AVwebFlash - Volume 16, Number 4a

January 25, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Top News: NASA's Puffin the Real "Flying Car"? back to top 
 
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NASA Working On 'Flying Suit'

It looks like a collaboration between Yves Rossy , the Martin Jetpack, with a little Buzz Lightyear thrown in but NASA says its Puffin "personal flying suit" could someday whisk its occupant from a standing start to 30,000 feet on 60 horsepower of battery power. The device uses two rotors to vertically lift and then propel the occupant at speeds up to 120 knots. The concept was unveiled at a meeting of the American Helicopter Society Jan. 20 by Mark D. Moore, an aerospace engineer at NASA's Langley Research Center. Before you start making room in the garage, however, there's a serious side to the whimsical device that will keep it in military hands, at least for now.

The flying suit is envisioned as a stealthy vehicle for covert military missions or rescue operations. The electric motor offers quiet reliability without the air density concerns of air breathing engines. NASA claims the suit weighs only 300 pounds empty so composite construction is a virtual certainty. It's about 12 feet long and has a wing span of 14.5 feet.

Exclusive Video: NASA's Puffin VTOL Personal Air Vehicle

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

It's just a computer concept, but what a fun idea. An electric motor-powered single-man carbon fiber aircraft that can take off and land like a helicopter but also fly at 300 miles per hour — that's convenient and practical flying and motivation to become a pilot. Of course, it's flying now ... only on your computer screen. AVweb's Glenn Pew takes you on a tour of NASA's demo video.

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.

 
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U.S. Sport Aviation Expo Sebring: Video Round-Up back to top 
 

Sebring Success: U.S. Sport Aviation Expo 2010 Video Round-Up

The air show season opened on a high note for 2010 with a healthy turnout of both exhibitors and patrons at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla. The four-day show wrapped up Sunday and AVweb's Paul Bertorelli and Jeb Burnside were there to capture the highlights on video. The first five videos are now ready for viewing and there will be more in coming days as we continue to review what has become an integral part of the air show calendar in its few years of existence.

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to view this playlist directly on YouTube.

Watch all of our Sebring videos in the player above or click these thumbnails for individual videos:

 
Business Aviation Will Help Companies Not Only Survive
But Prosper During the Current Financial Crisis

To be your most productive, and your most efficient, you must keep flying. Because in so doing, you will emerge from these times even stronger than before. And you will replace the uncertainty that surrounds many, with the confidence and courage to light the way for all. Visit CessnaRise.com.
 
Flight Planning (And Law) in the Computer Age back to top 
 

Company Patents Online Flight Planning

An Oregon company says it's received a patent for online flight planning. FlightPrep says the patent was originally filed in 2001 and was finally awarded Dec. 29, 2009. "FlightPrep's Online Planner is recognized for the ability to display charts and routes interactively from data stored on an Internet server. The invention cites the ability for the user to interactively modify routes without requiring the download of the entire chart after each change," the company said in its release. "The patent also covers the ability to receive flight plans from an Internet server as well as the ability to file flight plans generated by an Internet server with a travel regulating agency." It sounds a lot like any of the dozens of others of online flight planners available, but FlightPrep isn't commenting in detail about what effect, if any, the patent will have on the other flight planners.

In an email exchange, company spokesman John Bouyea declined to directly answer questions about the potential enforcement of the patent and the impact on other online flight planners. "FlightPrep has not evaluated those issues at this time," Bouyea told AVweb. "The patent may be interesting reading for other providers and the aviation industry as a whole."

 
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Airline Safety, Also in the Age of Machines back to top 
 

FAA Wants 747-8 Hack Proofed

Boeing's latest 747, the 747-8, has new computer systems that "may allow the exploitation of network security vulnerabilities resulting in intentional or unintentional destruction, disruption, degradation, or exploitation" of critical systems, according to the FAA. In short, the FAA is making sure that Boeing addresses the possibility that the jets, which can be configured to hold 400 passengers, could be hacked. The issuance of special conditions is not unusual when the FAA is presented with the task of certifying new technologies in aircraft and the FAA's specific concerns regarding the 747-8 were published in the Federal Register. That did, however, stimulate some concern in various corners of the online community. (As it had previously when similar special conditions were published regarding the 787.) The special conditions seek to ensure that Boeing takes action prior to certification to satisfy the agency that the aircraft's systems are protected from unauthorized external sources, even during maintenance. Toward that end, it has requested that Boeing identify and assess potential electronic system security threats and create systems that adequately protect the aircraft from those threats.

Boeing's 747-8 jetliner program accepted early orders in 2005, and the company the jet's current order holders include Cargolux of Luxembourg, Lufthansa (which is seeking 20 of the jets), Nippon Cargo Airlines of Japan and Korean Air. First flight of the 747-8 aircraft is expected to take place before the end of the month. The Boeing 747 quietly passed a milestone on Jan. 21, celebrating the 40th year since its maiden commercial flight.

