AVwebFlash - Volume 14, Number 22a

May 26, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Mind the Gap — Between Ages 60 and 65, Specifically back to top 

The Fight For Pilots Hurt By New Age 65 Rule

Now that U.S. airline pilots can fly to age 65, litigation is now moving forward to overturn wording in the 2007 law that also specifically barred some 3,000 pilots forced into retirement before age 60 from being rehired with their prior pay, position and benefits. Congress last year passed the Fair Treatment for Experienced Pilots Act that raised the mandatory retirement age for pilots to a more internationally recognized age of 65, but wording in the law excluded some 3,000 veteran pilots forced to retire between November 23, 2006, and December 17, 2007, from being rehired at their previously held seniority levels. George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley has brought a motion to have the U.S. Court of Appeals determine the constitutionality of the congressional law before it can be used to dismiss petitions filed on behalf of those pilots forced into retirement. "That motion allows the court to review the law faster than it would have otherwise," according to a posting to LegalTimes.com blog.

"The law arbitrarily strips pilots of their position, seniority, and benefits at the age of 60," Turley said.

Lycoming® — The Engines of Choice
Lycoming® produces the most complete line of horizontally opposed, air-cooled four-, six-, and eight-cylinder certified aircraft engines available, with power ranging from 100 to 400 HP. For homebuilders, air race and aerobatic pilots, and others looking for non-certified engines with Lycoming dependability, Lycoming offers custom-built Thunderbolt Engines. Lycoming piston engines have a reputation for reaching or exceeding TBO. For more information, please visit Lycoming.com.
Records Watch back to top 

The Sound Barrier-Breaking, Longest-Ever Skydive

Weather permitting, 64-year-old Michel Fournier may already have climbed into his pressurized gondola and been carried for more than two hours by his 650-foot balloon to 130,000 feet (close to 25 miles high) above the earth -- where he may already have stepped out. Fournier said over the weekend that he would, Monday, somewhere over sparse and nearly lake-less Saskatoon, Canada, attempt the highest-ever parachute jump and, himself, move faster than the speed of sound ... weather permitting. Prior to the jump, reports indicated the fall could take more than 15 minutes (including time under canopy) and would take Fournier faster and farther than any previous skydiver, setting records for altitude in a balloon, fastest freefall, duration of freefall, and altitude to initiate freefall. Before the weekend, Col. Joseph Kittinger, Jr.'s record jump of 102,800 feet -- set Aug. 16, 1960 -- held top honors, literally. Reporters were told over the weekend Fournier expected to exceed the speed of sound while trailing a stabilizing drogue chute as he fell through 117,000 feet, accelerating to a maximum speed close to 1.68 Mach. En route, Fournier would pass through temperatures expected to be as cold as negative 115 degrees Centigrade, opening his parachute more than seven minutes after beginning his fall.

Fournier says his trip was inspired by the loss of life when the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger shuttle exploded during liftoff. All aboard were killed. The former French military paratrooper hopes his project will aid research into extremely high-altitude vehicle escape methods. Initially funded by the French pursuit of space travel, the European Space Agency cancelled its own shuttle program in the late 1980s and Fournier later found his own sponsors.

Cirrus Perspective™ by Garmin: A New Beginning for General Aviation
As a pilot, you sit in a cockpit and experience the world in ways others can only imagine. As leaders in technology and innovation, Cirrus and Garmin sat in the cockpit together and imagined how to redesign the flying experience. Together they have re-imagined the pilot-airplane interface, and as a result, revolutionized general aviation. See the result at See the result at CirrusDesign.com.
What Goes On (And In) Your Airplane back to top 

More Biofuels, This Time From Airbus

Virgin Atlantic and Boeing first flew a commercial airliner on biofuel earlier this year, followed by Continental Airline's announcement that Continental would fly a demonstration flight in 2009, and now Airbus with Honeywell, International Aero Engines and JetBlue have announced an alternative fuel partnership. The new partnership will work to develop renewable energy technology that converts non-food-crop vegetation and algae-based oils into a direct Jet-A substitute. Current biomass fuel sources have unimpressive energy yields when compared with fossil fuels, but change may be coming. "Airbus believes that second-generation bio-jet fuel could provide up to 30 percent of all commercial aviation jet fuel by 2030," according to Sebastien Remy, head of Alternative Fuels Research Programs for Airbus. Better still, the company expects that the new biofuel will be a drop-in replacement (no fuel system or engine modifications required) for kerosene or Jet-A burning engines.

