U.S. customer base. The new-to-Oshkosh products include a turbo version of the P2008 (the standard version debuted at Sebring's Light Sport expo back in 200; click here for an AVweb video), and four different versions of the P92 LSA -- a floatplane, a taildragger with cargo pod for backcountry traveling, a surveillance version marketed as a low-cost law-enforcement option, and the classic Echo LSA, which sells for about $75,000. The company also had updates on three new aircraft now in the works.
Three new models will start deliveries by year's end, the company said: Astore, a low-wing metal LSA that flew for the first time in June; the Snap! aerobatic airplane; and the P2010, a four-seat aircraft that AVweb checked out at Aero earlier this year. Another new model, the P2012, a two-engine, 11-seat piston-powered aircraft, will fly in 2015 and get certified in 2016, the company said. The company also shared their analysis of training costs, showing that career-minded students who train in an LSA, maximize simulator time, and take their instrument and complex training in a Tecnam twin can end up logging more multi-engine time for their money.
Aviat Husky Runs On Natural Gas
"The U.S. has plenty of natural gas," said Aviat CEO Stu Horn on Wednesday morning at EAA AirVenture, as he showed off a blue-and-white Husky taildragger with a new belly-mounted fuel tank that carries compressed natural gas to fuel the engine. "This airplane has redundant systems, so you can use either CNG or aviation fuel," he said. Greg Herritt, president of the Aviation Foundation of America, had approached Horn earlier this year with the idea to try out the system. "Natural gas is a viable alternative fuel for general aviation," Herrick said at a news conference just outside the EAA Innovations Pavilion. "It's readily available. There's no lead in it. It emits 30 percent less carbon dioxide and 90 percent fewer smog particles [than avgas]. It's cleaner and more efficient -- it's a viable alternative."
Herrick also said the fuel is much less expensive than avgas, and could reduce the cost of pilot training by thousands of dollars. The fuel tank on the Husky holds enough fuel for an hour of flight time and together with the fuel system weighs 135 lbs. But Horn and Herritt said they believe the technology exists to extend that endurance and reduce weight. Even if it's just 90 minutes or so of duration, they argue, that's enough for the majority of flight-training needs. Testing on the dual fuel proof of concept aircraft had reached about 20 hours by the start of AirVenture 2013.
Video: Natural Gas-Powered Airplane
Aviat Aircraft's Stu Horn brought an aircraft to AirVenture 2013 that burns traditional aviation fuel (100LL) and can also fly on compressed natural gas. Horn says the first 20 hours of flight testing have started to show that natural gas burns cleaner in the engine, offers more power, and is arguably safer to store than traditional liquid fuels. Horn believes the lower cost of natural gas could become a compelling argument for flight schools and budget-conscious aviators. He also believes that technological advances will quickly result in lighter storage tanks, making the fuel an even more efficient option.
A Homebuilt Balloon For A Homebuilt Airplane
Balloon pilot Noah Forden, who is flying his homebuilt ultralight hot-air balloon this week at EAA AirVenture, brought the aircraft here inside another aircraft -- the Van's RV-7 that he built in his garage in Rhode Island. He's been building balloons for about 25 years, he told AVweb last week, and already had designed a small one-man balloon that could fit inside his car, without the need to tow a trailer or have a special vehicle. When he finished building the RV-7, he decided it would be nice to be able to fly off to distant hot-air balloon events with his own aircraft tucked inside the airplane, so he designed an ultralight system that fits.
Balloons are more visible than usual this year at Oshkosh, with several spotted tethered near the show center during the opening-night festivities, and they are expected to launch again on Friday night. Demonstrations by Forden and others are scheduled in the ultralight area for Thursday evening. The balloons should be visible from about 6:30 to 8 p.m., weather permitting.
Video: A Homebuilt Balloon Designed for a Homebuilt Airplane
When Noah Forden finished building his RV-7 in his garage, he wanted to use it to fly to distant hot air balloon events, so he designed a sport balloon that fits inside the airplane.
Podcast: The Man Behind HondaJet
Mishimasa Fujino created the HondaJet from a drawing on the back of a calendar and eventually convinced Honda to pursue light jet development. Now he is the president and CEO of Honda Aircraft Company. AVweb spoke with him at AirVenture 2013, where two of the first conforming HondaJets were publicly displayed.
