January 8, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... ZuluWorks
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Lycoming is casting its recall net a little wider for engines with potentially faulty crankshafts and the FAA is reinforcing that with yet another proposed AD. Since 2002, Lycoming has replaced hundreds of cranks containing suspected metallurgical faults and now nearly 400 more have been added to the list. In a Nov. 30 supplement (check there to see if your engine is affected) to a mandatory service bulletin issued last July, Lycoming said a single failure (no accident involved) prompted the expanded recall. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued by the FAA on Jan. 6 duplicates the company's call for the affected engines to be repaired within 50 hours or six months, whichever comes first. The MSB supplement and NPRM affect (L)O-360, (L)IO-360, and AEIO-360 models. Most of this batch of 391 suspect cranks went into 308 engines manufactured by Lycoming. Some of the remainder may have been used in overhauls or may be sitting on stockroom shelves. The FAA says its NPRM affects 282 engines in service in the U.S. and the types of aircraft affected range from Cessnas, Beeches and Pipers to some obscure European and Asian aircraft and even a couple of blimps.
If your engine is on the list in the MSB supplement, Lycoming wants you to phone them (570-323-6181) or fax them (570-327-7160) to arrange its return. If your engine was rebuilt or had the crankshaft replaced after March 1, 1999, you need to hunt down the repair records and find the crankshaft serial number to compare to the list contained in the MSB supplement. If your number comes up, you need to call or fax, too. Lycoming will cover a "reasonable" amount of labor for the removal and reinstallation of the engine. At the factory, it will be disassembled, inspected and the cranks and bearings replaced. There's no word on exactly how long you might be grounded but there is perhaps some comfort in the fact that Lycoming is pretty experienced at this procedure and seems to be fairly efficient at it. According to AOPA, about 80 percent of the more than 1,100 engines included in the July recall are back in the air. "Lycoming has told AOPA that it has already repaired nearly 80 percent of the engines that it was able to identify from the first AD," said Luis Gutierrez, AOPA director of regulatory and certification policy. "It appears they'll be able to work quickly on this latest batch."
WINGS TO ADVENTURE TV MOVES TO PRIME TIME!
What if you built a better mousetrap but government regulations made the cheese prohibitively expensive? That's the situation the owner of a small electronics company says he finds himself in as he tries to bring to market what he says is an affordable (about $1,000 per installation), effective and user-friendly system to display automated weather observation system (AWOS) and automated surface observation system (ASOS) information via the Internet. About five years ago, Bill Stanwyck, of Newburgh, N.Y.-based Stanwyck Avionics, designed software that would enable an ordinary PC to gather, record and upload the weather sensor data to a Web site. There, it's displayed both in text and graphic form. The information is updated every minute and the graphic display shows wind speed and direction trends for the previous five minutes and even calculates the crosswind component. "I think it's a useful tool for pilots," Stanwyck told AVweb. Most AWOS and ASOS data is now obtained either on aircraft radios or over the phone. Stanwyck's system displays all the various weather information compiled by the AWOS or ASOS from wind speed to dew point. It also shows a spreadsheet with the previous two hours of data. But Stanwyck said what most airports and pilots like about the system is its deceptively simple graphic depiction of trending and real-time airport conditions. Stanwyck said the at-a-glance feature sets the system apart and has been popular with the relatively few people who have seen it.
Stanwyck said his software is designed to interface with any of the more than 1,500 AWOS and ASOS installations across the country by plugging into already-existing data ports. But the FAA won't let him physically attach anything to the equipment, saying it is proprietary and he must have written permission from the companies that manufactured the gear before he can plug in with FAA approval. Since Stanwyck began the crusade, those companies have come up with Internet distribution systems of their own (which Stanwyck claims they copied from him), and Stanwyck said it's unlikely he'll get permission now. Stanwyck said the services offered by the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are prohibitively expensive for many smaller airports while his is a fraction of their prices. About 600 of the weather stations are owned and maintained by the FAA and data is available from them over the Internet. The rest of the sites have been purchased and are maintained by local or state authorities, often with grants from the FAA. Stanwyck said that if he can convince the FAA to accept and certify his system, grants might be available to help airports install it.
The FAA's position stopped Stanwyck dead in his tracks for a couple of years but he didn't stop thinking. That eventually led to him design a system that can transcribe data captured from the UHF radio signal that some AWOS and ASOS stations emit and then put it up on the net. It works, but the receiver alone triples the equipment cost and it's another device to maintain. But even though the FAA has said it will allow him to gather the data in this way, it's not endorsing the end product. Even though the information is exactly what can be obtained over the phone or the radio, the FAA has told Stanwyck that his Web pages must carry a disclaimer stating that the information is not to be used for aviation purposes. Stanwyck said he's put more than $50,000 of his own money into developing the system and he's convinced, based on the feedback he's received from those who've used it, that hundreds of small airports across the U.S. would install it if the FAA would sign off on it. He said he's hoping to find a senator or congressman to take up the cause, or maybe a sympathetic ear in the FAA hierarchy, but so far he hasn't had any luck.
