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Volume 11, Number 7b -- February 17, 2005

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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded, Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's NewsWire.

JURY'S 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. More...

...REPLACEMENT 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. More...

...THE 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 HEADSETS
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.

GAMA: 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...

...BRINGING 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...

LOOK TO THE PIEDMONT HAWTHORNE AIRCRAFT SALES TEAM WHEN YOU'RE BUYING or SELLING YOUR NEXT AIRCRAFT
Whether you're looking for that "envy of many pilots" single (such as a Bonanza) or a workhorse turboprop or multi-mission jet, Piedmont Hawthorne Aircraft Sales does it all — and has done so for over 65 years — boasting a professional sales/marketing team engaged in new and pre-owned aircraft with more than 100 years of sales, support, and consulting expertise — Turnkey assistance from acquisition, financing, or sales consulting to award-winning service and avionics centers, and a VIP program for every customer at their extensive network of 36 FBOs — Always looking to purchase quality turboprop, mid-size, and large turbine aircraft. One call to (800) 259-1940, or one click to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/phas/avflash.

BUILDING 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...

B-777 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 More...

IF YOUR CELL PHONE CAN SURF THE NET, IT CAN RECEIVE AVIATION WEATHER
— and more! WxServer works with virtually any internet-enabled phone and any nationwide wireless carrier to give you up-to-the-minute aviation weather information and satellite images. WxServer includes airport frequency listings and fuel availability, as well as quick-dial FBO links, rental cars, and taxis. SPECIAL OFFER: AVweb readers receive $10 off the regular annual subscription rates! Order for yourself or as a gift at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/wxserver/avflash.

WILL 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...

FUTURE-TECH, 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.

NDB 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. More...

AEROCOMP'S NEW TURBINE
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
CMax™ Approach 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™, you’ll know exactly where you are on the approach or on the field. http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/avidyne/avflash.

ON THE FLY...
Peter Jennings to take a "serious" look at UFOs...
Fossett waits, History Channel features first round-the-world air race...
Citation crash in freezing drizzle killed eight in Colorado. More...

AVWEB'S 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 newstips@avweb.com. More...

DA40 DIAMOND STAR A FLEET FAVORITE
Airline 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.

NEW ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
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COLUMNS
The Savvy Aviator #15: The Annual Inspection Trap
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?

More...

AVWEB'S BUSINESS AVFLASH
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/ More...

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AVWEB'S 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...

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AVWEB'S 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 way. More...

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THINK YOU CAN SPIN WITHOUT FEAR? FIGHTING THE WAR ON RUNWAY INCURSIONS?
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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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Today's issue written by News Writer Russ Niles:
http://www.avweb.com/contact/authors.html#rniles
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