AVwebFlash - Volume 17, Number 15a

April 11, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Martin Jetpack Flies Solo back to top 

Pilotless Martin Jetpack Flies Seven Minutes

The Martin Jetpack flew for more than seven minutes and at altitudes of more than 100 feet last week but there was a dummy at the controls. The New Zealand company put a mannequin onboard and flew the ducted-fan VTOL ultralight aircraft by remote control in the first publicized glimpse of what the device might be capable of doing. Company officials said the remote-control flight was mandated by the rigid safety protocol that aims to make the Jetpack the "safest and easiest-to-fly aircraft" available. It's been more than two years since the device, which uses a high-revving two-stroke engine to power the fans, was demonstrated at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Although it has taken orders, the company is still not firmly predicting delivery dates for the $100,000 machine.

In fact, the company says it's working on a military version and the consumer edition will follow that. "It is in the final stages of research and development to meet early interest from the defence and civil defence sectors," the company says on its web site. It will be 2012 or later before the recreational version is ready.

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Napping Controllers in the News back to top 

Second Controller Caught Snoozing

The FAA says it's moving forward to fire a controller caught sleeping on the job at Knoxville's McGhee Tyson Airport in February. According to the Washington Post, the incident was revealed on Wednesday when FAA administrator Randy Babbitt was testifying before a House transportation subcommittee. Babbitt told the committee he learned of it shortly after the widely publicized incident at Washington's Reagan Airport when a supervisor nodded off while working a midshift.

Knoxville has a so-called "up and down" facility, with a tower controller in the cab and an approach controller in the radar room in a floor below. According to Babbitt, when the radar controller went to sleep, the tower controller covered for him. Evidently, according to ABC News, the controller didn't just nod off but made himself a comfy bed using cushions and a blanket from the break room. Pilots inbound to Knoxville complained that they couldn't get a response on the approach control frequency.

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JA Air Center — Aurora Municipal Airport — KARR
Dramatic Safety Issues: NTSB Weighs In back to top 

NTSB Prelim On G650 Crash

The NTSB has released its preliminary report on the crash last week at Roswell International Air Center Airport, N.M., of a Gulfstream GVI (G650) that killed all four aboard, and Gulfstream has suspended flight activities of its four remaining GVI jets. The NTSB says the jet was performing a takeoff with simulated engine failure and minimum flap settings at the time of the accident. Gulfstream says the accident aircraft had accumulated 425 hours since February 2010 and the GVI test fleet has accumulated 1570 hours to date. Certification and production work will continue, according to the company. Prior to the accident, first deliveries were expected sometime next year. No changes to that schedule have been announced. Gulfstream says it will provide any updates regarding the accident "appropriate with the pace of the investigation." The NTSB's investigation confirms the accident aircraft was engulfed in flame before it stopped.

The NTSB says wingtip scrape marks begin on the runway 5,300 feet from the end of the runway and "lead toward" the jet's final location about 3,800 feet farther away and 200 feet from the tower. According to witnesses, the aircraft was fully involved in fire while sliding across the ground and the NTSB confirms it struck several obstructions before it stopped. Airport rescue and fire crews "responded quickly," according to the NTSB, but all four aboard, all Gulfstream employees with ages ranging from 47 to 64, years perished. The G650 has a price tag of $64 million and has earned about 200 orders. It has been involved in flight tests since November 2009. Gulfstream says the jet will be the fastest civil airplane, carrying as many as 18 passengers at speeds up to 0.925 Mach. Configured for long-range operation, the jet can fly for 7,000 nm nonstop. Find the NTSB's preliminary report here. (PDF)

Related Content:

NTSB: No Smoke Or Fire Evident In New Orleans Airbus Emergency

It appeared at first that an onboard fire had led to the emergency landing at New Orleans, on April 4, of United Airlines' Flight 497, an Airbus A-320, but investigators announced Thursday they had no evidence to support that. According to the NTSB, shortly after takeoff an automated system warned the crew of smoke in the equipment bay. But "preliminary examination has not revealed any signs of burning, indications of smoke or other anomalous system findings," according to the NTSB. Plus, the agency says neither the captain or copilot recalled smelling smoke or fumes during the flight and pre-interview reports suggest the cabin crew didn't smell or see smoke, either. What we know is that the aircraft had issued an autothrottle-related message, followed by the avionics smoke warning, which included instructions to land. The captain says he followed the relevant checklist, which led him to shut down some of the aircraft's electrical systems. And then things got more interesting.

