June 15, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... LightSPEED Aviation
LIGHTSPEED HEADSETS COMBINE THE MOST FEATURES
Adam Aircraft CEO Rick Adam hosted a live Web seminar on Tuesday, with an update on the status of his company's A500 centerline twin and the A700 light jet. The just-shy-of-$900,000 (in 2003 dollars) A500 piston twin received its FAA Type Certificate (TC) in May, and "We're all thrilled here," Adam said. The first customer delivery is set to take place at Oshkosh, in late July. At this time, the TC comes with substantial restrictions for the aircraft -- daytime VFR only, no baggage, maximum of three occupants, avoidance of icing conditions, a 12,500-foot operational ceiling, and a (presently) very short airframe life limit, for example. However, all the testing has been completed, Adam said, and it's just a matter of getting all the paperwork through the FAA. A chunk of that will be done in July and the rest in September, he said (though the icing program will come later), at which point the restrictions will be removed, and customer aircraft will be retrofitted and upgraded. Initial customers have said they are ready to take delivery of their airplanes when the planes are ready, even if those amendments are still pending, Adam said. He added that this process is "normal" for complex aircraft at this price point. The Production Certificate is still pending, and is expected later this year. The TC is enough, though, for the company to manufacture and deliver aircraft now. The company expects to deliver at least three airplanes by the end of the year. The first Service Centers are almost ready, with the first planned for Fort Myers, Fla. Adam is also working to certify AmSafe harness-type airbags.
The icing test program, however, is slated for next winter. And the July and September dates for TC amendments depend on getting all the necessary interaction with the FAA completed. "The FAA budget cutbacks are putting stress on manufacturers," President Joe Walker said in a follow-up call with AVweb yesterday. Inspectors are not always available to do the required work. For example, "Last week, we had to fly the airplane to Boston, because the FAA staff we needed to work with didn't have the budget to come to Denver," he said. The initial TC also limits the airframe to 250 hours total. Walker said the company will start further fatigue testing in August that would push the limit up. The tests essentially will involve shaking an airframe for 24 hours a day, which would allow the fatigue limits to be increased by hundreds of hours for each week of trouble-free testing. "The key is to stay ahead of your fleet," Walker said. Since early deliveries of the A500 are going to owner-operators, not commercial operators, estimated use is only about 200 hours a year.
The company is shifting now from development mode to manufacturing mode, Adam said. That means adding staff and working to fill orders. The company is ready to build about one airplane a month, but it has the capacity now to build up to six a month. Orders are in for 71 airplanes. Development is continuing with the A700 twinjet, Adam said, and the prototype now has logged 259 hours. They are working with the FAA to develop a certification plan for the jet, and once that's done, they can start to work through it. They are hoping for certification in 2006. Adam has 50 orders for the jet. "We now have a track record and have built relationships with the FAA," Walker said, which he hopes will hasten the certification process. And two-thirds of the parts in the A700 are parts already certified for the A500.
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A DC-3 with two pilots and one passenger aboard made an emergency landing, clipping trees and sliding 100 yards on a street in a residential neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Monday, without impacting homes or (directly) injuring anyone one the ground. After the left engine caught fire shortly after takeoff the crew decided they wouldn't be able to return the airplane and its 3,200 pounds of granite cargo to Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, or make the beach. The crew told The Associated Press they decided "to drop the nose and take what [they] could get." They aimed for "the biggest, widest spot" of a (previously) tree-abundant and quiet section of Northeast 56th Street, hoping the trees would help dissipate energy during the crash. The results were impressive. The pilot and co-pilot were identified as Charles Riggs and Charles Wirt and the passenger as Hector Espinoza. They were headed with their granite cargo for the Bahamas when circumstance motivated them to change their plans. Of the outcome, Wirt told The Associated Press "I was very pleasantly surprised, I thought we would at least take out somebody's parked car." Riggs told local news, "It flew perfectly right until we impacted the tree and then the ground ... It ruptured the fuel tanks." Despite injuries sustained during the crash all aboard escaped before fire engulfed the cabin and destroyed the aircraft. Two people on the ground, an elderly couple, were hospitalized with injuries indirectly related to the crash (according to firefighters who spoke to The Associated Press). Aware of his fortune, Riggs, who told reporters he flew helicopters in Vietnam, added, "I never really crashed an airplane before, but I've been shot down a couple times ... I am really grateful for not hitting anyone on the ground."
