AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 17, Number 22a

May 30, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! The High-Flying Martin Jetpack back to top 

Martin Jetpack Hits 5,000 Feet

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The Martin Jetpack went to 5,000 feet May 21 and came back on its emergency parachute in the most ambitious test flight to date. Equipped with multiple video cameras and occupied with a weighted mannequin as a test pilot, the remote-control version of the ducted fan device rose vertically over the New Zealand countryside before the high-revving two-stroke engine was shut down and the ballistic chute was fired remotely. It all seemed to go according to plan, with the apparently undamaged machine and mannequin settling in a farmer's field at a vertical speed of 15.7 mph.

In the video, inventor Glenn Martin says the performance of the Jetpack to 5,000 feet suggests it will have a realistic ceiling of about 8,000 feet. The company will be poring over data from the flight but there doesn't appear to be any indication of when a flesh-and-blood pilot will take the controls for an outside flight. The company says it plans to have manned and UAV versions ready for sale in 18 months.

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Learning from AF447 back to top 

Air France 447 — How Did This Happen?

The pilots of Air France Flight 447 flew the aircraft into deep stall at 38,000 feet, never verbally acknowledged or corrected that condition, and the aircraft fell for more than three minutes at nearly 11,000 feet per minute into the Atlantic, killing all aboard, investigators said Friday. The jet maintained a nose up attitude -- along with an angle of attack greater than 35 degrees -- throughout a descent rate that translates to more than 122 miles per hour of vertical drop. "At no point" on the cockpit voice recorder "is the word stall ever mentioned," Chief Investigator Alain Bouillard said in an interview. The autopilot and auto-throttle disengaged and the pilots recognized failure of the Airbus A330's speed sensors. The pilots took manual control and the aircraft climbed. A stall warning sounded as the jet ascended rapidly from 35,000 to 37,500 feet and by 38,000 feet three stall warnings had activated. Less than two minutes after the autopilot disconnected, the aircraft was at approximately 35,000 feet, with full takeoff thrust selected; the angle of attack had exceeded 40 degrees and jet was falling at about -10,000 ft/min.

The captain was not present in the cockpit as the incident began. The flight deck crew was flying at night over the ocean near storms where they expected turbulence. What they faced was an aircraft that suddenly disengaged both the autopilot and auto-throttles, and cockpit displays that delivered mismatched and rapidly changing airspeed values that ranged from at least 275 to 60 knots. Within seconds, the non-flying pilot stated, "So we've lost the speeds." Then he said, "Alternate law." Those two words mean, among other things, that the aircraft's angle-of-attack protections have been shut down. Before the captain entered the cockpit, the pitch and angle of attack of Flight 447 had both reached 16 degrees as it was hand-flown. The horizontal stabilizer had passed from 3 to about 13 degrees nose-up. The throttles had been set at full takeoff thrust and the aircraft had stalled. It was less than two minutes since the autopilot had disengaged.

As the captain entered the cockpit, the aircraft's systems received airspeed values they deemed invalid, leading the airplane's systems to automatically shut off the stall warnings. The aircraft was still in full stall with the nose up, falling at -10,000 ft/min. Almost one minute into the stall, the pilots reduced engine thrust and temporarily made nose-down inputs that were not enough to break the stall. As the jet continued to fall, it rolled at times up to 40 degrees and turned more than 180 degrees to the right. Data shows that the pilot flying held the sidestick at the full left and nose-up stops for the entirety of one 30-second span, and that the airliner remained stalled until impact.

There were as many as three pilots in the cockpit through the majority of the descent. The pilot flying as the event unfolded was the least experienced of the crew, with 3,000 hours of flight time. He was right-seat at the time. The flight's captain had almost 11,000 hours of experience. He was not in the cockpit as the incident began. The cockpit crew attempted to call him to the flight deck several times during the first minute after the airspeed sensors failed. He joined them less than two minutes after the autopilot disconnected. A second pilot, flying left seat, was given the controls in the flight's final minute. Aside from that information, BEA, the investigating agency, did not publish any cockpit conversation that took place during the last minute of the flight.

