AVwebFlash - Volume 12, Number 29a

July 17, 2006

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded, Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's NewsWire

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D-Jet (With Chute?) -- Price Climbs 40 Percent

Diamond Aircraft announced Sunday that its D-Jet personal jet will have an introductory price of $1.38 million -- 40 percent more than the $850,000 figure that was named when the plane first went into development. Company officials also told reporters attending the annual Diamondfest at the company's North American headquarters in London Ontario, Canada, that the price jump is tied closely to buyers seeking all available options and among those, the company now intends to offer a whole-plane parachute system as an option on the 315-knot five-place single-engine jet. The cockpit will also come adorned with a massive glass panel display -- two 12-inch PFDs and a central 15-inch MFD. AVweb contributor Rick Durden was there for the unveiling. Click here to find access to his personal observations and incisive opinions along with access to AVweb's complete NewsWire. Of course, there were lots of questions about the big price hike and company officials said it was in response to customer demand. They said most customers are ordering the planes loaded with every possible option, anyway, so they might as well all be built that way. The first 50 airplanes are slated for delivery by the end of 2008.

A Faster, Decked-Out DA40

Diamond also used the event to unveil a jazzed-up version of the DA40 that might be a competitor for the likes of Cirrus, Mooney and maybe Columbia (if you don't mind going slower with Diamond). With a Powerflow exhaust and a new composite three-bladed Scimitar prop, Diamond's been able to coax a maximum speed of 160 knots out of the new DA40XL, which is about 30 knots faster than the standard DA40 and might be enough to make future owners of high-performance singles to look at the Diamond with its $329,800 price tag, as opposed to airplanes that are 20 or 30 knots faster but also cost about $150,000 more. And, in these fuel-conscious times, it's worth noting the Diamond will burn about 10 gph at 150 ktas at 6,000 feet. There'll also be no lack of electronics on the Diamond. The DA40XL will come with a new Garmin GFC700 Digital Automatic Flight Control System, which includes a flight director, altitude pre-select, GPS roll steering, overspeed protection and two-axis autopilot all integrated with the G1000. There will also be an Avidyne TAS and a satellite datalink system. Again, Diamond officials said they developed the DA40XL because customers were already ordering the standard DA40 with every option they could hang on the airframe.

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Cessna 120, 140, as Light Sport Aircraft?

The FAA has turned down a request by the International Cessna 120/140 Association to allow certain modified versions of the singles to be flown under the rules governing light sport aircraft (LSA). The popular taildraggers, in normal configuration, have a gross weight of 1450 pounds, 130 pounds heavier than the maximum of 1320 pounds allowed under LSA designation. It's the only limitation they don't naturally meet. A couple of years ago, the owners group applied for, and received, a Supplementary Type Certificate that would allow owners to reduce the gross weight to 1320 pounds in hopes that the FAA would then allow the aircraft to be flown by those with Sport Pilot certificates, which have much less stringent medical requirements. The FAA saw it another way, however, according to a report in Sport Pilot magazine. Earlier this month, the agency rejected the owners group's logic that since the planes have such a good safety record they should be natural candidates for LSA status. The FAA countered that the safety record is due, in large part, to the training and skill required of pilots who fly certified aircraft. The agency also said the STC application backfired on the owners because it led to the inclusion of a clause in the LSA final rule that prohibits modification of existing designs to meet LSA limitations. In the end, the FAA determined that lightened-up 120s and 140s simply don't qualify. "Granting the petitioner's request would not be consistent with the intent of the rule," the FAA said. Several types of certified aircraft do qualify as LSAs, however, including certain Aeroncas, Cubs, Taylorcrafts and Ercoupes.

LSA Category Gaining Ground

The fact that owners of standard category aircraft are actively campaigning to have their planes included in the LSA movement is an indication that naysayers who predicted LSA/Sport Pilot would attract the same level of interest as the recreational certificate (virtually nil) may be looking up crow recipes. By all accounts the new category, initially spurred by the introduction of some pretty slick European airplanes, is taking off the way its promoters predicted (and it doesn't hurt having EAA's PR and lobbying machine behind it). While the majority of fixed-wing LSAs certified in the U.S. still arrive from overseas, American companies are catching up. As we've previously reported, Cessna will unveil its concept for an LSA next week at EAA AirVenture and some of the better-known U.S. kit builders are getting into the act. Cubcrafters recently got FAA approval for its Sport Cub and RANS Aviation, which was a pioneer in light aircraft manufacturing in the 1980s, is also reported to be planning an all-metal, factory-built LSA. The country's third-largest fly-in, EAA's Northwest Fly-In in Arlington, Wash., is now raising money to build a permanent Sport Aviation Park at the field. Pilot Journey has added a Sport Pilot section to its Web site, complete with a $99 introductory flight offer.

