AVwebFlash - Volume 18, Number 23b

June 7, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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The Talons of the Eagle back to top 

Lockheed To Supply F-22 Oxygen Backup

The Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a $19 million contract to install backup systems into existing F-22 Raptor fighter jets that bypass otherwise unresolved problems with the aircraft. Air Force officials are still stymied by reports from pilots who say they have suffered hypoxia-like symptoms while flying the jet. After months-long failed attempts to source the problem the Air Force will now be paying Lockheed, the jet's original manufacturer, to install automatic backup oxygen systems to bypass the original oxygen systems, if necessary. But the contract won't cover all of the jets.

Lockheed's new $19 million contract covers work on 40 F-22s. The Air Force paid about $143 million per copy and has more than 180 of them. The Government Accountability Office has estimated the cost per individual Raptor at $412 million when research, development, and upgrades are considered. That would put the overall cost just under $75 billion. The jets were grounded for four months ending last September while the Air Force attempted to source the problem. Since returning to service, at least 11 more cases have been recorded involving pilots who said they experienced hypoxia-like symptoms while flying the jet. Installation of the new backup oxygen system will begin after it is flight tested, this year. The Air Force is still investigating the original problem and is reportedly working with two theories: either the pilots aren't always getting enough oxygen, or their oxygen is being polluted with toxins.

Question of the Week: The Future of Fighter Jets

Given the escalating costs of the F-35 program, the ongoing problems with the F-22, and the increasing capabilities of drones, is it time to rethink the strategy on military jets?

Is the U.S. overspending on fighter programs?
(click to answer)

Last Week's Question: Results

Want to see the current breakdown of responses? Take a moment to answer the question yourself, and then you can view real-time results.

What's On Your Mind?

Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"?
Send your suggestions to .

NOTE: This address is only for suggested "QOTW" questions, and not for "QOTW" answers or comments. (Use this form to send "QOTW" comments to our AVmail Editor.)

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Halfway There back to top 

Solar Impulse Makes Morocco

Solar Impulse completed its two-stage flight from Switzerland to Morocco on Tuesday, landing just before midnight in Rabat after a 19-hour flight from Spain. The solar-powered electric aircraft had been in Madrid for more than a week waiting for a weather window to cross the Strait of Gibraltar and the desert of northern Africa. With team leader Bertrand Piccard in the cockpit, the aircraft reached 27,000 feet and averaged about 30 mph on the trip.

The trip was the last in a series of progressively more challenging test flights before Solar Impulse is launched on a circumnavigation flight using only solar power. "Solar Impulse has demonstrated that a solar-powered airplane can fly day and night using no fuel," said a message on the effort's web site. "The next challenge is to fly around the world."

Aircraft Spruce at the Golden West Fly-In || June 8-10, 2012
Aircraft Spruce at the 2012 Golden West Regional Fly-In
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"This Is Your Captain Speaking ..." back to top 

Pilot Urges Passengers To Stay After Flight Attendants Leave

Passengers aboard an Air Canada flight bound for Vancouver from Ottawa last week were presented with an interesting dilemma. They were essentially asked who they believed, the flight attendants who walked off the plane claiming the aircraft wasn't safe or the captain who insisted, via PA announcements, that it was. Globe and Mail columnist Gary Mason was among the majority who stayed on Flight 139 and tweeted about the incident, incredulous that passengers were put in that position but appreciative of the free liquor that flowed in coach after the aircraft finally took off, three hours late. In his column, Mason said a smell from the aircraft's ventilation system prompted the flight attendants' exodus and an unusual follow-up from the cockpit.

Mason said that rather than simply cancel the flight, the captain went to "great pains" to convince passengers that he was right and the FAs were wrong. "In the end he sold the passengers, which took a remarkable leap of faith on the part of many of us," Mason, a self-confessed nervous flyer, wrote. Meanwhile, maintenance staff were working on the nervous flight attendants and one of them was convinced to work the flight. After rounding up a couple more to fill out the crew, Flight 139 took off for the uneventful five-hour flight west. In addition to the free booze, passengers were given vouchers to compensate for their inconvenience. Meanwhile the captain can expect a meeting with Air Canada brass on what exactly passengers need to know during a ground delay. "Why alarm them when we know the plane is perfectly safe?" Michael Tremblay, the head of Air Canada customer relations, told Mason afterward. "I think it might have been handled differently. I think we're probably going to talk to the captain about what information is appropriate to share with passengers and what is not."