The copilot (Wirt) suffered a chipped bone in his neck and a compression fracture to one of his vertebrae. He told reporters yesterday he was able to escape the wreckage by climbing out the co-pilot's window. Wirt said pilot Riggs was knocked momentarily unconscious and that he saw "somebody" help Riggs escape. Espinoza broke out a cockpit window. Riggs and Espinoza suffered ligament damage, both in their right knees. The aircraft was a version of the DC-3 that was modified for Navy use and built between 1945 and 1946. "There are only six [of this type] in the current registry," FAA spokesman Greg Martin told Florida Today. A broken fuel line is suspected.
In a bizarre turn of events, two airplanes crashed on the same runway in northern Kenya last week. First, at about 1 o'clock Friday afternoon, a Hawker-Siddeley 748 cargo plane landed with its gear up, and left wreckage strewn on the Lokichokio airport's only runway. The airport was closed. About an hour later, a Hercules L-100 cargo plane from Angola arrived at Lokichokio, and it was turned away. The pilot responded that he didn't have enough fuel to get to another airport, and would attempt to land on the portion of the runway that was clear of debris. The pilot landed hard, bending the airframe, and the Herc rolled forward into the debris field. Wreckage of both aircraft was then strewn across the whole runway. Nobody was hurt, but the airport had to be closed for two days.
"Aw [expletive] we're gonna hit houses, dude." The NTSB has released new information -- including cockpit voice excerpts (see NewsWire) -- related to the Oct. 14 fatal crash of a Pinnacle Airlines regional jet. The pilots were flying an empty Bombardier CL-600-2B19 and hoping to "have a little fun" when they decided to climb to the jet's maximum altitude at FL410, according to transcripts from the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) that the NTSB released this week. The two were ferrying the 50-seat jet from Little Rock, Ark., to Minneapolis on Oct. 14. A controller questioned the jet's model and altitude told the pilots, "I've never seen you guys up at 41 there." The crew responded, "Yeah, we're actually ... we don't have any passengers on board, so we decided to have a little fun and come up here." Minutes later, the pilots told controllers first that one and later that both engines had failed. An automatic system had attempted to lower the nose as the aircraft lost airspeed at 41,000 feet, but the pilots overrode it. The plane stalled and turbulent airflow entered the engines, according to NTSB information obtained by the New York Times. Though the NTSB noted that the aircraft had been within gliding distance of five suitable airports when the pilots were first aware of the loss of power, the aircraft did not make a runway. The pilots had attempted, but were unable, to restart either engine and crashed more than two miles short of Jefferson City, Mo., airport. They missed the houses.
Both pilots were killed when the aircraft crashed in a residential neighborhood at night -- excerpts from their last exchanges suggest they were trying for a road. According to an NTSB report quoted in The New York Times, "Investigators formed the impression that there was a sense of allure to some pilots to cruise at FL 410 just to say they had 'been there and done that.'" The airline has blamed the pilots for behaving unprofessionally and disregarding their training. The Air Line Pilots Association has said the airline's training program was inadequate and that the engines suffered "core lock" caused by differential cooling when engines are run at high thrust and suddenly shut down -- an allegation the manufacturer has rejected. The FAA issued, June 2, a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin intended to clarify and promote successful air-restart procedures in the case of a double engine failure. According to NTSB data, "starter assist" is required to start engines at altitudes below 15,000 feet and speeds below 190 knots. The NTSB will investigate whether the aircraft's GE engines indeed suffered core lock and whether proper technique could have seen them restarted. Investigative exhibit items from the public docket are available here.
