AVwebFlash - Volume 18, Number 32b

August 9, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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AVflash! Sorting Out the Traffic Confusion back to top 
 

FAA Suspends Reverse-Traffic Procedure

The FAA said this week air traffic controllers must temporarily stop using a procedure that allows airplanes to land and take off in the opposite direction from normal, after a mix-up with three commuter jets in Washington on July 31. However, the procedure was not at fault, according to the FAA, but a communication lapse between the tower at Reagan National Airport and the Potomac tracon. "This incident should not have happened," FAA chief operating officer David Grizzle said in a memo (PDF) to FAA acting administrator Michael Huerta. "At no time were the aircraft on a head-to-head course and the aircraft remained at different altitudes."

The procedure for "opposite direction operations" is used at airports around the country, Grizzle said, when an airplane is cleared to land or depart using a runway in the opposite direction from the established flow for the field. The procedures can be used in a variety of situations, such as noise mitigation, weather, or cargo operations. However, there is "no standard protocol" in place, which Grizzle said may have contributed to the miscommunication at DCA. The use of these procedures is suspended until a standard protocol can be developed and implemented, which should take a month or less, he said. Grizzle also said that one of the pilots in the DCA incident had reported low fuel, but the FAA found the aircraft in fact had plenty of fuel.

AVweb Insider Blog: Runway Chicken at DCA

Now that the FAA seems to have figured out why the tower launched a couple of departures into an arriving RJ last month at Reagan National, it's suggesting that there will be consequences. We can only hope that the agency doesn't come up with some silly procedures that complicate things further, introducing new distractions and errors. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli offers the novel suggestion that the guy who owns this deal — probably a supervisor — simply be asked not to do that again. Not that he hasn't figured that out already. What we have here is a failure to communicate.

Read more and join the conversation.

 
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The Pilot's Bill of Rights back to top 
 

New Law Expands Pilot Rights

Legislation known as the "Pilot's Bill of Rights" was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Friday. The new law requires the FAA to provide pilots with information about cases that could result in the revocation of their pilot privileges. The change was welcomed by general aviation advocacy groups. "The legislation safeguards the rights of those who fly," said EAA President Rod Hightower. "We are very pleased for all aviators." AOPA President Craig Fuller also welcomed the news. "Having access to all available information, including FAA data, is critical for pilots who find themselves under investigation or whose certificates may be in jeopardy," he said.

The new law requires the FAA to improve its NOTAM system so it's easier for pilots to find relevant information. The FAA also must review its medical certification standards and forms "to provide greater clarity and guidance to applicants." Those changes are to be made within a year. The rules affecting pilots' access to information take effect immediately. The law also allows pilots to appeal the findings of the NTSB in federal district court, and requires the FAA to inform pilots when they're under investigation and inform them that their comments can be used as evidence against them. The bill was sponsored by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.

Question of the Week: Do Pilots Need Their Own Bill of Rights?

We have one now thanks to Sen. Jim Inhofe, who discovered the power of the FAA the hard way after being sanctioned. Is the new system going to be better?

Is the Pilot's Bill of Rights a good thing?
(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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Aviation Safety back to top 
 

Boeing Part Failure, Airbus Crew Distraction

Investigators have made progress toward explaining the failure of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner GEnx engine during a taxi test and a separate incident that many pilots might understand involving the crew of an A380 out of LAX. The 787 incident took place July 28 at Charleston, S.C., and resulted in a contained engine failure. The NTSB has found that a fan located mid-shaft on the 787's GEnx engine fractured. Detailed metallurgical and dimensional analysis of the parts is ongoing. Meanwhile, ATSB investigators found that complications and interruptions introduced into the cockpit of an A380 as the crew prepared for takeoff last October ultimately left them without automated lift-off target speeds during the takeoff roll.

The ATSB found that the A380 crew had been asked to make a late runway change and while the captain prepared to enter the data into appropriate systems, the cabin crew called to report a problem with one of the jet's doors. As a result, the captain failed to follow all appropriate data entry procedures relevant to the change of runway and wind information, when his attention was diverted by the door problem. The first officer had two opportunities to catch the error and dismissed a first alert thinking the information would later be checked. Then he dismissed the second, believing the information had already been checked, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. As the aircraft accelerated down the runway, the crew became aware of the lack of lift-off target speed information present in their instrumentation but initially thought it was the result of another system failure. But as the jet accelerated through 100 knots the captain made the decision to continue and the cockpit crew fell back on "handwritten notes to recall liftoff target speeds," the Herald reported. The flight continued to a safe landing in Melbourne without additional drama.