Share Your Thoughts on 
Aviation Headsets Share Your Thoughts on Aviation Headsets
Pilots have many choices when considering aviation headsets. So we'd like to know: What features lead you to purchase? How do you choose between brands? In short, we want to know what's important to you. Please take a few moments to complete this survey and help influence the future of the aviation headset industry. Go to survey.

Double Standard On Safety

Groups representing cargo pilots are calling on the FAA to give fire safety the same priority on cargo aircraft as in passenger planes. During a two-day hearing into the fire that destroyed a UPS DC-8 just after it landed in Philadelphia last February, Shannon Jipsen, a UPS pilot and official with the Independent Pilots Association, the union representing UPS pilots, said cargo aircraft should have mandatory fire suppression systems like those in passenger planes. "We have a double standard here," Jipsen told the hearings. The Air Line Pilots Association joined the call for better training for airport firefighters for cargo aircraft fires. Firefighters took more than four hours to douse the flames, which may have started 25 minutes before the aircraft landed. The crew was four minutes out before the smoke alarm sounded and didn't have much time to spare in getting out of the burning plane. Philadelphia Fire Capt. Gary Loesch said his department's response was slow because firefighters had no training in cargo plane fires. They also were unsure of the contents of the plane and concerned about toxic substances that might be on board. Loesch told the hearings that Philadelphia firefighters are now getting training on fighting cargo fires.

Laptop Batteries To Blame For Aircraft Fires?

Although UPS has so far declined to confirm just what was on board the DC-8, the NTSB probe is looking at whether lithium ion batteries, of the type used to power laptop computers, might have caused the fire. Although problems are statistically rare (339 battery-related fires out of the tens of millions of batteries in service) they can have spectacular results. An exploding cellphone battery is blamed for causing $100,000 in damage to a California home last year and two years ago the FAA banned non-rechargeable lithium batteries as cargo on passenger planes because it found that halon, the fire suppressant used in jetliners, couldn't put out a lithium fire. The rechargeable type most commonly found in consumer electronics are made differently and are considered safer but, according to the Chicago Tribune, the FAA said it had "concerns" about carrying the rechargeable type on airliners. UPS says it followed all the rules when it loaded the DC-8, including notifying Philadelphia airport authorities of the hazardous materials on board. The company would not disclose the list, however. "We operated according to federal regulations," Frank Skubis, UPS's director of safety, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "We intend to continue to do that."

Exploding Fuel Tanks -- Fixes Not Enough

Meanwhile, the NTSB says that earlier fixes aimed at preventing sparks from igniting vapors in aircraft fuel tanks don't work. In a news release last week, the board said the wing tank of a Transmile Boeing 727 exploded even though it had been properly fitted with electrical shields designed to prevent the electrical arcing that most likely ignited the vapors. An airworthiness directive required the wiring harness in question to be inspected, repaired and then wrapped in plastic before being returned to the conduit in the wing tank. "This accident illustrates that ignition sources continue to exist and fuel tank explosions continue to occur in both wing and center wing fuel tanks despite the corrective efforts of government regulators and industry," the board concluded. The accident happened while the plane was on the ground at Bangalore, India, and no one was hurt. But the blast wrecked the wing and the plane would have crashed had it been airborne, the NTSB said. The board continues to press the FAA to require systems that displace the explosive vapors in fuel tanks with inert gases, such as nitrogen. Boeing has already designed and installed systems on several aircraft and can retrofit airliners for between $100,000 and $300,000 each, depending on the size.

