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Volume 15, Number 12a
March 23, 2009
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Top News: Tragedy Dominates Weekend Headlinesback to top 
Sponsor Announcement

An FAA spokesman is quoted by the New York Times as saying as many as 17 people, many of them children, were on board a 12-seat Pilatus PC-12 and all died when the aircraft crashed and exploded in a cemetery in Butte, Montana on Sunday. Les Dorr told the Times that 14 to 17 people were on the aircraft, which left Oroville, Calif., 70 miles north of Sacramento, Calif. for Bozeman, Mont.. The plane diverted to Butte en route and crashed within 500 feet of the airport. The reason for the diversion has not been released but Butte would have been a closer alternative if the pilot had been experiencing problems. According to FlightAware, the flight originated at Brown Field in San Diego and made three stops before the crash. More...

The pilots aboard a FedEx MD-11 died when the aircraft crashed during a hard landing at Tokyo Narita Airport on Sunday. An airport video camera shows the aircraft landing hard and porpoising before the left wing drags and a fire ensues. Weather was clear but strong crosswinds were reported. Media reports said the crew was from the U.S. The flight originated in Guangzhou in southern China. More...

Officials in Montana found a Cessna 180 flown by Sparky Imeson, author of the Mountain Flying Bible and he died in the crash. The plane had been missing since Tuesday afternoon. Imeson was reportedly alone aboard the airplane, and his last known radar position was about 18 miles north of Bozeman, Mont., at about 2:23 p.m., over the Big Belt Mountains. He had taken off from Bozeman with a destination of Helena, about an hour's flight away. The wreckage was found about two miles from a private airstrip in Canyon Ferry, Mont. More...

3 Airplanes ... 3 Levels ... 1 Edition ... Ice
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Bringing Them to Market, Part Iback to top 
Sponsor Announcement

The sixth and final 787 Dreamliner test aircraft is in final assembly at Boeing's Everett, Wash., facility as the first test aircraft gets final paint and analysts continue to apply their doubts. The aircraft's release to customers is almost two years behind schedule and some analysts are not ready to accept that Boeing will meet its plans to start shipping the aircraft early next year. The company, however, is hoping for first flight this summer. The all-composite airliner represents a departure from prior production lines and so many observers suspect that small (or large) issues may creep up during the flight-test process, causing further delays. For now, Boeing says the aircraft is moving well through testing and there are assemblies for 31 more aircraft already in the supply chain. The economy has caused some order cancellations, according to the company, but 878 aircraft are still due to 57 customers worldwide. More...

A Cessna spokesman says the company may have to reconsider the delivery schedule for the 162 Skycatcher after the second crash of a prototype Thursday. The pilot, who was doing unspecified flight test maneuvers, pulled the ballistic parachute, which deployed and he was uninjured in the incident. Photos show the aircraft ended up inverted, likely because the parachute pulled it along the ground. The crash aircraft was the only flying example of the 162 after September crash destroyed the first prototype. Deliveries were to begin later this year, but Bob Stangarone, Cessna's vice president of corporate communications, told the Wichita Eagle, that schedule will have to be adjusted. More...

A Life Insurance Policy That Returns All of Your Premiums? — YES
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Bringing Them to Market, Part IIback to top 

Quest Aircraft turned over the first of many short takeoff and landing, heavy-hauling, single turboprop Kodiak aircraft to be sold "at cost" as part of the manufacturer's Quest Mission Team (QMT) program. The Kodiak was designed for the rigors of off-airport mission work and can carry 3,100 pounds (or 10 passengers) into the air after a 760-foot ground roll, cruise more than 1,000 miles at 179 knots, and land in a little more than 900 feet. Both the company, Quest Aircraft, and the aircraft, the Kodiak, were created with the intent of filling the demands of mission aviation work. The company owes its origins and much of its startup capital to money raised by churches and mission aviation organizations. In return Quest has said it will deliver every 11th aircraft as a QMT plane to one of those organizations, "at cost." Quest has now met that goal with its first delivery to the Mission Aviation Fellowship, and as production continues to ramp up, a second QMT aircraft is already on the line at the company's Sandpoint, Idaho, facility. The unique capabilities of the aircraft have earned interest from other markets, as well. More...

