AVwebFlash - Volume 14, Number 35b

August 28, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News: Computer Glitches & Slot Auctions back to top 

Corrupt File Brought Down Flight Planning System

A corrupt file contained in a normal software upload brought down the FAA's main flight planning computer on Tuesday, delaying hundreds of flights and prompting questions about the inevitability of it happening again. FAA spokesman Paul Takemoto told eWeek the corrupt file stopped flight plans from being filed at the FAA's Hampton, Ga. facility, which is the principal flight planning computer. "Basically, all the flight plans that were in the system were kicked out," Takemoto said. "For aircraft already in the air, or had just been pushed back form the gate, they had no problems. But for all other aircraft, it meant delays."

The system switched to the FAA's backup flight planning computer in Salt Lake City, which was quickly overwhelmed by airlines trying in vain to enter flight plans. "They just kept hitting the 'Enter' button. So the queues immediately became huge," Takemoto said. "On top of that, it happened right during a peak time as traffic was building. Salt Lake City just couldn't keep up." The Georgia computer was fixed in two-and-a-half hours but it wasn't until the FAA asked airlines to stop filing flight plans that the backlogs started to clear. All was reported normal on Wednesday but eWeek is openly wondering how much longer the "a creaky old IT system" can continue. They system is more than 20 years old and the company that built it has been out of business most of that time, eWeek reported.

FAA, Port Authority Square Off Over New York Slot Auctions

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates several busy airports in the New York City area, is at odds with the FAA over a plan to auction off takeoff and landing slots at JFK, Newark and LaGuardia. The Port Authority and the Air Transport Association both have asked a federal court to stop the FAA from auctioning off the slots. On Tuesday, the FAA said it has initiated an investigation to determine if the Port Authority would be in violation of federal laws if it tries to discourage airlines from participating in the auctions or to prevent them from using the auctioned-off slots. "If the proposal by the Port Authority is in fact discouraging open access to the airports, the Port Authority may no longer be eligible for FAA grants, or payments under existing grants, until the matter is resolved," the FAA said. The FAA is scheduled to auction two slots previously allotted to now-bankrupt EOS Airlines at Newark on Sept. 3.

In addition, two NPRMs issued in the spring propose to auction a limited number of takeoff and landing slots at JFK, Newark and LaGuardia Airports. "The auctions will preserve competitive airline service, help lower fares for service to and from the region, and give new carriers an opportunity to enter the market," the FAA said. The Port Authority says the proposed slot auction "would result in higher costs for airlines, increased ticket prices for airline passengers, and fewer flights to small communities." The Airports Council International also opposes the slot auction, calling it "misconceived" and an unlawful trampling on the Port Authority's rights.

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Homebuilders on the Defensive back to top 

Homebuilt Crash In Nevada Brings Call For Ban

When non-flying bystanders are killed in the crash of a general aviation airplane, it's sure to raise safety concerns about GA airports and operations. Last Friday, when a homebuilt Velocity crashed into a house near North Las Vegas Airport, killing an elderly couple in the house, officials questioned whether experimental aircraft should be allowed to fly from the airport, which is in a densely populated urban area. The airplane had just over five hours total time and the purpose of the flight was to test the performance of the airplane and engine with the supercharger engaged. The airplane failed to gain altitude on climb-out and crashed shortly after takeoff, the NTSB said in a preliminary report. The pilot, Mack Murphree Jr., 76, also was killed. Clark County Aviation Director Randy Walker said he thinks experimental airplanes should be restricted to airports that are located in less densely populated areas. "I think the regulatory process on airport systems need to be revisited in the coming weeks. I am going to ask to meet with the members of our congressional delegation to see if something can be done," he said at a news conference. "I do not believe under our circumstances that experimental and high-risk aircraft operations, such as training and solo flights, belong in an urban airport," he said. EAA President Tom Poberezny responded with a letter to Walker this week, citing the safety record of amateur-built aircraft operations at that airport. "To propose that eliminating all Experimental aircraft from the airport would enhance its safety record is unjustified," Poberezny wrote.

