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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.
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.
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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.
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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 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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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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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.
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.
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.
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Is Your A&P Keeping Secrets?
Learn to recognize maintenance issues and take action before they turn into something big. Light Plane Maintenance shows you how.
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.
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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Ferguson Air Services at Jack Edwards Airport (KJKA) in Gulf Shores,
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.
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.
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