NewsWire Complete Issue

February 23, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ...
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The Aging Fleet And FAA Action -- Cessna Twins...

Wing-Spar Cracks Found In Two Aircraft

The FAA on Sunday issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive that requires more frequent inspections for wing-spar cracks on twin Cessna 402C and 414A models that have not already been modified with spar straps. Undetected cracks could result in the loss of a wing in flight, the FAA said. The Emergency AD was prompted by two recent incidents of cracked spars in 402C aircraft -- each with more than 20,000 hours time in service. Cracks were found in the wing spar of a 402C flown by a commuter airline on Feb. 11, after the pilot reported that a 45-degree yoke deflection was required to keep the airplane level. "Maintenance personnel who inspected the failed spar said it was a miracle that the wing did not fail in flight," technical analyst Mike Busch wrote in a report to members of the Cessna Pilots Association. "It should be noted that the FAA considers this situation so critical and potentially life-threatening that it had staff work on this emergency AD over a federal holiday three-day weekend so the AD could be issued in the shortest possible time," Busch said. Owners should expect further action from the FAA, he added, saying the new AD is "clearly a stop-gap measure intended to buy time until a better solution can be found." Owners can expect that the FAA will issue future ADs, possibly involving more extensive visual inspections and/or non-destructive inspections, Busch said. "Furthermore, the ongoing development of an AD that mandates the Cessna spar strap modification for 402C and 414A aircraft is likely to be accelerated as a result of the two 402Cs with cracked spars," he said.

...And More Debate

The FAA's handling of the Cessna twins spar issue has been a bumpy road, with a string of ADs already out, and concern from some owners' groups over cost and practicality. Bob Vila, president of the Cessna Twins Spar Corporation (CTSC), says the AD could extend to all Cessna twins, and raises issues important to all owners of aging aircraft. "CTSC believes that the FAA, in the interest of better knowledge of aging aircraft/fatigue issues with the Cessna 400 aircraft, should fund a neutral third party such as the National Institute for Aging Aircraft (NIAR) to conduct a Cessna 400-series study," Vila said in written comments he sent to AVweb yesterday. The current testing methods used by Cessna match 402 wings with a very stiff 425 fuselage, Vila said, which skews the results. "Cessna's proprietary methods and data are not available for peer review and many have questioned their findings as a matter of logic and of a conflict of interest," Vila said. "The Cessna study is apparently unable to predict spar cracking in the real world of real airplanes, as demonstrated by this extreme spar failure in an area not predicted by Cessna and that no cracks have been detected in the stations predicted by Cessna." Despite those disagreements over how best to handle the matter, Vila supports the latest AD. "Due to the potential safety of flight and resulting loss of life that could result from this spar issue, demonstrated by actual cracks in actual aircraft, CTSC supports the FAA's decision to issue this Emergency AD," he said

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SpaceShipOne: Up Close And Personal At OSH…

Just Reach Out And Touch It?

Make space for EAA AirVenture on your calendar if you want to touch a real spaceship. EAA and Scaled Composites are promising unprecedented access to SpaceShipOne and its mother ship White Knight as the Ansari X-Prize winning combination settles in for the full week of the annual convention in Oshkosh starting July 25. "We want the public to be able to come up and touch it," said Mike Melvill, who became the world's first private astronaut in SpaceShipOne last year. Melvill said it will not only be the first such opportunity, it will be the last. "It will be the first, only and last appearance," he said in a teleconference held with reporters Wednesday. There appear to be tentative plans to fly the aircraft directly to Washington, D.C., where they'll go on permanent display at the Air and Space Museum, but EAA President Tom Poberezny said those plans haven't been worked out yet. And although the Scaled team made getting into space look easy, getting the two aircraft from their home base in Mojave, Calif., to Oshkosh is a logistical challenge. Melvill said the relatively short-legged White Knight will make at least two refueling stops (Albuquerque and Tulsa look like the favorites) but they'll need start carts to get the old T-38 engines that power the mother ship started.

...Generosity, Innovation ... And Really Good Marketing

The aircraft will overnight at Madison July 24 and make a scheduled arrival (most likely early afternoon) at AirVenture on opening day. Melvill said they'll do several passes and possibly an afterburner climb before touching down. It's not known if any flights will be held during the show but Melvill promised to make a similarly splashy exit the following Sunday. The space plane may share center stage with another Scaled creation that (hopefully) will have set another impressive record by then. Poberezny said there have been talks with Steve Fossett to have GlobalFlyer at this year's AirVenture. GlobalFlyer remains grounded in Salina, Kan., awaiting favorable weather to embark on a nonstop solo flight around the world sometime soon (maybe March 1). The jet-powered GlobalFlyer is expected to circumnavigate the earth in 80 hours or less on a single tank (actually, there are 13) of fuel.

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Your Age, Health, Ability, And Certificate...

