AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 16, Number 24a

June 14, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Fate of Fuels Galvanizes Groups back to top 
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Groups Act On Potential Leaded-Fuel Rulemaking

A grassroots movement by aircraft type groups is brewing to get the word out about the threat of the EPA'sproposed rulemaking that could lead to new regulations regarding the use of leaded aviation fuel. Jonathan Sisk president of the Malibu Mirage Owners and Pilots Association (MMOPA) wrote a letter to AVweb (published in today's AVmail), trying to enlist Piper PA-46 owner operators to mount a campaign to raise awareness. According to Sisk, "What is clear is that while lower-performance engines will run fine on 94UL, higher performance engines such as those used in the PA46 Malibu, Matrix, and Mirage will not." Sisk believes that fuels of less than 100 octane affect the PA-46 fleet's performance "instantly and adversely" and "in a dramatic way." He is calling on pilots to spread awareness of "the critical nature of this threat," and encouraging them to write to groups like ASTM, FAA, DOT, EPA and AOPA. Other groups are apparently getting into the fray, too and Tom Turner, executive director of the American Bonanza Society told AVweb there will be more developments in the coming week. Meanwhile alphabet groups are asking for more time to comment on the EPA's rule.

A coalition made up mostly of general aviation advocacy groups and petroleum-product interests have asked for the extension (PDF) to comment. The groups, which include AOPA, EAA, GAMA, NATA and NBAA, are seeking a 120-day extension to the proposed rule's 60-day comment period. Titled "Lead Emissions from Piston-Engine Aircraft Using Leaded Aviation Gasoline," the rule recognizes that the elimination of leaded avgas would present logistical and technical challenges. The coalition is seeking extra time to perform an impact assessment and address "these complex issues" in a manner that may "facilitate the process for safely removing lead from avgas."

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Meanwhile, at the Airlines ... back to top 

Spirit Pilots Go On Strike

Spirit Airlines has cancelled all its flights through Tuesday because of a pilots' strike. The "ultra low-cost carrier" said passengers booked on the cancelled flights can get a credit for the full value of the flight plus a $100 bonus credit. Cash refunds are also available and travel insurance may be available in some cases. Wages appear to be the major issue and, of course, the company and the Air Line Pilots Association, which represents the pilots, have different ways of looking at the events that led to the picket action.

The airline says the package it offered will result in a 47-percent wage increase over five years and pay a senior captain more than $200,000 a year. And, although pilots reportedly voted 98 percent in favor of strike action, the company is suggesting in its latest news release that the strike is not supported by its pilots and is part of a wider union strategy to pressure other airlines. ALPA says solidarity is strong and the strike will continue "until management comes to the table with a deal that recognizes the worth of a professional pilot."

Jetstar Pilot Texting While Landing?

Claims that a Jetstar airlines pilot was texting on his cellphone before aborting what might have become a gear-up landing at Singapore are being investigated by authorities, according to local news sources. SkyNews.com and TheAustralian.com are among the news agencies that Friday reported the unsourced "texting" allegations and unconfirmed gear-up approach. According to the news agencies, a pilot for the airline "is being investigated" over the claims. However, that was not validated by Jetstar or the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which declined comment on those specific issues. Investigators Friday said the jet had descended to about 700 feet when the an incorrect configuration warning was triggered, prompting the pilots to abort the landing prior to a subsequent successful attempt. One investigator did offer a few details, but not much.

The aircraft had descended to approximately 122 meters above ground when the incorrect configuration warning was triggered. The ATSB's Ian Sangston told the Sydney Morning Herald that the aircraft was "lower than they would have liked" at the time of the abort. Sangston declined comment about the position of the landing gear and alleged cellphone use. The investigation will reportedly examine those allegations.

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Road to Recovery Report back to top 

Jobs: Boeing's 787 Spurs Hiring

Boeing has started to recruit for a new 787 manufacturing facility that will eventually employ about 3,800 people and work toward the goal of producing a record 10 airplanes per month. The facility at Charleston, S.C., is set to open in 2011 with 1,000 workers. Boeing hopes it will help set a production rate of 10 aircraft per month, which the company says would be "the highest twin-aisle production rate in history." The company has won more than 860 orders for the 787 Dreamliner and expects the South Carolina plant to turn out completed jets by early 2012. Jobs at the new facility, which will perform final assembly, will include structural manufacturing, fastener installation and inspections. Positions do have minimum requirements and applications do have due dates coming up soon.

