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|AVflash! Air France 447: Pilot Error
AIR FRANCE 447 PILOTS MISSED KEY INFORMATION
ahead of an official release of information expected Friday suggest that
content collected from the cockpit voice and data recorders of Air
France Flight 447 is building a case for pilot error. The investigation
has so far implicated pitot tubes, which may have fallen victim to icing
at 35,000 feet. But The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that
"people familiar with preliminary findings" say that while the pitots
did cause sensor malfunctions, cockpit displays functioned normally.
Problems with the Airbus A330's pitot tubes led to a series of
automation failures, disconnects, warnings and alarms for Flight 447.
The sources say that while the crew was working the series of problems,
they appear to have missed other essential information.
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FUEL MOVES FORWARD WITH ASTM STANDARD
which is working to create an alternative aviation fuel to replace
100LL, said this week it has taken "a large step" forward in the
approval process. ASTM International has published a new fuel
specification for Swift's UL102 high-octane unleaded test fuel. "This
will allow us to test every batch of a fuel to a standard, and verify
that it is all the same," PJ Catania, the head of fuels certification
for Swift, told AVweb on Monday. That consistency is important for
completing the next phase of testing, he said. It also will enable the
company to test the fuel in standard airplanes, rather than only
experimental aircraft, which will make it easier to gather large amounts
of data, Catania said. However, that phase of testing the fuel in
standard airplanes is still at least six months away.
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ADDRESSES TEST PROBLEMS
Flight instructors complained
when unannounced changes to FAA knowledge tests led to a spike in
student failures, and now the FAA has agreed to make changes in one test
and revise the grades of students who got some questions wrong.
Representatives of AOPA, the National Association of Flight Instructors,
several university aviation programs, and others met with the FAA in
Oklahoma City for two days earlier this month to discuss the problem.
The FAA said it will withdraw six questions from the test bank for the
Fundamentals of Instruction test, which is required for all applicants
for flight and ground instructor certificates, and will change the
grades of students who got the disputed questions wrong. The FAA will
also review an additional 12 questions that were identified as
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|Panthera Hybrid Stalks Just the Right
IS THIS THE PLANE TO CATCH?
The first aircraft from
Pipistrel's coming Panthera line will carry four people and full fuel
for more than 1000 nautical miles, with reserves, at 202 KTAS, while
burning 10 gallons per hour -- and it may be the least efficient of the
Panthera line. Pipistrel has plans to produce three versions of the
aircraft, including the previously described unleaded-ready Lycoming
IO-390-powered model; a Panthera Hybrid that includes a 145 kW
hybrid-electric powertrain (offering quiet, pure-electric takeoff and
landing); and a Panthera Electro, flying with a 145 kW pure-electric
system that targets a range of 215 nautical miles. Where the
pure-electric version offers apparent compromises, Pipistrel's
description of the Panthera Hybrid offers nothing of the kind.
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FINANCING ALTERNATIVES EXPLORED
Diamond Aircraft President
Peter Maurer says the company isn't ruling out anything, including
Chinese investment, to get the D-Jet to market. As AVweb
reported last week, the Canadian government turned down Diamond's
$35 million loan application to finish the development program. In a podcast
interview with AVweb, Maurer said the government loan,
despite the dire scenarios portrayed by the Ontario media, was a "long
shot" and the company has been working on other potential funding
solutions throughout the politically charged talks with the government.
Although Chinese involvement is a possibility, it's not the only one and
Maurer said Diamond didn't start that discussion. "We've never talked
about it. We've been asked about it a lot, though," he said.
BEECHCRAFT EYES CHINA
Hawker Beechcraft is the latest to
announce it's considering building aircraft in China. CEO Bill Boisture
told Bloomberg the company has been negotiating with
Chinese officials about a technology transfer in exchange for greater
access to the Chinese market, which is expected to grow rapidly with the
relaxation of airspace regulations. Hawker Beech could potentially get
20 percent of its future business from China, Boisture said.
AVWEB'S BUSINESS AVIATION NEWSLETTER
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OF THE WEEK: FLY THE AIRPLANE?
According to the Wall
Street Journal, the crew of Air France 447 got so wrapped up in the
management of systems they forgot
to "fly the airplane" as so many of us had drummed into us. Has
automation made us safer or more
Plus: Last week, we asked AVweb
readers how much financial support governments should provide to
aviation companies. Did Canada make the wrong decision about funding
Diamond's D-Jet? Click through to see how AVweb readers answered
our poll. More...
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|The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You!||back to
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OF THE WEEK: COX AVIATION (BIG SANDY REGIONAL AIRPORT/K22, PRESTONSBURG,
AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Cox
Aviation at Big Sandy Regional Airport (K22) in Prestonsburg,
AVweb reader Linda Langrill had no
shortage of good things to say about this FBO she discovered on the way
to Sun 'n Fun this year:
got stuck in weather on our way down to Sun 'n Fun ... . The best thing
that happened was that the nearest airport to our location was the Big
Sandy Regional Airport (K22) at Prestonsburg, KY. We were greeted by FBO
manager Gary Cox with a friendly smile and efficient, friendly service.
The official airport kitty, Saltine, greeted us out on the ramp. The
lobby of the FBO had just been remodeled, complete with a gas log
fireplace, newly tiled restrooms, well-equipped flight planning room,
and (most of all) friendly people everywhere we went. The restaurant
adjacent to the FBO, the Cloud 9 Cafe, is worth flying or driving in to
experience. ... Lauren, Mr. Cox's daughter, operates the restaurant. We
ate there twice during our two-day stay in Prestonsburg, and on Sunday
afternoon we had to wait in line. Well worth the wait. We have
recommended this airport and FBO to every pilot we talk with. If you are
on your way south or north, east or west, and if you get anywhere near
this airport, plan to stop. You will not be sorry!
Keep those nominations
coming. For complete contest rules, click
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in
the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here
next Monday! More...
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.
AVwebFlash team is:
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
Have a product or service to advertise
on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's
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
Navigate. Communicate. More...