December 3, 2003
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by
With the first flight of its A700 twinjet this summer, Adam Aircraft leapfrogged to the front of the small-jet race, and according to yesterday's online conference with CEO Rick Adam, the company is making steady progress on both its twinjet and the piston A500 design. FAA certification and first customer deliveries of the A500 piston twin are on course for first quarter 2004, with the A700 to follow by the end of the year. Since the A700 design follows so closely on the piston plane, that helps a lot to move the certification process along, Adam said. The A500 program is now finishing up work on serial number 3, which is a fully conforming aircraft. Number 3 has been taxi-tested four times, and its first flight is expected in the next week or so. The company is paying keen attention to owner/pilot concerns and is working very closely with insurers to both pave and smooth the road. President John Knudson reported on the company's training program, which he said will entail a five-day course for new owners at Adam's facilities, with at least 10 to 15 hours of flight time and 15 hours of ground school. Brokers representing the AIG, USAIG, and Global Aerospace insurance companies recently visited the company and flew the airplane, he said, and found no obstacles to offering coverage for the aircraft. Rates will be very dependent on pilot experience, he said. Also, Rick Adam said he has about 50 orders for the A500 from buyers, and another 20 or so from dealers, and expects to fulfill those orders by the end of 2005. The company now is ramping up to deliver about 25 airplanes next year and about 50 in 2005. Current capacity could produce up to 80 or 100 aircraft per year, Adam said. Adam also said he will have news about the A600, a turboprop aircraft, early next year.
OMFAircraft, manufacturer of the two-seat Symphony 160 (with plans to introduce a diesel version and later a four-place), has laid off its production workers and halted the production line at its Quebec manufacturing plant, the company said yesterday in a statement, but added that the halt is expected to be temporary. The Quebec plant opened less than two months ago. "GmbH (the German parent company) is experiencing financial challenges," the company said, and "the new North American company, OMF Aircraft, is also experiencing challenges as it starts up its operations." The flow of parts to OMF Aircraft has been interrupted, so the workforce has been cut from 23 down to eight. The staff still on board are the management team and product support personnel. The company said it hopes to resolve its financing issues soon and then recall its workers about eight weeks later. "Product support continues to be a priority," the company said. The primary focus of the staff that remains, the company said, is to resolve the financial situation and support the products, while they also continue to establish the North American parts supplier base. OMF will also continue to work on the two new aircraft in development, the Symphony 135D diesel and the four-place Symphony 250. The 250 is scheduled for its first flight in the first quarter of 2004, and OMF spokesman Bill Sprague told AVweb yesterday that expectation remains in place. OMF had planned to transfer most of its manufacturing processes from Germany to Quebec by early next year. The 37,500-square-foot facility has the capacity to produce about 10 aircraft per month.
AEROSANCE PowerLink" FADEC APPLICATIONS GROW With STCs for a number of Beech Bonanza and Baron models now in hand, Aerosance, another Teledyne Technologies company, is highlighting the latest developments with their revolutionary PowerLink" FADEC digital engine control system. For more information on how to bring your aircraft into the FADEC generation go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/tcm/fadec
In the latest of a long series of bad days for Boeing, on Tuesday the Pentagon said it will put on hold the manufacturer's lucrative but controversial $20 billion deal to sell 80 KC-767 airborne refueling planes to the Air Force and lease them 20 more. The contract was presumably a done deal when President Bush signed a bill on Nov. 24 that authorized the Defense Department to move forward, but the contract has not yet been finalized. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has been an outspoken opponent of the deal, is calling for the entire contract to be reassessed. A Defense Department Inspector General report issued last month also urged an investigation. The latest move by the Pentagon seems to open the way for the deal to be scrapped completely.
The Pentagon's action followed Monday's news that CEO Phil Condit would step down, after 38 years at the company. And just last week, Boeing fired CFO Mike Sears and Darleen Druyun, a vice president in the missile unit, for alleged ethical misconduct. Druyun and Sears improperly discussed Druyun's future at Boeing while she was still employed by the Air Force and in a position to influence decisions about the tanker contract, Boeing said. Harry Stonecipher, the former CEO of McDonnell Douglas who led the merger with Boeing in 1997 and retired as Boeing's president last year, was named the new CEO. The Chicago Sun-Times was quick to list the "low-lights" of Condit's career at Boeing: He slashed 30,000 jobs at the company, while his own pay package almost doubled to $4.5 million; he neglected the "old Boeing" commercial aircraft business and lost ground to Airbus, while concentrating too much on diversification efforts; and he seriously lapsed in oversight on ethical issues, resulting in being banned from bidding on some government contracts. Analysts quoted in The Seattle Times praised the elevation of Stonecipher, who is expected to reassure those who question the company's integrity, but some in the rank and file said his ascendancy signals the final takeover of Boeing by the forces of McDonnell Douglas.
