AVwebFlash - Volume 18, Number 21a

May 21, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Fuel Futures back to top 

FAA Fuel Committee: 11-Year Timeline For Avgas Replacement

Although it hasn't released the final report to the public, the FAA's unleaded avgas transition rulemaking committee (UAT-ARC), will recommend a fuel approvals process stretching out as long as 11 years and will be asking Congress for at least $60 million to fund the project, plus as much as $13 million from the industry. The report is now being reviewed by the Department of Transportation and sources told AVweb that it could be released "within a few weeks." Because the FAA insisted on keeping a tight lid on the process, none of the sources AVweb spoke to regarding the report agreed to be quoted. However, those we did speak to expressed satisfaction that the ARC's recommendations, if adopted in some form, will ignite meaningful progress in finding a replacement fuel for leaded avgas. "The snowball is starting to turn down the hill. There's some momentum here that's never been there before and I think it's a big positive," said Lycoming general manager Michael Kraft in this podcast recorded at Aero in Friedrichshafen. "What it does is to give anyone coming to market with a fuel a risk management plan. Nobody's willing to make the investment if they can't see the return," he added.

Although the ARC's foreseeable timeline is 11 years, that doesn't necessarily mean it will take that long to field approved fuels, but only that this might be the maximum window for any realistic fuel candidates to come forth. In parallel with the ARC's work, ASTM International is developing two so-called "gated" standards for unleaded aviation fuel—one hydrocarbon based, one non-hydrocarbon based—which will serve as starting posts for any companies wishing to submit candidate fuels. The initial part of the approvals process will involve setting up testing and certification protocols for applicants to follow. The FAA's Thomas Hughes Center in Atlantic City would oversee this work, presumably using the requested funding.

Each fuel will have to achieve 16 avgas readiness levels, a dozen involving the fuel itself and four more related to distribution and storage. One source told us the ARLs are a kind of checklist to assure that all of the critical specs—claimed octane, material compatibility, miscibility, and so forth—are met. This spec conformance would be overseen by a yet-to-established committee called the Piston Aviation Fuel Initiative composed of a joint industry and FAA board which would be headed by a director and supported by an administrative staff.

The sources we spoke to told us the FAA's $60 million funding request is a worst-case number, envisioning up to 10 candidate fuels. "I don't think there will be that many. Right now, there are only two, Swift and GAMI," one source said. However, we know of research on at least one more potential candidate being conducted Aircraft Specialties Lubricants. This fuel hasn't been submitted for approval yet. Nor have the oil companies shown their cards. We were also told that despite the long time line, approved fuels may emerge much sooner than 11 years. In fact, fuels like Swift's 100SF and GAMI's G100UL, which have been testing extensively for some time, may enter the approvals process with many of the 16 ARL boxes ready to be checked.

If that's true, Swift's or GAMI's fuel could conceivably be competing with 100LL well before any environmental pressure forces leaded fuel from the market, if it ever does. "It highly likely that you may see multiple fuels achieving the the same unleade standard," Kraft said. "The important thing is that it's going to be transparent to the end user."

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Rules and Regulations I back to top 

New Pilot Deviation Rules Surprise Pilots

The Airline Pilots Association is advising members (PDF) to voluntarily report to the FAA Aviation Safety Action Program even the most minor deviation from ATC instructions, regardless of their origin (ie equipment failure or even weather deviations) or risk being written up for a pilot deviation (PD). Although airline pilots are more likely to run afoul of a new FAA internal reporting policy for deviations, it applies to all aircraft under active control and the consequences can include FAA enforcement and a note on a pilot's permanent record. While the intent of the policy shift appears to be to encourage pilots to self report deviations (doing so triggers enforcement "incentives" that reduce the consequences) ALPA says pilots who have been assured by controllers that the transgression is a minor one not worthy of FAA attention have found out later that they've been written up.

In one case, according to ALPA, a Delta crew departing Atlanta on autopilot went off track briefly when the autopilot disconnected. They flew manually to the correct track and were assured by the controller that it was "no problem." Under the new rules, however, that controller was required to report the incident and it was forwarded to a "quality assurance 'clearing house'" which ultimately decided if an enforceable pilot deviation occurred. In that spirit, ALPA has essentially invited its pilots to flood the system with reports. "Any safety-related event, any slight deviation from clearance, even if not noted by ATC, should be documented via ASAP," ALPA advised its members. "Again, if in doubt, file. If you have doubt, and that doubt is somehow dispelled later, file anyway! Do not let assurances from ATC convince you that an ASAP report is somehow unnecessary." It's recommending that all members of the cockpit crew file the reports and that they also consider filing one to the NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Program (also acronymed ASAP) whose mandate is to collect air safety data rather than mitigate enforcement action.

