NewsWire Complete Issue

April 13, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... Oregon Aero


U.S. National Champion Kirby Chambliss is one of many aerobatic winners performing at this year's Sun 'n Fun Fly-In who depends on Oregon Aero for comfort in the cockpit. "I use the Oregon Aero™ Pilot SoftSeat™ in my Edge 540," says Kirby. "When pulling up to 10Gs, the seat cushion takes on about 2,000 pounds. It helps to make my performance more bearable and also reduces back pain when I'm done performing." Visit Oregon Aero at Sun 'n Fun Building A, Booth #A-40-42, to see what Kirby means — or check out all of Oregon Aero's products online at

Oregon Aero — Official Sponsor of AVweb and Sun 'n Fun 2004
Global Aviation — Official Sponsor of AVweb and Sun 'n Fun 2004
AVEMCO — Official Sponsor of AVweb and Sun 'n Fun 2004
Ryan International — Official Sponsor of AVweb and Sun 'n Fun 2004

Sun 'n Fun 2004

The Best Roll Out Their Best

A bit damp, a bit breezy, but well worth the wait. Revised figures for past years' attendance suggest we'll see about 160,000 aircraft lovers wandering the grounds of Lakeland Linder Regional airport this year. The impact on the local economy should reach toward $27 million ... on the positive side. And while there will be no roll-out of the Sport Pilot rule at the air show, and the economy (plus nasty world-changing events we've grown tired of mentioning) has flushed the fields of those brand new design hopefuls so prevalent in years past, still, the scene this year is uniquely refreshing. If it's true that the strong survive, recent history mandates that pretty much all that made it to this year's show is the cream that's risen to the top ... or maybe just those that managed to not sink to the bottom. There are exceptions to prove the rule, but for the most part, those that are left are the real deal. To kick off the air show season in the East, it just doesn't get much better than Sun 'n Fun.

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Sport Pilot, Better Late? Or Never?...

OMB on Sport Pilot/LSA: Not Now but Maybe...

FAA officials made clear on Tuesday at Sun 'n Fun how highly the agency views its still-pending sport pilot/light-sport aircraft (LSA) proposal ... sort of. Many view LSA as the salvation of sport, entry-level aviation and continued flying by older pilots. Meetings yesterday with industry leaders at Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, Florida, LSA staffers confirmed that the OMB rejected the proposed rule but that FAA Administrator Marion Blakey pulled the rule for further explanation and possible changes. The action perhaps reflects momentum earned through time effort and money already spent. Among her other options -- throwing her hands up in frustrated disgust and letting it die. FAA LSA team leaders Sue Gardner and Scott Sedgwick were upbeat despite repeated delays of a rule that is deemed critical to the survival of some companies committed to production of ready-to-fly aircraft and kits. Expected by industry-watchers in May, the revelation of a final rule is now (again) expected later. Despite the years of effort, and waves of fanfare, death of the proposed rule is still a possible outcome.

...And What Changes May Come

The proposed rule -- one of the most complex in FAA history -- would establish a new sport pilot license with a minimum of 20 hours of flight training, use of any state driver's license for medical qualification, and day VFR flying with one passenger or solo. Sport pilots could be endorsed to fly any of five categories (single-engine airplanes, land or sea; glider; gyroplane; powered parachute or weight-shift powered hang glider) that meets the requirements. Former KITPLANES Editor Dave Martin speculates that the weight limit may move up to 1300 pounds gross as recommended by many including the EAA, and that gyroplanes will be allowed factory-built status -- not simply amateur-built status -- as indicated in the proposed rule. As proposed, LSA would be limited to 1232 pounds maximum gross, 115 knots maximum level at full power, maximum 44 knots stall speed and no more than two seats.

As for pilots, it could be that many future participants would have very few changes to make. Many amateur-built Experimental aircraft and a few certified aircraft (Piper J-3 and Aeronca Champ, for example) could qualify, as would new ready-to-fly LSA Specials and nearly complete LSA Experimental kits. Pilots with higher licenses could choose to fly LSAs without renewing their FAA medicals -- meaning that older private pilots could simply transition with the lapse of a medical and adherence to the new rules.