IN PRINT AND ONLINE, TRADE-A-PLANE GIVES YOU THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
While the Paris Air Show, held every other June at Le Bourget, is mainly about big airliners and beefy military aircraft, there's a fair amount of news there for the lighter, GA end of the industry. Among the latest out of Paris this week, Grob, a German light-plane manufacturer, introduced the first test model of its new "utility jet," a 10-seater built to operate from unimproved runways. The jet has a roomy, quick-change cabin that can also accommodate cargo loads up to about 2,500 pounds. Aviation Technology Group introduced the Javelin Mk-20, the military-trainer version of its two-seat very-high-performance Javelin Executive Jet. The prototype of the civilian version has recently started taxi tests. "The aircraft has successfully taxied and run its engines and systems," said ATG CEO George Bye. "It will not be long before we see this remarkable, high-performance jet take flight." The Executive Jet sells for $2.8 million. Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) has joined with ATG to develop the military version, which is designed to fly at about 0.9 Mach. Dassault also showed its newest bizjet, the $40 million Falcon 7X, in its first public flight. The three-engine 7X is the first corporate jet with a fly-by-wire flight control system. Also, representatives from Japan and France are reportedly discussing plans at the show to develop a new supersonic successor to the Concorde. They team would split the investment to build the aircraft and hope to split the time from New York and Tokyo, shaving it down to six hours. Hopes would see the 300-seat speeder flying in 2015. The Paris Air Show opened on Monday and continues through the weekend.
Blue Origin, the space company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has released some details about its future plans, as it works with the FAA to gain approvals to develop its site in Culberson County, Texas. The company's reusable launch vehicle (RLV) would carry three or more passengers to 325,000 feet, propelled by hydrogen peroxide and kerosene. The RLV would be operated by an onboard computer system, with no ground control, and it would launch vertically from a concrete pad and land vertically in an area nearby. Blue Origin intends to perform unmanned RLV test flights from the proposed facility beginning, at the earliest, in the third quarter of 2006. Bezos is just one of many high-tech billionaires investing in the "new space race," the effort to create a space-tourism industry independent of NASA, which has become something of a status symbol for the rich-and-geeky set. "It's not good enough to have a Gulfstream V," Rick Tumlinson, of the Space Frontier Foundation, told The New York Times. "Now you've got to have a rocket."
THE BEST HEADSET IS THE ONE YOU ALREADY OWN
A team of engineers got a lot of attention when they bolted some wings onto a $100,000 Panoz Esperante sports car and got it (briefly) off the ground, for a Monster Garage episode that aired this week. But meanwhile, the real flying car may be quietly under development in the garages of a few homebuilders, in the form of road-worthy gyrocopters. Sean Cooper, of Concord, Calif., says he's gotten the OK from the state to drive his gyrocopter on the roads -- but only if he takes off the rotor first, which is (currently) about a 20-minute job. Still, Cooper told SiliconBeat.com he has driven the gyro to the airport (the rotax turns the back two wheels via a pulley device), which is just a few blocks away from his home, then flew to San Jose, took off the rotor, and drove to his office ... very slowly. A similar project has been proposed by a Dutch company (though they say theirs will go about 120 mph on land or in the air) and we saw an ultralight version at Sun 'n Fun that turned into a kind of three-wheeled motorbike on the ground.
Meanwhile, housing costs in California -- combined with generally good weather and plentiful airports -- are making airborne commutes a reasonable option for more pilots of ordinary air-only aircraft. Instead of paying huge bucks for a tiny urban home, pilots can instead buy a bigger house in a far-off suburb, pay for an airplane, and fly to work. Bill Byrne flies in a rented Cessna from his home in Davis to his Mountain View office daily, turning a three-hour commute into a 75-minute trip, door to door. "It's calming," Byrne told The San Jose MercuryNews. "People love to look out the airplane window, and I get to do it every day." He keeps a beat-up $900 Volvo at the Palo Alto airport for the ground leg of his commute. Not quite a flying car, but it works.
