April 11, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
|This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... Oregon Aero |
The crowds at the Sun 'n Fun Fly-in will experience the aerobatic magic of Mary Dilda again this year, and she credits Oregon Aero for helping her to concentrate when performing. She uses an Oregon Aero Pilot SoftSeat Cushion, Aviation Helmet Upgrade, and Shock-Absorbing Insole Inserts. Oregon Aero also has upgraded her headset. "Its the most comfortable gear Ive ever worn," says Mary. "All of these products have helped remove pain or discomfort inside and out of the airplane. Now I can completely concentrate on my performance without worrying about physical stress." Visit Oregon at the Sun 'n Fun Fly-In Building A, Booth #A-040-042 or check out all of Oregon Aero's products online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/oregon/avflash.
Watch for two Special Editions of AVflash in your e-mail inbox this week only, arriving on Wednesday and Friday, brimful of fresh news. Plus links to lots more content on our Web site, including photo galleries packed with bright sunny pix of airplanes of all sorts. The 30th annual Sun 'n Fun Fly-In opens tomorrow in Lakeland, Fla., bringing with it the start of the air show season and seven full days of aviation in all its diverse forms. Pilots packing up to fly there can find the arrival procedures posted online, and visitors can check a five-day forecast for the area at the WSI Web site. AVweb staffers are converging in Lakeland now to cover all the latest new airplanes and products, the fly-bys and the demo flights, and deliver it direct to your computer screen.
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Sun 'n Fun is traditionally when the industry trots out its new and in-the-works models, gizmos and gadgets, knowing that pilots who have been cooped up all winter can't wait to get out and fly -- and buy. This week, Lancair will make the most of the spotlight, hosting a public ceremony to accept the FAA's certification of its quick new turbocharged "fastest certified piston-engine aircraft," the Columbia 400. Liberty Aerospace will show off its newly certified XL2 two-seater. Adam Aircraft's A500 twin-engine piston aircraft and the new Adam Aircraft A700 personal jet will both make an appearance. OMF plans to offer an update on the progress of its new aircraft in development -- the Jet-A/diesel-powered Symphony 135D and the four-place Symphony 250. The intrepid CarterCopter folks will be there, and they say their prototype is flying again, "better than ever," after its restoration and upgrade following a hard gear-up landing last year. Mistral Engines will display their Piper Turbo Arrow III test aircraft, fresh from its first flight with the new G-230TS-B1A rotary engine. Mistral's liquid-cooled, 230-bhp, turbo-supercharged intercooled engine first flew last Sunday at Daytona Beach. Diamond Aircraft issued an update on the progress of its DA42 Twin Star this week, but we'll have to wait till later this summer at Oshkosh for its North American debut. The company says the airplane is already in production at its Austrian facility, with European certification expected in May and the FAA expected to follow by the end of this year. Diamond will be showing its new Diamond Star DA40-FP at Sun 'n Fun, a fixed-pitch version of its DA40-180 Diamond Star, adapted to meet the needs of high-utilization operators, with lower acquisition and operating costs. Certification is expected late this year, Diamond said.
But Sun 'n Fun is not all about technological tourism -- there are plenty of people to see and daily air shows to watch and hands-on workshops to take part in. Speakers at the Florida Air Museum will include Bob Hoover and Paul Tibbetts. Forums include updates on the Sport Pilot rule; plus how to buy, build, restore, fly and/or take care of your airplane. Perpetual workshops offer advice on welding, woodworking, composites and more. On Thursday and Friday, seaplanes will splash in at nearby Lake Parker, and on Sunday morning, hot-air balloons will gather to launch from the field. Performers at Sun 'n Fun's daily air show include the Aeroshell Team, Kirby Chambliss, Matt Chapman, Mary Dilda, the E Team, Jimmy Franklin, Michael Goulian, Randy Henderson, the Iron Eagles, Charlie Kulp, Bill Leff, Jim Leroy, John Mohr, Walt Pierce, Greg Poe, Manfred Radius, Dale Snodgrass, Sean D. Tucker, the EAA Warbirds of America, Patty Wagstaff, Bobby Younkin and more, plus a night air show on Saturday. And organizers promise more food choices this year, with "enhancements" to include Chinese and Greek selections, a coffee shop whipping up lattes and cappuccinos, and a "Dessert Court." Plus the usual eclectic collection of aircraft that ranges from the Goodyear blimp and World War II bombers to a vast array of homebuilts, vintage airplanes, factorybuilt aircraft, warbirds, rotorcraft, aerobatic aircraft and a skyful of ultralights.