The politics driving today's fuel research range from national economies, to an interest in reducing emissions, to concerns over governmental foreign policy -- and they may now adequately address concerns of food crops diverted to fuel production.

Superior Air Parts Cylinders, The Proposed AD

The FAA has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for specific Superior Air Parts (SAP) cylinder assemblies that may be installed in up to 8,000 aircraft here in the U.S. The engines in question are Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) IO-520, TSIO-520 and IO-550 models. Specific SAP cylinders (identified by part number) installed in those engines may be prone to cracks near the exhaust valve, potentially leading to separation of the cylinder head, structural damage, immediate engine failure, and fire in the engine compartment. The proposed airworthiness directive would require initial and repetitive compression checks for those cylinders that also have acquired more than 750 hours time in service. Some 24 failures have so far been reported to the FAA, half of them by SAP. All of those failures occurred in cylinders with more than 823 hours time since new. The FAA is seeking comments before June 11. Find the additional information you need, here.

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News Briefs back to top 

L-3 And Cirrus, Yet Another Option

L-3 Communications Avionics Systems (L-3 Avionics) Thursday received TSO authorization and STC approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for the SmartDeck integrated flight controls and display system. The system is currently the only one available in the light aircraft market, according to the L-3, that includes a standard dedicated 4 x 5.25-inch display for flight plan management and communication information. The third screen also frees up space on the system's main PFD and MFD screens. It's designed to maximize ease of use with a menu structure that aims "to support pilot functions in 'three clicks or less,'" and make flying "safer, easier and more fun." For Cirrus, which just rolled out its "Perspective" package with enhanced Garmin G1000 capabilities, L-3's package now becomes an option for Cirrus SR22 G2 owners who can now opt for L-3's SmartDeck via STC for retrofit. The two companies are also working together to customize the SmartDeck for Cirrus' the-Jet.

Boeing 747 Cargo Jet Runs Off Runway At Brussels

A Kalitta Air Boeing 747 cargo jet carrying 76 tons of cargo Sunday crashed following an aborted takeoff at Brussels airport that split the fuselage and (according to some early reports) left four of the five crew members with minor injuries. The aircraft did not catch fire (and may have retained much of the fuel that would have carried it to Bahrain). It ran off the end of Runway 22 and came to rest roughly 300 yards off the end of the runway and 500 yards from homes. The pilot reportedly told rescue authorities he heard a loud noise while on takeoff roll at 1130 GMT, but few details were available prior to our deadline. No obvious cause of the accident was immediately evident. The weather was clear following light rains.

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Quotes reprinted with permission: Professional Pilot, 2007 Headset Preference Survey, 12/07; Aviation Consumer, 8/07.
News Briefs back to top 

Hyde's Replica 1908 Wright Flyer Displayed

A painstakingly precise hand-crafted duplicate of the original 1908 Wright Flyer is scheduled to make an appearance today (Monday) at the National Memorial Parade in Washington, D.C. Produced by Ken Hyde's "Wright Experience," the aircraft replicates the Flyer first flown at Fort Myer in September 1908. The original aircraft was seen by the Wrights as their first practical, marketable design, according to Hyde, and won the first U.S. government competition leading to government purchase of an airplane. "This is the plane that made it happen; the plane that made flying a practical and commercial reality," said Hyde, who added his company "is honored to have brought it back to life in this reproduction." Following its parade appearance, the replica aircraft will be prepared as an airworthy, flyable aircraft and will again be on public display to commemorate the Centennial of Orville Wright's inaugural flights of 1908, beginning September 6, of this year. It will then move to the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport, where it will serve one year as an interactive educational exhibit.

Pedal-Powered Airship's Channel Crossing

"Crossing the Channel with a pedal-powered airship is both totally unnecessary and a very eloquent statement on human nature," said Stephane Rousson, the 39-year-old man who plans to do it if only the winds (and his stamina) will cooperate. Rousson is hoping for a near-windless day to facilitate his attempt next month. His airship, Zeppy, is a helium-filled, slightly heavier-than-air craft propelled by two tilting propellers and powered by Rousson, himself. The flight plan would call for a flight of about 34 miles from Lydd in Kent to Wissant, a French Coastal village, at an altitude of about 100 feet. Rousson has 30 hours of experience flying the craft, which he acquired from his father Jean-Marc and Luc Geiser, who together designed and built it. Rousson's father has since passed and did not live to see the aircraft's maiden flight. Now history may witness its next.

