AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 16, Number 48a

November 29, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! The "D" in "R&D" Stands for "Diesel" back to top 

New Diesel Aircraft Engine In Works

A Wisconsin company hopes to have a running prototype of a diesel aircraft engine by next summer after funding for the project came through last week. Engineered Propulsion Systems, of New Richmond, celebrated the formal launch of the project after it raised more than $800,000 in investor and state financing. Engineers Michael Fuchs and Steven Weinzierl have been working on the project for several years but funding has been a problem in the recession. Technical details of the engine aren't readily available, but the project has attracted interest from Cirrus Aircraft and drawn Dick Rutan as a technical adviser. "I'm really proud of all of you," Rutan told the product launch. "It's going to save aviation."

Rutan was the guest speaker for the launch and said there is a need for a modern aircraft engine that won't require 100 LL and delivers better performance and efficiency. Cirrus's chief of engineering Paul Johnston was also there and he told the New Richmond News that his company is looking for an alternative fuel engine and it's interested in the Engineered Propulsion Systems project. "It really gives you hope that this will be the engine to power our airplanes into the next decade," he said.

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Safety & Certification back to top 

Fatal Condition Missed By Pro-Pilot Medical

Tony Corr, a British Boeing 737 pilot for Ryanair, died along with his friend, Richard Leonard, when the Piper Navajo they were flying on Jan. 15 crashed in the U.K., but the precise timing and reason for Corr's death may have other implications. A post-mortem examination showed Corr had 90-percent thickening in two of his three major arteries. Corr had passed his most recent medical in September of 2009 and was working for Ryanair instructing pilots in the 737-800 just days before the fatal accident. The pathologist who examined Corr's body said his condition could have caused arrhythmia, a heart attack or sudden death at any time, according to Witneygazette.co.uk. Karen Leonard, widow of Richard Leonard, framed the issue in a British court saying, "Surely, someone should have picked up on the serious nature of his heart condition." Said Leonard, "If they had, Richard and Tony would be alive today."

It was found in court that Corr's prior medicals had shown some minor irregularities, but his blood pressure was within a normal range and he did not indicate he had any symptoms. Corr had undergone an ECG test as part of one of his medical exams, but the test is not designed to pick up Corr's condition. The pathologist was unable to determine whether Corr died from his heart problems before the aircraft crashed, saying, "There is no convincing evidence that he was alive [prior to impact], but in circumstances like this it is difficult to tell."

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Reacting to Damages back to top 

787 Fire Sparks "Minor" Redesign

Boeing says it's redesigning the electrical panels and attendant power distribution software on the 787 after a program-halting fire on one of its test planes in Laredo, Texas, a few weeks ago. It's also partly confirming reports last week that something that wasn't supposed to be in an electrical box caused the fire. Those reports said it was a tool left by a worker. Boeing says it doesn't think so. "It was small, it wasn't as big as a tool," Boeing spokeswoman Lori Gunter said. "A tool would leave evidence." The company characterized the work as minor.

The cause of the fire is, however, less important to Boeing engineers than its effect. Boeing has long maintained that the highly computerized systems have greater redundancy and give the pilots more options in an emergency. In the Laredo incident, the short circuit resulted in a cascade of failures that affected cockpit displays, the autothrottle and electronic flight controls. The Wall Street reported an FAA certification pilot was at the controls at the time of the fire.

"Leaked Images" of Qantas A380 Damage Hit Net

A "leaked" and unconfirmed PDF document first published by Crikey.com purports to show pictures of the damage done to a Qantas A380 on Nov. 4 when it suffered an uncontained engine failure and shed parts over Indonesia. Photos in the document show a failure that sent debris toward the fuselage, gashes in a wing, serious damage to a flight control drive motor, severed wiring, damage to a forward spar and a large fuel pipe that's torn open. (Click here for images.) The document says the forward spar was "penetrated and is damaged extensively." The photos have not been officially confirmed by Airbus or Qantas. Separately, Richard Woodward, vice-president of the Australian and International Pilots Association, said of the damage, "The amount of failures is unprecedented." Qantas grounded its six aircraft fleet of Airbus A380s following the accident but announced Tuesday that it is ready to resume some A380 operations after "extensive checks with Airbus and Rolls-Royce." The airline is not ready to restart its longest A380 flights and Rolls-Royce is still busy dealing with complications the events have imposed on its supply chain.

