AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 17, Number 28b

July 14, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Ripped Hull to Emergency Landing: SWA 812 Audio back to top 
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Audio Details 737 Rapid Decompression

Audio recordings released by the FAA last week of Southwest Airlines Flight 812, a Boeing 737 with 118 passengers aboard that suffered rapid decompression in April, detail pilots and controllers working the problem. The aircraft was at 36,000 feet flying out of Phoenix for Sacramento when a 59-inch-long gash opened nine inches wide in the top of the cabin, with a loud bang. The Southwest pilots immediately declared an emergency and began a descent to 10,000 feet. As the pilots organized, they formulated a plan to return to Phoenix, but as the situation matured they changed plans and sought the nearest available airport. That turned out to be Yuma, Ariz.

Click here for the MP3 file.
The audio has been edited for time. What's not heard in the edited version is the controllers working together between locations to coordinate their efforts.

The aircraft was a 15-year-old Boeing 737-300. It landed safely at Yuma with a few minor injuries incurred during the rapid descent. NTSB investigators have since determined that misaligned or oblong rivet holes allowed stress points to develop along a bond joint in the 737's skin. It's at or near that joint that the skin ultimately failed. The jet had accumulated 48,740 hours through 39,781 cycles (a cycle is one takeoff and one landing). Inspections that were required following the accident turned up four other 737s with crack indications at a single rivet and one with cracking at two rivets. All of those aircraft had flown between 40,000 and 45,000 cycles, according to the NTSB.

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Safety Tech: Phasing Out False Positives back to top 

MIT Research Aims To Prevent Midairs

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a new algorithm that could help to prevent midair collisions between general aviation aircraft, the school announced last week. The new technique, according to lead researcher Maxime Gariel, aims to limit the number of false alarms typically produced by collision-warning systems. "If half the time it's a false alert, [pilots] are not going to listen to it, or they'll turn it off," Gariel said. His team's research used a two-tiered alert system -- a moderate alert to warn pilots their trajectories are converging, and a high alert to indicate a severe risk of collision. The system also takes into account the extrapolated reaction time, depending on speed and trajectory, and adjusts the warning level accordingly. Tests confirmed that the system has a low false-alarm rate.

MIT's system depends on the implementation of NextGen, which will require small aircraft to broadcast their GPS coordinates. According to David Gray, the FAA liaison to the project, the ability to use the NextGen system for collision avoidance should help persuade aircraft owners that it's worth the cost of adding the required equipment. "One of the key things that we want to provide as part of this system is additional value to the general aviation pilot," Gray said. "We hope this adds value and tips the scale in the direction of saying, 'Yes, this is something that I want.'" On average about 11 GA aircraft each year are involved in midair collisions in the U.S. The MIT researchers plan to present their research results at a conference in Seattle in October.

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The Quest for Three-Dimensional Driving back to top 

EU Invests In Flying Cars

The European Commission, which acts as the executive branch of the European Union, has invested $6.2 million in myCopter, a project working toward creating a personal air vehicle (PAV) for public transport in crowded cities. MyCopter, headed by Prof. Heinrich Bulthoff of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Germany, plans to test various concepts for a partially autonomous, vertical-take-off-and-landing vehicle, using computer simulations, UAVs, and a helicopter. "We aim to develop technologies that could be used to form a new transportation system for personal travel that uses the third dimension, and which takes into account questions surrounding the expectations of potential users and how the public would react to and interact with such a system," Bulthoff told Gizmag.

Research for the four-year project will include the development of new technologies that could be useful for obstacle avoidance, route planning and formation flying in a variety of aerospace applications, according to the myCopter website. Bulthoff said he hopes to design small PAVs that can carry one or two people, operate as easily as a car, automatically avoid other aircraft, and run on batteries to minimize environmental impact. There are no major technological barriers to creating the myCopter, he told New Scientist. However, "making it affordable is another question." Other partners in the project include several universities and technological institutes across Europe.

