AVwebFlash - Volume 19, Number 9a

February 25, 2013

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Aircraft Updates back to top 
 

Australia Wary Of F-35s After Latest Grounding

Australia has joined the list of countries that is mulling over its order of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters in light of the grounding of the U.S. fleet of 51 Lightning IIs on Friday according to Reuters. In fact, grounding the aircraft after a turbine crack was found in an F-35 engine was U.S. Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan, the Pentagon's F-35 program chief's last act before he left for a major air show in Melbourne to promote the fighter. The crack was found in the third stage of a Pratt & Whitney-produced F135 engine powering an A-model variant, which is designed for use by the Air Force. Currently, 34 of the jets are in use at training bases in Florida and Arizona. The rest are involved in test programs. A subset of the fleet (those flown by the Marines) had just been cleared to fly on Feb. 13 after being grounded for nearly one month for another problem.

The Marines grounded their version of the jet in January after a problem with a fuel line was discovered prior to a test flight. The engine problem has grounded all versions of the aircraft though no other cracks have yet been reported. The fan blade will now be evaluated at Pratt's Middletown, Conn., facility, where the company will seek a root cause. A report is expected within two weeks. The Joint Strike Fighter is produced by Lockheed Martin. The program's development costs are nearing $400 billion. That figure reportedly marks the jet as the Pentagon's most expensive weapons system. The Joint Strike Fighter program isn't expected to reach full production until 2019, and targets production of more than 2,400 jets by 2040. All of those figures may be affected by fiscal and political considerations.

Lear 85 Delayed, CSeries Taking Off

Bombardier has pushed back the first delivery date for its composite Lear 85 business jet to the middle of 2014, citing issues with the technology. Bombardier launched the program in 2007 and is building most of the components in Mexico. Final assembly and completion will be in Wichita. It will compete in the mid-to-super-midsize market with a range of 2,600 nautical miles and seating for up to eight passengers. The delay was announced on the same day Bombardier announced a major drop in fourth-quarter profits and the bad news drove the Canadian company's shares down 7 percent. There was, however, some good news for Bombardier last week on the CSeries airliner program.

A Russian leasing company ordered 32 top-of-the-line 300-series models in a deal worth about $2.5 billion. Ilyushin Finance Co. also took options on 10 more CSeries. It's the largest order to date for the CSeries. Meanwhile, Bombardier has kept the CSeries program tightly under wraps but will unveil the prototype on March 7 at a media event at the company's plant near Montreal. The first flight of the aircraft is slated for sometime in June.

 
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Crash Report back to top 
 

NTSB: Crashed Premier Jet Aborted Landing

NTSB member Robert Sumwalt Thursday said that a Hawker Beechcraft 390/Premier I aborted its landing at Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport, Ga., Wednesday night, before crashing nearby, killing five of seven aboard. The flight originated at John Tune Airport, Tenn., and was carrying staff from a specialized medical clinic, the NTSB said. At about 8:30 p.m. local time, the jet's left wing was severed upon impact with a 60-foot concrete pole located roughly one quarter mile from the end of the airport's 5,500-foot runway. Fuel leaked and ignited. Sumwalt described the composite jet's wreckage as "severely fragmented," adding that identifiable features of the plane were "almost completely destroyed by fire." Weather was clear with light winds at the time of the crash. First reports said that at least one of the survivors was a pilot.

The pilots of the jet were familiar with the airport and the aircraft had previously been observed to be in "pristine" condition, according to the airport's general manager, Keith Bounds, who spoke with the Washington Post. Bounds said the crew had closed out their flight plan via electronic message prior to arrival and there were no obvious physical signs indicating the jet had touched down. The crash caused local power outages and ignited a small brush fire. The NTSB said Thursday that security camera footage had been recovered from the airport but it had not yet been reviewed and a flight data recorder had not been immediately located. Sumwalt said remaining pieces of the jet that survived the fire covered a distance of 100 yards adding, "You walk up and you say to yourself, 'where is the airplane?'" The flight's two survivors were taken to area hospitals.

