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August 28, 2003

NewsWire Complete Issue

By The AVweb Editorial Staff

This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by …

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Lancair 400 Test Aircraft Lost In Spin Test

Test Pilot Len Fox Safe

The malfunction of an emergency recovery system led to the loss yesterday morning of the prototype Lancair Columbia 400. At about 10:30 a.m. local time, after a series of spin tests and successful recoveries, test pilot Len Fox activated a small tailcone-mounted "spin chute" when his control inputs failed to induce recovery form a (final) well-developed spin. Deployment of the chute caused nose-down pitch, slowed spin rotation and allowed Fox to recover. However, an equipment malfunction of unknown nature prevented release of the chute and precluded a safe landing. Fox departed the aircraft and used a parachute of his own to choreograph his safe return. The abandoned aircraft crashed in a field near Millican, Ore., and burned.

The Lancair Columbia 400 is the turbocharged version of the Lancair 350. It "approaches King Air speeds while burning 20gph," Mark Cahill told us at AirVenture 2003. Cahill said the aircraft will sport dual, fully redundant, fully independent electrical systems and deicing, built-in oxygen, full authority digital engine control (FADEC) and a special "spin-resistant feature," (which may need some tweaking). Certification for the $436,900 aircraft was (prior to this incident) projected before the end of the year with deliveries as early next year. "Our mission is to make high performance flying more accessible -- lowering the price point and making it safer simpler and more available to more people," said Cahill. Few missions are as easily achieved as they are stated.

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The Eternal Battle For Flying Room

Small Airports vs. Tall Trees...

Trees have a lot to offer -- shade, beauty, they even help to clean polluted air -- but as more and more small GA airports struggle to survive the encroachments of neighborhoods and development, some pilots find even the trees can become their enemy. In San Jose, Calif., pilots at Reid-Hillview Airport are fighting a local regulation that requires developers at a mall to plant 100 trees, which will reach 60 to 80 feet high when fully grown, in a parking lot directly across the street from the airport. "[We] will not allow this project to proceed without a fight," John Blair, an official with the pilots' coalition, told the San Jose Business Journal. Blair says the developers have been willing to listen and tried to work with the pilots' concerns, but city planners are taking a hard line and disregarding public safety, according to the Business Journal.

...Tangling With The Neighbors...

Meanwhile, in Stuart, Fla., a disgruntled airport neighbor has enlisted the local trees in his own campaign against low-flying aircraft. Homeowner Michael Carter attached flagpoles to the tops of two 40-foot pine trees on the final approach path to Witham Field. Carter told The Stuart News that he put up the flags to remind pilots that people live in the area, but pilots have complained that they interfere with aircraft on final approach. Witham Field faces other threats as well: a recent report by the county that operates the airport found only three options for its future: downsizing, relocation, or outright closure. This week, AOPA sent a stern letter to the county warning that it will fight any attempt to move or downsize the airport. AOPA Vice President of Airports Bill Dunn said the county accepted federal airport improvement funds, which come with airtight grant obligations. "One of the key obligations is to keep the airport open for a period of 20 years from the grant date. In the case of Witham Field, our records indicate a 2002 FAA grant in the amount of $673,064, meaning the airport must remain open as an airport until at least the year 2022," Dunn wrote.

...And Little Runways vs. Big Heavy Jets

In Sun Valley, Idaho, Friedman Memorial Airport is embroiled in a controversy over the size of aircraft that can land there. The area attracts lots of wealthy tourists, and the small airport's 95,000-pound weight limit is rankling some who want to fly in with bigger and heavier jets. Ronald Tutor, a California construction mogul, has filed suit in federal court in an effort to force the airport to lift the ban so he can land his 170,000-pound Boeing Business Jet, a modified 737, on the 6,600-foot runway, USA Today reported on Monday. Other GA airports across the country, especially in tourist regions and other high-growth areas, are facing similar pressures from corporate flyers. The BBJs have been turned away from GA airports in Florida, New Jersey, and Colorado, but not without a fight. Again, federal funds are central to the argument. Tutor's suit argues that because the Idaho airport accepts federal funds, it can't unreasonably deny access to the airport, according to USA Today. The lawsuit has become the focal point of local disputes over the future development and character of the region. The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) said last week that weight-based restrictions make sense, as long as the restrictions are not used as a substitute for limiting aircraft noise. "It certainly makes sense to protect pavement from damage from aircraft that exceed the design criteria by a significant margin," said NATA President James Coyne in a news release. "What we would object to is using 'weight-based restrictions' as a way to limit noise by restricting access to an airport by a certain class of aircraft." NATA urged support for the FAA's proposals regarding weight-based restrictions at airports.