Youth Can Be Dangerous

While the Age-60 rule presumes that pilots become less safe with advancing age, recent research suggests that youth comes with dangers of its own. The part of the brain that inhibits risky behavior does not mature until age 25, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health. "We'd thought the highest levels of physical and brain maturity were reached by age 18, maybe earlier -- so this threw us," researcher Jay Giedd told The Washington Post. The research has been cited by lawmakers in efforts to restrict the driving privileges of young people. Driving accidents are the greatest cause of accidental death in ages 16 to 24. The research shows the age of "brain maturity" varies widely, and tends to be reached earlier by women. Giedd's study analyzed brain scans of 2,000 people between the ages of 4 and 26. Another study showed that young people tend to take greater risks when their friends are watching, an effect that persists until about age 24.

...A Higher Standard For Pilots?

Pilots who have suffered head injuries and are being evaluated for a return to flight duties should be held to a standard above what is considered average in the general population, a new study from the University of Missouri-Columbia suggests. "Military aviators score significantly higher on standardized intelligence tests than the average person," said researcher Daniel Orme, who tested more than 5,600 U.S. Air Force personnel over a five-year period. To be safe, aviators should be held to a performance standard based on what is average for the pilot population. Orme's database could be used to establish "norms" for pilots, and could also be used by the FAA when evaluating commercial pilots, he said.

"A pilot suffering cognitive impairment from a head injury could still test above the norm when compared to the general population," Orme said. "However, concern would be raised if test scores are below expectations based on pilot standards. This information would be incorporated into findings of an extensive, multidisciplinary medical evaluation, the outcome of which would be a recommendation whether or not to return to flying." The standards aim to prevent allowing an impaired pilot back into the cockpit because of a missed diagnosis, which could place the aircrew and the mission in jeopardy.

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Future VLJs Drive Engine Market

With the production of thousands of Very Light Jets looming in the next few years, manufacturers of parts for the fleet are gearing up to supply the demand. Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC), in Quebec, is building production lines capable of cranking out its PW600F turbofans at the rate of 1,000 per year, The Hartford Courant reported Monday. The Eclipse 500 and the Cessna Mustang both are using variants of the engine, and together will need about 4,800 of them. "The market for this engine is very strong, and we need to gear up to be able to provide it," Mario Modafferi, director of the Pratt Engine Center, told The Courant. "This engine's going to take over the world the way the PT6 did." The company plans to hire a "few hundred" workers this year, The Courant said. The Eclipse contract alone is worth about a half-billion dollars.

Pilot Survives Overnight In Snow Cave

Scott Thurner, 57, of Milwaukee, was flying his Cessna 172 from Laughlin, Nev., to Paonia, Colo., last Wednesday when he crashed in rough terrain about 30 miles from Montrose, Colo. He had reportedly descended to stay below clouds and found himself in a canyon with no way out. Thurner was unhurt, other than minor cuts and bruises, and survived a 30-hour wait in the cold by putting on all the ski clothes from his suitcase and digging into the snow. "He called the first little snow cave Motel 6. Then he dug a bigger one and called it the Holiday Inn," Civil Air Patrol pilot Mark Young told The Montrose Daily Press. "Luckily, he had the smarts not to try to go anywhere, because in that deep of snow, he wouldn't have made it very far." Rescuers had received a signal Wednesday from the Cessna's emergency locator transmitter, but were unable to begin an aerial search until Thursday because of the heavy cloud cover. Thurner reportedly shut off the beacon during the night to conserve its battery. "If we wouldn't have found him yesterday, his battery would be dead and he probably would've frozen to death waiting for help," Young said. "He's very lucky." The Cessna was less fortunate. "It looked just like if you put a can on the ground and stomped the thing. I can't even describe the carnage of that plane,'' Troy Wallace, a rescuer, told The Associated Press.

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Storm-Ravaged Florida Airports Recovering

Airports near Vero Beach, Fla., are recovering from last year's hurricanes, reported last week. St. Lucie International sustained $30 million in damages and curtailed operations for about six weeks, but still showed an increase overall in operations for 2004 from the year before. "Our business and corporate traffic continues to increase," said Airport Director Paul Philips. Damages at Witham Field came to $10 million and about $21 million at Vero Beach Municipal, and both airports showed a drop in overall operations for the year. Some flight schools are still working out of trailers, and twisted wreckage from destroyed hangars remains. "Obviously, after the hurricanes a lot of physical facilities were damaged," Bill Johnson, executive director of the Florida Airport Council, told TCPalm. "But I think everyone is pretty much recovered and rebuilding."

Boeing Sells Off Aircraft Plants

Boeing has sold its commercial aircraft-manufacturing plants in Wichita and Oklahoma to Onex, a Canadian-based investment group, for about $900 million, Boeing announced on Tuesday. The plants will continue to produce structures and parts for Boeing, including the 787 Dreamliner. Onex will invest over $1 billion in Kansas and Oklahoma in the next few years, said Seth Mersky, an Onex managing director. Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Alan Mulally said in a news release, "Boeing will benefit from lower procurement costs and the Wichita/Tulsa operations now can grow by winning new business with other customers." Boeing also announced that it has sold its Rocketdyne Propulsion & Power business to Pratt & Whitney for $700 million in cash. Rocketdyne provides booster engines for the space shuttle and the Delta family of expendable launch vehicles, as well as propulsion systems for missile defense systems. The sale includes sites and assets in California, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.

