AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 17, Number 9b

March 3, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Historic Recovery in the South Pacific? back to top 

Earhart Wreck Found?

A report from Papua New Guinea says the wreck of an aircraft that might be the Lockheed Electra flown by Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan has been found on a reef near Bougainville Island near Papua New Guinea. The Papua New Guinea Post Courier is reporting "armed men" are guarding the area over a reef off Matsungan Island where an aircraft matching the description of Earhart's plane has been found. Divers are now checking the wreck and inquiries are flooding in from all over the world. There is no word on whether any human remains have been recovered.

If the plane is Earhart's, it will help to solve a 78-year-old mystery surrounding her disappearance on a leg of a pan Pacific flight leg from New Guinea to Howell Island in July of 1934. Local sources told the newspaper the existence of the wreck has been known for years. Government officials say it belongs to Papua New Guinea and they'll be defending that claim.

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Leading the Economic Recovery back to top 

Bombardier Lands First And Billion-Dollar NetJets Order

Bombardier, which earned more orders in the fourth quarter of 2010 than it had in the previous nine quarters combined, has landed its first deal with NetJets and one that could be worth up to $6.7 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. The new order represents 30 Global 5000 Vision and Global Express XRS Vision jets, plus 20 Global 7000 and Global 8000 jets, with options for an additional 70 aircraft. Deliveries of the first 50 represent about $2.8 billion, would begin in the final quarter of 2012, and could range beyond 2017. That tops off 78 new orders earned by the company in the fourth quarter last year. Bombardier's Chief Executive, Pierre Boudoin, isn't convinced that the orders promise sustained positive change in the business jet segment, and comments from NetJets CEO, David Sokol, may support that.

According to NetJets' Sokol, "We are taking advantage of the current lull in the private aviation market to position the NetJets fleet for the future." Speaking for Bombardier, Boudoin said in an interview, "We've seen a strong comeback. Will it hold? Will it continue? In the volatile market we're in, I think we need to follow that step by step." Boudoin said the order of very long-range aircraft doesn't compete with Bombardier's own fractional business-jet unit, Flexjet, because Flexjet is not an international fractional operator. Bombardier is currently perched as the third-largest airplane manufacturer in the world, behind Boeing and Airbus.

A New G.A. Engine From Austro

Austro Engine, best known for its work supplying powerplants for Diamond airplanes, announced this week it plans to develop a new 280-hp six-cylinder diesel engine for the general aviation market. Austro will work in partnership with Steyr Motors to develop the engine, based on the Steyr Monoblock Motor M1. That engine features an integral crankcase and cylinder head that has proven robust in marine and special-vehicle applications around the world, according to the company. The new engine is intended to power two Diamond aircraft now in the works: the DA50 Magnum, a single-engine five-seat airplane, and the twin-engine Future Small Aircraft (FSA) intended for personal and utility applications.

Austro said the M1 engine is known for a favorable power-to-weight ratio, operational safety, economy and minimized environmental impact. "With the expansion of our product line, Austro Engine will further solidify its position as a producer of powerful, fuel-efficient and environmentally responsible aviation piston powerplants," said Christian Dries, CEO of Diamond Aircraft. Austro Engine was founded in 2007 to develop and produce state-of-the-art rotary engines and jet-fuel piston aviation engines for civilian and strategic applications. Steyr Motors, a diesel engine specialist, emerged from the former Steyr-Daimler-Puch group.

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Kilfrost is the global leader of in-flight ice protection, de-icing and anti-icing products for the aviation industry. Kilfrost pioneered TKS technology and is the "K" in "TKS." TKS406B fluid offers excellent ice protection capability with a freezing point of -76 degrees Fahrenheit. It can also be applied to remove frozen deposits of snow, ice and frost from stationary aircraft while on the ground. TKS systems should be primed and maintained monthly with TKS406B fluid to achieve optimal performance. Call 1 (877) 4‑SPRUCE or visit AircraftSpruce.com.
Business or Pleasure, Space Traveler? back to top 

Scientists Sign Up For Private Space Access

Virgin Galactic and XCOR will carry scientists as well as tourists into suborbital space, under new contracts announced this week. The Southwest Research Institute said it will send two scientists into space aboard Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo and will fly at least six missions aboard XCOR Corporation's Lynx Mark I spaceplane. The missions will reach altitudes up to 350,000 feet and higher, SwRI said, beyond the internationally recognized boundary of space. Scientists will perform experiments in biomedicine, microgravity and astronomical imaging. SwRI also plans to later fly a dedicated six-seat research mission with Virgin Galactic, and has contract options for up to three additional XCOR flights.

