October 26, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
|This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... Sino Swearingen's SJ30-2
THE SJ30-2 IS THE WORLD'S FASTEST LIGHT BUSINESS JET
Cirrus Design spokeswoman Kate Dougherty says the company has "not been shy" about prospects for a personal jet but we have to wonder if navel-gazing is giving way to a nuts-and-bolts (or fiberglass-and-epoxy) reality, since middle managers are now talking to reporters about the company's future jet-fuel needs in Duluth. In what strikes us as an offhand remark to a writer from the Duluth News Tribune concerning controversy over the replacement of Cirrus Design's home-airport fuel dealer, Cirrus's Executive Vice President of Business Administration, Bill King, says Cirrus, which maintains its own avgas facility, may well be a customer of the new FBO "because 100 LL won't be our only fuel in the future." Sure, Cirrus has been looking at diesel. But in an e-mail to AVweb, Dougherty said the jet idea is nothing new. "We have not been shy, over the years, in talking about a personal jet," she wrote. She said the company has been following development of light jet engines in recent years and, if it decides to build a jet, Cirrus Design promises something special. "So, true to our nature of refusing status quo, we look at absolutely everything," she wrote. And Ballistic Recovery Systems has been researching full-plane parachutes for jets....
Perhaps of more immediate concern (irritation might be a better word) to Cirrus is how to get more respect at home. It was revealed last week that the Minnesota Department of Transportation recently bought a brand-new $727,000 Beech Bonanza to replace the 27-year-old Bonanza it had been using for airport safety inspections. A top-of-the-line Cirrus SR-22, fully decked out with just about every type of electronics available in light aircraft -- and built at Cirrus Design's headquarters on the field at Minnesota's own Duluth International Airport -- comes in almost $300,000 less at $434,000. That interesting collection of facts prompted charges by several Minnesota politicians that the bidding rules were set to ensure only the larger Bonanza fit the requirements. "Everything went wrong and I think they rigged the bid," Sen. Wes Skoglund told WCCO-TV. "We bought an inferior product."
However, transportation department spokesman Robert McFarlin said the Cirrus "didn't meet the state's working needs." WCCO paraphrased McFarlin's comparison of the two aircraft by saying transportation officials "wanted a bigger, beefier utility plane with a longer service life." It could be that the seat count was the determining factor in the bid. The Bonanza holds six but, as with many six-place singles, the practical use of all six seatbelts is limited. (Throughout the following sentences, please note your mileage, suppositions, calculations -- and weight -- may vary.) In the Bonanza's case, according to company specs, a full load of passengers may limit the fuel load to close to 154 pounds -- about 25 gallons or 1.5 hours with that thirsty IO-550-B up front. To fill the tanks with 444 pounds, at least two seats have to be empty to meet the maximum takeoff weight of 3650 pounds. According to Cirrus the SR22 can take three full-sized people (or four smaller people) to a maximum of 664 pounds and fill up with 486 pounds of fuel. Speeds, range and performance characteristics are close enough to not be significant factors in the debate. Cirrus didn't get into the argument except to say, by way of company statement, that it hopes the fracas "will be an educational experience for all."
Of course, losing a single sale to your home state is a lot easier to take when the rest of the world can't seem to get enough of your airplane and some customers buy them by the dozen. Western Michigan University's College of Aviation was so excited about the arrival of the first of its 30 SR20s and SR22s it invited the local media to share in the oohs and aahs. "Everybody in the college has been buzzing about it," senior Brian Swintal told the Kalamazoo Gazette. That buzz was undoubtedly heard in Wichita, since the Cirrus aircraft are replacing a fleet of 39 Cessna 172s. University officials claim they'll break even in the complex $40 million, 10-year lease arrangement that the Gazette said will bring them brand-new airplanes every two years. Proceeds from the sale of the 172s, tapping reserves, and the maintenance savings afforded by flying new airplanes should cover the lease payments, university officials told the newspaper. Instructor Brian Herm said the real benefit will be to students, who get to learn how to fly with all the latest glass gizmos. "This is really going to prepare students for their life outside of Western," he said.