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Two pilots activated the ballistic chutes in their Cirrus aircraft late last week and landed safely, one in Canada and the second in south Florida. The two incidents were the second and third time that pilots have deployed the chute; the first was in October 2002. "The CAP [Cirrus Airframe Parachute] system has done its job," Cirrus Design spokesman Randy Bolinger told AVweb Saturday. "They all survived." On Saturday, Jeffrey Ippoliti, 41, of Celebration, Fla., deployed the chute in his SR22 shortly after takeoff from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, landing just six miles north. And Thursday night, Canadian pilot Albert Kolk, 67, and his three passengers walked away after deploying the chute of their SR20 above rugged terrain in British Columbia. The two incidents lend lots of new information to the debate over the usefulness of the chutes, which have had their share of controversy, especially after a few early failures when the chute either apparently would not deploy or for some unknown reason wasn't activated by the pilots. In the May 2004 issue of Aviation Safety (AVweb's sister publication), Ken Ibold writes: "It remains to be seen if [CAPS] provides the kind of last-ditch out the company intends it to be. Military research on ejection seats has found that pilots are much more likely to use ejection seats in the face of an equipment problem than in the case of pilot error. Should that dynamic apply to civilian pilots, it should be noted that about 85 percent of airplane accidents are due to pilot error. That means some Cirrus pilots will not pull the chute despite every indication that they should." It will be a while yet before investigators determine what factors caused the troubles that prompted these pilots to pull the chute, but they did pull, and survived. "Further experience will show if the parachute is as much a safety advance in the real world as it appears to be on paper," Ibold concludes. The May issue of Aviation Safety will be online in about a week. Most content is available to subscribers only, or can be purchased online on a per-article basis.
Early news reports about Saturday's incident in Florida say the pilot experienced "mechanical difficulties" or an "engine failure" shortly after taking off about 10 a.m., bound for Palm Beach. Cirrus spokesman Bolinger said that preliminary sketchy reports were that the airplane was being picked up after maintenance, and there was a low overcast and instrument meteorological conditions at the time. The airplane settled in trees in Hampton Pines Park and was slightly damaged on the way down. "It was amazing," park attendant Humberto Alvarez told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Alvarez said he heard a bang and looked up to see the airplane floating to the ground. "I thought I was dreaming. I said, 'What the heck is that?'"
On Friday, Canadian pilot Albert Kolk was flying on autopilot late Thursday night when "for some reason one wing dropped and it started to get out of control," he told the Calgary Herald. Unable to recover and losing altitude, he pulled the chute at about 9,000 feet. "We came down safe and sound and just stepped out of the plane," Kolk said. "It did substantial damage to my plane, but nobody got hurt. ... It's amazing." Bolinger, citing local news reports, said he understood that the aircraft had encountered severe turbulence over the mountains. Bolinger also said Cirrus has sent representatives to both sites to aid in the crash investigations. Kolk and his passengers waited with the aircraft for several hours before rescuers were able to reach them, Bolinger said. Kolk had radioed their position to a passing airliner.
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At somewhere around Mach 2 and 105,000 feet, Scaled Composite's SpaceShipOne last Thursday took Peter Siebold to a place where civilian pilots have never gone before. The test flight launched just one day after the FAA's announcement that it had granted its first-ever license for suborbital manned rocket flight to Scaled Composites, of Mojave, Calif. The license was issued April 1 by the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation for a sequence of flights spanning a one-year period. The FAA license is required for U.S. contenders in the X PRIZE competition. The X PRIZE foundation will award $10 million to the first company or organization to launch a vehicle capable of carrying three people to a height of 62.5 miles, return them safely to Earth, and repeat the flight with the same vehicle within two weeks. Twenty-seven contestants representing seven countries have registered for the X PRIZE. Rutan's effort is funded by multi-billionaire Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft. Thursday's flight was the second powered flight for SpaceShipOne, which flew its first powered test flight on Dec. 17, when it broke the sound barrier. On Thursday, the engine burned for 40 seconds. The aircraft had previously undergone extensive flight testing in glide mode.