 
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Emergency Search Underway, Details Still Uncertain back to top 
 

Plane Crash, Pilot Unconscious, Or Hoax

Search and rescue crews worked into the night Saturday, searching for a plane that they're not sure crashed in the mountains near Stanford, Calif. Confused early reports appear to suggest that two distress calls were made: one, pre-crash via radio; the other, post-crash through 911. In one of those communications, the caller stated that the pilot was unconscious. FAA spokesman Ian Gregor told The Associated Press Saturday that a person radioed the initial call over "an emergency air traffic frequency" around noon on Saturday. A separate report in the San Jose Mercury News stated that a person believed to have been in the plane called 911 after the crash. Rescue crews searching three counties had found nothing by the time we went to press on Sunday.

Gregor told The Associated Press that the FAA had not received any reports of an active emergency locator beacon in the area and were not yet aware of any missing airplanes. As of Sunday, authorities searching the Santa Cruz Mountains and Santa Cruz, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties still did not know if the radio and 911 calls were legitimate.

 
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Besides major decision-makers and multipliers of the industry, AERO attracts thousands of aviation enthusiasts each year in the scenic city of Friedrichshafen, Germany — home base of the famous Zeppelins. As a trend-setter and driving force in the industry, AERO not only showcases the entire range of GA products and services, it also offers significant added value in the form of future-oriented supporting events. Go online for complete information.
 
Grounded (Again) back to top 
 

Ex-Pilot Told To Keep Feet On Ground

74-year-old Teddy Ernest Mayfield has been ordered by a U.S. District Judge to pay a $2,000 fine and not to "operate, construct or repair aviation equipment" without permission after piloting an aircraft 26 years since the last time the FAA revoked his certificate. The flight took Mayfield from Eugene to Independence, Ore. According to a report in the Register Guard, of Eugene, Ore., Mayfield first had his (then) student pilot certificate revoked in 1967, when he illegally flew with a passenger. In 1982 he lost his certificate for multiple violations, including failure to disclose his criminal history on a medical form. In 1994, Mayfield spent four and a half months in federal prison for multiple flights that he piloted without a certificate. And in 1995 he was found criminally negligent in the deaths of two patrons of his former skydiving school after the FAA determined he'd improperly packed their parachutes -- and after the deaths of 13 other people at the jump center. Mayfield spent five months in prison for that.

The latest punishment of three years' probation is the result of a 2008 flight from Eugene Airport to Independence Airport in Oregon, which Mayfield again piloted without proper certification. During that time, he is forbidden to operate construct or repair aviation equipment. The prosecutor in the case recommended probation for Mayfield, noting that Mayfield's offense had occurred 15 years after his last aviation-related conviction.

 
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Click here for more information.
 
Opinion & Commentary back to top 
 

AVmail: January 25, 2010

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: Security and Planespotting

As a freelance writer and photographer, I am increasingly dismayed over FBOs who forbid me to take pictures that reveal N-numbers of aircraft on their ramps. They tell me there are concerns with security. On most occasions when the aircraft pilot is within earshot, verbal permission from that person is enough to bypass the FBO's rule not to show N-numbers, but often the pilots and aircraft managers forbid it as well.

I find this recent restriction alarmingly intrusive in not allowing me to position myself to reveal the beauty of the bird in view. Since anyone with a camera and good memory or note paper and pen can learn details of most any registered aircraft in the U.S. with a few clicks on the Internet, I wonder why such restrictions are imposed, and I wonder how I can convince pilots, owners, and managers to permit photographers, especially those experienced and known to key local administrators, to take pictures of aircraft from any angle at all. Reader feedback is welcome.

Job Conger


Fixing the Skycatcher

In my judgment, Cessna Aircraft made a wise decision to revisit the design of the Skycatcher. During initial certification tests, two aircraft were unable to recover from a spin. Modifications were subsequently made that were supposed to correct this design flaw.

For an airplane to spin, it must be in a stalled configuration. When in a stalled configuration, attempting to stop the onset of a spin with an input from the yoke (ailerons), with nary an input of the rudder, only exacerbates the entry.

As a designated pilot examiner for 50 years, I can assure you that most contemporary pilots will react in this manner, particularly those that learned to fly in a tricycle-gear airplane. These pilots suffer from what I call "Lazy Rudder Syndrome."

Since this airplane has demonstrated a propensity for spinning, in my view, spinning accidents were just a matter of time with this airplane. Putting an airplane in the hands of the public-pilot will surface design flaws that were not recognized during certification.

One last comment: Couldn't Cessna have come up with a better name for this airplane than SkyCatcher?

M. W. Collier

AVweb Replies:

How about calling it the 162? It's important to note that the spin tests that revealed the problem were aggressive maneuvers designed to push the aircraft to its limits and beyond. I'm sure the pilots both tried the rudder and weren't lazy about it either. That's why test pilots wear parachutes.

Russ Niles
Editor-in-Chief


Ceding the Low End of the Market

I have just a few thoughts on GA and LSAs.

