August 4, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
|This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... Trade-A-Plane |
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Whether by coincidence or design, a loose theme usually develops at EAA AirVenture (unrelated to the stated theme hung on the show by its organizers) and this was the year of the glass panel. Most major piston single and twin manufacturers had something to say about glass cockpits at this year's show (except Cirrus, which has been all-glass for more than a year) and, in most cases, the gauges we puzzled over as student pilots are giving way entirely to electronic representations of the same gauges, plus all the other information that can be superimposed, flashed or highlighted on the screens. Click through for "who" carries "what." For the record, Bonanzas and Barons will have G1000s as standard equipment beginning in 2005. Cessna will start equipping 172s with Garmin G1000s (they were recently certified for 182s and 206s), Cirrus has had the Avidyne Entegra for some time, and Mooney is also going with Garmin in its Ovation and Bravo lines. Diamond has begun shipping G1000-equipped DA40s and its TwinStar also has the package. And Piper is putting Avidyne systems in its lower-end models. The Saratoga and 6X lines already have it.
We can't help but wonder, then, when accessible, affordable and justifiable synthetic-vision systems will become the show watchword. Chelton introduced the first GA-oriented synthetic-vision system at last year's show but it's still a little pricey ($75,000) for most owner-pilots. In fact, it seems like GA applications of new technology such as synthetic vision are caught in the middle between the relatively risk-free R&D advances in the experimental market (ranging below $5,000) and the over-the-top bells-and-whistles systems developed for the military. But it seems those military versions, if you walk in front of the wrong end, might just give you a permanent tan ... not to mention a respectable half-life. We did see some offerings on the grounds at OSH. Take, for example, Blue Mountain Avionics EFIS Sport. For $6,500 it nestles in the radio stack giving everything from a G-meter, to airspeed and altitude, to "3D virtual reality out-the-window terrain view." Everything, that is, except the paperwork necessary to put it in your certified aircraft. And with all the RVs, Lancairs and other capable cross-country homebuilts out there, there's no indication Blue Mountain is in any hurry to service the certified market.
At the other end of the spectrum are a couple of systems being developed by NASA and the military that (we hope) will trickle down to GA in the future. Gulfstream, which became the first GA manufacturer to certify an enhanced vision system to give aircraft lower ILS numbers (so to speak), is partnering with NASA to develop combination head-up and head-down display systems that include "advanced multi-scan weather radar, advanced sensors, a voice recognition system and cockpit displays with computer-generated images of the terrain." Like Chelton's already-available system, the NASA gear combines a terrain database and GPS navigation to provide the virtual view of the world outside. Another system under development is less dependent on wizardry and more on wattage. BAE Systems has received a $13 million contract from the Air Force to apply its weather-penetrating 94-GHz imaging radar in the development of an Autonomous Approach Landing Capability (AALC) system. When combined with "optical sensors, new digital light engine hedup displays, a surface guidance system and multi spectral radome," the system will allow zero-ceiling/zero-visibility operations anywhere on earth.
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Just as the long-awaited recovery in the aviation business is starting to take hold, Cessna and its largest union have started bargaining toward a new contract. According to a story in the Wichita Business Journal, the union is aware of the delicate nature of the business as it begins talks. "Remember, it only takes one more stupid act to throw this critical and sensitive industry into turmoil," said Tom Buffenbarger, president of the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers (and author of rather candid quotes). The current contract expires in September. Although all the usual issues (wages, benefits, job security, etc.) are on the table for these negotiations, there's a particular emphasis on health-care costs, something Buffenbarger says should be debated in a larger forum. "It's going to require enlightened minds from the realm of management, from labor, from the medical community and certainly with deep involvement from our government to take this issue off the bargaining table and put it in the realm of a national debate where it's a national solution we search for and we devise," he said. Something tells us that isn't going to get done by September (of an election year, no less).