"The answer does not lie in restricting entire segments of aviation in response to any single accident or incident. Rather, we must continually learn from experience and continue to advance the safety of flight." Velocity released a statement expressing sadness over the accident, and noted that there have been "no Velocity accidents that have been attributable to the design of the aircraft."

Homebuilders Working To Preserve 51-Percent Rule

When the FAA earlier this summer revealed its proposed changes to how it will interpret and enforce the 51-percent rule that governs homebuilding, the reaction from pilots and builders was quick and overwhelmingly negative. Now the comment period has been extended, to Sept. 30, and EAA says that so far most comments support the position that the changes are not necessary. "This new requirement only makes it more difficult for legitimate amateur-builders to document compliance," said Earl Lawrence, EAA's vice president for regulatory affairs. "It would have no effect on those who may currently fraudulently declare that their aircraft was constructed by amateurs, which is what the FAA wants to eliminate." EAA suggested that the dormant primary kit-built category could be revived, which would be more flexible in allowing pilots to build and fly their own aircraft without having to perform more than half of the aircraft construction tasks. Comments on the proposed changes are being accepted via e-mail.

For more information about this issue, see the EAA Web site, and visit the recent AVweb InsiderBlog post by Kitplanes Editor Marc Cook. Cook also hosted a series of four podcasts from Oshkosh, in which he interviews leading members of the kitplane community about the impact of the proposed rule changes.

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Owners Protecting Their Investment back to top 

Adam A500 Owners Organize To Lobby For Support

When a new company took over the assets of Adam Aircraft earlier this summer, it was made clear that development of the A700 jet would proceed, but the A500 in-line twin was of no interest. Unfortunately for the five owners who have already taken delivery of an A500, this left them in a bind. Mike Hackett, a retired airline pilot who lives in Napa, Calif., paid $1.25 million for his A500 twin. "It's grounded," he told The Denver Post last week. "I can't fly it." The aircraft requires maintenance and parts that only the manufacturer can provide, he said. Hackett and three other owners have banded together in a new group called the A500 Owners Association, hoping to convince the new company, AAI Acquisition, to provide support for the fleet. However, "There's no economic model that justifies setting up a support team to support just five planes in the field," AAI's head of customer support, Jan D'Angelo, told The Post. "There's no critical mass to make it economically viable."

The last A500 to be delivered went to the New Mexico state police. Since it is operated under public-use rules, it may be possible for the state to keep it flying more easily than private owners can, according to KOAT.com. AAI has said the company plans to certify the A700 jet by 2010.

Insurer Doubles Move-Your-Airplane Compensation

When hurricanes threaten airplanes, all the choices for owners can look daunting. Forecasts are not exact, and moving the airplane out of harm's way takes time and money. But letting it sit and counting on insurance to cover the damage is also risky, and AVweb's Paul Bertorelli argues in a recent InsiderBlog post it's a bad choice for many reasons. Now, to make the choice to move the airplane a little easier, insurer AIG Aviation said this week it will double the amount of its hurricane relocation coverage on most light-aircraft policies from $500 to $1,000. "We understand that our policyholders' costs of protecting their aircraft have gone up; therefore, increasing this protective coverage was simply the right thing to do," said Will Lovett, president of AIG Aviation, North America.

Avemco's Mike Adams told AVweb editor Russ Niles in a recent podcast that his company is in favor of relocating the airplane if that's an option, but added that Avemco bases its rates on the belief that in many cases that won't be possible or even safe.

This coverage allows the policyholder to focus on protecting his or her own life, family, home, and business, Adams said, and the airplane is often far down the list of concerns. "To try to fly out in the midst of a huge storm isn't always the best idea," he said. Hurricane season for the Atlantic Ocean extends from June 1 to Nov. 30, with maximum activity in early to mid September.

