October 23, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
|This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... Teledyne-Continental Motors (TCM)
POWERLINK FADEC CERTIFIED ON LIBERTY XL-2;
Last week, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) accused Boeing and Lockheed Martin of conspiring to prevent new competitors -- such as SpaceX -- from getting government contracts for rocket launches. A lawsuit filed in federal court in California says a proposal by the two aerospace giants to form a joint venture to launch payloads into space would violate "antitrust, unfair competition and racketeering laws," Space.com reported on Friday. "Boeing and Lockheed Martin have engaged in an unlawful conspiracy to eliminate competition, and ultimately to monopolize the government space-launch business," the court documents read, according to Space.com. The Federal Trade Commission is due to rule this week on whether the proposal by Boeing and Lockheed to form United Launch Alliance would violate antitrust laws. A watchdog group, Citizens Against Government Waste, on Thursday urged the FTC to rule against the venture. "The structure slams the door on any possible competition," the group's president, Tom Schatz, said in a statement. "To keep the U.S. space launching industry competitive, the Air Force should do whatever it can to open the field to new competitors." A Lockheed spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit, and a Boeing spokesman said it was without merit.
Meanwhile, the new space industry has been building the infrastructure it needs for the future it envisions, and inch by inch, it is moving forward. SpaceX, which plans to offer payload delivery into orbit for all kinds of customers, plans to launch its small Falcon I rocket on its maiden flight on Halloween -- next Monday -- from the Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific. The customer for this mission is DARPA and the Air Force. The payload will be a satellite built to measure space plasma phenomena, which can adversely affect GPS and other civil and military space-based communications. Falcon 1 is about 60 feet long and has a reusable first stage and expendable upper stage. A second launch is planned for later this year from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
At the same time, infrastructure is growing in support of the nascent industry. Last week, the FAA held its second annual International Aviation Safety Forum in Washington, D.C., and commercial space flight was added to the other more traditional topics on the agenda. Speakers for the space forum included SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Virgin Galactic President William Whitehorn, as well as former astronaut Robert "Hoot" Gibson and space tourist Dennis Tito. Also last week, NASA announced two new Centennial Challenge prize competitions that it is offering for new space technology, in collaboration with the X Prize Foundation. The Suborbital Payload Challenge prize will go for a reusable suborbital rocket that reaches altitudes or speeds of interest to science researchers, and the Suborbital Lunar Lander Analog Challenge will reward the first team to build a vertical takeoff/vertical landing suborbital vehicle capable of reaching a speed consistent with the energy required to land and launch from the moon. Each prize will be at least $250,000, NASA said. "These prizes are intended to accelerate the development of the suborbital launch industry while also demonstrating technologies and capabilities relevant to other NASA activities," said NASA Centennial Challenges Manager Brant Sponberg. The project is contingent on getting the funding and signing a final agreement with the X Prize folks, NASA said. Meanwhile, the first X Prize Cup event, held in Mexico earlier this month, was a success. And Virgin Galactic has collected $10 million in deposits from passengers ready to book a flight into space on the fleet of SpaceShipTwo ships now in the works.
NEW GARMIN GPSMAP 396 WITH TERRAIN,
A body found in a receding glacier last week on a remote California mountain may be that of a crew member from a military airplane that crashed nearly 60 years ago. The body, that of a blond-haired man in his 20s, was intact and still wearing a parachute when it was found by climbers. The airman is suspected to have been aboard an AT-7 navigational training plane that left a Sacramento airfield Nov. 18, 1942. The plan was for a routine training flight through the Central Valley, but the airplane vanished. Five years later, an engine, clothing, a dog tag and scattered remains were found far from the plane's course, and the four crew members were presumed dead. The body was found Oct. 16, near the summit of 13,710-foot Mount Mendel in Kings Canyon National Park in the Sierra Nevada. Michael Nozel, one of the climbers, told KFSN-TV that a fluttering parachute caught his eye. ''As I got closer, I started to think, gosh, that doesn't look like a rock sticking out of the glacier,'' Nozel said. ''And then of course, as I got closer, I thought, my goodness, I think that is a body.'' The ice preserved the airman's skin and muscle as well as his green uniform, including thermal undershirt and sweater, according to The Associated Press. The recovery team found a fountain pen, a sewing kit and the rip cord for his unopened parachute. It took about six hours to free the body from the mountain.
On Friday, the body was in the county coroner's office, being carefully thawed from the 400-pound block of ice in which it was encased. Investigators were searching for clues such as a military identification number that would positively identify the man. The body may be that of aviation Cadet Ernest Munn, who was blond, and part of the missing AT-7 crew out of Sacramento. "We'd given up all hope," Lois Shriver, 80, of Pittsburgh, his youngest sister, told The Associated Press. "Living without knowing whatever happened, that was hard." An investigation at the time the AT-7's engine was found offered no explanation as to why the airplane was 200 miles off course. The find is likely to prompt further searches on the mountain for the other three missing men. Military officials said there are still 78,000 Americans missing from World War II.
