AVwebFlash - Volume 21, Number 10b

March 6, 2014

Mooney Names Management Team

With more than 70 employees now employed at its Kerrville, Texas, facility, and about to restart the assembly line to produce the first M20TN Acclaim Type S, Mooney has announced that its management leadership team is in place. CEO is Dr. Jerry Chen, who has extensive experience in the aviation and aerospace industry and holds two Masters and a Ph.D. in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering. Joining him as COO is Tom Bowen, who was the interim Chief Operating Officer in the early 2000s. Mr. Bowen has been in the aircraft industry since starting with Swearingen Aircraft in 1983 and has since worked with Money, Columbia, Cessna and Lancair. He is a pilot, mechanic and engineer and will oversee quality, sales and marketing for Mooney.

Moving from Vice President of Operations to Chief Manufacturing Officer, Chad Nelson will oversee all aspects of manufacturing and the supply chain. Prior to joining Mooney in 2004, Nelson served in the Marines for 22 years as an A-6E Bombardier/Navigator. In charge of R & D and new technologies will be Chief Technical Officer Dr. Neal Pfeiffer. Dr. Pfeiffer holds a Ph.D in Aeronautical Engineering and previously worked as a product development consultant to Cessna, Learjet, Cirrus, Piper and Boeing following six years managing Advanced Design at Beech Aircraft. Dr. Chen stated, “We believe in the future of Mooney and we have a solid plan." The new Acclaim Type S will have a TSIO-550-G turbonormalized engine and will include an upgraded Garmin G1000 integrated avionics suite.

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New Brain Technology Could Assist ATC

image: Tufts/Globe

Technology in development at Tufts University in Boston could detect when an air traffic controller's over-tasked brain is nearing the saturation point and instantly redistribute the workload, according to a report this week in the Boston Globe. Computer scientist Robert Jacob and biomedical engineer Sergio Fantini are working together to create a headband that reads brain activity and transmits that data to a computer that can tell if the wearer is bored, fatigued or sharp. The computer could automatically distribute the workload to keep each controller working at peak efficiency. In tests conducted by the Tufts researchers, headband wearers increased their ability to safely navigate simulated airplanes by an average of 35 percent when the computer adjusted their workload based on their brain activity, compared to at random, according to the Globe.

Jacob and Fantini envision that the technology eventually could be incorporated into a simple wearable device, such as Google glasses. "Computers have gotten phenomenally better in the last 50 years -- faster, more powerful -- and humans haven't," Jacob told the Globe. "The bottleneck is now with the human, not the computer. So it's important to put resources into communicating better with computers." The device measures the amount of light absorbed by the brain, which increases as the workload increases.

Army Women: Better Helo Pilots Than Men?

Ten out of every 100 Army helicopter pilots are women — but they account for only three out of every 100 accidents. That’s the bottom line in an Army report that, in an effort to study the impact of women on the front lines, compares accident rates of men and women flying U.S. Army helicopters from 2002 to 2013. The revelation is included in Army Major Seneca Peña-Collazo’s report, Women in Combat Arms: A Study of the Global War on Terror, which he published while a student at the School of Advanced Military Studies at the Army’s Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Peña-Collazo is an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter pilot; his report does not hypothesize what might account for the different crash histories of the Army’s female and male pilots, although the data matched what auto insurance underwriters have known for years—women are better drivers than men. The report is also is consistent with the informal information reported by World War II Royal Air Force Air Transport Auxiliary pilot Diana Barnato Walker in her book, Spreading My Wings. Male and female Air Transport Auxiliary pilots received the same training and flew the same aircraft—Tiger Moths through Spitfires and Lancasters—on the same deliveries, yet the women pilots had a lower rate of accidents.

