March 23, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... LightSPEED Aviation
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If you're in Oshkosh, Wis., on Tuesday, July 26, about 3 in the afternoon, you should be able to look into the sky and catch the approach of the long, lanky Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, setting up for a fly-by in its first public appearance. EAA President Tom Poberezny and pilot Steve Fossett announced the event in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. "We're very excited to have GlobalFlyer, SpaceShipOne, and White Knight all together at EAA AirVenture this year, making this one of our most significant conventions ever," Poberezny said. All three aircraft, which share the Scaled Composites birthplace (you may see "some" Long-EZs there, too -- another Rutan creation), are all about what EAA stands for -- a passion for innovation and home-building, he said. Fossett will fly the GlobalFlyer in nonstop from Salina, Kan., but so far no firm plans are in place for programs or events about his solo round-the-world trip. The airplane will remain on display at Aeroshell Square, in the center of the show, for at least several days, and may fly some flight demos. But if you can't wait -- or can't make it to Oshkosh -- a virtual 3-D tour of the airplane is available online right now.
The engineers at Scaled had warned that the airplane would be "horrendous" to handle, Fossett said, but in fact he was pleasantly surprised. The wing spars are stiff enough, he said, that there was no problem with the wingtips, 114 feet apart, dragging on takeoff, even at 22,000 pounds. The airplane took an 8,000-foot ground roll, but then "jumped off the runway," Fossett said, powered by its single Williams FJ44-3 ATW jet engine, and climbed out at about 800 fpm (try that in your 152). He did have to shift fuel in flight to maintain a workable center of gravity. "It was a little touchy on landing," he said, "but it was entirely manageable." He was able to sleep only a few minutes at a time, and wore earpieces that would provide a not-so-subtle (or pleasant) good morning (via in-ear alarm) if there was any divergence in pitch, roll, airspeed or engine performance. All together he slept only about an hour during the whole 67-hour flight. With communications, planning and navigation, he had plenty of chores to keep him busy the whole time. The flight from Salina to Oshkosh should be a bit simpler ... and will require a lot less fuel.
The mystery of the missing fuel, which caused concern that the flight might have to land short, has been solved -- it was lost overboard due to an error in the placement of fuel vents, Fossett said. When the air in the tanks expanded at high altitudes, fuel instead of air was vented overboard. Fossett said the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum has asked to acquire the GlobalFlyer for its Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia, and he intends for it to end up there ... but he has other plans for it first, though he wasn't yet ready to say exactly what. "I've always felt close to EAA and I feel that AirVenture is the most important and significant aviation meeting in the United States, because it represents general aviation," said Fossett. Fossett also sent the gondola from his 2002 record-breaking balloon flight to EAA AirVenture for display. "I hope my accomplishment with GlobalFlyer will inspire other pilots to take on and achieve adventures of their own." This year's show will run July 25-31, Monday to Sunday.
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While it was a reference to user fees that drew quick GA response after last week's FAA Forecast Conference, the meeting also focused on the expected growth of all facets of aviation, with 20,000 more GA aircraft expected to join the fleet over the next 12 years -- 4,500 of them very-light jets (VLJs). Another fundamental shift is the increased use of jet charters by business folk avoiding the hassles of airline flight. "Aviation as we've seen it traditionally is going away," FAA spokesman Greg Martin told USA Today. While concerns center on the overcrowding of the airspace system, the fact is that thousands of airports across the country currently are underutilized, says Vern Raburn, CEO of Eclipse Aviation. That's where he expects the VLJs will be going. Eclipse still has a distance to go before those new jets are in the system, with deliveries expected to start in 2006. Flight testing is in progress, and the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F engines are working great, the company says. Cessna also projects that deliveries of its popular Citation Mustang will begin sometime next year.
In Europe, some airlines have started to form alliances with the private-jet companies that have been siphoning off their premium customers. Lufthansa now is partnering with NetJets to offer connecting flights from Munich to the rest of Europe. The bookings count toward the airline's frequent-flier miles and often come with perks such as limo service between flights. A similar partnership launched about a month ago in Asia and the Middle East, between Skyjet International, Air China and Qatar Airways, The Wall Street Journal reported this week. The partnerships provide more options for flyers who want private-jet service at a lower cost.
