AVwebFlash - Volume 17, Number 46a

November 14, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Shifting Landscape Moves Data Away from Pilots back to top 

FAA To Charge Companies For Online Charts, No Access For Individuals

The days of inexpensive navigation and chart apps for your mobile devices appear to be numbered with the FAA's announcement that it will begin charging for downloads that were previously free starting April 5, 2012. A story in the December issue of our sister publication Aviation Consumer says the Aeronautical Navigational Products Directorate (Aeronav), which currently makes the latest charts and other navigational products available online for free, says it has to recover the costs associated with developing and hosting the products. That means charging fees to companies for those downloads and no longer allowing individuals access them at all. As of April 5, only those with distribution contracts with Aeronav will be able to download the data. The most noticeable impact will likely be on the small but increasingly popular industry segment (like ForeFlight and WingX) that develops flight-related apps for iPads and other consumer electronics. It will also have an impact on websites like RunwayFinder that use the data for their online products, some of which are currently available for free. How much impact isn't known because the FAA hasn't announced what it intends to charge for the data. Affected companies have been invited to a meeting Dec. 13 in Washington to hear details of the FAA's proposal and offer input to the final pricing structure and the distribution contract.

Industry officials told Aviation Consumer that the market will likely reject significant increases in cost for apps and online products. Smaller providers and free websites may simply go out of business. Larger companies may try to keep their subscribers but with higher subscription prices. The pervasive fear in the industry is that this could lead to only one or two entities controlling the market for the distribution of government-produced information that is essential for flight safety. Aeronav spokeswoman Abigail Smith told Aviation Consumer the agency is determined not to let that happen but the new fees, whatever they are, will have to be enough to cover costs. "Because we're legislated, we can't collect more money than our cost," she said. "We're committed to the most affordable product line for the end user. But if revenue diminishes, the product line diminishes." Under the new contract structure, the FAA will also set standards for those using FAA data to create their products. There have been issues with data being made inaccessible in the production of some apps and the standards will ensure that all information on printed charts is available in any digital version.

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Aviation Safety Reports back to top 

FAA Acts On Uncommanded Inflight Engine Shutdowns

The FAA plans to impose mandatory fixes for nearly 700 GE turbofan engines Monday because the engines are unacceptably prone to uncommanded inflight shutdown due to ice and a 2007 fix didn't work. Government and industry experts have documented single or dual-engine shutdowns of GE's popular CF6-80C2B engines  on more than 100 Boeing and Airbus jets from the mid-1990s through 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The figures far exceed the expected inflight single-aircraft, multiple-engine shutdown rate of about one in one billion. Following the FAA directive issued in 2007, at least 10 uncommanded inflight shutdowns have been reported. On Monday, the FAA will formally propose a new fix.

The shutdown events typically took place while the aircraft were flying near strong thunderstorms. The engines usually restarted very quickly, sometimes with no pilot input. The 2007 fix changed high-altitude flight procedures and software on roughly 1,200 airliners. Since then, 14 instances of sudden shutdowns have taken place. Four of those took place on the ground and 10 took place in flight. In each case one or two engines shut down without any pilot input and some engines shut down multiple times during one trip. The FAA is expected to require replacement of electronic engine-control systems to prevent sudden inflight shutdowns of one or more engines. According to the Journal, the airlines will have six months or 450 flights to comply after the rule becomes final. The FAA estimates a total cost to operators of $3.4 million.

Pax Witness Failure, ATC Notifies Pilots

On March 3, 2011, a Dash 8 operated by Flybe between Exeter and Newcastle, UK, dropped a right main wheel on takeoff right in front of window-seated passengers, but it was Air Traffic Control that notified the crew, according to an AAIB report. The precise chronology of the event is not known, but passengers seated next to the high-wing's landing gear clearly saw the wheel fall shortly after takeoff. Tower controllers also witnessed something fall from the aircraft and alerted the pilot. The pilot then directed cabin crew to investigate. At that time passengers told the senior flight attendant what they'd seen. With confirmation, the pilot issued a Mayday, turned back to Exeter and prepared for landing while at least one passenger took pictures of the landing gear.

