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|Top News: Another Benchmark for Boeing
READY FOR FLIGHT
test pilots lifted the nose of 787 Dreamliner during a 130-knot run down
the runway at Paine Field Saturday in what is likely the precursor for a
first flight on Tuesday. Last week Boeing announced the prototype had
been structurally approved by company engineers and would be ready for
first flight beginning Dec. 15, complete with a webcast that goes live
24 hours prior to first flight. The flight is expected to take about
three hours and transfer the 787 from Paine Field to Boeing Field, near
Seattle. As for the exact date, weather won't be the only determining
factor. The company says that it will perform internal reviews and still
needs final paperwork from the FAA. The aircraft is two years behind
schedule, but for a project still in development, it has also attracted
a record number of orders (totaling about 850, back in August) ... and
many cancelations. More...
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OF ST. LOUIS PARTS AUCTIONED
Original parts of Charles Lindbergh's
Spirit of St. Louis, in which the famed pilot flew non-stop in 1927
alone across the Atlantic, will be auctioned at Bonhams New York auction
house Dec. 15. Parts removed by Lindbergh engineer Kenneth Lane include
shock absorber bungee cords, spark plugs and a rocker arm from the
Wright J5-C Whirlwind that powered the flight. The auction house
estimates the "lot" at $80,000-120,000, but that's not all. Two other
lots include a historic hand-signed typed letter from Lindbergh to
historian Ev Cassagneres, and a testimonial from Irvin Air Chutes in
which then Cadet Lindbergh's March 6, 1925, midair is described. Those
items are estimated to fetch less than $5,000 each. The items are
considered to be "the only pieces of the plane, from her trans-Atlantic
flight, ever to be auctioned," according to Bonhams. More...
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CIVILIAN SU-27 FLANKER FOR SALE
civilian-operated, privately owned Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker in the world,
according to the people who are trying to sell it, is fresh off its
restoration, flew Dec. 10 at Rockford, Ill., and is now for sale. Pride
Aircraft says the jet departed Runway 25 into a 15-knot headwind, after
a 1,100-foot ground roll at Chicago Rockford International Airport. The
jet flew locally for about 45 minutes in 7-degree air (14 Celsius) and
performed multiple missed approaches before landing. According to the
FAA's online registry, the fighter is flying on a temporary certificate
issued Dec. 2, 2009, that expires Jan. 1, 2010. According to Pride, the
jet is the first ever to be "licensed" in the USA and one of a pair that
represents "the first and only" two privately owned Flankers (both
two-seat UB models) in the world. More...
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SETS 1500-HOUR MINIMUM FOR COMMERCIAL PILOTS
of those lost in the fatal crash of Continental Flight 3407 near Buffalo
are pushing the Obama administration and FAA chief Randy Babbitt to
impose a 1,500-hour minimum for the commercial pilot certificate. The
crash, which killed all 49 aboard plus one on the ground, has inspired
the formation of the group Families of Continental Flight 3407. That
group had plans last week to meet with Sen. Charles Schumer, D- N.Y.,
who has sponsored a bill that would require the 1500-hour minimum for
commercial certificate applicants. Babbitt is more in favor of changing
the FAA's rules regarding training specific to certain types of
operations -- particularly, how pilots seeking positions in commercial
airliners are trained. As for the hour mandate, Babbitt has said flight
hours alone may not guarantee proficiency. Babbitt is already under fire
from lawmakers over other concerns. More...
TRACON CLOSURE LOOMS
Idaho politicians and the controllers'
union claim the FAA is trying to rush through the planned closure of the
Boise TRACON before a new FAA reauthorization package prevents such
closures. According to the Idaho Statesman a local FAA official has confirmed
TRACON functions will be transferred to Salt Lake City despite a call by
the Idaho delegation in Congress to examine the motive behind the move.
The FAA claims the move will save the agency about $1 million a year but
the politicians want to have that claim audited. They reportedly had
assurance from the FAA that the move would be postponed until the
figures were analyzed. Doug Church, spokesman for the National Air
Traffic Controllers Association, told the paper the move is strategic on
the part of the FAA. "They're playing beat the clock," Church said.
"They want to act before Congress steps in and includes language in the
reauthorization bill that would put a stop to what they're doing in
places like Boise." He also said the move is in defiance of testimony
given by the FAA's Chief Operating Officer for the Air Traffic
Organization, Hank Krakowski, who told a congressional subcommittee that
TRACON closures are "in abeyance." More...
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LIGHTNING STRIKE RADIATION RESEARCH
New research suggests
that simply being near a lightning discharge while flying in an airplane
may subject the you to the equivalent of 400 chest X-rays, or 7,500
hours of normal high-altitude flight. "Near" apparently means within
about 300 yards and the potential dosage measures in at about 10 rem of
exposure within less than a millisecond. "Ten rem is considered the
maximum safe radiation exposure during a person's lifetime," according
to Florida Today, which reported on the study. The bad news is that even
aircraft that overfly storms aren't necessarily avoiding the radiation
generated below. The good news is that the researchers didn't measure
doses inside aircraft but estimated it based on computer models and
satellite data. The better news, according to researchers, is that
commercial aircraft are struck by lightning only about once or twice
each year. Still, researchers do have some suggestions.
ENGINE TROUBLE COULD COST BILLIONS
Rolls-Royce and GE are
together battling Pratt & Whitney in the race to power the Joint Strike
Fighter but critics say new problems with one team mean it's time to cut
it loose, leaving the estimated $100 billion-over-30-years prize solely
to the other. Rolls-Royce apparently must redesign a component that
helps hold its engine together, a step that critics say will raise costs
and increase delays at a time that the Obama administration is pushing
to cut the program's overall costs. Congress has for years funded both
engine development programs behind the logic that cutting either would
remove competition and damage the product's final value. But critics
argue that the JSF project is already $16 billion over budget. A
spokesman for Rolls-Royce told the Independent UK that the necessary redesign is not
complex and full testing will resume in the new year. Rolls-Royce is the
sole developer of engines for the vertical take-off version of the JSF
to be used by the Royal Navy, but demand for more conventional versions
is expected to be substantially higher. That means big money -- politics
are also an issue. More...
