January 18, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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The NTSB says the fatal crash of a Cessna 208 Caravan in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada last October "calls into serious question the certification of the Cessna 208 for flight into known icing conditions." A Jan. 17 letter from the board offers what may be the most scathing indictment yet of the popular turboprop's capabilities in ice. In that letter, the board told FAA Administrator Marion Blakey the aircraft shouldn't be allowed to fly in anything but "light" forecast ice and, that at the first sign of ice, pilots should keep airspeed at 120 knots or higher, even if it means descending. The board further recommends that the autopilot be shut off in icing conditions so pilots can detect differences in control forces that might indicate pre-stall conditions. "The Safety Board is very concerned about deficiencies in the cold weather operational procedures used by Cessna 208 pilots and the performance of the airplane in icing conditions," the board told Blakey. The NTSB was particularly concerned about how fast things went sour for the pilot in the Winnipeg accident. After a by-the-book preflight that included the recently mandated tactile inspection of the upper wing surface, the pilot took off into what were forecast as light to moderate icing conditions. Two minutes into the flight, the pilot told tower controllers she needed to return because of ice and three minutes later the plane crashed on railway tracks in downtown Winnipeg. "The entire accident flight lasted only about five minutes, and the Safety Board is concerned that the airplane, which was certified for flight into known icing, did not maintain flight in moderate icing conditions long enough to successfully land the airplane," the safety letter reads.
In November, a Grand Caravan was on approach to Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow when it dove to the ground from almost 5,000 feet. The difference with this flight was that Russian air regs required the Caravan to carry both cockpit voice and flight data recorders and investigators have been able to piece together the final moments of the flight in disturbing detail. The pilot reported "light" icing to Moscow tower (the CVR records the two pilots talking between themselves about "severe" icing) as they leveled off near their assigned altitude of 4,900 feet. The data recorder shows the airspeed dropping to 102 knots (the spec sheet stall speed is 61 knots) before the aircraft stalls and spirals earthward (hitting speeds of 226 knots in the dive). The POH establishes a minimum speed of 105 knots during icing conditions but the NTSB says, for now, that's cutting it too close. In its recommendations, the board notes that the Moscow Caravan dropped only three knots below the minimum speed before "departing controlled flight." It says it's imperative the FAA figure out just what the safe speed in icing is for the Caravan, but, in the meantime, a conservative minimum speed of 120 knots "is critical for the continued safe flight of the Cessna 208 in icing conditions." The report also notes that the Russian Caravan was on autopilot until it automatically disconnected when the plane fell out of control. Had the pilots been flying manually, the letter suggests, they might have felt the impending stall in the controls. It's therefore recommending the autopilot be switched off in icing conditions.
The FAA has been monitoring Caravan winter performance and issued an Airworthiness Directive last March requiring pilots to run their hand over the top surface of the wing to check for ice within five minutes of a departure in icing conditions. On Feb. 22, another AD will be adopted, augmenting the earlier AD and adding some new requirements. The cost of compliance for many Caravan owners will be at least $10,000. To make the tactile check easier for the pilot, the AD requires installation of a handle on the wing so the pilot can hang from the handle while running his or her other hand along the upper surface. The AD will also require de-icing boots on the cargo pod and landing gear fairings of aircraft destined for use in icing conditions and there will be some changes required in the Pilot's Operating Handbook section on flying in ice. Not all Caravans will be affected, however. The FAA agreed that some owners never fly in known icing conditions (skydiving operators, for instance) and will allow owners of Caravans to placard the airplane against operating in known ice instead of installing the pod and gear de-icing boots. The agency also rejected the Alaska Air Carriers Association's call for public meetings on the proposal, saying its analysis clearly pointed to the need for AD.
Cessna is standing by its airplane. Spokeswoman Bree Cox told AVweb the approximately 1,500 Caravans have accumulated more than eight million flight hours with a 99.8 percent dispatch record. "The Caravan was certified by Cessna for flight into known icing to FAA standards and, if operated in accordance with our Pilot's Operating Handbook, is capable of safe flight in known icing," she said in an e-mail to AVweb. She said Cessna officials are studying the NTSB recommendations and preparations are underway to ensure parts are available for compliance with the AD. The icing issue has also kept Cessna's legal department hopping. Cessna won a major court victory in November when an Alaska jury determined the design of the Caravan wasn't to blame for a fatal accident there in 2003. However, a Chicago law firm representing victims and families of victims in five Caravan crashes was recently granted a request to combine the cases into one action to be heard in Cessna's home state of Kansas.
