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CRANKSHAFT VERDICT HITS LYCOMING HARD...
In a stunning verdict (the effects of which could ripple through the
aviation world for years to come) a Texas jury has found Textron
Lycoming entirely to blame for crankshaft failures in high-horsepower
engines between 2000 and 2002. What's more, the Grimes County jurors
found that Lycoming's investigation of the crankshaft failures was
fraudulent and incorrectly put the blame on the manufacturer of the
crankshaft forgings, Interstate Southwest, of Navasota, Texas. In
fact, the FAA also accepted Lycoming's version that Interstate had
improperly heat-treated the forgings, which weakened the steel and led
to the failures. What the jury found was that the crankshafts were
under-designed for high-horsepower engines, and that Lycoming changed
the recipe for the steel alloy used in the cranks by adding vanadium
(to make the metal easier and less expensive to work with) and that
that weakened them. According to court
documents obtained by AVweb, the jury found that the "sole
cause" of the crankshaft failures was Lycoming's design.
CRANKS AND INTEGRITY QUESTIONED...
Now, the legal wranglings have undoubtedly just begun (Lycoming will
almost certainly appeal) but the Texas decision raises some practical
and potentially disquieting questions about the whole crankshaft
issue. These are questions we'd like to pose to Lycoming but we were
unable to receive a response before our deadline. According to
Interstate lawyer Marty Rose, the forging company's investigation
revealed that the design of the crankshafts used in the brawny
turbocharged 300-plus-horsepower six-cylinder engines in question was
based on 40-year-old designs for four-cylinder engines with much lower
horsepower. Rose told AVweb that their investigation revealed
that even though the vanadium problem was fixed in replacement cranks
installed in 1,400 engines recalled in 2002, the cranks are still
under-designed for the stresses created by the big engines. "The
[replacement] crankshafts don't have any safety margin," said Rose.
VERDICT COULD BE JUST THE BEGINNING
The decision also raises questions about the FAA's handling of the
crankshaft problem. From the outset, the agency appears to have gone
along with Lycoming's conclusion that Interstate was to blame for the
weak cranks. The original Emergency Airworthiness Directive grounding
Cessnas and Pipers with TIO-540 and LTIO-540 engines cites "a
variation in the heat treatment process" (the jury did not agree) used
during production of the cranks. FAA chief spokesman Greg Martin said
the agency is studying the court decision and there's no word yet on
further action. More...
LIGHTSPEED AVIATION INTRODUCES NEW LINE OF
LightSPEED's new LightFlight L-1
ultra-lightweight aviation headset weighs in at only 0.5 ounces but is
a heavyweight in features. LightSPEED's in-the-ear technology
attenuates 35-45dB of noise and features the same standard features as
their premium headsets: High-fidelity stereo speakers, electret mic,
cell/satellite phone and music input, carry case, and a 3-year
warranty. Retail price is $399 USD. For more information and to place
an order, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/litspeed/L1/avflash.
PISTON SINGLE SALES HIT 20-YEAR HIGH
We sensed it at last year's Sun 'n' Fun and felt it strongly at
AirVenture, and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association has now
confirmed it: 2004 was a recovery year for most plane-makers and the
future looks strong. "Bonus depreciation, coupled with the continuing
growth of the U.S. economy helped make 2004 a turning point for our
industry," said GAMA Chairman Jim Schuster. According to GAMA,
industry billings totaled $11.9 billion, the third-highest ever,
representing a 19.1-percent increase over 2003; the total number of
airplanes shipped jumped 10.3 percent to 2,963. The 2004 total was a
20-year high for piston single sales. More...
CHANGE IN WICHITA
Although the resurgence is being felt in every corner of the industry,
there's one place in particular that is welcoming the news.
Wichita-based companies accounted for the lion's share of the 2004
deliveries, shipping 1,277 airplanes (or about 43 percent) of the
worldwide total. However, the hangover from the post-9/11 slump will
likely be felt for years to come, particularly by rank-and-file
workers in the industry. Thousands were laid off and, despite the
recovery, not many are being rehired. Cessna will add about 600 people
to its workforce this year but Raytheon and Bombardier, Wichita's
other big manufacturers, won't be adding any. More...
