October 23, 2003
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Actions speak louder than rumors and if there was any question Sino Swearingen would survive the tragic loss of its chief test pilot and an aircraft, the company appears to have answered it with an even more determined development effort. The San Antonio, Texas, firm announced this week that a replacement SJ30-2 test aircraft for the one lost last April 26 had its maiden flight Oct. 17. The April 26 crash, during high-speed flutter testing, killed pilot Carroll Beeler. The NTSB hasn't ruled on a probable cause, although the preliminary report says the pilot was unable to correct an uncommanded roll to the right during flutter testing. The new plane will resume the aerodynamics, stability/controls and performance flight-test program that was being carried out at the time of the crash. Another conforming model is undergoing systems and engine testing and a third example will be added in a few months for autopilot, interior and function/reliability testing. With the addition of the second test plane, Sino Swearingen intends to accelerate the test program to seven days a week with night flights and IFR as it moves closer to certification. "With the expeditious launch of this FAA test aircraft into the certification program the team has accomplished another milestone," said CEO Dr. Carl Chen. Test pilot Bob Kromer said the new airplane handled well during its one-hour first flight, which included tests of all basic systems as well as assessment of takeoff and landing characteristics. The planned certification date hasn't been released but the company said an announcement will be coming soon.
As Sino Swearingen launched a new test aircraft, Eclipse Aviation announced it was retiring its first test aircraft, which has told them all it can about the low- and medium-speed handling of the Eclipse 500. The test plane flew a total of 54 hours in 55 flights using a pair of Continental target drone engines for power. Eclipse is awaiting development of the Pratt and Whitney Canada PW610F engines that will ultimately (certification is targeted for early 2006) provide the ponies for the 500 but, in the meantime, decided to test various aerodynamic and handling qualities. There weren't any major surprises in the program and no significant redesigns are forthcoming. "This airplane has not only enabled our engineers to validate all of the aerodynamic data that was predicted in the wind tunnel, but has also given us the valuable information we need to start building our certification and production aircraft," said CEO Vern Raburn. The company used an elaborate data-acquisition system that provided reams of data on each flight. More than 600 parameters were tested on each flight and up to six gigabytes of information was gathered for later analysis. That's about 10 times as much information as provided by standard data-acquisition equipment and it enabled the first test plane to go into retirement much sooner than if it had not been so equipped. The company claims the 54 hours it flew would be equal to as much as 200 hours of testing under conventional circumstances. The uneventful first phase of testing kept the company on track for certification sometime in 2006.
Perhaps the most unconventional of the so-called personal jets hasn't left the drawing board yet but those attending the National Business Aircraft Association convention earlier this month got to "fly" Aviation Technology Group's Javelin. The two-seat twinjet looks (and may perform) more like a fighter than a bizjet but its proponents claim there's no better way to get from your breakfast meeting to a lunch appointment hundreds of miles away. ATG unveiled the Javelin's flight simulator to give potential owners a glimpse of what the airplane might be like to fly. "Typically this level of engineering simulator use occurs after actual flight tests are underway," said CEO George Bye. For those who prefer the looks of the F-5 -- and an aircraft that has flown and is currently available in kit form -- there's always the ViperJet. The first prototype of the Javelin is expected to be complete in September 2004 and civilian certification will take at least two years, with first deliveries planned for 2007. The company has, however, been taking orders, and added a blue-chip customer to its backlog book recently. Dave Liniger, chairman and co-founder of RE/MAX, put his deposit down. The pilot, skydiver, NASCAR driver and, yes, balloonist said he thinks the Javelin will be force to be reckoned with. "The Javelin is poised to kick things up a notch in both the civilian and military markets," he said. Military applications include trainer, search and rescue, reconnaissance, light interceptor and even an uninhabited combat aerial vehicle.
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Ballistic Recovery Systems (BRS) says the work it's doing on emergency parachutes for light jets could one day put a canopy over some airliners. Vice President Dan Johnson said BRS, best known for the chute it developed for Cirrus, has a NASA contract to develop a system that would handle the much higher speeds and loads on aircraft like Cessna's new Mustang or the Eclipse 500. Neither of those companies is currently interested in putting parachutes on their planes but Johnson said NASA really wants the concept developed as part of its Highway in the Sky scenario. He said several companies, which he can't disclose, are taking part in the project. The biggest technological challenge in developing parachutes for jets is the comparatively high speeds at which they can operate. The trick is to slow the whole package down so the parachute can open without ripping to shreds. Johnson said current technology can provide progressive deployment of a parachute up to speeds of about 200 knots. To save jets, it needs to work at 250 knots or higher, the typical true airspeed at altitude. Johnson said the answer is "continuous disreefing" to control the opening of the canopy. He said it's been tried before but nobody has made it work. "We think we're achieving some success," he said. "We believe we can do this but it will be a couple of years at least."