Peña-Collazo’s report showed that, in general, women were involved in fewer aircraft accidents than all male crews — comprising only 3 percent of incidents. When the data was boiled down to just AH-64 Apache attack helicopters flying the same missions, the data were more dramatic—100 percent of all accidents, both in garrison and in theater, involved all-male crews, at least suggesting that female attack pilots may be even more safe in the performance of flight duties. Retired Army colonel Elspeth Ritchie, once the service’s top psychiatrist, doesn’t believe AH-64 crews with one or two females at the controls are being cut any slack that could lead to fewer accidents. “Pilots do not choose which missions to fly,” she says. “Their bosses choose the missions.” The key question is why flight crews with at least one woman on board have fewer crashes. “The obvious conclusion is that mixed [gender] crews are safer,” she says. “Why is the question. Less ‘cowboying’? More safety checks? More thoughtful behavior in the air? Or is this apparent pattern random variation?”

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Aviation Events Gearing Up For Hopeful Season

U.S. Navy Blue Angels

Sun 'n Fun launches for the 40th time, in Lakeland, Fla., on April 1 -- less than four weeks away -- and with aircraft sales back in positive growth mode, the mood is expected to be upbeat. The event will host its first-ever Job Fair, on Wednesday, April 2, at the Florida Air Museum, with recruiters in search of pilots, engineers, mechanics, flight ops personnel and more. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will fly Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and the popular night airshow is back for Saturday night. The Notam is posted (PDF) with details for those flying in. Aero Friedrichshafen launches in Germany the following week, April 9 to 12. The popular show continues to expand, now with more than 600 exhibitors, including ultralights, drones and electric aircraft, along with the full spectrum of GA pistons, jets and helicopters.

EAA AirVenture is gearing up for their big event, set for July 28 to Aug. 3, and this week announced commitments for the afternoon airshows. Patty Wagstaff is back, flying an Extra 300, along with Sean D. Tucker, Chuck Aaron, Kirby Chambliss, the Red Bull Skydive Team, and a long list of others. "Logistics work continues," EAA said noncommittally, to bring the full performance of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds to the show for the first time. EAA also is reprising their "One Week Wonder" project, inviting thousands of visitors to pitch in and build a Zenith CH 750 kit airplane over the seven days of the show. EAA also appears to be giving up on its long-suffering campaign to get everyone to call the event "AirVenture" -- this year's logo gives top billing to "Oshkosh 2014" with "EAA AirVenture" in smaller type.

Fantasy Of Flight To Close For Re-Invention

The Fantasy of Flight Museum, which has operated for 18 years in central Florida, will close on Sunday, April 6, owner Kermit Weeks announced on Tuesday. The venue will continue as a private-event business, and Weeks said he plans to design and develop "a new future destination attraction."  He also said he plans to open "an aspect of the collection in a reduced capacity and admission price" later this year, according to the news release. The facility will continue to provide aviation restoration and maintenance services.

“Although we are located just 20 minutes west of Walt Disney World, we’re currently outside the center of mass tourism and not perceived of as a destination," said Weeks. "We have a great product, but people have a misperception of what we offer." Some of the current staff will lose their jobs, but an "event-focused staff" will be retained as the facility continues to host weddings, meetings and corporate events. “This isn’t the end of Fantasy of Flight," Weeks said. "It’s just the next step on the company’s journey to become what it was always meant to be." Weeks told the local Ledger that he turned 60 last year, "and the clock is ticking." The current business is "not sustainable," he said. He added that it's time to move on, and focus his energy and resources "toward a dream that will sustain."

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User Fees Return In New Budget Plan

image: NBAA

A new federal budget plan released by the White House on Tuesday includes a proposal to "establish a surcharge for air traffic services of $100 per flight." NBAA President Ed Bolen said similar proposals in the last three budgets were stopped when the aviation community mobilized and asked elected officials to oppose the fees. "There is bipartisan opposition to user fees on Capitol Hill," Bolen said. NBAA will continue working with leaders in Congress, he said, "to support FAA funding and aviation system modernization without user fees for general aviation, so that our nation's aviation system can remain the world’s largest, safest and most efficient." General aviation already pays for its use of the aviation system through the fuel tax, Bolen added.

