July 6, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
From Low-Lead To Fish Guts
So, you've heard diesel engines can run on cooking oil. It may still be a while yet before you can fill your tank with recycled cooking grease and take off smelling of french fries -- but maybe not as long as you think. Rising gas prices have reignited interest in alternative fuels, and increased research could in the future mean more choices for pilots. This week in Texas, country star Willie Nelson opened a new biodiesel production plant, the 66th in the nation. Another 49 are in the works. Biofuels, which are generally a mix of diesel and plant-derived oils, work fine in car engines, but they tend to congeal in the cold -- not a good thing for aircraft engines that run at high altitudes. Researchers in North Dakota said earlier this year they are making progress toward solving the cold-temperature problems. Annual biodiesel production reached 75 million gallons in 2005, three times as much as the year before, according to the National Biodiesel Board. Production could reach 150 million gallons this year. The board also says that for every unit of fossil energy needed to make biodiesel, 3.2 units of energy are gained. In contrast, it takes 1.2 units of fossil resources to produce 1 unit of petroleum diesel.
As GA Grows, So Do Concerns
It's not just soybeans and corn that can be turned into fuel additives. Agifish, an aquaculture company based in Vietnam, can turn catfish fat into diesel fuel, Reuters reported on Tuesday. Agifish has been using the fuel, made from fat left over from processed fish, to run pumps at its fish ponds, Deputy Director Nguyen Dinh Huan told Reuters. "The fuel is as good as diesel oil," Huan said. The firm plans to build a factory in 2007 and process 10,000 tons of fish per year to produce fuel for local markets. Meanwhile, in Australia, farmers are experimenting with turning their wine grapes into ethanol fuel. Investors apparently are lining up to finance these experiments. "We need to be cautious that this doesn't become like the dot-com bubble,'' venture capitalist Vinod Khosla told Bloomberg News. "We don't want to get ahead of ourselves.'' In the U.S., venture capital funds invested a record $739 million in renewable energy in 2005, up 36 percent from 2004, Bloomberg reported.
Florida is the second-busiest aviation state in the U.S., according to the Orlando Business Journal, and while that's generally seen as a good thing for industry and tourism, the article raises concerns about overcrowding and safety. Central Florida has seen a lot of recent growth, with both people and aircraft moving in at a steady rate. The Journal also reports an increase in accidents, but it's not clear if that's simply an artifact of the increased flight activity. Nonetheless, while the report cites "troubling signs" that the crowded skies perhaps need to be more regulated, it notes that aviators in the state don't seem to think so. "Personally, I think the system is working fine," says Richard Null, the state's administrator of aviation operations. "There are an awful lot of checks and balances out there." The area around Orlando has 167 aviation facilities, including private and public airports, heliports and an ultralight park. Of those, 17 opened in the last five years.
The state's Transportation Department, however, notes that Florida's aviation growth has exceeded the national average and fears too much of a good thing could cause problems. "Florida stands at the threshold of an exciting new era in aviation, an era full of promise but also with many potential pitfalls," the DOT says in a recent overview of projected growth through 2025. There are already 860 air facilities in the state, including heliports, glider ports and seaplane bases. The state is home to more than 14,000 aircraft, or 6 percent of the national GA fleet, and hosts 20 percent of the world's flight training. Population growth is expected to continue, especially among older migrants, and GA will grow as well. "A capacity crunch is imminent," the report warns. The report overall is upbeat about GA, recognizing its value for disaster relief and business support. The coming fleet of small jets will encourage more point-to-point travel, which is also seen as a plus for the business community. "Aviation is on the verge of dramatic changes that will have special benefits for Florida," the report says.
