February 9, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
FAA Financing -- Why Not Wall Street?
A proposal under discussion in the Bush White House would allow the FAA to issue bonds that it would pay back by charging user fees, The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend. Administration officials have been consulting Wall Street investment banks for advice on how to proceed with the bond sales, the WSJ said. Such bonds "would be well-received by the investment community and certainly a viable option for the FAA," Michael Lexton, a senior managing director at Bear Stearns Cos. and an adviser to the FAA, told the WSJ. It's expected that the administration will approach Congress with its proposal this spring. The proposal may be a hard sell in Congress, since it would diminish legislative control over finances. GA lobbies are also lined up against it, but there is some support. Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens told the WSJ that the FAA needs money to upgrade its technology, and issuing bonds would be one way to raise capital.
VLJ Progress Report
On Monday, The Wall Street Journal took another look at the aviation world, with an editorial supporting privatization of the air traffic control system. The editorial criticized the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) for its "excessive demands." FAA Administrator Marion Blakey's proposals are "modest" and "reasonable," the editorial says, while NATCA, funded with union dues from taxpayer-financed salaries, is lobbying Congress to take away the FAA's right to impose a contract if the talks stall. NATCA President John Carr was quick to respond, calling the editorial a "highly polished piece of pandering" in his blog on Tuesday. Carr asks, "Why does the Wall Street Journal find it necessary to try to make it sound like a dirty, bad thing when a union grows, and organizes the unorganized, and collectively bargains?" Carr goes on to dissect the editorial in detail.
Adam Aircraft announced on Monday the first flight of its first FAA-conforming A700 AdamJet, Serial Number 002. The jet took off smoothly and stayed in the pattern for a 34-minute flight at Centennial Airport, Englewood, Colo. "The aircraft handled very well, stability was excellent, and the flight controls were very responsive and predictable," said test pilot Ken Sasine. "The throttle response was smooth and strong, and the climb performance was strong and steady. The airplane handled just as we expected." The jet's Williams FJ-33 engines are already FAA-certified, and CEO Rick Adam hopes that the 65-percent commonality with his FAA-certified piston twin A500 will significantly reduce time to certification. SN002 was constructed from production tooling, featuring a production fuselage with improved cabin window and emergency exit placement, with the balance of the aircraft manufactured from A500 production parts, Adam said. The prototype jet, SN001, has been flying since July 2003 and had logged over 400 hours. More than 250 A700s have been sold to owners/operators, fleet operators and air taxi companies, Adam says. Two more production copies will join SN002 for the FAA flight test program.
Meanwhile, at Spanish Fork, Utah, Spectrum Aeronautical's new Spectrum 33 light twinjet is moving right along. The jet made its second and third flight tests last Thursday. The flights tested out some improvements and adjustments that were made after the first flight on Jan. 7. Test pilot Bill Davies said the 33 felt solid in longitudinal control. "We were able to conduct shallow coordinated turns with rudder input alone, and saw excellent control in all axes," he said. He also said the 33 took off in less than 800 feet, and touchdown speeds were 85 knots with 15 degrees of flaps. Takeoff acceleration and climb performance "is well beyond anything I've seen in this class of aircraft," Davies said. The key may be materials and construction. He added that "the tests are confirming that the 33 is highly stable, docile and easy to fly for single-pilot operations." The Spectrum 33 is a new light business jet built using unique carbon-graphite construction techniques that do not utilize a core material of foam or honeycomb (which is traditionally the case). The company says that the build process results in a cabin size similar to many popular eight- to nine-seat light business jets, at less than two-thirds the weight. The aircraft is designed to cruise at FL450 at speeds up to 415 knots and fly as far as 2,000 nm while using about half the fuel of comparably sized current production aircraft. FAA Type Certification of the Spectrum 33 is expected for 2007 or 2008.
The Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer launched successfully at 7:22 Wednesday morning from Kennedy Space Center on a planned 80-hour, 26,000-mile jaunt around the world, plus. The aim is to fly the longest nonstop non-refueled distance ever in an aircraft. On takeoff, pilot Steve Fossett passed the 8,000-foot mark on the runway where he had hoped to rotate, and instead rotated sharply and lifted off at 11,500 feet, with about 4,000 feet of runway remaining. The aircraft ran into two birds about the size of pigeons as it climbed out, but no damage was reported. Fossett is expected to land at Kent International Airport in southern England on Saturday. The route may vary as Fossett seeks out favorable winds, but he is first heading for the African coast, then past Egypt and the Red Sea, then across India and China, then past Japan. It will take about 17 hours to cross the Pacific, arriving above the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. Fossett will then fly above Texas and Florida, and continue northeastward to Newfoundland, passing Ireland before landing in England.
