AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 16, Number 52b

December 30, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
Lightspeed Aviation || Change Your Mind
Lightpseed Aviation Tops ProPilot's
Annual Headset Preference Survey

For the 10th year of their independently conducted survey, readers were asked to rate aviation headset performance based on six categories — clarity, comfort, technical advancement, durability, product support, and value for price. Coming in second was Bose, followed by Telex, Sennheiser, and David Clark. The entire survey appears in ProPilot's December 2010 issue. For more information about Lightspeed headsets, go to LightspeedAviation.com.
AVflash! R&D in Action back to top 

Navy Tests Railgun To Launch Fighters (With Video)

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Naval Air Systems Command has tested at Lakehurst, N.J., December 18, use of a railgun to launch an F/A-18E Super Hornet from a simulated carrier deck. Current aircraft carriers use steam pressure to launch aircraft from the short deck of an aircraft carrier. Railgun technology has generally been applied to launching projectiles with enormous speed (up to Mach 7) using electromagnetism instead of explosive charges. The railgun delivers smooth acceleration and can be adjusted to deliver nearly any desired thrust. That matches the Navy's need for a launch system that can be tailored to suit different aircraft of different weights and speed regimes. The technology has bred a new acronym, EMALS, for Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, and its formidable power may also allow the Navy to explore heavier, faster carrier-based aircraft options. The Navy has tested the technology before, but the latest tests mean the technology may soon be put in place and there are already plans to do just that.

In 2004, the Navy tested a half-length prototype through 1,500 launches. The latest series of tests firms up the likelihood that a next-generation carrier, the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford, will carry an EMALS catapult. The Navy filmed the latest test launches (video at right). Jump ahead in the video timeline to about 1:48 to skip right to the action.

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Trials by Fire back to top 

Boeing's 747-8 Undergoes "Extreme" Tests

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Since its first flight back in February, Boeing's biggest-ever aircraft, the 747-8, has been undergoing intensive flight testing, some of which is quite extreme. "Some people may even call it abusive," says Mark Feuerstein, Boeing's chief test pilot for the big freighter. "It certainly requires a lot of forethought to execute some of the maneuvers." One of the more challenging tests requires the crew to drag the airplane's tail along a runway, which is somewhat tricky. "It's a balance between being forceful and being gentle," says Feuerstein. "We want to be forceful to get the plane's tail moving down towards the runway, but of course we want to be very gentle when we set the tail down." The maneuver, known as the velocity minimum unstick test, is critical to determine the lowest speed at which the freighter can take off, Boeing said.

Boeing has four 747-8 freighters flying in its test program. So far they have logged about 1,500 flight hours and have to fly about 1,500 more to achieve certification. Tests so far completed include ground-effect studies, stability and control checks, and stalls. "Usually in most of the stalls that I've flown, I merely relax back pressure on the column to neutral column and the airplane recovers just fine," said Feuerstein. The test pilots intentionally excite or pulse the wing and other control surfaces to make sure the airplane can dampen the vibrations. One of the aircraft flew at a gross weight of 1,010,000 pounds, the heaviest takeoff in Boeing history. While delays in Boeing's 787 program have been widely reported, the 747-8 freighter has attracted less attention. Ten of the freighters have already been assembled, and deliveries are expected to start sometime in 2011. A passenger version is expected to start flight tests within the next few months. Boeing has about a hundred orders for the big jet, about three-quarters of them for the freighter version.

Solar Drone Sets Endurance Record

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A solar-powered aircraft developed by QinetiQ has claimed the absolute duration record for time aloft for an unmanned aerial vehicle, the company said last week. The Zephyr UAV flew for over two weeks -- 336 hours, 22 minutes and 8 seconds -- on its first flight, in July, beating the former record set by a Global Hawk UAV by a factor of 11. The Zephyr is designed to provide a low-cost communications and surveillance platform. "This aircraft can help track pirates off the Horn of Africa, alert the authorities about where and how fast forest fires are spreading, and ensure that soldiers' communications remain unaffected when fighting in mountainous or hilly terrain," said QinetiQ chief designer Chris Kelleher. The Zephyr flew its record-setting flight at above 70,000 feet, setting an altitude record for its class.

