AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 1a

January 2, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Airline Safety Report back to top 
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Soldier Facing Airport Explosives Charge

A member of the U.S. military, stationed at Fort Bragg, has been charged with trying to bring explosives onto an airplane. Various news sources have identified Trey Scott Atwater, 30, as the person arrested at the airport in Midland, Texas, after a security screener spotted something in his carry-on bag. An unidentified type of military grade explosive was removed from the bag and taken by authorities. Atwater's rank and branch of the military were not immediately released.

Initial reports suggested the explosives were left in Atwater's bag by accident, but later stories confirming the charges did not include that reference. Atwater was apparently in Midland visiting relatives and it's not clear if the explosives were making a round trip or whether they were obtained by Atwater while he was in Texas. More details are expected after Atwater appears in court on Tuesday.

Personal Electronic Device "B.S."

Public backlash this week followed an FAA action on iPads and the widely reported ejection of a passenger for refusing to turn off his a personal electronic device (PED), but regulatory solutions remain elusive. The FAA recently OK'd the use of iPads for American Airlines pilots and actor Alec Baldwin was ejected from a flight for refusing to turn off his cellphone. That seeming contradiction fueled multiple articles this week claiming that specific gadgets are safe and the FAA's ban is excessive. The recent arguments, some of which call electronic bans "complete B.S.," may overlook the difficulty of regulating in the environment of rapid evolution that is modern electronics (today's Kindle is not tomorrow's), and the potential for device failures. In June, AVweb discussed the issue with Dave Carson (click for podcast), who co-chaired a federal advisory committee on portable electronic devices in aviation, and little has changed since then.

Flight crews have reported ILS needle anomalies, GPS signal loss and interference on audio channels that they attributed to interference from PEDs. In 2006, the TV show Mythbusters found that some devices could cause interference with older cockpit instrumentation. The International Air Transport Association released a report stating that cellphones and other PEDs can cause disruptions to aircraft systems. But, according to Carson, real-world incidents have never been repeated and all reported incidents are considered anecdotal. In light of the evidence, and the complexity of identifying and approving specific devices for exclusion from the ban, the FAA's position is to remove the potential threat altogether. And, so, Kindle readers and most all other PED-lovers will have to wait until 10,000 feet to enjoy their devices freely ... for now.

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Aiming High back to top 

Amputee Wants To Be Air Force Pilot

An Ohio ROTC student hopes to become the first high-leg amputee to be accepted for flight training in the Air Force. Matt Pirrello lost his leg in an accident 18 months ago but he remains determined to achieve his goal of becoming a military pilot, his dream since he was old enough to run around the house making airplane noises. Pirrello has overcome a lot of challenges since his accident and has rejoined his ROTC unit, taking part in all the physically demanding activities that entails. The ultra-conservative nature of the pilot selection process presents a fresh set of obstacles, however.

Although some injured pilots have returned to active duty as amputees, Pirrello, if selected, will be the first amputee to go through training. Also, other amputee pilots have lost their legs below the knee and are able to operate the rudder and brakes with little impairment. Pirrello has a Plan B if the Air Force doesn't accept him for pilot training. He says he'd like to fly drones or work in intelligence. Those who know him are not counting him out as pilot material, though. "Matt is unstoppable," Lt. Col. Alejandro Cantu, commander of the Air Force ROTC detachment at Ohio University, told the Columbus Dispatch. "He has amazing character, drive and attitude. "He's everything we're looking for in the Air Force to serve this great country of ours."

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Traveling Faster in Cleaner Skies back to top 

EU's Carbon Plan For Airlines Begins Jan. 1

The new year will bring with it a requirement that carriers flying into and out of European Union airports participate in a system meant to regulate greenhouse gas emissions that critics say may result in higher airfares. Cost of compliance with the EU's plan, which is generally described as a cap-and-trade program for carriers, is expected to range anywhere from $2 billion to $4 billion over roughly the next decade and translate to no more than $16 per seat for a trans-Atlantic flight. Under the rules, the entire flight's emissions -- not just that flown in EU airspace -- will be added to a total. If emissions standards are exceeded, carriers must pay a penalty. The Obama administration and at least three major airlines have fought to stop implementation of the program, which critics say could stimulate trade tensions and exert downward pressure on already weak economies.

