December 21, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... Sino Swearingen's SJ30-2
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EAA says it's making progress in reversing or modifying restrictions on experimental aircraft imposed on four busy California airports by the Van Nuys Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). In April of 2004, then-FSDO Manager Robyn Miller issued a memo that effectively barred some experimental aircraft from regular operations at Van Nuys (yes, of One Six Right fame), Whiteman, Burbank and Santa Barbara airports. Most experimentals are homebuilts but many warbirds are operated in the experimental category, also. The memo says that "phase II and 'normal' operations [by experimentals] will not be allowed" at the four airports although "exceptions may be made based upon current office policy, certification category, aircraft type and operator experience." The memo did contain a grandfather clause allowing existing experimentals to continue using the fields until they are moved, sold or the nature of their operation is changed. The memo also bans initial flight and phase I testing of experimentals at the airports.
EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski said the organization has been aware of the memo since it was issued last year and has worked behind the scenes to help individual pilots at the affected airports. However, Knapinski said the memo is fundamentally flawed in that it can only apply to aircraft that the local authorities are familiar with. "The way it stands now, there's nothing to stop someone from flying an experimental aircraft in from somewhere else, overnighting and taking off the next day," said Knapinski. "It creates two different levels of enforcement." ... And perhaps enforcement by personal interpretation. In addition to helping pilots at the affected airports, Knapinski said EAA has been lobbying FAA officials on the matter. "We've been after the FAA about this and I think we're making some progress," he said. Knapinski said the Van Nuys memo was "enacted at the local level" and allowing such local interpretation can cause problems. "Those levels of various rulemaking in these instances is something that EAA is constantly working against, because it leads to confusion in the pilot community," he said.
Van Nuys FSDO Manager Richard Swanson said his office is merely spelling out a policy that has been directed by the FAA administrator. Swanson said all offices were asked to review their policies with respect to the operating limitations that come with flying an experimental aircraft. He said the limitations vary depending on aircraft type and use, but, in general, experimental aircraft are not supposed to fly over congested areas and the four California airports are all in heavily populated areas with busy airspace. But he noted that doesn't necessarily mean that all experimentals are banned from using the airports because many homebuilts have an exception in their operating limitations that allows them to fly over developed areas and in congested airspace for landing and takeoff. "Each pilot has to be aware of the operating limitations of the aircraft," he said. Swanson said the difference between a homebuilt and a certified aircraft is that a certified plane is theoretically a "known entity" that has been through airworthiness processes and is supposed to be maintained to those standards. Experimental aircraft don't have that paper trail and that's why the limitations are in place. "It's really a certification issue," he said. "Our task, after all, is to protect the general public." He also noted that it would be impossible for his office to monitor transient traffic and determine which experimentals are allowed to use the four airports. He said it's up to the aircraft owners to make sure they operate within the rules and all it takes is a ramp check to determine if they are being followed. The devil's in the paperwork.
INSIDE TRADE-A-PLANE IS A PILOT'S ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS LIST
As with any new category of anything, the "firsts" keep piling up for Sport Pilot and Light Sport Aircraft. However, a 26-year-old magazine editor has set a record that may well stand for a while. A couple of weeks ago, Davin Coburn, a science editor for Popular Mechanics, climbed into the left seat of an LSA for the first time ever at Mid-Atlantic Sports Planes in Bayse, Va. One week and 22 hours of flight time later, he passed his Sport Pilot ride. "This was a working vacation," Coburn wrote in his daily blog. "It's one I'll remember for the rest of my life, but at no time did it involve lounge chairs or drinks that come with umbrellas." That's an average of more than three hours a day and Coburn said that when he wasn't flying, he was studying and reviewing for his next flight. "The harder you work beforehand, the less your instructor will have to dwell on the basics," he said.
Since Coburn's goal was to complete his training in a week, he did as much advance preparation as he could, including passing the written before he even stepped in the airplane. His instructor, Nathan Mayers, said it would have been more comfortable for all concerned for Coburn to have taken two weeks to complete the course but noted that Coburn was an exceptional student. "He was intensely focused, highly motivated and a quick study," Mayers said. "Life would be easier with two weeks instead of one, but Davin proved that it can be done." But, as any freshly minted pilot knows (or should know), getting the certificate is a beginning, not an end, to learning. Mayers noted that Coburn is going to have to keep flying so he doesn't lose those quickly won skills. "I don't think that's going to be a problem," Mayers said, noting that Coburn has shown that attaining a Sport Pilot certificate is within reach of just about anyone.
Although there's an undeniable thread of showmanship to Coburn's feat, those involved in the fledgling Sport Pilot and LSA industries say there's an important lesson to be learned from the effort. "The national average for a Private Pilot's license [sic] is 72 hours and a lot of people are taking nearly a year to accumulate that much time," said Sportsplanes.com CEO Josh Foss. "Now someone can enjoy the freedom to fly in a week." (Which is a lot easier to fit into a vacation.) Foss said the quick training makes getting a Sport Pilot certificate affordable for just about anyone and that bodes well for aviation in general. "I have little doubt that people like Davin will continue to log hours and eventually upgrade to Private Pilot status and perhaps IFR," Foss said. "In that sense, the Sport Pilot license is a 'stepping stone' or entry level permit to learn that people in their early 20's can readily afford and accomplish in a short period of time." EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski said he believes stories like Coburn's could inspire those who thought their dreams of flying to be unattainable to investigate and perhaps pursue them. "It brings into focus what the opportunities and possibilities are."