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The FAA has backed off on implementation of noise restrictions that could have prevented owners of thousands of older aircraft from getting any modifications, through Supplementary Type Certificates, to their planes that had anything to do with how much sound they might create. After hearing from more than 30 groups and individuals, the agency decided that turning back the clock on already-certified designs would be both expensive and potentially unworkable, so the new noise standards will apply only to clean-sheet designs for which the certification is received after Feb. 3, 2006. "Following consideration of all the comments, the FAA has determined that the impact of a new noise standard on already certificated aircraft could be significant," the final rule says. "We also realized that given the number of STCs, the impact is almost impossible to estimate for the fleet of single engine airplanes." The noise restrictions are meant to bring U.S. rules in line with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) rules and if you've had a listen to some of the new European light sport aircraft that have so far populated that segment of the industry in the U.S., it's hard to argue with the direction this is headed. But teaching old Cessnas, Beeches and Pipers, to name a few, new tricks was going to be a monumental undertaking and the issue was flagged by AOPA immediately. "That could have prevented aircraft owners from making safety and utility improvements to their aircraft, and definitely hurt the small companies that offer those improvements under the supplemental type certificate (STC) process," said Luis Gutierrez, AOPA's regulatory expert.
Although Mother Nature disrupted the timing, the second U.S. Sport Aviation Expo will get off the ground from Jan. 12 to Jan. 15 at Sebring Regional Airport in Florida. The event, which features only aircraft that qualify under the Light Sport Aircraft classification, was supposed to be held in late October but Hurricane Wilma blew that plan away. All the palm branches and shingles have been cleaned up and organizers are expecting another big turnout after last year's first-ever event drew thousands of attendees and hundreds of exhibitors. EAA-sponsored forums will fill four tents with back-to-back sessions running from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and until noon on Sunday. The topics reflect the embryonic state of the industry and include basic information on the products available, the certification requirements and even an appeal for CFIs. The forums will be held against a backdrop of constant flight demonstrations by the four basic categories of aircraft, including powered parachute, weight shift, gyroplane and fixed wing.
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In what may be the largest settlement of its kind in North Carolina history, the family of a Concord, N.C., couple settled for a total of $26 million from four companies after the couple was killed by the post-crash fire when the Cessna 421 on which they were passengers went down in Mecklenburg County in 1999. David and Ann Drye, along with pilot Kelly Ward and another passenger, Mark Carlson, died after the pilot reported the right engine had failed. Teledyne Continental, the maker of the engine, was assessed $20 million of the settlement, while engine overhauler Ram Aircraft paid $3 million. Component supplier Vibratech was hit with $2.8 million and Stevens Aviation, which maintained the plane, paid $250,000. According to the NTSB report, metal fragments were found in the right engine's oil sump from the starter adapter needle bearing but "the right engine assembly did not exhibit any condition that would have prevented it from operating." The report does not name a cause for the crash but the position of the engine and prop controls might provide some insight as to why the aircraft didn't maintain flight. "The engine controls in the cockpit were found with both mixture controls full forward, both propeller controls full forward, the left throttle at idle, and the right throttle full forward," the report said. "The left and right engine mixture and throttle controls at the engine fuel controls were burned away. The left propeller governor control at the engine was found in the full rpm or takeoff position. The right propeller governor control at the engine had received impact damage and found near the propeller feather position."
The FAA and local authorities are spending more than $5 million to tear up 324 feet of runway at Indianapolis International Airport. But both insist the amputation won't affect the utility or safety of the airport, which is undergoing a $1 billion reconstruction. In fact, the jackhammers are being called in for safety reasons. The section of runway in question is at one end of Indy's 7,604-ft. crosswind runway. It's being eliminated because a FedEx hangar blocks controllers' view of that portion of runway from the new 340-foot tall tower. Officials insist the runway shortening has been part of the construction plan all along and is regarded as the most practical solution to the sight-line problem. It's not that Indy is short of runways, however. The airport has main parallel runways of 10,000 and 11,000 feet and the location of the new tower was picked with those massive strips in mind. "The FAA is very safety conscious and absolutely requires that the air traffic controllers in the tower see the surface of the runway to insure that it is clear before aircraft can land," said John Kish, who's running the airport reconstruction project. "Reducing the crosswind runway from 7,600 to 7,300 feet was not felt to be significant by any of the aircraft operators at the airport."