 
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Light Sport Outlook back to top 
 

ASTM Releases Merged Standard For LSA Manufacturers

Previously developed quality assurance requirements covering the manufacture, documentation, and records retention programs for light sport aircraft have been merged into a new standard approved by ASTM International, the organization said Friday. The standard, released as ASTM F2972, is meant to ensure that LSA aircraft are manufactured "consistent with the design that was originally tested to show compliance to the standard," according to ASTM. It will be used to guide manufacturers seeking flight certificates, permits or "similar documentation" from civil aviation authorities.

ASTM 2972 was created by combining five previously developed standards released as F37. Those five standards address the same quality issues "in a very similar manner" and because they are common across aircraft types, ASTM's committee on the matter has merged them into a single standard. The standard provides requirements that ASTM believes will result in consistent production standards for LSA aircraft. ASTM is selling the F2972 document as a three-page PDF for $36.

Akoya LSA Amphib Finds Chinese Backing

LISA Airplanes, which showed off its $350,000 amphibious Akoya LSA in July at AirVenture Oshkosh 2012, then faced financial difficulties by August, has now said it will accept a $20 million takeover bid from Chinese investors. The Bureau of Commerce in Leshan City, China, says investors from the Heima Mining Company offered $20 million for a 75-percent stake in the French light airplane manufacturer. The transaction would see the Mining company, which trades in phosphate rock, appoint its own representative as LISA's new chairman.

LISA's founder, Erick Herzberger, told LeFigaro.fr that he hopes to maintain production control and to resume work with a team of 15-20 people. The company was forced to lay off 15 employees after suffering cash flow problems. According to ChinaDaily.com, the new investors will help create up to two more production lines in France. The Akoya offers sleek lines and folding wings at a $350,000 initial price tag. According to Heima, the company has ten orders on the books. Heima says it plans to seek additional acquisitions in the field of aviation, including sales and maintenance services. The company reportedly does not hold large cash reserves. According to ChinaDaily, its registered capital is roughly $85,000. However, an official quoted by the news organization said "the company used self-raised funds to pay for the acquisition," and its assets are more extensive.

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Budgets and Bombast back to top 
 

Sequestration Impact Outlined

The FAA may close more than 100 air traffic control towers and eliminate the graveyard shift in another 60 if sequestration goes ahead on March 1. It is also considering cutting maintenance and upkeep of air traffic control equipment, cutting staff in certification and inspection roles and furloughing most employees for one or two days per pay period, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said in a letter (PDF) to 47,000 FAA employees Friday. The effect will be decreased capacity and major disruptions to flight schedules, certification programs and a myriad other things that require FAA sign-off. "We are aware that these service reductions will adversely affect commercial, corporate and general aviation operators," LaHood said. Some analysts have dismissed the proposals as political scare tactics in advance of a week of political wrangling over sequestration.

Perhaps the most significant proposal is the threat to close 100 (of about 500) air traffic control towers. Any airport with fewer than 150,000 operations a year or 10,000 "commercial" operations would be closed. The criteria for elimination of the graveyard shift were not spelled out nor was the precise meaning of the term "commercial." LaHood says safety will be the top priority in implementation of cuts and the tradeoff will be widespread delays and inconvenience. For instance, it's expected the cuts will result in flight delays of about 90 minutes at major airports and LaHood said airlines will likely cut flights to adjust to the reduced service levels. Cuts would be finalized in March and implemented in April. They would be in effect until the end of the FAA's fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Related Content:

AVweb Insider Blog: So Close the Towers Already

That's Paul Bertorelli's radical idea to gain a little relief from hysterical rantings about the impacts of the looming budget sequestration. That's another way of asking why so many special interests believe everyone else should take service and budget cuts, but not them. This promises to be a spirited discussion.

Join the fun on the AVweb Insider blog.

