June 1, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
NTSB Confirms Crankshaft Failure In New Cessna
The 2005 Cessna 172S that shed its propeller while climbing out from St. Augustine (Fla.) Airport last Tuesday had a crankshaft failure, the NTSB said in its preliminary report. The airplane total time at the time of the incident was 399.3 hours. A pilot had landed the airplane at St. Augustine on Monday, reportedly after the engine began to run rough. On Tuesday, a commercial pilot checked the airplane over and tried several run-ups, finding no discrepancies. The pilot took off at about 1 p.m. in VFR conditions, to ferry the airplane to New Smyrna Beach, the NTSB said. During the initial climb at 500 feet, the engine rpm decreased from 2,390 to 2,200. The pilot advised the tower controller of the loss of power and had turned to return to the airport when he heard a loud noise and the engine and engine cowling began to vibrate. He put it down safely on a taxiway. The pilot was unhurt and the airplane was not damaged in the landing. A preliminary examination of the airplane by the company director of maintenance found that the crankshaft was fractured inside the crankcase at the oil transfer tube location. The separated propeller with a section of propeller flange was found on a runway at the airport.
Personal Jets Are Coming
Although recent Airworthiness Directives and Service Bulletins have addressed problems with crankshafts in Lycoming engines, none of them applied to this particular airplane, Lycoming spokeswoman Daria Fish told AVweb yesterday. "Whether the fracture of the crankshaft at that location was secondary to some other cause is not known yet," Fish said. Further, "the reported fracture here does not involve the portion of the crankshaft which was the subject of prior incidents." Fish said the information she has received so far indicates that after the initial reports of rough running, the airplane was checked by a mechanic and flown again, and continued to run rough. "We are advised that a decision was then made to ferry the plane to a service facility and the incident occurred shortly after takeoff," she said. Lycoming is assisting the NTSB in the investigation.
Light Aircraft Update
Diamond Aircraft has officially confirmed plans AVweb told you about last year -- that the single-engine D-Jet will make its public debut this July at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. The five-place (four-passenger) jet flew for the first time in April and has been in flight testing since then. Goals put the price below $900,000, max range at 1,351 nm, ceiling below 25,001 feet, cruise at 315 KTAS, and all while fitting in and out of 2,500-foot strips. "During my test flights, I was thoroughly impressed by the D-Jet's performance and feel. It is everything you would expect in a personal jet," said Diamond CEO Christian Dries. The D-Jet will arrive at the show on Wednesday, July 26, and taxi onto AeroShell Square, where Diamond executives will conduct a 10:30 a.m. briefing. Later that afternoon, at about 2 p.m., the Diamond Jet will provide a flight demonstration as a prelude to the air show. "We look forward to publicly showcasing our latest achievement for the first time at AirVenture and sharing with the industry our excitement and prospects for the D-Jet," Dries said. AirVenture runs July 24 to 30.
New Piper has been busy the last year or so dealing with hurricanes, union conflicts and more, but now is ready to think about the future. "We're very, very diligently working" on new product designs, says New Piper CEO Jim Bass, who joined the company just last September. He said he's not ready to announce any plans yet, but when he does, he'll have a well-formulated program with target dates, and Piper will "by golly" meet those dates. Plans for a very light jet will be announced later this year, he said. Meanwhile, the company continues to work on enhancements to its current product line, with efforts underway to improve fuel payload, speed, range, avionics and ergonomics. For more from our interview with Bass, including where the company will tend to focus its efforts in the future, check out AVweb's podcast, available online tomorrow. Bass also said to watch for some "interesting developments" to be announced at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, coming up in late July.
Tiger Aircraft has plenty of orders, but until new financing comes through, there is not much activity at the factory. "We've cut back, but we're still there," company spokesman Mat Goodman told AVweb on Tuesday. "Things are about the same. We're still working on a financing deal." Goodman said he hopes to have more news soon. The plant, in Martinsburg, W.V., opened in 2002, ready to build copies of the sporty touring aircraft first made by Grumman in the 1970s. Last December, eight of the 28 employees were laid off. Company President Gene Criss said then that he was working on some new products and hoped to eventually have a workforce of 50 or more. There are no plans to close the company, Criss said.