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Can't Make It To Oshkosh? Watch Your Inbox

AVweb always pulls out all the stops for its coverage of AirVenture and this year we've added a new dimension to our coverage. In addition to our four complete AvwebFlash and NewsWire editions from Oshkosh (Monday, July 24; Wednesday, July 26; Friday, July 28; and our wrap-up on Monday, July 31) we're producing three in-depth podcasts (Tuesday, July 25; Thursday, July 27; and Saturday, July 29) filled with interviews with the movers and shakers of the industry. Knapinski said more than 10,000 airplanes and 700,000 people are expected to attend and for pilots, getting there is half the fun. If you intend to fly in and you don't have the NOTAM, download one now or phone EAA and get them to fax you one. Knapinski said flying to Oshkosh isn't as hard as it looks but it does require some preparation and concentration.

Last year we watched the rarest and coolest airplanes by day and then watched for tornadoes at night. There's never a dull moment at EAA AirVenture and, while it'll be some time before the lineup of last year's show (SpaceShipOne, GlobalFlyer) can be matched, if ever, the world's largest aviation event continues to pack in the best of the aviation world for a week in Oshkosh, July 24 to July 30. In a special podcast interview that will be available for download on Friday, EAA Communications Director Dick Knapinski told AVweb that this year's show is shaping up to cater to virtually all interests in aviation. "What we're seeing coming in this year is perhaps the broadest and best developed lineups that we've seen in a long time," Knapinski said. Opposite ends of the GA spectrum will have major prominence at this year's show. The light sport aircraft (LSA) category will have its strongest showing to date as more than 30 aircraft are now certified. Very light jets (VLJs) will also take the spotlight, with the debut of Diamond's D-Jet and news about the continued development of at least four others. Watch for some major announcements in avionics, too.

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Avgas Ethanol Exemption Sought

Both AOPA and EAA are lobbying Congress to exempt aviation gasoline from two proposed amendments to the Clean Air Act. The bills propose making it mandatory for all motor vehicle gasolines (with a few exceptions for collector cars) to contain at least 10 percent "renewable fuels" by 2010. About the only viable alternative fuel now available is ethanol fermented from corn and it gives airplanes a major hangover. Separate studies by EAA, the FAA and Cessna have conclusively determined that ethanol damages everything from engines to fuel systems in airplanes, but the bills, as they stand now, would require the 10 percent quota for avgas. The groups are also hoping to get some relief for those with mogas STCs. In addition to exempting avgas, the groups want Congress to allow premium automotive fuel to be made without ethanol. The addition of ethanol invalidates the mogas STCs. Several states have seen the wisdom of having some alcohol-free fuel available, not only for airplanes but for boats and recreational products, and have exempted premium fuel from their own 10-percent rules.

Ebersol Crash Co-Pilot Sues

The co-pilot of the Challenger business jet that crashed at Montrose, Colo., in 2004, killing Teddy Ebersol, youngest son of NBC Sports head Dick Ebersol, and two others says the manuals for the jet should have been more specific about the dangers of flying the Canadair Challenger 601 in icing conditions. Eric Sloan Wicksell, of Daytona Beach, claims the flight and training manuals for the plane should have spelled out the icing dangers more explicitly. The NTSB concluded that the crash, which occurred on takeoff, was most likely caused by the pilot failing to manually check for ice contamination on the wings. The pilot, Luis Polanco-Espaillat, and flight attendant Warren Richardson III, were killed while Ebersol, his older son Charlie and Wicksell were injured. Wicksell is also suing the owners of the airplane saying they were aware that the pilot was not qualified to fly in winter weather. The runway was covered in slush and snow and Dick and Charlie Ebersol both told investigators they saw it on the aircraft, too.

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Lightning Protection Bloats 787

Boeing engineers say its 787 Dreamliner is gaining weight as they figure out ways to shed the enormous shock a lightning strike would bring to the airliner's (nearly) all-composite composite airframe. Lightning strikes one or two airliners every year and it's not normally a big deal. The big charge just passes through the very conductive aluminum. But in a mostly composite airplane like the Dreamliner, the enormous charge looks for a relatively few conductive paths, such as hinges, attachment points and wiring, and it can vaporize or fuse them. The answer is to provide conductive routes through the composite and that's where the weight gain comes in for the efficiency-driven design, according to a report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Metal strips or mesh can be added to the layers of composite to ensure the electricity has a place to go. That has pushed the airliner 2.5 percent beyond its "target weight," although Boeing officials insist the plane will not weigh more than what was promised customers. Most of the weight gain is in the wings, which carry the fuel and where electrical arcing is particularly dangerous. "We always planned to deal with this issue, but we did not anticipate the complexity," Boeing's Scott Strode, head of 787 development and production told, the Post-Intelligencer.