Johnson said there's nothing new about huge parachutes being used for big, heavy things like airliners. The space shuttle's solid rocket boosters weigh more than a Boeing 737 and are recovered with parachutes. Tanks and other military hardware are also dropped safely. Johnson said applying the bizjet technology to airliners is a logical next step for the company. "We find that to be a technically doable thing," he said. However, marketability is the other side of the equation and flying in an airliner with a parachute is bound to cost more. Johnson said there may be enough nervous flyers out there to provide a market for a service that has an easily identifiable (if not quantifiable) safety edge at a slightly higher cost. He said the parachute is an important marketing tool for Cirrus and has been identified by many customers as a significant factor in their buying decision. Meanwhile, there have been two accidents involving Cirruses in recent weeks, but the chutes were not deployed. A controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) accident in Spain killed all four on board and there were no injuries when a Cirrus was landed in a field near the runway at Rockland, Maine, Oct. 10. BRS's latest "save" (number 158) was on Sept. 15 when an aileron control tube went through the prop on a Dragonfly ultralight and sent it spinning earthward. The pilot pulled the chute and was unhurt.
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New hopes have sprung that the graves of Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, may next spring be confirmed "found," ending a 66-year-old mystery. Earhart and Noonan went missing in 1937 on a flight from Papua New Guinea to Howland for a fuel stop in what was to be the last leg of a round-the-world flight. The (latest) key to the mystery might be in the wartime memories of an 81-year-old war veteran from Alabama. Saint John Naftel was with the 2nd Marine Division on Tinian in 1944 when a man who claimed to have participated in the burial of the flyers pointed out to him the burial site on the island of Tinian. Historian Jennings Bunn told Guam's Pacific Daily News that Naftel kept the information to himself during the war and when he tried to tell people later he was dismissed. About six months ago a friend of Naftel's managed to convince Guam officials to listen to Naftel's story and the veteran was flown to the islands earlier this month. According to Bunn, he pointed out the spot where he was told the graves lie but the archeological dig won't take place for a few months, after the rainy season is over.
For the first time, Boeing may launch a new aircraft design with a non-U.S. carrier. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways may be the first to fly the 7E7 Dreamliner. In the past, Boeing has always worked closely with a U.S. airline in development of an airliner but cash-strapped airlines don't have the need or interest to get involved with the massive project now. According to the Journal, that sent Boeing looking offshore for potential launch customers and "serious" talks have been held with the Japanese carriers. Boeing has been coy about the future of the Dreamliner project but the Journal said the Japanese dialogue "is the most concrete sign yet of just how determined Boeing is to build the new model." As one project comes to life, the end of the line is coming for another familiar Boeing. The company has announced that production of the 757, first built in 1982, will cease late next year. More than 1,000 of the single-aisle, 200-seat airliners have been built but their market has shrunk in recent years. Boeing decided to pull the pin on the twin jet when Continental Airlines cancelled a 757 order in favor of more 737s. "This decision reflects the market reality for the 757," said Boeing CEO Alan Mulally. "The fact that Continental wants to move from 757s into more 737s is a clear indication of what most of the carriers have decided." Workers in Seattle are bracing for job cuts that might not be entirely mitigated by the 7E7 project. Boeing still hasn't announced where the new jet will be built.
An Israeli company has come up with a fully automatic missile detection and decoy system for airliners that fits into three shoe-sized boxes. Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) unveiled the Flight Guard system to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Airlines and governments have been investigating anti-missile systems for airliners since an Israeli airliner came under an unsuccessful attack last year. The IAI system is fully automatic and uses flares to decoy heat-seeking missiles. An array of antennae distributed throughout the aircraft detect incoming missiles. The information is processed in one of the boxes. The other two boxes, one for each side of the aircraft, contain the flares, which are deployed on a signal from the control mechanism. "The pilot just has to turn the system on before the flight and Flight Guard automatically detects and diverts the missiles," a company rep who identified himself only as Oren told FlySouth. No prices were given.
