July 13, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ...
The hottest (and only) new television series about general aviation, Wings to Adventure goes off-road this week, featuring bush planes. The Maul and the famous de Havilland Beaver strut their aerial stuff in Texas and in the Pacific Northwest. There's also a tour of aviation museums in the Dallas area and a visit to the hangar of aviation raconteur Reb Stimson. Shot in incredible high definition video, WTA airs Sunday at 2:30pm Eastern on the Outdoor Channel. Dish and DirecTV subscribers can add the Outdoor Channel for $1.99 a month. Ask for it "a la carte." For more information, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/outdoor/avflash.
The ongoing controversy surrounding Lycoming crankshafts took a new twist Monday as the company issued Mandatory Service Bulletin (MSB) 566, which greatly widens the net draping a crankshaft issue previously limited to high-horsepower six-cylinder engines (often found in high-stress turbocharged applications). The new MSB recalls crankshafts in more than 1000 engines manufactured, rebuilt, overhauled or repaired since March 1, 1999. In addition, some 227 crankshafts not affiliated with a specific engine serial number are also affected. This is a group of engines distinct from the set of high-power, six-cylinder Lycomings that have been subject to a previous recall and Airworthiness Directive (AD) for crankshaft replacement. Time of compliance is listed as within the next 50 hours or six months and, as Part 91 operators know, a Mandatory Service Bulletin is not a defining rule as is an Airworthiness Directive. Ian Walsh, Lycoming president, says, "We've been watching the data since 2002 and have come to the conclusion that we need to expand the scope" to include other crankshafts.
Lycoming said that a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NRPM) would be issued by Friday with an AD to follow, making the new MSB truly mandatory for Part 91 operators. According to Lycoming president Ian Walsh, "We had enough incidences to finally decide that all cranks with the same 'heat code' manufactured by Interstate should be recalled." These crankshafts are found in a wide array of Lycoming six- and four-cylinder engines, even some low-power, 180-hp O-360 applications. Crankshafts for the high-power engines that were caught in the previous recall are not affected. Affected crankshafts have a serial number starting in V5379, although not all cranks in that series are covered under the MSB. (See Lycoming's Web site for the full text of the MSB and a listing of affected engines and crankshafts.) In the MSB, Lycoming lists somewhere near 1056 engines and 227 crankshafts by serial number, impacting O-540, IO-540, AEIO-540 and TIO-540 engines rated at 290 hp and lower; IO-540-P, -S, and -AA engines rated between 250 and 290 hp; IO-540 and AEIO-540 engine rated at 300 hp; and counterweighted O-360, IO-360, and TIO-360 engines rated at any horsepower. Also, Lycoming has called out a set of specific serial-number crankshafts that may have been sold as spares since March 1, 1999.
This MSB comes on the heels of Lycoming's loss of a lawsuit sought by Interstate Forging in Navasota, Texas, alleging that Lycoming had improperly specified vanadium to be added to the crank alloy. Lycoming claimed that Interstate had improperly manufactured the cranks and that the addition of vanadium was not at fault. The jury verdict awarded Interstate $96 million. Lycoming has appealed the decision. Marty Rose, an attorney who defended Interstate in Texas, offered comments on Lycoming's latest move. "Seems rather obvious that they learned a lesson from our jury verdict in Texas because the jury found the problem was the vanadium," he said. "And now they're pulling all the crankshafts that they had manufactured with vanadium added." Rose added, "The four-cylinder crankshafts are forged on a press not a hammer. So all the supposed nonsense about bad practices [from Interstate] doesn't apply to the four-cylinder cranks."
Lycoming claims to have all the cranks in hand, produced by new vendor Louisville Forge in Georgetown, K.Y., to replace the affected parts without an interruption of normal programs. If your engine has an affected crankshaft, Lycoming will replace the crank at no cost and, "when authorized by Lycoming," will reimburse owners for the removal and replacement labor according to Lycoming's current Removal and Installation Labor Allowance Guidebook (SSP-875). The contentious crankshaft issue first surfaced in early 2002 when Lycoming recalled some 400 crankshafts used in TIO- and LTIO-540 engines. By late 2003, after a fifth crash attributed to crank failure, Lycoming broadened the recall to include some 1800 airplanes total; the recall program was concluded in 2003. It was believed at the time that only the high-horsepower versions were at risk.
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The spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is in play this week in Washington, and the policy-watchers at AOPA are raising a red flag -- some senators are submitting amendments that would make GA pilots very unhappy. The worst one says anyone who negligently violates Washington's restricted flight zone leading to the evacuation of a public building could be slapped with a $100,000 fine, confiscation of the aircraft, and a five-year loss of flying privileges. New Mexico Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman sponsored this amendment, and AOPA already is talking to them. "The proposed penalty is extraordinarily harsh -- too harsh in fact -- but it's clear that members of Congress want to get every pilot's attention that they will not accept any more excuses for these transgressions," AOPA President Phil Boyer said on Tuesday. "And frankly, there is no excuse. That's why all responsible pilots must do everything they can to make sure their aircraft and airports are secure and that every member of our community understands the consequences of security violations. The transgressions of a few are tarnishing all of us who fly, and their actions may impact our freedom of the skies."
