AVwebFlash - Volume 19, Number 21a

May 20, 2013

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Aviation Safety back to top 

Cirrus Investigating Chute Incident

Cirrus Aircraft has sent an investigative team to Addison, Texas, to look into a report that a repacked Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) failed to deploy when a pilot pulled the handle late last week. "We did have an incident in Texas at the end of last week that involved a repacked CAPS parachute," Cirrus spokesman Todd Simmons said in an email to AVweb. "While we understand that an anomaly may have occurred related to extraction of the chute, it is premature to draw any specific conclusions at this point much beyond that." AVweb contacted the owner's home Sunday evening but was told he was out for the evening.

According to FlightAware the aircraft left Addison just before 11 a.m. local time on May 16 and returned 36 minutes later. The aircraft in question is 12 years old and as we reported in February the parachute must be repacked at 10-year intervals at a cost of more than $10,000. Simmons said Cirrus is "in the process of working through the investigation to learn what happened" and will have further details later.

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Piloting Your Flight to Space back to top 

Virgin Galactic Has Hired Its Pilots

A retired Air Force Lt. Colonel and a former NASA space shuttle commander have been hired to fly space tourists in Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, the company has announced. Michael "Sooch" Masucci has 30 years of civilian and military operational and test flying, according to the company, has served as a U-2 pilot with the Air Force and has flown 70 different types, including gliders. Frederick "CJ" Sturckow has 26 years of military flight experience, flew as commander of two Space Shuttle missions and has logged 1,200 hours in space. The men are currently training to operate commercial suborbital space flights, carrying passengers for $200,000 per ticket.

Virgin Galactic aims to be the world's first commercial spaceflight operator. The company says it has so far accepted "more than $70 million in deposits" from about 580 people. If all those people are able to fly with the company, they will succeed in more than doubling the amount of people ever to have flown in space. Virgin Galactic passengers will be flown six at a time aboard SpaceShipTwo in which they will experience "out-of-the-seat, zero-gravity" with views of earth and space. The company plans to operate from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

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Stepping Up back to top 

Mechanic: I'll Pay For Crashed Heli

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Earlier this month, a Robinson R22 helicopter flying a photo flight successfully auto-rotated onto a downtown Honolulu street and, now, the owner of the company that inspected the helicopter says he will pay to have it replaced. In an interview with HawaiiNewsNow.com, Brant Swigart said the pilot was "in no way" at fault for the May 9 event, and the operator "had no culpability in this." He said he did not personally work on the helicopter prior to the accident flight, but he "was responsible for checking it." Swigart said he believes a mixture cable snapped and a backup switch failed. "I didn't physically inspect that assembly," he said, "and if I had I would have caught it." The helicopter wasn't the only vehicle damaged in the accident and Swigart says he's stepping up for another affected party, an Iraq war veteran.

Swigart's reaction to what he seemingly suggests was his own lack of due diligence extends beyond the aircraft. A local NBC affiliate reported that Swigart also intends to replace a car that was damaged by the helicopter as it came to rest. A Mazda owned by a college student was struck by the aircraft and badly damaged. The college student, a veteran of three tours in Iraq, was not in the car at the time. Swigart says he doesn't have the money to replace the car but will either take out a loan or take care of the new car payments on a monthly basis. Swigart's actions on behalf of his company, Hawaii Air Power Labs Inc., have impressed Benjamin Fouts, owner of Mauna Loa Helicopters, which operated the accident aircraft. "He's just trying to take responsibility for what happened and make sure he does the right thing. He's truly one of a kind," Fouts told NBC. The pilot of the helicopter, Julia Link, escaped her forced landing without serious injury and has already flown again.

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In May, BlueStage is all about the sonic experience on wings. Download, swipe, and enjoy! Learn more.
New Zealand, Meet Your New User Fees back to top 

User Fees In New Zealand: $1 Per Touch-And-Go And Rising

A trip around the patch at a controlled airport in New Zealand will soon carry a $1 NZD charge under a user fee schedule announced by the Airways Corporation of New Zealand, the "state-owned enterprise" that runs the country's airspace system. By 2015, however, that same touch and go will cost $3.55 NZD as will transiting controlled airspace and something called a "vicinity landing" that is not defined in the Airways announcement of the fees. Fees for airliners will increase an overall 15.7 percent over the next three years.

The new fee schedule was finalized after six months of consultation with stakeholders and the airlines appeared to make their case especially well. "As a consequence of the high quality of customer submissions, we have revised Airways' price increase from the 23 percent proposed in February to 15.7 percent over the three years of the pricing period," the company said in its release. GA, however, is losing a discount system that presumably benefited big users of the system.

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News Briefs back to top 

Sole Survivor Documentary Targets August

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A documentary based on the insights of individuals who became sole survivors of commercial aviation disasters appears set for release in August. According to the movie's creators, the film includes commentary from at least three survivors who have never spoken publicly about the events that changed their lives. Among them is one pilot, Jim Polehinke, who acted as copilot of Comair Flight 5191, which crashed at Lexington on August 27, 2006, killing all 49 others aboard. The NTSB found the probable cause of the accident (PDF) included multiple failures of the flight crew.

The number of people who live as the sole survivor of major commercial aviation disasters is 14, according to the filmmakers. Other sources count 15 instances since 1970. The documentary approaches the stories of multiple sole survivors through interviews about their physical and emotional struggles after their plane crash. According to the film's director, Ky Dickens, there is a misconception that survivors are lucky, but "the survivors are really victims, too," she told ABC News. "Their life is altered forever, and it's not easy for them to pick up and go on and there's very little of it that feels lucky to them."