(Click here for video.)

Student Pilots, Get Support to Reach Your Flight Training Goals, Plus ...
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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

AVmail: May 26, 2008

Reader mail this week about fuel prices, flight planning, and things you find behind bushes.

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.

No-Cost Interactive Courses Available from ASF
Interactive courses are available online from AOPA Air Safety Foundation (ASF) 24/7. Choose your topic, your pace. Visit ASF's Online Courses to take one now!
New on AVweb back to top 

Leading Edge #18: Achieving Balance

Knowing your airplane's center of gravity is about much more than just keeping within the limits.

Click here to read.

The Wright Brothers were successful because they combined two vital elements of airplane design: control and stability. Wilbur and Orville achieved control through a pioneering design that evolved into what's used in almost all fixed-wing aircraft today -- a system that makes use of the stability designed into the airplane. Controllability cannot exist without some measure of stability. Stability, in turn, is affected by several factors. One variable even changes over the course of a single flight -- the location of the center of gravity (CG).

When was the last time you computed aircraft weight and balance? What practical effect does knowing the CG location have on your flight planning? What happens to your airplane's stability as you burn off fuel in flight?

Computing the Load

By computing the CG location, you can predict how the airplane will handle. In some airplanes, handling can vary greatly with variations in CG location. If the CG is outside design limits, the airplane may not be controllable at all. How does CG location affect control, even within the certified envelope?

Forward CG

The further forward the CG, the greater its tendency to straighten the airplane out if disturbed by turbulence or control movement. Moving the CG forward increases stability. This is normally a good thing (especially for instrument flight), but even within the CG envelope, a forward CG has some adverse effects on performance, including:

  • The need of additional elevator force -- and therefore more speed -- to raise the nose for takeoff. This means it'll take a longer runway to get up to control-force speed.
  • For a given airspeed, a greater control deflection to hold a pitch attitude. Greater control deflection increases aerodynamic drag, reducing performance.
  • In most flight regimes, increased downward force on the tail to resist the nose's tendency to drop. This results in increased drag and, indirectly, flight at a higher angle of attack for a given speed, both of which reduce performance even further.
  • Reduced cruise speed for a given power setting and airplane weight, for the same reasons.
  • Increased power (and fuel burn) necessary to achieve a given cruise speed.
  • The need for additional up-elevator to flare for landing.

Note that all these effects happen even when the CG is within certified limits. If the airplane is loaded outside the limits on the forward edge of the allowable loading envelope, the airplane may be so stable that even full control deflection isn't enough to overcome the nose-down tendency. The airplane, in effect, becomes too stable to fly. A forward-CG loading that is controllable in flight, with ample airflow over the elevator, may become uncontrollably nose-heavy as the airplane is slowed and control effectiveness is lost. The nose-heavy airplane may be more likely to "mush" into the ground short of the runway, or land hard on the nosewheel when control effectiveness is lost in the flare.

What's typically nose-heavy? Some airplane designs are naturally nose-heavy. Turbocharged aircraft are particularly nose-heavy (from the weight of the extra turbo equipment ahead of the firewall), especially if there are no occupants or baggage in the airplane's aft cabin. Some fairly short airframes also end up nose-heavy without rear-seat passengers or baggage.

Aft CG

As CG goes aft, there is less distance between the CG and the center of lift, and the airplane becomes less stable. In the extreme, modern fighter jets are designed to be completely unstable for maximum maneuverability, depending on computer-driven controls to "create" stability for aircraft control. Although reduced stability increases maneuverability, a rearward CG also induces these effects:

  • A tendency to nose up prematurely on takeoff, and to pitch up excessively in response to the "normal" pilot inputs for takeoff. This makes the airplane more likely to stall, and increases drag to reduce initial climb performance.
  • If disturbed by turbulence, the airplane will not return to stable flight, but may "hunt in pitch" and require more active control input by the pilot. The aft-CG airplane is a much higher-workload aircraft to fly precisely -- an unstable balancing act.
  • When slowed for landing, it may require nose-down elevator to avoid a pitch-up tendency. If "normal" control inputs are applied, the airplane will be more likely to increase angle of attack and land short, or stall.
  • The tail-heavy airplane will, however, trim out at a lower angle of attack in cruise, and so for a given power setting, it'll fly a little faster than the same airplane loaded at a further-forward CG.

