December 10, 2003
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by
It looks like a famous Australian aerial adventurer who flew his RV-4 to Antarctica will be taking a Hercules home -- and leaving his aircraft behind (after disassembly) until (perhaps) February. Jon Johanson, who in 2000 flew his Vans homebuilt aircraft from Australia to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh and back again, was on a new record-setting flight from New Zealand to Argentina, via the South Pole, when higher-than-forecast winds forced him down. The unplanned fuel stop was at the McMurdo Station scientific outpost on Monday. But officials for the National Science Foundation (NSF), which runs McMurdo and New Zealand's nearby Scott Base, have (so far) refused to fly in the 400 liters of fuel he needs to complete his journey. NSF officials say they are following a long-established policy. A news release issued by the NSF Wednesday said Johanson will be offered a seat on one of the regularly scheduled Hercules flights that come and go several times a week at McMurdo. A supply ship will take his plane out in February (a trip that may cost upward of $10,000). Johanson will have to pay for himself and his airplane to leave the continent. "We have extended the pilot the normal courtesies routinely offered by New Zealand and U.S. stations in Antarctica," said Lou Sanson, CEO of Antarctica New Zealand.
The plight of Johanson, who has circled the world three times in his RV, has sparked a major reaction in the aviation community. EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski said senior officials of his organization were in contact with government and NSF officials most of the day Wednesday trying to work something out. He said the issue quickly went as high as the State Department in Washington but by AVweb's press deadline Wednesday there was no indication Johanson would be able to resume his flight. Knapinski said it was his understanding the Antarctic base doesn't have any avgas but, even if it did, officials probably wouldn't sell it to him. Knapinski said it's been a long-held rule in the Antarctic that if you aren't part of an official, self-sufficient expedition there, you become a rescue operation. Under those policies, a trip home is the only option. The NSF news release says neither the Americans nor the New Zealanders "supply or stock fuel for private individuals." Although it's been reported that Johanson rigorously researched the forecast weather on his proposed route, his Antarctic hosts have apparently not been moved by his explanations. "The pilot should have made the decision to abandon his original flight plans much sooner when faced with these weather conditions and returned to Invercargill in New Zealand," said Sanson.
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Quebec-based OMF Aircraft, which produces the $120,000, 160-hp, 128-knot, high-wing Glastar look-alike, the Symphony 160, says it will be back in production by May despite the financial collapse of its parent company, OMF GmbH, in Germany on Tuesday. OMF Aircraft, which was 70-percent owned by the German company, will reorganize into a stand-alone enterprise and continue with plans to manufacture and develop three aircraft lines. "To do this is actually relatively straightforward," CEO Paul Costanzo said in a telephone news conference Wednesday. The first step is to obtain Transport Canada type and production certification for the Symphony 160, which is currently built by the company in Quebec. Production stopped two weeks ago when the supply of parts for the eight planes under construction dried up from the parent company. Costanzo said he expects Transport Canada approvals to take four to six months, during which time he intends to line up North American suppliers for the parts.
OMF Aircraft needs to raise about $5 million to complete the restructuring. The Quebec government has already invested in the plant and will end up with a 49-percent interest in the company. Raising the $5 million will trigger the release of $4 million of funds already secured through the arrangement with Quebec. Costanzo said he shouldn't have any problem raising the money. "There's a very high level of confidence that we will be able to secure those funds," he said. The collapse in Germany likely means that Matt and Derek Stinnes, who have been the driving force behind the creation of OMF, will be no longer associated with the project. The Stinnes Group, which they manage, has lost a lot of money, partly because of the rising value of the Euro against the U.S. dollar, and the brothers decided to pull the pin on the airplane company before it started affecting the family business's other interests, said Costanzo. He said the Stinnes have said they will not be investing in the restructured company.
There are currently 41 Symphony 160s flying and Bill Sprague, OMF Aircraft's vice president of sales, says the top priority now is to ensure continued product support for those customers. He also said the six North American distributors will also be allowed to continue taking orders for the 160 and to reserve positions on the 135D diesel-powered version (which would fly with Thielert's Centurion 1.7) and the four-place 250, both of which are under development. There are now 21 orders for 160s and 25 options held for the two new designs. Costanzo said that while the new product lines will be delayed in development by at least six months by the current situation, OMF Aircraft will continue both programs under Canadian certification. He said it's a big challenge for a start-up company to switch gears so quickly but there is demonstrated demand for all three lines of aircraft. "We believe the 135D and 250 are critical to the future of OMF Aircraft," Castanzo said. A bright spot in the problems is that there is a large pool of skilled aerospace workers in the immediate area of the OMF plant. It's located in Trois Rivieres, near Montreal, which is a major aerospace manufacturing center in Canada.