The aircraft impacted the water at 16.2 degrees nose-up with a roll angle of 5.3 degrees to the left. The aircraft heading was 270 degrees (nearly opposite the planned route of flight) and the ground speed was 107 knots. The last recorded vertical speed was -10,912 ft/min.

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Farewell to Amanda Franklin back to top 

Amanda Franklin Dies

Airshow performer Amanda Franklin died Friday night in a hospital from complications of burns she suffered in a March 12 crash in Brownsville, Texas. Husband Kyle Franklin announced the sad news in a Facebook posting late Friday. "It is with a broken heart that I tell you that my beautiful girl Amanda passed away at 10:10 central time this evening," he wrote. Kyle and other close relatives were at her bedside. On Thursday Franklin announced that his wife, who crashed with him while performing their wing-walking routine, had been placed on Comfort Care for her final days. Amanda and Kyle's crash had left her badly burned and treatments to combat the damage from the burns, infection and effects on her major organs were no longer effective. She was taken off of most of her life support, with the exception of ventilator, sedation meds and pain meds. "I believe at this point this is what she would want me to do," Kyle said Thursday.

Amanda's condition had been tenuous since the crash although shortly after the accident, Kyle had written hopefully that his wife was "doing well." The couple's Waco UPF-7 biplane reportedly suffered engine trouble before going down in trees near the runway at Brownsville. Amanda had been in her position on the top wing of the aircraft as the aircraft came down, but made it into the cockpit prior to impact. Kyle, who was in the rear cockpit, was able to free himself immediately after the crash and returned to the aircraft in an effort to free his wife. While trying to extract her from the burning wreck, Kyle suffered burns that also put him in the hospital. In Thursday's post he said he felt Amanda would be happy to see her father and his father again. The final paragraph included these words:

"Amanda my love, I love you with all my heart, soul and everything I am. Our life together here was supposed to be seventy years not seven, but I look forward to seeing you in my dreams every night my love."

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Rules & Regulations back to top 

DOT Adopts BARR Rule

Aviation groups will undoubtedly turn up the heat in the political arena now that the Department of Transportation has gone ahead with plans to dismantle a system that allows private aircraft owners to block online access to services that track aircraft movements. On Friday, the DOT announced its intention to eliminate the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program, which is used by about 5 percent of aircraft owners to keep others from logging on to flight tracking websites to see who's flying where at any given time. Most of the sites will give a history of flight activity, too. The FAA's new rule will only allow N-numbers to be blocked if the aircraft owner is able to convince the FAA that allowing the public to track their aircraft will create a security risk. However, BARR's future is also part of the deliberations on a new FAA reauthorization bill that is now at the conference stage and its supporters are working the hallways trying to get a law that will trump the DOT rule. Meanwhile, BARR proponents called the new measure a "paparazzi protection rule" and clashed with DOT over whose rights should be protected.

National Business Aviation Association President Ed Bolen issued a statement saying he was "outraged" by the enactment of the rule (which takes effect 60 days from its publishing in the Federal Register), saying it violates aircraft owners' rights to privacy. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the move fits with the current administration's transparency policies. "This action is in keeping with the Obama administration's commitment to transparency in government," LaHood said. "Both general aviation and commercial aircraft use the public airspace and air traffic control facilities, and the public has a right to information about their activities." But Bolen said it's at odds with the Obama administration's privacy goals. "What is most puzzling about this rule is that the Obama administration has pledged to increase privacy protections, not diminish them," Bolen said. "But here, government officials have chosen to sidestep the original intention of the U.S. Congress, the voices of thousands of citizens and companies, and a basic responsibility to safeguard the right to privacy in favor of a rule to invade the privacy and security of passengers in order to cater to tabloid special interests and others with suspect motives. When it comes to privacy rights, this is not the kind of change that the American people want."

