AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 15b

April 12, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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AVflash! The Next Era of NASA ... back to top 
 

NASA Makes Progress In Quiet Supersonic Flight

New wind-tunnel tests by NASA of designs by Boeing and Lockheed show it's possible to build jets that can fly at supersonic speeds quietly enough to fly over land, according to the National Business Aviation Association. "The game-changing technology out there is having tools available to design the external shape of the vehicle to give you a low sonic boom on the ground," Tom Jones, project manager for the NASA research team, told NBAA. The latest experiments, which have been heralded as a "breakthrough," show that the aircraft might not create a "boom" at all, or if it does, it would be very quiet.

The designs are likely to be first tried out on business jets, NBAA said, since they are lighter than passenger jets. "The bigger the vehicle, the harder it is to make it quiet, "Jones said. The new experiments also show that it's possible to combine lower noise signatures with low cruise drag, which once was thought to be mutually exclusive, according to NASA. The next step is to test out the theories in flight. "It is my hope and my goal to make sure that we develop an X-plane demonstrator in years, not decades," said Jones.

 
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... And a Fond Farewell to the Last back to top 
 

Shuttle Discovery Set For Final Flight

Pilots in the Washington, D.C., area on Tuesday morning, April 17, may catch a glimpse of the space shuttle Discovery taking its final ride strapped to the back of a 747. The now-retired shuttle will be making its move from a storage facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Dulles International Airport in Virginia, en route to its final home at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center. The modified NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft will depart from Florida just after sunrise on Tuesday and arrive in the Washington, D.C., area about 10 a.m., taking a final victory lap around various landmarks before touching down.

The exact route and timing of the flight depend on weather and operational constraints, NASA said; however, the aircraft is expected to fly near the National Mall, Reagan National Airport, National Harbor, and the Udvar-Hazy Center, at an altitude of about 1,500 feet. Two NASA T-38 jets flew over the area last week to scout out the route, and may join the SCA on the final flight. The aircraft is also expected to execute a low pass over the airport at Dulles prior to landing. The museum has planned a welcome celebration and special events through the weekend. The shuttle will be moved to the nearby museum on April 19. Discovery will replace the shuttle Enterprise, which is currently on display.

 
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Probable Cause back to top 
 

Fatal Crash Blamed On Stray Clipboard

A helicopter that crashed in Idaho in 2010, killing the pilot and two wildlife biologists on board, was brought down by a stray metal clipboard that hit the tail rotor, the NTSB said in its final report last week. Two scientists planned to conduct an aerial wildlife survey in a commercially owned Hiller UH 12E helicopter equipped with a three-abreast bench seat and a fully enclosed cabin, the NTSB said. The pilot stowed most of the biologists' gear on the helicopter's external racks, and all three boarded the helicopter, with the biologists in each of the outboard seats. About a half hour later, the pilot broadcast that the helicopter was "landing at Kamiah," about 35 miles short of the planned destination, and moments later, the aircraft began to break up in the air.

The investigators found that the metal clipboard struck the tail rotor and caused it to separate, causing loss of control of the aircraft. Witnesses said the helicopter was rotating as it descended. It left a 1,500-foot debris field and crashed into the driveway of a residence. The investigators weren't able to tell if the clipboard had been part of the gear stowed externally, or if a passenger had opened a door in flight and the clipboard had fallen out. The clipboard also might have been inadvertently left unsecured on one of the external racks. One witness said the right cabin door was open in flight, the NTSB said, but it appeared that both doors were closed at the time of impact.