Come by the AVEMCO Booth (#C-055-056) at Sun 'n Fun and ask about reduced rates on Non-Owned insurance. Today there may be as many as 300,000 pilots flying aircraft they have rented or borrowed without insurance to protect their liability should an accident occur. Many of these pilots believe the owner's insurance will cover them, only to find they were not covered under that policy following an accident. Don't take the chance of flying without adequate protection. For as little as $215 for the Aviator Series Silver package, you can have coverage and the peace of mind you deserve. For complete details, come by AVEMCO's Booth, or go online at

Cirrus Probes Begins

Spiral Dive Preceded Parachute 'Save'...

Canadian authorities have determined a Cirrus SR20 was in a potentially-deadly spiral dive when the pilot deployed the aircraft's emergency parachute over the rugged mountains of southern British Columbia last Thursday. "We have radar data showing the aircraft in a spiral before it goes off radar,"said Bill Yearwood, who heads the Transportation Safety Board's regional office in Vancouver. "It did two 360s." Yearwood wouldn't speculate on why the Cirrus, carrying the pilot Albert Kolk, two other men and a 14-year-old boy, went into the spiral but he did confirm that the pilot "talked about some fuel management problems" during initial interviews with investigators. Kolk told the Vancouver Sun that the fuel load became unbalanced and the aircraft, while on autopilot, became uncontrollable. There were also reports of significant turbulence in the area, which has 9,000 foot peaks. Yearwood said investigators need to examine the plane to verify the fuel state and whether or not the autopilot was engaged. He wouldn't characterize the plane as being out of control because he said they can't yet rule out the possibility that the pilot intended to enter the spiral dive--at night over some of the most forbidding terrain anywhere. The TSB hoped to recover the plane Tuesday but the terrain was posing a challenge. The aircraft came to rest on rock slide with a 45-degree slope.

...Failure Cited In Second Deployment

Cirrus officials are also hesitant to speculate on the factors leading up to the Canadian mishap or a subsequent chute deployment (this time on an SR22) two days later in Florida. Interviewed by AVweb at Sun 'n Fun, Cirrus spokesman Randy Bolinger said that in both cases the aircraft have to be examined before any causes can be pinpointed. In the Florida case, Bolinger said, the aircraft was in for some type of electrical repair at an approved Cirrus service center. The owner Jeff Ippoliti was flying it home when he took off into low overcast and reported several instrument malfunctions. Bolinger said air traffic control tried to direct him to VFR conditions on top of second cloud deck but Ippoliti decided to pull the chute. "There are five people walking and talking and flying who might not be," he noted. Part of the Canadian investigation will be detailed documenting of the parachute deployment and subsequent rescue of the four occupants said Yearwood. Bolinger said the incidents were mentioned by some of those visiting the Cirrus booth at Sun 'n Fun--but not always in a positive way. He said one patron asked if Cirrus staged the B.C. mishap as a publicity stunt to boost interest at the fly-in.

The 9900B TCAD (Traffic Collision Alerting Device) bridges the gap between TIS (Traffic Information System) and TAS (Traffic Advisory System). It provides real-time information that operates in any type of radar environment and is unaffected by the limitations of TIS, which operates only in select approach radar sites. The 9900B will interface with many manufacturers' Multi-Function Displays (MFDs) and offers a cost-effective upgrade path to the 9900BX (TAS) system. For more details, go by Ryan's Sun 'n Fun Booth (#D-071-072) or go online at

Lancair 400 -- The Fastest Certified Piston-Engine Aircraft?