2012 AirVenture Oshkosh || July 23-29
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2012
July 23-29

Don't miss aviation's most exciting week, July 23-29! Check out EAA's AirVenture 2012 promo video "What's on Your AirVenture Bucket List?" Several air show performers will make their Oshkosh debut, including the Brazilian Smoke Squadron, Team RV, and the SkyHawks. Visit AirVenture.org/tickets to buy your tickets now and save.
Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Airborne Remembrance

Today, 68 years ago, 13,000 men from two storied airborne divisions stepped out of nearly 1,000 C-47s and into history. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli pays tribute to the men and one of the most important days in history.

Read more and join the conversation.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Sunday Flights Test Aerial Firefighting

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Two events involving Lockheed P2V firefighting aircraft this Sunday graphically displayed the dangers and skills required to safely fight fires with aircraft, and also renewed calls for fleet modernization. As the week began, pilots Todd Tompkins and Ronnie Chambless were killed fighting a blaze in Utah. Witnesses say the wing of their 1962 P2V appeared to touch the ground in a rocky canyon before the aircraft impacted in the active drop zone. The crash reportedly left a 600-yard debris field that was later consumed by the same fire the crew had been fighting. Another P2V fighting another fire south of Reno executed a safe landing at Minden, Nev., in a stiff crosswind with one wheel up. There is video of the second event.

Ground crews working with the pilots who were killed in the Utah crash attempted to protect the wreckage from the fire so they could extract the bodies of the pilots. The were unable and were forced to complete the task after the fire burned through. Loss of those pilots adds to at least 14 other aerial firefighters lost since 1990. The company that operated the aircraft, Neptune Aviation, grounded its remaining fleet to debrief mechanics and flight crew. All air tankers operated by the company have since returned to service. At Minden, pilots of another P2V owned by Minden Air Corp. successfully landed their aircraft in stiff crosswinds with the leeward left main gear stuck in the "up" position. (See video at right.)

Months ago, the head of the Forest Service sent Congress a new air tanker strategy that also called for fleet modernization. Bids are being evaluated on a next generation of aircraft for the service. Currently, exclusive-use contracts account for much of the nation's aerial firefighting capability and should add seven more aircraft through 2013.

NTSB: 757 Speedbrakes, Reversers, Pilot Failed

An American Airlines 757-200 that ran off the departure end of a snowy Runway 19 at Jackson Hole Airport on Dec. 29, 2010, actually had a chance of stopping, the NTSB announced Tuesday. None of the 185 aboard Flight 2253 were injured, but the aircraft suffered minor damage and passengers were rattled. (AVweb video.) The NTSB found that the Boeing, flown by the co-pilot, touched down normally about 600 feet beyond the runway threshold. The speedbrakes failed to automatically deploy and when the first officer attempted to deploy the thrust reversers, they did not respond properly. The NTSB found mechanical causes for each mechanical failure. It also noted that the jet could have stopped on the runway even without the reversers if the pilots had reacted differently.

According to the NTSB, the captain, acting as the monitoring pilot, "failed to identify the non-deployment" of the speedbrakes upon landing and instead  stated "deployed" shortly after touchdown. Then, when the thrust reversers failed to deploy, the captain joined the first officer in concentrating on that problem. Because of that, said the NTSB, "neither pilot recognized that the speedbrakes had not automatically deployed." The investigation found that had the captain acted promptly to manually deploy the speedbrakes after landing, the jet could have stopped on the runway with 1900 feet remaining. The Board found that a "latent assembly defect" caused the problem with the speedbrakes. As for the reversers, the investigation determined that that failure was caused by "a rare mechanical/hydraulic interaction" that occurred "as a result of an unloading event at the precise instant that the first officer commanded their deployment." The NTSB has made safety recommendations to the FAA regarding pilot training and aircraft manufacture relevant to this event.