 
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CAFE Symposium Just Around the Corner back to top 
 

Electric Aircraft Advocates To Meet

The 6th Annual CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium, coming up April 27 and 28 in Santa Rosa, Calif., will feature speakers from NASA, Boeing, Aerovironment, leaders in battery technology, and more, the organizers announced recently. Tine Tomazic of Pipistrel will be there to talk about the Taurus G4, which won last year's $1.35 million Green Flight Challenge. Mark Moore of NASA will discuss advanced concepts in electric propulsion, and Tom Gunnarson of FAA's Small Airplane Directorate will explain the agency's plans for certifying electric aircraft. The weekend is billed as a "graduate-level program" (PDF) in new flight technologies, featuring experts in lithium battery research, design software, UAVs, quiet propellers, and high-lift aerodynamics.

Future Green Flight Challenges will be unveiled at the event, the organizers said. Flight demos also will be held at the CAFE Flight Test Center. Registration is $499 and can be completed online. AVweb's Mary Grady recently spoke with Tomazic about the G4's nomination for the Collier Trophy; click here to listen to that podcast. AVweb's editorial director, Paul Bertorelli, visited the Pipistrel factory on a recent trip to Slovenia; click here to see his video flight trial of the Virus SW, which boasts fuel economy of nearly 50 MPG.

 
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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 
 

NTSB Suggests Changes For Reno Races

The NTSB is still working to complete its investigation of last year's fatal crash at the Reno Air Races, but on Tuesday, board chairman Deborah Hersman announced a half dozen safety recommendations that she hopes the race organizers will implement before the races resume in September. "We believe these recommendations can go a long way toward preventing future accidents," she said at a news conference at the Reno airport. The suggestions to race organizers include changes to the course design and layout, improvements to the methods used to track and resolve discrepancies found during pre-race aircraft inspections, required pilot training in G-force tolerance, and better ramp safety, such as keeping fuel trucks farther from the race area and improving the placement of barriers. Hersman also emphasized that pilots should document that highly modified aircraft have been exposed to realistic race conditions -- high speeds and high g-loads -- before the race.

Hersman also asked the FAA to review its publications that provide guidance for air racing, because the FAA order for the Reno race required just 500 feet between the race course and the spectators; however, an FAA advisory circular recommends a separation of 1,000 feet when aircraft are flying faster than 250 mph. The board recommends that the FAA should "reconcile all of the differences between these two documents," Hersman said. She also suggested that race organizers should evaluate the use of g-suits for race pilots, and consider making them a requirement. Hersman said additional recommendations may be issued as the board continues its investigation. The accident in September 2011 killed pilot Jimmy Leeward and 10 spectators, and another 60 spectators were injured.

University Offers Type Ratings

The Florida Institute of Technology says it's the first post-secondary institution to graduate students with type ratings in modern jet airliners. Juan Villa-Navarro and Sidney Callaghan completed the Jet Transition and Commercial Type Rating course as part of their bachelor's degree program at the Melbourne campus. They both earned type ratings in the A320. Type ratings are also available in Boeing 737NG. "The courses will prepare them well and provide all the ratings necessary to go directly to a major airline. This represents the gold standard in collegiate flight training," said Ken Stackpoole, vice president for Aviation Programs and dean of the College of Aeronautics.

The type rating course, which is available as an elective for junior, senior and grad students planning airline careers, is offered in partnership with Aerostar Training Services in Orlando. There are six more students in the pipeline. Most graduates of university-level aviation courses obtain multi-IFR endorsements, but a type rating is required to fly jets. Peter Dunn, the program manager, said the courses were designed specifically in response to what appears to be a looming pilot shortage and new airline pilot standards mandated by Congress. "We are responding to what the new law intends," Dunn said. "We want to give our graduates the ability to compete for major airline jobs."

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New on AVweb.com back to top 
 

Forty-Seven Years in Aviation: A Memoir; Chapter 12: Boxcars and Albatrosses

Released from active duty in the Air Force and starting a non-flying civilian job, Dick Taylor misses aviation and joins a local Air National Guard squadron. But instead of Stratotankers, he flies Fairchild Flying Boxcars and later, in the Air Force Reserve, Grumman Albatrosses.

Click here to read the 12th chapter.

