AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 12a

March 19, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! SnF Addresses Last Year's Storm back to top 

Owners Off The Hook For SNF Tornado Cleanup

Owners whose aircraft were damaged in last year's Sun 'n Fun tornado will not be stuck with any of the cleanup costs after all. In a statement, Sun 'n Fun President Lites Leenhouts said the organization has paid all outstanding invoices and will not be billing individuals for the costs. Last October Sun 'n Fun asked the 30 aircraft owners affected to submit their share of about $90,000 in towing and cleanup costs to their own insurers after Sun 'n Fun's underwriter decided it was not responsible for those costs. Leenhouts said about 40 percent of the money was recovered that way and Sun 'n Fun paid the rest. "Sun 'n Fun has paid this remaining balance in good faith on behalf of those who chose not to submit the bill to their insurance company or who did not carry insurance," Leenhouts said. "At no time has Sun 'n Fun requested that the aircraft owner[s] pay their bill[s] directly.

The request caused controversy and some aircraft owners objected, saying the decision to immediately remove aircraft before adjusters for the companies representing the owners could make arrangements was a business decision by Sun 'n Fun to ensure the show could resume the next day. Leenhouts said the immediate cleanup was necessary for safety reasons. He said the payments will cut into funding for aviation education programs that are the main benefactor of SNF profits each year. "While we deeply regret the devastation that occurred as a result of a storm we could not control, to pay for the entire bill would have caused undue hardship for our non-profit organization," Leenhouts said. "We are grateful to those individuals who carried an appropriate amount of insurance as well as those that paid from their own resources and to those who rallied together on the day of the storm to assist in restoring the site to a clean and safe environment for all to enjoy the following day."

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"There's Cassiopeia;
Over There Is Felix Baumgartner"
back to top 

Red Bull Stratos Project Makes Successful Jump

click for photos

Felix Baumgartner of Austria as part of the Red Bull Stratos project made one parachute jump from 71,580 feet over Roswell, N.M., falling at speeds that reached "nearly 365 miles per hour," Red Bull announced, Thursday. The project says the actual mark of 364.4 mph set a new world freefall speed record. The jump lasted a full eight minutes and eight seconds and took Baumgartner through the coldest part of the stratosphere where temperatures ranged near 94 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit). This was just a test and more jumps are expected to follow. The next will aim for a jump from 90,000 feet. More details and images after the jump.

Baumgartner follows in the footsteps of only two other people who have jumped from similar altitudes and survived -- Russian Eugene Andreev and American Joseph Kittinger. Both of those men set their mark in the 1960s. Baumgartner's trip to altitude began at 8:10 a.m. and was made aboard a space capsule tethered to a giant helium balloon. Inside, Baumgartner wore a space suit and after more than one hour and 30 minutes in transit, he stepped out. Kittinger was on the ground watching, as part of a team that includes almost 100 scientists, medical and aerospace experts collected for the mission. Future jumps will seek to increase altitude and have a goal of breaking the speed of sound in freefall.

Click for photos.

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Airplanes of Tomorrow back to top 

Supersonic Biplanes Are Coming?

Researchers at MIT and Stanford say they have advanced the idea of German engineer Adolf Busemann, who in the 1950s proposed that a biplane design could be more efficient and quiet in supersonic flight. Busemann's calculations found that a biplane's two wings could be positioned to cancel out shock waves, but there were problems with the design. Among those, the wings, which joined at their tips, could create egregious amounts of drag when transitioning to supersonic speeds. Now, researchers believe they have resolved the drag problem, found significant increases in efficiency, and significantly reduced sonic boom signatures. There are other challenges to overcome.

The researchers used a computer model to optimize Busemann's biplane configuration and say the outcome not only overcomes the drag problem but would half the drag of conventional supersonic jets like the Concorde when supersonic. Researchers Qiqi Wang, Rui Hu, and Antony Jameson say that by using computer modeling to test 700 different wing configurations at multiple speeds they were able to develop an optimal shape for supersonic biplane configuration. "They found that smoothing out the inner surface of each wing slightly created a wider channel through which air could flow," MIT said in a press release. The result cured the choke point of drag that otherwise could prevent the design from ever reaching optimal speed for significantly reduced drag. Next, production of a 3-D model will allow the researchers to address "other factors affecting flight."

