June 20, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... ZuluworksWHY IS YOUR ELBOW JABBING YOU IN THE STOMACH?
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If it's before 10:30 a.m. (Eastern Time), you may want to click through to KLOA online radio to see if their bandwidth can accommodate you for a live audio feed of the "first civilian pilot to cross the border of space in a civilian-funded vehicle" ... if it wasn't cancelled, or you're not already watching it on CNN.
Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites -- the "you're not likely to know what we're up to next until we have to push it outside" people -- scheduled 10:30 a.m. (Eastern) today for its attempt to "push it outside" in a very big way with SpaceShipOne -- and they invited the world to watch ... relatively speaking. (We were only kicked out of two buildings.) Mike Melville found out yesterday at a press conference that he was chosen from three pilots for the unearthly task of piloting the nitrous oxide- and rubber-burning craft to space and back: "I am very excited. ... I am ready to go," he said. Straight up at Mach 3.2 to better than 300,000 feet and back.
The flight profile called for SpaceShipOne to drop from its carrier craft (White Knight) shooting for better than Mach 3 and more than 300,000 feet after launching together from what Rutan called "a small commercial airport" (Mojave). Rutan says the craft, to hit its target altitude, will burn most (but not all) of the 3,200 pounds of nitrous oxide and 600 pounds of rubber it uses for fuel. (A full burn would send the craft to 420,000 feet.) The rocket will then be shut down with the flip of a switch. RADAR at Edwards Air Force Base will be able to call the trajectory (and apex) within a few yards.
Sunday, Rutan was very confident his craft would make the grade, saying that many of the increments that led to this step were more challenging (and more dangerous). And with a scheduled launch time of 6:30 a.m. (Mojave time), you should know by the time you read this whether or not the launch will usher in a new era of "affordable suborbital flight" within 15 years.
Rutan hopes success in this venture would initiate a new private space race to usher affordable space travel to the common (perhaps upper-upper-middle class) man. Rutan estimates first-generation public spacecraft -- and SpaceShipOne is scaleable -- will offer "rides" at $30,000-50,000 and second-generation craft will do it for closer to $10,000. "We're heading to orbit sooner than you think ... The next 25 years will be a wild ride ... and one that historians will note was done for the benefit of all," said Rutan. The people who drove to the site in the Mojave desert -- like Lauren from Oregon, Eric from Santa Cruz, or Richard and Susan from Three Rivers -- clearly shared Burt's vision that the event would be, like the Wright Brothers' first flight before a skeptical audience in Europe, an exhibition for the ages. "I just wanted to be here to see it," said Greg, who flew in from Falls Church, Virginia. Nobody mentioned the 90-degree temperatures and the blowing dirt. We were there yesterday, and invite you to have a look around.
Whatever comes of it, the positive energy shared yesterday by all on site at Mojave was a tribute to Paul G. Allen, who is almost solely responsible for the program's funding. That result is perhaps fitting -- Allen told press yesterday that he himself was inspired by the space launches of the '60s and attracted by a new mission "crying out to be done." It is these attempts that push us forward. It is these risks that make us safer. And yesterday, it was clearly Burt Rutan's intention to do both.
THE PILOT INSURANCE CENTER (PIC) IS YOUR BEST CHOICE!
"TFRs do serve a purpose, and they're effective," Robert Albracht, director of GA Operations at the Transportation Security Administration, told AVweb last Thursday in a conference-call interview with several TSA staffers. Essentially, the TFRs function to clear the sky, so security forces are not distracted by a multitude of targets but instead can focus quickly on any that don't belong. That means that GA pilots who blunder into the restricted zones will be noticed. "And when pilots venture into these zones, they are going to be dealt with," Albracht said. "I do have the feeling that the grace period, the leniency period, is over," he said, though he stressed that it's the FAA, and not the TSA, that determines what action will be taken against TFR violators. "There may be harsher penalties than there were at first." As for the usefulness of the TFRs, "There's no silver bullet when it comes to security," said Robert Rottman, TSA security specialist. "But TFRs are another method we can use, another part of our toolkit, just like putting up a fence." A recent AVweb Question of the Week showed that 85 percent of those who responded thought that TFRs serve no practical purpose.