Qantas announced Tuesday it would resume trips from Singapore to London. However, it is not ready to resume trips from Los Angeles to Sydney. Those are the longest so far served by the A380 and require heavier fuel loads and full-power takeoffs. Qantas will await the results of further tests of the Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines before committing to those flights. Rolls-Royce was reportedly aware of problems with oil leaks in its Trent 900 engines, and made design changes to models shipped after the delivery of those fitted to the Qantas A380s. According to theAustralian.com, Qantas says the manufacturer did not issue a recall of the earlier models, leaving them vulnerable to oil fires in the turbine that could cause parts to overheat and explode under stress. Rolls-Royce has announced a plan to swap out older engines. That means taking new engines back from the Airbus assembly line and forwarding them to airlines that have the older engines already in use.

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Mr. Sullenberger, Meet Mr. Sotnikov back to top 

Tupolev Crash Landing Finds Hero

The pilots and flight crew of a Tu-154M have been honored by the Russian president, and the story of their emergency landing will be made into a movie, but the involvement of another man, Sergey Sotnikov, has made him a hero of the people. On Sept. 7, 2010, Izhma airfield became the runway of choice for the pilots of the Alrosa Airlines jet after the Tupolev suffered electric system failures that killed its radios and navigation equipment, fuel pumps, and certain controls. The pilots picked the airport out of the surrounding forest, put the aircraft down and overran the short runway by 600 feet. All 80 aboard survived. The airfield had been closed to fixed-wing aircraft since the early 2000s -- and that's where Sotnikov comes in. Sergey Sotnikov had worked at Izhma airfield since 1978, and had risen through the ranks to earn the field's highest position. After the field was partially closed, he maintained Izhma's abandoned runway -- without compensation or approval -- out of his sense of responsibility. In light of the events of Sept. 7, Sotnikov's efforts have earned him the respect and admiration of his countrymen and, recently, even more.

Russian bloggers united and led a campaign to award Sotnikov with a "people's prize" that acknowledged what they called the daily heroism of his work. With no authority to grant him formal recognition, or a government medal, they collected money and recently awarded it to Sotnikov. RT news reports that "Sotnikov turned out to be modest and initially rejected the monetary prize." But when he was told that the people who had contributed would be offended if he did not accept the money, he conceded. According to RT, "he plans to spend the money on renovating the [airport's active] helicopter pads."

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The "R" in "R&D" ... Is Still "Research" back to top 

Survey: Why Aren't More Women In Aviation?

A two-year study has identified barriers that stop women from learning to fly and produced suggestions to increase the number of female pilots. The study was performed by Penny Hamilton, Ph.D., and included 296 surveys or personal interviews of women pilots and student pilots, females who did not complete their flight training, and instructors of both genders. Dr. Hamilton used her research to produce a list of the top 10 barriers that stop women from flying and the top 10 ways to increase female success in general aviation. Topping the list of deterrents was one that anecdotally appears universal -- a lack of money for flight training. Dr. Hamilton addressed gender specific-recommendations to counter "instructor-student communication incompatibility (Mars vs. Venus)," a lack of readily available female mentors, certain perceived gaps in experience and skill sets and more.

