April 13, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
Lycoming Tuesday issued a revision to its "this is the last one" Service Bulletin -- SB 569A adds another 404 crankshafts to its list. The change reflects an omission from the original list, not a change to the total number of crankshafts affected, Lycoming said. (Affected owners made newly aware may dismiss that distinction.) "If you previously checked the list and did not find your crankshaft listed, you must re-check the list to verify whether your crankshaft is covered," the company said. Owners also can call Lycoming Service at 1-800-258-3279 (U.S.) or 1-570-327-7046 to find out if their crankshaft is affected. Lycoming is offering replacement crankshaft kits to owners for $2,000. Lycoming says this is a 90%-discounted price. Affected crankshafts must be retired at the next crankshaft access or scheduled overhaul, whichever comes first, but no later than Feb. 21, 2009, the company said.
When Lycoming originally announced in late February that owners of more than 5,000 aircraft must "retire" their crankshafts -- at the owner's expense -- within three years, a bit of resistance seemed inevitable to the casual observer, even if it wasn't acknowledged by Lycoming. AOPA made its resistance official this week with a letter to the FAA asking it to reject Lycoming's plan. "The wholesale replacement of these crankshafts is unwarranted and an unacceptable expense to aircraft owners," AOPA's Luis Gutierrez, director of regulatory and certification policy, told the FAA. "AOPA does not believe this action is in accordance with good risk-management practices ... there is no engineering data or clearly defined safety concern to support such action." AOPA estimated the cost to owners at about $32 million. Lycoming's Service Bulletin 569A would "retire" all of the company's hammer-forged crankshafts within three years. The company has said it knows of no incidents related to the batch cited in SB 569A, but doesn't want to wait for long-term data that may prove the suspect crankshafts are not up to their own lasts-for-decades standards. The crankshafts are installed in engines ranging from the -360 to the -720 series.
As things stand, Service Bulletin 569A is not mandatory for Part 91 owners who don't use their aircraft in commercial service, AOPA said. But Lycoming has made clear it would like the FAA to issue an Airworthiness Directive based on the SB, as often happens, and then it would be mandatory for all owners. AOPA has asked the FAA to utilize its airworthiness-concern process and solicit input from mechanics and owners before going along with Lycoming on this one. "How does Lycoming or the FAA know with any certainty that this particular group of crankshafts suffers from the same manufacturing defects as those already covered by ADs?" questioned Gutierrez. "There have been no failures, no service difficulty reports." The common thread is a prior Lycoming contractor, which did produce other-batch crankshafts that failed in service, and with which Lycoming will meet again in court on appeal. AOPA suggested that instead of issuing an AD, the FAA could work with Lycoming to develop an inspection procedure to determine if each crankshaft is indeed defective. That would be much less costly for owners both in terms of dollars and downtime, Gutierrez said.
A new design for an internal-combustion engine, which debuted in Detroit last week at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress, will double the fuel efficiency of today's engines, according to its inventors. The Scuderi Group, based in West Springfield, Mass., has several patents on the engine. Extensive virtual-design work has been done, and the first diesel and gasoline prototypes are in the works and should be completed by early next year, according to the company. The engine tosses out the conventional four-stroke cylinder and replaces it with a pair of cylinders. Fuel is compressed in a compression cylinder and transferred to a power cylinder through a gas passage. This split-cycle technology enables each cylinder to be independently optimized to perform its separate and distinct tasks, the company says. The gas passage includes a set of uniquely timed valves, which maintain a precharged pressure through all four strokes of the cycle. Shortly after the piston in the power cylinder reaches its top dead center position, the gas is quickly transferred to the power cylinder and fired (or combusted) to produce the power stroke. The split-cycle technology can be applied to any internal combustion engine including gasoline, diesel, bio-diesel, and natural gas.
Diesel engines especially stand to benefit from the technology, the Scuderi Group says, because the engine wouldn't need turbocharging, injectors, or exhaust treatment. So far, the design has attracted some $8 million in investment, including $1.2 million in government funding, the company said. Besides the efficiency gains, the engine would reduce toxic emissions by up to 80 percent. The technology is based on the research and inventions of the late Carmelo Scuderi (1925-2002), an engineer who developed new technology used for recycling the refrigerant chemicals that deplete the ozone layer. The Scuderi Group plans to license the technology to qualified engine manufacturers.
Offshore oil companies along the Gulf Coast are facing a critical shortage of helicopter pilots, the Daily Advertiser of Lafayette, La., reported on Sunday. Pay for pilots is going up, but many face long hours and mandatory overtime. Michael Suldo, whose company provides offshore aviation services, said 20 of his pilots have been deployed to Iraq. At the same time, the large cohort of Vietnam-era helicopter pilots is getting to an age where many are retiring or losing their medicals. Post-hurricane reconstruction work has created more jobs. Suldo has partnered with a local flight school with an old plan -- to train pilots from the ground up, then offer them jobs after a stint building time as instructors. Training hasn't gotten any cheaper, but for over 70 students now enrolled, school owner Joe Sheeran says there are more than enough jobs to go around. If graduates don't find a job, "they're not looking," he told the Advertiser. Students must dedicate at least a year and about $50,000 to the training, then spend another year building time until they accumulate 500 to 1,000 hours.
