AVwebFlash - Volume 20, Number 19a
November 7, 2013
Portable Traffic System Maker Zaon Ceases Operation
Zaon Flight Systems, the maker of the popular PCAS portable traffic alerting system, has ceased operation according to Sporty's Pilot Shop and Aircraft Spruce and Specialty, two of the company's largest distributors. Both distributors told AVweb that Zaon "is out of business" and couldn't offer any suggestions for obtaining support for existing Zaon products. Zaon introduced the first portable collision avoidance solution—the TPAS—nearly a decade ago, selling over 3000 units in just a few years. The follow-on product was the TrafficScope, introduced in 2003. It too was a huge success, with over 4000 units sold. Finally, the PCAS line, which included the XRX and MRX portable traffic alerters, were the current generation models. The PCAS-XRX was a popular traffic solution because of its 3-D view Quadrant Direction function, audio voice alerts, built-in altimeter and the ability to interface with third-party displays, to include Garmin portable GPS and experimental EFIS systems.
Most recently, Zaon introduced an add-on ADS-B interface to the XRX with the MX1090-series ADS-B traffic receiver. The MX1090 could receive TIS-B messages, bringing the portable traffic solution to a higher level. Zaon could not be reached for comment because the company's phone numbers don't work. The company website, Zaon.aero, is still in service, and the online store appears to work.
FAA Sets Stage For Drones In Airspace
The FAA Thursday released its “UAS Roadmap” and Comprehensive Plan to integrate unmanned aerial systems, or UAS (also known as UAVs or drones) in the national airspace. The release addresses current and future policies, regulations, technologies and procedures that will allow operation of unmanned aerial vehicles in the nation’s airspace with emphasis on “extensive integration.” Six yet to be designated test sites will be required to maintain a written plan for using and retaining data. The FAA says it intends to establish regulations over the next five to 10 years, attempting to integrate with changes that will arrive as part of NextGen air traffic control. Congress had previously set an earlier deadline.
The FAA intends to use special procedures to accommodate limited use of unmanned aerial vehicles over the next several years. Congress previously ordered the FAA to develop a comprehensive plan near 2015. The FAA, through Administrator Michael Huerta, said, “We are dedicated to moving this exciting new technology along as quickly and safely as possible.” For now, that method will integrate systems on a case-by-case basis in the near future. The FAA emphasized that changes are coming to the airspace system “over the next 15 years” and new certification standards for aircraft and drones as well as new training approaches for pilots and controllers will be put in place along with new navigation requirements. As integration of these components expands, approvals for drone operation will change. The FAA also addressed privacy protections by saying that it is not offering “specific views” on how the federal government regulates privacy. Find the FAA’s document, “Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS) Roadmap” available as a PDF, online.
Midair Pilot Describes Escape From Burning Plane
Pilot Matt Fandler, who escaped under canopy from an airborne, broken and burning Cessna 182 after a midair with a Cessna 185 prior to a planned formation skydive, has spoken with NBC News in an exclusive interview recorded for Dateline. All 11 participants and one of two aircraft survived the event. Fandler, who flew the 182, suffered the most extensive physical injuries but came down safely under his own emergency parachute. He received 25 stitches that attend to cuts on his body resulting from his airplane’s windshield shattering into the cockpit after the two aircraft made contact at roughly 12,000 feet. “I didn’t see anything … I just heard a bang and the windshield immediately shattered,” Fandler told NBC. Unbeknownst to the pilot, his aircraft had also lost a wing to the impact. As the aircraft rolled and nosed over Fandler soon learned he had no control and “thought it was in my best interest to not be in this aircraft.”
Fandler said before he even turned his head, he’d “pulled the yoke back to my chest” and “there was no reaction from the plane.” He unclipped his lap belt and looked right toward the 182’s door, which is when he learned it was gone — along with the airplane’s right wing. Fandler says he reached out and grabbed the doorframe and “jumped head first.” As he fell, he saw his airplane falling toward the ground with one wing missing. The skydivers, who were equipped with helmet cameras to record what was supposed to be a formation jump, also witnessed the aircraft falling. At least one of them, Daniel Chandler, told interviewers that he did not know if Fandler was still inside of the airplane and attempted to catch up with the falling fuselage in an attempt to free the pilot. Chandler says he was unable to catch up with the falling wreck as it sped earthward. “It was gone and there was nothing I could do. I had to accept that there was nothing I could do,” he told NBC. Meanwhile, Fandler was in free fall, trying to remember what he’d learned during two tandem practice jumps. The pilot says his landing was “decently hard” but he was able to watch as the pilot of the 185 that survived the impact landed safely on the airfield. Fandler said he plans to fly again and hopes to move on to bigger and faster aircraft.
Where Pilot Training Costs Are Steady And Pay Is Down
Economic conditions in Europe are creating a challenge for some prospective professional pilots as the costs of their training has not declined, but pilot pay in many cases has, according to Bloomberg News. In Germany, pilots paying their own way through training can spend nearly $100,000 on that process, Bloomberg said, while the unemployment rate for pilots in Germany has risen to twice the country’s average. The overall effect is that some pilots are paying the same (or higher) rates than their predecessors for training that will put them in a longer queue of applicants for a pool of lower-paying jobs.