The cockpit crew consulted with the airline's chief pilot and was instructed to touch down on the good left main first and lower the now handicapped right gear (one wheel remained) as slowly as possible. The aircraft landed successfully on the runway with its remaining tires. All aboard escaped injury, but the aircraft was evacuated while still on the runway. According to the AAIB, a seized bearing had caused damage that led to the wheel's departure. It noted that the captain had inspected the gear during pre-flight and did not notice anything out of the ordinary. According to the AAIB, the nature of the problem would have been difficult to detect during a visual pre-flight inspection. The AAIB has issued safety actions as a result of the incident.

Correction: Qantas Upset Was Old News

A story that appeared in Monday's edition of AVwebFlash concerning the upset of a Qantas aircraft appeared in error. That incident happened in 2008 and should not have been reported as current news. Our thanks go to the sharp-eyed readers who alerted us to the gremlin and enabled us to quickly remove the erroneous story from circulation. For those of you who saw it anyway, we apologize for the error.

Russ Niles

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End of the Runway for Airbus A340 back to top 

Regulatory Changes, Economy Kill Airbus A340

Production of the Airbus A340 four-engine commercial jetliner has ended, making it Airbus' shortest-lived production model. The aircraft entered service in 1993, but soon began losing favor with carriers due to the economic factors associated with feeding fuel to and maintaining four engines. Demand for the A340 also took a major hit with the expansion of extended operations or ETOPS. As regulators increased the amount of time twin-engine aircraft were allowed to fly away from suitable landing sites under more lenient ETOPS regulations, four-engine aircraft lost a key competitive edge. And, Thursday, Airbus confirmed that it had sold zero A340s over the past two years. Meanwhile, some twin-engine jets from competing manufactures have done quite well.

Boeing's 777 earned more than 130 orders in the first 10 months of 2011. The Boeing earned Extended Operations certification after passing tests that included eight three-hour, single-engine test flights. While Airbus also produces successful twins, it shares that market to some extent with the successful Boeing. The 777 entered service on June 7, 1995, and like the A340 before it now faces competition from a younger design -- particularly from its sibling the 787. That aircraft again challenges the aircraft before it by offering increases in efficiency. However, Boeing, Boeing is increasing production of the 777 ... for now.

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It All Starts with a Blank Sheet of Paper back to top 

"Retired" Rutan's Next Project

It's just natural to adapt to one's environment and when you're Burt Rutan in Idaho with too much time on your hands, that means designing an airplane to take advantage of the circumstances. "Going out and exploring little lakes and rivers in a STOL seaplane is a fantasy, I think, for a pilot," the legendary designer told EAA. "So having something that would be a high-speed boat, a very efficient boat for Lake Coeur d'Alene, and then convert into a seaplane to go to the rivers and small lakes and elsewhere is what I'm trying to do." Rutan admitted he's bored since retiring earlier this year from Scaled Composites, the Mojave-based aircraft and spacecraft design company he founded. And if Rutan's inspiration for what he calls 372-3 is any indication, this could be one of his most innovative designs yet.

EAA says Rutan is drawing on his observations of the giant Russian ground effect vehicles called ekranoplans that he saw during a visit 20 years ago. The aircraft are designed to skim the surface of water bodies at high speed but need ground effect to stay aloft. Rutan isn't saying what elements his new aircraft will borrow from the Russian behemoths nor is he saying when the aircraft might be finished, although he did say he wants to keep it in his garage. "I don't even know what it will look like. I'm not ready to build it yet," he said. "I have about three different options right now. This is in very preliminary stages."