AIRCRAFT SPRUCE HAS SPECIAL PRICING ON THE JPI FS450 SCANNER FUEL
A Pennsylvania company that says it can sell homebuilders a new turbine engine for about the same money as a certified piston engine of similar horsepower hopes to be fulfilling that elusive dream next month. This time, that means February (truth be told, we heard something very similar in August of '05 ... before that, in December of '04 ... and in April of '04, when the company operated as Affordable Turbine Power Co., Inc.). Charlie Sullivan, Innodyn's director of business development, this week told AVweb that the company is awaiting the arrival of a sophisticated dynamometer and a balancing machine to perform final tests on engines that are ready for shipment. What customers are waiting for are 188-pound turbines that put out 165 to 255 horsepower, with a TBO of 5,000 hours and price tag of between $26,500 and $34,500 (see AVweb's December "04 coverage for earlier details). Sullivan said he knows it sounds too good to be true to many people and that's why he's not anxious to make firm promises that the nature of groundbreaking technology can sometimes make difficult to keep. Sullivan won't say how many engines will go out next month, nor will he reveal how many are on order but he did say the order book will keep the company busy until next year. And while the first production engines aren't out the door yet, the company is already working on a more powerful successor. The twin turbine model (introduced in June '05) will put out up to 500 horsepower and Sullivan suggested (he wouldn't come right out and say it) that it will be a fraction of the price of entry-level turbines currently on the market.
Although delivery dates have been pushed back (the company told AVweb a year ago that it hoped to be shipping within a month) at least one customer remains confident he'll (one day) have an Innodyn turbine pulling his RV-10. Dave Talley said the company called him last month to arrange delivery of his engine but he asked them to hang on to it since he doesn't even have the airframe kit, yet. Talley said the phone call indicates to him that the company is, indeed, finally ready to ship. "I think they're the real deal," he said. Even though the turbine will likely use more fuel, Innodyn says fuel burn is a lot better than most people expect, but, this time, gave no numbers (we've previously been told 7 gph per 100 hp) and said that the extra cost will be more than offset by the anticipated lower maintenance costs. Talley said he visited the Innodyn plant in Pennsylvania a year ago. He said he was impressed by the operation ("We were really impressed with everything we saw," he said) but he couldn't elaborate because Innodyn made him sign a non-disclosure agreement before allowing him to tour the plant. Talley said that beyond the technical challenges, which he said the company appears to have well in hand, insurance could become an issue.
POWERLINK FADEC CERTIFIED ON LIBERTY XL-2;
The Australian Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is reportedly so upset with new security regulations on GA in that country, it's considering running candidates for the country's Senate in the next federal election. According to the Daily Mercury newspaper, AOPA Australia believes that up to 1,500 pilots will be grounded by the new regulations and the government has already warned members that anyone who flies without going through the recently mandated background checks is breaking the law. But even those who will likely clear the checks are at risk because of a massive backlog in the issuance of new Aviation Security Identification Cards. The government has extended the grace period for the cards until March 31 but only for those who can prove that they've already applied for them. Meanwhile, some pilots contend the bureaucratic nightmare is also a waste of time and effort. ''The security checks done for the ASIC pass are the same as those done for the existing AVID (Aviation Identification) pass which you need when you get your (general aviation) pilot's license so it's doubling up," instructor and charter pilot Marco Fritz told the Daily Mercury. ''And even though you can get fined for not having the pass, there is no one at smaller airports ... to check them -- and that is the case all over Australia.''
While we don't know how much it costs to get a sailplane to New Zealand, the winner of a next week's Community Trust Gliding Grand Prix should hopefully cover expenses with the $10,000 NZD in prize money. According to event organizers, it'll be the biggest prize ever handed out in the sport, which will see the 11 pilots from nine countries covering a variety of courses over nine days of racing. The winner is also guaranteed a spot in next year's competition. Glider- and helicopter-mounted cameras along with state-of-the-art 3D animated graphics will bring the aerial action to the audience. The event takes place at Omarama from Jan. 21 to Jan. 29. Meanwhile, U.S. soaring pilots are getting ready for their big meeting. The Soaring Society of America will hold its annual convention Feb. 2 to Feb. 4 in Arlington, Texas. Keynote speaker is retired astronaut and current soaring pilot Bill Anders. There's also a trade show.
