AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 16b

April 19, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Privacy, Pilots, and Medical Records back to top 
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Pilot Loses Supreme Court Case

It was wrong for the Social Security Administration to give confidential medical information about a pilot to the FAA, but that pilot can't sue the government for emotional distress, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled recently. In a 5-to-3 decision (PDF) issued on March 28, the justices overturned a ruling by a California court and said the government could be held liable only for financial damages such as losses and expenses. The dissenting justices wrote that the majority view makes it too easy for the government to go ahead and invade individual privacy without consequences. "That is not the result Congress intended when it enacted an Act with the express purpose of safeguarding individual privacy against Government invasion," wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

On another issue where pilots' rights conflict with FAA authority, AOPA said this week the FAA should be required to disclose its evidence when seeking to suspend or revoke a pilot certificate, and if it fails to do so, the NTSB should be able to dismiss or delay the FAA's action. "It is a matter of fairness that an airman knows what evidence the FAA is using to take action," AOPA said. A proposed rule that would require the FAA to disclose portions of its enforcement investigative reports to pilots targeted for emergency certificate revocation also should be applied to nonemergency cases, said AOPA counsel Kathleen Yodice.

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Changing Times back to top 

Rotax: Longer TBOs Thanks to Electronics?

It could work out that out way, say Rotax engineers. At a press briefing on the company's new 912 iS at Aero Friedrichshafen on Wednesday, Rotax officials told the assembled press that the new engine is flying in at least six of the dozen or so aircraft it had on display at its Gunskirchen, Austria rollout last month. The 912 iS features dual electronic fuel injection, electronic ignition and future knock sensing and protection. It's equipped with two self-exciting permanent magnet alternators for redundancy and can deliver 100 HP on either avgas or up to E10 mogas.

The final version of the 912 iS software has been locked down and is awaiting only regulatory approval to begin shipping production-ready engines by May. During a question-and-answer session, Rotax engineers and Ben Ross, whose company, Rockwell Collins, makes the engine's ECU, say that consistent electronic management of the engine, including better thermal control and smoothing out cycle variations may have positive implications on fatigue life of parts. Although Ross says it's too soon to put numbers on this, he explains that the ECUs, with their sophisticated data logging and diagnostics, may be capable of collecting data to correlate reduced wear and longer service life of parts that could conceivably extend TBOs to as much as 3000 hours. The 912 iS comes out of the box with a 2000-hour TBO and given the large volume of 912/914 series already in the market -- some 40,000 -- Rotax has millions of hours of operational experience on its legacy engines. Given what appears to be wide acceptance of the 912 iS, Rotax may have meaningful operational data on that engine sooner rather than later.

Garmin Expands Euro-Charting

Garmin Wednesday announced it has expanded its electronic chart coverage of European VFR terminal charts and SafeTaxi airport diagrams for specific products. EASA is expected "within weeks" to approve European SafeTaxi for Garmin G500, G600, G500H, G1000, G1000H, G900X, G950, and GMX 200 units. The expanded coverage will include diagrams for almost 500 European airports spread through 15 countries. European VFR terminal charts  with data for over 2,200 airports in 29 countries will be integrated into aera 795/796 portables. The database includes Visual Approach, Landing and Area Charts, plus aerodrome directory, communications and regulatory information. Pricing depends on how pilots choose or are able to upgrade.

Garmin says that attendees at AERO Friedrichshafen can upgrade their ChartView key at no charge -- provided they purchase an aera 795/796 at the show. Otherwise, the company will offer a "special price" ($199) now through August 31. Garmin partnered with Jeppesen to integrate the charting information and through August 31 Jeppesen is offering an extra three months of service for new subscribers who purchase 12 months. Otherwise, Garmin offers European SafeTaxi at $74.95 for a single update and $299 as an annual subscription. 

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The Military Beat back to top 

Air Force To Pilots: Slow Down

The Air Force is "the largest energy user in the federal government," last year added $1 billion in costs due to rising oil prices and, now, a range of changes may be coming to help curtail that. The Air Force operates a fleet of approximately 4,700 aircraft. To save fuel, pilots of some of those aircraft are being ordered to fly higher and slower on some missions, Stars and Stripes reported, Monday. Diplomatic efforts have created more direct routes of travel and last year saved $2.4 million, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for energy, Kevin Geiss, said. And the Air Force will update some aircraft with more efficient engines -- with more complicated results. For example, the cost-benefit accounting reported by Stars and Stripes says that swapping engines on KC-135s will incur a bill of $278 million dollars spread over several years and translate to fuel savings of $150 million over the life of the aircraft. In that case, the Air Force is forecasting other benefits.