At Aero, More New Stuff From Diamond

The Aero show in Friedrichshafen, Germany next month promises to be a busy one for Diamond Aircraft. Company CEO Christian Dries told AVweb that two new airplanes will be shown there, both twins based on the Austro Jet-A-burning four-cylinder powerplant. The DA42 V1 is a much improved follow-up to the DA42NG, the first model that sported the Austro engines, developed by Diamond's sister company. The airplane has improved aerodynamics concentrated on the engine cowling and rudder and is considerably faster than the previous model. AVweb was given a brief test flight in the airplane and noted that its single-engine performance about 15,000 feet yielded nearly 400 FPM of climb.

Also on view there will be an entirely new model, the DA52. This aircraft is based on Diamond's large-cabin DA50 idea, which was originally to have a large-displacement Continental gasoline engine or an as yet unannounced diesel. But, said Dries, "the DA50 will never have a 350-hp Continental engine." What it may have, he said, is a turbine engine. He declined to offer details but said the potential turbine will come from the east, not the west.

Meanwhile, the DA52 twin will have the Austro engines, Dries said. The cabin is wider and longer than the DA42 and will be capable of accommodating 5 to 6 people. We were shown a prototype well under way, which Dries said would fly in early April. Performance, he said, is likely to be a few knots slower than the V1. We'll have more details on this airplane when Aero opens on April 18, along with a brief video report.

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"R&R": Now It Stands for "Rest and Regulations" back to top 

Blowback Organizes Over EU Rest Rules

Pilots in the UK are fighting back against proposed EU flight time limitation rules that they say would allow them to land an aircraft after having been "awake for 22 hours." The UK pilot push has been organized online through the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) and aims to keep current UK rules in place. It claims the EU proposals were not developed using scientific data and that existing data shows accident rates "increase markedly" as duty periods stretch beyond 10 hours. The proposed rules allow maximum daily flight duty periods in excess of 20 hours.

The EU proposals would move rest rules in the opposite direction of recent FAA changes inspired, in part, by the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407. The FAA last year released new pilot fatigue rules that are much more strict than the EU proposals and still met criticism. Under the FAA's rules, pilots will have a 10-hour minimum rest period prior to flight duty, with enough time for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. Cargo pilots are not covered by the new rules and the FAA has asked them to voluntarily observe them. BALPA last month told a Transport Select Committee in the UK that their own research shows that nearly half of its members already admit to falling asleep in the cockpit under current rules. BALPA argues that extending flight time limits under the EU proposals will make that worse. Even as the fight organizes in the UK, an article published Wednesday in the German publication Welt Online states that pilots in Germany may be considering legal action if the new rules are adopted there.

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As Goes China, So Goes Russia? back to top 

Russian GA Inches, Very Slowly, Toward Growth

Small private aircraft almost disappeared from Russia during the turmoil of the 1990s but, due to recent changes, they may now be making a very modest comeback in the world's largest country. Russia's borders contain nearly 6.6 million square miles, including thousands of villages not accessible by paved roads. That makes it a potentially active general aviation market. But it wasn't until 2010 that a government decree introduced the concept of uncontrolled airspace and flight without mandatory air traffic control. Since then, more than 3,000 private aircraft and helicopters in the country have been testing the new system and have found that easier access to the air isn't the only problem. Other challenges may still prove substantially crippling in the near term.

