March 8, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... Teledyne-Continental MotorsTCM'S POWERLINK FADEC NOW STANDARD EQUIPMENT IN LIBERTY XL2
Now available as standard equipment in the FAA-certified Liberty XL2, Teledyne-Continental Motors' PowerLink FADEC improves fuel economy by up to 15-20% versus standard, injected engines while reducing pilot workload and improving overall engine operation. PowerLink FADEC is also TC'd for the Lycoming IO 360, as well as STC'd for several models of the Beech Bonanza. Contact Teledyne-Continental today to find out how you can bring your aircraft into the digital age. Go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/tcm/fadec/avflash.
The NTSB last Thursday issued its most recent investigation update as it works toward its final determination (expected this summer) of cause in the vertical-fin-and engines-shedding crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in Belle Harbor, N.Y., on Nov. 12, 2001. And the high-stakes process of assessing blame for the event -- which killed 260 people on the aircraft and five more on the ground -- has swung into high gear. The airline, the Allied Pilots Association (APA), whose members were at the controls, and Airbus, which made the A300-600 that crashed, have reacted to the NTSB's latest release with public filings of their own (AVweb was unable to obtain a copy of Airbus' filing to post here). Each blames the other, to some degree, for the disaster. According to earlier findings already released by the NTSB, Flight 587 had just taken off from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York when it hit the wake turbulence of a Boeing 747. The NTSB suspects that during the pilot's efforts to compensate for the effects of the large wake, the vertical stabilizer of the Airbus broke free from the airframe. Both engines also tore free prior to impact and the remaining airframe crashed into Belle Harbor, not far from JFK. There were no survivors.
The foundation of American's claims is a phenomenon called aircraft pilot coupling, which is "an unwanted, unexpected and abnormal interaction between the airplane and pilot causing the motion of the aircraft to be out of sync with the pilot's control inputs." The airline cites a study done for the NTSB by Dr. Ronald Hess, of the University of California, Davis, which showed the A300-600 rudder-control system to be so sensitive that three pilots, including an Airbus test pilot, were unable to adjust their control movements to deliver a half-travel rudder position during a ground test. According to American, Hess described the rudder-control system on the aircraft as "essentially an 'on-off' system, meaning either full rudder deflection or none." According to The Washington Post, Airbus blamed the pilots for using too much rudder. An A300-600, relative to other aircraft, requires less pressure to move the controls further as airspeed increases. Airbus claims the pilots overstressed the airframe and they further blamed American for not providing proper training in the use of the rudder. American has countered that the rudder on the A300-600 is so sensitive (7.32 times as sensitive as on a Boeing 767 flying at the same speed) that there was no way the pilots could have modulated the rudder action appropriately to prevent the apparent whipsaw effect that may be responsible for loss of the vertical fin and rudder. The APA generally agrees with the airline's assessment but it also agrees with Airbus that better training could have been provided.
American also suggests that Airbus knew before the accident about the rudder peculiarities and failed to let the airline or government agencies know about it. "Unfortunately, this accident never should have happened and could have been prevented if Airbus had disclosed to American, the FAA, or the [National Transportation] Safety Board what it knew about the propensity of the flight control inputs that could cause structural damage to the vertical stabilizer," American said in its submission. The airline claims Airbus had known about the potential problems for 12 years but didn't tell anyone and continues to regard its internal communications on the topic as confidential. "The significance of Airbus's decision not to share safety-of-flight information cannot be overemphasized," the airline said. The airline and pilots also made recommendations aimed at preventing further accidents of this nature. American wants the FAA to do a detailed review of the A300-600's design-and-certification evaluations of its handling and flying qualities. It also wants the agency to force all manufacturers to develop FAA-approved upset-recovery procedures for their aircraft. It further urges the FAA redefine the term "maneuvering speed," since the accepted definition didn't apply in this case because the airframe failure occurred below the speed designated for this aircraft.