The budget proposal says the user fee would "more equitably distribute the cost of air traffic services across the aviation user community." All piston-powered aircraft would be exempt form the fee, as would military aircraft, aircraft operated by government agencies, air ambulances, aircraft operating outside controlled airspace, and aircraft flying from Canada to Canada. The $3.9 trillion budget proposal covers the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

GAMA President Pete Bunce also said on Tuesday he is "extremely disappointed" by the user-fee proposal. He added that "we are encouraged that the administration proposes making the R&D tax credit permanent," saying the credit will spur the development of new innovations.

Pipistrel Switches Engines for Panthera

Pipistrel’s sleek Panthera retractable, announced two years ago, will soon have a six-cylinder Lycoming IO-540 rather than the IO-390 originally planned. The engine switch was forced because Lycoming won’t be approving the IO-390 for mogas, according to Pipistrel. The IO-540 replacement, which Pipistrel says will improve short-field and high density altitude takeoff performance, will be approved for mogas use. The 540 is about 90 pounds heavier than the IO-390, according to Pipistrel’s Tine Tomazic, but because flight testing has confirmed a lower stall speed than originally envisioned, the Panthera’s allowable gross weight will increase by 210 pounds, increasing useful load.

 “Fuel capacity remains the same, 220 liters [58 gallons] because for the given mission, the airplane will not consume more fuel. We are targeting the same cruise speed of 200 knots true and the same 10.5 gallons per hour,” Tomazic said.

The Panthera has been in flight testing for more than a year with the IO-390 and although Pipistrel says the engine switch will cause some delays, the second airframe is already being fitted with the larger engine. The Panthera’s original design brief, Tomazic said, envisioned other powerplants, including an electric-hybrid version.

“The engine will go under the exact same cowl. When we designed the airplane from the start, it was to feature the hybrid electric and other engines as well; the six-cylinder was included in the original design of the engine cover. So the exterior of the airplane does not change at all,” said Tomazic.

Lycoming declined comment when asked why it decided not to certify the IO-390 for mogas, but Pipistrel speculates that it has to do with the high compression ratio of the IO-390. The 390 series produces up to 210 hp with a compression ratio of 8.7 to 1. According to Lycoming’s SI 1070 service instruction, eight engines in the IO-540 family are approved for mogas (93 AKI) use at compression ratios of between 7.3 and 8.5 to 1. These engines are rated between 235 and 270 hp.

“A lot of this decision was made because customers want good hot and high performance. We have lots of people coming from South Africa, from Argentina, from Mexico, from Colorado, places that would otherwise demand a turbocharger solution. But instead of going to a turbocharged four-cylinder, we decided to go for a normally aspirated six for maintenance and operational simplicity,” Tomazic said.

“Also, this engine supports multitude of fuels available worldwide, so we are now entering markets impossible to tackle before. The delay is assessed to be a couple of months worth,” Tomazic added.

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New This Week

Before Civil Air Patrol's Command Council convenes in Washington, D.C., this week for its annual winter meeting, it will gather on Capitol Hill for Legislative Day on Feb. 27 to brief Congress on the U.S. Air Force auxiliary's primary missions of emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs. Legislative Day will also feature induction of U.S. Senator Tom Harkin into CAP's Hall of Honor. The Civil Air Patrol will thank Harkin for his 30 years of CAP service during a congressional reception in the Senate's Russell Office Building. Harkin -- a former Navy fighter pilot who commands CAP's Congressional Squadron -- will become the 34th person inducted into the Hall of Honor in CAP's 72-year history, and only the second member of Congress, joining former New York congressman and fellow CAP Col. Lester Wolff, who was inducted in 1985.

At Heli-Expo 2014, Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, announced a letter of intent for 10 Bell 525 Relentless aircraft. Abu Dhabi Aviation chose the Bell 525 for its versatility to support a number of missions based in the UAE, including offshore oil and gas, emergency medical support, VIP transport, firefighting and search and rescue. Bell Helicopter has designated Abu Dhabi Aviation as the lead customer for the Middle East, Africa and Eurasia. Also at Heli-Expo, Professional Resources In System Management LLC (PRISM) announced the continued growth of its partnership with the USAIG Performance Vector program. Since joining the program in April 2012, PRISM has welcomed 45 fixed and rotary wing USAIG insured operators as subscribers to its highly regarded Safety Management System program.

