AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 14, Number 23a

June 2, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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In with the New, Maintaining the Old back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

Eclipse Goes Ahead With Single, Hikes Price Of Twin

Eclipse Aviation formally announced its intention to begin production of a $1.35 million single-engine jet called the Eclipse 400. The announcement was made earlier today at the company's annual "E-rrival" event in Albuquerque. At the same time, Eclipse announced it was boosting the price of its twin-engine 500 model by more than $550,000 from $1.595 million to $2.15 million. The announcements came as Eclipse was celebrating the tenth anniversary of the company. In both cases, Eclipse founder and CEO Vern Raburn said they were ideas whose time had come.

Regarding the 400, Raburn said there was overwhelmingly positive response to the single-engine "Concept" jet unveiled at EAA AirVenture last year. The four-place aircraft is claimed by Eclipse to be the "world's most fuel-efficient jet aircraft" and will be powered by a PW615F engine. Deliveries are planned for the end of 2011. Existing Eclipse 500 owners get first crack at one and a $125,000 discount if they order by July 25. It goes on the general market at EAA AirVenture. As for the price increase, Raburn said it costs more to build the Eclipse 500 than they thought it would and they aren't able to build them in the kind of volume they thought they could so they had to increase the price. "Eclipse's cost-driven pricing model requires Eclipse to re-examine aircraft pricing if actual costs change significantly from projections," the company said in a news release.

Austro Engine: Will It Save Diamond?

Located in the same industrial complex south of Vienna alongside Diamond Aircraft, Austro Engine is furiously gearing up to build new aerodiesel engines that will eventually replace Thielert's troubled Centurion line. At the Berlin Air Show this week, Austro displayed the AE 300, a 2-litre powerplant that's an evolutionary improvement over the same Mercedes-Benz engine Thielert used for its Centurions. Austro is working with MBTech, a Mercedes Benz daughter company, to develop the four-cylinder engine and certification is "imminent" according to a report in Flight Global's Flight Daily News this week. Like the Centurion, the AE 300 is a turbocharged, direct-injected diesel engine with high-pressure, common rail technology. But it has 165 HP rather than the Thielert's 135 HP. We're told that the engine has the same relative footprint and is being specifically designed to fit Diamond's DA40 Star and DA42 Twin Star.

Austro will have to overcome several technical problems that have dogged the Thielert engines; chief among them is the requirement to inspect and/or replace the engine's gearbox at 300-hour intervals. Since it runs at the same RPM as the Thielert, the Austro has a reduction gearbox but the Hor Technologie-developed gear set is being initially fielded with an 1800-hour TBO. Further, unlike the Thielert, the Austro has no clutch, but uses a dynamic damper to insulate the prop and gear train from the diesel's sharp power pulses. The Centurion line also encountered cooling system faults that caused cracked cylinder heads. Fuel specifics for the Austro are said to be 20 percent better than the Centurion line, a claim that's consistent with the engine's performance in the Mercedes A-Class economy sedan, which delivers as much 56 MPH on the highway.

The burning question that beached Diamond owners have is: when? Marcus Hergeth, Austro's managing director, told Flight Daily that first deliveries are planned for October of this year. It's not known what production levels are planned.

If Austro's plans pan out, they may complicate short-term efforts to revive Thielert Aircraft Engines. Because Diamond represents the majority of new engine and parts business for Thielert, investors may be reticent to recapitalize a company whose market is overhung by a major competitor who is also a customer. Diamond and the company assigned to oversee Thielert's insolvency, Kubler, have engaged in a bitter war of words over how to restore engine and parts flow to Diamond customers. Last week, Kubler published new parts prices that Diamond called "abusive" and it announced that Thielert would no longer honor its warranty commitments. Meanwhile, more of Diamond's customers go AOG each day as engines come due for gearbox and engine replacements.