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The NTSB on Tuesday issued several safety recommendations, stemming from the board's final report on the 2002 crash that killed Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone and seven others. The board suggests that the FAA should enhance its oversight of on-demand charter operations, require that such operators who use dual-pilot crews train them in crew resource management, and investigate whether it would be feasible to require low-airspeed alert systems in airplanes used for commercial operations. In its final report, the NTSB found the probable cause of the Wellstone crash to be the failure of the flight crew to maintain adequate airspeed on approach and entering a stall from which they did not recover.
Specifically, the NTSB recommended that the FAA should require en route inspections and observe ground training, flight training, and proficiency checks at all Part 135 on-demand charter operations, just as they do at Part 121 and Part 135 commuter operations. Also, the FAA should require that Part 135 on-demand charter operators that conduct dual-pilot operations establish and implement an FAA-approved crew resource management training program. The FAA also should convene a panel of specialists in aircraft design, aviation operations, and aviation human factors, including representatives from NASA, to determine if it would be feasible to require low-airspeed alert systems in airplanes engaged in commercial operations under Parts 121 and 135. If the panel finds it would be feasible, the FAA should establish requirements for low-airspeed alert systems, based on those findings.
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In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published Monday, the FAA proposed that Stage 4 noise standards for all new designs for transport category aircraft and subsonic jets should take effect as of Jan. 1, 2006. "This noise standard would ensure that the latest available noise reduction technology is incorporated into new aircraft designs," the NPRM says. The Stage 4 standard is intended to provide uniform noise certification standards for Stage 4 airplanes certificated in the United States and those airplanes that meet the new International Civil Aviation Organization Annex 16 Chapter 4 noise standard, the FAA said. The FAA also offered reassurance that the adoption of a new noise standard for new aircraft designs is not intended to signal the start of any rulemaking or other proceeding aimed at phasing out the production or operation of current aircraft models. Currently, the FAA has no operational restrictions on Stage 3 airplanes, and the FAA has no plan to impose such restrictions. Send your comments on or before March 1, 2004.
Last summer, Russia's government asked the country's aviation industry to come up with a plan to grow more competitive, and this week, The Moscow Times reported that it has seen a draft of that plan. The draft calls for privatization of the industry as well as consolidation, and would create a consortium known as the Unified Aircraft Building Co., which would be similar to EADS, the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. The consortium would emerge by 2007 and would include such manufacturers as Sukhoi, MiG, Irkut, Ilyushin and Tupolev. About 75 percent of the industry would be controlled by private capital, the Times said, with the state holding on to 25 percent, and the consortium could ultimately claim about 10 percent of the global aerospace market. Under the proposed timeline, a consortium of Sukhoi, MiG, Ilyushin, Irkut and Tupolev would be created next year. If Russia fails to change, the draft says, the nation will face a "threat to lose its status as one of the global aircraft manufacturing centers in the mid-term future." Konstantin Makiyenko, deputy head of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, told the Times the reform program is ambitious, even revolutionary. "I would applaud the plan, especially in the part where the state will only have a blocking stake in the corporation," Makiyenko said. "If completed by 2007, [the aviation reform] will mean not only a revolution in the governmental policy, but also in Russia's bureaucracy." The plan was discussed last week at Rosaviakosmos, the Russian Aviation and Space Agency.
British pilot Polly Vacher landed her single-engine Piper Dakota in Antarctica on Monday, about halfway through her solo flight circling the globe via both poles. Vacher, 59, left Scotland in May, headed north across the pole, then flew across Alaska, North America and South America en route to the Antarctic peninsula. She plans to fly to McMurdo research station sometime this week, then return home via New Zealand, Australia, Asia and Europe, finishing up next March. The trip is raising money for World Wings, an English aviation organization that provides flight training to the disabled. In 2001, Vacher flew around the world, raising $317,600 for the group.
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, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/diamond
The National Park Service (NPS) will stop selling tickets online for the First Flight Centennial celebration, set for Dec. 12-17, this Sunday, Dec. 7, at 10 p.m. EST. Tickets for the 16th and 17th have already sold out, and the rest are going fast. Recently, tickets have appeared for sale on eBay and in newspaper classified ads, drawing bids for hundreds of dollars, according to Monday's Virginian-Pilot. Ticket sales are limited to 35,000 for each day of the event, held at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, N.C. Meanwhile, the Wright Experience team at Kitty Hawk have completed repairs to their 1903 Flyer reproduction and have resumed flight training in preparation for the Dec. 17 event. The 17th is the hottest ticket, with scheduled attractions to include John Travolta as emcee, attempted re-enactments of the first flight at 10:35 a.m. and 2 p.m., and a possible appearance by President Bush. For the unsold dates, Dec. 13-15, tickets cost $10 per day (Dec. 12 is an unticketed day). If any tickets remain after Sunday, they will be sold at a site on the Outer Banks, but the location for that has not yet been announced. The Sunday cutoff date was instated to provide adequate time to mail tickets to purchasers so that tickets are received in time, the NPS said. The six-day commemoration is designed to not only acknowledge the genius of the Wright brothers, the NPS said, but to honor all aviators around the world who followed in their footsteps, and the airplane's evolution in the last century from the Wrights' 1903 Flyer to supersonic jets and spacecraft. Themes for the six days include: Dec. 12 -- Igniting The Imagination (non-ticketed day); Dec. 13-14 -- Remember The Past, Imagine The Future; Dec. 15 -- Protecting The Home Of The Brave; Dec. 16 -- In History's Footsteps, Celebrating 100 Aviation Pioneers; and Dec. 17 -- Twelve Seconds That Changed The World. Through Sunday, tickets can also be bought over the phone, by calling 1-800-973-7327, or (301) 722-1257 for callers outside of the United States. As of Tuesday, over 170,000 tickets had been sold, and only about 7,000 were left.
