AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 17, Number 13a

March 28, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Sun 'n Fun 'n Flight 'n AVweb back to top 

Sun 'n Fun News Every Day This Week

The Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In and Expo launches on Tuesday in Lakeland, Fla., promising a full roster of aviation events all week long. AVweb staffers are already on the grounds, compiling news reports, videos, and podcasts for delivery to your inbox Tuesday through Sunday. All of general aviation's major players are here, with news about new products and updates on projects in the works. Cirrus, Garmin, Cessna, Piper, Avidyne and Lightspeed all have news conferences scheduled early in the week, and AVweb will bring you all the details. The show is earlier than usual this year, launching even before April arrives, but the weather promises to be plenty hot, with temperatures in the 80s all week and a threat of thunderstorms just about every day.

The show will feature a range of programs and events, with a flight demo by the Blue Angels, daily airshows and fly-bys, 450 educational forums and more than 500 commercial exhibitors. For all the details about the show, and info for pilots who are planning to fly in, go to the official website. And watch your inbox every day this week for all the news from AVweb.

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Administrator Weighs in on Nonresponsive Tower back to top 

Babbitt "Outraged" Over Sleeping Controller

The NTSB is on the case, the controller says he fell asleep, and FAA administrator Randy Babbitt is "personally outraged" following an event that saw two airliners land at Reagan National Airport, without communication from the tower, very early Wednesday. The two jets, an American Airlines 737 and a United Airbus A320, touched down between 12:12 a.m. and 12:26 a.m., with help from Potomac TRACON. The tower controller reappeared on frequency at 12:28 a.m. to provide ground control to the United flight after it landed. In a statement, Babbitt said that "as a former airline pilot, I am personally outraged that this controller did not meet his responsibility to help land these two planes." Transportation secretary Ray LaHood has now ordered a change, requiring a second controller to be on duty overnight at the airport, and the NTSB's investigation is underway and the controller is talking.

Until LaHood's mandate the protocol at DCA was to have one controller, a supervisor, work alone in the tower at Reagan National through the quietest hours of the night. It appears that only three aircraft were scheduled to land between the hours of midnight and 5:00 a.m., Wednesday. In this case the tower controller was a 20-year veteran who had worked DCA for 17 years, according to the NTSB. And that controller told the NTSB he had fallen asleep while on duty following three consecutive overnight shifts (Wednesday was his fourth). The shifts run from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. The controller's last transmission prior to providing ground control at 12:28 a.m. was heard at 11:55 p.m. According to the NTSB, "Human fatigue issues are one of the areas being investigated."

Related Content:

Garmin Magic Days at JA Air Center || Click to E-Mail Us Your RSVP
Garmin Magic Days at JA Air Center
Garmin has drawn back the curtain on some new and exciting avionics technology. You are invited to be amongst the first to see and touch this revolutionary equipment during Garmin Magic Days at JA Air Center: Monday, April 11 at 3pm and 6pm and Tuesday, April 12 at 6pm. Please RSVP to magic@jaair.com for one of the three formal presentations.

JA Air Center — Aurora Municipal Airport — KARR
Government and the Cost of Flight back to top 

F-35 Can't Shake Trillion-Dollar Controversy

In 2008, the GAO estimated (PDF) the cost of buying and operating 2,443 F-35 fighter jets at $1 trillion, and this month The Atlantic magazine noted that fleet would represent a force 20 times larger than Russia's at a cost larger than Australia's GDP. Estimating the cost of a jet is difficult and varies widely -- in part because some estimates factor in design development and future maintenance costs, while others assign single-unit purchase price to the final product. We've seen estimates range from $60 million to $300 million per copy. Whatever the case, the cost is already significant and many participating nations are struggling with budgetary constraints and applying fiscal conservatism, which could force the price per unit up. But not everyone agrees.

