AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 7a

February 13, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! "Those Who Don't Remember the Past ..." back to top 
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Antique Aircraft Records Preserved

The detailed historical record of the dawn of U.S. civil aviation will remain intact and accessible by the public thanks to a 15-year effort by a Minnesota antique aircraft enthusiast. The Herrick Amendment, named for Aviation Foundation of America President Greg Herrick, is part of the FAA reauthorization bill that is expected to be signed into law shortly. It orders the FAA to maintain the records of more than 1,200 aircraft that received an "Approved Type Certificate" between 1927 and 1939. Those records include technical drawings, test data and other information about the construction of the aircraft. In a podcast interview, Herrick said data was in danger of being destroyed by the FAA and was difficult to obtain by those who owned the aircraft because the agency invoked a ban on distribution of the material on the premise that it would violate the "trade secrets" of the current holders of those type certificates. Almost none of the aircraft are still in production and few of the original manufacturers are still around. The new law invalidates the trade secret claim for aircraft from that era. It's naturally of great importance to those who own or are restoring aircraft from those times but Herrick said it's important for other reasons, too.

"Beginning with the Wright brothers, the United States has led the way for aviation -- and these files chronicle the development of our aircraft industry. They document the very fabric of American innovation," said Herrick. "The accessibility and preservation of these files ensures an irreplaceable resource for present and future generations. It also allows vintage aircraft owners to maintain the continued safe operation of aircraft that are still flying." Herrick came across the issue while trying to get drawings for the tail of a 1937 Fairchild aircraft. After 13 years of court battles he finally got them and approached GA advocate Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., for a legislative fix. The result was the amendment in the reauthorization bill. The Fairchild is in Herrick's hangar, one of five restoration projects waiting its turn.

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The Lowdown on 100 Low Lead back to top 

CEH: Negotiations Begin For CA Leaded AVgas Settlement

Center for Environmental Health (CEH) director of research Caroline Cox told AVweb Thursday that aviation interests and CEH have started negotiations that could lead to an out-of-court settlement regarding the use of leaded avgas in California. According to Cox, "virtually all" the cases CEH has pursued in its 15 years have ended in settlements. Legally, CEH is entitled to 25 percent of any civil penalties imposed as the result of a settlement or court judgment. At issue is California legislation aimed to protect residents from toxins, which CEH says applies to leaded aviation fuel. Cox says she's not aware of any studies performed specifically in California that show elevated levels of lead in children living near airports, but referenced a North Carolina study.

Cox discussed CEH's position and three potential outcomes of negotiations with AVweb's Glenn Pew in a podcast interview. Precisely how levels are measured and the source of contamination could become issues of contention in court and require extensive studies and expenditure to resolve. When asked if a settlement could be reached without either side actually knowing how or even if lead levels are affected by any changes agreed to in a settlement, Cox described a separate case. To avoid the costs of study and litigation, CEH may be hoping aviation interests will reach a settlement without either party ever establishing the level of contribution leaded avgas may or may not be making to the level of lead in humans living near California airports.

Podcast: CEH's Caroline Cox on the California Avgas Lawsuits

File Size 14.7 MB / Running Time 15:59

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Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

AVweb's Glenn Pew speaks with director of research for the Center for Environmental Health Caroline Cox about developments in the case that has targeted more than a dozen companies at 25 California airports over the use of leaded aviation fuels in the state.

This podcast is brought to you by Bose Corporation.

Click here to listen. (14.7 MB, 15:59)

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Life in the Age of Machines back to top 

University Develops Swarming Drones (With Video)

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A research team at the University of Pennsylvania has successfully demonstrated close formation work among large networked groups of autonomous vehicles, and the results are visually captivating. The SWARMS project (Scalable sWarms of Autonomous Robots and Mobile Sensors) involves a team from the university's general robotics, automation, sensing and perception lab. Work there on autonomous multicopters has led to demonstrations of the vehicles performing obstacle navigation and precise maneuvering while flying in large formations and operating as a group of networked autonomous vehicles. In plain English, you'll want to watch all 16 of them autonomously fly a cross-over figure eight pattern at 1:22 in the video.

The goals of the project are to understand swarming behaviors in nature and identify models for swarm behavior in large networked groups of autonomous vehicles. The research could lead to the development of engineered systems equipped with multi-vehicle sensing and control to carry out missions with the ability to respond as a group to high-level commands. It aims to determine if groups of autonomous vehicles can function effectively in a hostile environment without one master unit (leader) and with limited communications between its elements. Such a group could potentially include individual members that could dynamically change roles to better adapt to a dynamic environment in pursuit of an objective.