More of AVweb's continuing coverage of the Thielert bankruptcy:
Thielert Engine Owner Group Forms
Diamond: Thielert Was "Grossly Misleading"
Thielert: Diamond Guilty of Misinformation
... and more on the AVweb Insider blog

Cirrus Perspective™ by Garmin: A New Beginning for General Aviation
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Gas Tanks and Data Banks back to top 

Rising Fuel Costs; Falling Flight Hours

As an economic barometer, the figures for general aviation suggest fuel prices and the economy may be hitting the little guys hard. The evidence is indirect and correlational, but abundant. Friday, AVweb's fuel finder, located at AVweb.com showed prices for 100LL averaging more than $5.30 per gallon and that they had climbed eight cents since the previous week. A review of activity at FAA and contract towers for 2007 included in FAA's Aerospace Forecast for 2008-2025 stated, "At the end of 2007, non-commercial aircraft activity was 16.1 percent below the activity in 2000, having declined each year since 2002." The FAA's most recent year-over-year records available online show the difference in hours flown by recreational pilots in 2005 and 2006 -- recreational pilots flew about 125,000 fewer hours in 2006 than the prior year. If that's just a bump in the road, it's a bump in a road that's been headed downhill for years. FAA figures show that fixed-wing piston aircraft flown for personal use flew about 2.3 million fewer hours in 2006 versus 2000. As for sales of small aircraft, light sport aircraft in the first quarter of 2008 dropped 30 percent from six months prior, according to industry watchdog Dan Johnson. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) showed sales of piston aircraft fell 28 percent when compared with the first quarter of 2007. Showing a stark class divide, general aviation business flight hours appear unaffected as do sales of business aircraft, and both may be carrying their respective tallies -- plus total hours and sales figures for general aviation as a whole -- higher.

The FAA's 2008-2025 forecast predicts an annual increase of 3 percent per year through 2025 in the number of general aviation hours flown, due in large part to an influx of new very light jets (VLJs) and small aircraft operated for business. That market segment's billings (turboprops and light business jets) prospered early this year and not only countered the falling recreational market but pushed the industry's billings to an all-time first-quarter high in 2008, up 16 percent over the previous year. There's an old saying that if you have to worry about the cost of fuel, you probably shouldn't be flying. Today's pilots are paying nearly twice as much per hour on fuel as they did in 2005. Statistics suggest many of America's (fewer than) 600,000 pilots may be taking that to heart and the same may be true for prospective pilots who can often expect to pay more than $125 for one hour of flight instruction. One school AVweb found for this story reported a reduction in training hours of 20 percent since 2007. Ultralight and LSA pilots burning roughly 3.5 gallons per hour are also paying more ... just a lot less of it.

The NOTAM Database Crash: What Happened

A nearly 20-hours-long crash of the FAA's NOTAM database last week occurred because of a drive failure that took place "in the middle of updating the information on the hard drive," which in turn "screwed up the database," Barry Davis, manager of the aeronautical information management for the FAA, told ComputerWorld.com. The box in question was a Sun Microsystems Inc. server, according to the FAA, that was nearing the end of its life expectancy. Its failure put controllers to work disseminating the NOTAM information to pilots. Davis' team already had replacement equipment on hand, they just hadn't yet performed the replacement. Because of that, the hardware recovery portion of the fix "was quite simple -- we just put the boxes in," said Davis. Unfortunately, when they did that, they moved a data error over to the backup system, thereby corrupting it and causing the system to run slowly and in a manner that appeared to be deteriorating. In the end, the latest information had to be pulled from the corrupted database, re-imported into the new database and resynchronized with all the subsystems. Davis' team then put the system back online and stuck around into the evening to make sure there were no more surprises.

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High-Speed and High-Tech back to top 

Chambliss Wins Detroit Red Bull Race

By one of the narrowest margins in Red Bull history, Arizona native Kirby Chambliss won the Detroit Red Bull Air Race title with a final race time of 1:12.08 beating runner up Paul Bonhomme by a mere 0.15 seconds. Austrian pilot Hannes Arch and Mike Mangold came in third and fourth place. The twelve competing pilots flew a modified qualifying round on Sunday because the flying was cancelled on Saturday due to winds. The race gates can normally withstand winds up to 40 knots, but wind gusts of more than 60 knots forced race officials to cancel on the grounds of safety as some of the gates were blown off their moorings.

