AVweb AVFlash - Volume 20, Number 4f
August 3, 2013
Interview With Yves Rossy, Jetman
Jetman Yves Rossy sat with AVweb Friday at AirVenture to discuss what it's like to "be the airplane" as he flies with a six-foot-wing and four microturbines strapped to his back. Rossy explained that his motivation for development of the wing had nothing to do with publicity, but "to be free in the air" and to address his personal dream of flight. "An airplane is a compromise," Rossy said, adding that he wanted to "go back to the root, back to the dream, back to the pure flight -- not reinvent another airplane ... Be the airplane." Sponsorship has added a new dimension to that dream and Rossy said that future performances could be enhanced by "Jumbotron" monitors streaming video from his wing, his launch helicopter and other vantage points. Rossy is a small object to observe with the naked eye from the ground at an airshow, and he expressed to us that he does not want to fly below 2500 feet -- an altitude he sets as his own safety margin. He does, however, have an idea.
Rossy described his ideal airshow performance, saying it could take place in a venue similar to the Grand Canyon, where he could fly along the face of a cliff. The audience could observe from the top of the cliff while he flew a few hundred feet from the cliff face while still maintaining his 2,500 foot vertical safety margin. "My safety ... and that's my life. It's minimum 2,500 feet. So, I don't want to go down lower than that ... just, and kill myself in front of a crowd. Safety first!" As for regulatory challenges posed by the FAA, Rossy said it was difficult for innovators like himself to work within preset limits. "Innovation by definition ... you have to break the rules. If you stay in the rules you will never innovate." Addressing our camera, Rossy directly asked the FAA to be innovative in the legal aspect, and to "follow and prepare the possibility for technical innovation. It should be a boost; not a brake." He is currently training his first Jetman pupil, and imagines a day when a squadron of Jetmen will fly together.
Video: Jetman Yves Rossy Describes His Flights
At AirVenture 2013, Jetman Yves Rossy made his first North American appearance, flying a custom-made personal wing fitted with four microjet engines. AVweb interviewed Rossy between shows on Friday afternoon, and, in this exclusive video, we cut in some stunning aerial and ground footage provided by Rossy's sponsor, Swiss watchmaker Breitling. Rossy describes what it's like to fly his powered wing at speeds up to 190 MPH after launching himself from the skid of a helicopter flying at about 5,500 feet over Oshkosh.
'Planes' Debuts At AirVenture
The director of Disney's latest blockbuster animated movie says he hopes the knowledgeable audience at AirVenture Oshkosh finds it both inspiring and entertaining. Planes director Klay Hall said in an interview with AVweb the movie, which weaves a classic tale of grit, determination and a little luck overcoming adversity and various antagonists, was a lot of fun to work on and he hopes that translates for the AirVenture crowd. The movie officially opens Aug. 9 but a special preview screening was arranged for Aug. 2 at AirVenture's Fly-In Theatre. It was scheduled to be screened at 8:30 p.m.
Hall said the actors voicing the characters became enthralled with their roles and Anthony Edwards, the vocal chords behind fighter plane Echo (Val Kilmer is his wingman Bravo), recently got his pilot certificate so he was particularly excited about the role. Hall said there have been expectations raised about the movie's ability to inspire a new generation of pilots and he hopes that happens.
Podcast: AirVenture Gets First Viewing of 'Planes'
The Disney animated feature Planes got its first screening Friday at AirVenture. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with the movie's director, Klay Hall, about the movie and what it might mean for GA.
Sean Tucker Named New Young Eagles Chairman
Sean D. Tucker, aerobatic champion and legendary air show performer, has taken over the honorary chairmanship of the EAA's Young Eagles program. He replaces Chesley Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles, the airline pilots known for ditching an A320 in the Hudson River after losing both engines. "It's my second full-time job," Tucker said. "That's how committed I am to this legacy." Tucker said he will spread the word about Young Eagles as he flies on the air show circuit, and also will make personal visits to EAA chapters to take kids flying. "I love sharing the magic of flight," he said. "It's uplifting, inspiring, empowering."
The Young Eagles program was launched in 1992, and so far has taken 1.8 million kids for a free introductory flight. Young Eagles have flown in more than 90 countries, by more than 42,000 volunteer pilots. The honorary chairman post was previously held by Cliff Robertson, Chuck Yeager, and Harrison Ford.
