AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 24b

June 14, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Arlington Fly-In || July 6-10, 2011

Deadline Set For Comments On FAA Medical Changes

The FAA has set a deadline of July 2 to receive comments on the exemption to pilot medical requirements proposed by AOPA and EAA in April. The advocacy groups asked the FAA to allow pilots to fly some GA aircraft without a third-class medical certificate if they take an online course and hold a driver's license. "The short comment period makes it more urgent that people submit their comments now," said Sean Elliott, EAA's vice president of advocacy and safety. "Make your voice heard." More than 1,800 comments already have been submitted, and the groups have set a target to reach 3,000 comments by the deadline.

The two advocacy groups have posted an online guide (PDF) to help pilots who want to file comments. The full 41-page proposal also is posted online (PDF). When the proposal was released in March, AVweb's Mary Grady spoke with Kristine Hartzell, AOPA's manager of regulatory affairs, for more details about the plan and the strategy behind it. Click here to listen to the podcast.

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EASA Okays LSA Certification

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has certified light sport aircraft for the first time, in a newly created certification category. Three airplanes have been certified as European Light Aircraft (ELA): Czech Sport Aircraft's PS-28 Cruiser, the Flight Design CTLS-ELA, and the Evektor SportStar RTC, EASA said. The new category certifies aircraft with no more than two seats and a weight of less than 600 kg (1,320 pounds). EASA said it has been working to address feedback from industry and operators that its regulatory framework for recreational aircraft is too burdensome. Dan Johnson, president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturing Association, told AVweb this week EASA's procedures are too expensive for most LSA manufacturers.

"The producers have to pay for all of these approvals, factory visits, and inspections," Johnson said. "And the question is, how does this enhance safety?" LAMA would prefer to see EASA accept the ASTM approval procedures used in the U.S., Johnson said, which already have been accepted in Australia and Brazil. EASA said it is continuing to work closely with the aviation community, and "further improvements to certification procedures for ELA are expected in the near future." Johnson said some U.S. manufacturers are delaying entry into the European market, despite the favorable exchange rate, due to continuing uncertainty about EASA's rules and regulations. In April, Cessna said it wouldn't take any orders in Europe for its Skycatcher until it had worked out a plan with EASA for certification.

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Navy UAV Crashes In Maryland

An unmanned aircraft being tested by the U.S. Navy crashed Monday about noon on Maryland's eastern shore, about 22 miles east of the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River. The Global Hawk, about 44 feet long with a wingspan of 116 feet, was one of five UAVs being used to test maritime surveillance capabilities. "No one was injured and no property was damaged at the unpopulated swampy crash site," Navy officials said. Aerial video from WBOC-TV showed piles of burnt debris at the crash site, with scattered flames and lots of black smoke. The site is being cleaned up and Navy officials are investigating the cause of the crash.

The test program at Patuxent River has been in operation since November 2006, working to develop tactics and doctrine for the use of high-altitude unmanned patrol aircraft. The Navy's RQ-4A Global Hawk is powered by a Rolls Royce turbofan engine. It's capable of flying up to 60,000 feet at speeds up to 340 knots for more than 30 hours. Its maximum takeoff weight is 25,600 pounds. It's operated by a crew of four -- two pilots and two sensor operators.

In Pursuit Of The Less Intelligent Drone

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Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology are working on an autonomous flying vehicle that is not as good at avoiding crashes as it is at surviving them, for a reason. The idea is simple. An autonomous aircraft that must carry multiple onboard sensors and computer systems to avoid accidents will lose payload and endurance to those systems. It will also be bigger and cost more than a vehicle that doesn't carry those systems. As an alternate approach, the Swiss researchers are working to create a simple vehicle that is more efficient and more resilient. The design they have isn't just designed to survive crashes, it's designed to pick itself up and set off, again, after the crash.

