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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded,
Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
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...
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...
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.
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
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.
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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...
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...
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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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...
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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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.
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...
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...
PILOT FLYING IN U.K.
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...
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...
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
Low-level flights this week over D.C. area will collect radar
Premier Aircraft in Fla. named distributor for Diamond Aircraft...
President Bush's 747 grounded on Monday due to a bad wing flap.
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ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
Quiz #83 -- Oh
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?
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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.
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 ... ?
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HEADING TO OSHKOSH? Don't Forget to:
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|SCOTT CROSSFIELD, THE FIRST TO FLY AT MACH 2, SHARES HIS
in the August issue of Aviation
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