March 6, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
|This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... JA Air Center
JA AIR CENTER, YOUR GARMIN SOURCE, IS PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE A NEW LOWER PRICE ON THE GARMIN GPSMAP 296 WITH TERRAIN ONLY
If you've recently taken delivery of a new Cessna 172 or 182, check the serial number against a list in an Emergency Airworthiness Directive issued Friday. A few dozen of the brand-new airplanes are grounded until they can be inspected for potential control rigging problems. "The FAA has been notified that inadequate or incorrect flight controls rigging may exist on recently produced Cessna Models 172R, 172S, 182T and T182T," the Emergency AD reads. It should be stressed that the affected airplanes are grounded. No ferry permits or repositioning flights will be allowed. Cessna staff discovered various problems with aircraft still in the factory. However, it's believed that some potentially flawed airplanes were delivered (i.e., flown) to their new owners, who, presumably, have also been flying them.
What's perhaps most disturbing about this AD is the breadth of defects discovered by Cessna technicians. Normally an AD focuses on a specific part or system in an airplane but this one identifies a Pandora's box of potentially serious issues. According to the AD, Cessna found misrigged and misaligned control surfaces, a missing bolt on a flap push/pull rod, cables chafing fuel lines (resulting in damaged fuel lines), cables routed outside cotter pins, crossed cables, cables routed outside of pulleys, cables rubbing on bulkheads and center consoles, unpinned or improperly pinned barrels on control cables and a bent flap bell crank. These are new aircraft, remember. The AD calls for an immediate, detailed one-time inspection of the flight control system and repairs, as necessary, to bring the system up to standard. Since the AD prohibits any flights before compliance, those with aircraft in places without suitable maintenance facilities are advised to phone Cessna Product Support at 316-517-5800.
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Well, by now Steve Fossett has had that well-deserved sleep, meal and shower, the media hordes have left Salina and GlobalFlyer is sitting in a hangar, awaiting what will likely be its final flight (to the Air and Space Museum, via Oshkosh, it's been speculated). But what, besides some fleeting drama and a line in the record books, did the first solo, nonstop round-the-world flight leave as a lasting legacy? According to at least one aviation theorist, it might pave the way for single-pilot operations on long-distance flights. "It took years to go from three to two pilots in the cockpit and now imagine going from two to one and doing it with every bit as much safety and precision of flying, " Bruce Holmes, a NASA aeronautics researcher, told the Houston Chronicle. "If he can do it, why can't we make it something that more and more pilots could do one day, rather than just a few elitists, romanticists and aviation enthusiasts?" For, while Fossett was the only one in the cockpit, he was hardly alone. The record-seeking millionaire had instant access to virtually any navigational, weather or flight data information he could want and a satellite phone gave him instant voice communications with anyone on earth ... provided they had a phone. Oddly enough, it was only in the most basic of human requirements that the flight lacked that high-tech edge. He sucked on diet milkshakes throughout the flight to "minimize" bowel movements and according to one report, "used a bottle for a bathroom." And not all experts were terribly impressed with the flight. "Let's face it, it was a stunt and a big one," Jerry Grey of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics said. "Other than that, it's a footnote in history."
For the record, Fossett came perilously close to not claiming the record -- aside from the lost(?) 2,600 lbs of fuel (typo'd in a previous issue as gallons). The requirement for setting the record was that Fossett cross all longitudinal lines and cover a distance equal to that of either the Tropic of Cancer or Tropic of Capricorn, or 19,863 nautical miles. Somehow, Fossett's irregular route through North America, Europe and Asia carried him only 17 nm farther than the record distance. He did it in 67 hours, 1 minute and 46 seconds (bouncing the landing on arrival, but if you've ever seen an albatross land ...). That made his average ground speed 296.6 knots. The feat has brought out the best in aviation chat-room trivia. For instance, one pilot mused that Fossett couldn't log the flight as cross country because he didn't land at an airport at least 50 nm from his departure point. Another noted that he could log an outside loop for the flight.
What's next for Fossett and his well-heeled buddies? There's apparently something in the works and it will be announced in a few months, but we have to wonder if it's as ambitious as Bertrand Piccard's plan. As AVweb told you a couple of years ago, the Swiss psychiatrist (no relation to Jean-Luc) thinks he'll be the first to circumnavigate the world in a solar-powered aircraft called the Solar Impulse. The technical challenges he faces make GlobalFlyer's fuel problems seem trivial. " Our greatest problem is managing to store enough solar energy during the day to be able to fly at night," said Piccard. The aircraft will weigh just 3,300 pounds but have a 265-foot wingspan. Large twin props will be mounted on booms above the fuselage. Piccard isn't planning a nonstop flight. At a cruise speed of about 63 knots he's looking at a minimum flight time of more than 315 hours. But his proposed route includes four pretty long legs, including a crossing of the Pacific. First trials could be held in 2007. The $60 million effort is being bankrolled by some anonymous investors and Piccard has some fairly lofty goals for the aftermath of his flight. "Solar Impulse will be a platform for launching more discussions on sustainable development and the technologies which will allow it to happen," he said.