TO THE PIEDMONT HAWTHORNE AIRCRAFT SALES TEAM WHEN YOU'RE BUYING or
SELLING YOUR NEXT AIRCRAFT|
Whether you're looking for that
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turboprop or multi-mission jet, Piedmont Hawthorne Aircraft
Sales does it all and has done so for over 65 years
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network of 36 FBOs Always looking to purchase quality
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UP TO KNOCK DOWN USEABLE RUNWAY
A private airport in San Antonio is seeing the effective length of its
runway being whittled away by housing developments the FAA is
powerless to stop and the local city council seems to endorse. Like so
many urban airports, Twin-Oaks Airport was on the outskirts when it
was built in the 1950s. Now, it's an island in a sea of chock-a-block
development and the final straw may take the shape of a modest
single-story house poised for construction less than 400 feet from the
end of the runway. Despite its low profile, the house will encroach 10
feet into the approach path, according to a report in San Antonio
Express News, cutting the useable length of the strip to 1,885 feet,
too short for many insurance companies. More...
TAKES ON ENERGIZER BUNNY, A380 RESTRAINED BY GIRTH
As technological achievements go, the new Boeing 777-200LR may set a
noteworthy standard for range and efficiency. Using lighter materials
and more efficient engines, Boeing engineers were able to create a
plane that can fly more than 10,000 miles nonstop. Now, they just have
to come up with passengers and crew that can take 20 hours or more of
confinement in the aluminum tube. The new plane is expected to be used
by airlines to service less-important long-distance routes, such as
Edinburgh to Perth, Australia, and Manchester to Shanghai. The busier
routes are expected to be dominated by the new Airbus A380, although
it won't be making many stops in the U.S. anytime soon. The
555-to-800-seat behemoth is simply too big for most U.S. airports
AIRCRAFT DESIGN WARM TO GLOBAL WARMING?
British researchers say they have the answer to minimize the impact of
air travel on global warming. Imperial College scientists say
contrails should be a major consideration in determining the
environmental factors at play as air travel increases by up to 5
percent a year. The council wants aircraft manufacturers to design
planes that can fly lower but still burn the same amount of fuel or
less than if they fly at the higher contrail-producing altitudes.
They're even suggesting onboard sensing devices be installed on
aircraft to alert pilots when they're creating that big plume of
vapor. The scientists say contrails are currently overlooked as
environmental hazards and that needs to be fixed. More...
SATS TEST THIS SUMMER
The first on-ramp to the Highway In The Sky opens June 5. That's when
NASA's Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS) undergoes its first
demonstration at Danville Airport in Virginia. While Boeing and Airbus
work on bigger planes that can fly fatter ... and farther ... SATS is
dedicated to creating infrastructure for point-to-point air travel
that bypasses major airports and allows convenient and reliable access
to thousands of small airports all over the country. SATS manager
Jerry Hefner told graduateengineer.com that 93 percent of Americans
live within 30 minutes of an underused rural airport (just don't try
to find hangar space there). The challenge is to increase the use of
these uncontrolled airports without increasing the number of midairs
and weather-related crashes. More...
SWIM WITH THE MERMAIDS!
Or Manatees, the
animals that are attributed as being the source of the mermaid legend.
In the winter, hundreds of manatees follow the warm water to Crystal
River, Florida. You can escape the cold and swim with them too. Read
all about this great winter escape (and other great destinations
around the country) in the latest issue of Pilot
Getaways magazine the only magazine with the
best destination coverage as well as the best back-country
information. Subscribe today at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/getaways/avflash.
APPROACHES CUT BACK
Is the nondirectional beacon (NDB) going the way of the Dodo? Well,
not quite, but its extinction is closer with an FAA program to weed
out underused NDB approaches around the country so it can spend more
money developing GPS-WAAS approaches. Now, there are some airports
that still rely heavily on NDB approaches and the FAA isn't going to
mess with those, according to AOPA. However, it is going to try and
find those NDBs that dutifully send their signals to nowhere because
there are better alternatives available. "Most new aircraft aren't
even equipped with an ADF receiver," AOPA notes in its release.
