AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 16, Number 26a

June 28, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! More from the Fuel Fray back to top 
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Owner Groups Push For Accelerated Avgas Testing

Worried about lack of progress in finding a replacement for 100LL avgas, the Malibu/Mirage Owners and Pilots Association and other owner groups have asked AOPA to step in and ask the FAA to approve accelerated fuel testing procedures. In a report to the group's members, M/MOPA's Jon Sisk said AOPA President Craig Fuller has been asked directly to pressure the FAA to approve the STC process as one means of rapidly testing potential 100LL replacement fuels. The agency has done this before under Advisory Circular 20-24B (PDF), but it has stalled one recent request from General Aviation Modifications Inc. to allow its proposed G100UL to be tested in a limited fleet trial via STC. Click through for much more detail.

Currently, the fuel is being tested in a turbonomalized Cirrus SR22 in experimental registry, but GAMI's George Braly told AVweb that the fuel needs much wider exposure, both to test its technical performance in real-world operation and to give it wider public exposure. Another 100-octane contender, Swift Fuel, is about to undergo wider fleet test at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Although the FAA has approved fuels for test purposes under STCs before, it has resisted GAMI's request, insisting instead that the company apply to ASTM International for a formal fuel approval, a process that takes about two years, after which wider testing could begin. Over the weekend, Braly said the FAA may be about to agree that the STC process can be used, but the approval schedule remains uncertain.

In his report to members, Sisk said that one reason no suitable fuel has emerged is that innovation has been stymied by a lockstep adherence to the constraints of ASTM's D910 fuel specification. "After looking for it within or near the D910 spec for 20 years, it seems obvious that the solution will be found elsewhere and that the an earnest effort outside the constraints of the D910 spec has not yet be conducted."

AOPA declined to say directly if Fuller will comply with the owner groups' request, but deferred the query to the industry's FAST future fuels committee, which held an informational briefing for the press last week. When asked if FAST would specifically pressure the FAA on the STC issue, AVweb got no direct response, other than the general assurance that FAST would support all broad-based effort to accelerate fuel testing and approval procedures with the FAA, including the STC approach. FAST committee member Doug McNair said flight testing--under STC or otherwise--is viewed as a minor part of the fuel approval process. Braly told us that while he agrees with that view, he believes that all of the fuels contending to be the replacement for 100LL need a faster testing approval path than is offered by ASTM. There currently may be other 100-octane candidates that haven't surfaced publicly.

Braly believes the industry is moving so slowly on the fuels issues that aircraft sales are in danger of nose diving just on that issue, much less the current recession. "We are being ruled by fear, uncertainty and doubt," Braly said. "The need for clarity on a new fuel is urgent. We need to make sure this market doesn't freeze up. It's in real jeopardy of doing that."

Braly told us he will make an initial application for ASTM approval for G100UL this week in Kansas City.

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Need More Worry in Your Life? back to top 

IG: Pilots, Your Private Information Is At Risk

A Transportation Department Inspector General (IG) report dated June 18 found "serious security lapses" in systems that the FAA uses to store pilots' personal information, including medical data. Information collected from roughly 465,000 current medical certifications is just the tip of the iceberg. The IG says the FAA's Internet-accessible Medical Support System (MSS) holds records for more than three million airmen, past and present. The IG listed names, addresses, Social Security numbers and other "personally identifiable information" as information "not properly secured." According to the report, the system's vulnerabilities allow for the "potential falsification of medical certificates," and more. "Failure to encrypt sensitive personal identifiable information and control remote access to MSS," says the report, "places airmen at unnecessary risk of identity theft, jeopardizes the integrity of the medical certification process, and increases risks of attacks on departmental networks." The FAA is responding and the IG believes the FAA's current and planned actions will positively address the IG's concerns in most cases.

As an example of the lapses, staff no longer employed by medical examiners were found to have continued access to the system. The IG also found that sensitive information lacks encryption and system passwords were stored "in clear text on the system." It also found that the FAA has exempted the roughly 8500 AME users who have access to the system from the DOT's mandatory security awareness and privacy awareness training. According to the IG, "To ensure aviation safety and protect the privacy of airmen, it is critical that this medical information be secure." The IG report was meant to audit information security and assess the FAA's progress in establishing methods to identify active airmen who are also receiving disability pay. The IG has issued 15 recommendations, and the IG believes the FAA is responding well to 12. The FAA does have plans that address the other three, but faces some logistical difficulties in responding more quickly to those.

