NewsWire Complete Issue
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
Widow Of Crash Victim Sues...
Cirrus Design says it will vigorously defend itself against a lawsuit that claims its SR22 aircraft has "dangerous stability, handling, stall and spin characteristics" and that the onboard parachute
system failed when the pilot tried to activate it. "We're going to court," Cirrus CEO Alan Klapmeier told AVweb. "We're very confident we have the facts on our side." The suit stems from a crash near
Parish, N.Y., on April 24, 2002. The two co-owners of the aircraft, Joseph C. Fisher and Thomas P. Sedgewick, died when the plane entered a spin from more than 5,000 feet and did not recover. The
Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS), manufactured by Ballistic Recovery Systems (BRS), did not deploy. BRS is also named in the suit as is Wings Aloft, author of the Cirrus Training Manual. The
suit was launched by Fisher's wife, Kathleen. According to the NTSB report on the crash, witnesses said they saw the Cirrus dive and then pull up three or four times. On the last such maneuver, the
aircraft went into a spiral that some said turned into a flat spin. The plane was substantially destroyed by fire after impact. Investigators found the CAPS parachute, still in its bag, beside the
airframe and the solid rocket that deploys it nearby. The propellant was expended. The safety pin for the handle that activates the parachute was not located.
The suit alleges that the aircraft went into the spin because of its flight-handling characteristics and maintains that the pilots tried, and failed, to deploy the parachute. Klapmeier flatly denies
the claim, saying the allegation about flight-handling characteristics is a direct challenge to the FAA's certification of the aircraft. He said Cirrus wings are designed to prevent stall/spin
conditions. As for the parachute, he said Cirrus' view is the rocket motor cooked off after the crash, not as a result of a last-second attempt to deploy it. "There is no evidence the parachute rocket
deployed before the airplane hit the ground," he said. Klapmeier said he stands behind the company's decision to design an aircraft that resists stalls and spins. He said that most spins occur below
recoverable altitude and the spin-recovery characteristics are a moot point in those cases. "I think we're going to save a lot of lives by preventing the spin," he said. The lawsuit claims the
aircraft, the instruction manuals and the parachute system "were defective and unreasonably dangerous and unsafe." Klapmeier said defending the suit will cost the company a lot of money but with the
fundamentals of his business under attack he's not about to settle out of court. "My view is, if we're wrong, we ought to pay," he said. "We aren't settling this because we aren't wrong." He said it
will take at least a year to get to court.
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National Air Tours Are Re-created...
The innovations of the Wright brothers are not the only aviation milestones being celebrated this year. The re-enactment of a nationwide air event during aviation's golden era is also being remembered
with a special series of events. The National Air Tours were conceived in 1925 and held annually through 1931 to demonstrate the reliability of air
travel, to encourage the development of safe and reliable aircraft, and to promote the building of suitable airports and ground facilities. Now, an organization has been formed to fly some of the
routes those pioneers covered to show a skeptical public the possibilities of aviation. The Aviation Foundation of America Inc., a non-profit public charity, is sponsoring the re-creation of the 2003
National Air Tours to be held from Sept. 8 to Sept. 24. Ford Motor Company was the major sponsor of the first tours and is also supporting this year's event.
Many of the pilots who pioneered aviation flew in the original tours, including Walter Beech, Eddie Stinson, and Anthony H.G. Fokker. This year, our very own AVweb contributor Brent Blue will be
participating in the tour, as one of a group of "rotating pilots." Brent and company will be flying many of the airplanes seen
in the 1931 event. In fact, 27 rare and vintage aircraft will take to the skies for the celebration. The list of airborne beauties includes a Ryan M-1, two Waco ASOs, a Fairchild FC-2W2, two Stearman
Speedmails, a Buhl Airsedan, Bird CK, Stinson SM8A, three Ford Tri-motors, and a Laird Speedwing. Oh, let's not forget about the FAA's last DC-3 too.