The Weekender: Women of Aviation Week

Our thanks to SocialFlight for its guide to what is happening in aviation around the country this weekend. To help celebrate Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, the Michigan Flyers flying club is holding an Open House on the Ann Arbor, Michigan, Airport on Saturday, March 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is designed to introduce women and girls of all ages to the joys and career opportunities of aviation. Girls and women who have not flown in a general aviation airplane will have an opportunity to take an introductory flight with a club instructor at a discounted rate. Food and hot beverages will be available. At Bulverde Airpark, San Antonio, Texas, Anderson Aviation will host a lunch fly in at noon on Saturday, March 8. Women of Aviation Week will be highlighted and free food and refreshments will be provided.

LeadingEdge Aviation will be hosting its monthly fly in breakfast at Logan, Utah, Cache Airport on Saturday, March 8 from 8 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. The breakfast is free and discounted fuel will be available. At the Harnett Regional Jetport in Erwin, North Carolina, there will be a free lunch and discounted fuel on Friday, March 7. They’ll be serving BBQ, pizza, hot dogs and “other great meals” and have a drawing for prizes. For more information on fly ins, seminars and aviation gatherings in general, go to SocialFlight.com.

Partial Panel Peculiarities

Probably the most difficult task on the Instrument Rating (IR) practical test is Area VII, Task D: Approach with Loss of Primary Flight Instrument Indicators. But why is the FAA so interested in this? In their own words from the IR Practical Test Standards (PTS): “The FA A is concerned about numerous fatal aircraft accidents involving spatial disorientation of instrument-rated pilots who have attempted to control and maneuver their aircraft in clouds with inoperative primary flight instruments (gyroscopic heading and/or attitude indicators) or loss of the primary electronic flight instruments display.”

The Impact Of Glass And EFBs

As we transition from the typical light aircraft of the 20th century to the far more sophisticated glass panels of the 21st century, the philosophies of both training and testing are changing. From the classic six pack of flight instruments with electric turn coordinator and vacuum-driven attitude and heading indicators, to the multifunction displays with redundant attitude/heading reference sets, (AHRS), powered by redundant electric power supplies with backup attitude, altimeter, and airspeed indicators of classic design.

The addition of non-attached cockpit devices, such as the handheld GPS units with their five-instrument display, and uncertified backup units such as the Dynon D1 Pocket Panel, is also increasing the options available to pilots of aircraft legacy panels (or even pilots of glass panel planes if the lights ever do all go out).

Perhaps the first question to ask is what partial panel means. The Instrument Practical Test includes a task involving the loss of primary flight instrument indicators. The PTS says that this covers loss of the gyroscopic heading and/or attitude indicators (typically the attitude indicator, AI, aka artificial horizon and heading indicator, HI, aka directional gyro or loss of the primary electronic flight instruments display (usually the primary flight display or PFD).

For classic round-gauge panels, this usually means the result of a vacuum pump failure, which takes out the AI and HI. Simulation of these failures is usually carred out with instrument covers.

With glass panels like the Garmin G1000 or Avidyne Entegra the PTS doesn’t specifically say what this means, so we’re left to some analysis based on possible system failures. In addition to simply dimming the PFD to black as one simulated failure, it also suggests pulling the circuit breakers on the Attitude/Heading Reference Set (AHRS) and/or Air Data Computer (ADC) as means of simulating realistic failure modes.

However, Cessna recommends against pulling circuit breakers, and its guide suggests dimming the PFD or MFD, or dimming both to simulate failure of the underlying systems (AHRS/ADC). Another option is to make some custom overlays that can be hung from the knobs at the top of the PFD, with red X covers for the appropriate parts of the screen. Internet discussion boards suggest that several instructors have done this and Sporty's carries red X stickers that are handy. 

