AVwebFlash - Volume 14, Number 4a

January 21, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Quotes reprinted with permission. Aviation Consumer, August 2007.
 
U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring Rife with News back to top 
 

Fantasy Air Back on Track

After some financial turbulence in November, Fantasy Air, the Czech Republic manufacturer of the Allegro Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) is back on solid ground, much to the relief of the folks at Fantasy Air USA. The U.S. company's president, Doug Hempstead, told AVweb at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla. that the Czech company got in over its head with a deal to buy Pisek Airfield and that drained cash from the core manufacturing company. Fortunately, the company was able to sell the airport quickly and get back to what it does best, building the Allegro. "I'm telling you, it was a great relief to us," Hempstead said. The manufacturer has adapted the Allegro to the U.S. market with its 2007 model.

Hempstead said the doors have been redesigned, and the wing dihedral has been increased to improve handling qualities. The gross weight has also been increased from the 1232 lb. European standard to the 1320 lb. LSA maximum weight. The cabin height has also been increased three inches.

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Roadable Aircraft to Fly This Year

The MIT grads that embarked on the heretofore impossible dream of creating a practical roadable aircraft (they dislike the term "flying car") have found the funding they need to keep going on the project. Terrafugia, as they call it, will fly before the end of the year and they hope to be delivering the $148,000 vehicle in 2009. What's more, they were displaying the engineering mockup and folding wing demo at US Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring because the Terrafugia will be an LSA, powered by a single Rotax 912 engine. "We're very happy with the development so far," said Dick Gersh, the company's VP of business development.

In vehicle mode, a snowmobile-type transmission will uncouple the propeller shaft and supply power to the front wheels. A top speed of around 85 mph is expected on the road. In aircraft mode, the plane will meet LSA standards and boast a useful load of 550 lbs with a cargo compartment that will accept skis. A whole-plane parachute is under consideration. An LSA pilot certificate will be required to fly the Terrafugia.

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Pilot Insurance Center (PIC) Offers Quick Decision Term Life Insurance
PIC is offering Quick Decision Term product. The application, approval, and delivery processes are streamlined, allowing decisions in a few minutes or days versus weeks or months with traditional insurers. In most cases: No medical examinations, no testing, and no waiting for results. Face amounts up to $300K, available to most pilots. Ask about it today. Call PIC today at 1 (800) 380-8376, or visit PIC online.
 
FROM SEBRING: New Offerings from Old Favorites back to top 
 

Flight Design Introduces CTLS

The best selling LSA by far is the Flight Design CT, with more than 240 registered in the U.S., and like most aircraft it's evolving as the manufacturer gets feedback from owners. The new CTLS promises more predictable flight characteristics thanks to some airframe refinements. The empennage has been lengthened 14 inches, giving better stability, and new winglets have measurably improved aileron authority at low airspeeds, says U.S. distributor Tom Pegigny. New landing gear is more shock-absorbing to make landings less likely to repeat themselves and new creature comforts include a rear-deck storage area behind the seats and seats with inflatable lumbar supports.

The aircraft is also sporting a new carbon fiber propeller and has had aerodynamic tweaks to clean it up and make it fly better at high and low speeds. The cabin remains one of the widest in the class with a full 49 inches (10 more than a Cessna 172). It's powered by a Rotax 912 UL rated at 100 hp.

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Champ The Only New Certified LSA

The light-sport aircraft category captured a couple of dozen standard category aircraft by virtue of the performance and weight specs they'd been built with decades ago. And while they're an appealing option for some pilots, they long ago lost that new airplane smell. At the moment, the only aircraft in this class that's still under production is the Champ, and American Champion Aircraft Corp. is making the most of its unique niche. Within hours of parking a very well-equipped Champ in the display area of Sebring Airport for the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo on opening day, Orlando/Sanford Aircraft Sales, based at the airport of the same name, had sold it and was taking bites on a second Champ due to arrive the next day. "This is a real airplane," said company spokesman Larry Tague.

New Champs come with a Continental 0200 engine and an electrical system (including electric start) in a tandem configuration with basic instruments for $88,000. Options available include a full Garmin suite (including Mode S) and rear-seat amenities including a push-to-talk button and toe brakes. There are also paint and interior options that can put the price in the low 100s for someone who wants nostalgia with the modern conveniences. All that's missing is a grass strip ...