The GlobalFlyer flew around the world last year and ran into trouble when fuel was vented overboard. The system was redesigned to prevent that problem this time, but the reworked system had not been tested with a full fuel load until this week. A planned takeoff on Tuesday morning was scratched when the new vents began leaking under the pressure of 18,000 pounds of fuel. "One of the new vent systems that has been added in the boom tank is where the problem occurred ... one of the vent lines that penetrate the tank has a leak and this was discovered when fuel started leaking out of the wheel well," said Jon Karkow of Scaled Composites. Fossett has said that the trip's success is not assured. "I'm not confident of success because of what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to fly the airplane to its full capability of distance and I'm stretching the limits of the airplane. We calculate that I will be able to complete the flight and have a success, but it will be very close," he said. Karkow has estimated that there should be around 500 pounds of fuel left when Steve reaches England, but added: "If Steve was to run out of fuel he could glide for 200 miles from that point."
On Monday, President Bush announced that his budget request to Congress for fiscal year 2007 would include $16.8 billion for NASA, a 3.2-percent increase over 2006. But the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate would see its budget cut by 22 percent. NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said the $724.4 million aeronautics allotment would be focused on "the mastery of our core competencies in subsonic, supersonic, and hypersonic flight." John Douglass, president of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), said the cuts "would continue a debilitating decline in aeronautics research investment." The AIA said funding for aeronautics has been slashed repeatedly since 1994, when $1.5 billion was budgeted. Griffin, of NASA, said that while it's important that the nation's aviation industry does not lose market share to global competitors, "NASA's aeronautics research cannot and will not directly subsidize work to specific corporate interests." Rather, NASA's R&D will focus its aeronautics research on fundamental questions in aeronautics research, he said. Under the president's plan, NASA's Langley Research Center would lose about $50 million, and at Glenn Research Center, near Cleveland, more than 300 jobs would be eliminated.
Aircraft Investor Resources (AIR), the parent company of Epic Aircraft (six-place experimental propjet manufacturer), has been sued by British firm Farnborough Aircraft Corp. over a dispute that grew from a cooperative arrangement between the two companies, the Bend Bulletin reported last week. Farnborough says that Epic, based in Bend, Ore., was supposed to deliver a jointly developed prototype, called the F1, and has not done so. Epic says that Farnborough is trying to usurp its design. According to Aviation International News, the two companies had been cooperating in the joint development of their respective Epic LT and Farnborough F1 turboprop singles. The case is now in federal court in Eugene, Ore., and both sides have agreed to try to settle their dispute in arbitration. "We believe we have a strong case," Farnborough commercial director Richard Blain told the Bend Bulletin. "And we will use every legal remedy available to us to resolve the situation." AIR said in the suit that it needs to protect its trade secrets from leaking to competitors.
An Albatros L-39 jet that crashed in Alaska last month may have hit the water two miles from its target airport three times after descending under low clouds in poor visibility, according to a preliminary report by the NTSB. The ATP-rated pilot was trying to execute an instrument approach at the Ketchikan International Airport, shortly after noon local time, and had reported to a Flight Service Station that he had the airfield in sight although one witness (a pilot) estimated visibility at three-quarters of a mile. The NTSB says the "pilot-rated witness" saw the airplane descend from the clouds about 200 feet above the waters of the Tongass Narrows, about two miles from the crash site. The witness said the Albatros, with landing gear down, descended at a high rate at about a 20- to 25-degree angle to the surface of the water, about 200 yards from shore. The airplane struck the surface twice, each time gaining about 10 feet, before skipping on the surface for a third time. The first two water impacts produced an extensive spray of water that obscured the witness's view of the airplane. The airplane then gained altitude and climbed out of his line of sight. The pilot ejected from the jet before the crash, but not all the rockets ignited and the pilot did not survive.