Thielert Aircraft Engines of Germany said on Monday it has obtained supplemental type certification (STC) from the European Aviation Safety Agency to integrate its jet-fuel/diesel piston engines into additional Piper PA28 series aircraft. Two years ago, Thielert incorporated the Centurion 1.7 in the Piper PA28-161 as a rebuilt engine. Now, STCs for the Piper series PA28-140, -150, -160, -180 and -151 have been added. To this end, the Piper PA28-160 and -180 were reduced in weight to 2,152 pounds. "The Piper PA28 is one of the most popular aircraft in general aviation, after the Cessna 172. With these new certifications we now cover almost all series of these two aircraft models," said Frank Thielert, CEO and founder of the company. "The strategy of offering pre-assembled installation kits with our motors for used aircraft has been so successful for Cessnas and Pipers that we are going to start offering our kits for Robins in the near future," he said. In total, the Centurion 1.7 has now been approved for more than 25 models of aircraft and has accumulated over 200,000 flying hours. Also, Croatia and Australia recently were added to the list of countries that have validated the company's existing aviation certifications. "This marks a significant expansion of relevant markets for Thielert's Centurion engines," the company said. Last week, the company announced it will produce a new liquid-cooled, turbocharged, diesel-burning, FADEC-controlled single-lever-power 230-bhp engine, the Centurion 3.2. That engine is targeted for air-time in late 2007.
June 5 is the deadline for Congress to act on the FAA's proposed contract for air traffic controllers, and unless something happens between now and then, that proposal will become the new contract. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) is far from giving up that something will happen. Several bills are in the works in the halls of Congress that would derail the FAA's plan, and the NATCA lobbying effort is at full force. John Carr, president of NATCA, says a majority of Congress "wants the FAA to restore fairness and accountability to the bargaining process." They have until Monday to act on that conviction. And if they don't? According to NATCA: "The consequence of this extends to economic loss, loss of efficiency, and unfortunately compromises in safety for the entire system."
With oil prices surging worldwide, rig operators in the North Sea are ramping up production, and running up against a shortage of helicopters and pilots to fly them. Bristow Helicopters, based in Aberdeen, has 10 new helicopters on order and is looking for more. "We have already had to turn down business because we did not have the assets available," Bristow manager Mike Duncan told The Scotsman. "It not just ourselves at Bristow that are in this situation -- it is an industry-wide problem. It is not just a question of getting the physical airframe; we've got to get the crew to fly them and the engineers to maintain them." It takes up to two years to get a new aircraft delivered, and five years or more to train pilots from scratch. Jim Ferguson, an aviation journalist, told Scotland Today that the industry itself must share some blame for the situation. "This industry has a history of laying people off at times of bust," he said. "It's now boom boom boom and the people are just not available, they would far rather fly rich folk around in their executive helicopters than fly in the boring old North Sea."
Meanwhile, the global economy is growing, and that adds to the growing heli demand. Bell Helicopter plans to open a pilot training facility in India next year and will also start to offer fractional ownership plans there. "We expect the Indian market for helicopters to grow to $4.3 billion over the next 20 years, with 40 percent of the demand from the civilian sector," Bob Fitzpatrick, Bell's senior vice president for business development, told a group of Indian journalists who recently visited Bell's Texas facilities. Of the 120 helicopters now flying in India, 70 of them are Bell products. "This figure will grow to 81 aircraft by the first quarter of 2007, and we want to be aggressive in India as it is going to be a big market," Fitzpatrick said. India's Army Aviation Corps is ready to buy 197 helicopters, and Bell is competing with Eurocopter for the contract. Fitzpatrick said the training facility would be a joint venture with a local partner, but the selection has not yet been announced.
The Air Care Alliance, a nationwide league of volunteer flying groups, is gearing up to bring its membership into the computer age. Many members already are using the latest technologies, the ACA says, but others are still working with pre-digital systems. At its recent convention in Oklahoma City, the ACA introduced a new initiative to find, adapt and disseminate "smart technology" solutions for its members. The group is soliciting savvy volunteers who'd like to join its Technology Committee, whose purpose will be to look for current and emerging hardware, software and Web-enabled technologies that would benefit members. Interested? Contact your local volunteer flying group by June 15 to submit your name. If you are not currently a member of a group, you can find one near you at the ACA Web site.
