AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 17, Number 43a

October 24, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! User Fee Battle Lands at the Capitol back to top 
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Lawmakers Oppose User Fee

Opposition to a $100-per-operation user fee for business and commercial aircraft continues to mount among lawmakers. Last week, Republican members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee sent a letter to the Congressional Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction saying the fee proposed by the administration is arbitrary and could hurt the aviation industry. "The president's proposed $100 per flight fee is an arbitrary number with no basis for its establishment," John Mica, R-Fla., said in the letter to deficit reduction committee. He said the current method of taxing aviation through fuel consumption is efficient and should be maintained. The National Business Aviation Association heartily endorsed Mica's letter.

NBAA President Ed Bolen said Congress, in various political stratifications, has examined user fees and consistently rejected them over the past five years. The current proposal would exempt recreational flights and those not using the system, and NBAA has vigorously battled the notion, saying it would require the creation of a fee-collecting system that would open the door to additional user fees. "This letter from House transportation leaders demonstrates a continued understanding in congress that per-flight user fees are a bad idea," Bolen said.

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Probable Causes I back to top 
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Air France 447 Final Words Transcript Leak

A book titled "Erreurs de Pilotage" (Pilot Error) by French flight instructor Jean-Pierre Otelli provides a transcript of the last two minutes captured by Air France Flight 447's cockpit voice recorder as the jet crashed at night into the ocean off Brazil in June, 2009, killing all 228 aboard. The BEA says disclosure of the transcript is a violation of European regulations and is also ethically improper. "Any attempt at interpretation at this stage is partial," the BEA said as part of a statement that also warned that the disclosure could be "harmful to all concerned." Air France has called the newly published information "unverifiable" and says it "impairs the memory of the crew and passengers who lost their lives." At this time, the information is widely available from numerous sources.

As problems unfolded for Flight 447, Captain Marc Dubois was not in the cockpit. The two pilots who were on the flight deck appeared anxious for his return. That information has been available for some time. Britain's Telegraph UK has now published content from "Pilot Error." According to the newspaper, author Otelli writes that upon the captain's return to the cockpit, the cockpit crew responded to his inquiry by saying, "What's happening? I don't know. I don't know what's happening." One of the men at the controls then says "I've got a problem. I don't have vertical speed. I don't have any indication," and the captain responds,  "I don't know, but right now we're descending." As the airplane fell, a stall alarm sounded multiple times and a computer-generated voice repeated the word "Stall." According to the Los Angeles Times, the stall warning sounded 75 times as the aircraft descended. During the event certain air data indicators available to the crew became unreliable. In the Telegraph's account, the captain ultimately warns "watch out, you're pulling up." The Sydney Morning Herald quotes him saying "No, no, no! ... Don't go up! ... No, no!" One of the copilots then says, "Go down, then!" But it is late in the accident sequence. The other copilot says "Damn it! We're going to crash. It can't be true!" According to Otelli, the final words spoken on the flight deck are recorded seconds before impact. They are those of the pilot who'd been flying as the event began. According to Otelli, the pilot said simply, "But what's happening?" The BEA's final report is due next June.

Video: AA Jackson Hole Overrun Transcript Released

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

Video (below) appeared to show that the thrust reversers of American Airlines Flight 2253 were slow to deploy before the 757-200 slid off the runway at Jackson Hole Wyoming last December -- now we know the crew thought so, too. The NTSB Friday released a transcript of the flight's cockpit voice recorder. The airliner had touched down safely under a 1,000 foot overcast with a broken layer at 400 and 3/4 mile visibility in light snow. At the moment the wheels touched, the flight's captain said "very good." Twenty-seven seconds later, the first officer (who had flown the landing) expressed his opinion of how events had developed since then by stating, "we're screwed." He then told the tower why: "and American ah twenty two fifty three is goin' off the end of the runway."

None of the 185 aboard were injured. The jet came to rest approximately 350 feet past the runway overrun area in snow. Preliminary reports indicate that the airplane was undamaged, according to the NTSB. The transcript shows that almost immediately after touching down, the pilots believed they had a problem. The copilot specifically commented that he had "no reverse." The conversation that followed between copilot and captain as the jet rumbled down the runway focused on efforts to apply brakes and reversers. Eventually, 15 seconds into the landing roll the captain says "alright I got max brake." It apparently was too little, too late. The crew from a Challenger 30 that landed before the Boeing reported good braking on the first 2/3 of the runway and poor braking on the last third. After the Boeing came to rest, the crew tended to communications with the tower and emergency personnel and shared this exchange: The captains said, "We got no braking action." The copilot responded, "We didn't get thrust reversers out." The transcript suggests that wasn't for lack of trying, and the video shows that eventually -- and prior to the jet leaving the runway -- the reversers did deploy. But the NTSB has yet to release a final report.