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FROM SEBRING: Cirrus, Cessna Drawing Attention back to top 
 

Cirrus Taking Orders For SRS

Cirrus kicked off the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla., with an invitation for prospective buyers to put $5,000 deposits on the aircraft, which is polar opposite to Cessna's LSA offering, the SkyCatcher, in most ways. The SRS is a low-wing composite with a Rotax engine (that allows mogas use) and there was plenty of interest in the aircraft, according to Cirrus officials at the show. Cirrus is still working on the "Cirrusized" version of the German-built aircraft it's adapting for its LSA. Prospective buyers of the SRS are being offered an almost risk-free deal to be among the first to buy one.

Placing a $5,000 deposit will secure a future buyer's place in line for the aircraft. Cirrus will give the position holders a full spec sheet at least 120 days before the deposit will be taken out of escrow. Deposits can be refunded at that time for a $250 processing fee.

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Cessna Ramping Up SkyCatcher

With all its manufacturing and assembly agreements in place, Cessna says it's ready to get down to the nuts and bolts of delivering its 162 Skycatcher to the more than 900 dealers, flight schools and individuals who have ordered them since its production was formally announced last July. At the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla., Cessna announced Friday that the first three aircraft, a prototype, first production and test article for standards testing, are under construction and first flight of the type-conforming aircraft is expected before the end of June. Deliveries are expected by late 2009. Although it's taken some flak for the decision to have the aircraft built in China (from American-made components) the company is standing by the decision and promising Cessna-level quality in all aspects of the program. The aircraft will be built in Shenyang, where many subassemblies of Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier aircraft are built, and Cessna Communications Director Bob Stangarone said the company has absolute confidence in the build quality that will result. "When you fly over the Shenyang facility it's like you're flying over Boeing," he said. Though the aircraft will be built in China, plenty of the work will be done in the U.S., according to Cessna press materials.

Cessna also announced the build program, including the final assembly sites. Components and materials will be shipped to Shenyang and the aircraft will be fully assembled, under the supervision of Cessna staff. Each airplane will be test flown and disassembled and returned to the U.S. to be reassembled in one of three contract facilities: Eagle Aviation, of West Columbia, S.C.; Yingling Aviation in Wichita; and Southwest Platinum Aviation in North Las Vegas.

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FROM SEBRING: Rollouts and Layoffs back to top 
 

Patriot Debuts at Sport Aviation Expo

For those who want an all-aluminum LSA powered by a Continental engine that's built in the U.S., the Patriot from Aircraft Manufacturing and Development could be what they're looking for. "I think the timing is right for this aircraft," said Sales Manager John Degonia. The Patriot was designed in Colombia but has been adopted by AMD, which makes Zodiac and Alarus low-wing aircraft in the plant in Eastman, Ga. "It's basically a two-seat Cessna 172," said Degonia.

The Patriot is priced around $90,000 and will cruise at 124 mph, carrying a useful load of 525 lbs. It's built almost to aerobatic standards with load limits of +6 and -3 Gs. Hydraulic brakes, electric flaps and other "real airplane" features will be familiar to pilots transitioning from certified aircraft.

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Adam Lays Off 300

It seems the rumors rippling through the VLJ industry the past week were true and Adam Aircraft has shrunk operations by about 30 percent while it finds the money to finish certification of the A700 jet and gets ready to go into full production of the A500 piston twin. According to an Associated Press story, the company needs between $75 million and $150 million to achieve those goals. Adam closed its Ogden, Utah facility until at least this coming summer, laying off 50 and also consolidated its operations in Centennial, Colo. (180 jobs) and Pueblo, Colo. (80). Company President Duncan Koerbel said the adjustments are necessary to save money until the new money is found. "To provide for our future growth, we must be strategic in our focus by managing current cash expenditures to ensure adequate time to secure financing for the long term," he said. "We're off to a good start in this effort with assistance from our partner, Citibank, but we need to be able to provide them with sufficient time working with potential investors to secure long term financing."

 
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FROM SEBRING: Photo Galleries back to top 
 

U.S. Sport Aviation Expo 2008: Photo Gallery One

What airplanes, people, and sights did we see at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida this year? Find out in this gallery of photos, the first of three.