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News Briefs back to top 

New Aviation Degrees At K-State

Students looking for an aviation career now have four more options for earning a bachelor's degree at Kansas State University in Salina, Kans. The school announced this week that starting in the fall, four of its certificate programs -- in unmanned aircraft systems, avionics, airport management and air traffic control -- will expand into full degree-granting programs. Avionics students get hands-on experience working on glass cockpit components. The UAS program uses several unmanned vehicles for training, and has worked with the Kansas National Guard to develop safety procedures for incorporating the vehicles into the National Airspace System.

Josh Brungardt, director of the K-State UAS program, said cooperation from the military has been an important factor in growing the program. "We have access to restricted airspace, just seven miles from here, that we can use for training," Brungardt says. Student interns have worked as field operators for several UAS companies. K-State Salina operates a fleet of more than 40 training aircraft. The campus is sited adjacent to a 12,000-foot runway.

Counting Down To EAA AirVenture

Monday, July 25, opening day at EAA AirVenture, is just around the corner, so flight plans are being finalized, camp sites already are filling up, and aviators from around the world are on their way to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. EAA is promising an event overflowing with "spectacular attractions," including tributes to Bob Hoover and Burt Rutan, a celebration of naval aviation, a salute to veterans, a night airshow on Saturday with fireworks and a "wall of fire," musical performers, film nights, and of course thousands of airplanes, exhibits, forums, and workshops to explore all week long. AVweb staffers will be there every day to provide you with daily news reports, podcasts, and videos.

Some of the showcase aircraft expected at Oshkosh include at least 100 Burt Rutan designs, including Boomerang, an asymmetrical five-place twin; a Boeing 787, on Friday only; a wide selection of electric-powered aircraft; and dozens of military aircraft celebrating the 100th anniversary of naval aviation. The major aircraft manufacturers and all kinds of gear suppliers will be there to introduce their newest products. Teachers Day on Tuesday provides classroom teachers with ideas about how to use aviation to motivate students to learn about science; this year's special guest is Jeff Skiles. And every afternoon, the world's best airshow performers put on their best shows, for the best crowds. AVweb's Mary Grady spoke with aerobatic pilot Mike Goulian this week about what it's like to fly at Oshkosh, "the Super Bowl of airshows"; click here for that podcast.

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Share Your Opinion back to top 

Survey: Got a Clean Flying Record?

Most of us do, but it's not always clear why some pilots are accident-free while others are not. In an effort to learn more about accident-free pilot populations, researcher David Ison is conducting a survey. It's short, and you can take it by clicking on this link:

Click here to take the survey.

Survey: How's That Thielert Diesel Working Out?

For a follow-up article on Thielert-powered diesel airplanes, we would like to hear from owners operating these airplanes. Please e-mail us at pbertorelli@avweb.com with contact information, and we'll get back to you.

The results will appear in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. For subscription information, click here.

Question of the Week: Going to Oshkosh?

The big show is 10 days away. Is it on your calendar?

Are you going to Oshkosh for EAA AirVenture?
(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?

Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"?
Send your suggestions to .

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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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Fuller Blasts Feds' GA Attitude

AOPA President Craig Fuller says he thinks the anti-GA/Bizav posture in Washington will get worse in coming months but that's not necessarily all bad. "We have a rallying point," Fuller told the Wichita Aero Club in a reportedly spirited address that focused on recent remarks by President Obama that appeared to characterize business aviation as a perk. According to the Wichita Business Journal, Fuller pointed out the remarks contrasted sharply with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's comments to an aviation forum held in Wichita in which he appeared to affirm the administration's support for GA. "Where they stand on general aviation depends on where they're standing," he is quoted as saying.

Obama's comments evoked a strong reaction from general aviation groups reminiscent of the battle against user fees of a few years ago. Fuller told the Aero Club that as the 2012 election campaign gets in gear, GA might face more attacks from the administration. He said the headline-grabbing comments have hurt the industry's recovery from the recession, although there continue to be positive signs of that recovery.

NTSB Cites Lack Of Fuel De-Icer In Fatal PC-12 Crash

The pilot of a Pilatus PC-12 that crashed in Montana in March 2009 should have added an icing inhibitor to the fuel system before launching, the NTSB said in its final report on Tuesday. The board said the pilot failed to take appropriate remedial actions after icing caused low fuel pressure and a lateral fuel imbalance. The pilot then lost control while maneuvering the left-wing-heavy airplane near the approach end of the runway at Bert Mooney Airport in Butte. All 14 people on board, including 7 children, died. "The pilot's pattern of poor decision-making set in motion a series of events that culminated in the deadly crash," said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. "Humans will make mistakes, but that is why following procedures, using checklists and always ensuring that a safety margin exists are so essential -- aviation is not forgiving when it comes to errors."

