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September 7, 2003

NewsWire Complete Issue

By The AVweb Editorial Staff

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

GARMIN'S 196 GPS HAS THE MOST UTILITY AMONG AVIATION HANDHELDS! WAAS-capable, the Garmin 196 has advanced mapping and logbook capabilities offering more utility as a cross-platform navigator than any aviation portable on the market. On land the GPSMAP 196 can navigate along roads or waterways. For details on the 196 and other Garmin GPS models go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/garmin

Pilots Too Slow For Next-Gen Planes?

Or Maybe It's The Training...

A recent "General Aviation Technically Advanced Aircraft FAA-Industry Study" says, "The traditional GA training system has inadequate methods, [and] does not specifically include training to exploit the additional safety opportunities of new technologies" found in so-called Technically Advanced Aircraft (TAA). According to the study team, made up of FAA, industry, insurance and safety group representatives, many pilots flying these Technically Advanced Aircraft could use some upgrading. The study focused on 11 accidents involving Cirrus 20 and 22 aircraft over the past three years. Cirrus was chosen because it has the largest fleet of new-generation TAAs (an upgraded older aircraft can also be termed a TAA). There's been a lot of speculation in the aviation press that putting relatively inexperienced pilots in the left seat of fast, capable, comfortable, long-range aircraft might be inviting disaster. The study seems to agree and says the bottom line is more training (read, expense) and an attitude shift are necessary to "exploit the opportunities and operate within the limitations inherent in their TAA systems."

..."Available Safety" Untapped...

Technically Advanced Aircraft are defined by the study as "aircraft in which the pilot interfaces with one or more computers in order to aviate, navigate, or communicate." That includes a moving-map GPS or a multifunction display (MFD) with terrain, weather and traffic depictions tied to an autopilot. Primary flight displays, which add flight instrument depictions to the MFD, were not included because they weren't in general use when the study was started. The study found that while all that wizardry provides increased "available safety" it doesn't do any good for someone who doesn't know how to use it. Specific training recommendations include scenario-based training focused on real-life life problems like deteriorating weather, communications foul-ups, etc. A TAA aircraft's advances may in some regards make it safer, but "... To actually obtain this available safety, pilots must receive additional training in the specific TAA systems in their aircraft," the study says. All that points to a separate set of training requirements for pilots who want to fly these airplanes. We may not have to wait for the FAA to make it a requirement. Insurance companies have, in the past, stipulated training requirements for their customers and the study practically invites them to do the same with TAAs. It's also recommended that flight-simulation programs be written for TAA pilots to use on their home computers. The study also stresses that "basic" flight skills can't be ignored in all this high-tech training. The paradox created is that these new aircraft, which have been hyped as being easier to fly, require extra training to make them as safe as they should be. "Pilots must recognize that TAAs require additional training and be willing to get this training in order to receive the far greater benefits that TAA aircraft can provide," the study says.

...And Making Good Planes, Much Better

So, what about the often said (and written) opinion that TAAs lead to cockiness, complacency and poor judgment in the cockpit? The study recommends that TAA pilots be schooled on the limitations of the equipment ... and themselves. It further recommends that training be broken down into the "physical airplane" (basic stick-and-rudder skills), the "mental airplane" (the coordinated use of knobs, switches and screens) and risk assessment and management (decision-making). "TAA training should make it clear that TAA systems do not replace the entire IFR system and are not substitutes for good basic airmanship skills and good aviation judgment," it reads. And the FAA suggests the glass panels could be even better. (Click here for a copy of the report.) The study says the planes should be equipped with "hazard displays" that automatically warn of weather and terrain hazards. The FAA would have to provide the graphics and the manufacturers the equipment to receive them. The study also recommends the addition of a density altitude function that warns the pilot if the intended runway is too short. And, to combat one of the most common pilot error sources of death and destruction, the study recommends an insufficient-fuel warning system be developed that calculates the effects of headwinds and route changes and lets the pilot know if it's time to stop for gas. The study goes on to say that if pilots want to use the TAA for "GA scheduled" operations, where the pilot and/or passengers are relying on the flight to get them to their destination on time, "both pilot and aircraft must be IFR capable."

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Future Flight

IFR, Shmeye-Eff-Arr...