Wolf Fund Deadline Dec. 15

Deadline for proposals for the Wolf Aviation Fund is coming up Dec. 15 and organizers are urging those with project ideas to get cracking on their applications. The idea of the Wolf Fund is to provide small grants to folks who have ideas that foster and promote GA. In the past, grants have been awarded for everything from helping disadvantaged youth in Alaska learn about building airplanes to encouraging Chinese women to learn to fly. The application process isn't complicated or necessarily time-consuming but there are things applicants need to know, so the first step is reading that page.

"Applications must meet certain criteria and fit into the Fund's seven major program areas, which are: Developing Public Policy and Airports; Networking and Mutual Support; Development and Alternative Resources; Communications, Media, and Community Relations; General Aviation Technology, Safety, and Noise; Improving Public Understanding and Perception; and Aviation and Space Education," said spokesman Rol Murrow. The fund is named for Alfred and Constance Wolf, who devoted their lives to the promotion of aviation and whose legacy lives on with the administration of the fund.

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And Then There's This ... back to top 

Porn On Planes? Maybe

Whether it's all just a publicity stunt or it's been Michael O'Leary's dirty little secret, the flamboyant owner of Ryanair certainly knows how to stimulate headline writers. The Irish entrepreneur's latest media bombshell is the suggestion that his no-frills airliners stream, among other things, porn to the handheld devices of passengers. He's also thinking about games, gambling and more wholesome fare like movies but it's the prospect of catching a glimpse of something creating heat besides the engines that has tweaked the Times, titillated the Telegraph and seared the Sun. "I'm not talking about having it on screens on the back of seats for everyone to see," he told the Sun. "It would be on handheld devices. Hotels around the world have it, so why wouldn't we?" Perhaps the Sun reporter didn't mention that hotels have doors with locks on them, too, but the problem with quoting O'Leary is that it's impossible to tell when he's serious.

He's made headlines before for implausible (but possible) suggestions like standing room areas on his airplanes and pay toilets that haven't gone anywhere but he's also followed through on some of his seemingly outlandish schemes. Whatever the real motives behind O'Leary's latest brainwave, he concedes airliner porn won't see the light of day for at least a year since Ryanair doesn't have onboard Internet and it will take at least that long to figure out the mechanics of such a project.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: That Great Black Hole in the Panel

Having spent multiple thousands for new glass, some owners are shocked at how the database costs add up. And with the FAA poised to start charging for its heretofore free digital flight data, the needle may be going in the wrong direction. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli opines that this could eventually become a drag on sales and ownership, if it isn't already.

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New on AVweb.com back to top 

Forty-Seven Years in Aviation: A Memoir; Chapter 7: Basic Flight Training, Part 3

Learning to fly the B-25 was a joy to Richard Taylor ... and also a pain, dealing with a castering nosewheel and malicious instructor pilots, as we learn in Richard's continuing memoir.

Click here to read the seventh chapter.

Starting the B-25's engines was a lot easier because of our training in the T-6; but if we thought the sound of an R-1340 being fired up was music to our ears, the R-2600 produced an aeronautical symphony when all 14 cylinders got together. It was a little on the loud side, but those engines spoke power. There were two exhaust systems on our B-25s: One with "short stacks" that put out a clattering sound, the other with a collector ring that captured the exhaust from the cylinders and produced a more tolerable noise. I am still of the opinion that the rumble of a big radial engine is the way airplanes are supposed to sound, regardless of the fact that flying between two such powerplants for most of my military aviation experience probably had a lot to do with the constant ringing in my ears that continues unabated to this day.

Those of us in the B-25 program had one thing in common with our classmates who were learning to fly the T-33 jet trainer: Both airplanes had castering nosewheels, which made directional control on the ground an artful procedure that had to be experienced to appreciate and practiced to be acceptable. There were probably few students in either program who did not at least once find themselves victims of a nosewheel that had come to rest sideways or nearly so. It was very embarrassing to sit in the pilot seat while your instructor tried to undo the problem, worse if a ground crew showed up with a tow bar to get things straightened out ... and even worse if you let it happen a second time.

