AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 15, Number 26a

June 29, 2009

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News: Eclipse Embattled in Europe back to top 

Eclipse Loses EASA Type Certificate, Suppliers Lose More

The EASA Type Certificate covering the Eclipse 500 has been suspended (PDF) as of June 12, 2009, striking a potential blow to the value of Eclipse Aviation's intellectual property assets that may soon be sold at auction. Now in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Eclipse Aviation has even less to offer potential buyers. Eclipse achieved the EASA certificate in November of last year, hoping to win a new market for the aircraft in any of 30 European nations, but since that time the vast majority of delivered Eclipse 500 very light jets have been registered in the United States. So, on the upside, the suspension shouldn't have much of an effect on aircraft that are currently in use. On the rapidly growing downside, Eclipse's assets will now offer even less to the company's suppliers that have lined up to fill out bankruptcy court claim forms for money due them. One supplier (of about 145) that may take a big hit, 59-year-old Sun Country Industries, may be stuck with unpaid invoices totaling half a million dollars and "is sitting on an additional $750,000 in parts and material" otherwise destined for Eclipse, according to Aircraft Maintenance Technology online (AMT). To make matters worse, of Eclipse's physical assets, which could be sold to repay its debts, it seems many may have never been paid for by Eclipse.

According to AMT, court documents show that some $76 million worth of equipment and parts housed in Eclipse's facilities were never owned by Eclipse. Companies that continued to work with Eclipse in 2008 reportedly saw payment delays increase to about three months in the second half of the year when many suppliers shifted to a credit freeze/cash only policy with the company. Of those that stayed with the company, many truly wanted the manufacturer to succeed, according to AMT. That condition lasted mostly until July 2008, when Eclipse CEO Vern Rayburn was removed from his position, blaming much of the company's problems on problems with suppliers.

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The Changing Face of Flying back to top 

Viper Claims Experimental "First"

Viper Aircraft's new Viperjet LXR fanjet is a 375-KTAS, experimental two-place tandem aerobatic-capable personal jet with an 1100-nm range (with reserves) and room for 125 pounds of baggage -- and it's now available with a special endorsement from the FAA. The company has established standardized qualifications and training for the aircraft that qualifies pilots who've taken that training for an Authorized Experimental Aircraft certificate. The certificate is basically the experimental aircraft version of a type rating and in practice it means its holder "will no longer need to receive a Letter of Authorization (LOA) from the FAA," to operate the aircraft, according to Viper President Scott Hanchette. Hanchette believes that makes his the "first experimental aviation company in its class" to receive such a certificate. According to Viper, the authorized certificate is part of the FAA's vintage and experimental program's goal of establishing standardized pilot qualifications, training and certification in experimental U.S. and foreign aircraft.

Viper's program has already seen its first certificate recipients in Alain Garcia and professional test pilot Len Fox. All pilots seeking the certificate must complete the recommended training syllabus and fulfill the certificate requirements, which include a comprehensive review and flight evaluation by an FAA designated experimental aircraft examiner.

Solar Impulse Is Revealed

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An aircraft was unveiled Friday in Switzerland that aims to take off with one pilot aboard and fly day and night propelled only by solar energy, flying around the world without expending any fuel or expelling any pollution. The team led by Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg believes the goal is unachievable "without pushing back the current technological limits in all fields." The craft measures 61 meters in span and will carry aloft about 3300 pounds of aircraft and 12,000 photovoltaic cells. There are more efficient options, but the 130-micron monocrystalline silicon solar cells were chosen for their combination of light weight and efficiency. The cells are dispersed over 200 square meters of surface area as part of a 12 percent efficient propulsion chain designed to deliver about eight horsepower from four motors. The motors are housed in under wing pods with lithium polymer batteries that are insulated to conserve the radiated heat that will allow them to function at the -40 degrees Centigrade at 27,000 feet the aircraft may experience. Power collected from the solar cells and stored in the batteries will be used to drive 3.5-meter propellers through a gear reduction that will swing them at 200-400 revolutions per minute -- lifting the giant craft off the ground at about 19 knots and flying it at about 60. And then there's what's on the inside.

Aside from a pilot, the aircraft will also be carrying an on-board computer to analyze and manage hundreds of parameters that it will transfer to a ground team and simplify the task for the pilot. The system is designed to manage optimal power for the motors in every possible flight configuration and battery charge or discharge condition. If it works as intended it will allow the plane to "self-correct and minimize its energy consumption." What its designers hope is the beginning of the ultimate alternative fuel vehicle is here. Let the testing begin.