Last week's events brought aircraft designer Burt Rutan another step closer not only to capturing the X PRIZE , but to realizing his dream of creating a commercial space-tourism industry. "We look to the future, hopefully within ten years, when ordinary people, for the cost of a luxury cruise, can experience a rocket flight into the black sky above the earth's atmosphere, enjoy a few minutes of weightless excitement, then feel the thunderous deceleration of the aerodynamic drag on entry," Rutan wrote last year when he unveiled the program. "I strongly feel that, if we are successful, our program will mark the beginning of a renaissance for manned space flight." Rutan's plan to win the X PRIZE starts with the three-place spaceship initially attached to a turbojet launch aircraft. It then climbs for an hour to reach 50,000 feet, above 85 percent of the atmosphere. "The spaceship then drops into gliding flight and fires its rocket motor while climbing steeply for more than a minute, reaching a speed of 2,500 mph," Rutan said. "The ship coasts up to 100 km (62 miles) altitude, then falls back into the atmosphere. The coast and fall are under weightless conditions for more than three minutes. During weightless flight, the spaceship converts to a high-drag configuration to allow a safe, stable atmospheric entry. After the entry deceleration, which takes more than a minute, the ship converts back to a conventional glider, allowing a leisurely 17-minute glide from 80,000 feet altitude down to a runway where a landing is made at light-plane speeds."
The da Vinci Project, an X PRIZE contender based in Toronto, Canada, announced last week that it is ready to launch a test flight later this year, and will announce a date by the end of this month. Computer designer-turned-astronaut Brian Feeney told AFP News, "We are going for it, it's getting exciting." Feeney said the competition is turning into a "David and Goliath" race as his team, funded by a host of smaller sponsors, goes up against Rutan and his billionaire backer. Feeney plans to fly to about 80,000 feet in a 15-foot-long Wildfire rocket strapped to the world's largest helium balloon. At altitude, he will fire the twin rocket engines and blast into stratospheric sub-orbit for five minutes, then float down to a landing via parachute. Feeney plans to launch from a remote site in western Saskatchewan.
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The FAA on Thursday unveiled a new Web-based product that offers warning to pilots about icing hazards up to 12 hours in advance. The Forecast Icing Tool provides a high-tech color weather map and/or a flight-route display of icing potential at flight levels from 3,000 to 18,000 feet. The user can view freezing-level graphics with forecast times at three-, six-, nine-, and twelve-hour intervals to plan safe routes of travel, the FAA said. "One of the best ways to manage the effects of bad weather is to avoid it altogether," said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey in a news release. "With information provided by this automated tool, pilots flying aircraft under 18,000 feet can make critical flight decisions." In-flight icing is most hazardous to private pilots and air-taxi and commuter-aircraft operators flying at lower altitudes and often lacking sophisticated wing-deicing equipment, the FAA said. The National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., developed the new tool with funding from the FAA's Aviation Weather Research program. It joins the growing FAA-developed suite of weather tools, such as the Current Icing Potential tool. All are publicly available online. The National Weather Service operates these products for the FAA.
The FAA's controversial Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) was the subject of a complaint from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) last week, as glitches plague the system in the Detroit Terminal Radar Approach Control room where it was installed last month. But what really got NATCA rankled was that the FAA is testing its potential fixes with live traffic in the field, instead of trying them first in a lab setting. That's "an inexplicable and unnecessarily risky decision that is putting controllers and the flying public in jeopardy," NATCA said in a news release. But FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro told The Detroit News, "We feel the controller's union claims are really wildly overstated." Molinaro added, "The issues we're going through with the system absolutely do not compromise safety. ... You can simulate things in a lab, but it's not like the real thing. You have to do that test while the system is operational." NATCA compared that practice to performing critical maintenance on a car with the hood up while traveling at 60 mph.
Most of the problems with STARS in Detroit, where it came online about a month ago, involve the incorrect tracking of aircraft, NATCA said. Aircraft departing off the end of the runway are often not receiving a correct data tag indicating their flight information, such as speed, altitude and heading. Some departures are not showing up at all on controllers' radar scopes, while other departures are receiving data tags that belong to aircraft on arrival to the airport. In addition, at times, the data tag flies off in a direction not associated with the actual radar location of the flight, and there have even been reports of STARS not tracking some aircraft at all until several miles from the airport. "Sometimes, the target is very tiny and hard to see," said Tom Kuhn, president of the Detroit Terminal Radar Approach Control local NATCA chapter. "If it's not caught right away and the tower sends another departure on the parallel runway side-by-side, then you've got a potential problem if the planes turn. The result could be a loss of separation. ... The system needs to be turned off while they correct the problems."
