AVwebFlash - Volume 19, Number 4b

January 24, 2013

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Dreamliners' Battery Issue Goes to the Hill back to top 

Report: Senate To Investigate 787

The Senate's aviation subcommittee will investigate the FAA's oversight of the Boeing 787 design, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The hearing has not been officially announced but is expected in the next few weeks, according to an aide. Reuters also noted that under special conditions granted to Boeing by federal regulators in 2007, the lithium-ion battery was determined to be safe as long as if the battery caught fire during flight, the flames were contained and the smoke and fumes were vented. Boeing said redundant protections against overcharging made a battery fire "extremely unlikely," and if it did occur, the fire could safely burn itself out.

The Air Line Pilots Association objected to the granting of the special conditions at the time, according to Reuters. ALPA wanted the FAA to require cabin crew to be equipped with fire extinguishers and training to put out a lithium-ion battery fire. Aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia talked with AVweb's Russ Niles this week about the 787 issues and implications; click here to listen to the podcast.

AVweb Insider Blog: Dreamliner Gets One More Problem -- Politics

Never doubt that aviation and politics are joined at the hip, and the bigger the aircraft program, the more likely it will go political. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli notes that the Senate Aviation Subcommittee, if it asks the right questions and finds the right witnesses, may actually shed more light than heat on the 787 battery issues. On the other hand, when's the last time that happened?

Read more and join the conversation.

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Aviation Safety back to top 

Rescue Operation On For Antarctic Twin Otter Crew

A Canadian company that made a high-profile and risky rescue flight to Antarctica 12 years ago is the subject itself of a search and rescue operation in a mountainous area of the continent. The Kenn Borek Air Twin Otter is presumed to have gone down on a flight from the South Pole to an Italian base on the coast. There are three Canadian crew members on board. The aircraft's emergency locator transmitter began broadcasting about 10 p.m. Wednesday and a U.S. C-130 flew over the area but was unable to see anything because of the weather. Heavy snow and winds up to 100 mph are ripping the area. Calgary-based Kenn Borek earned international fame in 2001 when its Twin Otters plucked a critically ill doctor from the South Pole.

The winter flight was unprecedented and was ordered when a doctor at the South Pole station came down with pancreatitis and needed to be evacuated. Two Twin Otters made the risky flight and took off in windy weather that took the wind chill to more than 100 degrees below zero.

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Pelton's New Gig back to top 

Pelton Leads 'Remanufacturing' Business

A business consortium led by former Cessna CEO and acting EAA President Jack Pelton has started taking orders for a "remanufactured" Cessna 421 they call the Excalibur and say they have plans to add other designs. The Aviation Alliance, a partnership of 10 individuals and companies that represent a cross section of aviation experience and disciplines, plans to offer "remanufactured, modernized turbine-powered aircraft to the aviation and defense industries." Pelton is the managing director of the ambitious enterprise, which includes Clay Lacy Aviation, Oklahoma Jet Center, Capital Aviation and Aircraft Technical Service/Ventura Aerospace, plus aviation industry executives from a variety of high-profile businesses. "We've assembled a who's-who of aviation leaders and resources on this team to ensure both our mutual success and our customers' satisfaction," said Pelton, who suddenly retired from Cessna a couple of years ago amid a shakeup at the company. "We're optimistic about the business and proud to announce our first offering."

The Excalibur, which is based on the last high-performance twin piston aircraft made by Cessna (starting in 1968), will be powered by PT6A-135A turboprops and have all new cockpit, systems and interior. The Aviation Alliance is projecting 327 knots and a 1420 IFR reserve range for the twin. "The Excalibur will be attractive to existing 421 owners as well as operators considering the purchase of single- or twin-engine cabin-class turboprops, new or pre-owned," Pelton said. "We're going to deliver an airplane that redefines the category." Pelton said there's a prototype in the air and first deliveries are planned for the end of 2013.

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Searching for Spitfires back to top 

Spitfire Dig To Continue At Second Site

Undaunted by a failure to find any buried Spitfires at the first dig site in Burma, project leader David Cundall said he is ready to start excavating a second site. Cundall said he will be flying soon to Myitkyina, about 900 miles from the first dig site. A preliminary dig at Myitkyina found a buried wooden crate filled with water, and Cundall hopes further excavation there will find airplanes. Cundall also said that excavation at the first site, at Yangon Airport, was stymied when officials prevented crews from digging more than five feet deep, to prevent damage to airport infrastructure such as pipes and cables. Cundall had said he wanted to go to at least 20 feet deep.

If the second site proves unfruitful, Cundall has identified at least one other site in Burma where he hopes to excavate. He also may return to the first site and continue digging by hand, if officials will allow it, to assure no damage is done. Cundall, a British farmer, has been hunting for the lost Spitfires since 1996. He believes that the British military packed more than 120 Spitfires in crates and buried them in the ground before vacating Burma more than 60 years ago at the end of World War II.

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Another Viral Video, Another FAA Inquiry back to top 

Viral Video Draws Flyby's Legality Into Question

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A 19-second video clip titled "200mph Plane fly-by within 2 feet of person" has prompted at least one news agency to contact the FAA in an effort to discern whether the act was properly approved by the FAA. The event involved pilot Jason Newburg of Viper Airshows and Team Stunters, which performs "street bike stunt shows," according to thesmokinggun.com. The video shows a biplane buzzing an ATV rider and whoever filmed the act, reportedly on the runway at Lancaster Airport in Texas. A member of Team Stunters posted to Twitter that the footage was shot while practicing for upcoming airshows. A local news channel, WFAA, reported Tuesday that the FAA said it "could not immediately locate" waivers associated with the event. Further information was unavailable as AVweb went to press. The video was posted Monday and had collected more than 100,000 views by Wednesday night.