Applicants should have at least four years of experience working with large structural components, and a high school diploma (or equivalent) is required. Applications received prior to June 25 will be considered for interviews with Boeing this July, according to TheSunNews.com. New hires will undergo training set to last six weeks. Details are available from Boeing. Follow this link to learn more. Aside from filling positions at the coming plant, Boeing is also seeking candidates for currently operational plants in North Charleston. Those put out aft- and mid-fuselage sections for the new airliner. Boeing is also assembling Dreamliners out of facilities in Everett, Wash.

Mistral Puts 300hp Rotary Engine On Hold

In development for a decade, Mistral Engines said Wednesday that it was on track to win FAA certification by early 2011 for its 300-hp, G-300 rotary, but must now put those plans on hold. The company says it needs a cash infusion and until "adequate financing" is secured, the company's board of directors has voted to suspend development, effective immediately. Mistral sees its rotary as an efficient, vibration-free and fuel-flexible liquid-cooled solution that could bridge the current "performance, reliability and cost gap" between current piston and turbine engines. The company says its G-300 can run "on any type of autogas or avgas" and targets a 3,000-hour TBO. Mistral says it is also "well along" in development of a Jet-A1-burning version with more plans in the works.

Mistral says its future plans would first see development of the normally aspirated three-rotor G-300 rotary, but also include a range of powerplants from 200 to 360 horsepower. The engines would be equipped with electronic fuel controls, and share the G-300's vibration-free rotary operation, multi-fuel capabilities and liquid cooling. Mistral says its engines have drawn interest from aircraft, helicopter and UAV manufacturers worldwide.

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PiperSport's First Job back to top 

PiperSport No. 3 A Training Plane

Deliveries of the PiperSport LSA began officially at this year's Sun 'n Fun and it didn't take long for one to find its way into a training fleet. PiperSport serial no. 3 was delivered to First Landings Aviation at Apopka Airport in Orlando recently and became the first PiperSport to be used for flying lessons. First Landings specializes in sport pilot training and the low-wing PiperSport complements the high-wing Remos G3 already used by the company. First Landings even managed to beat Piper to the punch in putting the PiperSport, which is made in the Czech Republic and was formerly known as a the Sportcruiser, into revenue service. Piper will soon open a flight school in Brunei, whose government is the principal investor in the company.

A Brunei newspaper says Piper plans to open a flight academy in 2011 and will eventually have about 20 aircraft. When Brunei's government took over as lead investors in Piper 13 months ago, part of the motivation was to expand the local aerospace industry and train more pilots. The Sultan of Brunei, one of the world's richest monarchs, is an experienced pilot who often flies his own $230 million 747. Piper already has four aircraft in Brunei, including two PiperSports, a Warrior and Seneca, and is interviewing companies from Australia, North America and Europe to provide the training.

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Going There — And Coming Home Again back to top 

Cabot Award Shared by Two Men Who Helped Bring Apollo 13 Home

Click for more photos

Last Friday, the Aero Club New England bestowed its Godfrey L. Cabot award to Joe Gavin and Gene Kranz. Gavin was the Director of the Lunar Module Program for Grumman, and Kranz was the Flight Director for the Apollo missions. (He was the guy in the vest played by Ed Harris in the film Apollo 13.) Gavin spoke briefly, making some good quips about developing "a flying machine we couldn't flight test" and how working to get the crew of Apollo 13 back alive was "the longest time without sleeping I've ever faced." But it was Kranz's presentation that stole the show.

Kranz framed the plight of Apollo 13 by noting that there wasn't a single Mercury mission that didn't have a major problem to solve and that both Apollo 11 and 12 had been "a bit sporting." Apollo 11 landed on the moon with 17 seconds of fuel remaining, and Apollo 12 lost an engine on liftoff. His presentation described the gut-wrenching decisions that ultimately were his call to try and bring back three men in a crippled spacecraft over 200,000 miles from home. For example, they chose to sling the crew around the moon rather than attempt to reverse course (because Kranz had a gut feeling the rocket needed for that might be damaged) even though that path was a day too long for the astronauts to survive. They figured out how to shave a day off the return later.

Below are some of the slides from Kranz's presentation. His bestselling memoir, Failure Is Not an Option, tells of his experiences in 37 years at NASA.

Click for photos.