Find the transcript here.

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Probable Causes II back to top 

Video Cards Useless In Reno Crash Probe

Video memory cards and equipment recovered from the wreckage of Jimmy Leeward's P-51 at the National Championship Air Races last month in Reno were too badly damaged to be of any help in the investigation of the crash, the NTSB said Friday. However, a card retrieved from flight data equipment and telemetry received by the ground crew of the Galloping Ghost are still being examined as investigators piece together the five seconds between a normal home-stretch pylon turn and a high-speed dive that ended with a horrific crash that killed 11, including Leeward, and injured scores of others. "NTSB investigators continue to review the dozens of videos and hundreds of photographs provided to them by spectators at the air race," the board said in a news release.

Investigators continue to examine the left elevator trim tab to determine how its departure from the aircraft affected the chain of events. The role of the trim tab has been the subject of much debate on various blogs and forums and some have concluded its loss was a consequence and not a cause. It will, of course, be months and perhaps years before the NTSB reaches its final conclusions on the tragedy.

Attorney: Internal Emails In Colgan Crash Troubling

A lawyer for families of those killed in the February 2009 crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 says that the carrier's internal emails prove it "chose profit over safety." The Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 crash killed 50, after the aircraft stalled at night in freezing conditions over Clarence Center, N.Y. Colgan emails sent between supervisors six months prior to the crash include exchanges about the man who would later fly as captain of the accident aircraft, Marvin D. Renslow. "Renslow had a problem upgrading," states one supervisor. Another adds, "Anyone that does not meet the mins and had problems in training is not ready to handle the Q." A response to that email states, "He is already off the list." Attorneys for the families say Renslow was promoted one month later. The crash came five months after that. Colgan is standing by its actions.

"Captain Renslow was properly trained, certified and qualified under all applicable federal aviation regulations to act as pilot-in-command of a Q400 aircraft," spokesman Joe Williams said. Williams is a spokesman for Pinnacle Airlines, which owns Colgan. Another carrier, Continental Airlines, is also involved in the lawsuit because it acted as its partner for the flight. The lawsuit claims that Colgan failed to provide sufficient training to its crews and did not adopt adequate safety programs. Renslow was issued a Q400 type rating after successfully completing Colgan's FAA-approved Q400 training and according to Pinnacle, he then completed 20 hours of transition operating experience without displaying any problems. Colgan had originally considered the emails confidential, but released them voluntarily at the plaintiffs' request to reconsider.

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Here Today, Gone When You're Over Capacity back to top 

iPads Can Delete Charts, Plates

Those who use iPads for charts and approach plates are advised to pre-flight their devices before counting on them for navigation, thanks to Apple's latest operating system upgrade. iOS5 includes a file-management feature that might be handy if you're downloading a movie, but could be inconvenient at the very least if it messes with your navigation-app data bases. In an explanation on its website, flight-planning app provider ForeFlight says iOS5 will randomly delete data to make room for new files and that could include your charts and approach plates. The iPad does display a "cleaning" symbol by the app icon that it's busily deleting data from but that can be easy to miss. ForeFlight recommends several strategies to keep you from discovering that the latest Transformers has pre-empted the information you now need for your flight.

The most obvious suggestion is to simply check that everything is as it should be before you leave. ForeFlight has built a feature into its app that checks to ensure the full data package is in place, but the operator does have to initiate that process and its best done on the ground. To prevent data from being deleted in flight, ForeFlight recommends shutting off the WiFi and 3G before takeoff. Keeping plenty of disc space available in the device will also prevent the problem from occurring in the first place.