YOUR HEADSET IS A KEY PIECE OF EQUIPMENT, SO CHOOSE THE PERFORMANCE
We're not sure who learned more from a mishap on a busy freeway near San Jose, Calif., last week. An unidentified flight instructor and his student landed their Piper Cherokee on busy I-680, near Fremont, after they reportedly "ran out of fuel" on a sightseeing trip, according to the Bay area's Daily Review. "It was a perfect landing" said witness Gary Page, who was among the motorists who got out of the airplane's way as it glided onto the road. Neither occupants nor aircraft suffered any harm (physically, anyway) and the Cherokee was trucked away a few hours later. Reporters described the pilots as behaving sheepishly. Neither would comment. What could be more embarrassing for the pilots, however, is that there may still have been fuel on board. According to the Daily Review newspaper, there was an unconfirmed report that the instructor told a California Highway Patrol officer that he'd forgotten to switch the airplane's tank. It's the fifth time in 10 years that the highway has been used for an emergency landing.
What's FAA for a raise? How about "organizational success increase." Whatever it's called, it will mean an extra 3.1 percent in the pay packets of employees as long as they meet "minimum performance standards." Administrator Marion Blakey linked the raise to what she termed the successful achievement of the agency's goals under its operational plan, known as the Flight Plan. "The real credit for this goes to you who delivered an outstanding performance under the Flight Plan," Blakey said. The agency has also eliminated a payband freeze that had capped the salaries of some of its most senior employees. The ceiling on all pay categories in the agency has been boosted by 2.1 percent. The highest-paid FAA employees now make $165,200, including "locality pay." Blakey said only a small percentage of employees are in those brackets. About 2,000 employees sued the FAA over the salary cap, alleging age discrimination. Most of those at the top of the scale are older workers.
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Described by colleagues as "one of the top three or four performers" in the business, air show pilot Eric Beard, 48, died Friday when the Piper Seneca he was flying crashed in fog about 400 yards short of the runway at Skagit Regional Airport near Burlington, Wash. Beard was perhaps better-known for flying a rare Yak-54 nicknamed Russian Thunder in air shows all over the world. On Friday he was flying for Airpac Airlines, a Seattle-based cargo company. He worked part-time for Airpac and also worked for Boeing. His last transmission to Whidbey Island approach was normal and there was no indication of an emergency, according to Tom Peterson, air search coordinator with the state department of transportation. "He was supposed to call once he got on the ground," Peterson told KOMO News. "They did not hear from him and the people waiting for him on the ground reported that he didn't call in or make it." Beard is survived by his wife Diane and four children. Beard held two degrees from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and worked for NASA on both the space shuttle and Titan rocket programs. He began flying aerobatics in the early 1980s and performed for 13 years, including appearances at EAA AirVenture and other major shows. The Yak-54 is one of seven aircraft purpose-built for aerobatics in 1996 by the Yakevlev Design Bureau. Fred Rosenfelder, the air boss for three major Seattle-area air shows, said that not only was Beard a top performer, he was a meticulous pilot. "He always knew his routine. He was meticulous with the safety of his routine and if it wasn't right, it wouldn't happen," Rosenfelder said.
Edward Allen probably can't even read the list but he's on it. The four-year-old boy was initially stopped from boarding a flight in Houston after his name came up on the anti-terrorism no-fly list. Common sense prevailed....
The Diamond Twin Star has been given a gross weight increase of 187 lbs. by the European Aviation Safety Agency. With full tanks, the plane's payload is now 836 lbs. FAA approval is expected shortly...
There's word out of the Pentagon of yet another attempt to retire the U-2. This time, the high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft are supposed to be phased out by 2011, to be replaced by UAVs. We'll see...
GlobalFlyer was substantially damaged when a wing hit a fuel truck during fueling at its base in Salina, Kan. Repairs will delay a planned repositioning flight to Cape Kennedy in preparation for the Ultimate Flight record attempt. It's not known if the record flight itself will also be delayed.
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AVmail: January 6, 2006
Reader mail this week about the TSA chasing airplane "hunters," IFR vs. VFR, airline pilot woes and more.
GAMIJECTORS CAN CUT AIRCRAFT FUEL BILLS BY 20 PERCENT!!
What's New for January 2006
This month AVweb's survey of the latest products and services for pilots, mechanics and aircraft owners brings you portable oxygen, micro lights, an ultralight/LSA engine and more.
Insuring the Professionally Managed Aircraft: A Candid Discussion of Fleet Policies
If you buy a plane and then put it on the flight line at a flight school or charter outfit -- or have it operated by an aircraft management company -- who takes out the insurance policy? The answer is different depending on several factors you may not have thought about.
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An oldie, but a goodie...
Overheard while flying freight near Frankfurt.
ATC: F1243, desend and maintain 12-thousand.
F1234: 12-thousand, F1234.
ATC: F1234, can you make it to 12 in one minute?
F1234: Negative. The captain requests I inform you we're going as fast as this Fokker will go.
ATC: ...Right. Lufthansa 456, turn right heading 330, please.
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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