Hot off the press and delivered fresh to Sun 'n Fun, Lancair's latest data sheet (and aircraft) lists a maximum recommended cruising speed of 235 KTAS -- at FL250 -- and an approximate useful load of 1100 pounds for the 310hp turbo-charged dual-system-all-electric (no, not the engine) Lancair Columbia 400. The Lancair Company's Mark Cahill told AVweb yesterday that the performance numbers don't tell the whole story. "The 400 is a product of the company's ongoing philosophy of preventive medicine as opposed to remedial medicine." Our translation: Lancair engineers have worked extremely hard to design aerodynamic features that will keep you out of trouble over an extremely broad performance envelope. Lancair has asked AVweb to keep the specifics of the aeronautical innovations under wraps until the 400's official unveiling, Friday. We'll guess the timing will be none too soon for 140 buyers currently waiting for backordered aircraft. The company is currently meeting the demand with one aircraft every two days. Seeking to improve upon current designs (company officials tell AVweb they expect the 400 will soon offer de-ice packages and that retrofit packages will be made available for models already shipped). While the company does not currently offer a pressurized version of the 400 it is likely that the option (already available on Lancair experimental aircraft) will make its way to the certified aircraft line as the market dictates.

Extra Hopes Timing Is Right For New Turboprop

Extra Aircraft is gambling that the million dollar mini-jet is nothing more than a "great dream." CEO Ken Keith told AVweb that he thinks Eclipse Aircraft personal jet will end up costing much more than the company is currently predicting. That, he says, will leave room in the market for the Extra EA 500, a $1.545 million, six-place single turboprop developed in Germany. So far, there are just five orders for the aircraft, something Keith frankly told a Sun ‘n Fun news conference that he hopes to improve upon at the show. Keith told a news conference at Sun ‘n Fun Tuesday that European certification is expected in May followed about a month later by the FAA nod. Keith said the great advantage the Extra has over Eclipse and several other purportedly low-priced jets is that it’s almost ready to go. "It’s real," he said. Keith said the all-composite 500 delivers the technological advances creeping into the light aircraft market in a larger, more capable platform . The 500 is powered by a 450-shp Rolls Royce engine and will be outfitted with Honeywell’s three-screen Apex Avionics Suite. It has a 1,600 nm range and cruises at 225 knots. Escrowed deposits of $50,000 ($25,000 now and $25,000 on certification) will reserve one and another $100,000 is due when construction of each customer’s aircraft begins. Keith said they won’t start building airplanes until they’re sure the project is economically viable.

"I was surprised that I won, and even more surprised at the quality of these glasses!" said recent AVweb winner Ted Weiner of Massachusetts. A pair of Scheydens will be given away every other week to a lucky AVweb winner — a retail value up to $395! The unique flip-up design has become the choice of pilots who demand quality and function in every aspect of aviation. Handmade titanium frames, quality lenses, a Rosewood case, plush micro-fiber bag and cloth are standard equipment on all styles. For more information (and to register to win), go to

To Outfit Your Airplane With A New Turbine

Affordable Turbine Power Co. Inc. (ATP) told AVweb they have, and are currently flying, an experimental Vans RV-4 pulled by their less-than-200-pound turbine engine, which puts out roughly 200hp through a double planetary gear reduction, while burning 13.3 gallons of $1.35 kerosene per hour. Now, the company tells us, "we're geared up aiming for full production in July," you too can have one for about $30,000 and (wait for it) certification is just three years away ... just as soon as an estimated five million dollars presents itself to ATP. While we checked our pockets, an Aviat representative dropped by and expressed the sentiment to "help out" with certification ... but people say a lot of things at air shows. ATP says that without certification, the company is losing $3.4 million/month in replacement engine sales ... provided 100LL ceases to exist. The prototype engine has flown some 70 hours tugging it's RV-4 host and has taught its inventors that when it comes to realizing the power of the engine design, "it's all about airflow in and airflow out." Toward that end, the company hopes to team up with a South Carolina fabricator to make available complete retrofit packages (cowling and exhaust kits) for popular experimental designs.