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Get out your show map and put a big dot on Booth #D-051-053 to remind yourself to stop by LightSPEED's booth for your complimentary promotional gift. Sure, you'll have to demo a headset first, but do you really need another excuse to sit in our egg-ceptional listening booth? How about this all LightSPEED headsets are now equipped with cell/satellite phone jacks! That should do it. See you at the show! The new cell/satellite jack feature is also available online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/litspeed/avflash.
The annual Parastars convention of powered paraglider pilots was held on and above the grounds of Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida, over Easter weekend. The three-day event attracted over 140 pilots of these slowest ultralight vehicles from all over the United States and beyond. A wide array of dealers and parts vendors intent on supplying the growing market these machines are scratching out were also in attendance. This fourth installment of the Parastars Convention remains an entirely volunteer get-together, staffed by the pilots themselves. Unusually brisk winds that had persisted for several days subsided on cue Friday, allowing for dozens of flights. Fantasy of Flight played host for the third consecutive year, opening the attractions, runways and wide-open fields to pilots and campers alike.
A Piper Arrow was intercepted by an F-16 fighter jet near President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, on Friday, and escorted to a landing at San Marcos Municipal Airport (about 100 miles south), News 8 Austin reported. The airplane was searched, and the pilot and his passenger were questioned by the Secret Service and later released. The F-16 pilot reportedly fired flares at the Arrow, but they were either unnoticed or ignored. Recently, when Mr. Bush visited Cleveland, Ohio, at least 10 GA aircraft stumbled into the 30-mile no-fly zone that was in force during his three-hour visit. One flyer was intercepted by a jet and escorted to a nearby airport to land. Bruce Anderson, an Ohio pilot, told the Akron Beacon Journal he thinks such large restrictions are not necessary. "Once they take away our freedoms," he said, "they don't give them back."
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After three hours of searching Friday night for an airplane reported missing over Long Island Sound, the Coast Guard said the distress call was a false alarm...
The National Aviation Hall of Fame last week outlined a 10-year strategic plan that includes $29 million in new projects, including expansion at the Air Force Museum, a new educational program and a mobile museum and education center...
Slate magazine examines the pressing question, Which is safer? Planes or trains? and finds the answer far from clear, but then suggests that you avoid driving drunk across railroad tracks or flying in single-engine aircraft...
Boeing is ready to sell off its huge aviation plant in Wichita, The Seattle Times reported Friday. If the plant closes down, it would cost 8,500 aviation jobs...
Adam Aircraft's flight-training syllabus for its A500 twin has been OK'd under the FAA's new Industry Training Standards program.
Reader mail this week about Sport Pilot, shooting at crop dusters, provocative Questions of the Week and more.
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Sharing the Air With Skydivers
As the weather warms, skydiving operations are cranking up. Here's how to co-exist peacefully with parachute jumpers and avoid encounters of the too-close-for-comfort kind.
CEO of the Cockpit #31: Goodbye, B727
Boeing's ancient three-hole jet is still around, although you're more likely to see it hauling cargo and mail than actual passengers, at least in North America. But AVweb's CEO of the Cockpit spent many a noisy hour in the front end of the 727, and has some advice for any pilots jumping into that seat.
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A Cessna 182 and a Christen Eagle were on parallel approach for 28L and 28R, respectively, at FCM...
Tower: Cessna XXX, do you have traffic?
Cessna: Cessna XXX has the traffic, he's right beside me.
Tower: Eagle XXX, traffic is a Cessna 182 on parallel for 28L, Eagle XXX is cleared for landing, Runway 28R.
Christen Eagle: Roger, Eagle XXX has traffic, cleared to land Runway 28R.
Cessna: Tower, Cessna XXX here, can you let me know when ...
.... "The Eagle has Landed".
(several seconds of silence on frequency)
Unidentified voice: Smart @ss.
Sponsor News and Special Offers
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WHICH SIX-PLACE RETRACTABLE HAS THE BEST SAFETY RECORD?
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"USE EVERYTHING YOU GOT" AND "HOLD THAT GLIDESLOPE" ARE JUST TWO
articles appearing in the May issue of IFR Magazine. "Fly It by the Book" and a look at "Experimental IFR" pilots round out the articles that keep IFR Magazine readers focused and safe. Join the thousands of other IFR pilots who increase their knowledge and safety factor with every issue of IFR Magazine. Order online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/belvoir/ifrmag/avflash.
AVflash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest aviation news, articles, products, features and events featured on AVweb, the Internet's Aviation Magazine and News Service. http://www.avweb.com
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