A Future Based On Access And Airports
Airports are now as vital to a region's growth and development as a central business district, the DOT report says. According to business researcher John Kasarda, "Airports will shape business location and urban development in this century as much as highways did in the 20th, railroads in the 19th and seaports did in the 18th centuries. The three 'As'-- accessibility, accessibility, accessibility -- will replace the three 'L's' -- location, location, location." With conference centers, hotels, music, shopping malls, office space, wineries, art galleries, and nearby housing for airport employees, some airports are taking over the traditional role of downtowns as the main center of urban life, the DOT says. Commercial and residential centers radiate from airports, and companies, increasingly reliant on air transportation to move people and goods quickly in a global economy, locate nearby.
It wasn't long ago that it seemed unlikely to many that Cessna would take a serious interest in the sport aircraft market, with their popular business jets and a full line of GA aircraft to keep them busy. But now Cessna has followed up on its recent announcement that it will bring a Light Sport concept aircraft to AirVenture by officially joining up with the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA). "We are very pleased to welcome Cessna to membership in LAMA," said Tom Gunnarson, president of the organization, in a news release on Tuesday. "We have all the important producers in the emerging light sport aviation industry, so as Cessna studies the opportunities, we believe aligning with LAMA was the right thing to do." LAMA lists 96 members, which include nearly every manufacturer or importer of Light Sport Aircraft as well as leading businesses serving the new market segment. The majority of Special Light-Sport Aircraft and other Sport Pilot-eligible aircraft will be on display in the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh LSA Mall during the show July 24-30. The Cessna proof-of-concept LSA debut will be adjacent to the LSA Mall and just south of AeroShell Square.
Diamond Aircraft has flight-tested its D-Jet up to the design limit of 25,000 feet altitude and has flown as fast as 280 knots, the company said on Tuesday. "We are very pleased to have expanded the envelope in such a short time. The aircraft is a joy to fly, smooth, very stable and with all systems functioning perfectly," said CEO Christian Dries, who is also on the test-pilot team. "The aircraft is doing everything we are expecting of it." In a series of flight tests last week, the speed and altitude envelope was progressively expanded from the previously flown 170 knots and 12,000 feet. See it at AirVenture Oshkosh 2006. The five-place D-Jet is powered by the FADEC-controlled Williams FJ33 turbine and equipped with Garmin all-glass flight deck and autopilot. It will make an appearance at Oshkosh on Wednesday, July 26, taking just a few hours for a briefing and a flight demo before getting back to work.
Pilots in the U.S. have been protesting for years that the FAA's mandatory age-60 retirement rule is age discrimination, but in Canada, pilots are taking the issue before a human-rights tribunal. A group called the Fly Past 60 Coalition says the contract between Air Canada and the pilots' union "forces healthy, competent and motivated airline pilots to retire from Air Canada at age 60, notwithstanding the fact that Canadian law allows individuals to continue to be licensed and to operate as airline pilots until age 65." Air Canada maintains that its retirement policy doesn't contravene the Canadian Human Rights Act. The case is scheduled to be heard in January.
The FAA might not have money to hire inspectors or examiners these days, but it's spending $59 million to buy 122 houses and soundproof 1,000 more near Mississippi's Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. Another 1,300 homeowners will be paid $3,000 for right-of-flyover privileges, a strategy that's meant to ward off potential lawsuits, the Sun-Herald reported on Monday. The FAA will not fund noise-mitigation measures for houses built after 1998. After that, municipalities were expected to use compatible zoning and land-use rules to prevent noise conflicts. Still, airports around the country continue to spend millions to buy up or soundproof nearby older homes. The airport in Providence, R.I., for example, has spent over $90 million on noise mitigation, acquiring 160 properties and insulating 1,500 homes. Costs were shouldered 80 percent by the FAA and the rest by the state. At O'Hare in Chicago, more than $565 million has been spent on similar programs.