IN PRINT & ONLINE, TRADE-A-PLANE HAS EVERYTHING THAT KEEPS YOU FLYING
Faced with overwhelming evidence, it seems even the FAA can admit it's wrong ... sort of. In September, AVweb brought you the strange tale of Arizona pilot Dale Mooneyham, who was facing the FAA's wrath for alleged violations in the Washington Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on the same day that he was actually flying his G-model Mooney from Chandler, Ariz., to Tucson to visit his ailing parents. Thanks to his devotion to Mom and Dad, Mooneyham was able to assemble fuel receipts and tower tapes in a veritable mountain of evidence showing that he and his Mooney were indeed in Arizona on the day of the alleged ADIZ bust. As Mooneyham speculated, it was some kind of error that (virtually) placed his plane near Washington. Although he didn't hear that from the FAA, they did send him a letter. After our story appeared, Mooneyham was contacted by AOPA officials offering to help. They got on the phone to contacts in the FAA and reported back to Mooneyham that an FAA staffer had transposed figures in the offending aircraft's N-number while typing the violation report into the computer. Whoever is in charge of these things then looked up the wrong number on the FAA database to incorrectly identify Mooneyham's plane as the offender. But there's no hint of explanation, much less apology, in the terse, two-paragraph certified letter the FAA sent to Mooneyham in mid-October, only the finding that the alleged violation didn't occur. It also seemed in this case the FAA was quick to accuse (enforce) but not so speedy to admit defeat (absolve). Mooneyham had the notice of violation within 10 days of the alleged incursion -- the note absolving him took more than a month to arrive. Mooneyham's next step is to request proof that his FAA records contain no reference to the alleged violation ... and he may be taking bets on how long that will take.
Mooneyham told AVweb it was a lucky thing he decided to fly to Tucson that day because it provided irrefutable evidence of his airplane's whereabouts. "What if I hadn't flown that day? How would I have proven that the airplane didn't leave Arizona?" he wondered. Those questions may be pertinent for all pilots as the future of GA access to the airspace around Washington, D.C., faces its toughest test. On Nov. 2, the comment period closes on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would make the D.C. ADIZ permanent. Making a comment (docket number 17005) on the proposed rule is straightforward and takes only a few minutes but could have a lasting impact on the right to fly in that area ... and perhaps others. By Wednesday afternoon, more than 12,000 people had commented on the ADIZ NPRM and if there are any in support we couldn't find them. In fact, the very first person to comment, identified as Rob Fricke, set the tone. "I find it silly for FAA to propose making Wash D.C. special airspace permanent," he wrote. "[It's] absolutely 'Chicken Little' by [the] FAA to think of such nonsense and to propose criminal fines and other 'serious penalties' for anyone who accidentally flies into ADIZ airspace." Fricke adds that the financially strapped FAA is ill-equipped to handle the workload and suggests that all Americans are entitled to as much "protection" as "federal government workers in D.C."
COMPARE HEADSETS, RADIOS, AND GPSs
Although it's one of the biggest aviation extravaganzas anywhere, AOPA Expois getting competition for attention from the weather. However, according to the 10-day forecast from Intellicast, there doesn't appear to be much to worry about as thousands (including one very un-hurricane-savvy AVweb reporter) descend on Tampa for AOPA's big show starting next Thursday. So far, the weather calls for sun and temperatures in the low 80s (isn't that why God created Florida?) and we can't think of a more pleasant thing than looking at, flying and writing about airplanes for three days. Our AOPA wrap-up will appear in the Nov. 7 edition of AVweb's NewsWire and AVflash. There are several components to AOPA Expo that will have something of interest to any pilot and/or aircraft owner. In terms of education and knowledge, there are general sessions discussing topics of interest and seminars on specific topics. Also, more than 500 aviation-related companies have display booths. Of course, virtually every aircraft manufacturer will have its wares on display. And it's not all work by any stretch. There are social events all three nights and Tampa's a fun place to visit even without airplanes to ogle.
An Indian adventurer hopes to take hot air ballooning to new heights in November. Vijaypat Singhania, an Indian clothing magnate, plans to pilot the balloon from Mumbai to a height of 70,000 feet. The current record is 64,900 feet. And it's not just a matter of packing some extra propane. "This is a very complex and dramatic undertaking. The higher you go in a balloon, the less air there is to fill it," Flight Director Alan Noble told New Kerala.com. "You can encounter a myriad of other problems. It's also very demanding physically." A custom-built balloon is being used in the attempt. The balloon's envelope is more than 16 times the size of a standard hot air balloon and is 85 feet tall. Technical details are being handled by Andy Elson and Colin Prescot, of England. Elson was the first person to pilot a balloon over Mt. Everest and has designed and built most of the capsules used in recent around-the-world attempts. Singhania's claim to fame is a 5,420-mile ultralight trip from England to India in 1988 in 22 days, beating the previous record by almost two weeks.