STOP PAYING MORE THAN NON-PILOTS FOR THE SAME LIFE INSURANCE POLICY
U.S. space entrepreneurs have been tackling the technological and physical challenges of private space exploration for years but the fledgling industry may be on the cusp of overcoming its biggest obstacle. The government is poised to formally recognize its existence. The House, Friday, passed H.R. 3752, a bill to regulate and promote a commercial space industry. It still must pass the Senate and be signed by the president. "We think H.R. 3752 is very carefully crafted legislation which will help commercial human spaceflight develop in America," said Jeff Greason, president of Xcor Aerospace, which has already developed and tested rocket-engine prototypes with the eventual goal of providing rides for space tourists. The legislation puts the regulatory authority for all commercial suborbital flights under the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation. It also creates an experimental permit that requires less red tape than existing permits required to build and test suborbital spacecraft. Finally, it extends government indemnification of the industry for three years, after which the protection will be phased out and, as Greason puts it, a "fly-at-your-own-risk" human spaceflight regime is established.
Of course, the legislators are barely a step ahead of the actual creation of commercial human spaceflight. In fact, the X PRIZE Foundation is so confident that private rockets vying for its $10 million prize will start flying soon, it's signed a deal for the broadcast rights. Dan Rayburn has been retained to produce a series of three-hour webcasts on any of the more than 20 X PRIZE contestants that get to the manned, live firing stage. Rayburn said he plans to use the latest (what else?) streaming video technology to broadcast each event and that a huge worldwide audience is likely. Sponsorships, of course, will be available but don't look for beer commercials or cola challenges. The spots will be reserved for technology companies "who wish to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime event." The FAA is on board with the latest developments. The agency has committed a $11.9 million budget for its commercial human spaceflight regulatory arm, but the House Science Committee is worried not enough is being done to support the existing commercial space launch industry. The committee, in its assessment of the 2005 federal budget, said it's concerned that "burdensome and costly launch regulations ... will undermine the competitiveness of the existing U.S. expendable launch industry." The committee also wants the FAA to be more aggressive in helping U.S. commercial space providers to do business with the government.
TRADE-A-PLANE IS THE WORLD'S LARGEST AVIATION RESOURCE
Southwest Airlines and the Transportation Security Administration are investigating the disappearance of a Federal Flight Deck Officer's (FFDO's) semi-automatic pistol stowed in his luggage aboard a flight from Las Vegas to Oakland. The pilots blame the TSA's insistence that the weapons be checked in baggage, when they are deadheading, for the disappearance of the guns. Pilots say that instead of picking up their gun-laden luggage from the cargo area, as the rules state, they often find it on the carousel with the rest of the passengers' bags. TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said the flight deck officers' jurisdiction ends at the cockpit door but Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) said that's asking for trouble. "When you separate the pilot from his gun, whether you put it in a lockbox or whether you make him put it in some other area, then you lose that security," Allard said. The Airline Pilots Security Alliance took the opportunity to claim that an average of one in five airline pilots allowed to carry guns in the cockpit has lost his or her gun in the last two months. "In the last 60 days, we believe 300 weapons have been misplaced," Dean Roberts, spokesman for the Airline Pilots Security Alliance, told Denver's 9News.com. Specific cases accounting for all 300 of those alleged losses were not listed. The TSA has not confirmed the number of lost guns but will investigate them. "Obviously, something might be wrong with the program," said the TSA's Melendez. Although the TSA will not confirm it, there are believed to be about 1,500 FFDOs.
The Global Flyer, Scaled Composites' jet-powered creation intended to circle the globe nonstop, had its first flight Friday and everything seemed to work well. Scaled's Web site says test pilot John Karkow took the long-winged, twin-tailed composite aircraft to 12,000 feet, cycled the gear and flew it from near the stall (54 knots) up to 110 knots. The descent and landing drag chutes were also tested. As AVweb told you in January, billionaire Steve Fossett hopes to be at the controls of the ungainly-looking creation to be the first to fly around the world nonstop and solo. Fellow billionaire Richard Branson is waiting in the wings as a backup if Fossett can't make the trip. In 1986, Voyager became the first aircraft to circumnavigate the earth nonstop but it had two pilots aboard.
SUBSCRIBE TO AVIATION SAFETY NOW AND SAVE!
Boeing is scaling back its bid to revolutionize the world's air traffic control system because the existing setup seems to be working just fine ... for now. The Chicago-based firm announced Thursday that it was dissolving its Air Traffic Management division, likely because it didn't have any customers for the satellite-based, computer data link-dependent system. The air traffic division was hatched in the halcyon days of 2000 when airline traffic was growing so fast that the control system seemed on the verge of collapse in some areas. Since 9/11, interest has evaporated in the system as more conventional technological solutions, and the outright intervention by government to reduce congestion by decree, as happened in Chicago two months ago with the forced reduction of flights to O'Hare, seem to be favored. Boeing insists the project isn't dead, it's just been moved to the Phantom Works where the research will continue but at a less urgent level. Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher said aviation regulators will eventually have to face the fact that the existing system won't be able to handle future loads. "When governments are ready to build an advanced air traffic management system, we will be ready to respond quickly," Stonecipher said in a statement. Other Boeing sidelines, like a plan to beam digital movies to theaters, have also been turfed, but one high-tech spinoff remains in operation. Connexion, which will offer broadband wireless Internet service on airliners, already has customers lined up for a launch next year.