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New on AVweb.com back to top 

Brainteasers Quiz #172: Go/No-Go


Weather, Class D, Class E — sheesh, someone's trying to take the fun out of summertime flight. Knowing the airspace and weather-minimum rules might not make flight fun, but it will help you ace this quiz. (Contains results of the survey for the best plane and destination for a fantasy vacation!)

Take the quiz.

More Brainteasers

Take A Flying Vacation

The Brainteaser Fantasy Vacation survey results are in, and the Jake Hollow barnstorming wanderlust is alive and flying. (Fictional barnstormer from Bootleg Skies. He never seemed to have a destination in mind but always managed to get lost.) AVweb Brainteaser Quiz #171 asked for reader input on the perfect aviation vacation. Where would you go and in what aircraft? The Brainteaser fantasy comptroller is picking up the fantasy tab, allowing all the Walter Mittys out there to let their imaginations roam. There were too many responses to list, so what follows is a highly unscientific sampling. Submitters' names have been stripped to prevent nay-sayers from popping our dreams.

The suggestions were varied, with destinations ranging from Alaska to New Zealand, although one reader specified that her New Zealand fantasy involved a commercial airline flight, seated in first class, sipping single-malt. Another was more specific and saw himself flying New Zealand's "North and South Islands ... in something slow, open and with big tires. A Stearman comes to mind." Stearmans often come to mind when a sentence includes the word "slow."

Another reader cast some of us Garden State expats off guard by selecting "somewhere in New Jersey" for the perfect aerial retreat. Chris Christie a pilot? Who knew? But, hey, I took my first airplane ride in July 1967 in New Jersey. Can't say that the cargo end of a C-130 Hercules out of McGuire AFB was a pleasure cruise, especially after leaving my lunch on the floorboards before the gear came up. That one flight delayed my aviation career, but if your dream vacation is in the milky suburban skies, go for it. May I suggest a J3 Cub into Aeroflex Andover (12N) or Greenwood Lake (4N1) instead of McGuire?

Many respondents longed to escape to Alaska or Canada, usually in something equipped with floats. Doing so in a de Havilland Beaver, Cessna 180 or Cessna Caravan (the pre-Chinese models) popped up several times in the tally. But lest you think only hairy-legged bush planes were requested for the Alaska trips, there were two Cirrus owners ready to tour the north in comfort, one in a turbo-normalized Cirrus SR22-G3. The seemingly dainty landing gear appears inappropriate for sand bars and glaciers, and no mention was made of floats. But when your airplane packs a parachute, who needs floats or tundra tires? The turbo fantasy Cirrus journey would begin in western Pennsylvania, head out across Montana and Idaho, before turning north. After that, this pilot said, "I would probably just keep on flying." That's the spirit.

Speaking of glaciers, one of you out there wants to "learn glacier flying in Sweden or Switzerland." Don't wait too long for that fantasy, because they're melting fast.

One reader's demand was simple, requesting only "any remote river (in) my own airplane." Gotta admire that Zen approach. Another longed to tour Alaska and the Canadian Northwest in "anything PT6-powered (turboprop)." Both doable on this fantasy budget.

Wyoming, Utah and West Colorado drew in readers who pictured themselves flying the high country in brand-new Aviat Huskies. I'd even settle for a used Husky. One scoffed at the Husky option, preferring, instead, "to go to back-country airstrips in Idaho in my Cessna 140A."

Many readers couldn't quite nail down the best getaway location, as expressed by this sentiment: "I'm not exactly sure where it is yet, but I'm headin' out to the most remote back-country strip, furthest away from the FAA -- as well as people -- that I can get in a F4U Corsair ..." [The Brainteaser author considers FAA personnel to be people. Well, mostly ...] Don't stand in the way of that pilot's search for Ailerona.

Two pilots chose an old-fashioned vacation, which includes loading up the family Stinson Station Wagon. One wanted to "circumnavigate the lower 48 with my two kids" for three months using his grandfather's Stinson. The other Stinson flyer planned to pack the wagon with camping gear, provisions and "my honey" for a trip from lower New England, cruise up to Maine and then "west along the St. Lawrence River, the Fingers Lakes in New York, down through the Virginias (regular and West), southwest through the Ozarks, up to Arrowhead, Minn., Michigan's Upper Peninsula (UP), through Ohio, Pennsylvania and home again." No mention in this fantasy if "my honey" makes it the whole way.

