AVwebFlash - Volume 17, Number 16b

April 21, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Focus on Safety back to top 

NTSB: GA Fatalities Decline For 2010

The NTSB Wednesday released its preliminary annual aviation statistics for 2010, and while U.S. scheduled Part 121 airlines and Part 135 commuters suffered zero recorded fatalities, GA's numbers, though improved, were less fortunate. Year over year, general aviation accidents declined. Out of 1435 GA accidents in 2010, 267 were fatal, resulting in 450 deaths, including three on the ground. On-demand operators, a category that includes medical, charter, air taxi, and air tour flights, saw an overall decrease in accidents from 47 in 2009 to 31 in 2010, but that trend went against the segment's fatality statistics. On-demand operators suffered an increase from two fatal accidents in 2009 to six in 2010.

U.S. general aviation logged 20.9 million flight hours in 2010, according to the NTSB, and recorded 6.86 accidents per 100,000 hours. Fatalities for the segment were recorded as 1.27 per 100,000 flight hours. That tops the charts. On-demand operations recorded 1.05 accidents per 100,000 flight hours with a corresponding fatality rate of 0.2. That accident rate bests that of commuter operations, which recorded 1.899 accidents per 100,000 hours but left no fatalities. You can review the report yourself online, here.

Safety Efforts Aim To Reach Volunteer Pilots

A new online course addressing safety issues for pilots who fly medical transport flights for charity should be ready by later this summer, Air Care Alliance President Lindy Kirkland said Saturday at the group's annual meeting, in Providence, R.I. The course is one step the ACA is taking to address safety recommendations issued by the NTSB last year in response to several fatal accidents that occurred in 2007 and 2008. The 45-minute course, which is being developed with support from AOPA's Air Safety Institute, should be ready in time for EAA AirVenture in July, Kirkland said. He also said more than 200 volunteer pilots attended a "safety stand-down" hosted by the NTSB last month at its training center in Ashburn, Va.

Those attending the ACA conference also heard a report about a major upgrade in the works for the alliance's website, which will help make it easier for those in need to find help, while also reducing the workload for the volunteer organizations. The new site should be up and running sometime later this year. Also, Jeffrey Kahn, a volunteer with ACA, reported that the House and Senate have both passed different versions of an amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill that would provide some liability protection for volunteer pilots. However, differences in the two amendments still must be worked out before a final version of the bill is agreed on, he said.

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Next Generation Power back to top 

Swift Fuel Tested In Beechcraft Duke

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Swift Enterprises is testing its alternative aviation fuel in an unmodified twin-engine Beechcraft Duke in Europe. The airplane took off for the first time with Swift Fuel on April 10 and was on display last week at the Aero Friedrichshafen trade show in Germany. "The B60 Beechcraft Duke is an excellent platform to demonstrate Swift Fuel because the engines require high-octane fuel," said Mary-Louise Rusek, president of Swift Enterprises. "Many general aviation aircraft demand higher octane levels, which 100LL provides. Swift Fuel can meet those octane needs, and lead emissions are eliminated." The Duke is test-flying with standard fuel in the left engine and Swift Fuel in the right engine; watch a a short video of the aircraft's first takeoff in Europe at right.

Swift Enterprises, based in West Lafayette, Ind., has been working with researchers at the Purdue Research Park to develop a drop-in alternative fuel replacement for 100LL that will allow general aviation engines to run efficiently without using leaded fuel. Researchers conducted flight tests of the fuel last year in a Beechcraft Duchess. Swift's fuel is derived from a variety of biological sources.

Lindbergh Prize Goes To Pipistrel

Pipistrel's Taurus Electro won the 2011 Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize for "best electric aircraft" at the Aero Friedrichshafen trade show last week in Germany. The prize, awarded by Erik Lindbergh's nonprofit group, recognized the Electro's "plug and play" electric power system, enhanced by solar panels on the aircraft trailer that allow the system to recharge using clean energy. "The integration and safety features are excellent and can serve as a model for industry standards for electric aircraft," according to LEAP. The prize aims to encourage innovators through recognition, but no cash is awarded. The two finalists for the prize were the Hugues Duval electric Cri-Cri and the Sunseeker II solar airplane.

Pipistrel said in a news release it was proud of the award and hopes it will help to change the perception of electric aircraft as "just expensive toys for environmentalist pilots." The Electro is offered at the same price and with the same performance as its petrol-engine counterpart, the company said. Also recognized by the LEAP awards at Aero were the LZ Design Front Engine Sustainer system, for best electric propulsion, and the Solar Impulse team for outstanding achievement. The LZ Design system is featured on the Alisport Silent 2 Electro self-launching sailplane, and uses battery packs to power a small folding prop mounted on the nose. Bertrand Piccard and the Solar Impulse team are working to build a solar-powered electric airplane and fly it around the world. EAA is sponsoring an Electric Flight Prize to be awarded at AirVenture in July, with $60,000 in cash prizes.

