AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 15, Number 8a

February 23, 2009

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
You Won't Need SVT to See Where No-Cost Fuel Can Take You,
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Top News: Tail Icing in the Spotlight back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

(Intelligent) Premature Speculation On Colgan 3407 Crash

NASA thought enough of the dangers of tailplane icing to flight test it and produce this video, which has eerie content relative to the discussion around Flight 3407.

Online speculation swarming around the Feb. 12 crash of Continental Connection (Colgan Air) Flight 3407 in Buffalo that killed all 49 aboard plus one on the ground has moved well beyond probable causes and now includes full-blown speculation on the deceased crew's thought processes. Armchair pundits and pilots have added the NTSB's reports (that the aircraft's stick pusher engaged) to media reports (that its action was followed by a 2-G pilot-commanded pull) to pilots' insights relevant to the captain's experience. What insights? Captain Renslow's time was earned mostly in the smaller Saab 340. He had only 110 hours in the Dash 8. The Saab 340 is more susceptible than the Dash 8 to an icing-induced tailplane stall. An experienced Saab pilot flying an icy approach, theorists speculate, would have been wary of a tailplane stall. Tailplane stalls involve yoke buffeting (stick shaker) followed by a sudden uncommanded movement of the yoke forward (stick pusher) and for many models are instigated by flap extension. A pilot convinced he was experiencing a tailplane stall would initiate proper recovery by pulling the yoke full aft. Of course, that doesn't seem to be what the NTSB is currently considering.

Some pilots (and it appears members of the NTSB) think the evidence so far collected supports the theory that the pilots simply overreacted when the autopilot disengaged on a slow approach and the stick would dropped the nose at a higher than normal speed. That would be how the stick pusher should behave when the icing system is activated. But the NTSB has not yet announced its determination that the stick pusher activated properly and has not yet considered all the evidence relevant to the crash.

Meanwhile, other armchair investigators have latched on to accurate reports that Southwest Airlines has disseminated an alert to its pilots regarding the possibility for ILS interference at Buffalo (due to a ground obstruction). The alert warns that pilots flying the approach on autopilot may experience a sudden pitch up while flying slow on their approach. The NTSB has stated it's aware of the alert and has declined further comment. The FAA, however, through spokeswoman Laura Brown, told AVweb: "This notice has been on charts since 2001 and is on the NORTH side of the airport for the approach to take a right turn on 23, not the SOUTH approach the accident aircraft used for a planned LEFT turn onto 23." Brown said the ILS gear has been flight checked and works fine. We expect the theories will keep coming and will let you know the NTSB's, when it becomes official.

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See for Yourself ... back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

Gear-Up Landing From The Inside

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We can't count the times we've been alerted to breathless cable news anchors waiting as a pilot burns off fuel for a mechanically-induced gear-up landing. And while they're a heart-stopping event for those on board, not to mention the news-starved anchors, they almost always turn out the same way, with a slide along the runway, bent prop(s) and scraped bellies. Well that's how this one in January of 2007 at Charles W. Baker Airport, near Memphis, turned out too but it's from a decidedly different perspective.

According to the information accompanying the video, the pilot was undergoing a check ride and a snowstorm was threatening. "Because of possible ice, we had been flying with the gear down the entire time," the videographer said. "We started doing touch and goes after a while. Habit when you take off is to raise the gear. This is what happened. So, when we come around, they were conversing and what not and simply forgot the gear was up. The prop got bent up pretty bad along with the belly of the plane."

Grenade In Baggage Destroys BT-67

Click for larger image

A Colombian policeman obviously didn't heed those signs at the airport with all the diagonal slashes through things you shouldn't put in your checked luggage. The grenade he had in with his skivvies went off while the turbine-upgraded DC-3 he and 26 others were on was getting ready to leave Medellin Airport. Now, the official line from the Colombian government was that it was a tear gas grenade but the damage portrayed in a photo released afterward suggests it might have been considerably more powerful. The aircraft was split in two by the detonation, which also removed most of the aircraft's upper fuselage. No one was killed but eight people were injured.