Russia's no-fly zones have been reduced from 1200 to 400 and pilots reportedly can gain permission for flights within 30 minutes through an electronic processing system. But foreign-made aircraft are subject to customs duties and value-added tax that can add roughly 40 percent to the purchase price. And if the aircraft's type certificate is not recognized by Russia -- and few, like recent Cessna, Robinson and Aeroprakt models are -- owners can face registration problems. Some pilots have learned to bypass red tape with a loophole that allows aircraft to be recognized as a "custom-made aircraft," after they are modified. But according to the authors of the market guide, Russian Transport, owners are still faced with challenges. Russian regulations are lacking when it comes to light plane maintenance, which, among other things, often means maintenance facilities will not cater to that segment. For those who surmount the hurdles, Russia's vast expanse offers only about 500 airfields that allow light aircraft (which compares to roughly 5,400 in the U.S.). Without government investment in infrastructure and guidelines, GA in Russia could remain the playground of a financially privileged and well connected influential few for many years to come.

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Fly the Friendly, Frustrating Skies back to top 

FAA Looking At Electronics Use

The FAA says it may liberalize rules governing the use of personal electronics (not cellphones) on airliners after it tests the latest and greatest tablets and other devices. Tech blogger Nick Bilton accidentally broke the story last week when he called the FAA to complain about what he considers an antiquated rule. Instead of brushing him off, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told Bilton the agency is taking a "fresh look" at the current electronics ban during taxi, takeoff and landing. "With the advent of new and evolving electronic technology, and because the airlines have not conducted the testing necessary to approve the use of new devices, the FAA is taking a fresh look at the use of personal electronic devices, other than cellphones, on aircraft," Brown told Bilton.

The airlines have always had the ability to apply to the FAA for relief from the current rule but the testing requirements were so costly that they didn't bother. If an airline wanted to allow its passengers to use any or all of the hundreds of devices now available, it would have to prove they didn't disrupt aircraft systems by testing them on an empty aircraft. No airline can spare the equipment and manpower for that kind of testing so the FAA has decided to take it on. Brown told Bilton the FAA will involve "manufacturers, consumer electronic associations, aircraft and avionics manufacturers, airlines, pilots, flight attendants and passengers" in the tests but there's no word on how many versions of the iPad will have been released by the time they're done. It's been seven years since it last looked at the issue.

Murphy Snarls Canadian Flights

Airlines worked Sunday to clear a backlog at Toronto's Pearson International Airport after an impressive coincidence of things that could go wrong went wrong on the busy closing weekend of Spring Break. An electrical fire late Saturday closed one of the five runways and affected runway lights and directional signs on the rest. That prompted the airport to reduce landing and takeoffs by 75 percent from about 50 an hour to 12 an hour. Then heavy fog settled on the airport to disrupt the already-limited operation. Air Canada, which uses Pearson as a hub for hundreds of flights each day, was the most seriously affected. "Our operation is currently affected by a significant reduction in runway operations at Pearson which is impacting all airlines on a proportional basis," spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said. To make things even more interesting for Air Canada, about a dozen pilots called in sick just before their flights, which might be related to a bitter labor dispute with the airline.

Pilots and the airline have been unable to reach a contract settlement and the pilots threatened to strike. However, the Canadian government stepped in with back-to-work legislation and made job action illegal. The pilots who called in sick reportedly said they were too stressed to work. Meanwhile, the fog lifted by late morning and crews expected to have the electrical repairs finished before dark.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: GA's Future -- The European Perspective

Wrapping up his blog-o-tour of Europe for the AVweb Insider, Paul Bertorelli offers some final thoughts on what he heard about the future of the industry. And yes, there is one. But it's time to stop whining about the fact that GA is no longer a mass market activity, if it ever was. No one is to blame for this; it's just the evolution of demographics, wealth generation and maturing markets.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVmail: March 19, 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: The Height of Fears

Regarding the recent "Question of the Week" on acrophobia: It's often been said that "fear of heights" is really the distress that arises from the conflict between a very strong subconscious desire to fly, while at the same time being in a place (e.g., an apartment balcony, a cliff) where attempting such flight (with a certainty of failure) would be easy. So fear of heights is the result of the conflict between the desires to fly and to survive.

Len Deighton, an author and pilot, mentioned this theory many years ago. And there is some (although conflicting) evidence Lindbergh experienced such a fear, at least in early years. As for me, I'm very happy flying airplanes, low or high, and even with the door off for taking photos — but no use at all on the roof of a two-story house.

