AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 17a

April 23, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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"Information Wants to Be Free?" Maybe So for Charts back to top 
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Senators Rein In AeroNav's Fee Proposal

The powerful Senate Appropriations Committee has rapped the knuckles of the FAA over its handling of proposed changes to the delivery of online navigation information services and suggested more congressional oversight on the implementation of those changes. The committee, whose report must be approved by the full Senate and House, says AeroNav, the arm of the agency that publishes navigation and airport information, should immediately restore the 17-day advance availability of the next iteration of online publications, which it abruptly reduced to 24 hours last year. The change made it difficult if not impossible for third-party online navigation information providers to fully update their data bases before the effective dates of the new charts. "The committee is concerned that these changes may conflict with the FAA's mission to provide timely and accurate information for pilots in the interest of safe and efficient navigation," the committee said. It also warned against using online products as a cash cow to make up for lost revenue from diminishing paper chart sales.

"Sales of paper products have fallen but the FAA should not view the sale of digital products simply as a convenient source of revenue to compensate for the loss of revenue," the report said. At a meeting with aviation groups and chart resellers last December, AeroNav officials said it was going to start charging about $150 a year to end users for the publications and require resellers to be registered to get access to the data. The changes were to have been implemented by April 5 but nothing has changed, and it won't without the government's approval if the committee report is adopted as written. The committee is not opposed to the FAA's charging for the services but wants the agency to make a business case for the fees and provide an opportunity for public comment, two things that have been notably absent in the process so far. "The committee therefore has included an administrative provision that would restrict the FAA from implementing new fees on AeroNav products until the agency has undergone a process of public outreach and provided full justification to the committee." It also warns the agency to be mindful of the interests of its customers in setting the fees, ensuring they are "fair and equitable."

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The Long Arm of the Law back to top 
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FAA Announces Where The Drones Are

The FAA has responded to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by releasing two lists it says include all public and private entities that have sought authorization to fly drones over the United States. The suit was brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The lists include both the Certificates of Authorization issued to public entities and the Special Airworthiness Certificates issued to private operators. EFF has posted the entities to an online interactive map and says "these lists leave many questions unanswered." Separately, a pair of congressmen has sent a letter to the FAA requesting its plans to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens regarding drone operations.

The FAA's lists include police and border protection agencies, DARPA and military branches, and universities and colleges like Cornell and Georgia Tech. The EFF has sought and received assurances that additional information is coming. The organization shares sympathies with congressman Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Edward Markey, D-Mass., whose letter to the FAA Thursday raised concerns about "adequate privacy protections" for citizens against potential "invasive and pervasive surveillance." While neither the congressmen or EFF object broadly to the use of drones in a wide range of operations, they share concerns about "improper" or "unethical" uses that could endanger privacy rights. The National Defense Authorization Act calls for the FAA to create regulations to allow for more widespread unmanned aircraft use over the U.S. by 2015.

Jail Time For FAA Safety Inspector

Harrington Bishop, 64, former safety inspector at Teterboro Flight Standards District Office, was sentenced Wednesday to one year of prison time for accepting unauthorized payments from pilots after giving them check rides. Bishop, also a former Air Force pilot, was not authorized to grant licenses or participate in checks on his days off. But over seven years he scheduled rides (mostly for military pilots looking for civilian certificates) and accepted tips of $300 under those conditions, the court found. Bishop operated most of the flights out of Flying W airport in Medford, N.J., and nearly every pilot he tested passed. Along with the prison term, he has been ordered to pay the government $70,000 in restitution. Bishop did offer an explanation for his behavior.

According to Bishop, he would give (mostly) former military pilots instruction on Friday evenings and fly the check rides the next day, Saturday. He always told them he could not accept payment, but once a student offered $300 for the previous night's instruction, word soon spread that the amount was the fee, Bishop said. The FAA became aware of the activity and told Bishop to stop -- twice -- once in 2006 and once in 2010. Guidelines for sentencing suggested a jail term of 21 to 24 months for the offense. The judge saw letters of support and heard statements from Bishop's wife and pastor prior to offering the more lenient sentence of one year and one day. According to the judge, Bishop is "very unselfish" but "for reasons none of us understand" he did not stop the improper tests after being asked to do just that. A federal prosecutor told Philly.com that there is no evidence pilots who were granted certificates by Bishop would have been found unworthy of those certificates if they'd gone to anyone else.

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Aero Friedrichshafen Round-Up back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Aero 2012 -- Smaller, But Plenty of New Stuff

This year, for the first time, Aero Friedrichshafen became an annual show, and as a result, it was a bit smaller than usual, according to veteran exhibitors. But on the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli's summary reports on plenty of new stuff, including the Cirrus jet announcement, the stunning Pipistrel Panthera and more LSAs, ultralights and autogyros than we could even count. Attendance at Aero hovers around the 33,000 mark, but it's a potent audience of people who are seriously interested in aviation.

