AVwebFlash - Volume 14, Number 46a

November 10, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
Lycoming® — The Engines of Choice
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Top News: New Presidents for U.S.A., AOPA back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

New AOPA Chief Ready

He calls himself an "equal opportunity antagonist" and he's ready to get down to business with the new Democratic regime — even though he's spent his whole career as a top Republican advisor. In a session with the aviation media at AOPA Expo in San Jose on Saturday, incoming AOPA President Craig Fuller said bipartisanship is alive and well in the backrooms of Washington and he's no stranger to the people who will help President-Elect Barack Obama take the reins of power. He knows Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel from the 1990s when they worked together on implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and says he'll have no problem getting heard in Congress and the White House. But he also said that might have to wait a while.

As others said during the convention, Fuller said aviation matters will take a back seat to more pressing matters. "I doubt we'll get a mention in [the] inaugural address," he said. But FAA reauthorization, ATC modernization, airport expansion and other hot button issues in the aviation world will be dealt with eventually and AOPA will be at the table when they are discussed. He said AOPA is well respected in Washington because of its bipartisan nature and he stressed the importance of putting the issues forward to the policy makers. He also offered an olive branch to the airline industry, which was, at times, harshly criticized by the GA community in the battle over user fees. Fuller said it was a "fight that had to be fought" but the entire aviation industry has to work together to put the U.S. back at the forefront of technological development in aviation.

Related Content:
AVweb's video interview with Fuller

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FAA Says: WAAS Outstripping ILS back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

WAAS Approaches Outnumber ILS

The FAA recently commissioned its 1,333rd WAAS approach (technically known as Localizer Performance with Vertical guidance or LPV) and that means there are now more of them than ILS approaches. The agency calls it a milestone in the transition to universal space-based navigation. The system is in use at 833 airports and the agency says it's planning to add 500 approaches a year until every qualifying runway in the U.S. has one. "This is clearly a turning point for aviation and the way pilots navigate," the agency said in a news release.

Something the agency doesn't mention but which is undoubtedly a factor in the rapid deployment of LPVs is they cost of a fraction of the millions of dollars that ILS systems cost. WAAS, or Wide Area Augmentation System, was commissioned in 2003.

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Here's How You Can Spend Your 2009 Vacation Time back to top 

Two Weeks To Taxi Approved

Glasair's controversial Two Weeks To Taxi program, in which builders of Glasair Sportsman aircraft build an almost-complete aircraft in two weeks at Glasair's facitlity in Washington State, has been endorsed by the FAA's Production and Airworthiness Division after a week-long audit. "The FAA's on-site team found that the "lean manufacturing" processes employed, combined with the provided educational assistance, accelerates the Sportsman build time significantly without violating the spirit or intent of Part 21, Section 21.191(g)," the company said in a news release.

More than 100 Sportsmans have been built in the program, in which company staff lay out tools, round up the necessary parts and provide instruction to customers who, according to the FAA's findings, do at least 51 percent of the work. "We have worked very, very hard to develop a program that makes aircraft building more accessible, more organized, and as efficient as possible, while staying within the letter and spirit of the amateur built rule," said Glasair CEO Michael Via. The company says it will expand the program. The decision would seem to set the tone for the current discussion by the FAA's Amateur-Built Rulemaking Committee, which is reviewing the level of participation required by builders in all aspects of the construction of their aircraft. Among those auditing the Glasair program was Frank Paskiewicz, who heads up the FAA's Production and Airworthiness Division and is a key member of the 51 percent rule committee.

Related Content:
AVweb's video interview with Glasair's Harry DeLong

When Is the Last Time You Reviewed Your Life Insurance?
Annual reviews of life insurance needs can help determine if you lack important coverages — or if you can save on existing policies. As a pilot, you are likely paying more for life insurance than you should be. Pilot Insurance Center specializes in providing pilots — from student to ATP — with insurance planning at the most affordable rates available. A+ Rated Carriers – No Aviation Exclusions – Quick and Easy Application Process. Call PIC at 1 (800) 380-8376 or visit online.
Signs of the Times back to top 

Tough Times For Non-Profits, Too

As you ponder your own economic circumstances don't forget that non-profit groups are especially feeling the pinch and the good work they do in all facets of aviation is at risk. For instance, volunteers at Keystone Heights Airport in Florida are aggressively fund raising to build a warbird restoration center, and they're raffling off a Diamond DA40 XLS with the help of Premier Aircraft Sales. "The tough economic climate has put a damper on our raffle sales even though we have received a lot of interest and support," spokeswoman Susan King told AVweb.