"Roel [Pieper] reluctantly took over as CEO of Eclipse in July of 2008," according to a press release that now announces him as a partner with Mike Press, Mason Holland, Raul Segredo and John Cracken in Eclipse Jet LLC (a.k.a. New Eclipse) -- a company that seeks to acquire and operate the assets of Eclipse Aviation. Pieper, who succeeded Vern Raburn as Eclipse's CEO, found himself unable to fund his plan to turn the financially failing Eclipse Aviation around as the economy collapsed. But, says Holland, he has engaged himself with Eclipse Jet in a way that "proved very useful." Specifically, Holland says Pieper, who will act as Director of Eclipse Jet, has guided cost reduction and market expansion for the Eclipse 500. The team hopes to combine Pieper's experience with Segredo's, whose company, Avionica, was founded in 1992 and now stands to equip Boeing's first 787 as a provider of satellite-communications gear. Cracken is managing director of a Dallas-based private-equity firm that specializes in "the acquisition of middle-market companies." Mike Press is an Eclipse owner and Mason Holland is a 60-percent deposit holder. Press and Holland have been working to form a group that might, according to Holland, "restore the vision of Eclipse and honor the company's commitments to owners and depositors." Eclipse Jet LLC set specific objectives earlier this month. More...

Lycoming® — The Engines of Choice
Lycoming® produces the most complete line of horizontally opposed, air-cooled four-, six-, and eight-cylinder certified aircraft engines available, with power ranging from 100 to 400 HP. For homebuilders, air race and aerobatic pilots, and others looking for non-certified engines with Lycoming dependability, Lycoming offers custom-built Thunderbolt Engines. Lycoming piston engines have a reputation for reaching or exceeding TBO. For more information, please visit
Helicopter Groundingsback to top 

Following the March 12 crash of a Sikorsky S-92 helicopter off the coast of Newfoundland that killed 17 people, both the U.S. and Canada are reportedly considering temporarily grounding the fleet. Some 90 S-92s are in operation throughout the world and though a cause of this month's crash has not yet been determined, investigators have new concerns after finding a broken stud relating to the aircraft's main gearbox oil filter system. Those parts had been the subject of a voluntary safety alert issued by Sikorsky that warned operators to replace certain titanium studs with steel replacement parts. Failure of the studs could lead to loss of oil pressure and potential loss of control. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is leading the investigation and by Friday, the FAA had confirmed they were considering the action. Sikorsky has publicly supported the investigation but did not have additional details or recommended actions for operators by late last week. The pilots of this month's crash aircraft reportedly declared a mayday minutes before the crash, citing a problem with the main gearbox oil pressure. The aircraft appeared to fly a controlled descent from 9,000 feet but lost control near 800 feet, according to early reports. Only one person survived. More...

The FAA Thursday drastically reduced the number of aircraft affected by an emergency airworthiness directive it issued Tuesday from about 2,715 aircraft to about 50 helicopters registered in the U.S. The earlier AD had required emergency inspection of some 2,715 Bell 206, 407 and 427 models. (Bell 206 and 407 helicopters are the company's bestselling civil helicopters and are widely used in first responder and police work.) The more recent emergency airworthiness directive requires inspections for an improperly installed the cyclic control lever bearing -- on aircraft with fewer than 50 hours flight time. Problems with the bearing could lead to control problems and possibly control failure. Affected operators are now directed to inspect the part before the aircraft's next flight and replace the part if necessary. Bell discovered the problem about a week ago during delivery of a helicopter. More...