Realistic Training Scenarios

In developing training scenarios, I think it’s important to tailor the training to the actual configuration of the aircraft with regard for the likelihood of multiple unrelated simultaneous failures. The purpose of the exercise is to prepare pilots for realistic failures in the aircraft they normally fly.

When working with a pilot whose aircraft has vacuum attitude/heading indicators but also an electric back- up attitude indicator, I don’t simulate the highly unlikely combination of vacuum pump failure along with a simultaneous failure of the electric AI. Likewise, if a six-pack aircraft has a Garmin GNS530, I do not take away the 530 along with the two vacuum gyros. Instead, I want to see the pilot select the Nav1 page (HSI display) on the 530 and use that. Even if the aircraft doesn’t have an installed GPS, if the pilot has a Garmin  or Aera handheld with the five-instrument display, I want to see her or him use that.

Some may argue that this doesn’t exercise all of the skills, which might possibly be needed. However, if instructors insist on taking away the backup tools, which the pilot is nearly certain to have available, the pilot will not be practicing the use of them, and the laws of exercise and primacy suggest the pilot may in the actual emergency not even attempt to use them.

In fact, I know several designated pilot examiners who, when testing the primary flight instrument failure task on an instrument rating checkride, will fail the applicant on judgment if they do not make use of every tool available in the cockpit, whether installed/IFR approved or not. They point out that while those tools may not be certified, in a critical situation, the pilot is not only encouraged but legally authorized to deviate from the rules about navigation/flight instrument system approval by 14 CFR 91.3(b), which excuses such deviation in an in-flight emergency.

How Far To Go

Another consideration is just how far to take the exercise. To my thinking, when the primary flight display/ instruments are lost in instrument conditions, the only consideration is getting the plane on the ground safely at the earliest time consistent with safety. One should not overfly a suitable field just because it doesn’t have an instrument repair shop.

At the same time, one should understand, for example, that some vacuum pump failure modes may have the potential to cascade resulting even in engine failure. For that reason, partial panel missed approaches may not be appropriate— in that situation, it may be better to take one’s chances with an ILS or LPV to the runway rather than going around and trying to continue flying without those instruments.

One other question often raised in discussions of partial panel situations is whether or not to declare an emergency. Many pilots fear using what they often call the E-word (they cannot even bring themselves to say emergency in such a discussion). In some cases, they think that just declaring an emergency will necessitate written reports and forms to fill out. This isn’t true, since the regulations (91.3(c) and 91.123(d)) only require such a report if you have to act in violation of a reg and then only if the FAA asks for a report, and ATC typically does not do so—they hate paperwork as much as pilots. The reality is that having to fill out paperwork after declaring an emergency is a myth from old John Wayne movies. In fact, failing to declare an emergency is more likely to get you in trouble than the declaration, since declaration of an emergency widens the scope of things controllers are allowed to do, and that means less chance of creating a conflict which does have to be reported by the controller.

Other pilots think the word emergency should be used only when there is an immediate threat of death, such as failure of the only engine or being on fire. The Pilot/Controller Glossary says the following:

EMERGENCY—A distress or an urgency condition.

DISTRESS—A condition of being threatened by serious and/or imminent danger and of requiring immediate assistance.

URGENCY—A condition of being concerned about safety and of requiring timely but not immediate assistance; a potential distress condition.

While a well-trained and proficient pilot shouldn’t be in “imminent danger” just because the vacuum pump quits, such a system failure and con- sequential loss of primary flight instruments should make any pilot at least concerned about safety, and thus being in an emergency situation as the FAA defines it. Better to have available all the help you might want and end up not needing it, than to need it and not have the controller prepared to render it as fast as you may require it.

Ron Levy is a CFI who instructs in the ten-day instrument program and a former Navy Flight Officer on the A-6.

This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of IFR Refresher Magazine.

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History in the Flesh

I think people who have been in wars not only think about the experience differently than those who have not, but their views of it change as they grow older. I thought of this the other day when I was in the local YMCA waging my own daily war against gravity.