King said the plane will be raffled Feb. 22 when the tiny airport hosts the Collings Foundation's Wings of Freedom tour. Keystone Heights has a warbird them to most of the events it hosts, which is considerable for a small airport with an all-volunteer organization staff. In the past year they've hosted a Women Air Service Pilot reunion, promoted oral history projects in local schools and spearheaded an aviation and aerospace science fair initiative.

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News Briefs back to top 

Terrafugia On The Road, First Flight Near?

There's been a strange sight on highways and byways of Massachusetts and it could soon be an airborne apparitition. Transition, the so-called roadable aircraft conceived by Terrafugia has been undergoing road tests for the past few weeks and AOPA Online is reporting that a first flight could occur in early December. The prototype, with functional electric folding wings, was a hit at EAA AirVenture and the company reportedly took more than 100 orders for the $194,000 vehicle.

The Transition uses a 100-horsepower Rotax engine for road and flight mode. A simple clutch arrangement shiftes power from the front wheels to the rear-mounted prop. Test drivers have had the Transition up to 40 mph and the company stresses that the two-place vehicle is not intended to replace the family SUV. Rather it's to provide transportation to and from the airport without all the usual inconvenience. Deliveries are expected in 2010 assuming testing go according to plan.

Related Content:
AVweb's AirVenture 2008 video of the Terrafugia Transition

Pilot Suffers Stroke, Lands Nearly Blind With RAF Help

Jim O'Neill, 65, was flying at 15,000 feet in clear weather over the UK when he suffered a stroke that compromised his vision. The pilot of 18 years sent a mayday and eventually made contact with an RAF base at Leeming in Northallerton. During that contact, O'Neill complained of trouble seeing the instrument panel. "At first he believed he was being blinded by sunlight," Wing Cdr Andy Hynd, commanding RAF officer at RAF Linton-on-Ouse, told BBC news. But the situation was worse -- O'Neill had a blood clot pressing against his optic nerve blinding him in one eye and compromising his vision in the other. Hynd's facility took the handoff from Leeming and directed O'Neill to a landing at Linton-on-Ouse but O'Neill in seven attempts failed to see the facility. Finally, with a chief flying instructor Wing Cdr Paul Gerrard flying O'Neill's wing in his Tucano T1, "telling him to turn left and right, to lower the plane and to do his pre-landing checks," and zigzagging to keep pace with the slower aircraft, O'Neill managed to pilot the aircraft down. It was "only at the last minute" on the eighth attempt and some 40 minutes since first contact that O'Neill visually picked up the runway as he touched down near its halfway point and came to a stop at its end.

While the RAF routinely practices guiding lost aircraft, "we are not used to shepherding blind pilots," said Wing Cdr Hynd. Following his successful landing, O'Neill was checked by base medics and then transfered to Queen's Hospital in Romford, Essex. His sight appears to be gradually returning, in that he "can see the clock on the wall in his hospital room but is not yet able to read the time," according to the Times Online.

Between Wheels Up and Wheels Down, There Is One Important Word: How
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New on AVweb back to top 

Probable Cause #66: If I Had A Hammer

Not all airplanes are created equal. You need to think about whether yours is appropriate for the mission.

Click here for the full story.

There's an old saying: "When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." In other words, when resources are few, people tend to use the only ones available to them, even if they're inappropriate and have the potential to create as many problems as they solve. Just as it is in carpentry, so it is in aviation.

For example, you wouldn't use a Learjet for aerial application work. And a fixed-gear, wheel-equipped airplane is only good for one water landing -- the ensuing takeoff attempt won't be successful.

