December 18, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... Zuluworks
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Potomac Airfield, just outside of Washington, D.C., is open again, about six weeks after being shut down by the TSA. The airfield opened up for business on Friday afternoon, after owner David Wartofsky agreed to follow more strictly the TSA's rules. (He acknowledges he had made some changes to TSA-approved procedures, but said those procedures were outdated and his changes enhanced security.) Wartofsky said a useful dialog has been prompted by the disagreement. "More communication is going on now about some operational realities," he told AVweb. He said he's hopeful that within the next month or so the various agencies involved in securing the airspace will begin to hold productive discussions and improve the security procedures for pilots in the region.
Pilots meandered in and out over the weekend, Wartofsky said on Saturday. "We've lost only one aircraft, which was moving away anyway. The rest are all coming home, and new pilots and aircraft are coming in. Our pilots understand and respect the objectives of this effort, however temporarily inconvenient it was. There is real dialogue now on real issues," he said. The TSA now has heard from members of Congress about how it is handling GA security issues, and that's helpful. "There are no bad guys here," Wartofsky said. Stirring the pot a bit can help attract attention to the issues and get everyone talking. "That's how you make change."
YOUR HEADSET IS A KEY PIECE OF EQUIPMENT, SO CHOOSE THE PERFORMANCE
Annual fees paid by Canada's private pilots would go from a current $72 (Canadian) to up to $1,272, under a new proposal from Nav Canada that is vehemently opposed by the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA). Daily fees would apply for the first time each day that an aircraft departs from any of the eight major airports in Canada: Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax. The fees would be in addition to the $72 annual fee now required, and would begin to phase in next September, with hikes each year through 2008. Nav Canada is under pressure from the airlines to make private aviators pay more, COPA says.
Although it might seem that most smaller aircraft don't often depart from those busy airports anyway, COPA warns that it is the first step on a slippery slope. "It is clear from other countries where pay-as-you-go is in place that the impact on private aviation is severe and largely responsible for its decline," COPA said in a statement last week. "COPA is committed to not let that happen here." COPA says the new proposal would violate laws that mandate fees must not discourage pilots from flying safely and that charges for recreational and private aircraft must not be unreasonable. COPA says that rather than rate hikes, Nav Canada should be reducing the annual fee, considering the cuts in service that have already been made. Even more such cuts in service are coming, such as replacing contract weather services with AWOS. COPA said it is continuing to negotiate with Nav Canada to change the proposal, and is soliciting support from the pilot community. Pilots in Canada can send comments to Nav Canada until Feb. 10.
Nav Canada says in its proposal that it "seems fair and reasonable" that even small aircraft, if they want to use the busiest airports, should pay an additional charge. The charge would also serve as an incentive for small aircraft to use reliever airports instead. Nav Canada said in a news release that its aim is to better balance the charges between large and small aircraft, better reflect the impact of new technology and better absorb the financial impact of fluctuations in air traffic. The proposed changes would be revenue-neutral overall. Nav Canada acknowledges that views within the aviation community differ widely on the issue of charges for general aviation. "Many commercial operators believe that the charges should be substantially increased, while private aircraft operators either supported the status quo or argued for decreased fees," the proposal says.
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Although many nationally broadcast early reports said the man shot dead by federal air marshals in a Miami jetway on Dec. 8 cried out that he had a bomb as he ran down the aisle of an airliner -- as officials had told reporters -- follow-up reports have recently highlighted that no quoted passengers recalled hearing any such threats (a point AVweb was careful to note in its initial next-day coverage). The Orlando Sentinel reports that seven passengers interviewed from the front and rear of the passenger cabin said Rigoberto Alpizar was silent as he ran past them on his way to the exit. "I can tell you, he never said a thing in that airplane. He never called out he had a bomb," said Orlando architect Jorge A. Borrelli. "He never said a word from the point he passed me at Row 9. He did not say a word to anybody." John McAlhany, who was seated several rows in front of Alpizar, told The Associated Press: "The first time I heard the word 'bomb' was when I was interviewed by the FBI. They kept asking if I heard him say the B-word. And I said, 'What is the B-word?' And they were like, 'Bomb.' I said no. They said, 'Are you sure?' And I am." Passenger Mary Gardner agreed: "I did not hear him say that he had a bomb." Federal officials have since said that Alpizar made the threat in the jetway where it seems he may have been alone with air marshals (previous reports stated Alpizar uttered threatening words while seated). Alpizar's wife has said he had a bipolar disorder and was off his medication. No bomb or any evidence of a threat was found.
While most reports and editorials since the incident place no blame on the air marshals, who apparently acted in accordance with their training, other questions have been raised. A columnist in Editor & Publisher critiqued the "media docility" that quickly spread the official version of the story without checking the facts. Others have questioned the training itself, and the thinking behind it. But some feel it is how things ought to work in the post-9/11 world: David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association, told The Associated Press he thinks the shooting may prove more "reassuring than disturbing" to the traveling public. "This is a reminder they are there and are protecting the passengers and that it is a seriously deadly business," he said.