Find the recommendations, along with the report, here (PDF).

The Coming Solar Storms And Your GPS

Space scientists say that solar storms are on the rise and do cause problems for satellite-dependent systems like GPS and ADS-B. So, if you're wondering if there's anything to worry about, the short answer is, "yes," but there are caveats. Scientists at NASA's heliophysics division and NOAA's space weather prediction center told AVweb the storms can -- and have -- temporarily shut down certain GPS capability and are likely to (read: will) do it again. While that's not likely to happen very often, the challenge of predicting or identifying those moments (which can last days) and effectively communicating the threat to end-users (pilots) is not easily met. With more pilots relying on satellite-based systems during demanding modes of flight, the stakes are high. Joe Kunches is a space scientist at NOAA who works with industry stakeholders to define and understand their space weather needs.

AVweb's Glenn Pew spoke with Kunches Friday to determine the nature of the threat, our current defenses, and what the average pilot can do about it. (Hint: Don't throw out inertial navigation, VOR, or DME just yet.)

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Something New, Something Old, A Little of Both back to top 

French Firm Introduces High-Performance Pusher

There haven't been a lot of new aircraft introduced at AirVenture Oshkosh in recent years but a French company says it will have the soon-to-be-flying prototype of its unconventional canarded pusher design at the big show. Cobalt Aircraft Industries will unveil the Co50 at a news conference at AirVenture July 28. The aircraft will compete in the high-performance piston single category and will be powered by a twin turbo TCM TSIOF-550-D2B mounted midships and turning a tail-mounted pusher prop. It predicts a 245-knot cruise at 25,000 feet on 25 gph and five-place configuration with a useful load of 1213 pounds. Empty weight of the composite airframe is 1,867 pounds and the tanks hold 109 U.S. gallons.

With the engine out of the way, drawings depict a spacious cabin with huge windows. The aircraft also has retractable gear and will have a leather interior. Price has not been disclosed. The project was begun in 2002 by Georgia Tech aerospace grad David Loury. The company says it intends to begin the certification process in the last half of 2010. The airplane on display at Oshkosh will be the flying prototype.

iCub LSA Embraces iPad

Sportair USA has announced itself as the U.S. importer and distributor of a new LSA, the iCub, which it touts as a "classic taildragger" that starts under $100,000 and includes a "panel mounted iPad aviation information center." The iPad comes loaded with software that includes the WingXpro7 GPS-enabled terrain-aware moving map, ForeFlight Mobile HD and ForeFlight Charts, and the iHUD (EFIS) and MotionX GPS HD. Sportair says the iCub is also equipped with "backup analog" instrumentation. The aircraft itself is manufactured by Zlin Aviation, now operating from the Czech Republic. It turns a 100-hp Rotax 912 ULS sipping from a full 18 gallons of fuel (24 with optional larger tanks) and requires 280 feet to become airborne and 265 feet to stop. Sportair says the iCub has a 565-pound useful load and offers a Bush iCub version for rougher field work.

Sportair's pricing lists the iCub at $92,000 "fully equipped and ready to fly." The Bush iCub is fitted with reinforced taller gear and larger tundra tires that allow improved access to less hospitable terrain at the cost of an additional $7,000. Sportair says it will debut the aircraft at AirVenture Oshkosh later this summer. For more information regarding this "classic" aircraft's included software, click here.

Related Content:
AVweb's iPad Video Review

Only Flyable B-29 Returns To Skies With Custom Engines

The Commemorative Air Force's (CAF) B-29, dubbed FIFI, is scheduled to take flight later this month, retaking its crown as "the world's only flyable B-29" after four years on the ground, CAF announced Friday. The flight is planned for 8 a.m., Tuesday, June 29, 2010, out of the CAF Airpower Museum, at Midland International Airport, and it will showcase the plane's unique new engines. CAF is inviting visitors to come witness the event. Doors will open at 7 a.m. CAF will allow visitors into the museum's main hangar to watch the crew prepare the historic bomber for its latest "first flight." They'll then escort viewers to a safe area to witness the aircraft's takeoff. The moment will come with great thanks to CAF's member-volunteers whose efforts will have made it all possible. Four years was a long absence from flight, and there was good reason for it.

