Citing a crowded aviation tablet app market, Bendix King said it will drop its myWingMan navigation app, effective immediately. The company said that customers with existing paid subscriptions will be issued a full refund and that the decision to pull its myWingMan navigation app from the Apple store was difficult, but is the “right thing to do for customers.” In an exclusive interview with AvWeb, Bendix King’s Paul Hathaway acknowledged the fierce competition from other app makers.
“It really comes down to the question of how do you displace the tens of thousands of existing ForeFlight users? Quite frankly, it’s a crowded space,” said Hathaway. The ForeFlight platform is just one successful full-featured navigation app among many others that have made a run at the market (some with varying degrees of success).
The myWingMan app was born from a partnership between Bendix King and app developer Seattle Avionics, a partnership that remains in place, says Hathoway, since Seattle provides navigational data to some existing Bendix King products. “It seems to be a race to the bottom in terms of 'free'. If you look at the cost of developing an EFB app and maintaining it, it’s critical that the program is strategically aligned with your other products and can stand on its own two feet. Removing the app from the market and refunding the money of all paying subscribers will allow us to ultimately focus on providing a better EFB product at a future date,” Hathaway noted. Standing on its own two feet could mean keeping app development in-house.
Parent company Honeywell seems more than capable of developing future apps for the Bendix King division. Honeywell’s Mobile Center of Excellence division develops apps for higher-end avionics applications, including EFB programs for the Apex in the Pilatus PC-12 turboprop and the Epic platform for business jets.Bendix King is expected to announce a major new product at the Aircraft Electronics Association’s national convention later this month in Nashville, Tenn. “There are things that we are doing to complement that new product and the myWingMan app just wasn’t the right platform to do that,” said Hathoway. As Hathaway put it, the new product and other announcements that are planned for this year will be "eye-openers".
On the heels of Bendix King withdrawing from the app market, the FAA issued installation approval for the KLR10 angle of attack system. Priced at $1600, the KLR10 uses a color-coded visual indicator for angle of attack and airspeed management. The system uses a dedicated sensor probe that requires little if any structural modification to the wing, since it's designed to fit into an existing inspection plate on the underside of the wing. Bendix King still waits for the FAA to approve the KSN770 GPS navigator—a product that’s been in development for several years. Bendix King says it will contact myWingMan subscribers in the coming week and begin refunding the subscriptions. VFR subscriptions for myWingMan were priced at $99 for one year, while the IFR subscription was $149 for one year. It's unknown how many subscribers there are since the app was introduced nearly two years ago.
The pilot of a Cessna 170B and a skydiver escaped a spectacular collision with minor injuries on Saturday at South Lakeland Airport in Florida. The pilot of the 170B, Sharon Trembley, 87, a World War II veteran, was taking off on his third touch-and-go of the beautiful morning when 49-year-old skydiver John Frost landed. A remarkable set of photos taken by Tim Telford and supplied to the Fox News affiliate in Tampa appears to show Trembley pulling up hard to avoid hitting Frost. The right wing grabbed the parachute lines and flipped the 170 around to a nose-first impact. The plane was substantially damaged but both men were relatively unscathed.
Trembley was held in hospital for observation but Frost, who was flung about 20 feet in the air when the aircraft hit the parachute, was treated and released. "You always hear the negatives about somebody died or somebody this, that or the other. Both these guys walked away unscathed," Telford told Fox News Tampa Bay. "A scratch here, a bruise there and I think both are just happy to be here today." The NTSB and FAA are investigating.
No One Knows Your Factory Engine Better than the Factory That Built It in the First Place
Only Lycoming can rebuild your engine to factory-new specifications that come with a zero-time log book, a two-year factory warranty, and increases to your airplane's value. There is no comparison. Visit your local distributor or call Lycoming at 1 (800) 258-3279 and ask how you can save up to $5,000 on a rebuilt engine. Learn more at Lycoming.com.
