AVwebFlash - Volume 16, Number 32a

August 9, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Aviation Safety back to top 
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GAO On NextGen Human Factors Integration

The GAO says that FAA and NASA officials need to develop a cross-agency plan for coordination of human factors research efforts, or NextGen implementation may see cost increases and delays. "FAA has not established an agreed-upon set of initial focus areas for research that identifies and capitalizes on past and current research," said the GAO. Meanwhile, "experts GAO contacted generally agreed that FAA's and NASA's human factors research efforts adequately support NextGen." While efforts by both NASA and the FAA are ongoing and coordinated "in a variety of ways," the GAO says its research shows that human factors research leadership is still lacking and coordination efforts can be improved. The office has offered suggestions.

In the past, failure for the FAA to consider these aspects during early development led to "schedule slippages and cost increases." The GAO is says experts it interviewed suggested that the FAA needed to improve collaboration of human factors efforts within FAA departments and establish strong leadership. A cross-agency human factors coordination research plan developed in coordination with NASA was previously recommended by the FAA's Joint Planning and Development office, but never implemented. And top-level positions that oversee human factors integration efforts have not been consistently staffed. The GAO suggests these factors be addressed by providing consistent leadership with sufficient authority to prioritize human factors issues and address them throughout NextGen.

NTSB To EASA: Fix Your Rudders

In 2001, an Airbus lost its vertical fin and crashed on Long Island; Friday, the NTSB directed Safety Recommendations to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) "to ensure safe handling qualities in the yaw axis throughout the flight envelope, including limits for rudder pedal sensitivity." The 2001 crash involved an Airbus A300, American Airlines Flight 587, and killed all 260 aboard, plus five on the ground. The NTSB determined it was caused when, as a reaction to a wake turbulence encounter, a pilot's application of rudder led to failure of the airliner's vertical fin. The NTSB's new recommendations A-10-119 (PDF) and -120 and a reiteration of previously issued A-04-63 aim to create new yaw axis certification standards and review existing aircraft to determine if they meet the standard. The board directed the recommendations toward the European Aviation Safety Agency and specifically toward its certification specifications for large aircraft.

"If adequate protection does not exist," wrote the NTSB, "EASA should require modifications, as necessary, to provide the airplanes with increased protection from the adverse effects of a potential aircraft-pilot coupling after rudder inputs at high airspeeds." Following the crash of American Flight 587, many pilots were surprised to learn that they could break the airplane with its own controls while operating below maneuvering speed. Some pilots have opined that the debris field left in the wake of the more recent Air France Flight 447 crash, an Airbus A330, suggests that aircraft's vertical fin was lost in flight. The A330's control system normally places a computer between the pilot's inputs and the aircraft's control surfaces. A final report has not yet been presented.

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X2 Development Picks Up the Pace (As Does the X2) back to top 

Sikorsky X2 Goes Faster

Sikorsky's unofficial 258 mph run last week of its X2 counter-rotating coaxial rotor technology demonstrator bests a previous record set by a Westland Lynx in 1986, but is still short of the X2's goal. Sikorsky aims to cruise the X2 at 288 mph by late this year. The helicopter itself is far from traditional. It includes a six-blade rear-facing propeller that relieves the main rotors of certain aerodynamic and engineering hurdles created by high-speed rotor-wing flight. Normally, traditional helicopters rely on the main rotor for all forward propulsion and lift. At high forward speeds, the rotor blades meet increasing stresses as they advance and retreat. At some point, the retreating blades can stall or the advancing blades can achieve tip speeds that reduce their efficiency. Those complications, among other things, effectively create a speed barrier for traditional helicopters. The X2 approaches the problem differently.

The X2 transfers forward thrust to the rear-facing propeller, which allows it to slow its main lift-generating rotors (perhaps as much as 20 percent) as forward speed increases. That reduces stresses on the rotor system while still allowing it to produce sufficient lift. The system allows the aircraft to make use of high lift-to-drag ratio rigid blades. Those blades converge in low-drag hub fairings and are integrated with a fly-by-wire system that maintains full rpm control of the main rotor throughout the flight envelope. The X2 is not set to become a production model, but to lay the groundwork for future designs. Sikorsky hopes the technology can be applied to expand the utility of helicopters and their use in the field.