The B-29's original powerplants were Wright R-3350-57AM engines, and keeping those engines airworthy proved an excess CAF couldn't withstand. Following an inspection that revealed metal in the engines' oil, it was ultimately decided that the aircraft would not be flown until refitted with engines custom-built from a combination of the R-3350-95W and the R-3350-26WD. That required a complete refit that included altering the engine mounts and making changes to the cowlings. Weather permitting, the CAF's B-29 SN44-62070, FIFI, will fly again. CAF says the local community has "offered great support" throughout the plane's restoration and the organization is "excited to invite our neighbors out to see her."

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Look, Up in the Sky! (It's Not a Bird, It's a Plane) back to top 

FBI Tried To Shoo Away Banner Plane

The FBI says it's perfectly normal for agents to call air traffic control towers and ask that aircraft be diverted for safety reasons. Whether or not they're towing banners over a major golf tournament mocking its marquee player is irrelevant, the Bureau claims. It was confirmed on Friday that the FBI agent made the call as a Cessna pulling a banner that read "Tiger: Are You My Daddy?" flew legally over the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Calif., June 20. FAA spokesman Ian Gregor told the Monterey County Herald the agent asked tower personnel to order the aircraft away from the event. "We said there were no flight restrictions in place so the pilot was free to fly near or over the course provided he abided by the applicable Federal Aviation Regulations," Gregor said. FBI spokesman Joseph Schadler told the newspaper the call was made out of concern for the safety of the thousands of people crowding the course for the tournament in case the airplane (which was either over the water at 500 feet and above or at 1,000 feet above the course) had to make an emergency landing on the course. "In all seriousness, we don't care about what might be on the banner," he said. "Our concern is the safety of the people on the ground."

Gregor said the tower did pass along the FBI's interest in the flight to the pilot but only to let him know about the agent's concerns. "We did not tell the pilot that he had to leave the area," he said. The banner was being flown by National Sky Ads, of Long Island, N.Y., and was one of two that was to have been shown to the crowd. Company owner Dave de Reeder wouldn't say what was on the other one (although it seems likely we'll find out at a future tourney). De Reeder also wouldn't say who'd hired the company. At the Masters in Augusta in April, the FAA temporarily grounded a Tiger-taunting banner plane after a ramp inspection done at the request of a local airport official. FAA inspectors found several missing cowl screws and loose fasteners and a faded seatbelt tag on that aircraft, which was owned by a banner company from Ohio. It was allowed to be flown to Ohio for repairs.

Ever Seen An Emergency Order Of Revocation?

On March 13, 2010, the Diamond DA40 piloted by Joseph Kirkbow flew low enough over Crystal Beach, Texas, to snag a fishing line, snap a fishing pole and blow off a man's hat, twice (on separate passes), according to the FAA. The FAA says in its subsequent emergency revocation order that witnesses saw the pilot smile or laugh each time he made a pass that caused people on the beach to duck. But, according to the FAA, upon learning that he could be in trouble he phoned one of his two passengers to tell her that, if anyone asked, she was "never on that plane." The FAA listed 21 findings in the revocation order that read like a laundry list of things the FAA does not want you to do in an airplane ... because most of them are. Based on that, the FAA determined "an emergency exists related to safety in air commerce," in allowing Kirkbow to remain certified. And based on his demonstrated "lack of qualification" to hold an airman's certificate, the agency issued its emergency order of revocation on June 16, which we now offer as educational reading for pilots.

