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Volume 10, Number 29b -- July 15, 2004

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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded, Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's NewsWire.

SPORT PILOT PROGRESS...
After a decade or so in the works (and an extended stay at the Office of Management and Budget) the highly anticipated Sport Pilot/Light Sport Aircraft final rule may (very, very soon) be ready for prime time -- we'll let the real world be the judge. Ron Wagner of EAA told AVweb on Tuesday that EAA is "very optimistic that we will have a pre-Oshkosh rule ... it's imminent." Yesterday, the FAA's Sue Gardner -- program manager for the Sport Pilot program -- told AVweb she didn't have any news to report about the rule's progress. Other sources also told AVweb yesterday that the announcement is imminent ... but would not be immediate. Meanwhile, EAA has kept the light on (for years) waiting up for the rule and, EAA's Ron Wagner said, is hoping to prepare Sport Pilot materials and forum presentations before AirVenture opens. More...

...BUT A FINAL RULE IS JUST THE BEGINNING
A "final rule," though, is just the first step in what will still be a long process of working out the real-world implications of new regulations. Wagner said that along with the rule itself, several Advisory Circulars are due for publication, and altogether it is a lot of complex material to be sorted through. As late as yesterday, some of the rule's critical details were not yet clear -- such as when it will become effective. Wagner said that normally a rule takes effect 30 days or more after publication ... but this one is very big and very complicated. Earlier, "there was some discussion that it might be implemented in stages, but we don't know," he said. More...

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SYMPHONY AIRCRAFT BACK IN BUSINESS...
The Symphony line of aircraft is back. Symphony Aircraft Industries (SAI) has bought the assets of the former OMF Aircraft Canada operation that closed early this year, SAI President Paul Costanzo announced in a media teleconference Tuesday afternoon. "I'm ecstatic about it," he said. "There have been some dark days, and it's nice to finally get here." Costanzo, who was formerly president of OMF Aircraft, worked for seven months to pull the deal together. The first order of business will be to get the two-seat Symphony 160 (which looks outwardly very much like the popular GlaStar kitplane) to market, he said. SAI will have up to 10 of the two-seaters from Germany for sale in North America by September, and plans to be turning out new 160s in Canada by December. More...

...WITH A GERMAN CONNECTION...
"It was an extremely complicated situation," Costanzo said of the deal, involving companies in two countries, angry government agencies that had invested (and lost) money, and complex agreements about type designs and production certificates. At times, he wondered if it would even be possible to work it all out. "But I thought it was too good a product to let it go," he said. "The market is looking for an airplane like this." SAI has entered into a strategic alliance with the German company OMF Flugzeugwerke GmbH (OMFDE), to acquire the assets of OMF GmbH ... and apparently to add more oddly-organized consonants and vowels. OMFDE will produce the Symphony product line for the European market, as well as for Africa and the Middle East. The two companies will work to complement each other's efforts, and will supply components to each other. More...

...AND PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
SAI is actively working to start production of the two-place Symphony 160, dealing with vendors and suppliers, and hiring manufacturing staff, the company said in a news release Tuesday. Development work has begun again on the Symphony 135D, a two-place 135-hp diesel, and the four-place Symphony 250. According to Costanzo, the 135D should be certified in Europe as an STC by the end of this year, with certification in the U.S. and Canada to follow shortly thereafter. Costanzo said he will have more details and more announcements to come during a news conference at AirVenture in Oshkosh later this month, and he will be there ready to sell airplanes. A VFR version of the 160 will sell for $129,600, IFR-equipped for $149,600, Costanzo said Tuesday. More...

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AOPA TEAMS WITH AMERICA BONANZA SOCIETY TO AVERT AD...
At the FAA's instigation, Raytheon Aircraft Corporation recently issued mandatory service bulletins requiring inspection for and repair of any crack in the spar assemblies of Beechcraft Bonanzas and Barons. And while Part 91 operators don't have to comply with the service bulletins right now, if the FAA changes the airworthiness directives, the new service bulletins would become mandatory for everyone. AOPA and the American Bonanza Society have teamed up in a pre-emptive effort to prevent that. "This issue will ultimately affect owners of any older aircraft," said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of Government and Technical Affairs. "That's because the FAA has changed its policy concerning cracks in structural members. Simply put, no more cracks." More...

...ENGINEERS HIRED, DATA COLLECTION UNDER WAY...
Two experienced aerospace structures engineers have been contracted to determine what causes the cracks in the carry-through structure, bulkhead flanges, and fuselage skins, AOPA said yesterday. And data are being collected to determine what are the real safety issues and if the "cure" is worse than the problem.The issue directly concerns all owners of Bonanzas, Debonairs, Travel Airs, and normally aspirated Barons built between 1957 and the late 1980s, AOPA said. Previously (as was the case for the Beechcraft spar web), the FAA allowed, with periodic inspection, the existence of some cracks not deemed to be structurally significant (in many cases, the cracks could be stop-drilled). But with rising concern about aging aircraft, the FAA is becoming less tolerant of cracks and other indicators of metal fatigue. More...