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Appreciating the Classics back to top 

B-29 FIFI Has Flown Again (With Video)

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The Commemorative Air Force's Boeing B-29 Superfortress flew Thursday morning at Midland International Airport, taking to the air for the first time since 2004 and reclaiming its title as the only flyable aircraft of its type. "She ran like a top," Paul Stojkov, one of the aircraft's pilots, said of the aircraft's 39-minute flight. The hop was made possible by volunteer work, the support of the CAF team and financial contributors like Jim Cavanaugh. That combination saw FIFI fitted with new custom-built engines that combine the R-3350-95W and R-3350-26WD engines. FIFI's next flight is expected on Saturday, Aug. 7, and visitors are invited.

Saturday at 7 a.m., the CAF Airpower Museum will open to those interested in watching preflight preparations. Tickets for the museum cost $10 and, on the 7th, visitors will be ushered to the museum's main hangar for "an up-close view" prior to the flight. Watch the CAF's video clip at right.

Tribute For 'Guru Of Super Cub'

Some Alaska pilots gave a fitting tribute to the man many credit with turning the Piper Super Cub into practically a state symbol. F. Atlee Dodge died last month at the age of 88 and last week more than a dozen Super Cubs formed a parade over Lake Hood. "Known throughout the world as the guru of the Super Cub, F. Atlee Dodge specialized in the engineering, designing, fabrication and certification of parts not only for the Cub but for all aircraft operating in Alaska's unique flying conditions," Dee Hanson, executive director of the Alaska Airmen's Association, said in a statement. "Atlee will remain one of the most valiant, colorful, hardworking, and honest personalities of Alaska aviation."

Dodge's shop in Anchorage earned dozens of STCs for not only for the PA-18 but for just about every other kind of aircraft used in the state. From preheaters to airframe modifications, they were all aimed at helping operators cope with the extreme demands on their aircraft in a place that's more dependent on air transportation than most.

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Destination: Boneyard back to top 

Roush On The Mend, Airplane Isn't

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NASCAR legend Jack Roush remains in the Mayo Clinic recovering from facial injuries suffered in the hard landing of his Beech Premier at AirVenture July 27 and reports suggest he's mending well. However, there appears to be little hope for his airplane, which AVweb reader Josh Berman recognized immediately when he pulled into a hotel parking lot in Merrillville, Ind., last Thursday. Berman said the trucks pulling the two trailers of wreckage bore the name of Atlanta Air Recovery, of Griffin, Ga., which is the boneyard for wrecks the authorities are investigating. Meanwhile Roush's spirits are reportedly good as he keeps track of his racing empire from the famous Rochester, Minn., clinic.

According to a car racing blog, Carl Edwards, one of the Roush Fenway team drivers, visited Roush in the hospital. "Jack is really good," Edwards said. "He is a lot better than I expected. He is Jack. We talked a lot about the race this weekend and what we were doing with our teams. He seems really good to me."

Click for photos.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVmail: August 9, 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: EAA's Vision

As president of a large EAA chapter (1114, Apex, NC, 170+ members), I'm commenting on the short video of the interview between outgoing and incoming EAA presidents:

  1. Rod [Hightower] really said nothing other than he intends to follow an existing plan. Probably the correct thing to do given his scant knowledge of the organization.
  2. I have never before heard of the EAA's strategic plan, despite being an officer of EAA and IAC chapters since 1996. Does anyone have access to this?
  3. AirVenture, LSA/SP, and Young Eagles remain the jewels of the EAA. Mogas STC was also once a major accomplishment, but the EAA now appears to follow the AOPA on its "one size fits all" 100-octane dictate. Hopefully Rod will review past accomplishments that have fallen by the wayside and revive them.
  4. EAA membership is shrinking, and many chapters are essentially dead. International members are largely ignored, and nearly all European chapters are inactive or dead. The EAA needs regional/international directors to serve as spark plugs to keep things alive and fresh. These ought to be paid according to growth in membership, just like any good business would do. Their weekends would be spent in the trenches with the troops, i.e. at meetings, fly-ins, etc.

Hope to see the new president attend some chapter meetings, the true heart and soul of our organization.

Did others notice that Tom Poberezny was wearing a logo cap that used the old biplane logo? Its increased use was obvious at Oshkosh this year. What's up with that? No objections, but it would be nice to know what the future logo will look like. Retro?