Aircraft Spruce at the 45th Annual National Championship Reno Air Races & Air Show!
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Top Tech back to top 

First Flight For Sikorsky X2 Prototype

Sikorsky flew its X2 technology demonstrator for the first time on Wednesday, from its facility in Horseheads, N.Y. The X2 is intended to advance the state-of-the-art for counter-rotating coaxial rotor helicopters, the company said, and establish that a helicopter can cruise at 250 knots while retaining excellent low-speed handling, efficient hovering, safe autorotation, and easy transition to high speed. The prototype has been in development for four years. The 30-minute flight included maneuvers such as hover, forward flight, and a hover turn.

"We look forward to expanding the flight envelope for this demonstrator and will continue to conduct market analysis to determine the next steps for this important program," said James Kagdis, manager of advanced programs. Sikorsky President Jeffrey Pino said the X2 is far from being a product, "but closer than ever to realizing the potential."

Among the new technologies being tested on the X2 are fly-by-wire flight controls, counter-rotating all-composite rigid rotor blades, hub drag reduction, active vibration control, and an integrated auxiliary propulsion system. The X2 project is funded solely by Sikorsky.

Unmanned Solar Aircraft Beats Time-Aloft Record

A solar-powered, unmanned aircraft launched from the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona has flown for 82 hours 37 minutes, more than twice as long as the current official world record of 30 hours 24 minutes set by Global Hawk in 2001, the manufacturer said on Sunday. However, the flight by Zephyr, built by QinetiQ for U.K. and U.S. defense agencies, will likely remain unofficial because required record-breaking protocols were not followed. "We were concentrating more on the flight than the record," QinetiQ spokesman Douglas Millard told The Associated Press. The small, 66-pound carbon-fiber aircraft is launched by hand. By day it flies on solar power generated by paper-thin silicon solar arrays that cover its wings. By night it is powered by lithium-sulphur batteries, which are recharged by solar power during daylight. The Yuma flight trial took place between July 28 and 31 and reached altitudes up to 60,000 feet. The trial included a military assessment of a U.S. Government communications payload.

"In addition to setting a new unofficial record, the trial is a step towards the delivery of Zephyr's capability for joint, real-time, battlefield persistent surveillance and communications to forces in the field at the earliest opportunity," said Simon Bennett, a QinetiQ spokesman. Potential applications for Zephyr include earth observation and communications relay in support of a range of defense, security and civil requirements, the company said.

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News Briefs back to top 

Embry-Riddle To Offer Aviation Doctorates

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University will offer two new doctoral degree programs in 2009, including the first Ph.D. in Aviation in the U.S., the school said this week. The new program will allow students to "pursue interests in aviation in a diverse, intellectually versatile and multidisciplinary environment and to affect a global impact on the aviation industry," the university said in a news release. The flexible, online program will require one week a year on campus and will take about three years to complete. The university is also offering a new Ph.D. program in Engineering Physics at its Florida campus at Daytona Beach, which covers topics in space physics, upper atmospheric physics, remote sensing, spacecraft instrumentation, spacecraft systems engineering, and control of aerospace systems. "These doctoral programs are designed to give both working professionals and research professionals the opportunity to pursue their intellectual interests through rigorous programs and meet their professional goals to prepare them to serve as our aviation, science, and engineering technology leaders of tomorrow," said Dr. John P. Johnson, Embry-Riddle president.

The university is accepting applications for both programs now. Accreditation by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is pending.

On the Fly ...

The NTSB has released its preliminary report on the fatal crash of a charity flight in Massachusetts on Aug. 12...

An Air France 747 ran off the runway while landing in Montreal; nobody was hurt...

A pilot on his first solo flight was killed in a midair collision in Melbourne, Australia...

A passenger who was over eight months pregnant gave birth on a commercial flight from India to Australia, mother and child were OK at the landing...

A safety audit of the FAA conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization gave the agency a score of 91 out of 100.