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Channel Flyer Channels Evel Knievel back to top 

Jetman Meets Grand Canyon, May 6?

Weather permitting, Friday May 6, Yves Rossy, strapped to his roughly six-foot, four micro-turbine-powered, carbon composite wing will make his attempt to negotiate a section of the Grand Canyon, in Arizona, according to Popular Science. The flight will reportedly take place somewhere in the Canyon's western area and could pass within 700 feet of spectators, but the exact route has not yet been announced. This flight, like Rossy's previous flights across the English Channel and over Lake Geneva, will launch from an aircraft and land via parachute. Rossy's rig and his control over it have evolved since he first flew the wing in 2006. In November of 2010, Rossy looped and rolled a 2-meter rig after jumping from a balloon at 7,875 feet. And we have the video to prove it.

Through its evolution, Rossy's rig has been powered by JetCat microturbines that together are capable of about 200 pounds of thrust. Not all of the "Jetman's" attempts have been successful. An early attempt to fly the Straight of Gibraltar in 2009 ended with a swim in the North Atlantic. For that trip, his rig was configured so that he could separate from the wings and parachute down without them, which is what he ended up doing. Rossy was rescued by helicopter from the sea and his rig was collected by the Spanish Coast Guard. The planned attempt in May will be Rossy's first U.S. flight.

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Skycar Takes to the Air back to top 

Moller Promises Skycar Flight Demo

Moller International's Skycar, which has been in development for decades, will be ready to fly at an invitation-only media event on Oct. 11, the company said this week. The M400, fueled by ethanol, will lift off in Vacaville, Calif. "The Skycar has the potential to provide an airborne alternative to a significant portion of the miles now traveled by automobile," the company says. It's powered by eight custom-built rotary engines. According to the company website, the four-seat M400 will be able to fly faster than 350 mph and will be safe, easy to handle, and fuel-efficient. The company said more than 250 members of the press "have already indicated an interest in attending this historic flight."

The Skycar design features four engine nacelles that swivel to provide vertical thrust for takeoff and landing, and horizontal thrust for level flight. It briefly hovered above the ground in a past unpiloted test, while tethered. Other operating specs, according to the company, include an operational ceiling of 36,000 feet and a maximum range of 750 miles. The aircraft can take off and land in an area of 35 feet diameter, the company says.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

ATC Supervisors Only For Obama, Biden Flights

The FAA has reportedly responded to the latest air traffic control SNAFU involving a plane carrying First Lady Michelle Obama by requiring flights carrying her and Vice President Joe Biden to be handled by supervisors rather than front-line controllers. A supervisor is already required to deal with Air Force One. In case you haven't heard, controllers at Andrews Air Force Base ordered a go around Monday evening of the First Lady's C-40, a military version of the Boeing 737 operated by a Guard unit, after it was handed off by the Potomac TRACON about three miles behind a C-17, instead of the required five miles. Officials were quick to point out that there was never any danger of collision and the go around was a precaution. The FAA is interested in knowing how the loss of separation occurred and the TRACON will undoubtedly be a busy place Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, the agency is also dealing with the suspension of a controller and supervisor in Cleveland after it was reported that the controller was watching a movie while on duty. "For a little more than three minutes, the controller's microphone was inadvertently activated, transmitting the soundtrack of the movie over the radio frequency for that airspace," the FAA said in a statement. The incident occurred shortly after midnight at the Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center. The controller was watching the movie on a portable electronic device while working a radar position, the FAA said. The stuck-mic problem was brought to the attention of ATC by the pilot of a military aircraft using an alternate frequency.

The FAA said the use of portable DVD players and other devices is prohibited on the floor of the radar room. FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt has been touring the nation this week with NATCA President Paul Rinaldi to promote professionalism among air traffic controllers and address the public's questions about sleeping controllers and air safety. The FAA has changed scheduling rules to ensure that controllers get a minimum of nine hours off between shifts. The FAA said it will also develop a fatigue education program to teach controllers the risks of fatigue and how to avoid it, and will commission an independent review of the air traffic control training curriculum and qualifications to make sure new controllers are properly prepared. NATCA said it will expand its Professional Standards program, which focuses on peer-to-peer education for controllers on how to maintain the highest degree of professional conduct.

Diamond May Lose Key Workers

Diamond Aircraft says other companies are snapping up engineers and other workers laid off three weeks ago when the London, Ontario, Canada planemaker suspended its D-Jet program. The company has run out of money to continue the development of the D-Jet and is waiting for a decision on a $35 million loan from the Canadian government. A total of 213 people were laid off and within a week, Piper held a job fair looking for engineers for its aggressive Altaire jet program. Piper spokeswoman Jackie Carlon told the London Free Press that as many as 25 engineers may be making the move from London to Vero Beach. Meanwhile, the Free Press is also reporting that Bombardier is rumored to have made offers to 85 workers for jobs on its Lear 85 development program in Wichita. Diamond CEO Peter Maurer said the brain drain will delay the D-Jet and add costs. "It is dire. We would lose employees. It is a difficult situation for everyone," he said.

