January 16, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
|This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... JA Air Center
FROM PORTABLE TO PANEL-MOUNT JA AIR CENTER IS THE PLACE TO BUY GARMIN
Aviation Technology Group (ATG) --owner of the hottest looking mock-up in town -- says it expects to roll out and fly its two-seat, twin-engine Javelin Jet prototype in the first quarter of this year. "Not long after, we will host an event where the Javelin will break records in the VLJ [very-light jet] category," CEO George Bye said mysteriously, in a recent company update. "This is a very exciting time ... and it's just the tip of the iceberg of what is to come." ATG has been building up its high-level staff, hiring former Cessna president Charlie Johnson to oversee manufacturing and flight ops, and also adding Horst Bergmann, former Jeppesen president, as right-hand-man to Bye. The company also announced late last year it has entered an agreement with Israel Aircraft Industries for the design, development and manufacture of an Advanced Jet Trainer for military use, based on the Javelin Jet design. ATG is planning to promote its jet abroad this year, exhibiting in Geneva and Paris as well as hitting EAA AirVenture in July, the Reno Air Races in September and the AOPA and NBAA conventions in November. ATG says it has more than 90 orders for the $2.5-million jet, and expects to start deliveries of FAA-certified Javelins in 2007. The aerobatic jet would make 528 knots, climb at 12,000 fpm and cruise at up to 45,000 feet, ATG says. ATG, based in Englewood, Colo., is planning a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Albuquerque, N.M.
"But what the general aviation needs most is this: It must be cheaper!" So says the English version of the German Web site of High Performance Aircraft (HPA), which is working on a shaft-driven twin-prop five-seat business aircraft. The TT62 Alekto ran its first taxi test last month -- you can watch it online. The composite airplane is driven by two Thielert 310-hp diesel FADEC engines, which will be installed centerline-ish, inside the fuselage, behind the cabin. The two five-bladed props then extend on pylons aft of the wing. "By this, excellent aerodynamic properties of the engine installation is realized -- there is no need of direct air-exposure of the liquid-cooled engines!" the Web site says. The company says the airplane will use half the fuel of comparable aircraft, and instead of avgas will use the cheaper and universally available Jet A. Want to see it in person? The factory at Heringsdorf-Usedom Airport is open to visitors every Friday afternoon. See if you agree with the company's own observation: "The TT62 impresses already at the first eye-catch by its form." More than 60 of the airplanes have been ordered so far.
In the world of big airplanes -- and we mean realllly big -- tomorrow in France, Airbus will roll out with great fanfare (5,000 guests are expected) its brand-new A380, the world's biggest airliner, with capacity for 550 to 1,000 passengers. The superjumbo so far has cost $12 billion to develop. Airbus has orders for 139 of the aircraft, which is expected to fly in March. A much more affordable and differently tasked contender, Quest Aircraft's new Kodiak STOL 10-place turboprop prototype, has completed 50 flights and 40 hours in its test regime, the company said last week. "Performance of the Kodiak in most areas has exceeded our projections," said Tom Hamilton, chief technical officer. The Idaho company plans to debut the Kodiak at the Alaska Airmen's Trade Show in Anchorage, Alaska, May 14-15. And another big aircraft took to the skies last week, when a Zeppelin NT, the biggest modern airship at 246 feet long, flew for 40 minutes over the western Japan city of Kobe.
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The FAA's Sport Pilot knowledge-test question bank has been posted for about two months, and now test-prep guides are reaching the market to help prospective pilots ace the exam. ASA is ready with its Sport Pilot Test Prep, in software format or book form, with all the FAA questions, answers and explanations arranged by subject matter. Demand reportedly has been so great that the publisher can't keep up, but orders in now should be filled by the end of the month. Gleim also has a selection, from software to books to an online ground school, as well as a study guide for the practical test and a syllabus with lesson plans for ground and flight training. King Schools is working on a Sport Pilot course in partnership with EAA. The computer-based video program should be ready soon, according to the King Schools Web site.
The FAA last week issued the first certification of an ultralight trainer (a Maxair Drifter) as an experimental light-sport aircraft (E-LSA), and also awarded the first weight-shift (trike) ratings, EAA has reported. The events took place in Sebring, Fla., where the staff of the FAA's Light-Sport Aviation Branch had arrived from Oklahoma City to prepare for this week's first sport pilot examiner training course. The staffers set to work flying at the Sebring Airport. Larry Clymer checked out in an Air Creation GTE and added a private pilot weight-shift rating to his pilot credentials, becoming the first to hold that rating. He also added sport pilot instructor credentials in the weight-shift category, and then gave Marty Weaver his practical test in the trike. Weaver then became the first to add sport pilot weight-shift privileges to his existing pilot certificate. The Maxair E-LSA is owned by Romke Sikkema and Jeff Hudson.
PAYING TOO MUCH FOR LIFE INSURANCE?
Yes, tomorrow is the deadline for CFIs to complete online security-awareness training. If you're an active CFI, you're required to do it, but don't worry that men in black suits will come knocking at your door to follow up. Several CFIs told AVweb that course-takers can expect to spend more time than advertised -- from one hour up to three hours -- mainly because of slow download times. Others said that FAA officials at local FSDOs had no information about the course or the TSA requirements, and that it was a waste of time. "Don't get me wrong, I agree that it is a good idea to raise awareness," one reader wrote. "But the TSA should have raised our awareness that our awareness needed raising." According to AOPA, officials at the Transportation Security Administration say they want to focus on compliance, not enforcement. Translation: You are required to do it as soon as you can, but most can be confident nobody is going to check up on them right away. Amid the initial (and last-minute) confusion, AOPA also got the TSA to clarify that only actively working CFIs are required to take the training. CFIs who have current certificates but are not involved in training, or whose certificates have expired, are encouraged, but not required, to take the free course.
