AVwebFlash - Volume 21, Number 3a
January 13, 2014
Southwest Flight Lands At GA Airport
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 with 129 people aboard landed at the wrong airport in Branson, Mo., early Sunday evening but the airline is calling the unexpected arrival "uneventful." Flight 4013 from Chicago Midway put down on Runway 12/30 (3738X100) at M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport a little after 6 p.m. local time instead of hitting Runway 14/32 (7140X100)at Branson Airport about nine miles south. "Our ground crew from the Branson airport has arrived at the airport to take care of our customers and their baggage,'' Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins said. "The landing was uneventful, and all customers and crew are safe.''
Weather was good at the time and while the minimum landing distance for the aircraft is clearly something less than the 3,738 feet available at the downtown field, the airplane specs call for more than 5,000 for a takeoff. There were unconfirmed reports quoting a passenger as saying the aircraft stopped close to the edge of a cliff. An image taken at the scene shows the airplane parked on the threshold marks. There appear to be dropoffs at each end of the runway. The passengers were apparently being accommodated by the airline but it's not clear whether the aircraft has left the field. Branson was an intermediate stop on the flight, which was to terminate in Dallas. The airline is expected to elaborate on the incident Monday.
FAA Issues Apology for Delay on Medical Petition
AOPA has announced that it received a letter from FAA Administrator Michael Huerta apologizing for the FAA’s nearly two-year delay in responding to the joint AOPA-EAA petition that would expand the use of the driver’s license medical standard. In his Dec. 26 letter, Huerta said it was important to “ensure that such an unprecedented change will not result in any adverse impact that could lead to degradation in safety.” He did not indicate when the agency will make its final decision. The letter was sent following a meeting with AOPA President Mark Baker that included discussion of the third-class medical issue.
Administrator Huerta said he recognized the importance of the issue to pilots as there had been more than 16,000 comments made on the petition. The long delay by the FAA resulted in introduction of the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act in Congress by members of the Congressional General Aviation Caucus. The act would allow pilots to use their state’s driver’s license medical standard for noncommercial VFR flights below 14,000 feet in aircraft with no more than six seats, weighing 6000 pounds or less and with a cruise speed of 250 knots or less. AOPA and EAA have called on their members to support the proposed act and will be continuing to request they contact their representatives in the months to come.
TSA Repair Station Security Rules Get Mixed Reviews
More than 10 years after Congress mandated that the Transportation Security Administration establish security regulations for repair stations certified under FAR Part 145 and four years after the TSA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the matter, the TSA is about to formally publish the final rules (PDF). In a January 10 conference call with interested aviation organizations, TSA officials outlined the scope of the final rules, which will be published in the Federal Register on Monday, January 13 and take effect 45 days later. The final rules will be narrower in scope than the NPRM and will establish an outcome-based security system that focuses on the risk of stealing an unattended, large (over 12,500 pounds) aircraft capable of flight. The rules will only apply to repair stations on or adjacent (connecting) to airports and will end the decade-long moratorium on certificating new repair stations in countries other than the U.S.
Response to the new rules spanned the spectrum. The Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) commended the TSA for “heeding industry input and narrowing the scope of the regulation.” It went on to express disappointment that what should have been a straightforward process took so long. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) expressed its appreciation for the work of the TSA in preparing the rules and the establishment of risk-based security requirements that will make it easier for U.S. businesses to access and support markets throughout the world. The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) said the issuance of the new rules is “a great boost to our aviation repair businesses, jobs and our nation’s economy.” The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) blasted the new rules as inadequate in failing to address security loopholes and running counter to the congressional requirement that the TSA ensure the security of maintenance work performed at contract repair stations whether on or off of airports. It went on to criticize the rules as failing to provide for adequate background checks of repair station employees and not allowing for unannounced inspections by the TSA of foreign repair stations although it does so at domestic stations. The Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) referenced the long delay but said that in its preliminary review, “the TSA has done an exceptional job of addressing public comment during the NPRM process.”
Citation Down In Germany: Four Dead
Two pilots and two passengers on a Citation died Sunday when the aircraft apparently hit an electric tower in heavy fog while trying to land at a German airport. Local authorities say all four were German but no identities were released. When emergency crews arrived they found the plane inverted near a landfill and in flames. The accident occurred about noon near the city of Trier on Germany's border with Luxembourg.