Talk about your VFR landmarks. How about a 6,000-mile-long stone wall? The Great Wall, as it's come to be known, is just one of the things mapmaker George P. Sempeles had to work with as he helped the Chinese begin the enormous task of creating VFR charts for the world's third-largest country. Sempeles, of Winchester, Va., works for the FAA's National Aeronautical Charting Office and recently spent time in China teaching government engineers how to create the charts. China, you see, is entirely IFR (i.e., controlled) airspace. But that's about to change as the country learns to like the things money can buy and private aircraft ownership is one of the reforms. "Their task now is to actually learn and implement the entire industry of general aviation," he said. Well, there are others willing to teach those skills and they'll most likely be at the China GA Forum 2004 May 25 to May 28. More than 100 representatives of China's burgeoning GA community will be at the conference. An American company, Uniworld LLC, is behind the forum and company spokesman Andrew Edlefsen said it's designed to explore the simultaneous creation of the seven fundamental requirements for GA: airports, GA operators, FBOs, aircraft manufacture and sales, pilot training, infrastructure equipment supply, and finance. Uniworld is inviting aviation-related companies to attend the conference.
OURPLANE FRACTIONAL OWNERS TO BECOME MORE PROFICIENT WITH ADVANCED TRAINING
Every kid's dream, every parent's nightmare? The Royal Australian Air Force is said to be looking in malls, skateboard parks and high schools to fill the cockpits of its fighters. The air force is reportedly planning a recruiting drive aimed at teens as young as 13, according to the Weekend Australian. "The importance of influencing, where possible, 13-to-17-year olds is now recognized as a more effective strategy for fast-jet pilot recruiting," the paper quoted an air force report as saying. Apparently it's easier than simply retaining the existing pilots by paying them more. The report says almost two-thirds of Aussie fighter jocks quit after their compulsory 10-year service because of low pay and poor management. Wages range between $46,500 and $72,500 (USD) depending on experience. When you consider the millions of dollars it takes to train a fighter pilot, there might be something to that accusation about management. However, the air force is denying there's a pilot shortage and says it has enough to meet its needs.
Last year it was Boeing's surrender to Airbus. Could this be the year that Cirrus overtakes Cessna as the world's leading producer of piston singles? If the early numbers are any indication, it could be shaping up that way. Although it's projecting to build at least 500 aircraft this year (vs. 459 in 2003), Cirrus took orders for 100 planes in January and February, about twice the projected number, and has ramped up production to two planes a day. Cessna expects to build about 600 piston singles in 2004. "We want to be the number-one manufacturer," Cirrus marketing spokesman John Bingham told The Wichita Eagle. Cessna isn't going to relinquish the top spot without a fight, however. Of course, Cessna hasn't always held so firm to the title of top piston single producer. For 10 years it didn't make any. It stopped production of all piston models in 1986 and didn't resume until 1996 at a new plant in Independence, Kansas. That was then and this is now. Cessna spokesperson Marilyn Richwine said the company is now doing everything it can to stay at the top of the heap, including offering glass cockpits in its higher-end models. The flat panels are standard in all Cirrus models. Richwine acknowledged Cirrus is "real competition" for Cessna but she pointed out that Cessna has delivered more than 185,000 aircraft and that more than 60 percent of the U.S. single-engine fleet is Cessna. "We still believe we have the proven record and the product stands behind that record," she said.
CESSNA OWNERS! THE 2004 CPA COURSES AND SEMINARS SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED
Venture Development Corp. would like to know what you think about in-flight weather systems and they're conducting a short multiple-choice survey this week to find out. We've checked these guys out and this is bona fide market research. Click on the link here, complete the survey and you'll be eligible for a no-strings-attached $1,000 gift certificate from Sporty's. The drawing will be held next Monday and we'll report the winner. Find the survey, here.
