AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 38b

September 20, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! A Glimpse at China's New Jet Fighter back to top 

New Chinese Fighter Photos "Leaked"

click for larger versions

China has apparently unveiled a second fifth-generation fighter prototype that looks like an F-22 Raptor but may also be designed for carrier operations. Photos appeared online earlier this week that show an aircraft whose lineage seems to be derived from the Raptor with some shirt-tail relationship to the F-35. It's a twin, with the angled vertical stabilizers and big fully articulating horizontal stabs. It's not clear if the aircraft, likely a development project of the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, has flown but the timing of the "leak" appears to suggest a little chest-thumping on the part of the Chinese to coincide with a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

In January of 2011, the Chinese publicized test flights of another advanced fighter, the Chengdu Aviation Corporation's J-20, to coincide with a visit by then SecDef Robert Gates. The Wall Street Journal thinks that might mean there's a competition between Chengdu and Shenyang for the contract. Observers have also spotted a double nosewheel on the latest design, which they say suggests it's designed for carriers. The Chinese will soon commission their first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

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Tense Situation at JFK back to top 

Pilots Kept In Dark During Hijack Scare

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There was tension in the air and in the cockpit of an American Airlines aircraft at New York's JFK Airport on Monday when the arriving American plane and a Finn Air flight were ordered to a remote area instead of getting instructions for their gates. Authorities had received a threat that armed terrorists were concealed in the wheel wells of both aircraft and the response was predictable. However, for whatever reason, the authorities elected to not tell the American pilot, at least, why there were fire trucks and armed police around his plane. As the accompanying video shows, the American captain was having none of that.

As the ground controller continues to try to stall his requests for information, the increasingly frustrated pilot issues an ultimatum. "Somebody's got to give us the reason or we're going to evacuate the aircraft. You got 60 seconds." The controller finally relents and the passengers avoid a ride on the inflatable slides. The threats were a hoax and the aircraft were cleared a few hours later.

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Future Fuels back to top 

Lufthansa Signs Biofuel Agreement

A collaboration agreement announced Wednesday between Lufthansa and Algae.Tec Limited will create a large-scale production facility in Europe for the creation of aviation biofuels from algae. The agreement forms the foundation of a long-term partnership between the carrier and the alternative fuel producer. Lufthansa will fund the project, entirely, and Algae.Tec will manage it, retaining license fees and profits. As part of the deal, Lufthansa has also entered a long-term "offtake agreement" consisting of "at least 50 percent of the crude oil produced at an agreed price." Lufthansa was an early adopter of alternative fuels and has used them on revenue flights.

In late 2010, Lufthansa announced a six-month trial, beginning in April 2011, that would see biofuel used on revenue airline flights for the first time. That trial was partly funded by the German government. The worldwide aviation industry has carbon-neutrality targets that set 2020 for carbon-neutral growth, worldwide. By 2050, the industry hopes to have cut emissions by 50 percent versus year 2000 emissions. The Algae.Tec agreement may again put Lufthansa a step ahead of other carriers in planning for those goals. The exact location of the Lufthansa/Algae.Tec future production facility was not specifically in an early statement, which said no more than it will be "adjacent to an industrial CO2 source."

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A Look Back at History back to top 

Documentary Traces Jet Development

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Arguably the most important invention of the 20th century celebrates a milestone on Oct. 2 and the date will be marked by the U.S. release of a documentary that traces the origins of the jet engine. It's been 70 years since the first jet-powered aircraft flew in the U.S. In 1930, Frank Whittle, a 30-year-old RAF officer, patented the first turbojet design. The movie, Whittle: The Jet Pioneer shows how even with the Nazis building a gigantic war machine Whittle had a hard time convincing military leaders of the value of his invention until they finally sent some skeptical scientists to his lab for a demonstration in June of 1939. Within a year, under intense security, a simple aircraft designed for the propeller-less engine was flown under jet power. A derivative of the test aircraft, the Gloster Meteor, became the first Allied jet powered military aircraft in 1944. The U.K. sent Whittle and his invention to the U.S. in 1941 and the first jet flight on U.S. soil occurred on Oct. 2, 1942.

