AVwebFlash - Volume 18, Number 10b

March 8, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Rotax's New 912 back to top 

BRP/Rotax Rolls Out New Engine

click for photos

Rotax has added a new engine to its line of popular four-cylinder, four-stroke aircraft engines—the 912iS. The new engine represents somewhat of a technological leap for aircraft powerplants in that it features direct fuel injection and an electronic engine management unit. Company officials rolled out the new engine at BRP/Rotax's company headquarters in Gunskirchen, Austria on Thursday morning. The launch customer for the new engine will be Pipistrel Aircraft, an LSA and soon-to-be manufactuer of certified aircraft located in Slovenia. BRP clearly intends the 912iS to be a "green" engine with improved fuel economy and lower emissions as one of its design goals.

Horsepower of the new engine will remain at 100, as with previous models of the 912, but in place of the Bing carburetors, which some owners have complained about having to adjust from time to time, the 912iS will have automotive type fuel injection with an ECU capable of timing and shaping each fuel charge. Each cylinder will have dual injectors for redundancy. BRP claims up to 30 percent lower consumption than like-power aircraft engines.

The overall physical size will remain essentially the same as previous models of the 912, although the weight will be about 6 kilograms more for a total weight of about 63 kg or 140 pounds dry, installed weight. The engine will also have an external alternator to both power the ECU and ship's systems. BRP says the engine will be available in two versions, the 912iS non-certified and the 912iSc for certified aircraft. Production is scheduled for March 2012 and the engine will come out of the box with a 2000-hour TBO. AVweb will have a full video report on the engine later this week.

The engine will run on autogas up to E10.

Click for photos.

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Getting the Lead Out back to top 

Group Sues EPA Over Leaded Avgas

The environmental group Friends of the Earth (FOE) has sued the EPA asking for the regulation of lead emissions from general aviation aircraft under the Clean Air Act, and Wednesday, AVweb spoke to a lawyer on the case. According to attorney Marianne Engelman Lado, "The sky is not falling and no one is even calling for shutting down an industry." Lado said the action is meant to precipitate a two-step process. The GA Avgas Coalition has responded.

Lado told AVweb that FOE recognizes aviation as "the single largest source of lead emissions in the United States." FOE is seeking to phase out lead as an additive to aviation fuel and multiple aviation interests are working toward that end. As a first step toward that goal, FOE hopes the EPA will "make an endangerment finding." The second step would see authorities engage in rulemaking to regulate lead additives to avgas. FOE wants the government to deliver a plan "with real deadlines in it," Lado said, and FOE believes "the starting point is the EPA."

The GA Avgas Coalition, which includes AOPA, EAA, GAMA, NBAA and NATA, said the lawsuit "was not unexpected and does not threaten the near-term availability of leaded fuel." The coalition says, "the FAA, not the EPA, will have the final regulatory authority over any potential change" to avgas. The FAA has already established the Unleaded Avgas Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee, which is charged with producing recommendations to further development and deployment of an unleaded avgas. The coalition's position is that "the FAA, EPA and the industry must be allowed to work together to make the safest transition to the most viable unleaded fuel." More to come... .

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Equipment Check for Baumgartner's Big Feat back to top 

Stratos Capsule Ready For Launch

The capsule that will carry Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner to 120,000 feet in an attempt to beat a 52-year-old freefall record is "mission-ready," the Red Bull Stratos team said on Tuesday. Five years in the making, the capsule's retro-futuristic design recalls the Apollo spacecraft, but the materials and science that went into its construction are state-of-the-art. The 2,900-pound spacecraft will be carried aloft by a helium balloon. After Baumgartner jumps, the balloon tether will be severed and a recovery chute will float the capsule back to Earth. The record attempt will launch from New Mexico. The team has not announced a launch window.

The capsule will protect Baumgartner from stratospheric temperatures reaching 70 degrees below zero, and creates a stable oxygenated and pressurized environment during the ascent to help avoid decompression sickness, according to Red Bull. The craft will also act as a stable base for his step-off into free-fall. The capsule is also designed to capture "valuable scientific data to advance aerospace research," Red Bull said. The free-fall record is currently held by Joe Kittinger, who is an advisor to the project. He jumped from a height of 102,800 feet in 1960.