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Blue Angels Commander Quits

The commander of the Blue Angels has resigned and the team is back in Pensacola for training and practice after an unspecified maneuver was performed at too low an altitude during a show in Lynchburg VA on May 22. Navy Cmdr Dave Koss was "voluntarily relieved of duty" as the elite team's commander and will be replaced by Capt. Greg McWherter, whom Koss replaced as the team lead. "This maneuver, combined with other instances of not meeting the airborne standard that makes the Blue Angels the exceptional organization that it is, led to my decision to step down," Koss said in the statement. The No. 1 aircraft normally leads a flight of four or six F/A-18s through formation maneuvers but the formation breaks for some parts of the show, including the solo performances and the signature cross maneuver. It's not clear whether Koss alone busted the altitude or whether he took the others with him. It's also not been stated just how much too low the aircraft got.

Clearly, the miscue got the attention of Navy brass because it led to the cancellation of at least seven shows. They won't resume the schedule until the Quad City Air Show in Davenport IA June 18-19.

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July 25-31

It's gonna be a big year at Oshkosh. We're celebrating 100 Years of Naval Aviation all week long. Plus: Special tributes to Bob Hoover and Burt Rutan, a Monday concert by REO Speedwagon, the return of the Saturday night air show, and innovation in the air with the Electric Flight Prize competition.

For more information or to buy your tickets online and save, click here.
News Briefs back to top 

G650 Flight Testing Resumes

Certification flight testing of Gulfstream's G650 resumed Saturday with an 89-minute flight of serial number 0001. It was the first flight of Gulfstream's new flagship bizjet since the Apr. 2 crash of one of five test aircraft in Roswell, N.M., during takeoff performance testing. Gulfstream said the two-month suspension of flight testing will not affect its schedule for the aircraft. The flight test program is about two-thirds complete. Certification is planned by the end of this year and first deliveries are slated for 2012. Production continued after the accident and the 13th G650 is now under construction.

The NTSB investigation of the accident continues and Gulfstream is cooperating. The aircraft, serial number 0002, was taking off on one engine to simulate a failure on takeoff when it lifted off briefly, dragged the right wing and then slid along the runway. It was destroyed by fire.

Call For Public Benefit Flying Nominations

Nominations are due by May 31, 2011, for awards presented each year by the National Aeronautic Association, in collaboration with the Air Care Alliance, to recognize contributions to public benefit flying. Nominations are accepted for five categories that cover volunteer pilots, volunteers, achievement in the advancement of public benefit flying, teamwork between unaffiliated organizations, and extraordinary support efforts that advance the cause of public benefit flying. Nominations that fall outside of those categories may not be considered.

The Air Care Alliance has posted a page that describes the award categories, nomination and selection process and more -- find it here. The awards are intended to honor volunteers working in the field of public benefit flying and those who support them. They may be granted to groups, organizations or individuals. Nominations are limited to a maximum of five printed pages with specific guidelines. Prior recipients include the Civil Air Patrol, Angel Flight America Mission Coordinators, Wings of Hope, Corporate Angel Network and other groups, as well as airlines and individuals.

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AVweb Audio — Are You Listening? back to top 

The Effort To Help Incapacitated Pilot

On May 17, 2011, the pilot of a Cirrus SR22 became incapacitated while climbing for 17,000, through clouds, out of San Bernardino en route to Colorado Springs -- we now have audio of the event. On board the Cirrus, a 70-year-old pilot was flying with his non-pilot wife. They were in daytime IFR conditions when the Cirrus pilot is heard on frequency breathing heavily. He then appears to become incoherent. Shortly thereafter, his wife responds to inquiries from the controller, stating, "I'm trying to help. Hang on." The next 40 minutes of the flight showcase a coordinated effort by the controller, the pilot of a passing Great Lakes Airlines commercial flight, and the non-pilot wife on board the SR22, as they attempt to guide the aircraft away from rising terrain and down to a lower altitude. AVweb has obtained and edited audio from the event.