Related Content:

3 Airplanes ... 3 Levels ... 1 Edition ... Ice
New for 2009, Cirrus Aircraft shakes the lineup with a new way to spec out your new Cirrus. SR20, SR22, and Turbo models are now available in three well-equipped trim levels - "S," "GS," and "GTS"; Known Ice Protection is ready to go on SR22 and Turbo models; or choose an all-new premium interior and exterior upgrade package dubbed "X-Edition." Visit CirrusAircraft.com for details.
Investigating Beyond the Aircraft back to top 

NTSB To Investigate A330 Air Data Anomalies

Investigators recently reported that the crew of Air France Flight 447, lost earlier this month with all aboard, may have been fed faulty air data, and Friday the NTSB announced that it is investigating "two recent incidents" in which A330 instruments may have malfunctioned. Earlier this month, after it was publicly disclosed that Airbus had recommended changes to the jets' pitot tubes, some pilots for Air France were urged by their union to refuse flights on A330/A340 series aircraft if their pitot sensors had not yet been replaced. Of the two incidents the NTSB will be investigating, the first involved a TAM Airlines flight out of Miami May 21, bound for Sao Paulo. The airliner lost "primary speed and altitude information" during cruise. Pilots reported the event was precipitated by an abrupt drop in indicated outside air temperature. Soon after, the Air Data Reference System was lost and the autopilot and autothrust disconnected. The crew flew the jet on backup instruments for about five minutes until primary data was restored. The flight continued to a Sao Paulo, where it landed without incident. A Northwest Airlines A330 flying between Hong Kong and Tokyo on June 23 may have experienced a similar event. The NTSB in its statement did not draw any connection between these investigations and the Air France disaster.

The NTSB is collecting weather and data recorder information, as well as Aircraft Condition Monitoring Systems messages and crew statements, to evaluate the incidents. The board will release information on both incidents as it becomes available.

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Shake-Up for Cirrus Vision Jet? back to top 

Klapmeier Makes Play For Cirrus Jet

Click for video of the Vision's first flight

AVweb has confirmed that former Cirrus Design CEO Alan Klapmeier is making a bid to acquire the rights to manufacture and sell the Vision SF 50 single-engine jet. A source close to the negotiations, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Klapmeier announced that he has "formed a team of financial advisors and engineers" to try to take over the project. The source said Merrill Lynch is involved in the negotiations between the Klapmeier group and Arcapita Ventures, Cirrus Aircraft's majority investor, over the potential acquisition of the project. The new company will be separate from Cirrus and a name has not been chosen.

Related Content:

The New Meridian G1000 — Commanding
The new Meridian G1000 with Garmin G1000 avionics and GFC 700 autopilot suite, business jet luxury and turbine simplicity for 30% less than any comparable six-place turbine-powered aircraft. With a panel as commanding as the airplane, and a million dollars less than its closest competitor, "Pilot in Command" means precisely that.

Click here for more information on the new Piper Meridian G1000.
News Briefs back to top 

Fractional Cub?

American Legend Aircraft announced Thursday that its Legend Cub, a modernized Piper J-3 Cub, could be had for as little as $2900 down and flown for $28 per hour when purchased through the LetsFly four-person joint-ownership program. The LetsFly Cooperative Ownership Program is "the largest aircraft cooperative in the country," according to President Eldon Corry. The company claims to offer an affordable model for pilots "who wish to fly often, but prefer not to rent" in a package that offers "a very appealing aircraft ownership alternative," especially in the context of difficult economic times. For the roughly $110,000 Legend Cub, the company says its four-person system translates into the previously mentioned low initial cost, low hourly cost, and monthly fees that land in the ballpark of about $400 (depending on the loan's interest rate). For what it's worth, LetsFly will also put you in a Mooney Acclaim or Cirrus SR20 for that same initial $2900 ... but you'll be paying about $1500/month and $185/hour for the Mooney, or $710/month and $90/hour in the Cirrus.

LetsFly offers a very wide range of aircraft options, from light sport aircraft to a Beech Duke, depending on inventory. At the time AVweb went to press, American Legend Aircraft was listed by Google as potentially affected by malicious software, so we'll direct interested readers to contact the company by phone if interested in further details: 903-885-7000.

One Man's Dream: 60 Airplanes At 60

Celebrating a 37-year career in aviation and his 60th birthday, Tim Carter has set himself a goal of flying 60 aircraft in the year starting immediately after his Nov. 1, 2008, 60th birthday. He's got about four months left and, according to his Web site, he's flown 29 aircraft. Carter's career has taken him through the United States Air Force and Delta Air Lines before he moved to his current job at a fractional jet company. The man says he has about 17,000 hours total time with type ratings in the B727, 737, 757/767, CE500, CE525 and LOA Folland Gnat. With previous experience flying everything from a Cub through a Zivco Edge to an L29, his logbook may already contain 60 different types, but thought his plan would be a fine "grand finale" to "cap off a great career." Even if he doesn't succeed, the quest has no doubt produced some memorable days, including one spent at the U.S. Flight Academy, where he went once around the patch in eight aircraft (one of which was a helicopter). Carter maintains a Web site where he posts pictures of his conquests.

Carter is getting help from an aviation insurance company and is seeking help in any way it comes. "In some cases I can rent, share expenses, or swap favors. Whatever we can work out." Carter doesn't truly expect to end his career when he turns 61, he just knows his active flying days may be ticking down and so long as he's still going strong and "couldn't think of a better way" to celebrate "than to do what I have enjoyed most during my life, and that is flying airplanes."