NEW: CUSTOM-FITTED EARPIECES FOR THE MACH 1 HEADSET BY LIGHTSPEED
Police and ambulance vehicles rushed to the scene of a reported plane crash in the Vancouver, British Columbia suburb of Surrey last Sunday but were relieved to find that it was only someone's dreams that had been shattered. According to the Vancouver Sun, a woman and her young son called 911 after they saw the 1.5-meter radio-controlled model of a Cessna go down in a field next to one of Surrey's busiest streets. The field is often used by RC enthusiasts. From there, the case of mistaken identity took on a life of its own. Media outlets monitoring the police and ambulance radio channels began broadcasting bulletins about the "crash." And the authorities responded in force. "We sent all our cars down there thinking there was a small ultralight or a small plane that had crashed but after going there we determined it was a model Cessna," said Cpl. Steven Han of the Surrey Royal Canadian Mounted Police. (Either that, or Vancouver is populated by giants.)
If you're tired of hearing about airline problems, pilots say they are quite literally tired of living them. The Air Line Pilots Association says fatigue complaints are on the rise as airlines try to squeeze as much value out of their pilots' time as regulations will allow. Pilots on domestic flights are limited to eight hours of stick time a day but the length of their "duty day," which includes preflight and post-flight duties (aside from travel to and from locations for rest), is growing, claims ALPA President Duane Woerth. "It used to be 80 percent of the industry had a 14 hour duty day. But now most of that is gone. It's just gone," Woerth told reporters. And now JetBlue is pushing for a longer flying day as well. The budget carrier said the eight-hour maximum shouldn't be etched in stone. "We don't think pilot scheduling rules are sacred cows. They should be open to examination," said JetBlue spokeswoman Jenny Dervin. Woerth said JetBlue is looking to improve its bottom line by making pilots fly longer but Dervin said the opposite is true. She said the airline is trying to see if changing flying hours would improve the quality of life of pilots. "We don't see any financial benefit to our business whatsoever," Dervin said.
THE SJ30-2 IS THE WORLD'S FASTEST LIGHT BUSINESS JET
Statistics show you're a lot safer in a U.S. airliner than in a U.S. hospital and a consulting firm says medicine can learn a lot from aviation. Lifewings Partners LLC, made up of military and commercial pilots, along with active doctors, teaches healthcare providers the principles of aviation crew resource management with the goal of reducing the number of potentially life-threatening errors that happen in hospitals. According to a news release issued by Lifewings, 34 percent of critically ill patients in U.S. hospitals experienced mistakes in their medical care. It's the highest rate among developed countries. By contrast, the FAA published in 1996 that if you flew on "one flight at random each day, [you] would, on average, go for 21,000 years before perishing in a fatal crash." The statement is based off data that suggests your chances of being in fatal airline crash are one in eight million. Lifewings teaches CRM techniques to healthcare professionals and the effects have been significant for one prestigious medical center. Vanderbilt University Medical Center reports that it has "eliminated wrong surgeries," which undoubtedly has gone a long way toward improving "expected-to-observed mortality ratios." That's also cut malpractice suits.
A Hawaiian pilot is facing a string of criminal charges, including manslaughter, in the crash of his sightseeing helicopter off Kauai last September. Glen Lampton, the flight's pilot, was one of three who survived the crash a few hundred yards off Ke'e Beach, near Ha'ena. Three other passengers died. Lampton was to be arraigned Tuesday on three counts of manslaughter, two counts of second-degree reckless endangering, one count of falsifying records and one count of tampering with evidence. He was indicted by a grand jury last month. According to the NTSB report, the Heli USA helicopter took off for the scheduled 45-minute flight early on the afternoon of Sept. 23 and encountered bad weather about halfway into the flight. According to the Kauai Garden Island News, Heli USA vice president John Power said last month that Lampton's helicopter had been hit by a microburst. He also pointed out that at least four helicopters from other tour companies were also flying that day.
CARING ABOUT YOU FIRST PUTS CS&A ABOVE OTHER INSURANCE BROKERS
Monday, this newsletter will have a new, more streamlined look and a slightly different name. AVflash is being rechristened AVwebFlash.
The new name will tie us more closely to our parent site (www.AVweb.com) and distinguish us from our sister publication, AVwebBiz (formerly known as Business AVflash).