According to Stars and Stripes, swapping out engines on the tankers will also save $1.3 billion in maintenance costs while also improving fuel efficiency. Otherwise, simply flying C-17 transports at 568 mph instead of 584 mph is expected to bring more direct and immediate (if incremental) savings. Efforts like that have resulted in an average fuel consumption drop of about 4 percent since 2006, even as the Air Force has increased cargo operations by 27 percent over nearly the same term (five years). Air Force units in the Pacific are also independently implementing  their own fuel-saving initiatives. The most successful ideas could be incorporated into Air Force regulations. One of those initiatives involves removing waste from everyday operations as represented by the carriage of large concrete blocks. Apparently some squadrons routinely carry the blocks sometimes called "pet rocks" to simulate the heavy equipment aircraft would normally deliver during real-world missions. Crews are also working to reduce the 400 to 450 pounds per hour an average C-135 will burn driving around on the ground, by shutting down two engines as soon as is practical, after landing. The aim for Pacific pilots is to cut fuel use by 10 percent over the next 10 years.

Doolittle Raid On Tokyo Remembered

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Seventy years ago, on April 18, 1942, the U.S. launched its first-ever air raid against Japan, led by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle from the aircraft carrier Hornet. In a top-secret operation, 16 B-25Bs, representing the latest bomber technology, were loaded onto the Hornet in Alameda, Calif., on April 2, and headed across the Pacific. After encountering a Japanese patrol boat, the airplanes launched earlier than planned -- 650 nm from the Japanese mainland. None of the airplanes made it back, but of the 80 crewmen, all but four eventually returned home. This week, the five surviving Doolittle Raiders were honored at the Gathering of B-25s at Grimes Field in Urbana, Ohio. The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio, is hosting commemorative events through Friday.

The scheduled museum events include a flyover of the bombers on Wednesday and several banquets, educational programs, films, and autograph sessions. The raid has been called a turning point in the war. According to the Naval History & Heritage Command: "Though conceived as a diversion that would also boost American and allied morale, the raid generated strategic benefits that far outweighed its limited goals." Most of the B-25s attacked the Tokyo area. "Damage to the intended military targets was modest," says the Navy, "however, the Japanese high command was deeply embarrassed." Japanese military leaders resolved to eliminate the risk of any more such raids by the early destruction of U.S. aircraft carriers, "a decision that led them to disaster at the Battle of Midway a month and a half later," says the Navy.

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Feast Your Eyes back to top 

New Chances To See The Shuttle(s)

The Space Shuttle Enterprise is scheduled to on April 23 fly low over New York City mounted atop a modified Boeing 747, but you could get an even closer look, right now, thanks to high-definition internet technology. The Enterprise flight is expected to take place between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m., weather and other concerns permitting. And the full journey is set to bring the vehicle up the Hudson River twice -- once at low altitude, and a second time, literally on the deck. The flight will pass the Statue of Liberty and then Enterprise's new home, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. The second trip, from JFK to the Intrepid, may be just as spectacular. If you can't be there to witness either, some new Shuttle-based "extreme detail" eye-candy, courtesy of National Geographic, will be better.

After landing at JFK, the Enterprise will be transferred to a barge for the second leg of its journey, by sea, and up the Hudson River. (That event may remind long-time New Yorkers of a similar barge trip taken by the Concorde in November of 2003 to the same destination.) Eventually, the Shuttle will serve as a museum attraction for New Yorkers and NYC tourists. National Geographic's approach will serve more broadly, It is hosting online "gigapan" views featuring "ultrahigh-resolution, 360-degree pictures of each orbiter." The interface allows visitors a chance to click and zoom and virtually wander, unobstructed, Space Shuttles, section by section, in detail, no fee required.

Aero 2012 Photo Gallery: Helicopter Hall

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AVweb's Paul Bertorelli took a few moments to wander the helicopter hall at Aero 2012 in Friedrichshafen, Germany and snap a few photos.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Pipistrel Unveils Panthera

One of the major product announcements at Aero 2012 in Friedrichshafen is a fast efficient four-place design from Slovenia. Pipistrel unveiled its Panthera and aims to take a slice of the high-speed cruiser market from Cirrus with an aircraft it says will cruise at 200 knots on 10 gallons an hour of unleaded gas for 1,000 nm with all the seats filled. The fully-equipped aircraft will sell for less than $500,000, well below the list price for a decked out SR22. "Panthera will shake the World of General Aviation, setting the benchmark for efficiency, cabin comfort and safety for others to follow," said Pipistrel CEO Ivo Boscarol. This is Pipistrel's first foray into the Part 91 world with a fully certified aircraft and there were some unique challenges in that process.

Slovenia doesn't have a bilateral certification agreement with the U.S. so the Panthera will be built about 20 miles from the company's main plant in Ajdrovscina across the border in Italy, which does have an agreement with the FAA. The first models of the Panthera will fly with a Lycoming IO390 fuel-injected engine but the ultimate goal is to offer them with hybrid and pure electric powerplants. "Hybrid and electric aircraft are the future of aviation with Panthera being the best airframe to demonstrate the potential of this technology," Boscarol said.

Report: Cirrus Ready To Move Ahead With Jet

Cirrus Aircraft has secured most of the financing it needs to move forward with development of its single-engine personal jet, with production expected to start in Duluth, Minn., in 2015, the Minnesota Star-Tribune reported on Tuesday. Cirrus CEO Dale Klapmeier declined to tell the Star-Tribune just how much cash had been secured from new owners CAIGA (China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co.), but said it will cover most of the projected development cost, which has previously been estimated at $150 million. "It has been a struggle to keep this program moving forward," Klapmeier told the Star-Tribune. "It has been a struggle just to survive." Cirrus had said last week that it would reveal a major announcement at the Aero Friedrichshafen show in Germany on Wednesday.