After following the checklist, the first officer's displays were blank, the automated messages disappeared, the cockpit-to-cabin intercom didn't work and the air-driven emergency generator deployed. The captain took control of the aircraft and turned back for New Orleans, requesting Runway 10/28, the airport's longest runway. Controllers told the crew the runway was unavailable due to the presence of maintenance vehicles. The flight ultimately landed on Runway 19, from which it had departed 12 minutes earlier, but not before the crew's declaration that "we've lost all our instruments." The aircraft landed safely, but the nosewheel departed the left side of the runway. Passengers were evacuated via the aircraft's slides. The NTSB will be conducting formal interviews of cabin crew, poring over cockpit voice recordings and sifting through more than 25 hours of information from the aircraft's flight data recorder.

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Another New Home for Popular Jet back to top 

SJ30 Changes Hands Through Bankruptcy

Emivest Aerospace Corp., formerly Sino Swearingen, won approval from a bankruptcy court Thursday to sell its assets to MT LLC at a deep discount, leaving the future of the struggling SJ30 business jet program temporarily in question. MT's total cost appears to be $5.2 million, made up of a $3.5 million purchase price and $1.7 million in liabilities. It was the best available offer. Emivest vice president, Mark Fairchild, has said he expects MT "to maintain Emivest as a jet manufacturer of the SJ30." But specific plans had not been announced prior to our deadline, though they may become available as early as this week. Until then, anything is possible and not all the speculation has been positive.

Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia offered his doubts Thursday, stating that he believes it's unlikely MT will be taking up production of the SJ30. Aboulafia told MySanAntonio.com, "The level of resources brought to the table here is less than one percent of what's required." According to Aboulafia, the approved price of Emivest's assets suggests that MT will be selling what it acquires and not reviving the program. Meanwhile, Emivest's new owner, MT, is reportedly associated with the owner of Metalcraft Technologies Inc. Metalcraft is an aerospace parts manufacturer based in Utah that has produced parts for Boeing and other major manufacturers -- along with the tail section of the SJ30 and other SJ30 components. If MT does choose to move ahead with the SJ30, they will find themselves in possession of what is effectively a brand-new company free from debt and ownership issues, acquired at a deep discount. They'll have a fully certified aircraft, intimacy with the design and a large amount of inventory. More information may be available very soon.

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Click here to learn more.
Greenbacks Power Green Innovation back to top 

NASA Awards Green Grants

NASA is crystal balling about the future shape and performance of airplanes and has awarded more than $16.5 million in research grants to four organizations with specific goals to make flight leaner, greener and more lightning-resistant. Of course, $16.5 million won't result in any flyable developments but NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in Washington says the wind-tunnel models and computer projections could result in technologies that will fly 20 to 30 years from now. "NASA refers to this time period as N+3, representing technology three generations more advanced than what is in service today," the agency said in a news release.

Boeing gets $8.8 million to look into Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft (SUGAR) that will use truss-based wing designs and hybrid electric engines. MIT was awarded $4.6 million to continue with its double bubble airliner design it says can cut fuel burn by 70 percent and provide a roomier ride for 180 pax. Cessna is looking into an aircraft coating called STAR-C2 that will protect against impact and other types of damage and also provide obvious visual evidence of damage. It will also protect against lightning. Northrop Grumman's project is to try to design high-lift wing leading edges without slats, which will cut noise and improve efficiency. That research is worth $1.2 million.

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Kyle & Amanda Franklin back to top 

Franklin Crash Investigation Update

Investigators have found anomalies with a fuel servo on Kyle and Amanda Franklin's Waco UPF-7 biplane as they probe the March 12 crash landing and fire. The 1940 biplane was powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-985. That engine was supplied by Tulsa Aircraft Engines, which is one of the few outfits that specialize in repairing the type. The NTSB chose the company's facility to host its examination of the engine. It found that the engine itself may have been capable of functioning normally prior to impact, but investigators couldn't say the same for the fuel servo.