Wayne Cochrane

I've flown jets at 45,000'. I fly helicopters with no doors, looking straight down at the ground. I've been upside-down in open cockpits. No problems with heights there, but the third rung of a ladder will make my knees weak!

Jay Langford

As a pilot with over 24,000 hours in airplanes and helicopters, I have to say I do get a chill near a cliff or looking out a window in a tall building! I guess I don't think about it in flight, but when I was flying helicopters in Alaska, I experienced "open sky vertigo" where my altitude went from 100 feet to 3,000 feet as I flew over a cliff into open air. It was a strange sensation, and I have had it occasionally in airplanes. A really interesting question!

Jack Vansworth

Heights in an aircraft do not bother me because there is seldom a true sensation of height. For a true sensation of height, something visual has to connect the observer to the ground below. Hence, a view over the side of a cliff or a building showing a direct connection to the ground (without correcting the "errors of the eye") can be scary.

The appearance of clouds (usually several layers with spacing between and betwixt them) can be thrilling when viewing the ground below and can at times create the scary 3D effect.

Garth Elliot

I feel safer the higher I am, because altitude gives me more options and more time to resolve situations. My reaction times and cognitive abilities diminish above 10,000 feet MSL or so, but, in general, the higher, the safer for this old buzzard.

Jack Romanski

I'm a 3,000-hour instrument-rated private pilot. Heights terrify me! I'd rather dodge thunderstorms than do a stall!

A smart instructor figured out that my terror in doing stalls is due to my fear of heights. During the stall, my frame of reference changes from the floor of the cabin to the earth — and yikes!

Bob Toxen

Electronic Protection

I like the idea of electronic envelope protection. However, as I recall the first successful customer Cirrus BRS deployment was the result of in-flight loss of an aileron (due to faulty maintenance). I wonder how Diamond Aircraft CEO Christian Dries's electronic parachute would have handled that emergency without functional flight controls?

Bernard Robertson

FAA Crystal Ball

With all due respect to the FAA, I cannot imagine how they could possibly forecast the amount of GA activity out into the 2020s. I can make my own forecast of GA activity in 2012: Without some resolution to the cost of fuel, there won't be any. C'mon, Swift fuel!

Jim Doody

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

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New on AVweb.com back to top 

Picture of the Week: Vintage Photo Showcase

A couple of weeks back, we asked readers to send us some of their vintage airplane photos (from before the digital camera era) — and you guys came through with some terrific shots, including this one from Edd Weninger of Overgaard, AZ. Some of these have great stories behind them, and some come with a few unanswered questions. In any case, we expect you'll enjoy these photos as much as we did. Maybe you'll even be happy to hear that we squirreled away a couple of pics to sneak into upcoming regular installments of "POTW."

Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.

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

Video: Pipistrel Virus SW Flight Trial

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

On AVweb's recent swing through Europe, we visited Pipistrel Aircraft, a Slovenian manufacturer that's staked out the hyper-efficient segment of the LSA world. The company demonstrated its sophisticated Virus SW, which boasts fuel economy of nearly 50 MPG. This video is worth the watch just for the spectacular mountain scenery.

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.

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: Alexander Aero (KE80, Belen, New Mexico)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Alexander Aero at Belen Alexander Municipal Airport (KE80) in Belen, New Mexico.

AVweb reader Dennis Schwandt visited recently and gave very high marks to the "very helpful people there" and told us he "look[s] forward to visiting them again."

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

United 123:
"Oakland Center, United 123. Do you have a ride report for FL350? We're trying to have lunch, and it's a little bumpy."

Oakland Center:
"United 123, stand by.
Southwest 4567, how's your ride at FL350?"

Southwest 4567:
"Dunno. Haven't had lunch yet."

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 AVwebAudio Team

AVwebAudio is a weekly summary of the podcasts and audio interviews featured on AVweb, the world's premier independent aviation news resource.

The AVwebAudio 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 AVwebAudio, 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 AVwebAudio. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

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