Back in the day, a Cessna 150 or similar aircraft cost about the same as a Corvette. The price of the Piper LSA will buy three. Until costs and liabilities are controlled, the number of new aircraft in the market will continue to dwindle.

It's also interesting to note we have ceded the lower end of the market to foreign countries. In the 1960s, people laughed at Toyota. Now Lexus is a benchmark. Bye-bye, Piper. Bye-bye, Cessna. You failed to innovate and control costs, but it's not entirely your fault.

Too bad the FAA co-conspired to make certification so onerous and obscenely expensive. Kind of kills the entrepreneurial spirit, doesn't it?

E. Green


MU-2 Safety

Whoever wrote that the FAA found the MU-2 has a comparable safety record to other turboprops apparently didn't read the FAA's report. In fact, the FAA found that, compared to similar twin turboprops of the same era:

  • The MU-2's accident rate is about twice as high, with the fatal rate about 2.5 times higher.
  • The fatal accident rate in icing conditions is four times higher.
  • The fatal accident rate involving loss of control on initial climb is 3.5 times higher.
  • The fatal accident rate involving loss of control while in flight is 3.5 times higher.
  • The fatal accident rate involving loss of control during emergencies is seven times higher.

When something goes wrong in an MU-2, sadly, it is a lot more likely to wind up with people dying.

Ken Meyer


Was It a "Crash Landing"?

Don't you think it a bit sensationalist to headline the landfill landing as a crash? It was a successful emergency landing on a road, with no causalities or property damage. Even the revered captain of USAir FL1549 lost the airplane. And he is properly regarded as a hero. Give the pilot of the little plane some credit, will ya?

Rocky Rutter

AVweb Replies:

Actually, no — we didn't think it was sensational, and here's why.

Russ Niles
Editor-in-Chief


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

AVweb Insider Blog: A Crash Landing By Any Other Name ...

We recently used the term "crash landing" to describe an off-airport landing in New Jersey — and the letters came in about it. AVweb's Glenn Pew explains what we were thinking and why we occasionally write with the layman in mind in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog.

Click here to read more and add your thoughts.

 
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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.

Had an Engine Overhaul? Aviation Consumer Wants to Hear About Your Experience

Aviation Consumer is conducting a survey to hear your experiences with engine overhaul shops. Whether the experience was propulsion bliss or aggravation of a new order, please take a couple minutes to let others know how it went. Your response will help inform an article on engine shops for Aviation Consumer magazine.

Click here to participate.

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

 
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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 
 

FBO of the Week: Aero Premier Jet Center (Lakefront Airport, New Orleans, LA)

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

Conoco-Phillips WingPoints || Best Rewards in the Business

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Aero Premier Jet Center at Lakefront Airport (KNEW) in New Orleans, Louisiana.

AVweb readers Bill and Linda Coltharp arrived at Lakefront under less-than-ideal conditions:

... [A]t night, in the rain and clouds, after the tower was closed, [we found] the Aero Premier angels waiting for us. They hangared our plane (not a jet), helped unload our luggage, called a taxi and had it drive into the hangar so we wouldn't get wet, [then they] helped load the taxi — all with genuine friendliness. When we returned two mornings later, as planned, the airplane was on the flight line all ready. Our special thanks to Bethany on the desk, and the extremely helpful Clay, Admond, and Rolando. What a great experience!

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!

 
Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Approach
Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Isn't it time to initiate a digital marketing program with AVweb that will deliver traffic and orders directly to your web site? Discover several new and highly successful marketing options to use in lieu of static print or banner campaigns. Click now for details.
 
Help Us Celebrate AVweb's 15th Anniversary back to top 
 

15 Years and Now 15 Grand Giveaways ... It's Your Chance to Win a Bose Aviation Headset X

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 Drawings

Win a Bose Aviation X headset as we celebrate our 15th Anniversary! All you have to do is click here to enter your name and email address. (You only have to enter once, and you'll be entered in our prize drawings for the entire year — so if you've already entered, you're all set.)

And no, we're not going to rent or sell your name, ever. Tell your friends, and invite them to sign up for AVweb so they can qualify for our 15 Grand Giveaways prize drawings, too. (We won't spam them, either — but we hope they will sign up for our newsletters.)

Deadline for entries is 11:59pm Zulu time Friday, January 29, 2010.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.

 
The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 
 

Short Final

While IFR on Orlando approach:

Orlando Approach:
[Calls for Aircraft 1234. Gets no response.]

... [long pause] ...

Orlando Approach:
[Calls for Aircraft 1234 again. Once more, there is no response.]

... [another long pause] ...

Aircraft 1234:
"Orlando, this is 1234. Go ahead."

Orlando Approach:
"Look, I know we don't exchange birthday cards, but you could at least answer me when I talk to you!"


Paul Scott
via e-mail

 
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:

Publisher
Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Webmaster
Scott Simmons

Contributors
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.

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.