"It didn't come within specifications on a couple of settings," NTSB investigator Aaron Sauer told Oklahoma's NewsOn6.com. That means the investigation will continue on to Precision Airmotive, which acquired Bendix Corporation (and its fuel servos) in 1988. The engine may not be completely off the hook yet, because its bottom two cylinders were damaged during impact and were replaced so that the engine could be started and tested. The crash injured both Kyle and Amanda, mainly when fire spread after impact. Kyle was able to escape but reached into the fire while attempting to free his wife, who was trapped in the forward cockpit. Kyle has since been discharged from the hospital, but his wife is still there, recovering from third-degree burns that cover 70 percent of her body.

Fans and well-wishers can donate via ICAS to the Kyle & Amanda Fund by clicking here.

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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 

AVmail: April 11, 2011

Each week, we run a sampling of the letters received to our editorial inbox here in AVmail. One letter that's particularly relevant, informative, or otherwise compelling will headline this section as our "Letter of the Week," and we'll send the author an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you" for interacting with us (and the rest of our readership). Send us your comments and questions using this form. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail (just in case your letter is our "Letter of the Week"); by the same token, please let us know if your message is not intended for publication.

Letter of the Week: Impromptu Not Necessarily Improper

The "Question of the Week" really doesn't match the heading. Impromptu off-airport landings don't automatically translate to "landing where you shouldn't."

The guy in New York should get his ticket suspended for a while at least for the simple reason that he misled ATC and (by extension) the emergency responders.

However, what isn't clear in all the noise in the media is what regulations, laws, etc. were violated in the landing. Was the beach closed to aircraft by regulation? Was the landing dangerous due to people nearby?

If the answers to the above questions are yes, then this impromptu landing should not have been made, and the pilot should be doubly scrutinized for misleading ATC. However, all "impromptu" off-airport landings don't trigger these issues. In many areas where I fly, the land is publicly owned, not closed to aviation activities, and, as long as one's skill and aircraft are suitable, off-airport landings are one of the really enjoyable aspects of flying.

Clyde Lewis

Lessons to Be Learned

Thanks for posting the ATC recording of James Maloney, the 24-year-old pilot who landed on Rockaway Beach. I hope he does learn from this and grow in wisdom as a result.

I also hope the FAA pulls no punches. His gross misconduct, disrespectful radio style, and reckless disregard for his passengers, the beach-going public, and the GA community have all earned him a special place outside the flying community. The only positive is that, in a short ATC recording, he has given flight instructors a wealth of counter examples with which to teach!

Peter Tebault

Controller in Control

Just a kudo to the controller who handled the Warrior landing on the beach. He immediately checked to see if everyone was O.K., then advised the pilot of his options. This is the kind of help pilots want to have available when they need it. No fuss, no drama — just tell me everyone is O.K., and then we'll go from there. Great job!

John Aldridge

Back in the 1960s, when I sold aircraft for Cutter Aviation in ABQ, we frequently landed on dirt roads at various places in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah as it was legal, as long as you did not interfere with traffic. In Texas it was illegal to land on paved farm roads, so you could only land there if you knew you could hide the airplane out of sight of the road, usually behind a barn or house.

The guy in NYC was an idiot and won't be flying for a while.

Carl Martin Gritzmaker

Intercept Was the Right Choice

The history of aircraft accidents resulting from incapacitated crews coupled with heightened security measures nationwide seem to support the actions of the controller and the Southwest crew, and they should be commended, not suspended, for their cooperative spirit in determining the well-being of another flight.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt needs to remember from whence he came and whom he serves and get a grip on what he should know as a former pilot — that the maneuver was not inherently dangerous [and] was potentially life-saving and [that] the airport in DC does not need a nighttime tower.