Several witnesses aboard a ferry on the Tongass Narrows reported seeing a large splash in the water three-quarters to one mile in front of the vessel. They thought the splash was a whale, but due to the limited visibility of one-half to three-quarters of a mile, none reported seeing or hearing an airplane. After the water impact, other witnesses on shore reported seeing the airplane at treetop level over the town of Ketchikan and hearing engine sounds, but then noted the engine stopped making any sound. The L-39, a surplus military warbird built in the Czech Republic, had been issued a special ferry permit by an inspector with the Van Nuys FSDO in California to make a flight from Anchorage to Seattle. The ferry permit was signed by an FAA certificated mechanic, certifying that the airplane was safe for a ferry flight.
Virgin Galactic is on track for taking passengers into space by the end of 2008, Richard Branson said on Monday. "It is going very well, we have 100 engineers working on it and we have had about 50,000 people who have put their names down to fly," he was quoted by UTV online. Branson was in Florida this week for the launch of the GlobalFlyer, and said that NASA has offered Virgin Galactic a base at the Kennedy Space Center. The offer is interesting, he said, but discussions are still preliminary. "I think we would find that it would bring a lot of people to the area who would watch the flight as well as those who were flying," he said. Test flights are expected to begin late next year for the fleet of five spaceships being built at Scaled Composites in Mojave, Calif. Tourist flights are expected to begin in late 2008.
On Tuesday, the NTSB said it has determined that the probable cause of the crash of a Beech King Air operated by Hendrick Motorsports was the flight crew's failure to properly execute the published instrument approach procedure. A contributing cause was the crew's failure to use all navigational aids to confirm and monitor their position during the approach. The King Air collided with mountainous terrain in October 2004 during a missed approach to Martinsville/Blue Ridge Airport, in Virginia. All eight passengers, some of them Hendrick employees, and both flight crewmembers died. The flight had departed from Concord (N.C.) Regional Airport, operating on an instrument flight plan. Radar data shows that after the crew was cleared for a localizer approach to Runway 30 at Martinsville, the airplane did not descend at the proper point. About seven miles beyond the airport, the airplane began a straight-ahead climb. The airplane's radar target was lost. The missed approach should have occurred over the Martinsville Airport by executing a climbing right turn, the NTSB said. "The approach and missed approach procedures provide for safe operation in instrument weather conditions," said NTSB Acting Chairman Mark Rosenker. "It is imperative that pilots use all available navigational aids to ensure that the approach is properly flown." The airplane was not equipped with a ground proximity warning system. The final report will be published in three or four weeks, The Associated Press said.
News in Brief
By the year 2020, the average general aviation airplane will be almost 50 years old, says the FAA. The FAA will address the safety of the aging fleet in a public meeting to be held next month in Kansas City, Mo. The FAA held a similar meeting in 2000, but since then, fatal GA accidents and primary component failures blamed on aging have raised further concerns. Issues to be discussed at the meeting include service difficulties, modification and inspection programs, and continued field support from type certificate holders. The meeting will be held March 22-23, and those who can't attend are invited to submit written comments. AOPA's Luis Gutierrez, director of regulatory and certification policy, plans to be there. "Our goal is to make sure the 'cure' is not worse than the 'problem,'" he said. "We want to keep our older aircraft safe, but we also want to keep them affordable." AOPA believes that owner education will provide greater long-term benefits than excessive new regulations.
Two small aircraft collided yesterday over El Cajon, CA, shortly before 5 p.m. local time. Three souls, all aboard the aircraft, were lost. Multiple eye witnesses compared what they saw to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster -- a star shaped explosion in the sky with flaming debris raining down. The wreckage fell into a largely residential area and ignited one home, but no one on the ground was hurt. Early reports could not clearly identify either aircraft from the charred parts...
The comment period on the FAA's DC-ADIZ NPRM has closed, with a record 21,380 comments...
A team of 400 skydivers achieved a world-record formation drop above Thailand this week...
Fire broke out on board a UPS DC-8 cargo airplane yesterday, it made a safe emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport. Flames were seen coming from the cargo area as the airplane touched down...
A Diamond DA-20 was apparently hot-wired, taxied away from its hangar, and then abandoned by the thief at a Salt Lake City airport early Monday morning...
Two Shorts 360 cargo airplanes that collided in mid-air in Wisc. on Sunday were taking pictures on a final shakedown flight before heading to Iraq. Three people died, and three survived after a gear-up landing...
EAA's Sport Pilot Tour makes it first 2006 stop at Falcon Field in Mesa, Ariz., on Saturday, Feb. 18. The free event features forums and demo flights...
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.
