AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 48a

November 26, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Down, Set, Drop! back to top 

High-Flying Catch?

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If it's a fake, it's a pretty good one and if it isn't a fake it's likely the FAA will be paying a visit to New York Giants star receiver Victor Cruz to find out who his aerial quarterback was for a video sure to go viral. In the 21-second clip, Cruz is shown catching a football that may originate from a Cessna flying overhead. The drop (called by one sports wag the best pass made by a Jet this year) appears to be dead on target from an aircraft that looks like it's at least the legal minimum altitude of 1,000 feet AGL. Cruz makes the two-handed catch easily and it's where he made the grab that might interest the FAA.

The catch is made outside a building that looks like a football stadium and if it's the Giants' home turf of MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., there can't be any argument that it occurred in a built-up area. The relevant reg prohibits dropping anything from an airplane "that creates a hazard to persons or property" but it also says a pilot can allow objects to be dropped "if reasonable precautions are taken to avoid injury or damage to persons or property." Now Cruz, who's averaging six receptions a game (although he has been slumping of late) is a pretty good bet to catch the ball. But nothing is known about the his high-flying counterpart's completion record, whether it would amount to the "reasonable precaution" the FAA is looking for, or if he was just spectacularly lucky on this play.

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Tomorrow's Airplanes Today back to top 

Two-Seat Solar Flight

Solar flight pioneer Eric Raymond is working to complete his first two-seat design, Sunseeker Duo, which he expects will be "the highest performing solar airplane ever built and the first to carry passengers," and he's seeking grassroots support. Raymond has previously worked on the Solar Impulse project, which aims to fly around the world on solar power, alone, and in the 1990s he flew his own solar-powered design across the country in 21 legs. Raymond's Sunseeker Duo project has won support from Stemme, Allstar Gliders of Poland, University of Stuttgart, and SunPower, which produced the solar cells, but requires additional funding to reach completion. He is actively seeking public support, and is offering perks for donors, including rides in the Duo after it has been completed and tested.

The project is based on the Stemme S-10 motorglider, but Raymond's version aims to weigh roughly half of the original -- including solar cells, batteries and instruments. The design incorporates all-carbon-fiber components and lithium-battery packs and is currently under construction in Slovenia. Raymond plans to bring the aircraft to the U.S. for flight testing when completed. The fuselage was molded at Stemme and wing molds were provided by the University of Stuttgart, according to Raymond. SunPower's solar cells coat the wing's upper surface and offer 22.8 percent efficiency. The design includes folding wings and conventional gear for practical operation and storage at most airports. Find project updates here.

UK Commuter Plane Used For Autonomous Flight Trials

A jointly funded industry/government initiative in the UK is operating a Jetstream 31 commuter plane in flight trials to demonstrate autonomous flight systems and flight via a remotely based pilot, while also carrying two onboard safety pilots. The twin-engine turboprop aircraft will be flown in trials during the next few weeks from Warton Aerodrome in Lancashire, England. A pilot on the ground will operate the aircraft in conjunction with onboard systems. The tests aim to demonstrate the systems' ability to navigate the aircraft, avoid others, and respond to air traffic control requests relayed to the ground-based pilot through the aircraft. Two pilots will fly in the aircraft as safety crew to observe operations and take positive control if needed. Developers don't expect these tests to lead directly to remotely piloted passenger operations, but they do consider that as a possible outcome of the technology's evolution.

The program is being operated by the Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation and Assessment (ASTRAEA) group. Participating interests include the British government, Rolls-Royce, QinetiQ, Cassidian, and BAE Systems, among others. Researchers expect the technology to lead to a reduction in flight operation costs as pilotless aircraft take on more roles in traffic monitoring, border patrol and police surveillance, with possible forays into more dynamic and dangerous missions like fire suppression. While passenger flights may not lose their pilots for some time, researchers currently believe commercial cargo flights may lose them sooner if the technology proves reliable and safe through similar tests and smaller-scale real-world application. For passenger flights, researchers believe it is more likely that such autonomous systems will first serve as a backup for a live pilot flying in the aircraft.

