AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 49a

December 3, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! The Future in the Spotlight back to top 

Drone Safety Record Questioned

A Washington Post report says that just as the FAA is under pressure to integrate unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System, the Air Force's drone safety record has taken a tumble. The Post says there have been at least seven Reaper and Predator crashes at or near civilian airports overseas in the last two years and while they're haven't been any casualties there have been some close calls. For instance a Predator drone carrying a Hellfire missile missed the airport in Djibouti City in eastern Africa by almost three miles in May of 2011 and crashed in a residential area. The weapon did not detonate and there were no injuries.

Djibouti City has been the unintended target of at least five drone failures in the last couple of years, including a Predator that spun in vertically about a half mile offshore after suffering a mechanical failure. Air Force drones are busy at the local airport heading to and from spy missions to Yemen and Somalia. Many of the crashes have happened while civilian contractors were at the controls. The Air Force told the Post that it's getting a handle on the safety issues and compared the drone safety record to that of the early deployment of the F-16. As we reported last week, the FAA has put off integration of drones citing privacy concerns.

DA42 Fly By Wire Progress

In Austria, a Diamond Aircraft DA42 twin has been flown with digital fly-by-wire systems to demonstrate active electronic control that the company hopes will one day be widely applied in light aircraft, changing how people fly. In the test aircraft, most functions are manipulated by the digital system, including both the flight and engine controls. The system can control basic flight safety by limiting flight parameters like pitch, bank and airspeed, but can also react to environmental disturbances like turbulence. Researchers and Diamond hope it will evolve to eventually provide automated takeoff and landing, and Diamond imagines similar systems could ultimately reduce the skill level required by the pilot, making flying more accessible to more people.

Researchers located in several countries have contributed to the project, which has scaled down the system's weight size and expense for application in light aircraft. The system's hardware and software have been designed with redundancy and to recognize internal component failures. When failures are detected, the system automatically reroutes commands through different electronic paths to different actuators, bypassing critical failures. The hardware and software were developed in Germany. The system was tested in simulation in the Netherlands. And flight tests were performed with a final prototype in Austria. The project is designed to develop maximum levels of onboard automation. Project researchers hope their work will significantly reduce the accident rate of small airplanes by creating an onboard system that will permanently and constantly assist pilots in the control of small aircraft.

Bose® A20™ Aviation Headset
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Aviation Law back to top 

Concorde Manslaughter Rulings Overturned

A French appellate court has overturned involuntary manslaughter convictions issued in 2010 by a French trial court against Continental and one of its mechanics for their role in the July 2000 crash of Air France Flight 4590, a Concorde, that killed 113 people. The trial court had found that a metal strip, which had fallen off of a Continental DC-10 prior to the Concorde's takeoff run, was later struck by one of the Concorde's tires. The tire burst and threw fragments into a wing tank, causing a fuel leak and fire that brought the airplane down. The appellate court ruled that mistakes made by Continental or its employees did not make them guilty of criminal wrongdoing.

Combined with the result of earlier cases, the new ruling means that the French courts have assigned Continental with civil, but not criminal, responsibility in the crash of the Air France jet. Continental mechanic John Taylor was singled out in the earlier convictions for fitting the titanium wear strip that fell off the DC-10. The trial court had decided that the strip should have been made from softer metal and was improperly attached. The new ruling finds that a charge of criminal manslaughter is unjustified because even if Taylor had imagined that the metal strip could fall off, "he could never have imagined a scenario where this simple titanium blade could cause such a disaster," said Judge Michele Luga, the appellate court judge.

A&P Accused Of Attempted Aircraft Sale To Iran

A U.S. airframe and powerplant mechanic has been accused of trying to broker a deal that would deliver seven jetliners out of China to Iran. Federal court papers state that 52-year-old mechanic Diocenyr Ribamar Barbosa-Santos planned to secure aircraft at $19.5 million each from a Chinese source, with intent to sell them to Iran Air for a profit. The Iranian airline has suffered due to sanctions by the United States that some say challenge the carrier's safe operation. The U.S. has offered to help the airline complete repairs outside of Iran, an offer Iran has so far declined. Barbosa-Santos allegedly met with an undercover federal agent in February after government officials received a tip that he was working on a deal with China and Iran, but so far the rest of the details are few.

