AVwebFlash - Volume 17, Number 2b

January 13, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! PiperSport No Longer a Piper? back to top 
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Piper Terminates PiperSport Relationship

Wednesday, Piper Aircraft Inc., announced that it will no longer be marketing the PiperSport LSA, citing "differences in business philosophies," with Czech Republic-based Czech Sport Aircraft (CSA), the PiperSport's manufacturer. The two companies had worked together for roughly one year in an arrangement that had Piper brand a version of CZAW's SportCruiser Light Sport Aircraft as the PiperSport. Piper had created a stand-alone distributor network to market the plane, but now says its long-term interests are best served without ties to CSA. Dissolution of the arrangement had nothing to do with the aircraft, itself. According to Piper, "The aircraft we were distributing is a good one."

According to Piper, "as the company built that distributor network, it became clear that Piper's core strengths and that of Czech Sport Aircraft were mismatched." In a news release, Piper said it understood the implications its decision would have in the LSA segment and added that it is pursuing its core philosophy "to execute leading aircraft programs where the company [Piper] offers the most value to customers." Toward that end, Piper said it is committed to the PiperJet Altaire business jet program and is moving to improve its global dealer and support infrastructure.

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Now There's a Way to Grow the Pilot Population back to top 

Flight Training Included In New G.I. Bill

A new version of the G.I. Bill, which was signed into law last week by President Barack Obama, could provide funding for veterans who want to pursue flight training, according to AOPA. "This bill is a big step forward for both active-duty members of the armed services and for veterans," said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA's senior vice president of government affairs. Effective Oct. 1, flight students may be eligible for up to $10,000 per academic year. However, AOPA noted, Congress will have to pass an additional appropriation bill before any money is made available for veterans, and that may not be easy.

"At a time when Congress is focused on cutting expenses and reducing the federal deficit, securing the appropriation may prove challenging," said Lorraine Howerton, AOPA vice president of legislative affairs. "As the appropriation process moves forward, AOPA will remind Congress of the strong support for the original bill and urge members to find a way to fund the program." Under the current Post-9/11 GI Bill, which covers most recent veterans, no benefits are provided for flight training. However, veterans covered under some earlier versions of the bill have been eligible for up to 60-percent reimbursement for flight training beyond the private pilot certificate.

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Best Foot Forward, Aviators! back to top 

GA Groups: Aviation Is Not A "Menace"

NBAA and NATA have both responded to claims in the current issue of The Atlantic magazine that private aviation is a "public menace" due to inadequate security safeguards. In his commentary, Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg says anyone who is rich enough, including a terrorist, can "buy [their] way out of airport security." Eric Byer, vice president of the National Air Transportation Association, called the piece "outlandish," with conclusions based on the writer's "ignorance of general aviation security." NBAA President Ed Bolen sent a letter to The Atlantic, calling the story "sensationalist." A "host of initiatives" are in place to protect GA against terrorist threats, Bolen said.

"In fact, contrary to your writer's assertion, we in general aviation have long prioritized security, and have worked effectively with government officials to implement measures that enhance security without needlessly sacrificing mobility," Bolen said. Goldberg had previously written about his efforts to test TSA security while traveling on the airlines, where he found that it was relatively easy to thwart many of the rules. Fellow Atlantic correspondent James Fallows, who flies a Cirrus, said in his blog that he plans to write about "the small-plane 'menace'" soon, and added that he'd like to take Goldberg flying and explain to him "why his worries about the terrorist threat from small airplanes are unfounded."

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The Road to Probable Cause back to top 

NTSB: 757 In Overrun Missing A Bushing

Investigators poring over the American Airlines Boeing 757-200 that ran off Runway 19 while landing at Jackson Hole, November 19, have so far found that a bushing was missing on part of the auto speed brake mechanism. During testing, investigators found "no discrepancies" in the aircraft's air/ground, autobrake, and thrust reverser systems. They found the linear actuator of the auto speed brake mechanism had been "improperly installed." The actuator resides in the cockpit pedestal and without the bushing, a cam and switch could become misaligned. The NTSB is investigating system operation with consideration to that condition. The CVR data has been transcribed and will be released when the NTSB's public docket is opened. The NTSB's FDR group has begun the process of mining data and has released some information.