Albracht added that his office has no control over presidential TFRs. "As long as the president travels outside the White House, and presidential candidates are moving around, there will be TFRs," he said. But the TSA office does have discretion over many other TFR requests, and many are turned down. Many large events, such as sports events and other gatherings, request TFRs. "There would have to be a threat, to justify that," said Robert Rottman, TSA security specialist. But certain events, such as the Super Bowl and major political conventions, are always going to have TFRs, Albracht said. "We definitely go through excruciating travails to winnow out only the truly deserving requests," said Rottman. "We're very aware of the impact these have on general aviation, and we try to keep that impact as low as possible." Albracht agreed. "If we OK'd every TFR request that we get," he said, "the national airspace system would come to a standstill." But when a TFR does make the cut, it's meant to be taken seriously.
As for security protocols at your local GA airport, the general feeling at the TSA is that the voluntary guidelines are working. "These guidelines were the end result of a truly collaborative effort among many industry groups, and they were all agreed to 100 percent," said Steven Calabro, GA security inspector. "Our aim was to establish federal guidelines so airports could know they were on the right track, and know what the feds would give a thumbs-up to." The working group also aimed to prevent a mishmash of state laws from being enacted locally. "Our anecdotal evidence is that GA airports are compliant overall, and are even going beyond the guidelines," Calabro said. The TSA staffers agreed that there are no plans in the works to develop stricter oversight or make the guidelines mandatory. However, individual states could still come up with laws of their own to affect GA security, or write the guidelines into law. "The states can do whatever is legal for them to do," Albracht said, "but [the] TSA is not going to do that." In any case, Calabro is the only GA Security Inspector the TSA has. Look for him at the TSA exhibit at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh this summer.
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After last Thursday's report by the 9-11 Commission critiqued the FAA's response on 9/11, the FAA issued a news release in its own defense. The FAA said its actions on 9/11 "demonstrated the urgency and initiative of many employees who were acting under intense pressure." Further, "As the 9/11 commission has noted, the FAA faced a situation it had 'never encountered or trained against' and no one involved had 'perfect information' that morning." The commission report found no fault with actions taken by the rank-and-file FAA workers. "Individual FAA controllers, facility managers, and Command Center managers thought 'outside the box' in recommending a nationwide alert, in ground-stopping local traffic, and, ultimately, in deciding to land all aircraft and executing that unprecedented order flawlessly," the report said. "We do not believe that an accurate understanding of the events of that morning reflects discredit on the operational personnel from ... FAA facilities." Lower-level FAA officials at Boston Center improvised and bypassed the chain of command to take useful action, the report says. However, the report also says that communications broke down at upper levels within the FAA. "The Administrator, Jane Garvey, and her deputy had not been told of a confirmed hijacking before they learned from television that a plane had crashed. Others in the agency were aware," the report says.
Further, equipment problems prevented the FAA from immediately joining an Air Threat Conference call. When an FAA representative did belatedly join the conference, the representative "had no familiarity with or responsibility for a hijack situation, had no access to decision-makers, and had none of the information available to senior FAA officials by that time," the report says. In its response, the FAA went on to say that it now has plans and procedures in place to ensure a rapid response to any potential threat to aviation. Changes in response capability include closer coordination with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), shared radar information, and instant communications access to other government agencies. "None of us ever wants to see another September 11th, which is why the FAA is committed to doing everything in its power to prevent another similar attack," the FAA said. The commission, in closing its report, noted that the main obstacle in dealing with the event itself was that it was unforeseen: "The details of what happened on the morning of September 11 are complex. But the details play out a simple theme. NORAD and the FAA were unprepared for the type of attacks launched against the United States on September 11, 2001. They struggled, under difficult circumstances, to improvise a homeland defense against an unprecedented challenge they had never encountered and had never trained to meet."