George Horn

To chastise a controller for having an airborne asset check on an airplane not responding to radio calls fails the smell test. It borders on the ridiculous to discourage controllers from seeking help from aviators who are competent to sight another airplane and fly close enough to assess a problem.

The same comment applies in the case of the air crew. I am immensely grateful for those individuals — controllers and airmen — who look out for others who may need help. Nearness among airplanes is not dangerous in and of itself. Witness the thousands of formation flights that occur everyday.

Jim Tyson

"Synthetic" Fuel Old Technology

Did you ever get the impression that it's easier to re-invent the wheel than look for something that's already in existence and proven to work?

Well, it's that story again regarding fuel for GA and octane rating boosters. I think it's great we have people interested in finding answers to our problems, but it's so disturbing to know it's a waste of time.

The oil companies know how to produce fuel of all octaines, and they are not limited to gasoline only. They can produce jet fuel and diesel, lubricating oil, paraffin, and every other chemical we use now from crude oil from coal and natural gas, using the Fischer-Tropsch method. This is a known and proven method of production of synthetic fuel in use since 1937. It also produces linear alpha olefin, the lead substitute produced by Ethyl Corp., Gulf, Chevron, Phillips Chemical Co., and Shell Oil.

This system is in use now in South Africa, Russia, China, and in the United States. (We use it in small amounts to satisfy the experimental programs by the United States Air Force.)

The first international Gas Technology Conference held in Moscow in September 2009 was attended and participated in by Shell Oil, Flur, Foster Wheeler, Chevron, Exxon/Mobil, Honeywell, etc. The conference was held to help Russia improve its domestic production and international sales of the synthetic fuel they have been producing since 1947.

As a word of explanation, the Germans proved it could fuel its military, including Me-109s and FW-190s that operated at 30,000 feet.

Herbert Yuttal

Fueling the Fear of Flying

What am I missing in the pilot decline/avgas discussion? Why would the average GA piston person be enthusiastic about learning to fly and buying old or new airplanes with the continuing uncertainty about the cost and availability of fuel? I think this is a major problem, if not the main impediment to an economically healthy GA community. Statements that avgas isn't going away soon certainly don't make me comfortable. We need a solution, and we need it now. Just some certainty would go a long way, even if the cost is high.

Jeff Whittle

King Air Fit for a Governor

Former [New Mexico] Gov. Bill Richardson bought the state's Citation Bravo to fulfill his ambition to run for President, not to get around the state.

He already had a King Air, which is eminently better suited for in-state travel. I am a pilot in Albuquerque and understand the absolute need for airplane use in business and government. The purchase of the Citation was excessive spending in a state that can ill afford it.

Thomas Baker

As to how the new Governor will get around New Mexico without a personal jet, how about like I do, in a Cesnna 210 which can actually land and take off at all the airports in the state?

Arturo Thompson

SNF Patrons in a Jam

Air shows like AirVenture and Sun 'n Fun benefit many people in many various ways. They're fun for everyone interested in aviation. They also allow vendors to showcase their products to potential customers, and they allow non-aviation people to be introduced to aviation.

I am a member of AOPA [and] EAA and subscribe to AVweb. I am constantly being told that we need to involve more of the non-flying public with aviation.

My YouTube video is more than minutes long, boring, and sad. It is just a seven-minute drive past all the cars waiting to get into Sun 'n Fun.

In the video I suggest that we could have two to three times as many people attend Sun 'n Fun if we could get them in faster. Certainly getting them inside by 10am would be better than getting them inside later in the afternoon. This would give them more time to visit more vendors.

One effect of eliminating the long lines is that there would be a higher percentage of visitors who are only mildly interested in aviation. The most interested visitors arrive by plane or know to get there at dawn.

I think that letting anyone and everyone visit our flying world can only be a good thing. Ultimately there will be more people flying, and, yes, more jets will get sold (10 years on).

Fixing the problem is easy: Open up more gates to the parking area. You may have to create a new gate and "road" from the new gate. Lay down gravel on the dirt roads. If possible, open up another area for parking. Instruct the people who direct the cars to parking to wave on anyone going slow (anyone with a large gap between them and the car ahead of them). To see why this is necessary, go to SlowerTrafficKeepRight.com and read the paragraph on how milliseconds add up to gridlock. Of course we want safety, but some people nod off while driving the last 500 feet and need to be prodded.