From its peak altitude at more than 13 miles above the ground, Zephyr can watch over a diameter of 600 miles, and has demonstrated this by sending continuous, high-resolution live images back to Earth, the company said. By comparison, satellites provide intermittent, distant and expensive "snapshot per orbit" surveillance from 100 miles high. Zephyr has also demonstrated an ability to relay military and civil communications in remote areas between simple hand-held radios, the company said. QinetiQ expects that Zephyr will be able to stay aloft for months at a time without landing, providing a low-cost aerial platform. It has a wingspan of about 74 feet and is launched by hand. Flexible silicon solar arrays cover the aircraft's wings, and the solar cells recharge lithium-sulfur batteries that provide power overnight. The UAV is constructed from carbon fiber and weights just over 110 pounds. A video of the launch is posted online at the company's website.

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More Stories from the Crystal Ball back to top 

FAA Faces NextGen, Funding Challenges

The FAA needs to address ongoing problems that could "impede NextGen implementation in the mid-term," according to an assessment by the Transportation Department's inspector general. The report (PDF), released last week to members of Congress, cites the "cascading effect" of failures in the $2.1 billion En Route Automation Modernization tool, the backbone of the FAA's flight-data processing system. ERAM has been experiencing software problems and delays in going online, and costs will likely escalate by another $70 million to correct the flaws, according to the report. Meanwhile, the FAA continues to struggle with financial challenges, as Congress last week passed another bill to extend current funding for just three months, to March 31, 2011, failing to commit to a long-term plan.

Meanwhile, a federal advisory panel said recently that the federal government should provide more funding to both commercial aircraft and general aviation aircraft to install equipment needed to operate in the NextGen environment. The Future of Aviation Advisory Committee said a "menu of financial options" -- such as grants, loans, leases and loan guarantees -- should be created, with input from industry players. "There have to be incentives to equip early," said Cessna CEO Jack Pelton. "We want to see accelerated benefits." The advisory board was created by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in May, and issued 23 recommendations (PDF) earlier this month.

Suburban Pocket Airports, Future Of GA?

Small electric aircraft could solve the transportation problems of the near future by providing quick hops between neighborhood airports, according to a presentation at the Future of Electric Vehicles conference held earlier this month in San Jose, Calif. The "pocket" airports could support 120 operations per hour, limited to small air-taxi vehicles only, while occupying only two acres in urban areas, said Brien Seeley, president of the CAFE (Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency) Foundation. Ideally, the small aircraft would take off in less than 100 feet and achieve energy efficiency equivalent to 200 miles per gallon. "The [travel] gridlock we face now is going to get worse," Seeley said. "This is a form of insanity ... We need to travel in 3-D."

In Seeley's vision, the Suburban Air Vehicles (SAVs) would fly themselves on autopilot, and the flight paths would be coordinated by a central control system, according to Gizmag. "The pathway you get through the sky is de-conflicted, so there's no one else on that road, and you go directly where you want to go," Seeley said. Steep take-offs would minimize noise and danger to airport neighbors, and each SAV would be equipped with a parachute. The CAFE Foundation is working to promote technology prizes to develop these ideas. The first Green Flight Challenge, to be held next July, offers $1.6 million to the winning design for a low-cost, quiet, low-emissions personal aircraft. Seeley said he hopes to offer a second prize in 2013 and a third in 2015, each awarding more than $2 million for the development of ultra-quiet, autonomous SAVs.

'Night Operations' || Take This Safety Quiz from the AOPA Air Safety Institute (ASI)
Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Safe Pilot?
Challenge yourself with the Air Safety Institute Safety Quiz, underwritten by the AOPA Insurance Agency.