Dr. Hamilton cited "lack of experience with and knowledge of mechanical systems" and "lack of map reading experience & orienteering skill sets" as barriers. She suggests developing more flexible and individualized flight training processes that respect different learning styles and the use of outside resources to bolster certain skills particular to flying. For example, if map reading and orienteering is deficient, Dr. Hamilton suggests that certain outside and no-cost methods be employed, like the use of the geography and map reading websites nationalgeographic.com and knowledgehouse.info. Find details of the study and Dr. Hamilton's work online here.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Friends of the Earth — The Upside

This environmental group is seen as the main heavy in the struggle to find a replacement for 100LL, but it is in fact just one of many players. On the plus side, the Friends' petition — and maybe a lawsuit — against the EPA may finally push the lead issue in one direction or another, ending the uncertainty over future fuels. That, says Paul Bertorelli on the AVweb Insider blog, is not a bad thing.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

AVmail: November 29, 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: Helping GA by Doing

Regarding giving back in support of GA: I sit on the local airport board, not as a member (yet), but as AOPA's Airport Support Representative. In addition to the work on the board, I also participate in Angel Flights and a couple weeks ago participated in the "Wings of Appreciation" flight where 23 planes gathered to fly wounded vets from Walter Reed to Tangier Island for an appreciation lunch. I think that these sorts of activities help promote the usefulness of GA and highlight the advantages we can offer.

Mark Shilling

I feel that the activities of all of us who are in the business of offering flying vacations are strongly supportive of GA. Our activities encourage more flying, not only during the trips but in the weeks leading up to them. We bring business to sometimes remote towns and show, in very real terms, the advantage of having a local airport. When our customers talk excitedly about their vacations to all their friends, they are spreading a strong, positive message about the wonderful possibilities available through GA. And, finally, the lifelong friendships that are created remind us of the great people that make up the worldwide GA community.

Clare McEwan
Air Safaris International

ADS-B Out (With the Bath Water)

I am doing my best to get the ADS-B Out mandate on GA dropped. Unfortunately, AOPA does not seem to be fighting it. If it remains, expect more pilots to quit flying as the deadline approaches.

Ron Lee

Capstone Reality (Con)

I saw Jim Gibertoni's letter and just listened to the podcast on ADS-B in Alaska. I feel I can add some more comments, as I was a Part 135 pilot in Bethel during the Capstone phase 1 program. Gibertoni mentioned that ADS-B was not solely responsible for the increased safety, and I couldn't agree more. I flew the Yukon Delta from 2002 until 2005 during the early stages of the Capstone Phase 1 program. I went from 1,400 hours to over 4,000 and progressed from a Cessna 207 to Caravans and Navajo Chieftains during that time. All were equipped with the Capstone system.

The only thing we got with consistent reliability from the ADS-B was traffic, because this went from plane to plane and didn't rely on the ground-based transmitters. This helped us a lot, as the majority of the airplanes in the area are not equipped with transponders as they are of little use in that environment. So the only access to traffic information was through ADS-B. Surveillance, as Gibertoni mentioned, played a part as well.

The other ADS-B items — such as weather radar, METARs etc. — rarely, if ever, worked at all due to teething issues with the ground-based transmitters. Most people may not realize that there are very few weather radar stations in the state, so the areas where you could look at a weather radar picture are extremely limited, anyway. In the three years I flew out of Bethel, I only saw METAR information a couple times; it worked so rarely that eventually I didn't even bother to try it anymore. I think that did get worked out after I left the area.

I would have to say the greatest asset of the Capstone program had to be the terrain page. This was when having a color terrain page was practically unheard of. The terrain display has nothing to do with ADS-B, as you know. All my company's aircraft were equipped with the Apollo GX-60 GPS/Comm, the SL-20 Nav/Comm, and the MX-20 MFD. We had no WAAS capability. I know of a C208 pilot who got into icing and was forced to descend into the mountains with just the terrain page to stay over the valleys. That definitely increased safety for that pilot!

I currently fly King Air B200s for an on-demand Part 135 operator that has 11 aircraft, and not one of them is equipped with ADS-B or WAAS or even a color terrain display. I carry my own portable GPS just for the terrain information. Anyway, I'm thankful for the Capstone program because I relied on the terrain and traffic a lot. I am certain it positively impacted safety, but other than the traffic function, I can honestly say that the ADS-B was pretty useless. Hopefully in the more non-mountainous areas in the lower 48, where there are more ground-based transmitters which can each cover a greater area, it will prove more useful.