Next, we need to triple the number of windows that are selling tickets. I am serious about the triple part. If you just fix the parking problem then the "waiting in line to get a ticket" problem will become painfully obvious.

I am sending this e-mail because I am hoping that you know people in high places (those who can make these changes) and will alert them to the missed opportunity. Feel free to use my video as you wish.

Steve Wood

Sun 'n Fun Replies:

As I suspected, the video was made on Friday at 2pm, which is the peak time for entry into the parking area (immediately prior to the afternoon air show). While well-intentioned, the person who made this video seems to be quite uninformed. He fails to understand or fully incorporate into his video the fact that Sun 'n Fun was hit by a tornado and torrential rains the previous day. One of his suggestions is to "open up more gates to the parking area." The fact is that we already have more gates, but two-thirds of them were made inoperative for Friday only by the tornado and heavy rains from Thursday. By Saturday, after a great deal of work and expense (hauling in crushed rock and gravel, grading throughout the day and night, etc.), traffic flow went back to its normal operation, and the long delays from Thursday were eliminated.

We appreciate Mr. Wood's attempt to help. I wish he would have elected to visit us on Saturday or Sunday rather than the one day we experienced horrific traffic problems as a result of horrific weather the day before.

John Burton
Sun 'n Fun CEO

You're Welcome

Thanks for my daily AVweb e-mail. It keeps me abreast of major events in the industry. I look forward to reading it every day. It's habit-forming.

Gerald Ward

Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own Letter to the Editor with this form.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: A New York State of Reality

The young pilot who landed his Warrior on Rockaway Beach in New York said he got the idea from a television program about flying in Alaska. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli takes a quick look at why that's wrong on so many levels.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Podcast: Sun 'n Fun 2011 — Avemco's Jim Lauerman at the Eye of the Storm

File Size 10.0 MB / Running Time 10:53

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

When a tornado hit Sun 'n Fun this year, Avemco Insurance was sure to be in the middle of it, one way or another. It just so happened that, in this case, Avemco president Jim Lauerman very nearly was. AVweb's Glenn Pew spoke with Lauerman about coverage, claims, and calamity. And you may be surprised about how pilots can safeguard their aircraft and the reasons their coverage might be denied.

Click here to listen. (10.0 MB, 10:53)

Video: Martin Jetpack — Latest Tests

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

Development of the Martin Jetpack is continuing in New Zealand, and the latest publicly released video shows it reaching new heights. However, that's a mannequin onboard and not a human pilot.

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

Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Approach
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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Great Lakes Flight Centre (CYQG, Windsor, Ontario, Canada)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Great Lakes Flight Centre at Windsor International Airport (CYQG) in Windsor, Ontario.

AVweb reader Jeff Lehman discovered the stellar service at GLFC on on his back from Sun 'n Fun:

We were just ahead of some unpleasant weather. (The tornado was long behind us!) As we headed north, we needed to find an FBO after hours so that we could clear customs. After several calls and being unsuccessful at several FBOs, we found Chris at Great Lakes Flight Center in Windsor, Ontario. Not only did he confirm reasonable fuel prices and customs availability, but he offered to stay late (over two hours) so we could arrive that night and stay ahead of the weather. Upon arrival, Chris cheerfully welcomed us and, after clearing customs, promptly fuelled us up and made hotel arrangements. After this, he offered to drive us to the hotel and then come back to tie down the airplanes. We insisted that we help secure the airplanes, and he drove us to the hotel before he admitted he still had to head back to do a few things. Chris and Great Lakes deserve recognition for great service and for going above and beyond.

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!

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Heard over Oakland Center frequency in northern California:

"Bonanza 123G: Report Chico in sight for the visual approach."

Bonanza 123G:
"Roger. Looking ... ."

[Several minutes pass.]

Bonanza 123G:
"Bonanza 123G has Chico in sight."


Bonanza 123G:
"Still looking for the airport, though."

Zack Brown
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.)

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