AVwebFlash - Volume 18, Number 9a

February 27, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Uncovering Probable Cause back to top 

Air Force: Fogging Caused F-16 OSH Overrun

click for photos

The F-16 that ran off the end of Runway 36 at Wittman Regional Airport after landing during the 2011 EAA Oshkosh AirVenture gathering did so because the cockpit got foggy, according to the Air Force. The Air Force accident investigation board report says that the jet's environmental control system caused extreme fogging that completely obscured the pilot's vision. Contributing factors were a fast touchdown speed and inadequate aerobraking by the pilot, which increased the landing distance.

The jet and pilot were assigned to the 100th Fighter Squadron, 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field, Ala. The pilot landed in the number-two position of a two-ship formation at midday as part of a training flight. According to Air Combat Command, the pilot "applied the defog procedure" without success during landing and was therefore deprived of "necessary visual clues." The F-16 departed the paved surface of the runway and came to rest roughly 300 feet beyond the runway's end. The pilot was not injured in the incident. Damage to the aircraft has been estimated at $5.4 million.

Click for photos of the incident.

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A World Without the Third-Class Medical? Not Yet back to top 

FAA: Ditch The 3rd Class Medical Petition, Denied

AOPA and EAA are expected to advance their own petition, soon, but an earlier submission from Potomac Airfield's David Wartofsky has received an official FAA response: denied. Wartofsky's petition was posted as a public docket and generated more than 1000 comments. The petition sought to allow pilots flying aircraft under 6,000 pounds max gross weight to operate their aircraft with medical authorization provided by a valid driver's license, only, with no third class medical required. In its clear denial, the wording of the FAA's response may allow some wiggle room for future efforts.

According to the FAA, the agency "does not have evidence to support private pilots operating without medical oversight in aircraft that are considerably more complex" than those used in LSA operations. The FAA says the 6,000-pound limit would include a wide range of aircraft. And the agency has no experience allowing pilots of multi-engine, complex, turboprop, or high-altitude turbojet aircraft to exercise flight privileges without airman medical certification. According to the FAA, "absent more substantive safety evidence," approval of the petition, as written, "may prove unwise." The wording may suggest that a successful petition could still be crafted, provided it proposes different parameters and provides evidence that the FAA might recognize as an established safety record. Wartofsky has posted the full text of the FAA's response. AVweb has made that available here (PDF).

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Laying the Groundwork for Tomorrow's Aircraft back to top 

Canada Hosts Meeting Of F-35 Partners

Canada is hosting a meeting of fellow partners in the development of the F-35 in Washington next week to discuss the mounting problems with the jet. Senior government officials from Britain, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Italy, Turkey and Australia will meet at the Canadian Embassy in Washington for two days of talks about the aircraft program. The F-35 is an international effort and while the U.S. is the lead partner, the other allied countries have chipped in and their aerospace industries got some work as part of the international deal. Attendance by U.S. representatives at the meeting is not mentioned in Canadian media reports. The meeting precedes a gathering with Lockheed Martin officials set for late March. Most of the partner countries are in political hot water at home over the specter of rising costs and development problems with the aircraft. Meanwhile, analysts keep working the numbers on the program and some of the results are truly staggering.

The current thinking is the Lightning II will cost about $30,000 an hour to operate, with a big chunk of that going for fuel. That puts the lifetime cost of the program for 2,884 airplanes somewhere north of $1 trillion. But defense officials say the operation costs will likely drop as the program matures if the history of other major airframe introductions is any guide. And Lockheed Martin says the stuff that makes the airplane so expensive in the first place, like composite construction and extensive computer monitoring and operation, will reduce maintenance costs and increase reliability.

Solar Impulse Tests Pilot Endurance

The pilot of Solar Impulse spent 72 hours pretending to fly an electric airplane around the world last week and it appears human frailties can be accommodated through good management during the real event. Andre Borschberg was in a faithful mockup of the cabin of the aircraft that will make the circumnavigation attempt and after three days and three nights of flying the delicate craft alone he pronounced the test a success. "The simulation demonstrated that our concept of flying single-handed for several days in a row is viable," he said in a statement. "The techniques of relaxation and multi-phase sleep worked very well, exceeding my expectations by far. Thanks to a careful management of the rest periods I was able to maintain optimum vigilance throughout the flight."

All the human management systems were tested, from toilets to exercises to prevent deep vein thrombosis. Meanwhile, while the new airplane is being built, the prototype Solar Impulse will be used to test the hardware. A series of long-duration flights through the Mediterranean region is scheduled for the spring and the two pilots aboard will spell each other off as the flights increase in length. The round-the-world flight is scheduled for 2014.

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Aviation Safety back to top 

Helicopter Midair Kills Seven Marines

An AH-1W Super Cobra and a UH-1Y Huey operating as part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing made contact Wednesday night near the southern California and Arizona border, killing all seven Marines on both aircraft. Weather was reportedly mild at the time of the midair collision. The crash took place near a portion of the Yuma Training Range Complex. Early reports placed the location of the accident on the California side of the Chocolate Mountains, but few details had been confirmed by Thursday morning.