As it rolls up its sleeves to duke it out with Airbus for market share, Boeing is predicting the world's fleet of airliners will double in the next 20 years to 35,000 aircraft (and you've got trouble getting a clearance, now?). And the Chicago-based plane-maker says the most growth will come at the low end of the market. In its 2004 Current Market Outlook, Boeing sees the biggest market in single-aisle airliners (perhaps a not-so-curious correlation with the sort of airliners with which it's had recent success), which it predicts will command 59 percent (14,770 aircraft) of the market. Curiously, it's predicting that only 21 percent of sales will come from twin-aisle mid-size aircraft, like its new 7E7 Dreamliner. Regional jets are predicted to satisfy 17 percent of overall demand while large aircraft (like Airbus's A380) have a minuscule (3 percent) of the future market (790 planes), according to Boeing's built-by-Boeing crystal ball. What's perhaps more telling is that Boeing is predicting airlines will rely less on the hub-and-spoke schedule in favor of "more nonstop, point-to-point flights and increased frequency choice, not larger airplanes." In the press release, spokesman Randy Baseler said the external forces that created the most recent downturn "do not change the fundamentals of economic growth and the need for people to travel."
It's beginning to look like a huge range of wireless services will soon be commonplace on airliners and perhaps general aviation isn't far behind. Lufthansa inaugurated high-speed Internet access on its flights with Boeing's Connexion system earlier this year and now it looks like competition is coming via systems that will not only provide broadband Web services, but on-demand entertainment and even homeland-security functions. Heck, we'd be happy with permission to use our cellphones. For the airlines, the Skyway Communications Holding Corp. recently launched a DC-9 research and demonstration aircraft to test and develop in-flight broadband capabilities. So far, it's come up with all the usual features you'd expect ... and likely want (Internet, e-mail, entertainment, cellphone) but it's also testing video conferencing, wireless engine and airframe data links, in-flight medical-emergency assistance and a Big Brother-ish homeland-security bundle that includes security cameras, facial recognition and pattern recognition. Keeping all this electromagnetic energy from screwing up the cockpit equipment may be accomplished by an on-board system that disables the transmitters on electromagnetically antagonistic devices during critical phases of flight. Wireless devices that permit such manipulation will flash a universal symbol that flight attendants can check to ensure the machines are safe to use on airplanes.
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"In our estimation, the X PRIZE is about to be won," X PRIZE founder Peter Diamandis said at a press conference at Oshkosh on Saturday. "But that's not the end -- it's the beginning of the X PRIZE Cup, which will be an annual event." Diamandis said the private space teams that have been working to develop new technology trying to win the X PRIZE will meet at an annual gathering in New Mexico to compete in races for new cash prizes. The event will include a Public Spaceflight Exposition. Twenty-seven teams from seven countries registered to compete for the X PRIZE, and more are expected for the X PRIZE Cup competition. Participating teams so far represent the United States, Canada, Argentina, Russia, the United Kingdom, Israel and Romania.
What will really change on the morning of Sept. 1, when the new Sport-Pilot/Light Sport Aircraft rules take effect? The one thing we could find, with help from EAA info analyst Charlie Becker in the AirVenture Sport Pilot tent, is this: If you want to fly a standard-category aircraft that qualifies as a light-sport aircraft, such as certain Aeroncas, or Luscombes, or Pipers, or Ercoupes -- EAA has a long list of dozens of airplanes that qualify -- you can burn your current third-class medical or let it lapse, show up at the airport on Sept. 1 with only your valid driver's license, and fly as a Sport Pilot. That means day VFR only. Digging a little deeper, it seems you can also (theoretically) go to the airport on Sept. 1 and start working with a Certified Flight Instructor to build hours toward your Sport Pilot license, but the Practical Test Standards and the knowledge test aren't expected to be published till October, which means you can't be sure that you are spending those hours working on the right tasks. And there probably won't be a flight examiner who can test you until January, anyway. If you want to buy a light-sport aircraft, you will have to wait probably at least till next spring, while the FAA and the industry work out the procedures. As Mark Twain said: "All good things arrive unto them that wait ... and don't die in the meantime."
A BRAND NEW AIRCRAFT FOR THE COST OF A SECOND CAR!