Update: On Feb. 7, the FAA announced that it has appealed the dismissal of its civil penalty action against commercial drone operator Raphael Pirker to the full National Transportation Safety Board. The appeal has the effect of staying the law judge's decision until the full Board rules.
NBC News reported that a National Transportation Safety Board law judge dismissed a civil penalty action brought by the Federal Aviation Administration against a commercial drone operator. In 2011, photographer and reported skilled hobbyist Raphael Pirker flew his Zephyr II drone over the University of Virginia campus, recording photos and videos, which he sold to the university. In 2012 the FAA brought a civil penalty action against Pirker, fining him $10,000 for a number of violations of the Federal Aviation Regulations, including what attorneys refer to as the FAA's standard complaint: operating an aircraft in a careless and reckless manner. Following a motion by Pirker's attorney, Brendan Schulman, to dismiss the penalty based on questions regarding the FAA's authority to regulate drones, the NTSB ruled in Pirker's favor. Civil penalty actions of this sort are brought by the FAA and heard through an administrative law process before an NTSB administrative law judge with appeal rights to the full Board of the NTSB and a portion of the U.S. federal court system.
The order dismissing the penalty action included the statement that "at the time of Respondent's model aircraft operation, as alleged herein, there was no enforceable FAA rule or FAR Regulation, applicable to model aircraft or for classifying model aircraft as an [Unmanned Aircraft System]." The NTSB's ruling "mean[s] that if you have this kind of aircraft [the FAA] is not going to be in a position to fine you," Ryan Calo, professor of law at the University of Washington, told NBC News. He expects the FAA will act to close the gap in their regulation ability, or file an appeal. "I don't think it's time to let a thousand drones fly, it's time to watch and see how the FAA reacts," he said. On Feb. 26, the FAA placed a strongly worded posting on its website asserting that it does currently regulate commercial UAS operations and that they are prohibited without FAA approval. Unless reversed on appeal, the NTSB ruling overcomes that assertion, at least until the FAA enacts new regulations. Congress has directed the FAA to come up with a plan for "safe integration" of UAS into the national airspace system by Sept. 30, 2015. The FAA has said that such integration will be incremental.
Boeing is inspecting the carbon fiber composite wings of 787 Dreamliners for potential hairline cracks that are due to a change in the way the wings are manufactured. The inspections of 42 planes started a few weeks ago after the airplane maker was notified of the problem by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which makes the wings in Japan. "We have been notified by our supplier MHI that a change in their manufacturing process may have led to hairline cracks in a limited number of shear ties on a wing rib in the 787. This condition may be present in a limited number of airplanes still in production," said Doug Alder with Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Boeing says potential wing cracks do not exist in any of the 123 Dreamliners that have been delivered and are currently in service.
The company says it takes one to two weeks to fix those wings where cracks are found. The repair involves applying a piece of carbon fiber material to the area in question. So far, the company says it has not had to completely replace any wings of the 42 Dreamliners being inspected. "We understand the issue, what must be done to correct it, and are completing inspections of potentially affected airplanes. We are addressing affected airplanes as required. We expect no impact to 2014 delivery guidance," Alder said. Boeing recently increased production of the Dreamliner to 10 per month but has been wrestling with manufacturing issues as it gets its Dreamliner assembly line in Charleston, S.C., up to speed.
Malaysian officials have confirmed they're investigating a "security breach" at Kuala Lumpur Airport involving Flight MH370 and that they're now looking for links between four passengers and the Chinese Uighur militant Muslim movement. Uighur militants killed 29 people last week in a grisly knife attack at a Chinese train station and the timing of the aircraft disappearance is considered suspicious according to sources quoted by CBC News. Security officials are combing CCTV footage of the security screening area and are interviewing the screeners. At least two of the passengers were believed to have been traveling on stolen passports while the other two that are the focus of the probe may have had Ukrainian passports. All of the passengers who required them had Chinese entry visas but China has recently allowed an exemption to its stringent visa requirements that permits transient passengers to skip applying for an entry visa. The two men flying on what were believed to be stolen visas had booked flights through to Europe. Meanwhile reports that debris had been spotted turned out to be false and the search continues.
