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FUELS FOR AVIATION: NAVY AND AIR FORCE ARE
As the world economy slowly rights itself
and oil prices are poised to move upward, the Navy and Air Force say
they're on track to produce at least half of their fuel requirements by
the end of this decade, if not earlier. And for the Navy, that also
means propulsion fuel for its non-nuclear surface vessels. In this
podcast, Thomas Hicks, the Navy's deputy secretary for energy, told
AVweb that ground and flight tests of a 50/50 blend of biofuel
and conventional JP-8 in an F-18 testbed have proven highly successful,
with no surprises. The services are seeking a drop-in replacement for
their traditional petroleum-derived jet fuels and both the Navy and Air
Force have proved that, conceptually, they can reach the goal. "To the
fleet, it will be a straight drop-in. They won't see any difference,"
said Rick Kamin, the Navy's lead researcher on alternative fuels. The
heat contents, weights and other factors are so similar to JP-8 that no
performance or storage and handling exceptions need to be considered,
Kamin told us. The Navy favors a 50/50 blend because traditional JP-8
contains enough aromatic compounds to promote swelling of seals, O-rings
and gaskets, which pure biofuels cannot do.
GLOBAL OBSERVER FLIES
AeroVironment Inc. announced Tuesday
that it has successfully flown at Edwards Air Force Base its Global
Observer drone, a hydrogen-fuel-powered unmanned aircraft sporting a
175-foot wingspan and one-week-long endurance. The aircraft's
internal-combustion engine burns cryogenically stored liquid hydrogen,
leaving water vapor for exhaust. That system powers a generator that
delivers electricity to the aircraft's four wing-mounted motors. The
aircraft is being developed to serve as a surveillance and communication
link platform, while flying mostly at 65,000 feet. In surveillance
roles, the company says the aircraft's endurance could translate to
coverage of 280,000 square miles per flight. In its test flight, the
aircraft flew for four hours at about 3,000 feet. More...
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NPRM MAY COME THIS YEAR
The FAA may be planning rulemaking
that will allow the use of non-military unmanned aerial vehicles in
civilian airspace, according to USA Today. The newspaper quotes FAA spokesman Les
Dorr as saying the proposed rules could be released this year and a
public comment period will be included. He also told USA Today that the
agency is talking with the Justice Department and national law
enforcement groups "about possibly trying to streamline the process of
applying for certificates of authorization" for operation of drones. The
proposed rule appears to be limited to the use of small drones by law
enforcement agencies, who are reportedly itching to get their hands on
the eyes in the sky. More...
SUSPENDS PROHIBITION OF 121.5 MHZ ELTS
The FCC has
stayed their rule (PDF) on the prohibition of 121.5 MHz ELTs (signals
no longer processed by satellites) and is "planning a new Notice
requesting public comment on the future of legacy 121.5 ELTs." The
action is a response to concerns expressed by the FAA, one of which is
supply. The FAA warned the FCC that the current supply of 406 MHz ELTs
is insufficient to replace all 121.5 MHz ELTs in the near term. Because
of that, reasoned the FAA, prohibiting the use of 121.5 MHz ELTs "would"
effectively ground "most" general aviation aircraft. The FAA also
expressed concern regarding the potential continued value provided by
121.5 MHz ELTs in locating aircraft "even without satellite monitoring
of frequency 121.5 MHz." Search and rescue operators still monitor the
frequency. The FAA also expressed concerned about the associated cost to
operators of forcing a transition. More...
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COURTS MANUFACTURERS FOR MASSIVE ORDER
Delta Air Lines is
using a potential order for 100 to 200 aircraft, with options for 200
more, to inspire proposals from major airframe manufacturers on the
heels of a record $15.6 billion order for 180 aircraft from IndiGo,
landed by Airbus. The company said Thursday that it hopes to take
delivery starting in 2013, with aircraft that could range from large to
small single-aisle designs. Delta acquired Northwest in 2008 and now
operates more than 700 aircraft. The new orders could ultimately replace
Delta's Airbus A320, Boeing 757-200, and DC9-50 series aircraft. The
potential order could stimulate strong competition from the usual
suspects and inspire some hopefuls. More...
DESIGNS FOR 2025
|Click for more
NASA has released images of what three
aerospace companies predict the near future of airliners might be but
given the typical development time and the economics of such projects,
the 2025 target date seems optimistic for these radical designs.
Boeing's projection of a blended-wing aircraft might be the closest to
fruition since it's already testing a scale model at Edwards Air Force
Base, but Northrop Grumman's double-fuselage creation and Lockheed
Martin's giant tail-mounted engine proposal are perhaps a little
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|Snow, Ice Not the Only Cause of Delays This Week||back to
CAPTAIN DELAYS TAKEOFF FOR BEREAVED GRANDFATHER
In an act of
kindness not often seen in the hectic world of airline flying, a
Southwest captain delayed a departure for 12 minutes to allow a
grandfather rushing to his dying grandson's bedside to board the flight.
Mark Dickerson, a Northrop Grumman engineer, was in Los Angeles when he
learned that a child abuse incident left his grandson, Caden Rogers,
lying brain dead in a Denver hospital. He arrived at Los Angeles Airport
only to find a long security line, and airport workers weren't buying
his story about Caden and refused to allow him to the front of the line.
In desperation, Dickerson phoned his wife who followed up with
Southwest, contacting the flight's captain. On his own, the skipper
delayed the flight until Dickerson arrived, greeting him at the cabin
door. Southwest spokesperson Marilee McInnis told ABC news that the
captain has been identified but his name wasn't released, pending the
pilot's permission. More...