If flying in a Goodyear blimp is on your list of must-dos in life, this could be your chance. Goodyear has launched a new blimp and is holding a contest to find a name for it. The winner gets to have the blimp fly to his or her hometown and do their bidding for a day. Hopefuls can submit their name proposals online through April 30. Traditionally, blimps were named after sailboats that won the America's Cup race, but in recent years, the options have widened. Names included Spirit of America, Spirit of Akron, and Eagle. The company has built more than 300 airships since 1925, and currently operates three blimps that travel the country as "aerial ambassadors." (No, we didn't hunt down the other 297-plus.) The fleet flies more than 100,000 miles each year.
Sectionals, GPS, and moving maps are all well and good, but sometimes what a pilot needs is a good old-fashioned street map -- especially if you're flying at low level over urban areas, trying to find a fleeing bad guy or a person in distress or a house on fire. A company called AeroComputers has developed a system called UltiChart to meet just that need, but it's not cheap, running from $30,000 to $60,000 apiece. "We make very sophisticated equipment smart," company president Mark Gassaway told the Ventura County Star. "We're taking technology and making it useful for a very difficult environment." The system comprises a database and a camera, and with the flick of a switch can show the pilot the helicopter's location on a street map. The pilot also can type in an address and get directions on how to fly there, or access a detailed topographical map.
The FAA has given a group of high schoolers clearance to launch a home-built rocket up to 17,500 feet on May 13 ... so if you're flying in the area, watch out. The rocket can climb at 20,000 feet per minute while making a lot of noise, but somehow it's "a hobby that doesn't get a lot of recognition," according to high school senior Joe Skitka, of Lower Dauphin, Pa. Skitka and his classmates have built a 20-foot-tall, 110-pound rocket, and plan to launch it to 10,000 feet sometime next month (hopefully, the 13th), The Patriot- News reported on Monday. Skitka and friends raised $4,000 for the project by washing cars and selling 600 T-shirts with slogans such as "Got rockets?" and "I've got a big rocket." According to Skitka, "Absolutely no adults help us in building the rockets or the organization of the club."
The non-aviation press might not pay much heed to small airplanes most of the time, but one emerging exception to that is the two-seat Javelin Jet. Latest to notice it is Forbes Magazine. "In full sun on the runway at Centennial, surrounded by multimillion-dollar business jets, the Javelin stopped me cold," writes Taylor Antrim in the April issue. With the prototype still early in flight testing, Antrim didn't get to fly one, but he did try out the simulator, and that was close enough. "This novice pilot lifted off, executed some pretty wicked rolls and loops, flew inverted and even landed twice in a row. ... The Javelin simulator is probably the greatest video game on the planet -- and not surprisingly, it's ATG's most persuasive sales tool," he wrote. "Take a spin over the virtual Rocky Mountains for an hour or so and you'll emerge from the cockpit feeling like Tom Cruise and reaching for your checkbook." Hopefully a fat checkbook -- the Javelin sells for $2.8 million. Over 100 deposits are already holding slots, with first deliveries expected in 2009.
Canada's Transportation Safety Board released its final report this week on a Caravan crash in which 10 people died in January 2004. Investigators found that the aircraft was over gross by at least 15 percent on takeoff, freezing participation was falling, and ice was visible on the leading edge of the wing. The aircraft climbed out at a shallow angle and stalled less than two miles out, most likely when the flaps were retracted. The Caravan impacted the frozen surface of a lake and sank. There were no survivors. The pilot's lack of appreciation for the known hazards associated with the overweight condition of the aircraft, ice contamination, and the weather conditions was inconsistent with his previous practices, the safety board said. His decision to take off was likely affected by some combination of stress and fatigue. The pilot had been on duty since 4:45 a.m., and had returned the night before from a trip to California, with only about five hours sleep time. He flew two legs that morning, took a break for a few hours, and was back at the airport at 3 p.m.
It appears the Relentless NXT Reno racer was destroyed following an emergency landing in New Mexico on its way to Palmdale, Calif. from Sun 'n Fun. An FAA preliminary report says the unidentified pilot radioed a Mayday that the aircraft was on fire and then put it down on a dirt strip near Glenwood, N.M. The pilot wasn't injured...
Floor plan of Air Force One revealed for the first time...
Liberty Aerospace has received FAA Production Certificate for its Liberty XL2 two-seater...
Improved descent procedures could save fuel, reduce noise...
The Smithsonian received a record $15 million donation from Boeing for the National Air & Space Museum...
Phoenix will spend $9 million to acquire aircraft for a museum at Sky Harbor Airport...