The flight originated at Shoreham Airport and was destined for Fohren Airport, which is near the crash site. It was foggy all day in the area with an average visibility of .7 miles, a temperature of 30 degrees and a dew point of 31, according to Weather Underground.
Murphy Aircraft Manufacturing On the Market For $2.5-$4 Million
Murphy Aircraft Manufacturing Ltd., of Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada, is for sale. Asking price: $2.5-$4 million. Founded in 1985, the company builds a line of experimental airplane kits targeted at homebuilders desiring utilitarian, back-country craft that can operate on wheels, skis or floats. The line includes the biplane Renegade Sport, and monoplanes Rebel Sport, Rebel, Maverick, Elite and Moose. The package offered for sale includes all eight aircraft models and three sizes of straight and amphibious floats, the existing inventory and quick-build jigs for the Renegade and Moose. Murphy Aircraft’s announcement says the sale price will be in the $2.5 to $4 million range, depending on how much of the manufacturing machinery the buyer desires. A tailored training program can be provided.
According to Murphy Aircraft, it has sold nearly 2000 kits to buyers in more than 35 countries. Founder and President Darryl Murphy said, “After 30 enjoyable years running Murphy Aircraft, I am approaching retirement, with the desire to spend more time with family and pursue other interests. To that end, I find myself in the position of wanting to sell Murphy Aircraft Manufacturing Ltd. With strong signs of economic recovery in North America, the time is right for someone else to take over.” Murphy Aircraft will continue to supply new kits and service parts throughout the change-over to new ownership and Paterson AeroSales, which handles all Murphy kit sales and marketing, will continue to accept and process orders for delivery positions.
Piper Names Dealer for China
Piper Aircraft announced that it has selected Hebei Yuan’ao Aircraft Manufacturing Co. Ltd., of Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, China, as Piper’s authorized dealer in China for sales of the Mirage, Archer TX and Seminole. Established in 2012, Hebei Yuan’ao Aircraft was the first private general aviation manufacturing company in Hebei Province. Its factory is located in the “Aviation City” of Pingquan County, Chengde City, Hebei Province. Piper CEO and President Simon Caldecott said in conjunction with the announcement, “As China opens up its airspace there will be many opportunities there for the sale of high-end, high-performance pistons. With its extensive aviation background, Hebei Yuan’ao Aircraft is well situated to take advantage of the anticipated growth in China of this segment as well as the burgeoning demand in China for Piper pilot training aircraft."
Describing the Archer TX and the Seminole as “training” aircraft, Piper’s announcement emphasized Hebei Yuan’ao Aircraft’s cooperation with companies and universities in China such as AVIC Shijiazhuang Aircraft Industry Corporation Ltd. (for production and technical support), the Civil Aviation Flight University of China (for training) and Xi’an Aeronautical Polytechnic Institute (from which it is hiring graduates), and abroad with Piper Aircraft to set up an integrated and professional support service system which includes aircraft reassembly, sales, maintenance and flight training.
SpaceShipTwo Hits Mach 1.4
SpaceShipTwo went higher and faster than it has been before on Friday and Virgin Group President Sir Richard Branson is predicting it will reach space sometime in 2014. Branson had hoped the reusable passenger-carrying rocket would have slipped out of the atmosphere by the end of 2013 but Friday's flight showed progress toward the ultimate goal. The spacecraft hit Mach 1.4 and 71,000 feet (from a starting altitude of 46,000) in flight, which was captured from multiple angles by video cameras on the mothership Eve and the spacecraft itself.
Friday's mission was to test the reaction control system (RCS) and thermal protection coating on the tail feathers. The RCS will be used by pilots to maneuver the spacecraft in space so the $200,000-a-seat passengers get the best possible view. The shiny coating on the tail was added to keep skin temperatures in the green when the rocket is firing and it apparently worked, according the Galactic news release. The pilots also articulated the craft's feathering tail, which will be used to moderate the initial descent of the machine from space. "With each flight test, we are progressively closer to our target of starting commercial service in 2014,” said Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides.
