AVwebFlash - Volume 18, Number 4b

January 26, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Carriers Divert For Solar Storm

Delta, Qantas and Air Canada reportedly were among operators that chose to alter routes Tuesday and Wednesday to avoid potential disruptions caused by the most powerful solar storm to hit earth since 2003. Some flights originally scheduled to fly transpolar routes were re-routed south, adding to flight times but reducing the risk of disruption to high-frequency radio communication used along the routes. The storms cause fluctuations in the Earth's magnetic field, and high frequency radios and other systems are susceptible to the interference. The re-routing was a precaution that not all carriers chose to take.

American, United, Continental and Air New Zealand did not alter flights, according to Businessweek.com, but were closely monitoring flights. The carriers have other options available, including operating at different altitudes or relying on different navigation and communication systems. The storm may have fallen just outside the list for top ten most powerful storms over the past 35 years. Delta's operations from Detroit to Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul and Shanghai were among those potentially affected. Qantas was expected to divert Antarctic routes like those between Sydney and Buenos Aires. The airline said that one flight would carry an extra five tons of fuel, flying a longer, less southerly route, but details of the direct costs of rerouting for Qantas and other airlines were not immediately available.

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Aviation Safety back to top 

NTSB Reports On Homebuilt Study

The NTSB said this week it has completed the data-collection phase for a study on the safety of Experimental-Amateur Built aircraft. The study aims to "give the innovators and aviators in the community information about accidents that will result in a real and immediate safety payoff for them when they are flying these aircraft," said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. NTSB investigators conducted in-depth investigations of 222 E-AB aircraft accidents that occurred during 2011. More than half of the accidents involved E-AB aircraft that were bought used, as opposed to having been built by the current owner, the NTSB said. Sixty-seven people died in 54 of the accidents.

More than 5,000 E-AB owners and builders responded to an EAA survey for the study. "The cooperation we have received from EAA and the E-AB community has been tremendous," said Hersman. According to the NTSB, the study will be the first to examine the building and piloting of experimental aircraft with direct input from owners and operators. The survey data "provides us with quantifiable, factual information that enriches our understanding of how E-AB aircraft are built and operated," said Joseph Kolly, director of the NTSB's Office of Research and Engineering. E-AB aircraft comprise nearly 15 percent of the U.S. general aviation fleet, and that group exhibits accident rates "greater than those of other comparable segments of GA," according to the NTSB. The board hopes the study will identify risks unique to the segment and improve the safety record. The safety study is scheduled to be completed in the next few months.

Wing-Crack Checks Ordered For A380s

Twenty Airbus A380s must undergo inspections to check for cracks in the rib feet -- metal brackets that attach the wing ribs to the skin -- the European Aviation Safety Agency said in a directive (PDF) published on Friday. Cracks were previously found that originate in the ribs and extend to the skin panel attachment holes, EASA said, and inspectors who were checking for those cracks then found a "new form of rib foot cracking… [that] is more significant." These "Type 2" cracks, if not detected and corrected, "could potentially affect the structural integrity of the aeroplane," EASA said. Results of the inspections must be reported to Airbus. EASA added that it is continuing to investigate the problem, and further mandatory actions might be considered.

The inspections must be completed within the next six weeks or 84 flight cycles for A380s with 1,300 to 1,800 flight cycles total, and within four days or 14 flight cycles for those with 1,800 or more, EASA said. The smaller cracks were first reported earlier this month by Singapore Airlines and Qantas, and were not considered to be a safety issue. Airbus said it has a fix that can take care of any cracks that are found, and it has adjusted its manufacturing processes to prevent cracks from forming in the future, according to Bloomberg News. Qantas grounded its fleet briefly in November 2010 after an uncontained engine failure in flight. Sixty-eight of the A380s are flying for airlines around the world.

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Fighting Fatigue on Cargo Flights back to top 

UPS Pilots Take On FAA

The Independent Pilots Association, which represents UPS pilots, this week filed a court statement challenging the FAA's decision to exclude cargo operators from new pilot fatigue and rest rules. IPA called the FAA's decision "arbitrary and capricious, lacking in substantial evidence in the record or otherwise not in accordance with law." IPA says the FAA failed to provide an opportunity for affected or interested parties to review and comment on the cost-benefit calculations that drove its decision and ignored essential factors specific to cargo carriers. The court has ordered the FAA to respond.

