AVwebFlash - Volume 13, Number 50a

December 10, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Liberty Abroad, Uncertainty at Home back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

Liberty To Announce China Deal

It may have been born in the U.S.A. but you’ll soon find Liberty in China. Reuters is reporting that Liberty Aerospace has reached a deal with a Chinese company (half owned by the Chinese government) to build its XL-2 two-place touring aircraft for use in China. Anyang Angel Aero Science and Technology Development Co. Ltd. will build the airframes for the aircraft at a new $300 million plant it will build at an undisclosed location. Engines and avionics will come from the U.S. It's expected that most of the aircraft will be used by flight schools in China. There’s no mention of the effect of the China deal on Liberty’s operations in Melbourne, Fla. The announcement comes on the heels of Cessna’s announcement that it will build its Light Sport training aircraft, the 162 Skycatcher, in China, which has some parallels to the Liberty deal. It too is an airframe-only arrangement, with engine and avionics being shipped from the U.S.

What's The Deal With Maine?

Following our Thursday story, we've had a lot of questions from AVweb readers asking for more details about how Maine is taxing GA pilots who fly into the state. Right now we don't have clear answers. A few dozen pilots have been assessed taxes and there are varying situations. Also, the law has recently changed, and it's not clear how GA pilots will be affected going forward. AOPA's Greg Pecoraro plans to meet with Maine officials next month and we will have an update on the situation then.

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Gearing Up for the Glider Gran Prix back to top 

Top Racers Head To New Zealand

A total of 18 of the world’s best pilots will meet in New Zealand later this month to compete in races through mountainous courses up to 200 miles long, reaching speeds of up to 200 mph, sometimes flying only a few feet above the ground. Imagine what they could do if they had engines. The FAI World Gran Prix Gliding Championships return to Omarama, N.Z., Dec. 19 for six days of head-to-head action in the fastest free-flying aircraft in the world. And you can fly along via cockpit cameras feeding live streaming video during the finals. "Commentary and real-time graphics footage are available on each day of the championships," says an event news release. "On finals day, 24 December, full broadcast featuring in-cockpit mini-cams and air-to-air footage using the latest TV filming technologies will be available." The field of 18 is a record for the event and the top glider racer in the world, Sebastian Kawa, of Poland, is taking part. Racers launch from Omarama and fly a prescribed course to up to six turn points, which are one kilometer (.6 mile) cylinders over geographical points. A sealed GPS recorder on board each glider records whether competitors make the required turns. The amount of airspace required for such races is enormous and organizers say that’s what makes Omarama so popular for the sport. "There are relatively few places in the world where you have the freedom in the sky for multiple gliders to race; this is quite unique with air travel becoming more popular. This allows for more challenging courses to be set and really test the pilots’ abilities. There will definitely be some nail biting action on display for all spectators," said Bob Henderson, president of the International Gliding Commission.

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Aviation Safety back to top 

Close Calls At Newark, BWI

Within days of the FAA declaring that serious runway incursions were on the decline and the Government Accountability Office warning of the danger of a "catastrophic runway collision", a couple of pretty close ones occurred at two of the U.S.’s busiest airports. Late Thursday, a Continental Express pilot taxied onto a runway at Newark Liberty Airport after being told to hold short. The inbound Continental flight on short final had to land long to avoid the other aircraft. The previous Sunday, a Comair flight took off over a US Airways flight that had just landed on an intersecting runway at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. In both cases, the FAA says the aircraft came within 300 feet of each other. The GAO report released on Wednesday said the overall number of incursions is on the way up, with 370 recorded last year. But the FAA countered that the number of "serious" incursions (generally where evasive action is required or the aircraft pass close to one another) dropped from 31 in 2006 to 24 in 2007. The FAA says it’s working on the issue by upgrading signage and deploying ground movement warning systems. It’s also testing a simple flashing light aimed at aircraft on final to warn them if the runway is unsafe or occupied.

