AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 45a

November 5, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Consolidating Approaches back to top 
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FAA To Start Trimming Procedures

In a cost-cutting move, the FAA will soon announce a program to cancel approaches at some airports after several years of intense activity to provide procedures to airports that had been inaccessible in instrument weather. Sources told AVweb last week that a formal announcement of the program will come from the FAA in a few weeks. The FAA says it incurs flight check and obstacle survey costs for hundreds of approaches that are used very little, if at all.

The agency began deliberations on the cancelation program last week and has involved at least one alphabet, the National Association of State Aviation Officials. AVweb's checks with other industry groups, including AOPA and GAMA, generated no responses. The agency will reportedly develop criteria for approach cancellations by the end of the year.

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Aviation Safety back to top 

Two Officers Killed In Atlanta Police Helicopter Crash

The NTSB is sending investigators to Atlanta to probe the cause of the Saturday crash of a police helicopter that killed two officers. Pilot Richard J. Halford, 48, and tactical officer Shawn A. Smiley, 40, were taking part in the search for a missing nine-year-old boy when, according to witness reports, the helicopter descended onto power lines and crashed on a normally busy street that was free of cars at the time. The boy was found a short time later and the crash knocked out power in the immediate area.

Last week the FAA issued a statement after four fatal helicopter accidents occurred in a two-week period. The FAA's International Helicopter Safety Team is trying to cut the number of helicopter accidents through its education program.

NTSB On Wright B Flyer Crash

A replica Wright B Flyer built in Dayton, Ohio, crashed for unknown reasons on July 30, 2011, killing both volunteer pilots, and the NTSB's October 30 Factual Report doesn't determine a cause but does note deficiencies with a weld. According to the NTSB, the aircraft's left propeller shaft tube exhibited a separation at its aft weld. Contact points in that area exhibited evidence of rotational rubbing. The aircraft was equipped with a modern engine and avionics, and video recovered from onboard recorders showed circumstantial evidence that could lead some to an early conclusion not yet officially supported by the NTSB.

According to the NTSB (PDF), the video ends before the flight's final moments. It does show that near the end of the flight "the airplane yawed." The footage showed both pilots manipulating the controls after the yaw and the NTSB concluded the airplane "was controllable" after the yaw event. Witness statements said the airplane's engine sounded "like its rpm varied," according to the NTSB. Other witnesses identified the aircraft flying slow and banking to the left and right. "One witness reported that the airplane spiraled downward," the NTSB reported. The NTSB has determined that multiple welds from the left propeller shaft tube exhibited visible defects like pores and voids as well as incomplete penetration. Weather during the flight was mild with few clouds at 1,000 feet and five miles visibility with mist.

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Top Technology back to top 

NASA's 'Game Changing' Inertial Navigation System

A research coalition organized by NASA and including Army and academic researchers is embarking on a three-year project that aims to make inertial navigation systems "at least 1,000 times more sensitive than current gyroscopes." The work will focus on new optical gyroscope technology, investigating how the use of optical dispersion (how different wavelengths travel through materials at different speeds) can be used to increase sensitivity and more precisely measure movement. The research is expected to lead to more precise navigation capabilities even when no landmarks or GPS signals are available.

According to NASA, in certain materials -- specifically, atomic gases -- optical dispersion "can cause pulses of light to travel faster than the speed of light in vacuum." The phenomenon is termed "fast-light" and NASA plans to use it to increase sensitivity in the optical cavity of a gyro, providing more precise measurements that form the basis of reliable, accurate inertial navigation data. The researchers believe the work will lead to other applications of the technology, including "ultra-precise measurement of acceleration, vibration, strain and magnetic field," all of which may be useful in the aerospace industry. The project is being backed by $1.8 million in funding through NASA's Space Technology Program. NASA is calling the project potentially game-changing with the potential of creating a prototype fast-light optical gyroscope that is as much as "three orders of magnitude better than the best gyroscope out there today." The technology may first be used for spacecraft, as well as aircraft and ships operated by the military. It may later become a part of commercial aviation before trickling down to the general aviation pilot community.

Canadian Researchers Fly On Pure Biofuel

Calling it a "historic milestone for the aviation and sustainable energy industries," Canada's National Research Council has conducted what it says is the world's first civilian flight using 100 percent biofuel. Perhaps as a measure of confidence in the fuel, made from oilseeds grown in Saskatchewan, NRC Chief Pilot Tim Leslie conducted the Oct. 29 flight in NRC's Falcon 20 over the nation's capital of Ottawa, Ontario. "We have been working hard with our partners for many months, and it is most rewarding to see it all come together," Leslie said. "It is truly inspiring to take this step towards an eco-friendly future!" NRC is a government agency and it worked with private enterprises, including Agrisoma Bioscience Inc., which is now making commercial quantities of biofuel based on the seed of the cold-, heat- and drought-tolerant Carinata, or Ethiopian Mustard plant. The plant, which is related to canola, thrives on marginal farmland not suited to agricultural crops.