Flight 2253's data recorder showed that the speed brakes were manually extended by the flight crew during the approach and left in the armed position until landing. The FDR does not record the position of individual spoiler panels. As the aircraft touched down, the aircraft's air/ground system registered that the aircraft was on the ground buy switched for roughly one half second to air before registering ground for the remaining of the rollout. During that half second the speed brake handle momentarily moved "toward the down position" and then returned to armed. The thrust reversers began to deploy during that half second and remained in the "in-transit" position for about 10 seconds. They then moved to stowed and back again to in-transit, this time for six seconds, before becoming deployed. The FDR indicates it took 18 seconds from the time the reversers began moving until they were fully deployed. The NTSB says it has examined video taken by a passenger during landing. Video shot by a passenger during landing -- against the airlines regulations -- is available here.

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Past and Future back to top 

Gulfstream Test-Flies Electric-Powered Controls

The Gulfstream G650 flight-test aircraft recently flew for the first time using only an electrically powered, fly-by-wire backup flight-control actuation system, the company said this week. "There was no difference in handling qualities between the electrically and hydraulically powered modes," said Pres Henne, of Gulfstream. The flight, on Dec. 21, evaluated the electric backup system for over two hours, performing five landings with the system engaged. "It flew so well that unless pilots were told they were in backup actuation mode I don't think they would notice," said test pilot Gary Freeman.

Fly-by-wire systems typically use a third hydraulic system to provide redundancy in the event of a dual hydraulic system failure, Gulfstream said, but the G650 uses electrically controlled actuators that are primarily hydraulically powered but offer electric power as a backup. A self-contained hydraulic reservoir and motor pump allow full operation in the event of a hydraulic loss. Providing two different power sources enhances safety, Gulfstream said.

Naval Aviation Celebrates Centennial In 2011

The U.S. Navy launched its flight program in 1911, and a number of events will mark the 100th anniversary this year. The official kick-off is set for Feb. 10-13 in San Diego. On Saturday the 12th, hundreds of historic and current Navy aircraft, including the Blue Angels, will take to the skies for a Parade of Flight above Naval Air Station North Island, which will host an Open House for the event. Visitors can view more than 75 historic aircraft displays, take tours of the Navy ships (including the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier), and enjoy live entertainment and food vendors. The event is free to the public, but visitors must carry identification and meet other criteria to enter the base; click here for a PDF with details. Other events planned for the weekend include a kick-off gala aboard the USS Midway museum ship. For more events and details, visit the Centennial website.

The launch of naval aviation dates to Feb. 17, 1911, according to the 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation Foundation. On that day, Glenn Curtiss taxied his seaplane to the battleship USS Pennsylvania, anchored in San Diego Bay. A boat hoisted the "hydroaeroplane" aboard the ship. Later, it was lowered to the water, and Curtiss returned to North Island. This event prompted the Secretary of the Navy's decision to purchase the Navy's first aircraft, the foundation says. The U.S. Naval Aviation program today includes three branches of the military: the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard. All aviators receive the same training and meet the same standards.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Maine Eyes Repealing Plane Tax

While it may have seemed like a good time when it was introduced, Maine legislators on both sides of the house now seem unified in getting rid of a controversial "use tax" on private aircraft. The difference between then and now is that Maine is trying to build an aerospace industry and the tax will almost certainly get in the way of that. "Maine's got a big black star over it, because we're the only state in New England that still charges this tax," Sen. Stan Gerzofsky told the Times Record. Under the law, anyone who's purchased an airplane in the previous year in a state that doesn't charge sales tax on airplanes and has it Maine for more than 20 days will be sent a bill for 5 percent of the value of the aircraft by the state. "I've seen some pretty tall sales tax bills go out to people who didn't know the law and brought their planes here to get service or to go on vacation," Gerzofsky said. But what may have brought the issue more into focus for Maine's lawmakers is the chilling effect it is having on the fledgling aerospace industry.

Earlier this year, the sprawling Brunswick Naval Air Station was closed and it's in the process of being handed over to the state, which is promoting it as an aviation business park. It's already landed Kestrel Aircraft but the tax is causing some inconvenience for the new enterprise. "The owners of Kestrel have to land their plane in Portsmouth (New Hampshire) and drive up." Portsmouth is about 80 miles from the new plant. The stirrings in the Maine legislature have the endorsement of aviation groups and the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, which is trying to attract new business to the old Navy base. "There is no question that the repeal of this use tax would provide a real economic boost to Brunswick and communities all across the state by leveling the playing field in attracting new aviation businesses -- and by welcoming visiting aircraft back into Maine," Mark Kimberling, AOPA's director for state government affairs, said.