We had a leg up on our T-33 classmates because asymmetric power usually resolved the problem in the B-25 but the T-33 -- whose single engine's thrust acted only on the airplane's centerline -- was dead in the water if the nosewheel was cocked. On both airplanes, brakes applied gently and in a timely manner kept the nosewheel where you wanted it.

Getting a B-25 into the air was a routine procedure. Full throttle (which produced about 44 inches of manifold pressure thanks to a gear-driven supercharger) and 2600 RPM produced most of the 1700 horsepower for which the engines were rated. At a gross weight of 28,000 pounds -- the normal load for training purposes -- we could be airborne in about 2400 feet of runway. At that weight the airplane was unable to leap tall buildings in a single bound but it could clear a 50-foot obstacle in another 700 feet after lift-off. I don't recall the flap setting we used for normal takeoffs but you can bet we never tried to emulate Jimmy Doolittle's full-flap performance from the flight deck of the USS Hornet on the way to Tokyo.

The Mitchell was no skyrocket but it climbed at a respectable 1400-1500 feet per minute at 160 miles per hour. (The safe single-engine airspeed was 145 mph and Vmc was 140 ... we didn't play games in simulated engine-out training with only five miles per hour between continued flight and disaster.) The performance charts that have survived don't contain values for the climb rate on one engine, but it was probably only about 20 percent of the two-engine performance ... a reasonable figure for any twin-engine prop-driven airplane, and a very meager margin of safety.

Landings were straightforward in every respect: We learned to land with full flaps, no flaps, with one engine inoperative, and the occasional unplanned hard landing for those who pulled the throttles to idle a bit too soon.

The short-field landing procedure pushed the envelope to produce the shortest possible ground roll after touchdown. I couldn't come up with the official procedure, but an Oklahoma born-and-bred classmate whose memory is better than most elephants' recalled that we approached the runway 300 feet above the ground at 110 mph with the gear down and half flaps. When the runway threshold disappeared under the nose we would pull off the power, extend full flaps, dump the nose and -- as only a real Okie would say -- "swoop on in." If you did everything right, the ground roll would be in the neighborhood of 1400 feet.

The complexity and size of the B-25 made the route to solo flight considerably longer than in primary flight training. We were turned loose in the airplane after some 30 or 40 hours of dual. Solo in the B-25 was defined as two student pilots flying as a crew, augmented on the first solo flight by a mechanic who was on board in case a serious mechanical problem showed up. Some of these young, inexperienced, ground-crew folks must have been very apprehensive when they were told to go flying with two student pilots on their own for the first time. Just before they taxied away from the ramp, one of our classmates with a twisted sense of humor turned around and asked the crew chief if he had brought extra underwear for all three crewmembers. His next question, "Are you ready to go with us?" elicited nothing but a blank stare.

Crew resource management (CRM) has evolved into a major part of formal flight training in both military and civilian applications. The objective is to make the best use of the talent, experience and knowledge of all crewmembers, with the expectation of achieving safer, more efficient flight operations. Some pilots-in-command were CRM practitioners without portfolio long before it became a popular concept -- those outstanding individuals were few and far between but were able to make the most of each crewmember's contribution to the success of the mission.

It wasn't always that way. Most copilots endured virtual isolation in the cockpits of two-pilot aircraft, doing what they were told and little else and knowing that even a hint of disagreement with the captain would bring down the wrath of the guy in the left seat.

It wasn't that way in Air Force basic flight training in 1956, either, but there were good reasons for no CRM. First, all of our flight training in the B-25 started from scratch and was conducted by an instructor pilot who was not to be challenged. Second, when we achieved "solo" status (in other words, two student pilots flying together), neither of us was working from a profound reservoir of knowledge or experience ... there was very little in the way of crew resources to manage. Nevertheless we flew safely as student pairs on local and cross-country flights while we improved our proficiency in takeoffs, landings, and night operations.

