AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 22a

May 28, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Law & Safety back to top 

Families Of Drunk Passengers Sue Over Fatal Crash

The families of three passengers killed in a British Columbia floatplane crash that an investigation revealed was likely caused by the drunken antics of one of them are suing the charter airline, saying the pilot should have known better than to let them aboard. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. the suit also blames pilot Damon York, who also died in the crash, for not wearing a shoulder harness "so as to prevent being jammed into the control panel" when the backseat passenger behind him kicked the back of his seat. As we reported last year, the Canadian Transportation Safety Board report suggested the passengers were too drunk to realize how unwise their actions were. "It is likely that passenger interference caused the pilot to lose control of the aircraft whereupon it descended in a steep nose-down attitude until it struck the water," the report says. "It is possible the passengers' level of intoxication contributed to their inability to recognize the gravity of the situation and stop the interference in time for the pilot to regain control of the aircraft before impact."

The aircraft hit the water off Ahousat, an isolated community on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The three passengers, Samantha Mattersdorf, Edward Sam and his sister Katrina Sam-English, hired the aircraft to fly from Tofino to Ahousaht after being refused a ride on a water taxi. Ahousaht is a dry aboriginal community. Witnesses told the TSB the passengers were clearly intoxicated and were arguing before they got on the plane at Tofino carrying a case of beer and several bottles of liquor. The TSB also noted that York could also have refused the charter if he believed the passengers were likely to cause safety problems.

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Kickstarting Synergy back to top 

Synergy Finds Public Support

Unconventional aircraft designer John McGinnis' public funding drive Friday surpassed its original goal and may help him prove if his five-seat double box tail Synergy aircraft is indeed "lighter, simpler, and more economical" than other planes. McGinnis turned to the online fundraising website Kickstarter.com to seek $65,000 from private individuals that he says will "maintain present work output until our next milestone is reached in September." By then, MicGinnis says, "we expect to have completion in sight." With ten days left in the fundraising campaign, McGinnis had reached nearly $59,000 in pledged donations. But McGinnis still couldn't be sure he'd see any of the money. That changed, Friday.

Projects that work with Kickstarter.com are only funded if they reach their funding goal. In the case of Synergy, that means $65,000. McGinnis' Synergy project met that goal, Friday. For that money, McGinnis has not stated that he'll provide a flying prototype. McGinnis says his next milestone "puts us 'on the wheels' and 'powered up.'" If the project continues beyond that stage of funding and if Synergy ever does fly, McGinnis goals are for the five-seater "to conclusively demonstrate stellar performance for this configuration" and "to be producible in volume at low cost." Until then, the project's full-scale, real-world performance, and existence, remain to be seen. At least 550 people have pledged money to Synergy. And two have each pledged at least $10,000 to find out what the Synergy project will produce.

Bendix/King by Honeywell
A New Day at Bendix/King by Honeywell
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U.S. Navy's High and Slow Eye-in-the-Sky back to top 

Military Airship Floats Toward First Flight

Northrop Grumman's 300-foot-long, 70-foot-tall, remotely piloted Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) airship is scheduled to fly for the first time in early June at Lakehurst, N.J. The maiden flight could take place anytime between June 6 and 10, weather permitting, and will be followed by a trip to Florida where it will be outfitted with surveillance gear. The LEMV has been designed to operate for the U.S. Army as a surveillance and reconnaissance platform, capable of loitering in the sky for days, or weeks, at a time ... provided it's not really windy at its operating altitude.

Alan Metzger, Director of Airship Programs at Northrop Grumman, told The Engineer magazine that the LEMV should be capable of carrying up to 2,500 pounds of payload and have a maximum endurance near three weeks. According to Metzger, the LEMV will be "vastly cheaper to operate" than most conventional aircraft. Three weeks in the air could cost roughly $20,000 for 3,500 gallons of fuel burned, depending on fuel prices. The vehicle can travel at speeds up to 80 knots, so winds above 20 mph are cause for consideration. The LEMV is expected to head across the Atlantic this winter for a front-line combat demonstration.

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Pow! To the Upper Atmosphere, Alice! back to top 

Personal Space Torpedo

Donations from more than 2,000 people, plus other sponsorships, have funded Copenhagen Suborbitals' (CS) Tycho Brahe program, which aims to see individuals launched to at least 100 miles above the earth in personal capsules. The team's proposed capsule is made from rolled steel plate wrapped in a cork heat shield. Inside, the capsule's sole passenger would ride in a near-standing position, wearing a G-suit to help force blood to the head during acceleration. The passenger's head would sit in a transparent hemispheric dome topped with an aerospike for better supersonic performance. It gets better.

Dimensions of the capsule's cabin area are roughly two feet (diameter) by 7.5 feet (length). There will be no room in the capsule for movement once the vehicle goes weightless. After launching to 100 miles, parachutes will be used to slow the final descent. CS's team of about 20 have so far spent about $300,000 over the past four years developing their idea and last year made a test launch. The team says they are focusing on hybrid propellant rockets and have seen "very promising results" from "epoxy resin/nitrous oxide" mixtures. The team says hybrid propellants offer "lower complexity" and also that "the likelihood of catastrophic explosive failure is less." The team has a stepped test program scheduled for 2012.

