AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 17, Number 11b

March 17, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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AVflash! U.S. Counter-Offer for Cirrus? back to top 
 
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Cirrus on U.S. Bid: "No Comment"

Aviation industry analyst Brian Foley said this week he's hoping to organize a counteroffer from U.S. investors that would tempt Cirrus Aircraft to change its mind about its recent sale to China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. Foley told AVweb on Wednesday that when he published a report last week about China's recent investment in U.S. general aviation companies (PDF), he got an "overwhelming response" from e-mails and online comments that suggested to him that the U.S. aviation community "wants this company [Cirrus] to be owned and operated on American soil, period." Foley also told AVweb that he had contacted Cirrus officials about his plan to find alternative investors but so far had not had any response. Cirrus spokesman Todd Simmons told AVweb on Wednesday, "We have no comment at this point."

Foley said he believes that better marketing of Cirrus Aircraft's need for fresh investment could make a difference, especially if the effort is made to find "a pool of investors" rather than a single buyer. "Assuming this falls into place, we're confident we can identify and combine enough qualified investors who value Cirrus' promise as a distinctively American company," Foley said in a news release (PDF). "Cirrus is an American success story that started in a humble dairy barn, introduced important new technologies and rocketed to market leadership," he said. "So it's not surprising that our U.S. aviation community would take an interest in this pending sale. But what surprised me was the speed, passion and near-unanimity of the feedback we received. I didn't talk to anyone who wanted to see Cirrus shipped overseas." Cirrus said last month that while the company may expand into China in the future, there are no plans to abandon the current facilities in Minnesota and North Dakota.

 
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Japan, FAA Collaborate to Protect Air Traffic back to top 
 

FAA Ready To Act Re: Japan Nuclear Crisis

The FAA is prepared to take measures in consultation with Japanese officials to minimize the threat to air traffic posed by radiation from Japan's troubled nuclear power plants. The Japanese civil aviation authority has already established flight restrictions to usher civil aircraft around the Fukushima facility in an effort to control the site and minimize exposure. Tuesday, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said "there is no credible information available at this point indicating the need for further restrictions," but that may change. Wednesday the Japanese response evolved to dropping water on the site from helicopters. If the situation worsens, said Brown, "the FAA is prepared to take air management measures, including the rerouting of air traffic." That possibility now seems more likely.

Safety officials were pessimistic Wednesday about the situation in Fukushima. Nuclear safety officials in France stated questioned whether a meltdown could be avoided, according to the Telegraph.co.uk. US nuclear safety officials have said that initial warnings from Japanese officials about the seriousness of the situation had been understated. The Pentagon has moved troops sent to aid in the relief effort to 50 miles from the Fukushima plant -- more than four times the distance set by the Japanese government. That's a sign, some say, that the situation is "out of control." A French government spokesman has said that if conditions at the plant erode, the result could have an impact worse than Chernobyl.

 
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"World's Fastest Heli Pilot" Honored back to top 
 

Collier Awarded To Sikorsky X2 Team

The 2010 Robert J. Collier Trophy will be officially awarded May 5, 2011, to Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. and the X2 Demonstrator Team "for demonstrating a revolutionary 250 knot helicopter." The National Aeronautic Association, which offers the award, says the aircraft "marks a proven departure point for the future development of helicopters by greatly increasing their speed, maneuverability and utility." The X2 demonstrator combines counter-rotating coaxial rotors, fly-by-wire flight controls, active vibration control and integrated auxiliary propulsion. AVweb got an inside look at the aircraft at HAI Heli-Expo in Orlando -- click here for the video. Sikorksy plans to follow the design with S-97 Raider production models based on the technology. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Collier Trophy and Sikorsky faced tough competition.

Nominees for the 2010 Collier Trophy included the team that created the hypersonic 1-mile-per second X-51A WaveRider scramjet (click for video); the Boeing C-17A Globemaster III Team; the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System; and General Aviation for its role saving lives after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

 
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Fuel Survey: Your Comments Are In back to top 
 

Owners Want 100-Octane: Fuel Survey

With 100LL threatened by environmental regulation, what do owners think should replace it? An unleaded 100-octane equivalent fuel is the most popular choice, according to a recent survey of more than 3100 AVweb readers. Moreover, many owners also want mogas as a second choice, offering some downside protection against escalating fuel prices that have already curtailed flying for many.