The commander of Malaysia's air force told reporters Sunday radar data shows Flight MH370 may have turned back toward the originating airport at Kuala Lumpur before contact was lost. "What we have done is actually look into the recording on the radar that we have and we realized there is a possibility the aircraft did make a turnback," Rodzali Daud, the Royal Malaysian Air Force chief, told reporters at a news conference. Meanwhile, government officials in Austria and Italy say residents of their countries reported among the missing aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 are both safe but their passports were stolen within the last two years. U.S. government sources told CNN both passports were stolen in Thailand. An extensive search of the South China Sea off Vietnam has turned up nothing more than a couple of oil slicks that were spotted Sunday by the Vietnamese air force just off the country's southern coast. That's where controllers lost all contact with a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 early Saturday local time. The 777 took off just after midnight Saturday Malaysia time and the airline said it "disappeared" about two hours later. It was carrying 229 passengers and 12 crew. The weather was good.
China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia have all sent ships and aircraft to take part in the search. There have been no confirmed sightings of wreckage. The oil slicks were six to ten miles long. The aircraft would have had most of a full load of fuel because it was only about two hours into the flight. Malaysia Airlines has a good safety record. The most recent accident involving the carrier was a Twin Otter involved in a landing accident on Borneo last October that killed the copilot and a passenger but before that the most recent crash was in 1977. It has a modern fleet, including 15 777s. AVweb will update with more details as they become available.
Everyone's Talking About the IFD440 & IFD540!
Join us every Thursday at 5:00pm EDT to learn more about Avidyne's IFD440 & IFD540 GPS/NAV/COMs, the plug-and-play replacements for G430/530-Series navigators! Learn how such features as Hybrid Touch, GeoFill, and Procedure Preview can make your flying easier, safer, and more enjoyable.
Although a lot of aircraft engines are approved to burn mogas, that doesn't include many high-compression, high-horspower engines like the Continental IO-520. That's where the Airplains ADI system comes in. It injects a water/methanol mixture into the induction system to allow the burning of lower-octane auto gas. Here's a video tour of the system.
It was more than 50 years ago that Boeing used the first vortex generators—carefully located metal tabs angled slightly relative to the airflow—on portions of the upper surface of the wing of the original 707. (I also received a report from reader George McClellan, who worked on the experimental flightline at Boeing in Wichita, that was involved in instaling VGs on at least one B-47 in 1950.) The odd-looking devices eventually trickled down to general aviation, notably on Learjets, then to even the most modest of bugsmashers. For decades, vortex generators, or VGs, have been providing safety and controllability benefits throughout the piston single and twin world at a rate well beyond what their diminutive size might imply.
On the original 707 it was discovered that, at speed, airflow over the highly cambered wing separated, leading to gravely reduced effectiveness of the high-speed (inner) ailerons because they were living in badly disturbed air. Installing vortex generators created what amounted to little horizontal tornadoes that kept the airflow attached to the wing—prevented boundary layer separation—and allowed the ailerons to operate effectively.
Because an aerodynamic stall is due to airflow separation from the wing, it didn’t take all that long for engineers to figure out that VGs could be used to keep the airflow attached to higher angles of attack and lower speed—as well as increase control effectiveness at those lower speeds. By the 1990s, VGs were being marketed primarily for light twins—placing them on the vertical stabilizer increased rudder effectiveness at low speed, which allowed for a reduction in Vmc. Reducing Vmc paid big dividends—not only in safety by making the airplane controllable at lower speeds following an engine failure, but also in reducing runway length requirements. Rotation speed for a twin is normally some factor above Vmc—and it determines the amount of runway needed to accelerate to rotation speed and then come to a stop. Reducing Vr means reducing the amount of runway needed for takeoff.
