January 15, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Exhibitors were plentiful and crowds were too, as the second annual U.S. Sport Aviation Expo wrapped up yesterday under sunny skies in Sebring, Fla. Visitors got to check out more than 100 light-sport aircraft on the field, and EAA issued over 75 new student sport-pilot certificates. "There's a 30-knot wind here today, so not too many demo flights," EAA's Ron Wagner told AVweb on Saturday. "But the first two days, there was a lot of flying going on. We're getting a really knowledgeable audience, a lot of them are here trying to decide what to buy. What we're seeing is a really vibrant new segment of aviation coming alive." There are now 24 LSAs on the market, with Taylorcraft's Taylor Sport the latest to be certified, just last week. "And now here we are in the midst of this really exciting event, and some of these manufacturers have already sold out their 2006 production," Wagner said. On Thursday night, EAA hosted a meeting of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA), and spirits were high. "A year or so ago, what you had, really, was an industry of dreamers," Wagner said. Now dreams are turning into capitalistic realism. So who's buying? About half of sales so far have been to new pilots, good news to those hoping to attract new blood to the aviation world.
No official crowd estimates were available, but overall, Thursday and Friday were strong, EAA's marketing consultant Dan Johnson told AVweb. RANS founder Randy Schlitter was there with two airplanes (an S-6 and an S-7) and said he could have sold each one of them several times over if he didn't prefer to take them home himself. Saturday was a little slow due to the weather -- stiff winds plus temperatures in the 60s, cold by Florida standards. Johnson said exhibitors were satisfied with the attendance. "The parking lots are pretty full, and every time you look at an airplane, there are people around every one," he said. Johnson also noted that a bizjet flew in and unloaded some top Cessna officials who evidently came to check out the LSA scene. Also flying in was Advanced Aero's inverted V-tail airplane, a single-seat prototype that flew for the first time just last month. The Expo was hastily rescheduled from last October, after Hurricane Wilma brought insurmountable logistic problems. Nonetheless, all display spaces sold out, and the show ended up with even more exhibitors than were expected in October. Wagner said forums were well-attended.
The EAA Sport Pilot Tour will continue in 2006 with nine more stops, the next one Feb. 18 in Phoenix, Ariz., Johnson said. EAA's Ron Wagner expressed enthusiastic support for the tour, saying that manufacturers sold about one airplane apiece at each of the six events last year. The rest of this year's stops will be announced later this month, Johnson said. It's also getting easier to find sport-pilot training. Last week, EAA reported that there are now more than 320 flight instructors in the U.S. ready to take on sport pilot students, and you can find one near you via their online database. The list also includes those who can instruct in amateur-built aircraft, powered parachutes and other less-common types. "In less than 18 months since the sport pilot/light-sport aircraft rule became effective, we are seeing the infrastructure blossom to make it successful," said Tom Poberezny, EAA president. "Savvy flight instructors understand that sport pilot means more business for them, with more people enjoying the wonderful world of flight." Johnson noted that despite the "cold" weather, January might be a better time for the event into the future, avoiding the dicey October hurricane season altogether. So stay tuned.
The Light Aircraft Expo was originally scheduled for October, but Hurricane Wilma made an appearance, pushing the "2005" event to Jan. 12-15, 2006. It's a convenient show for buyers and sellers: At Sebring, you're right on the flight line, and virtually every design is available for a demonstration. Evektor, the first LSA-certified airplane, is also the first to be used for flight training. The first was delivered in June, and another in September. They're both logging well over 100 hours a month. That Continental O-200 is making inroads into previously all-Rotax territory, as well, with several offerings of conversions and appearances in new designs.
CostsThe low price point for a metal machine seems to be around $65,000 delivered and ready-to-fly, with 22 hours training (10% over the minimum requirement). That's the announced SportCruiser, from Sport Aircraft Works, which was flying its cantilever-wing Parrot. RANS machines, ready to fly, are in the mid-$70s. You can get into an amphibian for under $90,000. Variants of Chris Heintz designs are popular, with the (previously mentioned) Evektor leading the pack. Several CAR-3 and Part 23 machines are also available for the sport pilot certificate holder. The Legend Cub rings up at $84,000 - $87,000; the Taylorcraft Taylor Sport (neé F-19, with the 100-hp Continental) chimes in at $69,995, flying regularly and available. The Part 23-certified Sky Arrow 650 (and LSA-targeted 600), at the other end of the previously-certified sophistication scale, were hopping prospects all day, every day. Look at machines from FK Lightplanes USA, for something old and something new. The company's FK9 Mark IV looks every bit a Kitfox -- wrapped with a sleek carbon-fiber shell fuselage around the tubing.