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Symphony Aircraft, based in Three Rivers, Quebec, announced on Tuesday that it has obtained from Transport Canada the type and production certificates for the Symphony 160 two-seater, which were formerly held by a now-defunct German company. With these certificates in hand, the first North American-built Symphony 160 aircraft will be delivered on March 31, the company said. Symphony added that it will have more announcements and details later this week, so watch for a follow-up report in Monday's AVweb news. A Symphony rep recently completed a cross-country tour showing off a brand-new 160 to the aviation press and we flew it. The small airplane has a roomy and uncluttered cockpit, with lots of visibility, plus pleasant predictable flying qualities that you can enjoy without rubbing elbows with your cabin-mate. It also managed a full-fuel departure with bags (and two pilots) at about 700 fpm (in clear, dry 70-degree air). The 160 will sell for around $150,000 IFR-equipped with steam gauges (and a nice Garmin radio package). The aircraft is basically a wider, much better-looking (one opinion) Cessna 172 that doesn't pretend it has four seats. The company is also developing a four-seater (with substantially more horsepower) and a diesel version of the 160.
Those of us on the far side of the world may think of New Zealand and Australia as neighbors, but in fact, the two countries are separated by about 1,200 miles of rough and lonely seas. Pilot Murray Belfield, 66, got to experience those miles up close last week when he flew solo in his homebuilt two-seater Jodel D11 from his home in New Zealand to a fly-in near Sydney. It was believed to be the first crossing in that model of aircraft. Belfield flew 500 miles the first day, landing at tiny Norfolk Island; 500 miles the second day took him to Lord Howe Island. He hit rough weather on the third day. "There was some heavy rain and hail and strong headwinds," Belfield told reporters after landing. "I had to wind my way down through the cloud and get below it. I was at 1,500 feet at one stage." His long-range radio died on the first day, but he was able to reach an airliner flying overhead and transmit his position. "It's nice to keep people informed of your position in case you go down in the drink," he said. Belfield, who got his pilot certificate at age 50, spent 10 years building the wooden D11.
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A recent rule change by the Transportation Security Administration to allow foreign students to be fingerprinted in their home country is good news for U.S. flight schools that were at risk of losing those students, says the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI). "This is enormous," said NAFI Executive Director Rusty Sachs. "This new procedure will ... eliminate the need for repeated, extended trips to the United States to comply with the security regulations." Under the original rule, foreign students had to be fingerprinted within the U.S., then wait up to 30 days before receiving authorization to begin training. Sachs said the additional living and travel expenses would lead some to look elsewhere for flight training, shutting many U.S. flight schools out of an estimated $1 billion market. The TSA now has authorized the National Air Transportation Association Compliance Services to collect and certify fingerprints for alien flight training candidates. The TSA says it will closely monitor the new, streamlined process to determine its effectiveness.
Some airline pilots in the southern skies have been ordered by their employers to drive on the right side of the road. Qantas pilots have been told to fly to the right of airways in Indonesia to avoid other airplanes that could be (read: at least once have been) on a head-on collision course, and now Air New Zealand is considering a similar policy, The Dominion Post reported on Tuesday. Two near-collisions in Indonesian airspace in the last year were avoided only because the pilots were warned by their onboard systems and took evasive action. Last March, a Qantas 767 was climbing to 36,000 feet and was put on a collision course with an Air New Zealand 767 cruising at that altitude. Both crews responded to onboard alerts and passed each other by less than 400 feet. A similar incident in the same area last June involved two Qantas airplanes.
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Ken Hyde and his Wright Experience team have found a home for their third (and last) Wright 1903 Flyer reproduction, at the Seattle Museum of Flight. The Flyer is one of two sister ships to the one that flew at the celebration of the Centennial of Flight in 2003, in North Carolina. The Centennial airplane now lives at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., and the second airplane is on display at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, N.C. Hyde said that he and his team will now move on to replicate the Wrights' later aircraft. "Our goal is to rediscover all the secrets of the Wright brothers and to inspire a new generation," Hyde said. Hyde's reproductions were built using turn-of-the-century materials and techniques, and are identical in every detail to the original Flyer as it was configured for its first flight on Dec. 17, 1903. He and his team have conducted unprecedented wind-tunnel and flight tests on the Flyers, data from which has shed new light on the extent of the Wright brothers' scientific knowledge of flight.