Lancair owners are being urged to inspect the fuel pressure transducer on Columbia 300 and 350 aircraft. The company issued the advisory after a transducer on a Columbia was found to be chafing against its mounting bracket. Lancair has also asked the FAA to issue an Airworthiness Directive...
The radios went silent at some European airports in remembrance of an air traffic controller killed in an apparent act of vengeance last week. Controllers un-keyed their mikes for one minute as the funeral for Peter Nielsen, who was stabbed to death, began. Nielsen was at the console when a cargo plane and passenger jet collided over Lake Constance in Switzerland in 2002. Vitaly Kaloyev, whose wife and two children died in the crash, is charged in Nielsen's death...
Investigators are now probing the role of the autopilot in the crash of a Flash Airlines Boeing 737 in Egypt in January. The pilot is heard on the cockpit voice data recorder asking for the autopilot to be switched on and then ordering it turned off after seeing something wrong. The plane crashed into the Red Sea, killing all 148 aboard...
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has added a jet simulator to its curriculum. Students will now be able to take a Bachelor of Science in aeronautical science featuring training on a Canadair Regional Jet simulator. The course will be available at the Daytona Beach and Prescott, Ariz., campuses...
Saturday was Tuskegee Airmen Day in Oakland, Calif. Mayor Jerry Brown declared the day in honor of the members of the black-only squadron that earned distinction in the World War II. Several members of the squadron live in the Bay area...
A Lebanon-born Muslim flight engineer for ATA is suing the airline, claiming discrimination is behind the airline's refusal to promote him to first officer. Ziad Elwazan, 50, has worked for ATA for 20 years and has flown in the right seat, but his latest promotion bid was rejected. The airline's chief pilot Dave Lindskoog said, in a letter to Elwazan, it's because he wasn't doing well enough in training.
|LAZY BUZZARD HITS THE BEACH|
... with some new friends to enjoy at air shows. New shirts and original short-sleeve black shirts now available in Medium, Large, X-Large, and XX-Large. Join in the Lazy Buzzard's journey of finding life, liberty, and the definite pursuit of happiness at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/lazybuzzard/avflash.
HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVwebs NO-COST twice monthly Business AVflash? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash also focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the Business of Aviation. Business AVflash is a must read! Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/
|HASSLE-FREE AUTO BUYING FOR THE AVIATION INDUSTRY|
You read right! Crewcar and Consumer Guides have teamed up to offer hassle-free auto buying to the aviation industry! Next to the purchase of your home and airplane, this is the most important item you will purchase. Don't go blindly into a dealership; look to Crewcar. Crewcar is a car-buying service formed by aviation professionals. Teamed with Consumer Guide's Personal Auto Advisors (PAA), Crewcar provides shoppers with a free integrated phone and electronic concierge-level buying service that offers outstanding service and value no matter the geography. The service is provided gratis and meets all the Consumer Guide dealership network quality and service standards. For more information, visit Crewcar's web site at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/crewcar/avflash.
"Caveat emptor" -- buyer beware, as they say. Watch out when someone asks you to sign something that says you'll pay whatever it takes for a service. In this case, the problem occurred when a pilot tried to get de-iced so he could fly home.
As the Beacon Turns #74: Backcountry Dreaming
Deep in the middle of a Colorado winter, AVweb's Michael Maya Charles remembers summers spent in the river valleys of the west -- finding remote airstrips from which to explore the natural world -- miles from anyone and from his usual perch in the stratosphere.
Reader mail this week about no-fly zones, aging and accidents, and aviation politics.
FLY INTO SPRING WITH ASA
From our "been there, done that" files...
On my first cross-country with friends after passing my private pilot checkride (back in the late Paleolithic...), I was in the runup area, working through the pre-takeoff checklist. An uncharacteristically subdued voice said from the rear seat, "If she still has to read the directions, I don't think I want to go!"
Sponsor News and Special Offers
Access to AVweb and AVflash is provided by the support of our fine sponsors. We appreciate your patronage.
TOO CAN BE A WINNER WITH SCHEYDEN, AVIATION'S FINEST EYEWEAR
"I was surprised that I won and even more surprised at the quality of these glasses!" said recent AVweb winner Ted Weiner of Massachusetts. A pair of Scheydens will be given away every other week to a lucky AVweb winner a retail value up to $395! The unique flip-up design has become the choice of pilots who demand quality and function in every aspect of aviation. Handmade titanium frames, quality lenses, a Rosewood case, plush micro-fiber bag and cloth are standard equipment on all styles. For more information (and to register to win), go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/scheyden/avflash.