The state of Rhode Island has issued a revised aircraft-use-tax regulation, after an emergency regulation issued in April raised concerns among aviation advocates when it apparently tried to impose a 7-percent "use tax" on transient aircraft, which the state Tax Division said was not its intent. After some discussion with aviation groups about the rule's lack of clarity, the state agreed to revise it. The new regulation, which takes effect Dec. 11, tries to make it clear that nonresidents of Rhode Island are not affected by the rule. However, residents of the state who buy aircraft outside the state and hangar them at out-of-state airports will be subject to the tax if they fly into Rhode Island and stay overnight.
Chelton Flight Systems, maker of a certified synthetic-vision wonder-box (that may represent the first generation of the kind of instruments that will usher the SATS program into reality) issued a Service Bulletin last month requiring owners to upgrade their software to prevent the FlightLogic EFIS from giving "hazardously misleading guidance into non-protected areas in certain departure and missed approach procedures." The bulletin describes how to recognize when misleading guidance is being displayed and describes procedures for continued safe operation. The system should not be relied on for certain procedures, defined in the Service Bulletin, until the Service Bulletin is complied with. Compliance requires a software update, which solves the problem. The moral of this story -- remember that the price of safe flying is eternal vigilance, even when wowed by the latest, coolest, niftiest technology.
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The FAA has made the VFR transition "mini-route" across the east end of Los Angeles International (LAX) available anytime, as of yesterday, AOPA reported this week. Since the establishment of the route by the FAA in June 2002, internal logistical problems at the tower had restricted its availability, AOPA said, and it was open only four to eight hours per day. The transition is now available 24 hours a day, weather and traffic configuration permitting, for all aircraft regardless of their departure or arrival points, the FAA said in a Letter to Airmen. "It is imperative that general aviation VFR traffic has adequate access through L.A.'s Class B airspace," said AOPA Air Traffic Manager Heidi Williams on Monday. "This change will finally do that." The mini-route replaces the LAX Shoreline Transition Route, which was suspended after several instances of airliners getting too close to VFR traffic. It appears the VFR pilots were never at fault, AOPA said.
A Virgin Blue 737 and two small aircraft near Melbourne, Australia, apparently came close to a midair collision yesterday. The incident exacerbates controversy over the nation's new air rules, which took effect last week...
Vandals are suspected in several cases of slashed steering cables in Malaysia Airlines aircraft at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in the last two months. Officials say they will beef up surveillance and security...
You're invited: The Smithsonian's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center opens Monday, Dec. 15, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The staff of the museum invites you to visit for a memorable day of exciting events...
The TSA has posted online last month's report from the GA advisory committee on security for GA airports...
Concorde fans spent $1.3 million for artifacts at British Airways' auction in London on Monday, including $550,000 for a distinctive needle nose. About one-third of the proceeds will go to charity...
Ten airplanes that changed aviation were selected by MSNBC, including the SR71, DC-3, and Curtiss Jenny...
A homebuilt Cozy hit two houses and crashed near MacArthur Airport on Long Island, N.Y., on Tuesday, after the pilot reported problems while on approach. There was no fire, but a resident told local reporters her home smelled like fuel. The pilot walked away and nobody on the ground was hurt.
Interactive Quiz #75 -- Aerodrome Operations
You can successfully fly hundreds of miles across burning sands, frozen tamarack, and deadly L.A. freeways, but all that Zen-like aero-bliss can turn to grief if you don't understand the operating rules in the airport environment. Have fun navigating the following scenarios.
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We received over 200 pictures last week. Congratulations to this week's winner, Richard Sugden, of Jackson, Wyo. His picture titled "L39 Sunset" helps top off a unique pattern of
in-flight views this week. The winning photo captures the L-39, being leased by the Test Ops squadron at Edwards AFB, over the flight line at the EDW air show several weeks ago. The picture was shot
from a T-38. Great picture, Richard! 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.
"Celebrating a Warm November Afternoon In Virginia "
"This will cool you down "
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
We received over 200 responses to our question last week on the passage of the FAA Reauthorization Bill. We asked our readers to pick out what they felt where the major benefits to the recently passed FAA bill and 23 percent thought the allotted money to keep the FAA operating was the main issue. Only 5 percent felt the return of general aviation operations to Ronald Reagan National Airport was key, while 12 percent thought all of the issues we listed were equally important.
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 flying during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Note, this address is ONLY for suggested QOTW questions, and NOT for QOTW answers.
Sponsor News and Special Offers
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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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