One argument is that per-year production levels are likely to drop due to constraints on national budgets. That, says the argument, will translate to less money set aside for production, putting a constraint on the number of copies produced per year. That would lead to delivery delays and could also lead to a direct reduction in orders, which would further increase per-unit costs. The situation already appears to be playing out, to some degree. As the aircraft's costs have continued to rise, some countries are dialing back their orders. Opponents to the theory argue that the entire premise of high costs is overblown, that the Pentagon's cost estimates are well above negotiated prices for production lots of the aircraft, and that the flyaway cost will be similar to that of the latest F-16 and F/A-18 fighters. Whatever happens, countries that continue to invest in other development programs (i.e., the U.S.) will continue to produce newer competitive technology (think X-47B unmanned combat aircraft). And that technology will ultimately make the F-35, which currently seems set for a slower or delayed rollout, inferior or obsolete. As for the actual cost of the program, that remains to be seen.

Related Content:

Congressman Warns About Cirrus Sale

A freshman Minnesota congressman is urging the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to use "extreme caution" in assessing the potential sale of Cirrus Industries to the Chinese state-owned China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. Chip Cravaack, who represents the 8th District in Minnesota, which includes Cirrus's home of Duluth, says he's afraid the Chinese will use technology developed by Cirrus for military purposes. "I'm very concerned with Chinese history of reverse engineering," Cravaack told the Northland's NewsCenter. "What they do is take our components and are able use them as dual tech for their military aircraft. We do not need to be sending our technology overseas." Cravaack might be expected to urge caution about the potential loss of jobs in his district but the rookie congressman's military background adds some interest to his pleas before the committee.

Cravaack is a Naval Academy grad who flew helicopters in the Navy and flew for Northwest Airlines. He retired from Northwest on a medical disability pension because of sleep apnea. Cirrus spokesman Todd Simmons told the TV station he was surprised by the congressman's statement to the committee. "The CAIGA transaction is an investment in Duluth and our local communities."

Cannes AirShow || 9-11 June 2011 || The Only GA Expo in 
The Only General Aviation Exhibition in France
The Cannes AirShow brings together the leading protagonists in general and business aviation to allow a demanding clientèle discovery of the latest developments and industry innovations in a geographically logical and appealing setting. This professional exhibition is designed for owners and pilots, whether passionate fans or professionals, in general and business aviation throughout Europe, Africa, and Russia — offering visitors a large and representative palette of the aeronautics industry. The Cannes AirShow is southern Europe's leading exhibition in general and business aviation. Click here for details and registration info.
Tomorrow's Avgas back to top 

New 100-Octane Fuel Additive Shows Promise

In the nearly three decades that the GA industry has been searching for an unleaded replacement for 100LL, one recurring question: Isn't there an additive that will provide the octane? Ed Kollin, a petrochemist and consultant to Aircraft Specialties Lubricants, told us this week that there very well may be. After a months-long intensive research project, Kollin said Friday that he has developed an additive that shows promise as a direct replacement for the octane-boosting properties of tetraethyl lead.

He said initial trials indicate that when the additive is used with about a gram of lead in a gallon of gasoline -- half the maximum amount typically used in 100LL -- the motor octane value was a measured 110, far above typical FBO avgas. Kollin said when the additive was used in an unleaded aviation alkylate basestock, it achieved a motor octane value of at least 101. Because Kollin has not filed patents, he declined to offer any detail on the composition of the additive, but explained that it's a custom molecule whose production cost should be comparable to lead, which is generally seen at costing between 5 and 10 cents per gallon of avgas.

Kollin has done some initial stability and aging tests, but no full-scale engine tests. He said the next phase of testing will involve running a small engine to determine the additive's deposit formation characteristics.

"This is very encouraging," Kollin told us. "This is not a highly expensive molecule to produce. If nothing else comes of this for aviation, we will produce an automotive octane booster than you'll see on the shelves at your local NAPA."

Kollin developed an anti-wear and anti-corrosion aviation oil additive called CamGuard, which ASL also markets, in addition to automotive and marine versions.