William Trent, IPA general counsel, says the court "has ordered the FAA to file the certified index of the record, essentially a catalog of the regulatory docket, by February 6." IPA believes that cargo carriers operate under conditions that are proven to be more susceptible to pilot fatigue, including night flights and flights across multiple time zones. Trent says publication of the certified index of record will provide cargo pilots their first chance to review the information the FAA used to arrive at its final rule. The IPA's preliminary statement of issues includes these concerns. It is available online here (PDF).

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2012 CAFE Symposium Details back to top 

Electric Aircraft Symposium Set For April

The CAFE Foundation has announced the dates for this year's 6th annual Electric Aircraft Symposium, which will be held April 27 and 28 in Santa Rosa, Calif. The event focuses on practical knowledge and updates for electric aircraft builders. Speakers at the event will include representatives from Pipistrel, the winner of last year's $1.35 million Green Flight Challenge, as well as experts on electric batteries, UAVs, ultra-quiet liftoff technology, and new developments in electric LSAs. CAFE also will announce the details of a new Green Flight Challenge at the event. Online registration is open now.

A keynote address on Saturday will feature Cary Hayner, a researcher at Northwestern University, who will provide an update on efforts to re-engineer lithium-ion batteries to hold 10 times the charge of batteries now on the market and recharge 10 times faster. Among the long list of speakers are Mark Moore, of NASA Langley, who will speak about distributed propulsion breakthroughs, and Paul Schlein, a retired chief scientist from Lockheed's F-22 Raptor project, who will talk about the world speed record for electric aircraft. Bill Parks, of AeroVironment, will provide an update on UAV technology. Tom Gunnarson, of the FAA Small Airplane Directorate, will discuss the FAA's plans for licensing electric-powered aircraft. The complete schedule for the weekend will be posted soon at the CAFE website.

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Aviation and Art back to top 

Wings Remastered For DVD

Wings, the classic 1927 film about World War I pilots, is available on DVD and Blu-ray for the first time, as of this week. The film, which won the first-ever Academy Award for "Best Picture," has been "meticulously restored," according to Paramount Home Entertainment. "Featuring groundbreaking aerial dogfights and epic battle sequences, Wings is both a cinematic spectacle and a compelling story of love and sacrifice," says PHE. New techniques were developed to capture a "sense of authenticity" in the dogfight sequences, PHE says. The film was one of the first in which the actors actually flew in real airplanes. For the new release, digital techniques were used to restore the film frame by frame, and the original score has been freshly recorded with a full orchestra. Sound effects were re-created by Skywalker Sound.

The Blu-ray version includes three new documentaries to complement the film: "Wings: Grandeur in the Sky" explores the cinematic career of William Wellman, the director, who served as a fighter pilot in World War I; "Dogfight," which explores the history of early aeronautics; and "Restoring the Power and Beauty of Wings," about the restoration process. The suggested retail price is $24.99, and for the Blu-ray version, $29.99. The runtime is 144 minutes. The trailer is online here. The film is also available for viewing on Netflix.

Boneyard Art Exhibit Opens In Tucson

click for photos

A new art exhibit that uses discarded airplanes as canvases opens this weekend at Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Ariz., and on Monday curators released more photos of the transformed aircraft.

Click for photos.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

No FAA Bonanza Cable AD

The FAA has decided against issuing an airworthiness directive (AD) like those issued by Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Administration (CASA) last week grounding most Beech Bonanzas, Barons and Debonairs in the country. In a news release on Tuesday, American Bonanza Society President Tom Turner said that instead the FAA will issue a special airworthiness information bulletin (SAIB) that will serve to remind mechanics to inspect the full length of the elevator control cables at annual inspection. CASA ordered immediate inspection of elevator control cables in the entire fleet of Beech aircraft with single-pole control yokes after an elevator cable broke on one airplane and another was found to be severely frayed. ABS says there have been no reports of cable problems among its members and it was particularly concerned about a cable replacement requirement in the CASA AD.