The pilot of a Cessna 180 landed on a residential street in Oklahoma on Sunday, then tried to take off, but clipped power lines and crashed nose-first into a suburban front yard. The pilot was killed and his 11-year-old grandson was critically hurt, The Associated Press reported. The airplane had taken off from a private airport just a few minutes earlier. The pilot may have intended to land at a nearby residential airpark, where the runway is bordered by hangars and homes, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol told the AP. That airport is less than a mile from the road where the pilot landed. But that scenario remains unclear. "Why was he landing here?" NTSB air safety investigator Tim LeBaron said at a news conference on Monday. "That's a good question. I don't know if we are ever going to know."
News in Brief
New Mexico's Spaceport has scheduled its first launch of a spacecraft for Aug. 14. The 20-foot-tall, 800-pound rocket will be fired by UP Aerospace, a Colorado company that designed the craft to carry light payloads into space at low cost. The rocket will carry over 50 payloads and experiments, mostly from high-school and college students. The SpaceLoft XL solid-fuel rocket will accelerate to Mach 5 in 13.5 seconds, reach the edge of space at 62 miles in a minute and a half, and achieve a flight apogee of about 70 miles shortly thereafter, according to Jerry Larson, president of UP Aerospace. The 30-minute flight will be tracked by radar at White Sands Missile Range, providing data that will help the Spaceport get licensed by the FAA. A second UP Aerospace launch is scheduled for October, concurrent with this year's X Prize Cup event. "This launch will put New Mexico's Spaceport on the map," said Rick Homans, of New Mexico's Economic Development Department. "It's the next milestone for the State of New Mexico in continuing our leadership role in the second space age." UP Aerospace plans to conduct up to 30 space launches per year.
Airbus CEO Gustav Humbert resigned on Sunday. The shakeup results from A380 delays and a stock dive...
Forward Vision has reduced its price to just under $10K for GA users of its infrared night-vision system...
Michael Fanfalone, 57, one of the founders of the Professional Airways Systems Specialists union, died June 27 in Baltimore...
Comp Air last week introduced its latest aircraft, the Comp Air 9. The eight-place, fixed-gear, pressurized turboprop will fly at 240 knots, the company says...
Malaysia is experiencing a boom in business aviation growth...
A Beechcraft Bonanza hit a tractor-trailer truck on a road near the Montrose Airport in Colorado on Monday, narrowly missing several homes. Both on board the airplane died; nobody on the ground was hurt. The pilot had just bought the airplane about a week ago and was apparently practicing touch-and-goes with an instructor on board...
A skydivers' airplane and an American Airlines jet got too close over Illinois on Sunday, the jet took evasive action, and the FAA is investigating.
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.
Coming, Friday: 250 knots, 450 ft. takeoff, landing speed about 80 and room for 4. Some people will likely be dropping $180,000 for the kit, but will this flying car fly? Check AVweb.com tomorrow for the podcast link at the top of the page.
Online Now: Exclusive interviews featuring New Piper's Jim Bass, 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.
The Savvy Aviator #33: Hangnails and Hand Transplants
Your engine is not too far from TBO when it develops a cylinder-related problem. Your mechanic suggests you might as well "bite the bullet" and overhaul the engine now, rather than pour any more money into it. Is he giving you sound advice?
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 BOLIVAR AVIATION at M17, Bolivar, MO.
Offering up Bolivar, BRENT HUMPHREYS told us, "GREAT FBO, FRIENDLY PEOPLE, BEST GAS PRICES."
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!
This Week's Question | Last Week's Question
PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
The debate over privatized air traffic control is heating up once again and last week, AVweb asked if you could see any upsides to the potential privatization of ATC.
Your answer was clear with 55% of those who responded saying (pretty unequivocally) that No, there really are no upsides.
21% of you said you could handle the increased user fees (possibly to the tune of $70 per year) if fuel taxes were cut or removed.
A relatively small portion of those who answered did see a silver lining to the cloud. $70 per year, they said, would be a small price to pay for the flood of technological advances we'd see after removing the bulk of government bureaucracy from the equation.
The final 8% of respondents said Privatize away. Anything would be better than what we've got with the FAA and NATCA.
For real-time results of last week's question, click here.