Industry Developments: InsuranceThere's progress on the insurance front: Bob Mackey, of Falcon Insurance, noted that, "Now, there are five underwriters for individuals [flying LSA], and four writing commercial insurance." It's due to the realization that LSAs aren't "...ultralights that have become airplanes; they're real airplanes." More significantly, "Underwriters are recognizing that this is where the future of GA is coming from. The Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association and EAA announced a new agreement for their manufacturer members. Participating LAMA members will offer free EAA memberships to buyers of new LSA aircraft in return for a plethora of EAA perks.
ZULUWORKS IS NEW AND IMPROVED!
A Cirrus SR22 with three people on board landed gently in a grove of trees adjacent to a road near Childersburg, Ala., about 4 p.m. Friday after the pilot deployed the ballistic parachute. All three walked away from the airplane unhurt. The pilot, Kerwin Day, is a certified flight instructor and ATP-rated pilot with over 12,000 hours. He reported that he had control difficulties while attempting to maneuver through an area of in-cloud icing conditions, according to a news release from BRS, the maker of the chute system. The airplane was not equipped with an icing protection system. Day said that while trying to climb to a higher altitude to escape the icing, the airplane began to shake and entered into a stall; it then turned sharply and Day experienced a total loss of control. Larry Williams, CEO of BRS, said, "A scenario of this type is exactly why we at BRS go to work every day. What could have been a tragic disaster had a successful outcome, there were no fatalities in this accident, thankfully there were not even any injuries." FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen told The Associated Press the plane is owned by Trench Shoring Services, a manufacturing sales company out of Colorado. All three people on board are company employees.
"I pulled the chute and got a sudden jolt against the seatbelt," Day told BRS. "The nose pitched down and very quickly leveled itself and in less than a minute we were on the ground." All three exited the airplane, and a call was placed to 911. The Childersburg Fire Department responded, and the group was taken to the fire station. Later, as the three drove back to Atlanta by car, they spoke with BRS via cellphone from a barbeque restaurant, happy and relieved. "This is how we think any aircraft incident should come to a close, with somebody getting on a cellphone and calling home," Bill King, the vice president of business administration for Cirrus, told NBC-13 News. To date, the parachute system has been deployed six times and 12 lives have been saved, Cirrus says.
The airplane had departed from Birmingham, Ala., headed for Orlando. NTSB investigator Corky Smith told The Daily Home that the pilot filed an IFR flight plan and obtained a DUATS weather briefing before departure. The aircraft entered the clouds at an altitude of 5,000 feet, and at 7,000 feet began taking on ice. At about 8,000 feet, while climbing out of the clouds, the buffet began followed by the spin to the left. The pilot reduced power and applied opposite rudder, but the aircraft did not respond. He then informed ATC before pulling the ballistic parachute. The happenings resulted in a pilot report of unusual text: PIREP: MGM UUA /OV SCD 270004/TM 2200/FL090/TP SR22/IC SVR ICG 077-090/RM ACFT WAS DESCENDING BY PARACHUTE DUE TO SEVRE ICG BUILDUP. The NTSB is investigating.
WINGS TO ADVENTURE TV MOVES TO PRIME TIME!
On Thursday, federal officials held their first public meeting with pilots from the Washington, D.C., area who will have to live with the government's proposed permanent Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). Over 30 speakers took a turn during the six-hour-long meeting, recounting their personal experiences with operational nightmares, safety hazards, and economic loss, AOPA reported on Friday. The 11-member panel seemed "unresponsive," AOPA said, but the FAA says they are paying attention. "We will look at all the comments and consider the many creative recommendations we have," an FAA spokeswoman told AOPA. The panel included representatives from the FAA, Transportation Security Administration, Homeland Security, Defense Department, Customs and Border Protection, and Secret Service. "The people on the panel were the right players," David Wartofsky, owner of Potomac Airfield, told AVweb on Saturday. He said he thinks they are knowledgeable about the issues and will listen. Wartofsky said he used his turn at the podium to propose alternative ways to protect the airspace, and he has posted his PowerPoint presentation at his airport Web site.