Continental Motors: Diesel Improvements Already Afoot
Continental Motors is apparently wasting little time in investing in improvements to increase TBRs and gearbox replacement intervals on the Centurion diesel line. With its deal to acquire the former assets of Thielert Aircraft Engines not even two weeks old, Continental said this week at AirVenture that it will field an improved gearbox for the Centurion line that will extend inspection/replacement cycles from 300 to 600 hours.
Continental’s Rhett Ross said on Monday that the new gearbox uses a dual mass flywheel design that eliminates traditional friction-plate parts in favor of massive metal parts. Austrian diesel maker Austro uses similar technology for its engines. Ross said Thielert had actually developed the new gearboxes some time ago but simply never had the resources to file for the appropriate approvals.
“I give great credit to the employees and management who kept the company together and supported fielded engines, but there was no extra money for development to do the engineering work and regulatory filings that are required. Basically, we were frozen in time for five years,” Ross said.
With a major injection of capital from the China-based AVIC International, such approvals are on the front burner, as is extending the engine TBRs from a maximum of 1500 hours to at least 2000 or 2400 hours.
“I think the data is there to do that, but we want to increase the pace we’re going to do this at, so we’re going to add to the field data by also lining up units in our test cells so we can run them 24/7 and just move this along a little bit faster,” Ross said.
Continental is also getting busy with potential partners and diesel customers. Earlier in the week, Redbird Simulations announced the Redhawk diesel conversion project that will use a Centurion 2.0 and an Italian company called Vulcanair revealed a strategic partnership with Continental to develop a four-seat, high-wing aircraft using one of Continental’s diesels. Ross said Vulcanair has the kind of global experience its looking for developing aircraft specifically suited for diesel technology.
F-16s Touch, Both Pilots Safe
A collision late Thursday night between two F-16C Air National Guard jets based out of Joint Base Andrews Naval Facility, 10 miles outside Washington, D.C., briefly left one pilot in the ocean after a successful ejection off of Virginia, while the other was able to fly his jet back to base. The pilot who ejected was rescued by the Coast Guard after they received an automated distress signal at some time after 10:30 pm. Both pilots were treated at the base's medical facilities and one has already been released. The other was reportedly transferred off base for treatment of his injuries, which appear to be non-life-threatening.
A National Guard spokeswoman said that she did not immediately have details on the extent of the damage suffered by the jet that safely returned to base, the Baltimore Sun reported. The Coast Guard tracked the ejection seat beacon, and found and recovered the downed pilot with an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter at about 12:30 a.m. Early reports differed in their accounts regarding the time when the distress signal was acquired but sources appear to agree the ejection occurred before midnight. The search was initiated when the jet's automated Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking beacon was received by the Coast Guard's 5th District Command Center. The cause of the apparent midair is under investigation.
South Africa To Oshkosh In The Sling4
Mike Blyth of The Airplane Factory flew one leg of 14 hours, bucking headwinds over open water, with his son in the Rotax-powered Sling 4 metal kit-built aircraft, to arrive at the show grounds of AirVenture Oshkosh 2013. Blyth and his son flew with an extra 40-gallon fuel tank in the back seat and 80 gallons in the wings, which Blyth says could keep the Rotax 914 UL turning through 20 hours of flight if they needed to divert for weather during an overseas leg. The standard kit aircraft is a 4-seater with a 1000-pound useful load and a fuel burn of less than six gallons per hour. The long flight isn't the first or the longest for the Sling family of aircraft. The two seat Sling2 went much farther in 2009.
After one year spent testing the prototype Sling2 -- which is available as an amateur-built experimental or an E-LSA, Blyth and his business partner James Pitman decided to take it for a global circumnavigation. The Sling2 is powered by a Rotax 912- or 914-series engine and normally has a range of about 800 nm. Fitted with extra tanks the team spent 40 days and nights logging 220 hours of flight time across more than 24,000 miles of earth. Several legs of the journey crossed more than 2,000 miles of ocean, flying east to west. The Sling4 is an evolution of that aircraft and is built to carry four people at about 120 kts over 800 nm on 46 gallons.
Video: South Africa to Oshkosh in the Sling4
Mike Blyth of Airplane Factory flew one leg of 14 hours over open water with his son in the Rotax-powered kitbuilt Sling4 four-seat light airplane to arrive at the showgrounds of AirVenture Oshkosh 2013.
