AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 17, Number 13f

April 2, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
More Comfort - More Quiet - More Clarity || See the New Zulu at 
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AVflash! Unique (Scary) View for SWA Pax back to top 

Southwest In-Flight Fuselage Rupture (With Video)

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Southwest Airlines Flight 812, a Boeing 737 carrying about 118 people out of Phoenix for Sacramento, Friday, diverted to Yuma Marine Corps air station in Arizona after an in-flight fuselage rupture caused rapid decompression at 36,000 feet. Passengers who called in to local news stations said a six foot long gash opened with a loud bang in the top of the cabin. They said the sky was visible through the opening and that some passengers lost consciousness during the rapid descent to 11,000 feet. According to Southwest, a flight attendant was the only one aboard to have suffered an injury. One passenger who saw the flight attendant speculated that the crewmember may have broken his nose. The NTSB has sent a Go Team to investigate the fuselage rupture.

Video showing the extent of the damage to the 15-year-old Boeing 737-300 was posted to Youtube shortly after the event and at least one passenger posted to twitter pictures of the damage. Several incidents of structural failure leading to a loss of cabin pressure have occurred on U.S. airliners in recent years, including an October 2010 incident involving an American Airlines flight and a Southwest flight in July of 2009. In 1988, a Boeing 737 operated by Aloha Airlines lost a flight attendant when a 20-foot section of fuselage tore away at 24,000 feet. Sixty-one passengers were also injured in that event, which was blamed in large part on metal fatigue.

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Sun 'n Fun: After the Storm, Business as Usual back to top 

NWS Confirms: Lakeland Airport Hit By Tornado

The National Weather Service confirmed in a report released on Friday that a category EF-1 tornado hit the Lakeland airport on Thursday about noon time. The tornado had top winds estimated at 95 mph, a path length of just over a half mile, and a path width of about 30 to 40 yards. The NWS report also confirmed the impact of 70 to 75 mph "downburst thunderstorm severe straight-line winds," with the tornado impacting the west end of the runway about 12:05 p.m. The full NWS report is available online (PDF).

Related Content:

Storm Aftermath: Getting Back To Normal (Almost)

In the main exhibit area at Sun 'n Fun, most airplanes came through Thursday's storm unscathed, but a few suffered minor dings, and a few others were totaled. At Cessna, a couple of airplanes ended up with cracked fairings, where they apparently were hit by flying debris, but for the most part, a little extra mulch was laid down and by Friday morning the exhibit was back to normal, though muddy in spots. Over at Piper, they were not so lucky. Late in the morning, the exhibit was roped off with yellow tape while awaiting examination by insurance folks. A battered orange Rans S-7 that had blown over from the neighboring exhibit sat askew among the Pipers. "We rode it out, with people in our tent and in the mock-up trailer," Piper spokesman Randy Groom told AVweb on Friday. "It got very noisy in the tent, but everyone is safe. Some neighboring aircraft pulled out of their tie-downs and hit our airplanes." It all looks to be minor damage, he said. He was hoping to have the tent open for visitors by Friday afternoon, and everything back to normal by later in the day, or Saturday morning.

At Cirrus, the airplanes were fine. "We were lucky that the airplanes downwind of us [Embraer's Phenoms] were too heavy to blow over into our airplanes," said Debbie Breemeersch. At Rans, there were two S-7s on display, and both suffered extensive damage. The one in the Piper exhibit was probably a total loss, said Michele Miller, of the sales team. The blue one might be okay if the fuselage isn't bent. "The sad thing is, these were both pristine airplanes, that were on loan to us for display from customers," she said. They were both tied down and had been checked that day, she said, but when the storm came "they just popped out like a cork from a bottle." The company airplanes had been delayed getting to the field because of the weather earlier in the week. Those airplanes should be on display for the weekend, she said.

AVweb Insider Blog: The Show Will Go On

AVweb staff have been on-site at Sun 'n Fun all week, including Thurday's shockingly destructive storm. As he dries out from the ordeal, editor-in-chief Russ Niles has one thought he wants to share via the AVweb Insider blog: Come out and support the show this weekend. Friday's forecast calls for sunny skies, and the volunteers have been hard at work cleaning up the mess and putting things back on track for the weekend. We'll be here, and we hope you'll join us for a weekend of, well — sun and fun.

Read more and join the conversation.

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Gold Watch Club Gets a New Member back to top 

Rutan Set To Retire

Burt Rutan announced through a November 2010 Scaled Composites press release his plans to retire in April, 2011, and that day has come ... but there may be at least one more aircraft up his sleeve before he goes. Rutan's career began in earnest in 1974, with a $15,000 loan from his father and an idea to build a more efficient, more affordable aircraft. By 1975, his VariEze arrived on the homebuilt scene. Thirty-six years later he's known as the man who designed Voyager, the piston-engine aircraft that flew around the world, unrefueled; and SpaceShipOne, the first privately produced manned vehicle to reach space. At 67 years of age at least 45 of his designs have been built and flown. And at least five of them have been put on display at the Smithsonian. Rutan has set markers of achievement that have been recognized well beyond the circles of aircraft builders, pilots and the aviation community that calls him one of their own. He was set to retire quietly, as early as Friday, but has publicly stated we'd see one more design before he does.