The oil from the plant is unpalatable for food use because it contains high levels of compounds that happen to make it ideal as a fossil fuel substitute. In addition to being a renewable resource, Carinata seed oil is believed to create fewer emissions, something the NRC also tested in real time. Following Leslie's Falcon was NRC's T-33 equipped with sniffer pods that sampled the exhaust plume of the business jet. The data collected by the antique fighter jet will be analyzed by NRC to see if the emissions theory is correct.

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Boeing's Dreamliner in Reality back to top 

First U.S. Dreamliner Revenue Flight Arrives Early

The first revenue flight for a Boeing 787 Dreamliner touched down at O'Hare International Airport at 9:37 a.m. CST Sunday, about 10 minutes ahead of schedule but not a moment too soon for executives at United Airlines. "We've been waiting a long time for this," said CEO Jeff Smisek. He would have waited longer had United not bought out Continental Airlines last year. The aircraft that flew Flight 1116 was part of Continental's order and originated at its Houston hub, packed mostly with journalists and VIPs. Continental and United each ordered 25 Dreamliners but Continental was first. Only some of the 219 passengers were fare-paying customers and virtually all of them were "first flight" enthusiasts who wanted to be aboard the historic flight.

The flight started out with a few bumps as it battled the tail of a front that prompted a somewhat circuitous route to the west. The two-hour flight was part of the shakedown of the aircraft that will see it and the first few others joining the fleet staying close to home for a few months. The 787 was designed for intercontinental service and the first such United flight will go from Houston to Amsterdam on Dec. 4, followed by scheduled service from U.S. hubs to Japan, Nigeria and London in following months. Delivery delays of the next few Dreamliners have forced changes to the initial flight schedule.

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Baumgartner Lands on Your TV or Mobile Device back to top 

Baumgartner Documentary, Space Dive, Airs

A documentary, Space Dive, will air beginning this weekend (Nov. 4), detailing Felix Baumgartner's journey to a successful world-record freefall jump with the corporate support of Red Bull and the mentoring of previous record-holder Col. Joe Kittinger. The one hour, thirty minute program pulls highlights from Baumgartner's years of training and includes previously unreleased footage from cameras mounted on his suit as he passed the speed of sound. It also details Baumgartner's claustrophobic reaction to his pressure suit and complications that could have caused the team to abort. Check BBC and National Geographic channels for local programming times.

BBC has scheduled the program for Sunday, Nov. 4, on both BBC HD and BBC Two. Later showings include two on BBC Two, with the first of those showings coming on Tuesday, Nov. 6, and the second on Wednesday, Nov. 7. If you have access to those channels check your own guide for times. Red Bull listed a first U.S. showing to include a Sunday, Nov. 4, presentation on National Geographic Channel. National Geographic Channel lists its "next airing" on Friday, Nov. 16. Check your local listings through your local provider for the most accurate scheduling information for your area and to gain insight into the physical and technological achievement that culminated in a record freefall for Felix Baumgartner and the Red Bull Stratos project.

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Reader Mail back to top 

AVmail: November 5, 2012

Each week, we run a sampling of the letters received to our editorial inbox here in AVmail. One letter that's particularly relevant, informative, or otherwise compelling will headline this section as our "Letter of the Week," and we'll send the author an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you" for interacting with us (and the rest of our readership). Send us your comments and questions using this form. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail (just in case your letter is our "Letter of the Week"); by the same token, please let us know if your message is not intended for publication.

Letter of the Week: Plenty of Advice For Pelton

Regarding your "Question of the Week": I am a longtime, active EAA member, a technical counselor, a flight advisor, and a member of Chapter 691 (The Green Chile Chapter) here in New Mexico. I have flown my homebuilt to Oshkosh several times.

I have been hearing a fair amount of negative feedback from EAA members about EAA losing its way. I also sensed a mood change this year at AirVenture that wasn't good. Many feel that EAA has forgotten its roots.

I also sensed a mood at the show this year that's hard to express, but it seemed as though folks who flew their own homebuilt aircraft to the show were sort of taken for granted. There seemed to be a reduced level of enthusiasm from homebuilders. Some got the message that EAA did not really care about "little guys."

I have to admit, though, that the mood in the ultralight area was much more positive. I see that EAA recently took the step of reinvigorating the Homebuilders Aircraft Council; maybe this is a step in the right direction. The resigning of Hightower could also be a step in the right direction if a suitable person replaces him. Moving Jeff Skiles to a VP position seems positive to me. I also think the Hints for Homebuilders is an excellent educational program.

I have a few suggestions:

  1. The EAA should consider making its organizational structure more transparent and making sure that homebuilders have a voice as well as direct representation on the board.
  2. EAA should seek feedback and listen to its chapters in a more comprehensive way. I haven't ever seen anyone from headquarters visit our chapter. EAA should consider naming a few ambassadors from headquarters to visit every chapter every three years. If this is cost-prohibitive, then video conference or do a conference call.
  3. The feedback from chapters should be published, and EAA should publish its response to it.
  4. I think EAA should do away with the exclusive chalet concept.
  5. I think Sport Aviation should be about that — sport aviation, not about which GA manufacturer holds the record for the fastest business jet. Get [editor] Mac McClelland working on a homebuilt project so he has something more relevant for most of EAA members to write about.
  6. EAA should consider waiving camping fees for homebuilders who fly their own aircraft to AirVenture. Amateur-built aircraft are part of the attraction at AirVenture, and a homebuilder who spends all his money building an aircraft and then several hundred dollars in fuel and lodging to take it to Oshkosh to be part of the show should get some kind of break that makes him or her feel special. They do this at small fly-ins all across the country that don't have near the income or resources that EAA has. Waiving camping fees seems pretty reasonable.
  7. Promote and sponsor a contest with the goal of demonstrating how to build an LSA type aircraft for under $30,000. LSAs that cost more than $100,000 just aren't going to get the pilot ranks growing.

