October 30, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Proposed revisions to air show regulations could not only make the shows a lot less interesting, they could make the photos in magazines and newspapers a lot more pedestrian. EAA has responded to FAA Draft Order 8700.1, Chapter 49, with a shopping list of requests to eliminate rule changes that don't seem to help achieve the stated goal of improving safety. "For example, a proposed rule mandates that flight directions during air shows 'shall be in one direction only,'" an EAA news release quotes the revisions as stating. EAA spokesman Earl Lawrence says the rules could take substantial sizzle out of air show routines, especially warbird flybys. "What might seem to be minor changes could have substantial negative operational and financial implications on air show operations without a corresponding increase in safety," he said. Another rule would require credentialed photographers to shoot from behind the fence, just like the paying customers, which Lawrence says fixes a non-existent problem. Lawrence said allowing the shooters better access in a controlled fashion has never resulted in an injury or fatality at EAA AirVenture. Another rule would require air show organizers to apply for a TFR if any non-military skydivers are performing, which Lawrence says is unnecessary since EAA's show takes place in waivered airspace. "There is no additional safety to requiring the establishment of a TFR," Lawrence said. EAA agrees with some of the new rules, including those requiring joint FAA/air boss safety briefings that address "proven safety issues."
Although unnecessary regulations can hamper air shows, it's usually economics that kills them and that may be the case of a large Canadian show which might, unfortunately, be remembered for the deaths of two of the best aerobatic pilots anywhere. The Saskatchewan Air Show, in Moose Jaw, ended July 10 when Jimmy Franklin and Bobby Younkin collided while performing their Masters of Disaster routine. Franklin and Younkin died instantly and the third airborne member of the team, Jim LeRoy, landed safely. Last Friday, Moose Jaw Mayor Al Schwinghamer said the air show committee has been disbanded and the show cancelled for 2006 and possibly forever. He said the fatal crash wasn't a factor in the decision. Schwinghamer said this year's show, which attracted about 20,000 people, lost about $70,000 and it's not clear who's going to pick up the shortfall. He said a major sponsor will be needed to resurrect the show. Moose Jaw is home to the Canadian Armed Forces Snowbirds, which recently completed its 35th annual season with a reunion and final performance.
The Masters of Disaster are gone forever but the show must go on. The X-team, of which Younkin and Franklin were members, offered a replacement show called Tribute to the Masters to its bookings for the balance of last summer. It's now getting geared up for a return to the spectacular performance that had been thrilling air show audiences. According to the X-team Web site, the Masters of Disasters name has been retired out of respect for Franklin and Younkin and the new routine will be called Masters of the Xtreme. It will also feature three aircraft, a jet truck and pyrotechnics. Jim LeRoy is staying with the group and will be joined by Gene Soucy, Rich Gibson and an alternate pilot who hasn't yet been announced. Scott and Kent Shockley will handle the jet truck.
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After a year of steady increases, sales of GA aircraft leveled off in the third quarter of 2005. According to stats released by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, sales in Q3 were even with or down slightly from the second quarter of 2005 but they're still up considerably over the same period last year. Worldwide, a total of 573 light singles were sold between July and September, down slightly from the 605 sold in the previous three months, but the year-to-date total is up more than 25 percent over last year, to 1,685. "Our industry is very satisfied with the positive numbers so far this year," said GAMA President Pete Bunce. The piston twin market continues to be weak, with 30 aircraft delivered worldwide in Q3, down from 43 in the previous three months. There were 185 business jets sold, the same as the previous quarter, and turboprop sales totaled 87, up slightly from the 84 sold in Q2. Stats for U.S. manufacturers mirrored the worldwide totals, with U.S. companies selling 700 of the 875 GA aircraft sold in the world in the third quarter.