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You could call it glass for the masses. Joining multiple modern manufacturers producing glass-paneled aircraft in similar price ranges, Cessna has won FAA certification of the Garmin G1000 in the 172S. Cessna previously had the glass panel certified on 206 and 182 models. It will be offered as an option on the 172S and Cessna says deliveries are "imminent." As on the other Cessna singles, the 172S's G1000 panel will consist of two 10.4-inch high-definition LCD displays that will show all primary flight, navigation, communication, terrain, traffic, weather and sensor data. There's also an economy version of the system in the works for the 172. The 172R Skyhawk GA option won't have the weather option or autopilot. It's aimed at the training market and for those who don't need the more elaborate system for the flying they do. Cessna isn't the first to put glass cockpits in their entry-level products. Diamonds are flying with the G1000, and Piper announced at last year's AirVenture that Avidyne Entegra systems would be offered as options its Warrior, Archer and Arrow models.
Garmin has issued an alert (PDF file) warning owners of recently delivered new and repaired GPS units not to use them for DME arc procedures. The main software (versions 5.03 and 4.03) installed in Garmin 500- and 400-series units shipped new or shipped after repair between Feb. 11 and March 2 apparently has glitches that could give incorrect navigational information and/or an incorrect depiction on the moving map display while flying DME arc procedures. The immediate fix is to revert to the previous software package, which lacks features of the new program. New full-feature corrected software should be available by March 31. The alert asks pilots to spread the word about the problems and to immediately contact a Garmin Service Center for instructions on how to fix the problem. The affected units are those shipped between Feb. 11 and Mar. 2 and include: GNS 530, GNS 530 TAWS, GNS 530A, GNS 530A TAWS, GPS 500 and GPS 500 TAWS with main software version 5.03. Also affected are GNS 430, GNS 430A, GNC 420, GNC 420A and GPS 400 units with main software version 4.03.
LANCAIR COLUMBIA 400 NOW CERTIFIED TO FL250
It would make an interesting slogan: "BA, now flying on three of four engines -- and perhaps getting you there." A lot of people (including the FAA) are wondering if financial considerations have trumped safety, after flying long distances over the arctic and water in a Boeing 747-400 with a bad engine has apparently become an acceptable practice for British Airways. Twice in a week, the same plane lost the same engine early in a long flight and the flights headed for their destinations rather than the closest suitable runway (one flight reached its destination of London). The trend began days after a new European Union rule came into effect guaranteeing compensation for passengers facing long delays or cancellations. The airline denied any link between the new rule and the engine-out procedure. "The plane is as safe on three engines as on four," Capt. Doug Brown, BA's senior manager in charge of the 747 fleet, told reporters. "It was really a customer service issue, not a safety issue." FAA spokesman Greg Martin told AVweb the agency is looking into one of the incidents, which began in Los Angeles.
On Feb. 19, the plane, with 351 passengers aboard, took off from LAX and tower controllers saw sparks shooting from an engine. The crew shut the engine down and circled over the Pacific for 20 minutes while consulting with the airline. Rather than dump fuel and return to LAX (and triggering $150,000 in compensation claims), they set the rudder trim, poured the coal to the remaining three engines and climbed to 29,000 feet for the polar flight to Heathrow -- and almost made it. The lower altitude, headwinds and the drag of the offset rudder burned up the fuel load faster than normal and the pilot had to make an emergency landing in Manchester, about 160 miles short of their destination. A few days later, with a fresh engine, the plane made uneventful flights to Melbourne and Singapore. Three hours into a 14-hour flight from Singapore to London, the same engine was shut down because of oil pressure problems. The crew pressed on and landed at Heathrow about 15 minutes behind schedule.