AOPA Urges Caution On Managing Aging Aircraft

AOPA continues to lobby the FAA to develop maintenance guidelines for old airplanes that take into account their unique vulnerabilities to fatigue problems. The FAA has been working on a program to address the undeniable issues that arise as airframes age. AOPA says the agency is apparently paying attention to calls for a customized approach to the problems rather than broad-based policies that will inflict unnecessary burdens on aircraft that are not at risk. "AOPA understands the seriousness of structural fatigue and is working to educate the general aviation community on how to maintain their aging aircraft," said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. "But the FAA shouldn’t apply a broad-based, fleet-wide fix to specific aging aircraft problems. So far, the FAA seems to be taking a reasonable approach by developing a fatigue management program." In AOPA’s estimation, the type of use endured by an aircraft is as important as the materials and techniques used to build it and that also results in varying fatigue risk within the same aircraft type. For its part, AOPA has developed an online course on aircraft structure maintenance for aircraft owners and is pledging to monitor the FAA's stance on the issue. "The FAA and GA industry must continue to work together to educate aircraft owners and create appropriate safety measures to keep aging aircraft airworthy," said Rudinger. "AOPA will be working every step of the way to ensure appropriate safety measures are developed and are affordable for our members."

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The Crime Beat back to top 

Kansas Man Indicted In Six Airport Burglaries

If you bought a handheld, headset or GPS (possibly from a Wichita or Hutchinson, Kan., address) on Ebay recently, the FBI may want to talk to you. According to The Associated Press, The Kansas City U.S. Attorney’s office announced last week that a grand jury had indicted Michael Wagner, 26, of Hutchinson, Kan., for a series of burglaries at six small airports in Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas over a nine-month period in 2005 and 2006. It alleges Wagner broke into buildings at the airports and took various items of value, including aviation gear, laptops and firearms, and then sold them on Ebay. [more] The FBI searched a Wichita building and found a lot of the stolen gear. The burglaries occurred at Strother Field Airport in Winfield, Kan.; Municipal Airport in Ponca City, Okla.; R.L. Jones Riverside Airport in Tulsa, Okla.; Front Range Airport in Denver; and Collin County Airport in McKinney, Texas. Wagner is already on probation after being convicted of three airport burglaries in September of 2006 and his lawyer told The Associated Press the new charges are related to those incidents. The new charges may be more serious, however, since they involve allegations of the interstate movement of stolen property and mail fraud (Ebay payments were made by mail). If convicted, Wagner could face up to 20 years in jail on some of the charges.

Sabotage Ruled Out In Ag Plane Crashes

Philippine officials say there’s no evidence of sabotage in three crashes involving four aerial spraying aircraft over the past two months. "There is no sabotage of any kind in those incidents. It is just that they happened one after another in so short a time," Frederick San Felix, regional manager of the Air Transportation Office (ATO), told The Philippine Star. The latest crash happened Thursday and all the aircraft have been involved in spraying banana plantations with fungicide. Three of four pilots were killed. The first crash happened in October and the second, a collision between two ag planes, occurred in November. One of the pilots in the collision survived. San Felix said there is also no indication that mechanical or maintenance faults are to blame. He said there are no plans for increased inspections or groundings as a result of the crashes.

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Flying Annoyances? Now You Can Take Action back to top 

FAA Wants Help Eliminating Useless Rules

Have you come across something that’s arcane, anachronistic or just plain useless in your travels through the regs? Well, the FAA says it wants to know about it. The agency has issued a Review of Existing Regulations that invites anyone with a beef about how the law of the air is now set to drop them a line. “Getting public comments is a necessary element of our effort to make our regulations more effective and less burdensome,” the agency claims in the document. It’s asking that you list the top three aggravations in descending order for it to consider. The FAA has to do this under Executive Order 12866 and provides a long list of efforts toward that end. "Our goal is to identify regulations that impose undue regulatory burden; are no longer necessary; or overlay, duplicate, or conflict with other Federal regulations," the document says.