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Youth With Wings

"We want to show the youth of America that they can dream big dreams, and they can start right now," FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said as the FAA signed a partnership agreement with 20-year-old Jamail Larkins to promote career opportunities in aviation and aerospace. "Jamail didn't wait for his career in aviation to take off," Blakey said. "He took off with it." Larkins, a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, took his first flight with the Young Eagles at age 12, and soloed two years later in Canada. He will work with the FAA's educational outreach initiatives throughout the country to attract children and young adults to aviation careers. (Underdeveloped cerebral risk-taking inhibitors notwithstanding ...) Meanwhile, Utah pilot Jared Aicher, 33, is planning a flight around the world that will include at least 400 Young Eagles introductory flights for children in 64 countries along the way. Aicher plans to launch in May on the first phase of the trip, with stops in each of the lower 48 states and several Caribbean destinations. He will fly an all-composite four-place Ravin 500.

On The Fly...

GlobalFlyer launch postponed again; unfavorable ground winds cited. Next window now is March 1-3...

Cirrus now offers Flight Director in its PFD-equipped aircraft...

Diamond Aircraft named Paul Woessner as director of fleet sales for its North American operation...

New England Aviation Expo set for April 9 at Daniel Webster College in N.H....

China's first manned space launch made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for being the longest maiden voyage of its kind...

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AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Drop us a line. If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to

New Articles and Features on AVweb

Quiz #91 -- Lots To See and Avoid
On a recent episode of the hit reality show, "This Old Control Tower," the host dodged weather, scanned for traffic, and wrestled a live TRSA. See how you'd handle reality on this flight.

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AVweb's Question of the Week ...


Last week, AVweb asked our readers to deliver a verdict on the Lycoming verdict.  Too much money awarded?  Too little?  Dangerous precedent?

The majority of respondents (52%) categorized their feelings on the Lycoming verdict as "complicated."  While the company needs to be financially stable, AVweb readers also felt that Lycoming should hold themselves to a high standard of quality in order to earn the financial stability on which the entire engine market rests.

21% of readers thought the verdict was "a good swift kick in the butt for Lycoming," while 11% thought the excessive judgement was a bad omen for everyone involved in aviation.

Among the less popular replies to last week's question:


Cue the X-Files theme music.  This week, an AVweb reader wants to know if you've ever seen a UFO — and if so, what did you think it was?

Click here to answer

Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to

This address is only for suggested QOTW questions, and not for QOTW answers or comments.
Use this form to send QOTW comments to our AVmail Editor.

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AVweb's Picture of the Week ...

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions

Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners

A couple of weeks ago, when we at AVweb were grousing about low turnout for our "Picture of the Week" contest, you were all on vacation!  Right?

At least, that's how it seems looking through this week's batch of pictures.  For the first time in recent memory, there were more pictures taken from planes than pictures of planes submitted to this week's contest.  Beautiful landscapes dominated the submissions this week, so we're showing you the top three airplane pictures first, then offering you three bonus pictures with our favorite locales.  (Even so, we had to leave out some great photos of Liberty Island and the River Thames that just wouldn't fit.)

Congratulations to Jud Phillips of Nashville, who will receive an official AVweb baseball cap for being our Number One "Picture of the Week."

Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.


Used with permission of Jud Phillips

"Reflection of Sweetie Face"
Jud Phillips
of Nashville, Tennessee writes
"I couldn't resist this beautiful plane reflected in
the new terminal at Tunica, Mississippi."

Click 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.

copyright © Christian Hauser
Used with permission

"Taking a Splash!"
Christian Hauser of Vienna, Austria
caught this Turbo Porter in the act.
According to Christian, that's 200 gallons
of water being dropped in the photo!

Used with permission of Tim Wells

"Coming Home"
Tim Wells
of Dallas, Georgia
took this shot during May 2004 at
South Prairie Airport's Cawley Field
in Buckley, Washington — and it makes
a great desktop wallpaper for your computer!

Bonus Pictures

You wouldn't believe the number of great
landscape shots that arrived to our "POTW"
contest this week.  Here's a quick sampling:

Used with permission of George Mock

"Winter Flight"
George Mock of Windsor, Ontario (Canada)
is back with another icy photo, this one taken of the
Detroit skyline as George was following the Detroit River.
"Temperature was 10 °F," writes George,
"but a beautiful view certainly makes you warm."

Used with permission of James Brogren

"Ft. Jefferson National Park"
On the other end of the spectrum,
James Brogren of Melbourne, Florida
attached only this comment to the
above photo: "A great place to visit."

Used with permission of Brad Hernke

"C-182 Sunset Reflection Near Mt. Stuart"
Finally, Brad Hernke of Seattle, Washington
caps off the week with a spectacular view of
from the Pacific Northwest.  (As if we needed
to tell you, Brad's photo also makes a
great desktop wallpaper.)

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.

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