January 23, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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No good deed goes unpunished, it seems, although we'd be surprised to see the FAA throw the book at Jeremy Johnson. Johnson, battling high winds and rain, used his private helicopter to help rescue a southern Utah family from a massive flood that washed away their home and most of their possessions last week. Then, he offered rides in his Robinson chopper over the flood-ravaged area for a $100 donation to the family, raising for them $5,000 in the first four hours and $20,000 total over two days. That was after ferrying supplies, taking an explosives expert to a blockage in the river to blow it up and basically flying his tail off for a week to help his neighbors. But while his community is hailing him as a hero, the FAA is alleging he broke a couple of rules in the process. "I'm afraid they're going to suspend my license," Johnson told The Associated Press. One of Johnson's alleged crimes is that he failed to give the FAA seven days' notice before offering rides in the helicopter. FAA officials are also questioning whether his spur-of-the-moment kindness qualified as a bona-fide charity. As for carrying the explosives expert and his explosives to the river jam (at the request of emergency officials), the FAA's Hazardous Materials Division is reviewing that move's legality. FAA spokesman Allen Kantzer confirmed that Johnson could face "as little as a reprimand or as much as a revocation of his license." Regardless of what officialdom thinks of his activities, Renae Ludwig, whose daughters Johnson flew to safety from the flood, has her opinion. "He's my angel wings. I'm just overwhelmed by everything. I can't believe what he's doing."
Meanwhile, a Pennsylvania pilot who used his aircraft to cause a series of potential disasters claims the punishment meted out is too harsh. John Salamone was jailed for up to 23 months (he's appealing) and also forfeited his Piper Cherokee for an allegedly drunken spree over Pennsylvania and New Jersey a year ago that forced evasive action by six airliners and some close encounters for a police helicopter. Now Salamone wants the $34,000 selling price of the plane that a judge ordered him to forfeit to the Montgomery County district attorney's office. Salamone's lawyer, Joseph P. Green Jr., claims the forfeiture amounts to double jeopardy because Salamone had already been sentenced to prison for reckless endangerment and risking a catastrophe. During the trial, prosecutors said the airplane was contraband used in the commission of a crime and therefore subject to forfeiture. No word on when either appeal will be heard.
FROM PORTABLE TO PANEL-MOUNT JA AIR CENTER IS THE PLACE TO BUY GARMIN
The all but empty reaches of near space could get noticeably more crowded in coming years if all who plan to exploit its potential get their projects off the ground. Although Burt Rutan and Paul Allen's Mojave Space Ventures claimed the $10 million Ansari X Prize as the first privately funded effort to reach 100 kilometers in altitude (twice in two weeks) last October, that didn't end the race for near space. Since then other groups involved in the X Prize competition have continued to work toward repeating the feat. The Canadian da Vinci Project was trying to give the Mojave team a run for the big prize but equipment delays prevented their planned October launch of a giant balloon as a first stage and a rocket for the final push. In early December, the team announced completion of the massive helium-filled balloon that will carry the rocket Wildfire to 70,000 feet. The launch is still on hold, however, and no date has been announced.
Two companies not involved in the X Prize competition have recently ramped up their efforts to get into space. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos has started building a testing facility in Texas for his Blue Origin company. Blue Origin has been doing design work in Seattle for several years on its relaunchable liquid-fueled spacecraft, which it hopes to launch in seven years. The Texas facility will include an engine test stand, fuel and water tanks and offices, according to Geek.com. The company is also hiring, according to its own Web site. Another dot-com mogul, John Carmack, of id Software, has created Armadillo Aerospace. The small but apparently determined Armadillo crew has already tried test firing an engine component, although it wasn't terribly successful. Armadillo posts semi-regular progress reports (warts and all) on its Web site that should be interesting to the technically minded. We'll wait for the launch...