XCOR's Lynx spaceplane is a two-seat, piloted, liquid-rocket-powered vehicle that will take off and land horizontally and reach altitudes up to 200,000 feet. It is now in development and expected to fly in 2012. SpaceShipTwo, now undergoing flight testing, has two pilots and seats for up to six passengers. Researchers in SpaceShipTwo's large cabin can leave their seats to work together in the micro-gravity environment. SwRI is a nonprofit research-and-development firm based in San Antonio, Texas, and Boulder, Colo., specializing in applied engineering and physical sciences. It is the first company to contract to fly its researchers in space aboard next-generation suborbital spacecraft. XCOR and Virgin Galactic are both based in Mojave, Calif.

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Say Again: Business or Pleasure, Space Traveler? back to top 

Daily Mail's Bizarre UFO Over Russia Story

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Video allegedly shot of a Russian radar terminal near that country's eastern city of Yakutsk shows an object traveling at nearly 65,000 feet and more than 6,000 mph, according to UK's Daily Mail, but the part about the cat-alien may be more interesting. The footage of the radar terminal could be explained by simulations generated for the purposes of training, but the cat references require a different theory. According to the paper, controllers (none named) say they "were buzzed" by a "high-speed UFO" and heard "a female-sounding alien who spoke in an unintelligible cat-like language." The paper says one controller told a passing Aeroflot pilot he heard a female voice saying something similar to "mioaw-mioaw."

The video was posted to YouTube late last month, and shows the target changing direction by roughly 90 degrees numerous times and passing other targets that appear stationary in comparison. Yakutsk, where the incident allegedly took place, is normally cold for about eight months out of the year with areas nearby recording temperatures challenged only by Antarctica. This week, temperatures there dropped below negative 32 degrees centigrade during the night, according to the Daily Mail. In the recently posted video, there is no snow visible on the ground surrounding the tower. Many radar terminals can generate simulated returns for the purposes of training ... or to show children visiting a tower on Christmas "proof" of the arrival of Santa Claus.

(Note: we weren't able to distinguish any cat-like noises.)

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News Briefs back to top 

A Comeback For Hydrogen Flight?

For decades, lighter-than-air flight via hydrogen gas has been associated with a flaming Hindenburg, but now a handful of balloon hobbyists are hoping to change that and bring hydrogen back. On Feb. 17, balloonists Sam Parks and Drew Barrett flew two hydrogen-filled sport balloons from South Carolina to Virginia. Parks told The Statesville Record & Landmark that the launch was probably the first of its kind in the southeast since the Civil War. He added that one purpose of the flight was to demonstrate that modern hydrogen-filled balloons are safe and practical. The price of helium is getting too high for many sport flyers, he said. The two crews flew for about eight hours.

Most sport balloons in the U.S. depend on hot air for lift, powered by propane burners attached above the basket. Their flight time is limited by how much fuel they can carry, generally just enough for a few hours. Gas balloons, which use hydrogen or helium for lift, can fly for days, managing their altitude by dropping ballast and venting gas. Hydrogen balloon systems have long been used for sport flying in Europe and occasionally in the western states. Barrett, who is from Tampa, Fla., told the Record he has flown many types of aircraft, but gas ballooning "is the most perfect and pure flying I've ever done."

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Cirrus Acquired By Chinese Company

Cirrus Industries Inc., parent company of Cirrus Aircraft, has been sold to China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. (CAIGA) of Zhuhai, China, but it appears the company will continue to build parts in Grand Forks, N.D., and assemble airplanes in Duluth, Minn. It has long been rumored that a Chinese company would acquire Cirrus and the final announcement was made Monday morning. CAIGA is a subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC), the state-owned aviation company of China that makes everything from military jets to airliners. In a news release, Cirrus CEO Brent Wouters says the deal will be a shot in the arm for the company and for its employees in Grand Forks and Duluth. "CAIGA understands the strength and the talent of Cirrus's workforce and the prominence of the Cirrus brand in general aviation," Wouters said. "Through this transaction, CAIGA will invest in our employees in both Minnesota and North Dakota by committing to the continued use of our world-class production facilities."

Although it was not specifically mentioned in the news release, the transaction could result in an immediate acceleration of Cirrus's long-awaited Vision jet program. The single-engine jet project has stalled in recent years due to a lack of funding but Wouters has maintained throughout that an injection of investment capital would revive the jet. For its part, CAIGA says its focusing on the piston market with Cirrus. "We are very optimistic to begin our partnership with Cirrus and add Cirrus's strong brand as the cornerstone in our aviation product portfolio," said CAIGA President Meng Xiangkai. Cirrus was founded by Alan and Dale Klapmeier about 12 years ago and Dale Klapmeier is the current chairman. He said he was "thrilled" to make the announcement. "With this transaction, Cirrus will continue to develop and build the best, most exciting aircraft in the world," Klapmeier said. "The original dream remains alive and well at Cirrus. We are just embarking on our next chapter on a global stage."

