AVwebFlash - Volume 14, Number 17a

April 21, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Tragedy in the Wake of Sun 'n Fun back to top 

Sun 'n Fun Crash And Speculation

Click for a Larger Image

A Lancair Legacy that departed the Sun 'n Fun Fly-in and airshow at Lakeland, Fla., April 13 may have done so with an open canopy and did result in a fatality. An AVweb reader sent our newsteam an image of the accident aircraft departing with a gap clearly visible along the canopy/fuselage joint and at the rear of the canopy. The Legacy is an all-composite, retractable-gear, two-place kit-built aircraft, in this case powered by a Continental IO-550. Its canopy is usually forward-hinged. The NTSB's preliminary report on the accident states that the aircraft, N1177M, departed Lakeland's Runway 27L in VFR conditions. Witnesses told the NTSB that the pilot and sole occupant appeared to have difficulty closing the canopy. One witness stated that during takeoff climb he saw the canopy moving "up and down about 6 to 12 inches." Shortly after takeoff, another witness said the "engine lost power," the aircraft continued straight and level before nosing down 40 degrees, dipping its left wing and crashing beyond a tree line.

Pilots familiar with Lancair designs speculate that an unlatched canopy introduces a significant distraction to the pilot but should not in and of itself result in complete loss of controlled flight for the Lancair Legacy.

Glasair Pilot Sues Sun 'n Fun For "Skinny Runway" Crash

A Florida pilot is suing the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-in for a crash that occurred four years ago while he was trying to land at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. The pilot, Terry Edward Morris, is seeking more than $15,000 in damages. Morris was attempting a go-around in his Glasair III homebuilt when, according to the NTSB, he failed "to maintain airspeed and establish a climb during an attempted go-around" and “nosed over” onto the runway and adjacent grass after stalling. Air traffic control called Morris's go-around because they observed him landing on Runway 9R instead of “skinny runway” 9L.

This “skinny runway” is the 75-foot wide parallel taxiway to Lakeland’s runway 9/27 that is used during the fly-in as a temporary runway. Morris claims in his lawsuit that the taxiway as a runway is “ultrahazardous, abnormally dangerous.” The lawsuit also states that, “only during the week of the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In is the taxiway used as a landing runway.” Morris’s lawsuit comes two and a half years after the city of Lakeland filed its own lawsuit against Morris for his crash. The city’s lawsuit seeks $16,283.44 for airport property damage and the cost of a fuel spill cleanup that ensued after the crash. The city’s lawsuit claims that Morris was negligent for attempting to land on the wrong runway.

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Close Encounters back to top 

F-16/Pilatus Incident: Air Force Says No Closer Than 600 Feet

The U.S. Air Force says that an F-16 came no closer than 600 feet to a Pilatus PC-12 it intercepted while flying VFR in the Gladden MOA near Phoenix last month. The incident raised quite a ruckus when AVweb reported it earlier this month following an eyewitness report from the PC-12’s pilot, Patrick McCall, who told us the F-16, one of a flight of four, maneuvered aggressively and came as close as 20 feet to his airplane. (Hear McCall’s report in this podcast.)

McCall told AVweb that when his onboard TCAS tracked the approaching F-16, he maneuvered to avoid the conflict but that the F-16 countered and stayed right with him. He reported a merge from head on, then a join up by the F-16 from behind his PC-12. A second airplane inside the MOA, a Beech Premier jet, was also intercepted and had to declare an emergency while complying with a TCAS resolution advisory that would have taken it into Class A airspace without a clearance. The Premier was also transiting the MOA VFR and both civil pilots were operating legally in the airspace.

An investigation by our sister publication, Aviation Safety, scheduled to appear in the May issue, reveals that the Air Force’s account of the intercept contrasts with McCall’s report. Major Miki Gilloon, Luke Air Force Base’s public information officer, told Aviation Safety that the F-16’s radar, head-up display and HSD display tapes showed that the F-16 approached the PC-12 on a parallel or divergent heading and got no closer than 600 feet.

She also said the F-16 did not counter the PC-12’s TCAS evasive maneuvers but approached to visually identify it “in order to contact the civilian pilot and educate him about the risks of transiting an active MOA.” The F-16’s data tapes aren’t releasable to the general public, according to Gilloon. However, the investigation results will be available under the Freedom of Information Act on the Luke Air Force Base web site.

The incident occurred on March 21 when the PC-12, flying VFR at 16,500 feet on a westerly heading through the MOA, transited airspace in which four F-16s were conducting a two-on-two air combat exercise. The training exercise was halted and three of the F-16s orbited in holds while the lead aircraft conducted “a properly executed standard maneuver such as he might do to gain a visual contact with his flight leader or an aerial refueling tanker,” Gilloon said “This was a controlled maneuver to ensure that neither aircraft was placed in any danger.” She said the F-16 was “fully within Air Force rules” to conduct the intercept.