Click here for the photos.

U.S. Sport Aviation Expo 2008: Photo Gallery Two

The second of three galleries showcasing some of the sharpest airplanes and most interesting exhibits at this year's U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida.

Click here for the photos.

U.S. Sport Aviation Expo 2008: Photo Gallery Three

Join us for one final gallery of images from the 2008 U.S. Sport Aviaton Expo in Sebring, Florida.

Click here for the photos.

 
Piper Owners & Pilots — Gain Knowledge, Have Fun
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News Briefs from Outside Sebring back to top 
 

Boeing 777 Heathrow Crash Update

An initial report offered by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch Friday said interviews with crew and analysis of the "Flight Recorder" aboard the British Airways Boeing 777 200ER that crashed Thursday at Heathrow indicate the aircraft's engines did not respond to commands from the autothrottle or the flight crew. First Officer John Coward, the flying pilot, told reporters he glided the big airliner to the grass. "Suddenly there was nothing from any of the engines, and the plane started to glide. I didn't think we'd clear the fence at first. As we landed I was bracing myself for an enormous thud. But instead of one thud, there was a series of thuds as it bounced along the grass. Eventually it shuddered to a halt. While I was trying to stop the plane, I struggled to try and keep it in a straight line." So far, fuel levels appear to have been adequate, as "a significant amount of fuel leaked from the aircraft, but there was no fire," according to the report. The lack of throttle response occurred at approximately 600 feet and two miles out, ultimately planting the 777 about 1,000 feet shy of Heathrow's Runway 27L. None of the 136 passengers and 16 crew aboard were seriously injured. The aircraft's right mains separated and the left mains were pushed up through the wing root. Capt. Peter Burkill praised his co-pilot's performance as a "most remarkable job."

Air Canada Flight Upset Update

The wake of a 747 that crossed its path is a suspect in the upset event that injured eight passengers and two crew aboard an Air Canada Airbus A319 flying at 35,000 feet Thursday January 10. A fully loaded 747 can weigh more than five times as much as an Airbus A319. The A319 rolled violently and lost altitude in the incident, but a cause has not yet been determined and some have theorized that computerized flight control systems could have been causal in the disturbance if they reverted to a particular failsafe mode. A Seattle air traffic controller saw the potential conflict in flight paths, citing that conditions were ripe for the formation of mountain waves that could make dissipation of wake less predictable, and directed one of the aircraft to change altitude, according to the Globe and Mail. The aircraft were flying south of Cranbrook, B.C., which is known for generating mountain waves capable of lifting gliders to 25,000 feet.

On the Fly ...

Initial reports indicated four people died as a result of a midair collision between a Cessna 172 and a Cessna 150 over Corona, Calif. on Sunday evening. Both pilots, a passenger in one of the aircraft and a person in a car struck by wreckage were killed, according to the first reports from the scene ...

The FAA has certified a full-motion level D simulator for Eclipse 500 aircraft, which should help the company's owner type certification program. Pilots can be type rated in the sim, according to a company release ...

A new version of the Super Cub, called the Super 18, is expected to be available later this year after Northern Airframes LLC gets FAA approval to manufacture certified versions of one of Alaska's favorite aircraft. The Super 18 has a wider cabin and bigger payload than the original but retains the STOL characteristics that make it so popular with bush pilots.

 
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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Learn, and Laugh back to top 
 

Exclusive Video: F-15 Break-Up Report

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

On November 2, 2007, an F-15C with the 110th Fighter Squadron (of the 131st Fighter Wing) broke up while conducting an air-to-air training mission. This video, produced by Glenn Pew for AVweb, covers the military investigative board's findings.


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Related Content:
F-15s Grounded, Structural Failure Suspected

AVweb's Monday Podcast: Skydiving — The Popularity of Falling from the Sky Is on the Rise

File Size 9.6 MB / Running Time 10:26

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

2007 was the safest year on record for the most popular of the adrenaline sports, skydiving! In this podcast, the U.S. Parachute Association's Executive Director, Ed Scott, tells AVweb's Mike Blakeney why the safety record (and membership rolls, for that matter) continue to spiral upward.