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New on AVweb back to top 

The Savvy Aviator #61: Secrets of Cost-Effective Maintenance

Managing your maintenance properly can save you a ton of money. It's not rocket science.

Click here for the full story.

Under the FARs, performing maintenance is the job of an A&P mechanic or FAA-approved repair station, but managing maintenance is the owner's job. In essence, the FAA looks at each aircraft owner as the Director of Maintenance (DoM) of a one-aircraft aviation department. Unfortunately, few owners know how to do this important job, and most do it very poorly. Many owners leave it to their A&Ps to manage their maintenance, and generally are unhappy with the results.

For the past four and a half years, I've been going around the country teaching owners how to manage the maintenance of their aircraft properly. My seminar is a very intense weekend of training -- at least 17 hours worth -- that covers a wide variety of subjects ranging from reliability-centered maintenance to regulations to engine condition monitoring to troubleshooting (just to name a few of the topics covered).

But to make a long story short, the basic principles of good maintenance management can be boiled down to five simple principles. Follow these five principles religiously and you'll discover that you have a safer and more reliable aircraft while at the same time spending a great deal less on maintenance.

Rule 1: Choose The Right Shop

To use a building-trades analogy, an aircraft owner's job is to act as the "general contractor" for his aircraft maintenance. The owner hires skilled tradesmen -- maintenance shops, mechanics and other technicians -- to do the necessary maintenance work, then manages them to ensure they perform as desired and that they come in within schedule and budget, and occasionally fires them if they don't perform to expectations.

As in the building trades, the owner's most important task by far is the first one: hiring the right shop, mechanic or technician for the job. If you hire the right person for the job, the rest tends to work out well most of the time. Conversely, if you hire the wrong person for the job, the best management skills in the world may not be sufficient to rescue the situation.

Most owners do a miserable job of choosing shops and mechanics. Often, they simply use the shop at their home base because it's convenient to do so. Or they choose a mechanic because he seems friendly. Or one that some aircraft-owner friend has nice things to say about.

Doing the job right requires much more "due diligence" than that. You need to interview a prospective shop or mechanic just as you would a prospective employee. What do you look for in such an interview? Lots of things, but the most important attributes you should look for are what I call "the three C's." The mechanic (or the shop's DoM) must be competent, communicative, and cooperative.

Competent means that the mechanic or DoM has as much experience as possible with your particular make and model of aircraft. Over the years, I've found that a mechanic's "total time" is far less important than his "time in type" -- that is, his experience with your particular make and model. Just because a mechanic has done a great job on your friend's Bonanza, Saratoga, Ovation or SR22 doesn't mean that he's competent to work on your Cessna T210 or 340A. Before you hire a mechanic, grill him about his experience with your particular make and model, and insist on getting specifics about his experience, not generalities. You want to find the mechanic or shop with the most "time in type" you can.

Communicative means that the mechanic or DoM is committed to keeping you "in the loop" while your aircraft is in the shop: keeping you continually apprised of status and consulting you whenever a decision needs to be made. Many mechanics are excellent at this, but many others are not; their attitude is often, "You hired me because I'm an expert at what I do, so please go away, leave me alone, and let me do my job." If a mechanic has this attitude, you need to find that out before you hire him -- and then run, don't walk, in the other direction.

Cooperative means that the mechanic or DoM is someone that you find easy to talk to, and who is willing to listen to your directions and desires and do things your way to the extent that he can (while still complying with applicable FARs). It means someone you "can do business with." Once again, many mechanics are cooperative and customer-oriented, while others are rigid and dogmatic -- they believe that there are only two ways to do something: their way and the wrong way. Dogmatic mechanics tend to view the world in black and white, while cooperative ones view it as it actually is: a thousand shades of gray. Seek out the cooperative, customer-oriented ones -- avoid the dogmatic ones like the plague.