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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

AVmail: June 14, 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: The No-Lead Threat

Finding a viable replacement fuel for leaded avgas looms as a catastrophic threat to high-performance piston aircraft owners, and PA-46 aircraft in particular. The threat is two-fold:

  1. The lead additive to avgas which boosts its octane from ~93 to over 100 is tetraethyl lead (TEL). There is only one remaining supplier worldwide for this additive. Were TEL to become unavailable from this source for any reason, our fleet would be immediately grounded. Given the relatively small market that avgas represents in the worldwide petroleum industry and the eco-political status of leaded fuels, it is doubtful that that another supplier for TEL would materialize.
  2. Political cover for general aviation to continue using leaded avgas is quickly disappearing. The EPA is being pressured by ecological groups to immediately eliminate lead from all aviation fuels and has released a pre-publication version of an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANRPM) on lead in avgas. The ANPRM signals the agency's intent to investigate lead emissions from general aviation aircraft further under the regulatory processes of the Clean Air Act.

On May 13, Teledyne-Continental Motors (TCM) announced that it is backing 94UL as the replacement for 100LL avgas. 94UL is the same as 100LL but without the tetraethyl lead octane enhancer. TCM claims that all of its engines already certified to run on 80/87 octane will still provide rated power with 94UL and that its turbocharged low-compression engines will also experience no drop-off in performance. Others knowledgeable in this technical area strongly disagree with TCM's claims on turbocharged engines such as those in the Malibu.

On June 6, from AVweb, we learn that Lycoming has taken an opposing view, insisting that only a 100-octane solution should be considered. According to Lycoming's GM, Michael Kraft, "If people really understood what's going on today, they would understand that we need to set the objective at 100 octane fuel."

There are currently at least two 100-octane fuel alternatives, and maybe more in development. What is clear is that while lower-performance engines will run fine on 94UL, higher performance engines such as those used in the PA46 Malibu, Matrix, and Mirage will not. Reducing the detonation margin in the engines would necessitate reduced output with corresponding degradation in performance, resulting in dramatic reductions in utility for our aircraft. In most cases, this would, at a minimum, require a significant reduction in gross weight due to reduced climb gradients from lower horsepower engine output.

Of greatest concern is that we run the risk of this decision being primarily influenced by the engine manufacturers with limited input from current avgas users — that is, us, owners of high performance piston aircraft. Unfortunately, individual aircraft owners seem unaware of the threat this issue represents and, to this point, have been mostly silent.

As President of the Malibu Mirage Owners and Pilots Association (MMOPA), I consider this issue to be both important and urgent. The certification of a fuel of less than 100 octane would instantly and adversely impact our membership in a dramatic way. I will be writing letters to the engine manufacturers, ASTM, FAA, DOT, EPA, and AOPA to state our concerns. I will also be looking for opportunities to network and partner with other type groups who share our stake in the matter.

What can you do? Look for opportunities to awaken general aviation pilots to the critical nature of this threat. Write your own letters. Express your concerns to those groups with political access and influence, such as AOPA and EAA. This is not just a PA46 issue.

Jonathan Sisk
President, MMOPA Board of Directors

Back to Two Aviation Fuels?

When I started flying, the normal fuel available included both 80/87 and 100/130. The transition to a single fuel, 100LL, took place while I wasn't watching, so I don't really know why it did.

With the pending demise of 100LL, it seems to me we once again should have two different fuels available at most locations. 94UL is ideal both technologically and cost-wise for many light planes. However, some higher performance engines require higher-octane fuel, which will certainly be a lot more expensive than 94UL.

I know FBOs face some cost issues to get two different fuels going again. I have already suggested my local airport authority (a local government entity) budget for an additional fuel tank and pump. Perhaps it is time for a "movement" to get other airports back into the two-fuel business.

Paul Mulwitz

Rank Rankle

What's wrong with this story (A First For Female Air Force Pilot)?

It's a great story of a very fine career. But check the last line of the first paragraph: "Dunlop will succeed Brig. Gen. William Thornton to assume her latest command."

Does this mean the Air Force is filling positions staffed by male Brig. Generals with female full-bird Colonels? What about the "equal pay for equal work" ethic?

Let's hope Col. Dunlop receives the rank she deserves and is promoted to Brig. General soon.

Glen Coombe

Just For The Rich?

This is a rebuttal to the letter titled "ADS-B Whiners," by David Rosing.