In one of the creepier stories about activities aloft to come along in a while, a pilot for Garuda Indonesia was arrested last week and charged in the death of a human-rights activist who was poisoned with arsenic while on a flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam last September. If convicted, the pilot could face the death penalty. The pilot was a passenger on that flight, and has said he was traveling on airline business. However, investigators have disputed that and accused the airline of a cover-up. The pilot's lawyer says his client was set up, and there is a conspiracy at work. The murder victim, Munir, 38, had provided legal counsel for victims of officially sanctioned violence during a repressive 32-year rule that ended in 1998. The top management of Garuda, which is Indonesia's national carrier, has recently been overhauled, as the airline struggles to cope with aging aircraft, crushing debt, and top-heavy bureaucracy. The publicity over the murder investigation has further damaged the airline's image.
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AOPA is studying aging pilots to see if hikes in insurance premiums are justified...
The New York Times this week reported on the dispute between the FAA and controllers at the New York TRACON...
Paraglider Magazine now online...
China's first female private pilot is planning a 6,000-mile flight across China to promote the 2008 Paralympic Games...
Dallas may reopen Hensley Field, a former Naval Air Station decommissioned in 1998, but only for limited private use by local industries...
Some emergency radios used by military pilots have malfunctioned due to substandard bogus parts; the Defense Department is investigating...
Flight Explorer has enhanced the weather display options available on its flight-tracking products.
Drop us a line. If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to email@example.com.
SEE CLEARLY METHOD IMPROVES & STRENGTHENS VISION NATURALLY
Quiz #92 -- Load Factors and Fictions
If the airplane has four seats, you can cram in four people, right? Perhaps not. The PIC must not only figure how much weight is being carried but how that load affects safety. Are you balanced?
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*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Last week, AVweb asked how President Bush is doing in terms of general aviation. (Easy, partisans we're talking only about GA here.)
The majority of respondents seem to think the President is doing pretty poorly in the GA arena: 52% of you said the Bush administration has effected change for the worse. On the other end of the spectrum, only 9% said the current administration has been good for GA.
A substantial chunk of respondents (29%) felt the Bush administration hasn't been responsible for any major changes (good or bad) in general aviation.
The remaining 10% of you thought the jury was still out on the Bush administration pending their handling of FSS privatization.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
This week, AVweb revisits a hot topic the ATC shortage. One of our readers would like to know what impact (if any) the shortage is having on your flying habits.
Click here to tell us
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Welcome to another installment of AVweb's "Picture of the Week."
If you're new to this feature, here's how it works: Every week we sort through dozens of amateur aviation photos submitted by our readers, pick our favorites, and fight bitterly amongst ourselves until one lucky contestant stands as the undisputed winner. Then we peek to see who sent in the winning picture and mail him or her an Official AVweb Baseball Cap.
This week's most common themes: Warbirds and air shows sure signs that spring is around the corner!
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
copyright © Jack Cook
"Bud's the Man!"
Jack Cook of Salem, Oregon takes home top honors
this week with a photo of previous "POTW" winner
Bud Granley in his American Beauty Mustang. The photo,
Jack tells us, was taken from a B-25J flown by Jeff Wright.
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.
"Iron Bird Watching Golden Sunset"
Mikko Luukkanen of Helsinki, Uusimaa (Finland)
provides a moment of quiet reflection and natural
splendor in this week's "Desktop Wallpaper Favorite."
copyright © Rick Gullett
"Longing for Summer"
Rick Gullett of Snellville, Georgia won't
have to wait long for summer air shows.
Sun 'n Fun is coming up, Rick and only
a couple hours south of you by plane ... .
"POTW" entries continue to roll in at
close to 100 photos a week. With our
readers showing that kind of dedication,
we feel like you deserve a few extra pictures.
So kick back and enjoy but don't forget
to send in your photos so we can keep doing this!
Used with permission of Wayne Dippold
"Over the Top"
Looks like Wayne Dippold of Alden, New York
has a bit of summer air show fever, too ... .
Used with permission of Erez Boym
"POTW" extends a hearty "welcome back" to
Erez Boym of Shimshit, Israel, who is one of
our favorite regular contributors. Before we
started offering the bonus pictures, Erez's
name showed up on more #4 selections
than you could shake a stick at.
copyright © Bill Newhall
Bill Newhall of Boulder, Colorado writes,
"I took this photo at a great little hunting and
skeet shooting club and resort called the Runaway Inn"
during a Colorado Pilots Association fly-in. "Note that we
really did stop shooting when airplanes were taking off."
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.
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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