AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 12b

March 22, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Come join Aircraft Spruce in Lakeland, Florida at Sun 'n Fun (Hangar B, booths #1-9) March 27 to April 1, 2012. Take advantage of some of your favorite products on sale, complimentary UPS ground shipping on most orders, and Aircraft Spruce's helpful staff to answer questions. Educational seminars on your favorite products will be held by Ryan Deck, avionics specialist. Visit the Aircraft Spruce web site for the seminar schedule and promos. Call 1 (877) 4‑SPRUCE or visit AircraftSpruce.com.
AVflash! Moving into the Future back to top 

Lycoming Moves On Unleaded Avgas

Lycoming has applied for approval to run multiple families of Lycoming engines on the unleaded avgas, UL 91. The company has submitted for ASTM D7547 approval, a relatively new standard, specifically for 233-, 235-, 320- and 360-series engines. According to Lycoming spokesman Scott Miller, the approval process is likely to take weeks -- not months -- and certain 540-series engines could follow. The fuel is an avgas, not a mogas, and conforms to aviation standards. But even if your engine is approved to run on UL 91, and you happen to have the it available, that alone doesn't necessarily mean you'll be able to use it in your airplane here in the U.S.

Miller told AVweb, Wednesday, "If your engine is approved on this fuel then your airframe is automatically approved ... in the EU. In the U.S., if the engine is approved, you may still need approval for the airframe." The first U.S. approvals should greet engines that were originally approved on 80/87 avgas. Those engines usually are approved for 80/87 or higher octane fuel. Some engine models may have received type certificates after 80/87 stopped being available, but should be able to run it also. Those engines will need to be "validated," Miller said, citing the "weeks -- not months" timeline. Asked if the move was stimulated by two recent lawsuits involving leaded avgas, Miller said, "This is independent of the lawsuits by CEH and Friends of the Earth." That said, UL 91 will likely see highest demand in regions where 100LL is not available, often due to concerns (if not laws) regarding lead additives.

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Aviation Safety back to top 

Army Apache Mishap Caught On Video

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Nobody was killed (although it's likely some careers were bruised) when an Army AH-64 Apache helicopter crashed in the snowy mountains of Afghanistan, possibly last month. Although the precise date of the mishap hasn't been confirmed, Wired quotes an unnamed source at Stars and Stripes as saying the incident occurred in February. Video started popping up Tuesday of the aircraft engaged in a "return to target" maneuver that didn't go as planned. American voices can be heard (profanely) marveling at the stunt until the helicopter fails to come out of a dive in time and bounces across an outpost in Marzak, Afghanistan. The video shows the aircraft narrowly missing some bystanders on the ground as it careens between several buildings. The Army has not so far commented on the accident but as the video gets media play more details are expected to come out.

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The Search Continues ... back to top 

New Earhart Search Set For Summer

With 2012 marking 75 years since aviator Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan vanished over the Pacific Ocean, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) this week announced a new effort to search for evidence that would solve the mystery of their disappearance. The TIGHAR crew plans to launch from Honolulu on July 2 -- the date of Earhart's last radio calls -- and return to Nikumaroro, the remote Pacific atoll where the group has found artifacts they say could have belonged to a stranded airplane crew. They will bring underwater robots to help search deep waters near a reef off the island. Recent analysis of a 1937 photo shows a blurry item protruding from the ocean offshore from the atoll, which TIGHAR says could be the landing gear of Earhart's Lockheed Electra.

The effort kicked off on Tuesday with an event at the State Department in Washington, D.C., where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke about Earhart's impact on the women of her generation and lent her encouragement to those who are working to discover the rest of her story. Oceanographer Robert Ballard, who discovered the Titanic wreckage, is acting as adviser to TIGHAR's underwater recovery effort. The expedition will be filmed by the Discovery Channel. Earhart also will be the subject of a year-long exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, in Washington, D.C., which opens June 29. The one-room exhibition, "One Life: Amelia Earhart," will focus on her commitment to women's rights. Her biography will be told through photographs, paintings, drawings, and objects such as her pilot certificate and her leather flying helmet.

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Rules and Regulations back to top 

AOPA, EAA Ask FAA To Relax Medical Rule

On Tuesday, AOPA and EAA submitted to the FAA a request (PDF) to expand the opportunities for pilots to fly without having a third-class medical. If the FAA agrees to allow an exemption to the rules, pilots would be able to fly thousands of qualifying GA aircraft with just a driver's license, a pilot certificate, and a certificate of completion (within the last 24 months) from an online course in aeromedical issues and self-certification. The online course would be free to anyone, not just EAA or AOPA members, through AOPA's Air Safety Institute website. The request notes that the FAA now has seven years of data showing that sport pilots, who are not required to carry a medical, have not had any accidents as a result of incapacitation due to medical deficiencies.

EAA and AOPA note that 50 percent of accidents in S-LSAs between 2006 and 2010 were classified by the NTSB as instructional or transition flights. Some of those accidents could be avoided, the petition says, if pilots were allowed to continue flying without a medical in the airplanes they are familiar with. The petition lists a number of restrictions on the aircraft types and the operations that would be allowed under the exemption -- for example, the airplane must have a single engine, fixed gear, no more than four seats, and no more than 180 hp. The pilot must self-assess that he or she is medically capable of the flight and must pay "at least pro rata share of aircraft expenses." No more than one passenger is allowed. Other details can be found in the groups' 41-page proposal (PDF). A petition from David Wartofsky, manager of Potomac Airfield, asking the FAA to change the rule, was denied last month.