Read more and join the conversation.

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Future Fuels back to top 

Lycoming's Kraft: Competition May Make 100LL Replacement Cost Competitive

Although no replacement for 100LL has yet been identified, Lycoming's Michael Kraft thinks it's possible that multiple competitors could enter the market with different fuels meeting the same specifications, thus fostering price competition. In this podcast recorded at Aero 2012 in Friedrichshafen, Germany, Lycoming's Kraft said that although it hasn't released its formal report, the FAA's leaded fuel transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee will recommend a transition process that could, conceivably, have several competitors providing different sources of unleaded fuel to the market that meet the same performance specification.

"I think a structure that has competition inside it is very likely," Kraft said. "We should be able to come out with something that's about the same as 100LL in terms of the end consumer," he added. This might require some minor modifications to aircraft in some cases, but Kraft sees these as doable. As for the ARC committee report itself, the FAA has dragged its feet on release of its recommendations publically, but Kraft said it's "quite promising" that the group's recommendations are being reviewed at the Department of Transportation level. "It's not going into some lower-level drawer, it's actually being meaningfully examined." The ARC committee, which consists of FAA certification officials, oil company representatives, airframers and user groups, has been meeting for more than a year. A progress report was expected last summer but was never delivered by the FAA.

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Diamond's Vision of the Future back to top 

Diamond Announces Robotic Helicopter

Tapping into its evolving expertise in airborne sensing systems, Diamond Aircraft CEO Christian Dries said Thursday at Aero Friedrichshafen that the company will soon be testing a robotic helicopter, the Hero. The aircraft is intended for the military and commercial airborne sensor and reconnaissance market but it won't be just another UAV. In this podcast from Aero, Dries said the aircraft will be capable of not just autonomous flight, but also a degree of artificial intelligence and flight judgment. "It's a little bit beyond a regular unmanned aircraft," Dries said.

As an example of the aircraft's "judgment," Dries said that in the event of an engine failure, the aircraft will be capable of analyzing and picking the best landing spot before entering an autorotation approach and touchdown. Unlike typical ground-controlled UAVs, the new Diamond helo can complete its mission autonomously with or without any kind of ground monitoring. The aircraft is powered by a pair of AE55 rotary engines made by Diamond's sister company, Austro AG. The Hero helicopter, which is being developed as a joint venture with another company, will carry about 250 pounds of sensor equipment with an endurance of 6.5 hours and the ability to hover over one spot for nearly four hours. Dries said the aircraft has already flown and is soon to enter formal testing.

Diamond Shares DA52 Maiden Flight Stats

It was only flown up to 12,000 feet and cruised at 190 knots TAS within the pre-defined limits of its one-hour flight test, but Diamond Aircraft's five-plus-person DA52 twin could soon offer "a lot more," according to the company. Powered by two 180-hp turbo-diesel Austro AE300E engines, the aircraft took off without flaps in less than 900 feet with a five-knot headwind. It climbed to altitude in less than nine minutes at an initial rate of 1,700 fpm, flying at gross weight. Performance was constricted for the test flight, and more technology is coming. Christian Dries told AVweb that the DA52 will be among Diamond's first to be offered with optional fly-by-wire controls.

According to Dries, the DA52 "is the best prototype aircraft I have ever made a maiden flight with and the performance exceeded all my expectations." It is capable of more than 16 MPG, burning Jet A thanks to very low cooling and aerodynamic drag. The DA52's cabin is about the size of an Aztec. It came to life in less than six months and may be selling with fly-by-wire controls by 2014.

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Ben Franklin Would Be Proud back to top 

PC-Aero Extends Electric Aircraft Flight Time

Although they're improving rapidly, the chief problem with electric aircraft remains endurance due to limitations on battery capacity and weight. At Aero Friedrichshafen last week, a German company called PC-Aero showed off the latest iteration of its approach to solve the endurance problem -- solar assisted flight. In this video, PC-Aero's Calin Gologan showed AVweb the company's second-generation electric airplane, the single-seat Electra Solar One. Because of its low drag, the airplane draws minimum power from its onboard batteries, but to supplement that, says Gologan, the wings and tail surfaces are covered in efficient photovoltaic cells that can provide up to 1.2 Kw/hr against a total requirement of 2.5 Kw for the airplane.