Seeing is believing.

Input Error Triggers Stall Warning On Regional Jet

Investigators have found that the crew of a QantasLink Boeing 717 with roughly 100 passengers experienced stick shaker activation during a 2010 flight on two of three approaches, because of pilot error prior to takeoff. The flight was out of Perth for Kalgoorlie and on the first approach, the stick shaker activated as the jet descended through 1,100 feet. The crew elected to go around and experienced the stick shaker again on a second approach as the aircraft passed through 350 feet. The third landing attempt was successful but not without difficulty. According to investigators, the captain had entered improper data that resulted in a weight calculation that was off by more than 21,000 pounds.

The problem went unnoticed by the pilots because of the crew's failure to observe standard cross-checking technique, according to investigators, and the pilots had assumed their control problems were due to turbulence. The error left the crew with undetected incorrect guidance for the aircraft's approach. And, according to investigators, the flight crew "did not follow the prescribed stall recovery procedure and did not perform an immediate go around." The crew flew the third approach even though the aircraft appeared to be unstable and increasingly difficult to control. Investigators noted that the captain had been subject to multiple schedule changes that challenged his ability to manage fatigue, but stated he was "well rested" for the event.

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Flight Planning back to top 

RunwayFinder Closing

RunwayFinder, the charting and airport information website that was embroiled in legal action with FlightPrep a year ago, is closing. In a statement, owner Dave Parsons said the decision was made partly because of the FAA's intention to charge fees for chart downloads through its online charting division AeroNav. "While I understand AeroNav's need to re-capture costs, the new chart fees along with other licensing fees will put RunwayFinder firmly into the red," Parsons wrote. He said the money issues might have been overcome but there is also a lot of work that needs to be done to update the service. "I've had many people suggest alternatives, but unfortunately there is no way to keep it going (for reasons I can't disclose)," he wrote. The non-disclosure is likely a reference to an agreement he signed with FlightPrep last March that settled a well-publicized lawsuit over alleged patent infringement by RunwayFinder.

FlightPrep holds a broadly worded patent on the technology of online flight planning and Parsons was among the first to challenge FlightPrep's claims. Parsons reached an agreement with FlightPrep before the conclusion of the legal action against RunwayFinder. A non-disclosure agreement was part of that deal. Parsons said he started RunwayFinder in 2005 when he was learning to fly because he had a hard time putting together flight planning information from online sources. "Being a software engineer, I wrote some code, collected a bunch of data and charts, and RunwayFinder was born."

787 Completes Epic FlightAware Pattern

There's only one way to prove that an airplane will fly for a long time but the thought of spending 19 hours flying aimlessly got Boeing engineers channeling their artistic sides through FlightAware. The mission was to test a GE-equipped 787 for extended operations (ETOPS) so those involved decided to make it interesting. In 19 hours from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning, the Dreamliner carved its initials across a swath of the Northwest before flying an intricate rendition of the company logo over the Dakotas, Nebraska and into Iowa.

Boeing has done FlightAware art before, as have other manufacturers, but this week's effort may be the most complex and longest duration yet. The 787 was in the air for 19 hours and 12 minutes, covering 10,408 miles (642 more than flight planned) and flying over 10 states. It took off from Boeing Field at 1:33 p.m. local time on Thursday and landed at 8:45 a.m. Friday.

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Rotorcraft Rendezvous back to top 

Heli-Expo Under Way In Dallas

A clean-sheet design from Bell Helicopter is the highlight announcement so far at Heli-Expo in Dallas. The annual show got under way in Dallas on Saturday and on Sunday Bell unveiled the mockup of its much-anticipated 525 Relentless, a 16-passenger aircraft the company hopes will define the "super medium" category. As with business jets, bigger is generally selling better on the helicopter side and the Relentless will top out at about 18,000 pounds with a 400 mile range and a Garmin 500H panel. First flight is expected in 2014. Not all the success is in the big aircraft, though and Robinson Helicopters had plenty to talk about.

Robinson's R66 turbine is selling well and the company is considering boosting production from four a week to as many as eight. Robinson's current backlog is 640 helicopters across its product line. The show continues through Tuesday and in terms of the number of delegates and aircraft on display is among the largest on the show calendar.