Investigators determined that the pilot didn't add a fuel-system icing inhibitor, commonly referenced by the brand name "Prist," when the airplane was fueled on the day of the accident. The Pilatus flight manual states the inhibitor must be used for all flight operations in ambient temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius. The NTSB concluded that icing in the fuel system caused a left-wing-heavy fuel imbalance. The increasing fuel level in the left tank and the depletion of the fuel from the right tank should have been apparent to the pilot because that information was presented on the fuel quantity indicator. This should have prompted the pilot to divert the airplane to an airport earlier in the flight, as specified by the airplane manufacturer.

Early in its investigation, the board said it had "no working theories" about the crash, but that changed when an investigator found a small set of microchips from the PC-12's safety warning system that revealed the fuel-icing problem. The NTSB issued recommendations to the FAA and EASA, asking both agencies to make it mandatory for all aircraft that require fuel additives to place a placard near the fuel filler that notes the limitation. Earlier in its investigation, the board asked the FAA to require all children over age 2 to have their own seat and an appropriate child restraint system during takeoff, landing, and turbulence. The board's synopsis has been posted online, and a full report will be posted in a few weeks.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

Have you signed up yet for AVweb's no-cost weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz?

Delivered every Wednesday morning, AVwebBiz focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry, making it a must-read.

Add AVwebBiz to your AVweb subscriptions today by clicking here and choosing "Update E-mail Subscriptions."

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: What's Wrong with Landing on an X'd Runway?

Not a thing, unless you screw up the landing, hit something or otherwise turn what should be uneventful into easy pickings for an enforcement case. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli reviews two closed runway takeoff examples, and you can take your pick of what's wrong. Or add your own example in the comments.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Inhofe's Pilot Bill of Rights — Should I Be Thrilled?

I'm somehow not, says Paul Bertorelli on the AVweb Insider blog. On the other hand, perhaps we're supposed to be grateful that something positive came out of Inhofe's inept, embarrassing display of poor airmanship at Port Isabel, Texas that merited him a peck on the cheek from the FAA after he scattered workers on a closed runway.

Read more and join the conversation.

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New on AVweb.com back to top 

Forty-Seven Years in Aviation -- A Memoir: Chapter 3 -- Primary Flight Training Part 2

In the third chapter of his aviation memoir, Richard Taylor begins flight training in a Piper PA-18 Cub -- including being "kicked out of the nest" for his first solo before he had 10 hours of flight time -- and then moving on to the (comparatively) massive T-6 Texan.

Click here to read the third chapter.

Video: Aviation Consumer's Tiedown Shootout

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

If that tornado at Sun 'n Fun in April didn't get your attention, it should have. With EAA AirVenture looming and storms hammering the midwest, it's time to think about portable tiedown systems for the show. In this brief video, AVweb and Aviation Consumer wring out three systems, and the walkaway winner is a product you've never heard of.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Bismarck Aero Center (KBIS, Bismarck, ND)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Bismarck Aero Center at Bismarck Municipal Airport (KBIS) in Bismarck, North Dakota.

AVweb reader David Yost brought BAC to our attention:

On June 23-24, I was part of a team in the Bismarck-Minot (North Dakota) area doing aerial imaging of the flooding. We operated from Bismarck Aero Center and KBIS. Upon arrival, we were promptly met by a lineman who showed us where to park and supervised our refueling. The plane was hangared for us overnight and promptly brought out for us the following morning. There were even red carpets by both doors! This facility is clean, modern, and well-equiped, and the staff quickly took care of all our needs. But what impressed me the most was that every employee I encounted was friendly and seemed genuinely happy to be there. When in Bismarck, go to Bismarck Aero Center!

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

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.

Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

This week's winning photo comes from Dave Bornstein of North Reading, MA. Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.

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.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.