Click here to listen. (9.6 MB, 10:26)

 
Make Plans Now to Attend a 2008 Savvy Aviator Seminar
AVweb founder Mike Busch has been selected as the FAA Western-Pacific Region's nominee for AMT (Aviation Maintenance Technician) of the Year. Busch will go up against AMTs nationwide for the national award presented annually at EAA AirVenture by the FAA administrator.

Mike will be conducting three of his Savvy Aviator Seminars in Chicago, Las Vegas, and Norfolk. Sign up for one of these classes and learn how to save thousands of dollars on maintenance costs, year after year. Do it before your next annual inspection! For complete details (and to reserve your space), click here.
 
New on AVweb back to top 
 

Probable Cause #50: Asking For Trouble

How many regulatory, operational and medical corners can we cut before something bad happens?

Click here for the full story.

In aviation, perhaps more than with any other activity, there is really very little that's new and different when it comes to accident causes. If we fly only on calm, VFR days, pay excruciating attention to our training and proficiency, and operate only new airplanes with the best possible maintenance, we have a good chance at living long enough to know ahead of time which flight will be our last.

The reality is that we often cut corners. Sometimes we're forced to fly in poor weather. And sometimes stuff breaks while we're airborne, though the failure itself usually isn't fatal. Which leaves the pilot -- you and me -- as one of the final and most significant links in the chain leading to an accident. Break that link -- prevent it from affecting the outcome of the flight -- and our chances of soundly sleeping in our own bed that night skyrocket.

Combine poor weather with poor piloting, and that's when the soft stuff hits the fan. Just as some handful of pilots each year decide that flying into a thunderstorm is the wisest course of action (it never is), some other handful are so focused on getting home to their own bed or making a buck that they cut corners. At the end of a long day, and sometimes in preparation for one, they decide the end result of being when and where they want to be justifies flying into the fog bank shrouding the mountain, descending into haze the same color as a broadcasting tower or cutting some other corner. In these pages, we frequently have the unfair opportunity to dissect their final few moments -- it's unfair because we have the luxury of knowing how things came out.

While there are more egregious errors a pilot can commit, few offer more history, are easier to avoid and are as simple to identify as busting minimums on an instrument approach. After all, the procedure is right there, printed on a piece of paper, and offers well-designed drawings and easy-to-read text describing how to fly the approach.

Another area where errors are often made is in complying with regulations. Given the number of rules by which we're supposed to fly, it has been said that no one can conduct a single flight without breaking at least one of them. That's a bit of a stretch. Most of the rules governing aviation are really minimum standards. We're free to exceed the standards they set, but it's usually not a good idea to set the compliance bar any lower. That's especially true when it comes to who is qualified to fly what airplane and when, as well as when considering the question of being fit to fly.

Background

On Dec. 4, 2003, at 1940 Eastern time, a Beech B200 King Air collided with trees and the ground then burst into flames while on a localizer approach to Runway 32 at the Newnan Coweta County Airport (CCO), near Morlan, Ga. The approach culminated the "deadhead" portion of a Part 135, on-demand, air-taxi flight and was conducted under Part 91. Instrument conditions prevailed and an IFR flight plan was filed. The Commercial pilot in command and Airline Transport pilot serving as co-pilot received fatal injuries; the airplane was substantially damaged.

The reason the ATP-rated pilot was in the right seat involves an accident that had severed several fingers from his right hand. The ATP had undergone surgery to have them reattached and was experiencing some difficulty in operating the airplane's engine and propeller controls from the left seat.

Other than the ATP's physical limitations, nothing remarkable about the flight appears in the NTSB's report. Soon, it was cleared for the Localizer Runway 32 approach at CCO. The pilot acknowledged the clearance and a review of radar data revealed that the airplane was on-course and aligned with the runway when the accident occurred.

Witnesses stated they heard the pilot announce over the Unicom frequency 10 miles out on the approach to Runway 32. The witnesses stated that they looked at the weather computer and saw that the ceiling was down to 150 to 200 feet and they were wondering, "who was attempting to land at that time," since the minimum descent altitude for the approach is 325 AGL. The witnesses never heard any other radio calls from the accident airplane. The airplane crashed one mile south of Runway 32, in a densely wooded area.

Investigation

For this flight, the ATP-rated pilot enlisted help from one of his employees to sit in the left seat and manipulate the controls. He was an Instrument-rated Commercial pilot, but had not been checked out in the airplane and was not current on instruments to fly in the left seat. The Commercial pilot was listed as the pilot-in-command of record on the IFR flight plan.