Military controllers alerted the four-ship flight to the presence of the PC-12, but neither they nor the F-16s were aware of its identity. “The civilian traffic was identified by the military controlling agency as stranger traffic, possibly military. The civil aircraft entered the MOA near our local military entry point at the altitude and airspeed comparable to an F-16 and without a VFR IFF squawk,” Gilloon said.

The FAA says that the PC-12 was not receiving traffic advisories from Albuquerque Center, which owns the local airspace, although McCall told us he was receiving flight following. Once the PC-12 was identified, the F-16 flight raised its tactical floor to 20,000 feet and resumed its training.

When asked about FAR 91.111, which prohibits unplanned formation flight, Major Gilloon said “Our ongoing investigation has revealed no indication whatsoever that the F-16 pilot violated any existing military practices or procedures for operating military aircraft in a MOA.” While the Aeronautical Information Manual notes that military aircraft are exempt from some FARs, it’s unclear—at least to us—if 91.111 is among them. However, the Air Force considers 500 feet of separation “well clear,” while the civil definition of formation flight is ambiguous.

Both the Air Force and the FAA are continuing their investigation into the incident. McCall has filed a near miss report with FAA, but Gilloon said “it is not USAF policy to file complaints against civilian aircraft legally operating in a MOA.” For more in Aviation Safety’s May report, see www.aviationsafety.com. The article will appear on the site next week.

RAF Instructor Fined For Buzzing Pro Golfers

RAF flying instructor Flt. Lt. Rodriquez pleaded guilty Tuesday before a court martial hearing regarding his low altitude flight with a student over an Open golf championship. Rodriguez, with student in tow, reportedly descended a Grob trainer to 400 feet AGL and flew over some 30,000 people who had gathered to watch the world's best golfers, all of whom were "protected" by temporary flight restrictions. Aside from being identified by its registration number, the flight was also tracked by a satellite. Rodriguez has accumulated more than 1600 flight hours, including time logged refueling coalition fighter aircraft over Iraq. The instructor earlier told investigators that he had not been made aware that the course had been identified as a "no-fly" zone by his station commander at RAF Leuchars ... and that he was an avid golfer. He was fined 1,500 British pounds and "given a severe reprimand," according to the Telegraph UK.

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News Briefs back to top 

"Corrugated" Skin For Lower Drag

Texas A&M University researcher Dimitris Lagoudas and his colleagues claim that by creating an undulating skin they have been able to demonstrate reductions in skin friction drag of up to 50 percent. To maximize efficiency, the skin must be able to adapt to very subtle changes (micrometers in height) at different speeds, adopting active wrinkle patters in a skin that "shifts to the shape of an ideal surface wave," according to NewScientist.com. The complexity of controlling an actively morphing skin controlled by electric fields that match the wavelengths necessary to reduce drag currently poses significant challenges, and would be especially difficult to adapt to aircraft. But the researchers claim that even a fixed corrugated skin design would reduce drag and could be tailored to be most effective during specific phases of flight -- cruise, for example. With some tweaking, the same fixed skin could also be designed to increase drag while the aircraft is in landing configuration.

The research team says the idea is not entirely original -- dolphins have been wrinkling their skin to reduce drag for perhaps as long as there have been dolphins. One scientific approach designed to mimic the behavior involves using an electrical field to manipulate "piezoceramic legs" under the skin, bending the skin upwards by as much as 30 micrometers where applied. Corrugations generated by that technique have resulted in increased surface flow velocities, and it is those that researchers have translated into skin friction drag reductions of as much as 50 percent.

Honda Aircraft's HondaJet Sees European Expansion

Honda Aircraft Company Inc. will begin expansion of HondaJet sales to Europe beginning at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) to be held in Geneva this May. The move is a reaction to strong demand for the aircraft from customers in the European market, says Honda, and follows on recently expanded sales throughout North America that included a sales and service strategy for Canada and Mexico. "We are excited to initiate sales in Europe, where we have received a steady stream of inquiries from interested customers who will now have the opportunity to reserve delivery of a HondaJet," Michimasa Fujino, Honda Aircraft president and chief executive officer, told WRAL.com. Honda Aircraft Company last week finalized its distribution network in the U.S., adding Albany, N.Y., to a list that includes Tallahassee, Aurora, Phoenix and Salt Lake City as locations for its five sales and service facilities across the country.

The company's U.S. headquarters are located at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, where the HondaJets will be assembled. Certification and first delivery of the HondaJet is expected in 2010.

