October 9, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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It appears pilots are responding to AOPA's national alert to protest permanent implementation of the Washington Air Defense Identification Zone. The alert went out to all 406,000 AOPA members on Oct. 5 and by Saturday afternoon more than 1,200 fresh protests had been registered (although there's no way of knowing how many were inspired by AOPA's alert). The flurry pushed the total number of comments registered on the controversial Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to a little more than 2,000. Deadline for submissions is Nov. 2. AOPA says it's only the third time in the last 10 years it has felt the need to mobilize the membership, but the precedent-setting nature of the NPRM made it necessary. AOPA President Phil Boyer said the concern is two-fold. He said the ADIZ is an exaggerated response to the minimal threat posed by light aircraft. He claims the capital has all the protection it needs from the 15-nm flight restricted zone (FRZ) around Washington. The 3,000-square-mile ADIZ causes operational and economic disruption, not to mention dramatically increasing a pilot's chances of being shot down. But Boyer said it's not just D.C.-area pilots who should be concerned: "... such an action paves the way for costly, confusing flight restrictions within the footprint of every Class B airspace around the country." AOPA contends that other cities are considering asking for similar "protection" and this NPRM could be the catalyst.
For those who have never commented on a proposed rule, the process is fairly straightforward and open to anyone. But AOPA is making it even easier with a step-by-step guide to ensuring your voice is heard in Washington. The guide contains all the links and helpful hints necessary to post comments via the Internet, which is the preferred way. Not sure what to say? AOPA can help out there, too, with a list of discussion points that you can personalize. (Hint: original comments tend to carry more weight than simply copying the AOPA-supplied notes.) AOPA says it shouldn't take more than about 15 minutes to follow the directions and help fill up the comment box. "I urge every AOPA member to take the time and comment to the FAA," Boyer told a Pilot Town Meeting in Phoenix last week. "This is an important investment in protecting your personal right to fly."
If you're still stumped on what to say in your comment to the FAA, take a few minutes to read what others have had to say. (Click on the TXT file. It loads faster than the PDF.) You'll note that most of the comments are short and to the point. "The Washington DC ADIZ is destroying general aviation in the area," writes one pilot. "I operated my airplane out of Potomac, Md. (under the FRZ) and I eventually sold it because it just wasn't fun anymore." However, if you feel the need to wax eloquently, there is no limit on the amount you can say and the FAA assures us that every word will be read and duly considered. Although you're encouraged to add personal anecdotes and any special insight you may have, there are points AOPA would like you to include in your comments. AOPA is especially interested in pilots asking for public hearings on the NPRM so officials can hear the comments firsthand.
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There could be a new high-performance airplane on the market in 2008 but the name will be a familiar one to those who care about going faster. According to the Sebastian, Fla., Sun, LoPresti Speed Merchants is shopping for a location to build its long-awaited Fury, a two-place firecracker that was designed (some may say adapted) by Roy LoPresti in the late 1980s. LoPresti died in 2002 but the company he left behind seems to be getting serious about building the aircraft. Arjay Siegel, the company's VP of operations, said the company has scouted five potential locations for the aircraft plant, which would employ about 300 people. "We'll not only have the decision made, but we'll break ground [within 90 days]," he told the Sun. LoPresti designed the plane, originally called the SwiftFury, and intended to build it with former Piper owner M. Stuart Miller. But Piper went bankrupt and the project was shelved. The plane was renamed the Fury after New Piper was created in 1991.
The Fury (aesthetically similar to the Globe Swift) is a two-place side-by-side taildragger with a 200-hp Lycoming up front and all those smooth slippery lines that made Lopresti famous to put every pony to use. It has a maximum speed of 222 mph but stalls at 54 mph with flaps. It's fully aerobatic with an ultimate load of 7-plus Gs, but there's also room for up to 200 pounds of luggage. Range is about 1,000 miles and useful load is 850 pounds. LoPresti describes the aircraft as having "the lines of a fighter, the performance of a Ferrari and the comfort of a fine touring sedan." The Web site does not give a projected price but Siegel told the Sun that first deliveries are anticipated in 2008. The company wants to build a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing plant but wants the airplane company to be separate from the speed mod business, which is located in Vero Beach. "We have to keep the Fury separate so it gets all of our best efforts," Siegel told the Sun.