Barbosa-Santos is a Brazilian-born U.S. citizen whose criminal history in the U.S. was previously limited to disorderly conduct and trespassing violations that were never prosecuted. He registered two businesses in the early 2000s and in 2004 obtained a certificate from the FAA to work as an aircraft mechanic on airframes and powerplants. His alleged scheme involving $135 million worth of commercial aircraft would have theoretically provided Iran Air with more reliable equipment. The carrier has complained that sanctions against the Iranian government threaten the safety of the Iranian traveling public due to difficulties faced in getting proper parts and affecting proper repairs for its aircraft. When meeting with the undercover agent, Barbosa-Santos warned that the two men could go to jail for their part in the deal, according to the federal complaint. If convicted, Barbosa-Santos faces a sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

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Embracing Cockpit Tech back to top 

Qantas Launches Airbus iPad EFB

In July, Airbus announced it was the first manufacturer to provide its Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) performance-calculating applications for pilots on iPad and Qantas has now become the launch customer. iPad FlySmart with Airbus EFB allows Airbus pilots to access Airbus operational manuals and compute aircraft performance via iPad. Rollout with Qantas pilots will follow over the next few months as the airline adopts the computer tablet to reduce in-cockpit paperwork and facilitate access to information. Soon after, Airbus expects more pilots worldwide to begin using the app.

Qantas took part in the testing and helped refine the EFB application for its pilot community. The app offers an alternative to systems dependent on PC operating systems. According to Airbus, the iPad will provide cost, weight and time savings for operators and pilots. The new app complies with Airbus EFB standards and Airbus has delivered iPads to its Flight Test and Training Department, which will be using the FlySmart app "from now on." Boeing announced its first iPad app in May. The company's app served a different purpose altogether and showed users "advances that have transformed the world and made Boeing one of the most respected companies," according to the company. American Airlines in September became the first carrier to earn FAA approval to use iPads in the cockpit during all phases of flight.

Bendix/King by Honeywell || Loud and Clear
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News Briefs back to top 

A Day At Lindbergh Field Compressed

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Digital photo and video tinkerers continue to find new ways to create art with pixels and a San Diego film and photography professor challenged himself with a unique representation of short final at San Diego's Lindbergh Field. Cy Kuckenbaker compressed five hours of arrivals at the airport on Black Friday into a 26-second clip that turns the routine traffic into waves of aircraft visually stacked on each other. Watch it all the way to the end for a nice touch.

Kuckenbaker told PetaPixel he shot video of every aircraft that landed between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Nov. 23, which offered the clear blue sky he needed. There's also an eight-hour time-lapse of a bridge (the light and shadows change to give a sense of time) and a puffy cloud still that all go together to create a pretty cool video.

Pilot Flies On 100th Birthday

For most of us, simply waking up on our 100th birthday might be enough for the day but Thomas Guy Reynolds, of Martinsburg, W. Va., had a tradition to uphold when he hit the centennial mark on Friday. He's taken his Evektor SportStar for a few loops around the patch on his birthday for the past few years and he hopes this flight wasn't his last. "I hope to fly on my 101st birthday," Reynolds told the Martinsburg Journal.

Reynolds, who always flies with another pilot, said the air was smooth for his birthday flight. Along for the ride was Bart Rogers, who said he just enjoyed the view and didn't touch the controls. "It is a thrill to fly with someone who's 100 years old," Rogers said. "He's as sharp as a tack." Reynolds has a long history of service to the local aviation community. He commanded its first Civil Air Patrol wing and served two terms as chairman of the West Virginia Aeronautics Commission. "I'm just blessed, that's all I can say," Reynolds said. "I'm lucky I can fly. I feel comfortable in the air, relaxed and I enjoy it."

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New on AVweb.com back to top 

Brainteasers Quiz #178: Know Before You Go


A wise guy, who never flew, once said it's easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission. Phooey! Life aloft is smoother with pre-planning, so discover how carefree flight becomes when you ace this quiz.

Take the quiz.