DIAMOND ENGINEERS REDESIGN DA40 PANEL TO OPTIMIZE FORM AND FUNCTION Diamond's DA40 is the platform for the first certified installation of Garmin's new integrated glass panel. The G1000 offers better situational awareness by rolling the functions of conventional panel-mounted instruments into two 10-inch sunlight-readable displays, including digital audio, a WAAS-capable IFR GPS, VHF navigation with ILS and VHF communication, 8.33-kHz-channel spacing, Mode S, solid-state attitude and heading, a digital air data computer and optional weather and terrain data all hooked up to a Bendix/King KAP two-axis autopilot. The jet-style, laser-etched polycarbonate overlay adds the final high-tech touch. For more information on the DA40, and Diamond Aircraft's other innovative aircraft designs, stop by AOPA Expo Booth #156, or go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/diamond
Carol Ann Garratt is back home in Florida, wiser and poorer, after a 41,000-mile flight around the world in her Mooney M20. Garratt took off from Kissimmee in early February with two goals in mind: to raise money for research into Lou Gehrig's Disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS) and to fly her father to a family reunion in New Zealand. She doubted the wisdom of the adventure while flying through a tropical storm near Samoa but most of the trip was relatively uneventful, she said. Garratt flew west on the trip. Most round-the-world flyers go east to take advantage of prevailing winds. She raised $12,000 for ALS but estimates the trip cost her $25,000. The trip took her through the South Seas, then north through Asia and Europe before she hopscotched across the Atlantic through Greenland and northern Canada and finally back to the U.S. Garratt said she wiled away the time in the air e-mailing friends, listening to the radio and writing about her travels. She was greeted warmly most places she stopped but doesn't have much nice to say about Egypt. Officials there charged her $650 for putting her plane down.
What its supporters say is the oldest continuously operating military air base in the world could become condos and cul-de-sacs soon. Point Cook Airfield, in Melbourne, Australia, was where the Royal Australian Air Force was born in 1913 and it operated as a training base until 1992. An earlier attempt by the Australian government to sell it off as surplus real estate was blocked by public outrage, but that didn't discourage the cash-hungry bureaucrats. A new plan is on the table that would retain a small portion of the airport as a heritage site but sell off the majority of the prime real estate. Aviation fans down under are having none of it. A petition is being circulated by the Point Cook Airfield Preservation Group and individuals are being urged to contact their members of Parliament and the Prime Minister to stop the deal-making. "I encourage all Australian aviation enthusiasts to become involved in this campaign," wrote the group's secretary, Mark Pilkington, in a plea to the flying community there. He said it's particularly galling that the government wants to sell off the airport while aviators are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first flight.
The FAA is calling on the country's best and brightest to cut noise and pollution around airports. Administrator Marion Blakey announced that seven U.S. universities will conduct research into all aspects of the broad-ranging topics with the goal of a cleaner and quieter environment at airports. They're part of the FAA's new Air Transportation Center of Excellence for Aircraft Noise and Aviation Emissions. There are also 18 companies and other institutions taking part in the research. Purdue University, in Indiana, will tackle some of the most vexing questions to plague airport planners. The Purdue team will try to figure out how people react to aircraft noise and to understand why, if airports are such noisy, filthy places, do we insist on building our homes and businesses so near them. "The center 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," said a Purdue news release.
IF YOU TAKE PRIDE IN YOUR AIRCRAFT'S APPEARANCE AEROSHELL CAN HELP AeroShell, the name you trust for lubricants, introduces a line of aircraft polish and cleaners designed specifically for general aviation aircraft. AeroShell Flight Jacket products can be purchased in a convenient leak-proof kit bag designed for any carrying and storage. The AeroShell Flight Jacket Kit Bag contains all six AeroShell Flight Jacket polish and cleaners along with applicator pad and cleaning cloths. Shine and protect your aircraft with AeroShell Flight Jacket products. Go by AOPA Expo Booth #520, or order online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/shell
The Cessna Twins Spar Corporation (CTSc) was recently formed to address issues related to the pending Cessna Wing Spar ADs and similar ones to follow. Express Aircraft Company LLC has been sold after the death of its president Larry Olson in a plane crash on his way to EAA AirVenture last summer. New owners are husband-and-wife team Roy Davis and Nancy Moon...
Aircraft Manufacturing and Development is offering start-up dealerships for its Alarus aircraft throughout the U.S. and Canada. In an affiliation with Letsfly.org, Alarus owners become part of a network where they can use other aircraft when in another part of the country. The companies also say it improves aircraft utilization and profitability for flight schools...
Hundreds of pieces of Concorde memorabilia are in an online auction that begins in early November. Now's your chance to bid on everything from a flight data recorder to a full-sized mock-up of the front half of the supersonic airliner. Make a nice lawn ornament...
Construction workers found 26 World War II bombs while expanding the runway at Palembang, S. Sumatra's airport. A spokesman said he didn't find anything strange about the discoveries since the airport was a military base during the war. He said it didn't slow the work down...