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Is Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) destined to become the modern equivalent of Mode C? Australia seems to be moving in that direction with implementation of a large-scale test of the technology in GA aircraft. Airservices Australia has called for proposals for a project that would equip 1,500 GA aircraft with the electronic tattletales, which automatically broadcast the precise position and identification of the aircraft once a second. Ground stations and similarly equipped aircraft can receive the signals, telling them exactly where ADS-B-equipped aircraft are flying. And there's the rub. Unlike passive systems, like ground-based radar, aircraft must have the electronics on board to show up on screens. Australia, in the long term, wants ADS-B to be "the primary means of ground-to-air and air-to-air surveillance in Australian en route airspace" and that means any aircraft using that airspace will have to be equipped. Some airlines have already put in the gear but it's rare in GA aircraft. The new Australian program will involve installing the avionics in aircraft that frequent busy airports that are outside the country's limited radar coverage. The tender documents call for the successful bidder to come up with "certified, low weight, low installed cost" units and provide ongoing support in the four test locations.
The Australian program sounds a lot like one that's been running in the U.S. for almost a decade. "ADS-B is the backbone of the Alaska Capstone project," FAA spokesman Greg Martin told AVweb. Capstone is aimed at reducing Alaska's hugely disproportionate accident rate with the use of new, chiefly satellite-based navigation and weather technology. As in the Australian project, Alaska-based aircraft were outfitted with the gear and became flying test beds for application of the technology. The accident rate has fallen noticeably (other programs, including enhanced training for pilots, also share the credit) and Martin said it's time to spread those benefits around. "We now have to seriously look at applying that technology in the Lower 48 states," he said. John Carr, the head of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), agrees there are benefits to ADS-B but only if all aircraft are equipped. Although ADS-B can shift part of the onus for IFR separation to the cockpit, Martin said he doesn't see the system replacing or supplanting controllers. However, the role of the controller may change significantly from actively monitoring each aircraft in the sky to keeping watch on the electronic eyes and ears to make sure they're doing that job properly. Martin likened it to the telephone system that has evolved from requiring human intervention at every step involved in making a call to the automatic voice and data transmissions that occur worldwide today with virtually no human involvement.
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A couple of last-ditch efforts by legislators and the union representing flight service specialists failed to stop the takeover of the FSS system by Lockheed Martin last week and the company says things went smoothly. But, then, all that changed was the nameplate on the door. Dire predictions on the fate of the system, after Lockheed Martin closes two-thirds of the automated flight service stations, continue to be voiced by critics who say there won't be enough people to handle the workload. "I've got a pit in my stomach the size of Texas that this is going to be the largest fiasco any federal agency has ever seen," said Kate Breen, president of the National Association of Air Traffic Specialists (NAATS). NAATS had tried to get an injunction to stop the changeover, which is the largest example of outsourcing ever undertaken by a government agency. The injunction was turned down. A few days before the changeover, a group of 57 (mostly Democrat) representatives urged FAA Administrator Marion Blakey to delay the transition until after the Senate votes on a bill that would outlaw the outsourcing. The House has already passed the bill. Despite the opposition, Lockheed Martin sees a bright future ahead as the supplier of weather and NOTAM information. "We welcome the opportunity to serve the FAA and the nation's aviation public in this capacity for many years," said Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Linda Gooden.
The FAA is proposing that there be no more installations of Mode C transponders in Part 135 aircraft after March 1, 2007, and that all transponder replacements after that date be with Mode S devices. The agency issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Oct. 7 saying that exemptions to the rules requiring all new transponder installations be Mode S will terminate on March 1, 2007, and it will not grant any exemptions after that date. However, if, under an exemption, the Mode C is installed before March 1, 2007, the equipment can continue to be repaired to keep it in service after that date. When it's finally irreparable, it must be replaced with Mode S.