Inspire by aviation firsts, one flyer planned to retrace Douglas "Wrongway" Corrigan's 1938 flight to Ireland. The original flight was to have been from New York to California, but Corrigan's Curtiss Robin "accidentally" headed east instead.

World flight was on several pilots' minds, with one circumnavigator launching in a single-engine turboprop TBM 850 to "fly around the world in 100 days, east to west and then west to east." Wanna bet we could do it in 80?

Another globetrotter was headed 'round the world in a Quest Kodiak without any mention of route or schedules. Many envisioned flights outlining entire continents -- Central and South America were popular routes; a trip to Machu Picchu in a Lockheed Connie really looked fun -- or flying the entire east or west coasts of the U.S. Two coastal airports received honorable mentions. On the East Coast, a reader suggested Falmouth Airpark (5B6) on Cape Cod. He claims to have once washed airplanes there and wants to know if anyone remembers where he left his sneakers in 1984. West Coast suggestions include Half Moon Bay (KHAF) and Watsonville (KWVI), Calif. My personal suggestion is Seaside Municipal Airport (56S) along the northwest Oregon coast south of Astoria. Be ready for fog when operating into any of those coastal stops.

One pilot limited a California vacation to flying the coast from San Francisco north to Oregon. Apparently there were some outstanding warrants preventing a border crossing.

Six travelers were headed to Oshkosh, although two of those didn't say if their trips were in conjunction with the EAAfest or the lure of east-central Wisconsin in summer is just too much to pass up. "You come for the heat but stay for the humidity."

Also tough to pass up, according to some, are flying vacations that highlight stops at the Truman and Eisenhower Libraries. "Hey, you kids, put down those iPods, and pay attention to the Bess Truman tour guide!" Bet they'll wish they'd also stopped in West Branch, Iowa, for a week's stay at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum, Library and Waterslide! After one day, it might seem like a week, and no, Hoover did not cause the Great Depression. And, yes, Herb's wife, Lou (it's not a gay marriage thing; that was her real name -- Lou Henry Hoover) was the first female geology student at Stanford University, and she was instrumental in the creation of the Girl Scout cookie. (Be sure to visit the gift shop; nothing like a Hoover Bobblehead(tm) atop your glare shield.)

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised, but we didn't receive any balloon or glider vacation itineraries -- although one pilot wanted to tour in a U2 -- and only one involved a helicopter, and that pilot said the trip was only possible after winning the lottery. This being a fantasy, we sent him a fake winning ticket, so he's now on his way home to Boston after picking up his new Robinson R44 from the Torrance, Calif., factory. Look, when you get to dream, don't dream up the obstacles, just fly.

No one voted for vacationing in a Cessna Skysnatcher.

The majority of aviation fantasy vacation destinations were islands: Australia, Greek isles (bring gold), Hawaiian Islands, Tahiti (in a DC-3, very classy), Fiji, The Bahamas, every island possible in the Caribbean and a few that would seem impossible. There was even a suggestion for "Ekel, a small island in the Baltic Sea near Denmark; 150 inhabitants and a small, grass strip, where you are allowed to camp under the wings of your airplane."

If you want to camp under a wing while staring up at the stars and listening to the soulful guitar twangs of aviation's famed CAF troubadour, Doug Rozendaal, then plan a vacation flight to Antique Airfield (IA27) in Blakesburg, Iowa, over Labor Day weekend, where dreamers from all over the world camp beneath hundreds of real ragwings. Best part -- other than the lack of FAA or TSA on the private field -- it ain't no fantasy.

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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 Video: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Video: Diamond Multi-Purpose Platform DA42

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: AeroMark (KIDA, Idaho Falls, ID)

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

AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" comes to us from reader Sherry Rossiter, who nominated AeroMark at Idaho Falls Regional Airport (KIDA) in Idaho. Sherry writes:

I visited AeroMark for the first time on May 18-19 to attend a regional aviation trade show they were hosting in their 30,000-square-foot hangar. The hospitality of the owners and staff was phenomenal. Visiting this premium, full-service FBO was truly an awesome experience, and AeroMark deserves recognition.

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!

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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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