Mandate Shoulder Harnesses: NTSB

The NTSB is recommending the FAA require retrofitting shoulder harnesses in all general aviation aircraft that don't have them as the "cheapest and simplest" way of improving crash survivability. In a study that was mainly focused on the potential safety benefits of airbags in GA aircraft, the board determined that while airbags will probably help, installation of shoulder harnesses in lap-belt-equipped planes would make the biggest difference. "Based on an analysis of over 37,000 GA accidents, the Board concluded that the risk of fatal or serious injury was 50 percent higher when an occupant was only restrained by a lap belt as compared to the combination lap belt and shoulder harness," the board said in a statement. The NTSB could only find 10 survivable accidents with which to assess the value of airbags and found that of the 12 occupants of aircraft involved in those accidents, at least two of them avoided more serious injury or death because of the airbags. The board stops short of recommending that airbags be made mandatory and actually makes some safety recommendations about the design and installation of the bags, which deploy from the shoulder harness of specially equipped seatbelts.

The board found that the bag-equipped belts might not work as well on overweight people as on those with a body mass index (BMI) of less than 25 and recommends more work be done in that area. It also wants tighter rules to prevent both intentional and unintentional misuse of bag-equipped belts. For instance, in some aircraft, it's possible to reverse the belts, meaning the wrong airbag will deploy in a crash. The study did find the airbags deployed when needed and didn't go off by mistake. It gave kudos to the airbag manufacturers and aircraft builders for designing and installing the systems even though they aren't required by the FAA. "Although airbags have been mandated in automobiles for over a decade, the aviation industry has no such requirement for small aircraft," said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. "The good news is that over 30 manufacturers have stepped up to the plate and offer airbags as standard or optional equipment." There are about 7,000 airbag-equipped aircraft on the U.S. registry, out of about 224,000 GA aircraft.

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QOTW back to top 

Question of the Week: Should Shoulder Restraints Be Mandatory?

The NTSB is recommending the FAA mandate retrofits of shoulder restraints in all light aircraft that don't have them, saying that up to 50 percent of fatalities could be avoided. Do you agree?

Should shoulder restraints be mandatory?
(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?

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Should Governors Have Airplanes?

Sure, says Paul Bertorelli. If governors want state airplanes at their disposal, they should have them. But only if they can make a strong case for business use. Paul makes his case in a post to the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Airbags for Airplanes

.Why are airplane owners reluctant to accept the NTSB's recommendation for some basic (and relatively cheap) safety equipment in the cockpit? Mary Grady doesn't get it, especially when — as she points out in this installment of the AVweb Insider blog — shoulder harnesses and airbags could save lives.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Video: First Flight of Chinese J-20 'Stealth Fighter'

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

A collection of video clips from Chinese media outlets including: the J-20 fifth-generation "stealth" fighter jet's first flight, taxi and flight control tests, a size and planform comparison with other contemporary aircraft (F-22 and T-50), and brief images that may suggest the aircraft's avionics package.

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

Video: Canopy Covers Reviewed by 'Aviation Consumer'

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

If you park your aircraft outside, you need a cover. Jeff Van West shows the pros and cons of Aviation Consumer's top picks.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Yadkin Valley Aviation (KZEF, Elkin, North Carolina)

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

Our latest "FBO of the Week" story may seem awfully familiar to readers coping with snowfall today. AVweb reader Anse Windham recently dealt with similar weather at Yadkin Valley Aviation, located at Elkin Municipal Airport (KZEF) in Elkin, North Carolina:

[Manager] Sandy Shore called to inform me that there was eight inches of snow on my Cessna. The tail was on the pavement, and the snow needed to be removed before the night's freeze so I could leave next morning. I could not get there, so Sandy removed the snow, placed the airplane in a hangar, and, next morning, towed it to the fuel pump and helped fuel it at the self-serve pump.

Hmm — you don't suppose Sandy would be willing to shovel some sidewalks for good old AVweb, do you ... ?

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!

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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