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'Hey, Ladies!' back to top 

A Week To Celebrate Aviation's Women

Over the years, various events to recognize women's contributions to aviation have been held in March to coincide with Women's History Month, and this year, many events are scheduled for this week, in honor of International Women's Day on Thursday. A group based in Canada has organized Women of Aviation Week Worldwide to encourage pilots to introduce women to aviation. This Saturday, pilots can participate by taking a woman or girl for her first flight, or by taking part in an airport open house or fly-in event. In Europe on Saturday, volunteer pilots will fly across the English Channel to celebrate the centennial of the first crossing by a female pilot, Harriet Quimby, in 1912. Many more events are planned around the world and throughout the month.

One of the main fly-in events is scheduled for the Frederick, Md., airport, this Saturday. Last year, Frederick set the record for giving the most intro flights to women and girls. The free flights are already booked (though there is a waiting list), but there are plenty of events on the field for everyone, including tours of the tower, flight simulators, and lots of booths, speakers, and food. About 100 airports around the world will be hosting flights on Saturday. Many aviation museums also are hosting special exhibits. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum will host a "Women in Aviation and Space" family day on March 24 at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., and on March 28, curator Valerie Neal will give a talk about female space shuttle commanders. In New York, the 99s are hosting a tribute to aviation's legendary women at the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island this Sunday.

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News Briefs back to top 

'Top Gun 2' To Feature F-35, Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise, star of the first Top Gun film, is expected to appear in Top Gun 2, now in the works, and according to recent reports, he'll play the test pilot of a Lockheed Martin F-35 joint strike fighter. Cruise confirmed a few months ago that he was talking with the producer and director of the 1986 film -- Jerry Bruckheimer and Tony Scott -- about a sequel. A Lockheed Martin official said last week at an industry event that a production crew is expected to start filming in the next month or so at the company's flight test center in Fort Worth, Texas. Officials from the film industry declined to comment on the reports.

The new film is expected to feature unmanned combat drones and the pilots who operate them. The F-35, which hasn't yet started deliveries, has been over budget and behind schedule for years, causing some buyers to back out. Latest estimates project that the airplane may not be combat-ready until 2018, and will sell for $122 million.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Epic Sold To Russian Firm

Epic Aircraft, the Bend, Ore., manufacturer of speedy turboprop kit aircraft called the LT, has been sold to a Russian company. In a news release, Epic describes its new owner, Engineering LLC, as "Russia's premier maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider." The Russian company intends to certify the LT but will keep making the kits, too. CEO Doug King, who essentially led a group of builders with partly completed airplanes in the acquisition of the kit side of Epic when the original company went under three years ago, will stay in his position. "It's exciting to be a part of Epic Aircraft's next chapter. Working together with Engineering LLC, Epic will be able to extend our great commitment and dedication to the aircraft manufacturing industry including our customers, employees, vendors and all other stakeholders. This will be a truly significant move for the future of both companies," King said.

A certified version of the LT would be look-alike competition for Kestrel Aircraft's proposed offering. The LT was based on a design developed by Kestrel's English ancestor and is being taken to fruition by Cirrus co-founder Alan Klapmeier. Meanwhile, it appears that King and his fellow builders accomplished their goals in taking over the company. King says his airplane is finished and will be at Sun 'n Fun. The Epic story was one of the more unusual in the string of company failures that hit the industry, and AVweb's earlier coverage plotted the chronology.

SmartDeck Integrated Cockpit Chosen for New Evektor Outback Turboprop

Montreal-based Esterline CMC Electronics has announced a new turboprop application for their acquired SmartDeck integrated glass cockpit. CMC's Greg Plantz told AVweb in an exclusive interview that Czech Republic aircraft maker Evektor has chosen the SmartDeck for the new-generation EV-55 Outback twin turboprop, bringing the once seemingly abandoned yet capable SmartDeck suite to a higher market level.

SmartDeck, which is a fully integrated and multi-screen suite that includes several major third-party systems, including a Cobham S-TEC digital autopilot and PS Engineering audio control system, made its introduction a few years ago from industry veteran L-3 Avionics. L-3 hoped the SmartDeck STC would grow further than the single STC that remains in place for Cirrus applications, but it just never gained momentum. Retrofits and OEM equipage for Cirrus models never panned out.

