NewsWire Complete Issue
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
NRC Report Criticizes Lagging Aviation Technology...
Airplanes may be engineering marvels and things of beauty to those who fly them -- but to some folks, they're noisy, they pollute the air, and even fewer want an airport in their backyard. Those are
the harsh facts that the aviation industry had better face in the next few decades if it wants to survive, according to a report by the National
Research Council (NRC) that was released last Tuesday. The report, sponsored by NASA and the FAA, said the demand for air travel is still expected to grow; in fact, the report projects it will
double over the next 10 to 35 years. At the same time, the rate of technological change in aeronautics lags as it becomes increasingly difficult to achieve substantial technical advances to reduce
noise and emissions.
The NRC report concludes that radical change is needed to meet the demands ahead. "Business as usual, in the form of continued, evolutionary improvements to existing technologies, aircraft, air
traffic control systems and operational concepts, is unlikely to meet the needs for air transportation that will emerge over the next 25 to 50 years," said the report. The pace of technical progress
needs to be boosted to keep up with consumer demands, or the industry will fail to achieve its potential. Among the technological needs cited by the report are a more advanced air traffic management
system, sensors to detect wake vortices, synthetic vision and cockpit-warning enhancements, and better systems for enhancing the interaction of humans and machines. Not a bad Christmas list, really.
The report also calls for more research into composite materials, low-emissions combustion technology, advanced avionics using nanotechnology, nontraditional aircraft configurations such as the
blended-wing-body and the strut-braced or joined wing, fuel cells, and fan-drive turbines.
Taking one step toward the future, the FAA announced last week it has established (and will help finance) a "Center of Excellence" program based at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology to research ways to address noise and emissions issues. The FAA said those problems "may represent the single greatest challenge to the continued growth and
prosperity of civil aerospace." The center will conduct basic research and engineering development and will develop prototype solutions, focusing first on noise. Other partners in the program include
Penn State, Purdue, Stanford, and several other universities, plus a host of industry players, including Boeing, Pratt & Whitney, Bell Helicopter, and Sikorsky. "Bringing the formidable resources of
academia and industry together, the center is a force to make significant contributions in noise and emissions research," FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said in a news release. The center's research
and development efforts will concentrate on a broad spectrum of noise and emissions mitigation issues, including: socio-economic effects, noise-abatement flight procedures, compatible land-use
management, airport operational controls, and atmospheric and health effects. The FAA will share in the cost of the center, contributing $900,000 to $1.75 million in the first year, with a minimum of
$800,000 per year for the next two years. The center is expected to begin operation this month. The FAA has established five other Centers of Excellence, focusing on computational modeling of aircraft
structures, airport pavement technology, operations research, airworthiness assurance and general aviation.
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Cracking Cessnas Cause Concern...
The FAA last week issued a notice of concern about cracks that have been found in the vertical fin attachment brackets of some Cessna 150/152 series airplanes. The Airworthiness Concern Sheet (ACS) is distributed to type clubs and pilot groups for input as the FAA mulls whether the issue needs
to be addressed by a proposed Airworthiness Directive. The ACS proposes to mandate inspections of these parts initially within 100 hours of time in service and every 1,000 hours of time in service
thereafter, or as specified in the Cessna Service Bulletin that is now being written. The FAA says it has become aware that maintenance technicians are finding cracks in the vertical fin attachment
bracket in Cessna 150/152 series airplanes.
The number of reports has risen from four in the 1970s to six in the 1980s to 12 in the 1990s, the FAA said. The number is already 12, so far, in the first few years of this decade. In addition,
cracks in both the stabilizer spar and its reinforcement are being reported, the FAA said. If these cracks are allowed to go undetected, the vertical and/or horizontal tail assembly could possibly
separate from the airplane, the FAA said. The Airworthiness Concern Process is a cooperative information-sharing initiative between the industry and the FAA intended to increase industry participation
in the development of airworthiness issues before (or in lieu of) a proposed or final Airworthiness Directive for an aircraft. See AOPA's Web site to learn more about this program.
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The French engine-builder SMA received Supplementary Type Certificates this month from the French aviation agency, DGAC, that OK its Jet
A-burning diesel SR305-230 piston engine for installation on the C-182 and the F182 (produced by French aircraft manufacturer Reims
Aviation Industries). FAA validation is expected to follow shortly, according to SMA. A flight demonstration tour will begin by the end of October, with stops in the United Kingdom and across
Europe, using a 182 owned by Aviation sans Frontieres, the first to be fitted with the engine. SMA says its engine will go 3,000 hours before overhaul, and is easy to maintain, reliable,
user-friendly, and good for the environment.
The Angel Aircraft Corp., a little company based in Orange City, Iowa, last week received a Production Certificate from the FAA for its twin-engine,
pusher-prop, STOL, eight-seat Model 44. "We have six aircraft in the production line now, and we have a demonstrator model flying," sales rep Jerry Waddell told AVweb on Saturday. The special
introductory price, with a basic IFR package, he said, is set at $690,000. "The main use of this aircraft is to carry heavy loads, operating from short, unimproved strips," he added. The Angel twin
will be on display in Orlando at the NBAA conference coming up October 7-9, Waddell said, and he hopes to find some buyers there for those airplanes now in production.
"We're moving forward one step at a time," Waddell said. "We intend to be here for the long haul." He said the company expects to produce about 35 to 50 units per year.