Cross-country navigation training was intended to give us some hands-on experience operating a military airplane in the national airspace system ... it was also an opportunity to "get out of Dodge" for a few days. These were usually group projects, with two or three airplanes bound for the same destination (party time). I remember three such trips: Denver, Colo.; Laredo, Texas; and West Palm Beach, Fla. -- the latter a very popular destination, as we got into serious winter weather in Oklahoma.

These trips were usually shepherded by an instructor or two who didn't mind the occasional break in their routine. One objective of this relatively-long-range navigation exercise was learning to apply the admonition found on a sign in just about every briefing room in the Air Force, to wit: Plan Your Flight and Fly Your Plan. We studied the wind and weather then consulted the airplane performance charts to come up with a plan (on the appropriate Air Force form, of course) to track our progress from takeoff to landing, including ETAs for a number of checkpoints along the way. The routine was to swap seats every once in a while with one student at the controls, the other in the nose compartment recording ATAs and using his flight plan to come up with an ETA for the next checkpoint. It was not uncommon for an IP to calculate his own ETA then make a bet with the non-flying student with regard to the next checkpoint ... the stakes a case of beer or a few dollars. Students never won this bet because -- as we discovered at the end of the trip -- the IP would ease off a bit on the throttles or add an inch or two of manifold pressure, knowing the student up front wouldn't notice the change in airspeed. The IP's manipulated estimates were always correct ... but this trick worked only once per student.

A significant part of our flight time in basic training was devoted to improving our skills in instrument flying. We spent 30 hours or so building on the IFR basics we learned in the T-6, most of it in simulated conditions. The "hood" in the B-25 was a set of gray fiberboard panels set up on the left side of the cockpit so the student couldn't see outside but left the instructor with a limited field of vision to watch for other traffic. It apparently worked ... we had no midair collisions.

Once we were familiar with the B-25's characteristics on the gauges we moved up to radio navigation. Use of the automatic direction finder (ADF) was still a viable IFR procedure in 1955 and we learned en route navigation as well as instrument approaches using the ADF for guidance. The cockpit indication was a compass rose on the instrument panel with a pointer that got its signals from a rotating loop antenna on the belly of the airplane and indicated the direction to the ADF station.

The next rung on the difficulty ladder was the RDF (Radio Direction Finder) procedure to be used in case the ADF indicator failed ... now you needed to rotate the loop with a left-right switch until the loop presented itself perpendicularly to the radio transmitter on the ground and the signal in your headset went to zero ... known as an "aural null." And if that weren't difficult enough the instructors could pull one more plug: They would simulate a loop-motor failure, meaning you had to find the aural null by turning the airplane and include it in your calculations to fly to the station. About the time you had it all figured out the IP would simulate an engine failure ... fun and games.

The piece de resistance of instrument flying for me was the low-frequency, four-course, radio range -- some pilots swore by it, most others swore at it. Introduced as state-of-the-art in the 1930s, "flying the range" in 1955 was as much art as it was science. A rather complicated antenna array on the ground transmitted the station identifier in Morse code every 30 seconds, plus four lobes that produced constant, repetitive "A" and "N" signals. The areas where the lobes overlapped (blue in the illustration) produced a constant, steady, on-course tone ... the "beam" (right out of the movies) that provided a fairly accurate signal for aerial navigation.

The art of radio-range flying showed up in the orientation procedure, which required a reasonably good set of ears. If you were unsure of your location, the procedure called for station identification, a turn to the nearest bisector heading (the midpoint of the angle between the on-course signals ... 048 degrees in the example at right), then decrease the volume in your headset to the lowest perceptible level and fly (and sometimes, fly and fly and fly) until you were certain you were moving toward or away from the station. The "flying away from" situation was the more difficult to resolve because the signal strength became so weak you weren't really sure what was going on, and re-dos were not uncommon.