But CMC, which now owns the SmartDeck manufacturing rights, gives the system a new lease on life, reworking the user-friendly and highly integrated big-screen system for the turboprop market. There's a long list of improvements that focus on big-airplane human factors plus growth potential to meet evolving ADS-B requirements and the versatile mission profile of the EV-55 aircraft.

The SmartDeck sports three screens: pilot and co-pilot PFD plus an MFD and a CCU (center console unit). This configuration, says CMC, places unique focus on aircraft that are crew-operated. Interestingly, SmartDeck uses all concentric knobs, and absent is the expected touchscreen feature set. SmartDeck does include advanced synthetic vision, electronic charting, PT-6-specific ICAS and will support weather radar interfaces.

CMC says the SmartDeck is focused on Class III aircraft primarily through OEM channels, although select retrofit applications (which could include King Air, Pilatus PC-12 and other popular turboprop platforms) are a definite possibility.

The Evektor Outback is a high-wing, non-pressurized, and PT-6-powered multi-mission aircraft with a 4,021-pound max payload that excels in short-field and unpaved runway capabilities. It will be available in multiple configurations, including passenger transport, cargo transport, and a combined version with space for cargo and passengers -- plus a configuration designed for search, rescue and surveillance ops geared toward military applications. It's expected to have a starting price of around $2.1 million.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Can You Overcomply with an ATC Clearance or Directive?

Maybe, maybe not. Just to show what hot sticks we are, most of us are spring-loaded to really demonstrate a tight turn or a short landing if ATC requests it. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli suggests it might be better to wait to beat or dial back the enthusiasm.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: You Make the Call -- Tower Directive

On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli discusses a recent incident with a control tower issuing a directive that wasn't quite right. Or was it? You be the judge.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Question of the Week: The Lead Question

Friends of the Earth has upped the ante in its bid to ban lead additives in aviation fuel by suing EPA to get that process moving.

What are your thoughts on the issue?
(click to answer)

Last Week's Question: Results

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

Video: AVweb's TBM 850 Flight Trial

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

What's not to like about flying 320 knots at FL280? Not much that we can think of. That's exactly the performance Socata's TBM 850 will deliver. The 850 has become one of the most popular turbine personal transportation airplanes for several reasons. Chief among them are that its speed is closer to jet performance than prop numbers and its operational cost — with a single engine rather than two — is relatively low, given its capability. In this video, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli took a flight trial with Socata's Nicolas Chabbert and demo pilot Wayman Luy. His normally well-coifed salt-and-pepper hair can be seen smoldering slightly.

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Video: Moving Map Apps for Android Tablets

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

Why should the iPad have all the fun? Here are some good moving map apps for your Droid tablet that you can download today.

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

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Lockwood Aviation Repair (KSEF, Sebring, Florida)

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

FBOs aren't the only heroes who can save the day when you arrive at an airport far from home. This week, reader John Williams tells us how Lockwood Aviation Repair saved the day when he visited Sebring Flight Center (KSEF) in Florida.

Flew my Weight Shift Control Trike from Williamsburg, Virginia to Florida to accomplish some in-flight testing of cold-weather gear to keep pilots warm while flying in open cockpit aircraft. When I landed in the Sarasota area, I noticed some problems with my exhaust system during my post-flight inspection. I called Lockwood Aviation, a major ROTAX repair station ... . I spoke with Aaron Prentiss, service manager for Lockwood, described my predicament, and was immediately invited to fly my plane to their hangar ... . Within minutes [of pulling up to the hangar], my plane was pulled into their immaculate hanger, Joe diagnosed the problem, and they went to work on the exhaust manifold-to-muffler connections. Thankfully, their weld shop could drop current projects to work me into their afternoon schedule. I walked to the KSEF FBO, found the pilot's lounge and computer, and took time to check e-mail. Within half an hour, Aaron tracked me down, in person, to inform me about the progress of the repair job. It sure is nice to be treated like a valued customer when in transit and have industry representatives recognize that, without immediate assistance, my trip would [have] become a nightmare. Instead, my plane is being taken care of, I am being taken care of, and I am very pleased to recommend Lockwood to fellow pilots.

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 Brian J. Leach of Sussex, WI. Click here for the rest of this week's submissions. And keep your eyes peeled for an all-vintage edition of "POTW" soon; we've gotten some amazing photos in response to our recent request and look forward to sharing them!
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

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