If CG is aft of the airplane's certified loading envelope, the airplane may be so unstable it cannot be safely flown. The effect would be more pronounced at slower speeds, such as landing, when reduced air flow makes the elevator less effective.

What's typically tail-heavy? Airplanes with large aft baggage areas and long-body airplanes with seats near the back of the cabin are most commonly loaded near (or beyond) their aft CG limit.

Fuel Burn and CG

We all learned to compute CG location as part of our initial pilot training. But how many of us were taught to compute weight and balance not only for the takeoff condition, but for the anticipated landing condition as well? Many airplanes may be loaded within limits for takeoff, only to go out of the CG envelope after some amount of fuel is burned out of the tanks. I surprised renters of a Cessna 172 I flew early in my instructor career by showing them the airplane was safely within limits at nearly fuel with two people in the back seats, but that after burning about half of the fuel in flight the CG was drifting dangerously aft of the aft limit.

Computed CG location for a Cessna 172S with two standard occupants up front, a pair of 150-pound passengers in the rear seats, and baggage for a weekend trip, at (1) full fuel, (2) half tanks and (3) a zero-fuel condition. Note the CG gets closer to the aft limit as fuel is burned, going out of limits well within the fueled range of the aircraft.

Since most airplanes carry their fuel in the forward part of the wing it's most common for CG to translate aft with fuel burn. Individual airplane design and optional auxiliary fuel tanks can complicate this rule.

Here's an exercise: Using weight-and-balance data for an airplane you regularly fly, with a given passenger and baggage load, compute CG location at full fuel, half fuel and zero fuel. See where the CG goes with fuel burn, and whether it'll go beyond the aft limit as loaded while there's still fuel in the tanks. If so, you've now established a shorter aircraft range (including reserves) before you need to land for fuel to maintain controllability.

Knowing Your Limits

If you're inside but near the forward CG limit, the airplane will take more runway to take off and a firm hand to get into a climb attitude. But the airplane will be more stable in turbulence, giving your passengers (and you) a smoother ride. Take advantage of a forward CG and plan fuel stops and your load to be near the forward limit when you fly in rough air or near mountains. If the air is smooth, you might plan for a rearward-but-within-limits CG, for a faster cruise speed. Either way, account for the CG effect of fuel burn and ensure you'll still be safely within the envelope at the completion of your trip, including flight to an alternate airport if needed.

Some pilots like "stable" airplanes, especially for instrument flight. Others like "maneuverable" aircraft. The "stable" types consider more maneuverable airplanes to be "squirrelly," while the "maneuverable" crowd says stable airplanes "fly like a truck." Whatever your preference, the way the airplane handles is in large part a function of its CG.

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

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What's New for May 2008

This month, AVweb's survey of the latest products and services for pilots, mechanics and aircraft owners brings you a portable ladder, magnetic pick-up tool, electric DG and more.

Click here for the full story.

AVweb Insider Blog: Thielert Shows Us How to Kill a Company (or Two)

"If Thielert thinks it will dig itself out from bankruptcy with its stratospheric new parts prices and no warranties, it's likely in for a rude shock" — so says Paul Bertorelli in the latest installment of our aviation blog, the AVweb Insider. Think we're crazy? Click on over and join the conversation.

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

Bonus Video! Aviation Consumer Tries Out the Aspen Avionics Evolution PFD at Sun 'n Fun 2008

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

Aspen's new certified glass panel "Evolution" display updates older "steam gauge" cockpits and offers a low cost cost easily expandable option for pilots seeking a more capable cockpit instrument panel.

(If you find this video report helpful, be sure to check out Aviation Consumer's web site.)

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

Outlook for Mooney: Strong Sales in Europe

File Size 6.7 MB / Running Time 7:22

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Like other U.S. manufactories benefitting from the weak dollar, Mooney is enjoying strong sales in Europe, with buyers divided between business and pleasure flyers. Mooney CEO Dennis Ferguson says that's good news, but he also notes that one challenge the company continues to face is controlling production costs. AVweb's Paul Bertorelli interviewed Ferguson in Kerrville last week.

Bonus! See and hear what Paul discovered when he flew the Mooney Type S for Aviation Consumer in an exclusive photo podcast (slideshow) demo found here.