As the Beacon Turns #98: Just Another Winter Day In Colorado
Some days you take off when it's beautiful and it's all gone sour in time for you to land. It's best to prepare for these times with relaxation, a soft touch on the controls ... and a few alternate plans, as Michael Maya Charles discusses in this month's As The Beacon Turns.
Paul Berge takes VFR pilots IFR and explains how visual flight rules pilots can take advantage of instrument flight rules procedures without breaking federal regulations. An inside look at the not-so-common knowledge that pilots can use to expand their skills and fly smarter. Click through to learn.
Don't Wish Your Airplane Had All the Bells and Whistles
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*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Last week, AVweb asked if your aircraft had ever been on the receiving end of a lightning strike.
Most of you (65% of respondents) said no, you'd never been the victim of a lightning strike and you fly a metal airplane. Another 4% of you (who fly composite aircraft) said you hadn't been stricken either. Counting the 8% of you who chose our somewhat cheeky answer (Does St. Elmo's Fire count?), that's 77% of AVweb respondent who have not been stricken by lightning.
One the other hand, 15% of you (flying mostly metal aircraft) have been stricken by lighting and another 9% were stricken while flying an airliner.
One single reader told us he (or she) had been hit while flying a mostly composite aircraft.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
Mid-airs they've multiplied over the past few days. How concerned are you that you'll be struck from the sky by another aircraft?
Click here to answer
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Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past POTW Winners
Strap yourselves in, because this latest installment of "Picture of the Week" is action-packed!
Submission numbers dipped slightly this week (to around 75 pictures), but the quality was as high any week in recent memory. What's more, we received a larger number of "aircraft in action" shots than we normally do. Spinning props, swooping wings, and contrails dominated this week's contest, so we thought it only appropriate that the top spot go to Erwin Stam's dizzying helicopter photo. As soon as we recover from the vertigo, we'll be sending Erwin an Official AVweb baseball cap for his efforts.
Remember: We only award one cap each week but we squeeze in as many runners-up as we can. So what are you waiting for? Send us your best photos! Even if you don't win some coveted AVweb gear, you'll make our day and may brighten some pilot's dreary Thursday morning.
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
Erwin Stam of Medemblik, North Holland (Netherlands) decided to use a "shock and awe" strategy on us this week. And what do you know? It worked! We were so impressed with Erwin's photographic might that we had to name his photo this week's top winner.
If you're amazed now, wait 'til you click through to the full-size image ... .
|AVweb continues to receive a large number of excellent images for our POTW contest. Here are some of the runners-up. Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.|
"Flying the Colors"
Dave Upchurch of Tucson, Arizona reminds us: Always take your camera to AirVenture! He snapped this shot during one of the Liberty Parachute Team's demonstration jumps at Oshkosh in 2005.
(The Liberty Team may bill themselves as the "opening act" at AirVenture, but don't let that fool you they're headliners in our book.)
Pete Kellum of Pinson, Alabama slows down the pace just a bit, with this night-time airport image (of Birmingham International?). For the camera buffs among us, Pete tells us he used a Samsung Digimax U-CA505 with 5.1-megapixel resolution. His technique? "Turned off the flash, pointed, and pushed the button."
Well, you can't argue with success, can you?
"Uh, Lead 57, Check Your Six Now!"
Charles E. Stewart of Apple Valley, California kicks things back into high-gear with this photo taken during last fall's Thurman Fire in the San Bernardino Mountains. Charles tells us the photo was taken on October 1, just a couple of days before the fire was officially declared "contained," about 2 miles from the town of Angelus Oaks, California.
"Echoes of More Heroic Times"
Lija Flude of Toronto, Ontario (Canada) gives us another opportunity to reflect. This Spitfire stands watch over the Battle of Britain Memorial in England, located just west of Dover Beach.
"F4U Corsair Bears Its Teeth"
Lest we think the glory days of warbirds are long gone, John R. Davis of Media, Pennsylvania reminds us there are many of these birds in service today some of them quite nicely armed, thank you.
There must have been quite a few delays at Fitchburg Airport in Massachusetts on the day Louise C. Anderson took this photograph. Louise tells us it has been a day full of rain, and as the sun set, there was a 25-foot fog over most of the runway. Despite the inconvenience, she did manage to get this capture this somber image of a few planes tied down, waiting for a better day to fly.
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.Names Behind The News
AVwebFlash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.
Today's issue was written by news writer Mary Grady (bio).
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