A review of the Part 135 operator's records revealed the pilot's most recent Airman Competency/Proficiency Check was conducted on January 11, 2003, in a Cessna 210. There were no records of the pilot having any other checkrides since then, nor were there records showing a flight-check in the accident airplane, as required.

A similar review of the co-pilot's information revealed an experienced pilot who was type-rated in the A-300, DC-9, B727, B757 and the B767. He was a Flight Instructor, Flight Engineer and Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic. Additionally, he was president of the Part 135 operation and was the company's check airman.

Reported weather at CCO near the time of the accident included visibility of 1-1/4 miles and a ceiling at 200 feet overcast. Similar conditions were reported nearby.

All major portions of the airplane were found in the wreckage and flight-control cable continuity was confirmed. The landing gear was found in the retracted position while the flaps were at least partially extended. There was no evidence of a pre-impact engine failure.


Probable Cause

The NTSB determined the probable cause(s) of the accident to include "The pilot's inadequate in-flight planning/decision when he continued the flight below the decision height and collided with trees. A related factor was the low ceiling." But which pilot?

While the NTSB's finding seemingly covered the reasons the airplane descended below the published MDA for the approach, it doesn't spend much time on why the left-seater was listed as the flight's PIC, nor the right-seater's insistence on flying with a known medical deficiency. Putting into the left seat of a King Air someone who apparently isn't competent on instruments -- or the airplane -- and then knowingly shooting an approach in weather below minimums is asking for it.

The NTSB's report doesn't address the question of who was flying the airplane from which seat earlier in the day, when the King Air was operated under Part 135 with paying passengers. Neither does the probable cause question the experience and abilities of the left-seater or the medical shortcomings with which the right-seater was working to cope. Finally, it's impossible to know who was actually flying the approach.

What is known is that the right-seater displayed a willingness to cut corners, those related to his own abilities, those of the left-seater and the weather. Cutting too many corners at the same time is asking for trouble.


More accident analyses are available in AVweb's Probable Cause Index. And for monthly articles about safety, including accident reports like this one, subscribe to AVweb's sister publication, Aviation Safety.

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AVmail: Jan. 21, 2008

Reader mail this week about the Skycatcher, the Eclipse, the Tecnams and more.

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

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.

 
AVweb News Delivered to Your Home Page or Web Site
Get the latest AVweb news delivered to your home page or web site with just a few mouse clicks. It's easy to cut and paste the Really Simple Syndication (RSS) link into your My AOL, My Yahoo!, My MSN, or other home page. Click here to get started.
 
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 
 

FBO of the Week: Dixie Aviation (KCTY, Cross City, FL)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Dixie Aviation Services at KCTY in Cross City, Florida.

AVweb reader Alec Thigpen brought Dixie to our attention:

I stopped in twice last month on a trip to the Keys and got a very low price for full service ... . On the way back, I stopped in again for a topoff, and even though it was after the time cutoff for the Saturday 25¢ discount, they gave it to me anyway, without me asking ... and the manager couldn't have been more hospitable. It is a small FBO but very nice, and they have snacks, sandwiches, and ice cream.

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!

 
Don't Purchase or Sell an Aircraft Without the Used Aircraft Guide
Aviation Consumer's Used Aircraft Guide can pinpoint the aircraft that best fits your needs and budget, resulting in savings when you buy and more when you sell. Buying the right aircraft can minimize maintenance and operating costs, too. Order your Used Aircraft Guide online.
 
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"

En route from San Antonio, Texas to Kerb Wille, I let my 19-year-old private pilot daughter run the radios:

daughter:
"Center, Piper Five Six Six Seven Romeo."

Center:
"Piper Six Seven Romeo, go ahead."

daughter:
"Request flight following."

Center:
"Piper Six Seven Romeo, state vour location, altitude, and destination."

[long pause]

daughter:
"Uh, San Antonio."

[another pause]

Center:
"Piper Six Seven Romeo, when you figure out where you are and where you want to go, give us a call back."

James Crawford
via e-mail

 
More AVweb for Your Inbox back to top 
 

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/.

 
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:

Publisher
Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Managing Editor
Meredith Saini

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.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.