Dirk Bowen

Capstone Reality (Pro)

ADS-B and its associated ADS-B In capability has significantly decreased the accident rate in southwest Alaska, contrary to Gibertoni's assertions. Also, I personally know three pilots who had their personal airplanes equipped in the Capstone Program, although the intent of the Capstone Program was to target the "power users" of aviation on the Yukon Delta, the air taxi operators. It would make little sense to equip a bunch of private aircraft that fly less than a hundred hours a year with ADS-B as a test of the effectiveness of the system.

There are some valid criticisms of ADS-B, however, based on the Capstone experiment in Alaska:

  1. As Gibertoni points out, the use of ground-based transmitters (GBT) to communicate with aircraft simply is impractical in any country with terrain — except, of course, for the very capable aircraft such as jet airliners, which operate at very high altitudes. ADS-B must be a satellite-based system for it to provide anywhere near its intended purpose.
  2. The Capstone program in Alaska provides ADS-B In and ADS-B Out. In other words, a pilot using the system on the Delta can call up weather products and traffic, as well as report that airplane's position to other aircraft and (potentially, at least) to ATC. Unfortunately, the ADS-B system that the FAA has mandated for the entire country is an ADS-B Out system, meaning it will not provide weather, traffic, etc. into the airplane. All it will do is communicate that airplane's position to other airplanes equipped with ADS-B In and to ATC.

Now, if one chooses to spend a lot of additional dollars and add substantial weight to your airplane, you can add ADS-B In to that system — but, to date, there has been no indication that the ADS-B In signals that will be available to us in the Lower 48 will provide weather products — which is the single biggest advantage of the ADS-B system to the pilot. And, since there are now very powerful providers of satellite-based weather dissemination, such as XM, I seriously doubt the FAA will ever offer that service via ADS-B in the Lower 48.

The real promise of ADS-B is that it will permit the FAA (at least in theory) to shut down most (if not all) ATC radars — certainly the long-range center radars — saving the agency many millions of dollars. That sounds good until one realizes that the FAA is simply transferring the costs of operating in "the system" to the user, who will have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to equip an airplane with ADS-B, equipment that will not benefit the user at all unless they spend even more for ADS-B In.

My point is that Gibertoni is, to some degree, correct in his assertion that ADS-B isn't the magic tool that the FAA and the media seem to portray it. But, in fact, ADS-B on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta has been a great success.

The problem is that the FAA, like a lot of retailers on this "Black Friday," has offered a "loss leader" to the operators in the Delta — ADS-B In, complete with weather (at no cost).

Satellite weather is already available over most of the Lower 48 states, and the FAA isn't offering that service to ADS-B-equipped aircraft in the Lower 48.

Finally, Gibertoni's point about low-flying aircraft not being able to access ADS-B data is true only in hilly or mountainous terrain, but his point is valid. To be truly successful, ADS-B must be a satellite-based system. The FAA is avoiding this concept like the plague, due to the cost and availability of satellite bandwidth.

Mike Vivion

Just listened to the podcast with Jim Gibertoni. Having flown in Alaska and been exposed to the Capstone program from the beginning, I take issue with some of his comments. The Capstone program was developed originally to prove a concept and was tested during Phase I in the Bethel area in Alaska.

Based on those results, advanced testing was done in Phase II in southeast Alaska, which is very mountainous. Phase I and Phase II aircraft equipage was funded by the government, but operational costs associated with the testing were borne by the operators of the aircraft. My understanding is that the program has not really advanced beyond Phase II due to funding issues to install the ground stations to make it fully functional in the whole state. So, like many new initiatives, it is a work in progress.

