AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 14, Number 35a

August 25, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Quotes reprinted with permission: Professional Pilot, 2007 Headset Preference Survey, 12/07; Aviation Consumer, 8/07.
 
Liberty Under (Some Kind Of) Review back to top 
 
Sponsor Announcement

Liberty Denies It's Under Certification Review

Liberty Aerospace is demanding the FAA retract a statement made earlier this week that the company is undergoing a special certification review (SCR) on its XL-2 two-seat aircraft. In a news release about an SCR being conducted at Eclipse Aviation, the FAA mentioned other companies that have been similarly probed and Liberty was listed. But Liberty General Counsel and Safety and Compliance Officer Margaret Napolitan told AVweb the FAA made a mistake in that statement. "We are asking that the FAA retract that statement," she said. "We are not undergoing an SCR." The FAA says it didn't intend to suggest that Liberty was under a special certification review, only that it was under a special review. The agency has not so far said what kind of review Liberty is under.

Napolitan said the FAA is undertaking a fact-finding mission but it has nothing to do with certification. "It's a commercial dispute," she said. "It has nothing to do with the safety of the aircraft." Napolitan said she's contacted the FAA to ask for the retraction and will be posting a statement on the company Web site later.

 
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The Blame Game back to top 
 

Reason Foundation On Why You're Delaying ADS-B

If ADS-B began in Alaska's Capstone program in 1999, was put into practical use with UPS cargo jets the same year, and the network of ADS-B ground stations should be completed by 2013, why has the FAA set 2020 as the deadline for equipping planes with just ADS-B/out? The Reason Foundation's Bob Poole asks the question and after "puzzling over this for several months now, interviewing experts and reading extensively," Poole has come to the conclusion that the delayed implementation of improved technology providing in-cockpit traffic, weather and more ... is largely your fault. "Because aircraft owners balk at being forced to buy and install new gear until they get real benefits from it (and this is especially true of GA owners), FAA felt under strong political pressure to make the deadline as far off as possible (hence, 2020)." Poole recognizes that part of the problem is that when compared with the radar coverage and ATC, pilots in the lower 48 have little to gain in equipping their aircraft with ADS-B/out. And, in spite of its benefits for all of aviation, ADS-B/in is expensive. He also recognizes that the root of the problem is deeper than your wallet and he does offer a solution, unlikely as it may be ... .

In Poole's more ideal scenario, a balanced group of "aviation stakeholders" would presumably act in place of Congress or the FAA. Directly affected by the costs and technology, stakeholders would universally see the benefits of retiring old radars before attrition turned them into money-sucking vortexes. Stakeholders would futher recognize the improvements in safety and airspace capacity won through cockpit displays of weather and traffic (ADS-B). Those incentives might then, according to Poole, drive a desire for rapid implementation of ADS-B/in plus ADS-B/out strong enough to fuel the inclusion of financial aid to help GA users offset costs. All of this for the benefit of the aviation community as a whole. Rapid implementation under this plan would also mean large-scale production of hardware, leading to lower overall costs, further softening the blow.

TSA On Offensive After Damaging Aircraft

While the TSA stipulates that its inspector damaged sensitive external probes while assessing the security of nine American Eagle planes parked overnight at O'Hare, it contends that the inspector got into seven of the nine -- and that American is to blame. Toward that end, the TSA is opening an inquiry into "multiple security violations" by American Eagle. Forty American Eagle flights were delayed to allow mechanics time to determine if probes would still properly function following the inspector's "inspection." The inconvenience and loss of revenue may now be compounded by the TSA's continuing investigation that could theoretically fine the airline up to $175,000, according to the TSA, for leaving their aircraft vulnerable. The TSA said doors were left open on the aircraft and that this week's inspection was a follow-up to earlier inspections, which exposed the same vulnerability.

Regulations require that doors be closed while aircraft are unattended and that jet bridges be pulled away from the aircraft. Those jet bridges are operated using key codes that only airline and airport employees with valid ID are authorized to know. As yet, there's no indication that American was operating outside of security regulations or guidelines. The airline said in a statement it is "confident that it followed all proper security procedures for securing aircraft overnight," and that if they'd gone un-noticed the actions of the inspector "could have jeopardized the safety of our customers and crew."