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News Briefs back to top 

Helicopter Pilot Files Suit For Backyard Heliport

John Casciani is fighting Webster, N.Y., for the right to use his own land as a helipad, claiming his rights are protected under the First and 14th Amendments of both the U.S. and New York Constitutions. Casciani had done as much, on occasion landing his 2004 Enstrom 480B on his 1.5-acre property without concern from 2003 through 2006. That lasted right up until the Town Board passed a law prohibiting private aircraft from landing in the town, but beyond 2005 when Casciani drafted for the Town Board a proposal that would allow him to keep his private heliports. Casciani's lawsuit, filed against the town and Supervisor Ronald Nesbitt, includes the claim that he was told by the Town Attorney he would be exempt from any future laws that might ban his backyard landings and takeoffs. Regardless, Casciani's hopes are now balanced by a group of about 50 private citizens who have organized in opposition to his aerial interests.

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Teens in Flight back to top 

Aviation Program To Help Kids Of The Fallen

Retired Marine Corps Col. Jack Howell wanted to help the children of fallen soldiers and through the magic of aviation he has found a way. Teens-In-Flight is a program designed to provide flight scholarships to the teenagers of soldiers that were killed or severely disabled in the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan. “I wanted to do something more to help the grieving families,” Howell told AVweb. “These scholarships will make flight training accessible to these kids and will encourage them to use their brainpower to succeed.” The scholarships are also available to children from non-military families who are disadvantaged. The aircraft and instruction has so far been provided free of charge through the generosity of local instructors and flight schools but as the program expands, Howell told AVweb in a podcast interview, he's looking for corporate sponsors. Anyone interested can contact Howell through the Teens-In-Flight Web site.

Currently there are programs established in Jacksonville, Fla., and Flagler County, Fla. A new program is expected to open in Colorado Springs through the help of A-Cent Aviation and Peak Aviation. The Colorado program will serve kids at nearby Fort Carson, which has also committed support to the project. By the end of the year another program is expected to open in Killeen, Texas, to support the families of nearby Fort Hood. Hundreds of flight hours have already been donated, and the program is still growing. Howell hopes that with more funding this program will expand nationwide. “We can teach teenagers many lessons through aviation,” said Howell.

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Reader Voices back to top 

AVmail: Apr. 21, 2008

Reader mail this week the Fenway flyby, airliner mergers, synthetic vision and just who can fly in an MOA.

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 200,000 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 

The Pilot's Lounge #125: To Abort; Perchance To Live

AVweb's Rick Durden had a close call when he didn't abort a bad takeoff, and he has suggestions for how to be a little more embarrassed but a little less dead.

Click here to read Rick Durden's column.

I've always found it amazing when, in midst of the noisy confusion of a crowded room, someone can say something that triggers such a powerful recollection of an event that suddenly I am isolated from the hubbub, aware only of the intensity of my thoughts. It recently happened to me in the Pilot's Lounge at the virtual airport.

The weather was great. Pilots who had been hibernating all winter simultaneously decided to head for the airport. Once the rental airplane schedule filled up, it seemed like everyone else -- those who couldn't get on the schedule, those waiting for a turn to fly, or those who had already flown -- headed for the Lounge and the coffee pot. I overheard fragments of a number of conversations without paying much attention until two pilots started discussing the crash of a Cessna 150 on takeoff. It seems that it was an instructional flight in which an instructor who had little Cessna 150 time had chosen to make an intersection takeoff and had selected 10 degrees of flaps even though there were obstructions off the end of the runway. Obstacle clearance climbs in the C150 are made with the flaps up; in the C152 they are made with 10 degrees. It's one of those sometimes critical differences between aircraft types that can bite a pilot who doesn't pay attention. Afterwards, the student said that the instructor made a comment during the takeoff roll that the rpm wasn't where it should be. The airplane used much of the 3000 feet of runway from the intersection to get into the air, then snagged power lines located off the end of the runway and crashed. Both occupants survived, but spent some time recovering from their rather severe injuries.

Fateful Day

At about that point I stopped hearing anything going on in the room. I was transported back in time about 30 years to a Cessna 150 on a temporary grass runway that had been long closed, but reopened for use for about two weeks during construction that closed the other two runways on the airport. My student was making a normal takeoff. I was tired and not paying full attention. As we trundled down the runway, things didn't feel quite right, but I couldn't put my finger on just what was bothering me, so I did nothing but continue to weigh down the right seat of the airplane. It was only after the airspeed reached about 55 knots and my student raised the nose did I realize that the airplane had used up much more runway than usual.

The 150 stumbled into the air. The airport fence and adjacent highway whistled by distressingly close to our wheels. I could see my student looking puzzled as he kept the nose down, seeking best-rate-of-climb speed, 70 knots. Ahead, the trees that had always seemed quite a ways from the airport were no longer quite so far away. The ASI read 65 knots when I took the airplane and pitched it up sharply, hoping to get over those trees. Vx was published as 60 knots. I'd flown early models of the 150 that had a much lower published Vx and had read somewhere that it had been increased on later models to allow for a successful forced landing if the engine failed below 50 feet. From a lot of slow-flight practice with students, I figured I could let the speed get down to about 50 KIAS and, if I got us over the trees, we could fly away from the situation, as there was nothing to hit after that.