Cash For Your Airline Horror Video

If you’re flying commercial this holiday season, the Coalition for an Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights (CAPBOR) wants to try and ease your misery and maybe help you win cash prizes. CAPBOR, you may recall, was founded after a series of high-profile airline passenger "strandings" in which planeloads of people were kept bottled up on the ground in airliners ill-equipped to handle the extended stay. Their idea for a passenger bill of rights has some political traction and, in the meantime, the group is offering some potentially meaningful help—and cash prizes-- for those who inevitably will find themselves stranded in some form or another this holiday season. "We advocate putting the integrity, dignity and wellbeing back in air travel," CAPBOR founder Kate Hanni said in a news release. "And to do this we are introducing our four point plan to expose the truth about airline practices and bring justice to the flying public." Perhaps the most intriguing idea to come from the group is a hotline (1-877-FLYERS6) manned around the clock to offer stranded travelers hotel reservations, ground transportation and other services to help them weather whatever type of travel storm they’re experiencing. Major airports will also be staffed by volunteers with information for stranded passengers. But sometimes, there’s not much anyone can (or will) do and that’s where the cash comes in. CAPBOR is offering a total of $850 in cash prizes for the top three videos of passenger strandings. It’s also offering airline employees a tip line (1-877-887-2678, caller ID blocked) to allow them to snitch on employers who they think might be stretching things a bit in terms of safety and passenger welfare. And remember, ‘tis the season to be jolly.

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News Briefs back to top 

On the Fly ...

Nationwide Airlines, a South African budget carrier, is back in the air after being grounded for the alleged use of unapproved parts. One of the airline’s old Boeing 737-200s had also recently shed an engine on takeoff ...

Adam Aircraft announced the first Type Inspection Authorization (TIA) has been granted by the FAA for the A700 jet. The TIA allows flight testing of the jet toward certification credit ...

A 19-year-old pilot was killed when the Piper Arrow he was flying crashed into a synagogue in Augusta, Ga. last week. About a dozen people were inside the building but no one was hurt ...

The NTSB says a Cirrus SR22 that crashed in Faribault, Minn. last week clipped a wing and then cartwheeled down the runway before catching fire. The pilot had tried to land there about two hours prior to the crash. Winds were gusting to 22 knots almost directly across the single runway ...

Both pilots were killed when a Twin Comanche and a Cessna 152 collided over the Florida Everglades on Saturday. Recovery efforts are being hampered by the alligator-infested swamp.

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something that 130,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

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New on AVweb back to top 

What's New for December 2007

This month, AVweb's survey of the latest products and services for pilots, mechanics and aircraft owners brings you a Cozy model, indestructible plotter, survival pack and much more.

Click here for the full story.

Leading Edge #12: Rethinking the Touch and Go

That staple of flight training, the touch and go, has some flaws that need to be addressed to increase safety.

Click here to read.

My first flight instructor introduced me to the touch and go: power off, flare, flare, flare, "chirp" go the mains, hold the nose ("If the nose touches, it's not a touch and go," he said), flaps up, power up, carb heat in, adjust the trim in there somewhere, and up we go. The touch and go (T&G) is a staple, almost sacred, ritual of flight training. But what is the purpose of a T&G landing? What are the risks? And are the risks worth any training benefit?

Why Touch And Goes?

There are two compelling cases favoring T&G practice (as opposed to full-stop landings): time and money.

  • Time. T&Gs result in more landings per flight hour. A common justification for T&Gs is that they speed the process of learning to flare and land by compressing more landings into a flying lesson. A student flying T&Gs can log seven or eight landings per hour, far more than if he/she stops and taxis back.
  • Money. Another significant factor is the cost of T&Gs as opposed to full stop landings. This factor has two components:
    • The "cost of currency." If your entire objective on a flight is to log the three takeoffs and landings required for currency to carry passengers (under U.S. rules), you can do so in less time and therefore for less money by flying T&Gs. Note: This is only valid for tricycle-gear airplanes flown in daylight hours, as the U.S. Federal Air Regulations (FARs) require all landings for currency in tailwheel airplanes to be full stops, and that night currency in all airplanes requires full-stop landings.
    • Landing fees. In many locations, landing fees are charged for every terminating landing, i.e., every full stop. You may be able to avoid landing fees by flying T&Gs.

Another, less frequently cited advantage of T&Gs is that it teaches pilots what's involved if, for any reason, the pilot needs to abort the landing once the airplane has touched the pavement. A T&G landing, in effect, can be considered an emergency procedure. It's a good idea to teach the "landing abort" by carefully presenting and evaluating T&Gs.

