AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 17, Number 33a

August 15, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Bottom-Lining the Bandwidth Brouhaha back to top 

FCC Wants GPS Interference Facts

The FCC has essentially asked LightSquared and the GPS industry to cut the rhetoric and provide it with the facts it needs to make a decision on LightSquared's plan to provide nationwide wireless broadband on radio frequencies and at power levels that have been shown to interfere with GPS signals. Last Tuesday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski reiterated comments we first reported in June that the LightSquared plan will not be allowed to proceed at the expense of GPS. Since then, the GPS industry has said up to 500 million devices that use GPS in the U.S. could be affected. LightSquared says the number is more like 200,000 under its revised plan to move its initial deployment to frequencies a little farther away from GPS. According to the Washington Post both sides have been asked to be specific about the number and type of devices that will be affected by the revised plan. LightSquared has also been asked to specify how many towers will be activated in the initial deployment and their location. The comment period for the FCC rulemaking process ends Monday and LightSquared is turning up the heat on the GPS industry by intensifying its position that GPS manufacturers cheaped out on their devices. LightSquared said manufacturers failed to comply with Department of Defense standards to protect their devices from interference from neighboring frequencies.

Jeff Carlisle, LightSquared's VP of Regulatory Affairs says in the release that agencies have been warning the GPS industry since 2000 that its gear doesn't measure up. In 2008, he said the DOD issued standards that would allow GPS a "guard frequency" of 4 MHz while the latest LightSquared proposal gives a 23 MHz gap between broadband and GPS. Carlisle said the GPS industry wants a 34 MHz gap and that's not sustainable given the scarcity of radio frequency spectrum and the urgent need to expand Internet services. "If all spectrum users demanded the irrational guard band solutions that GPS manufacturers are demanding, we would not have broadband in this country and efficient spectrum use would take a backseat to the squeakiest wheel," Carlisle said. "This type of precedent would set back the United States' competitiveness by decades. The GPS industry turned a blind eye to the Department of Defense's recommendations regarding the manufacturing of commercial GPS receivers and a blind eye to the ITU's long-standing recommendations regarding GPS receiver performance."

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Pipistrel Gearing Up for Green Flight Challenge back to top 

Four-Place Electric Airplane Flies

Pipistrel announced the first flight of its oddly configured Taurus four-place electric aircraft that it plans to enter into the $1.65 million Green Flight Challenge. The aircraft flew Friday morning at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, where it had remained after the show while myriad issues relating to its FAA approval were sorted out. The aircraft looks like it came from Burt Rutan's drawing board, with twin fuselages and room for two occupants in each. It was creates specifically for the Green Flight Challenge and is the mating of two Pipistrel G2 aircraft with a central spar that also carries the 145 kw brushless motor, which is supplied with 450 pounds of lithium polymer batteries. The wing span is more than 75 feet. The first flight was apparently uneventful.

The flight came at a the end of a string of bureaucratic and technical challenges that took 30 people three weeks to overcome. Just getting the batteries into the U.S. was an issue since lithium batteries can be a fire hazard. Also, the FAA wouldn't allow anyone but an American to fly the first flight so Pipistrel used the huge amount of publicity it received at AirVenture and landed test pilot Dave Morss to take the first hop. Pipistrel isn't talking much about the performance of the aircraft as it prepares for the Green Flight Challenge against a dozen other aircraft. One nugget that will probably be of interest to the other teams is that the Taurus has a glide ratio of greater than 30:1 at 100 mph.

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Hypersonic Flight Test Update back to top 

Hypersonic Flight Test Loses Another Vehicle

The Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle II launched Aug. 11 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, near Lompoc, Calif., with a goal of splashing down nearly 4,900 miles away -- and 30 minutes later -- near The Marshal Islands, but that didn't quite work out. The test flight was the product of DARPA funding and Lockheed Martin production and the arrowhead-shaped glider was attached to an eight-story-tall Minotaur IV rocket. It is part of a system intended to reach speeds of up to Mach 20 to deliver a military strike anywhere on earth within one hour. In Thursday's test, like a prior test, telemetry was lost prematurely.