The second benefit VG developers saw for twins was reducing stall speed, which allowed a slower approach and touchdown speed. On top of that, reduced stall speed meant an increase in allowable gross weight for many twins. Certification requirements for most general aviation piston twins require them to have a single-engine rate of climb at least 0.027 times the square of Vso. If the stall speed is reduced, gross weight may be increased.
The clear benefits of reduced Vmc and stall speed and increased gross weight made the piston twin market the correct initial target for VGs. For example, the Cessna 340A was a two-people-and-a-toothbrush airplane with all eight of its fuel tanks full. VGs bumped its gross weight by 300 pounds—which proved to be a big deal. It should be noted right here that VGs do NOT increase the maximum landing weight of any airplane, so a takeoff at the new, higher gross weight requires burning off fuel prior to landing.
Later it was demonstrated that VGs could increase the zero fuel weight (the maximum amount that can be carried in the aircraft cabin—any weight going into the airplane above that number has to be in the fuel tanks) of some twins.
VGs for Singles
Micro Aerodynamics, the big dog in the VG world, has been making vortex generators since 1989. In a conversation with principal Charlie White, he told me that he initially believed that the market was going to be limited to twins because of the three-fold benefits (stall speed, Vmc, gross weight). Single-engine owners would only get reduced stall speed, so he doubted that there’d be enough of a market to justify the cost of research and development for STCs for singles. He said that once VGs were proving themselves on twins, he was approached by owners of singles in Alaska who competed in what were becoming very serious contests for short field takeoff and landings. Could he make VG kits for them? White started doing so and discovered that there was a huge market for single-engine airplanes—justifying the cost of developing more and more STCs. More companies have entered the field to make VG kits for production (an STC is required because VGs are considered a major modification to the airplane) and homebuilt airplanes—to the point that no matter what you own, there’s a good chance there’s a VG kit available for your airplane.
So, what do those little tabs do in the real world? Depending on the type of airplane, realistic stall speed reductions range from four to 10 knots. I think that’s significant, especially from an accident perspective when one considers that force of impact is a squared function. Any reduction in speed of impact gives a benefit that is well more than linear—reducing stall speed can mean reducing speed at touchdown in a forced landing situation, meaning less energy to dissipate. Touching down more slowly on landing means less energy to manage on rollout, reducing the risk of a runway loss of control (RLOC) accident.
Along with the reduction in stall speed, VGs give increased aileron authority at low speed, reducing the risk of loss of control—one of the big causes of accidents. Some kits involve installation of VGs on the underside of the horizontal stabilizer, improving pitch control at low speeds. Some owners say the improved handling at low speed is more important to them than the reduced stall speed.
For twins, plan on Vmc reductions of from five to 12 knots. My test on a Piper Aztec D showed a Vmc reduction from 68 to 61 knots. On a Cessna 310R my flight test showed a new clean stall speed of 76 knots—Micro Aerodynamics published a new Vmc of 71 knots. In the test I did, I was not willing to do a single-engine stall; I stopped decelerating at 77 knots, well into buffet, and the airplane was still easily controllable in yaw.
As to gross weight and zero fuel weight increases on twins, check the manufacturer’s website. Some allow gross weight increases only through other STCs they offer. That also affects price.
VGs function as lightweight STOL kits. Next time you watch one of the videos of Alaska short field competitions, notice that every airplane has VGs—those Huskies and Super Cubs are breaking ground in under 100 feet and approaching at speeds well below what could be used without VGs.
Reports I’ve seen indicate that stall behavior generally is likely to improve with VGs. I think it’s especially important for airplanes such as the Cub and Champ, which have no camber on the tail surfaces—an uncoordinated stall leads to rapid yaw, roll and pitch down, often resulting in ground impact if started low. In Alaska, it’s called a “moose stall,” as it often kills those flying around low, looking for game. VGs reduce the risk of the inadvertent stall and improve the airplane’s manners if it does happen.
Sister publication, Aviation Consumer, named VGs one of the Top 10 safety investments an aircraft owner can make.