Five young women have become the first to be accepted into pilot training in China. The women, most of them 18, were picked after rigid testing. In four years they will be co-pilots.
Congratulations and an AVweb hat go out to Ken Cusack, this week's AVscoop winner. Submit news tips via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Rules and information are at http://www.avweb.com/contact/newstips.html.
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Wingtip vortices have caused lots of problems for aircraft, but there is another side to them. AVweb's Linda Pendleton explains how wingtip vortices affect your own plane.
Some Great, Cheap Electronics for Pilots
Long GA flights require special planning and, sometimes, special equipment. During a recent transcontinental trip, Mike Busch had the opportunity to fly with some new electronic gadgets -- each priced well under $1,000 -- and found them too terrific not to share.
GETTING THE MOST OUT OF THE AIRCRAFT IN YOUR CLUB? TimeSync's ScheduleMaster online aircraft scheduling service offers advanced features such as standby scheduling and notification of cancellations. ScheduleMaster helps your club improve aircraft utilization and will make your members happy. Add AccountMaster, an integrated billing system that works with Peachtree and QuickBooks. For a no-obligation online demonstration go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/timesy
We received over 100 pictures last week. Congratulations to this week's winner, Bob Eeuwes, of Markham, Ontario. His picture captured the last visit on the Concorde to Toronto. This
winning photo seems fitting as we celebrate the last flight of the supersonic airliner this week. While not economically viable, the Concorde changed air travel forever. Great picture, Bob! Your
AVweb hat is on the way.
To check out the winning picture, or to enter next week's contest, go to http://www.avweb.com/potw
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
To check out the winning picture, or to enter next week's contest, go to http://www.avweb.com/potw
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
AVweb continues to receive a large number of excellent images for our POTW contest. Here are some of the runners-up. Click on the links below to view a larger version.
"Modern Version of Nose Art"
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
We received over 200 responses to our question last week on unusual attitudes training. Over half (54 percent of those responding said they had received unusual attitudes training as part of their primary flight-training curriculum. Fourteen percent indicated they have participated in specialized course, while 18 percent have not but would like to do so. Only three percent said they had no interest in this type of training.
To check out the complete results, or to respond to this week's question, go to http://www.avweb.com/qotw.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
This week, we would like to know your thoughts on the Concorde.
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to email@example.com. Note, this address is ONLY for suggested QOTW questions, and NOT for QOTW answers.
Sponsor News and Special Offers
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"WHEN PROCEDURES COUNT" MAY SAVE YOUR LIFE! MORE IN NOVEMBER'S IFR REFRESHER: "So You Want to Fly Fast?, new training responsibilities when moving up"; "Pitfalls of An Easy IFR, small problems may mature into real problems"; "You Have to See to Avoid, with Mode-S Terminal Information System"; "Ten Steps to Proficiency"; and "In the Path of Isabel". Whether you fly IFR regularly or irregularly, IFR Refresher is a must-read. Subscribe at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/belvoir/ifrref
GOING TO AOPA EXPO? GO BY & THANK THOSE WHO BRING YOU NO-COST AVFLASH! AVflash sponsors appreciate knowing you are a subscriber. Print out the sponsors list at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/aopalist
PLANE & PILOT MAGAZINE GIVES AWAY POCKET FLASHLIGHT AND ISSUES at their AOPA Expo Booth #613. While the booth, enter to win a Flightcom Denali ANR headset in a prize drawing sponsored by Plane & Pilot and Pilot Journal. Or order both online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/ppm
TWO NEW PRODUCTS FROM SACRAMENTO SKYRANCH-THE GATS JAR AND REJEX The GATS JAR is the only fuel analysis tester to separate non-petroleum contaminants and thereby purifying water and debris from contaminated avgas and jet fuel allowing extracted fuel to be put back into the aircraft and not on the ground. REJEX is a thin-film polymer coating that reduces adhesion of bugs, oil, grime and more to any aircraft surface and lasts for months. See these and other fine products at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/skyranch
FLYING MAGAZINE'S NOVEMBER ISSUE TAKES A PHOTO LOOK OF THE OSHKOSH SHOW And reports on: Gulfstream's G200 super-midsize business jet; a cockpit redesign for the King Air 350 and 200 models; and Embry-Riddle's new training program for regional airline pilots; plus all the Flying news, notes and opinions that makes Flying #1. Stop by and receive a copy of Flying magazine at AOPA Expo Booth #213, or order your subscription online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/flying
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AVflash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest aviation news, articles, products, features and events featured on AVweb, the Internet's Aviation Magazine and News Service. http://www.avweb.com
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Let's all be careful out there, okay?
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