Will Fox

Refocus on the homebuilder, kit, and scratch. Homebuilders are innovators going where certifieds can't afford to go until the ground has already been broken and plowed.

Tom Marsh

Go back to concentrating on experimental aircraft. We need more building articles and less of the mancave B.S. Get rid of all the touchy-feely columnists and replace them with tech-based writers.

Rick Girard

One thing I would do is stop the morph of the EAA magazine Sport Aircraft into one that looks like it is put out by the AOPA. The idea that the EAA should be a broad-based organization to serve the whole aviation world is not viable and is leading to failure.

Jim Mason

Merge EAA and AOPA.

Geoff Thomas

Don't do what Fuller did at AOPA. It seems that Fuller wants AOPA to be a millionaires' club. Every time I receive a message, Craig wants money from me.

BBB: Bring Back Boyer.

So remember all the "little guys" who make up the lion's share of EAA's membership, and don't alienate them by pricing them out of the organization.

John Koenig

Instructor as Real Person

Wow! Redbird is going to treat CFIs like real employees! Maybe the rest of the industry will come on board instead of treating CFIs like flight-time whores. Too much to ask.

Don Purney

A Tale of Two Staggerwings

Regarding the NBAA photo gallery: Your caption for the Staggerwing is incorrect. While Mid Continent may very well own a beauty, this is not their aircraft.

Jim Hawkes of Jupiter, Florida owns Staggerwing NC67555 and attended NBAA as a representative of the Beechcraft Heritage Museum in Tullahoma, Tennessee.

For more information, visit BeechcraftHeritageMuseum.org or phone (931) 455-1974.

Mid Continent also has a Staggerwing with a very similar paint scheme. The easy way to tell the difference is the logo on the side.

Wade McNabb

AVweb Replies:

I saw Mid Continent's at AOPA in Palm Springs (right) and got them confused. Thanks for setting us straight.

Russ Niles

Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own Letter to the Editor with this form.

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We Ask, You Answer back to top 

Brainteasers Quiz #177: Urgent Matters


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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Denzel Takes Flight

If you were hoping for an exciting aviation movie going into the holiday season, this ain't it — although it's got a riveting crash sequence the kids will love. Otherwise, it's a dark character study into the downward spiral of alcoholism and addiction. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli reports that anyone who's had experience with addiction may have trouble watching this film. If you go, don't forget the Prozac.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: NBAA -- PR Follies

Paul Bertorelli chimes in with two reflections on this year's NBAA Convention on the AVweb Insider blog: At NBAA, Cessna showed off a new mockup of — something. But for the second time this year, they've shown something at a show and declined to let news organizations photograph it. Does this make any sense? We don't think so. Meanwhile, Hawker Beechcraft announced that its new direction will emphasize turboprops and pistons, but jets appear not to be on the agenda. Understandably, current HBC jet owners are finding that not their liking. This is gonna be one giant fence to mend.

Read more and join the conversation.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Connell Flying Service (KDEH, Decorah, Iowa)

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

AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Connell Flying Service at Decorah Municipal Airport (KDEH) in Decorah, Iowa.

AVweb reader John Hanson discovered the FBO after an unscheduled stopover:

My wife and I had a change of itinerary caused by the Hurricane Sandy weather system and ended up in Decorah for the night. The FBO [owner], Mike Connell, offered us a free tie-down and courtesy car for the night. After a wonderful overnight at a great historic Decorah hotel, the Winnishiek, we returned the next morning to depart. It had been cold overnight, and mostly due to my poor starting technique, I ran the old battery down trying to get the 182 started. Mike heard the problem and came out with jumper cables without our even having to ask. He got us started and on our way quickly. He had a smile on his face the whole time and wouldn't take a penny for his efforts. Truly an FBO from the old school! Not only will I recommend DEH to everyone I know; my wife and I will certainly return for a weekender sometime!

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!

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

In the late 1950s, our aero club was transitioning from Tiger Moths without radio to "cabin class" with the addition of a Tri-Pacer and a C-172A, where the flights were made without headsets using the overhead speaker.

It came that an MK-5 Auster we had been restoring was due for test flying, and our chief flying instructor decided he must make the flight. The Auster duly taxied to the far edge of our all-over field, where it sat for five minutes before returning to the tarmac. The CFI climbed out and stated that he could hardly hear the speaker, and please do not waste his time until it was fixed.

Nothing was really said; we just pointed to the earphones hanging behind his head.

Jim Hammond
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:

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].

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.

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Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.