AVwebFlash - Volume 16, Number 27a

July 5, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Swift Fuel Evolves back to top 

Swift Fuel: A Tilt Toward Natural Gas

Although it was introduced three years ago as primarily a renewable biofuel based on cellulosic technology, Swift's 100SF avgas replacement will also be competitive if made from more conventional petroleum sources, according to the company's David Perme. In a podcast interview, Perme said that Swift's best numbers at the moment suggest a retail price between $5 and $6 per gallon and if the fuel is made from petroleum sources -- most likely natural gas -- little or no capital will be required. He believes at least some refiners will be able to reconfigure minimally to make the fuel using accepted refining processes.

Swift is a so-called binary fuel made from acetone that is then converted into a blend of isopentane and mesitylene to make the final fuel. Although Swift's initial patents suggested the acetone would be derived from biomass, Perme says the process can actually use acetone feedstock from either bio or petroleum sources. Most acetone is made from the propylene (also known as propene) that's found in natural gas, but it can also be refined from liquid petroleum or even coal. Acetone is a common solvent used as a precursor of methyl methacrylate, a resin used in paints and plastics. When we asked if Swift now believes the fuel will be more competitive if refined from petroleum sources, Perme declined to say as much, replying instead that having two feedstock streams gives 100SF flexibility that other fuels can't match. Just this week, Swift began formal application for approval under ASTM, which the FAA says is necessary before any fuel can be approved for widespread use.

Related Content:

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But Prosper During the Current Financial Crisis

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Leaner, Meaner Aircraft Registry — And Another Fee? back to top 

AOPA Warns: Re-Registration Coming, Fee Possible

A rule proposed in 2008 to remove invalid listings from the aircraft registry would require chronic aircraft re-registration with a proposed chronic fee of $5, yet to be confirmed in the final rule expected this fall. The FAA estimates that about 104,000 of the 343,000 aircraft currently on its aircraft registry are invalid. The rule would address that problem by transitioning the registry from its current non-expiring registrations to registrations that would expire every three years. Owners would have to take action within a three-month window to re-register their aircraft, according to AOPA. The costs associated with the FAA's measure won't be known until the rule is published in the Federal Register this fall, but the FAA has proposed application of the current $5 registration fee to re-registrations and all subsequent renewals. AOPA supports the FAA's intent to improve the registry's accuracy, but proposed an alternative method.

AOPA's alternative avoided registration expirations, and fees, and would have allowed owners to verify their registration information online or through the Triennial Aircraft Registration Report already used by the FAA. It "would not have canceled N numbers for aircraft owners who did not re-register their aircraft on time," according to AOPA, but would require verification for all aircraft in the FAA Aircraft Registry within 36 months." AOPA believes this would allow more flexibility for owners of aircraft that remain unflown for extended periods of time like those that undergo long-term maintenance or restoration.

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Solar Night Flight Racing the Clock back to top 

Faulty Part Delays Solar Impulse Night Flight

The test flight was planned for July 1, but the aircraft that aims to fly around the world, flying day and night on solar (and stored solar) power, hit a snag when a telemetric transmitter failed. The failure would have kept engineers on the ground in the dark, literally and figuratively, when it came to viewing key performance parameters. The July 1 flight would have been the first to test the aircraft and its pilot through a complete 24-hour cycle from daytime and through the night. The team has not formally announced a date for the next attempt, but daylight hours set a deadline in early August. After that, relatively shorter days at Payerne, Switzerland, where the team is based, will prevent a full solar charging of the aircraft's batteries from powering the aircraft through longer nights.

A blog post at the Solar Impulse website said Thursday that "our engineers continue working on the telemtrie [sic] problems which popped up this morning," adding, "Friday evening I can give you a next update." The team had advertised the July 1 date and invited media representatives and onlookers. They may seek to do the same for the second attempt, preventing a July 4 weekend launch -- or they may go as soon as they're able. We'll see.

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Originated in the East, Now at Home in the West back to top 

Soviet Design Offered As New Tanker

A California company says it has teamed up with Ukrainian aircraft builder Antonov to launch a bid for the multibillion-dollar contract to supply 179 tanker aircraft to the U.S. Air Force. In a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, U.S. Aerospace says it can provide a better tanker for a lower price than either Airbus or Boeing, who've been waging a politically charged battle for the deal for years. "We believe that we will be able to offer a superior aircraft at a significantly lower price than other potential bidders," the company said in its filing.

U.S. Aerospace says it will offer AN-124-KC, AN-122-KC and AN-112-KC models for the contract. The latter two models don't appear on any lists of Antonov models (including Antonov's Web site) that we can find but may be variants of the AN-124, which first flew in 1982 and is still in service with cargo airlines. The U.S. Air Force has rented AN-124s to ship helicopters overseas. The tankers will be built in Ukraine but assembled in the U.S. company says. Although the company's bid has been described as a long shot in most media reports, U.S. Aerospace apparently sees it more as a springboard to even more business with the military.

Stranded Ilyushin IL-78 Seeks Pilots

Click for larger image

July 17, 2009, an Ilyushin IL-78 tanker jet stopped at Sawyer International Airport, Mich., while en route out of Texas for Europe, beginning a complicated web of legal wranglings that have left the big jet sitting there ever since. The crew that flew the jet to Michigan was, shortly after their arrival, deported by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, because they held recently expired visas, according to a local Michigan newspaper. Since then, a maintenance company, Air-1, out of Texas, has claimed in court that it went unpaid for goods and services the aircraft consumed while under its care. And the court has ruled that Air-1 "is authorized to take possession of said aircraft and may move it," if they can find and hire certified pilots to fly the Russian-instrumented jet. As the jet's one-year anniversary of sitting at Sawyer approaches, inquiries are beginning to flow in from around the world that may tempt Air-1 to exercise other options.