Thursday's test launched the Falcon into the Earth's upper atmosphere where it would have covered the bulk of the about 4,900 miles. If researchers figure out the system's faults, the vehicle should be able to leave from Los Angeles and pass Hawaii about 15 minutes later. On the test flight plan the vehicle was meant to make a sharp descent into the atmosphere and then level off. If proven, the system could cover the distance from Los Angeles to New York in 12 minutes. A previous test saw the vehicle travel for nine minutes before controllers lost contact. Data collected from the new test will be used to confirm theory and expand knowledge of hypersonic flight.

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A Mystery Afoot in the World of the F-22 back to top 

Toxic Raptors Still Grounded, Pilots Losing Currency

An investigation that grounded the fleet of F-22 Raptors back in May, "has since expanded to include all aspects of the aircraft," according to the Air Force Times, leaving deliveries on hold and pilots hoping for simulator time. There are less than 160 Raptors deployed (accounting for roughly $65 billion) and two F-22 simulators -- one at Langley and another at Tyndall Air Force Base. The actual jets have been grounded because they appear to be poisoning their pilots. Tests have found multiple toxins in the blood of Raptor pilots affected by symptoms similar to hypoxia while flying the jets. And the Air Force hasn't been able to source the problem, leading to a cascade of complications.

The blood tests turned up chemicals from oil fumes, burned antifreeze and propane, according to the Air Force Times. "There is a lot of nasty stuff getting pumped into the pilots' bloodstream through what they're breathing from that OBOGS [On-Board Oxygen Generation System]. That's fact," one former F-22 pilot said. "How bad it is, what type it is, exactly how much of it, how long — all these things have not been answered." Deliveries have been effectively halted because government test pilots can't fly the jets under the grounding order. Classes of incoming Raptor pilots have had their training altered and active pilots from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii have been seeking sim-time at either of two simulators on the east coast. According to Stars and Stripes, pilots must undergo complete re-qualification if they haven't flown in 210 days. The military is working to develop shorter re-qualification training and instructor pilots will be the first ones through the program when the jets come back on line. What was first thought to be an oxygen delivery problem leading to hypoxia -- and the possible cause of a fatal crash last November -- is apparently more complicated.

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News Briefs back to top 

Coast Guard Rescues Marines

Two Marines were plucked out of the Pacific by the Coast Guard, at about 2:30 Thursday morning, four hours after ejecting from an F/A-18D, 85 miles southwest of San Diego. Both men were listed in stable condition after being delivered to Naval Medical Center San Diego but suffered from injuries that included broken bones and hypothermia. Capt. Pete Brawn of Albany, Ore., and his weapons system officer had been flying as part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing out of Miramar in San Diego. They were flying with another F/A-18. That jet's crew reported it had lost contact with the accident aircraft at about 10:15 p.m. and saw debris in the water.</p>

Personnel onboard a Coast Guard Cutter heard the men in the water when they arrived on scene and a Coast Guard JayHawk moved the men to the medical center. Captain Brawn suffered serious injuries to his collarbone and shoulders. Details about his systems officer were not immediately released. Brawn's grandmother was contacted by her grandson's hometown Albany Democrat-Herald newspaper. She said, "We're relieved that he's OK. We understand that the Coast Guard was surprised to find them alive." Both Brawn and his systems operator were said to be recovering from their injuries. The F-18 Hornet's last major incident near San Diego involved an engine explosion that started a fire aboard the USS John C. Stennis. Eleven sailors were injured in that event.

Affordable Flying?