The Swiss designers say they took inspiration from birds and insects that sometimes crash into things but mostly recover and continue on their way. All the key components of the Swiss design are protected by a lightweight, flexible carbon-fiber cage. The cage is designed to absorb impacts without transferring energy to the vehicle's most delicate components. The researchers have so far designed an oblong vehicle with an active recovery system. (See video at right.) That system is made up of four legs that can extend to right the vehicle if it ends up lying on its side. They hope the vehicle will prove more practical in navigating tight, uneven spaces than costlier flying vehicles. Japanese researchers have advanced a similar idea with a spherical design.

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FlyNano Goes Electric, Starts "Airborne Test Flights"

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The creators of the FlyNano sport aircraft launched from a lake in southern Finland, near Helsinki, on Monday, and posted a video at their website showing several short hops above the surface. Over the winter, the prototype was re-fitted with an all-new electric motor, which the company says is "substantially stronger" than the earlier gasoline powerplant. "Now we will continue to work on further development," the company posted at its website. "Many thanks for your support and patience. We'll be back with more flights as soon as possible." The company said it has already taken orders for 35 airplanes and hopes to start deliveries by the end of next year.

The aircraft was introduced at the Aero 2011 show in Germany last year. The single-seat carbon-fiber airplane is designed for water operations only. When it was introduced, the designers projected a delivery price of $39,000 and a weight under 254 pounds, allowing the FlyNano to qualify as an ultralight under U.S. regulations.

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An F-22 G-Suit Problem

As part of its investigation into the cause of hypoxia-like symptoms affecting a few F-22 Raptor pilots, Air Combat Command this week released new conditions regarding what pilots can wear while flying the aircraft. Testing has apparently found problems with the pressure vests worn by F-22 pilots as the upper portion of their G-suits. Air Combat Command spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Edward Sholtis told Bloomberg News that the vest is "like a tight-fitting garment" and that it was not properly fitted for pilots, possibly restricting their ability to breathe. But finding a fix for the vest is not expected to resolve the hypoxia-symptom issue.

According to Sholtis, the vest has not been identified as the yet-unidentified root cause of the hypoxia problems suffered by at least 11 pilots. And the "upper pressure garment" has not been implicated as the cause of more than 10 unexplained incidents. Regarding the vests, the Air Force is looking at issues regarding the layering of clothing and flight suits while wearing the vest. The exact restrictions regarding use of the vests have not been released. The Air Force is still looking for a root cause that has led pilots to report hypoxia-like symptoms while flying the jets.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

NetJets Orders 425 Jets, "Largest Order In History"

NetJets on Monday said it has ordered up to 425 midsize business jets from Cessna and Bombardier, a deal worth up to $9.6 billion, which the company said is the "largest private aviation order in history." The deal includes firm orders for 100 jets from Bombardier -- 75 of the Challenger 300 model and 25 Challenger 605 jets -- and 25 Citation Latitudes from Cessna. NetJets also optioned another 125 each of the Challenger 300 and Latitude jets, plus 50 options for the Challenger 605. The order expands NetJets' own "Signature Series" line of aircraft, which the company helped to design.

"These aircraft are bigger, faster, quieter and offer longer range than similar aircraft of the previous generation," NetJets said in a news release. "We listened to our owners and developed the design specifications of these aircraft to ensure that our fleet meets their exacting needs." The airplanes will be deployed in NetJets' fleets in North America and Europe. Deliveries are set to take place over 10 years, starting in 2014 for the Bombardier jets and 2016 for the Cessna Latitudes.

New Twin Otters Find Ready Market

In an industry that's a little short of success stories at the moment, there's a rare exception to that playing out in some unlikely locations in Canada. Viking Air's plants in Sidney, British Columbia, a suburb of the provincial capital of Victoria, and Calgary, Alberta, are straining under the weight of a four-year backlog for their new-build Twin Otters, the 400 Series. Since reintroducing the venerable twin turboprop STOL utility hauler, Viking has racked up more than 70 orders for the $6 million aircraft and word is just now getting out that they're available. Viking, which acquired the Twin Otter type certificate, along with six other de Havilland Canada designs from Bombardier a few years ago, had never manufactured airplanes before although it was a recognized rebuilder and modifier of the various types, which include the Beaver, Otter, Caribou and Buffalo. Viking tapped Dan Tharp, a Wichita native with long experience in aircraft production, to get its facilities in shape to meet the demand.