AIRCRAFT SPRUCE CARRIES ColorEyes PERFORMANCE SUNGLASSES
Investigators have found a major fatigue crack in the spar of the wing that separated from a Chalk's Ocean Airways turboprop Mallard on takeoff from Miami on Monday. The wing was recovered Tuesday and fatigue was quickly apparent. "We've seen fatigue. We don't know why that fatigue appeared. That is what we're trying to determine," Mark Rosenker, acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, told reporters Wednesday morning. "This crack appears to extend through a majority of the spar at the location of the separation." A total of 19 passengers, most of them from the Bahamas, and the pilot died. Rosenker suggested the crack may have been hard to spot on a routine inspection. "Inspection maybe would have found that [metal fatigue], but there would have had to have been a very serious type of inspection to have understood it and found it," he said. The airline has suspended regular service but airline officials say there is still strong demand for flights and they hope to resume service by Friday. Chalk's has been in operation since 1919 and had three Mallards before Monday's crash.
An accident involving a collision that destroys all or part of two aircraft would normally make headlines across the country but this unfortunate mishap slipped below the media radar, perhaps because it was a pickup truck that did the damage. Thanks to an AVweb reader, however, we're able to tell you the sad tale of an accident at Compton Airport in California that destroyed the fuselage of a pristine Beech Staggerwing that was being restored in a hangar. "The owner now has everything for the airplane except a fuselage," said hangar owner Jack Kenton. It also wrecked the fuselage of a J-4 Cub and a Cassutt (single-place experimental). The accident occurred Dec. 10 when the pickup went off a road, through a fence and into the hangar. Kenton said witnesses estimated the truck was going 80 mph when it left the road. One airplane inside the hangar was unscathed.
WINGS TO ADVENTURE TV MOVES TO PRIME TIME!
Obtaining a simple Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) could become a relatively painless completion of a checklist supplied by the FAA ... maybe. The agency has issued an Advisory Circular providing compliance checklists for common STC projects. "The standard compliance checklists show typical methods of compliance with the regulations and cross-references related guidance material," said the notice published in the Federal Register. The checklists are expected to make the STC process a little easier. According to the notice, some of the checklists may contain complete certification requirements while others will be used as a starting point for more complicated STCs that are beyond the scope of a checklist. Paper copies of the new rules, designated AC 23-24 Airworthiness Compliance Checklists for Common Part 23 Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) Projects, are available from U.S. Department of Transportation, Subsequent Distribution Office, DOT Warehouse, M-30, Ardmore East Business Center, 3341Q 75th Avenue, Landover, M.D., 20785, telephone (301) 322-4779, or by faxing your request to the warehouse at (301) 386-5394. Cost is $10 for U.S. customers and $14 for those outside the U.S. An Internet version is in the works.
The pilot of a Beaver floatplane that collided with a Cessna 150 near Renton, Wash., last August may have been confused by a tower controller's report of the Cessna's position as the two aircraft neared the Renton airport. According to an analysis done by the King County Journal, the tower controller was recorded as telling the Beaver pilot that the Cessna, which he was to follow for landing, was "ahead of you and to your right'' when the radar tapes indicate the Cessna was actually to the Beaver's left and about 400 feet lower. The Beaver descended on top of the Cessna while setting up for a landing. The Cessna crashed into an empty school and both occupants died. The Beaver was able to make a safe emergency landing. According to the Journal, the Beaver pilot may have thought another floatplane, already on downwind, was the Cessna the tower told him he was supposed to be following. The Beaver acknowledges seeing another aircraft on downwind but never calls it a Cessna, according to the Journal analysis. Renton has a contract tower run by Serco. Neither the Beaver pilot, Serco, nor the FAA would respond to questions posed by the Journal concerning the tapes, which were obtained under a freedom of information request. The NTSB final report on the accident hasn't been released yet and the Journal said it's not expected for several months.
"TRADE UP" YOUR LIGHTSPEED HEADSET AND GET COMPLIMENTARY SHIPPING!
The Australian Transportation Safety Board says it suspects a malfunctioning autopilot is to blame for the events leading to an in-flight breakup of an Aero Commander in Tasmania in February of 2004. The board's report says the plane, flown by a 21-year-old pilot who was ferrying it from Hobart to Davenport, suddenly lost altitude and, in the subsequent dive, both wings and the empennage came off. The wings were found more than a kilometer from the main crash site. The ATSB said it could not conclusively pin the crash blame on the autopilot but said the evidence points that way. Tasair pilot Heather Anne Cochrane was the only one aboard the airplane. The ATSB said she was healthy and fully qualified for the flight. The plane was at about 8,500 feet when it suddenly dropped. Investigators believe the plane came apart after falling about 5,000 feet.