The battle between Cirrus and Cessna continues to be neck and neck. Although Cirrus has delivered more four-place piston aircraft overall this year (447 to Cessna's 424) Cessna had a strong third quarter and sold 173 aircraft compared to Cirrus's 152. Columbia (formerly Lancair Certified) is experiencing a healthy surge in sales. It sold 40 airplanes in the third quarter compared to 35 over the summer. Although New Piper sold fewer airplanes in Q3, those it did sell were high-end models. It sold 11 top-of-the-line Meridian turboprops in Q3 compared to six in the previous three months and that helped push revenue to $37.73 million, up from $34.92 million in the second quarter. Mooney held even at 23 out the door and it seemed the higher end models were holding their own. Diamond bucked the trend with a decrease in sales. It sold 81 airplanes in Q3 compared to 96 in the second quarter.
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Sino Swearingen has received almost unlimited type certification for its SJ30-2 business jet but there are still a few details to be looked after before the planes can actually be sold. Although it has full approval for day and night VFR and IFR operations, the FAA still has to sign off on the speedy jet's deicing system and interior before the production line can gear up. Chief Financial Officer Kelly Simmons told the San Antonio Business Journal that both certifications are expected in two months and the first of 280 SJ30-2s on order should be in a customer's hands in early 2006. Although Sino-Swearingen is based in San Antonio and has a plant in Martinsville, WV, its financial roots are in the Far East. The company is 95 percent owned by the Taiwanese government's Sino Aerospace Investment Corporation and Taiwan is not only taking some of the credit, it's also hoping to reap the rewards. Taiwanese Chairman Kuo Ching-chiang told reporters the plane's development was "a milestone for Taiwan's aeronautics industry," and said he hoped Taiwan would benefit from the transfer of US technology.
A Cedar Falls, Iowa, man who local media reports say is an officer of his local EAA chapter has been charged with systematically stripping parts from a disabled Piper Seneca to be used in his own homebuilt project. John M. Norcero was arrested last Tuesday and charged with first-degree theft. The Seneca, owned by Jerry Dwyer, of Clear Lake, has been sitting at the Waterloo Airport since it landed there after an engine failure about five years ago. Dwyer told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier he noticed an engine and prop missing in August of 2004. Now, both engines, the landing gear, instrument panel, autopilot and seats are gone. "It's just sitting there on the ground ... flat on its belly," Dwyer said. Dwyer, who owns an aircraft sales company, said he left the plane in Waterloo because he was having a hard time finding a replacement engine. Even with the blown engine, he estimated the plane to be worth $100,000 and he figures it will cost at least $50,000 to reinstall the missing parts and fix damage caused during their removal. "[The thief] chopped a hole in the side of the damn thing to get the autopilot out," he said. Norcero was booked at the local jail and then set free on a pre-trial release a few hours later.
THE BOSE AVIATION HEADSET X DELIVERS AN UNMATCHED COMBINATION
There's no law against taking an airplane off from a road (just like there's no law against running out of fuel and having to land on the road in the first place) but sometimes it's just not a good idea. Many of the townsfolk of Baker, La., were watching (and at least one had a video camera) last Wednesday when Michael Simon attempted to take off from a road in his Cessna 210. On the roll, the plane grazed a truck-trailer before striking a wing on the back of a fire-rescue truck and careening into a ditch. Simon came through without a scratch but the same cannot be said for the 210. A "lapse in communication" is blamed for Simon's trying to take off before police and fire officials, who blocked the road, were completely ready. Simon's plane ran out of fuel on approach to Metro Airport on Tuesday and he made a successful dead-stick landing on the road. FAA spokesman Roland Herwig said the agency suggested he get the plane trucked to the airport but it couldn't enforce that suggestion. He said there's no regulation against it and it's up to local authorities to give permission. "We were not involved in the takeoff but now we are involved in two accident investigations" (remember, it hit two trucks). One truck lost a mirror but neither was seriously damaged.