WestJet, Canada's biggest low-cost airline, "unreservedly apologizes" to Air Canada for an episode of industrial espionage, in a joint statement released on Monday. WestJet, the fast-growing low-cost airline, admitted that it snooped in Air Canada's computer files, using a password provided by a former employee. "This conduct was both unethical and unacceptable and WestJet accepts full responsibility for such misconduct," the statement reads. To settle their dispute, WestJet agreed to pay Air Canada's investigation and litigation costs of $5.5 million and will donate $10 million to children's charities. WestJet, based in Calgary, was founded in 1996 and modeled after Southwest Airlines. The company operates a fleet of Boeing 737s and has won numerous awards for innovative management.
News in Brief
When pilots think of fighter aircraft, the first thing to come to mind is not likely a little two-seat taildragger. But American Legend announced on Tuesday that its Cub Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) is now available as the Legend Combat, painted in military regalia for like-minded sport pilots. The new design is reminiscent of the historic Piper L-4, L-18 and L-21 models, the company says, which were used as military liaison aircraft in World War II. The Combat, built in Sulphur Springs, Texas, comes with standard features including modern instruments and electrical system, doors on both sides of the fuselage, an aircraft electrical system with starter, fuel storage in wing tanks, and the 100-hp Continental O200 engine, the company said. The L-4s, known as Grasshoppers, were flown by the Army Air Corps in the 1940s. Used as an artillery spotter, the small aircraft proved so valuable that German soldiers were given two weeks leave if they shot one down. Once, an L-4 outmaneuvered a pursuing Messerschmitt Me 109, causing it to fly into the terrain, according to the National Air & Space Museum. Another time, an L-4 crew engaged a Fiesler Storch, with each of the two-man crews shooting at each other with sidearms. The L-4 crew succeeded in shooting down the Storch, and captured the crew.
The fuselage of an F-104 Starfighter jet once flown by Chuck Yeager and Scott Crossfield has been mated with a rocket engine and will be used to try to break the land speed record some time next year...
Eclipse Aviation said Tuesday it's definitely "on track" for FAA certification by the end of June, and its Eclipse 500 will be the first VLJ to market. Six customer jets are already in the works on the production line...
The pilot of a 1975 Schweizer sailplane was killed when he crashed into a house while on final approach to an airport near Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon...
Political disputes over airspace and rules of engagement may have factored in to the recent fatal collision between Greek and Turkish F-16s...
The pilot and the driver were hurt when a Piper Warrior crashed into an SUV on Friday. The pilot was trying to return to the Oxnard (Calif.) Airport after having engine trouble on takeoff, but landed short and crossed a road. A two-year-old in the back seat of the car was OK...
A plume of volcanic ash above Mount St. Helens rose to 20,000 feet over the weekend...
A lawsuit alleges a NavCanada error contributed to a fatal crash in Vancouver last January. Pratt & Whitney Canada and SonicBlue Airlines also are named in the suit.
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.
Coming, Friday: New aircraft from New Piper? Check AVweb.com tomorrow and look for the podcast link at the top of the page.
Online Now: Exclusive interviews featuring Excel Jet's Bob Bornhofen, Adam Aircraft's Joe Walker, FAA administrator Marion Blakey, Cirrus Design's Alan Klapmeier and more. AVweb's Podcast index, is available online -- pick and choose your pleasure, or subscribe free to AVweb's podcasts and receive them automatically for listening on your computer, iPod, or while traveling with any MP3 player. You'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.
As the Beacon Turns #101: Returned To Service
Like pilots, planes that have been out of the air for a while shouldn't be taken up on a whim. AVweb's Michael Maya Charles needed to give his C185 some TLC this spring.
Your Favorite FBO's
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Nominate an FBO | Rules | Tips | Questions | Winning FBOs
AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to CROTTS AIRCRAFT at KDDC, Dodge City, Kansas.
ALAN OCHS wrote in to tell us, "THE STAFF AT CROTTS AIRCRAFT ARE THE BEST. THEY ALWAYS GO THE EXTRA MILE TO KEEP PEOPLE FLYING. I HAVE SEEN THEM COME OUT AFTER HOURS, ON SUNDAY, TO HELP PILOTS IF YOU NEED A FUEL STOP, OR JUST A CUP OF COFFEE, IN THE MIDWEST ,THIS IS A GOOD PLACE."
Keep those nominations coming.