More Brainteasers

AVweb Insider Blog: Powerball Airplane Fantasies

Resident blogger Paul Bertorelli admits that he's such an unimaginative laggard — not to mention cheap — that he struggled for days to decide what would be in his hangar when the Powerball numbers hit. Read his surprise answer on the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

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What You Missed in AVwebFlash Friday Features back to top 

A GIFT With Wings

What compelled 45 women from Anchorage to Chesterfield, N.H., to trek to Vernon, Texas, a tiny north-Texas town where there are more trucks than cars? All had heard about a unique program called Girls in Flight Training (GIFT) Academy that provides free ground and flight instruction for women in all stages of flight training. The second annual event was held Nov. 3-10 at the Wilbarger County Airport.

According to Patti Shannon, the promise of free flight training was certainly a big draw, but she and many others were in pursuit of something that can't be logged.

"I needed a serious boost of confidence," said Shannon, who soloed at GIFT and plans to finish her Private Pilot's Certificate by yearend. "Flying is something I've always dreamed of doing. I just needed an environment where everything seemed possible. Being among such a supportive, encouraging group of women was truly priceless."

Click here to read the full article.

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Introducing: Headset-Friendly Sunglasses
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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

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.

Bad Elf GPS
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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Guntersville Municipal Airport (8A1, Alabama)

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

AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" can be found at Guntersville Municipal Airport (8A1) in Guntersville, Alabama. Reader Alberto Silva shared all the details of his unscheduled stop in this compelling testimonial:

I was flying a Grumman Yankee with all of its 22 gallons of gas from Indiana to Florida. As I was going south, Hurricane Sandy was heading north, so I knew that I wanted to head south ASAP. I started going southwest to miss the low ceilings in the mountains. About 120 miles west of my most direct route, I decided that the mountains were low enough that I could cross them with enough clearance. However, as these things go, I was running out of daylight, and ceilings started to come down. In the interest of self-preservation, I decided to turn around to the last airport that I had seen.

This airport turned out to be 8A1 in Guntersville, Alabama. Although the airport looked like your typical sleepy county airport, I soon learned that Guntersville is a very popular fishing spot and a good all-around place to have fun. As soon as I landed, and before I talked to the line person, he called the manager to let him know that someone had landed and probably needed a room for the night. A few minutes after I made it to the FBO, the airport manager and his wife appeared. He was already off duty but came back because he knew I would need help. He told me that there was a room for me at the Best Western and that the crew car was not available because four other guys had arrived about an hour earlier and they had it. However, they were staying at the same hotel and I could probably talk to them for a ride in the morning. He gave me a name and a phone number to call and took me to the hotel.

As the hotel was already waiting for me, I promptly checked in and called the other guys. You see, there was some kind of fishing tournament in town and getting a room was not a trivial matter. The airport manager obviously knew the hotel employees and "reserved" me a room — at least until I got there. I had dinner with the other four guys and took a ride to the airport the next day, fueled up, and took off again.

This story is not about a well-recognized FBO with excess resources. It is a story of a small county airport with modest FBO facilities and people who really care. The airport manager did not have to arrange for accommodations for me, but he did. He did not have to leave whatever he was doing with his family to pick me up, but he did. He obviously cares about his customers, even if they are just there for one night, and his actions showed it. I doubt that this customer service is part of his job description with the county. This was, by far, the best treatment I have received at any FBO in my travels.

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

Video: Flying the B-17 Flying Fortress

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

The Collings Foundation's Derek "Otter" Ward sometimes serves as co-pilot aboard the organization's WWII B-17 Boeing Flying Fortress bomber Nine-O-Nine. He describes some of the aircraft's ground and flight characteristics.

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Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Approach
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Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 
The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Several years ago, while passing through Caracas air space, I heard this on the radio:

Piper 1234:
"Caracas Control, Piper 1234 inbound for full stop."

"Piper 1234, turn right five degrees to intercept the ILS."

Piper 1234:
"Caracas, five degrees is too little a turn for me."

"Piper 1234, can you make a 90-degree turn?"

Piper 1234:
"Affirmative. I can do 90 degrees."

"Roger. Piper 1234, make a 95-degree turn to the right, then make a 90-degree turn to the left to intercept the ILS."

Tom McEntire
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].

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Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

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