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The FAA has issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on a certain make of connecting rod found in about 2,800 Lycoming 360- and 540-series engines in service in the U.S. The NPRM covers engines that have had certain ECi connecting rods installed as part of a repair or overhaul. The FAA determined that the connecting rods covered by the NPRM have deficiencies in the journal bores that can cause fatigue and/or bearing failure, which can result in "uncommanded shutdown" of the engine. Offending rods that have seen more than 1,500 hours of service have to be replaced within 50 hours and the others must be replaced before reaching 1,500 hours. The engines have been installed in dozens of certified and experimental aircraft. The repairs, according to the FAA's math, will cost about $700 per engine (we think it could be a lot more) and ECi has said it might give credit for returned connecting rods. An AD affecting crankshafts in 1,128 engines in the same families takes effect on Oct. 21. The repair cost on those engines is estimated at more than $16,000 but Lycoming has said it will supply the parts for free.
Well, you know the airspace is getting crowded when the reliever airport needs a reliever airport. The New York Port Authority is trying to figure out how to get some of the 550 mostly corporate flights per day that operate from Teterboro Airport (TEB) to use Stewart International, a quieter but fully equipped former Air Force base about 60 miles away. An therein lies the problem. Execs going to the Big Apple via TEB endure about 20 minutes in a limo compared to the hour it would take to get them from Stewart. "Corporate aircraft are in demand because time is probably one of the most important aspects a company can have," Jack Olcott, president of the New Jersey Aviation Association, told the North Jersey media group. Among the ideas being bandied about to entice corporate aircraft to Stewart are lower fees, helicopter shuttles to Manhattan and even a rail link to downtown. The Port Authority is under intense public pressure to reduce traffic at TEB, particularly in light of a spate of recent accidents. The Port Authority has promised to cut jet traffic by 10 percent but the FAA has already said it won't allow that.
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Almost ten years after an electrical fault is suspected to have caused the center tank of a TWA Boeing 747 to explode off New York (killing 230 people), the FAA has come up with a new set of proposed regulations aimed at ensuring (encouraging) airlines and manufacturers to better look after the lifeblood of their airplanes. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would essentially treat wiring as a separate system, rather than as part of the other systems, thus boosting inspection, maintenance and design requirements that the FAA claims will actually save the airlines money. "There will be more efficient planning of maintenance programs and less down time for aircraft," FAA spokesman Hank Price told reporters. Instead of patching up wiring as needed, the new regimen would require more work to be done at fewer intervals. The changes will have a direct cost of $425 million over 25 years but Price said the efficiencies afforded will actually save the airlines $800 million. Besides the TWA flight, more than 400 wiring failures have been documented in airliners, including the downing of Swissair Flight 111 off Nova Scotia in 1998, which was believed to have been caused by overheated wiring in the plane's entertainment system.
Airframe ice may have caused the crash of a Cessna Caravan in the Canadian province of Manitoba last week, possibly the first such accident since the FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) last March requiring a "tactile inspection" of Caravan flight surfaces in potential icing conditions before takeoff. It's speculated that pilot Nancy Chase-Allan, 49, didn't run her hands over those surfaces before taking off from Winnipeg even though icing conditions were present. Peter Hildebrand, of the Canadian Transportation Safety Board, told the Canadian Press that the icing hazard was high before Chase-Allan took off. "The conditions that existed yesterday are getting to the upper end," he said. According to the Canadian Press, Chase-Allan radioed controllers in Winnipeg saying the plane was icing up just before it spiraled onto railway tracks in the middle of the city. She died instantly but no one else was hurt. The AD was issued in response to a seemingly high number of ice-related incidents in Caravans. There have been more than 30 in the past 10 years in North America. The plane was owned by Morningstar Air Express under contract to FedEx. It was on its way to Thunder Bay, Ont. Chase-Allan was filling in for another pilot on the run. She normally worked in Moncton, New Brunswick, where she was also a real estate agent.