AEROSANCE PowerLink™ FADEC APPLICATIONS GROW With STCs for a number of Beech Bonanza and Baron models now in hand, Aerosance, another Teledyne Technologies company, is highlighting the latest developments with their revolutionary PowerLink™ FADEC digital engine control system. For more information on how to bring your aircraft into the FADEC generation, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/tcm

If The Shoe FITS

FAA Promotes New Training Standards...

FAA Administrator Marion Blakey on Tuesday released an update on the agency's year-old program aimed at updating training practices for general aviation aircraft. Blakey said the FAA/Industry Training Standards (FITS) program, which aims to address technological advances in both flight systems and training techniques, already has produced a transition-training syllabus for the Cirrus SR22 and a generic master transition-training syllabus for similar technically advanced aircraft. "The core strategy of FITS is to improve safety by training pilots to fly as they would in the real world, rather than to merely pass a test," said Blakey. The FITS products primarily use risk-management, scenario- and Web-based training, and personal computer-based advanced training devices. Also in the works, and due for completion by October, are the SR22 instructor syllabus, a recurrent training program, a private pilot/instrument rating ab initio syllabus, and programs for the Eclipse 500 personal jet: a transition syllabus (type rating), recurrent training program, and instructor training program. Most of the standards developed for a specific type of aircraft can be converted to a generic template that a manufacturer or training provider can adapt to their specific aircraft or program, according to the FAA. The SR22 syllabus is already in use at the University of North Dakota. "We're thinking 'outside the envelope' to create advanced training that matches today's technically advanced aircraft," Blakey said. FITS will help pilots keep pace with new aircraft and avionics technology, new airspace, and air traffic technology emerging in the general aviation community, she added.

...With Support From The Industry...

Eclipse Aviation is among the GA manufacturers working with the FAA in the program. "The FITS concept reflects our longstanding belief that scenario-based training is critical, and is a perfect fit for Eclipse 500 training requirements," Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn said in a news release late last month. "We are committed to creating an innovative syllabus that will serve as a next-generation model for other aviation training institutions." Avemco, an aviation insurance company, has announced that satisfactory completion of certain FITS training may qualify pilots for premium credits of up to 10 percent under their Safety Rewards Program. Other partners in the FITS development team include Cirrus Design; AirShares Elite, a major fleet customer for the Cirrus aircraft; and Avidyne and Garmin, the avionics suppliers for Cirrus. Academic partners are Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Jeppesen, and King Schools. An industry oversight team includes the Small Aircraft Manufacturers Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, National Air Transportation Association, and the Air Safety Foundation.

...And A Warning From AOPA

While the FAA says that incentives such as insurance benefits should encourage GA to quickly adopt FITS, those incentives have caused some concern over at AOPA. As AVweb reported last week, AOPA is worried that the program might become a financial drain on pilots, while generating cash flow for manufacturers and insurance companies. No regulatory mandates will be used, says the FAA, and pilots may continue to comply with current regulatory standards such as the flight review and pilot proficiency or "Wings" program. But AOPA argues that if insurance companies and manufacturers make the FITS training mandatory, it becomes a "de facto" requirement, and costly to pilots.

OREGON AERO’S PORTABLE UNIVERSAL SOFTSEAT™ CUSHION TAKES AWAY THE PAIN! Word is spreading rapidly about the dramatic reduction in pain that pilots and others are experiencing with Oregon Aero’s Portable Universal SoftSeat™ Cushions. Testimonials have been overwhelmingly positive on the model designed for aerobatic and commercial aircraft and for the standard model made for all other aircraft and for other seating applications. No matter how long you sit, the cushion design shifts you into a sitting position that reduces fatigue and eliminates pain. Check out all of Oregon Aero’s products online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/oregon

A New Reason To Avoid Rhode Island

You might not live in Rhode Island, or even keep your airplane in Rhode Island, but if you're not careful you could end up paying taxes for flying in Rhode Island. A recent "emergency regulation" states that if a "non-commercial" (business or private) aircraft flies between two points in the state, stays overnight, or lands there more than three times in one month, the aircraft is subject to a 7-percent "use tax." The regulation is now temporary, but according to the National Business Aviation Association, a hearing will be held next month to determine if it should be made permanent. By the way, Rhode Island is the smallest U.S. state, and not a part of New York (that's Long Island). Flying in a straight line, even in a Piper Cub, you could zip right past it before you finish your first cup of coffee. Considering this new regulation, that could be your most economical move.