There was no immediate word on the extent of their injuries. The Colombian national police force has a fleet of Second World War-era C-47s but these aren't your average Gooney Birds. They're Basler BT-67 turboprop conversions that have some other modern conveniences for the drug hunting missions they fly. In addition to the five-bladed props turned by PT-6s, the aircraft each sport a 12.3 mm machine gun slaved to a forward looking infrared system which earns them the same AC-47 designation attached to the Dakota gunships used by the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam. The Colombian locals call them avion fantasma or ghost planes.

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Following the Money back to top 

Aviation Tax Breaks And Stimulus Money

Congress has approved a tax break stimulus package targeted at airplane buyers as states get ready to apply $1.1 billion intended for airports as part of the stimulus package signed last week by President Barack Obama. The tax break takes the form of accelerated depreciation and, like the one first used post-9/11 to help manufacturers recover from the economic slump that followed the 2001 terrorist attacks, sharply cuts the initial tax bill for companies that buy aircraft for business purposes by allowing larger early year deductions. The industry has already lost about 11,000 jobs to the slump. Todd Tiahrt, a Republican Representative from Kansas, has seen his state account for some 7,000 of those job losses (mostly from Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft). Tiahrt told The Associated Press, "this is exactly the type of financial incentive that should be included in a stimulus bill." Meanwhile, state governors encouraged by industry advocate groups like AOPA to push lists of airport improvement projects as "shovel ready" stand ready to apply government stimulus money to aviation infrastructure projects from sea to shining sea.

The $1.1 billion investment is meant to create nearly 40,000 jobs and apply those to improvements at the nation's airports. According to AOPA, its influence led Ohio to increase its list of aviation infrastructure projects from $10 million to $38 million and helped guide Nevada to a list of 43 projects totaling $70.2 million.

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Aviation and the Mainstream Media back to top 

New Cirrus CEO Takes Case To Media (Fox)

Cirrus' new CEO Brent Wouters took the case of aviation, specifically Cirrus aviation, to the public in a Fox business news segment Thursday. Treated with kid gloves (one interviewer even described his question as "Mr. Softball being lobbed at you" and asked the CEO to run with it), Wouters' interview and outing to the public (after replacing founding father Alan Klapmeier as CEO) was hardly a trial by fire. It did, however, go beyond the business of Cirrus to make a stand in support of aviation as a tool for small business and framed it as vital to the economy. This is an industry that is "instrumental in job growth and job production in the U.S.," Wouters said. Wouters said general aviation has a "legitimate business" purpose, is safe, and provides "a value proposition" for the business owners "on a day-to-day basis" and noted the specific efficiencies of his company's large-capacity, low-speed Vision jet. The car company CEOs, he said (who notoriously flew to D.C. independently in their own business jets to ask for billions of taxpayer dollars) could have arrived together in one Vision jet operating at "one twentieth" the cost. The argument effectively supports Cirrus' recent strategy that shifts resources from the piston line toward development of the seven-place, single-engine Vision jet. Wouters' also used his visit to Fox to push Cirrus' new marketing plan, which it calls "Flying 2.0."

In some ways, Wouters' visit to Fox business news seemed to be an effort to explain Cirrus as a company for Joe the intelligent business jet flyer who employs people rather than one for Joe the self-serving wasteful CEO who fires them. In an appeal to the broader audience, Cirrus' plan "Flying 2.0" juxtaposes modern general aviation with old "Flying 1.0" hub-and-spoke commercial air travel. It describes Cirrus products as "state-of-the-art technology, safety, reliability, comfort, and performance" and adds an old Porsche tag line (that's been Cirrusized): "Accept no substitute." (Porsche once advertised, "Porsche. There is no substitute.") Cirrus' Flying 2.0 Web page contrasts "uncomfortable, unpredictable, expensive" and inflexible travel options (those offered by traditional air travel) with "travel as enjoyable as it is cost-efficient and time-saving" (those offered by Cirrus). Taking aim on fear of flying and targeting its competition, Cirrus touts CAPS (Cirrus' full-plane parachute system) as "a safety feature even the airlines cannot boast." According to Cirrus, "Time is the new money," and Cirrus' Flying 2.0 is "about being there."

NOTE: Cirrus has posted the Fox business news interview to its own Web page that also details "Flying 2.0." Find it here.

