January 1, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ...
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If you're a pilot, and have an airplane, and you're an active member of Angel Flight, then you're probably the type of person who'd be happy to fly off during Christmas week to deliver piles of gifts to children on the Navajo reservation in southern Utah. The Utah Wing has been organizing just such an event for the last five years, and it's growing bigger every Christmas. The first year, in 2001, a few pilots came up with the idea during a holiday party, put it together in a couple of weeks, and about seven or eight airplanes flew off bearing donated toys and food. By the next year, it was up to about a dozen airplanes, and this Christmas, about 30 airplanes flew to three sites around the state.
"These are very remote areas we fly to," says Don Carey, Utah Wing Leader of Angel Flight West. "We launch from Salt Lake City, and it's about two hours to Bluff, in a Warrior. There's nothing but wilderness for miles and miles. There's no access from major highways. Last year, we flew to Navajo Mountain, where the runway was a graded dirt road." Bluff, where the group has landed every year, does have a lonely asphalt strip, but no instrument approaches. "Fog is our biggest weather issue so far," says Carey. The first year, they tried to fly on Christmas Eve and the weather didn't cooperate. Now they plan to fly sometime during the week before Christmas, then firm up the schedule depending on the weather. The pilots enjoy the opportunity to fly together, he said. "Most of the time, flying an Angel Flight is a very solitary thing. You don't interact much with other pilots. So it's fun to do something together as a group." Most pilots are from the Salt Lake area, but others have joined in from around the state.
This year, Glenn Prestwich played Santa Claus for the fifth time, and said it's been "very rewarding." Angel Flight has coordinated the event with the tribal elders, who meet the airplanes when they arrive and distribute the gifts to families. This year, the aircraft ranged from a Mooney and a couple of Cirruses to a Pilatus PC-12. Also on board the airplanes were 1,000 blankets donated by Project Linus. Prestwich said he expects the effort to continue to grow. "It's become institutionalized," he said. "And the outpouring of support just keeps increasing. There's no reason to step back now."
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Tecnam, an aviation company based in Italy, has announced that it will build a new -- high wing -- light twin called the P2006T, which will be fully FAR 33 certificated and sell for under $300,000. First flight is scheduled for September 2006, with first customer deliveries expected in 2007. The new P2006T will feature retractable gear and hydraulic constant-speed props with feathering. Predicted performance figures for the P2006T include a cruise of 147 knots, 53-knot stall, a rate of climb of 1,400 ft/min (350 ft/min on one engine), an empty weight of about 1,400 pounds, and a useful load of about 1,000 pounds. "We expect it to debut in the U.S. at Sun 'n Fun in 2007," Lynne Birmingham, the acting U.S. agent for Tecnam Italy, told AVweb on Saturday. "We're actively pursuing the training market." The four-seat twin will have an optional glass panel and two Rotax 912 engines with 100 hp each. It was designed by Luigi Pascale, who also designed the sleek Partenavia twin, Birmingham said. Tecnam said it decided in favor of the Rotax engines for reasons of weight saving and cost -- not only purchase price, but also for low-cost maintenance and operation.
Little twins may be fine for flying around Planet Earth, but to get to the International Space Station, you need something beefier. The Russians have been working for a while on a next-generation rocket-launched Space Shuttle called Clipper, and are hoping to get a funding boost from the European Space Agency in 2006 to move the project forward. The ESA's 17 member states considered the proposal at a meeting in December. They didn't come up with a firm commitment, but they didn't nix the idea either. The leader of the ESA, Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain, told DW-World he will "make all the efforts I can in the next few months to secure wide participation for Clipper." Dordain said he hopes to win approval for the project by June. The Russians have been working on the concept since 2000, and have built a full-scale mock-up of the ship, which they exhibited at last year's Paris Air Show. The latest version of the plan would comprise a two-part spacecraft that would launch atop a modified Soyuz rocket. An orbital tug would be launched first, then a manned capsule would dock with it in orbit and travel to the space station. Then the capsule could glide back to Earth and land on a runway, and the tug would be parked in orbit until the next launch. The ship could be used for space tourism as well as ISS support. If financial support is forthcoming, the ship could fly as soon as 2011. The entire program is projected to cost about $1 billion.