Working toward the "airplane in every garage" era, NASA and the FAA are making progress on the Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS) designed to make it easier for more people to fly from small airport to small airport directly without relying on the airline hub system. At least five North Carolina airports are being fitted with experimental gear (including IMC-busting synthetic vision systems for small aircraft) and every airport in the state is slated to get an Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) setup. ADS-B uses a combination of satellite signals and ground stations to relay ATC radar images and provide appropriately equipped aircraft access to a real-time picture of nearby traffic. That helps with traffic avoidance, but the real goal of SATS is to allow small aircraft to use small airports in IMC. Synthetic Vision systems will be tested at the North Carolina airports to demonstrate their viability. Synthetic vision works by coupling GPS information to a terrain database to give the pilot a virtual depiction of the world outside. A system already developed by Chelton shows terrain, obstacles and airport layouts on a panel display that also incorporates instrument, navigation and weather data. The folks at Rocky-Mount Wilson Regional Airport, near Elm City, are delighted to be at the forefront of the next wave of aviation technology. "What it's going to do is give us and advantage of being a very convenient and accessible airport," said airport manager Hans Hess.

...As NASA Seeks Airplane In Every Garage

The long-predicted (and never achieved) dream of door-to-door personal flight remains realistic to some researchers. Mark Moore heads up NASA's experimental personal aircraft research program and he claims the dawn of the era of "personal aircraft vehicles" is not far away, with an initial demonstrator coming in three to five years. With the help of computerized controls and other technological aids, Moore told the Raleigh News and Observer that people will be able to zip from place to place in safety and comfort after five days of flight training in an aircraft that costs not much more than a luxury car. Moore and his partner Andy Hahn's vision of the future takes form in the Chivetta, a Corvette-powered four-seat aircraft with a propeller on the tail. The duo hopes to have a demonstration model as early as 2007. "Once we demonstrate these things, we hope that industry will jump in," Moore said. And the Chivetta is just the beginning, Moore claims. Vertical takeoff aircraft will be able to launch from every driveway while computers keep them flying and keep them from flying into each other.

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Contract Towers Safe, Efficient Says OIG

Sometimes you need to be careful what you wish for. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), which is in a pitched battle with the FAA over the proposed privatization of VFR control towers, recently asked the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to compare the performance of 71 FAA-staffed towers, 69 of which are potentially on the auction block, with the 189 VFR towers already in private hands. Inspector General Ken Mead produced what amounted to a glowing endorsement of the contract towers as cost-efficient, safe operations that cost taxpayers about $173 million a year less to run than if they were in government hands. Contract towers, according to the OIG, have fewer staff and pay them less but they also manage to make fewer mistakes than FAA-staffed facilities. NATCA hasn't yet issued a press release in response to the report but FAA Administrator Marion Blakey didn't waste any time. "The report's findings make it clear that contract towers have a very strong safety record. At the same time, they also cost significantly less than federally staffed towers," Blakey said in a statement. NATCA has enlisted consumer groups and some prominent politicians in its battle to keep the 69 FAA-staffed towers under government (and union) operation. The ability to contract them out is contained in an FAA Reauthorization Bill that goes before Congress in the fall.

Diamond Picks Williams Power

Diamond has picked Williams International to power its single-engine entry in the burgeoning personal jet market. A lone Williams FJ33-4 will provide the ponies for the D-JET, which is lumped loosely in an ever-increasing field of twin-engine mini-jets dominated by the Eclipse 500, Adam 700, and Cessna Mustang, among others. Adam has also picked the FJ33 for its twinjet while Eclipse and Cessna have gone with Pratt and Whitney Canada's 600 series. The FJ33-4 pumps out 1,400 pounds of thrust flat-rated to 72 degrees F and is based on the larger FJ44, which is already in use. Diamond said the advanced development of the Williams engine fits with Diamond's "aggressive" timetable for the D-JET, which includes a first flight next year. Pratt and Whitney Canada was also a contender for the D-JET. Although it's often referred to in the same context as the other mini-jet offerings, the D-JET is a different sort of aircraft, claims Diamond's North American CEO Peter Maurer. In an earlier interview with AVweb, Maurer explained that the D-JET is more aimed at the private and training market than the other offerings. For one thing, it's certified to 25,000 feet, high enough to get over most weather but low enough to avoid some complicated and expensive certification items. Its cruise speed of around 300 knots is slower than the twins but then it only burns about 276 pounds of fuel an hour at that speed. The D-JET is also expected to be the least expensive mini-jet, with a projected price of $850,000, against Eclipse's $1 million-plus, Adam's $2.3 million and the Mustang at almost $3 million.