Cuban Pilots Charged With Murder

Two Cuban fighter pilots and a Cuban general were indicted for murder last Thursday by federal prosecutors in Miami, Fla., for shooting down two Brothers to the Rescue airplanes in 1996. The two civilian airplanes were shot down over international waters by Cuban MiGs, killing all four men on board. However, the indicted men cannot be tried in absentia, and there is no practical way to extradite or arrest them. Gen. Ruben Martinez Puente, who was head of the Cuban air force at the time, and pilots Lorenzo Alberto Perez-Perez and Francisco Perez-Perez are named in the indictment.

Iraqi Airspace Open To Civil Aviation

The airspace above Iraq is now open to civil aviation, for the first time since U.N. sanctions were imposed in 1990 -- go on and get in line to use it. "The first response (from a European airline) came within a couple of hours," a Coalition Provisional Authority official told Dow Jones Newswires. Airlines that for years have had to bypass the airspace, now can save money by flying more direct routes -- but not without incurring a new cost. The coalition authority will collect about $750 from each airliner that transits the airspace. So far, no commercial flights are being invited to land within the country's borders, though Gulf Air said it would start weekly flights into Basra starting in September.

AEROSHELL INTRODUCES FLIGHT JACKET KIT BAG WITH SPECIAL INTRO OFFER The new AeroShell Flight Jacket Leak-Proof Kit Bag contains all six of AeroShell's Flight Jacket cleaners and polishes along with the application pad and cleaning cloths. Shine and protect your aircraft with AeroShell Flight Jackets products. Place your order by September 15th to take advantage of an $10 introductory savings offer; just go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/shell

Proposals Weighed On Missile Defense

Proposals to protect commercial aircraft from shoulder-fired missiles have been submitted to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by eight defense contractors, The Washington Post reported last Friday. However, officials at the DHS seemed skeptical that any system would be effective and affordable. "We are in the process of determining if in fact there is a viable technology that could be deployed on commercial aircrafts," said Brian Roehrkasse, a DHS spokesman, according to the Post. The proposals will be studied this year, and prototypes could be developed starting next year. Possibilities include lasers that jam the missile guidance systems and sensors that would detect an incoming missile and eject metal wafers to confuse the weapon, the Post reported.

Birds Always Lose, But They Keep Coming

Last week, two Olympic Airways jets had to return for emergency landings after seagulls were sucked into their engines on departure from Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport. Both aircraft landed safely. In Japan, a runway at Tokyo International Airport was closed for two and a half hours last Friday after two departing flights reported seagull strikes, and more than 200 gulls gathered on the runway and wouldn't leave. In July, a student and instructor were killed in Texas after their Cessna 172 struck a bird and crashed. In 2002, more than 6,100 bird strikes were reported by U.S. civil aircraft, and according to a recent FAA report, the problem is getting worse. Engines are getting quieter, bird populations are increasing, and air traffic will likely continue to grow, says the FAA -- so the number of bird strikes is expected to rise. Since 1990, 155 people worldwide have died in bird-strike incidents, according to records kept by the Bird Strike Committee USA. AVweb is unaware of a comprehensive plan to address the problem, and Embry Riddle has taken over the FAA's Bird/Wildlife Strike Report and is interested in hearing about it if it happens to you ... provided, of course, you live to tell the tale.

Fast Flier Makes A Slow Farewell

As supersonic passenger travel comes to a close -- at least for the time being -- British Airways is planning a North American farewell lap for the Concorde. Special "celebration" flights to Boston, Toronto, and Washington, D.C., are scheduled in the weeks prior to the aircraft's retirement date on October 24. First stop on the tour is Toronto, on October 1, followed by a stop in Boston on October 8 and to Dulles International Airport, near Washington, D.C., on October 14. Want to book a seat? Fares start at $7,999, to fly subsonic to London and return on the Concorde. Looking for a bargain? Book a seat on the Concorde between Toronto and New York for $999 Canadian (about $700 U.S.) on October 2. The catch -- that flight won't break the sound barrier. Call 1-800-224-0500 or contact your travel agent.

FLIGHT SCHOOLS & FBOs, HAVING TROUBLE KEEPING PILOT DATA UNDER CONTROL? TimeSync's AccountMaster integrates our ScheduleMaster online aircraft scheduling system with both of the major accounting packages (Peachtree and QuickBooks). In addition to billing and owner statements, you can print BFR and medical reminders on customer statements, as well as control scheduling privileges when they are expired. Powerful reports let you know who's flying the aircraft and enable sensible billing policies. SPECIAL: One month NO-COST or NO-COST set-up. For a NO-COST online demonstration go tohttp://www.avweb.com/sponsors/timesy

On The Fly...