M. Wilson

Photo Certificates

[Having worked for the] airlines for 30 years, I can explain how valuable having a photo on a license is. When United first put photos on our airline ID badges, the requirement was for a "head" photo. Of course, one of the guys insisted that they take the picture of the back of his head — which they did, and that's the picture that was on his ID badge for nearly 20 years. Another pilot, protesting photos, pasted a color photo of Mickey Mouse over the picture that was on his ID badge, and it remained there for at least 15 years until he retired.

In both cases, no one ever questioned either of these pilots about their ID photo. That just proves how valuable photos will be on our pilot licenses.

Fred Wilson

I became a CFI just after my 18th birthday. That was 40 years ago. The money for this plastic license is not the deal! The real deal is the lack of testosterone and IQ to truly enhance our national security. I'm sure I'll send them a picture, as it seems preferable to being radiated or fondled to board a commercial flight.

William Webb Jr., M.D.

This is another example of the government lunacy. I fly Light Sport [and] have my ATP and Light Sport Repairman license with me at all times. I also have another document called a driver's license with me. This has a photo thereon. So, if we all carry a driver's license, that should suffice, rather than the government forcing more costs upon us pilots.

Pete Chestnut

Threat to Mechanics

The change to IA qualification rules would be a disaster for small plane owners. These part-time IAs are both more available and less expensive than the ones at big ticket shops.

Arturo Thompson

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

The Final Grand Giveaway Celebrating AVweb's 15-Year Anniversary: Win a Garmin Aera 510 Handheld GPS

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 Drawings

Where has the time gone? Our 15th anniversary year is almost over, and that means we've come to our 15th (and final) "Grand Giveaway." If you haven't already, register for one final chance to win — as we give away a Garmin aera 510 handheld GPS. All you have to do is click here to enter your name and e-mail address. (You must be a registered AVweb user; if you've entered any of our previous 15 Grand Giveaways drawings, you'll automatically be considered for the aera — no need to enter again.)

Remember: We won't rent or sell your name, ever. Tell your friends, and invite them to sign up for AVweb so they can enter this final 15 Grand Giveaways drawing. (We won't spam them, either — but do we hope they will sign up for our newsletters.)

Deadline for entries is 11:59pm Zulu time Sunday, December 19.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.

Bonus Depreciation Stories and Resources on AVweb.com
Fantastic Pricing and Tax Incentives make 2010 an ideal time to buy or upgrade an aircraft. We've compiled special offers on new or used planes, avionics, engines and more on the resource page. The pricing, rebates or incentives are available to everyone. Consult your tax advisor regarding the potential bonus depreciation benefits, and check our resources page for stories, podcasts, and videos related to bonus depreciation.
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: ProJet Aviation (KJYO, Leesburg, Virginia)

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

AVweb reader Howard Schur discovered the value of a good FBO when he paid a visit to ProJet Aviation at Leesburg Executive Airport at Godfrey Field (KJYO) in Leesburg, Virginia recently:

I was arriving after hours (10pm), and they told me to take my time. I needed a rental car, [and] when I landed, Mike was there with flashlights to show me where to park, and the rental car was waiting on the tarmac. By the way, I have a Cessna 340, not a Gulfstream — but was treated like I had a jet.

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 

Rod Hightower's EAA (Part 1 of 3)

File Size 5.3 MB / Running Time 5:50

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with new EAA President Rod Hightower recently about his first impressions of the organization and his short- and long-term goals. We begin our three-part series with a discussion about EAA's place in general aviation.

Click here to listen. (5.3 MB, 5:50)

Video: Learning to Fly with Flyvie & Jeppesen

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

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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.
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"

I was flying my shift as a traffic watch pilot in a Cessna 172 here in Southern California and had just contacted March Air Force Base approach to transit their Class C airspace.

"March approach, good afternoon. Traffic Watch One Two Three, 35,000 feet."

March Approach:
"Traffic Watch One Two Three, roger. Do you mean 3,500?"

"Yes, sir — 3,500. Did I say '35,000'?"

March Approach:
"Uh, yeah. I was wondering what kind of traffic you're looking at from that altitude."

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.

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