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Storm Hammers Diamond Fleet back to top 

MTSU Composite Diamond Fleet Ravaged By Hail

click for photos

A hail event at Murfreesboro Municipal Airport may have damaged up to 22 of 25 Diamond trainers operated by Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) and left the school's entire fleet grounded, temporarily putting a stop to flight instruction for hundreds of students. MTSU has roughly 400 students studying in its professional pilot concentrations and it operates one of the largest fleets of Diamond trainers in the country. Diamond is sending experts from Canada to inspect potentially hidden (and apparent) physical damage to the Diamonds' composite skins. Dr. Wayne Dornan, chairman of the school's Aerospace Department, told AVweb Thursday that the DA-40s operated by MTSU carry glass cockpits, some with synthetic vision, and cost roughly $365,000 each, new. MTSU's aircraft weren't the only ones to suffer. The airport was hosting a regional competition and aircraft from other schools were also damaged.

Purdue University, Southern Illinois University, Lewis University, and Indiana State University were all participating in a Region 8 SAFECON event at the airport. At least one of those schools received special FAA clearance to fly two of their aircraft home after the storm, according to Dornan. For MTSU, all trainers were at least temporarily grounded following the storm. Only three of the school's aircraft were spared because they were hangared for maintenance at the time. According to MTSU news liaison Randy Weiler, the hail that fell on the school's nearby campus was mostly pea- to marble-sized, but he noted that local news accounts reported some hail stones roughly the size of a ping pong ball. The storm was sudden and the hail appeared to be isolated. Aircraft were flying just minutes before it arrived. "An hour earlier, there was nothing heading our way. All of a sudden I turned around and it started to rain and hail on campus," Weiler said.

Moving forward, MTSU is "erring on the side of safety and will leave all 22 affected aircraft on the ground," Dornan told AVweb, "until their condition can be properly assessed." MTSU's Dornan told AVweb that the school's first priority now "is to get our students back in the air, but back in the air safely." "We have some Pipers, and we know what to do with those, but not the (composite) Diamonds," Dornan said. "If we have to get new aircraft, we will. We have a commitment to our students that we will fulfill." Representatives from Diamond were expected to arrive Sunday night or Monday to provide expert inspection. From there, MTSU will devise an action plan. Until then, the school's three remaining trainers that had been hangared for maintenance, will be repaired and brought back online.

Click for photos.

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

AVmail: October 24, 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: Single-Engine Jets Viable

Regarding the blog about the future of Piper's jet: Single-engine jets? Heaven forbid! Why, for that much money, you can have a —

Pilatus seems to be having no trouble making money selling lots of single-engine turboprops (the heart of a jet, with the liability of a propeller) with cabins bigger than King Airs.

In my worthless opinion, it's all about cabin comfort and access to the technology at a price that the potential buyer can afford. In an age in which people (albeit fewer than in the industry's heyday) are willing to pony up three quarters of a million dollars for an unpressurized high performance single, there's a real market out there for a low-seven-figure "personal" aircraft that is pressurized, can fly above much of the worst weather, has enough speed and range to cover half of the country in one hop and is comfortable.

I've sat in the left seat (and the other seats) of just about every VLJ that's made it to (or past) the stage of a mock-up. This includes the Mustang and the Eclipse. Based on what I've seen in person, the only company out there that "gets it" is Cirrus, with their Vision jet. For about three times the price of a very nice SR-22, they are intent on providing access to a level of capability that otherwise requires you to have the wherewithal to enter the Five Million Dollar Club. (Apologies to the folks at Eclipse, whose fine little ship is suitable principally for pygmies.)

Multi-engine safety is a 1950s concept that was borne of frequent engine failures. This single-versus-twin-jet argument is a redux of the ETOPS battle that ensued when Boeing had the temerity to propose ocean-hopping twins in the mid-1970s. As Shakespeare said, "much ado about nothing." The same risk-management strategy that allows any of us to take to the air in a single-engine anything, does not lose its rationality when the power plant is a turbine. If anything, the strategy is more defensible with a jet power plant, with its demonstrated record of reliability.

As for single-engine jets wandering around in the flight levels, the safety record of the F-16 vs. that of the F-15 makes it hard to justify the FAA's skepticism. The FAA has come light years since the 1970s but is the home of some people who told me with a straight face that an HSI with hundreds of moving parts just had to be more reliable than a TV monitor. We all know how that worked out.

I've been a design engineer since the mid-1970s. When your product is dependent upon some unreliable component, you can:

  1. Accept downtime ("failures").
  2. Sometimes provide redundancy (with its attendant costs and complexities).
  3. Improve the reliability of your critical component(s) to the point that they no longer are a source of worry.