 
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The Aviation Economy back to top 
 

Grob Has Support, Needs Cash

Grob Aerospace, which Monday announced its insolvency after repeated delays in the SPn business jet flight-testing program were capped by the loss of a loan provider, is winning support from customers. Chief executive Niall Olver says customers with jets on order have offered to support the manufacturer and told Flight International that half the customers he's spoken with "have offered to invest in the company." Olver added that the level of support has been "quite remarkable." Major order holders (PlaneSense, a fractional operator with 25 SPn jets on order) have not yet backed away from the company. Bombardier, which has targeted Grob as its structural design and manufacturing partner for three prototype all-composite Learjet 85 aircraft, says its plans with Grob remain unaffected. Grob's immediate future involves surviving a 90-day period during which the company will be overseen by an administrator, employees will continue to be paid and efforts will be made to find suitable financial footing for the company. Grob's SPn has an order backlog of roughly 120 aircraft and a fourth prototype flew for the first time on Aug. 7. Grob had hoped to see certification of the SPn later this year.

The company has produced a range of aircraft, from the aerobatic single-engine propeller-driven G 120A retractable-gear advanced trainer (selected for primary flight training by the Canadian government) through the SPn one-plus-nine-seat luxury business jet. Grob markets the SPn as a new class of business jet that combines "the versatility and robust short field performance of a turboprop with the comfort, elegance, and superior cruise speeds of a genuine luxury jet."

Eclipse Cuts Workforce 38 Percent

Eclipse Aviation is laying off about 650 (of 1,800) employees as part of what acting CEO Roel Pieper is calling the company's "operational excellence strategy." The layoffs affect 38 percent of the workforce and will hit employees, including temps and those who have been working less than six months, at facilities in Albuquerque, Gainseville, Fla., and Albany, N.Y., Eclipse said in a statement. The result will be a production slowdown of its EA500 very light jet for the rest of the year (by how much, the statement does not say) followed by a ramp-up to "previous levels and higher" in 2009. "Financial stability is critical for this company and unfortunately, a reduction in workforce was necessary to achieve it," Pieper said. "I am confident this action will set the company on the path to profitability so that we can continue to lead the very light jet category."

Rumors started circulating about a shakeup at Eclipse about two weeks ago and the company was uncharacteristically circumspect about its future plans. It's also not interested in elaborating on the contents of the most recent statement and will not be releasing any further information or granting interviews. Meanwhile, the news will have a ripple effect through Eclipse's supplier base and the casualties are starting to be tallied. Hampson Aerospace in Grande Prairie, Tex., which makes the tail section of the aircraft, has only a skeleton crew left due to "an absence of demand" from Eclipse, which is that plant's only customer.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

F-35, The Cost Of An International Attack/Fighter Aircraft

Development of Lockheed Martin's Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is not progressing smoothly. The F-35 "is Department of Defense's (DOD) most complex and ambitious aircraft acquisition," according to a recent GAO report, "seeking to simultaneously produce and field three aircraft variants for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and eight international partners." Some sources also label the JSF, which will have short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variants, as the most expensive program in the Pentagon's arsenal. The GAO prices the program at a total investment including fleet acquisition and lifetime maintenance "now approaching $1 trillion." As such, a troubled U.S. economy, huge budget deficit and development delays may now complicate matters for an aircraft also labeled as "critical to our nation's plans for recapitalizing tactical aircraft" and intended to see 2,458 examples in production. Recently, the first F-35 was grounded by nacelle vent fan failure (translation: the engine bay could overheat, causing structural damage) and engine tests for the STOVL "B" variant have now been delayed until next year after the test aircraft is re-engined. In the role of providing quick development to keep costs down and fend off the lure of competing designs ultimately allowing for mass production, the aircraft is not doing well -- total acquisition cost estimates increased by $23 billion from March 2007 to March 2008. Fortunately, the aircraft's intended role is mainly ground attack.

