AVwebFlash - Volume 16, Number 15d

April 15, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Skiles Headlines SNF Wednesday Line-Up back to top 
 

Jeff Skiles, Flight 1549 First Officer, Visits Sun 'n Fun

Jeff Skiles, best known as the guy in the right seat when US Airways Flight 1549 ditched in the Hudson last year, is spending a few days this week at Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, Fla., to share his story with thousands of aviation enthusiasts. Skiles flew for 24 years with the airline, and that day last year was his first time in the front seat of an Airbus A320. "I had just finished school," he told a news conference on Wednesday, "and there was no training for a dual engine failure at low altitude." The only checklist available presumed that the crew had 20,000 feet or so to try restarts. That might change after the NTSB finishes its report and issues safety recommendations, Skiles said. That final report from the safety board should be released within a few weeks.

Skiles told the news conference that despite some speculation after the ditching, he doesn't think the Airbus's fly-by-wire system had any impact on the results one way or the other. "Some people thought if it had been a Boeing, the engines wouldn't have both stopped," he said. "But both engines have been torn down and there is no question, looking at the amount of damage. The outcome wouldn't have been different at all. It was not a factor." He added that the system was also not a factor in the handling of the aircraft during the glide. Skiles serves as vice president of the Coalition of Airline Pilots' Associations, and in that capacity acts as an advocate for safety and better training for pilots. He has been working in Washington to advocate for changes in FAA rules. "Both pilots, in any Part 121 operation, should be qualified as Airline Transport Pilots," he said. "It's not so much about training. You need experience."

AVweb's Paul Bertorelli recently caught up with Skiles for a video interview; click here to watch.

 
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Aviation's Newest Sector on the Economic Front Lines back to top 
 

LSA Manufacturers Looking For An Upturn

"Calls and emails and interest are all picking up," said Dan Johnson, chairman of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association at Sun 'n Fun on Wednesday, "but sales are still very slow so far in 2010." Like the rest of the industry, the LSA manufacturers saw a sales slump in 2009, though with a drop of 42 percent it was less severe than the downturn for regular piston airplanes. But although there is no big surge in sales yet, the LSA Mall here at Sun 'n Fun is full, with 18 airplanes on display. Interest in the aircraft continues to be high around the world. At the recent Aero general aviation show in Europe, LSA manufacturers from the continent banded together to form their own industry group, LAMA-EU. They will address issues of concern to European aviators, and also work with other international groups toward the creation of one LSA standard for the global market, Johnson said.

Johnson also noted that while LSA prices have been higher than many had hoped when the segment launched, much of the rise was due to the changing exchange rate between the U.S. and the European Union, where most of the LSAs are built. But he said there is a wide range of price points available, and cited aircraft starting at $28,000, for a ready-to-fly trike, to $59,995 for an X-Air LS, $85,900 for a Jabiru J170, and $93,000 for the Lightning LS-1.

 
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Hot New Aircraft back to top 
 

New Amphib: A Dream With Wings

Every aviation event needs a few new dreamers who are putting it on the line to make the airplane of their imagination a reality, and at Sun 'n Fun on Wednesday, those dreamers were John Meekins, president of Privateer Industries, and his director of marketing, Frank Leventhal. The two turned up in the press tent with a model of their six-place, carbon-fiber, ducted-fan-powered airplane, and said they have a full-size prototype in the works back home in Seattle, Wash. They hope to fly it by the end of the year, they said. "This is a fully self-funded project so far," said Meekins, but he added that he's had some interest from investors.

"It lands like a taildragger in the water, to minimize the chance of flipping over in rough water, but it lands like a tricycle-gear airplane on land," Meekins said. Plus he is hoping that the floats will be able to land on snow as well as on the water. Meekins is working with William Husa, an aircraft engineer with extensive composite experience. He's not interested in offering kits or plans, but hopes to create a certified production aircraft. They plan to use a 600-hp Walter turbine engine. The aircraft will fly at about 195 knots, with a useful load of 2,000 pounds and an estimated range of about 1,000 miles. It has a wingspan of about 43 feet.