You Won't Need SVT to See Where No-Cost Fuel Can Take You,
But We're Throwing It in Anyway

If you buy one of a limited number of 2008 Cessna 350 or Cessna 400 aircraft from existing inventory, Cessna will supply you with $25,000 in fuel at no cost to you and upgrade your state-of-the-art Garmin G1000 integrated flight deck with new Synthetic Vision Technology. Supply of eligible aircraft is limited, so act fast and contact your Cessna representative today.
The Future of Flying?back to top 

Williams International announced Friday that it has completed "extended testing" that burned 2,000 gallons of "coal-based alternative fuel" in a Williams FJ44-3 gas turbine engine. The test engine endured 118 cycles and 21 hours of operation and "performed extremely well," showing performance numbers that were "identical" to its Jet-A burning counterparts, according to the company. Further, the test engine required no modifications for the demonstration, which Williams says "validates the flexibility" of the FJ44 in its ability to operate with different compounds created from alternative processes. The fuel used in the tests was developed at Penn State University in cooperation with Intertek-PARC and Duquesne University. It was "essentially free" of sulfur and nitrogen while retaining a higher energy density than Jet-A, which may translate to longer-range flights. Williams is using the test both to promote the "robust" nature of the FJ44 and also the company's participation in alternative fuel development. More...

Terrafugia last week celebrated the public announcement of the successful first test flights made by its two-seat roadable folding-wing aircraft, the Transition, March 5, and maintains its intent to deliver production models for under $200,000 and by 2011. Test pilot Col. (Ret) Phil Meteer reported that the test vehicle remained stable on the ground through 90 mph in earlier tests and said that in flight the aircraft was both "smooth" and "controlled" exhibiting stability that was "rock solid." Meteer said, "the rotation speed [70 knots] is 25 knots above stall speed [45 knots]," and that helps make the vehicle very stable in car mode and after landing. The first flight was filmed and took place over the runway at Plattsburg, N.Y., where the aircraft became airborne after an extended ground roll and with large control deflections. Under non-test conditions, the company predicts the Transition will take off over a 50-foot obstacle in 1700 feet. Per the test pilot, the aircraft touched down at 70 knots with 2000 feet of runway remaining (a 1,000-foot overrun was available). With four-wheel braking, the pilot said the Transition came to a stop in about 500 feet. More...

Dr. Blue Says, "Be Smart — Carry a PLB!"
Flying, hiking, camping, riding your ATV or bike — accidents happen that can become a life-threatening situation. Be prepared with a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). It's as easy as pushing a button. PLBs from include the ACR MicroFix 406 MHz for pilots when you're enjoying activities in unpopulated areas. Click now to visit for complete details.
New on AVwebback to top 

BrainteasersWhile you navigate the National Airspace System (NAS), air traffic controllers apply a slug of rules to keep it all flowing. The more you know about how the system works, the smoother you'll sound.

Take the quiz.

Non-profit aviation organizations are struggling as much or more as the rest of us during this downturn, and in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog, Mary Grady explains why it's important to support these groups now — so they'll still be around when the crisis passes. More...

Q: What's the Difference Between a $10,000 Annual and a $2,500 Annual?

Mike Busch and his team of seasoned maintenance professionals are saving their aircraft-owner clients thousands of dollars a year in parts and labor — not to mention hours of hassle — by providing professional maintenance management for owner-flown singles and twins. Learn how they do it.
The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You!back to top 

AVMAIL: MARCH 23, 2009

Letter of the Week: Wright Was Right

George Wright wrote: "The inoperative radar altimeter was incidental to this crash, which resulted from three trained pilots all failing to note air speed falling below minimums — a minimum need-to-know to be called an aviator."

To which Russ Niles said: "C'mon, George, that's like saying cause of death was heart failure and failing to mention the knife in the patient's chest."

Clever retort, Russ, but bad analogy. I'm with George on this one. A better analogy would be that AVweb reported the cause of death was a cheeseburger, ignoring the fact that the victim knew he had high cholesterol, high blood pressure, weighed 300 lbs., neglected to take his prescriptions, and never exercised. What you reported was simply the proximate cause, the last link in a chain of neglect, but hardly the only or even primary "cause" of the crash. In fairness, you allude to what will probably reveal the real cause: the CVR tapes.