The 150 cleared the trees. I remember that the speed was 53 KIAS; the airspeed indicator seemed about the size of a pie plate and I was searingly aware of every caustic, downward movement of that indicator needle. Once over the trees, I was able to slowly lower the nose and get to 60 KIAS without losing any altitude. Eventually we climbed to pattern altitude, got our heart rates down to the low triple digits, returned for a landing and taxied back to the office, where we complained about the airplane. I do not recall the cause, but the engine was not developing full power. I was lucky. My student was not particularly large. I was a poor law student and had no fat on me, so even with full fuel, we were below gross weight. Had we been over gross, we would have hit the trees. Bush pilots know from hard experience that weight matters on takeoff: A 10-percent increase in weight increases obstacle takeoff distance 21 percent.

Nightmare Becomes Reality

I suspect that every pilot who has flown more than 40 hours has had a nightmare that involves an airplane that is barely in the air, unwilling to perform and facing a horribly inhospitable landscape. Any attempt to raise the nose just results in loss of airspeed without increasing the distance between one's soft posterior and the numerous obstacles. Trying to turn doesn't help; more sharp, pointy things swim into view while the airplane sags toward the ground as the lift component is deflected from the vertical when the wings are banked.

It's even worse when you're wide awake and it's happening for real in a loaded airplane that has been reluctant to leave the runway and is not showing any particular interest in climbing over the trees ahead. How did you get there and what can you do about it?

A lot of pilots have asked that compound question just before discovering that the answer to the second half is "nothing" as they hit obstructions after takeoff. The answer to the first half is more complex and worth considering even if the number of takeoff accidents is well below that of crashes on landing. The problem is that hitting something after takeoff tends to be pretty grizzly and, as there is usually a lot of fuel on the airplane, the risk of post-crash fire is very high and the probability of survival low. When the accidents are reconstructed, the striking thing is that, had all things been working normally and the pilot used all of the available runway, the airplane should have cleared the obstruction. So, what's going on?

Let's take a look at the real world. The majority of airplanes we fly are designed for a lot of flexibility in flight planning: The pilot can fill the tanks and go a long ways with people in some of the seats, or the pilot can fill the seats and -- with reduced fuel -- make shorter hops. OK, that sounds great, but let's really face facts: Pilots routinely fill the seats with less-than-svelte passengers and fill up the tanks, launching well over gross weight. And, yes, by definition, the pilot is flying an airplane for which there is no published performance data and is thus a test pilot. And, yes, it is illegal. But it has become a habit for one heck of a lot of pilots. Pilots get away with some degree of over-gross operation because, usually, everything else is in their favor and the airplanes were pretty liberally designed to allow for stupid pilot tricks.

How Bad Can It Be?

In the real world, our habits have a tendency to kill us when other variables enter the equation. Because we are sloppy about respecting limitations of our airplanes, we cut well into the designed-in margins (we have absolutely no way of knowing how far) and we don't recognize when the velvet we've been relying on is finally exhausted. We've been flying a couple hundred pounds over gross in the Saratoga HP pretty steadily because, with full fuel, it can only carry two big people and their luggage. Yet we've been putting the spouse and the two kids in and getting away with it. But the kids are getting bigger and one kid really, really wants to bring a friend on this trip. We rationalize: If a couple hundred pounds over gross is OK, what's another 150 pounds? Except that this trip is to that lake resort where the runway is 3000 feet long while home base has 5000 feet. And the resort is at an elevation of 2500 feet. And it's the 4th of July weekend and, because our Sunday-morning departure for home got delayed so the kids could swim one more time, it's now Sunday afternoon and 95 degrees F. Density altitude is way up there and one of the brakes is dragging just a little, just enough so it takes 1200 rpm to taxi instead of 1000. And, oh,yeah, fuel is cheap here at the resort, so we filled up.

We go charging down the runway, vaguely aware that things are not happening as quickly as they usually do. We can see the far end of the runway, but the foreshortening effect of distance makes it nearly impossible to accurately estimate how much is left until well into the takeoff roll. We make a quick glance: Manifold pressure, rpm and fuel flow are where they should be. The midfield taxiway intersection goes by and we're looking at less than 40 knots on the airspeed indicator. The idea of aborting the takeoff flashes to mind but the sound of the engine going from high power to idle will get the attention of everyone on the airport, so we'll be admitting to everyone that we screwed up ... plus we're not sure we can stop on the remaining runway and it rained hard last night, so it's going to be muddy off the end and getting stuck will really be embarrassing ... and maybe we won't get pulled out of the muck in time to leave today and we've got to be at work tomorrow and the spouse is going to raise the roof over how much it costs to fly if we can't even use the airplane to get home on time and ... man this one is going to be tight and ... gawd there's the end of the runway, there's no room to stop, we gotta go, we pull on another notch of flaps because we think that obstacle-clearance climb requires two notches but we haven't looked that up recently ... and we're off the ground right near the end of the runway and find the override switch so we can get the gear up right now ... and is best angle 85 or 95? ... and those trees are right here, right now and we're gonna hit and it's gonna hurt ...