Cameras Roll As Beach Takeoff Goes Awry
A New Zealand pilot and his passenger are nursing bruised egos after two strokes of bad luck became after-the-weather fodder for news programs all over the world. Peter Horn and his passenger were on a sightseeing flight in Horn's Jabiru light single over Martin's Bay, just north of Auckland, on Friday, when the engine quit. Horn managed to get the little plane safely onto the beach and promptly found a fuel system blockage. With the repairs made in front of dozens of beachgoers, he fired up the Jabiru and, well, almost had the perfect ending to a lousy day.
As the aircraft accelerates, it starts to slip down the beach's slope toward the surf line. Just as the nose is coming up, the left wheel digs into the water and soft sand and the little plane all but disappears in a shower of seawater. Horn's passenger, who wasn't identified in news reports, said they were trying to keep away from trees and other obstructions on the beach. The aircraft clearly suffered substantial damage but the two occupants were unhurt.
AVmail: January 13, 2014
Letter of the Week:
A few days ago, we emerged from a polar vortex that drifted south — a textbook example of what those things do from time to time. The associated cold managed to get the media into full cry and revived all of the “how cold is it?” jokes. Judging from Internet aviation forums, it also got a lot of pilots concerned about starting their airplanes and raised the pertinent seasonal question as to what is “cold” for a piston engine. At what temperature are you risking damage to your engine if you start it without some sort of preheating?
Good news: there is definitive guidance on the subject from the engine manufacturers — Continental Service Information Letter 03-1 (PDF) and Lycoming Service Instruction 1505 (PDF). Bluntly, if you want to get the straight story on what constitutes cold for your engine, as well as what to do about it, those publications are worth study.
Continental’s Letter has a headline in competition for the best American understatement award: “Contains Useful Information Pertaining to Your Aircraft Engine.” It goes on to set a clear standard for when preheat is required: When the engine has been exposed to a temperature of at or below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (wind chill) for two hours or more. We think the use of wind chill is overly cautious as, while moving air causes an inanimate object to cool to the ambient temperature more quickly than still air, it cannot cool the object to below ambient temperature, no matter how had the wind is blowing.
Lycoming’s Instruction states that preheating is required when the engine has dropped to a temperature of 10 degrees Fahrenheit—20 degrees for -76 engines.
The Lycoming Service Instruction unabashedly states the risks you are facing: “Improper cold weather starting can result in abnormal engine wear, reduced performance, shortened time between overhauls or failure for the engine to perform properly. “ We are firmly of the opinion that the “or” in that sentence should be “and.”
Continental warns, “Failure to properly preheat a cold-soaked engine may result in oil congealing in the engine, oil hoses and oil cooler with subsequent loss of oil flow, possible internal damage to the engine, and subsequent engine failure.
Have they made themselves clear?
There are four generally accepted methods of getting a piston aircraft engine warmed up to a temperature at which it can be safely started and operated: 1. sticking the airplane into a heated hanger; 2. a high-volume hot air heater (preheater); 3. an engine-mounted electric heating system; 4. spring.
Item 4 is self-explanatory—pilots sometimes find themselves where there simply isn’t a method of safely heating the engine to above 20 degrees F. You may be able to start the engine, but that start could cost you a bunch of money downstream as the damage may not show up right away. “It’s a rental,” is not an excuse.
As pilots flying in mountainous areas often have to wait for the wind or temperatures to drop before they can fly, pilots at airports without preheaters or heated hangars need to wait for the temperature to warm up.
That also applies if you have single weight oil in the engine and it’s not the right viscosity for the cold temperature. Even though you may be able to preheat the engine, summer-weight oil may not provide adequate lubrication.
A heated hangar is great—it warms up the entire airplane. Continental says to allow four hours to assure congealed oil is flowing. Those who have the advantage of heated hangars recommend that the pilot have everything ready to go the moment the airplane is towed out—ideally with everyone in the airplane so the pilot can hit the starter as soon as the tug is clear. It doesn’t hurt to open the windows until the engine is running and the heater putting out warm air as windows have a tendency to fog and ice over quickly otherwise.
Continental and Lycoming both provide guidance on the use of preheaters. Lycoming specifcally disapproves the use of oil dipstick heaters because they don’t distribute the heat throughout the engine. Both manufacturers are explicit in calling for careful use of the preheater to assure that all of the engine is heated—oil sump, external oil lines, cylinders, air intake, oil cooler and oil filter. Be careful not to damage non-metallic components such as seals, hoses, and drive belts.