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News Briefs back to top 

Flight 93 Co-Pilot's Widow Pens Book

Melodie Homer, widow of Flight 93 co-pilot LeRoy W. Homer Jr., has released the book "From Where I Stand: Flight 93 Pilot's Widow Sets the Record Straight" and is donating all proceeds. The book honors the deceased pilot and his role on September 11, 2001, when United Flight 93, a Boeing 757-222, was hijacked. The book also includes how the widow and her two children coped with their tragedy. Flight 93 was the only one of four hijacked aircraft not to impact a strategic target, crashing instead in a field at Shanksville, Penn. All proceeds earned from the sale of the book will be donated to support young adults seeking careers as professional pilots through the LeRoy W. Homer Jr. Foundation.

Melodie Homer serves as president of the foundation named for her husband and also works as a nursing instructor. LeRoy W. Homer Jr. was a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and served in the Air Force before being hired by United in 1995. The foundation that carries his name offers scholarships to young people aged 16 to 23 and has helped at least twelve young people obtain private pilot certificates since 2003. The foundation's application period for 2012 is now closed, with recipients to be announced on May 31.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Drone Tech Gets Creepy

Drones are much in the news lately, and it seems that each new story we publish describes remarkable progress, some of it a little on the creepy side. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli examines two developments that could just as easily tip toward the dark side.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: What's EAA Up To?

Building out its base, that's what. And the only way to go is toward a broader, more general interest aviation audience that's not interested only in homebuilding. But on the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli asks if that doesn't make it look just like AOPA? And do we need to belong to both?

Read more and join the conversation.

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

AVmail: February 13, 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: Where's Our Trophy?

Regarding the "Question of the Week": How about a trophy for the average aviator? You know, the guys who drive 20-year-old cars so they can afford a 40-year-old airplane; who put up with ridiculous security regulations, crippling fuel prices, a progressively dumber society that doesn't understand aviation, and a President who castigates them for being "elite."

These are the guys who give Young Eagles rides, take cancer patients to distant cities for life-saving treatments, and fly supplies into storm-ravaged Caribbean islands. They are the lifeblood of American general aviation. Where is their trophy?

Glenn Juber

Collier Write-In Vote

The iPad!

Ray Rivera

IPad Chronology

Interesting article about the pilot suing because his employer didn't give him an iPad [in 2009] to avoid injury. It's particularly interesting since the iPad wasn't released until April 3, 2010.

Mitch Hodges

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

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Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 255,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

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"The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It"

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

Video: Where's My Flying Car?

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

A practical flying car with everyman usability has so far eluded the public, but we may have already been introduced to a design that could lead to a breakthrough. Some of the major challenges of producing a point-to-point simple and safe to operate vehicle are technological in nature. Autonomous navigation (enter the destination, press a button, and allow the vehicle to navigate, communicate with, and autonomously avoid other aircraft) may be one key to safely organizing masses of flying vehicles in the same airspace. And as society progresses, the gap between the dream and reality may be shrinking.

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Video: Flying the Renegade Falcon LS

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

The Renegade Falcon LS is one of the first airplanes to have Lycoming's new IO-233 light sport engine. AVweb's Paul Bertorelli took the airplane for a flight trial recently.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Shelby County Airport (Alabaster, Alabama)

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

Our latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to the FBO at Shelby County Airport (KEET) in Alabaster, Alabama.

AVweb reader Joe Barnhart shared his recent experience there:

My daughter and grandkids recently moved to Birmingham, Alabama. On our first trip to visit, I chose Shelby County Airport because of the low fuel price and the relative proximity to my daughter's home. Upon arrival, not only did I find the best fuel price in the Birmingham area but a first-class airport and FBO facility. On top of that, everyone was as friendly as I've ever encountered. Not only did the FBO bring a tug to park my Bellanca Viking; they put it under a covered tie-down at absolutley no charge! I'll definitely be back.

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

Long time ago!

Army Caribou:
"Raleigh Durham Tower, Army 73080 in position, runway 23, ready for take-off. Wait a minute, Tower — there is a turtle crossing the runway!"

"Army 080, hold for crossing turtle; advise when clear."

Army 080 (several minutes later) :
"Raleigh Tower, turtle has cleared runway!"

"Army 080, winds 240 at 6; cleared for take-off, runway 23. Use caution. Wake turbulence from departing terrapin."

Scott McMillan
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:

Tom Bliss

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Scott Simmons

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Jeff Van West

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].

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.

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 or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.