Hitting trees flying at 85 knots hurts. A lot. It hurts a lot more than hitting them while rolling at 20 knots after having the good sense to abort a takeoff that isn't going well. The forces we face in an impact are a squared function: When we double the speed of the impact, we don't double the force of the impact, we quadruple it. That's a nasty, hard, unbending rule of physics.

We will probably be embarrassed if we hit the trees at 20 knots after an abort. We probably won't be embarrassed if we hit those trees 3/4 of the way to the top flying at 85 knots. Or at least, not for very long ... we have to be alive to be embarrassed.

Better Dead Than Embarrassed

A buddy of mine who was in the Blue Angels once jokingly told me that when performing in an airshow he'd rather be dead than embarrassed. While he was being facetious, I know one heck of a lot of pilots who are such perfectionists that any mistake at all is perceived by them to be abject failure on their part and in their subconscious, I'm convinced, they believe that it is better to be dead than embarrassed. I think it also explains more than a few crashes.

The airlines and military have long recognized that most pilots are successful, goal-driven, reasonably obsessive perfectionists who view mistakes as hideous things. As a result, they teach pilots that aborting a takeoff is not a mistake. They teach that, on every takeoff, there are things that must happen for the takeoff to continue. If those things don't happen, there is something wrong with the airplane and it is the pilot's job to save the day by aborting, even if it means going off the end of a runway, because the chances of survival go way up as the speed of impact goes down.

I think the mindset of being spring-loaded to abort a takeoff if certain parameters are not met and that the hero-pilot is there to keep the airplane from killing everyone by aborting is a way to keep on living. It's a little like NASA's approach to launching a rocket: The default answer to the question of whether to launch is "No"; it is up to the hardware, software and humans to demonstrate that everything is working properly so that the question may be answered with a "Yes." For an airplane takeoff, the default should be "abort" unless the airplane demonstrates that it is healthy enough to continue.

Killer Factors

Let's look at the things that can cause an airplane to crash on takeoff and see if there are any warning signs for the pilot so we can come up with parameters to be met before we let a takeoff continue.

Gross Weight. We've talked about it above. It's a choice made by the pilot. When a 10-percent increase in weight increases the distance over an obstacle by 21 percent, it's worth a pilot's undivided attention and respect.

Intersection Takeoffs. Do we really want to make one? Is it that important to save taxi time? In reading takeoff accident reports, it's interesting how often the pilot initiated the takeoff from an intersection. Is it an indication of other shortcuts the pilot is willing to take that cut into the margins on clearing that obstacle?

Predicted Performance. Does the manual say the airplane will clear an obstacle in the available distance? If not, attempting to take off is stupid and may be criminal. Over some years of involvement in aviation lawsuits regarding takeoff performance, I've found that a properly maintained airplane will usually meet book takeoff performance, but it truly has to be properly maintained. The engine has to be developing full rated power; the prop has to be in good shape, the tires properly inflated and the brakes not dragging. I've also observed that airplanes picked at random for inspection usually have something that prevents them from matching book performance ... anything from a heavily filed prop or the wrong prop to an engine not making power to low tires. So, I agree with the aviation writers and textbooks that recommend a pilot allow a margin above the book performance numbers for deciding on whether to make a takeoff.

Power Output. There is a way to get a pretty good indication whether the engine and propeller combination are developing appropriate power. It's called a static runup. We taxi to a spot where the prop won't pick up all sorts of trash and the propwash won't cause damage, then hold the brakes, pull the yoke or stick all the way aft and go to full power. On a fixed-pitch prop airplane the resulting rpm must be in the range published by the manufacturer in the manual. For example, for a Cessna 152, the acceptable rpm range is 2280 to 2380; for a Cessna 172N it is 2280 to 2400. If the rpm we see on the tach during a static, full-power runup doesn't fall within the acceptable range, it's an automatic abort, as we have no guarantee that the engine is making power (or that something else is wrong if the rpm is above the acceptable range). Assuming the tach is accurate, if the rpm is too low, the engine is not making power or has the wrong prop or improperly pitched prop. If rpm is too high, the prop may have been filed beyond limits, the tips may have been cut down too far, it may have the wrong pitch or be the wrong prop. All of those are reasons that the airplane will not perform per book on takeoff. For a constant-speed prop airplane, it is not as simple: the rpm should be at redline but manifold pressure will depend on the density altitude, which means we have to do some homework to determine the max. manifold pressure attainable before doing a check.