The survey, which began in late February, revealed that there's not much support for lower-octane dedicated aviation fuels, such as 94UL, nor are owners particularly supportive of engine modifications that would make it possible for many aircraft engines to burn lower-octane fuel without detonating.

Of the 3151 readers who took the survey, 97 percent were pilots and 96 percent were based in the U.S. or Canada. AVweb also asked if readers owned airplanes that require 100-octane fuel and 86 percent of those who responded said they did, with 16 percent reporting that their airplanes were approved for lower-octane fuel. This is the mirror opposite of the accepted estimate that 30 percent of the fleet requires high-octane fuel while 70 percent can operate on lower-octane fuel, such as 91 AKI mogas, 80/87 or other aviation fuels. Judging by reader comments, the high response rate may be due to owners of high-performance aircraft believing they have more at stake if a replacement fuel isn't found.

When asked which future fuel approach made the most sense, 51 percent said they favored a single, 100-octane drop-in replacement, 33 percent favored 100-octane, plus mogas as an option, 7 percent said they liked 94UL and another 7 percent thought a dual aviation fuel system such as 100-octane and 94-octane should be put in place. But the vast majority of readers recognized that dual fuel isn't practical: "We need a drop in replacement for 100LL. There's no way to have two separate fuels. The infrastructure can't support it," one reader told us. Not too surprisingly, owners whose airplanes don't require 100-octane fuel chaff at the prospect of having to buy it just for the sake of having a single fuel and these owners tilt strongly toward mogas. But there's also strong support for mogas on airports among those who need 100-octane. Nearly 30 percent of these owners said they wanted mogas available, either because they own a second airplane that can burn it or they're looking forward to owning or flying an LSA.

But owners aren't naïve about the difficulty of finding reliable mogas supplies not blended with ethanol, a periodic problem for some of the 100-plus airports that carry it now. We asked our survey takers if they believed it was likely mogas would be part of the fuel solution. Twenty one percent considered it likely, but nearly half -- 48 percent -- told us it was not likely at all; a non-starter.

We also asked readers if they would be willing to modify their engines to burn a lower-octane fuel, such as 94UL. There's evidently not much sentiment for this. Only 8 percent said they would very likely to modify their airplanes, while another 25 percent said they would be somewhat likely. More than a quarter said they would be unlikely or simply wouldn't not buys mods of any kind to accommodate lower-octane gas.

When asked about which mods they would consider, the most popular choice was an electronic magneto or ignition system that would provide detonation margin. Readers reacted far less warmly to operating at reduced power (9 percent), installing low-compression pistons (8%) or installing a full-up FADEC system (14 percent).

Judging by our e-mail, many owners are concerned enough about the lack of clarity in the fuel market to forgo upgrades or new aircraft purchases, at least those that require 100-octane fuel. Our survey put some numbers on this. Exactly one third --- 33 percent -- said they wouldn't delay purchases over worries about fuel, but 31 percent said they were on the fence and 22 percent said they definitely won't do any upgrades until they know what's going to happen to 100LL.

"I fly a Beech Bonanza with an IO-470N TCM. This engine requires 100LL. I am concerned that the $70,000 for the new engine and airframe upgrades may become useless if 100LL is pulled from the market," one survey participant told us.

Last summer, the EPA said it has no timeline for additional regulation on lead emissions and if this was supposed to allay concerns among owners, it may have little effect. A quarter of the survey respondents said the EPA pronouncement made them more confident in future fuel supplies, but 48 percent said it made them less confident. Said one reader: "The intrusion of EPA into the life of the free enterprise system, with their onerous growth and stifling regulations will continue ... to the destruction of innovation in aviation. Regulation limits the progress to a real solution."

A strong majority of survey takers told us the industry shouldn't panic over a fuel solution, but that it needs to be solved soon. Nearly an additional third (28 percent) said the industry needs to be more aggressive in finding the replacement fuel.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

NTSB Weighs In On MET Tower Hazards

A recent FAA proposal that suggested a protocol for marking meteorological evaluation towers to make them more visible to low-level aviators didn't go far enough, the NTSB says. "The NTSB is concerned that the application of the [FAA Advisory Circular] is voluntary, and, without mandatory application and marking requirements for METs, many METs will still be constructed without notice to the aviation community and will fail to be marked appropriately," the board said in a Safety Alert (PDF) issued on Friday. Meteorological Evaluation Towers (METs) are used to measure wind speed and direction during the development of wind energy facilities, and many fall just below the 200-foot threshold for FAA-required obstruction markings. At least three fatal accidents have involved MET tower collisions, the NTSB said, the most recent one in January.