Helicopters can perform amazing vertical feats, but their Achilles' heel has always been forward speeds limited by the retreating blades' ability to create lift. Usually, the machines max out at about 170 knots. Efforts to increase forward speed have previously resulted in degraded hover performance. While Bell inches its Bell/Agusta 609 tiltroter's nacelles toward full airplane mode, Sikorsky Aircraft announced this month it plans to build and test a demonstrator for a new class of helicopters that will cruise at 250 knots (Bell's 609 aims for 275) while meeting or exceeding all the usual vertical flight capabilities of rotorcraft and without using tilting rotors on wingtips. The demonstrator will feature a coaxial design (two counter-rotating rotors on the same vertical axis) and a pusher prop to supply auxiliary propulsion. Sikorsky plans to build and fly its X2 Technology Demonstrator helicopter at its Schweizer Aircraft subsidiary by the end of 2006. Preliminary design work for the demonstrator is finished and parts fabrication for the aircraft is underway. The announcement was made at the American Helicopter Society International's annual technical forum in Grapevine, Texas, where Sikorsky unveiled new scale models of X2 Technology helicopter concepts in various weight classes and configurations. "We initiated X2 Technology convinced that the most productive and flexible helicopter is a helicopter which is capable of a significant increase in speed," said Sikorsky President Stephen Finger. "Customers are demanding greater speed but without sacrificing any of the unique capabilities that make helicopters the ideal platform for countless civil and military missions." X2 Technology aircraft will hover, land vertically, maneuver at low speeds, and transition seamlessly from hover to forward flight like a helicopter. In a high-speed configuration, one or more pusher props are part of an integrated auxiliary propulsion system to enable high speed with no need to physically reconfigure the aircraft in flight.
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The U.S. Ultralight Association (USUA) on Tuesday asked the FAA to give ultralight pilots and instructors two extra years to transition to the Sport Pilot rules and for ultralight aircraft to transition into Light Sport Aircraft. The USUA also asked that the training exemptions that allow the use of two-seat ultralights for training purposes also be extended for two years. "This additional time is necessary to allow the industry sufficient time to develop to the point where it can take advantage of the benefits of the Sport Pilot rule," according to the petition. The changes would move the deadlines back to Jan. 31, 2009, for transitioning pilots, and would allow the use of two-seat ultralights for training until Jan. 31, 2012. The USUA said that it believes that the success of Sport Pilot is "paramount" and essential to the future of sport aviation. However, the USUA is concerned that "the infrastructure needed for a smooth transition is coming into place very slowly." There is a shortage of instructors and examiners, a shortage of manufacturers who are meeting SLSA standards, and a shortage of qualified LSA mechanics, repairmen, and designated airworthiness representatives. The USUA said it believes that by changing the timeframe in which certain key elements of the ultralight-to-Sport Pilot transition occur, more participation can be achieved with less effort, and it can benefit all segments of the industry.
While his hometown media in southeast Texas remembered Gordon Baxter as a "local icon" and "legendary radio talk-show host," he was known to aviators around the world as the author of "Bax Seat," his well-loved column that ran on the back page of Flying Magazine from 1971 to 1998. Baxter wrote about airplanes, the people who fly them, the airports where they live, the romance and adventure of it all. "We'll all miss him," Flying Senior Editor Tom Benenson told AVweb on Tuesday. "He was always a gentleman and always knew how to tell a story. ... I enjoyed his work from almost the time I could read." Baxter died Saturday in Beaumont, at age 81, leaving behind his wife, nine children, 16 grandkids, and 11 books. Since 1998, at Oshkosh the Bax Seat Award is given every year to the EAA member "who perpetuates the Gordon Baxter tradition of communicating the excitement and romance of flight." A ceremony is held for the winner. Flying Magazine featured a tribute to Baxter in its June 2004 issue, and this week posted his funeral arrangements on their Web site. The September issue will feature much more about Baxter's life and legacy. And if you're not familiar with Baxter's work, here's a sample, just one of his hundreds of columns, chosen at random. In the June 27 "As The Beacon Turns," AVweb columnist Michael Maya Charles will share his memories of working with Baxter.
PROTECT & SHINE YOUR AIRCRAFT
The two-seat Viperjet mkII took its first flight on Sunday, in Pasco, Wash., for a successful 25-minute test...
Female pilots for British Airways won the right in court to reduced hours to care for children. The airline says it will fight the ruling...
A 1963 Beech 23 Musketeer, N2358Z, was stolen from Elk Grove, Calif., last week, the Aviation Crime Prevention Institute reported. If you have any information about this aircraft, contact the ACPI at 800-969-5473 or email@example.com...
A NASA astronaut aboard the International Space Station made history Tuesday, becoming the first person to testify before Congress while in orbit...
Ada Air Expo, coming up June 24-25 in Ada, Okla., features warbirds, aerobatics, and airplane rides...
New DVD of Glastar's Sportsman 2 + 2 available free; request by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. You're a part of our team.