“You know,” came a voice from behind me, “in my day, we used to call it spin, crash and burn.” It took me a moment, but then I realized that the elderly man who had said that was referring to a bicycle jersey I often wear that says Crash and Burn, Inc. on the back and one that draws a lot of comments. I knew instantly that he was a pilot, but when he said his flying career ended in 1945, I knew what that meant, too.

Ed Goulder was a flight leader in B-17s with the 384th Bomb Group. Against terrible odds during the awful year of 1943, Goulder completed 22.5 missions, the last ending in bailout over Belgium after an attack on a non-ferrous metal plant in Solingen, Germany. He spent the remainder of the war as a POW and was released in May of 1945. We chatted for a while and I commented how lucky he must have felt to survive even that many missions.

He told me in retrospect, he was most proud of having commanded two B-17s that had to be abandoned and which all 20 crewmen survived. The odds against that are as dismally low as they were for a crew to make the requisite 25 missions during 1943. The odds are astronomical when you consider that one of the bailouts he ordered was in dense fog, at night, somewhere over what the crew hoped was East Anglia. My palms sweat just thinking about that.

Although I have more than passing historical knowledge of World War II and the 8th Air Force, it’s always sobering to grasp the kind of horrific losses sustained during that year and to touch the living face of history, which Ed Goulder and the dwindling airmen of the war certainly represent.

I found the 8th Air Force records for the Solingen mission that Ed told me about and these revealed that of 23 B-17s dispatched from his group that day, only 14 completed the mission. Three aborted, one scrubbed, one returned early, one ditched and three failed to return. Depending on how you slice the numbers, that’s a loss rate of 17 percent and that’s 30 guys missing and 10 fished out of the channel. (Maybe.)

By modern standards, that would be a disaster, but it was just another day of war in 1943, unremarkable for being low or high. The 8th Air Force lost nearly 40 percent of the bombers it sent to England, most of those early in the war before the generals finally admitted that unescorted bombers actually couldn’t survive against a determined, capable defense. What guts it took to fly those missions against such certain risks of not returning. 

I asked Ed if he thinks about the experience much. “When I came home,” he said, “I went into electrical contracting and never thought about the war much,” he told me. “But about 10 years ago, after I retired, it came up more.” For a bit, he was in touch with some of his crewmates, but as they age, that contact has diminished. Ed is 91 now and gets around with the aid of a walker, but he still makes it to the gym. We should all do so well at that age.

A couple of times during our conversation, Ed observed that the U.S. has been to war 10 times since he returned from Germany. But I think the number may actually be higher than that, if you count all the brushfires and skirmishes like the Dominican Republic, Panama, the Mayaguez … it’s a long list. Often, in talking to these veterans, I’m struck by how many of them seem less interested in looking back than hoping the next generation won’t have their own war to contend with.

By happenstance, the week I ran into Ed, I was just finishing a re-read of William Shirer’s landmark The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. It was the final revision completed in 1990 before Shirer died three years later. While those of us born after World War II have grown accustomed to Pax Europa, Shirer evidently had no such sentiments. In his revised conclusion, he wasn’t so sure another major European conflict was impossible. Watching events during the past week, it’s sadly obvious that he had basis for that belief.

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Video: Sarasota Avionics Profile

Not even a decade ago, avionics shops competed with factories in repairing radios and equipment.  But flat-rate repairs killed that market, and shops like Sarasota Avionics have reinvented their business model to provide flat-rate installs.

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Video: Why This Landing Went Wrong

St. Barts, in the eastern Caribbean, is famous for having a short, narrow runway with a tall hill off one end.  It's tricky to get into, and more than one pilot has come to grief in trying.  In this video, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli reviews a landing that went wrong and why.

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Podcast: A New Airplane Marketplace

Tom Henn and A. J. Brown, the CEO and vice president of a new company called BiddingAce.com, hope to provide an easy-to-use online service for those looking to buy or sell a general aviation airplane.  They spoke with AVweb's Mary Grady about their plans.