AVweb's Mary Grady spoke with Christine Hartzell, AOPA's manager of regulatory affairs, for more details about plan, the strategy behind it, and what happens next. Click here to listen to the podcast.

Senate Finds FAA Slow To Implement New Pilot Rules

The FAA hasn't yet completed the changes that were mandated in a law passed two years ago that aimed to improve airline safety, according to testimony before a Senate committee on Tuesday. "Some critical deadlines have been missed," said John D. Rockefeller IV, chair of the committee. "Even with the issuance of new regulations, the FAA and the industry will have to work hard to make certain they are implemented properly." Inspector General Calvin Scovell's report to the committee says the FAA is on schedule to meet many of the requirements of the 2010 law, such as improving pilot rest requirements and establishing better processes for managing safety risks. However, the FAA has not met the timelines for creating mentoring programs, enhanced leadership training for captains, and higher minimum pilot qualifications.

The FAA also "faces challenges in establishing a pilot records database," Scovell said, which he said would provide an important component for enhancing the air carrier screening process for pilot applicants. The FAA also needs to provide additional guidance and assistance to industry -- especially smaller carriers -- to help them develop and manage new safety programs, he said. Margaret Gilligan, FAA associate administrator for aviation safety, told the committee the FAA has made "significant strides" toward accomplishing the safety act's objectives. All of the testimony is posted on the committee's website, along with an archived webcast of the hearing.

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"Birdman" Video Burns Up the Web back to top 

Dutch Engineer Flies Like A Bird?

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Jarno Smeets, a mechanical engineer from the Netherlands, has posted a video at his blog showing what he says is a successful test flight that took place in a park in the Hague last Sunday with a flapping-wing harness device. In the video, Smeets flaps his arms, which are connected to a mechanism that drives the motion in a pair of large fabric-covered wings. He launches by foot, flies briefly not far above the treetops, soars for a moment, and makes a safe landing in a grassy field. Altogether the flight spans about 300 feet. The launch looks unbelievable to most pilots we've shown it to, yet the effort has been covered widely in the European press over the last few months. Here's the video; let us know what you think. 

Smeets said his design was inspired by studying the flight techniques of birds, especially the albatross. He built his flapping mechanism using accelerometers from a HTC Wildfire S smartphone, two Wii controllers, and Turnigy motors. He has posted all of his work in a blog and documented the research in a series of videos. In a news release posted online, Smeets said he has "proven that modern technology and robotica can create realistic futures from seemingly impossible engineering dreams -- to fly like a bird." In the video, Smeets says that "at one moment, you see the ground moving away… and then suddenly you're free, a really intense feeling of freedom. A magical moment! The best feeling I have felt in my life." 

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

GE's New Turboprop Engine FAA-Certified

GE's H80 turboprop engine, which has been in development for several years in the Czech Republic, is now certified by the FAA, the company said last week. The engine was certified by EASA in December. The engine's launch customer is the Thrush 510G agricultural aircraft. According to GE, the engine "combines the elegant, robust design of the M601 engine with GE's 3-D aerodynamic design techniques and advanced materials to create a more powerful, fuel-efficient, durable engine with no recurrent fuel-nozzle inspections and no hot-section inspection." The H80 also will power the Aircraft Industries L410 twin-engine commuter aircraft, built in the Czech Republic, which has been flying since 1969, with 1,100 units produced. The new H80 version of the L410 is expected to be certified later this year.

The H80 engine will feature an extended service life of 3,600 flight-hours or 6,600 cycles between overhauls, GE said. It will provide the option of a single- or dual-acting governor, allowing customers to have flexibility in propeller selection. GE Aviation said it expects to produce 70 of the H80 engines this year. The H80 is the first GE engine to be manufactured outside the U.S., and the first to get its initial certification from EASA. It's based on the Walter M601 that was acquired by GE when they bought up Walter Aircraft Engines in 2008.

Arcapita In Bankruptcy

Arcapita Bank BSC, the private equity company and former majority shareholder in Cirrus Aircraft, filed for bankruptcy on Monday, saying it couldn't reach a deal with creditors on debt repayment. The company, which describes itself as a "manager of Islamic compliant investments" that manages $7 billion, says it now has only $3.06 billion in assets against $2.55 million in liabilities. "This global recession has hampered the Arcapita Group's ability to obtain liquidity from the capital markets, and has also resulted in a reduction in asset values," the company said in a statement. Just last year Arcapita sold its 58 percent stake in Cirrus to China's CAIGA after several years of turmoil at the Duluth-based company.

Arcapita does not appear to have any other aviation-related investments. Analysts say the bankruptcy move will give Arcapita a chance to restructure without creditors trying to go after its assets, which include a big power company in Ireland, according to Bloomberg.

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

Question of the Week: Fuel of the Future

As we found in our European tour, 100 octane (leaded or not) is a diminishing presence there in favor of mogas and diesel. Now Lycoming has committed to 91UL. Who's right?

What fuel will GA burn in the future?
(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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NOTE: This address is only for suggested "QOTW" questions, and not for "QOTW" answers or comments. (Use this form to send "QOTW" comments to our AVmail Editor.)

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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Peter Drucker Says,
"The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It"

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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!

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].

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Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

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