Because of the modification, the pilots were only allowed one qualifying flight instead of normal two, further increasing the competition between the pilots. Also, the top four qualifiers moved on in the elimination round instead of the top eight as originally planned. Detroit marks the third stop in this year's Red Bull Air Race tour, and the second stop in the United States. Over 750,000 spectators watched the race from both Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. The next race will be in Stockholm, Sweden on July 5 and 6.

Click here to view photos.

Alaska Pilots Get Tools For The Job: More ADS-B

Mike Cirillo, the FAA's top official in Alaska, backs the installation of more Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) coverage in Alaska supported with two-way datalink systems and at a May 14 presentation, he said coverage would expand by the end of this year. Countering concerns that the system would not be further deployed, Cirillo said Fairbanks, Nome, Kotzebue and Anchorage would be home to four new ground-based transmission receivers before 2009. The ADS-B system is hailed as making flying more than 40 percent safer in areas of no radar coverage and high traffic and Cirillo's position was welcomed by local pilots. "This is huge. This is good news for Alaskan pilots," one pilot told Alaskajournal.com. Cirillo hopes acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell will make the trip to Alaska later this summer to see the region's challenges firsthand. Pilot groups concerned that new coverage would be held off until late 2009 now have reason to believe the system will soon grow beyond Southwest, Southeast and Anchorage bowl airspace.

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News Briefs back to top 

ATG Files Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Bye Marches On

ATG, maker of the fighter-like Javelin jet, suspended operations in December and as of May 23, ATG has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The Colorado-based company that once sought to deliver its subsonic two-place "executive" jet failed to find a buyer and now leaves between 100 and 200 creditors seeking some return on investments ranging from $10 million to $50 million. Court documents indicate ATG has liabilities ranging from $50 million to $100 million. Previous reports indicated that ATG's board had by March successfully negotiated deals with its main lenders and was seeking "final offer bids from prospective buyers to reach ATG within the next few weeks." By April, ATG's former chairman and president, George Bye, was seeking incentives to locate a new privately funded business venture, Bye Engineering, and May 27 announced that company had signed "a long term agreement" with Colorado-based machining company, Arrow Industrial.

According to Bye, Arrow can "provide unique research, prototyping and machining capability" that will "help capture the exciting opportunities utilizing alternative energy in aviation" -- a stated goal of Bye's new venture. Bye Engineering "is an engineering consulting company supporting the aerospace industry" with a focus on "new technology aerospace consulting and alternative energy applications."

Coroner: UK Nimrod Fleet Not Airworthy

A coroner who led an inquest regarding the September 2006 midair explosion of a Nimrod sea control aircraft has said the aircraft "like every other aircraft within the Nimrod fleet, was not airworthy," but the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) does not have to comply the coroner's recommendations and likely won't. An RAF Board of Inquiry in December 2007 delivered a report that declared aging parts and lack of fire-suppression systems as contributing factors but in the end apparently served as a spark for investigations initiated by parents of some of the deceased fliers. Of all the parents, Graham Knight stood out for claiming to have e-mails from high-ranking officers that detailed problems with fuel leaks prior to the 2006 explosion and noted a 2005 recommendation from BAE Systems that fire-detection systems be installed on the aircraft. The assistant deputy coroner who led the inquest is now calling for the entire Nimrod fleet to be grounded, according to Defense Industry Daily. The UK MoD has taken measures it believes are satisfactory and will continue to fly the plane.

The UK MoD says it will continue to fly the Nimrod but has stopped air-to-air fueling and has ceased use of the "very hot air systems" in flight. According to the MoD, these measures remove the dangers in design noted by the coroner and along with enhanced maintenance and inspection procedures effectively ensure safe operation of the aircraft.

On the Fly ...

The Red Bull Air Races now have a dedicated YouTube channel, showing clips and previews along with interviews and news from the "World Series."

EAA members are eligible to receive a free SPOT Satellite Messenger at AirVenture 2008. The $170 GPS/message device is useless without a service subscription, which costs roughly $150 per year and allows users to check in with family or request emergency assistance.

Flight Design is retaining its lead in the LSA market, holding a 19.4 percent share. The manufacturer had 246 aircraft in the marketplace as of April 2008, with American Legend's Cub holding a 10.4 percent share with 132 aircraft and Evektor's Sportstar holding a 6.8 percent share with 88 aircraft. All numbers from byDanJohnson.com.