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Runway Fracas Fractures Partnership

Which comes first, the expanded terminal or the runway? The issue vexing relations between Ft. Lauderdale and Broward County came to a head last week with the county ignoring an order by the city to stop working on new buildings at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. County lawyer Ed Dion said it will take a court order to change the county's mind and now the city is threatening legal action. This project, we remind you, is a partnership between the city and the county and it shows the divisive power of commercial interests, jet noise and public opinion. As part of the deal, the county originally agreed to build a new runway on the south side of the airport (away from Ft. Lauderdale). Nearby residents disapproved. Residents next to the proposed runway convinced the county to review that plan and now Ft. Lauderdale is afraid it will get the second runway in its backyard. Aside from who gets the noise, The Miami Herald reported there is general support for expanding the airport, which has become the fastest-growing airport in the U.S. About six years ago, the city and county agreed to a $1.2 billion expansion, which included the south runway, more gates and infrastructure projects. With the runway on hold, the city maintains the whole package should be shelved. "Those gates would support more traffic and we were promised that traffic would be shared on two runways," city lawyer Harry Stewart told the Herald. "It's like building a project without increasing the roads to get there." The county claims it's living up to the deal and it will keep on building the $265 million parking facility and car rental facility now under construction. A public meeting will be held Sept. 16.

Miles Of Runway In Mile-High City

If it seems like everything out west is big, consider Denver International Airport's new runway. Runway 16R/34L was christened by a United Air Lines Boeing 777 last Thursday likely using a fraction of the 16,000 feet of pavement to take off for Chicago. The $166 million runway is the longest commercial runway in North America and is 4,000 feet longer than any of the other five at DEN. Airport planners weren't thinking of Chicago when they envisioned the three-mile-long strip. The runway is aimed at big, heavy jumbo jets, including the future A-380, typically used on long-haul international flights. On a hot summer day, the mile-high airport stretches the takeoff capabilities of such heavily loaded planes. And while other jurisdictions battle over where to put their next runway, DEN officials can relax for quite a few years. There's room for another six runways on the 34,000-acre airport.

DOC BLUE'S EMERGENCY MEDICAL KIT: DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT! Do you carry a first aid kit in your airplane or car? AVweb's Brent Blue, MD, says drugstore first aid kits are packed with mostly useless items. Dr. Blue has assembled is own traveling medical kit for dealing with on-the-road emergencies, based on his long experience as an emergency room doctor, frequent traveler, pilot, outdoorsman, and dad. Dr. Blue's complete first aid kit is now on sale at Aeromedix's site: http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/aeromedi

Airbus On Final At 3300-Foot Strip?

Canadian officials are wondering how an Air Canada Airbus A319 crew on a perfectly clear August day appeared to set up to land at a tiny municipal airport in British Columbia, instead of their real destination. The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) is investigating the incident in which the A319, with its gear down and flaps partly extended, lined up for the 75-feet-wide by 3360-feet-long Runway 23 at Vernon Regional Airport. The crew, which descended as low as 780 feet over the city of Vernon, apparently realized its mistake and went looking for Kelowna International, about 30 miles away. The flight from Toronto carried 87 passengers and five crew. TSB spokesman Bill Yearwood told the National Post, "The pilots descended low enough that, for all intents and purposes, they appeared to be lost, and that's a concern." Yearwood is convinced the airliner would never have completed the landing but the incident is being investigated. Yearwood said that because of restricted airspace adjacent to the Kelowna Airport caused by a nearby forest fire, the Air Canada flight had to perform a VFR approach instead of the standard IFR approach. Yearwood said there's some question whether the crew had VFR charts on board. Yearwood wouldn't speculate on whether they might have mistaken Vernon (pop. 35,000) for Kelowna (pop. 100,000) but a Vernon flight instructor said it sure looked that way to him. Tyler Chambers and a student were turning final for the same runway when he spotted the Airbus about two miles to the north of the airport. When the Airbus turned to line up with the Vernon Airport, Chambers said he aborted the landing and veered out of the big jet's path. Air Canada hasn't commented on the details of the incident but an industry insider told the Post the mishap is a "huge embarrassment" to the airline and the crew.