Add guns to drinking, and you have worries, but add flying too, and you have potential disaster. Thus when a federal security screener at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas, Nev., smelled alcohol on an armed AirTran pilot last Wednesday, police quickly descended. They questioned him, gave him a breath test and removed him from the cockpit. Oliver Paul Reason Jr., 37, was fired from his flying job and also suspended from his duties as a federal flight deck officer. Tracy Price, an airline pilot and an advocate for guns in the cockpit, told reporters the greatest danger is not a drunk pilot with a gun, but a drunk pilot with an airplane. "The issue is making sure a pilot who is irresponsible with alcohol is never, ever given access to an airplane," said Price. "Between the airplane and the gun, the airplane is many times more dangerous." All federal flight deck officers are volunteers trained by the TSA and are required to pass psychological tests. AirTran told The Washington Post it never liked the idea of pilots carrying guns in the first place. "We want the pilots to focus on flying and not on guns or security or anything else," spokesman Tad Hutcheson said.
CS&A REPRESENTS OVER 40 PROPERTY & CASUALTY UNDERWRITING COMPANIES
In Pennsylvania, a pilot who was accused of flying drunk last year has lost his airplane. The Cherokee was sold for $34,000, and now a judge has decreed that the proceeds belong to the district attorney's office. Asst. D.A. James Staerk argued pilot John Salamone's actions were "egregious" and warranted forfeiture of the airplane, and the court agreed. Salamone was convicted of risking a catastrophe and endangering others after flying recklessly for four hours in January 2004. His arrest prompted the state legislature to propose a new law against drunken flying, after prosecutors (and the public) were aghast to find that no such law existed. Salamone's money goes into an account that funds crime-fighting measures.
The pilots often fly in conditions similar to what caused the accident to which they're responding, but thirty-seven people died in 12 crashes during medical-evacuation flights last year, and the FAA and NTSB now are working on recommendations to improve the safety record. Night flying and weather have been cited as the most common causes. One step that's expected is that the FAA may require pilots to fly with night-vision goggles after dark. "I think the FAA is a little late getting on board," rescue pilot Will Eldredge told the Channel 3 News in Idaho Falls, Idaho, last week. "People have been pushing for goggles for many, many years." Eldredge said the goggles amplify existing light -- starlight, moonlight or city lights -- as much as 2,000 to 3,500 times. The FAA is also considering if air ambulance flights should be required to have Terrain Awareness Warning Systems, and also may require more pilot training. (Perhaps including what to do when targeted by a laser while wearing night-vision goggles.)
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College graduates with training in air traffic control now can get hired by the FAA even if more than two years have elapsed since they graduated, the FAA said last week. The change in policy is expected to give the agency more flexibility in reaching controller candidates as it prepares to hire and train 12,500 air traffic controllers over the next 10 years. "We want to leave the door open as long as possible," said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. "By extending the hiring period, we can tap a valuable source of potential new controllers and be fair to those who have already invested in their aviation careers." The FAA has said it will hire 1,249 controllers in fiscal year 2006. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) was glad to hear of the policy change. "This is great news," NATCA spokeswoman Ruth Marlin said. "NATCA has pressed for this change because the students should not have been made to suffer because the FAA was slow in hiring ... We are very pleased the agency has lifted this unnecessary barrier to staffing the nation's air traffic control system." The new policy allows graduates of the FAA's Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative to apply for a one-year extension of hiring eligibility each year until they turn 31, the maximum hiring age for controllers. The FAA now has agreements with 13 colleges and universities to offer courses in air traffic control.
The TSA asks GA to be alert during inauguration week (... on top of your normal state of awareness while flying or enjoying the airport)...
EAA unveiled its new Web site for this summer's AirVenture at Oshkosh...
China GA Forum set for March 16-18 in Shaanxi Province, to promote growth of GA business and partnerships...
A Cessna T182T, N477DW, was reported stolen from Falcon Field, in Mesa, Ariz., on Jan. 12. The Aviation Crime Prevention Institute asks anyone with info to call 314-576-2960...
The X Prize Foundation has three new board members: Larry Page, co-founder of Google; Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and PayPal; and Jack Bader, CEO of NetEffects...
A new spaceport is in the works for a remote site in west Texas, with funding from Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com...
Albatrosses can fly for thousands of miles nonstop, often circumnavigating the Southern Ocean just north of Antarctica, scientists have found. Some flew about 10,000 miles in 46 days. They can fly all night and appear sometimes to sleep on the wing...
NOVA airs its Concorde program, "Supersonic Dream," tomorrow night at 8 on PBS.
ASA'S AIRCRAFT FLIGHT LOG IS EASY & COMPLETE
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CEO of the Cockpit #41: Risky Business
Safety is an indistinct concept -- in airplanes and in more terrestrial vehicles. You can be the safest person, attentive and defensive; but when a car (or plane) just misses you, luck seems to be much more involved. AVweb's CEO had a close encounter that kept him wondering how safe we are.
ATTENTION, PIPER OWNERS & PILOTS
Reader mail this week about escaping spins, pit(iful) landings and lots more about lasers in the cockpit.
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Short runway, shorter fuse, and usually carrying less animated cargo...
Tower: Understand you're without cargo today. If you're light, cleared for runway 6.
N1234: All I have on board is my wife ... and she's heavy, but not THAT heavy.
Tower: Roger N1234, and she's flying with you, now?
N1234: Yep, she's got her headset on and is punching the heck out of me. Cleared to land runway 6, N1234.
Tower: Copy. ...We'll roll the trucks.
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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Fly it till everything stops.
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