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Quiz #95 -- A New Sport Pilot
Welcome, Sport Pilots, to aviation -- an exclusive club open to anyone who dreams far above the madding crowd's ignoble ground life. Before you touch the heavens, however, review some old- and new school-terms.
The cartoon adventures of Chuck and the rest of the Roost-Air FBO continue this week as Chuck gets in trouble again with ATC. A new strip every week!
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GAMIJECTORS CAN CUT AIRCRAFT FUEL BILLS BY 20 PERCENT!!
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Last week, AVweb asked our readers whether they prefer round gauges or flat panels.
Despite a handful of testimonials from gauge advocates and panel promoters, the results were split almost evenly down the middle. As of this writing, there are 280 votes for flat panels and 281 for round gauges.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
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NEW AVIATION DIRECTORY FROM AvBUYER.COM
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Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners
Sunny skies, heart-pounding action, and even a little piece of history round out this week's reader-submitted pictures. Strap in and prepare yourself for another non-stop visual feast, as we bring you the best of over 70 "Picture of the Week" contenders.
We'll start you off with this week's number one photo a clear summer day and an exciting landing, courtesy of Hartwell, Georgia's Jeremy King.
Of course, Jeremy will be taking home a prized (and officially licensed) AVweb baseball cap for this top-notch photo. If you'd like one of these spiffy caps to keep the sun out of your eyes, submit your own aviation photos. If yours is chosen for our top spot, we'll send an AVweb hat straight to your doorstep.
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
copyright © Jeremy King
"So, Is This a Short Field Or a Soft Field?"
Jeremy King of Hartwell, Georgia touches down
on a beautiful spring day to collect this week's
top prize an official AVweb baseball cap.
"The Turbo Porter has always had a soft spot in
my heart, and I wanted a decent picture
of one," writes Jeremy. "I think I got that!"
We tend to agree.
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.
Used with permission of Mike Lester
"PC-12: Versatility and Beauty"
Mike Lester of Adelaide Airport, South Australia
ought to be in advertising (if he isn't already).
One look at this beautiful Pilatus PC-12
demonstrator under the Tasmanian skies
in Broomfield Station, and we
were checking our bank balances.
(Folks at Pilatus, don't get too excited.)
Used with permission of William P. Lear Jr.
"P-38 over San Francisco Bay, 1947"
We were wondering where
William Lear Jr. of Port Orange, Florida
came across this photo from the 1947 Oakland
Air Show then we got around to reading his
comments, where we discovered that's Bill piloting
the P-38 with Betty Skelton behind him.
The shot was taking from a BT-13 flying in
formation with the P-38. He points out the
"partial flaps ... to fly slow enough."
Not enough for ya? All right
by popular demand, we'll bring on the bonus pictures!
Used with permission of Michael Mahoney
"Whidbey Island Seneca"
Michael Mahoney of Redmond, Washington
continues this week's summery theme with a
picture taken during "a rare sunny spring
weekend in the San Juans."
copyright © Michel Vandervoort
"Winner Takes It All"
Michel Vandervoort of Alphen aan den Rijn
(Zuid-Holland, Holland) gets our blood pumping
with this dynamic shot of Mike Mangold after
the Red Bull Air Races in Rotterdam.
Used with permission of Alan K. Miller
Alan K. Miller of Scotia, New York
sends us this tranquil shot from the first annual
Can/Am Fly-In at Lac Taureau, Québec.
Used with permission of Byron Miranda
Byron Miranda of Aiea, Hawaii
welcomes the morning sun with this
shot he snapped in Frankfurt, Germany
after an early morning air show.
A while back, "POTW"
George Mock sent us a stunning winter
shot of the Lancaster FM-212 that has
stood as a memorial to Ontario airmen
who lost their lives during World War II
since the 1950s. George also told us the
Lancaster would be removed from the memorial
site in May to start its journey toward a new home
at the Windsor Airport. This week, a special surprise:
Used with permission of Rob Harway
Rob Harway of Windsor, Ontario
(Canada) is one of the volunteers for the
group that's helping move and restore the
Lancaster. He sent us several great pics of
the careful move, along with an assurance that
a fiberglass Spitfire replica and Hawker Hurricane
will be filling the space once occupied by the Lancaster.
And so a bit of history is carefully preserved for the next generation.
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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Dirty side down for landing.
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