Beneath our new masthead, you'll find the same engaging, independent GA coverage you've come to expect from the AVweb Newsteam.
The changeover will be seamless and require no action on your part. Just check your inbox on Monday morning.
As always, we'd love to hear your comments on the new format ... .
They've stood the test of time but a Cessna 120 is no match for a speeding pickup truck. Juneau police have charged a 27-year-old man with driving while under the influence of alcohol after a truck went through the airport fence and totaled the 60-year-old airplane and a set of floats beside it...
Two Indian air force pilots plan to fly around the world in a motor glider in May. If they make it, Wing Commander Rahul Monga and Squadron Leader S K Yadav will become the first Indians to fly accomplish the feat in a single-engine airplane...
Raytheon has announced a delay in the certification date of the Hawker 4000 business jet to early February. The plane was to have received its papers by the end of 2005 but the company wants to install a lightning protection system on one of the test planes before final testing is done.
Drop us a line. If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
HAVE A CONCERN ABOUT YOUR MEDICAL?
The Savvy Aviator #27: Battery TLC
Aircraft batteries are sensitive and fragile creatures, especially compared to their automotive brethren. Treat them with care and respect and they'll be there when you need them.
When it comes to ice detection, knowing where to look is half the battle. Click through for a free clip from our experts.
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DON'T JUST WISH YOUR AIRPLANE HAD ALL THE BELLS & WHISTLES
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Last week, AVweb asked how many of our readers are planning to buy a Light Sport Aircraft.
Answers were split almost evenly. About half of those who responded (47%, to be exact) told us they don't expect to ever own an LSA.
But another 19% said they planned to join the Sport Pilot revolution inside the next five years, with another 8% putting their purchase inside the five-to-ten-year window. And the final 25% said they expected to own a Light Sport craft eventually, though not necessarily in the next decade.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
There are many distractions and responsibilities that keep us from flying as much as we'd like to. This week, AVweb wants to know what single factor has the greatest effect on the amount of time you spend in the sky.
Click here to answer
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to email@example.com.
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Use this form to send QOTW comments to our AVmail Editor.
AVIDYNE'S NEW TAS600 SYSTEMS DELIVER ACTIVE-SURVEILLANCE
|SEE WHAT ATC SEES AND THEN SEE WHAT THEY DO WITH IT|
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Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions
Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners
In case you're joining us for the first time, here's the deal:
Each week, we accept submissions from readers just like you, then we go through the submissions and pick our favorites. We giggle at the funny ones, gasp in awe at the exciting ones, and turn a few around and around trying to figure out what it is we're supposed to be looking at. Then we shout at each other for a while and apply our super-secret AVweb formula to figure out which photo was our favorite this week. Finally, we look at the submitters' names and addresses and send the winning photographer an official limited-edition AVweb baseball cap. And then we share the winning photo (and as many bonus pics as we can squeeze in) with our readers in the Thursday edition of our newsletter.
Got it? Good 'cause today's Thursday, and it's time to ooh and ahh over our latest batch of submissions! Florida's Rick Hosking claims the top spot this week. Congratulations, Rick watch your mailbox for your AVweb hat!
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
Used with permission of Rick Hosking
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.
"Take the Picture, Then Duck!"
Jid Webb of Knutsford, Cheshire (U.K.)
was brief and to-the-point in his submission
comments. Maybe that's understandable,
given the circumstances. You, um, did make
it out of there in one piece, didn't you, Jid?
Used with permission of Peter Dobbins
"Single Engine Air Tanker"
Peter Dobbins of McKinney, Texas had two
photos make it to the final round, but this was
our favorite a head-on shot of a fire-fighting
air tanker taken at Alamagordo, New Mexico.
Because submission numbers continue
to slowly grow, we can never seem to
fit in all the great photos we'd like to share
with you in just three slots. So let's pretend we're
still on #2 and look at a few more contenders
before we dismiss for the week, shall we?
Used with permission of Bill Everson
Bill Everson of Elmhurst, Illinois writes,
"The Idaho countryside looked like a crossword
puzzle at 30+thousand feet." Not only that, Bill
we see the crossword and the jigsaw!
Who knew Idaho was two games in one?
Seeing us off this week is a serene moment
captured on film by Gregory Ketell
of Pleasanton, California.
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.
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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Today's issue written by News Writer Russ Niles:
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