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Aviation Safety back to top 

Fatal Crash At Florida Air Show

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A member of the Red Thunder demonstration team died Saturday when his Yak-52 reportedly failed to pull out of a maneuver and crashed at the Wings Over Flagler airshow in Palm Coast, Fla. William E. "Wild Bill" Walker was in formation with members of the six-aircraft team when the accident occurred. "He was in a dive when he was supposed to pull, and he didn't pull out for some reason," Roy Sieger, director of the Flagler County Airport, told The Jacksonville News Journal "They did everything by the book, but unfortunately it's one of the drawbacks to this business." The Red Thunder team, made up of Yak-52s and the Chinese version, the Nanchang CJ6, were scheduled to appear at Sun 'n Fun this week. Meanwhile a less serious mishap at a Texas airshow involved the wife of the state's governor.

Anita Perry was uninjured, as were others on the B-25 when, according to the Austin American-Statesman, the nose gear collapsed and an engine caught fire while the aircraft was taxiing at Jardin Ranch, near Laredo. It's not clear from the report how or whether they were related, nor was there a damage report on the aircraft. The plane was taking part in an airshow in Encinal.

Air Force Pilot Gives Up Wings After Flyover

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It was Nov. 20 at the University of Iowa and a pre-game flyover to remember, in part because it was flown at nearly 400 knots and cleared the football stadium's press box by about 16 feet, according to FAA radar records. The four T-38 Talon jets were led by Major Christopher Kopacek, previously of the 25th Flying Training Squadron. In exchange for his cooperation in a legal agreement with the Air Force, Kopacek bypassed a court-martial and received non-judicial punishment. He also submitted a request to give up his wings (an action still pending) and depart the Air Force -- a decision he apparently made prior to the flyover.

Kopacek was planning to leave the Air Force shortly after the flyover, the Air Force Times reported. The flyover actually delayed his departure and also cost him two months' pay. The military found that the Major's flight violated Articles 92 and 107B of the Uniform Code of Military justice. Basically, Kopacek was faulted for exceeding appropriate speeds, both when practicing the maneuver and during the flyover itself. He flew within 1,000 feet of the structure, did not report the flight deviations to a superior or provide a written account within 24 hours, and then made a false statement to investigators, according to an official release from Vance Air Force Base. The findings were supported by radar records solicited from the FAA. Some action was taken against all members involved in the flight.

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It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's — A SmartBird? back to top 

Festo's SmartBird Flies

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If you don't know Festo, you don't know the AirPenguin, AirRay, or the AirJelly, and now you'd be missing the masterful bio-mimicry of Festo's SmartBird flight model, which the company says attains "an unprecedented level of efficiency in flight operation." SmartBird is Festo's latest aerial creation: a polyurethane foam and carbon fiber ornithopter inspired by the herring gull. The 6.5-foot-wingspan craft weighs about one pound and is capable of taking off, flying and landing autonomously. Festo says the complex system that powers and controls SmartBird has "succeeded for the first time in creating an energy-efficient technical adaptation of this model from nature."

SmartBird's structure is carbon fiber and polyurethane foam that houses an exterior rotor motor, which drives the wings through a two-stage helical transmission. The rest of SmartBird's guts include four servo drives, a micro-controller and a lithium polymer battery. In flight as an ornithopter the craft's wings beat up and down, but also twist at specific angles driven by what Festo calls an "active articulated torsional drive unit," which creates impressive maneuverability. The company says analysis of SmartBird's flow characteristics provided additional knowledge for the optimization of its product solutions. Festo develops advanced structures including optimized flow cylinders and valves. The company describes itself as committed to achieving the optimal energy utilization of machines and equipment inspired by the principles of nature.

Related Content — Other Festo Projects:

TAS600 from Avidyne || Dual-Antenna Traffic || Now Just $8,490
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Avidyne announces new full-featured TAS605 and TAS615 models, along with the lowest price available for dual-antenna, active traffic with our TAS600. All TAS600 Series systems provide timely audible and visual alerts with the precise location of conflicting traffic. Patented Top & Bottom directional antennas detect other aircraft sooner and more accurately. Avidyne's TAS600 Series are the smallest, lightest, best performing, and most affordable active TAS systems available. Click here to learn more about the TAS600 Traffic Systems.
Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Snoozing at DCA Tower — Last Week's Crisis du Jour