Click for audio (MP3).

As the incident unfolds, the controller and the Great Lakes Airlines pilot recognize what they believe are symptoms of hypoxia in the Cirrus pilot. They quickly begin working together on frequency to help the Cirrus pilot's wife guide the aircraft through the clouds to a lower altitude. In the process, the Great Lakes flight diverts to chase down the Cirrus and attempts to walk the Cirrus pilot's wife through autopilot procedures. But as the wife attempts to guide the aircraft, she mistakenly turns the Cirrus north toward rising terrain. The controller recognizes this and works with the Great Lakes pilot to direct the Cirrus away from the mountains and to a lower altitude. With their help, the wife manages a turn and an uneven descent to approximately 10,000 feet. At that altitude, her husband begins to regain his faculties. After a long silence, the Cirrus pilot is heard again on frequency, but he seems to want to turn back to resume course and climb over the mountains. Both the controller and pilot of the Great Lakes Airlines flight convince him instead to land at a nearby airport as soon as he feels able, which he ultimately does, at Farmington airport in New Mexico.

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File Size 9.1 MB / Running Time 9:56

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A small airplane can do a lot to advance the cause of conservation, from providing a fresh perspective for legislators to transporting endangered birds and wolves. Rudy Engholm talks with AVweb's Mary Grady about what the organization is up to these days, how pilots can help, and how things turned out after AVweb reported recently on the group's search for a special volunteer.

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

AVmail: May 30, 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: Is It All a Dream?

The Pipistrel Panthera sounds great, a dream — what we've been waiting for all these years.  Is it real, an IO-390-powered version soon and hybrid or electric in 2013? If so, why can't I see a real picture now, not an artist's rendering? I'm hopeful but suspicious.

I've had this giddy feeling before.  Cirrus said they were going to build a true four-seater with 160 knots' cruise for $120,000.  Well, they built the plane, but not at that price point.  I think it started at $170,000 and is probably double that now.  Clearly there's a market for these, but where's my affordable 150-knot cruiser that burns less than 10gph?

Ed Hunt

Not So Fast, Swift?

The factors I am most concerned about for a replacement to 100LL are cost, distribution, and cost.

While we consider alternatives like Swift Fuel, let us think about what it will require: a brand-new set of factories, a new distribution system throughout the entire U.S., and the need to re-certify most aircraft.  Do we really think this will compete in cost with 100LL?

There is a fuel that is cheaper than 100LL; current manufacturing produces about ten times the amount needed for all the piston aircraft in the U.S.; it's currently distributed throughout the U.S.; and it has been certified by the FAA for a significant number of aircraft types. This fuel produces slightly more horsepower than 100LL and does not require altering the compression ratio.

The fuel? Ethanol. While it requires different handling procedures and will result in some range reduction, we have to admit that we are not going to get a direct replacement for 100LL. Now we must decide what differences we will accept.

Starting with a brand-new fuel when we have over 15 years of aviation experience with ethanol, accepting a monopoly for our fuel supplier — these compromises seem riskier and are more likely to end up costing much more than converting to ethanol.

Angus McCamant

Flying the Airplane

Regarding the "Question of the Week": Automation should be more reliable, and it should reduce the complexity and pilot workload so pilots are not overwhelmed with information. Let's keep this in perspective. Pilots on flights like 447 are not amateurs. Even though pilot error is the likely official cause, more work needs to be done to simplify the pilot tasks.

Glen Armbruster

The problem with complex automation interactions as they are now used in modern air carrier airplanes is that failures can start to cascade in such a manner that the pilots are presented with 50 or more error messages. They have to sort through these to find out the critical ones, even though there is supposed to be a layered hierarchy. In theory, there should be a set N1 and attitude that will produce level flight.