Two Light Aircraft Packed With C4 Fly "Suicide" Mission

The nightmare scenario sometimes conjured to push for further regulation of general aviation aircraft in the U.S. played out in Sri Lanka Friday and ended with one aircraft crashing into a government building and the other close to an air force camp. Used as weapons of war by rebel forces, two men flew two 1600-pound Zlin Z-143 light piston single aircraft at night using handheld GPS and "torch light" (presumably flashlights) to guide them in an effort to deliver themselves and about 280 pounds of C4 high explosive to their targets. Sources differ in their reports regarding of the amount of explosives carried -- some cite 215 kg, or close to 473 pounds. The aircraft's maximum gross weight is roughly 3,000 pounds. According to rebel sources, the men were not meant to return from what they called suicide missions and they were not shot down. Rebels claim the two defense installation targets were hit and both the military and rebel accounts seem to agree that one aircraft struck the Inland Revenue Department building and exploded. The other aircraft crashed into a marsh, according to the Sri Lankan air force, which said both aircraft were turned away from other targets by a darkened city (defensive blackout) and ground fire. The two pilots were killed and more than 40 people were injured in the attacks. The extent of damage to the building was not reported. The local government claims each aircraft had engaged after the aircraft were spotted on radar and said their destruction, plus that of another aircraft destroyed in September, leave the rebels without any remaining air power.

Reports indicate that the attacks may have been intended for other targets and the pilots altered their plans after being diverted from their original targets of an air force facility and power station by anti-aircraft fire. The Sri Lankan military claims the attacks show the rebels are desperate and now, without air power, weak. The rebels claim the attacks were successful air raids and that both pilots were decorated veterans of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

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News Briefs back to top 

Fuller Announces Changes To Expo, Now AOPA Summit

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association President Craig Fuller announced Saturday name and format changes for his organization's annual meeting, formerly AOPA Expo, to be held in Tampa this November. "We want to help you connect to the reasons that you fly," he said, "so you can maximize the value you get from your personal aviation experience." In plain English, that translates to a name change from AOPA Expo to "The AOPA Aviation Summit" (in this case, the first ever) as well as physical changes made most obvious, according to AOPA, by a new exhibitor layout. The new format "will provide opportunities for product demonstrations" and more, "right in the middle of it all." Fuller didn't explain all the changes in great detail, but offered a teaser by saying that the static aircraft display (hosted this year at Peter O. Knight Airport) will showcase aspects of general aviation "that members are not used to seeing." But again, the major differences, according to Fuller, will be on the exhibit floor. Exactly what you should expect is anyone's guess, but with Fuller's comments that "we are expanding our horizons," clearly you're meant to expect "more."

The new exhibits will apparently offer attendees new, presumably greater, opportunities to "touch, test, and interact with the people and technology" relevant to each person in their experience as a pilot. In the end, the next AOPA Expo will be the first AOPA Summit and celebrates the organization's 70th anniversary. Interested parties should mark their calendars for Nov. 5 through 7.

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News Briefs back to top 

Eclipse Sale Pending, Or ... ?

Eclipse was holding steady last week that the furlough of 800 employees was temporary and necessary because of an unexpected slowdown in negotiations regarding the company's sale. EclipseJet Aviation International Inc., owned mostly by ETIRC Aviation, is awaiting court approval to buy Eclipse Aviation. Money for the buyout has reportedly already been approved, but the holdup, according to Mike McConnell, president of Eclipse's customer division, is a byproduct of the global financial crisis. To some, that may imply that establishing the existence of the approved funds may have created complications. For the deal to work, investors together will need to see the company that accrued an estimated $1 billion in debts and liabilities as worthy under new management of $160 million in new notes. That -- along with a $28 million infusion from EclipseJet and equity offerings for the largest note holders -- would win the company a new beginning free of the aforementioned $1 billion debt. In the meantime, Eclipse bosses maintain that furloughed employees will receive their next check and retain benefits. The move, according to McConnell, is "not a layoff" and should be "short-term."

Industry watchers are quick to note that for Eclipse to survive, it will have to find investors interested in shaking off the realities of a world crippled by failed investments, extremely unsettled credit markets and a surge in "where's my mattress" financial planning. It will also take faith in a yet to be fully operational design. Eclipse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last November. The deal currently pending was struck in January. Best that we can tell, the company that once had about 1700 employees is currently operating on a skeleton crew of about fifty people tasked with keeping track of the company's assets.