What He Didn't Know About His Life
Insurance Cost His Family $500,000

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Behind the 100% Soft-Sueded Cotton Curtain back to top 

Pilot Settles Age Discrimination Suit

The 55-year-old former captain of the Gulfstream G550 owned by teen clothing store chain Abercrombie and Fitch has settled an age discrimination suit with his former employer after the pilot alleged he was fired in favor of a younger (32) pilot. The retailer fought the suit brought by Michael Bustin until a judge ordered CEO Michael Jeffries (who is 68) to give a second deposition, undoubtedly to fill in gaps about evidence that came to light regarding the "Aircraft Standards" manual he and his life partner Matthew Smith wrote that outlined the required conduct of the cabin crew.

The manual and a series of hand-written notes between senior staff that surfaced painted a bizarre image of life aboard the big bizjet. Flight attendants, most of them male models, had to wear jeans, Abercrombie and Fitch polo shirts, boxer shorts, flipflops and regularly spritz themselves with the company cologne. They couldn't wear jackets unless the temperature dipped below 50 degrees and even then they could only be closed to the fourth button. The bottom buttons had to remain open. According to Judge Paul Diamond, the notes from company's Director of Procurement Scott Mayer "may well offer compelling proof that Matthew Smith, the life partner of Abercrombie CEO Michael Jeffries, allegedly acting at Jeffries's direction, illegally ordered Plaintiff's termination because of Plaintiff's age." In his original claim, Bustin said Jeffries and Smith regularly disparaged older employees and made it clear the company "preferred younger people as employees, in keeping with its 'young' corporate image." Details of the settlement were not released but Bustin earlier rejected a six-figure offer, according to court filings.

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Aviation Safety back to top 

First 'Successful' Australian Cirrus Chute Pull Ends Well

Australia recorded its first "successful" Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) Nov. 21, according to the Australian Transportation Safety Board, and pilot John Nixon's cellphone self-portraiture told the story pretty well. After the engine on the SR22 G3 he and a friend were flying lost oil pressure and seized near Gilgandra, New South Wales, Nixon told the Daily Liberal that he first looked for an airstrip or country road to set down on but as he ran out of options he decided to pull the chute. "Adrenalin kicked in and I automatically did what was needed," Nixon, a private pilot with about 1,950 hours, told the newspaper. "We were on the ground less than a minute after the oil gauge indicated the problem." It was third time a Cirrus pilot has pulled the chute in Australia but the other incidents didn't work out so well.

In February of 2009 the chute on a Cirrus failed to extract and the pilot made a forced landing instead with minor injuries to the pilot and passenger. In December of 2009 a pilot was seriously injured in a low-level (441-foot) deployment of the chute. However, things went more or less according to plan in last Wednesday's incident. The aircraft settled hard enough to collapse the gear and Nixon got a black eye by kneeing himself in the impact. He said he and his passenger got out of the plane immediately in case it caught fire but soon went back to retrieve his cellphone. He called air traffic control to let them know about the situation and then snapped a few pictures of the scene. Nixon's was the 39th recorded deployment of the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS). Number 38 happened Nov. 16 near Holbrook, Ariz. An oil pressure issue also preceded that event. The aircraft ended up on its back and the pilot and lone occupant suffered minor injuries.

Pictures Tell Tale Of Cessna Birsdstrike

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A Cape Air Cessna 402C out of Barnstable Municipal Airport Wednesday for Nantucket returned to the airport after a red-throated loon crashed through the right windscreen, sending blood and bird fragments into the cabin and slightly injuring the flight's co-pilot. The flight's captain and four passengers were uninjured, though "they all got a little bit bloody from the bird splatter," airport manager Roland Breault told CapeCodOnline. The co-pilot suffered abrasions from the broken windscreen. The flight usually lasts less than about 20 minutes. Impact with the loon occurred roughly five minutes into the flight when the aircraft had reached the coast. The bird was identified from remains left in the cabin after the impact. Average weight for the red-throated loon is about four pounds.