Rule 2: Insist On A Written Estimate

Once you perform your due diligence and hire the right shop or technician to work on your airplane, your next job is to ensure that the shop doesn't wind up presenting you with an invoice that will make you faint or take out a second mortgage. How do you accomplish that? Simple: Always make sure you know what maintenance is going to cost before you approve it.

You might think this is so obvious that it's not worth saying. You'd be wrong. It always astonishes me how often owners approve maintenance without knowing what it's going to cost, and then suffer from serious "sticker shock" when they get the shop's invoice. It also astonishes me how often shops undertake expensive work without obtaining the owner's explicit and informed approval.

The irony is that this couldn't happen if it were your automobile that was in the shop for maintenance rather than your airplane. Virtually every state has laws and regulations that require automotive maintenance shops to present each client with a detailed work order and cost estimate, and to obtain the client's explicit approval (usually in writing) before starting work. Those same laws and regulations usually prohibit the shops from exceeding the agreed-to estimate without going back to the client and obtaining approval of an amended estimate.

There are no such laws and regulations for aircraft-maintenance facilities. Aircraft owners are generally assumed to be sophisticated folks who are smart enough to find out what the work is going to cost and get it in writing before giving approval to proceed. Bad assumption! It's astonishing to me how often aircraft owners fail to ask the threshold question, "What's that going to cost?" before approving work, and only find out the answer at invoice time (when it's too late to affect the outcome).

Ah, but what about an annual inspection, where the shop doesn't know what things will cost until they open up the aircraft and inspect it? That's easy, too. Owners must insist that an annual inspection be divided up into three distinct, sequential phases: inspection, approval, and repair.

During the first phase (which is typically covered by the shop's flat-rate inspection fee), the shop opens the aircraft, inspects both the physical aircraft and the maintenance records, and generates a report listing the discrepancies found. That discrepancy list should clearly identify "airworthiness items" from other, lesser discrepancies. It should also include a specific repair recommendation for each discrepancy, and a specific cost estimate for parts, labor, and outside work.

During the second phase, the owner reviews the discrepancy list, recommendations and estimates. He asks questions about anything he doesn't fully understand to ensure "informed consent." He may want to get a second opinion on some items from another mechanic or his type-club tech rep. He may want to explore various alternatives to the repair recommendations offered by the shop. At the conclusion of this phase, the owner goes back to the shop with specific direction (preferably in writing) as to which items on the list he wants repaired, and how he wants the repairs to be done.

During the third phase, the shop performs the repairs as directed, and the owner fully expects that the invoice will conform fairly closely with the written estimates that he has approved. Should unforeseen contingencies arise while doing the work (as they sometimes do), the shop must stop work, go back to the owner with an amended estimate, and obtain the owners explicit authorization to proceed (or not).

As obvious as this may seem, it's frightening how often it doesn't occur. Many shops engage in a practice that I call, "Inspect a little, fix a little, inspect a little, fix a little, lather, rinse, repeat." If a shop does that, then there's no clear "decision point" at which the owner can review the discrepancy list and cost estimates, achieve informed consent, and give explicit authorization to proceed. Owners must insist that shops not operate in this fashion, and fire them if they won't cooperate.

Rule 3: If It Ain't Broke, Don't Let 'Em Fix It

Every aircraft service manual contains page after page of recommendations for scheduled preventive maintenance. Do this every 50 hours. Do that every 100. Do something else once a year. The lists of scheduled tasks go on and on. The service manual for my Cessna 310 has no less than 350 separate, scheduled, maintenance tasks.

Any owner who follows the manufacturer's scheduled maintenance recommendations is simply throwing money down the drain. Why? Simply because the very notion of a one-size-fits-all maintenance schedule makes no sense from a scientific or engineering point of view. It makes absolutely no sense to apply the same maintenance schedule to an aircraft based in Tampa and one based in Tucson. Or one that flies 30 hours a year and another that flies 300. Or one that's tied down outdoors and another that lives in a heated hangar. Yet that's what the service-manual recommendations call for.