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Company officials won't confirm it but, if it's true, the missile attack on a DHL Airbus last month in Baghdad is one hell of a flying story. Shortly after the incident, AVweb received word that the missile knocked out all three hydraulics systems on the A300 and the unidentified crew had to make the emergency landing using only differential thrust for directional control. DHL has steadfastly refused to confirm the story. In an e-mail to AVweb Wednesday, company spokesman Claus Korfmacher said he wouldn't comment until all the various investigations were completed. "Unfortunately, the situation hasn't changed," said Korfmacher. "Investigations are still ongoing therefore we cannot provide any additional information. This applies for our flight crew members as well." According to an Aviation Week and Space Technology story, an unnamed source said the Airbus lost hydraulics about a minute after the missile hit. The source also said the pilot of the Airbus had recently attended a seminar in which one of the speakers was retired United Air Lines Captain Al Haynes. He was the pilot who crash landed a DC-10 at Sioux City, Iowa, in 1989 on engine thrust alone after an engine failure took out his aircraft's hydraulics (see AVweb's interview with Haynes). Aviation Week quotes the Belgian Cockpit Association Secretary General Pierre Ghyoot as saying the organization is planning to give an award to the DHL pilots.
Labor peace between air traffic controllers and the FAA has been guaranteed (maybe) by the signing of a two-year extension of their contract. Although much of the contract is unchanged (including the base wage of controllers) the FAA did win some cost-saving measures in the deal. How much they'll be able to save depends on who you talk to. In a statement, the FAA says it will save a maximum of $40 million over four years while the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) says the savings are more like $100 million over the life of the contract. At the core of the cost savings is a "performance-based pay system that ties part of controllers' pay to reductions in runway incursions and operational errors," according to NATCA's news release. The deal increases the number of employees whose pay is partly based on performance from 37 percent to 75 percent and affects 15,000 air traffic controllers. The pact also does away with rules that were opposite to the current goals. In some cases, controllers who transferred from high-traffic facilities because they failed to meet operational requirements were able to keep the higher wages when they returned to the lower-capacity facilities.
Rescue officials scolded an Anchorage Fire Department Battalion Chief for failing to file a flight plan on a sightseeing trip that could have been his last. Wade Strahan, 56, spent a wet, frigid night in an unheated trapper's cabin after his Cessna 172 skidded into Eklutna Lake last Friday afternoon. His disappearance sparked a massive search covering 2,400 square miles. "It would have made everybody's life so much easier if we'd had a flight plan," Major Chris Kobi, senior rescue controller with the Alaska Air National Guard, told The Anchorage Daily News. (Or a personal locator beacon.) Strahan got full marks for endurance and perseverance, however. He had to swim 150 yards to shore and then hike to the unheated cabin where he spent the night huddled on a bed of spruce boughs in zero- to 10-degree temperatures. In the morning, he hiked eight miles before stumbling across cross-country skiers, one of whom text-messaged rescuers on a cellphone. He was cold and tired but otherwise unhurt, save for some frozen feet that might result in his losing a toenail. Strahan was in a wheel-equipped 172 and, according to the Daily News, told authorities he was trying to pack a track on a snow-covered airstrip beside the lake by doing touch and goes. On the third or fourth try, he apparently decided to land and the wheels sunk into the snow. When he tried to abort the landing, he couldn't get airborne in time to avoid hitting a stump of driftwood. The plane skidded across the lakeshore before plunging through the ice and sinking.
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Love them or hate them, airports usually evoke some kind of visceral reaction, but officials at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport are wondering what to do about a "tourism expert's" assessment. Alf Nucifora told The Wichita Eagle he thought the airport bland. But, then, maybe the airport is OK and it's the city that's bland, because he justified his comments by saying an airport "must reflect the urban vitality of the city. In fact, it reflects nothing." Just in case it's really the airport that's bland, officials leapt to its defense. "I doubt that he knows about the master plan," said Bailis Bell, director of airports. So what's in the master plan? Great sculpture, cascading water features, towering architecture? Wichita residents won't know until it's finished next year. In the meantime, the practical folks of Wichita have more modest goals for their facility. The bathrooms are about halfway through a facelift, there's new carpet in the halls (the gates get it next month) and about 850 new chairs have been installed throughout the terminal. "Things are in motion," said Bell.