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Raw metal that was sold as meeting certain specifications for aviation use, sold by M&M International Aerospace Metals of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in fact did not meet those specs, the FAA said last week. The metal was sold to various distributors, type certificate holders, production approval holders, experimental aircraft distributors, and a variety of military and commercial entities. The metal certifications may have been deliberately altered in order to satisfy customer requirements when the company knew that the material did not meet the full requirements, the FAA said. The following changes were found by investigators: Specification numbers were added, quantities were changed, heat-treat certifications were altered, chemical analysis requirements were added, hardness test results were changed, and names of required mills were changed to match purchase order requirements. Aircraft owners, operators, maintenance organizations, manufacturers, and parts suppliers and distributors should inspect their records for raw metal purchased from M&M and examine those records for alterations, the FAA said. If material certifications are suspected of being altered, it is recommended that the original certificate supplier be contacted for a copy of the original certification, or independent tests be run for the original purchase order requirements. If the material is determined to be nonconforming, the stock -- or parts made from the stock -- should undergo an engineering analysis that is based on the material's location or use in its proposed application.
The Kennedy Space Center in Florida will be the takeoff site for Steve Fossett's next attempt to set a record for the longest flight of an airplane, NASA announced on Friday. Fossett plans to fly Virgin Atlantic's GlobalFlyer aircraft around the world and then across the Atlantic a second time, solo, without stopping or refueling. "Launching from the Kennedy Space Center at NASA will give both pilot and aircraft the ultimate launch pad for this ultimate flight," said Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic Airways. "We're excited to be able to partner with NASA on this attempt, as it is a perfect combination of innovation and aspiration." The GlobalFlyer is scheduled to arrive at Kennedy for preflight preparations on Jan. 6. The exact date of the launch will depend on weather. NASA said the agreement to use Kennedy's Space Shuttle Landing Facility is the result of a pilot program to expand access to the shuttle's runway for non-NASA activities. "We're thrilled that Steve Fossett and Virgin Atlantic selected the Shuttle Landing Facility as the take-off point for this world record attempt," said Kennedy Space Center Director Jim Kennedy. "The project will further enhance our efforts to expand the facility's use." The GlobalFlyer, designed by Burt Rutan and built by Scaled Composites, is a single-pilot, ultra-light aircraft designed for nonstop global circumnavigation. The plane will fly mostly at 45,000 feet at speeds faster than 285 mph.
NEW GARMIN GPSMAP 396 WITH TERRAIN, XM WEATHER, AND MUSIC
When New Zealand's Gliding Grand Prix launches above the Southern Alps next month, spectators will have a whole new view of the action, thanks to state-of-the-art real-time 3D animated computer graphics created by Animation Research Ltd (ARL). The New Zealand company developed graphics for the America's Cup and also designed simulators to train air traffic controllers. "In most sports we can look and see who's winning and losing but in gliding, as in yachting, there's no sense of the field," said ARL managing director Ian Taylor. "But we can create that field, even when it covers thousands of square miles." The box for the glider competition has a radius of over 50 miles and a height of 20,000 feet, making it tough to follow the competition visually. The graphics are built from data transmitted by GPS units installed in the gliders. The Grand Prix software is based on ARL's America's Cup graphics, but this is the first time ARL has developed graphics that can move along three axes in space. The New Zealand Gliding Grand Prix takes place in Omarama, North Otago, Jan. 21-29, with the final three days open to the public. It features 11 of the top pilots from around the world. A giant outdoor screen will display the graphics along with live helicopter video and commentary.
The Ae 270 "Spirit" single-engine turboprop, in development in the Czech Republic for close to 10 years, last week won its EASA certification. FAA certification is expected to follow shortly ... but it will likely be another two to three years before the aircraft is ready for the market. Ibis Aerospace, with partners Aero Vodochody and AIDC of Taiwan, said it plans to continue work on the aircraft to further improve its performance characteristics. The 270 is aiming for a cruise near 270 knots at 30,000 feet with up to 10 aboard for more than 1300 nm. "This redesign effort will be greatly aided by the recent certification of the existing aircraft," the company said. Those changes will focus on changes to the wing and empennage, Wayne Plucker, who represents Ibis in North America, told AVweb yesterday. "As we do that, we will likely take the opportunity to make a few systems simplifications," he said. "Starting redesign depends on when we can obtain additional funding. Our current expectation is next summer, but we can't guarantee it at this point," he added. The Ae 270 is powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A engine with a four-blade Hartzell prop. A double cabin door opens to four feet wide to allow for easy loading of both passengers and cargo. The FAA has been involved with the Czech CAA's efforts on the Ae 270, and will likely award FAA Type Certification within a month, the company said. The current price target for the redesigned aircraft in an executive configuration is $2.5 million to $2.7 million, but that is subject to change, Plucker said.