Quiz Topic: Night Operations
Flying at night can be a magical experience: The air is usually smoother, and the view can be breathtaking over well-lit terrain. But night flight has its own risks, ones that call for additional planning and skills. Click here to put your skills to the test with this safety quiz.
What Did You Do Over the Holidays? back to top 

Snow Puts Three-Hour Rule To Test

A new rule penalizes carriers for leaving passengers stuck in aircraft on the ground for more than three hours, but egregious snow storms Tuesday left 28 flights at JFK stuck on the ground away from the gate -- one for nearly 11 hours. Snowfall in the New York City area reportedly exceeded rates recorded for the last six decades. The rule enacted this April states that airlines can be fined up to $27,500 per passenger when delays keep passengers stuck on an aircraft on the ground for more than three hours, but there are exceptions. Flights that begin or end outside the U.S. are excluded from the rule. Tuesday at JFK, aircraft clogged gates so carriers sent buses out onto the tarmac to retrieve passengers from flights that threatened to break the three-hour rule. Pre-emptive flight cancellations (when airlines cancel flights to avoid the possibility of a fine) likely also played a role and may have added to system-wide delays. While no fines have yet been levied for 12 flights already being investigated for delays this year, the new rule has resulted in a quantifiable impact reported delays among U.S. carriers. It has also made the rule's exceptions all that more apparent.

For the year, the Transportation Department had been investigating 12 cases prior to the blizzard. Last year, airlines reported well above 500 cases in which they left passengers stuck in the plane on the ground for more than three hours. As mentioned, the new rule does not include any flight that begins or ends outside of the U.S., and Tuesday, that made for some notable exceptions. Turkish Airlines Flight 1 arrived at JFK from Istanbul after 10 hours in the air. Its passengers endured another six hours on the ground before the aircraft could unload. The 11-hour ground wait was endured by a Cathay Pacific Flight that arrived from Hong Kong. U.S. airlines have expressed concern that the rule would lead to defensive flight cancellations and cause ripple effects through their flight schedules in an effort to avoid fines. So far, it appears cancellations may be up slightly over last year's figures.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Some TCAS Units Miss Traffic, FAA Says

The traffic alert and collision avoidance systems used in thousands of aircraft need to be upgraded, the FAA said this week, to prevent them from missing targets in high-density areas. During a flight test, a TCAS unit built by Aviation Communications & Surveillance Systems (ACSS) dropped several aircraft tracks because of interference limiting, the FAA said. The dropped tracks could "compromise separation of air traffic and lead to subsequent mid-air collisions," according to the proposed airworthiness directive. The fix will cost about $3,000 per airplane, the FAA said. The units are installed on about 7,000 aircraft operated by U.S. airlines and more than 1,800 business aircraft, an FAA spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal.

The FAA said that during a flight test, the TCAS unit interrogated aircraft in a high-density airport area and some of the targets disappeared from the cockpit display or were not recognized. One occurrence of dropped tracks occurred for 30 to 40 seconds of a 90-minute flight segment. Operators have 48 months after the effective date of the AD to install the software upgrade. A spokeswoman for L-3 Communications, the parent company of ACSS, told the Journal that the company informed the FAA of the problem in the summer of 2009, and has been working on a fix. Service bulletins already have been issued to deal with it, she said.

LSA To Fight Fires In Ecuador

Light sport airplanes are generally considered to be for fun flying, but a fire department in Ecuador this week took delivery of a Flight Design LSA to use as its aerial support unit. Hugh Cobo, leader of the Air Volunteer Fire Department in Bomberos de Cuenca, said he chose the CTLS as the department's first airplane because it met the required needs for safety and performance while keeping costs low for acquisition and operation. "The aircraft will certainly improve the fire department's response capability, giving more and better information about different emergencies," Cobo said. "As the Cuenca's Fire Department supports other fire departments in the region and nationwide, the CTLS will be a helpful tool we can depend upon."

The department's pilots are ready to fly missions after only 10 hours of training in the CTLS, Cobo said. The fire department is based at the Mariscal La Mar airport in the Andes, at 8,300 feet above sea level, but Cobo said the CT is capable of flying in the mountainous region with a two-person crew. He expects the CT will log about 25 hours per month on average, with more time spent aloft during wildfire season. "Using the CTLS in this way, our fire department has an effective tool to help in search functions, recognition and support of ground operations," he said.