According to the Safety Alert, the METs are hard to see from the air, and pose a threat to low-flying aircraft operations such as helicopter emergency medical services, law enforcement, animal damage control, fish and wildlife, agriculture, and aerial fire suppression. The NTSB recommends that pilots should "maintain vigilance for METs" when conducting low-altitude flights and encourage the marking of METs in their area. Also, if pilots locate a MET, they should let other local pilots know about it. FAA Safety Team members are exploring methods of notifying pilots of the location and height of METs and are working to educate MET owners, builders, and communities on flight-safety issues, the NTSB said. The National Agricultural Aviation Association welcomed the NTSB's effort and agrees that the FAA marking protocol should be mandatory. "The airspace aerial applicators work in is becoming increasingly obstructed by transmission lines, communication towers, wind turbines and hard-to-see meteorological testing towers," says the NAAA. "That poses a real concern to the aerial application industry, not just in terms of safety, but also in terms of accessing farmers' fields to treat their crops, since many prime wind-energy development areas are located in rural, agriculturally rich areas."

Aerospace Educators Sought For Crossfield Award

The National Aviation Hall of Fame is seeking nominations for the 25th annual A. Scott Crossfield Aerospace Education Teacher of the Year Award, which includes a $1,500 cash stipend and an expenses-paid trip for two to the Hall of Fame's annual enshrinement event in Dayton, Ohio. The award recognizes public-school aerospace educators in grades K through 12 for effectiveness, creativity, and the ability to maintain high standards for their students and themselves. The award is named for research test pilot Scott Crossfield (1921-2006), who was the first pilot to exceed both Mach 2 and Mach 3, and the first pilot of the X-15. The deadline for nominations is May 1. Details are posted at the NAHF web site. The award is funded by the Scott Crossfield Foundation.

The 2010 Crossfield Award Winner was Lt. Col. Herbert W. (Bill) Powley of Erwin, Tenn. Powley is a 1967 Air Force Academy graduate who flew 347 missions during the Vietnam War and twice was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. After retiring, he began a second career as an instructor for an Air Force Junior ROTC unit in Erwin, Tenn., in 1991. Over the next 19 years he developed an award-winning program that helped thousands of students take orientation flights and dozens of the cadets to fly solo. Several of his former students have become military or professional pilots. Lt. Col. Powley spoke with AVweb's Mary Grady this week about his program; click here to listen to the podcast.

 
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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 
 

Help For Aviators Helping In Japan

Relief organizations and business aircraft operators working in the aftermath of Japan's earthquake and tsunami need to navigate a maze of airspace restrictions and airport closures, a challenge that is made a little easier with a list of resources and updates compiled this week by the National Business Aviation Association. Tokyo International Airport is closed to general aviation traffic until Friday, but many other airports are open, NBAA said. Rumors that Japan plans to close all of its airports "have not been confirmed with Japanese authorities," the FAA told NBAA on Tuesday. Aerobridge, an NBAA-sponsored volunteer aviation group that coordinates disaster response, is working to make space available on GA passenger and cargo jets to Japan. The group is also assisting with transportation of small search-and-rescue teams and medical assessment teams.

NBAA asked any member flight departments traveling to Japan with empty seats to contact them and consider donating those seats to personnel who need to reach the disaster area. In addition, there is a need to transport relief workers to Los Angeles, Seattle, and Phoenix to take advantage of transport offers from airlines. Any aviators planning to fly to Japan should plan carefully. "Conditions on the ground are changing quickly and operators are reminded to contact their international service provider for the most current information," NBAA said.

NTSB Cites Fatigue, Poor Training In Fatal Crash

Pilot error was to blame for the crash of a Hawker Beechcraft 125-800A in July 2008, the NTSB said on Tuesday. The airplane, operated by East Coast Jets, crashed when the crew attempted a go-around after landing on a wet runway at Owatonna Degner Regional Airport, in Minnesota. Both pilots and all six passengers were killed. The captain's decision to attempt the go around late in the landing roll with insufficient runway remaining was the probable cause of the accident, the NTSB found. Contributing factors were poor crew coordination and lack of cockpit discipline; fatigue, which likely impaired both pilots' performance; and the FAA's failure to require crew resource management training and standard operating procedures for Part 135 operators.