SMA Jet-A Piston: "Ready For Market"

SMA's jet-A-burning general aviation piston engine has been around for more than seven years now, and its time has come, according to company president Luc Pelon. "We are ready, the market is ready, and the aviation industry is ready," Pelon said Wednesday at Sun 'n Fun. Earlier versions of the SMA engine have been flown in Maules and C182s. (Click here for a report from AVweb's Paul Bertorelli, who went flying in an SMA-powered 182 in January.) Pelon said the operating costs of the engine are 40 percent less than for a similar avgas engine. "It burns 9 gallons per hour on a Cessna 182," he said. "There are no magnetos, no spark plugs, and it is air cooled."

Maintenance is easier than for a traditional engine, he said, and there is less noise and vibration. Also it has computer-assisted engine management that conserves energy and eases pilot workload. Pelon said he is hoping to have the new version of the engine certified in Europe by this summer, and he is working toward FAA certification as well. He is also negotiating with several manufacturers who are interested in the engine, he said. SMA is showing the engine all week at its booth just north of Hangar A.

 
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What's Hot Inside the Cockpit back to top 
 

Avidyne Integrates Safety Enhancements

Avidyne will have an updated version of its Entegra Release 9 integrated flight deck avionics system in coming months and the new version, called Release 9.1, has some innovative features designed to aid in en route situational awareness. At a news conference at Sun 'n Fun 2010, the company unveiled a feature called FMS Preview that allows the pilot to see a split screen graphical display as they scroll through the departures, airways, approaches and other decision point items. There's also an FMS Centered feature that centers the display on each of the waypoints in the flight plan. The pilot can scroll through the waypoints to get a picture of the en route weather. The combination of the two features enhances the pilot's ability to plan and safely execute the flight says Avidyne COO Patrick Herguth. "Not only can pilots be sure they are choosing the correct procedure, they can also see the procedure relative to datalink weather on the map to ensure they are choosing the best route or best approach for the current weather conditions," he said.

The company is also introducing safety enhancements for autopilots. The DFC90 autopilot for legacy Entegra systems and the DFC100 for Release 9 series systems feature a "straight and level button" that will restore order from a wide latitude of unusual attitudes. There's also a "flight envelope protection" feature that prevents the aircraft from stalling when it's unable to maintain the altitude or attitude programmed into the autopilot.

Aspen Expands Product Line, Features

The rest of the aviation industry may still be struggling to recover from last year's slump, but Aspen Avionics had a banner year in 2009. "We grew by 38 percent last year," said CEO John Uczekaj at Sun 'n Fun on Wednesday morning. "And we expect to keep that up, with 50 percent or so growth in 2010." He credits new products as well as "organic" growth for the continued expansion. Uczekaj and his staff went on to announce multiple new upgrades, new products, new packaging, and some rebate deals. Among the new features, early next year the company will ship synthetic vision as a software upgrade for its Evolution 1000 PFD, for $2,995. The product is on display at the Aspen Avionics booth here at Sun 'n Fun.

Other new products from Aspen include a line for helicopters, which was announced recently at Heli-Expo; an Evolution 1000C3 PFD certified for aircraft from 6,000 to 12,500 pounds, for $12,995, which will be available in July; an autopilot attitude interface for the EA 100, also available in July, for $2,495; and Evolution engine monitoring, available in the fourth quarter of 2010, for $495. In December, the company will release an Evolution Backup Display designed to replace legacy mechanical backup instruments, either as a retrofit or a factory install. That unit will be available in a landscape orientation, with seven backup functions in one unit, for a price starting at below $10,000. The company also announced rebates of $1,000 to $3,000 on several of its PFD/MFD product bundles. About 2,600 Aspen units have been installed since the company started to ship just about two years ago, Uczekaj said. More details on all the latest products and pricing can be found at the Aspen Web site.