Dragging Brake(s)/Low Tires. Keep track of how much power it takes to taxi at your normal speed on flat, dry pavement in light winds. For most airplanes, it will run on the order of 1,000 rpm. If the power needed goes up by about 200 rpm, find out why before making a takeoff (abort the takeoff before it begins because a parameter has not been met).

Proper Acceleration On Takeoff. Here's the big one. There is a good rule of thumb that works as a parameter on continuing a takeoff: The airplane will break ground in the available runway length if, by the half-way point of the runway, it has reached 71-percent of the published speed at which the nose is to be raised on takeoff. If the manual says to raise the nose at 60 KIAS, then we better be looking at a speed of at least 42 KIAS at midfield. If not, it's an automatic abort because a parameter has not been met. This go/no-go parameter does not guarantee obstacle clearance; it just gives information regarding getting off the ground in the available runway.

Controls. They are rare, but extremely ugly takeoff accidents ... the ones due to locked or jammed controls or badly mis-set trim. While those should have been caught during the pretakeoff check, pilots still miss them and try to fly with the control-lock engaged, a jammed elevator control or the trim rolled all the way forward. The parameter is that when we go to raise the nose on takeoff, if the control wheel does not physically move aft when normal or slightly more than normal pressure is applied and the nose does not start coming up, a parameter has not been met, so abort the takeoff. This one will probably involve running off the end of the runway, but it is almost invariably better than trying to continue at high power.

Braking. For a takeoff abort, close the throttle instantly and make sure it is completely at idle, hold the control yoke/stick slightly aft of neutral and apply heavy braking to the point of sliding the tires. If you ever get a chance to ride with a test pilot on a max.-brake-effort stop, it's an eye opener. Get on the brakes as hard as you can. If you slide the tires, back off a bit, but only a bit. Raise the flaps to put more weight on the wheels. Don't worry about calling the tower, you're busy. If you are going off the end of the runway and have the time, pull the mixture to lean cutoff, cut the master, turn the fuel selector off and pop the cabin door(s) open slightly. Keep trying to make the airplane go in the direction you want and keep trying to stop the airplane until it does come to a complete stop. Don't give up trying to make the airplane do what you want it to do.

Abort-Analysis Checklist

If we take the above and boil it down into an abbreviated mental checklist of parameters that must be met or we save the day by aborting the takeoff, we get something along the following lines:

Lineup Check

  • Are the trim tabs, flaps and fuel selector(s) properly positioned? If no, abort. If yes, continue.

Takeoff Roll

  • At full throttle, is the rpm is in the acceptable static range on a fixed-pitch prop airplane? With a constant-speed prop, are the manifold pressure, rpm and fuel flow where they should be for the elevation and temperature? For a turbocharged engine, are manifold pressure, rpm and fuel flow at redline? If not, abort. If yes, continue.
  • Airspeed indicator off the peg and moving without jerking within 5 to 10 seconds of going to full power? If no, abort. If yes, continue.
  • At the mid-field point on the runway, has the airplane reached at least 71 percent of the published speed for raising the nose? If no, abort. If yes, continue.
  • At the published speed for raising the nose for takeoff, can the yoke/stick be moved aft and does the nose begins to come up? If no, abort. If yes, continue.

It's up to the airplane to demonstrate to us, as pilot in command, that it is capable of performing on takeoff. It's up to us to assure that it is doing what it's supposed to do and, if not, to abort the takeoff and live to fly another time. Aborting a takeoff isn't a failure on the part of the pilot; it's a pilot showing the right stuff by recognizing the wrong stuff and taking action to keep people alive.

See you next month.

Want to read more from Rick Durden? Check out the rest of his columns.

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The Looking Glass

New technologies have brought us very capable "glass panels," and they're popping up everywhere. But has training progressed at the same rate?

Click here for the full story.

Things have progressed quite a bit since Garmin International first released its certificated version of the G1000 in the Cessna C182T Skylane. Garmin was certainly not the first to come up with a glass-cockpit display for general aviation -- Avidyne's Entegra/Flightmax EX5000 holds that distinction -- but Garmin incorporated an internal GPS sensor rather than relying on a conventional, panel-mount GPS.

Since it was announced in August 2004, the G1000 has migrated to four different aircraft manufacturers. Meanwhile, Avidyne was Cirrus Design's choice for many years -- even New Piper offers it for many of their models. While current and future owners have an excellent selection of primary flight displays (PFDs) and very large multi-function displays (MFDs) from which to choose, getting an airplane with the equipment installed is only half the battle. Pilots still need to get from them the information they paid for.

Looks Great; How's It Work?

Very quickly, these and other PFDs have substituted just about every round, analog instrument in your old panel and converted them to digital values on moving tapes. But that's not all.

