AVwebFlash - Volume 18, Number 11b

March 15, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Peering into the FAA's Crystal Ball back to top 

FAA Forecasts Rocky Road For GA

In its annual aviation forecast, released last week, the FAA said it expects the numbers of active general aviation aircraft to continue to decline slowly, but by 2025 the numbers should start to gradually increase. "Although the slow growth and expectations of a European recession has dampened the near-term prospects for general aviation, the long-term outlook remains favorable," the FAA said in its report. Business aviation is expected to grow faster, driven by a growing U.S. and world economy, and turboprops and jets will fare better than piston aircraft, with continuing growth of about 3 to 4 percent per year. The outlook is also good for light sport aircraft. The LSA fleet should grow about 4 percent per year until 2013, then increase about 2 percent yearly until 2032, the FAA said. The numbers of GA pilots and sport pilots also should continue to grow, but slowly, the FAA said.

Cargo and airline traffic is expected to continue worldwide growth, with one billion passengers per year flying in the U.S. by 2024. Unmanned aircraft systems are expected to develop rapidly. "Based upon the expected regulatory environment, FAA predicts roughly 10,000 active commercial UASs in five years," according to the report. The full report is posted online.

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Safety & Law back to top 

F-22 Crash Pilot's Widow Sues Raptor Builders

The fatal crash of an F-22 Raptor preceded a series of events that have left some confusion about the aircraft's life-support systems and more, and have now culminated in a lawsuit filed by the lost pilot's widow. Anna Haney's lawsuit names Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Honeywell International and Pratt & Whitney, alleging that critical life-support systems aboard the F-22 failed to "safely or properly provide breathable oxygen" to her husband while he flew the aircraft. It also accuses Lockheed of "fraud." An accident report issued by the Air Force in late 2011 said Captain Jeff Haney had become preoccupied with the problem and lost control of the jet. Early this month, however, the Air Force Chief of Staff said the Air Force did not blame Haney for the crash.

The accident report stated that the "cause of the mishap" was Haney's "failure to recognize and initiate a timely dive recovery due to channelized attention, breakdown of visual scan and unrecognized spatial disorientation." It also stated that the F-22's oxygen system, which shut down, did not malfunction. The system, according to the report, was acting as designed and shut down in response to a bleed-air problem. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told a House subcommittee, "We did not assign blame to the pilot," the Air Force Times reported. After the crash, the Air Force spent five months seeking to source a problem with the oxygen system that pilots claimed gave them hypoxia-like symptoms. The entire fleet of roughly 170 Raptors was grounded for that time. The Air Force failed to find a cause and returned the jets to service. Anna Haney's lawsuit states that "as a direct result of the fraud of Lockheed that continues to this date, the United States Air Force has had to ground and/or severely limit flight of the F-22 Raptor aircraft, which has severely limited the aircraft's combat operations, range, and utility and the plaintiff's decedent Jeffrey Haney is dead," Military.com reported Wednesday.

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Baumgartner Test Delayed back to top 

Stratos Test Jump Delayed

The Red Bull Stratos team, which is preparing to beat a 52-year-old free-fall record with a jump from a balloon at 120,000 feet, cancelled a test flight this week when the balloon failed to operate properly. The team had planned to send their capsule to 60,000 feet above Roswell, N.M., where Felix Baumgartner would jump out to practice the fall back to earth. The test was rescheduled for Wednesday morning using a backup balloon, but fog at the landing site canceled it. The team plans to try again at 7 a.m. local time on Thursday morning, according to Baumgartner's Facebook page.

The record-breaking jump from 120,000 feet is expected to take place sometime this summer. The ascent should take about three hours, then Baumgartner is expected to experience nearly six minutes of free fall before deploying his parachute. 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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High-Tech Headgear back to top 

NASA's Head-Worn Display

A project at NASA Langley Research Center has created augmented reality glasses that can deliver critical information -- beyond airspeed, altitude, and attitude data -- to a pilot's eye, at all times, Innovation Daily reported Monday. Different from a fixed panel or even heads-up display, the head-worn display tracks the pilot's head movements. That feature will allow the unit to provide details like runways towers and taxiways where they would appear within the pilot's field of view, regardless of head movements, and whether or not they are obscured in natural vision by fog or darkness. When mated to digital NextGen routes, the system could paint a virtual runway centerline and also project paths to create a visual pathway instead of taxi instructions.