LIGHTSPEED'S THIRTY 3G HEADSET COMBINES
The tail section of the Eclipse 500 will be built in Grand Prairie, Texas, from parts made in England. Grand Prairie-based Hampson Aerospace, a subsidiary of U.K.-based Hampson Industries PLC, has won the exclusive contract to build the tail sections, which will be shipped to Eclipse's final assembly facility in Albuquerque. Hampson manager Scott Wargo said the tail might be just the beginning for the Grand Prairie plant, which will hire 135 people for the Eclipse contract. "We are in other business negotiations as well," he said, adding that "there's going to be a lot of other work." Meanwhile, Eclipse says it remains on track for certification of the 500 in the first quarter of 2006. More than 500 hours have been flown on five test aircraft and they've reached speeds of 285 knots and a maximum altitude of 41,000 feet. More earthly exercises, such as foreign-object ingestion and water-ingestion tests, have also been completed. According to Eclipse, they're just about ready to turn the planes over to FAA certification pilots.
As we consider the impediments of TFRs and the potential impact of newly permanent restricted airspace around Washington, a little perspective might lift your spirits ... if not the rules. In China, there are 200 private pilots and thousands who'd like to be if not for government regulations so restrictive that even legally licensed aviators are lucky to actually get airborne. "The application process is complicated," said Li Linhai, who became China's first private aircraft owner in 2003. Since then he's been able to fly his aircraft twice. The government apparently sees the potential for GA. "The potential demand is huge as many people evinced interest in buying planes at the business aviation fair held in Shanghai two months ago," Guo Youhu, an official with China's civil aviation branch, told the Shanghai Daily. But the wheels of government grind slowly and even Guo admitted his agency is the problem. Sound familiar? "The impediments to developing private flying in China are the country's highly controlled skies and the busy civil routes in the country's developed eastern and southern areas," he said. The existing rules don't recognize GA, although he said "long-term" plans call for a 2,000-foot threshold for commercial traffic that would allow less-restricted access to GA aircraft below 2,000 feet.
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Australian pilots are being urged to "get their skates on" and get their applications in for credentials that become mandatory on Jan. 1. Officials are now worried they won't be able to process the last-minute influx of applications before the deadline. Only about half of Australia's 30,000 pilots have applied for either an aviation security identification card or a photographic license. There are two options. Those flying into security-controlled airports need a police- and security-agency background check while others can get by with the photo license alone. "There's still half out there who have got to get their skates on and start deciding which one they need and put in the application," Peter Gibson, of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, told The Australian. The photo license costs $95 AUD and the higher-security documents cost $145 AUD. Gibson said it's important that pilots know the difference between the two and get the paperwork that applies to the type of flying they do. To streamline the application process, CASA has been made the issuing body for both documents. As might be expected, the background checks for access to secure areas of major airports are more thorough than those issued to pilots who don't use those facilities.
A Bethel, Alaska, flight school is tackling an apparent shortage of home-grown pilots in the state. Yuut Yaqungviat LLCsays its graduates save charter and air taxi operators money because they're happy to work full-time. Flight school director William Johnson told the Alaska Journal of Commerce that many operators hire pilots from "outside" to fly two weeks on and two weeks off. The pilots usually head to their southern homes during their time off. Johnson said Alaska residents consider the $50,000 paid to part-time pilots to be good money and suggest they're willing to work regular hours. Johnson said an average Part 135 operator may have 20 pilots on the payroll but only 10 available at any one time. "If they hire local pilots, not only do they save $500,000 a year, the money stays here in this region." Outside pilots are also given perks like housing and ground transportation that locals don't need. "I will hire every graduate they can give me," said Jim Tweeto, an owner of Hageland Aviation. The school currently has eight student pilots and one A&P student.
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Pennsylvania officials say the state will have full ADS-B coverage within four years. It will start with four ground stations covering most of the eastern part of the state...
Anheuser-Busch has apologized for a Bud Light commercial poking fun at low-cost airlines it admits was in poor taste. The ad was supposed to be a satirical look at "slices of life" but, instead, suggested safety was compromised by the budget carriers. The ad was only aired once before being pulled last January but is still making the Internet rounds...
The "father of the Boeing 747," Joe Sutter, was recently recognized for the accomplishment and was interviewedby The Connected Traveler. A copy of the interview is available online...
Japanese officials are puzzling over the simultaneous disruption of radio reception at three air navigation facilities. The U.S. military has been asked to investigate the interference but some respondents to the Japan Today forum on the topic say it might be the precursor to an earthquake...
Astronaut Gene Cernan and legendary pilots Scott Crossfield and Bob Hoover will present the 2005 Combs Award to help open the National Business Aviation Association Convention (NBAA 2005) on Nov. 9 in Orlando.