This week's session is set for Wednesday, Jan. 18, at the Dulles Airport Marriott, from 1 p.m. until 4 and 6:30 p.m. until 9. If you wanted to make an oral statement, you had to have your request in by now. Comments can be submitted online until Feb. 6. To access the docket, type in 17005. The proposal so far has drawn over 19,800 comments.
The families of two pilots who died in the crash of a Pinnacle Airlines CJR-200 regional jet after both engines failed shortly after it attained 41,000 feet filed suit last week in Florida. The suit alleges that heat damage in the engine caused by a faulty oil pump was one factor that made it impossible for the pilots to restart the engines. Named in the suit are the aircraft manufacturer, an airline, three part makers and a maintenance company, The Associated Press reported last week. The two pilots took the airplane up to FL410 during a repositioning flight in October 2004. A controller who questioned the jet's model and altitude told the pilots, "I've never seen you guys up at 41 there." The crew responded, "Yeah, we're actually ... we don't have any passengers on board, so we decided to have a little fun and come up here." Minutes later, the pilots told controllers that first one and then both engines had failed. Efforts to restart the engines on descent were unsuccessful. Though airports were initially within gliding distance, the crew apparently focused on other courses of action until there were none. The NTSB has not yet released its final report on the crash.
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At 20 years old, Benjamin Sharp, of Rolling Hill, Calif., already has 600 hours of flight time. So when the engine quit in the Piper Cherokee he was flying on Friday afternoon, all that training kicked in. "We popped out of the clouds and I looked around, checking my options," Sharp told the Curry Coastal Pilot. "It was an automatic process. It was instinctual. We were in a ravine with no place to land. The water was the only option." He told his passenger, 19-year-old Adam Castle, to open the door before they touched down in the North Fork of the Chetco River. Once afloat, the two climbed out across the wing to a nearby gravel bar, then found a house and called 911. Castle, who had flown with his friend many times, told the Coastal Pilot, "I don't know how he saw the river, but I'm glad he did. I trusted him completely."
After almost 30 years of flying passengers across North American skies, a Boeing 737 sunk off the coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada Saturday, to the cheers of hundreds of onlookers. The retired Air Canada jet became British Columbia's seventh artificial reef and, long after it carried millions of winter-weary Canadian tourists to Florida, it will become a tourist attraction itself. The 100-foot airframe was winched from a barge and lowered into Stuart Channel, near Chemainus. Within minutes divers reported a level landing on the ocean floor 88.5 feet below and the jet's four-year journey from wreck to reef was complete. The aircraft, built in 1975, was originally acquired by Pacific Western Airlines in 1983. PWA was taken over by Canadian Airlines in the mid-80s before it, too, was taken over by Air Canada in 1999. Air Canada continued to use the plane until 2001 when, with 73,522 hours on it, it was retired. The plane was stripped of all useable parts by Qwest Air Parts, of Memphis, which then donated the shell to the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia in 2002. As the long search for a suitable reef site began, volunteers from the society stripped the plane back to its shell, scrubbed it clean and cut 10-inch holes in the wings to encourage marine life to start colonization. The jet, now known as Xihuw Reef in honor of the red sea urchin that used to be common in the area, is believed to be the first passenger plane to be sunk for the purpose of creating an artificial reef and it is expected to become a popular attraction for divers.
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A small air-taxi service in North Dakota is ramping up operations, thanks to an injection of federal funds under the U.S. Dept. of Transportation Small Community Air Service Development grant program. A contract signed earlier this month released $1.25 million to launch Point2Point Airways. The company must match the funds with its own money. Point2Point says it will provide affordable, customized air travel to businesses in Bismarck and other communities in the region. The company has two Cirrus SR22 aircraft and plans to have 5 to 10 airplanes operating by the end of this year, company spokesman John Boehle told AVweb last week. Boehle says the company will sell blocks of time similar to bizjet programs ... but these are at roughly $350 an hour. The service accommodates three passengers on an on-demand itinerary. Considering the alternatives of long drives or multi-leg airline trips, he said, the time savings and cost comparisons make sense. "Especially for lawyers, doctors, engineers, professionals who bill by the hour, time really is money. A trip from Grand Forks to Pierre, for example, can be done in under two hours, on your own schedule. It can mean going there and back in one day, instead of having to stay overnight."