Maurer's comments come a week after a war of words erupted between Diamond owner Christian Dries and the local member of Parliament over the fate of the loan and its potential impact on Diamond. MP Ed Holder said Dries threatened to close the London plant if the loan wasn't approved and make the announcement just before a May 2 federal election. Dries says Holder took his comments out of context and has denied threatening to close the plant. Holder has since reiterated his assessment of the discussion with Dries and he's sounding less enthusiastic about Diamond's request. Diamond has since asked the government for $8 million over the next four months as an interim measure, something the company believes could be handled by the bureaucracy rather than in the politically charged atmosphere of the election campaign. Holder has rejected that notion, however, saying the revised request must go through the same "due diligence" and suggesting the company look to the government of Ontario or the city of London for the $8 million. "Those might be avenues (to take)," Holder told the Free Press.

"New" Adam 500 In The Works

The new owner of assets of Adam Aircraft says he intends to certify an improved version of the A500 push/pull piston twin rather than resume manufacturing the aircraft under its existing certification. Thomas Hsueh, owner of Triton Aerospace, of Anacortes, Wash., told the Skagit Valley Herald he's not satisfied with the aircraft as it was certified and the new aircraft, as yet unnamed, will weigh 800 to 1,000 pounds less than the original. Hsueh said he's not happy about the recertification plan but it's the only alternative to get the airplane he wants and one he's sure has a "pent-up demand."

Hsueh said he's getting to work on the new aircraft immediately and hopes to have a flying prototype in six months. Among the items that came with the sale of assets is the full computerized design suite and all the associated intellectual property, so he's not starting at square one. He said the weight savings will come from "proper engineering," which he did not elaborate on. The goal is what Adam originally intended with the A500. "Well, I'm going to produce an airplane that, when it says six seats, you can carry six people and still go a decent distance," Hsueh said. Hsueh also has two disassembled A700 jets but they're likely to stay in mothballs for the foreseeable future if not indefinitely. "Right now I have no plans to continue them. So I'll just preserve them some place and decide what to do with [them]," he said.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: First Lady Airplane Fiasco

So, let's see: A Potomac TRACON controller hands the Andrews Tower a crappy sequence — like that's never happened in the history of aviation. Of course, of all the weeks to do that and of all the airplanes, it has to happen to First Lady Michelle Obama's C-40. The next thing you know, lead item on the evening news. Paul Bertorelli's not-so-suble message for your in our latest installment of hte AVweb Insider blog: People, get a grip.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Sun 'n Fun Tiedown Tests

When the tornado blew through Sun 'n Fun on April 7, it left a trail of overturned airplanes. Product tester that he is, Aviation Consumer editor-in-chief Paul Bertorelli immediately set about interviewing aircraft owners to find out which tie-downs were used where. After a couple weeks' of analysis of the data, he's concluded there are no definitive conclusions about which tie-down is best — but there are a lot of lessons to be learned. Paul shares a bit of that hard-won wisdom from Sun 'n Fun attendees in the latest installment of our 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: Government Overreaction?

Last week we took a whimsical approach to the whole sleep-on-duty issue, but we're dead serious this week. Is there a serious problem in the towers and the TRACONs, or is the government response to the latest round of errors ridiculous?

Is the government overreacting to isolated controller errors, or is there a serious problem to address?
(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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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.)

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

Video: Practicing Slam-Dunk Approaches with 'IFR' Magazine

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

Eventually, every instrument pilot gets a slam-dunk approach. IFR magazine's Jeff Van West explains how to practice for the slam to remove the guesswork and even add the high-speed technique to your instrument flying toolbox.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Atlantic Aviation (Philadelphia International Airport, KPHL)

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

AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Atlantic Aviation at Philadelphia International Airport (KPHL). Terry Carlson recently visited the FBO and shared his experience:

I visited KPHL for a business meeting in the City of Brotherly Love. I flew in ... with some reservations, since my Bonanza A-36 was no match for the serious jet traffic into and out of the city. But it was a joy, starting with approach control through ground control. All [were] professional and treated my Bonanza as though we were the Airbus landing on the parallel runway. [T]he real surprise was at Atlantic Aviation. While it was not cheap, the service was exceptional. Stephanie and Mary Ann arranged a conference room for us and treated us as though we just arrived on an empty Gulfstream [and were] buying a full load of fuel. Rental car was arranged, and when I had to leave early because of an emergency, they had my plane fueled and ready right up front. While it is not inexpensive, I will definitely come back to Atlantic Aviation at KPHL.

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!

Peter Drucker Says,
"The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It"

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The Franklins: How You Can 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.

Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 
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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