The example assumes flight toward the station in a clear "A" signal area; sooner or later you would begin to hear a weak but increasing "N" followed by a merger of the two signals into an unbroken tone; you were now "on course," but which one? The next step was to turn left 90 degrees; if you flew back into a clear "A" you had just crossed the southwest leg of the range and if the signal turned into a clear "N" you were northwest of the station. At this point a 180 would return you to the appropriate course and you could proceed to the station, making wind drift corrections with heading changes to keep the signal constant.

Station passage was indicated by the "cone of silence," a rapid decrease in volume followed by an increase to the former level as you passed over the antenna site. A typical instrument approach using the four-course range would have one of the legs lined up with the landing runway and timing (distance to the runway) was determined by station passage. ADF was a whole lot easier, but not nearly as much fun.

Shortly before graduation, the entire class was assembled for the purpose of announcing assignments to our next duty stations. The briefing officer opened the meeting by announcing that, before the process could go any further, there was a decision to be made concerning our immediate post-training activity. We all wanted to fly, but the rules had changed; those who wanted a cockpit job guaranteed were required to add a year to the standard three-year commitment (including the year of flight training we had just completed). Those who weren't concerned about flying as their primary duty remained in their seats while those classmates who didn't want to fly a desk -- myself included -- rushed to the front of the room to sign the papers. If memory serves there were 22 classmates who committed to an additional year and as it turned out, most of us wound up in the Strategic Air Command. Flying in SAC was not as cushy as other flying jobs, but it was better than flying a desk.

With that exercise out of the way, assignments were made with priority given to class standing. I was high enough on the list to choose before all the good locations were gone; and anxious as I was to get away from winter weather if possible, MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., looked good ... and my choice was honored.

By mid-February 1956 we had filled all of the squares in the basic flight-training program and had achieved our goal: Air Force pilot wings. We owed much to the airplane that brought us to this point ... the following tribute appeared on the closing page of our class book:

The B-25 ... used in 1940, abused by members of Class 56-I in 1956. About 26,000 pounds of brute. On the hottest day of the year the ventilation doesn't work. On the coldest day the heater fails. On final approach the seat collapses. On a checkride the engines won't start. Impossible to taxi, a dream to fly, she bore the weight of our ignorance in the ways of flying machines for six long months. Nothing has taken the pounding, the manhandling, the abuse this airplane has. Wonderfully forgiving of our mistakes in the air, she has taken care of us as would a mother hen ... by spreading her wings, taking us in, and placing confidence in our abilities.

The B-25 ... she has made pilots of us.

On Thurs., Feb. 23, 1956, an unusually mild and snow-free winter day, we assembled on the Vance AFB parade ground for the Class 56-I graduation ceremony. The officers were awarded Air Force pilot wings, and the Cadets got their wings and were commissioned as 2nd Lieutenants. Now they could get married -- legally.

No event in one's life as significant as this should go without a celebratory party, and the members of Class 56-I were no exception. We convened in the Officer's Club that evening for cocktails, dinner, appropriate remarks and presentation of our diplomas by the Base Commander, Col. Chester Gilger.

All of us were proud of what we had accomplished and were looking forward to putting our wings to work. I may have gone a bit "over the top," but I was one very happy new pilot. (That's Col. Gilger above me in the photo. I waited until he had gone home before I borrowed the O-Club's wings and had this photo taken):


Shortly before I finished writing this chapter, I had occasion to visit an aviation museum in Urbana, Ohio. Included in their display of several vintage military aircraft was a B-25 restored to pristine, probably better-than-new, flyable condition. Upon learning of my connection with the Mitchell and the fact that it had been 55 years since I had sat in a B-25 cockpit, the museum director gave me carte blanche to climb aboard and renew the acquaintance. My visit with the airplane was most satisfying and when I reviewed the photos taken by a friend that day, I couldn't resist closing this chapter with a photographic bridge spanning those 55 years:

[Continued next month.]