Arguably, jet engines are the most reliable component of a jet aircraft (the avionics companies would do most of the arguing). They're also unarguably the most expensive component. Single-engine jets are defensible, rational, and cost-efficient. (Ask the USAF.) This is a market niche that is just begging to be filled if the product is compelling. So far, Cirrus is the only product that looks like a winner.

Tom Yarsley

Light Attack Aircraft Too Light

Regarding the story about Congress blocking deployment of light attack aircraft in Afghanistan: Even a Congressman can see that these aircraft are 10 pounds stuffed into a five-pound bag. To do this job, a 7,500 horsepower aircraft is required, not a 1,500 horsepower aircraft. There's no point wasting money and lives on these two featherweights that have no hope of success.

H. Stiles

Where Are the Skid Marks?

If the brakes were on in the Yak 42 crash in Russia, then there should have been tire(s) blown out somewhere down on the roll or marks on the runway indicating such.

So far, there has been cover up only.

It is possible that the weight and balance was incorrect or the CG was set incorrectly, resulting in the abnormal rise of the nose near rotation speed, leading to the stall.

Mohammad Syed Husain

Pay Up, LightSquared

Why is LightSquared paying federal agencies $50 million to replace affected government GPS units and not doing the same for civilian GPS units?

The hypocrisy of the LightSquared issue is reaching new heights. The FCC issues a license without regard for the frequency spectrum it is stated to protect. Then, when the economics of the issue become such that the FCC cannot withdraw its approval after finding out after the fact it made a mistake, it tries to kick the can down the road until a compromise can be reached.

Now I read all government agencies are getting $50 Million to replace effected units.

Where is the compensation or replacement of civilian units to correct the problem?

Looks like the American people are getting shafted by the FCC, LightSquared, and the politicians again.

Benjamin S. Armen

If and when that $6 filter becomes available, be prepared for a half-zillion dollar cost to have it installed. And that will be three or so years after it has been submitted to FAA/FTC for approval. Your GPS may have to go back to the factory for installation, it may require an STC, [and] it will certainly require an extensive/expensive utilization of an A&P/IA.

Don't hold your breath, and cut back on $100 hamburgers to build up the kitty for this wonderful new invention. You may have it paid for by the time you have to upgrade to ADB-S.

Dick Carden

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

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Flight 447 -- Released Transcripts Put Air France in the Hot Seat

The transcript reveals confusion and dithering in the cockpit as the crew appears to have held the airplane into a persistent stall for three minutes or longer. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli predicts that Air France will have some explaining do to show why its pilots couldn't fly the airplane on raw data well enough to recover a stall.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Sir Richard Goes a-Greenwashin'

That's the upshot of Richard Branson's announcement last week that his Virgin Atlantic airline will be testing out and maybe using a synthetic jet fuel made from steel plant effluent. As much as we cheer the idea, we're less thrilled with his statement that we're running out of oil. In his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli stresses that, to remain credible, opinion leaders should stop saying things like this.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Altaire a Dated Concept

In his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, Russ Niles says Piper is correct in reviewing (and ultimately killing) the Altaire/PiperJet project -- for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that the idea of a single-engine business jet is dated and the concept doomed from the start.

Read more and join the conversation.

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AVweb Audio — Are You Listening? back to top 

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

Video: DRE's New Portable Intercom

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

Most portable intercoms barely meet the mark for basic cabin chatter. DRE's newest unit may be a bit big, but it performs like a certified panel-mount system.

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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 latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to a location that's had the honor in the past — Kissimmee Jet Center at Kissimmee Gateway Airport (KISM) in Florida.

AVweb reader John Wilson explains why KJC is his destination of choice:

Small and friendly with service and prices that can't be beat, Kissimmee Jet Center is our spot when in the Orlando area! We call ahead, our rental car is sitting at a pre-assigned tiedown spot, [and] a staff member is right there to get us on our way. ... [When we return, it's] to a plane fueled with the lowest-cost gas around. How much better can you get?

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

My son and I took advantage of a beautiful October day to fly to Blairstown, New Jersey and catch the fall foliage. Sipping a Coke and watching the arrivals and departures, we saw a bright orange Grumman Tiger taxi in. From it emerged a man and a woman; the woman seemed to be carrying a big fur hat in her arms. As they approached, I realized it was a cat!

"You take your cat flying?"

The Woman from the Tiger:
"Yes, and she loves it."

I shook my head in amazement.

The Woman from the Tiger:
"And she's not just a cat — she's a Grumman cat!"

Rabbi Don Weber
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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