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The 15-minute flight between Vancouver, B.C., and Nanaimo (yes, it's where the dessert bar was invented) is one of the most beautiful anywhere but Marc Tacchi may have had enough of it by now. The cargo pilot has made the trip over the islands and bays of Georgia Strait more than 100 times in the last couple of weeks, but not in the left seat. He's been sitting in the back of the Dash 8 in his quest to accumulate a million frequent flyer points on Air Canada's Aeroplan. And he's exploiting a special deal offered by the airline and an anomaly in the points plan to accomplish his goal in less than two months. "I guarantee I'll do it. I can do it easily," he told the Canadian Press. Last month, Tacchi took Air Canada up on its offer of unlimited travel to 100 North American destinations for $3,500 a month. Although the trips to Nanaimo, and also to Victoria, both on Vancouver Island, are short, they earn him Aeroplan's minimum of 500 points. He makes the trip across the narrow strip of ocean separating the island from the mainland at least 10 times a day, up to five days a week. When those flights end in the evening, he hops a transcontinental flight and returns the next day to start over again, sleeping on the plane. In between, he manages to keep his job flying a Boeing 767 cargo jet to Europe once a week. "I fly one day a week overseas and come back. I'm gone 36 hours and that leaves me the whole rest of the week." The million points will qualify Tacchi for about $70,000 CAD worth of travel for the $7,000 spent (and endless bags of sesame snacks, an Air Canada staple, consumed). "I figure a million miles will basically cover my travel for the next three to four years," he said.
Eric and Keith Hayden built a Wright Brothers model A biplane that successfully flew 300 meters at an altitude of roughly ten feet over a runway at Narromine to launch an airshow celebration of aviation and the history of aircraft. Australian AVweb reader, Murray Feddersen, wrote to give us the details and picture. The flight took place, October 1. Feddersen tells us the craft was piloted successfully by 30,000 hour ag-pilot, Mr. Colin Pay...
Adam Aircraft is still pushing to produce its A500 push-pull piston twin and make deliveries this year, according to the Standard-Examiner. Some 80 orders are waiting to be filled by production from Adam's manufacturing facility in the Kemp Jet Services complex at Ogden-Hinckley Airport...
Airbus confirmed it will go ahead with the A350 medium-sized wide body in direct competition with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner. Both plane-makers claim their jet will be much more efficient than existing designs...
AOPA's Airport Watch program will likely get $275,000 in federal funding. The allotment is contained in the Department of Homeland Security's appropriations bill expected to pass Congress this week...
The Blue Angels' founder, "First Blue" Butch Voris, will be honored with a flypast over his memorial service Oct. 10 at Fort Ord, Calif. Voris, a World War II ace, formed the team on the orders of Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz in 1946. He died Aug. 10 at the age of 86...
It might help to be a Scientologist but the other qualifications seem pretty straightforward for what looks like two openings for the role of personal pilot to pilot/actor John Travolta. The monster.com listing requires currency on Gulfstreams and the Boeing 707, both of which Travolta owns, and is located in Ocala, Fla., where Travolta keeps them at an exclusive fly-in community. There are two positions open.
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.
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Say Again? #55: What I Want for Christmas
This Christmas, AVweb's Don Brown would like a few things to make his job better. Many of them are things that pilots already have, but that doesn't make it any easier to get them for Don.
The Unappreciated & Ill-Defined Aircraft Maintenance Log
Maintenance logs are required to prove compliance with regulations, but do you have to have them when you sell the plane? If not, what will happen to the price you get for the plane? And, therefore, will you get compensation from your insurance company if the logs are lost or destroyed? Think again.
AVmail: October 10, 2005
Reader mail this week about Jet Blue, cockpit doors, a successful Wright Flyer and much more.
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Overheard during fleet week practice over the San Francisco Bay;
Nor Cal Approach: Bonanza 1-2-3-4, opposite direction traffic at your 1 o'clock, five miles, five hundred feet above you, Blue Angels flight of two.
Bonanza 1-2-3-4: Negative contact, say again type traffic.
Nor Cal: Two F-18s, blue and yellow. Currently at your one moving to two o'clock ... make that three o'clock ... um ... traffic no longer a factor. Caution, wake turbulence.
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