The 2003 event retraces the historic 4,000-mile route of the uncompleted 1932 tour with stops in more than two dozen cities. The
National Air Tour will start at the Yankee Air Museum at Willow Run Airport, near Detroit, Sept. 8. See our video
interview with Greg Herrick, founder and president of The Aviation Foundation of America Inc. The official program will begin at 8:30 a.m. with departures beginning at 9 a.m. After departing
from the airport, the tour will fly around Ford's World Headquarters as a salute to Edsel and Henry Ford and then "touch wheels" at Ford Airport (Detroit Proving Grounds) to officially begin the
National Air Tour 2003. The process will be repeated prior to landing at Willow Run upon the tour's return on Sept. 24.
The faithful will make their annual pilgrimage to Reno Stead airport next week to pay homage to horsepower and high speed as some of the gutsiest pilots compete for air racing's most coveted title.
Hyped by organizers as the "world's fastest motor sport," and officially called the National Championship Air Races and Air Show 2003, air racing is the main draw
to the Reno event, which runs from Sept. 11 to Sept. 14. Several big-name teams are vying for the championship, including 500-plus mph Dago Red Air
Racing and the 4000 hp Rare Bear Air Race Team. Rare Bear is a highly modified Grumman F8F Bearcat sporting a Curtiss-Wright R3350 engine producing a
whopping 4000 horsepower. The team, which has already established several records, including the official world three-kilometer speed record, world 3,000-meter time-to-climb record, and the Reno
Championship Race speed record of 482 miles per hour, will try for another at this year's event. The team will attempt to break its previous Gold Race Championship speed record at Reno. The Dago Red
team also has a few achievements to boast about. The modified P-51D Mustang is not only the defending champion, it's also the current Reno qualifying record-holder at 497.797 mph and the current
record-holder of the 15-km segment at 517.323 mph. The big, loud unlimiteds are just one of six classes racing at Reno, with, among others, biplanes, Formula One and T-6s providing lots of action. Of
course, there also is an air show, starring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, to complement the festivities.
There's no shortage of imagination when it comes to new ways to make aviation more convenient and accessible, even if the result of these musings can be a little out of the ordinary. Take, for
example, the Freedom Ship, which is touted as "the future city on the sea." With a design length of 4,500 feet, a width of 750 feet, and a height of 350 feet,
Freedom Ship would be more than four times longer than the Queen Mary and carry its own airport. The airport on the ship's top deck would serve GA and small commercial aircraft, including its large
fleet of commuter aircraft that would ferry residents and visitors to and from shore. Those residents who want to fly to their floating residence in style may prefer to do so in their very own
kit-built flying car, like the one being developed by Aerospectives. The Denver-based company is marketing its two models of flying cars, the TAERO 4000 and
8000. While the company does not offer a lot of technical information on these new aircraft, it does explain "the wing fold system will enable automatic transformation from air to land travel with the
wings folding to a position parallel with the fuselage." The target base price for the TAERO 4000, in assembly kit form, is $400,000.Yet to be determined are additional costs for assembly supervision,
accessorizing and flight training.