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
This week, AVweb wants to know how prepared you are for an emergency landing especially in terms of where to land. What's your level of preparedness? Have you ever landed on anything other than a paved runway?
Click here to share your opinion
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Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past POTW Winners
After a busy weekend of researching stories, gearing up for AirVenture, and testing the features of the all-new, all-different AVweb site (coming your way in a matter of days, folks!), Team AVweb was grateful for a chance to eat hot dogs, watch fireworks, and gawk at airplanes on the Independence Day holiday. Now that it's back to work, what better way to ease back into the routine than with a few dozen photos submitted by AVweb readers over the last week? We thought it was a good idea and here are a half-dozen of our favorite photos from this week's submissions.
Mike Hanson takes home the top honor this week and you may recognize his bird from a special appearance he made a couple of weeks ago in "POTW." Mike was a mystery pilot then we didn't have his name and contact information but after submitting one of his own photos, he's found himself in the AVweb spotlight. As this week's top winner, he'll be getting one of our official AVweb baseball caps to warm his ears at high altitudes. Remember to submit your own photos if you'd like a shot at one of these hats. Each week, we'll award one to a lucky winner and even if you don't win a hat, we'd love to see your photos. (Why else do you think we run so many of them in this feature?)
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
Mike Hanson of Westminster, California takes home this week's top honor after making a distinguished guest appearance in "Picture of the Week" two weeks ago. Really attentive readers may recognize Mike's Stearman as the one caught buzzing the Goodyear Blimp in our June 22 edition. Here, he enjoys a quiet moment over Lake Casitas over the holiday weekend.
|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.|
"One Plane, Taken Slightly Out of Context"
No one maximizes tarmac space like our friends in Greece. Greek submitters regularly astonish us with pictures of aircraft in the tightest and most unusual spots you're likely to find them and this photo from Kostas Rossidis of Moschato, Athens was no exception. Kostas didn't tell us the story behind this impromptu road trip but we'd love to hear it if anyone knows!
"Death of an Airport"
Harper Poling of Evergreen, Washington commemorates the closing of a local airport with a few last photos. Recently sold to developers, this Evergreen airstrip will close permanently on July 18.
"Form Up Over Terrell, Texas"
Ercoupes from across the country convened at the annual Ercoupe Owners Club Convention in Terrell, Texas this past weekend. J.M. Abrahams of Cumming, Iowa was on hand to capture this shot of Mark Hardin ("in Ercoupe S/N 110 PQ13 Warbird") flying alongside "Tom and Sonny of the Tiger Flight Formation Team of Rome, Georgia."
"Some Pilots Never Grow Up"
Mark Jones of Wales, Wisconsin points out the obvious with this photo taken early one morning on the campground area of the Sport Aviation Association Fly-In at Frasca Field, Illinois.
"The Best Way to Go for Pie"
Formation flying was a popular theme in this week's "POTW" submissions. But even among a dozen or so formation photos that made it to the last round of consideration, we thought this one from Rob Prior of Burnaby, British Columbia (Canada) was one of the best. There's something light and relaxing about the color and composition of this one that whispers "lazy days of summer" in our ear.
"McCall, Idaho Sunset"
Almost in direct contrast is this entry from Bob Johnson of Walnut Creek, California. Bob arrived in McCall just ahead of the rain, but (fortunately for us) decided to spend his downtime snapping a few photos. This one was taken just as the rain cleared and the clouds began to part.
"Trusting Your Dock Hand ..."
Kelly Mahon of Priest River, Idaho sees us off this week with a photo of take-charge three-year-old Ryan. Kelly writes:
"As I was loading Ryan's carseat into our 1949 Luscombe on floats, he was holding us up against the cut bank I was using as a dock. This picture was taken on July 3rd after he had just turned 3 on June 29th."
Oh, and Kelly adds, "His name is Ryan because I couldn't convince mom that Luscombe was a good name!!"
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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