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Rules and Regulations II back to top 

FAA "Errors" On Fatigue Rules Exemption

Justice Department attorneys representing the FAA Thursday said the agency made "errors" in enacting pilot fatigue rules that exempt cargo carriers and the issue would be revisited. FAA officials originally estimated that including cargo carriers in new pilot rest rules would cost the industry $214 million over ten years. Based at least in part on that cost estimate, the FAA exempted cargo pilots from the rules. Attorneys representing the FAA now say errors in the cost calculation are "sufficient" to review those calculations. The decision to revisit the issue is concurrent with a lawsuit brought against the FAA by the UPS pilots union. And the FAA's attorneys have made a request regarding that action.

The Justice Department attorneys have asked a U.S. Court of Appeals to hold the lawsuit until the FAA completes its re-evaluation of the exemption. An attorney for the pilots union called the FAA's evaluation "flawed" and was issued "without opportunity for public comment and examination." The president of the Cargo Airline Association, Stephen Alterman, said the decision of the FAA to revisit the rule left him "dumbfounded," Businessweek.com reported. New rest rules go into effect for passenger airlines in 2014. They reduce the number of hours pilots can fly overnight -- a time when cargo carriers do much of their work. An outside group will review the new cost analysis before it is included in documents issued for public comment.

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Eye on China back to top 

Avpro, Asian Sky Team Up In Asia

Avpro, one of the world's largest business jet brokerages, has teamed with Asian Sky Group, one of the most experienced Asian aviation consultant groups, to allow both companies to better serve the expanding Asian market. The announcement was made at EBACE in Geneva. Avpro handles about 90 aircraft transactions a year for a diverse clientele and the partnership with Asian Sky will leverage that broad experience to better serve Asian clientele. "Given the rapidly diversifying demand for business aviation aircraft and services throughout China and across the Asia-Pacific region, this strategic partnership with Asian Sky Group allows Avpro to significantly increase its presence in these critical markets at this exciting time," said Chris Ellis, Managing Partner of Avpro, Inc. Asian Sky Managing Director Jay Shaw said Avpro will open opportunities for Asian Sky's existing and future clients. "With Avpro as a partner Asian Sky Group will be able to provide them with the best possible opportunities in the marketplace," Shaw said.

Avpro's core business is finding the best aircraft deal for its high-net-worth and business clients. It analyzes their use and priorities and determines whether acquisition, fractional or charter is the best option and then presents options within them. It also offers financial tools that keep clients on top of their investments. Asian Sky is affiliated with Seacor Capital and Avion Pacific, which have invested heavily on aviation infrastructure in Asia. Seacor is a large multinational company that also runs large offshore and inland marine enterprises.

Related Content:

Podcast: China Can Be a Good Place to Do Business

File Size 15.0 MB / Running Time 16:18

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Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Seacor Holdings, a large U.S. multi-national company, has several aviation business investments in China, and one of them just made a strategic partnership with Avpro, a large business jet broker, to better serve its customer base. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Seacor's chairman of the board, Charles Fabrikant, about the opportunities in the Chinese aviation business.

(This podcast is somewhat longer than usual at about 15 minutes.)

This podcast is brought to you by Bose Corporation.

Click here to listen. (15.0 MB, 16:18)

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Accident and Aftermath back to top 

James Polehinke, Sole Survivor

On August 27, 2006, Comair Flight 5191 crashed during an attempted takeoff from the wrong runway at Lexington's Blue Grass Airport, killing all 49 aboard save the co-pilot, James Polehinke, who has now become the subject of a documentary. A Chicago filmmaker will feature Polehinke in the movie "Sole Survivor," which creates accounts of the lives of people who became sole survivors of commuter aircraft crashes. It will be released this fall. Polehinke was at the controls of Comair's CRJ-100 as it sped into the grass off the end of the airport's shorter, narrower Runway 26. It had been cleared for the twice-as-wide and twice-as-long Runway 22. Polehinke awoke from a coma after the crash to learn he had facial fractures, a complex fracture of the pelvis, two fractures of the spine, and broken bones in his left leg, right foot and right hand. The film may show that wasn't the worst of it.