Related Content:

Laser Pointing Might Be Federal Crime

It may soon be a federal crime to point a laser at an airplane. The House passed the Securing Aircraft Cockpits Against Lasers Act of 2011 on Monday (PDF) and it calls for prison sentences of up to five years and fines. The Senate included an identical provision in its FAA reauthorization bill. A combined bill has to be drafted for presidential approval. The House bill was championed by California Republican Dan Lungren who noted that up until 2005 there had been less than 400 laser incidents in the previous 15 years. Last year, the FAA received 2,836 reports of laser pointing. Not all people pointing lasers at the sky are targeting aircraft, however.

After AVweb carried a story on the topic in January, amateur astronomers wrote to let us know they use lasers to aim their telescopes. However it's probably safe to assume that most of the laser incidents are pranks or malicious and that's what the law is aimed at. The practice is particularly worrisome to law enforcement agencies because if their aircraft are illuminated by a laser the pilots have to assume they're being sighted in by a rifle on the ground and break off from whatever they're doing.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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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: China vs. the American Dream

The sale of Cirrus Aircraft to a Chinese state-owned company didn't have to happen. Americans could have bought it. In the latest installment of the AVweb Insider blog, our editor-in-chief ponders the obvious question: If Americans are so worried about jobs and industry floating away to China, why won't American investors sink their dollars into a company like Cirrus?

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: The Persistence of Mystery

Why do we still wonder, 75 years later, about the fate of a lost pilot and her navigator? Mary Grady ponders the allure of Amelia Earhart in light of TIGHAR's DNA testing in the latest installment of the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Silliness in the Pattern

When the local homebuilt contingent goes rogue and does pretend fighter pilot jargon on the CTAF, is it time to pull them aside and have a little talk? Not really. Boys will be boys. But when that sort of thing confuses intent in the pattern, it's time to reconsider. Some poor student in an LSA isn't going to know what "initial for the break" means, and the next he knows, his windshield is full of RV-4 prop. That's the kind of nonsense Paul Bertorelli's coping with in the latest installment of the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Question of the Week: The Uncertain Future of "Made in the U.S.A."

Last week, we asked what "Made in America" means for airplane manufacturers; this week, we'd like to know what the future may hold for domestic airplane makers. As has been speculated for a year (at least), a company owned by the Chinese government has bought Cirrus and earlier bought Continental Motors and Epic Air.

What does that mean for airplane manufacturing in the U.S.?
(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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AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 255,000 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: Paradise P1 Flight Trial

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

AVweb's Paul Bertorelli took a spin in this Brazilian import as part of a major flight report for Aviation Consumer magazine. It has several cool features, including removable seats to turn it into a camper and prodigious load capability. It will also allow a paraplegic pilot to fly it, using special hand controls.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Ms. Betty Easley at KHTH (Hawthorne, Nevada)

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

We're about to give new meaning to the term "fixed base operator"! This week's blue ribbon doesn't go to a business, organization, or building, but to a single individual — a woman named Betty Easley at Hawthorne Industrial Airport (KHTH) in Hawthorne, Nevada.

Brace yourself for what has quickly become our favorite "FBO of the Week" nomination, courtesy of AVweb reader Roland Lamer:

KHTH is a city- or county-owned airport that, with its very low usage, would likely never be able to support a for-profit FBO. They don't need to. They have Ms. Betty Easley. Betty is ... lives nearby [the airport] — everybody does in this very little city. Betty, though, has a two-way radio with which she is able to monitor HTH traffic. When she hears incoming traffic, she drives to the airport and normally meets the incoming traffic. She may start with a simple greeting such as, "I am the official airport greeter here at Hawthorne." If you intend to get fuel, she will probably hand you the static line. (She won't attach it to your plane, but she will hand it to you.) Anything you may need she probably has available to you. ... Need a car? She has three of them, just in case things get busy. If you use one of her cars, be sure to put gasoline in it for her. You see, these cars belong to Betty. She pays for the cars, she buys the fuel, and she'll never ask you for a single cent. Be sure and take care of her. She will invite you into the airport building, [where] there is snack food and a computer with internet capbability. If you are tired, there are a couple of cots. Television, refrigerator, couch with recliners — and yes, Betty pays for all of this. Betty loves aviation. When you are all finished with your reason for having flown into KHTH, with your approval, Betty will be standing somewhere parallel to your dpearting runway with a camera. She will take several pictures of your departing airplane and then e-mail them to you. There really is something special about seeing yourself in your airplane just as you have rotated.

By the way, if you are anywhere near the west central part of Nevada, you can relay a "hello" to Betty on 122.8. She loves to hear from her aviation friends.

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

This week's winning photo comes from Ken Hemmerling of Clearwater, BC (Canada). Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.
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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