Avidyne DFC90 Certified For Bonanzas

Avidyne Corporation announced the STC certification of the DFC90 plug-and-play retrofit autopilot system for Beechcraft Bonanza applications. The STC, which covers 25 models of the Bonanza, allows the DFC90 to replace existing S-TEC autopilots when interfaced with the Aspen Evolution Pro Primary Flight Display (EFD1000Pro). Avidyne previously certified the drop-in DFC90 with the Aspen PFD in Cessna 182 Skylane series aircraft and with the Entegra PFD in the Cirrus SR20 and SR22. It's also certified in the Piper PA-46 Matrix and Mirage.

The DFC90 digital autopilot can make for an easy retrofit, since it's designed to drive the existing S-TEC autopilot servos. It also steps the interface up to an attitude-based design, using the Aspen AHARS for a digital roll and pitch reference. The Aspen PFD provides heading command, altitude preselect, indicated airspeed select and vertical speed select inputs to the DFC90. It also displays autopilot mode annunciations and alerts on the Aspen display. "We have seen a considerable amount of interest in the DFC90 from Bonanza owners who are looking to enhance performance and safety. With this STC, Envelope Protection, full-time Envelope Alerting, plus the Straight and Level button are now available to them with the DFC90, as well as Synthetic Vision with the Aspen Pro PFD," said Patrick Herguth, Avidyne's Chief Operating Officer.

The DFC90 can use the existing S-TEC 55X mounting tray, servos and much of the interface wiring. When interfaced with other S-TEC models, including the popular 30/50/60-2-series, the existing servos and bracketry are utilized. Pricing for the DFC90 autopilot starts at $9,995 plus installation. The software unlock for integrating the DFC90 to the Aspen PFD is priced at $1,995. The industry is still waiting for the previously announced Avidyne IFD540 and IFD440-series drop-in replacement navigators. These are the plug-and-play hybrid navigators designed for replacing existing Garmin GNS530 and 430 units. Avidyne's Tom Harper told AVweb that the units could be available later this year.

iPads in the Cockpit — ForPilotsOnly
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Concrete Plane Flies Like a Brick? back to top 

Concrete (RC) Airplane 'Flies' (With Video)

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The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSMT) said earlier this month that students there had created and flown a small remote control aircraft made of concrete, but their level of success may be open to interpretation. The aircraft had a wingspan of 40 inches and weighed 18 pounds. A news release from the school notes "viral" coverage of the event. It also states that the "flight was quick and wobbly with the landing equally erratic, but it was enough for the record books." After viewing video of the flight, it may not be clear that the vehicle's return to earth can be categorized as a "landing." The concrete plane isn't the first of its kind.

The project follows a path initiated by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) and overseen by Dr. Mark Fugler, there. The ERAU aircraft, also a small remote controlled plane, was destroyed in a crash. SDSMT is not an aeronautical university. "Ours flew and sustained some damage on landing but was not destroyed," according to Mines advisor M.R. Hansen. The school's news release also concedes that "once the wheels were off the ground it was over in a matter of mere seconds, thanks to weight-balance issues associated with flying any plane." The concrete was made with carbon fiber reinforcement. The wing was built hollow around a foam core and suffered a crack, along with the fuselage, upon its return to earth. "Landing wasn't as big of a priority," said the aircraft's remote pilot David Haberman. Haberman designed and built the aircraft with fellow students Tyler Pojanowski and Seth Adams, all of whom recently graduated from the school.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: NORDO No More

For months, the local pilots have been spanking Paul Bertorelli in his Cub for not having a working radio. Now, with his powerful SP400, he can fight back. And those Aunt Janes in the pattern are wondering if his NORDO days weren't preferable.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: B-29 Connections

Although its service life was short, the B-29 remains one of the most fascinating airplanes ever produced -- not so much for the airplane itself but what it took to get it flying. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli recounts his own experience in his first job: taking these magnificent airplanes apart and melting them into scrap. He also observes that every serious book on World War II in the Pacific carves out a chapter or two on the SuperFortress.

Read more and join the conversation.

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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.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: St. Clair County Airport (KPLR, Pell City, Alabama)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to St. Clair County Airport (KPLR) in Pell City, Alabama.

AVweb reader Mike Grossberg got the royal treatment there recently:

The service is "over the top" at this beautiful country airport. The airport manager, Larry, answered my airport advisory request and offered to meet me on the ramp with the rental car as I taxied in from landing. Larry escorted us to the transient hangar, helped push the plane in, and gave us directions. This lovely airport even has a shady gazebo for watching the airplanes come and go. Real Southern hospitality at its best.

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: Total Eclipse Quick Look

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

Eclipse Aerospace is touring the country with a Total Eclipse jet, using it as a demo for the soon-to-be-delivered Eclipse 550. In this AVweb video, Paul Bertorelli offers a quick product overview.

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Video: Sam LSA Debuts at Sun 'n Fun

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

The Sam light sport aircraft, which first flew in March, was on display at Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, Florida.

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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

This gave me a little chuckle because it rhymed so well. The pilot knew too, as he said it with pauses:

Line up and wait...
Runway 28...
Cirrus 188

Shawn Byers
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.

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.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.