 
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Meanwhile, in the Rest of the World (Part I) back to top 
 

Washington State Decides Against Aircraft Tax

The Washington state legislature has passed a tax bill that dropped a proposed tax increase on aircraft, AOPA said in a news release on Wednesday. The proposed tax would have made the state's registration rates the highest in the nation, AOPA said. Existing fees would have gone up by as much as 1,400 percent, according to the National Business Aviation Association. Both AOPA and NBAA joined with other local and regional pilot groups to create a Washington Aviation Coalition that organized opposition to the state's plan. The coalition reached out to legislators to explain the impact the tax would have on general aviation. GA supports 178,375 jobs in the state, adding up to $140.8 million in wages, NBAA said. The bill has now been sent to the state governor for approval.

The partnership of the various groups appears to have been a powerful strategy. "We pooled our resources in the effort to defeat the aircraft excise tax," said Ryan Zulauf, chair of the coalition. "This is the first time we've ever done that, and it was really effective." Greg Pecoraro, AOPA's vice president for airports and state advocacy, said the personal efforts of local pilots "played a big role in giving the Senate pause and keeping the tax out of the final package." Debate over the issue continued until almost the end of a 30-day special session, AOPA said.

NTSB: Let Pilots Check Tires

Pilots as well as maintenance workers need to know that the tires on transport-category aircraft require careful monitoring, the NTSB said this week. The board released a list of safety recommendations (PDF) on Wednesday stemming from its investigation of a fatal Learjet 60 crash in 2008. Tires can lose pressure so quickly that within a few days they are dangerously underinflated, even though the underinflation is not visually apparent. The board also said pilots should be allowed to perform pressure checks on tires, regardless of whether they are operating under Part 91 or Part 135. Also, the NTSB said the frequency of pressure checks should be mandated by the FAA.

The FAA should also require that tire testing criteria reflect the actual static and dynamic loads that may be imposed on tires both during normal operating conditions and after the loss of one tire, and consider that conditions may be less-than-optimal, the board said. In the 2008 accident, all four main gear tires failed during the takeoff roll. The crew attempted to stop on the runway, but hit a berm and caught fire. Four people died and two were seriously hurt.

 
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Meanwhile, in the Rest of the World (Part II) back to top 
 

Loaded A330 With Engine Trouble Lands At 230 Knots

An Airbus A330-300 with roughly 322 aboard operated by Cathay Pacific Airways as Flight CX780 out of Indonesia for Hong Kong touched down safely, but at about 230 knots, after experiencing malfunctions with both engines, Wednesday. In dealing with the problem, the crew intentionally idled the first engine, but the other became fixed at 70 percent, according to Cathay Pacific. The pilots landed fast and used the brakes to successfully stop the plane on the runway, but a small fire broke out at the main landing gear as tires failed. (The jet's normal touchdown speed is close to 135 knots.) Eight passengers were injured during evacuation. The A330-300 in question was flying with Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines. Rolls-Royce and Airbus, along with French and U.K. accident investigators, have been invited to join in the investigation.

The aircraft's flight data recorders were retrieved Wednesday, and Cathay announced it had no plans to ground its fleet of almost 50 A330-300s. A first report is expected in about a month. The north runway at Hong Kong's Airport was shut down for 2 hours and 20 minutes in the aftermath causing some system delays. Hong Kong Airport is among the top five busiest in the world, and was most recently listed as the third busiest by Airports Council International.

"Fake" Airline Pilot Gets Softer Sentence

Thomas Salme, 41, who acted as captain of a Boeing 737 without proper certification, has been banned from flying for 12 months by a Dutch court and charged with a fine of about $2700. Prosecutors had sought a fine of roughly $18,000 more, plus a 90-day jail term, but the judge rejected the higher penalties and said prosecutors had not properly presented forgery charges. Over the 13 years Salme had been flying professionally as a commercial pilot, he had acquired more than 10,000 flight hours without an accident or incident. He did so without proper certification and with an Airline Transport Pilot certificate that he'd falsified. He was arrested at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on March 2, as he sat in the captain's seat of a Corendon Airlines (Turkey) Boeing 737 with 101 aboard. He was released to his home in Milan two weeks later.