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Yes, They Have YouTube at FAA HQ back to top 

FAA Investigates Tandem Skydiving Scare

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The FAA has paid a visit to a California skydiving company after video of some unplanned excitement vaulted it to Internet stardom earlier this week. It's been more than a year since an 80-year-old grandmother identified only as Laverne took a bucket-list tandem jump with the Parachute Center in Acampo, Calif., that may have got her a little closer to her maker than she bargained for. Laverne is seen having second thoughts in the aircraft door before she is encouraged to join the fun by her tandem partner and the cameraman. Laverne somehow slips out of her harness and makes most of the journey earthward in an undignified position in the grip of her partner. At one point during the freefall the cameraman moves in to help keep hold of Laverne. They landed none the worse for wear and that was the end of the story until the video hit theChive.

The video caught the attention of the networks and the Parachute Center has fielded numerous requests for comment with a variation of the statement made to the New York Daily News, which quoted an unnamed employee. "No one got hurt," the employee said. "The equipment worked properly." The FAA decided to check that out and spent part of Saturday interviewing staff and going over records.

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Solar Impulse Looking Toward the Long-Term back to top 

International Flight Begins Without Fuel

Solar Impulse, the manned solar-powered airplane, began a 1,554-mile trip from Switzerland to Morocco, Thursday and landed safely after a 17-hour first leg at its planned layover site of Madrid. The 3,500-pound vehicle is carried by a 207-foot wingspan. It is propelled by batteries and 12,000 solar cells driving four electric motors. Pilot Andre Borschberg was at the controls for the first leg of the journey and reportedsubstantiated confidence in the technology. “It was incredible to fly alongside the barrier of clouds during most of the flight and not need to hesitate to fly above them. This confirms our confidence in the capacity of solar energy even further.” Monday, after a three-day layover to check the condition of the aircraft and make promotional visits, Bertrand Piccard is scheduled to take the controls for the next leg. Weather permitting, Piccard's leg will see completion of the journey in Morocco. The trip is just a small step toward the team's long term goals.

The Solar Impulse team became the first to operate a manned aircraft for more than 26 hours powered by batteries and energy acquired from the sun. The flight set endurance and altitude records. Another was earned in 2010 for manned flight powered only by sunlight. The team intends to punctuate all that with an around-the-world flight presently scheduled for 2014. The Switzerland-to-Morocco trip will allow the team to gather more real-world flight experience while promoting solar power. Morocco was chosen as a destination in part because of its plans to build five solar complexes generating 2000 megawatts of power by 2020.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: FAA's Fuel ARC -- Progress?

Yes, says Paul Bertorelli on the AVweb Insider blog — just don't expect to be struck by the blinding clarity of a bold action plan. Although it hasn't released the details, the UAT-ARC's work has at least moved things off static dead center, and even the most cynical among us would have to call that progress.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVbuys || AVweb Stories About Great Deals in Aviation
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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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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Podcast: Jim McCartney's Pilot Stories

File Size 9.6 MB / Running Time 10:27

Bose® A20™ Aviation Headset

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Jim McCartney's decades-long career as an airline pilot spanned bankruptcies, deregulation, and forced retirement. He captured his story in a book that he wrote with his sister, Angela McCartney Miro, before his death earlier this year. It offers a glimpse into the cockpit of an earlier age.

This podcast is brought to you by Bose Corporation.

Click here to listen. (9.6 MB, 10:27)

Video: Diamond Multi-Purpose Platform DA42

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

Diamond has diversified its market to the military, law enforcement and even media realms with the DA42 Multi-Purpose Platform. Diamond Airborne Sensing's Markus Fischer took AVweb through the product at Diamond's factory in Wiener Neustad, Austria.

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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: Brunswick County Airport (KSUT, Oak Island, NC)

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

AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" is Brunswick County Airport at Cape Fear Regional Jetport/Howie Franklin Field Airport (KSUT) in Oak Island, North Carolina.

Reader Ron Horton had high praise for the FBO:

Flew to KSUT for an overnight stay. Greeted by John and the ground crew as soon as the engine stopped and immediately felt at home. They tied us down, guided us to the FBO, where we found a friendly airport dog lounging on the couch and several locals planning the next day's "Big Toys" event, which included Young Eagle flights. They offered a crew car, but since we were overnight we opted for an inexpensive rental; the desk is right there with the FBO. Asked them to refuel at their convenience and left the airport.

Got back the next day and realized we left our Nflight cam running after we landed, so we got to review how they moved our airplane to the pumps for refueling and then moved it back to the tiedown spot. It looked like they were handing their personal airplane!

The next day we departed in the middle of a line of planes, taking those Young Eagles up for an aerial view of the North Carolina coast. This is not just the kind of FBO you want to have for your stops; this is one that makes you wish you were based here!

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

Flying a Piper Lance from Santa Fe to Scottsdale in severely turbulent winds, someone on the radio asked ATC a question.

Unidentified Pilot:
"Is there anyone flying out there in this stuff?"

"Yes. One other aircraft."

Unidentified Pilot:
"At what altitude?"

"Well, he's assigned 10,500, but he's anywhere between 9,500 and 11,500."

Leonard Hendleman
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].

Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your phone or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.