Pilots of long-haul flights into Sydney, Australia, last week were met with the news that not enough jet fuel was available to fill their aircraft. Fuel at the major port was rationed for several
days, and at least 18 flights were diverted to other airports for fuel, adding hours to already-long intercontinental routes. The shortage was blamed on delayed shipments coinciding with
lower-than-normal production from local refineries. Supplies were expected to return to normal over the weekend. "It is certainly a bit embarrassing," industry consultant Peter Harbison told Dow Jones
Newswire. "You don't really expect to have this happening in a sophisticated commercial environment." Qantas and Singapore Airlines suffered the most disruption, and have not ruled out seeking
compensation for the cost of the delays. Meanwhile, two Boeing 747-400 jets belonging to Qantas Airways were grounded last week after inspectors found a crack in a fuselage joint that was apparently
caused by damage when one of the planes was being scraped down for repainting in 1998. The second jet was grounded for a thorough inspection because it had been repainted at the same place and time as
the first plane.
It's a long way from strapping a couple of nifty little rocket engines onto a Long-EZ and wowing the crowds at Oshkosh to developing new space technology for the U.S. military, but that's what the
upstarts at XCOR are working on these days and what they have always intended to do (along with space-tourism development). The Mojave, Calif., company announced on
Friday that it is making swift progress on a $750,000 project funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a flight-configured
prototype rocket engine propellant pump. It reached a milestone in the program, XCOR said, when it successfully operated the motor section that drives the pump to contract specifications. Both motor
and pump sections are being developed as piston machines instead of the more traditional turbo-centrifugal hardware. The size of the pump is matched to XCOR's 1830 lbf thrust LOX-kerosene engine
currently under development with private investment capital. Dan DeLong, XCOR's chief engineer, said the company expects to have a flight operational motor-pump assembly within the next year. The
company will now focus on securing a combination of government contracts and additional private investment to continue development of a suborbital vehicle for space tourism, microgravity research and
microsatellite launches. "This contract will help us to develop the rocket engines for our Xerus vehicle as well as for several potential DOD programs," XCOR spokesman Rich Pournelle said in a news
release. DARPA is the central research and development organization for the U.S. Department of Defense. It manages and directs selected basic and applied research and development projects, and pursues
research and technology where risk and payoff are both very high and where success may provide dramatic advances for traditional military roles and missions.
It seemed a dubious dream from the start -- to assemble a fleet of vintage aircraft and fly them along a 4,000-mile route to re-create a chapter from the Golden Age of Aviation. But last Wednesday,
the spunky airplanes of the National Air Tour buzzed out of the sky right on schedule, to land in Ypsilanti, Mich., where they had launched more than two
weeks earlier. Along the way, dozens of pilots and crew shared their love of flying with thousands of curious onlookers, and together experienced an adventure to remember. "We have told the story
behind the original National Air Tours to millions of people at the stops, over the Internet, and through the media," said Greg Herrick, president of the Aviation Foundation of America, the nonprofit
group that organized the tour. "Hopefully, in some small way we have touched the lives of the people with whom we have shared this wonderful event." Among the Air Tour's pilots was AVweb's own Dr.
Brent Blue. Read part two of Dr. Blue's first-hand account in today's Skywritings feature.
Every October, Albuquerque, N.M., hosts its biggest event of the year -- the International Balloon Fiesta, which this year almost lost its "international" element,
thanks to a recent ruling by the FAA that would have grounded many foreign pilots. On Thursday, Fiesta officials said they had secured a waiver from the FAA from a regulation, issued earlier this
month, that says foreign pilots must pass a flight review before being allowed to fly in U.S. airspace. It would have been difficult, if not impossible, to certify all of the 40-some foreign pilots
expected to participate in time for this year's Fiesta, which will be held October 4 - 12. New Mexico's congressional delegation appealed to Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta, who exempted hot-air
and gas-balloon pilots from the rule. The Fiesta this year also will launch a wine-tasting festival to coincide with the 2003 America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race, and is adding a holiday fiesta
December 3-31 with fireworks, balloon-glow events, and light displays.
A flock of swallows swarming near a runway delayed more than 100 flights at Beijing International Airport last week...
Final results for the 2003 US National Aerobatic Championships have been posted online. Kirby Chambliss, flying an Edge 540,
took the first in the Unlimited category...
More than 50 Challenger ultralights flew into Erie Airpark in Illinois September 20-21 to celebrate the 20th year of Quad City Ultralight Aircraft
Tickets are going fast for the First Flight Centennial celebration at Kill Devil Hills on December 12-17. More than 120,000 tickets
have been sold and the event will reach capacity with the sale of 10,000 more general-admission tickets, so don't delay....
Aircraft builder William Turner died last week in California at age 81.
Congratulations and an AVweb hat go out to Daniel Blythe, this
week's AVscoop winner. Submit news tips via email to
email@example.com. Rules and information are at
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CEO of the Cockpit #24: Air TV
Picture it: An airliner dodging thunderheads, with the pilots jamming to rock music in their headphones. It's the opening sequence of a new TV sitcom about airline pilots. Think it can't happen --
that real pilots doing real flying isn't funny to the public? Neither does AVweb's CEO of the Cockpit.
The 2003 National Air Tour: A Travelog (Part 2)
The National Air Tour ended in Dearborn, Mich., last Wednesday, after an amazingly successful trip. AVweb's Brent Blue finishes his travelog (begun in Part 1) with more photos and more stories.
Approach : Heavy 123 : Hold straight and level!
Heavy 123: Holding straight and level.
At least, that's assuming my First Officer can hold straight & Level...
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WAS ICING THE CULPRIT IN THIS ACCIDENT SCENARIO? What caused a Cessna to "tip" 90 degrees to the left, with the right wing straight up in
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