An infected toenail is rarely life-threatening, unless you are ignoring your diabetes.

Chip Davis

Click through to read the rest of this week's letters.


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 What have you heard? More...

TWX670 Color Lightning — A Whole New Way to Look at Weather!
Avidyne's TWX670 is the first highly-accurate and reliable spherics system available for certain composite airframes, including Entegra- and G1000-equipped Cessna/Columbia 350 and 400, on which the TWX670 is now certified. Advanced digital signal processing and greater noise immunity allow the TWX670 to more accurately detect and display weather based on lightning and electrical activity. The TWX670 provides a perfect complement to Avidyne's MLB700 or MLX770 Datalink Weather systems for tactical and strategic weather along your route of flight. Click here for more information.
AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learnback to top 

Tornado Alley's new turbonormalized Cardinal can run with the big dogs. AVweb's Paul Bertorelli takes you under the cowl with TAT's George Braly. More...

IFR Refresher editor Meredith Saini chatted with Eric Anderson, spokesperson for Jeppesen, about how their instrument approach procedures are updated. Users of Jeppesen products can visit the Jeppesen web site to get mid-cycle revisions, which sometimes contain changes that were the result of an alert pilot noticing an error and bringing it to the company's attention. More...

Video Marketplace Spotlight

Cessna Skycatcher
Kitplanes Editor Marc Cook talks with Neal Willford, Cessna Aircraft's project engineer on the 162 SkyCatcher. Neal was kind enough to share the inside scoop on the SkyCatcher's journey to market.

Click here to watch the video (and discover other great products) at AVweb's Video Marketplace.

Eur-Avia Cannes 2009 Announces the Conference Program, to Include:
Buying new or second-hand aircraft; security round-up for 2008; technology to help the pilot; how to renovate and modernize your aircraft and interiors; external paintwork; avionics; engine improvements; and interior comfort. This Third International Exhibition will open its doors from April 30 to May 2, 2009 on the International Airport of Cannes Mandelieu (LFMD). Visit for details.
Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to SheltAir Aviation Services at KORL in Orlando, Florida.

AVweb reader David McKenna recommended the FBO:

We visited SheltAir on another pilot's recommendation, and Robert and Miguel [at SheltAir] lived up to their reputation. [They] totally impress[ed] us with VIP service, fair parking and fuel prices, an over-the-top welcome, and friendship!

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!


Working Healthy
A "no excuses" book that belongs in every repair station and line shop, Working Healthy is a manual on health and safety techniques written specifically for the aviation technician. Learn to protect your most valuable assets (your employees and students) from the risks and long-term health issues common in every aviation facility, and so reduce absenteeism, job delays, and your workman's comp premiums. One minor injury prevented will pay for this book 100 times over. Click here for details.
Reader-Submitted Photosback to top 

Our latest batch of "POTW" photos are just a wee bit late, but not to worry — we'll run them in Monday's issue of AVwebFlash for those who didn't come online to find them on Thursday. On to the photos: Matt Ashcraft of Waco, Texas fills our top spot this week by combining some of our favorite elements — sunsets, thunderstorms, and helicopters. Just for good measure, Matt even made sure was a rescue craft, the lifeguard helicopter LifeStar 1! More...

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The Lighter Side of Flightback to top 

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

Heard over Oklahoma City approach frequency on a busy day:

"American One Twenty-Three, descend pilot's discretion. Maintain 6,000."

American 123 [after a long pause] :
"Oak City, American One Twenty-Three. Did you call us?"

"American One Twenty-Three, descend pilot's discretion. Maintain 6,000."

American 123:
"Say again."

Approach [getting a bit hot] :
"American One Twenty-Three: Descend — and maintain — 6,000. Pilot's discretion, co-pilot's discretion — it really doesn't matter to me!"

Geno Luther
Joshua, Texas


Names Behind the Newsback to top 


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.