Combine the innocence of youth, a misprinted phone number and a quick-thinking air defense officer and what do you get? A 50-year tradition of Santa being tracked and guided into North American airspace by folks whose usual duty is to scare away unidentified aircraft. Yes, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is again providing regular updates of Santa's progress as he makes his North American rounds. While the operation is headquartered at NORAD's underground surveillance center in Colorado Springs, Canadian military pilots will make first contact with the target, easily distinguished by the bright red nose at the head of the team of reindeer pulling the sleigh. CF-18 pilots Capt. William Radiff and Lt.-Col. Patrice Laroche, of 3 Wing Bagotville, and Capt. Dave Monk and Maj. Alex Day of 4 Wing Cold Lake, are this years official escort pilots. The tradition began with a mistake in an ad in a Colorado Springs newspaper in 1955. The Sears ad offered kids a chance to talk to Santa by phone but the number listed actually took them to the hotline in the nerve center in Cheyenne Mountain. The officer on duty quickly figured out what had happened and played along. Now hundreds of military personnel are involved with the project, which includes an elaborate Web site and phones manned by volunteers who tell callers where Santa appears on their radars. Hundreds of media calls are also received. Not to be outdone by the military, Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta has issued blanket clearance for Santa to use U.S. airspace for his rounds. Wonder what the TSA has to say about that?
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Thielert says demand is strong for its 1.7 liter diesel aircraft engines and it's continuing to expand its market. In addition to OEM sales to Diamond Aircraft, the Jet-A sipping mills are also being retrofitted into Cessnas and Pipers...
A lawsuit has been filed against Boeing and Onex Corp. claiming age discrimination in the determination of which employees at Boeing's former Wichita plant would keep their jobs. Onex purchased the plant and the suit claims that far more older employees were let go compared to young workers...
A New Jersey man may have picked the wrong target for his laser pen. Police have charged the man after he allegedly shined the laser at the pilot of a news helicopter. The cameraman on board caught the alleged attack on tape.
Drop us a line. If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to email@example.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
FOR AVIATION PROFESSIONALS WHO WORK
The Savvy Aviator #26: Interpreting Your Engine Monitor
The modern probe-per-cylinder digital engine monitor is a marvelous tool for keeping tabs on your engine's health and troubleshooting its maladies. Here are some tips for figuring out what those bars and digits mean.
FAA ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS ARE ON THE RISE!
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*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Last week, as a follow-up to the shooting death of American Airlines passenger Rigobeto Alpizar, AVweb asked whether your opinion would be changed if it were revealed that Alpizar had never said anything about a bomb.
59% of those who responded said YES, their opinion would be different if Alpizar hadn't made a clear statement about having a bomb.
The remaining 41% of our readers said NO, their opinion would remain the same.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
It's Christmas time. AVweb wants to know what tops your airplane wish list.
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'Tis the week before Christmas, and AVweb readers must be settling in for their long winter's nap submissions numbers were down to a modest 50 entries this week. As longtime readers know, that's not unusual for the last couple weeks of the year. Even pilots and photographers have holidays to celebrate, as demonstrated by the large number of holiday lights, flying Santas, and prop wreaths we saw in this week's batch of photos. So, in the interest of celebrating the season, we're running the top five holiday photos this week and rolling over our non-holiday submissions (all 29 of them) to next week's contest. This will give us more photos to choose from next week. In the meantime, kick back with a cup of eggnog and see what your festive fellow readers have been up to!
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
Used with permission of Noel Dennis
"Merry Christmas from KAPC Wine Country"
Noel Dennis of Napa, California kicks off our holiday
festivities in the time-honored tradition with twinkly lights!
Not only was Noel kind enough to include camera specs
(always popular with our technically minded readers), he
even changed his name to reflect the spirit of the season!*
Those specs: Canon EOS 20D with 24-70L 2.8 lens
exposed at 1/25 second at F/2.8, hand-held.
* Not really.
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.
Used with permission of Scott Ross
"Santa inbound on final for Ontario Provincial
Police Kids' Christmas Party," courtesy of
Scott Ross of Orillia, Ontario (Canada)
Used with permission of Fred Glasbergen
"Modern Day Santa"
From the party, it was straight into the
SeaRey for Santa. Destination: Fort Langley, B.C.,
where good little boy Fred Glasbergen snapped
this nifty li'l photo. As Fred points out, there are some
environments the reindeer just aren't cut out for.
Used with permission of Gary Kerr
"A Jenny Sized for the Wee People"
We'll close the week with two photos
from Gary Kerr of Richardson, Texas.
Gary writes, "This is a Hallmark ornament,
but it's my tree and my picture." Fair enough!
Used with permission of Gary Kerr
"O Bi-Plane Tree, O Bi-Plane Tree"
"A Laird Special and Staggerwing,
hanging around for the holidays."
Also from Gary Kerr.
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.
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