GreenWing Brings Electric Fliers To Oshkosh
Amid all the noise and smoke of the afternoon airshow at EAA AirVenture, an interlude featuring two eSpyder aircraft from GreenWing was notable for its silence. The single-seat aircraft, which resemble monowing ultralights, flew over show central, low and slow, executing gentle turns driven by battery-powered electric motors. The aircraft were recently certified in Germany as light sport aircraft, but the U.S. LSA rules don't allow for electric powerplants. GreenWing, based in California, is offering the eSpyders for sale as experimental amateur-built airplanes, at $40,000 for a quick-build kit. The eSpyder's battery can supply flight times up to one hour, "enough to go for a quiet, relaxing sunset flight after work, without bothering the neighbors," as LSA advocate Dan Johnson said, narrating the flight demo from the announcer's booth.
At a news conference on Thursday at Oshkosh, GreenWing spokesman Eric Bartsch said the availability of the eSpyder kit means "electric aviation is here -- this isn't theoretical anymore -- this is something I can buy." The GreenWing company, based in California, is a spinoff of Yuneec, the Chinese company that developed the airplane. Bartsch noted that "Yuneec has a lot of manufacturing capabilities" and already has started production on the eSpyder aircraft, which will be ready to ship by the end of this year. He added that the company hopes the U.S. light sport aircraft rules will evolve to allow electric powerplants within a year or so, so the eSpyders can be sold factory-built. The company also is ready to manufacture the e430, a two-seat electric-powered airplane that also would qualify as an LSA in the U.S. if the rules change to allow for electric powerplants.
Podcast: GreenWing Ready to Sell Electric-Powered Ultralight Kit
At EAA AirVenture this week, AVweb's Mary Grady spoke with GreenWing spokesman Eric Bartsch about the company's products and their plans for the U.S. market. The California company, a spin-off of China-based Yuneec, is now selling an electric-powered aircraft as an experimental amateur-built kit. Bartsch said the company is ready and eager to provide more electric-powered aircraft as soon as U.S. regulations allow.
Full NTSB Video Safety Series Now Online
The NTSB has finished posting its series of five short safety videos aimed at general aviation pilots and mechanics this week, just in time for EAA AirVenture. The Safety Alerts aim to address the most common causes of fatal accidents in the GA fleet. The newest one, published on Tuesday, aims to reach GA mechanics. "If every mechanic could spend some time as a safety investigator, I believe those experiences would remain with them for a lifetime," says NTSB investigator Mike Huhn in the video. Since that's not possible, though, he says, "A good way to learn from others' mistakes is to study accident reports." Huhn also adds that there often is not enough redundancy in performing maintenance work in the GA world.
The other four videos cover maintenance issues from the pilot's viewpoint, risk management and decision-making, flight in reduced visibility, and low-altitude stalls. The full series is posted here.
AirVenture 2013 Photo Gallery #4
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.
Rossy Takes the FAA to School
I have this recurring fantasy that I’d like to work for the FAA for a couple of days just to give someone a break. If I could pick the days, it would have been the ones where the FAA was reviewing Yves Rossy’s plans to fly a routine in the airshow at AirVenture this week.
The rumor had been circulating—and it appears to be true, more or less confirmed by Rossy himself—that whatever inspector was assigned to the delicate task of protecting the show-going public apparently deemed Rossy to be a four-engine turbojet meat missile. He was actually told he’s really a jet aircraft and would require the appropriate ratings and waivers to appear in the skies over AirVenture. In an ultimate abandonment of common sense, Rossy was evidently advised he would need a 30-minute fuel reserve, despite having only a 10-minute endurance to begin with, and that he was enjoined from carrying passengers or discharging skydivers. Seriously? Could any bona fide representative of the federal government actually be that dense? (This is a rhetorical question to which the answer is intuitively obvious.)
Rossy was actually rather gracious about the experience. In today’s video about his AirVenture flights, there’s a diplomatic outtake I wasn’t able to fit into the piece.
“Innovation, by definition…you have to break the rules. If you stay within the rules, you will never innovate because in the rules, you are doing something existing,” Rossy told our Glenn Pew during an interview.
“So that’s a message I give to the FAA. Try to be innovative also in the legal aspect. This legal aspect should prepare for the possibility of innovation. It should be a boost, not a brake.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.