...TO AVOID A CURE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM
Owners would have to install a spar repair kit. But that brings with it a whole other set of problems, AOPA said. Installation of the kit is a delicate matter; done improperly, it may weaken the structure rather than reinforcing it. And there is a question whether Raytheon can produce enough kits to quickly repair affected aircraft. But there is dispute among various experts about whether the Bonanza-Baron cracking represents safety risk. Some contend the area where the cracks are most common is not structural. This is where AOPA and ABS have stepped in. "We've asked the FAA to give us time to develop data and research the most appropriate means of solving the problem," said Nancy Johnson, ABS executive director. More...

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FAA REQUIRES CONTROL-WHEEL FIX ON NEW PIPER MODELS
The FAA this week issued a straight-to-final-rule Airworthiness Directive (AD) that requires the control-wheel columns in many late-model New Piper aircraft to be inspected, and in many cases, modified with a retainer clip and thread-locking compound to prevent the control wheel from ... wait for it ... detaching. The AD was prompted by an accident in July 2003, when a pilot found that he had no aileron or elevator control. The pilot (who was not Al Haynes) landed the airplane on a dirt road using rudder and throttle to control movement, according to the NTSB preliminary report. The airplane was damaged, but the pilot was unhurt. A screw on the control wheel had backed out of its nut plate and caused the wheel to spin freely on the control column, the NTSB found. More...

...BUT IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE
Although this rule was posted as a Final Rule this week and there was no public-comment period, it was disseminated to various industry groups who were given a chance to respond to the FAA before it was published. And, according to AOPA, that process made all the difference for airplane owners. "The FAA originally proposed a repetitive 400-hour inspection," AOPA said in a news release yesterday. "But during the airworthiness-concern process, AOPA argued for a permanent fix to save owners the hassle and expense of repeated inspections. The final AD now specifies that if the screw needs to be replaced, it should be installed with Loctite thread-locking compound and a new retainer clip installed. That clip costs about $30." (AVweb sought comment from New Piper, but they were unable to respond before our deadline.) More...

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NATCA HITS THE ROAD TO DEMAND MORE HIRING
Tower by tower, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) has been taking its show on the road, holding news conferences at busy airports around the country to voice concerns about understaffing. This week, media events at airports in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Honolulu followed similar ones held recently in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Seattle. At each conference, NATCA officials list for the local media the number of vacancies at each ATC facility, plus the number of imminent retirements. In Las Vegas on Monday, NATCA officials said there are only 35 fully trained controllers working at the local approach control facility, 21 short of the FAA-authorized total that should be there. More...

GAMA DEBUTS GA DATABASE ONLINE
A new online guide to general aviation, unveiled Tuesday by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), was designed to educate the mass media, but it's likely to prove useful -- or at least interesting -- to many others. Among the information available at a click: profiles of GA manufacturers of airplanes, engines, avionics, and components; detailed information on nearly every airplane model since 1946, including range and speed information (let the debates begin), photos, the total number of airplanes shipped to date, and date of FAA certification; current quarterly shipment reports; and annual statistical reports on GA activities. The guide is up and running at GAMA's Web site. More...

AVIDYNE ANNOUNCES MULTILINK™ — MULTIPLE, COMPLEMENTARY SATELLITE DATALINK
Avidyne has selected XM WX Satellite Weather to provide broadcast datalink weather for their FlightMax EX500 multifunction displays and FlightMax Entegra integrated flight deck systems. This makes Avidyne the first company to offer fully-certified multiple satellite datalink capability. FlightMax systems already include Avidyne's two-way Narrowcast datalink system. Stop by AirVenture Booth #2100 for a demonstration; or, for more information, go online to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/avidyne/avflash.

LASERS STUDIED AS REPLACEMENT FOR PITOT TUBES
Sometimes technological change is dramatic -- think pistons to jets -- but sometimes the subtle advances are just as revolutionary. One greatly appreciated part of an airplane that could one day be changing is the venerable pitot-static system. While doing away with a projecting pitot tube would also do away with a tiny bit of drag, the product of the probe's efforts offer an upside few of us would choose to turn down for less than a knot's gain. Still, the system can be inaccurate, especially at slow speeds, and is especially inadequate for helicopters. The Laser Air Speed Sensor Instrument project (LASSI) now in the works aims to develop optical sensors and ditch the tubes, replacing them with ultraviolet laser systems that would be more accurate, easier to maintain (that's the goal, anyway) ... and drag-free. More...

BLIND PILOT FLYING IN U.K.
Steve Cunningham, a 41-year-old pilot who lost his sight at the age of 12, is working his way around Great Britain this week in a Piper Warrior to set records and raise funds for charity. He has a safety pilot on board, but is doing all the flying himself, with the help of a talking onboard computer. "The prompts come back every two seconds, and it will tell me things like whether I'm flying level, whether I'm banking to the right, banking to the left, in a descent or in a climb," Cunningham told reporters this week. "You don't fly an aircraft on what you can see, you fly an aircraft on the information that you are getting back from the control panel," he said. He just gets the information by sound rather than visually. (Unfortunately, he doesn't have one of those vibrotactile vests we told you about last year.) More...