The F-35 is not fast or agile enough to dogfight with an advanced adversary and is not capable of carrying arms to provide long-range kills against said adversary without compromising stealth. Still, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) nonetheless seeks to retain the advantage of being inexpensive. Last month Lockheed announced the U.S. Department of Defense has released $1 billion in funding "to acquire six F-35B aircraft" as part of the second initial production contract for the F-35. Production aircraft have recently targeted the $60 million dollar range -- a price perhaps quoted in 2002 dollars and one that Lockheed may be forced to fix ahead of production to secure orders otherwise lost to competitors. The JSF development contract was signed in November of 1996. The contract for development of a demonstration aircraft was awarded in late 2001.

Madrid Crash Update

Voice and data recorders have been retrieved (but the data recorder has suffered damage) from the Spanair MD 82 that crashed last week following an aborted takeoff. The crash has so far resulted in the death of 154 people, with all eighteen others injured, some critically. Early reports state rescuers believe that as the aircraft broke apart some survivors were thrown from the wreckage, landing in a nearby stream where they were protected from the huge post-crash fire and later found. Early witness reports that one of the airliner's two engines was on fire during the takeoff have been countered by video showing no sign of engine fire, with fire erupting only after the crash. Prior to the flight, a heating system intake valve malfunction had led the pilot to return the aircraft to the gate prior to its fatal departure run. Maintenance work associated with that problem has all but been ruled out as a contributing factor to the crash, according to authorities. The flight of 172 people was departing Madrid's Barajas airport bound for Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. The accident may be the worst Spanish air tragedy in 25 years.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Birdman Flies For 10 Minutes, Channel Next

Yves Rossy (a.k.a. Birdman and FusionMan) last Wednesday covered 21 miles in 10 minutes with a 120-pound, eight-foot carbon-fiber wing strapped to his back, powered by four micro-turbine jet engines. The distance flown matches that of Calais, France, to Dover, U.K. Rossy intends to fly across the English Channel Sept. 24 (weather permitting) following Louis Bleriot's 1909 route between those cities. For the test flight, Rossy exited a jump aircraft, unfolded his rigid wing and fired up four micro-turbines attached to its bottom side. He flew from about 7,500 feet above Bex Switzerland to Villeneuve, turned around and flew and back, reaching about 180 mph in clear skies and landing after deploying two parachutes -- one at 5,000 feet and the second at 4,000 feet. He landed with 2 litres of fuel left. Rossy controls the aircraft by shifting his weight or simply turning his head and shoulders. He wears a heat-resistant suit to protect his legs from exhaust and has evolved his flight envelope to include rolls. Rossy, 48 (49 next week), has logged 1000 hours in the Mirage III and later flew for Swissair. He also has over 1000 parachute jumps to his credit.

Rossy's current project is sponsored by Hublot, the Swiss Watch maker, and his English Channel flight is to be broadcast exclusively by the National Geographic Channel and streamed live online at NatGeoTV.com.

On the Fly ...

CubCrafters CC18-180 Top Cub has earned an Australian Type Certificate. The 180 horsepower Piper Cub-alike weights 1200 pounds empty and has an 1100 pound useful load. More info at CubCrafters.com.

Two hypersonic experiments were destroyed by NASA August 22 after an anomaly caused a failure shortly after liftoff from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Friday. Most debris from the rocket is thought to have fallen into the Atlantic. There are conflicting reports of debris being sighted on land. "This debris could be hazardous," according to NASA.

The most popular LSA's are Flight Design's CT, Legend Cub, and Tecnam, according to Dan Johnson.

 
Win This Plane!
Enter AOPA's 2008 Sweepstakes and you could be flying high in a fully refurbished Piper Archer II, accented with a new instrument panel featuring the world's first installed certified EFD1000 PFD. Custom extras include handcrafted leather seats, tie-down rings, nav light retainers, and wood trim accents. Click for more details.
 
The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 
 

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.

 
Dr. Blue Says, "Be Smart — Carry a PLB!"
Flying, hiking, camping, riding your ATV or bike — accidents happen that can become a life-threatening situation. Be prepared with a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). It's as easy as pushing a button. PLBs from Aeromedix.com include the ACR MicroFix 406 MHz for pilots when you're enjoying activities in unpopulated areas. Click now to visit Aeromedix.com for complete details.
 
New on AVweb back to top 
 

CEO of the Cockpit #86: Heat

Even when it's snowing in the cockpit, it can get quite hot.

Click here for the full story.