To send a note to Richard and AVweb about this story, please click here.
More articles, stories and fiction about the joy of aviation are found in AVweb's Skywritings section.
// -->

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As LSAs make more inroads in new airplane sales, they're also coming up on the used market. The Rotax 912 and 914 have proven to be reliable, durable engines, but they have a couple of tender spots. For one, they don't like to be overheated and if run on fuel that's of too-low octane, they can detonate, leading to crankshaft issues. In this podcast, Dean Vogel of Lockwood Aviation Supply tells Aviation Consumer's Paul Bertorelli what to look for when asking for a pre-buy on a Rotax-powered airplane.

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

AVmail: November 14, 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: Laser Tag

I was on approach to Ontario, CA one night in a Pilatus PC-12 with all the lights on. For those of you that have never seen a PC-12 with all the various lights on, it is a wondrous sight. From the ground, I'm sure that a non-aviation person would mistake it for a much larger aircraft.

Shortly after turning final, I was hit by an intense light. I immediately reported it to the tower, and, as luck would have it, there was an Ontario PD helicopter flying close by in contact with the tower. The tower relayed the location of the light to them, and they raced off to look for the source. To me, this is a perfect example of how serious the authorities take this very real threat. I'm happy that the FAA takes this problem seriously and know that the more the public knows about the threat, the better off we will be.

Bill Campbell

As a professional astronomer, I use a 20-watt laser at Lick Observatory to measure atmospheric turbulence and correct for it. We have to coordinate with space command [and] the FAA (NOTAMs) [and] have our own on-telescope radar and outside airplane spotters all to keep pilots safe. Even with all that effort, we still have planes flying over our laser, forcing us to shutter it at the last minute.

We also use smaller lasers for teaching the nigh sky to students and the public. Each and every summer we see penalties increasing for beaming aircraft, and yet it seems to [be] becoming commonplace. What I think is needed is for the alphabets (AOPA, NBAA, etc.) to have a public education campaign so that safe use of lasers becomes the norm, because they are valuable tools for astronomers, both professional and amateur alike.

Bryant Grigsby

Regarding the "Question of the Week" on laser incidents: I am a police pilot in the Atlanta suburbs and have been hit multiple times. Our supervisor has forwarded a package to our district attorney asking for a state law to be passed so that we may prosecute locally. At least one of our hits was from a juvenile, and the feds won't touch juvies. They declined to prosecute.

Lou Gregoire

Hard Feelings with Sun 'n Fun

I happen to be one of the 25 aircraft owners billed by SnF for the services rendered following the tornado. My combined bill came in at $2,568.33. I submitted the claim to my broker, and Chartis has agreed to pay the claim.

But, quite honestly, I'm very disappointed in the manner in which the officials at SnF have handled this issue. They asked us to submit the bill as a claim to our carriers. I was happy to do so, and, fortunately, I had coverage. I'm curious if that was the case for all the owners.

The decision by SnF to move the aircraft that night was solely a business decision based upon potential loss of revenue the following day. However, directly following the storm, I was ordered by officials to leave the area. I had no say in the disposition of my airplane and gave no one authority to touch my plane. In fact, my airplane was further damaged as a result of the relocation. I understand the environmental remediation and have no issues with that expense.

But I believe the folks at SnF have an obligation to those of us that flew our airplanes to their show. At a minimum, they should have asked us in the cover letter to submit the claim but told us that in the event our carriers would not cover the loss that they would not seek further restitution. Of course they chose not to do that.

The success of this show, just like AirVenture, is based upon the participation of many, many people. As [an] aircraft owner and, in my case, a homebuilder, I think I should expect a greater level of support from the organization. Without our participation, it wouldn't be much of a show. I think their approach was in bad taste.

They said they didn't budget for this eventuality. Well, the fact is, neither did I. Thank goodness I had coverage. But I do believe they need to accept some responsibility and show some support to the people that ensure the success of their event.

I've been going to Sun 'n Fun since 1988. I don't anticipate they'll see me in the future.

Rick McBride

Ejection Experience

My condolences to friends and family of the Red Arrow pilot who died. I do not pretend to know the circumstances, but here are two incidents I am familiar with.