A 13-year-old girl was waiting in the car with her 13-year-old friend while her aunt ran an errand in the airport office at New York's Penn Yan Airport last Tuesday. The aunt looked out the window and saw that the two girls were driving the car, and ran outside to try to stop them. The girls apparently panicked, and crashed into a hangar door, which happened to have a $37 million jet sitting right behind it. The car got entangled with a wing, and the girls were trapped. Both suffered minor injuries, but were released after treatment. The jet damage was estimated at $1 million. Luckily, Fox has offered the two teens their own summer reality show, so they should be able to help pay the damages -- no, we're just kidding on the Fox part -- we think.
E-OX: A HIGH-QUALITY PORTABLE OXYGEN NEED NOT COST AN ARM AND A LEG
A new process discovered at an Australian research institute could lead to the production of aluminum airplanes that get stronger the longer they are left to "bake" in the sun. Roger Lumley, a scientist with CSIRO Elaborately Transformed Metals (CETM), says if aluminum panels are allowed to cure in the sun instead of in a high-temperature furnace, the metal becomes 20 percent tougher and up to eight times more resistant to rupture on impact. "We have developed two heat treatments using our new knowledge, both of which overcome the age-old problem of either increasing the strength of aluminum and reducing its fracture toughness, or vice versa," Lumley says. One experimental process reduces the furnace time from six hours to one hour, and the Australian sunshine completes the treatment, Lumley says. "Significantly, it means aluminum car body panels, for example, can be assembled and painted (the baking cycle used to harden the paint adds to the process), and then they will continue to strengthen in the sun. The process would continue, albeit at a slower rate, for the life of the vehicle," Lumley says. CETM manager Barrie Finnin said the process would be ideal for aircraft skins, where weight reduction and high strength are paramount. The process also saves time and energy over conventional techniques, and in most cases requires no additional equipment. The patented technology is now being tested and evaluated in Australia and Mexico.
The death of steam-driven round cockpit gauges advanced a giant step closer on Friday, when the FAA gave full type certification to Cessna for its Garmin G1000-equipped 182T Skylane. This is the G1000's first FAA aircraft-level certification, according to a Cessna press release. Cessna's CEO Jack Pelton said the all-glass G1000 system was the "ideal choice" for their single-engine product line because of its state-of-the-art integration and intuitive display. "The G1000 brings a new level of safety and situational awareness to the cockpit," Pelton said. Cessna said it took 300 orders within hours of announcing the G1000 option last October, and expects to deliver its first G1000 Skylane immediately. Cessna anticipates delivery of over 600 single-engine aircraft this year, with more than 90 percent of Skylanes and 75 percent of Stationairs including the G1000 avionics option. The T182T Turbo Skylane will be certified shortly, Cessna said, with Stationair and Turbo Stationair certification expected in August.
The system is offered as a 2004 factory-installed, NAV III option on all Skylanes, Turbo Skylanes, Stationairs, and Turbo Stationairs. Cessna will offer an exclusive training program to familiarize customers with their new airplane and avionics. The G1000 system integrates all primary flight, navigation, communication, terrain, traffic, weather, and Engine Instrumentation and Crew Alerting System (EICAS) data on two 10.4-inch, high-definition LCDs in the Skylane and Turbo Skylane, Garmin said. These active-matrix displays feature XGA resolution (1,024 x 768 pixels) and are capable of presenting data in brilliant, sunlight-readable color at wide viewing angles, according to Garmin.
DON'T BLINDLY RENEW YOUR AIRCRAFT'S INSURANCE WITHOUT SHOPPING!