While people were poring over Diamond's Twin Star in its front-and-center location at Oshkosh AirVenture last week, almost as much attention is being paid to a newly certified twin parked in the camping area a half mile from show center. The Angel Aircraft Corp. Model 44 would look a lot like many other piston twins except the 300-horsepower Lycomings are pointed backward. Closer inspection reveals a foot-thick wing at the leading edge with full-length flaperons. The Angel was designed by a missionary pilot who needed something to get into short, unimproved strips while packing a big payload. We're not sure why the props are behind the tires, either, but extensive tire guards clearly indicate designers' attempts to ensure the unimproved portion of a strip doesn't get kicked back into whirring blades. Minimum takeoff roll is 658 feet and minimum landing roll is 568 feet. It has a useful load of 1,920 pounds. Two production models and the prototype are flying. They sell for about $700,000. Although the Iowa company has obtained certification, it doesn't have the money to set up production so is looking for a buyer for the type certificate.
New roller lifters (cam followers) were announced by Lycoming and Superior for most Lycoming applications. Roller-tipped lifters are used widely in the automotive world to reduce internal friction, but the benefit for aircraft is improved longevity. Both companies said the rollers are in development programs that should last through fall. Lycoming plans to introduce the lifters as part of "phased design improvements" to its engine line.
NON-OWNER (RENTER) PILOTS EXPOSED: PILOTS ARE HELD FINANCIALLY LIABLE
A new book launched at AirVenture aims to take some of the mystery -- and fear -- out of becoming a pilot while at the same time extolling its virtues. You Can Fly, by Master CFI Greg Brown and author and editor Laurel Lippert, is like an introductory guide to becoming a pilot, laced with plenty of biased enthusiasm on why it's such a good idea. "There wasn't anything like this out there," said Lippert, whose husband Tom provided the photographs for the book. Lippert said she speculates many prospective pilots reject the notion when they pick up the heavily technical flight school manuals to see what they're in for. You Can Fly intentionally leaves out all the details (it's not intended to be a manual of any sort) and guides readers through the various processes and requirements they'll have to address as student pilots. It also constantly reassures the reader that not only are their suspicions about flying true, but that ordinary people can, and do, become pilots. "What we want to say to them is: 'This is so much fun and you can do it,'" said Lippert. The book is being distributed by Aviation Supplies and Academics.
If your plane is equipped with the Honeywell KGP-560 EGPWS or the L-3 Avionics WX-500 Stormscope Weather Mapping Sensor, you now have the option of hooking in the Ryan Multi-Hazard Display (MHD). Ryan International execs announced at AirVenture that the new interfaces will soon be available, allowing pilots traffic, terrain or lightning activity on a primary view and two thumbnail views simultaneously. The MHD is a dedicated panel display that gets rid of some of the clutter pilots have found with their moving map, communication and navigation overlays. The 9900 BX MHD retails for $20,900.
SCOPED OUT NEW AVIONICS AT OSHKOSH & FOUND THEM WAY ABOVE YOUR BUDGET?
The largest designer of airplane paint schemes in the U.S. is now offering a service for aircraft owners who need a little help instead of a lot. Scheme Designers has launched www.aircraftcolor.com, a Web site with a database of more than 3,000 airplane paint schemes. For $39.95, you can use the site for 30 days, saving, downloading and printing as many of the paint schemes as you would like. (You can download drawings of different types of aircraft free.) The full service, which buys you pages of paint plans down to the smallest detail, runs from $450 to $950. But Scheme Designer's CEO Craig Barnett knows that there are a number of aircraft owners who either can't or won't spend that. "This [aircraft color] is a good tool for those people who can't justify that," he said. After you choose a paint scheme you like, you can either take it to your paint shop to complete or Scheme Designs will draw up the plans for you for an extra fee. In their higher-end services, Scheme Designers is also now offering real-time online design sessions for customers. Say you've chosen a paint scheme but need it tweaked in several ways. You would log on at the same time your designer does and see the real-time changes being made to your plane's new look. "This is all we do," says Barnett. "We're a niche niche business and doing our best to stay that way." (Yes, niche niche is correct.)