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Peering Inside the Tower back to top 

Controller Errors May Not Affect Safety?

Errors attributed to air traffic controllers have dramatically risen in recent years and a report due soon is expected to show they've remained relatively unchanged from 2010 to 2011, but what that means could be complicated. According to the FAA and the controllers union (NATCA), much of the increase could be the result of changes made in how errors are reported. A spike in reported controller errors is expected to be recorded in 2012 for similar reasons. Increases in training may have also contributed to the rise in reported errors. Meanwhile, there is evidence to suggest that in spite of the figures airline safety hasn't been affected.

Reported controller errors jumped 50 percent from 2009 to 2010, when the FAA says changes in reporting resulted in more voluntary reports from controllers. In 2012, the FAA plans to install new computerized reporting systems that will document controller errors that previously went undetected or unreported. Meanwhile, the FAA's efforts to train large groups of controllers to counter a forecast controller shortage could also result in more errors reported as less experienced trainees work under supervision. Whatever causes are behind the increase, airline safety statistics reported last year by the International Air Transport Association have moved in the opposite direction. According to IATA in 2011, "Global safety performance is at the best-ever level recorded." The NTSB's figures for 2010 show a decrease in major accidents per million hours flown in each year from 2008 to 2010.

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Commercial Flight Fans Pay to Play back to top 

Frequent Fliers Take Special Flight

While many of us view airline travel as a necessary evil, there are some people who actually like it and even consider it a hobby. A planeload of them gathered for a semi-regular event for passionate frequent fliers last week in which they flew around the U.S. in their own airliner and got to go behind the scenes at the American Airlines' ops center and training facility along with a plant tour at Boeing's 737 factory. According to the Associated Press story, pretending to be a ticket agent and using the slide in a simulated water evacuation were only parts of the attraction for the $1,700 ticket (the flight sold out in 17 minutes).

Sharing the flight with those who have common interests was a big draw for most of the self-described frequent flier geeks most of whom had some stories to tell. For instance, there was the guy who flew back and forth to Chicago from San Francisco on red eyes (showering at the airport before going to his Silicon Valley job) to get enough points to qualify for a special flight. It's probably no surprise that these folks don't get to talk for long about their hobby in most settings so the chance to have the seat in front of you reclined in your lap by a like-minded soul inspires celebration. American told AP the plane was stocked with four times as much liquor as a normal flight.

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

Video: Helicopter Shakes Self Apart

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

Some observers speculate that a bad episode of ground resonance may be to blame for the violent self-destruction of a medevac helicopter as it landed in a field in Para, Brazil. Few details are available about the incident, which reportedly took place Wednesday -- the same day video of the accident began spreading, online. The helicopter appears to be a Eurocopter A-Star AS350BA. Some reports state that there were four aboard -- two pilots, a doctor, and a nurse -- and all escaped serious injury in spite of the helicopter engaging full-flail mode. Several accounts repeat that the aircraft suffered excessive vibration while airborne and that vibration developed into destructive ground resonance after the aircraft landed. Generally, ground resonance will resolve itself if the pilot is able to respond quickly by returning the aircraft to hover.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: User Fees -- The Usual Blather from Both Sides

The administration's proposal to charge $100 per flight for all but piston aircraft is meeting expected -- and deserved -- opposition from all segments of aviation. On the AVweb Insider, Paul Bertorelli opines that it's less the principle than the practicality. Why is the government coming at us for more money without demonstrating that it's not wasting what we already give it?

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Of Spitfires and Martial Music

For the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli wasted his entire afternoon chasing YouTube links, so you don't have to. Fair warning, though: If you click some of the links in today's blog, don't blame him if you don't come up for air for four hours. Who knew you could watch the entire Battle of Britain on YouTube?

Read more and join the conversation.

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

AVmail: February 27, 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: Gas Pains

Regarding the most recent "Question of the Week": I live in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso (West Africa). Avgas per gallon here varies from $13 (tax-free for international flights) to $17 when flying within national borders. This is triple the price for cars in Burkina. My hope for the future is locally produced bio-avgas like Swift is developing.

Jan Van Der Horst

It's probably not the best solution, but I own two aircraft — a Bellanca Viking, which my wife and I use for travel, and an experimental Sonerai II. With gas prices approaching $6 a gallon, it's hard to justify the cost of a long trip in the Viking. Flying commercially or driving are just so much cheaper.

At 4 gph, the Sonerai is hard to beat for shorter local flights. So it's likely the rising cost of fuel will one day make trips in the Viking cost-prohibitive and give me no choice but to sell it and limit my flying to local burger runs and joy rides in my experimental.