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New on AVweb back to top 

The Pilot's Lounge #134:
Gear Up, Good Night — Flying Freight in the Not-So-Good Old Days

While it is fashionable in some circles to assert that society is falling apart and that if only we could return to the ways of yore, all would be well, in the world of Part 135 flying, it simply isn't true. The cowboy days of operators cutting every corner possible trying to make a buck while the FAA looked the other way killed way too many people.

Click here for the full story.

AVweb Insider Blog: Lancair Knows News

In the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog, Russ Niles has some all-too-infrequent praise for the high art of communicating with the media. When the Lancair Evolution suffered a potentially embarrassing gear-up landing, the company was quick to provide information, help news outlets get the details right, and the world didn't come to an end.

Read more.

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh — The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration
July 27 - August 2 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin
This year is too BIG to miss. Literally. Witness the world's largest airliner — Airbus A380 — overtaking AeroShell Square; see the first world public debut of Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo; attend appearances by the U.S. Airways Flight 1549 cockpit crew; and enjoy performances by the Doobie Brothers on opening day and comedian Jeff Dunham Saturday night. Hurry — savings end soon! Buy your tickets online through June 30 and save $5 on every weekly ticket and $2 on every daily ticket. Visit AirVenture.org/tickets today.
The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

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.

Jeppesen Pilot Training
Smart pilots never truly fly solo. For 75 years, pilots have taken their aviation partner along for the journey — Jeppesen. Pilots (and future pilots) look to us for the tools and training they need to fly safely and effectively. Throughout your career flight path, you can count on Jeppesen. Choose the learning tools best for you with our integrated system. Learn more at Jeppesen.com/pilottraining.
AVweb Audio —? Are You Listening? back to top 

EAA AirVenture Update

File Size 10.9 MB / Running Time 9:33

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh is coming up in just a few weeks — July 27 to August 2 — and this year's aviation celebration features lots of special visitors and exhibits, as well as extensive new upgrades to the show grounds. AVweb's Mary Grady talks with Dick Knapinski, EAA spokesman, for all the latest on the show, plus some important advice for pilots planning to fly in.

Click here to listen. (10.9 MB, 9:33)

The Future Of Cirrus's Jet

File Size 5.3 MB / Running Time 5:47

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Cirrus Design co-founder and former CEO Alan Klapmeier dropped a bombshell on the annual Cirrus Migration in Duluth by announcing he wants to take over the SF 50 jet program through a separate company. But current CEO Brent Wouters says the company remains committed to seeing the project through, although it's willing to listen to Klapmeier's ideas. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Wouters about the proposal.

Click here to listen. (5.3 MB, 5:47)

Entegra Release 9 the Very Best Flight Deck System in Aviation
Avidyne's Entegra Release 9 Integrated Flight Deck System represents the next generation of integrated flight deck systems for light general aviation. The Entegra Release 9 retrofit for Cirrus SR20 & SR22 includes dual XGA high-resolution IFD5000 displays, dual-redundant FMS900w systems with a QWERTY-style control/display unit, next-generation fully-digital VHF radios, and dual WAAS/RNP-capable GPS receivers. Find out more about The Best Flight Deck in Aviation at Release9.com.
AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Exclusive Video: Yuneec E430 Electric Airplane Makes Its First Flight

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

The Yuneec E430, a 54hp two-seat Chinese electric airplane, gets put through its paces and undergoes its first flight in this video from Glenn Pew.

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Video Marketplace Spotlight

Bose® Aviation Headset X®:
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27 Years of the RVator
Over half the airplanes at GNB are Vans homebuilts. In fact, over 6,100 have been completed and are flying. If a 200 mph, 9 gph airplane intrigues you, this is where to learn more. It's 500 pages of builder and flyer advice written by Vans Aircraft, specifically on the RV-3 through RV-10. Nothing will describe the building experience better, and nothing will be more useful once you start. Buy the book, CD, or eBook at AVwebBooks.com for $29.95.
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport FBO (SC)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to the city FBO at Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport (KSPA) in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

AVweb reader Jacquelyn Balish explains how the KSPA FBO staff went above and beyond to bring a smile to her face:

I fly with very young children by myself. This really can be challenging upon landing. I have a plane, kids, and luggage to deal with. The personnel at this airport jump right in to help. They take the children and luggage, [then] take kids to play while I secure my plane. They are Johnny on the spot. On one trip, the birds decided that my plane was a great toilet. [As soon as] I drove up, the plane was being washed for me at no charge!

P.S. The children love all the people at this airport.

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

At the Charlottetown (CYYG) airport last summer, while doing my run-up in my 172, an air Canada flight had just finished copping their clearance when they saw an osprey fly by with a large flounder in its talons. They contacted the tower:

"Charlottetown Tower, Air Canada 123."

Charlottetown Tower:
"Go ahead."

"There's an osprey that just flew overhead carrying a fish!"

Charlottetown Tower: (without missing a beat) :
"Have him contact the tower."

This kind of made my day in this very friendly maritime town.

Neil Angus
Montreal, Québec

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
Mariano Rosales

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.

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