Build-A-Plane's Design Competition Success
Students at 27 high schools from 22 states competed for the chance to build two Glasair Sportsman aircraft that were finished and on display at AirVenture Oshkosh. The effort involved aviation industry leaders organized under GAMA. Students interested in the program competed by using a derivative of X-plane flight simulator software to design and build a virtual aircraft that were reviewed and the best two designs were chosen. Lycoming's Michael Kraft, who saw the submissions, said they were innovative and very good at addressing design goals, even if some were extremely unorthodox or even scary from an engineering perspective.
Two schools were chosen as winners and were allowed to select four students each to travel to Washington and participate in Glasair's Two Weeks To Taxi program with mentors from their school and the manufacturer. Each group completed an aircraft and each student was provided an opportunity to fly in one of the aircraft. According to Lynn Freeman, the students who participated in the program came out of the experience with a new enthusiasm for flight and the aviation industry.
Podcast: Kids Build Two Planes in Two Weeks
Lyn Freeman has championed BuildAPlane.org and has seen the project maintain a successful outreach, attracting young people to the aviation industry. AVweb spoke with him about a recent project that saw eight high school students build two planes in two weeks.
Oregon Pilot Has Flown 5,300 Young Eagles
Larry Durst has probably flown more passengers than some charter services but he and his wife Maxine donate their time, energy and airplane to help encourage youth who are interested in flying. The Roseburg, Ore., pilot has flown more than 5,300 Young Eagles in his Cessna 182 since he became involved in the program in 1994. For that, he's the recipient of the Phillips 66 Aviation Leadership Award. "It's very humbling to me," said Durst, who, along with Maxine, was the 2007 recipient of EAA's Young Eagles Horizon award. Phillips 66 accepted that award at Wednesday night's Young Eagles Banquet. Durst said it has been a distinct privilege to give young people their first exposure to aviation and although they haven't kept count, they know that some of their young passengers have gone on to learn how to fly.
Larry Durst said he never would have been able to fly as many kids as he has without Maxine. "She's my recruiter," he said. Maxine said she has great contacts in the area school system and makes sure kids are aware of the opportunity to fly. Many return year after year for the experience. Durst said there have been many wide-eyed kids with funny reactions to their first flights and he's enjoyed every one of them. Meanwhile, Phillips 66, which earned its award in part because of its fuel rebate program for Young Eagles volunteers, announced expanded benefits and rewards for Young Eagles through a new credit card product, including double Young Eagles rebates through the end of the year.
Podcast: 5,300 Young Eagles Flown
Larry and Maxine Durst of Roseburg, Oregon have combined efforts to allow Larry to fly more than 5,300 Young Eagles since 1994 to earn the Phillips 66 Aviation Leadership Award. The couple spoke with AVweb's Russ Niles at Airventure 2013.
AirVenture 2013 Photo Gallery #3
AirVenture 2013 Product Minute Videos
There's so much to see and touch at AirVenture that your eyes may tire of looking and your button-pushing finger can get a little stiff. That doesn't deter the AVweb team, however, as they poked, prodded, and otherwise product-tested their way through some of this year's most interesting products in a series of "Product Minute" videos.
AirVenture Air Shows Rock
We’re usually so busy covering AirVenture that we rarely have time to give the afternoon airshow more than a passing glance. But this year, I’ve spent a couple of hours shooting around show center and I have to admit, EAA has outdone itself with both the acts and the pace of the show.
When we talked to Jack Pelton last weekend, he said the show had been retooled to include more acts at a faster pace and he wasn’t kidding. Some of the acts are as short as five minutes and few are longer than 10. That makes for an unusually quick-moving show and judging by the people I talked to around show center on Wednesday, the audience likes it that way.
But what really kicks this year’s show over the top is the addition of live cockpit audio and footage displayed on two giant Jumbotron screens either side of show center. This is a first at AirVenture and I think it dramatically improves the quality of the airshow experience. Like a major sporting event—think NASCAR or the NFL—the Jumbotron footage is both live and directed, so there’s a mix of cockpit shots, external tracking camera views and even performers ingressing their aircraft before takeoff.
We’re seeing live shots from everything from skydivers to the major aerobatic acts, all transmitted via a real-time datalink. This technology really saved the Yves Rossy Jetman act. At 5000 feet, the guy is a speck and everyone in the crowd was looking in a different direction. But on the big screen, you could see his live feed and the tracking camera could always seem to find him. Without it, I think that portion of the show would have been a snoozer.
We’ll be doing some reporting on the technology later in the week, but if you’re here at AirVenture, make a point to take in the airshow. If you plant yourself a couple of hundred feet from the screens toward the front of the flight line, you won’t be disappointed.