To be conservative, plan on some loss of cruise speed with VGs, from one knot in slower airplanes to three in faster. My tests on the Aztec and 310R showed no cruise speed loss—as was the case with a Cessna 150 I tested. However, I have heard many owners state (and have seen reports on Internet forums) that they had a speed loss in the one-three knot range.
I’ve flown and washed airplanes with VGs for over 20 years. VGs make washing and waxing a pain in the whatsis. I’ve never had a VG come off, although I’ve heard that it happens—and the STCs are specific in stating how many can be missing before the airplane becomes unairworthy. The kits come with extra VGs. I’ve been involved in installing two kits—I put the extra VGs into a plastic sandwich bag and threw it into the glove box, so if one comes of, the replacement is in the airplane.
VGs are installed at about 7-11 percent of the wing chord, well behind deicing boots. That’s behind the area that is affected by rime ice. Serious clear ice might run back that far—if so, the situation’s so bad that getting ice on your VGs is not among your big worries at that point. I’ve landed with rime ice on a VG-equipped Aztec a number of times. There was never any ice of any sort on the VGs themselves.
A VG kit includes everything needed for installation, except a ladder. There are peel-and-stick templates to put at a defined locations. The skin is roughed up at each VG-to-be spot and each VG is glued in place. If strakes are involved, they are bolted or riveted on. On most airplanes, the face of the airspeed indicator must be replaced due to stall speed and Vmc changes. Even I, who had my one mechanical gene surgically removed when I was eight, was able to follow the instructions and install VGs with minimal “Get out of the way and let me do it right” comments from the mechanics involved. The single I worked on took three hours, the twin, five.
If you want VGs, plan on going to one of four manufacturers: Micro Aerodynamics, Boundary Layer Research, D’Shannon Aviation and RAM Aircraft. D’Shannon specializes in Beech aircraft and RAM in Cessna twins; Boundary Layer Research sells VGs for twins and Micro Aerodynamics has them for virtually everything. For singles, the supplier is almost exclusively going to be Micro Aerodynamics. For twins, when comparing prices make sure you check to see what is offered. In some cases, VGs from one supplier may look to be less expensive but the STC may not include a gross weight increase that the more expensive competition offers.
I did some quick looks at prices for singles from Micro Aerodynamics: for a Cessna 172—$1450; for a Mooney M20—$1450, Piper Archer—$1450; Aviat Husky—$695 and Beech 36 Bonanza—$1450.
VGs are an inexpensive way to improve low-speed handling, control and reduce stall speed. To me, that’s a big deal. They won’t quite do what a full-blown STOL kit will do, but for the weight, they’re close enough. In my opinion, VGs significantly increase the level of safety of any single. I think that the increase in safety level for a twin is even greater. I wouldn’t own a twin without installing VGs—I want the increased level of safety, any gross weight increase is frosting on the cake.
Join Able Flight Pilots and Friends for a "Big Time in the Big Easy!"
It's Able Flight's annual benefit for the scholarship fund May 30 at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Celebrate the success of our newest pilots with special guests including Patty Wagstaff and enjoy great food and music. Thanks to sponsors Embraer, Sennheiser, and Landmark Aviation, all proceeds from donations for tables or seats go to our scholarship fund! Reserve your seat or table today. Call (919) 942-4699 or visit AbleFlight.org/big-time-in-the-big-easy.
Center: "N12345, where have you been? We haven't heard from you in a while."
Pilot: "I've been in Fort Myers for the last three months or so."
Center: "N12345 —" [Chuckles.] "No, you've been NORDO for the last 45 minutes; we haven't heard a communication from you. When did you last speak to a controller?"
Pilot: "I guess 45 minutes ago."
Susan Delgado via e-mail
Heard Anything Funny on the Radio?
Heard anything funny, unusual, or downright shocking on the radio lately? If you've been flying any length of time, you're sure to have eavesdropped on a few memorable exchanges. The ones that gave you a chuckle may do the same for your fellow AVweb readers. Share your radio funny with us, and, if we use it in a future "Short Final," we'll send you a sharp-looking AVweb hat to sport around your local airport. No joke.