Cell Phones On The Flight Deck

Carriers have long requested that passengers turn off their cell phones and electronic devices for certain phases of flight to avoid causing interference with flight deck instrumentation, but a recent incident shows that not all carriers have made the same request of their pilots. A Safety Alert for Operations (PDF) issued early this month by the FAA notes that an aviation safety inspector conducting an en route inspection for an unnamed carrier experienced an event that was categorized as extremely dangerous. The event was caused by a pilot's cell phone. According to the alert, the First Officer's ring tone "caused a distraction between the crewmembers during the takeoff phase and could have led the crew to initiate an unnecessary rejected takeoff." The inspector later confirmed that the crew had spoken correctly when they said their General Operations Manual did not prohibit them from leaving their cell phones "on" while performing on station. Digging deeper, the inspector found that the carrier's checklists did not include turning off cell phones as part of crewmember preparations for departure. While that may seemingly allow pilots some wiggle room, the FAA's policies, as outlined in a current Advisory Circular, spell things out more clearly.

Advisory Circular 91-21 details that cell phones are not authorized for use after departure from the gate and that "the unit will be turned off and properly stowed to prepare the aircraft for takeoff as per the operator's procedures." The five-page circular was drafted to guide operators seeking compliance with CFR Part 91.21, which, in part, prohibits the operation of personal electronic devices aboard civil aircraft operating under instrument flight rules, but does allow for approval of certain devices.

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New on AVweb back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: ADM, Chaos Theory, and Why There Will Always Be Crashes

IFR magazine editor-in-chief Jeff Van West joins the AVweb Insider blog with some thoughts on the Colgan crash. While the reasons for are still being sorted out, but crashes like this will continue to happen from time to time, and Jeff speculates that this one may have been a case of doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.

Read more.

AVweb Insider Blog: While We're Handing Out Stimulus Money, How About We Save Our XM Weather?

It's the question asked by IFR magazine editor-in-chief Jeff Van West in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog. Rather than spending money to make a free weather service that plays on the ADS-B system, he argues, the FAA should just buy into troubled Sirius XM.

Read more.

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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

AVmail: February 23, 2009

Each week, we run a sampling of the letters received to our editorial inbox here in AVmail. One letter that's particularly relevant, informative, or otherwise compelling will headline this section as our "Letter of the Week," and we'll send the author an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you" for interacting with us (and the rest of our readership). Send us your comments and questions using this form. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail (just in case your letter is our "Letter of the Week"); by the same token, please let us know if your message is not intended for publication.

Letter of the Week: GA Is Vital

As a member of a family that lives and breathes aviation from our daily personal lives to our professional ones, I would like to say your reporting on the fighting back from the corporate world was well said (February 19, 2009). We have watched our freedom of mobility over the years fade away with the changes to general aviation. Small airports being torn down and changes in regulations that require additional instruments and reporting, not to mention the current concerns that TSA is ... make[-ing] flying for fun increasingly more difficult.

However, now we are not only faced with our pleasure flying being interrupted, but those of us in the industry are also facing losing jobs and income, much due to those who don't really understand what aviation really does for this country.

The articles and campaigns by Cessna, GAMA and NBAA are well-written and explain what many need to know: Flying isn't just a means to get to the big game; it also has become part of the competition in business, medical assistance in emergencies, access to towns otherwise remote and many, many jobs. We are now facing the repercussions of a society that just doesn't get it.

I hope these ads and campaigns reach far.

Dianne Huckins

Carbon Guilt

Regarding the podcast on carbon offsets for aircraft owners: This sounds like a program to make everyone feel guilty. If we do this, we can play on people's guilt, and we can shame them into giving us some cash.

John Hanson

Light Video

I wanted to thank you for the video Are LED Lights Bright Enough? by Paul Bertorelli. I found it to be both informative as well as humorous. From now on, I will make sure to view any future videos by Mr. Bertorelli.

Thanks again!

Stan Alluisi

Rich Enough to Fly?

I have answered the Question of the Week to some of my friends by saying, "No, I am not rich. I just live on a higher plane of poverty."