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A Rare Day Out back to top 

Stranded Il-78 Fired Up

One of the most unusual hangar queens in the U.S. got a little sun and exercised its considerable muscles last week, but the fate of the Il-78 cargo plane is still not clear. As we reported in 2010, the Russian-built cargo plane has been at Sawyer International Airport in Marquette, Mich., since 2009 after the crew flying it from Texas to Pakistan was arrested and deported for immigration violations. Last week, the aircraft was rolled out of a hangar and mechanics started all four engines, according to the local Fox News channel. However, those doing the work weren't saying what significance, if any, the engine test had.

The aircraft landed in Marquette on July 17, 2009, and the crew, who had expired visas, were deported shortly after. For more than two years the aircraft languished on the ramp while the courts determined who owned it. Although it was registered to a Florida company, a Texas maintenance company said it was owed money for work performed and it briefly laid claim to the aircraft, which is the only N-registered Il-78. However, it turns out a Gibraltar-based holding company called Headlands Ltd. held a $1 million lien against the aircraft and a court finally awarded it ownership in March of 2012. Headlands moved the plane to a hangar for an estimated $500,000 worth of work to make it flyable. The Il-78 is still in widespread use in some areas of the world and has a cargo hauling capacity of about 110,000 pounds.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: IPad Mini -- Would Steve Jobs Have Approved?

For cockpit use, Apple's new iPad Mini is a considerable improvement over the original iPad, which is just a little too big and heavy to be the perfect all-purpose cockpit device. Not that the Mini is exactly perfect, mind you. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli wonders if Steve Jobs would approve.

Read more and join the conversation.

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: Piper Matrix Flight Trial

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

Piper's Matrix — an unpressurized version of its Mirage — has proven a popular seller and a stalwart of the company's M-class product line. AVweb's Paul Bertorelli recently took a test flight in the airplane for this video report.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Faulkner's Air Shop (KBMQ, Burnet, TX)

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

AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" comes to us from reader Sandra Wirth, who found herself making an unplanned stop at Burnet Municipal Airport/Kate Craddock Field (KBMQ) in Burnet, Texas, where she discovered Faulkner's Air Shop:

While on a ferry flight from California to Florida in a Piper Warrior last month, due to a weather system in western Texas, I made an unplanned evening landing at KBMQ. It was after 6:00pm, and I was expecting to find a deserted airport and to have to figure out the fueling and lodging on my own. Instead, the lights were on at Faulkner's Air Shop, and smiling faces greeted me as I entered the building. Dale took care of my fuel needs before I had much chance to think about it and then gave me some phone numbers of nearby motels. When none of [the hotels] would pick me up, Johanna drove me herself.

The next morning, I ended up waiting several hours for some low clouds to clear. Johanna brought me back to the FBO, and I had a comfortable place to relax while the activity of a busy flight school swirled around me. At lunch time, they offered me a ride into town. Meanwhile, Dale towed the aircraft into the shop, serviced the flattened nose strut with nitrogen, and towed it back to the ramp.

They wouldn't accept payment for any of this, nor were there tie-down fees. By the time I was finally able to take off around 2:30pm, I felt I had been given VIP treatment to a level that was far above anything else I experienced on my 2,500-nm journey across the country.

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!

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Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 
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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

As an AIM AIR missionary pilot flying in South Sudan, listening in on Juba International Airport's frequency can provide a few minutes of eye-watering laughs. It is a completely non-radar environment, and all position reports are by radial and DME. Everyone, from the British Airways flights transiting overhead to our small bush airplanes, all share the common frequency.

Last year, I heard this exchange between a Kenya Airways jet and the tower controller after he was done handling half a dozen other aircraft:

"Kenya 543, please state your position."

Kenya 543:
"Juba, we are on the ground."

Juba (rapidly) :
"Confirm on the ground!"

Kenya 543:
"Yes, sir. On the ground."

Juba (pausing) :
"Roger. Vacate via taxiway Bravo. Over to the marshaler."

Needless to say, my confidence in their traffic separation abilities went way up!

Jerry Hurd
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.

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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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Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

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