AEROSHELL KNOWS WHAT PILOTS WANT TO PROTECT & SHINE THEIR AIRCRAFT
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FLAPPING WINGS REMAIN AN ELUSIVE GOAL
Aircraft may keep flying higher, faster, and more efficiently, but one thing seems to keep nagging at the world of aviation engineers -- and what some people really want is to fly just like a bird. Two projects underway this summer are working on the tricky mechanics of flapping flight. At Stanford University, a team of scientists and students funded with $1 million from the National Geographic Society are working to build a full-size flying replica of a pterosaur, a dinosaur with a 16-foot wingspan. A documentary about the project is due to air in 2006. At the University of Missouri, Prof. K.M. Isaac is inspired not by birds or beasts, but by bugs. He is studying the shape and weight of insect wings, and the frequency at which they flap, to help build robotic bugs with wingspans up to five feet. More...

ON THE FLY...
A Cessna pilot was handcuffed in Pa. after violating a TFR...
Cessna and Learjet up for $500 mil in tax breaks in Congress...
Will Gadd won recent Canadian Paragliding National Championship...
Peru's Aero Continente airline was grounded Monday...
NAA gave achievement award to Adm. Wesley McDonald, U.S. Navy (Ret.)...
Low-level flights this week over D.C. area will collect radar data...
Premier Aircraft in Fla. named distributor for Diamond Aircraft...
President Bush's 747 grounded on Monday due to a bad wing flap. More...

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AVWEB'S NEWSTIPS ADDRESS ...
Drop us a line. Heard something that 130,000 pilots might want to know about? If it caught your eye, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email tonewstips@avweb.com. More...

NEW ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
____________
BRAINTEASERS
Quiz #83 -- Oh No, LAHSO
LAHSO means Land And Hold Short Operations, and it's the FAA's controversial way to squeeze more air traffic onto the same old runways. Your task is to, well, land and hold short of other traffic. Got LAHSO? Hope so.

More...

BUSINESS AVFLASH
HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb’s NO-COST twice monthly Business AVflash? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash also focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the Business of Aviation. Business AVflash is a must read. Watch for a Business AVflash regular feature, TSA WATCH: GA IN THE "SPOTLIGHT". Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/ More...

"IT'S LIKE HAVING A NEW AIRPLANE"
"My airplane uses less fuel on a trip than some SUVs." "General Aviation Modifications' (GAMI) injectors pay for themselves with the fuel savings. A big bonus is how much smoother the engine runs." "Customer service is just that — SERVICE!" These are what GAMI customers have to say about GAMIjectors. Stop by AirVenture Booth #3005-06 to find out how to save fuel and time by buying injectors that pay for themselves, or go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/gami/avflash.

AVWEB'S QUESTION OF THE WEEK ...
The magic 8-ball says Sport Pilot rules may be coming around the corner any day now. Tell us how you feel in this week's "Question of the Week." PLUS: Results of last week's QOTW on professional pilot salaries. More...

AVWEB'S PICTURE OF THE WEEK ...
Yet another Michiganite (Michigander?) takes home top honors in "PoTW"! Heather Johnson receives the golden AVweb baseball cap for her perfect shot of a de Havilland Tiger Moth. How are you guys doing it up there — do you get a free camera with every checkride in now? No, don't tell us the secret — just keep sending these amazing photos! As for the rest of you — are you going to take this lying down? Is Michigan really the new capital amateur aviation photography? Well ... ? More...

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NON-OWNER (RENTER) PILOTS EXPOSED: PILOTS ARE HELD FINANCIALLY LIABLE
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FLIGHT INTERNATIONAL DIGITAL — IT'S NEW, AND IT'S AVAILABLE NOW!
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AEROMEDIX.COM ADDS AVWEB COLUMNIST JOHN DEAKIN'S BOOK TO SITE
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SPONSOR NEWS
SCOTT CROSSFIELD, THE FIRST TO FLY AT MACH 2, SHARES HIS EXPERIENCES
in the August issue of Aviation Safety. It's one thing to bore through a little weather in your Skylane; it's quite another to be the first to strap on a rocket-powered research plane, launch from a B-52 and fly to the lower reaches of space. Here's how Scott Crossfield, the first to fly at Mach 2, learned to recognize and manage the risks, as told to Aviation Safety editor Jeb Burnside. Other articles include "Diagnose the Shakes," "Good IFR Platforms," "Top Ten Owner Tips," "Takeoff Planning," and much more to keep you safe and your airplane running smoothly. Order your subscription at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/avsafe/avflash.
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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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Today's issue written by News Writer Mary Grady:
http://www.avweb.com/contact/authors.html#mgrady
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