LOSES GUN IN WAITING AREA MIXUP
The TSA is investigating
after a passenger mistakenly picked up a bag holding a gun belonging to
a Federal Flight Deck Officer at New York's JFK Airport on Thursday.
Michael Connery Jr., a first officer for JetBlue, was waiting to board
the aircraft he was to help fly to Pittsburgh and set his bag next to
Rachel Hazan's. Hazan was also waiting for a JetBlue flight to West Palm
Beach. Hazan was traveling with her parents and her two children and
when it was time to board, she scooped up everything, including
Connery's bag, and the 40-caliber handgun inside, and carried it onto
her flight. Things soon got more complicated for both of them, but
especially for Connery. More...
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|Sport Aviation Puts On a Show in Sunny Florida||back to
STARTS SHOW SEASON
The airshow season is officially under way
and thousands are expected at U.S. Sport
Aviation Expo in Sebring Fla., starting Thursday. There will be
hundreds of exhibitors and demonstrators in the show aimed mostly at the
Light Sport sector. AVweb will be there with full coverage and a
special show edition on Friday. A note to exhibitors: If you have
something new or otherwise important to share with the more than 250,000
people who regularly use AVweb as their source for aviation news,
by all means drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
and we'll do our best to stop by. See you at the show!
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|The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You!||back to
JANUARY 17, 2010
Letter of the Week: Mandatory Shoulder
shoulder harnesses: I crashed and would not have gotten a scratch if
shoulder harnesses had been installed in the plane. My injuries were
minor, but I decided that I would install shoulder harnesses in all my
The first attempt was in an Ercoupe; the second was in a
Taylorcraft. The FAA's G-load requirement for shoulder harness
installation made it impossible. At the time when I was wrestling with
this, the FAA came out with a "re-interpretation" of the rule
citing the lives saved by the guys in Alaska who had installed shoulder
harnesses in older planes that, while they didn't meet the
current requirements, provided a large measure of safety with little
cost, no degradation to the plane, and, most importantly, that stated
that "something is better than nothing."
I installed harnesses in
both planes, made a logbook entry, and called it a minor change.
think that shoulder harnesses would be a major improvement in any
airplane, but retrofitting the old planes could be prohibitively costly
if the requirement for them included a requirement to meet installation
requirements used for planes that are coming off the assembly line
Click through to read the
rest of this week's letters. More...
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BULLISH ON BIOFUELS
The Navy and Air Force are both
testing biofuels as drop-in replacements for conventional jet fuel.
AVweb's Paul Bertorelli spoke with Thomas Hicks, the
Navy's Deputy Secretary for Energy Policy, about the promise and the
potential pitfalls. More...
STILL RULE FUELS
Technically, biofuel replacements
are possible, but do they make economic sense? Shell Oil's John
Hofmeister told AVweb's Paul Bertorelli that there's still a
lot of oil out there and it's hard for biofuels to compete.
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OF THE WEEK: RAECO AT BAYTOWN AIRPORT (KHPY, BAYTOWN,
AVweb reader Bud Beaty is a frequent
visitor to Baytown Airport (KHPY) in Baytown, Texas
and to hear him tell it, there's no better FBO in America to be
our latest "FBO of the Week":
The manager (Charlie) is a corporate pilot (Citation V), and he
knows how pilots and passengers should be treated. His lovely wife Kathy
and all his great employees treat their customers like royalty. We don't
ask for anything they take care of our every need automatically
including an overnight crew-truck for the pilot. Charlie has spared no
expense transforming HPY ... into a showcase FBO, completely gutting and
rebuilding a new FBO, building new hangars, expanding/renovating the
runway, and implementing (through the FAA) two GPS approaches. All the
while, he has kept the fuel prices the lowest in the area and among the
lowest in the nation. They have one price (and that is for
self-service), yet they always provide full service at this price.
Charlie has also expanded the airport operating hours and published his
personal cell phone number as the after-hours contact number. It is
truly a joy to visit HPY.
Keep those nominations
coming. For complete contest rules, click
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in
the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here
next Monday! More...
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FIRST FLIGHT OF CHINESE J-20 'STEALTH FIGHTER'
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. More...
757 OVERRUN VIDEO IGNITES PILOT SPECULATION
shot by a passenger aboard American Airlines Flight 2253 as it overran
Runway 19 at Jackson Hole, Wednesday, shows unusual operation of the
aircraft's systems, according to some pilots. The 6,300-foot runway sits
at an elevation of 6,451 feet and the pilots landed in light snow at
about 11:37 a.m. About seven inches of snow had fallen in the area since
midnight, but the runway itself was reportedly in good condition with
good braking coefficients. The aircraft appears to be on the ground
prior to passing the PAPI lights and wind sock, which would be
appropriate. In the video, the engine's thrust reverser panel first
moves just after touchdown, but it does not fully open and the outboard
spoilers are not visibly deployed. Because of that, things quickly get
more interesting. More...
|Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the
Heard while on approach to John Wayne
Airport in Southern California:
Tower (addressing a
Boeing 737 holding short of the runway) :
Twenty-Three, are you ready to go?"
the captain is asleep but he should wake up soon."
Gordon B. Crary More...
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.
AVwebFlash team is:
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
Have a product or service to advertise
on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's
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
Navigate. Communicate. More...