AVweb is the world's premier independent aviation news resource, online since 1995. Our reporting, features, and newsletters are brought to you by:
Publisher Tom Bliss
Editorial Director, Aviation Publications Paul Bertorelli
Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles
Webmaster Scott Simmons
Contributing Editors Mary Grady Rick Durden
Avionics Editor Larry Anglisano
Contributors Kevin Lane-Cummings Paul Berge
Ad Coordinator Karen Lund
Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)
Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.
Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? Your advertising can reach over 225,000 loyal AVwebFlash, AVwebBiz, and AVweb web site readers every week. Over 80% of our readers are active pilots and aircraft owners. That's why our advertisers grow with us, year after year. For ad rates and scheduling, click here or contact Tom Bliss:
About five years ago, when I was doing some research on used airplane prices, I had a disquieting revelation. When late-model Cessna 172s were listed, they were inevitably described as “G1000 Skyhawks.” It was as though we had crossed some invisible divide and the venerable old Hawk--really not much changed from the original collection of aluminum and rubber Cessna stamped out in 1956--was now relegated to second fiddle; a mere conveyance to squire a radio from Point A to Point B. The act of flying had suddenly become subservient to a device whose sole job was to efficiently (and expensively) abstract what was once the most fun you could have with your clothes on. A trend was maturing.
I actually first noticed it nearly two decades ago when I began instructing people in the then-emerging moving map GPS navigators. Standard practice was to clap the airplane on autopilot and then bury two sets of eyes in the boxes’ menus and pages. At the time, it seemed like fun, but now I’m not so sure. What I did not foresee is that an almost religious devotion to further abstraction and complexity in the design of these devices would have a hand in making flying ever more unreachable for many and a frustration for more than a few.
The other day, my colleague, Larry Anglisano, and I were dissecting why it can be such an agita-inducing pain to fly a G1000 airplane. Neither of us are exactly Luddites, since Larry has fixed these products and taught people to use most of them. I’ve flown them off and on since they first appeared more than a decade ago. I’ve evaluated all of the training courses, too. “Off and on” is the key phrase in the foregoing. Glass systems like the G1000 aren’t exactly hard to operate, but they have a definite learning curve and an unforgiving requirement for regular usage to retain proficiency. For some reason, G1000 sharpness seems as perishable as dead trout in August.
But because they are undeniably more expensive to install, own and operate, the regular usage part gets reduced to occasional usage and then less and then none at all, further playing into the trend that flying new airplanes is increasingly a game for either the very rich or those devoted enough to spend heroic proportions of their income on aviation. These expenses seep down through every level, from purchase, to training to rental checkouts.
And in return for this, what’s the payoff? Moderately better autopilots, some improved reliability, marginally improved situational awareness over a portable GPS—maybe none at all over a tablet app—nice weather displays, dancing engine bars and traffic detection that may or may not actually enhance safety. Overall, no measureable impact on safety, economy or efficiency. (Yet, at least.)
All advancing technology is a tradeoff and so it is with glass. I’m not arguing for a return to steam gauges by any means and don’t mistake this for a debate about digital versus analog. I am merely noting that we’ve paid a price for these advances that I, for one, didn’t see coming 20 years ago and which I’m convinced has dented growth in aircraft sales by driving prices. As consumer electronics matured and developed, they became cheaper and more inclusive. A Somali goat herder can afford a cellphone. Modern avionics are just the reverse; in certified form, they tend toward more exclusivity every year.