A lawsuit brought by United Continental and American was defeated on Dec. 21, paving the way for the EU to apply their emissions standards to all airlines, foreign and domestic. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had added their voices to the argument, backing the airlines. The new standards will apply to all airlines while flying to, from, or within the EU. The EU has targeted commercial aviation as a fast-growing contributor to global warming with the special attribute of delivering pollutants at high altitude. Aside from the U.S., China, India, Russia, and at least 22 other countries have objected to the program. According to the International Air Transport Association, the airline industry expects to earn a $3.5 billion profit next year, with U.S. airlines among those forecast to see the largest margins. Airlines are expected to spend roughly $100 billion on new aircraft next year to modernize fleets and meet a rise of 4 percent in projected demand.

Europe's Hypersonic Airliner

A project insider for a planned European hypersonic airliner is confident his program could in 2013 demonstrate that technological barriers can be overcome, but current economic conditions may stall the project. The European Space Agency's Lapcat program is working on the A2 aircraft, which aims to carry passengers beyond Mach 5 in long-range flight. Johan Steelant, the program's coordinator, told the BBC that while different systems and subsystems still need to be proven, "critical technology is no longer a blocking point." The blocking point now, it appears, may be the current atmosphere of economic austerity prevalent across Europe. But a large amount of funding has already been allocated.

The project is funded by both the European Commission and private investors, which have together backed Lapcat to the tune of 10 million EUR. With economic forces working against it, ambition and desire are working for it. According to Steelant, the European Commission wants to be an aviation pioneer that leads the world in innovation. As it is, Lapcat's funding is set to run dry in 2013, when the project will be reviewed. It is then that the project's viability will have to be balanced against economic and political realities. The A2 aircraft would be powered by a hybrid engine design. The engine would use a turbojet for takeoff and to accelerate to supersonic speeds. Then a rocket would take the aircraft to Mach 6 or more, running on liquid hydrogen and air. Economic difficulties aside, the A2 is not expected to overcome all the challenges posed by hypersonic passenger flight for decades and is not forecast to fly until 2040.

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Klapmeier Coming Home to Roost? back to top 

Kestrel Moving To Wisconsin?

Media in Duluth, Minn., and Superior, Wis., are reporting that a deal is close to site the new factory for Kestrel Aircraft in Superior, which is a few miles from Kestrel President Alan Klapmeier's home town of Duluth and just across the Wisconsin border. Klapmeier, who co-founded Cirrus in Duluth, took over Kestrel 18 months ago with plans to manufacture the turboprop single in Brunswick, Maine. It's not clear what happened with the widely publicized plans to build the aircraft at a decommissioned naval air station in Brunswick.

Kestrel was in line to receive an incentive package in exchange for the 300 jobs the facility would create. Wisconsin seems to be stepping up to the plate financially, too, and is hoping the plant eventually creates 600 jobs. "This is a significant number of jobs, right now, but it will continue to be a significant number of jobs in the years to come," said Jim Caesar, an economic development consultant contracted by the city told the Superior Telegram. "They have plans beyond this prototype that will require additional workers well into the future … this is an ongoing thing." A spokesman for Kestrel was not immediately available for comment.

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Frightening Flight's Legal Legacy back to top 

Airline, Manufacturers Still Paying For 2008 Incident

Almost 150 passengers have been paid up to $400,000 each for their experience aboard QF72, a Qantas Airbus A330 that suffered altitude deviations during a 2008 flight, and more lawsuits are in the works. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau found in a final report released last week that the faulty air data information resulted in a dive that included a 150-foot drop in two seconds. Sixty passengers, plus standing crew, were thrown into the ceiling. Some suffered lacerations and bone injuries. One suffered a brain injury. Two minutes later, the aircraft dropped again. Sixteen passengers now appear prepared to launch a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Airbus and Northrop Grumman, the manufacturer of the plane's Air Data Inertial Reference Unit.