The Germans were also working on jets and were first to use them on military aircraft. Whittle moved back to the U.K. after helping General Electric develop and finally mass-produce engines that fundamentally changed aviation technology and enabled the relatively convenient global travel we now enjoy. Whittle was knighted in 1948 and worked for BOAC and Shell Oil before moving to the U.S. to work as a research professor at the U.S. Naval Academy. He died in 1996.

Tuskegee Airmen Return To Home Field

Last weekend, four of the original Tuskegee Airmen returned for the first time to the field in Alabama where they trained more than 60 years ago. The four were welcomed back to the historic site by officials from the National Park Service and Tuskegee University. The airmen, Homer Hogues, Robert McDaniel, Claude Platte, and Calvin Spann, and their families were granted a private tour of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. They also were given an advance look at Hangar 2, a new addition to the museum that will be revealed next year. Tuskegee University President Gilbert Rochon said he plans to expand the school's aviation programs.

"The Tuskegee Airmen are an intrinsic part of the history of Tuskegee University," Rochon said. "Their courage and determination in the face of threats from abroad and discrimination at home serve as an inspiration to our contemporary students and serve as an impetus for the university to establish the requisite infrastructure to support the next generation of Tuskegee Airmen." Rochon said the institution is the only historically black university with an accredited aerospace engineering program. In the future, students will have the opportunity to train as pilots, aircraft mechanics, air traffic controllers, aerospace engineers and geoscientists. "We pledge that we will invigorate the next generation of Tuskegee Airmen," Rochon said. The nonprofit group Wish of a Lifetime and the Dallas chapter of Tuskegee Airmen Inc. sponsored the visit.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Report: FAA Behind Schedule On Drone Integration

Many obstacles must be overcome before unmanned aircraft systems can be safely integrated into the National Airspace System, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a report released last week. Additional work is needed, the report said, to find ways for UAS to sense and avoid other aircraft effectively, to address vulnerabilities in the command and control of UAS operations, and to develop safe and consistent performance standards and regulations. "Concerns about national security, privacy, and the interference in GPS signals have not been resolved and may influence acceptance of routine access for UAS in the national airspace system," the report said.

Legislation passed earlier this year mandated a deadline of 2015 for integrating UAS in the national airspace. The FAA is also facing a deadline of next February to complete a five-year road map for UAS integration, and a final rule governing small UAS is supposed to be completed by August 2014. The report found that although the FAA "has taken steps to meet the requirements set forth in the 2012 Act, it is uncertain when the national airspace system will be prepared to accommodate UAS."

FAA Directives Affect Piper Fleet

The FAA published two airworthiness directives this week that affect the Piper general aviation fleet. A final rule published on Monday affects 3,100 Piper Comanches (models PA-24, PA-24-250, and PA-24-260), requiring inspections of the stabilator horn assembly, at a cost of about $1,000 per airplane. If the assembly needs to be replaced, it would cost another $1,600. Failure of the stabilator horn could lead to a loss of pitch control in flight, the FAA said. A proposed rule published on Tuesday affects about 1,000 Piper twins, models PA-31, PA-31-325, and PA-31-350. The rule would supersede an existing AD that requires repetitive inspections of the exhaust system.

"Since we issued that AD, forced landings of aircraft have occurred due to exhaust system failures upstream of aircraft turbochargers and between recurring detailed inspections," the FAA said. "This proposed AD would require both visual and detailed repetitive inspections, expanding the inspection scope to include the entirety of each airplane exhaust system. We are proposing this AD to prevent the possibility of an inflight powerplant fire due to an exhaust system failure." Inspections would cost up to about $400, and the FAA says it can't predict what it might cost to repair or replace the exhaust system, if needed. The proposed rule is open for comments until Nov. 2.

Reno Races: Attendance Down, Safety Prevails

The Reno Air Races have concluded a week of safe racing. Organizers hosted a ceremony on Sunday afternoon to remember the 11 who died in last year's crash of Jimmy Leeward's P-51 Galloping Ghost. "We wanted to have an event that appropriately remembered last year," Mike Draper, spokesman for the Reno Air Races, told the local KOLO news. Balloons were released as each victim's name was read. Attendance was down about 8 percent compared to last year. "It wasn't until mid-August that we were able to say this event is happening with absolute certainty," Draper said. "And I think people held off on making reservations." Ticket prices for attendees also were raised to help cover higher insurance costs, Draper said. The show policy rose from $300,000 last year to $2 million this year. Draper added that robust attendance is expected next year for the event's 50th anniversary.