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CLOSING PLANTS, CUTTING JOBS
Cessna has announced plans to
close its three plants in Columbus, Ga., including the $25 million
100,000-square-foot facility that it opened there in August 2008 and its
McCauley Propeller facility. It will also move 175 subassembly jobs from
Wichita. The timeframe for all the action is anywhere from six to 24
months. In Georgia, the closures will claim the remaining 315 workers of
what was once a 600-person-strong workforce. Some of the work will move
to Independence, Kan., and Mexico. Meanwhile, back in Wichita, and over
the same time period, the company "will move some subassembly work,"
affecting, but perhaps not terminating, the jobs of 175 Wichita workers,
spokesman Doug Oliver told The Wichita Eagle. "We need to continually
attack costs and structure the business for predicted demand" of the
company's aircraft, Oliver said. More...
ANNOUNCES CAPITAL INVESTMENT
What appeared originally as
rumors of a catastrophic loss of investment capital leading to an actual
"notice of insolvency" filing have been clarified by Remos as "a
procedural option" under German law and now "a new capital injection"
that solidifies the company. The company announced Thursday that an
"additional significant investment" has made "secure the future of REMOS Aircraft" and
will allow the company to move "strengthened into the year 2010." REMOS
credited its two main shareholders, the Faerber Group of Munich and Pall
Mall partners of London, for enabling "the introduction of new programs
through which the company will be able to address new customer
segments." REMOS claims itself to be "the world's leading manufacturer
of Light Sport Aircraft" and says that in spite of the slow economy it
"reached the goals" it set for the year 2009. More...
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|The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You!||back to
DECEMBER 14, 2009
Letter of the Week: Space Certification
While the unveiling
of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo is a momentous occasion for all
parties involved, I've noticed that a critical factor has been missing
from coverage of the event: Information concerning the certification of
the spacecraft and commercial space operations carrying passengers is
notably absent from virtually all media.
If flights to paying
customers are to come as early as 2011 as we are told, Virgin is surely
facing one of the toughest certification programs ever seen, both for
the vehicle and the operations they will be conducting with it. I do not
doubt the safety of the craft. Scaled Composites has a proven track
record of successful designs and I'm sure the flight test program will
be thorough, but just because an aircraft can be operated safely does
not mean that the government will give its blessing to carry paying
passengers. I would like to know what will be expected of Virgin
Galactic in order to proceed beyond the experimental stage, a realm
unknown to manned spaceflight, government or private.
to the challenges facing of Virgin Galactic, I have my doubts that the
FAA would be able to come up with a new certification process for
commercial manned spaceflight by 2011. There is a great deal of work
ahead of many people, and given the high price of admission, I question
whether there is enough interest from potential customers to justify the
expense. Private experimental suborbital spaceflight is real, but some
seem to have made the assumption that all it takes is a willing customer
to make commercial spaceflight a reality. It will take much more than
that and I want to see both Virgin Galactic and the FAA answer the tough
questions that will have to be faced to bring this venture to
Click through to read the
rest of this week's letters. More...
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SUKHOI SU-27 FLANKER CIVILIAN WARBIRD OVER ILLINOIS
AVweb reader Scott
Ross turned us on to this video of the first civilian registry SU-27
Sukhoi Flanker flying overhead ... in Rockford, Illinois. Scott tells us
he "heard it banging around yesterday but didn't realize what it was.
RFD's Runway 25 touchdown point is four miles from my house, and we are
directly below the ILS. Wish I'd been outside when she went over.
OF THE WEEK: ANN ARBOR AVIATION CENTER (KARB, ANN ARBOR,
"FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Ann Arbor
Aviation Center at KARB in Ann Arbor,
AVweb reader Armand Bendersky experienced
the FBO's top-notch service just last week:
We had a flight of two arrive at ARB last
Saturday ... [and] were greeted by a young but friendly and efficient
line crew. ... They could not have been more helpful. Not only did they
arrange transportation for the group of seven pilots ... [but] they put
my plane in a hangar ... with a smile and great efficiency. They fueled
our planes while we were in town gorging ourselves at Zingerman's Deli
and gave us a 10-cent discount. Great service by nice people. I look
forward to visiting them again in the near future.
Keep those nominations
coming. For complete contest rules, click
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in
the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here
next Monday! More...
A few years ago, I was routinely flying my Bonanza
from Houston Hobby to Austin. The trip was normally very predictable,
including the knowledge that radio traffic, when handed over to Austin
Approach, was extremely busy and communications needed to be very
efficient. On one trip, the Approach controller changed those rules and
added some levity.
"Bonanza 56, turn right,
heading 350. I hate to tell you this, but you're number 9 for landing,
and I have to send you up to Georgetown."
"No problem; those Boeings have a lot more
passengers than I do."
"56W, what speed can
you give me to the outer marker?"
give you 150 knots."
"Great. If you can do
that, I'll give you a kiss. Turn left, heading 280, and join the
"Left to 280, join the
localizer 17L, and I'll pass on the
"SW 123 checking in on the localizer 17R. And we'll pass on
the kiss, too."
[Other aircraft check in and add to the
"Hey, I'm getting my feelings
hurt here! SW 123, ask one of your flight attendants if they would like
[After a few
moments ... .]
"Approach, SW 123. One of
our flight attendants will meet you on the ground for the kiss. His name
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.
AVwebFlash team is:
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