Rutan, currently a Mojave, CA, native, told an audience at a local high school fundraiser, "there will be one more Burt Rutan design before I retire in April. I can't tell you anything about it until it's flying." Rutan's previous designs have earned him the FAI Gold Medal, the Collier Trophy, and the Society of Test Pilots' Doolittle Trophy. He's also earned the Presidential Citizens Medal. His Voyager is on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum where it shares space with the Wright Flyer and Spirit of St. Louis. Rutan stepped down from his duties as company president at Scaled in 2008, after open-heart surgery, but still played an active roll at the company. After his departure, Scaled, which now employs roughly 350 people, will continue to be headed by its current president, Douglas B. Shane. Rutan and his wife plan to retire to Idaho on a property by a lake.

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Bombardier: "Recession? What Recession?" back to top 

Bombardier Business Boom

Strong demand from the corporate sector, plus interest from emerging countries and high-net-worth individuals translated to a sharp rise in fourth quarter profits at Bombardier that have so far continued in 2011. The company earned 88 net orders in the last quarter of 2010 and most (74) were for business jets. That compares to 33 orders, including just seven for business jets, placed during the same period just one year prior. The surge was followed this year by an order for 50 aircraft from NetJets. Executives at the company forecast that 2011 should bring 150 orders, in total. If the company's recent good fortune serves as a bellwether for others, that forecast may do as much to lift spirits as the outlook from some market analysts.

CIBC World Markets analyst Michael Willemse recently published that, "continued strength in emergeing market economies (parcticularly China and the Middle East) is expected to result in strong international demand for business jets." Within those markets, long-range, large business jets are preferred, says Willemse. The orders recorded by Bombardier in the fourth quarter caused a surge in earnings, which jumped to $325 million and nearly doubled's the previous year's $175 million.

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AVweb Audio — Are You Listening? back to top 

Podcast: AOPA's Flight Training Retention Roadshow

File Size 5.8 MB / Running Time 6:20

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Aviation's Booth at Sun 'n Fun (Booth #D51)

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

On the heels of a study that revealed opportunities to increase the number of flight students who complete their training, AOPA is holding input sessions in six cities in the coming year. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with AOPA's Jennifer Storm.

This podcast is brought to you by WxWorx XM WX Satellite Weather and Lightspeed Aviation.

Click here to listen. (5.8 MB, 6:20)

Podcast: Sun 'n Fun Rallies Back from Storm

File Size 6.9 MB / Running Time 7:31

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Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Within 18 hours of a devastating tornado-packing thunderstorm that caused millions of dollars of damage, Sun 'n Fun attendees could barely notice. AVweb's Mary Grady spoke with SNF President John Burton about how many hands did a lot of work to make that happen.

This podcast is brought to you by Aspen Avionics and Bose Corporation.

Click here to listen. (6.9 MB, 7:31)

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

Video: Liberty's New Rotax Option

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

We always enjoy a visit to the Liberty Aerospace display at an air show — but at Sun 'n Fun, we found a little something unexpected. What's that Liberty XL2 doing with a Rotax engine (912F) instead of the trusty Lycoming IO-240? CEO Keith Markley explains why they're getting the Rotax STC'd for Asian markets — and (no surprise here) it's down to fuel.

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This video is brought to you by Aspen Avionics and Bose Corporation.

Video: Hawker Beechcraft's Improved King Air 250

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Aviation's Booth at Sun 'n Fun (Booth #D51)

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

It's good to be King. But when you're the King Air 250, your challenge is staying modern and finding ways to improve history's most successful turboprop. In this video, Don Mercer explains how Hawker Beechcraft has discreetly improved the 250.

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This video is brought to you by WxWorx XM WX Satellite Weather and Lightspeed Aviation.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Airliners as Interceptors — Not a Good Idea

Or, if it is, Paul Bertorelli couldn't make the case in his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog. When ATC decided to vector a Southwest 737 to have a look at a NORDO Cirrus this week near Jacksonville, the incident exploded into yet another you've-got-to-be-kidding hairball rolling across Randy Babbitt's desk. If it weren't for bad luck, the man would have no luck at all — but we're wondering: What the heck is next? At least tower and ground now appear to be awake and alert at DCA.

Read more and join the conversation.

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.

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The Franklins: How to Help back to top 

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.

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

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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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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.

Where to Find Our Sponsors at Sun 'n Fun 2011

B-001-009Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co.
Aspen Avionics
C-055-056Avemco Insurance
SNF-009Bose Corporation
Cessna Aircraft
N-083, N-088Conoco-Phillips Aviation Lubricants
Diamond Aircraft
Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)
A-065General Aviation Modifications, Inc. (GAMI)
D-082Hilton Software (WingX)
B-042JP Instruments
D-051-053Lightspeed Aviation
D-039-042Lycoming Engines
A-020-021RMS Technology
C-024WxWorx XM WX Satellite Weather