In the chicken-and-egg world of aircraft design, it's not often a
turboprop is copied from a pure jet. But that's exactly what the
fertile minds at Aerocomp have come up with for their next
homebuilt. The Comp Air 12 uses the same fuselage, wing and empennage
as the Comp Air Jet, currently undergoing initial flight tests. But
instead of a jet engine in the back, the new plane as a
1,400-horsepower Lycoming turbine up front. The $449,000 kit
(including engine but minus avionics) will have its first flight by
summer and should be available early next year. The jet kit should
also be available about the same time. More...
|AVIDYNE'S CMAX APPROACH CHARTS TAKE SITUATIONAL
AWARENESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL|
Charts, which can be displayed on Avidyne's FlightMax EX500 or
Entegra/EX5000 MFDs, provide geo-referenced approach charts and
airport diagrams. CMax reduces the amount of paper in your
cockpit, and allows you to access critical chart data more quickly and
easily. CMax overlays your flight plan and aircraft position for
optimum orientation. CMax even shows runway incursion hotspots
and improves taxiway awareness, reducing the need for "progressives"
at unfamiliar airports. With CMax, youll know exactly
where you are on the approach or on the field. http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/avidyne/avflash.
Peter Jennings to take a "serious" look at UFOs...
History Channel features first round-the-world air race...
crash in freezing drizzle killed eight in Colorado. More...
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 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
DA40 DIAMOND STAR A FLEET FAVORITE
Transport Professionals, Beijing PanAm, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical
University CAPT, Empire Aviation, Middle Tennessee State University,
and Utah Valley State College all have selected the
G1000-equipped DA40 Diamond Star. For value, efficiency, and
safety, the DA40 is the fleet favorite. For more information, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/diamond/avflash.
ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
The Savvy Aviator #15: The Annual
Your airplane is undergoing its annual
inspection, and the shop tells you the aircraft needs some costly
repair work. You disagree, but the IA says he's unwilling to sign off
the annual until the work is done. What are your options?
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/
QUESTION OF THE WEEK ...
This week, AVweb wants to hear what you think about the Lycoming
verdict (decreeing that the engine manufacturer must pay nearly $100
million as a result of crankshaft failures, planes crashes, and
subsequent litigation). PLUS: Results of last week's question about
the upcoming privatization of FSS. More...
PICTURE OF THE WEEK ...
Hot dog! It's time for another installment of AVweb's "Picture of the
Week"! We hope you'll forgive our enthusiasm, but this week's batch of
submissions are something to get excited about. (And we promise,
there's not a dead animal to be seen this week.) After much
deliberation, we're giving this week's winning baseball cap to
Lorraine Morris. Watch your inbox, Lorraine the hat is on its
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|EXTENDED HOURS AND ONLINE SERVICES KEEP AVEMCO
At AVEMCO, customer service is more than a promise
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|DISCOVER WHY HOMEBUILTS ARE THE HOTTEST SEGMENT IN
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|AIRSPORT AVIONICS OFFERS A $100 DISCOUNT &
AirSport Avionics is the only
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WINTER SPECIAL: $100 discount on all models, with
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|CFIs DISCOVER THE SECRETS TO SUCCESS IN GREG
BROWN'S CLASSIC BOOK|
The Savvy Flight
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|OREGON AERO SEAT CUSHION SYSTEM NAMED "BEST
A review in the January 2005 issue of Aviation
Consumer named the Oregon Aero Seat Cushion Systems a "Best
Bet." The reviewer noted how Oregon Aero seat upgrades respond
to body temperature and mold themselves to the appropriate contours.
Plus, these cushions provide an improved view of the runway to
pilots. Find the "Best Bet" painless, safer Oregon Aero
Seat Cushion System for your aircraft at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/oregon/avflash.
|ATTENTION, CESSNA OWNERS AND PILOTS|
Cessna Flyer Association (CFA) provides parts locating, tech
support, a monthly member magazine, online forums, national & regional
events, an annual convention, seminars, and more. For less than
a tank of fuel ($39.00 for a one-year membership), you can access the
needed information to expand your knowledge and get more enjoyment
from owning and flying your Cessna aircraft. Join the Cessna
Flyer Association (CFA) today as they build the ultimate Cessna
association. Go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/cfa/avflash.
|THINK YOU CAN SPIN WITHOUT FEAR? FIGHTING THE WAR ON
Safer with WAAS? Know what to do with a
pitot-static failure? Is FAA ever going to fix the NOTAM mess? Don't
think you need a wx briefing? All these questions (and many more) are
answered in the upcoming March issue of Aviation Safety
magazine. You can't afford to be without a monthly subscription. Order
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