Fractional Offers Multiple Aircraft Access

AirShares Elite, a fractional ownership company that maintains a fleet of Cirrus SR22 aircraft in 19 U.S. cities, is offering a new wrinkle in the frax market for its big customers. Owners can now book multiple aircraft simultaneously in different cities. "This can be particularly advantageous for national businesses, as a customer with offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta could fly an airplane in all three locations at the same time, yet they only have to pay for a fraction of a single plane," AirShares founder David Lee said in a news release.

The Multiple Aircraft in Simultaneous Service (MASS) option is available to all AirShares customers and Lee says he believes his company is the first to offer that sort of access to fractional customers. He said it gives customers access to a fleet of aircraft in multiple locations with cost benefits of fractional ownership.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

Have you signed up yet for AVweb's no-cost weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz?

Delivered every Wednesday morning, AVwebBiz focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry, making it a must-read.

Add AVwebBiz to your AVweb subscriptions today by clicking here and choosing "Update E-mail Subscriptions."

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: What Now, FlightPrep?

FlightPrep isn't just taking on RunwayFinder in its patent enforcement lawsuit. It's taking on the whole aviation community — and that could be a big fight. On the AVweb Insider blog, Russ Niles explains why it may be time for FlightPrep to rethink its patent enforcement strategy.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Unexpected Pleasures — Cub Landings

What's better — pottering around the pattern yourself in a J-3 Cub, or watching your student nail his landings on a turn runway? On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli suggests it's a toss-up.

Read more and join the conversation.

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15 Years, 15 Grand Giveaways back to top 

15 Grand Giveaways Celebrating 15 Years of AVweb: The Prize Winners

2010 is disappearing in the rearview mirror, and over the course of AVweb's 15th year of publishing, we gave away 15 prizes valued at least $1,000 each to our readers in celebration. It was our way to say "thank you" for your support, and we look forward to the next 15 years of covering aviation for you.

Here's the complete list of prize winners:

  1. Ron Goin of Idaho Falls, ID won a Bose Aviation Headset X.
  2. Rod Anson of Camperdown, VC (Australia) won a grab bag of publications from our parent company, Belvoir Media Group.
  3. Colleen Keller of San Diego, CA won a Garmin Aera 510 GPS.
  4. Jack Feiden of Wichita, KS won a WxWorx XM WX Satellite Weather receiver.
  5. David Schieman of Lawrenceville, GA won a Scheyden flight gear package, including Dual RX eyewear.
  6. William R. Smith of Madison, CT won a Get-It-All Training Kit from King Schools.
  7. Richard Kemp of Canton, GA won an AV8OR handheld GPS from Bendix/King by Honeywell.
  8. Lukasz Shaded of Lawrenceville, GA won a Zaon PCAS XRX.
  9. Roger Newcomb of Austin, TX won a Spidertracks Aviator.
  10. David Durnan of Somerville, MA won a Bose Aviation Headset X.
  11. Ronald C. Hanna of Independence, OR won a PMA6000B audio panel from PS Engineering.
  12. Richard Merrill of New Town, CT won a Lightspeed Zulu headset.
  13. Lt. Col. Chris Parkhurst of Virginia Beach, VA won a 100,000 Bravo Rewards Points from Air BP.
  14. Robert Yocum of Blain, PA won an iFly 700 GPS from Adventure Pilot.
  15. Steve Richard of Pleasanton, CA won a Garmin Aera 510 GPS.

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.
We Ask, You Answer back to top 

Question of the Week: Are YOU Ready for the Electric Airplane?

We've asked this a couple of times before, but we think it's worth asking again whether the advances in electric aircraft design are making you think in that direction.

Could your next airplane be electric?
(click to answer)

Last Week's Question: Results

Want to see the current breakdown of responses? Take a moment to answer the question yourself, and then you can view real-time results.

What's On Your Mind?

Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"?
Send your suggestions to .