The glasses don't yet have a sunglasses-like form factor, but are considerably smaller than the Rockwell Collins helmet display that shares their lineage. The head tracker feature is custom-built by a company called Intersense. It combines gyroscopes with a camera. The camera detects the location of fixed targets within the cockpit and along with the gyroscopes translates the information into head movements that orient relevant display information. Together, the technology presents a pilot with situational awareness and flight data cues while keeping his or her eyes "outside." The agency has patented the technology and is offering the technology for commercialization.

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Places to Go, Pilots to See back to top 

Women In Aviation Conference Sets Attendance Record

Women in Aviation International wrapped up its annual conference over the weekend, drawing 3,350 participants to Dallas, a new attendance record for the event. "Our numbers were up almost 8 percent from last year," said WAI President Peggy Chabrian. Participants at the conference represent diverse interests within the aviation community, including military, commercial, corporate and recreational flying. Men as well as women of all ages are welcome. The event is known for its focus on career-building, and this year was no exception, with dozens of companies and organizations on site to actively recruit new employees. WAI also awarded 85 scholarships worth $559,680 to members at every stage of life, from university students to mature members seeking a mid-life career change to aviation.

The main hall hosted 131 exhibits, and workshops were held for aerospace educators, flight instructors, and mechanics. A new program this year encouraged members as well as local Girl Scout troops and the local community to bring girls to the event. About 160 girls ages 10 to 17 signed up to spend a day at the show, where they toured the exhibits, learned how to read a sectional chart, and tried out Microsoft Flight Simulator. Next year's conference will be held at the Opryland Hotel, in Nashville, Tenn., March 14 to 16.

Sun 'n Fun Ready For Early Start

This year's Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In and Expo will launch on Tuesday, March 27, less than two weeks away, turning the small airport in Lakeland, Fla., into one of the busiest fields in the world. The show is earlier than usual this year, as organizers try to avoid conflicts with other events, especially the Aero Friedrichshafen show in Germany, which attracts many of the same general aviation exhibitors. Starting next year, however, Sun 'n Fun plans to return to April dates through 2020. After last year's tornado, show officials worked to meet federal guidelines to ensure safety in case of stormy weather. The show is now officially "StormReady," with designated shelter areas and enhanced alert systems.

Among the thousands of aircraft at the show, FiFi, the only flying B-29 Superfortress, will provide rides to the public, at prices starting at around $570 and up. FiFi, which is operated by the Commemorative Air Force, also will be open for $5 cockpit tours. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will fly during the weekend airshow, and during the week, the afternoon show will feature many of aviation's best-known performers, including Patty Wagstaff, Michael Goulian, Julie Clark, and Chuck Aaron in the Red Bull aerobatic helicopter. Sun 'n Fun also will feature more than 500 exhibitors, a splash-in at nearby Lake Agnes on Thursday, a night airshow on Friday, and a balloon launch early Saturday morning. A free app, available from Sporty's, features fly-in information for pilots, schedules for events during the show, maps, an exhibitor list, and more. The Android version is available for download now, the Apple version is scheduled for release on March 15. AVweb staff will be at the show all week, bringing you daily news and product updates from the field.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Diamond's Dries: Fly By Wire As "Electronic Parachute"

Diamond Aircraft says it's very close to flying a fly-by-wire version of its Austro-diesel-powered DA42 twin and the company's CEO Christian Dries told AVweb that he sees this technology as an "electronic parachute." On a visit to Diamond's headquarters at Wiener Neustadt, south of Vienna, AVweb was shown a test project under way in the company's Multi-Platform division that included a conventional stick but electric servos to operate control surfaces. This technology, says Dries, will be incorporated into the autopilot and he believes it will eventually evolve to include both flight envelope protection and full autoland capability for the DA42. Dries told us he sees this technology as the trend of the future and that it's inevitable. In a clear dig at the Cirrus BRS system, Dries calls the technology "an electronic parachute" because once refined, it would be continuously available to bail the pilot out of any unusual flight attitude or emergency and would work passively, which the BRS parachute does not.