The Aerotrek A240 Light Sport Aircraft is a sleeper offering in the LSA market that may be running under the radar because of its lack of formal marketing infrastructure -- it sells mainly by word of mouth. The LSA mall at AirVenture Oshkosh didn't include Aerotrek in 2011, but the company did have a display manned by owner operators near the show entrance. For less than $80,000 Aerotrek offers a 120-mph cruise, precision-welded 4130 chromoly steel tube fuselage and aluminum wings and PolyFiber covering, plus a radio, transponder and Dynon EFIS. Well more than 300 Aerotrek aircraft have been delivered and are flying.

The company says it holds costs down by not supporting a huge company infrastructure and owners say that doesn't hurt their ability to maintain their aircraft. AVweb caught up with one of them at AirVenture 2011. Click here for our podcast interview with Aerotrek owner Scott Spencer.

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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.

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AVweb Audio — Are You Listening? back to top 

Podcast: RV-8 First Flight -- The Day Before

File Size 15.5 MB / Running Time 17:00

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

There aren't many people in the world who have the privilege of taking the first flight in the aircraft that they built. Brent Owens is one of them. AVweb's own experimental driver, Glenn Pew, caught up with Brent the day before first flight. This is that conversation.

Click here to listen. (15.5 MB, 17:00)

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Lycoming on Automotive Gas

A significant subtext in the quest to replace 100LL with an unleaded equivalent is the use of automobile fuel or mogas in engines that are approved to burn it. The two major engine makers, Lycoming and Continental, have traditionally avoided the approvals required to do this. But Lycoming sees a place for automotive-type fuels in the supply chain, and beginning this week, in a series of three guest posts to the AVweb Insider blog, Lycoming GM Michael Kraft explains the company's views on how automobile fuels can be integrated into aviation. The blogs will run on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Read the first here, then share your own comments.

AVweb Insider Blog: Lycoming Explains Why Pump Gas Isn't Mogas

In the second of three guest posts to the AVweb Insider blog on aviation fuels, Lycoming GM Michael Kraft expands on his explanation of why Lycoming approved some of its engines for automobile type gas. But not just any car gas. Lycoming favors and has specified an aviation-spec automotive gasoline whose parameters are more tightly controlled and guaranteed than are those at the corner filling station.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Lycoming's View -- Airworthiness by Design, Not Luck

In Part 3 of his guests posts to the AVweb Insider blog, Lycoming's Michael Kraft explains how the company arrived at its decision to approve some of its engines for an aviation-spec automotive-type gasoline.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Video: Aviation Consumer's Remos NXT Flight Trial

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

Remos has a successful line of light sport aircraft, and now they've introduced a new and improved model, the NXT. Aviation Consumer's Paul Bertorelli flew the airplane recently, and here's his video report.

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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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Tailwheels Etc. (KGIF, Winter Haven, Florida)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon does not go to an FBO — but to a flight school! Australian AVweb reader Steve Vette explains how Tailwheels Etc. at Gilbert Airport (KGIF) in Winter Haven, Florida make his recent trip to the States memorable:

While visiting Winter Haven, Florida, the wife and self were exploring from Dundee the area for local air fields. As we both are avid aviators, our interest is airfields and/or landing fields. We encountered a lady by the name of Kate. She informed us that her great great grandfather was one of the [founders] of this airfield. Suitably impressed with the credentials provided by the various people and staff, we decided to hire a Cessna 172 for an hour. When the aircraft was allocated and we strapped ourselves in, we went flying. The panoramic scenery (for us Australians) defies description! I have no hesitation in commending the staff and ground personnel for their services, their briefings, and [their] attention to detail. ... Our flight was a special memory for my wife and myself. I hereby would like to commend Tailwheels, Etc. flying facility for their sincere and courteous attention in all aspects towards both of us.

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

This happened a few weeks ago in Turin, Italy. An Alitalia airliner was kind of delayed behind a small Piper making his landing.

"Torino tower, what is the speed of that small thing in long final?"

Piper Pilot:
"To begin with, this 'small thing' is all mine ... ."

Fiore Ambrogio
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.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.