The Ninety-Nines will hold their annual convention in Washington, D.C., July 5-9.
AVweb audio presents information you won't find anywhere else. Visit AVweb.com tomorrow for candid comments collected from Cirrus' chief, Alan Klapmeier.
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The Savvy Aviator #30: The Mechanic's Signature
It's illegal to fly after maintenance until a mechanic signs a maintenance-record entry approving the aircraft for return to service. So what do you do if the mechanic says, "I can't sign it off"?
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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to MILLION AIR, NEW ORLEANS at NEW in New Orleans, LA.
RICK STOUDER wrote us to say, "I AM BASED AT MILLION AIR (NEW). HOWEVER, WITH THE AIRPORT BEING COMPLETELY DESTROYED BY HURRICANE KATRINA I THINK WHAT MILLION AIR HAS DONE IS PHENOMINAL. EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE LOST A TON OF MONEY, THEIR COMMITTMENT TO THE AVIATION COMMUNITY AND THEIR ..."
Keep those nominations coming.
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Attention, Cessna Owners
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Before we left for Sun 'n Fun, AVweb polled readers on the possibility of implementing a missile defense system to protect airliners.
We asked if the threat justified such an expensive defense strategy, and most of our readership said no. 42% of you answered with a flat-out no, while another 47% qualified their response by choosing Morally, yes. Financially and statistically, no.
A small but noteworthy 11% of readers, however, said yes.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
Lycoming engines again. Should owners have to pay to replace suspect crankshafts built into their engines?
Click here to answer
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Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past POTW Winners
As you may have noticed, Team AVweb is back in the saddle following our annual excursion to Sun 'n Fun. We enjoyed taking in the sights and gawking at the new jets and gizmos, but there's something we missed last week reader-submitted photos! Thankfully, there was a healthy crop waiting for us on the AVweb server when we returned home. Instead of a single week's entries, we had two weeks' worth of pics on our server. And to our eternal delight, the best photos from the two weeks we've been gone ... are all centered around the number two!
Christian Goetze of San Francisco, California kicks off the theme. In the process, he and photographer Melinda Green earn two brand-new official AVweb baseball caps, as winners of this week's "POTW" contest. To win one of these hats for yourself, all you have to do is submit your aviation photos and, you know, win the top slot. But hey you can do it, right?
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
Christian Goetze of San Francisco, California introduces the "theme of two" with this photo taken by Melinda Green. Note the two other pilots in Christian's formation.
|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.|
"75 Years Ago Thunderbird Predecessors?"
Carl B. Jordan of Port Charlotte, Florida transports us back to 1931 with this photo of his dad's Army Air Corps Reserve unit. As Carl explains, the Thomas-Morse O-19c in the foreground was the lead craft of the unit. The other planes were Curtiss O-1 Falcons (like the one seen here in the background), but the squad leader flew an O-19C, whose tailwheel made it far more welcome on the early paved landing strips used by higher brass than the Falcons.
"Close examination of the photos reveals that the top left wing of the O-1 is actually making a shadow on the right stabilizer of the O-19," writes Carl. "Now that's close formation flying in anybody's league. Even today's Thunderbirds can't do any better than that."
Darrell R. Bohannon of Virginia Beach, Virginia supplies us with another pair of flying aces these from the afternoon air show at Sun 'n Fun.
(A big thanks to Darrell and everyone else who submitted Sun 'n Fun air show photos, by the way. We couldn't be everywhere at the show, and many of you saw planes and stunts that we wish we could've caught in person.)
"C-17 at Ramstein AFB, Germany"
There's only one plane in this photo from Kevin Kilpatrick of Somerset, New Jersey but don't worry. You'll see the theme in the next photo ...
... which also features a rainbow! See? Two rainbows!
This one is courtesy of Peter Barnato of Alameda, California. Peter dates the photo circa 1985, at which time he was right-seating in wait for it Number 02.
Nolan Wehr of Dalton, Georgia has an eye for elegant design and a sharp paint job. Witness the Starduster Too, "photographed showcasing its beautiful elliptical wing."
Brian Lee Robbins of Columbus, New Jersey caught this landing (or is he taxiing for take-off?) while waiting out an overcast afternoon at Pennridge Airport.
O.K., you caught us: There's no two theme here. We just couldn't resist including this one.
It's been great digging through "POTW" submissions and picking our
favorites this week, but all good things must come to an end.
And what better way to end our titanic two-fer than with two
incredible sunset photos?
"Sunrise Mission for Van's Air Force"
Doug Reeves of Irving, Texas delivers up our first sunset. The charming silhouette belongs to Danny King and his RV-8 Beautiful Doll. The photo is courtesy of Doug's web site, VansAirForce.net.
"747 Sunset Sydney to Osaka"
And Caleb Ford of Avon, Colorado sees us out this week.
Two words to sum it all up: Desktop wallpaper.
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.
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