When the FAA asked for comments on its proposed new noise regulation for single-engine aircraft (see AVweb's prior coverage), it probably didn't expect to get publicly blasted by one of its own -- but that's what it got. "We request that this proposal be withdrawn and reconsidered," Scott Sedgwick, manager of the FAA's Small Airplane Directorate Standards Office, said in a memo posted to the public docket. Among his reasons for wanting to boot the proposal: "The assumption that single-engine training airplanes are a significant source of airplane noise is not valid ...The proposed noise levels do not reflect current technology ... They will place an uneven regulatory burden on the U.S. industry with no public gain." Not only that, but the memo critiques the studies, data and international standards cited in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, saying they are either lacking or outdated or incorrect ... and goes on to cite AVweb as its source for current and useful data on the GA industry. AOPA also posted public comments, saying the rule should be limited to newly type-certificated aircraft, and supplemental type certificates (STCs) should be excluded. "Under this proposal, a newly certificated aircraft the weight of a Cessna 172 would have to be quieter than a handsaw or lawnmower," AOPA said in a news release. "And FAA really needs to talk to FAA. The Small Aircraft Directorate must be allowed to evaluate the impact of this rule on existing aircraft and the businesses supporting them," AOPA said. Maule Aircraft and Cessna weighed in with public comments. Cessna said its 206H model would fail to meet the proposed new noise level, and it would require a large effort and high cost to comply, with no clear benefit. Maule also said several of its models would not meet the proposed levels. The comment period closed June 10. The comments can be viewed at the DOT Web site by searching for Docket No. 17041.
When pilot Paul Wood, of Illinois, turned 50 this year, he decided to celebrate by doing something fun that would also benefit those less fortunate. Wood, who is a partner in an investment firm when he's not flying one of his airplanes, will embark on a long-distance flight July 1 in an Aviat Husky A1-B to help raise $250,000 for the Children's Home & Aid Society of Illinois -- and he's offering to match the first $100,000 in pledges himself. The trip is called Around the Country For Kids. "I hope to combine my two passions -- aviation and work for at-risk kids -- and fly all the way around the perimeter of the (contiguous) United States," Wood told EAA last week. Wood will depart from his home airport, Waukegan (Illinois) Regional, stop in Oshkosh, then fly up the Lake Michigan shoreline and set off counterclockwise for his flight around the country's rim. The trip should cover about 9,350 miles and 33 states, and take 25 days. Wood also owns and flies an L-39 Albatross, a 1941 Stearman, an L-19 Bird Dog, a T-28, a T-2 Buckeye and a King Air 90. To make a pledge to Around the Country For Kids, call 312-424-6809, or e-mail email@example.com.
FLIGHTMAX EX500 WITH INTEGRATED DATALINK-TRAINING SOFTWARE NOW AVAILABLE
Vice President Dick Cheney visited Adam Aircraft in Englewood, Colo., on Friday to deliver remarks about the U.S. economy. "Being selected as the host company for Vice President Cheney's visit to Colorado is quite an honor," said Rick Adam, founder and CEO of Adam Aircraft. "We are living proof that the American economy is alive and well. Our expansion plans are well supported by the strong market and we look forward to creating many new jobs this year." Cheney praised the company as a model of optimism and innovation. "You're producing high-quality aircraft and selling them to satisfied customers," he said. "And that's a wise business plan." Adam's A500 twin-piston aircraft is approaching FAA certification and the A700 AdamJet is currently undergoing flight tests. The company's largest outside investor is Goldman Sachs. Adam Aircraft's headquarters are based at Centennial Airport.
When the transponder malfunctioned on a King Air inbound to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport recently, it sparked a panicked evacuation of the Capitol building ... despite the fact that ATC was fully aware of the aircraft and the pilots had complied with all the protocols. So, to prevent future such unsavory scenes, ATC has changed the protocol. In a NOTAM, the FAA said that effective immediately, anyone flying in the D.C. Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) who finds their transponder is not doing its job must immediately exit the ADIZ by the shortest, most direct course. Further, any pilot who knows the transponder cannot comply with the ATC requirement to continuously transmit had best stay out of the ADIZ altogether. The only exception is if human life is at stake, and the pilot (upon request) will be required to provide justification of such at the completion of the flight.
SAVE THOU$AND$ BY FLYING TO OSHKOSH TWO DAYS EARLY!