 
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NASA Forges Ahead with X-48 back to top 
 

NASA Flies New Blended-Wing Design

NASA flew a new version of its remotely piloted blended-wing-body test aircraft for the first time, on Tuesday, at Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave Desert. The X-48C aircraft is modified from the X-48B, which last flew in 2010. The winglets from the earlier design have been moved inboard from the wingtips, close to the engines, "effectively turning them into twin tails," NASA said. The X-48B's three 50-pound-thrust engines have been replaced by two engines, each with 89 pounds of thrust. Also, the aft deck of the aircraft was extended about two feet to the rear. The aircraft has a wingspan of about 20 feet. The new model will be used to evaluate the low-speed stability and control of a low-noise version of a hybrid-wing-body aircraft design, NASA said.

The flight experiments with the X-48C will help researchers further develop methods to validate the design's aerodynamics and control parameters, NASA said. During a second series of tests this fall, NASA will test yaw-control software incorporated in the X-48C's flight computer. This research will use asymmetric engine thrust to create yaw, for trim and for relatively slow maneuvers. The aircraft was designed by Boeing and built by Cranfield Aerospace Limited, of the U.K. The research is funded by NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate and Boeing. The project's goal is to create designs that burn less fuel, emit fewer waste products, and make less noise, NASA said.

 
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One Less Airport back to top 
 

AOPA: 5-Year Fight For Airport Ends In Loss

It's home to roughly 73 aircraft and averages 96 operations per day, according to AirNav.com, and AOPA has fought for years for its survival, but it appears the battle for Cincinnati-Blue Ash airport is now officially lost. According to AOPA, the city of Cincinnati has sent notice to the FAA that it will close the reliever airport, effective August 29. AOPA says it "received personal assurances from city leaders" and that the airport "would continue to operate as a general aviation airport." Those assurances have apparently evolved into new plans.

Local authorities have allowed the expiration of all federal grant agreements related to the airport, relieving local governments of any federal obligation to keep the airport open. Cincinnati's plan for closure appears to include the return of any and all funds it has received from Blue Ash. Then it plans to close the airport and sell the property to the city of Blue Ash, according to AOPA's vice president of airport advocacy, Bill Dunn. As recently as last year, AOPA reported that city officials planned to reconfigure the airport for continued operation, selling half the land to the city of Blue Ash. Local pilots, with the support of local businesses and AOPA, had made an unsuccessful attempt to purchase the land. AOPA's Dunn says every rock has been turned and "we're simply out of options at this point." In its letter to the FAA, the city of Cincinnati has stated that it will work with the agency to make sure that the airport's closure is safe, including dissemination of notices to airmen.

 
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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 
 

Cirrus Will Build Icon Components

Cirrus Aircraft will build "a significant portion" of the composite airframe components for the Icon A5 light sport aircraft, the two companies announced on Monday. Cirrus will add up to 60 jobs over the next 18 months or so to handle the extra work, Cirrus spokesman Todd Simmons told AVweb. "It could be even more," Simmons said. Composite component production will begin by the end of this year at the Cirrus facility in Grand Forks, N.D., and the first production aircraft will be completed next summer, according to the news release. Icon expects the effort to produce about 50 airframes in the first 12 months, and about 250 to 300 in the second 12 months, Icon spokesperson Amy Julian told AVweb.

It's unusual for Cirrus to manufacture parts for other companies, Simmons said, but the concept is not unprecedented. "We've looked at other projects in the past," he said, citing for example a UAV project that was considered about a decade ago. "But never on this scale. So, in that sense, this is new for Cirrus." Icon and Cirrus are compatible companies that "view the world in a similar way," he said. Icon will ship the composite assemblies supplied by Cirrus and others to its facility in Tehachapi, Calif., where all design, system integration, final assembly, finishing and testing will take place. Icon says it has more than 850 deposits for its amphibious LSA. Cirrus CEO Dale Klapmeier said, "We're delighted to be able to play a meaningful role in bringing [the A5] to production … We believe that light sport aircraft and sport pilots are critically important to the growth and future of aviation." Icon recently asked the FAA for an exemption that would allow the A5 to be 250 pounds above the LSA weight limit to accommodate spin-resistant structures. The FAA hasn't said when it will respond to that request.