Less threatening is an amendment calling for a government study of GA security, proposed by Senators Hillary R. Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.). The study would examine the potential for GA aircraft to be used as weapons against high-risk sites and would check the overall security of GA airports. It would also assess what technology is available to easily track GA aircraft and prevent aircraft theft. "We would welcome an unbiased study," Boyer said, "because we are convinced from our own independent research that within the list of risks and threats to the American population, GA will rank very low." Boyer's assessment seems to be in line with that of Michael Chertoff, who took over the Department of Homeland Security in February. Yesterday, Chertoff announced a restructuring of the DHS, and said his own research has shown that the department's main priority should be to prevent potentially catastrophic events such as nuclear, chemical or biological attacks. GA does not appear to be high on his agenda.
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To some observers, contract negotiations between the FAA and its air traffic controllers are shaping up to be the most divisive, confrontational and acrimonious talks since President Ronald Reagan fired striking controllers in 1981 -- and the latest round of bargaining hasn't even begun yet. The two sides don't formally sit down until next week but in back-to-back news teleconferences, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and John Carr, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), each promised courteous and productive talks while delivering (sometimes) carefully worded but plainly pointed barbs at their counterparts. "Frankly, I'm surprised she stooped so low so soon," Carr said of Blakey's comparison between the wages and working conditions of controllers versus firefighters and police officers, who are generally paid less and who, Blakey noted, "put their lives on the line" on the job. Even the backdrop of the teleconference had its share of drama. NATCA announced its Wednesday teleconference to selected media representatives late Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, the FAA announced it would be holding a teleconference 90 minutes prior to NATCA's 1 p.m. (EST) conference, although problems with the FAA's telephone conference system forced a one-hour delay in the start time. FAA spokesman Greg Martin said that when FAA officials learned of the NATCA teleconference, which the union said was to discuss, in part, "concerns about the effect of recent FAA hostile actions on the workforce", the FAA felt it had to get its side of the story out. "It was not our intention to begin this way but we are not going to let others define what this is all about," Martin told AVweb.
Blakey told reporters that, "We can't afford an agreement like 1998." The existing contract, signed under a previous administrator and extended by her two years ago, is a "bad deal" that costs too much. She said the average controller's annual pay package, excluding retirement benefits, is now more than $165,000 and that some make more than $200,000 a year. Blakey also claims the contract gives the union "de facto control" over scheduling and staffing levels. NATCA's Carr vehemently denied that the union had seized control of staffing and shifting, and offered to pay Blakey or any of the reporters taking part in his teleconference $1 million if they could find within the wording of the existing contract proof the union was granted such powers. Carr called the assertions "patently false" and said it's ludicrous to think that a bureaucracy the size of the FAA could be cowed by a 15,000-member union.
The disagreement comes a couple of months after the FAA issued a blistering report on staffing and overtime issues at the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) that painted the picture that FAA managers had virtually lost control of the facility. She noted that the conditions in New York are not typical of the agency's other facilities. However, Carr alleged that both the timing and content of the report were a "shot across the bow" and part of a "very aggressive PR campaign leading up to the negotiations" on the part of the FAA. He described the FAA's handling of the New York situation and other recent decisions, like the disbanding of a union-management liaison unit on technology, "strong-arm tactics" and accused the FAA of having a "narrow and ideologically driven" agenda. Blakey eliminated one potential hot spot from the discussions -- privatization. She dismissed any notion of privatization or outsourcing air traffic control and said any discussion on the topic would be a red herring. Blakey and Carr both agreed that new technologies and new methods must be employed to meet rapidly increasing traffic counts and that both will cost huge amounts of money.
Blakey and Carr both pledged to take the high road during the talks, but it's the vantage point that creates the perception and while the two may be approaching a problem from opposite sides of the coin there may be more obstacles. "We don't think these negotiations need to be contentious," said Blakey. Carr said he was entering the negotiations "with an open mind and a very positive attitude." But the two sides have different ideas on what will happen if the talks fail to achieve a mutual agreement. According to the FAA's legal interpretation, if the two sides reach an impasse, it will be up to Congress to pass judgment on the deal. If Congress fails to come up with a solution, the FAA says it has the authority to impose its contract on the union. Carr disagrees and that particular disagreement is already before the courts. Carr said that on Sunday the FAA used those sections of law to impose an agreement on one of NATCA's bargaining units representing 1,900 mostly technical employees. He noted the impasse in those talks had been reached 18 months ago and it had been with Congress since then but the FAA chose the eve of the controllers' talks to flex its muscles. NATCA has started court action to dispute the validity of the FAA's actions and the legal basis for them.