Any of these private companies that actually get hardware into sub-space may have to dodge military devices. The Air Force is planning to launch unmanned aircraft that will exploit the altitudes above 65,000 feet for simple tasks like communications relay within the next year. Helium-filled balloons (sound familiar?) would likely get that job. But over the next decade, more sophisticated aircraft could do reconnaissance and other battle-support work. "This is not a passing fad or fancy," Lt. Gen. Daniel Leaf told Reuters. Leaf also stressed there are no plans to put weapons on the aircraft. Rather, they will most likely function as electronic relay, sensing and broadcast stations, augmenting existing systems and creating localized communications and intelligence-gathering capabilities. Leaf said there are about 10 concepts under review and he noted that something called the Near Space Maneuvering Vehicle is to be tested in Oregon within weeks.
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The silence from Adam Aircraft is deafening. Last October the company predicted the first customer delivery of an A500 before the end of December. AVweb has contacted Adam officials at least five times in the past three weeks for a routine follow-up on progress for the company's innovative A500 inline piston twin and first-to-fly (to AirVenture Oshkosh) A700 very light twinjet. In every conversation with an Adam official this year, AVweb writers were asked to call back, and did ... each time. Now, a published report (which an Adam official also refused to discuss) that certification of its push/pull A500 piston twin is off the rails and that that's slowing progress on the A700 jet's development has apparently leaked. On Jan. 21, Aviation International News ran a story concerning the delays. According to the AIN report, the piston plane's certification has been delayed and, because about 65 percent of the A500's parts are also used in the jet, that's pushed the anticipated certification of the jet from this coming December to "early next year." If you've had firsthand experience with Adam Aircraft, AVweb would like to hear from you. Adam has our phone number...
The second crash of a Cirrus SR22 last week has killed three people near Hood River, Ore. In both accidents, it is unclear whether the aircraft's full-plane parachute system had been deployed. Pilot Paul Linck, 41, of White Salmon, Wash., and passengers Brook Campbell, 26, of Stevenson, Wash., and 34-year-old Chris Jones of Hood River, died when their plane crashed on a ridge about five miles from Hood River. As AVweb told you Thursday, a Georgia man died when his SR22 crashed into a house in Coconut Creek, Fla. The three men killed in the most recent crash were on a night flight from Salem, Ore., to Hood River. Linck cancelled his IFR flight plan shortly after departure. News reports didn't mention whether the plane's emergency parachute had been deployed. In the earlier Florida crash, the parachute was found spread over the ground but it's not clear if the pilot deployed it or it was released on impact. The two crashes came as Ballistic Recovery Systems, which makes the Cirrus parachute, announced that 18 more lives had been saved by pilots pulling the handle. Three of those crashes involved Cirruses and at least six people were involved.
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Some of the CFIs who managed to successfully complete the TSA's online security-awareness course (we heard from many readers, especially those on dialup, that the course was frustrating to take because the questions took so long to load) were faced with another complication. They couldn't print the completion certificate that was supposed to be the proof that they took the course. So AOPA convinced the agency to accept a tried-and-true (if decidedly low-tech) method of proving compliance. "Much like an endorsement, instructors can now make an entry in a logbook or other permanent record to show they've completed the required training," AOPA spokesman Rob Hackman said. The logbook entry should read, "I certify that I received security awareness training, as required by 49 CFR part 1552, on the date indicated above. I also certify that any alternate security awareness training program I used to comply with 49 CFR part 1552 meets the criteria in 49 CFR 1552.23(c)," and be signed by the CFI. Instructors not comfortable with a logbook entry (after all, you can't frame it and hang it) can download completion certificates from AOPA's Web site. There are different forms for independent and flying-school-based instructors.
In the next two years, the FAA wants all pilots to trade in their paper certificates for the (allegedly) more terrorist-proof plastic model unveiled in 2003. Initially, the agency was going to let the paper editions be replaced by the natural attrition of wear and tear and when pilots got new ratings or certificates. But AOPA says the agency is now working on a rule requiring replacement of the paper pilot certificates within two years (five years for other types of airman certificates). But even that may be an interim measure. The agency is still working on getting photos on the certificates but it's hung up on the mechanism for actually getting the pictures taken. (We understand cameras work well for that ...) Among the procedural suggestions is that medical examiners be issued digital cameras to snap photos (... of your face) as part of the examination routine. In the meantime, pilots have to carry their driver's license with them. Getting a plastic certificate is as easy as ordering one online for $2. You can save yourself the two bucks if you tell the FAA you want your social security number removed from your certificate for privacy or security reasons. And no, we didn't ask.