IF YOUR CELL PHONE CAN SURF THE NET, IT CAN RECEIVE AVIATION WEATHER!
WxServer works with virtually any internet-enabled phone. No matter whether you're using Verizon, SprintPCS, AT&T, T-Mobile, Cingular, or Nextel, WxServer can give you up-to-the-minute aviation weather information. SPECIAL OFFER: This month, AVweb readers receive $10 off the regular annual subscription rates, and CFIs can sign up for the WxServer referral program at no charge! Check it out at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/wxserver/avflash.
NAVAL RESERVE FROM 9-to-5 TO MACH 1.5!
Fast-forward your career and life. Veteran pilots and NFOs can serve in the Naval Reserve. Earn benefits and rewards training on the most sophisticated combat and transport aircraft in the world, including F-18 Hornets, EA-6B Prowlers, E2C Hawkeyes, and H-60 Sea Hawks. Click here to learn more: http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/navalreserve/avflash.
LET YOUR FAMILY KNOW WHEN YOU'LL BE HOME
Sign up for the AVweb Edition of Flight Explorer. It's the PC-based service that provides a real-time picture of all IFR aircraft in flight. Your family simply enters your N-number to track your flight, be alerted to delays, and get updated ETAs. AVweb Edition Flight Explorer costs just $9.95 a month, a small price for such big peace-of-mind. Order at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/flightexplorer/avflash.
INCREASE YOUR PROFITS AND YOUR FUN AT WORK WITH KING SCHOOLS'
Creating Outstanding Customer Relationships, a DVD training course that's guaranteed to change the way you do business! John and Martha will share with you their passion for delivering outstanding customer service and their secrets for making it happen every day! You'll learn everything from how to create raving fans to the one secret thing everybody is looking for and how to use it for your success. Here's what Rod Machado, the noted aviation author, says about the new Creating Outstanding Customer Relationships course: "Fantastic! This is a program that everyone in the flight training business or any business should take!" Order now to receive the special introductory price of $99 (regular price $199). Call 800-854-1001 and mention AVflash, or go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/king/avflash.
MIKE BUSCH'S SAVVY SEMINAR COMING TO MEMPHIS, VAN NUYS, HARRISBURG, & OSHKOSH!
Ever had "sticker shock" when you got the bill after an annual? Frustrated when problems still aren't fixed after several tries? Flabbergasted by the stratospheric cost of parts? Intimidated by mechanical problems far from home base? Ever felt a shop had you "over a barrel"? Spend an illuminating weekend with Mike Busch, AVweb founder, writer, teacher, pilot, aircraft owner, and A&P mechanic, at one of his Savvy Owner Seminars. He'll share his 40 years of aviation experience, help you become more maintenance-savvy and empowered, and teach you how to get better maintenance while saving thousands of dollars. For complete seminar details plus dozens of Mike's maintenance articles, visit Savvy Aviator Seminars at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/savvy/avflash.
PILOTS COMMENT AFTER READING IFR: A STRUCTURED APPROACH BY JOHN ECKALBAR:
"Perhaps the most useful aviation training publication I have encountered in almost 40 years," says Fredric Boswell; "The GPS chapter alone is worth getting the book. ... It's the best instrument flying book I have ever read," states Fred Scott; "If one book could help you make the leap from a bit player to a skilled conductor of instrument flight, this is probably it," reads a review in AOPA Pilot (November 2003). With the help of this book, you will establish your own personal standard operating practices for IFR, including incorporation of checklists, flows, callouts, briefings, and the "fly by the numbers" method of aircraft control. For more information and to order online, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/skyroad/avflash.
AVflash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest aviation news, articles, products, features and events featured on AVweb, the Internet's Aviation Magazine and News Service. http://www.avweb.com
Letters to the editor intended for publication in AVmail should be sent to mailto:email@example.com. Have a comment or question? Send it to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today's issue written by News Writer Russ Niles:
AVweb's editorial team: http://avweb.com/contact/authors.html.
Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team: mailto:email@example.com.
Let's all be careful out there, okay?
AVflash is now available in optional easier-to-read graphic format, which includes some photos and illustrations. If you prefer, you can continue to receive AVflash in text-only format. Simply follow these instructions and AVflash will continue to arrive as it always has, in text format.