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When airports normally are closing down at a quick pace around the country, it's always a pleasure to find a new site for general aviation. This week, the FAA approved the opening up of the private South Waller County Airport near Houston for public use. The developer will start out by paving 4,500 feet of runway, and plans to build hangars and a restaurant and eventually accommodate up to 1,000 business and personal aircraft. "We believe this airport will be a tremendous asset for the community," airport spokesman Drew Coats said in a news release on Tuesday. "The airport will provide needed transportation infrastructure to the public without using public money. It will stimulate the economy, create good jobs and provide a variety of educational opportunities for kids." Long-term plans include building park, picnic and aviation youth activity areas for the community. The planning and design process for the airport is ongoing, and the developer hopes to begin construction on the site in the next 120 to 180 days.
A pilot who died in the crash of his twin Cessna 441 had 10 times the normal dose of an over-the-counter sedating antihistamine in his blood, the NTSB said it in its final report, filed last week. "It is probable that the pilot's performance and judgment were substantially impaired by his very high blood level of chlorpheniramine," the NTSB said. The airplane had departed from its home base, Boca Raton (Fla.) Airport, on Dec. 30, 2003, headed for Palm Beach International Airport, 18 miles away. The pilot requested a practice ILS approach, but disappeared from radar about three miles from the airport. Witnesses saw the airplane descend and impact a canal. The 77-year-old pilot had an airline transport certificate. The NTSB said both engines and propellers were operating at the time of impact. The probable cause was found to be the pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control, which resulted in an inadvertent stall/spin and subsequent uncontrolled descent into a canal. A factor was the pilot's impairment by the drug chlorpheniramine.
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Eclipse Aviation flew its fourth conforming test aircraft for the first time on Saturday. N505EA took off at 1:44 p.m. from the Albuquerque (N.M.) International Sunport, climbed to 15,000 feet and reached 160 knots. The aircraft flew for 43 minutes and completed initial tests of flap operation, pressurization, and handling characteristics. 5EA is the first of two beta-test jets that will be tested under accelerated usage conditions to ensure reliability and functionality, the company said. "With four out of five of our flight test aircraft now in the air, we are generating rich data and invaluable learnings every day that will allow us to continue to move aggressively towards FAA certification next year,'' CEO Vern Raburn said in a news release. Eclipse is manufacturing seven preproduction aircraft: one static test airframe, one fatigue test airframe and five flight test aircraft. The final flight test aircraft and second beta test jet, N506EA, is in its final assembly position and will launch this summer. The first Eclipse test plane made its first flight on Dec. 31. Two other test aircraft launched in April. The jet flew in to Sun 'n Fun in April for a static display, and will perform its first public flight demonstrations later this month at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh.
The NTSB has released its preliminary report on the June 27 crash in Wyoming that killed Wal-Mart heir John Walton. According to the report, Walton took off from Runway 19 at Jackson Hole Airport in a two-place CGS Hawk Arrow, flew a pattern at about 700 to 900 feet, and shortly after turning onto the base leg, began a nose-low descent and impacted the ground. He was in radio contact with the control tower and did not report any problems, and initial inspection of the aircraft has not revealed any evidence of mechanical or structural failure, the NTSB said. Meanwhile, Chuck Slusarczyk, owner of CGS Aviation, told The Associated Press on Monday that judging from photos and an eyewitness account, the fuselage cover did not seem to be on the aircraft during the flight. "It's not designed to fly without a fuselage cover," Slusarczyk said. According to the NTSB, the aircraft was "an unregistered CGS Aviation Hawk Two Place Arrow experimental homebuilt airplane." The investigation is unusual in that the NTSB does not normally get involved in accidents of unregistered aircraft. As ultralights are transformed into Light Sport Aircraft, however, and gain N-numbers in the process, such reports may become standard procedure. Slusarczyk told the AP that Walton had said he would register the aircraft.
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AVweb staffers will be on the field, as ever, covering every square foot of the sprawling AirVenture Oshkosh show to bring you the latest industry innovations and gadget machinations. At home, watch for special issues Wednesday July 27, and Friday July 29. If you're in Oshkosh, come visit us at Booths # 1007-1008 in Hangar A. AVweb writers, editors, and contributors will be there daily, along with a few experts from our sister publications Aviation Consumer, Kitplanes and IFR Magazine, ready to chat with our readers -- the schedule is posted online. If you can't be there, see the show from your inbox with our special coverage and image galleries. And don't forget to visit our sponsors, whose loyal support brings you AVweb news and features twice a week, year-round, free.
Aerobatic pilot Sean Tucker will answer live questions in EAA's monthly Young Eagles Web chat on July 20...