Consider this: My Cessna 310 service manual calls for removing, disassembling, cleaning, lubricating, reassembling and reinstalling the elevator, rudder, and aileron trim-tab actuators every 200 hours. The service manual for virtually every Cessna single and twin model has a similar recommendation. This involves at least six to eight hours of work. So if you actually "did it by the book," you'd add roughly $3 per hour to the cost of flying.

In the 21 years and more than 3,000 hours that I've owned my Cessna 310, I've never disassembled or lubricated any of the three trim tab actuators. Not once! Why? Simply because they didn't need it -- and last time I looked, you don't get extra credit for doing unnecessary maintenance.

How do I know the trim tab actuators didn't need to be lubricated? Because I check their condition at least annually, and it takes all of two minutes to do so. The procedure is dead simple, and involves two steps. First step is to climb into the cockpit and rotate the trim wheel all the way from one end of its range to the other, checking to see whether the trim wheel rotates smoothly without any sign of resistance or binding. Second step is to climb out of the cockpit, walk over to the trim tab, measure how much free-play it has, and check that against the maximum allowable free-play set forth in the service manual. If the trim wheel moves smoothly through its full range, and if the trim tab does not have excessive free-play, then the trim tab actuator is just fine and doesn't need to be fooled with.

OK, so if a Cessna trim-tab actuator can go for 21 years and 3,000+ hours without needing to be lubricated, why does Cessna say to do it every 200 hours? Because Cessna's service-manual recommendations have to work for every airplane in the fleet, even the worst-case airplane. And there's probably some Cessna somewhere -- probably a Cessna 185 on floats up in Alaska that spends six months of the year operating off salt water and the other six months of the year locked up in a hangar because the weather is too bad to fly -- that actually does need to have its trim tab actuators lubricated every 200 hours!

But my airplane lives in a hangar and flies regularly throughout the year, so servicing the trim-tab actuators on my airplane every 200 hours would be gross overkill (by a factor of 10 or 20).

More to the point, it never makes sense to maintain a component on a fixed timetable (i.e., every so many hours or so many months) when it's feasible to monitor the condition of the component (which takes two minutes for trim-tab actuators) and maintain it only when the condition monitoring tests indicate that maintenance is actually required. We call this "condition-directed maintenance" (CDM) as opposed to "time-directed maintenance" (TDM).

CDM is always more efficient than TDM, because it causes components to be maintained only when they actually need maintenance, instead of when the manufacturer guesses it might need maintenance ... especially when the manufacturer's guesses are heavily laced with pessimism to account for the worst-case airplane in the fleet.

We should only perform TDM when CDM is infeasible because no practical condition-monitoring technique exists. Studies show that CDM is feasible for well over 90 percent of the components in our aircraft.

Many shops and mechanics insist on "Doing everything by the book," and often suggest to owners that this is required by regulation. In fact, manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedules are almost never required by regulation, and almost always represent a huge waste of money. If your shop is one of those "Do it by the book" facilities, just say, "No." And if they won't take "No" for an answer, find another shop.

Rule 4: Don't Fix It Until You're Sure What's Wrong

How many of you have had the experience of putting your aircraft in the shop to get some squawk fixed, then getting it back from the shop with an invoice, only to find on the first flight after maintenance that the squawk wasn't fixed? Hmmm ... I see a lot of hands raised, and I see a bunch of you with both hands raised. Seriously, I doubt there's an aircraft owner who hasn't had this experience, and most have had it multiple times.

Anytime this happens, you've experienced a troubleshooting failure. The shop wasn't lying on the invoice when it claimed to have spent H hours working on the problem, and D dollars in replacement parts. The problem is that the H hours of labor and the D dollars in parts didn't fix the problem. Therefore, clearly the H hours were spent working on the wrong thing, and the D dollars were spent replacing parts that didn't actually need to be replaced. Why? Because the shop tried to fix the problem without first thoroughly understanding its cause. That's a troubleshooting failure!