The FAA found that Kirkbow violated paragraphs a, b, and c, of Section 91.119, (altitude requirements) and 91.13(a) regarding careless or reckless operation. It states that certificate holders who intentionally violate the privileges of their certificates compromise safety and found that Kirkbow "cannot be trusted to hold the certificate" it had issued to him. Kirkbow had ten days to appeal but was ordered to surrender his certificate immediately. The FAA told the pilot that failure to comply would make him "subject to further legal enforcement action, including a civil penalty of up to $1,100 per day for each day you fail to surrender it." The order states that Kirkbow may seek to return to the air after one year.

Click to Read:
The Emergency Order of Revocation (PDF)

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Special AVweb Offer — A Round-Trip, All-Expenses-Paid Trip to Ada, Oklahoma

For the past two weeks, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli has been mouthing off about the lack of industry progress toward a 100LL replacement fuel. We asked him to put up or shut up, so in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog, he is. He's offering to personally pay the travel expenses for any one member of the Coordinating Research Council or the industry's FAST Fuels Committee to actually look at GAMI's G100UL run in the test cell and to also fly with the fuel. Maybe then someone can tell us if this stuff is real or not.

Can't do that unless you actually look at it, right? See the blog for details.

AVweb Insider Blog: Cirrus Has a New Turbo SR22! That's Good, Right?

IFR's Jeff Van West watched the unveiling of Cirrus Aircraft's new turbo model at the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association annual migration last week and was left wondering: Why? This new model leaves some important questions unanswered, especially for buyers thinking they're buying something they might not actually be getting.

Click here to look back over the history of the turbo Cirrus with Jeff and share your opinions in the comment thread.

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

AVmail: June 28, 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: Federal Miscommunication Commission

Regarding the FCC's proposal to ban 121.5 MHz ELTs: What a classic case of lack of coordination with other agencies like state highway patrols.

In February, our EAA Chapter 1445 at Casa Grande, AZ had as our guest speaker the chief of the Arizona highway patrol aviation section. The thrust of his talk was on their contribution to aviation search-and-rescue. I quote what he said, and it makes a lot of sense: "Due to budget constraints, we at the Arizona Highway Patrol will not be upgrading our aircraft to the new standards in the near future. Therefore, we will continue to use the 121.5 frequencies."

He didn't have a list but said many other states have the same problems, and he recommended pilots continue to use 121.5.

So now the FCC comes up with this new rule, obviously having not coordinated with other agencies like state highway patrol aviation sections which, in most cases, next to the Civil Air Patrol, do the lion's share of search and rescue. Unbelievable.

Dale Basham

Any Frequency in an Emergency

FCC regulations allow the use of any transmitter, licensed or unlicensed, to be used on any frequency in the time of an emergency. Unless the FAA goes along with the FCC ban, the 121.5 ELTs can quietly sit in our airplanes until needed for an emergency.

Robert Gold

Blessing, Cleverly Disguised

I think the FCC's bizarre intention to declare 121.5 ELTs unlawful by August may be a blessing in disguise.

I was, of course, disappointed when we lost the advantage of satellite tracking of the old 121.5 signal. The search-and-rescue personnel that we depend on will, no doubt, have a harder time finding us if we crash.

Luckily, their ranks will now swell, presumably with legions of FCC employees searching for our illegal 121.5 signals.

Doug Garrou

ELT Question

Your survey really needs one other choice: "No, I am not going to get one, and don't care what the FCC thinks or does." Other doesn't cover that option very well.

David Stuebner

You forgot to have an answer stating that the responder already has a 406 MHz ELT.

Mike Mellinger

G.I. Bill Incentives Available

The quote attributed to Cessna CEO Jack Pelton in regard to G.I. bill-type pilot training incentives being unavailable is misleading. He makes no specific mention of the Yellow Ribbon G.I. Education Enhancement Program, which is in fact a post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act that allows higher learning institutions in the U.S. to enter into an agreement with the VA to fund tuition expenses that exceed the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition rate. The institution can contribute up to 50 percent of those expenses, and the VA will match the same amount as the institution.

I work in the College of Aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. We have seen a dramatic increase of military veteran enrollments utilizing this government-sponsored opportunity.

Vicki Launders

Cessna CEO Jack Pelton's statement on the lack of G.I. Bill incentives is very misleading. A VA education beneficiary who converts from Chapter 30 (Montgomery G.I. Bill) or Chapter 1606 (Reserve G.I. Bill) to Chapter 33 (Post-9/11 G.I. Bill) will receive benefits for flight training under Chapter 33 at the Chapter 30 or 1606 rates, which is 60% of the cost of flight training.