Salme's defense attorney said at the beginning of his career, his client didn't have the money to acquire proper credentials and realized only after he'd taken a job as a commercial pilot that he was technically unqualified for the position. Salme had only been with Corendon for two years at the time of his arrest, but had flown previously with airlines in Belgium, Britain and Italy. His attorney said Salme did not intend to work again as a pilot upon completion of his flight privileges suspension.

 
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AVweb Audio: Lindbergh Award Winners back to top 
 

Lindbergh Award Winner Jack Pelton

File Size 5.2 MB / Running Time 5:40

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Cessna CEO Jack Pelton, winner of the prestigious individual Charles Lindbergh Award, spoke with AVweb's Russ Niles about the significance of the award and a little about the airplane business.

This podcast is brought to you by Bose Corporation and Conoco-Phillips.

Click here to listen. (5.2 MB, 5:40)

Mike Ducker, COO of FedEx, Lindbergh Award Winner for Corporate Balance

File Size 4.8 MB / Running Time 5:11

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The Lindbergh Foundation's Corporate Award for Balance recognizes the work of companies that demonstrate a dedication to the environment and quality of life in their business practices. This year, the award went to FedEx, and AVweb's Mary Grady talked with FedEx COO Mike Ducker at the Sun 'n Fun Museum just prior to the celebratory awards dinner.

This podcast is brought to you by Lightspeed Aviation and WxWorx XM WX Satellite Weather.

Click here to listen. (4.8 MB, 5:11)

 
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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 
 

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If you think the glory days of classic biplanes are long gone, check out Waco's new YMF-5D — with a full glass cockpit, no less. Paul Bertorelli flew it at Sun 'n Fun and says it's a high-zoot hoot.


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DeltaHawk will be the first to admit they've been plodding along on the diesel engine certification project ... like, forever. Actually, it's been 14 years — but they think they'll have a production engine available this year. Here's Kitplanes editor Marc Cook with an update.


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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.

 
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Help Us Celebrate AVweb's 15th Anniversary back to top 
 

15 Years and Now 15 Grand Giveaways ... It's Your Chance to Win Scheyden Frames and Flight Gear

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 Drawings

Win Scheyden Dual RX frames and Flight Crew Ensemble flight gear as we celebrate our 15th Anniversary! All you have to do is click here to enter your name and e-mail 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 April 30, 2010.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.


Congratulations to Jack Feiden of Wichita, Kansas, who won an XM WX Satellite Weather Receiver from WxWorx in our last drawing! (click here to get your own from WxWorx)

 
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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.

 
BOOTHS AT
Where to Find Our Sponsors at Sun 'n Fun 2010

B-004-B-009Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co.
C-053AirFleet Capital
SNF-008AOPA Air Safety Foundation
D-016-017Aspen Avionics
C-055-056Avemco Insurance
C-071-072, N-026Avidyne
C-092-095Bendix/King by Honeywell
A-076Big South Fork Airpark
C-040-042Bosch/Telex
SNF-009Bose Corporation
SNF-001-002, SNF-004-005Cessna Aircraft
N-083, N-088Conoco-Phillips
MD-023B, MD-024CDiamond Aircraft
E-021-024Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
B-036-037FlightPrep
A-065General Aviation Modifications, Inc. (GAMI)
C-034Kitplanes
MD-009ALancair
D-051-053Lightspeed Aviation
D-039-042Lycoming Engines
MD-007BMooney Airplane Company
MD-017BPilatus
MD-014B, MD-018C, MD-019BPiper Aircraft
MD-027CRemos Aircraft
A-001-003Trade-A-Plane
C-065-067Teledyne-Continental Motors (TCM)
C-024-026, N-036WxWorx XM WX Satellite Weather