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Top Tech back to top 

Infrasonic Bird Repellent Shows Promise

A nine-month test using infrasound to repel birds has been successful, Technology International Inc., of Louisiana, has reported. Low-frequency sounds, which are not heard by humans, were generated using a rotary woofer, the company said. The sounds "jam the birds' acoustic navigational system … [and] mimic the atmospheric disruptive features of unstable weather conditions that birds instinctively avoid." The sounds don't harm the birds, the company said. The company hopes to use the technology at airports to create bird-free zones, and plans to test a prototype system at an airport soon.

Bird strikes continue to be a major problem for aircraft around the world, causing about a billion dollars in damage each year. The frequencies used in the test are similar to infrasound emitted by thunderstorms, Technology Intl. CEO Abdo Husseiny told New Scientist, which may explain why the birds are averse to the sounds. The system can also be used to create zones that are attractive to birds and establish wildlife sanctuaries in safe areas. Husseiny said the technology could also be used in other settings besides airports, such as urban squares, harbors and wind farms. The equipment should be available commercially in about two years.

Volocopter Two-Seater In Development

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E-Volo, a German company that successfully flew an innovative electric-powered vertical-takeoff aircraft in 2011, now says it is ready to build a two-person design. Germany's transport ministry will have to create a new category and develop new regulations to allow the aircraft to fly, and E-Volo says that process is under way. The company said they hope to achieve extensive endurance testing of the passenger cabin, the landing framework and the rotor array by this summer, so they can start test flights this year.

The company said it plans to exhibit a full-size mock-up of its Volocopter at Aero 2013, in Friedrichshafen, Germany, in April. Germany's federal ministry of economics and technology has granted the company a subsidy of about $2.6 million to help cover the costs of the project.

No-Cost SocialFlight App Reaches 10,000 Users,
3,000 Aviation Events and Adds Social Networking for Pilots

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Third Version Of Terrafugia Transition?

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Roadable aircraft developer Terrafugia has released more video of its Transition vehicle being put through its paces but it's suggesting production and delivery of the device may come later rather than sooner. In a carefully worded news release on Tuesday, the Massachusetts company said it might have to build a third prototype based on the testing it has done so far on the second machine. "Once the engineering team is satisfied that the majority of the field issues have been identified from this prototype, we will evaluate if the number and magnitude of potential modifications warrant the construction of another prototype prior to final compliance testing for certification," the company said. The video, shot in late October, shows an aircraft that appears to have significantly better handling characteristics than the first prototype (we think it looks better, too) and Terrafugia says they continue to make improvements, hence the possibility of a third prototype.

Meanwhile, the company says it's wringing out the current test article, "actively flight testing and drive testing to evaluate the durability of the Transition airframe in real-world environments." Terrafugia also has a seat at the FAA's review of Part 23 certification rules and says it may have something to say about that soon. "These new developments have led Terrafugia to initiate a new internal program which we look forward to announcing at the appropriate time," says the carrot left dangling in the news release. The current program is geared to a Light Sport designation for the folding-wing aircraft.

Police Leave Explosive On Airplane

Transit police who were using explosives to train bomb-sniffing dogs left one of the bombs aboard an Air Canada 767 that later carried passengers, a taxpayers group reported this week. The incident happened about two years ago, in January 2011, and was only confirmed after the group filed a Freedom of Information request. The dog handler noticed the device was missing two days after the training session, and reported it. Air Canada inspected the airplane 14 times, but the bomb was never found. It was believed to have been tossed out with the trash. The material was inert without the aid of an explosive booster, "i.e., blasting cap," according to the police report.

"Why on earth were Transit Police -- responsible for SkyTrain lines -- planting explosives on a commercial airplane as a dog training exercise?" asked Jordan Bateman, an official with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. "How inept do you have to be to not account for every explosive you put on a plane? This incident is a chilling reminder of what happens when police agencies push past their level of expertise and jurisdiction." The taxpayers group has long been critical of the Transit Police, saying its officers are overpaid and ineffective.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Glider Incident No Threat to Freedom to Fly

An incident involving a glider and a nuclear power plant raised questions about the conduct of some local sheriffs — but, as Russ Niles notes on the AVweb Insider blog, it won't have an impact on aviation in general.

Read more and join the conversation.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Mt. Pleasant Regional Airport (OSA, Mt. Pleasant, Texas)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Mt. Pleasant Regional Airport (OSA) in Mt. Pleasant, Texas.

AVweb reader Larry Richardson writes:

At OSA you get great service; a courtesy car if needed; competitive fuel prices; 6,000x100-foot runway; and always a friendly smile.

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!

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

Video: Sebring Sport Expo 2013

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

AVweb was at opening day of the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo show in Sebring on Thursday and filed this video report.

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Video: Levil Technology's New ADS-B/AHRS

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

The competition in the iPad remote ADS-B and AHRS market is getting white-hot, and now comes Levil Technology with a new device called the iLevil. AVweb took a took at it at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo show in Sebring.

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Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Our latest winning photo comes from Kenny Lisle and Michael Damiani of Watsontown, PA. Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.
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.

If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your phone or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

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