The aircraft is owned by Tactical Air Defense Services Inc. of Florida and Air Support Systems LLC, but the court ruling means Air-1 would have to find and contract the uniquely certified crew. Part of the judgment for Air-1 states that "sell it in any commercially reasonable fashion as a set-off against the terms of this judgment." The aircraft is still popular in some parts of the world, has a max payload of more than 110,000 pounds and a maximum fuel capacity of nearly 200,000 pounds, and could be converted for use fighting fires. At present, Air-1 has not taken any action to sell the aircraft to satisfy its lien, according to its lawyer. So, for now, the plane sits.

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Thunderbirds Are Go; How About You? back to top 

Two Chances To Fly With The Thunderbirds

Two Chances To Fly With The Thunderbirds The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have been offering flights to special individuals through their Hometown Hero program and time is running out for a chance to fly with the team at McConnell Air Force Base's (Kansas), or Salinas (California). The special individual who'll fly as passenger at McConnell will be chosen from nominations that are being accepted through midnight, Sunday, July 11, for a flight that will take place during the week of Sept. 20-24. The California International Airshow held at Salinas will be marking its 30th anniversary Oct. 2-3 when another hometown hero will get a prime passenger seat. Nominees for that flight must be received by July 16. Nominees can be anyone who has given of themselves to better their community, but they should expect to fill out a confidential questionnaire that will include certain medical questions. As you might expect, there are more specific rules and requirements.

The Thunderbirds will not take anyone under 103 pounds or over 245 pounds and waivers will be requested if your nominee is within about 25 pounds of either end of that spectrum. The Thunderbirds flight surgeon will determine onsite the medical eligibility of anyone else who makes the cut. There are other restrictions. Use the following links for details. For the full list of requirements for those hoping to fly at McConnell, click here -- you'll find a link to the registration form on that page, too. For the Salinas rules and restrictions, click here and nominate your hometown hero online, here. Watch the promotional materials for your local airshows to see if the Thunderbirds will be making an offer closer to your home.

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

Lycoming's IE2 Project Tech Review

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

If Lycoming's electronically controlled IE2 engine seemed like it was over the horizon, it is in fact just around the corner. Lycoming and Lancair are in full-swing flight test in the launch aircraft, the Lancair Evolution, and certified versions are expected by the end of this year or a little later. In this video, Lycoming's Jim Morris provides an update on the project.

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


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

There are a handful of high-wing LSAs offering tandem seating but only a couple of low-wing designs offering the same feature, giving that fighter-like view from the cockpit for both pilot and passenger. The MySky MSOne is one of those, and in this brief video, AVweb gets a look at the MSOne.

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If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Fuel Fight — It's About Time

Plowing through the minutes of the Coordinating Research Council on avgas research, Paul Bertorelli suddenly realized little has come of this quest because we just haven't had the loud discussion that's required. Well, we're having it now. And every owner who's sidled up to the Exxon nozzle has a dog in the fight.

Click to read why Paul is excited about the fray — and why you should be, too.

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

AVmail: July 5, 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: What the World Needs ...

Besides all the other threats to GA that you have been discussing, there is another one that bothers me: the lack of an affordable, WAAS-enabled IFR GPS receiver for older, low-cost aircraft.

Consider my friend who has an IFR-capable Piper Tomahawk that is worth less than $20,000. Should she spend $12,000 installing a [current model GPS]? That would be more than half the value of the airframe. If she doesn't, she will be increasingly locked out of IFR flying.

The [available GPS units] are great devices but are a lot more complex than necessary to meet the TSO. If [the industry] cared about the welfare of the GA community, it would develop bare-bones models for older, inexpensive aircraft.

Carl Hensler

Market Confidence Needed

I answered the "Question of the Week" with what I felt was the most appropriate answer ("crisis brewing"), but not because I think we would actually run out of fuel.

Paul Bertorelli got it right on the money that the market needs confidence in the plan (not necessarily the replacement fuel) right away. I (and, I am sure, many others) have put high-performance aircraft purchases on hold to wait out this issue because nobody wants to buy an aircraft that may become useless and worthless in the next couple of years.

Steve Lefferts

ELT Extension

No matter what happens, you are not grounded on Aug. 1st. Have your A&P remove the old [121.5 MHz] ELT and placard it as "removed for repair." You'll have 90 days to obtain a replacement (or allow the FCC to change its mind).

Eric Niedrauer

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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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Million Air (KMFR, Medford, Oregon)

Nominate an FBO | Rules | Tips | Questions | Winning FBOs

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AVweb reader Robin Herrman discovered our latest "FBO of the Week" — the Medford, Oregon location of Million Air, at Rogue Valley International - Medford Airport:

I was planning a trip ... and called the different available FBOs for details on their services. I selected Million Air due to their 24-hour availablilty. I fly a C-182, nothing fancy, but I was treated like a millionaire (pardon the pun) with excellent ramp service and a wonderful pilot lounge with friendly staff during both my arrival and departure three days later. The little details were appreciated, like meeting us on the ramp upon arrival, tying down the aircraft, helping us with our bags, cleaning our windscreen before depature, and making sure we had bottled water. ... How nice to have customer service exceed your expectations for once!

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

My home airport is KAVP, which has an active flight school. I heard the following communication between ATC and a student pilot.

"Ground, Cherokee 1234. Request staying in the pattern for practice touch-and-goes."

"Report mid-field and intentions on each pass. Taxi to runway 4."

After the second touch-and-go, the following was heard:

"Cherokee 1234. Left-field downwind request touch-and-go, runway 4."

"Left-field is baseball; mid-field is flying."

Dr. Russell Owens
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.