 
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Alaska's Aviation Frontier back to top 
 

Alaska Celebrates 100 Years Of Flight

The first airplane flight in Alaska took place 100 years ago, 10 years after the Wright brothers' first flight, but once the airplane arrived, it played a major role in the history of the state. Today, Alaskans fly 30 times as much as other U.S. citizens, and aviation is crucial to the local economy. To celebrate the centenary, the Anchorage Museum has assembled an exhibit, "Arctic Flight," that examines how aviation changed the way of life in Alaska. A restored 1928 Stearman C2B biplane, borrowed from the Alaska Aviation Museum, anchors the exhibit, which also features artifacts on loan from the National Air and Space Museum.

Artifacts on display include wreckage from the Will Rogers/Wiley Post crash of 1935 and a military-issued electric flight jacket from World War II. Film footage features a 1927 clip of the first airplane to fly over the North Pole and newsreels of the World War II campaign in the Aleutian Islands. Several historical lectures and a showing of the 1927 silent film, Wings, are scheduled. The exhibit is on display until August 11. For more details about the exhibit and how it illuminates Alaska's aviation history, listen to Mary Grady's podcast interview with Julie Decker, chief curator of the museum.

Podcast: Anchorage Museum Celebrates Alaskan Flight Centennial

File Size 6.4 MB / Running Time 6:57

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It was 10 years after the Wright brothers' first flight before the first airplane arrived in Alaska, but aviation soon transformed the way of life in the state and today remains essential to the economy. A new exhibit at the Anchorage Museum explores the those 100 years of history. AVweb's Mary Grady talked with Julie Decker, chief curator of the museum, for more details.

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Click here to listen. (6.4 MB, 6:57)

 
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Meanwhile, on YouTube ... back to top 
 

Air India Gets Bad Rap From Pilot

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An Air India pilot's (perhaps final) act of desperation has hit almost 200,000 views on YouTube but the profanity-filled lament (warning: multiple f-bombs) about his lack of flying time may be counterproductive to his stated goal. Air India has been on the ropes because of high fuel costs, intense competition and a legacy of labor strife. Officials of the airline have confirmed the unidentified first officer is one of theirs and that they're trying to figure out what to do with him after he uploaded Air India Rap, a no-holds-barred musical missive that attacks airline management, the pilots union and even takes a swipe at demographically challenged flight attendants. "He works for us, yes," airline spokesman G.P Rao told AFP. "We are looking into the issue. The management will decide how to go about it."

Perhaps in anticipation of the backlash, the pilot prefaces the video with a screen that says he doesn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings but it's probably hard for Air India brass to not take personally lyrics like "Why don't we punish those who [messed] up my airline?" not to mention the age-60-plus flight attendants to whom he refers to as "aunties." He also complains that he's not been paid in five months and is considering bankruptcy. But perhaps the most telling line in this story of a hard-luck pilot is this one: "Coz I am on Dreamliners. It made my dream come true. I get to ride this beauty. I'm one of the lucky few."

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

AVmail: February 25, 2013

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: The Moving Experience

Regarding your article on motion in simulators: Bravo to you folks for publicizing a dirty little secret. Your question "How important is motion?" is the right one to ask. As you pointed out, what we really care about is transfer of training.

The topic of motion in simulators has been debated since the 1950s, with the results consistently stacking up as you depict them in the article. The problem is that the facts contradict "common sense." The conventional wisdom is that the more the simulator is like the airplane the "better" it is. All airplanes have motion, so all simulators should have motion. That logic also leads us to believe the earth is flat.

I have been a human factors engineer in aviation for 40 years and seen many situations where multi-million dollar decisions regarding simulators were made on this topic. The decisions consistently disregard the studies because the study did not support the preconceived notion.

The current study is on a long list of similar studies (some done recently by the FAA) that come to roughly the same conclusions. We refuse to believe the results, make decisions based on beliefs rather than facts, and so fund more studies hoping the results will be different.

Thanks for bringing this topic to the daylight and treating it properly.

Dino Piccione


Sequestration Woes

Regarding the effects of sequestration on aviation: So, controllers will be furloughed one day per pay period, resulting in air traffic delays.