G. Fernandez
Dept. of Veterans Affairs
California Center for Education Services
Education Compliance Survey Specialist, Flight

How to Attract New Pilots

The answer to Cessna CEO Jack Pelton's concern of a "looming" pilot shortage is simple. Improve the pay, benefits, and working conditions of the professional pilot, especially within the airlines.

Having been a professional pilot for over thirty years, I have witnessed (and experienced) the continued decline of this once "dream job." Without question, my most rewarding positions have been within the corporate world, and if I were given the opportunity again, I would have stayed there.

In my opinion, the conditions within the industry, especially the airlines, are no longer worth time and expense required for the young man or woman looking for a rewarding career.

Jerry Hudson

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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AVweb Audio — Are You Listening? back to top 

Solar Storms vs. Your GPS

File Size 11.8 MB / Running Time 12:58

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Space scientists tell us that solar storms are on the rise and affect satellite-dependent technologies like GPS and ADS-B — there is something to worry about. AVweb's Glenn Pew spoke with Joseph Kunches, a scientist at NOAA's space weather prediction center, to determine the nature of the threat, our current defenses, and what the you can do about it.

Click here to listen. (11.8 MB, 12:58)

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

Supersonic Flight & Transonic Phenomena

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

Sound travels at about 760 miles per hour, or 340 meters per second and about 661 knots on an average day at sea level. And sometimes, you can almost see it. Going close to that speed through air can cause some unusual visual effects. This compiled footage includes F-14s, standard and Blue Angels F-18s, plus the SR-71 and an Atlas Rocket launch. AVweb contacted sources at NASA to research the phenomena.

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Cirrus SR22T Flight Demo

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

Cirrus is out with a new version of the SR22, the SR22T, with a TSIO-550-K groundboosted turbo system. AVweb's Paul Bertorelli took a demo flight in the new airplane with Cirrus's Matt Bergwall.

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Brunswick County Airport (KSUT, Oak Island, NC) (corrected)

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Correction: We originally misidentified the Cessna Pilots Society as a different type group entirely. It was the CPS who held their Get-Together at KSUT, and we appreciate all the folks (both those who made it and those who couldn't) taking a moment to drop us a note with the correction.

The Cessna Pilots Society descended on North Carolina en force for their annual CPS Get-Together, and quite a few of them were impressed with the friendliness and efficiency of services at Oak Island's Brunswick County Airport (KSUT).

Dave Williams was the first CPS member to nominate KSUT, but he was followed by about a dozen others throughout the week who sung the praises of an FBO that "handled a whole flock of CPS fliers like it was an everyday event" (Daryl Medd), "wrote the book on hospitality and service" (Jim Epting), and offered "better services at their self-service pumps than most do at full-service!" (Ed Abrams). For his part, Dave told us how "Howie Franklin and his crew provided us with the best service and hospitality an FBO could offer. All of our wants and needs were handled quickly and professionally. Thanks, Howie!"

And that sounds like a top-notch operation deserving of recognition as AVweb's "FBO of the Week"!

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

15 Years and Now 15 Grand Giveaways ... It's Your Chance to Win a Zaon PCAS XRX

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 Drawings

Win a Zaon PCAS XRX 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 Friday, July 16, 2010.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.

Congratulations to Richard Kemp of Canton, Georgia, who won an AV8OR handheld GPS in our last drawing! (click here to get your own from Bendix/King by Honeywell)

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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"

While cruising through New York's class B airspace on a busy Friday evening I heard this:

"New York departure control, Cherokee One Two Three Four Five off Teterboro: 1,000' climbing to 3,000'."

New York Departure:
"Cherokee One Two Three Four Five, why are you squawking 3012?"


"Umm. I don't know, sir."

New York Departure:
"Cherokee Three Four Five, 3012 is the altimeter setting; you're supposed to be squawking 4020."

"Roger, New York. Squawking 4020."

Lin Weeks
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:

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.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.