Continental says to preheat for a minimum of 30 minutes. Lycoming says to apply heat in five to 10 minute intervals and then “feel the engine to be sure that it is retaining warmth.” It goes on to say that during the last five minutes, the heat should be directed to the top of the engine.
Once preheating is complete, both manufacturers call for starting the engine immediately. We agree—we’ve seen too many pilots finish preheating, then start setting up their iPads and plugging in the headsets over 10-15 minutes and then discover the engine won’t start because it’s gotten cold again. Have everything ready to go.
Because not many owners can afford a heated hangar, we like engine-mounted preheating systems. For an in-depth review of the various systems, take a look at the April 2013 issue of Aviation Consumer. Continental recommends a system that includes “individual cylinder head heater thermocouples, oil sump heater and crankcase heater pad.” Aviation Consumer’s review found that both the Reiff and Tanis systems worked well. Having owned three airplanes with engine-mounted preheaters, I have found them to be handy, especially when traveling as the combination of a blanket over the cowling and a long extension cord allows preheating at almost any airport. For more remote airports, I carried a generator to run the system for four or five hours before I wanted to start.
Continental warns against running engine-mounted preheaters continuously due to concerns with corrosion. There are well-reasoned opposing views. For those who are concerned, there are a number of devices that allow remote control of the engine-mounted heater via cell phone. These were reviewed in the September 2013 issue of Aviation Consumer. Owner feedback has been positive.
Both Continental and Lycoming urge immediate starting after preheating is complete. They caution the pilot to assure that the start is made at low engine RPM, not more than 1000, due to risk of cylinder damage from lack of lubrication and to assure that oil pressure comes into the acceptable range soon after start.
Pumping the throttle before or during start is not a good idea. It creates a high risk of engine fire on a cold start. Pumping the throttle more than once usually does nothing but flood the carburetor.
For a carbureted engine, the proper procedure is to use the primer to put fuel directly into the cylinders. Many operators recommend leaving the primer out and letting it fill with fuel after the last pre-start priming shot. Then, as the engine is cranking and fires, give another shot or two of prime.
Continental goes into detail regarding post start procedures in cold weather. Briefly, it calls for frequently checking oil pressure to assure that there is not congealed oil somewhere in the system that can cause engine damage—it will manifest itself by high or low oil pressure indications. Do NOT let the RPM exceed 1000 until some oil temperature is indicated. This is important—we’ve all seen the pilots who start the engine at 1500 or 1700 RPM; they’re damaging the engine, hot or cold.
Continental says that if the oil pressure cannot be maintained above 30 psi or below 100 psi, shut down and repeat the preheat process. It also says not to close the cowl flaps during engine warm up.
Once oil temperature is indicating, the engine may be operated as high as 1700 RPM, however, it should be approached gradually to make sure oil pressure does not exceed 100 psi. The runup can be conducted. Continental recommends cycling the propeller three or four times to move cold oil out of the propeller dome. On feathering propellers, do not let the RPM drop more than 300.
Only when oil temperature exceeds 100 degrees F and oil pressure does not exceed 60 psi at 2500 RPM, is the engine sufficiently warmed to accept full rated power.
I'll add the suggestion that it’s a good idea to take an absolute minimum of five seconds in going from idle to full power during a cold weather takeoff—at least 10 seconds is probably better. I’ve seen engines cut out with rapid throttle movement in cold weather.
Continental also recommends that the post starting procedures regarding RPM, oil pressure and oil temperature be followed on engine startups at temperatures between 20 and 40 degrees F when preheat is not used.
Winter is going to stick around in the northern hemisphere for some time—following the guidelines set out by Lycoming and Continental for the cold weather may help cut the cost of flying by making engines last longer.
Rick Durden is the author of The Thinking Pilot's Flight Manual, or How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It, Vol. I.
While on a trip Christmas Eve in Atlanta Approach air space:
"Atlanta Approach, radio check."
"Loud and clear."
"Got quiet out there. Just checking."
"I like it that way."
When we report the news, especially the news about the FAA, we do so as if observing a dense, featureless black cube at street level. Occasionally, a statement of some sort emerges from the cube which we quote and this passes for “news.” In other words, we don’t have even a muddled picture of what actually animates the people inside the cube, although we can guess.