I own a 45-year-old Cherokee that is very airworthy, and I know many pilots of similar aircraft. I will bet that none of them can afford a new engine at any time. Most of us do not have panel-mount GPS units because of the ridiculous cost. To install, say, a Garmin 430 would cost me about half what a new engine would. I guess, based on that, I cannot afford my aircraft, as Rosing implies, and I would bet most owners fall into that category.

Our concern about the ADS-B out requirement is cost. The cost of the needed equipment could be so onerous (because we own a "certified" aircraft) as to force us out of the sky. Maybe aviation is only for the rich.

Barry Roberts

To a degree, Mr. Rosing has a point — but his choice of the word "cheapskates" is regrettable and most unfortunate.

There is a big difference between being financially challenged and being a "cheapskate." It is one thing to say that a person cannot afford something, but it is something very different to say they are a "cheapskate."

Cheapskates have the money but cut corners — they even cut back on safety (and not only their own safety) — to keep as much money as possible for themselves.

Aviation has its share of "cheapskates" — also a quantity of "elitists."

I suggest that to imply being financially limited makes a person a "cheapskate" is offensive.

Charles Elliot

David Rosing is way out of line. It's not about whining because we need to spend money; the whining is because we are spending money without any benefit. This is typical government operation: They are not the ones writing the check from their bank account; they just mandate it without just cause. I surely hope David is not in any position to make rules, as he is way out of touch with reality. A $10,000 expense in a $30,000 plane without any benefit? No way, no how!

Rick Martin

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

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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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Self-Delusion Saves Lives

Pride goeth before a fall. We're told that lying to ourselves and overestimating our abilities is a surefire path to failure — but listening to Failure Is Not an Option author Gene Kranz talk about the Apollo 13 mission, Jeff Van West has come to realize the opposite is sometimes true: Our self-delusions can pave the way to success.

Read more at the AVweb Insider blog — and then add your own comments.

AVweb Insider Blog: Tulsa, We Have a Problem — A Boring Air Show

How can an air show be boring? It's not enough to bring top acts into town like Kyle Franklin and the Rocket Racing League. On the AVweb Insider, guest blogger Greg Wustrack explains that pacing, parking, and a place to pee are top considerations, too.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Live Streaming on the Internet — Your Aircraft Wreck!

That must be the way the pilot of that Strearman that pranged on the runway at Reagan National on Tuesday felt. You can hardly open a car door (or untie an airplane) without a camera catching you in the act. In the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli reminds us all to wear our best flight jackets and the underwear with no holes: We're gonna be on TV!

Click here to read the blog and join the conversation.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Cattaraugus County-Olean Airport (KOLE, Olean, NY)

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Our latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to the crew at Cattaraugus County-Olean Airport (KOLE) in Olean, New York.

AVweb reader Hella Comat told us why she'll be returning:

We attended an event at Olean this past weekend, and I can't say enough about the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff and volunteers at KOLE. The airport is a beautiful spot on a hill above town, and we were offered rides into town and back the next morning. Getting gas was a breeze, and the attendants were most helpful. If I'm in the area, I'd land here for sure, if only to say thanks again for the hospitality!

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!

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

Aviation Consumer Reviews the iPad — Warts and All

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

Could it really be? Is the iPad the ultimate cockpit EFB (electronic flight bag) that we've all been waiting for? Find out in this review by AVweb and Aviation Consumer's Paul Bertorelli. It has potential — so much potential ... .

If you enjoy this video, be sure to look for the print review of the iPad in the July issue of our sister magazine, Aviation Consumer.

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.

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 an AV8OR Handheld GPS

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 Drawings

Win an AV8OR handheld GPS (from Bendix/King by Honeywell) 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 June 18, 2010.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.

Congratulations to William R. Smith of Madison, Connecticut, who won a King Schools Get-It-All Pilot Training Kit in our last drawing! (click here to get your own from King Schools)

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Overheard in IFR Magazine's 'On the Air' Section
Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"

As Denny Cunningham can tell you, Chicago area controllers have a rep for irreverent humor on the air. This latest installment of the Top Twenty Actual Transmissions Heard in the O'Hare Tracon comes courtesy of IntentionallyLeftBlank, the newsletter of O'Hare's National Air Traffic Controllers Association:

"American Two Twenty: eneey, meeny, miney, mo, how do you hear my radio?"

Courtesy of the Top Twenty Actual Transmissions Heard in the O'Hare Tracon, from IntentionallyLeftBlank, the newsletter of O'Hare's National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

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:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Scott Simmons

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.

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