In Australia, owners of affected aircraft will have to replace elevator cables that are older than 15 years, regardless of their condition. ABS calls that part of the AD "a difficult, expensive and unnecessary job." Normally, when an aviation safety organization issues an AD like this, agencies in other countries follow suit but ABS says the FAA decided against an AD after consultation with Australian authorities and ABS. "The American Bonanza Society thanks the engineers and leaders of the FAA's office of Continuing Operational Safety for its careful review of the issue before making a rulemaking decision.," the society said.

Indy Prepares For Super Bowl Fly-In

The business jet fly-in that is also known as the Super Bowl is shaping up to be an even larger display of shiny aluminum after the event in Dallas last year attracted 600 aircraft. According to The Wall Street Journal, jet charter and brokerage companies are touting private aviation as being more weather-resistant and generally a lot more fun than holding your arms up to ensure an even dose of radiation. Perception issues surrounding the less than 1 percent of folks who will actually be able to get to Indianapolis in this way seem to be ignored as FBOs and even airport governing bodies tap into the financial windfall that accompanies the biggest game of the year. It doesn't hurt that teams from the net worth Meccas of New York and Boston are playing this year.

Airports close to Indy are reportedly jacking up landing and parking fees for the weekend with at least one charging $75 for landing and $75 a day for a patch of ramp. And at least one Indiana FBO is combining armchair quarterbacking with hangar flying. Million Air at Indianapolis Airport is turning a hangar into a VIP lounge for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Those arriving ahead of the game can enjoy snacks, drinks and entertainment in the Touchdown Celebration. On game day the hangar is open from 8 a.m. to midnight.

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

Question of the Week: Weight Gain for LSAs?

The possibility of an increase in the maximum weight for LSAs is being bandied about at the FAA.

How much should an LSA weigh?
(click to answer)

Last Week's Question: Results

Want to see the current breakdown of responses? Take a moment to answer the question yourself, and then you can view real-time results.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Red Tails -- Not Awful, But Not Great, Either

George Lucas intended Red Tails to feel like a movie shot during the 1940s. He got the hokey dialog part right, but at the expense of really telling the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. Still, says Paul Bertorelli on the AVweb Insider blog, it's worth a trip to the theater to see.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: LSA Weight Limits — Is Higher Better?

Raising the 1,320-pound light sport aircraft weight limit is again being discussed. It's far from any action stage, but it's not clear exactly what the benefit is, other than to include in the LSA umbrella some additional legacy airplanes. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli examines the pros and cons.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

U.S. Sport Aviation Expo 2012: Video Round-Up

Did you miss any of our video coverage of the 2012 U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida? We were on hand to kick tires, ask questions, and fly some of this year's most exciting light sport airplanes. Be sure to check out our videos on the FK12 Comet biplane, the Vans RV-12, Flight Design's CTLE light sport police aircraft, the Renegade Falcon LS, Allegro Airplanes, and Corbi's air conditioning system for LSAs.

Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Bighorn Airways (KSHR, Sheridan, Wyoming)

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

Our latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Bighorn Airways at Sheridan County Airport (KSHR) in Sheridan, Wyoming.

AVweb reader Nick Tarasiuk recommended the FBO:

We arrived here on January 14, a cold windy night, [and] were guided in and greeted and tied down by Isaiah Bothamley. He pointed out an electrical outlet that we could use to keep our engine warm, then called a shuttle out to pick us up and take us to a nearby Holiday Inn hotel. He let us know that this particular hotel had special rates for Bighorn and got us an incredible rate. In the morning, when we arrived at the FBO, our aircraft had been serviced and was ready to go. All this was done with friendly smiles from everyone. Great job!

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!

Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

This week's winning photo comes from Dan Gay of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk (UK). Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.
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

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? Your advertising can reach over 225,000 loyal AVwebFlash, AVwebBiz, and AVweb home page readers every week. Over 80% of our readers are active pilots and aircraft owners. That's why our advertisers grow with us, year after year. For ad rates and scheduling, click here or contact Tom Bliss, via e-mail or via telephone [(480) 525-7481].

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