Wes Warvi

Inner Drive

I think that aggressive pursuit of student pilots is a waste of time and energy, possibly a family's budget, and/or a friendship! Support? YES! But trying to get someone interested is probably not a good use of your time. If they don't have that "inner drive," nothing will guarantee their success.

John Lacey

Lake Placid Mishap

After reading the full factual report from the NTSB web site on the accident in Lake Placid, I find the probable cause contrasted with the information presented in the report. It's as if one guy did the investigation and his boss made the final determination by looking at the report only. But there is a fact missing from the report that would have made FSS the presumptive probable cause: the fact that LKP only has one runway. As I read it, the airport was closed. To say "a runway was closed" (as though there were other runways available) is just a bit disingenuous. Why wasn't the entire airport NOTAMed closed?

The only clue made available to the pilot were some flashing lights near the center of the runway. If they were flashing brightly, so what? How many airports now have flashing lights marking hold-short lines at taxiways? And the only taxiways at LKP are — guess where — near the center of the runway. From the downwind, how hard would it be to decipher what those lights meant, especially in a low-wing aircraft?

Let's call it as it was. The airport was effectively closed, and when the pilot requested a briefing, he wasn't informed of that crucial fact. The runway light system operated when it shouldn't have (for a closed runway). Probably none of the construction markers, more than 1,000 feet away, would have been visible to the pilot from the runway threshold. I don't know of any pilot in that situation (including me) who would not be at high risk to be similarly caught.

Steve Comer

Belly Up ...

A "belly-up" landing (Feb. 16)? Gee, the plane looks right-side-up to me. What really happened? Maybe we could "belly up" to the bar and talk about this one ... .

Ed Wischmeyer

AVweb Replies:

Clearly, we've been writing too much about the economic crisis, and our e-mail AVwebFlash newsletter (on Feb. 19) described the gear-up landing at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan as a "belly-up" landing, which makes no sense at all.

Thanks to the many who caught it before we could change it on the site.

Russ Niles

Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own Letter to the Editor with this form.

Attention, Aircraft Owners/Operators: 'Aviation Consumer' Wants to Hear About Your Experiences with Engine Warranties

Our sister publication, Aviation Consumer magazine, wants to hear about your experiences with engine warranties. We'd like to know about warranties of new or remanufactured engines from the factory, field overhauls and "boutique" engine shops. In your opinion, was the warranty sufficient? Did you encounter problems after installation, and were they resolved to your satisfaction? Did any factory, overhauler or installer go beyond their warranty to address any problems?

Please send a note to aviation_safety@hotmail.com and let us know your experiences, including the factory or shop doing the work, the aircraft type and the nature of any problems.

(The results will appear in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. For subscription information, click here.)

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.

Hill Aircraft Parts Department Announces February as Customer Appreciation Month
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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Exclusive Video Demo: Why Cirrus's New Flight Into Known Icing Package Is the Best of Its Kind

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

Cirrus's Matt Bergwall recently checked out AVweb on the company's new approved flight into known icing package. When you see this video, you'll understand why this system is not just another version of TKS. The airplane is exceptionally well-protected, and the de-icing is cleverly integrated into the avionics suite. This demo is definitely worth the watching.

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.

We Live in a Fast-Paced World; Use Your Travel Time Wisely
Subscribe to Pilot's Audio Update and you'll receive monthly CDs packed with up-to-the-minute information on topics ranging from "Understanding GPS and WAAS" to the lowdown on "Light Sport Aircraft." Put your in-flight "down time" to work for you. Subscribe now to receive the Acing the Flight Review CD as a gift with your order.
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Great Bend Municipal Airport (KGBD, Great Bend, KS)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to the FBO run by the city of Great Bend at Great Bend Municipal Airport (KGBD) in Kansas.

AVweb reader Chad Crow recommended the FBO, telling us about their "great hospitality, attitude, and all the amenities you could as for." Plus, Chad tells us the fuel prices ain't bad, either ... !

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!

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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"

While on an Angel Flight into Baltimore, Maryland last fall, the following radio exchanges took place:

"Baltimore approach, Angel Flight is tuned into the localizer, but the needle is all over the place, and we're hearing jazz music."

Airliner in the Vicinity:
"Baltimore, we'd like to hear some jazz, too. We tuned the localizer but can't seem to receive any music."

Karim Houry
New York, NY

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.