Glass does something else: It changes the rules of engagement. When I fly a new airplane, it sometimes feels like I’m doing so on Novocain. If I’m marginally current on the G1000, which is usually the case, then I have the accompanying demo pilot operate the EFIS. But this is exactly wrong because it disengages me from the totality of operating a modern airplane and, to an extent, hobbles the ability to evaluate it accurately for a reader or a viewer. The reality is that flying something like a new Cirrus is much more mentally demanding than it was 12 years ago. That applies to the Skyhawk, too, or any other airplane with big glass. Although it should not be, the mental meld with the avionics is, increasingly, a dominant part of the flying experience and one that requires more ongoing cognitive maintenance than a GNS 430 ever did. But there’s little evidence to suggest that this unavoidable attachment to the avionics does much for safety and perhaps not even for the enjoyment of flying.
You might argue that this was true when iron gyros replaced a compass and turn needle and when LF ranges displaced the watch and pencil. There’s truth to that, but even in high-tech 1940, when we momentarily didn’t need the gyros, we still looked out the window more than we worshiped the abstraction that gyros introduced.
There will be no turning back, either, only an acceleration into the virtual world which will become the reality of flying for many. Redbird has acknowledged the idea that simulators could be their own end; you might go to the mall not to train for how it will be in a real airplane, but to fly a sim for the sake of flying a sim, perhaps competing with others in networked contests of skill. Here’s a video glimpse of what this might look like. You can see how it could be effective training or just diversion. I’m not sure if that appeals to me, but I can’t say it doesn’t, either. Last week, my dinner grew cold while I was absorbed in a competitive game on the tablets they’re starting to put in Chilis these days. But flying it ain’t.
All of which serves to frame for me something I couldn’t quite figure out. I fly our little Cub a lot. Never go anywhere worth mentioning and the only technology that intrudes is a scratchy radio and the occasional iPad. And the more I fly it, the more I enjoy it, which is a bit puzzling considering how easily bored I am. But the Cub represents for me the reason I got into flying in the first place: It’s the change of perspective that comes from looking out the window. A real one. I like to see the houses get smaller. I like to see how dirty my neighbor’s swimming pool is.
As the virtual world gallops forward, the next generation of pilots will likely be people who don’t much care about shrinking houses or how ground fog snakes along a river on a cool fall morning. They won’t draw the distinction between the real world and a digital designer’s convincing rendering of it. I place no value judgment on that, but just acknowledge its inevitability. There is no point but to embrace this reality and move on. Otherwise, we all risk devolving into cranks who yell at the kids to get off the lawn.
Throughout the history of advancing technology, there have been brief pauses, revolts of sorts, in the headlong dash to what’s next. The mind-numbing tedium of factory work and the office labor that supported it ignited the Arts and Crafts movement at the end of the 19th century. A resurgence of manual craft labor was seen as restorative by some, moving author T.J. Jackson Lears to offer an observation that applies yet today: “Toward the end of the 19th century, many beneficiaries of modern culture began to feel they were its secret victims.”
I doubt if we'll see the Arts and Crafts equivalent in aviation, my romance with the Cub notwithstanding. With our appetite for expensive gadgetry, we’ve made ourselves too small, too rarified and too exclusive for that, as we produce ever more expensive, albeit impressive, products that ever fewer people can afford. There are inklings that the industry has realized this and is struggling for alternatives, at least in avionics. BendixKing has pledged an interest in less expensive and easier-to-operate avionics. But none have appeared yet. Aspen will shortly roll out a modest version of its glass system at an attractive low price. I hear the pledges, like everyone else. But as the AEA show opens this week, I hope to see actual products. If other people feel what I feel, there’s a niche there.
Then the question becomes, will the inhabitants of our asylum really respond to cheaper and lesser with sufficient enthusiasm to grow the herd? Or will we, in our moneyed taste for driving avionics into ever more dazzling automated renderings of what’s beyond the windows, ignore the modest but perfectly capable avionics that lower prices portend? If so, we’ll continue to be both the beneficiaries and the secret victims Lear was writing about.
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.
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.
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.
The Bower family of Gualala, California would like nothing better than to keep their private, public-use airport open — but since they don't fly themselves, they're hoping those with some skin in the game will pay the $60,000 necessary for repairs. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Julie Bower about the unique situation in a remote corner of Mendocino County.