"Weekend Pilot" Takes Final Flight

The inspiration for thousands of "weekend pilots" through his columns and books, aviation author Frank Kingston Smith died last Wednesday of Alzheimer's disease. He was 84. Smith wrote columns for AOPA pilot, Flying and Sport Aviation magazines and also penned the books "I'd Rather Be Flying," "Weekend Pilot" and "Flights of Fancy." He wrote a total of 16 books and more than 1,000 magazine articles and is credited with coining the term "weekend pilot." AOPA President Phil Boyer said Smith's musings helped him and countless others succeed in the left seat. "He had a wonderful way of making me feel that whatever fear or foible I experienced was OK, that it was all part of the common experience of flying," Boyer said. Smith learned to fly in 1955 as a way to relax from being a lawyer. He then realized that it wasn't that hard -- it was an acquired skill -- and he set about passing that wisdom to others. His first book was "Weekend Pilot" and it gave his down-to-earth assessment of the challenges and joys of learning to fly. Smith is survived by his wife Marianne and their three sons, Frank Jr., Doug and Greg.

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On The Fly...

The FAA is widening a future AD on a specific brand of seatbelts after comments from the public indicated more than one aircraft manufacturer used them. The original Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) applied only to Socata aircraft equipped with the malfunctioning Anjou Aeronautique belts. The next NPRM will apply to all aircraft so equipped...

A security review is planned at Sydney International Airport after two thieves dressed as technicians made off with two large computer servers. The computers were in the airport's customs cargo processing and intelligence center and held thousands of top-secret files...

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit blaming FAA staff for a fatal crash in Missouri. The judge said the plaintiff, Grace Brinell, failed to provide documents or provide conferences requested by the defendants. Brinell's husband Joe, the pilot, and five others died. An inspector general's investigation found that FAA officials had "unduly scrutinized" Brinell, and his wife was alleging the resulting stress played a role in the crash...

Brigadier Gen. Dwight Wheless, of Manteo, N.C., was re-elected vice commander of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) for the third time. Wheless is an attorney and has been a member of the CAP since 1981. He's won numerous awards and medals in his CAP career.

AVweb's AVscoop Award...

Congratulations and an AVweb hat go out to Herman Simms, 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.

Reader feedback on AVweb's news coverage and feature articles:

Reader mail this week about contract towers, a new airport in San Diego, FITS and more.

RISK MANAGEMENT IS AN AREA OF AVIATION INSURANCE OFTEN OVERLOOKED when purchasing aircraft hull and liability insurance. CS&A Aviation Insurance specialists excel in risk management, which in turn gives their customers the best insurance package for their individual needs. Owner or renter, shop around and you'll find CS&A meets your insurance needs at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/csa

The Pilot's Lounge #65: One, Two, Three, Heave!
Tired of touch-and-goes in the pattern and begging friends to go for a $100 hamburger? Need a challenge to re-energize your flying? Even private pilots can tow gliders, although a commercial certificate will let you do it for money. AVweb's Rick Durden lays out what it takes to help those engine-less soaring birds.

Short Final...

Overheard en route out of Morristown, NJ (MMU) to Covington, KY (CVG)...

Departure Control: Continental ABC turn left heading 240 degrees and climb to 11,000.

[long pause]

Departure Control: Continental ABC, Simon says turn left heading 240 degrees and climb to 11,000.

Continental ABC: Roger, left turn 240 and up to 11,000, Continental ABC.

Contributions to Short Final are welcomed at sf@avweb.com.


Sponsor News and Special Offers

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AIR & SPACE MAGAZINE HIGHLIGHTS FOR OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2003: "Fly Army!", How a West Point alum assembled the largest collection of US Army aircraft and goes on tour; "Giant Killer", Airbus moves up; "One Way Ticket From Space", Inflatable reentry vehicles: reliable rescue craft or the next extreme sport?; and "To Spin or Not to Spin", pilots still argue; plus fantastic coverage of everything aviation and space. Order your subscription at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/smithson

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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Today's issue written by News Writer Russ Niles:
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Let's all be careful out there, okay?

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