A helium leak halted an attempt by two British men to set an altitude record in a balloon. Colin Prescot, 53, and Andy Elson, 48, hoped to set a world record by piloting their 387-meters-tall helium
balloon to 39,600 meters (132,000 feet). The QinetiQ 1, as it is called, was supposed to loiter for an hour and conduct experiments on the stratosphere before
returning to terra firma. Unfortunately, the aircraft never left the ground, as a helium leak occurred during the balloon's inflation process. The current altitude record for a manned balloon is
34,667 meters, set in 1961 by United States Navy pilots Malcolm Ross and Vic Prather. The British pair will not be able to launch again until next year, as weather conditions are becoming less
favorable. They have plenty of experience at this sort of adventure. The duo initially tried to make the flight last year but poor weather forced them to cancel. Each has set individual ballooning
records and jointly set the world endurance record for any aircraft in the earth's atmosphere by flying from Spain to the Pacific in 17 days, 18 hours and 25 minutes as part of a round-the-world
Canada's British Columbia has been under assault from wildfires throughout the summer and aerial firefighting pilots are fighting back with new tactics to tackle the massive blazes. The tanker group
has resorted to "mass launches by multiple aircraft" during a fire's early stages to try and prevent the sort of disaster that befell Kelowna, B.C., two weeks ago. The Okanagan Mountain Fire has grown
to 200 square kilometers and burned more than 250 homes, despite aggressive firefighting on the ground and in the air. In addition to the massed attacks, the air tankers are using a more highly
concentrated retardant and much higher coverage levels than normal. The fires, the result of the driest summer on record, are answering back with towering columns of exploding trees and airborne
debris, the likes of which the pilots have never seen before. Under those types of conditions, safety becomes paramount, and technology is helping ensure the planes and pilots return. All aircraft are
now equipped with satellite phones, which now provide a direct link to the tanker group's dispatch center. Staff monitoring the weather and fires can pull a pilot out of a dangerous area at a moment's
notice and hopefully increase the margin of safety. But it's a dangerous occupation and there have been three pilots killed, one in the crash of a helicopter and two in the loss of an Electra air
Flying blind isn't just a cliché for Miles Hilton-Barber. Hilton-Barber, 54, became the first blind person to fly across the English Channel in a microlight aircraft last weekend. Hilton-Barber
was among about 80 pilots to take off from Headcorn Airfield in Kent (U.K.). He flew with a sighted pilot for safety and legal reasons. With this flight over, which was said to be the largest
peacetime aerial crossing of the Channel, Hilton-Barber has set his "sights" on another goal in the not too distant future. He plans to fly 12,600 miles to Sydney, Australia, in the same aircraft.
It's his way of honoring 100 years of powered flight and raising money for Royal National Institute of the Blind. "Apart from it being a great adventure for me,
fulfilling one of my childhood dreams, it's also hopefully helping a lot of other people in Britain to have a better quality of life," Hilton-Barber told BBC news.
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One man's noise is another's music. Local residents and town officials are unhappy about the sounds emanating from an ultralight airfield. The Morningside Flight Park in Charlestown, N.H.,
operates ultralights for hang glider towing. Recent town council meetings have addressed the issue of this airborne noise, although officials aren't sure if they can regulate the air over the city...
On Monday, proposed tax plans that would raise airfares in Britain were unveiled. Characterized as "radical" by some analysts, these costs would result from tough noise, congestion and
pollution charges against airlines. However, the proposals put forward by the British Commission for Integrated Transport are still under debate with no set implementation date as of yet...
A computer glitch caused the delay in processing arriving passengers at airports nationwide. Officials at Chicago's O'Hare International airport reported 2,000 arriving passengers were stranded
for at least three hours on Sunday night when a glitch in the Homeland Security Department's computers slowed things down considerably...
Wichita State University is trying to make itself the world's leading aviation research location. Although the institution already performs 70 percent of the FAA's research on composites, the
university wants a larger role, as a "lead" university, serving as a central location and coordinator of research. However, other institutions are also vying for this distinction.
ON THE FLY...
An ultralight airfield in N.H. is causing a town-wide ruckus over noise...
On Monday, tax plans that would raise airfares in Britain were proposed...
A computer glitch caused the delay in
processing pax nationwide...
Wichita State University wants to be a "lead" center of FAA research. More...
AVweb's AVscoop Award...
Congratulations and an AVweb hat go out to Char Ryan, this
week's AVscoop winner. Submit news tips via email to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Rules and information are at
New Articles and Features on AVweb
BIZAV, September 4, 2003
AVweb's expanded coverage of business/corporate aviation continues with NBAA's convention preparation, big steps in Cessna's Citation fleet, complaints about Europe's new biz av regulations and more.
Sponsor News and Special Offers
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