AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 17, Number 24a

June 13, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Ash Over the Atlantic back to top 

Volcanic Ash Cancels Flights

Ash from a major volcanic eruption in Chile has cancelled hundreds of flights and stranded 25,000 passengers from neighboring Argentina to far-away New Zealand and Australia, and experts say this could be just the beginning. "It's got a very strong satellite signal and it's right up there with the big, big eruption clouds ... it will keep going. I would suspect it will do a loop of the globe," Andrew Tupper of the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Strong westerly winds are pushing the cloud from the Cordon Caulle volcano but the plume over the South Pacific, 6,000 miles away, is expected to start dissipating soon. Australian airlines are taking no chances but New Zealand's flag carrier is still flying.

"We always put safety before schedule," Qantas spokeswoman Emma Kearns told the Sydney Morning Herald. " We have decided that we don't believe it's safe to fly. If you get ash cloud in your engines it can seize your engines up." Air New Zealand is maintaining its schedule but flying at lower altitudes to stay out of the ash. The ash is affecting flights as far north as Melbourne and it came as Australians and New Zealanders were in the middle of a long holiday weekend. The volcano has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people in Chile and officials there are worried that a river that has its source on the mountain will silt up and cause widespread flooding. The volcano has heated the water in the river to more than 100 °F. The eruption began last Sept. 28.

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Please Turn Off Your Electronic Devices back to top 

Report Suggests Cellphone Interference Happens

An International Air Transport Association report suggests cellphones and other personal electronics, notably the iPad, can cause alarming disruptions to aircraft systems. The report, obtained by ABC News, is said to document 75 instances between 2003 and 2009 in which flight crews believed interference from passengers using an electronic device caused something to go wrong with the aircraft. Anomalies ranging from autopilots disconnecting to a clock that ran backwards were said to disappear when the electronics were shut off. The report is getting mixed reviews from those who study aviation safety.

John Nance, author and former commercial and military pilot and ABC's own aviation analyst, dismissed the report as a collection of anecdotes that prove nothing. "There is a lot of anecdotal evidence out there, but it's not evidence at all," said Nance, "It's pilots, like myself, who thought they saw something but they couldn't pin it to anything in particular. And those stories are not rampant enough, considering 32,000 flights a day over the U.S., to be convincing." But Dave Carson, of Boeing, the co-chair of a federal advisory committee looking into the issue, said tests have proven onboard electronics can produce signals that are over what Boeing considers to be the safe limit for avoiding interference. Blackberry and iPhone cellphones were both over the limit but an iPad produced signals that far exceeded the standards.

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USA 1549 Reunion back to top 

1549 Pax, Crew, Revisit Aircraft

Passengers who were thankful to have lived through it and an airline captain who became an instant celebrity because of it gathered around the battered hull of Airbus A320 N106US Sunday to celebrate the aircraft that changed their lives. The dented and gashed fuselage of the aircraft used for US Airways Flight 1549 from La Guardia to Charlotte on Jan. 15, 2009, arrived at the Carolinas Aviation Museum Friday and will go on permanent display there. At a private reception on Sunday Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, other members of the flight crew and some passengers gathered to remember that chilly winter afternoon when the aircraft hit a flock of geese and Sullenberger and his first officer Jeff Skiles put the airplane, carrying 155 people, in the Hudson River. Among the cabin crew was Doreen Welsh, who, with 38 years of patrolling the aisle, probably had the most time in the air of anyone on the flight. She told NY1 she thought she'd given her last safety demo when she heard Sullenberger tell the people in back to "brace for impact" over the PA. "Thirty-eight years, who hears that? And who lives through hearing that? I'm sure a lot of people in crashes, that's probably the last thing they ever hear," said Welsh. "I said prayers. I thought it was it."