The prototype of the Dyanlifter, a 120-foot-long, two-seat blimp/airplane hybrid, is complete and ready for flight testing, its inventors said last week. The airship will not be lighter-than-air but will carry part of its load via aerodynamic lift generated by the wings and hull. This will make it possible for the ship to land like an airplane, without any need for the ground crew required for a traditional airship, say designers Brian Martin and Robert Rist. Future versions of the ship could be as large as a 200-ton freighter (which might stimulate its own ground-handling questions). Other uses for the design include aerial advertising, personal transportation, search and rescue, temporary "cellphone towers," firefighting, and military support. The designers hope the (air)ships could also be used to transport natural resources from remote areas of Canada and Asia, which have so far been minimally exploited due to the high costs of transportation.
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The FAA has said it will revise its Proposed Airworthiness Directiveregarding ECi connecting rods found in about 2,800 Lycoming engines, ECi President Ed Salmeron said on Friday. The revision will allow owners to wait until their next scheduled engine overhaul to remove the connecting rods, instead of the "within 50 hours time-in-service" originally proposed. The FAA also said it is open to a discussion about inspecting and reworking the rods after they are removed. The original Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, issued on Oct. 5, drew immediate protest from ECi. "We strongly feel that no safety of flight concerns exist," the company wrote to the FAA. AOPA also objected to the NPRM, saying the FAA "blindsided AOPA, ECi, and the general aviation community" by forging ahead with a proposed rule without first consulting industry stakeholders. The NPRM was issued in response to a single engine failure that both AOPA and the manufacturer claim may have been caused or contributed to by an oil-system blockage. AOPA said it found no evidence that shows the engine connecting rods fail to meet safe, FAA-approved limits. "ECi will be working with the FAA to agree on an inspection and rework procedure at TBO," Salmeron said last week.
The day of reckoning is near for many very-light-jet projects that have been in the works for years now ... for many, that day could come in 2006. Eclipse says it's expecting FAA certification in March but that a supplier's certification trouble will likely push deliveries to second quarter 2006. Cessna plans to certify and deliver the Mustang in the fourth quarter of '06. Both companies have flight-test programs well underway. Adam Aircraft, which has had its prototype jet in the air for a while, now is taxi-testing its second A700, and expects to start flying it any day. The company is hoping for certification by fourth quarter of 2006, spokeswoman Shelly Simi told AVweb last week. One wildcard may be Epic Jet. Epic Jet has designs to beat them all. Last July at Oshkosh, Founder Rick Schrameck unveiled a mock-up of his company's seven-seat jet and said, "The speed at which we move, I think we can go from the late announcement to actually being what we believe will be the first light jet that will be delivered to a customer, period."
Adam expects that its experience getting the similar A500 piston twin through the certification process will help create an accelerated flow for certification of the A700. "We anticipate everything moving along smoothly," Simi said. Aviation Technology Group (ATG) flew its two-seater for the first time in October, and expects deliveries to start in 2008. Excel Jet recently announced it is moving its operation from Colorado to Oklahoma, where flight testing will soon get underway on its single-engine Sport Jet. "We have completed all the preliminary testing with an interim engine and are now converting the aircraft to accept the FJ33 engine," company founder Bob Bornhofen told AVweb last week. "We expect to start the certification process in about 90 days time and it will probably take 20 months from this point." Diamond has said it expects to fly its single-engine D-Jet this year.
YOUR HEADSET IS A KEY PIECE OF EQUIPMENT, SO CHOOSE THE PERFORMANCE
The FAA last Thursday published its proposed rules to govern the operation of commercial space flight. The 120-page document mainly covers qualification and training for the crew and passengers -- but the FAA doesn't call them passengers. They are "space flight participants ... not a typical passenger with typical expectations of transport, but someone going on an adventure ride." Participants would not be required to have a physical exam, but the FAA would recommend it. They also must be informed of the risks and be told that the U.S. government has not certified the space vehicle as "safe." Flight crew must have FAA pilot and medical certificates and an instrument rating. The experimental permit for spacecraft is covered in a separate rulemaking, the FAA said. The FAA invites comment on its proposal until Feb. 27. Comments can be logged or viewed online; enter docket number 23449.