The flight was carrying 303 passengers and 12 crew from Singapore to Perth in 2008 when air data units began feeding the aircraft's flight control computers inaccurate air data. Airbus has redesigned the relevant software to prevent a similar event, but an attorney who represents 160 of the flight's passengers does not believe the issue has been resolved. The ATSB found that through 128 million hours of operation, air data corruption has been noted three times. Qantas has issued a statement that the incident was a unique event resulting from faulty software. According to Qantas, its pilots responded swiftly and appropriately and no blame should be attributed to the airline. After the altitude deviations, the aircraft landed safety, but at least one passenger -- a pilot -- wonders what the result may have been if the aircraft had suffered another incident at a lower altitude. Malcolm Yeo told TheWest.com.au, "Had I known that it wasn't turbulence and that even the pilots had no idea what had happened I would have been as terrified as everyone else." He added, "If the plane unexpectedly plunged again, at a lower altitude, we would have all been dead."

The ATSB's full report and animation is available here.

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New on AVweb.com back to top 

Brainteasers Quiz #167: Stand By


Operating out of the same airports leads to familiarity, which can breed complacency. That's when you're likely to encounter something that's a little off your grid. Help us find our way back by acing this quiz.

Take the quiz.

More Brainteasers

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

AVmail: January 2, 2012

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: It's the Little Things ...

I am totally amazed!! I watched the trailer for Red Tails, and, to my surprise, there he was!

I had a neighbor when I lived in New Hampshire who flew with the Tuskegee Airmen. It was quite difficult to get Ed to talk of the war and the happenings, but once in a while he relented and told me of a German fighter pilot who would come at the B-17s in a line abreast formation. This particular pilot would roll inverted and manage to wound at least one B-17 on each pass. He was very difficult to shoot down because when he completed his pass he'd be able to split S away and reposition for another pass. In your trailer, there he was, just as Ed told me!

This is a great portrayal of these heroes.

Pete Chestnut

AVweb Replies:

George Lucas's Red Tails opens Jan. 20.

Russ Niles

"Question" Was Positively Lacking

Of the five choices given to readers opining on the most compelling 2011 aviation news story, the actual content of each one ranged from the bleak to the tragic. All five were dreadful, sometimes cynical, stories of the dark side of aviation. In a sense, and please don't take this personally, the choices reminded me the most of what all of us hate about the mainstream media's penchant for aviation disasters and the familiar rule of what's newsworthy: "If it bleeds, it leads."

How's this for compelling? Independent entrepreneurs, post-graduate students and whole college departments apply cutting edge technology to assail the holy grail of 100-passenger-miles-per-gallon by designing innovative new aircraft in the hopes of bringing a really new product to market -- and succeed. This year's CAFE competition introduced the world to a whole series of brilliant aircraft which genuinely expand both the physical envelope of aircraft efficiency as well as the philosophical envelope of what's possible.

To me, this was a story of technological optimism, made real in stunningly beautiful, creative ways. It deserves at least a prominent place on your list, if perhaps not the top spot, for one reason: This energy and innovation represent the last hope of general aviation looking into the future. Lose this, and GA is reduced to a hobby of toying with expensive antiques, a pastime as anachronistic and impractical (however entertaining) as collecting mechanical watches.

Anthony Nasr

Safety in Diminishing Numbers

My fellow pilots and I just laugh at the so-called experts touting general aviation safety improvements!

Go to any GA airport on any given day and the answer is simple! It is the cost of aviation fuel. Everyone has cut back.

Lynn Redfern

Paying for E-Charts

Here's how I would tackle the online chart charges:

Each individual who needs charts "subscribes" directly with FAA. They receive a "user code." Any service that needs to provide a digital chart for their application polls the FAA web site with the provided "user code" to see what charts may be provided. This will allow a subscriber to download multiple charts from multiple vendors, paying a single subscription and only buying what they need.

Will people share their subscriptions? Probably. Do people share their paper charts? Of course!

Nick Boland

Another Cornfield Bomber

Interestingly, the Cornfield Bomber was not the only such occurrence. While I was flying for the Oregon ANG, we had one F-4C that was continuously being written up for being out of rig. Despite many attempts to re-rig the flight controls, it continued to feel "squirrelly."

Upset about being tasked to do this repeatedly, our CWO in Maintenance Control researched the aircraft records all the way back to its birth at McDonnell Douglas. He found that it too had made a "cornfield landing." It had been rebuilt at one of the depots, but in those days before laser alignment tools, it had a visually imperceptible bend to its frame. The result wasn't apparent visually, but every pilot could feel it!