Others shared similar stories and paid frank homage to the technology that made Sunday's event possible. "I think of this plane as our savior. Our piece of equipment that saved our lives," said passenger Beth McHugh. Others said the event created a "family" of survivors who keep in touch with one another. As for the aircraft, rather than the restoration that usually awaits new museum exhibits, 106US will undergo the opposite. Museum staff will put the plane in the same condition it was in when it was plucked out of the river and create a display that will allow visitors a glimpse of what it might have been like aboard the plane as it floated in the water. The interior has been cleaned and freed of mold that grew after the dunking.

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And the Rest of the Story ... ? back to top 

RAF Eurofighters Lose To F-16s?

Internet chat forums have for months been alive with comments after 1970s-era F-16s were said in a Pakistani air force blog to have beaten state-of-the-art Eurofighter Typhoons in close air combat exercises, but there's at least one problem with the story. At the core of the issue is an interview in which an unnamed alleged Pakistani air force (PAF) pilot recalls flying three hops against RAF Typhoons. In those three exercises, the Typhoons lost every time, he said. When asked to explain that success rate, the interviewee offered his opinion that "NATO pilots are not that proficient in close-in air-to-air combat." The problem is that there does not appear to be a specific date associated with the event and, while the story may be true, the inability to independently confirm it means it's just as likely that it's not true.

The Typhoon is touted by its supporters as one of the world's best air-to-air combat jets and has been seen by its critics as an especially expensive acquisition, yet to prove itself. In the interview, the alleged PAF pilot described the success of the older F-16s, saying the exercises favored the PAF pilots because the pilots are "very good at" close-in air combat. Details of the engagement, when it took place, specific equipment, pilot experience and the purpose of the exercise were not discussed in the interview, which has nonetheless led to online speculation and some concern. The interview has been a point of interest on three major aviation forums online, beginning several months ago, and made it to TheRegister.co.uk Wednesday. TheRegister concedes the interview may be "a lie" but "it seems likelier that the story is the truth as he perceived it: that the RAF's new superfighter was thrashed in the very type of combat it is supposed to be best at by a 1970s-era plane, albeit much modernised."

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Terrafugia: Not Quite Street-Legal ... Yet back to top 

Terrafugia's Roadable Aircraft Delayed

Citing challenges in production design and problems with third-party suppliers, the developers of the Transition roadable aircraft have announced a delay that extends their expected first delivery date to "late 2012." The company still plans to show, but not fly, one of two production prototypes at AirVenture Oshkosh this July and says its past experience suggests flight tests might take place by March 2012. Terrafugia's press release declined to expand on the problems that led to the delay and stated that the company remains committed to the success of the program.

Terrafugia CEO/CTO Carl Dietrich says his team is pushing forward as quickly as safety and rigorous testing allow. "We will continue to focus our efforts on developing the safest, most convenient, and most fun personal aircraft the aviation world has ever seen," he said. Dietrich says program has spent the past year working on prototype production tooling and the construction of two production prototypes. Terrafugia was granted an exemption from the FAA that allows it to produce its vehicle for use under LSA rules while operating at a maximum takeoff weight 110 pounds above that category's usual limit.

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Maynard Hill Remembered back to top 

RC Record Setter Dies

Maynard Hill, who set 25 aviation records and whom the Washington Post called a "virtuoso of balsa and glue," died June 7 at his home in Silver Spring, Md. Hill was a legend in the remote control model aircraft world and his exploits included some remarkable records. He flew an RC model to 26,990 feet and one of his aircraft was clocked at 151 mph. As a metallurgist at Johns Hopkins University's applied physics lab, his work with RC models became the foundation of the development of unmanned aerial aircraft. Of all his records, however, it was the trans-Atlantic crossing of his Spirit of Butt's Farm that attracted the most attention.

The aircraft could weigh no more than 11 pounds, including fuel, to be considered a model so the design challenges were enormous. Hill and a group of engineers and computer programmers who were intrigued by the project built 29 versions of the model, which was powered by a four-stroke engine that used just two ounces of camp stove fuel per hour. After numerous failures and delays, the aircraft took off from Cape Spear, Newfoundland and Labrador in August of 2003 and landed 38 hours later in Ireland. Hill was 85 years old.