It'll undoubtedly be handy in a search, but the digital camera/computer combination now being tested on some Civil Air Patrol (CAP) aircraft can do a lot more than pinpoint wreckage. In fact, the hyperspectral enhanced reconnaissance system is the same basic hardware used by military patrol aircraft, but it's been scaled down to fit in a Gippsland GA-8 Airvan, an Australian utility aircraft picked for the duty because of its large capacity and modest purchase price ($400,000) and operating costs. A belly-mounted camera supplies images to the large-screen computer console installed in the boxy airplane's passenger/cargo area. The result is a view of the world below and memory that human eyes and brainpower can't match. The computer constantly analyzes the image, picking out things that seem out of place (metal in a field) or even noticing things that weren't there the last time images were collected over the same area. When such anomalies are spotted, the operator can e-mail the image over a satellite to headquarters and all the imagery can be downloaded for analysis after landing. The system is expected to be installed on 16 Airvans to be distributed to CAP units throughout the U.S., thus greatly increasing domestic surveillance capability at relatively low cost.
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The FAA has shut down the Florida charter company whose Challenger bizjet ran off the runway at Teterboro Airport last month. The agency ordered Platinum Jet Management to "cease and desist" all operations on Thursday after allegedly discovering the company doesn't have the necessary paperwork to provide the crew and airplane for hire. But the company says the charges are bogus and part of a "witch hunt." Platinum spokesman Mike Moulis told Miami/Fort Lauderdale's Local 10 news the FAA "has no clue what's going on with this investigation" and has unfairly targeted the charter company. The FAA claims the lack of the certificate means no one at Platinum was responsible for making sure its crew members are properly licensed, trained and equipped for flying charters. But Platinum contends that the paperwork is held by another company, Alphajet, which contracts Platinum to supply the aircraft, pilots and support for the flights. Platinum has refused to turn over crew and aircraft records pertaining to the Teterboro accident but a New Jersey judge has ordered company officials to appear in court today to explain why.
So, is your pride and joy giving you a little less of each? From the dull spinner to the flaking paint on the rudder, has your airplane seen better days? Well, in keeping with the makeover craze that's sweeping the cable channels these days, the producers of a television program that usually turns run-down cars into glittering icons of boulevard excess is now setting its sights a little higher. The company that transforms beaters into beauty for the MTV program "Pimp My Ride" is looking for planes to, er, pimp. West Coast Customs spokesman Tito Arteaga said they're talking to an owner and letting their imaginations run wild. You and your 172 probably need not apply, however. The most likely candidate will be a bizjet where there's room to install the type of over-the-top glitz and gizmos that are the show's trademarks. "It's a huge canvas to play with," said Arteaga. Before they get started, however, the car shop will (quite wisely) consult with the local FAA to make sure what they plan is legal. There's no word on when the show might run.
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Porsche is now formally out of the airplane engine business. The carmaker made a big splash 20 years ago when it offered its legendary designs for aircraft, but they never took off. There are only 20 Porsche-powered planes still flying and the company is offering to replace them with other engines or buy the planes rather than maintaining support...
New Mexico has declared the hot air balloon as its official state aircraft. Gov. Bill Richardson signed the initiative into law a week ago, saying ballooning is one of the state's great legacies. Albuquerque's annual International Balloon Fiesta is the world's largest and attracts more than 700 balloons each year...
The city of Augusta, Maine, says it neither needs nor wants a new $350,000 airport fire truck -- even for free. Civic officials say the truck, supplied by the Department of Transportation under a new program aimed at beefing up fire safety at small airports, is a massive waste. The airport already has a fire truck (bought used for $10,000) and the city fire station is only a half-mile away...
Delta Air Lines has suspended a pilot arrested in Germany for suspicion of being drunk. The unidentified first officer was held by German authorities, where he could face charges after undergoing a breath test. He was to help fly 156 passengers from Frankfurt to Atlanta.
Drop us a line. If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ASA MEETS THE NEEDS OF SPORT PILOTS
AVmail: March 7, 2005
Reader mail this week about lying to the FAA, growing military airspace, more NTSB accidents and much more.
As the Beacon Turns #87: What Customer Service?
For too long pilots and wannabe pilots have put up with mediocre (or worse) customer service from some aviation businesses, who are relying on our dogged enthusiasm to keep us coming back. AVweb's Michael Maya Charles says that we have no chance for growing GA unless we change that attitude.
SCOPED OUT NEW AVIONICS & FOUND THEM WAY ABOVE YOUR BUDGET?
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GAMIJECTORS CAN CUT AIRCRAFT FUEL BILLS BY 20 PERCENT!!
As heard over the Palomar Tower Freq. back in 1981, from a female controller to a distinguished elder gentleman pilot (and friend)...
Palomar Tower: Tiger Moth on the right downwind, say your intentions.
Tiger Moth: Strictly honorable Ma'am, strictly honorable.
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 every part stops.
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