Polehinke had been handed the controls by the captain, who had taxied the jet into position. He says his memory of the early morning flight stops after checklist completion. He ultimately lost his left leg as a result of his injuries. NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman once said of the crash, "There would be no moment when we could point to one thing and say 'Aha, that is what caused this accident.'" The NTSB ultimately found "the flight crewmembers' failure to use available cues and aids to identify the airplane's location on the airport surface" as the probable cause of the accident. The NTSB also found other complicating factors. In an interview associated with the documentary, Polehinke's wife, Ida, said, "He would have rather died. His conviction as a pilot was so great that he'd rather gone down with the ship." When asked by a local news station about Polehinke's condition, the filmmaker who had worked with Polehinke for more than a year said candidly, "Oh yeah, yeah ... I think Jim is in his own living hell."

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The Show Goes On (Under a New Name) back to top 

AirVenture Cup Race Is A Go

The EAA does not want its name associated with the event that has in the past been publicized as the EAA AirVenture Cup Race, but organizers Friday announced the race will go on. Organizers say they understand that EAA's present position is that all references to EAA be removed from all materials associated with the race. However, EAA will "continue providing support to race volunteers," according to organizers. And the race, which organizers say was founded by EAA and with direct support by Tom Poberezny, will now continue as scheduled with help from another organization.

Organizers say the Sport Air Racing League (SARL) has offered to assist with the race and, with that support, the race will continue this year as planned. Organizers said of their relationship with EAA, "We understand there have been significant changes at EAA over the past year and believe the misunderstanding could be a result of that changeover." The AirVenture Cup is a 450 mile cross-country race for experimental aircraft. In 2012 race pilots will fly their planes over a course from the Mitchell, S.D., airport and conclude in West Bend, Wisc. It's scheduled for Sunday, July 22, 2012. There are 11 classes in the race. Check the AirVenture Cup web site for more information.

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

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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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Airline Follies

Sometimes the airlines are nothing if not entertaining. In his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli examines Spirit Airlines' suit against the DOT, Delta getting into the refinery business, and cell phones on long-haul flights.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Video: Red Bull's Latest Aerial Ballet

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

Red Bull Wednesday shared video of one of its latest sponsored adventures -- five wingsuit skydivers joining up with and maintaining formation with two sailplanes in a dive over Austria. The team flew two aerobatic LET L-13 Blanik sailplanes and just to complicate things, the lead flew inverted and one skydiver formed up in between the inverted and upright glider. The skydivers and gliders came together in formation at roughly 12,000 feet. The sailplanes wore wingtip-mounted smoke canisters and one skydiver wore one on an ankle. The trick of the task was mating airspeed and descent rates and this time all members performed flawlessly.

Generally, wingsuits manage their best glide (roughly 2.5:1) at close to 75 mph. The Blaniks are a 1950's-era metal design and manage close to 30:1 at about 55. For the stunt, the team found a common airspeed closer to 110 mph, then found and held formation with the requisite precision.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Walker Aviation (KTMA, Tifton, GA)

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

AVweb reader Ralph Hoover had a longer delay than he'd planned at Tifton, Georgia's Henry Tift Myers Airport (KTMA) recently -- but what could have been a major delay served as opportunity to discover the helpful, efficient staff at our latest "FBO of the Week," Walker Aviation. Ralph tells the tale of our latest blue ribbon FBO:

My wife landed at Tifton on our trip from Florida. While taxiing back to the ramp, the nose wheel tire on our RV-7 went flat. While my wife was arranging a rental car and hotel, Robbie Fender improvised a dolly and towed us back to the hangar. He then made tools available so I was able to disassemble and find the hole in the tube. The Western Auto in town was locked when we arrived but reopened to sell us a $2.00 patch kit. The next morning, with the assistance of Josh Hulett, we reassembled the nose wheel and were on our way. Both employees of Mr. Clark Walker were polite, friendly, and very helpful to us. We highly recommend Walker Aviation.

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

Overheard flying into Chicago (ORD):

ORD Approach:
"British Airways, can you be down to 4,000 feet by XXXXX?"


British Airways 12345:
"I suppose so -- but I don't think I can bring the aircraft with me."

John Finley
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.

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

Scott Simmons

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Jeff Van West

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

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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