I personally know of two incidents where the ejection seat (or part of the system) fired inadvertently. One happened to me on the ground. The seat had been inspected, but a short lanyard was then installed on an initiator (the butt snapper) instead of a longer one. When I adjusted the seat, the initiator fired.

The second happened to our ops officer, on a downward-ejecting seat. The seat height adjustment was too close to the arming mechanism (both between the legs, under the seat). When he attempted to adjust seat height, the hatch blew. He flew over open sky, then landed in an armed seat. He didn't want to risk setting it off by getting out of the seat.

Again, condolences and prayers to all affected.

Marc Santacroce

The Training Calendar

I started my flight training in 1954 in a Taylorcraft DC-65 that I purchased for $450. It took me seven hours to solo. I now hear of student pilots who take 20 hours to solo. Are the schools just dragging out training, or is a Cessa 150 that much more difficult to fly than a 65-horsepower taildragger?

Louis Hastings

Reno Risks

Although this was a terrible accident, and I feel for the families that lost loved ones, we all need to remember why people go to watch the Reno Air Races.

If it were not for those who pushed the limits of physics on the plane, being risk takers, no one would go to watch.

Denton Brown

A Real Champion

Nice piece on Champion Aircraft. I am chief pilot for a small airline in the Northwest. I use my 1973 7GCAA to commute around the San Juan Islands like you would a Volkswagen. I fly it daily in every kind of weather.

Having over 14,000 hours and having owned many aircraft over the years, I cannot say enough good things about my Citabria. My wife and I bought it in Savannah, Georgia in 2004 and flew it trouble-free from coast to coast. Anyone learning to fly a taildragger around here has probably learned in this plane. It has proven to be reasonably fast, rugged, and reliable. It has a full gyro panel. It shoots approaches into Boeing Field and Bellingham. And to cap off the day, it does a nice loop and a roll before tucking into the hangar. Do I love this airplane?

Eric Gourley

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

Video: Premier Edition Diamond DA40 Flight Trial

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

Diamond's DA40 Star is a popular entry-level and midspeed cruiser, but it lacks air conditioning and other options. Fort Lauderdale's Premier Aircraft added a rich options list to the airplane, and in this report, Aviation Consumer's Paul Bertorelli took a trial flight.

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Video: Jeppesen's Mobile FliteDeck (Part 1)

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

Last summer, Jeppesen rolled out its iPad-based Mobile FliteDeck, a complete chart manager system for owners who already subscribe to Jeppesen's electronic charting products. In this video, AVweb launches the first of three Product Minutes to review the new app.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Yelvington Jet Aviation, Inc. (Daytona Beach, FL)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Yelvington Jet Aviation Inc. at Daytona Beach International Airport (KDAB) in Daytona Beach, Florida.

AVweb reader Dave Gillespie nominated the FBO and shared his outstanding experience if memory of the FBO's manager, Mike Fuller:

We landed our helicopter and were met by a beautiful young lady marshaller, then picked up by FBO manager Mike Fuller and delivered to the front door to a waiting Suburban, whereupon we were given an escort around the airport to the entry gate by two Daytona Beach motorcycle policmen! We were even given a cell to call for our return trip. Mike's courteous and exceptional service was the best I've ever seen in over 35 years flying. He will be missed. He was unfortunatly killed last weekend in a T-34 accident. The FBO community and aviation as a whole has lost one of the best. Godspeed, Mike.

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

I heard this going into Los Angeles International Airport on SoCal approach frequency:

"Airliner 123, turn right, heading 180, for spacing."

Airliner 123:
"Right turn, 180. Airliner 123. What's up?"

"Well, our computers have the ability to suggest a specific vector to help us get the required spacing. So the computer says you gotta go south for a while."

Airliner 123:
"Oh. Well, our computer says that direct to the airport for the visual will work."

Approach (laughing) :
"Yeah, but my computer trumps your computer."

Frank Bowlin
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.

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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.

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Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
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