But was it really? With Japan sinking and Libya exploding, the press still had a field day with a midshift controller nodding off in the Reagan National tower, as if Randy Babbitt really needs this on his desk. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli argues that throwing more people at the problem is just featherbedding, but Mary Grady says you can't beat Mother Nature: Circadian rhythms mean that nobody can be expected to be fully alert at 3am.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: "I'm Sorry, Dave; I'm Afraid I Can't Do That"

Could your audio panel one day tell you that? Even if your name's not Dave, Garmin's new GTN products with voice recognition in the wings brings that classic line from 2001: A Space Odyssey to mind. In the latest installment of the AVweb Insider blog (and two accompanying videos), Paul Bertorelli reports on his impressions of these sophisticated new avionics. It might not necessarily change anything, but it opens the door to changing everything.

Read more and join the conversation.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Gregg Flying Service (Animas Air Park, Durango, CO)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Gregg Flying Service at Animas Air Park (00C) in Durango, Colorado.

AVweb reader Paul Leadabrand discovered how great Gregg can be when, "flying a 100mph Kitfox after a considerably long day, [he found] mountain passes closed and strong headwinds." That meant Paul wouldn't be able to make the FBO until long after they'd closed, but he couldn't just camp out overnight; his schedule was too tight. Here's what happened next:

To get an early morning departure for another long day, we would need a hangar, fuel, transportation, lodging — and dinner. I was able to relay to another aircraft landing, asking them to ask the FBO to stay open for our arrival. That was the last conversation I had for the next hour. Upon arrival — after dark and with the temperature below freezing — we were warmly met by FBO owner Del Gregg. He immediately squeezed into an already full hanger, gave us his extra vehicle, made us a hotel reservation using his locals-only discount at a wonderful downtown hotel (with a wide variety of late-night restaurants). The following morning, arriving at the FBO, we found our aircraft pulled out in the sun, engine heater plugged in, and fueled. Not to mention low-price fuel (as compared to the nearby commercial airport), this FBO offered the warmest welcome and professional service I've ever had, even driving a $10 million jet.

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

Video: Garmin GTN Series

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

At the 2011 Aircraft Electronics Association show in Reno, Garmin rolled out its long-awaited replacements for the GNS430/530 series. Garmin's Jim Alpiser gave AVweb the rundown on the new products, called the GTN650 and GTN750.

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Video: Garmin GTN Flight Trial

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

Garmin's new GTN navigators have some cool features like touchscreen control, voice recognition, and remote transponder and audio panel control. AVweb's Paul Bertorelli flew with Garmin engineer Grant Wittenborn to wring out the new products.

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Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Approach
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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

Are You Flying with a Continental PowerLink System?

If so, we would like to hear your impressions of the system for a follow-up article on this product, which Continental might be about to take another run at promoting. Drop us a line at pbertorelli@avweb.com, and we'll get back to you.

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.

ICAS Foundation's Kyle & Amanda Franklin Fund

Kyle & Amanda Franklin Fund || Click to Donate via the ICAS Foundation

The aviation community is coming together to help Kyle and Amanda Franklin get back on their feet and eventually back in the air after their mishap at Air Fiesta at the Brownsville/South Padre Island Airport. If you'd like to contribute, click on the banner at right to visit the ICAS Foundation web site.

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

ATIS was being implemented in the late 1960s, and many pilots were not yet aware of it. While making practice instrument approaches at San Jose International Airport in California, I overheard the following exchange:

Cessna 1234:
"San Jose Tower, Cessna 1234. Ten south, landing San Jose."

SJC Tower:
"Cessna 1234, do you have information Hotel?"


SJC Tower:
"Cessna 1234, do you have information Hotel?"

[more silence]

Cessna 1234:
"Ahhh, no thanks. We're staying with friends."

John Forker
via e-mail

Heard Anything Funny on the Radio?

Heard anything funny, unusual, or downright shocking on the radio lately? If you've been flying any length of time, you're sure to have eavesdropped on a few memorable exchanges. The ones that gave you a chuckle may do the same for your fellow AVweb readers. Share your radio funny with us, and, if we use it in a future "Short Final," we'll send you a sharp-looking AVweb hat to sport around your local airport. No joke.

Click here to submit your original, true, and previously unpublished story.

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.