OWN THE CRITICALLY-ACCLAIMED HEADSET THAT REDUCES COCKPIT NOISE
The second annual Sport Pilot Expo, scheduled for this week in Sebring, Fla., has been postponed due to the threatened imminent landfall of Hurricane Wilma in the region. Expo Board Chairman Bob Wood said Thursday this was the prudent thing to do. "We don't want to face a situation where the hurricane might render our locality without power and communication services and put exhibitors and visitors in a bad situation," he said. The event has been rescheduled for Jan. 12-15, 2006. The new dates were chosen to avoid conflicts with the holiday season and upcoming aviation events, including two EAA Sport Pilot Tour stops (McKinney, Texas, Nov. 12, and Camarillo, Calif., Dec. 3). "We realize that this will inconvenience people who have made plans to attend, however it is not possible to continue with the plan to stage the event next week," the event's advisory board said in a statement. "We apologize for any difficulties that this rescheduling will cause."
Engine Components Inc. , of San Antonio, Texas, said last week it is in "complete disagreement" with a proposed Airworthiness Directive published by the FAA earlier this month that would affect some ECi connecting rods used in GA aircraft engines. The FAA's concern began with an in-flight failure of the engine in a Cessna 172 in October 2003. ECi said it has been working with the FAA since then. "We strongly feel that no safety of flight concerns exist and in addition to all the testing performed, the fact is that outside of the initial accident, where oil starvation occurred, no single failure has been reported," ECi said. ECi also said it had been corresponding with the FAA about plans for further testing, and was expecting further response to its proposals when the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was published. "Therefore, the issuance of the NPRM was a complete surprise," ECi said. The NPRM is open for comment until Dec. 5. To add a comment or read the comments filed so far on this proposed AD, go to http://dms.dot.gov, click on "Simple Search," and enter docket number 21331. ECi has a web page where it has compiled information in support of its case.
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EAA last week chimed in with its views on the FAA's Flight Plan 2006-2010, an annually revised blueprint that charts the agency's strategy. In a letter to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, EAA President Tom Poberezny stressed that any hint of switching to a user-fee-based funding mechanism was unwelcome. "We are patently opposed to a replacement of the successful, simple and, to some degree, transparent fuel tax with user fees," Poberezny wrote. User fees would be "onerous to the pilot community and could discourage pilots from using the safety enhancements offered by the national airspace system." EAA also urged the FAA to stop using the Airway Trust Fund for FAA operations and use it only for capital improvements, as originally intended. Poberezny also noted that the Flight Plan ignores the economic consequences of temporary flight restrictions, the Washington ADIZ and other restraints placed on the GA community. "EAA fully understands that the FAA is not the primary arbiter of security matters in this country; nonetheless, we strongly believe that the agency should acknowledge and account for the significant adverse effects that these restrictions have on the aviation community as well as the FAA's own resources," Poberezny said. He also noted that the FAA had pretty much ignored the whole Sport Pilot community in its plans. "Significant continued efforts are needed by both the Agency and industry to make sure the new opportunities created by this set of rulemaking are fully supported," Poberezny said.
AOPA also responded to the Flight Plan, back in August, decrying any hint of user fees to come, among other comments. NBAA also raised concerns about user-fee discussions in the Flight Plan. "We do not believe this Flight Plan is the proper vehicle for a discussion on the Trust Fund or future funding issues," NBAA said. "There are other interactive forums addressing these issues and where various perspectives can be presented on a policy issue. A balanced presentation on these issues is not evident in the draft plan."
An airplane was landing, an airport worker was driving a pickup truck, and somehow the two collided ... not much else is clear yet in the incident that took place at Cable Airport in Upland, Calif., on Wednesday morning. The airplane hit the driver's side of the truck. The pilot was not hurt, but the driver suffered serious injuries. Michael Stewart, vice president of Cable Airport, told The Daily Bulletin that the airplane skidded off the runway and hit the truck. The NTSB is investigating. Meanwhile, nearly halfway around the world, a Piper Cub ran into a truck in Japan. Pilot href="http://www.kirkflyingvet.com/aviationhome.aspx" target="_blank">Maurice Kirk suffered minor injuries after the engine quit above mountainous terrain and he made an emergency landing on a highway construction site, about 150 miles north of Tokyo. Kirk is partway through a multiyear round-the-world trip in his 1943 Cub. He was en route to Hiroshima, where he had planned to have the Cub crated and shipped to Alaska to continue his journey, after being refused transit across Russia's airspace. The Cub was badly damaged.