For example, both the Entegra and the G1000 are built around a 10-inch diagonal display, the top half of which displays heading, attitude, airspeed (calibrated and true), altitude and vertical-speed information. While even an inexperienced pilot should have no real trouble understanding and assimilating this data, it will take a few hours of flying to fully understand and comprehend its organization and presentation. And that's the stuff we already know about.

One thing radically different for most pilots will be the trend vector. This is a variable line providing a six-second prediction of the aircraft's position based on airspeed (G1000), altitude, heading, etc. When the trend vector is as small as possible, the aircraft is in stable flight. But understanding the trend vector and what it can mean for, say, energy management may not be readily understood by most pilots.

For those fortunate (unfortunate?) enough to fly airplanes with PFDs from different manufacturers, it gets even more interesting. For example, the Avidyne Entegra allows the pilot to set the S-Tec 55x autopilot/flight director's vertical-speed bug and current barometer, and to pre-select an altitude. On the Garmin G1000 paired with the Honeywell KAP 140 in a typical light plane installation, you can only change the heading bug. All other functions must be changed on the KAP. Of course, these details will differ from one aircraft model to another, from one manufacturer to another and, as other equipment is installed and removed, over time.

References Available

The training perspective is where things become more radical than even the displays themselves. For the G1000 (used by Cessna, Diamond Aircraft, Mooney and New Piper), Garmin's collection of PFD pilot guides, MFD pilot guides, supplements, cockpit reference-guides, addenda, system overviews, quick-reference cards and other paperwork adds up to 16 volumes of documents, totaling 662 pages. Oh, and that does not include the pilot guide for the KAP 140 flight computer. That's a lot of documentation to learn; the good news is the G1000 and other similar systems place a great many individual tools all in one box.

On the Avidyne Entegra side (used by Cirrus Design, Lancair and New Piper), the numbers are similar: Manuals for the Entegra PFD and EX5000 MFD total 112 pages in two volumes, to which must be added 204 pages covering the paired Garmin GNS430s in typical installations and 70 pages for the S-Tec 55x.

The Education Investment

Now that we've identified what portion of the Library of Congress is going to be used for your avionics transition course, where does it get done and how much does it cost? As with so many questions, the answers depend on whether you purchased the aircraft or just want to rent it.

If you went to your friendly local Cessna store and bought a 2005 Cessna 182T Skylane with the G1000 package, you would get three days of factory training when picking up your $330,000 magic carpet, up from 1.5 days in August 2004. During those three days, you'll be presented with many Powerpoint images, use G1000-simulator software on a PC, get about eight hours of flight time, and then be given a heading to your home airport. As one pilot put it, the criteria used for assessing progress through the course seems to be handling of the aircraft -- are all the parts still attached after each landing? -- and the ability to perform some light instrument work.

Many G1000-equipped 182T owners have leased back their aircraft for rental use at Cessna Pilot Centers. How much training you get depends on what you feel is necessary versus what the rental facility is willing to provide. There is no Cessna-designed course for the Cessna Pilot Centers (CPC) to follow. Until recently, Cessna did not even have a program to get CPC instructors qualified in the G1000.

Research for this article had me calling all over Florida, California and New England asking about a C182T/G1000 transition course. One Palm Beach, Fla., facility said there was a five-hour checkout for pilots who did not have complex time. If I had the 25 hours of complex time, there would be no training requirement. I asked about training material on the G1000 and was told there is none available.

A facility in South Florida renting a G1000-equipped Diamond DA40-180 requires a five-hour training program for insurance reasons. However, no training material is available on-site; the renter has to buy the cockpit reference guide (one of the 16 volumes on the G1000) mail-order. After two hours of instruction, one renter felt that he knew more about the G1000 than the instructor.

Air Orlando, a Cessna and Diamond Aircraft training facility, was a breath of fresh air. They admitted the three-day program on the G1000 was not enough but they did have their own training material to use. Max Trescott of San Jose Flight Center also had an extensive G1000 training program for owners as well as non-owners.

Cirrus Design has had a different idea, probably because they have been getting more SR20s/SR22s out the door than Cessna. Their program is also multi-day in duration but involves cross-country flights, where decision-making and use of the Avidyne/Garmin software is required. Your safe handling of the aircraft is, of course, still paramount; but with Cirrus, safe decision-making also has to be shown. Cirrus' program is mandatory for coverage by most, if not all, insurers and is available at the company's Duluth, Minn., facility and conducted by University of North Dakota instructors. Alternatively, Cirrus-approved instructors can come to your location, at about $700/day, plus expenses.

Comments from owners and non-owners who have attended the SR20/SR22 transition course indicate it gets a pilot comfortable enough to be willing to learn more. In technically advanced aircraft, moderate proficiency is where the pilot can get to the page or function within two seconds half the time, rather than 30 minutes of futility.