The model is more competitive than traditional air charters, Boehle said, because the new aircraft are more efficient. He plans to fly them about 800 to 1,000 hours per year, which will help to decrease hourly costs. Also in the works is a computerized scheduling program. "There's a tremendous need for service like this in the large parts of the country that are detached from the airline's hub-and-spoke system," Boehle said. "We're at the cutting edge of where air travel is going. Stay tuned." Point2Point serves North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming and portions of Canada.
NASA has overhauled and restructured its aeronautics research program, Lisa Porter, NASA's associate administrator of the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, announced last week. "NASA is returning to long-term investment in cutting-edge fundamental research in traditional aeronautics disciplines," Porter said. The key goals will include working to master the science of subsonic (rotary and fixed wing), supersonic, and hypersonic flight, and to directly address the needs of the next-generation air transportation system. The new programs include fundamental aeronautics, airspace systems, aviation safety and the aeronautics test program. The aviation safety program will focus on four key areas: aircraft aging and durability, integrated intelligent flight deck technologies, integrated vehicle health management and integrated resilient aircraft control. "We are investing in research for the long-term in areas that are appropriate to NASA's unique capabilities and meeting our charter of addressing national needs and benefiting the public good," Porter said. For more information about the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, visit their Web site.
THE BEST AVIATION WEATHER SERVICE FOR CELL PHONES NOW AVAILABLE
The number of people who died in airliner crashes worldwide more than doubled last year, Flight International magazine reported last week. In 2005, 1,050 people died in 34 fatal accidents, the highest number of fatalities since 2000. In 2004, there were 464 deaths. None of the fatal crashes involved major world airlines, and many involved older aircraft flown by airlines in countries with poor safety records compared with the rest of the world. Nigeria had two fatal crashes in which 225 people died, and Sudan saw three fatal accidents, all involving old Soviet-built aircraft. "It was a disappointing 12 months given the outstanding safety performance in the previous two years," said David Learmount, Flight International's operations and safety editor. A West Caribbean Airways crash in Venezuela in August killed 160 people. Also in August, Helios Airways lost 121 lives when one of its Boeing 737s crashed into hills north of Athens. "The world's safety problems are becoming ever more clearly regionalized and related to aging technology," the report concludes.
Columbia Aircraft is taking its airplanes on the road, with 30 stops scheduled for this year's tour...
Need charts? Here's RunwayFinder, another Web site with sectionals online, mashed up with runway info, weather reports and Google maps...
A pilot who buzzed beaches at Santa Cruz, Calif., last May was sentenced last week to 240 hours of community service. Kenneth Yanz pleaded no contest to misdemeanor unlawful flight. One witness said Yanz's Cessna was so low that people were ducking down on the sand and grabbing their children. The FAA has revoked his certificate...
Approach lights to a new runway at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport extend across Interstate 275...
The FAA has issued an Airworthiness Directive requiring the inspection of control cables in certain American Champion aircraft. If problems are found the cables must be replaced. The rule takes effect tomorrow...
EAA's Young Eagles program has now flown over 1.2 million participants...
GlobalFlyer has landed safely at Kennedy Space Center after a flight from Salina, Kan. The aircraft is ready to launch on a round-the-world record flight when the weather is right...
Three aircraft came too close over Dallas on Nov. 2 and the FAA didn't discover the error until the next day, WFAA-TV reported Friday. The three airplanes were a Southwest 737, a Piper Cheyenne and a Hawker bizjet owned by football player Troy Aikman.
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CEO of the Cockpit #53: Snow Day
A snow day may be a day off from work or school, but if you're an airline pilot it probably means delays and de-icing. AVweb's Kevin Garrison has had many snow days -- some of them even involved throwing snowballs in Florida.
When it comes to ice detection, knowing where to look is half the battle. Click through for a free clip from our experts.
Reader feedback on AVweb's news coverage and feature articles:
Reader mail this week about Australian air safaris, ATC pay raises and more.
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Actually broadcast on the West Palm Beach (KPBI) ATIS during the first week of the new year.
"Attention all pilots, don't land on taxiway Lima located between runway 27 right and 27 left ... [pause] ... Duh!""
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