Some readers have visited grief upon me for suggesting in these pages that a lower-powered airplane isn't a good choice for serious cross-country flying. My opinion was forged several years ago after finding a 160-hp Skyhawk that wouldn't maintain altitude in a relatively benign mountain-wave condition. Since then, I've sat on the ground for an extra day while ferrying similar airplanes, waiting for strong winds over mountains to subside. Even when flying better-equipped, more-powerful rides, I've postponed and canceled flights because I didn't think the airplane was up to the task. Sometimes, the pilot isn't up to the task either, but that's another story for another day.

To me, the bottom line is that the pilot must decide whether the airplane is capable of handling the planned flight. When the weather's good, the load is light and the terrain is hospitable, even the least-capable airplane might be OK. But add in one or two operational challenges, and things can get out of hand quickly. Here's one example.


On Aug. 9, 2004, at approximately 1715 Mountain time, a Cessna 172P was destroyed when it impacted mountainous terrain while maneuvering near Monarch Pass, Monarch Crest, Colo. A post-crash fire ensued. Both pilots aboard were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed for the cross-country flight, which originated at Montrose, Colo., at 1525, and was en route to McCook, Neb. The airplane and its two pilots were based in the Pittsburgh, Penn., area.

Two tourists, hiking near the Continental Divide, heard an airplane approaching. One of the tourists turned and saw an airplane "at eye level, maybe 100 yards away, coming towards me. Then the plane seemed stationary in flight, the engine skipped, [the airplane] took a hard right-hand turn, as I faced the plane, then the tail went straight up over the wing and it went straight down. Instantly into flames." The other tourist saw the airplane "come up [the] mountain [pass], [it] tried to turn around and went straight down." One of the tourists hitched a ride to a nearby ski resort to report the accident.

Weather data recorded by the Salida Mountain remote AWOS facility (MYP), approximately one mile east of the accident site, at 1711 local time included calm winds, clear skies and a temperature of 17 degrees C. The altimeter setting was 30.79 inches of mercury. At 1755 local time, weather observed at the Gunnison Airport (GUC) AWOS, 20 miles west of the accident site, included wind from 320 degrees at 16 knots with gusts to 20 knots, clear skies, a temperature of 27 degrees C and an altimeter setting of 30.39 inches of mercury.

The accident site was located at 38 degrees, 29.925 minutes north latitude and 106 degrees, 20.347 minutes west longitude. Terrain at the accident site has an elevation of 11,418 feet msl. The Continental Divide's summit, toward which the airplane was flying, is at an elevation of 11,530 feet msl.


The airplane was aligned on a magnetic heading of 114 degrees, and impacted perpendicular to the mountain. From the airplane, the uphill and downhill slopes measured +24 degrees (45 percent) and -37 degrees (75 percent), respectively.

All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site. The descending propeller blade was bent slightly forward, and the ascending blade was twisted and curled aft. Both blades bore 90-degree chordwise scratches on the cambered surfaces, particularly at the tips.

Flight-control continuity was established. The flap actuator was not extended. The elevator trim actuator was extended 1.1 inches, which equates to the flaps being up and the elevator trim being five degrees tab down (elevator up).

Using the weather observed at the MYP remote AWOS facility, the density altitude was computed to be an estimated 14,300 feet msl. According to the 1984 Cessna 172P Skyhawk "Information Manual," the airplane's service ceiling is 13,000 feet.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable cause(s) of this accident to include "the pilot's failure to maintain airspeed which resulted in a stall, and his decision to conduct flight beyond the performance capability of the aircraft. A contributing factor was the high density altitude, and an inadvertent stall."

Cessna's Model 172 is a great airplane and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2006. But -- just like any other airplane -- it has its limitations. When one flies an airplane beyond its limitations, one becomes a test pilot. In this instance, the two pilots had coaxed their Skyhawk to a density altitude some 10 percent above its service ceiling, defined as the altitude at which the airplane's rate of climb is at or below 100 fpm, even though the altimeter would have read almost 1500 feet less.

The trip being flown by the two pilots had them covering a great deal of territory over a short time and visiting several high-altitude airports. But the two were, essentially, flat-land pilots who, perhaps until this trip, had never dealt with high density-altitude flight operations. It's likely they had never had a Skyhawk at or near its service ceiling.

Some of my most memorable flights -- the good and the bad kind -- have involved Skyhawks. And I wouldn't hesitate to jump in one tomorrow, all things being equal. But it's not a good airplane for heavy, high and hot work, or for long cross-countries.