American Champion has received FAA Type Certification for its 180-hp High Country Explorer...
Correction: 230 people died in the crash of TWA Flight 800. AVweb reported an incorrect number in Monday's issue. The nine-year anniversary of the crash is this Sunday, July 17.
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. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
PILOT GETAWAYS YOUR FLIGHT PLAN FOR ADVENTURE
Quiz #96 -- More To Flight Than Wings and Wheels
Fixed-wing, land airplanes can be so restricting. So shuck those tires and bolt on some floats -- or trade your old airfoils for rotors -- to fly seaplanes and helicopters. First, though, a few terms.
The cartoon adventures of Chuck and the rest of the Roost-Air FBO continue this week as Chuck cleans up last week's problem. A new strip every week.
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SEE CLEARLY METHOD IMPROVES & STRENGTHENS VISION NATURALLY
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Last week, in the wake of Ilan Reich's Cirrus crash, AVweb asked (all else being equal) if you'd prefer to fly a plane with a full-aircraft parachute system.
Just over half of you (54%) said yes, while only 9% said no.
A very respectable 37% of respondents said there were factors more important than the parachute that would go into making the decision.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
This week, AVweb wants to know what you think about the most recent Lycoming crankshaft recall. Has this whole business got you cranky?
Click here to chime in.
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Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions
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We admit to having a brief bout of panic when we realized there were only a couple dozen "Picture of the Week" submissions in last week's contest. Thankfully, this week sees a return to form for "POTW," with over a hundred entries flooding our submission system, duking it out for pictorial supremacy.
The winner of this week's frantic melee is Steve Durtschi of Centerville, Utah. Steve's fetching midwestern skyline fought well (against tough competition) and earns the photographer a well-deserved Official AVweb baseball cap. Wear it with pride, Steve!
We'd also like to thank the many readers who sent us pictorial tributes to Jimmy Franklin and Bobby Younkin, especially Bryon Stoll and Bob Harrington. Even though most of these tributes involved copyrighted images and couldn't be published on AVweb, we're glad you took the time to share them with us.
Stay safe out there, submit some photos, and don't forget to visit with us at AirVenture 2005. We'll be in Hangar A, folks!
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
Used with permission of Steve Durtschi
"Thunderstorm at Smiley Creek"
Steve Durtschi of Centerville, Utah makes an
annual excursion to Smiley Creek, Idaho with some
of his pilot friends. This year, Steve and company were
treated to some spectacular natural scenery in the wake
of an afternoon thunderstorm. Once again, Mother Nature
takes home another AVweb baseball cap.
(Not to worry, Steve we're sending you one, too.)
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 Joe Planck
"Ilan Reich's Cirrus SR-22"
Joe Planck of Stony Point, New York
shares this image of Ilan Reich's SR-22
being lifted out of Bowline Creek in
Haverstraw, New York. Click here to
read Reich's harrowing account.
copyright © Virginia Anthony
"Tara Field: Gone with the Wind"
Even in the wake of Hurricane Cindy,
Virginia Anthony of Fayetteville, Georgia
couldn't resist the pun when she noticed that
the "Tara Field" sign normally found on this hangar
had been whisked away by F2 tornado winds.
Relax, gentle reader you've earned
your bonus pictures this week. Thanks
for the fantastic turnout following
copyright © David Dubin
David Dubin of Redwood City, California
snapped this photo of the deadly B-2 Spirit
Stealth Bomber at last year's Miramar Air Show.
Despite the eerie lighting, Dave assures us there
was no photo manipulation, just an ominous
image "raw out of the camera."
Used with permission of E.J. Gonzalez
E.J. Gonzalez of Chantilly, Virginia writes:
"With the shuttle returning to flight, I thought
this picture of Enterprise in the Udvar-Hazy
Center at Dulles was appropriate." True, E.J.
but we can't help wondering if the shuttle crew
has ever thought about submitting a "POTW"
entry. Something tells me they'd have a good
chance of winning a baseball cap ... .
Used with permission of Dwayne Clemens
Dwayne Clemens of Benton, Kansas
tops off this week's installment of "POTW"
with a photo of 16-year-old Ax Clemens
(any relation, hm?) soloing through
a "perfect Kansas sunset."
Oh, O.K. one more!
Used with permission of Garrett P. Nievin
"Flight Line Volunteer, Look Out!"
Perfect advice to prepare you for AirVenture Oshkosh,
from Garrett Nievin of Ashburn, Virginia, who writes:
"This photo was taken from a distance, making the plane
and the Flight Line Operations volunteer appear closer than
they are. Nevertheless, the 182 is taking out a runway light
with his left wheel at this moment, a good reminder to not
get too complacent, even standing on the ground."
The photo was taken at last year's AirVenture.
See you at this year's show, Garrett!
Stop by and say "hello."
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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