Fred Lowerre

If avgas prices go up, presumably travel by car or airline becomes more expensive too. I may travel less in general if costs are higher, but general aviation may not be more expensive than it is now relative to other modes of transportation. Pleasure flying will continue to decrease, but those of us in rural America do need to get places sometimes.

Jon Rudolf

At some point, it will make sense fiscally to switch over to electric. We are converging on that point, but are not quite there yet. It remains to be seen if we will get there due to batteries getting better or fuel prices getting worse.

Cory Carlson

I will probably keep flying no matter how expensive the fuel gets, but I will fly fewer hours — and I may look for an aircraft that burns less fuel or can burn a less expensive fuel.

David Bunin

Frankly, I think increased requirements for in-cockpit instruments (ADS-B/In and /Out will have an equal or larger affect on the numbers of flying aircraft in the U.S.. Assuming the required equipment will cost about $20,000, the airplane savings account must be fed about $52.00 to cover that required equipment by the /2020 deadline established by Congress. That's a big hit for an airframe only worth $20K to 20-$30,000.

John Townsley

Everyman's Award

Regarding a recent "Letter of the Week": Please tell Glenn Juber there is a "trophy" for some of the "average aviators," specifically those who fly humanitarian missions — they are the Public Benefit Flying Awards given annually by NAA and ACA and handed out on Capitol Hill. He can read more about them on NAA's web site at this link.

Nancy Sack

Some Words Cannot Express ...

To all of those who have seen that wingsuit near-fatal crash: What is your feeling about it? "Cool"? "Fantastic"? "Lucky man"?

As a pilot with 45 years of flight experience in all kinds of specialities, I immediately wrote to the editor. The result? A nice and very friendly answer saying that we cannot swear in any language, this to explain that I made use of a French adjective impossible to use in those lines.

This said, I cannot approve [of] such a video [being] published. It will only push some others to prove they can do it better. You want to die? Do it alone, deep in the Argentinian jungle, and do it silently without video shots. Your name should be written on a black list and suspended of any new return in any media around the world.

Silvio Refondini

Peak Performances

Regarding the Feb. 15 "Question of the Week": I first soloed in 1968, and in all of the intervening 43+ years I've managed to find someone willing to pay me to fly their airplane. I've never reached that halcyon state where I thought I could handle any possible situation that could occur in flight. The best you can do is to prepare for today's flight to the best of your ability and then use your training and judgment to avoid or exit conditions that might exceed your present abilities.

Jim Lilje

I was licensed in 1967, but after owning three different airplanes, acquiring a commercial certificate and instrument rating, and logging over 800 hours, I left flying in 1978 when family and career took precedence.

I returned to flying in 2005 and bought another airplane, now equipped with two-axis autopilot and IFR WAAS GPS (neither of which I'd ever used before). Now, having logged over 1,500 hours with 17 years of active flying experience, I do feel I'm at my peak of competence as a pilot, though I still improve with each flight.

J. Hughes

Competence changes with application. Aerobatics was my passion in the good-old-days, when I had a young body, a good Pitts, and lots of money. It took several years to feel competent at that. Now it's soaring and teaching. I've seen enough to teach students something about what anticipation is good for. Now I would like to become an excellent soaring pilot. That will probably take more years than I have. When I run out of time, I'll probably be pretty good and have had a blast getting that way!

John Livingston

In answer to your question, I felt as if I was master of all things right when I got my ticket and spent the next several years learning otherwise. Now, at about 15 years after my PPL checkride, I'm pretty comfortable with just about everything, having seen most of it firsthand.

Greg Niehues

Seeking peak competency is a journey, not a destination. I'd distrust any who said they were or had been there.

Bob Greene

I don't think confidence depends on years of pilot experience. I felt most confident when I was flying every day in the same airplane. My skills were sharper than ever, and my awareness of the weather and the mechanical condition of the airplane was more keen than ever. I have more years of experience now, but I don't fly as much, so I don't feel as sharp.

Dennis Wolf

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

Aviation Consumer Engine Cylinder Survey

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Chandler Aviation (KCNM, Carlsbad, New Mexico)

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

AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" is Chandler Aviation at Cavern City Air Terminal (KCNM) in Carlsbad, New Mexico.

AVweb reader Jack Feiden told us how Chandler measured up against other FBOs he and his wife have visited in the past:

My wife and I stopped in Carlsbad on a recent trip from Wichita to Tucson to visit the caverns. KCNM is an easy field to use, and the facility and service at Chandler Aviation are outstanding. We have been flying flying for several decades, and this is the first time my wife ever took pictures of the ladies' restroom to show her friends. The folks working there were friendly and helpful.

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

Conversation that took place while a student pilot was in the traffic pattern at KSAV:

Control Tower:
"Cessna 12345, how much time do you have?"

Cessna 12345:
"I have the plane until 5:30."

Control Tower:
"I meant, 'How many hours do you have?'"

"About twenty."

Michael Calarruda
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.

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