The Risks

The biggest risk associated with T&Gs is loss of control because of excessive pilot workload. One of my scariest moments as a new CFI was when a solo student unleashed the awesome power of a Cessna 150 in a go-around and began a graceful arc to the left as he lifted off. This despite quite a bit of satisfactory dual in T&Gs beforehand. He finally added enough rudder to stabilize a course about 30 degrees off runway heading, managing to avoid the airport's rotating-beacon tower. In debrief, he told me he just had too many things to do and forgot to add right rudder with power application. (After significant additional instruction, he aced his checkride on the first try.)

A very common T&G mishap is an inadvertent landing-gear retraction on the ground, a classic workload-management problem. There's a lot to do in the short time on the ground in a T&G, and in retractable gear (RG) airplanes there's the added risk of moving the landing gear switch when you intend to retract the flaps or perform some other function. I personally do not routinely teach T&Gs in RG airplanes, except as a "landing abort" emergency maneuver. Shouldn't RG airplanes' landing gear squat switches protect you from unlocking the landing gear? That's the design, yes. But at least in some cases the answer is no. See my observations on squat switches and gear collapse mishaps.

The FAA obviously thinks there's enough different about night and tailwheel landings that it will not let you count T&Gs for landing currency. It's an easy risk management decision to avoid T&Gs in tailwheel airplanes, or any airplanes at night.

Evaluating the Risks

To evaluate the risk, let's look at the pilot's workload during T&G landings:

  • Directional Control. Directional control is very dynamic in the T&G, from a flare with perhaps some crosswind correction, changes in control input as the airplane decelerates on the runway, then fairly large control inputs to counteract engine torque on power-up, with reduced control deflection and return to crosswind control as the airplane accelerates and lifts off. Distraction, fatigue, or lack of familiarity with the airplane or the conditions can put the pilot behind the airplane in the fast-paced T&G. Like my Cessna 150 student, the pilot may be overloaded to the point he does not compensate for airplane tendencies or winds.
  • Flaps. Most light airplanes are usually landed with full flaps and take off with zero flaps. In larger airplanes, the takeoff flap setting may be critical to a safe departure. For all, there will usually be a big flap change during the short time you're on the runway. There's risk in setting the flaps correctly during the T&G and there's risk that the pilot may inadvertently change something else trying to rapidly reconfigure the flaps.
  • Trim. Depending on the airplane, the amount of trim change required from landing to takeoff may be minimal, or it may be substantial. Mis-set trim has been cited as a factor in many takeoff accidents, especially in larger airplanes or when an airplane is heavy and loaded toward the aft end of its loading envelope. Regardless of the airplane, most likely the trim will require some adjustment during the T&G, a vital task that is yet another potential distraction in the T&G maneuver.
  • Power. A T&G requires the pilot to quickly and correctly manage power to get maximum takeoff performance. In piston-engine airplanes, the pilot may have to adjust propeller, mixture and carburetor-heat controls and perhaps compensate for high density altitude. Turbine airplane pilots may have to aim for a precise, less-than-full power setting to stay within temperature or torque limits. In all cases, engine management is going to draw the pilot's attention into the cockpit during the rapid, on-runway portion of a T&G.
  • Debrief. Each landing in a training session should be reviewed and debriefed. There simply isn't time for this in a T&G, and if the instructor attempts to teach as a result of a particular touchdown, the discussion will distract the student at this critical time.

Mitigating Risk

The best way to avoid risk is to avoid risky situations. When possible, then, replace T&G practice with full-stop landings or, if sufficient runway remains and you can minimize your time on the runway, "stop and goes" where you come to a complete stop, reconfigure the airplane, then depart from the stopping point.