In its teaser announcement last week, Cirrus said it would reveal an "historic next step in personal aviation." Klapmeier said at AOPA Summit last September that the Chinese owners of CAIGA were reviewing the jet project, and meanwhile the company was moving forward with design work. The jet is expected to sell for about $2 million.

Diamond's DA52 A Centerpiece

Even before Aero opened on Wednesday, Diamond's new DA52 twin was drawing a lot of attention. During a pre-show press tour, Diamond's chief test pilot Ingmar Mayerbuch said on the flight into Friedsrichshafen from Diamond's Wiener Nuestadt, Austria factory, the airplane burned only 60 liters of Jet A to fly about 260 miles. (For the metrically challenged, that's about 16.6 MPG and notable economy for any airplane, much less a twin.) The DA52 is powered by two 180-horsepower variants of the Austro AE300 diesel engines that Diamond's sister company, Austro AG, developed specifically for the airplane.

According to Mayerbuch, it benefits greatly from the significant work Diamond did on reducing cooling and aerodynamic drag on the DA42, which resulted in another new model, the DA42 V1. (See AVweb's exclusive flight video here.) The V1 is on display at Aero, too, but most early show goers were gawking at the large cabin of the DA52. It's about the size of an Aztec and Diamond is mulling over seating options of up to seven people. Two configurations are on display here, a wide rear bench seat and a baggage compartment seat, both of which would seat five. Look for an AVweb video on the airplane later in the week.

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The Once and Future Jet back to top 

Cirrus Announces Details Of Jet Program

The Vision SF50 personal jet program is now fully funded through certification and initial production, Cirrus announced on Wednesday at the Aero Friedrichshafen show in Germany. CAIGA, which acquired Cirrus last year, will cover all the costs. First customer delivery is expected in 2015, according to Cirrus. CEO Dale Klapmeier said the announcement is a "milestone" for the company. "Our new owners … are actively partnering with Cirrus while providing substantial resources for us to meet and exceed our shared goals as we build an entire family of Cirrus aircraft," he said. The jet is priced at $1.72 million until July 1, when the price goes up to $1.96 million.

The new investment will "significantly increase" the pace and momentum of the program, Cirrus said. The Vision concept aircraft first flew in 2008, and detail design, systems verification and full flight envelope testing have been ongoing since that time. The company now plans to accelerate hiring of engineers, designers and other related technical disciplines critical to the completion of the program. The Vision jets will be built in the company's facilities in Minnesota and North Dakota. They will feature Garmin avionics and a Williams International jet engine. Cirrus didn't announce a total cost for bringing the jet to certification, but the Minnesota Star-Tribune this week said it was estimated at about $150 million. As of February, Cirrus said it had 475 orders for the jet.

Related Content:

Podcast: Secure Funding for Cirrus Jet

File Size 5.4 MB / Running Time 5:55

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Although the news sneaked out a little early, Cirrus used Aero 2012 to announce that CAIGA, the company's new owners, have committed to getting the Vision jet to market. Cirrus VP Todd Simmons spoke with AVweb's Paul Bertorelli at the show in Germany.

Click here to listen. (5.4 MB, 5:55)

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

Question of the Week: Is a Single-Engine Jet on Your Radar?

Cirrus announced full funding for its Vision Jet program Wednesday.

The question remains the same:
Is there a market for a personal jet?
(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 .

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

Video: Diamond DA52 Cockpit/Cabin Tour

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

At Aero 2012, Diamond's Ingmar Meyerbuch gave us a cockpit and cabin tour of the company's new DA52 large cabin twin.

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Podcast: Certification Made Easy?

File Size 5.5 MB / Running Time 6:00

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

The General Aviation Manufacturing Association is working with regulators all over the world to lower one of the biggest barriers to bringing new aircraft to market. GAMA's Greg Bowles told AVweb's Paul Bertorelli the goal is to cut certification costs in half for many general aviation aircraft.

Click here to listen. (5.5 MB, 6:00)

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Gama Aviation and Blue Sky Flight School (Igor I. Sikorsky Airport, Stratford, CT)

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

Our latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon is a joint award to the civic-minded folks at Gama Aviation and Blue Sky Flight School on the campus of Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport (KBDR) in Stratford, Connecticut. AVweb reader Bud Turner recently enlisted Gama and Blue Sky on behalf of some future pilots:

I'm an Aviation Merit Badge Counselor for the Boy Scouts of America. When e-mails went out from the local EAA Young Eagles chapter looking for volunteers, Tom Miller, himself an Eagle Scout, immediately offered up Gama's hangar and provided pizza for the boys for lunch. In addition, Mike Becker from Blue Sky Flight School donated a Grumman Tiger for three hours, and one of his CFIs signed up to take the boys up for a flight up and down the Connecticut coast line. Bravo Zulu to both for the outstanding support of the BSA and Young Eagle programs!

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

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