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

AVmail: June 13, 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: A Great Commute

I enjoyed the article about Gordon Boettger's flight.

While working at NASA JPL in Pasadena, CA and building my hangar and business in Fallon, NV for three years I commuted on many weekends between KWHP near Burbank, CA and KFLX, Fallon, NV.

I made about 100 round trips. At least half of them were direct GPS route which takes you right down the middle of the Sierra Nevadas. I would make it a point to always be about 2000' above the highest peaks I intended to fly over. I did them both day and night.

I made many of these trips up there when the wind over the Sierras was up to 65 Kts. FSS virtually always had a sigmet for moderate to severe turbulence below 18K'. I found that to be the exception rather than the rule. I would not be up there if there were lenticular clouds hovering over the mountains. And sometimes there was light turbulence. There was almost always some light wave action. I found that there were considerably more opportunities to fly up there in the winter months than in summer. Cold air seems to lay right down on the mountains. A couple of thousand feet above thre was virtually no turbulence.

I have never seen another airplane up there.

I have flown this trip in both my 0-360 powered Cruisair and my 0-360 powered Geronimo. And yes, you can soar a Geronimo up there sometimes. I have pulled it back to idle and enjoyed good lift for streches of up to maybe five minutes.

Try it; you'll like it.

Kent Tarver

Not the Airplane's Fault

What a difference of quality between the podcast with Jason Goldberg and the Letter of the Week by Capt. Anonymous. (I loved to hear this — very balanced and answers full of expertise by Goldberg.)

Capt. Anonymous is again warming up the sidestick vs. yoke debate and also fixed thrust levers vs. moving thrust levers.

I have just a few remarks.

The most produced U.S. fighter has sidestick? How do they survive?

As for tactile feedback of moving thrust levers, [I] just read about the Turkish Airlines stall/crash at Amsterdam. Approaching an aerodynamic upset caused by unreliable airspeed indication the thrust levers in a "moving" design would have changed to some thrust lever angle and thrust would be either too high or too low. Only by sheer luck they would be appropriate. With this design also you have to remember your cruise thrust and attitudes to get into "survival mode."

He also does not mention that on the A330 moving thrust levers out of detent you can vary thrust like in any other airplane. The main problem in this accident seems to be that all three pilots never realized that they were in a stall. There are programs out there for upset training, etc. but cutting training (you never stall an airliner, and you never stall a GA airplane attaining PPL) the knowledge is only with few airline pilots — including instructors, unfortunately.

His airline seems even less keen on covering and training all aspects of the airplane. He does not remember if he as ever tasked with alternate law. If true, what a training department and what an oversight of the FAA.

From a professional standpoint, Capt. Anonymous only speculates on the actions of the pilots. Does he know more than the investigating authority? Citing simulator experience for these occurrences is naïve. Both big aircraft manufactures give only a certain (incomplete) amount of data for those regimes — either because they want to keep proprietary information from the simulator company or because it is just simply not necessary to test those regimes for certification under FAR 25.

Blaming the sidestick seems easy. He just forgets that with ?conventional? airplanes valid IAS is often needed for pitch (feel) control, attaining the correct stick force gradient or rudder ratio limiter. For some of these failures you revert to a dumb spring and are also away from known stick (yoke) forces or rudder forces. Giving advice to fly the FD is to my knowledge against both of Airbus's and Boeing's abnormal/ non-normal checklists for this situation.

Last, but not least: Capt. Anonymous's description of himself as one of the most experienced A330 pilots in the world is a little out of reality. What makes him believe that? There are hundreds of pilots out there, some of them flying the A330 for almost 20 years, many of them cross qualified on the A320/321 who have more than three times the hours he claims. If he is so frightened by Airbus airplanes, how about changing to an airline flying only Boeing? Hundreds of pilots would love take his seat and be delighted.