AVweb Insider Blog: Is the Flying Car Our Moonshot?

Should a practical flying car be the next moonshot? After all, cars that fly have held perennial fascination for both pilots and drivers for decades. Mary Grady examines the idea on the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Cockpit Tech Convergence

The futurists all said one day soon, we would all have a single device that did everything from phone calls to medical record retrieval. Is that why, asks Paul Bertorelli on the AVweb Insider blog, he carries around a laptop, an iPhone and an iPad on his business trips? At the AEA show last week, he got the impression that airplanes have become merely 3-D conveyances to fly around iPads.

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: Any Advice for the Reno Air Races?

The NTSB has had its say, and the recommendations are, in some cases, pretty equivocal.

Can an event like this be made safer for spectators?
(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?

Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"?
Send your suggestions to .

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.)

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

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: Cessna 152 vs. LSAs -- Flying School Shootout

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

Which is better for training — a new-age LSA or an old-school Cessna 152? For Texas flight school U.S. Aviation Group, the Cessna wins hands down on economics. It's also easier to fly and solo, but not necessarily more fun.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 
 

FBO of the Week: Arrow Aviation/Executive Air Service (KDXR, Danbury, CT)

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

Some of our favorite "FBO of the Week" nominations begin with an unexpected problem on a long trip. AVweb reader Jerry Quint was on his way home from Sun 'n Fun when he discovered our latest top-notch FBO — Arrow Aviation/Executive Air Service at Danbury Municipal Airport (KDXR) in Danbury, Connecticut. Jerry provided the play-by-play of his exceptional visit:

I stopped for fuel and to spend the night. I was immediately impressed with the professional demeanor of the refueler, Mr. David Clark. When he discovered that I was remaining overnight, he directed me to a convienent tie-down and offered me the use of the pilot's lounge to spend the night. After a lengthy search, he found a key to the shower room. Joanie, who handles the office chores, answered all of my questions and made me feel welcomed. Cliff Brown, a CFI, made sure I had the codes to the doors, in case I wanted to leave the FBO after it closed for the day. Additionally, Cliff introduced me to a Master A&E/IA by the name of Karl Wiemer, who not only restores fabric-covered aircraft but is an expert in chasing down oil leaks.

My SkyCatcher had developed a leak on the way up from Sun 'n Fun, so he met me the next day, after I had a delicious doughnut that Cliff had delivered that morning before his early departure for a trip to Maine. With cylinder pressure testers in hand, Karl checked for the possibility of blow-by. After he determined there was no blow-by causing oil leakage, we started the engine and found the oil was leaking out of the oil filter where the filter and the rounded flange met. Several calls to oil filter suppliers proved to be fruitless, and it was discovered that the oil filters for SkyCatchers are only available at Cessna Dealers. They are very expensive, and there is no authorized subsitute. The nearest Cessna dealer was 40 miles distant, so Karl drove to retrieve it. After his 80-mile trip, he installed the filter, and I was finally on my way.

Of all the ten airports that I have visited in the last two weeks, the folks at Danbury are head and shoulders above them all. I am proud to recommend them for "FBO of the Week."

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!

 
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Sun 'n Fun and AEA Coverage Recaps back to top 
 

AEA 2012: Podcasts and Videos

Did you catch our podcast and video interviews from the 55th Annual Aircraft Electronics Association Convention in Washington, DC April 3-6, 2012? If not, click here for Friday's AVwebAudio recapping our media coverage of the show.

Sun 'n Fun 2012: News Coverage Round-Up

AVweb attended the 38th annual Sun 'n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Florida from March 27 to April 1, 2012 — and brought back an assortment of news and interviews. Click here for a handy index to all our coverage from the show, including podcasts, videos, and blogs.

 
Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 
 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Our latest winning photo comes from Leslie Schroeppel of Washington, DC. 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:

Publisher
Tom Bliss

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Webmaster
Scott Simmons

Contributors
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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