Inadequate troubleshooting is probably the single biggest cause of wasted maintenance dollars. Why does it happen? There are a number of reasons. One is that many aircraft problems occur only in flight and cannot be reproduced in the maintenance hangar -- and if a mechanic can't reproduce the problem, then there's no way for him to troubleshoot it systematically, and he's forced to resort to guesswork about the cause of the problem (and those guesses are often wrong). Another is that good troubleshooting requires excellent systems knowledge, and sometimes our mechanics don't know some of the systems on our aircraft as well as they should (which is usually our fault for picking the wrong mechanic for the job).

In my weekend seminars, I spend fully half a day -- one quarter of the weekend -- on the subject of troubleshooting. That discussion is far beyond the scope of this article. But the bottom line is this: Never let a mechanic try to fix something unless and until you're quite sure that he has diagnosed the problem thoroughly and understands exactly what's causing it. Try never to put a mechanic in the position where he has to guess what's wrong. When mechanics guess, owners pay.

Rule 5: Don't Overkill The Problem

Finally, when your airplane has a problem and you've diagnosed it properly, get it fixed but don't go overboard. I can't tell you how many times I've seen airplanes go into annual with one or two weak cylinders and come out with a top overhaul (six new jugs costing $10,000 parts and labor). That's nuts. If you have one or two weak cylinders, have them repaired -- or replaced if they turn out to be unrepairable -- but for Pete's sake, leave the rest of the cylinders alone.

Just today, I was corresponding with a T210 owner who explained to me that at his 2007 annual inspection, the compression test revealed one cylinder that measured 50/80, so the mechanic replaced the cylinder with a new one (at a cost of $1,800). Then at the 2008 annual, another cylinder came up 50/80, and the owner decided to "major" the engine (at a cost of $35,000).

Give me a break! We don't overhaul engines because of weak cylinders. We repair the cylinders (typical cost $300 to repair plus $600 to R&R) or, if they're unrepairable, we replace them (typical cost $1,200 for a new jug plus $600 to R&R). We only overhaul an engine when something goes wrong with the "bottom end" that can only be repaired by splitting the case: a spalled cam, a cracked case, a prop strike, or something like that.

This Stuff Really Works!

That's all there is to it:

  • Chose the right shop -- one that's competent, communicative, and cooperative.
  • Insist on a written discrepancy list and estimate before approving any work.
  • If it ain't broke, don't let them fix it.
  • Don't let them fix it until you're sure what's wrong.
  • Don't overkill the problem.

These five simple rules encapsulate the essence of good maintenance management. Follow them and you'll wind up with a safe, reliable airplane while saving many thousands of dollars a year in unnecessary maintenance costs.

These principles have worked beautifully for me for decades and thousands of hours. Now that I've started a company (SAMM) that provides professional maintenance management, these principles are working every day for the numerous owner-flown aircraft under our management and saving our aircraft-owner clients thousands of dollars a year. I guarantee they'll work just as well for you if you let them.

See you next month.

Want to read more from Mike Busch? Check out the rest of his Savvy Aviator columns.
And use this link to send questions to Mike.

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AVweb Insider Blog: Hurricane Flyouts — Why It's Not Easy

In Florida, you never know quite where the storm will go, but you can still make sensible evacuation decisions. Oh, and if you think you're subsidizing the sunny Florida lifestyle with your insurance rates, you need to read Paul Bertorelli's latest blog on this topic at the AVweb Insider.

Read more.

Q: What's the Difference Between a $10,000 Annual and a $2,500 Annual?

Mike Busch and his team of seasoned maintenance professionals are saving their aircraft-owner clients thousands of dollars a year in parts and labor — not to mention hours of hassle — by providing professional maintenance management for owner-flown singles and twins. Learn how they do it.
Reader Voices back to top 

Question of the Week: Experimental Access to Major Airports

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Last week, we asked whether electronic emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) should be required equipment in the cockpit.