It may seem like 100 years to some of those at Lancair Certified but it only took the company eight years to reach a centennial of sorts. The Bend, Ore., company rolled its 100th Columbia 350 out of the factory earlier this week, a little more than a week before that big Dec. 17 to-do in North Carolina. "Having the two milestones fall so close to one another is a fitting coincidence," CEO Bing Landis told The Bend Bugle. "This delivery is symbolic in that the Lancair Company has seen more than its share of challenges but we've persevered and today our outlook for the future is limitless." A bit more than a year ago, that future didn't look so rosy. Despite about $25 million in backlogged orders, the company was out of cash and needed a fresh injection of capital to resume production. The Malaysian government came up with the money and the production line resumed shortly afterward. The 100th Columbia, in a special paint scheme, is going to an unidentified central Oregon business family. Meanwhile, work continues toward certification of the turbocharged version of the 350, dubbed the 400.
Thanks to some ultralight pilots, Canadian wildlife charity Operation Migration and hundreds of volunteers, there are 16 more whooping cranes ready to take on the world. The young birds, all born last May in captivity in Wisconsin, were literally shown the way to their winter home near Crystal River, Fla., on Monday. More than 1,000 people were on hand at the mall next to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge to witness the happy landing. It's the third group of cranes to be shown the way. Monday's happy ending capped a 54-day, 1,200-mile journey from the cranes' birthplace at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin. Cranes born in the wild have older cranes to follow south for the winter but all these birds had were three ultralights. The cranes will be monitored by biologists over the winter and tracked while they try to find their way back to Wisconsin in the spring. Operation Migration funded the effort. There are about 400 whooping cranes left; the species was nearly extinct 60 years ago, when there were only about 20 left.
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Goodyear is short a blimp after the almost-new Spirit of America crashed into a compost pile in California last week. The year-old blimp slipped its moorings at its home base in Carson, Calif., and drifted 300 yards before hitting the heap of fertilizer. The pilot was uninjured but a cameraman on board suffered bruises. The blimp had a large tear in the front of the envelope and the front window of the gondola was smashed
Manchester Airport's fire chief is in hot water after he breached security to give his friends a sneak peak at the Concorde. Chris Formby used an official car to go through a gate used by fire trucks responding to emergencies to take two colleagues for an airside view of the Concorde, which was on one of its last flights in October. He was called on the carpet by airport authorities...
Aviator, senator and world's oldest astronaut John Glenn will be the guest of honor at the 56th Annual Wright Memorial Dinner. The dinner, held to honor a "living individual for significant public service of enduring value, as a civilian, to aviation in the United States," will be held at the Aero Club of Washington on Friday. John Travolta and FAA Administrator Marion Blakey will attend...
For the first year since 1999, O'Hare International may show a traffic increase this year. Through Oct. 31, nearly 58 million passengers had passed through the airport, up 4 percent over last year. By the end of the year, the total is expected to hit about 70 million...
Canadian airports have banned fruit cakes -- apparently the much ... beloved ... holiday treats are too dense for security devices to see through.
Say Again? #31: Traffic Time
Do you know where the traffic is around you? The controller knows, and can usually tell you. But sometimes pilots make things more difficult than they need to be -- when we're just trying to keep away from everyone else. AVweb's Don Brown tells how you can work with ATC to get where you're going without running into someone.
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We received over 100 pictures last week. Congratulations to this week's winner, Sam Ash, of Raleigh, NC. Sams picture was taken at Barber Field in Alliance, OH during a three
week cross country trip with his my father who is also a pilot. I think well agree few crosscountry fuel stops offer this kind of grass roots aviation scenery. Great picture, Sam! 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.
"Ready To Go"
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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.
"Tight but Slow Formation"
"A Bird's Eye View"
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
We received over 200 responses to our question last week on Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of those responding flew within heir local area during the holiday weekend, while 26 percent flew a GA aircraft for a holiday trip. Only two percent indicated TFRs restricted them from flying this Thanksgiving.
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 upcoming Kitty Hawk event.
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.
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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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Today's issue written by News Writer Russ Niles:
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Let's all be careful out there, okay?
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