IN CASE OF FIRE, AN EVAC-U8 ESCAPE HOOD FROM AEROMEDIX CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE
Juneau and Palm Springs might seem worlds apart but they're both a lot easier to get to thanks to a GPS-based instrument landing system developed by Alaska Airlines and approved by the FAA. The Required Navigation Performance (RNP) system uses on-board transmitters and GPS signals to allow pilots much lower minimums when landing at airports with narrow approaches surrounded by mountains. The system was first put into use at several Alaska airports with their notoriously poor weather. But clear, dry, CAVU Palm Springs? Apparently not always. Earlier this month, low valley cloud accompanying a rainstorm (!) at Palm Springs caused Alaska to cancel, delay or divert 24 flights. Other airlines were similarly affected, including Calgary-based WestJet's maiden run to Palm Springs. The winter-weary Canadians ended up at LAX instead. When the weather is down at ILS-less Palm Springs, the new system allows Alaska flights to operate to 250 feet and three-quarters of a mile.
Some people wait until the time is just right before taking flying lessons. For Michael Barry, of St. Augustine, Fla., it was just after he turned 11. The fifth grader needs about a half dozen cushions to help him see over the panel and reach the pedals of the Florida Aviation Career Training Cessna 152 but his stature hasn't kept him from taking off and practicing basic flight and navigation skills. He's not quite landing on his own yet but instructor Donna Tostevin told the St. Augustine record Barry could join a special club of pilots at the airport. She said at least three local kids have earned their driver's licenses and soloed on the same day. Michael's dad Ron said flying is all his son wants to do now and he aims to be a commercial pilot. Teaching (very) young people to fly may be more popular than you imagine. AVweb was recently contacted by Cleo Chamberlain, an instructor who has developed a flight training program for young people.
HAVE A CONCERN ABOUT YOUR MEDICAL?
Yet another reason to wait for the bar cart. An EPA study says drinking the water on an airliner is getting riskier. The study found bacterial contamination in the water on one in six airliners, up from one in eight six months ago...
AOPA members took only three days to match a $25,000 pledge by the organization to help AirServ International deliver humanitarian aid to areas hit by the tsunami in South Asia. By Friday, members had donated $27,000 and $25,000 was matched by AOPA. Of course, donations are still welcome...
Pilot groups in Texas are pressing the state to close illegal dumps near Austin Bergstrom International Airport. The open landfills are attracting thousands of birds and creating a hazard, say the groups...
It was a record-setting year for Delta Airlines but it can't survive many more. The airline lost $5.2 billion last year, far more than American's measly $3.5 billion in 2002
Both pilots survived the midair collision between two Australian Air Force Roulettes demonstration aircraft on Friday. One pilot ejected and the other was able to land his damaged Pilatus PC-9. The team will perform for Australia Day celebrations this week in Canberra.
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GAMI CUSTOMERS RAVE ABOUT A SMOOTHER RIDE AND SAVING FUEL
The Pilot's Lounge #83: Which Emergencies Should We Practice?
The general-aviation accident record shows that we've been crashing (and sometimes dying) for the same reasons for many years now. But our training and checkrides don't seem to reflect those issues. AVweb's Rick Durden suggests ways to make sure we practice the most common emergencies, in this month's Pilot's Lounge column.
ASA GETS "FIT" THE FAA HAS RECOGNIZED ASA'S
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SCOPED OUT NEW AVIONICS & FOUND THEM WAY ABOVE YOUR BUDGET?
Overheard, one beautiful sunny day in southern California. I wasn't clear on exactly what the miscommunication was, either...
Twr: Helicopter N123 are you heading southeast after takeoff?
N123: Negative, request south towards San Diego.
Twr: There are mountains in the way...
N123: ...which explains our use of an aircraft today.
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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