Engine fire may have preceded Kalitta 747 aborted takeoff and crash, according to a report by Flight International. Air traffic controllers have reported seeing a fire in one of the aircraft's two starboard engines during the takeoff sequence.

Pilot Insurance Center (PIC) Offers Quick Decision Term Life Insurance
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Reader Voices back to top 

AVmail: June 2, 2008

Reader mail this week about redundant read-backs, leaden LSAs, absent avgas 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 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.

Between Wheels Up and Wheels Down, There Is One Important Word: How
As the team managing the FAA AFSS system, Lockheed Martin serves nearly 90,000 general aviation pilots every week. Providing timely, accurate information and helpful service 24/7. From weather forecasts to en route information, from Hawaii to Puerto Rico, ensuring flight safety in the National Airspace System is all a question of how. And it is the how that makes all the difference. Click here for more.
New on AVweb back to top 

CEO of the Cockpit #83: Never Kick a Frozen Chock

Stick around long enough and you'll feel the need to dispense wisdom about flight and life. AVweb's CEO of the Cockpit is a mere mortal in this regard.

Click here for the full story.

Annual Inspections

You don't have to get your hands dirty to save money, but it helps.

Click here to read this maintenance article.

AVweb Insider Blog: Thielert's Flawed Economics (And Why the Company Knows It)

Our analysis of Thielert's new diesel engine pricing shows that the diesels now cost more than twice as much as a turbine engine to maintain. We don't see how this can work, and Paul Bertorelli runs down the logic on our blog, AVweb Insider.

Read more — and, by all means, let us know if there's something we're missing in this picture.

No More Excuses for Family & Friends Not Enjoying Your Love of Flight!
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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Landmark Aviation (KLAL, Lakeland, FL)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to the Lakeland Florida location of Landmark Aviation (KLAL).

AVweb reader Alec Thigpen recommended the FBO, telling us how manager Stephen Leidigh helped him (and others) during the very busy week of Sun 'n Fun:

[O]n a busy Saturday of Sun 'n Fun, [Stephen made time] to personally take us to our plane on a somewhat distant parking area when we were unable to get a SNF shuttle to come get us. He also took another group to their airplane as well. The facilities were perfect for all of our needs, and there was a fuel discount during the week of the show as well. Their friendliness was quite nice and not all that common at many FBOs when things get hectic.

Kudos to the folks at Landmark!

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!

Avidyne Introduces FMS900w Flight Management System
Avidyne's new Entegra FMS900w WAAS-enabled GPS/NAV/COM Flight Management System (FMS) is designed to reduce single-pilot IFR workload. The FMS900w provides fully-redundant, state-of-the-VHF and TSO C146b Gamma 3-compliant turbine-class FMS capability for all general aviation aircraft. Utilizing a fully-modular architecture, the FMS900w is an enhancement to Avidyne's Entegra Integrated Flight Deck platform and designed specifically to take advantage of Entegra's large-format displays and Byteflight peer-to-peer databus architecture. Click here for more information.

Sign up to be an Avidyne Insider.
AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Meet Staff Sgt. Ryan Kelly

File Size 10.5 MB / Running Time 11:32

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

As you may have read recently on AVweb, Staff Sgt. Ryan Kelly recently earned his helicopter and helicopter CFI certificates (as well as a degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University). Having lost a leg in Iraq, Kelly is the first wounded warrior to earn his fixed-wing private pilot certificate through the Able Flight scholarship program. Listen to this podcast to hear Ryan's story in his own words.

Click here to listen. (10.5 MB, 11:32)

Video of the Week: Red Bull Air Race Detroit — Practice Laps

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

With the Red Bull Air Races hitting Detroit, let's take a few moments to watch some practice laps, courtesy of our friends at Red Bull:

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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."

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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"

Heard on Denver approach frequency:

"Great Lakes One Twenty Three, traffic six o'clock, two miles, 1000 feet above you, a 737."

Great Lakes:
"Approach, Great Lakes One Twenty Three, if I told you I could see him, I'd be lying."

"If you told me you could see him, you'd be my mother — 'cause you'd have eyes in the back of your head."

David J. Livingston
Colorado Springs, Colorado

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.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.