AEROMEDIX'S NEW MINI LOW-LEVEL MONOXIDE MONITOR
Martin Halstead attracted international attention last month when he started up his own airline in the U.K. at age 19, booking flights between the Isle of Man and Edinburgh. Dubbed the "Baby Branson" for his youthful entrepreneurship, Halstead's AlphaOne airline has so far been off to a rocky start, facing delays and cancellations. Maintenance problems caused a switch from 18-seat Jetstreams to a lone Navajo Chieftain. The Navajo was grounded last week after a part was found to be out of date, and the company's Web site is still not fully functional. Halstead said last week he still plans to move forward with the venture, expand routes, and add the Jetstream next year. Halstead plans to work as a pilot as well as CEO, and says he has lots of experienced staffers on his team to make up for his own lack of years ... but he's relying largely on his own financing skills. He financed the airline after selling off a flight-simulator software company he started at age 15.
A hypersonic scramjet-powered vehicle was launched from the ground at the Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va., in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday, Dec. 10. The launch was the first-ever free flight of a scramjet-powered vehicle using conventional liquid hydrocarbon jet fuel, Alliant Techsystems (ATK) said in a news release last week. ATK, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Office of Naval Research are collaborating on the project. The hypersonic vehicle was just under 9 feet long and about 11 inches in diameter. It integrated a scramjet engine into a missile configuration. After separating from its booster rocket at more than 60,000 feet, the scramjet engine ignited and propelled the vehicle at approximately 5,300 feet per second -- or Mach 5.5 -- for about 15 seconds while engineering data was captured via on-board sensors and tracking radars. The vehicle continued in stable flight mode until it splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean. The ground-launched flight test demonstrated a viable and cost-effective flight-test method for future hypersonic scramjet initiatives, ATK said. ATK previously built the hydrogen-fueled X-43A scramjet, the world-record holder for powered flights, which obtained a top speed of nearly Mach 10 in a November 2004 flight test.
A NEW RELEASE OF THE BEST AVIATION WEATHER SERVICE FOR CELL PHONES
Cirrus Design will no longer have to fly its brand-new airplanes across the Atlantic to its European customers, under a new arrangement with Britten-Norman, based on the Isle of Wight in the U.K., Cirrus said last week. "Cirrus planes will still be assembled in our U.S. facilities, where they receive their Certificate of Airworthiness," said John Bingham, executive vice-president of sales and marketing. "Each European-bound plane will then be partially dismantled and carefully crated." The aircraft will then be shipped to Britten-Norman for final reassembly and delivery. Accelerometers are installed in the containers to keep a record if the shipment is disturbed in any way, the company said. Britten-Norman will complete the assembly, initially for European customers and potentially for other geographic markets in the future, Cirrus said. Britten-Norman has over 40 years of experience in the manufacture, maintenance, repair and overhaul of light aircraft. "This arrangement brings many new advantages to our European-based customers, with the principle feature that their new airplane will no longer have to endure the rigors of a trans-Atlantic ferry flight as part of the delivery process," Bingham said.
SpaceX plans to launch its Falcon 1 rocket into orbit today at 11 a.m. PST from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands...
Tax savings can cover the payments on your new airplane for the first five years, says Columbia...
Delay in thrust-reverser operation, tailwind, and runway conditions cited by NTSB in an update Thursday on 737 overrun accident...
Northwest offer to striking mechanics called worst offer in aviation labor history...
A new FAA Advisory Circular has checklists to help facilitate the application process for common Part 23 Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) projects....
Australia's safety bureau filed its interim report on the crash of a Metroliner in May, in which 15 people died. The airplane was on approach to land at Lockhart River when it hit a mountainside.
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ASA'S 2006 TEST BOOKS, SOFTWARE & DVDs FOR FAA EXAM PREP NOW AVAILABLE
CEO of the Cockpit #52: There Is No Trying To Reason With The Holiday Season
You can be upset about working on Christmas, or you can be sanquine and reminisce about the good-old (holi)days of cooking turkey in the galley and layovers with belly dancers. AVweb's fictional CEO of the Cockpit, looking at imminent retirement, is surprisingly cheerful.
Safety Wire Techniques
It's one of those things that every maintenance-minded operator should know how to do. In fact, it's the cornerstone of maintenance procedures as diverse as brake relining and oil-filter changing. But many non-mechanics are fearful of tying safety wires, because they don't know how or because they think they're not allowed to do it. AVweb is here to help.
GAMIJECTORS CAN CUT AIRCRAFT FUEL BILLS BY 20 PERCENT!!
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Heard on Philadelphia Approach:
Duke 1234: Philly Approach, we're gonna begin our VFR descent for the field.
Controller: Duke 1234, say altitude descending to.
Duke 1234: We're descending for the field.
Controller: Roger, Duke 1234, say altitude descending to.
Duke 1234: Well, the field elevation is 78 feet, so ... hopefully, we won't be going below that.
Controller: Squak 1200, radar services terminated.
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