I see this all the time when I cover events where FAA officials are on the dais as featured speakers. When this happens, the script is predictable. The exec tells the audience what it wants to hear and by the end of it, you’d swear the guy is on your side. This is especially true when the topic is regulatory relief, which is a fashionable trend of late. At last year’s Aero show in Friedrichshafen, I got my ear bent several times by regulators and alphabet reps who are absolutely convinced that a new dawn is upon us, at least with regard to simplified aircraft certification rules. Are these people sincere or just blowing smoke? I absolutely think they are sincere. You can find at any level in the FAA people who are smart, capable, dedicated and get that GA is being ground to dust by overregulation and overbearing adjudication of minor rules. Yet, like a steamroller with no brakes, the FAA rolls on unhindered by evidence of regulatory restraint.
Why is this? It’s because big bureaucracies like the FAA are buffeted by the whim of political winds and are all but unmanageable from the top. So they’re nudged and jollied along by the desk dwellers in the trenches and no matter how sincere an individual FAA exec might be in appearing genuinely sympathetic at AirVenture or Sun ‘n Fun, he eventually has to deal with the hive when he goes home. (And now the hive is joined to other international hives so like it or not, what happens in Europe and Asia doesn’t stay in Europe and Asia.) Government agencies, like corporate entities, are composed of competing and often contradictory compartments. Even the people inside are sometimes baffled by the decisions that emerge from this construct.
And that’s not the worst of it. I really believe that the FAA, and perhaps the NTSB too, has little collective sense of how fragile the GA economy has become and how desperately it needs a lot less intrusion and a lot more injection of friendly governmental promotion of the sort I seem to recall existed during the 1970s, when I started flying. I’m probably delusional in remembering it that way, but I recall the agency was once as much service organization as it was regulator. Some people used to call that “old FAA.” Budget cuts and political entropy have eroded that.
So, like the old McDonald’s ads used to say, we deserve—need—a break today. The break I have in mind is this: Regulators need to inherently understand that the entire GA industry is so beset by difficult economics, soft sales, discouraging demographics and just flat-out depressing trends that the last thing it needs is more unnecessary regulation that nobody sees as beneficial.
I hate to say it, but we’ve probably wrestled GA safety improvements to a draw and not to sound too negative, but we’re not able to afford or tolerate impositional changes that will move that needle down much, if that’s even feasible.
As I’ve reported before, there’s compelling evidence that over-regulation has actually produced a diminution in safety. Want another example? The FAA’s decision to restrict hours earned toward the instrument rating on some desktop sims. This adds more cost to the rating for no discernible benefit and is just another reason not to train.
And we’re dealing with perceptions here, plus patience stretched to the breaking point. Additional regulation may or may not de facto increase the cost of flying, but the perception is that new rules do add costs and many in GA are hanging on with their fingernails as it is now. Just the mere mention of things like the recently proposed sleep apnea diagnosis requirement is discouraging enough to drive some pilots out of GA, I’m sure. Just look at the responses to Mark Rosekind’s guest blog explaining the rationale for the sleep apnea proposal. I think it’s fair to say this will foretell the docket comments in an NPRM, if this rule makes it that far. If we all vote no, must we still suffer the imposition of such rules?
What I most wish for, I suppose, is for the people who propose these regs—and the ones clinging to the idea that the Third Class medical requirement really has merit—to actually go out and rub elbows with the people in GA and listen to what they say. These are real people who have made real investments in expensive airplanes and equipment. Their interests create real jobs at real companies that these regulatory proposals harm in measureable ways in return for benefits that we, the regulated, don’t see and rarely want.
This industry needs every shard of help it can get, not more reasons in the from of regulation that simply discourage people from staying in it, much less coming into it.
There are cars in the parking lot and 46 employees working at the Mooney International plant in Kerrville, Texas as of Jan. 3, thanks to fresh investment from its new Chinese owners. AVweb's Russ Niles was there and talked to Director of Engineering Bill Eldred about getting the production line going again.
In this week's Cub Theatre installment, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli provides a video examination of the runway turnback or the so-called "impossible turn." Well, it's not impossible at all, although it's not necessarily easy. If you want to try it, you'll need to practice it first. And think about making the turnback decision before you take off, not when the engine crumps at 500 feet.
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