J. C. Hall

Controller Rest

Okay, we have rules that mandate the rest requirements for pilots. Now we need to look at the same for controllers. Eight hours between shifts is not enough to get the needed rest.

Ray Laughinghouse
ATC, retired

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: Does Anybody Want to Be an Airline Pilot Anymore?

Evidently not so much. In a revealing guest post to the AVweb Insider blog, Captain X, a trainer for a regional, reports that the few who do show up for interviews are sometimes barely skilled enough to make it through the sim ride. What's going on here? No one's entirely sure, but it's going to be a big problem five years from now if it continues.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: 2011 Year in Review

If you really want to know what happened in the world of aviation, you could ask Kevin Garrison. Even though he slept through most of it, he had enough waking moments to write today's year-in-review post for the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Video: Got an Oily Hangar Floor? This Stuff Can Spruce It Up

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

Many of us dream of a gleaming gray expoxy-coated hangar floor illuminated by the glare of bright lights. But most of us actually have oil-stained concrete, dingy from years of abuse. If your floor is stained badly, a product called ReKrete can help improve it. Aviation Consumer's Paul Bertorelli demonstrates the product in this brief video.

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Video: F-106 Corn Field Bomber, Convair Delta Dart

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

This is an unusual story. The jet you're looking at is an F-106 Delta Dart. A storied interceptor in its day, it was built to exceed an Air Force requirement for 1.9 mach and continuous flight at 57,000 feet. It did both. And in December 1959, it set a speed record, of 1,525 mph, or about 2.3 mach, while flying at 40,000 feet. Its pilot at the time, Major Joseph Rogers, claimed the record might not be accurate. He was still accelerating, he said, at the time.

But this particular jet is famous for a different reason.

As the story goes, the aircraft you see here on February 2, 1970 flew itself into the ground -- a snowy field in Montana, where its engine continued to run for another hour and 45 minutes. Grounded, pilotless and still under power, with its radar still sweeping, the jet sometimes crept forward foot by foot through the snow as a small collection of onlookers watched. Its pilot, 1st Lieutenant Gary Foust, had ejected roughly two hours before that show was over. Foust's trip was just as interesting. He'd lost control of the jet while flying a mock engagement that led his and two other jets into harsh maneuvers in the thin, unforgiving air at 38,000 feet. Attempting to match a high-g reversal by another pilot, Foust's jet bucked. He entered a flat spin, and the jet fell, spinning slowly like a model on a turntable. The flight's two other pilots came to his aid, calling out recovery procedures. But by 15,000 feet the result seemed certain, and an instructor in one of the other jets ordered Foust to eject. Foust obeyed.

But for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and it could be it's that law that saved the jet. As Foust shot up, the jet's condition changed -- just enough for it to recover on its own and head off for the horizon. Legend has it that one of the observing pilots said on frequency, "Gary, you better get back in."

In the end, the jet was recovered, rebuilt and put back to work as tail number 80787. But it was forever known as the Corn Field bomber. Delta Darts were phased out in the 1980s.

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Walker Aviation (Henry Tift Myers Airport, Tifton, GA)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Walker Aviation at Henry Tift Myers Airport (TMA) in Tifton, Georgia.

AVweb reader Cres Wise wrote in to explain who the FBO's owner went far above and beyond to help a traveling stranger:

My student and I were on a night cross-country (on a Friday night). On our third taxi back, we had a flat nose tire. The FBO was closed for the day, but there were phone numbers. Within a short time, Mr. Walker came and got our airplane back to the ramp. But then he opened up the facility and took care of us like family. He was over and above friendly and gracious. The next morning, his staff assisted our mechanic. The cost: zero dollars. The service: Priceless!! I'll be back to buy gas on future trips (during normal business hours).

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

While working approach control at Columbus, Georgia several years ago I had this exchange with a pilot:

Cessna 123:
"Columbus Approach, Cessna 123."

"Cessna 123, Columbus Approach."

Cessna 123:
"Columbus Approach, how far is it from here to where I'm at?"

Just try to answer that with a straight face!

Bruce Hargis
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 twice-weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the world's premier independent aviation news resource.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Scott Simmons

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Jeff Van West

Advertising Director, Associate Publisher
Tom Bliss

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 phone, 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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