AVweb Insider Blog: Airplanes and Hurricanes

Why don't more owners move their airplanes out of a hurricane's path? One reason is that insurance companies don't expect them to. In the lastest installment of our AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli argues that this is short-sighted because it encourages victimhood and costs us all money.

Read more.

Extra! IFR Refresher Magazine Asks AirVenture Campers "What's in Your Panel?"

File Size 11.8 MB / Running Time 12:58

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Meredith Saini, editor of IFR Refresher, interviewed pilots who were camping with their airplanes at EAA AirVenture 2008 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. She wanted to find out what level of equipment people are using to fly IFR and how that affects their decision-making when dealing with weather. Here's what two ordinary general aviation pilots had to say.

For more interviews and photos from the campground at AirVenture, check out the September 2008 issue of IFR Refresher. You can find subscription information here.

Click here to listen. (11.8 MB, 12:58)

 
Envision® Integrated Flight Deck Available for Retrofit Installation in Select Cessna 300-Series Aircraft!
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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 
 

Video of the Week: Cardinal RG Flight, Seen from a Different Angle

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

Sometimes a simple idea leads to interesting footage, and that's definitely the case with our lastest "Video of the Week." AVweb reader Beaux Graham "attached a budget Harbor Freight security camera to the tail tiedown ring ... of our Cardinal RG ... to watch the odd gear-retraction action." Not only did he get a chance to watch the wheels, but he also recorded an unusual perspective on the flight. (Beaux reminds you to "watch for the spray of dirt from the nose wheel just before the plane lifts off":


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.

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."

AVweb's AirVenture 2008 Video Round-Up

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

This year at EAA AirVenture we brought you fourteen video reports over the course of seven days. We realize the news was flying fast and furious during the show, so just in case you missed any of our reports, you can catch them all here. (The main frame contains all of our videos, or you can click over to a particular video if one interests you more than the others.)



Editors' Preview

ICON Tour

Rocket Racers

Contest Winner

Terrafugia

Bobby Sturgell

ChallengeAir Auction


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.



Sean Tucker

WhiteKnightTwo

Martin Jet Pack

Electraflyer

EcoFlyer

ATC Tower

Wrap-Up

 
"A Celebration"
Celebrating their 45th anniversary this September, the National Championship Air Races are the last head-to-head air racing event left on Earth and are the favorite among aviation enthusiasts, worldwide. The event features six high-speed racing classes and a static aircraft show, and this year the USAF Thunderbirds and F-22 Demonstration Team will highlight a fleet of world-class aviation demonstrations. For more information on the National Championship Air Races or to purchase tickets, call (775) 972-6633, or visit AirRace.org.
 
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 
 

FBO of the Week: Montgomery Aviation (KGUS, Peru, Indiana)

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

AVweb readers logged some serious time this week, with many recommending FBOs they visited during their travels. Frank Ladd called our attention to Indiana's Montgomery Aviation, which he praises for taking the "big gamble" of opening an FBO location at Grissom Air Reserve Base in Peru, Indiana. KGUS is U.S. Air Force Base recently opened for public use, and, as Frank writes:

It has been a major feat ... for an FBO to go into this location headfirst and start developing a new FBO where no FBO has ever existed in the 70+ years of existance of Grissom Air Force Base. In economically hard times, Montgomery Aviation should be praised for their forward thinking.

If you pass through, stop by and check out Frank's claims for yourself. And in the meantime, congratulations to Montgomery Aviation, AVweb's "FBO of the Week"!

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

Here's a story from above the Polar Circle:

I am involved in a voluntary home defense pilot group in the northern part of Sweden. We only fly Cessnas and Pipers on a regular basis, and our pilots are mainly bush pilots, not accustomed to using the radio often. During a training weekend at a controlled airport, we had a landing session, with five or six aircraft in the circuit, and the guy in the tower has a busy time keeping us all sorted out. We then heard the following exchange over the radio:

Tower:
"Sierra Echo XXX, state your position."

SE XXX:
"Aeum ... I'm behind the one in front of me!"

Olle Persson
via e-mail

 
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More AVweb for Your Inbox back to top 
 

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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

 
Names Behind the News back to top 
 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

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

The AVwebFlash team is:

Publisher
Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Webmaster
Scott Simmons

Contributors
Mariano Rosales
Jeff van West

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.