The source of the change in pay rates might draw back to major carriers. In Germany, like those in some other parts of Europe, major carriers have cut back on their least profitable routes. And smaller and discount carriers like Ryanair and EasyJet — that generally pay less — have risen to fill the gaps. Moreover, the tightening at major carriers has released experienced pilots into the marketplace, further complicating job prospects for some less experienced pilots. To bridge the gap, some lower-time pilots are adding aviation degrees. The Bloomberg report touches on some concepts raised by regional pilot Brant Harrison in the AVweb feature article, "The Pilot Shortage Crisis Is Nigh! … Or Not." Harrison suggested that the pilot market may soon see changes that make the initial training investment more palatable (if not less expensive) for new pilots.
China Unveils New AWACS
The Chinese military has offered a glimpse of its new airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft. The KJ-500 is an adaptation of the Shanxi Y-9 cargo plane, a four-engine turboprop with a configuration similar to that of the C-130 Hercules. The speculation in the Chinese media is that the KJ-500 is the next generation early warning aircraft for the People's Liberation Army Air Force and will replace the KJ-2000 Balance Beam.
The KJ-500 features a fixed radome with three radar antennas that provide full radar coverage in flight. The radar system is called an Active Phased Array Radar and is the same system used on the Balance Beam. Before it developed the KJ-500, the Chinese manufacturers used a Y-9 as the basis of an early warning aircraft for sale to Pakistan but it used an older style radar system on the export aircraft.
Wolf Aviation Grant Proposals Due
The annual Wolf Aviation Fund grant, provided to individuals and organizations doing great work in general aviation, has announced its final call for applications, accepted this year until Dec. 15. The grant award program has over the years offered financial support to a total of more than 350 programs that meet the fund’s criteria in seven program areas. Applicants may seek funding for plans in: development and alternative resources; communications, media, and community relations; general aviation technology, safety, and noise; improving public understanding and perception; and aviation and space education. Proposals often receive partial funding and that can work to their advantage, according to the fund's operators.
Partial funding allows more projects to receive grants, the fund's operators said through a news release, and recipients often use the honor and recognition of a Wolf Aviation Fund grant to seek additional financial support from other sources. The organization encourages aviation supporters to look for Wolf Aviation Fund award winners and provide them with additional support. The organization is also seeking to increase its own resources to make more funds available for projects. The Wolf Aviation Fund is a nonprofit foundation that seeks to “promote and support eh advancement of personal air transportation by seeking and funding the most promising individuals and worthy projects which advance the field of general aviation.” Learn more or apply online, here.
A380 Flies 5,000 Miles On Three Engines
Canada's Transportation Safety Board says Emirates Airlines elected to fly an A380 more than 5,000 miles across the Atlantic, southern Europe and the Mediterranean to Kuwait on three engines after the number four engine flamed out about an hour after takeoff from JFK. The original destination was Dubai for Flight 202 on Oct 26. "The crew consulted with the company and decided to divert to Kuwait International Airport (OKBK) on the remaining three engines where an uneventful landing took place," the TSB reported. The engine quit when the aircraft was 200 nm ESE of St. John's, Newfoundland/Labrador.
Flying on three engines uses more fuel because the aircraft must fly at a lower altitude and lower speed, hence the diversion to Kuwait City. It's not clear why the crew and the company decided to press on rather than call it a day and either return to JFK or divert to several other North American airports within a few hundred miles. Maintenance personnel discovered that two fuel pumps in the Engine Alliance GP7000 engine had failed and the aircraft was signed off after they were replaced. It's not known how many people were on the aircraft.
Navy Christens New Carrier
The Navy christened its first new-design aircraft carrier Nov. 8 but it will be at least two years before the USS Gerald R. Ford is delivered to the Navy. The ship, which is the first of a series of Ford Class carriers, got the traditional wine bottle across the bow from the late president's daughter Susan Ford Bales as it got ready for its formal launch and a short trip to the fitting out berth in the Newport News shipyard. Planning for the carrier began more than a decade ago and it has been under construction for four years. The drydock was flooded Oct. 11. The carrier will hold more aircraft, including drones, and be able to launch and recover them up to 25 percent faster than the Nimitz class carriers that were launched in the 1970s.
The ship is 1,092 feet long and will use electromagnet launch catapults along with redesigned jet blast deflectors that will make the faster turnarounds possible. A more efficient aircraft fueling system will also add to the efficiency. It will, of course, have state-of-the-art radar and control systems in the redesigned island, which is set farther back than earlier designs. Powering all this will be two nuclear reactors that will generate 250 percent more power than the Nimitz ships. The ship is expected to cost about $12.8 billion.
Video: Pilatus PC-12NG Flight Review
With a cruise speed of around 270 knots and a price tag of nearly $5 million, the 2013 Pilatus PC-12NG isn't the fastest or the least expensive single-engine turboprop on the market. It is, however, arguably in a class of its own. That's because it has a cabin that can carry 1,200 lbs. of payload while carrying over 400 gallons of fuel, the ability to operate from unpaved runways, and a huge 53x52-inch cargo door. In this video, Aviation Consumer's Larry Anglisano takes a look at the airplane.
AVmail: November 11, 2013
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