Mattresses Aid Helo Landing

A medical helicopter broke a skid in flight when it hit a cellphone tower early Sunday morning, but the crew landed safely at San Antonio International Airport after firefighters built a pile of mattresses to take the place of the missing skid. The Bell 407 helicopter, with three crew and a patient on board, was headed for the San Antonio Military Medical Center about 3:30 a.m. when the accident occurred. "[The pilot] knew if he landed, that he would crash," firefighter Kevin Campbell told the San Antonio Express-News. "He suggested mattresses, and I told Engine 23 to grab three or four mattresses from the dorm." They also brought 45-pound weights from the firehouse gym to hold the mattresses down. Campbell said the helicopter crew hovered for a short time before attempting the landing. "It was tense for a little bit," he said. But the helicopter landed safely, and nobody was hurt. "It worked great," Campbell said.

"All the credit goes to the pilot," Campbell added. "We were glad it worked out. But no, I don't think I ever want to do that again." FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford told the Houston Chronicle that using mattresses for the emergency landing is "what you'd call fast thinking." The FAA will investigate whether the cell tower had proper lighting and at what altitude the helicopter was flying, he said. Another helicopter took the patient to the medical center.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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New on AVweb.com back to top 
 

Brainteasers Quiz #174: Single vs. Twin

Brainteasers

Within the privacy of our own hangars, many pilots envision ourselves with a fistful of throttles and a cheap cigar clamped in a DC-3 captain's grimace. Take your multi-engine fantasies to new heights by overpowering this quiz.

Take the quiz.

More Brainteasers

AirVenture 2012: News Coverage Round-Up

The year's mostly eagerly anticipated fly-in and trade show, EAA AirVenture took place in Oshkosh, Wisconsin from July 23 to July 29, 2012. Click here for an all-in-one-place index to coverage from the show — including podcasts, videos, blogs, and photo galleries.

Or skip to your favorite section here:

videos | podcasts | photo galleries | blogs | daily coverage

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: Flight Trial -- Dynon's New D1 Pocket Panel

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

It was only a matter of time before someone stuffed a full-up EFIS into a portable box the size of drink coaster. It didn't exactly take Dynon very long to get around to it, either. In this video, AVweb takes a tour of the new D1 Pocket Panel, and while it's not really a full EFIS, it's close enough — a clever combination of MEMS gyro and GPS aiding.

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

 
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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 
 

FBO of the Week: Ferguson Air Services (KJKA, Gulf Shores, AL)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Ferguson Air Services at Jack Edwards Airport (KJKA) in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

AVweb reader Sheldon Olesen recommended the FBO:

When we pull into a strange airport and have a choice of FBOs, we generally pick the one without "jet" in their name. Ferguson Air Service was pur choice on our recent trip to the Gulf Shores area. We had made no reservations for a rental car, but we were able to rent a car immediately at a cost of about $200 less than what we had been quoted online. Bags were taken for us, water provided, and the plane tied down — all with great efficiency and courtesy. Michelle provided directions for us to get to our final destination. On our return, we came back late in the day and turned our rental car back in. Thunderstorms surrounded the airport by the time we had preflighted the airplane. So no flyinfg, but no problem. Michelle got the rental car out again and sent us on our way after recommending some local hotels. A nice, friendly FBO with excelent facilities — there is no question we would return.

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!

 
Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 
 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

After a brief hiatus, "Picture of the Week" is back, and we've got a lot of ground to cover. Our latest winning photo comes from Manas Shukla, Luke Penner, and Adam Penner of Steinbach, MB (Canada). Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.
 
The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 
 

Short Final

Departing north from Moorabbin (YMMB) on a warm summer's day, in a very tired rental Arrow, I was cleared to climb in class C over the busy approach to Melbourne.

Centre:
"ABC, cleared to Eildon Weir; climb 7,500."

[shortly thereafter ...]

Centre:
"ABC, maintain best rate of climb."

Me:
"Best rate? I'm pedaling as fast as I can."


Andrew Fry
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:

Publisher
Tom Bliss

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Webmaster
Scott Simmons

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Contributors
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.

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