Before launching into the wild blue yonder, take a moment to consider whether the airplane you're planning to use is the correct tool to use for the planned flight.

More accident analyses are available in AVweb's Probable Cause Index. And for monthly articles about safety, including accident reports like this one, subscribe to AVweb's sister publication, Aviation Safety.

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AVweb Insider Blog: TSA's Dangerous New Proposal

Slowly but surely, the TSA is chipping away at the freedom of movement general aviation flying represents. And that's why you need to comment on its latest proposal, says Aviation Safety Editor-in-Chief Jeb Burnside in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog.

Read more.

No-Cost Interactive Courses Available from AOPA Air Safety Foundation
Interactive courses are available online from AOPA Air Safety Foundation (ASF) 24/7 at no cost. Choose your topic and your pace. Visit ASF's Online Courses to take one now!
The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

AVmail: Nov. 10, 2008

Reader mail this week about T-38s, planes that lose a wing, Zeppelins, EMS and much more.

Click here to read this week's letters to the 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.

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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

AVweb's AOPA Expo 2008 Video #7: Rolls Royce Turbine Engine

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

A 300+ hp (flat-rated) turbine that weighs well under 300 pounds designed for small general aviation aircraft — is this what the high-end piston market has been waiting for? Pilots may be asking, and Mooney may have an answer, via Rolls Royce. (Video by Glenn Pew.)

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

This video is brought to you by Bose Corporation.

AVweb's AOPA Expo 2008 Video #8: Build an Airplane in Two Weeks with Glasair

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

Glasair's "Two Weeks To Taxi" program has been approved by the FAA. Pilots can now build their own experimental category "homebuilt" aircraft with the help of Glasair technicians inside of two weeks' vacation time. Kitplanes Editor-in-Chief Marc Cook (himself a veteran of the program) talked to Glasair's Harry DeLong at AOPA Expo about the current state of "Two Weeks to Taxi." (Video by Glenn Pew.)

This video is brought to you by Lightspeed Aviation and WxWorx XM WX Satellite Weather.

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

AVweb's AOPA Expo 2008 Podcast Round-Up

As our on-site audio teams packs their bags to leave San Jose, California, we bring you a collection of nine audio podcasts recorded at (or, in some cases, just before) the show. Once again, our johnnies-on-the-spot have captured some of the most interesting voices in aviation, from CEOs and service providers to innovative thinkers, technical experts, and salesfolk. In case you missed any of our nine exclusive podcasts from the show, we're re-presenting them here.

Click here for our podcast round-up from AOPA Expo 2008.

AVweb's audio coverage of AOPA Expo has been brought to you by Bose Corporation's Aviation Headset X™; WxWorx XM WX Satellite Weather, the premier weather provider for pilots; and Lightspeed Aviation, makers of the Zulu ANR headset. If you've enjoyed our coverage, please click on the links and check out their products.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Volo Aviation (KEFD, Houston, TX)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Volo Aviation at KEFD in Houston, Texas.

AVweb reader Brian Hunnell recommended the FBO for making an Angel Flight go as smoothly as possible:

I called the folks at Volo Aviation [during preflight, and] ... they informed me that 100LL would be $3.75 (normally $3.95) and if we needed "anything" they would accommodate us to the best of their ability. Landing 10 minutes after closing time, we met Buddy Roberts, the mid-day and night manager. He gave us a ride to the hotel, where the patient could relax. This was the patient's first experience with General Aviation (along with his slightly nervous wife!). Thank you to all who helped and made this a success.

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!

So You Think You Are a Safe Pilot!
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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Overheard in IFR Magazine's 'On the Air' Section
Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"

Overheard near the Tennessee/Alabama border:

"Heavy Iron 123, reduce speed to 210."

[no response]

"Heavy Iron 123, reduce speed to 210."

[no response]

"Heavy Iron 123, reduce speed to 210, now. You're about to knock the rudder off that traffic in front of you. Or, if you'd rather you can have a tour of the state of Alabama ... ."

Heavy Iron 123:
"Reducing to 210."

John Austin
Memphis, Tennessee

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

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.