Click here to listen. (6.7 MB, 7:22)

Photo Podcast Extra! Aviation Consumer Flies Mooney's Type S: Yes, It's As Fast As They Claim It Is

File Size 6.0 MB / Running Time 5:15

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Just a few weeks ago, Mooney announced final approvals on its new version of the Acclaim, the Type S. The company claims a 242-knot top speed, and Aviation Consumer's Paul Bertorelli recently took a demo flight in the new airplane. Sure enough, it is that fast. See the details in this photo podcast from our recent visit to Kerrville.

Click here to listen. (6.0 MB, 5:15)

Enhanced Photo Podcast

Enjoy photos from Paul's flight here. (Keep scrolling down to listen to the audio alone.)

Photo Podcast Extra! Aviation Consumer Magazine Demos the Evolution EFIS from Aspen Avionics

File Size 8.7 MB / Running Time 9:29

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

For those of us not in the market for a $600,000 new airplane, Aspen Avionics is now shipping the Evolution EFIS for the aftermarket. Our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, sent Larry Anglisano to investigate. Larry and the AC team few the system in a Cirrus SR22 and found that the company has done its engineering homework, calling the Evolution EFIS "very impressive technology that's practical to install and affordable to buy." In this enhanced podcast, hear (and see) how the Evolution works. (The enhanced photo podcast comes first; scroll down to the bottom of the page to listen to the audio alone.)

(To read the full review — and others like it — subscribe to Aviation Consumer.)

Click here to listen. (8.7 MB, 9:29)

Enhanced Photo Podcast

Watch our demo in slideshow photos here. (Keep scrolling down to listen to the audio alone.)

Cessna Owners & Pilots — Gain Knowledge, Have Fun
Join the fastest-growing and best association for Cessna Flyers — the Cessna Flyer Association (CFA), since 2004 providing same-day parts locating, faster answers to technical questions, an informative monthly magazine, online forums, national and regional events, an annual gathering, seminars, member discounts, and more for only $40 yearly. For more info, visit CessnaFlyer.org.
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Midwest National Air Center (KGPH, Mosby, MO)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Midwest National Air Center at KGPH in Mosby, Missouri.

AVweb reader Robert Parker recommended the FBO, citing the owner's eerie prescience:

John somehow knew before we landed that we'd been fighting fierce headwinds the previous four hours. He met us at the plane,then towed the plane to the SS fuel pump, fueled it with my card (at prices quite below the national average), parked it back in front of the FBO, then drove out to buy batteries for our headsets so my wife and I could relax before flying the final four-hour leg home!

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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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"

While on a trip in a Grumman Cheetah from Marathon, Florida Keys to Exuma in the Bahamas, I ran into a large area of clouds hanging over Andros Island. They'd been classified as benign when I'd received my weather briefing about an hour and a half earlier. I penetrated with a warning from Miami Center:

Miami Center:
"Grumman XXXXX, I show a large area of weather ahead of you. How would you like to proceed?"

"My Stormscope shows it's not active. I'll continue on course."

[a few minutes later]

Miami Center:
"Grumman XXXXX, say flight conditions."

"It's a little bumpy, but other than that it's fine."

[a few minutes later, after it suddenly turned active]

"Miami Center, Grumman XXXXX, experiencing ... severe ... turbulence. Request ... lower."

[I went up and down at about 2000 feet per minute. The Stormscope lit up all around us. We were tossed on our side.]

Miami Center:
"Grumman XXXXX, unable lower at this time. I'll have to call Nassau to get lower."

I righted the airplane. Everything flew around the cockpit. I saw a hole and aimed for it.

[a few minutes later]

"Miami Center, Grumman XXXXX, we're out of the weather now. Sorry about the deviation, but I could not hold altitude or course."

Miami Center:
"Not a problem, I understand."

A passing airliner overheard this ...

"Miami, Airliner XXXX, that guy that penetrated the weather over Andros — what kind of airplane did he say he was flying?"

Miami Center:
"A Grumman."

"Like a big Grumman?"

Miami Center:
"No, like a little Grumman Cheetah.

"A Cheetah? Wow, he's got a lot of balls."

Miami Center:
Airliner XXXX, I'm sorry, sir, you broke up. Say again?

"I said, he's got a lot of balls."

Miami Center:
"Airliner XXXX, I'm sorry, sir, you are coming in broken up again. I believe you said (ahem) that he was a very brave man?"

Bob Brayman Marathon
Florida Keys

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:

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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