A homeowner in Scotland who launched fireworks into the path of aircraft landing at Edinburgh Airport has pleaded guilty to reckless conduct, the Scotsman.com reported last week. Peter Crane, 20, fired the rockets from his backyard on a busy Friday night on Oct. 29, 2004. Air traffic controllers started to warn crews of the hazard and one pilot reported back: "If the last firework had happened a second later we would have been very close to it." The controllers saw the fireworks occurring for several hours before police found Crane. Crane said he was lighting the fireworks to celebrate Halloween and was not intentionally aiming at aircraft, according to the Scotsman.com. He has not yet been sentenced. In a separate incident, an American Airlines pilot departing from Los Angeles International in November reported to ATC he had seen a smoke trail from something that had been fired near his aircraft. That exchange was recorded. The exchange between the pilot and controller can be heard in the archives of liveatc.net (select KONT, SoCal, November 26, 1530-1600). Listen very carefully to the final minute and you'll hear AA 612 say they saw a rocket pass them. The controller responds, "...a flare or a rocket?" Meanwhile, El Al Israel Airlines has decided to install anti-missile systems on six of its passenger jets. The airline will use Flight Guard systems, which respond automatically to an approaching heat-seeking missile, firing flares to divert the missile from the aircraft.
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The FAA has mandated emergency wing inspections for Mallard seaplanes. The action follows a fatal crash in Miami on Dec. 19 in which a Mallard lost a wing shortly after takeoff. The pilot and 19 passengers all died in the crash. The Airworthiness Directive instructs that all affected aircraft must be inspected before further flight. If any cracking or corrosion is found, it must be repaired. A report of the inspection's findings must be sent to the FAA. About 40 Mallards are in operation. Chalk's Ocean Airways, which owned the one that crashed, is the only commercial operator. Once the wreckage was recovered, 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. "This crack appears to extend through a majority of the spar at the location of the separation."
An airline passenger who misbehaved during a transoceanic flight was dropped off on an obscure tropical island and stranded there for 36 hours before he could find a flight out. The unidentified and allegedly inebriated man was flying on a Monarch Airlines Airbus A321 out of Manchester, England, with 210 other passengers last Tuesday night when he became rude and aggressive toward the cabin crew, after they refused to give him any more alcohol, according to the Taipei Times. He refused to calm down and then began to insult the other passengers. Rather than put up with him until reaching their destination of Tenerife, the crew decided to touch down on Porto Santo, a tiny island (about 14 by 5 km) off the North African coast with limited options for departure, but just 480 km from the flight's final destination. The disruptive passenger was marched off the aircraft and left behind. He eventually found a seat out on a German charter flight.
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Two people died when their Cirrus SR22 crashed on a North Carolina mountainside last Thursday afternoon. Tommy Marshall, 55, and his wife, Veronica, 50, of Pensacola, Fla., were killed in the crash. Early reports did not suggest the aircraft's full plane parachute had been deployed...
Luke Air Force Base in Arizona wants all GA pilots to communicate when transiting airspace...
Trinidad and Tobago is trying out a Skyship 600 blimp for a three-month trial to bolster security during carnival season...
Boeing is working to design its aircraft to be more accommodating to aging baby-boomers...
Eos Airline aims to attract transatlantic pax with roomy, comfortable, convertible seating. Each 757 will carry just 48 business-class pax, each with 21 square feet of personal space...
Independence Air likely to stop flying unless a cash infusion is found.
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.
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2005 Year In Review
Disaster, exultation, milestones, conflict, celebration, tragedy, and remembrance ... in 2005, the world of general aviation saw all that and more. Here's our year-end review of the news, with links to AVweb's original coverage for more details.
Top flight instructors and former air traffic controllers offer tips for managing every phase of your flight. Click through for a sample from former controller, Paul Berge.
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AVmail: January 2, 2006
Reader mail this week about hunters shooting airplanes, prop noise, burning brakes and more.
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YOUR AIRCRAFT BUYING HELPER AVIATION CONSUMER'S USED AIRCRAFT GUIDE
When congestion isn't the real problem...
Here is my recollection of a conversation heard on 128.25 last Saturday:
Aircraft on Approach: Get off the runway I am landing.
Aircraft on Runway: Maybe you should go around if I am not fast enough for you.
Aircraft on Approach: I can't, I have a terrible crosswind, I am in trouble, I am in a 180.
Aircraft on Runway: ...Maybe you shouldn't be flying a 180.
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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