Faced with a lawsuit by pilot unions, the government acknowledged on June 11 that regulations it had issued in January 2003 allowing it to revoke the certificates of pilots suspected of being security threats cannot be lawfully enforced. The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and other unions had challenged the regulations as unfair and inconsistent with due process, because they permitted a pilot's certificate to be revoked on mere suspicion, and did not allow for any procedure to contest the revocation. As the litigation progressed, the FAA and the TSA ultimately promised "never to enforce the rules," ALPA said in a news release Friday. Accordingly, the court dismissed the lawsuit because, in light of the government's acknowledgement, the validity of the regulations was no longer in issue. "We are quite pleased with the outcome," said Capt. Duane Woerth, president of ALPA. "The 'guilty until proven innocent' attitude toward U.S. pilots that was embodied in the regulations, and which the government has now been forced to abandon, is simply unacceptable. Guaranteeing due process under the law is a cornerstone of our country's legal system," Woerth said.
The California Pilots Association filed suit last week to block a trucking terminal and fuel tanks slated to be built 1,300 feet from a runway at Tulare Airport...
A helicopter pilot in Indiana is charged with flying while intoxicated, a misdemeanor, after he and a passenger were hurt in a crash last year. Prosecutors say the pilot's blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit...
Flight restrictions for Boston's Democratic National Convention next month are expected to be widespread and stringent, with slot reservations required for many flights...
U.S. Navy pilot Marcel LeBlanc of New Orleans accepted the Navy's Lt. Cmdr. Michael J. Hoff Attack Aviator of the Year Award on June 11, for his work in Iraq in 2003...
With its own B-17, Aluminum Overcast, out of commission with damaged landing gear, EAA is reviving a B-17 from a New York museum to fly passengers at Oshkosh and complete the aircraft's national tour...
Dick "Van" Van Grunsven, founder of the RV line of kitplanes, is the 2004 recipient of the EAA Freedom of Flight award...
Unmanned aerial vehicles will be deployed June 30 to patrol the Arizona-Mexico border. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate are helping border-patrol officials with research and development of UAVs, including developing operational requirements and related technologies, such as aerostats, lighter-than-air ships and towers...
An ultralight pilot in Oklahoma landed safely last Sunday after deploying his ballistic chute. The pilot later said his engine failed at 800 feet...
Aviation names converge: When Florida pilot Douglas Bergner made an emergency landing last week in his Beech Bonanza, he put it down in an open pasture off Piper Road.
If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Drop us a line. Submit news tips via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHICH SIX-PLACE RETRACTABLE HAS THE BEST SAFETY RECORD?
Training Time #1: Whose Job Is It, Anyhow?
Time for a changing of the guard. One of AVweb's most popular columnists, John Deakin, is taking a leave of absence and will return occasionally in the future. (Read about his plans here.)
Meanwhile, our newest columnist is a long-time contributor to AVweb. Linda Pendleton, a CFI and currently the Flight Training Manager for Eclipse Aviation, will bring us the latest from the world of flight training. In her first column, Linda discusses concerns she has about the state of the instructor/student relationship. Is the CFI solely responsible when a student is not properly signed off for solo, cross-country or even the practical exam? Is the student not at all to blame if they didn't learn all the subjects in the practical test standards? Like all of AVweb's columnists, don't expect Linda to sit quietly and toe some party line -- she leaves no one off the hook.
AVMAIL: June 21, 2004
Reader mail this week about the panic in D.C., colorblind pilots, mass arrivals at Oshkosh and much more.
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During our Civil Air Patrol mission today, we were monitoring the local tower and overheard the following traffic from a Piper Cub to the Tower:
Piper Cub: On final approach Runway 27.
Tower: Be advised there are slow movers crossing 27 at 1.
Piper Cub: That's O.K., we're slow movers, too.
AVflash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest aviation news, articles, products, features and events featured on AVweb, the Internet's Aviation Magazine and News Service. http://www.avweb.com
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