I have 30 years of flying Boeings and eight years on Airbus. I love the airplanes of both companies.

A. J. "Toni" Beidl

Delta Disappoints

I am an Atlanta native and remember Delta's beginnings. Its emphasis then was on customer service and achieved a great record by treating its employees well, so well that for many years the people there rejected unionization.

Then the "bean counters" gained power, and company/personnel relations suffered. They unionized, and the company developed the callous attitude toward its customers demonstrated by its treatment of the 34 soldiers described in this issue. I am continually saddened by Delta's history.

Bob Barton

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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New on AVweb.com back to top 

Forty-Seven Years in Aviation -- A Memoir: Chapter 2 -- Preflight, and Primary Flight Training Part 1

In the second chapter of his aviation memoir, Richard Taylor and his new wife cool their heels in Ohio waiting to get called to flight training, and then quickly bounce to San Antonio for indoctrination and on to North Carolina to finally begin primary flight training.

Click here to read the second chapter.

Extreme Low Pass Video

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

Video of an extremely low, low pass is making the rounds on the internet and we thought we'd share. The aircraft appears to be an Argentinean FMA IA 63 Pampa or something similar. It also appears to be flying about three feet off the ground. The picture at right is a screen capture from in-cockpit footage that shows people running out of the way ahead of the jet.

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

Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it, there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."

Video: Eastman Aviation's CH750 Video Review

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

There are only a few LSAs that qualify for true STOL status, and Eastman's CH750 is one of them. With full-span flaperons and leading-edge slats, it won't win any beauty contests, but it could excel at some short landing contests. In this video, Aviation Consumer editor Paul Bertorelli takes a spin with Eastman's Gary Webster.

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

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Aviation Biofuels — Continuing Self-Delusion

A recent ASTM conferred technical approval on specs for aviation biofuels. That means we've got a bright new future with these fuels, right? Sure we do, says Paul Bertorelli with an eyeroll in the latest installment of the AVweb Insider. Read his latest blog post for some thoughts on why new-fuel boosters always neglect market (and technical) realities.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: BARR and the State of Privacy

The U.S. Department of Transportation, under the umbrella of sunshine in government, proposes to do away with the blocking of N-numbers for flight tracking. Guest blogger Michael Harris makes the case for why that's wrong in our latest post to the AVweb Insider.

Read more and join the conversation.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Dominion Aviation Services (Richmond, VA)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Dominion Aviation Services at Chesterfield County Airport (KFCI) in Richmond, Virginia.

AVweb reader Chris McClure was blown away by the top-notch treatment he received at Dominion:

On a recent trip to the Richmond area, I flew into Chesterfield County Airport, primarily due to convenience to the friends that I was visiting and the fact that, when I called ahead, the lady at the desk indicated that they would find a hanger where I could park my airplane (an Aviat Husky A1-B) for two nights. Storms were predicted in the area in the evenings, so I was particularly interested in putting the plane in out of the weather. When I arrived, the staff was very courteous and efficient, and the same lady I had spoken to earlier exhibited wonderful Southern hospitality, [having] located hanger space for me. The friendly staff made sure that the airplane was properly stowed in one of the corporate hangers on the field and carried my bags to the FBO where I had a friend meeting me. I mentioned that I would be topping off the tanks with 100LL before departure, and when I returned to head back home, the staff had already done so, [then they] helped me take my gear to the plane and pulled the aircraft out of the hanger. The FBO itself was clean and well-equipped, including the seemingly ubiquitous fresh popcorn machine. I will definitely return ... when I next fly into the Richmond area, and I highly recommend them.

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

Years ago, an air traffic controller at KSYR was working Approach Control and had numerous aircraft on his screen.

"N1234, can you identify yourself? Are you a Cardinal?"

N1234 (after a moment's hesitation) :
"No — but I used to be an altar boy!"

Tom Grover
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.

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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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