A NEW RELEASE OF THE BEST AVIATION WEATHER SERVICE FOR CELL PHONES
If you need an extra enticement to go ahead and buy yourself a shiny new airplane before the year's out, some of the GA manufacturers are ready to give you that excuse. Diamond Aircraft is offering free fuel and free maintenance for up to two years on new and demonstrator DA40 Diamond Stars bought before Dec. 31. New and current DA40 owners also can now indulge in the newly certified Garmin GDL-69A, which receives XM satellite signals with near-real-time weather information plus over 130 radio channels. Or if it's a Columbia 350 that you long for, you can now buy one for $20,000 less. "As we continue to increase the production rate, efficiencies specific to the Columbia 350 have enabled us to reduce our costs, so we're passing the savings on to our customers," said Columbia spokesman Randy Bolinger. Base price for a new Columbia 350 will now be $378,900, some $20,100 less than before.
Pilot William Buchmann and skydiver Albert Wing were known to indulge in games of "chicken," local police have told the FAA. Wing was killed in April when Buchmann, who was flying the jump plane, collided with him near the Deland, Fla., airport. Buchmann's certificate was revoked by the FAA in August. The FAA said he flew in a "grossly careless or reckless manner," knowingly flying beneath the open parachutes of skydivers. "Such conduct reflects an airman who is either unwilling or unable to comply with basic regulatory requirements governing flight operations," said the FAA. Buchmann has appealed the revocation, and local skydivers and pilots have told reporters that Buchmann was not reckless and that Wing's death was an accident. "Bill Buchmann has the overwhelming support of the aviation and parachute communities. We have had literally hundreds of letters of support," Buchmann's lawyer, Patrick Phillips, told The Sun-Sentinel. According to the NTSB, the de Havilland DHC-6 was about 13,500 feet above ground level when 14 parachutists were released for the skydive over the Deland airport. Wing was descending toward the center of the field and was at about 600 feet AGL when the airplane, which was on a left downwind approach for Runway 30, collided with him.
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A full-grown moose can weigh up to 1,000 pounds, so if one wanders across a runway while you are landing your Cessna 172, that's not a good thing. The Wasilla Airport, about 40 miles north of Anchorage, has found a solution -- an electric anti-moose mat. The Electro-Mat, which was first tested against deer in Arizona, emits both a shock and noise when the animal steps on it. The shocks are not harmful and the method is humane, according to Gary Olson of the Alaska Moose Federation. "The animals remember after they are shocked a couple times not to go near it anymore," he said. The manufacturer, Electro-Braid Fence of Canada, says the mats are also effective against deer, and are cheaper than trying to maintain perimeter fencing.
A Nigerian 737 with 116 people aboard crashed after taking off from Lagos Saturday night in a heavy thunderstorm, no sign of survivors...
Chalmers "Slick" Goodlin, former X-1 test pilot, died last week at age 82, in West Palm Beach, Fla....
Due to concerns about avian flu, aviators involved in a bird strike are advised to be especially cautious about handling bird remains. Go to this link and click on "Safety guidelines for handling bird remains" for more info...
A new, free Web site from Control Vision offers information on fuel prices plus FBO and airport information, updated on a continuous basis, searchable via a simple interface...
Pilot Rob Dubin flew to all 48 states in the contiguous U.S. in a gyroplane this summer, finishing up in Utah...
A new FAA rule will mandate 16-G seats on airliners for crashworthiness starting in 2009. The FAA backed off on requiring airlines to retrofit the current fleet, despite objections from safety advocates...
World's first "Hello Kitty" Airbus launched in Taiwan...
2005 AirVenture now available on DVD from EAA for $24.99. The 80-minute film features SpaceShipOne and Global Flyer, World War II bombers, new very-light-jet models, Chuck Yeager and Burt Rutan, and celebrity visitors such as Harrison Ford, Paul Allen and Sir Richard Branson.
AEROMEDIX INTRODUCES A NEW MINI LOW-LEVEL MONOXIDE MONITOR
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.
CEO of the Cockpit #50: On Their Shoulders
There aren't many from the Greatest Generation left -- people and planes -- to remind young folks what flying was like back then ... and what it was like to leave home at a young age to fight halfway around the world. AVweb's CEO of the Cockpit sees parallels to his generation of airline captains.
As the Beacon Turns #94: Anybody Can Learn To Fly!
Does anyone still believe the old cliche (perhaps touted by airplane manufacturers) that anyone can learn to fly? Maybe not, but until we take a hard line and help unsuccessful pilots get out of flying and into something they can succeed at, Michael Maya Charles says we're only hurting ourselves.
Every Breath You Take: Danger Lurks at High-Altitude
Training and new technology are helping to reduce the danger of hypoxia. But understanding why your body reacts the way it does can ensure you catch the symptoms before you are incapacitated.
WINGX FOR THE POCKET PC, VERSION 1.7 NEW!
AVmail: October 24, 2005
Reader mail this week about how old (or young) pilots should be, how much flying costs and much more.
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ISN'T IT ABOUT TIME YOU CHOOSE SOMETHING EXTRA?
Winds 300 at 26...
On a particularly windy day, I was in a skyhawk on right base for 35.
Me: Wind check.
Controller: Winds 300 at 26
... We've got the trucks on standby.
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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