Test Pilot Len Fox parachuted to safety yesterday morning after the failure of a test recovery system rendered the prototype Lancair Columbia 400 he was testing unable to land safely. The aircraft crashed in a field near Millican, Oregon, a rural community east of The Lancair Company's Bend, Oregon, headquarters.

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board released its report on February's shuttle disaster Tuesday, criticizing NASA's culture for poor communications and lax decision-making procedures...

Two pilots died Tuesday afternoon when a Beech 1900, operated by Colgan Air for US Airways Express, crashed into Nantucket Sound off Hyannis, Mass. The crew had taken off from Hyannis, declared an emergency, and was trying to return...

More pilots should be trained to carry weapons in the cockpit, more quickly, was the call from a coalition of pilot groups that held news conferences across the U.S. on Tuesday...

The National Aeronautic Association has named six winners of new awards that recognize pilots and organizations who volunteer to fly for humanitarian purposes...

The Aircraft Electronics Association has published a workbook to assist Part 145 Certificated Repair Stations in revising their Inspection Procedures Manual to the new Part 145 required format. The new Part 145 becomes effective on October 6. The workbook costs $500, but is free to AEA members...

If commercial airlines seem packed full to you this summer -- they are. According to the Air Transport Association, U.S. airliners were more crowded this summer than they've been in 30 years, mainly because some 600 aircraft have been parked.

AVweb's AVscoop Award...

Congratulations and an AVweb hat go out to Ron Bettis, this week's AVscoop winner. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. Rules and information are at http://www.avweb.com/contact/newstips.html.

New Articles and Features on AVweb

Hot Wings
Although not as well-known as the Blue Angels or the Snowbirds, there are other military demonstration aircraft that fly in air shows throughout North America. The Canadian Air Force's F-18 Hornet is one of them, and this one has a feline paint job.

BENNETT AVIONICS MEETS YOUR AIRPLANE'S NEEDS WHILE MAINTAINING YOUR BUDGET! Used avionics is Bennett Avionics' only business. Bennett stocks a complete line of used avionics that will add tremendous capability to your aircraft at a price that makes sense. Bennett also purchases used avionics equipment and will work out an exchange for newer electronics. Bennett Avionics-your one-stop used avionics specialist at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/bennett

AVweb's Picture Of The Week...


We received over 100 pictures last week. Congratulations to this week's winner, John Joslin, of Chicago, IL. His winning photo, titled "Made In The USA" is a unique angle of a B-17 taken at this year's EAA AirVenture. Nothing quite beats the silhouette of the Flying Fortress nor its rich history. Great picture, John! Your AVweb hat is on the way.

To check out the winning picture, or to enter next week's contest, go to http://www.avweb.com/potw.

AVweb's Question Of The Week...


Best that we can tell, we received over 4000 responses to our question last week on contract ATC towers. That's about 10 times our normal response rate (and may suggest a technical error ... or union participation.) The overwhelming majority (80 percent) of those responding felt contracting out additional towers would only worsen a developing safety problem. About 12 percent indicated the FAA will maintain better oversight over its own facilities.

To check out the complete results, go to http://www.avweb.com/qotw.


This week, we would like to know your thoughts on AVweb's current online coverage. Please go to to respond.

Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to qotw@avweb.com. Note, this address is ONLY for suggested QOTW questions, and NOT for QOTW answers.

Sponsor News and Special Offers

Access to AVweb and AVflash is provided by the support of our fine sponsors. We appreciate your patronage.


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CONVINCED A PARACHUTE RECOVERY SYSTEM IS THE ULTIMATE SAFETY DEVICE? Lowering your airplane gently to earth in an emergency isn't as simple as just pulling a giant ripcord. Find out what happened to one airplane, and its occupants, equipped with an emergency parachute system. The story is in August's issue of NTSB Reporter. Order your personal subscription at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/ntsbrepo

THE MORE AVWEB/AVFLASH GROWS THE MORE WE CAN DO FOR YOU! Forward today's AVflash to a fellow pilot and introduce them to AVweb and AVflash. We thank you...and they will too! http://www.avweb.com/profile

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AVflash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest aviation news, articles, products, features and events featured on AVweb, the Internet's Aviation Magazine and News Service. http://www.avweb.com

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Let's all be careful out there, okay?

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