That sounds familiar. During a period of short staffing at the Calgary tower and the Calgary terminal control unit, a decision to cut the overtime budget for summer leave was announced in spring. Controllers immediately stopped working overtime. If summer leave wasn't going to be available, they would at least enjoy their scheduled days of rest.

Serious delays resulted, and management met with users to explain their plans. A meeting with control staff was conducted after the user meeting, and some of the users attended.

A member of the control staff, a pilot who rented aircraft from a local user, explained to management and users alike that most controllers were working overtime only to keep the system functioning.

Then he said, "Imagine that, as of 16:00 today, every non-operational manager and supervisor from the deputy minister down to the lowliest non-operational supervisor, is laid off. Plenty of money will be available to ensure the summer leave program continues. Janitors, clerks, technicians, and air traffic controllers will be on the job, and not one aircraft will be delayed."

The meeting soon ended, and the summer leave program was reinstated the next day.

It is inappropriate to burden operational personnel and system users when mismanagement at the highest levels causes financial shortfalls.

Wayne Justinen

I use the ATC system each day. Our graduates rely upon solid FAA operations, most predominantly ATC control. I have little sympathy, though, in hearing that the FAA could not adequately deal with a less-than-four-percent annual cut in their budget.

I cannot believe, as I fly many times through the D.C. area, that the controllers are at 96 percent capacity and that we will need to decrease traffic accordingly.

This is not to mention the many other approach and departure areas I fly where the radio is almost quiet. $600 million is a small price to pay, and if truth is seen in the output, consumers will barely notice this cut.

John Graham

When Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers, that was a federal matter worthy of coverage in your newsletter. When Barack Obama makes a political statement about an issue affecting aviation that is completely discretionary on his part, that's politics, not flying.

Why don't you guys stick to flying and avoid being part of the Obama agitprop machine. Frankly, it damages your credibility if you can't distinguish one from the other. The gun guys get it. So should the flyboys.

Stephen Power


Misbehaving Passengers

Regarding your "Question of the Week": We had a late night return in the Beech 18. The pax had arrived in good spirits. En route it got rowdy, and when I saw a cigarette ground out in the carpet, we requested 12,000 feet. We turned the cabin heat up a bit and it was soon peaceful in the back.

We did a slow descent to 8,000 feet and had to wake everyone after landing. I hope the statute of limitations applies. Those were the days!

Jim Hackman

Years ago, after acquiring my CFI, I decided to sell my J-3. A man expressed interest and wanted a demo, so we taxied out and took off.

At about 100 to 200 feet, the engine quit. I sucessfully recovered, and fortunately we had plenty of runway left.

This man, who might have been drinking, had shut the fuel off. He had no idea of my capability, and this could have been a tragedy. I didn't sell him the airplane ... .

Jim Hruban

I flew three eight-year-old boys on a Young Eagles flight. The two in the back had a fist fight with the one in the front adding to the screams.

Nothing I said convinced them to look out the window at the miracle of flight. I turned off the intercom and landed early. I had a pointed discussion with the parents afterward.

Jeff Page


Mergers Can't Hurt, Probably Won't Help

Regarding the "Question of the Week": There are pluses and minuses to a merger. Pluses are larger route structure and new markets. Downside is merging of cultures, mixed fleet (affects training and Mx costs), and combining unions (can create employee issues).

It really comes down to the business model — how you run the airline. AA merged with TWA years ago, but they still had issues. The business model has to be adaptive to changes in the environment, or you are doomed to fail. A merger does not mean success.

Mark Hancock

Having been a bystander in at least three mergers in my airline lifetime and seeing the aftermath, I think I can say that mergers degrade service and pit employees against each other until they retire or leave.

As the story goes, "The only good merger/integration is when nobody is happy." That's closer to the truth than we would like to admit. Mergers and competition have taken what used to be the greatest job in the world and turned it into just a job.

Are the mergers necessary? Probably so, because of the impossible business climate that the airlines are forced to work in. Profit margins are less than a penny a seat mile, [and] regulations from the feds and the unions strangle them, so how can they do otherwise than to band together?