Diamond is working on two new models which will be announced at the European Aero show in Friedrichshafen in April, and while those models won't be equipped with fly-by-wire, Dries believes the system will be fielded "much sooner than you think." As for certification hurdles, which would likely be considerable, Dries said the fact that this technology has been certified by the likes of Airbus proves that it can be done. Diamond also has a considerable technical advantage in that FBW could be developed and certified in Diamond's "pilot optional" DA42s, which are finding a lively market in competing against UAVs in the burgeoning surveillance, survey and intelligence-gathering segments. In fact, Dries said, Diamond's principle business has veered away from general aviation so much that two thirds of its revenue comes from its multi-platform technology, which is sold to government and military agencies looking for affordable, quick-to-deploy surveillance solutions. On a tour of the company's Airborne Sensing division, director Markus Fischer told us some 90 DA42-based sensing systems are already in the market, some of which cost as much as $15 million fully equipped. Although that sounds expensive, Fischer says, the manned twins require less ground infrastructure to operate and can be deployed to target sites quickly. Look for an AVweb video on this topic in the coming weeks.

Collier Trophy Goes To 787

The Boeing 787 was chosen for the 2011 Robert J. Collier Trophy, which honors the "greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America," the National Aeronautic Association announced on Tuesday. The jet was one of four finalists for the award, along with the Lockheed C-5M Super Galaxy, the Gamera human-powered helicopter, and Pipistrel's Taurus G4 electric-powered airplane. "We were very pleased with this year's slate of nominations -- all of them were impressive, inspirational, and innovative, and certainly represent the future of aviation and aerospace," said Walter Boyne, NAA chairman. "We congratulate Boeing on their great accomplishment with the 787." The mid-size, long-range, fuel-efficient 787 Dreamliner was certified last year.

"The men and women of Boeing, working with our partners around the world, poured their hearts into designing, building and delivering the 787 Dreamliner," said Jim Albaugh, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "It was a long and sometimes difficult journey. We're deeply honored to receive this award." Sixty customers have ordered 868 Dreamliners, Boeing said.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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Delivered every Wednesday morning, AVwebBiz focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry, making it a must-read.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Diamond -- A New Twin Versus a Single

When Diamond announced the DA42 in 2003 with new, untried diesels, we thought they were nuts. But they've sold hundreds of them to happy owners. Now they're about to roll out a new, improved version of the DA42, and AVweb's Paul Bertorelli got a demo flight. Question is, can it take on Cirrus head-on for the personal transportation market?

Read Paul's latest post to the AVweb Insider blog and place your bets in the comments.

AVweb Insider Blog: Diamond's Commercial/Military Turn

Although the sales of Diamond's innovative twin took a nosedive in 2008, it enjoyed good timing on one thing: As the UAV market bloomed, it discovered that the DA42 could be equipped with sensors and cameras and flown both more cheaply and flexibly than either a UAV or a helo with sensors. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli discusses the details.

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: Acrophobia and the Aviator

AVweb reader Bill Menzel wrote to us a few weeks ago: "A columnist in an aviation magazine recently mentioned in passing that he thought many pilots are actually afraid of heights. Are you afraid of heights?"

It's an interesting question:
Are you afraid of heights?
(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.

What's On Your Mind?

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Send your suggestions to .

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

Video: Rotax's New 912iS

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

This week, Rotax rolled out its new 912iS light aircraft engine at its Gunskirchen, Austria factory. AVweb was there, and here's a full video report on the new engine, which features dual electronic fuel injection, dual ignition, and power options. The engine will be ready for volume shipments as early as May of 2012.

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.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Cape Aviation (Cape Girardeau, Missouri)

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

AVweb reader Ed Abrams received outstanding service on his visit to our latest "FBO of the Week" — Cape Aviation at Cape Girardeau Regional Airport (CGI) in Cape Girardeau, Missouri:

We diverted to this airport because of the weather. Winds were 220 at 23 gusting to 36 on landing. Line crew came out and tied the plane down before we got out of the plane, then loaned us a courtesy car for the night to get to the hotel. When we arrived at the airport the following morning, they brought the plane into the hangar to deice. Line crew also cleaned the windows after fueling.

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 Frantisek Manik of of Poprad (Slovakia). 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:

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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