This, says Gologan, will extend the Solar One's range to as much as 600 miles. Gologan says this can be achieved with current battery and motor technology and that the aircraft will be certified as a European ultralight later in the year, with production to begin at a cost of about 90,000 Euros (about $125,000) next year. Operating costs, according to PC-Aero, are expect to be 35 Euro an hour or about $48 all in.

Video: PC-Aero's New Solar One Electric Cruiser

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

PC-Aero has come out with its second solar-powered airplane, the Electra Solar One. PC-Aero's Calin Gologan gave AVweb a briefing on it at the Aero Friedrichshafen show in Germany.

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Under the Cowl back to top 

ULPower Shows Its New Engines

ULPower, a company based in Geluveld, Belgium, showed off its new six-cylinder powerplants at Aero Friedrichshafen last week. UL is becoming more known in the kit airplane and experimental markets for its low-power four-cylinder engines. As Patrick Denorme explains in this AVweb video, it's now taking a run at the higher-power six-cylinder market.

UL showed AVweb the base engine, which will be available in four horsepower ranges from 145 HP to 200 HP. (The smaller power variants are 3.9 liter displacement, while the larger engines are 5.2 liters.) Although it has no plans to certify these engines right away, Denorme told AVweb it may do that eventually. All of the new engines have electronic engine control units and electronic port fuel injection. Denorme said some of the models are shipping and the company sold four at the show.

Video: ULPower's New Six-Cylinder Engines

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

At Aero Friedrichshafen, ULPower showed off its new line of six-cylinder engines, from 145hp to 200hp.

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More Video from Aero back to top 

Video: Messerschmidt Bf 109 Simulator

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

If you could fly a Messerschmitt Bf 109, how cool would that be? A simulator is the next best thing. In this AVweb video from Aero 2012 in Friedrichshafen, Germany, we get a sim tour from Hans Schmid.

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Video: Flight Design News at Aero 2012

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

Flight Design announced EASA certification of two aircraft and unveiled the full-scale mockup of the interior of its C4 four-place at Aero 2012 last week.

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Around the Show back to top 

Aero 2012 Photo Gallery: Helicopter Hall

click for photos

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

Click for photos.

Aero 2012 Photo Gallery: RC Flying Area

click for photos

There are literally hundreds of airplanes on display in Friedrichshafen this week — but how could the Aero 2012 organizers fit hundreds of airplanes in a single hangar? Discover the answer as Paul Bertorelli pauses to take a break from shooting video to wander the radio-controlled airplane display.

Click for photos.

Aero 2012 Photo Gallery: Gyros

click for photos

Before we pack up and head home from Aero 2012 in Friedrichshafen, Germany, here's one last photo gallery showcasing some of the gyros we took in during the show.

Click for photos.

Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Lux Air Jet Center (KGYR, Goodyear, Arizona)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Lux Air Jet Center at Phoenix/Goodyear Airport (KGYR) in Goodyear, Arizona.

AVweb reader Cathy Page told us about her recent experience:

We pulled in to park, [and the] line guy was right there. Before we even got out of the plane, he had it chained down. I asked him about fuel prices I had seen online, and he assured me they would honor whatever was posted. We walked inside and asked the desk if they could top off our plane while we met a business acquaintance. Then the line guy who parked us asked if we needed anything. [We told him] a ride to find the person we were to meet (who is slightly lost) would be great. He grabbed a golf cart and took us to find our guest. We had a little business to do and used the pilot lounge to finish up. We found out as we paid our fuel bill from the desk that the line guy who had been so helpful earlier was in fact the owner of Lux Air. How nice to see the hands-on from him.

Thank you, Tim. Thank you, Lux Air, for great service.

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

During the late 1970s, a Royal Air Force "Belfast" strategic freighter approached on final to Chicago O'Hare. (What's a Belfast? Read on!) Callsign: "Ascot 1234."

Ascot 1234:
"Chicago tower, Ascot 1234."

"Ascot, say your aircraft type."

Ascot 1234:
"Ascot 1234 is a Belfast."

"Uhhh, what in heck's a Belfast, Ascot?"

Ascot 1234:
"It's a big 4-turboprop freighter — bit like a pretty C-132."

"O.K., Ascot, you're cleared to continue behind the landing 737. Do you have that visual?"

Ascot 1234:
"Ascot 1234, affirmative to continue."

United 123:
"Chicago Tower, this is United 123."

"United 123 Chicago, you're cleared to continue behind the landing Belfast."

United 123:
"The landing what?"

"United 123, don't you know a Belfast when you see one?"

Chicago (and United) could be forgiven for not knowing what in heck a Belfast was: Only 10 were ever built. But we (53 Squadron, Royal Air Force) flew them all round the world, and we loved 'em ... .

Sean Maffett
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.

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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.

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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