Tharp, who came to picturesque Victoria from the Vought plant in Nashville, has 30 years of experience that includes development and production of Learjet models in Bombardier's Wichita facilities. In eight months, Viking went from producing an airplane every two months to rolling out a brand new Twin Otter every 18 working days. The goal for the end of the year is to shave that to 11 days. That will give the company a realistic output of 23 aircraft a year, enough to move the backlog into the 18- to 24-month sweet spot. Viking has developed co-op training programs with local colleges in Victoria and Calgary to provide its own skilled workforce. The Victoria facility builds wings, cockpits and other subassemblies and contractors build the empennage and other parts. Final assembly and flight testing takes place in Calgary before the aircraft is finished and delivered back in Victoria. Sales have been made all over the world, from air taxis in the Maldives to the militaries of Peru and Vietnam. The U.S. Army recently took delivery of a new Twin Otter for use by its parachute demonstration team, the Golden Knights.

Video: Viking Air Twin Otter Factory

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

Viking Air is quickly ramping up production of its new build Twin Otter 400 series. AVweb's Russ Niles toured the Victoria, British Columbia factory with VP of Operations Dan Tharp, a Wichita aircraft production veteran recently hired by Viking to boost production.

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AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

Have you signed up yet for AVweb's no-cost weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz?

Delivered every Wednesday morning, AVwebBiz focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry, making it a must-read.

Add AVwebBiz to your AVweb subscriptions today by clicking here and choosing "Update E-mail Subscriptions."

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Would You Survive a Crash?

Who can say? It so often depends on variables that no one can predict or prepare for. But sometimes, Paul Bertorelli notes on the AVweb Insider blog, even the most cursory preparation can probably make the difference. If you've had egress training, you might have a real edge.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Question of the Week: Oshkosh Countdown

It's a matter of mere weeks until the year's biggest aviation show, so we have a question this week for those of you who are going.

How do you normally go to AirVenture — and is that changing this year?
(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"?
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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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What Have You Missed on AVwebcom? back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: The Case for Commercialized Space

Last month, upstart rocket company SpaceX did what, heretofore, only sovereign nations have done: They launched a spacecraft into orbit, docked it with the space station and recovered it. So why are both the first man and the last man to stand on the moon opposed to this? On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli gives you a chance to tell us why.

Read more and join the conversation.

Forty-Seven Years in Aviation: A Memoir; Chapter 14: The Ohio State University Airport

Richard Taylor's first full year at The Ohio State University included teaching aviation classes, flying 19 different kinds of airplanes (including a jet), and starting a flying club with a tail-dragger.

Click here to read the 14th chapter.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Desert Skies Executive Air Terminal (KHII, Lake Havasu, AZ)

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

Our latest "FBO of the Week" is one we spotlighted a couple of years ago — Desert Skies Executive Air Terminal at Lake Havasu City Airport (KHII) in Arizona. AVweb reader Scott Brooksby told us about the usual low prices and great services but noted that little "something special" that makes Desert Skies a must-revisit destination:

Desert Skies not only has great prices for fuel, some of the lowest in the region, but they also have Waldo's BBQ. The restaurant closes at 8:00 pm but has awesome food, and for dessert, you can have a small apple crisp or sweet potato pie among other choices for only 99 cents. The fueling is quick, and the manager was there helping to park the plane and make sure all was O.K.

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!

Peter Drucker Says,
"The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It"

It's easy for your company to be more proactive, flexible, and entrepreneurial with AVweb's cost-effective marketing programs. Discover the benefits of instant response, quick copy changes, monthly tracking reports, and interactive programs. To find out how simple it is to reach 255,000 qualified pilots, owners, and decision-makers weekly, click now for details.
Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 
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.

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.

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