Your mission may make it desirable, however, to conduct T&Gs, and at times instructors will want to present them as a landing-abort emergency maneuver. If you elect to conduct T&Gs, you can mitigate the risks by the following:

  • Consider permitting T&Gs only in two-pilot operation. Make the pilot-flying (PF) responsible for power and aircraft control and the pilot-not-flying (PNF) responsible for trim and flap reconfiguration. The division of responsibilities to essentially "outside" (PF) and "inside" (PNF) roles gives each more time to complete their tasks without an overwhelming workload and, in RG airplanes, the risk of accidentally moving the gear selector.
  • If flying T&Gs single-pilot, train the pilot to manually reconfigure the trim first, then set flaps, and then advance power during the ground portion of the T&G. This discipline requires the pilot to look down momentarily at the trim setting, creating a slight pause that might interrupt any impulsive actions and that forms a mental "break" between one landing and the next takeoff.
  • If training pilots to fly T&Gs for single-pilot operations in RG airplanes, have the instructor use a clipboard, notepad, etc. to cover the gear selector during the on-ground portion of the T&G to prevent inadvertent gear movement. It's amazing how many landing-gear-related mishaps occur with an instructor in the right seat.
  • Encourage pilots to avoid T&Gs when flying alone except in the case of a real-world landing abort.
  • Decide for yourself why you're doing T&Gs, and whether it makes good risk management sense.

Rethinking Touch and Goes

Touch-and-go landings are an almost sacred part of flight training and many pilots will have a very emotional response to even the suggestion that they may not be worth the risk. But we should never do anything just because "That's the way we've always done it" or "That's how my instructor taught me." Talk to your instructor, but decide for yourself whether and when T&Gs make sense for you.

Fly safe, and have fun!

Thomas P. Turner's Leading Edge columns are collected here.


The Perfect Holiday Gift — A Citizen ECO Drive Watch
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More at AVweb.com back to top 

AVmail: Dec. 10, 2007

Reader mail this week about the Cessna Skycatcher, reducing aviation greenhouse gasses, Maine's new taxes and more.

Click here to read this week's letters to the editor.

AVweb's Monday Podcast: 43-Year Cropdusting Veteran Don Taylor

File Size 12.3 MB / Running Time 13:27

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

After 150,000 takeoffs and landings in a 43-year cropdusting career, Don Taylor of Emmett, Idaho — who was the subject of a recent story in The Idaho Statesman newspaper — shares the secret of his longevity in the nations third-most-dangerous occupation. Mike Blakeney talks with Don and his wife Charlene to get her perspective about their life together running an aviation business.

Click here to listen. (12.3 MB, 13:27)

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Specialty Flight Training (KBDU, Boulder, CO)

Nominate an FBO | Rules | Tips | Questions | Winning FBOs

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Specialty Flight Training at KBDU in Boulder, Colorado.

AVweb reader David W. Douglas praises the Specialty Flight team for stepping up to the plate when he arrived late on a Friday afternoon:

I ... needed to hanger my Cirrus due to incomming weather, ... and Specialty was kind enough to move one of their own planes outside and put in mine. The owner, Lonnie, was very kind and his FBO was pristine! There was a big frost that night and his kindness helped me be able to leave the next day without concern for frost/snow.

Keep those nominations coming. For complete contest rules, click here.

AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!

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Aviation Consumer Needs Your Input back to top 

Did Your Battery Die? Tell Us About It

Our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, will soon publish an in-depth report on aircraft batteries. As part of that report, the magazine would like to hear about your experiences with aircraft batteries -- good, bad or otherwise.

To take part in our online survey, click here.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry. Business AVflash is a must read. Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/.

Only 15 Shopping Days Left — And Here Are Some Gift Ideas for the Pilot on Your List
Plane Sights' bright orange/yellow reflective Pitot Tube Covers, "Remove Before Flight" Streamers, and Aircraft Markers keep aircraft safe on the ground. And AirGator's Ultimate Pilot GPS & XM Weather NAVPad 5's 4.8" daylight-readable touch screen is a full-function handheld EFB. Plug-n-fly packages from $1250, or $2495 with full XM WX Moving Map. For these and many more gift ideas, go online to AVweb's Marketplace.
The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Overheard in IFR Magazine's 'On the Air' Section
Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"

Overheard in the vicinity of Buchanan Tower in Concord, California:

Cessna 123:
"Buchanan Tower, this is Cessna One Two Three, seven south of Buchanan, 2000 feet, request transit, northbound."

Buchanan Tower:
"Cessna One Two Three, transition approved. Report clear.

[30-second pause]

Cessna 123:
"Tower, this is Cessna One Two Three. Where is Clear?"

Saul Chaikin

Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

AVwebFlash is a weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

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? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team.

If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your PDA or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

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