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.
The Savvy Aviator #24: Making Metal Behave
Metal aircraft parts must satisfy a mind-boggling variety of physical properties: weight, strength, hardness, toughness, springiness, temperature and corrosion resistance, just to name a few. Here's a glimpse at how it's done.
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*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Last week, AVweb asked if you had taken the time to comment on Docket #17005 the proposed rule to make the D.C.-area ADIZ a permanent feature of Washington's airspace.
A staggering 78% of those who responded said YES, I think it's important we speak out about this.
A small but significant 9% of our respondents told us that no, they had not commented because they felt there were legitimate reasons for a permanent ADIZ.
A slightly smaller 6% said no, they hadn't commented because the issue didn't affect them directly or was none of their business.
Only six readers (2% of the poll at the time of this report) had taken time to comment in support of the permanent ADIZ.
Fifteen readers were unaware of Docket #17005 and the permanent ADIZ.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
New jets what's your price point?
You can get a new Bonanza for $700,000. Diamond hopes to (one day) offer you its single-engine jet for "well under" $1 million. What if, when little jets (and their engines) are mass produced, prices fall? What price point would allow you to buy?
Click here to answer this week's question.
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to email@example.com.
This address is only for suggested QOTW questions, and not for QOTW answers or comments.
Use this form to send QOTW comments to our AVmail Editor.
DON'T WISH YOUR AIRPLANE HAD ALL THE BELLS AND WHISTLES
Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions
Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners
We're always amused when a theme crops up in any given batch of "Picture of the Week" entries. Since (presumably), our dozens of submitters aren't in cahoots, it's interesting to note when a large percentage of our photo entries share a similar feature. Some weeks, for example, we'll get a selection that's heavy on warbirds or hot-air balloons or (yes, it's happened) pilots in funny hats.
This week, there was only one clear theme almost every picture we considered for the top spot left us asking, "Now what's the story on that?" Some we could figure out, but others left us guessing and making up our own fantastic back stories. You'll see what we mean when you dive into this week's top submissions but first, take a gander at our Official-AVweb-baseball-hat-winning photo from Jeffrey Burke of San Francisco. Ironically, his winning submission is the only one that didn't inspire us to concoct a tale ... .
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
Used with permission of Jeffrey Burke
"Angels at the Gate / Close Call"
We received so many great photos from Jeffrey Burke
San Francisco, California that we just had to sneak two
of them into this week's edition of "POTW." Both photos of
the Navy's legendary Blue Angels were taken during Fleet Week,
and (for the camera buffs), Jeff used a Canon EOS 1-D
Mark II 400mm camera F2.8 with 2x teleconverter.
Your baseball cap is on the way, Jeff!
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.
Paul T. Gernhardt
"For Sale. Needs Annual ..."
Paul T. Gernhardt of Ashburn, Virginia
captured our imaginations this week, with a photo
he tells us was taken in Nassau (the Bahamas) of
a DC-3 "in about 60 feet of water." Pictures may
be worth a thousand words, but this one left us
wanting to hear more of this DC-3's story ... .
Used with permission of Todd Kirsteatter
Todd Kirsteatter of Manitowoc, Wisconsin
where they have all the good names, apparently
sent us this picture of "a friend's Maule after we got
back from doing some landings near Port Alsworth,
Alaska." Hmmm another submitter
who leaves us wondering: What's going on in
Port Alsworth this time of year?
Here's a quick selection of photos
that made us ooh and ahh this week,
even though we didn't have space
for them in the Top Three!
Used with permission of Misty Marshall
"Leadville Warning Sign"
Misty Marshall of Conroe, Texas
got our blood pumping with a good,
old-fashing P-51 Mustang pic
one that must have come from an
air show or a time travel expedition.
Used with permission of Randy Michael
"Brad's No-Frills Flight"
"Some pilots will do just about anything to hang on
to a job," writes Randy Michael of Channahon, Illinois.
(Maybe Wisconsin doesn't have all the good names, after all.)
Actually, Randy tells us, the photo was taken during an
egress/ingress training session "for support of [a]
scientific project in Greenland." (Once again,
a reader teases us by leaving out the most interesting
details namely, for what sort of scientific project
do participants get egress/ingress training?!)
Used with permission of Len Fox
"Delta's Newest Commuter Jet"
Finally, Michael White of Marietta, Georgia
delivers a little humor in this week's "POTW" section:
"We all know the airlines are trying to get
'leaner and meaner,'" writes Michael,
"but isn't this taking downsizing a bit too far?"
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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Today's issue written by News Writer Russ Niles:
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