Is the service better on the new airline? Probably not. Are the employees happier? Not unless there was a threat of going out of business looming in the background. It will take a generation and a lot of retirements to get the "culture" of a new airline started and the service restored. Just ask the former employees of Hughes Airwest, National, TWA, Pan Am, America West, etc., etc.

Capt. Jack Vansworth

When I was working, I flew all the airlines. The company bought my tickets. American Airlines was the worst airline. US Airways was close to the bottom. It has to get better after the merger. Service could not get any worse. The employees did not care. Complaints were ignored.

I would never buy a ticket on either.

Robert McEachern

The United merger has ruined service. More to the point, solving problems with mergers is a short-term solution. The airlines need innovation. They need to realize they aren't in the airline business. They are in the people-moving business.

Eric Warren

The American legacy carriers are generally worse than all but the deep discount airlines for in-flight service and cabin equipment (seatback screens, etc.). In spite of new livery and lots of hype, larger airlines and less competition will not improve the experience.

Robert Bondy


Contract Maintenance NPRM Affects Some Cargo Carriers

I think a small error crept into the Feb. 20 AVwebBiz article on the contract maintenance NPRM: The article stated "pure cargo aircraft are exempt" (from the NPRM's proposed requirements). Not quite. The dividing line is between Part 135 operators using "nine-or-less passenger seats" maintenance and inspection programs per 14CFR135.411(a)(1) and the group of operators including 135s on "ten-or-more" programs [135.411(a)(2)], Part 121 operators, and Part 145 repair stations.

The Part 135 "nine-or-less" operators aren't addressed in the NPRM, and many RACCA members are on nine-or-less programs. That's probably where the confusion arose. But RACCA also has "ten-or-more" and Part 121 member companies who should be concerned about the proposed rule.

John W. Hazlet, Jr.
Vice President
Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association


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

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 
 

FBO of the Week: Clarke County Airport (Quitman, MS)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Clarke County Airport (23M) in Quitman, Mississippi.

AVweb reader Dee Ann Ediger clued us in to the airport's excellent FBO:

We were making our way westward toward questionable weather and keeping in contact with Flight Service while watching the visibility ahead and scouting out landing prospects. We had been landing at two-hour intervals to check weather from the ground, and Clarke County fit our time, course, runway length, and fuel availability, so we dropped in. The inside of the FBO was immaculate, and the freshly painted facilities were just about the cleanest I have ever seen at a small airport. The refrigerator was stocked with microwave sandwiches, drinks, and snacks with an honor pay system so we didn't have to dig into our crackers-and-cheese emergency rations. The excellent service and availability of mogas in addition to the very low priced avgas makes this a very likely stop for us on future trips. We even had our picture taken with our airplane to add to the wall of infamy "documenting those who stop in."

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: Historic Flight Foundation DC-3

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

Everett, Washington's Historic Flight Foundation recently flew home its newly-restored DC-3 from Sealand Aviation in Campbell River, British Columbia. The museum's founder, John Sessions, talks about the aircraft's rich history and its future at the Foundation.

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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 
 

Short Final

Overflying KLAL en route to KBOW, we overheard a conversation between KLAL tower and a flight of two military pilots flying training approaches. As they declared "going missed," the tower issued missed approach clearances and then asked, "So you are Navy?"

One pilot responded (with obvious pride), "He is Navy, but I am United States Marine Corps."

My co-pilot, who is a retired Navy Commander, couldn't resist entering the conversation and keyed the mike, stating, "If you check that Globe and Anchor, you'll find it says Department of the Navy."

Without a second of hesistation, the military pilot came back with, "Yeah — but it's the men's department."

Nothing else needed to be said, and the tower controller was very quiet for several seconds — laughing, I assume.


Gerry McCarley
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:

Publisher
Tom Bliss

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Webmaster
Scott Simmons

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Contributors
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

Avionics Editor
Larry Anglisano

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