NOTE: This address is only for suggested "QOTW" questions, and not for "QOTW" answers or comments. (Use this form to send "QOTW" comments to our AVmail Editor.)

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

Video: IFR Magazine Shows You How to Use a GPS for NDB-Only Approaches

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

You can't legally fly an NDB approach in the clouds using a GPS unless it says "or GPS" in the title. But there's nothing that says you can't practice VFR what it's like to fly an approach with a bearing pointer and no moving maps. Come along with IFR magazine editor-in-chief Jeff Van West and see how to make your glass cockpit (or portable GPS) go retro to fly an old-school NDB approach just for the fun and proficiency of it.

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Video: Eclipse Jet Flight Demo

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

As Eclipse Aerospace tries to put the pieces together following the bankruptcy of the original company in 2008, it's busily modifying the 259 existing airframes. AVweb recently flew one of the upgraded models with owner David Green. The airplane is fast, comfortable, and a blast to fly.

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

Peter Drucker Says,
"The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It"

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Corporate Flight Management (KJWN, Nashville, TN)

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

Nothing warms the heart like the tale of a good FBO stepping up to take care of pilots during the holiday season. Fortunately for us, AVweb readers filled our stocking with such tales this week — and here's one of our favorites.

Josh Johnson headed over the river and through the woods to visit family in Nashville, Tennessee this holiday and discovered our latest "FBO of the Week," Corporate Flight Management at John C. Tune Airport (KJWN):

As part of my flight planning, I called the FBO to see what their holiday hours were; I was told 24 hours a day, 365 days a year! I don't see that often anymore!

Upon arrival, I was greeted with a golf cart to carry our bags from the tiedowns to the terminal building. We departed at 8:00pm to beat some weather on the way home, and it was an absolute pleasure to have flight planning and restrooms available. Mike Jr., one of the ramp agents, was in the flight planning room and offered to go retrieve our airplane so we wouldn't have to carry our infant son so far in the cold. An excellent experience — and, for a big city, their prices were not much higher than my home airport!

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!

Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past Winners

Each week, we go through dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of reader-submitted photos and pick the very best to share with you on Thursday mornings. The top photos are featured on AVweb's home page, and one photo that stands above the others is awarded an AVweb baseball cap as our "Picture of the Week." Want to see your photo on AVweb.com? Click here to submit it to our weekly contest.


medium | large

Used with permission of Jake Bell

Time Machine

Jake Bell of Danville, Kentucky snuck up to "look in the back door of the DC-3 Bones [when she] stopped by for fuel on the way to the Last Time DC-3 reunion at Oshkosh this past summer." Little did Jake realize that his glimpse into the past would make him a future "POTW" winner.

medium | large

Used with permission of John Hoke

Waiting for Launch

John Hoke of Gladstone, Missouri couldn't pass up this display at the Air Zoo Museum in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (This is one jet that was never launched off a railgun.)

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Used with permission of David Immel

Foggy Fall Sunrise

We've always heard that the early bird gets the worm — and if there's any truth that, then we'd like to go fishing with David Immel of Sandpoint, Idaho sometime.

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Used with permission of Trevor R. Mills

A Rush of Blood

Trevor R. Mills of Brisbane, Queensland (Australia) turns things upside down for us. Hang onto your loose change!

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copyright © Mikko Toivonen
Used with permission

Mediheli Winter Take-Off

For this week's big finale, we turn to Mikko Toivonen of Espoo in the Utrikesministeriet of Finland. If you're looking for a wintry wallpaper to decorate your desktop, give this one a shot. (We're putting it to work in that capacity right now!)

You'll find more reader-submitted photos in the slideshow on AVweb's home page. There are some good ones this week, so be sure to head over there and check them out.

Click here to submit your own photos to "POTW."

A quick note for submitters: If you've got several photos that you feel are "POTW" material, your best bet is to submit them one-a-week! That gives your photos a greater chance of seeing print on AVweb, and it makes the selection process a little easier on us, too. ;)

A Reminder About Copyrights:
Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or or send us an 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.