Here's a new air show for the calendar, especially if you like Mustangs. Gathering of Mustangs and Legends -- The Final Roundup will be held at Reno Stead Field June 9 to June 12, 2006. Organizers hope to attract 100 of the estimated 150 P-51s still flying and many of the Second World War pilots who flew them. A full air show including military performers and possibly the Thunderbirds is also planned...
The FAA is backing off on a plan to require babies to be secured during flight and that has the NTSB furious. Instead, the FAA will launch an education program highlighting the dangers of parents carrying babies on their laps. Children aged two and older must have their own seats under current rules...
A couple of crashes have left seven dead and two injured. Six people died when a twin crashed into a house on takeoff from Lakeway Airpark, near Austin, Texas, on Tuesday. Two passengers walked away but the pilot was killed in the crash of a Cessna 182 near Port Angeles, Wash., also on Tuesday...
A Cessna 421 carrying Kansas Fish and Wildlife authorities hit a deer on landing at Topeka Airport last week. The deer was hit by a flap and apparently wasn't badly hurt. The flap suffered minor damage...
Embraer will build the U.S. military's next spy plane. The Brazilian manufacturer's ERJ 145 will be the platform for the new secret plane, which will be built in Jacksonville, Fla., in a project led by Lockheed Martin.
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The Savvy Aviator #8: Overhaul Overdone
When an instrument, accessory or other appliance stops working on our airplanes, we generally get it overhauled or exchange it for an overhauled exchange unit, right? Wrong, says AVweb's Mike Busch, who argues that overhaul is often unnecessary and a big waste of money, and offers several illustrative cases-in-point.
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.
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ATTENTION, PROSPECTIVE OR CURRENT STUDENT PILOTS!
Hoo-boy, did we ever get a lot of response to our last "Question of the Week"! If you thought our poll about the salaries of professional pilots was a bit one-sided 2/3 of our respondents answered with an emphatic "no, professional pilots are not overpaid" wait until you see the result of our poll on CFI salaries!
97% of our respondents (over 700 readers) answered "no!" again. (We added the exclamation point.) A few even took us to task for asking the question. Somewhere out there, however, are 19 AVweb readers who thought, "Yep, CFIs are overpaid." (Maybe they're lucky enough to have an Instructor who just makes it look easy.)
This week, AVweb wants to know if you're happier with the round analog gauges on older instrument panels, or just more familiar with them. Flat panels are taking over, but because most of us don't buy or fly new airplanes, most of us aren't all that familiar with them. These incredibly capable boxes are out there right now but is it a good thing for you?
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to email@example.com.
Note: This address is only for suggested QOTW questions, and not for QOTW answers.
DA42 TWIN STAR CERTIFICATION: LOTS OF FIRSTS
Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions
Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners
Yowza! "POTW" submissions usually drop off during an air show, but AVweb readers kept up the flood of photos during last week's EAA AirVenture. Way to go, guys you sent us so many photos that we can't, in good conscience, roll two weeks' worth of entries into a single contest! Instead, we're presenting last week's winners today and we'll deliver a second, bonus "POTW" gallery on Monday! (Is it just us, or is there something eerily appropriate about Tim Loehrke winning this week's contest with a photo of the lightest-of-all-possible-aircraft? Talk about LSAs... .)
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
copyright © Tim Loehrke
"Now That's Flying!"
"I could not resist circling to stop and photograph this guy
having fun over northern Virginia," writes Tim Loehrke of Herndon, Virginia.
Congratulations, Tim your second pass has earned you an Official AVweb Baseball Cap!
here to view a large version of this image
Click here for a medium-sized version
AVweb continues to receive a large number of excellent images for our POTW contest. Here are some of the runners-up. Click on the links below to view larger versions.
Mark Murdock of Griffin, Georgia writes,
"We have beautiful sunsets at The Pecan Patch (OGE4)."
No kidding, Mark what a sight!
Used with permission of Ward Burhanna
"Soaring 'Whiskey Whiskey'"
Ward Burhanna of Trenton, Illinois sends us this shot of "Max,"
a member of the St. Louis Soaring Association, flying his Grob 104 Sailplane
To enter next week's contest, click here.
A Reminder About Copyrights: Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or send us an e-mail.
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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