"This accident serves as a reminder that aviation is an unforgiving environment," said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. "No detail is too small to be overlooked -- not the winds, or the communication between crew members, or even how much sleep they get. The small things do matter and in this case they accumulated to result in tragedy." The flight was a nonscheduled passenger flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The NTSB investigators looked at several other safety issues, including go-around guidance for turbine-powered aircraft; Part 135 preflight weather briefings; inadequate arrival landing distance assessment guidance and requirements; Part 135 on- demand, pilot-in command line checks; and cockpit image recording systems. The safety board issued several safety recommendations to the FAA regarding training, operating procedures, and sleep disorders. Those recommendations, along with a synopsis of the accident investigation report, are posted on the NTSB web site. The complete report will be available on the web site in a few weeks.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 
 

AVweb Insider Blog: Fuel Survey — Give Us Real Numbers

Paul Bertorelli has finished compiling the results of our recent avgas replacement survey, and he gives you the skinny on what we've learned in his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog. Among our findings: Owners want to know what it's going to cost — whatever "it" turns out to be.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Fire in Flight — Give It a Thought

Fire in flight is such a universally horrible thing to think about that most of us probably just don't think about it much. But two recent accidents highlight how important it is to spend some time taking basic precautions. In the latest installment of the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli (again) stresses why you need a Halon extinguisher and why you need to keep it close in the cockpit.

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: Would You Invest in Cirrus?

Analyst and investment guy Brian Foley thinks he can attract homegrown investors to outbid the Chinese for control of Cirrus Industries. If you had some investment cash, would it attract you?

Would you invest in Cirrus?
(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.)

Associate Editor Opening

One of our sister aviation publications is looking for an associate editor. If you are a savvy, motivated layout master and wordsmith, they would love to hear from you. (There's a link to contact them beneath the following job description.)

Job Description: Associate Editor

Associate Editor will provide primary editorial support to Editor of consumer aviation magazine, which may include rewriting press releases for publication, web postings, copy and substantive editing of articles, departments and columns, preparation of galleys for review, writing articles, sizing and color correction of photos, enterprise reporting, proofreading and packaging of layouts for offsite production staff.

Qualifications

  • Two years of magazine or similar experience
  • Strong copy editing/substantive editing/fact-checking skills
  • Skilled in using CS3 Suite/Mac, MS Office
  • Interest in aviation
  • Ability to work both independently and collaboratively from a home office
  • Intellectual curiosity and willingness to learn
  • Strong work ethic and self-motivation
  • Clear written and verbal communication skills
  • Solid organizational skills
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Sensitivity to and ability to meet deadlines
  • Ability to internalize and adhere to publication's style guide/style sheets
  • Willingness to travel occasionally

Desirable Skills

  • Experience in building things
  • Experience leveraging social networking/web to encourage product visibility and reader interaction
  • Digital video/still photography, video editing
  • Pilot's license

This is a telecommute position. To apply, submit a cover letter, resume and three clips to BelvoirJobOpportunity@avweb.com. (Resume and cover letter should be Microsoft Word attachments; please attach clips as PDFs.)

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: World's Fastest Helicopter Pilot

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

Kevin Bredenbeck took the Sikorsky X2 technology demonstrator to 250 knots and beyond last September. He spoke with AVweb about the aircraft, the program, and what it's like to go that fast in a helicopter in this interview at the 2011 HAI Heli-Expo in Orlando, Florida.

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

Video: A Look Inside the Cessna Factory

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

Facing ever-growing global competition, Cessna has to find way to make airplanes more efficiently. In this video, Terry Clark explains how the company has done that at the company's Independence, Kansas plant.

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

 
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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 
 

FBO of the Week: Rider Jet Center (KHGR, Hagerstown, Maryland)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Rider Jet Center at Hagerstown Regional Airport/Richard A. Henson Field (KHGR) in Hagerstown, Maryland.

AVweb reader John Keller uses RJC on a regular basis and vouches for their dedication, year-in and year-out:

We have been a frequent customer of this fabulous FBO for several years, and their high quality service has never waivered! When the snow was three feet deep and the winds blowing 35 MPH and the temperature 10 degrees, the line and staff personnel were performing at the 110% level. We return on a regular basis because their attitude towards the customer is outstanding.

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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Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 
 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

This week's winning photo comes from Robert Dant of West Chester, PA. 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:

Publisher
Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Webmaster
Scott Simmons

Contributors
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.