Self-Reflection In The Glass

As always, deciding whether one is proficient or merely safe for a given operation is the decision that each pilot -- owner or non-owner -- is going to have to make for his or her self. Can you handle the aircraft so that its insured value is the same after each landing? Can you spend the time required to read and understand the pilot guides' many pages so that you have an idea of what the software can do and how it can be done? Did you download (or buy) all the training volumes? Are you depending on any in-cockpit materials?

Trust me -- the pilot guides in the aircraft are always the least-read, and there is no opportunity to read them when one is supposed to be flying the plane. Are you willing to spend several days flying VFR on training trips so that you can actually learn how to get results, rather than descend into a purgatory of button mashing?


Once one completes the factory-sponsored initial training, where and from whom can an owner or renter obtain proficiency training? The first suggestion would be not to go to the nearest FBO and look for someone sitting on the couch. It's more than likely that, if you have 10 hours in a glass-panel cockpit, you have 10 hours more than he or she does. Quite simply, it's impossible to learn software and teach it to someone else at the same time.

Because Cessna has gotten out the door only a very few instructors qualified with the G1000 -- and Diamond has done a better job but has yet to publish training material -- your best bet is to seek out instructors with experience in your particular system. In the three to five days it will take, you'll see what the software can do, how to make sure that your autopilot does not argue with your PFD, and you'll learn how to make the equipment display the information that you want/need to see rather than the factory settings.

And that's what it's all about.

More articles to help you become a better pilot are available in AVweb's Airmanship section. And for monthly articles about safety, including accident reports like this one, subscribe to AVweb's sister publication, Aviation Safety.

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Featured AVweb Classified Ad: 1946 Luscombe 8A, LSA Legal
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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBOs of the Week: Barrett Aviation/Air Charter Express (ACE) (KORK, North Little Rock, AR)

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

Maybe it's all the travel related to Sun 'n Fun, but we received quite a few (really compelling) nominations for "FBO of the Week" over the last few days. The standout among these was a rather unusual recommendation (and plea) from AVweb reader Doug McDowall of EAA Chapter 165. Doug raved about two airports he frequents in North Little Rock, Arkansas — Barrett Aviation and Air Charter Express (ACE) — both located at North Little Rock Municipal Airport, KORK (formerly 1M1). On April 3, the airport was hit by a tornado, causing massive damage to both FBOs' rental and charter airplanes. The two have still managed to keep up with Doug's demands, and he hopes the exposure as AVweb's "FBOs of the Week" might encourage more people to stop by and support the FBOs during their reconstruction.

Doug writes:

[Fuel sales] may be the only source of income for both Barrett Aviation and Air Charter Express for months to come. If you are coming through this area and need to make a fuel stop, it would really help these two FBOs to get through some tough times. Barrett Aviation is a Phillips 66 dealer, and Air Charter Express handles Shell products (also has a 24-hour self-fueling faciltiy on the SW corner of the field). Both Barrett Aviation (Harry Barrett) & Air Charter Express (Tommy Murcheson) ... have taken a major hit from Mother Nature and deserve a helping hand.

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!

No Cute Cartoons, No Fancy Covers, IFR Magazine Brings You the Facts
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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh, and Learn back to top 

Teens-in-Flight Puts Children of Fallen Soldiers into the Skies

File Size 8.1 MB / Running Time 8:51

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When we think of victims of war, we most likely think of the men and women in uniform who either never return or come back injured and disabled. But their families are also victims, and retired Marine Corps Col. Jack Howell is using aviation to help the children of those soldiers find solace and direction. The Teens-in-Flight program has already helped dozens of young people and is on the cusp of becoming a national program for kids who have already paid a heavy price in America's conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and for those whom life is more challenging than others.

Click here to listen. (8.1 MB, 8:51)

Video of the Week: F-16 Model (With Afterburner!)

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

It's been a while since we're run a radio-controlled airplane clip as our "Video of the Week," but when AVweb reader Taber Bucknell told us about this realistic-looking F-16 model with a working afterburner ("The information with the video says afterburner 'effect,' but still — it looks great!"), we couldn't resist:

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it, there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."

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"

I was en route to a New England airport famous for its fog. The ATIS reported below minimums but gradual ix, improving. Approach said to expect the ILS, and I could hear one aircraft ahead, a local airliner. Approach cleared me for the approach and sent the other aircraft to tower.

"Did the aircraft ahead get in?"

"Well, he didn't fly the missed. Contact tower."

"Tower, at what altitude did the previous plane break out?"


"I didn't ask."

Me (after landing a little proudly):
"Tower, be advised that we broke out just above minimums."

"Everybody does."

John Ward
via e-mail

More AVweb for Your Inbox back to top 

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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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
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Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
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