Jetcruzer Resurfaces As Kit Jet

Aircraft designs may come and go but the dreams that drive them never seem to fade away. Remember the Jetcruzer? Investors sunk upwards of $100 million in the development of the single-engine turboprop pusher that looked like a sure-bet aircraft for the new millenium during the salad days of the late 1990s. Those investors saw all that money fly away when the whole program was auctioned off for just $125,000 a little more than a year ago. Well, the Jetcruzer is back, but this time as either a single or a twin jet kit that will cost the builder somewhere around $800,000. "We have a lot of people interested in it," said Michael Spearman, director of business development for the new company. Spearman, who runs a Houston-based group of companies that makes medical equipment, said he was the top bidder in the auction but it took about a year to sort out the details with the former owner, the Mooney Aerospace Group. He wouldn’t disclose the final price, saying only that he got "a real bargain" on the package. "We’ve only had it for about six weeks," said Spearman "It" consists of all the tools, molds, drawings, engineering data and everything else needed to bring a sophisticated airplane to the brink of certification. Since the next-generation Jetcruzer won’t need that horrendously expensive piece of paper, development of the new models should go quickly because of all the work that has already been done. Other than the engines (which Spearman said owners can pick up used for a fraction of the new price), the only significant change will be an all-composite wing using the same airfoil as the original metal wing. Spearman said turning the Jetcruzer into an actual jet was the evolution needed to save it as a certified design but the costs would have been prohibitive. He said the experimental version will appeal to those in the personal jet market who just want something faster and more capable than the complex singles and twins they already own.

Teledyne-Continental Motors' PowerLinkTM FADEC improves fuel economy by up to 15-20% versus standard injected engines while reducing pilot workload and improving overall engine operation. PowerLink FADEC is also TC'd for the Lycoming IO 360, as well as STC'd for several Beech Bonanza models. Go by TCM during Sun 'n Fun at Booth #N-093-102 to find out how you can bring your aircraft into the digital age, or go online at

Diabetic To Fly 48 Contiguous In 65 Hours (Or Less)

Insulin-dependent pilot Michael Hunter expects to test his blood sugar levels roughly 200 times over the next 60 or so hours as he shares piloting duties with two other pilots in a bid to set a record for the fastest time to land in each of the 48 contiguous states. The flight left Lakeland yesterday morning, is being flown in a Cirrus SR22 made available to Hunter by Cirrus Design, and will succeed if it manages the tour in less than five and one half days -- the three pilots hope to return Friday to Sun 'n Fun. Hunter is the first person with diabetes granted FAA approval to fly as an air show performer (he flies a Laser 230) and is believed to be the only insulin-dependent diabetic air show pilot in the world. He lives and flies in good health with the aid of an insulin pump, which supplies a dose every three minutes. Check for periodic updates including route information and a trip log -- as well as Hunter's diet and blood testing information. Hunter said the Center for Disease Control recently announced that it expects one of every three children born after 2000 to develop diabetes during their lives. Today there are roughly 6,000 licensed pilots flying with type II (non-insulin using) and 500 insulin dependent pilots. Flight For Diabetes hopes the attempt will raise awareness about the disease.

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Sun 'n Fun, 2004 -- Day One Image Gallery

Sun 'n Fun, 2004 -- Day One Image Galleries

Opening day offered little in the way of sun, but the fun was aplenty ... as were the fancy paint jobs. While many of those were still wet, it wasn't for lack of curing. Yes, Virginia, sometimes it rains -- even at Sun 'n Fun. Fortunately, rain makes us slippery and wresting ourselves from the hoards of adoring fans gets just a tad easier. In other words, enjoy the pictures...

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Business AVflash

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb’s NO-COST twice monthly Business AVflash? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash also focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the Business of Aviation. Business AVflash is a must read. Watch for a Business AVflash regular feature, TSA WATCH: GA IN THE "SPOTLIGHT". Sign up today at

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Sponsor News and Special Offers

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appearing in the May issue of Aviation Safety. "Storm Trackers," "Shopping Checklists," "Gauging Safety," and "Siren's Song" round out the Aviation Safety articles. Supported solely by subscriptions, "Aviation Safety" gives pilots an unclouded view of aviation safety. For your subscription, go online at