The largest segment of respondents to our unscientific poll said it should be up to the pilot, accounting for 42% of readers who answered. The rest of your responses were pretty evenly distributed among the other choices.

For a complete (real-time) breakdown of reader responses, click here.
(You may be asked to register and answer if you haven't already participated in this poll.)


A recent incident in Nevada has some calling for a ban on experimental and/or homebuilt airplanes at major airports in densely populated areas. We want to hear what you think.

Should certain types of aircraft be restricted at airports in densely populated areas?
(Click to answer.)

Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"? Send your suggestions to .

This address is only for suggested "QOTW" questions, and not for "QOTW" answers or comments.
Use this form to send "QOTW" comments to our AVmail 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.

Diamond DA40 XL Demonstrator Sale
For a limited time only, while quantities last, Diamond DA40 XL Demonstrator models are available at a special price of $299,950. The aircraft also qualify for special 2008 tax incentives. You can enjoy owning a Diamond DA40 and write off up to 93% of the purchase price. Visit Diamond Aircraft now for more information.
AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

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


Rocket Racers

Contest Winner


Bobby Sturgell

ChallengeAir Auction

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

Sean Tucker


Martin Jet Pack



ATC Tower


Fly (or Drive) Somewhere! Use AVweb's Calendar of Events
Air shows, seminars, conferences, club events, fly-ins, pancake breakfasts, and trade shows are all featured on AVweb's Calendar of Events.

If you have an event you want folks to know about, post it at no cost!
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!

Don't Purchase or Sell an Aircraft Without the Used Aircraft Guide
Aviation Consumer's Used Aircraft Guide can pinpoint the aircraft that best fits your needs and budget, resulting in savings when you buy and more when you sell. Buying the right aircraft can minimize maintenance and operating costs, too. Go online to order your copy.
Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past Winners

Each week, we go through dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of reader-submitted photos and pick the very best to share with you on Thursday mornings.  The top photos are featured on AVweb's home page, and one photo that stands above the others is awarded an AVweb baseball cap as our "Picture of the Week."  Want to see your photo on AVweb.com?  Click here to submit it to our weekly contest.


The embarrassment of riches continues this week, as we share more post-AirVenture photos from our overflowing submission box.

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Used with permission of Doug Gaudette

Dominator Gyroplane

Sometimes a little contrast and not much else can make for an unforgettable photo. Doug Gaudette of Xenia, Ohio kicks off the festivities this week with a shot of Ron Awad piloting Scott Biser's Dominator.


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Used with permission of Timothy J. Gift

Airport Fire Fighter Training

Timothy J. Gift of Gilbert, Arizona sent us a pair of amazing photos from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport's annual Part 139 live burn training. With any luck, this is as close as most of us will ever come to this type of situation ... .


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Used with permission of Zach Horchar

Boeing 777 and Piper Seminole at Washington Dulles

Scale is everything, as aptly demonstrated by Zach Horchar of Nashua, New Hampshire.


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Used with permission of Larry Gray

New X-Wing Airplane?

Larry Gray of Merrimack, New Hampshire assures us this photo "was not touched up in any way." Sure, we all know what's going on here — but doesn't it make you just a teensy bit dizzy looking at the small version?


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copyright © Sean Flynn
Used with permission


Sean Flynn of Mt. Laurel, New Jersey sees us off this week with a shot from the Kathy Jaffe Aerobatic Challenge.


If you enjoyed these photos as much as we did, remember that there are couple dozen more online at AVweb's home page — just look for the "POTW"slideshow in the center column!

Click here to submit your own photos to "POTW."

A quick note for submitters:  If you've got several photos that you feel are "POTW" material, your best bet is to submit them one-a-week!  That gives your photos a greater chance of seeing print on AVweb, and it makes the selection process a little easier on us, too.  ;)

A Reminder About Copyrights:
Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or or send us an e-mail.

More AVweb for Your Inbox back to top 

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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

Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

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

The AVwebFlash team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Scott Simmons

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.