The event had undergone an "overhaul" following the NTSB safety recommendations, NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said in a blog post last week. "Gone are the fuel trucks that were previously stationed near the spectators, safety barriers have been placed in front of the pit areas and grandstand, which has been moved farther away from the speeding aircraft," Hersman wrote. "The planes in the Unlimited Division have to undergo more extensive inspection and are reporting any modifications." NTSB investigators were on the ground at the event, explaining the Safety Board's investigation of the Galloping Ghost crash to pilots, participants and organizers, she said. "Air racing is inherently risky," Hersman wrote. "The pilots understand and assume that risk. Spectators, though, expect and deserve a higher level of safety."

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

Question of the Week: The FAA Too Hard On Drones?

The agency insists that for drones to operate in the airspace the rest of us use for anything but hobbies, they have to have onboard sense-and-avoid systems. Is that reasonable?

Should drones be required to have onboard sense-and-avoid systems?
(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?

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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.)

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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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Before There Was Norfolk Island, There Was ALM980

Jet ditchings of any kind are so rare that we know most of them by name and place. One that's been obscured by the mists of time is the ditching of ALM980 off St. Croix 42 years ago. That accident, in which 23 people lost their lives but 40 survived, has startling similarities to the Norfolk Island Westwind ditching we've been reporting on this week. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli explains the details.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Norfolk Island Ditching -- More Questions than Answers

Dom James, the pilot of that Westwind that ditched off Norfolk Island in 2009, is challenging the findings of the the ATSB's report on the accident. After reading the report, it's easy to see why, says Paul Bertorelli on the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Video: Super Legend Flight Trial

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

American Legend gained success with its popular Legend Cub, and now it's followed up with a new Lycoming-powered version of the airplane. If you like the Super Cub, you'll like the Super Legend, too, because its performance is quite similar. AVweb ventured to Legend's Sulphur Spring, Texas homebase to fly the airplane, and here's a video report on the flight.

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Video: The Last Flying B-24 Bomber (Collings Foundation)

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

The B-24 was the most widely produced bomber in world history. This video shows the sole surviving regularly flown example, from roughly 18,000 B-24 Liberator bombers produced. This is the Collings Foundation's B-24, Witchcraft.

During World War II, at peak production, factories put out roughly ten of these aircraft per day. Each was driven by four supercharged turbocharged radials putting out 1,200 horsepower each. Flying with greater range than the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-24 Liberator bomber could drop about 8,000 thousand pounds of bombs from high- or low-altitude attacks. When WWII's most widely used big bomber went down, it often took all ten crewmen at a time. It was notably involved in the infamous Ploesti raid, in which more than 50 aircraft and 660 crewmen were lost. The surviving men who flew in the bomber and the men and women who produced these historic aircraft are becoming few. Talk to one if you get the chance.

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"The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It"

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Twin County Airport (KHLX, Hillsville, VA)

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

Lots of happy pilots in the skies this week. Nominations for an AVweb "FBO of the Week" ribbon soared over the last ten days or so, and picking a stand-out this week was tough. (We cheated and saved a couple of facilities for future installments.)

Amid stiff competition, Twin County Aviation Services at Twin County Airport (KHLX) in Hillsville, Virginia takes home this week's blue ribbon. AVweb reader John A. Jorgensen had that best of all possible experiences of Twin County -- a stopover so pleasant he'd go back just for fun:

Wonderful service and hospitality! I returned yesterday from delivering a DNR aircraft to Sanford, North Carolina for a FLIR installation/integration. On the way, I ran into the remains of Hurricane Isaac, which did not allow me to continue VFR. Scott Thomas, FBO manager, and his crew met me on the ramp, escorted me into their new facility, shared local weather wisdom, entertained me, provided a courtesy car, and simply made me feel welcome. Scott is a banjo player, and he invited me to their Tuesday evening session at the String Bean in Galax! It was a real treat. I stayed in a wonderful cabin along the New River Trail and had a great rest. Next time through, I am sure that I will not hesitate to stop, simply say "hi!" and to enjoy their Virginia hospitality. It provided a real and special treat.

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 
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

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

Avionics Editor
Larry Anglisano

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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