Click here to nominate your favorite FBO and here for complete contest rules
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBO's in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!Savvy Owner Seminar Comes to Sporty's Pilot Shop, Batavia, Ohio!
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
Last week, AVweb asked our readers if there really is a market for "thousands" of very light jets. Since you'll be the ones buying them, it seemed like a good idea ... .
Our always-cautious readership gravitated toward the maybe answer, citing that the number of VLJs on order may be very different from the number that are eventually delivered. 48% of those who responded stayed within the maybe category.
On the yes/no front, our readership was pretty evenly divided. 15% said yes, there's definitely a market while slightly more of you (21%) said no.
The remaining 16% of respondents opted for our two more esoteric choices 20 of you going out on a limb to say that VLJs will eventually eliminate the market for piston-twins, and 14 of you saying that the orders are proof positive that the market exists.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
News of a crankshaft failure in a Lycoming engine. How does that make you feel?
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Maximum MPG ... Maximum MPG ... Maximum MPG!
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See What ATC Sees & Then See What They Do with the Information
The AVweb Edition of Flight Explorer is the PC-based graphical aircraft situation display that gives you a real-time picture of all IFR aircraft in-flight over the U.S. and Canada. Whether you're tracking a friend or want to learn more about the system in action, Flight Explorer has the information you want for just $9.95 a month. Subscribe now.
IFR Magazine Is for the Accomplished Pilot: Subscribe Now & Save!
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Power Flow's Short Stack Approved for Pipers & Grummans
Power Flow Systems, manufacturers of FAA-certified tuned exhaust systems, have introduced a new "short stack" exhaust pipe for Piper PA-28 and Grumman AA5 series aircraft. The new STC'd short stack looks better while still providing up to 23 more available horsepower. For more information on this, and the right tuned exhaust system for your aircraft, go online.
Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past POTW Winners
Before we get started with this week's winning photos, a quick (but important!) announcement:
AVweb experienced some server problems over the weekend, and many "POTW" submissions were lost. Some came through mangled or partially submitted, but many have disappeared into the cyber-aether. (Which is why our "POTW" selection this week is a bit smaller than usual.)
We apologize for the inconvenience, but if you've submitted a photo for consideration during the last seven days (and you don't see it below), then please take a few moments to re-submit. We realize it's a hassle for some of you, but well, quite frankly, we really like looking at your pictures every week and can't help but feel like we've missed some really good ones this week. (We were able to make out a few tail fins and the tops of some heads in many of the mangled shots.)
Thankfully, the pictures that did come through were stellar. We'd put Kevin Orr's winning photo up against anyone's, from any week! For those of you astounded at Kevin's luck in getting such a terrific shot, consider this: He didn't even have to leave his driveway to do it. Not a bad day's work, Kevin. We're cutting you a check for one official AVweb "POTW" baseball hat even as you read this watch your mailbox!
Remember: Kevin won this week's hat because he took time to submit his photo. We'd love to see yours!
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
"An Eagle in a Tight Squeeze"
"This time I did not have to go to the airport for pictures," writes Kevin Orr of Olathe, Kansas. "[I]nstead, the aircraft came to me."
The aircraft in question is Kansas City's LifeFlight Eagle 2 emergency helicopter, which responded to an accident at his neighbors' home last Thursday. While the rest of us were catching up on the AVwebFlash newsletter, Kevin watched a cautious pilot set down in the midst of cars, fire trucks, houses, and street lamps.
"Did I hear someone in the background say that helo pilots are the best?" asks Kevin. "I will let you guys decide." Well, we don't know about the best but we're definitely impressed!
|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.|
"A beautiful Saturday morning at the airport with my two co-pilots," writes Brandon Wren of Lima, Ohio. "What could be better?"
We honestly can't think of many things that can top it winning a sweepstakes ... maybe having a helicopter land in your front yard ... .
Mark Murdock of Griffin, Georgia snapped ol' Roy here with his trusty Fuji Fine Pix while flying alongside in his air bike.
And we catch grief for driving and talking on the cell phone ... .
"Tiger on the River"
Mike Scalera of Spokane, Washington flies us home with this week with a shot of Ryan and Jay Pemberton cruising over the waters of the Spokane River.
Hmmm Ryan Pemberton, eh? Now where have we heard that name before?
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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