What if they opened up 15 new air routes and didn't tell the controllers? That's the scenario facing East Coast controllers as the FAA tries to clear up the congestion going into Florida, according to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). In a news release, NATCA claims that controllers in Boston, New York and Washington, through whose airspace the sun-seekers must pass, haven't been briefed on the Florida Airspace Optimization Project and blames the FAA for cutting off the lines of communication. "This is yet another casualty of the FAA's foolish decision to cut off all collaboration with controllers," said NATCA spokesman Jim Marinitti. However, those controllers who did know about the plan weren't very keen on it. Miami controllers have gone on record opposing the project and their counterparts up north may not have to worry about it. "They [Miami controllers] have stated that they refuse to place system users or the flying public at risk," says a NATCA news release. The release also says the Miami controllers claim the plan is unworkable because of the complexity of Miami's airspace.
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An Arizona doctor faces charges for allegedly loading the body of his non-certificated son in a pickup truck and taking it home after his son crashed at Casa Grande Municipal Airport last Saturday. Dr. Mark Lundell, who with another son witnessed the plane go down, is accused of removing the body of Jacob Lundell, 21, from the wreckage of the family's 1961 Nord (a French trainer). According to the NTSB's preliminary report, the plane crashed short of the runway while doing touch and goes. When rescue personnel and investigators arrived, they found the blood-soaked wreckage and some brain matter but no body. Officials traced Lundell's Paradise Valley address from the plane's N-number and sent local police to the house. The police arrived just as the pickup pulled into the driveway with the body. In a television interview, the dead pilot's mother, Deborah Lundell, said that "morally" her husband had done the right thing. "He knew my grieving, he knew my heartache; he knew I needed to see him before they took him away," she told KTVK. Mark Lundell could face federal charges for removing the body from a scene of an accident. The pilot's medical and student certificate was taken out in 2001 and had not been renewed.
An influential Oklahoma senator is accusing the FAA of breaking the law in its administration of the Washington Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). As part of his effort to block creation of a permanent ADIZ, Republican Sen. James Inhofe told AOPA that the FAA has ignored a requirement included in its current reauthorization that requires the agency to justify the existence of the ADIZ every 60 days. "To my knowledge, we are still waiting for these justifications," he said. Inhofe, a GA pilot, said the ADIZ is riddled with problems that need to be addressed and he's vigorously opposing making it permanent. You may not be a senator, but your voice can be heard. Take a moment to write a brief comment (docket number 17005) on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that will set the restricted airspace in stone. The deadline for comments is Tuesday and by Saturday almost 14,000 people had let their feelings be known. We haven't read every one but we've yet to come across a positive comment on the NPRM. Most people feel, like Inhofe, that the ADIZ is an unworkable inconvenience that puts pilots at risk. "Specifically, there are legitimate concerns in operating in the ADIZ, including increased hold times, potentially unsafe maneuvering as they circle outside the ADIZ, confusing clearances, lost flight plans, and stiff and irreversible penalties for the simplest of infractions," Inhofe said.
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They normally race the clock but organizers of the Marion Jayne Air Race and the Carolinas 300 Air Races had to outrun Hurricane Rita last month. The original routes had to be modified to account for the storm...
The NTSB will release its report today on the takeoff crash of a Challenger bizjet at Teterboro Airport last February. At least 13 people were hurt when the plane failed to take off, crossed a highway and hit a warehouse...
Sporty's Pilot Shop has donated $50,000 to the Boy Scouts of America Hurricane Relief Fund. Sporty's is a major supporter of Scouts and the Explorer flying program...
Song, the low-cost carrier created by Delta, had only a short verse. The airline with the bright green paint scheme is being folded back into the main company by May after failing to live up to expectations.
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 Pilot's Lounge #93: Pilgrimages
Sometimes we need to refresh our interest in aviation. Sometimes we need reminders of why we love to fly. Sometimes, as AVweb's Rick Durden discovers, we can find ways -- maybe in flight, maybe not -- to recharge our flying soul.
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AVmail: October 31, 2005
Reader mail this week about TFRs, photo licenses in Australia and much more.
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On arrival at Key West I pulled my TBM 700 past the Taxi way hold short line and keyed the mic to say hello to ground...
Me: Ground, we're going to stop here to clean up a bit.
Ground: Why? It looked like a great landing from here...
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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