But in the airplane with an already degraded flight system in the midst of a classic ITCZ thunderstorm, this is asking for a lot. Of course there was probably pilot error involved, but it's what I call "designed-in" pilot error. This is particularly true of the Airbus philosophy. I have had a 50-year history of flight test and airline flying, and this is one reason I'm glad I'm out of that game. Nowadays, the bean counters and the computer wizards seem to have gained control.

Bob Tripp

Automation is designed to display sufficient information for human response to system end functionality. This has two distinct inherent elements: human interpretation and human physical response and input.

If there is an automated system failure, the pilot must have a reliable analog backup for basic interpretation and response. These displays should be located in a prominent position to allow standard eye scan by both pilots. Scheduled recurrent training should incorporate total automated system failure so pilots can maintain reliable confidence in standby display systems.

At least one pilot should be designated to fly by the standby system displays and one pilot to work on system failure analysis. Automation is only as good as its design, and pilots should be an integrated part of the design process, as well as the government certifying authorities.

Campbell Pritchett

If the level of automation on a commercial airliner is such that a failure or system of failures can bring down the flight, then the crew should include a systems specialist whose only job is to make sure those systems are working properly at all times. To make an aircraft so complex that a pilot is required to do debugging when things go sour and then call it pilot error when a crash ensues is nothing more than scapegoating.

Rick Girard

GPS Testing

Regarding the story about GPS testing in New Mexico: This happens all the time. These tests are at the White Sands Missile Range. Based in Santa Fe. We are used to seeing these NOTAMS on a very regular basis.

While it may relate to the 4G testing, I'd bet against it. You'll notice that 19 nm from the Boles 230 radial is right in the middle of the range (and the giant R-5107B). It is hard to imagine they'd be testing civilian internet connectivity there amid the live fire exercises.

Most of the time, it has no impact, [but] I did lose a GPS signal once a couple years ago during one of these tests while using an ancient Trimble 2101 Approach Plus GPS in a King Air.

Michael Szczepanski

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

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.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Why Supressing N-Numbers Is a Bad Idea

Congress is debating whether to dial back the FAA's N-number suppression program, BARR. It's about time they did, says Paul Bertorelli on the AVweb Insider blog. N-numbers are public information and ought to be available to the public; besides, what does secrecy benefit bizjets in an era of suspicion of claims of excess?

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Media-Induced Greenwashing of Aviation Fuels

The questionable reporting, says Paul Bertorelli in his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, is not so much intentional as failing to ask the right questions.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Video: 100 Years of Naval Aviation — Erik Hildebrandt's 'Fly Navy'

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

No one does aviation quite like the Navy, and carriers are only half of the story. In this vodcast, author/photographer Erik Hildebrandt talks about his experiences in shooting and compiling an impressive history of a century of naval aviation.

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Video: Simulator Training for GA with 'IFR' Magazine

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

Come ride along on some simulator training in a Cirrus SR22 to see the kinds of things you can do better in the box than in the real world. We'll also give you some tips for getting the most out of your simulator time.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Kissimmee Jet Center (KISM, Florida)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Kissimmee Jet Center at Kissimmee Gateway Airport (KISM) in Florida.

AVweb reader John Tunstall recently enjoyed top-notch service from touchdown to take-off at KISM:

[The] rental car pulled out to us on the ramp before I could even shut the bird down. (Unloading into an air-conditioned car in the FL heat was a blessing.) Upon departure, the same in reverse: We loaded the bird from the car on the ramp, and they drove it away. Excellent fuel prices and extraordinary service. Highly recommend.

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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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

I think it was one of my sons on his solo cross-country from Whiteman, CA (WHP). Bakersfield was one of his stops. He had tuned into Bakersfield BFL ground control. Before he called, he heard another pilot call ground control:

Cessna 1234:
"Bakersfield ground, Cessna 1234 ready for taxi to Los Angeles."

Ground Control:
"Cessna 1234, that is going to be a very long taxi trip."

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.

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