Kent Misegades

The joint appearance of Rod Hightower and Tom Poberezny seemed a bit awkward to me, in need of some "cockpit coordination." I think viewers wanted to hear the "vision thing" and got the "strategic plan thing," which certainly isn't the same.

To thrive, I think the EAA is going to have to become more of an advocacy organization like the National Rifle Association than the feel-good non-profit built around the Pobereznys, which is its character today.

The challenges of fuel, flying costs, regulation, new pilot recruitment, training, retention, and headwinds from the current political culture are simply too great.

However, perhaps being a once-a-year festival promoter and glossy magazine publisher will be a satisfactory business model. I don't think so, but that's what I took away from the joint appearance.

Stephen Power

Hightower should do what ever he can to expand self-certified medical to Recreational Pilot or Private Pilot. This would be a tremendous help to the pilot population which would benefit everyone.

Rod Pollard

Why wouldn't it make sense to eliminate the third-class physical requirement for general aviation VFR flight? If it's safe enough for the pilot of an LSA to qualify with a valid driver's license, what is any different for smaller general aviation aircraft under VFR conditions?

Phillip Wampler

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

AVweb Insider Blog: The Risky Lure of AirVenture

Do FAA producedures at AirVenture increase the chances of accidents? Yes, a little. But the compromise is worth it for the higher traffic capacity. If you fly there, says Paul Bertorelli in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog, bring your A-game. If you're uncomfortable with it, don't fly into Oshkosh.

Read more and comment.

AVweb Insider Blog: Flight Students Need Protection

Student pilots have lost hundreds of millions of dollars to unscrupulous flight schools. Now California is trying stop it, and AVweb editor-in-chief Russ Niles asks the obvious question, "What's wrong with that?"

Read more and add your own thoughts at the AVweb Insider blog.

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

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 

What You Care About May Predict If You'll Crash

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

X-Air's $60,000 Light Sport Aircraft

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

X-Air is trying to deliver on the promise of a low-cost LSA for affordable, fun flying. Just before he left Oshkosh at the end of EAA Airventure 2010, AVweb's Jeff Van West took the X-Air LS up for a flight.

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Aviation Consumer Shows You How to Upgrade Your Headset to ANR

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

How hard is it to upgrade your old headset to become noise-canceling? Aviation Consumer's Jeff Van West tried it out. And he only burned himself with the soldering iron once.

If you enjoy this video, be sure to look for more on Headsets Inc. in the August issue of Aviation Consumer.

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IFR Magazine's Tips for GPS VNAV

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

Going vertical? Get more from your GPS. VNAV is a great feature that goes unused or underutilized on many a GPS. See how a GNS 430's VNAV can do more than just tell you when to start down for the airport.

If you enjoy this video, be sure to look for other instrument flying tips and advice in our sister publication, IFR magazine.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Lakeshore Aviation (KMTW, Manitowoc, Wisconsin)

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

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Last week, we told you how many of the FBOs nominated in our weekly contest were those pilots discovered when the weather forced them to divert from Wittman Regional Airport on the first day of Oshkosh. This week, we have another FBO that stepped up for those displaced pilots — Lakeshore Aviation at Manitowoc County Airport (KMTW) in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

AVweb reader Al Mathews was the first to tell us about the terrific service he and others received at Lakeshore on their way to OSH:

Curt Drumm and his Lakeshore Aviation team welcomed us and went out of their way to accomdate our needs. They quickly arranged for restrooms and showers, brought picnic tables to us, arranged for a bus to take us to AirVenture, and held a Wisconsin brats and beer barbecue for us! No request was ignored.

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 

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Our 15th anniversary celebration continues, with a second chance to win a Bose Aviation Headset X! All you have to do is click here to enter your name and email 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.)

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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Heard on the tower frequency at Oshkosh on Saturday night (while waiting for the night air show):

OSH Tower:
"Anyone inbound from the Fisk arrival, please identify yourself."

[long pause with no response]

OSH Tower:
"Anyone inbound from anywhere?"

[another pause with no response]

OSH Tower:
"Bueller ... ? Bueller ... ? Bueller ... ?"

Still no response, but obviously the guys in the tower had had a long day! I wish I had a response for them, but I was laughing too hard to think of one.

Paul A. Fisher
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.

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