Northrop Offers Laser "Shield" For Airports

Northrop Grumman says it has developed a laser-based system -- a laser "bubble" -- that can knock just about any kind of airborne threat out of the air within a five-mile radius of an airport and is effective against shoulder-fired missiles up to 20 miles away. And, once it starts selling the systems in quantity, it's predicting a fully-installed price of "only" $25 million to $30 million, which it claims will be popular at airports in countries that are having neighborhood disputes, such as South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. "If it goes that [price] path, it's a very large market," Northrop spokesman Dan Wildt told Reuters. The first systems might cost as much as $200 million and will be available in about 18 months. Wildt said the laser "bubble" will destroy "rockets, mortars, artillery shells, unmanned aerial vehicles, short-range ballistic missiles, as well as cruise missiles," according to the Reuters story. So, we can imagine the short work it would make of, say, an errant Cessna 150 over Washington. Israel is reported to be working on development of the system with Northrop Grumman.

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Mice Ground A320

American Airlines says it has fixed all the damage a rampant mouse infestation caused to one of its A320s but not soon enough for maintenance workers who discovered the rodents. According to documents obtained by KARE TV in Minneapolis, the first mouse sighting was in early May and the plane was only cleaned, repaired and returned to service last week. According to the TV station, maintenance workers in Los Angeles shot video of the damage (which included dead mice in emergency oxygen masks and chewed insulation) and called the FAA's safety hotline. At the time, an exterminator apparently told the whistleblowers that there could be up to 1,000 mice on the plane but the airline said only 17 live mice were found. The airline also insists that the plane was safe to fly with all the extra passengers on board (which it did on numerous occasions) and that mouse infestations are rare in airliners.


In Thursday's editions of AVweb's news, a Cessna display ad was published without a contrasting border, suggesting it was part of a news story about the cargo industry. The ad was unrelated to the news story. We apologize for the oversight.

On The Fly...

Remember the guy who got to 16,000 feet in a lawn chair with 400 helium balloons attached? Well, now Flight of the Lawnchair Man has been turned into a musical that, according to press notes, "reminds the world that dreams can come true if you believe in yourself." (and place considerable faith in latex, aluminum and plastic webbing)...

Patience has its rewards and the owners of 66 new Columbia aircraft damaged in a hail storm last month will get theirs. The company that the deposit holders will be enrolled in an avgas promotion the company began after their orders were received and that finance rates will be set according to the time the planes should have been delivered...

There will be no criminal charges filed against a teenage pilot who is alleged to have buzzed his school last month. However, the FAA is still investigating allegations that Daniel Morrison busted altitude minimums when he gave a "final salute" to Pinkerton Academy in New Hampshire...

A glider pilot was found alive and in remarkably good shape after spending 30 hours in the wreck of the aircraft in England last week. John Russell couldn't get out of the cockpit because of a broken leg and he's now recovering in hospital.

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Drop us a line. If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

Join NAA and Help Shape the Next Century of Flight
It's a great time to join the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), the nation's oldest aviation organization. At $39 a year, NAA membership is a terrific value for any aviation enthusiast! Members receive the Smithsonian's Air & Space and NAA's Aero magazines, plus access to aviation records, product discounts, and much more. Call (703) 527-0226 to become an NAA member, or sign up online.
For local prices, enter your U.S. ZIP Code or Airport Identifier:
Fuel prices provided weekly by AirNav,
based on prices from the past 2 weeks.
Changes are relative to last week.

FBO of the Week: Christiansen Jet Center, Tulsa, OK

Nominate an FBO | Rules | Tips | Questions | Winning FBOs

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Christiansen Jet Center, Tulsa at KRVS, Tulsa, OK.

Offering up Christiansen, Phil Hanson told us, "Tremendous t-storm blew into Tulsa, and they put my Skylane in their hanger among the Citations, Pilatus', etc. Staff is always very friendly and helpful."

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!

Attention, Cessna Owners
Do you need to modernize your old, tired RT359A or RT459A transponder? Narco Avionics proudly announces the availability of their all-new AT165/C and AT165/C Value Series digital display transponders. The AT165/C and AT165/C Value Series are designed as direct slide-in plug & play replacement transponders for the old ARC units. Both units feature instant VFR recall with quick and easy one-knob code entry. The AT165/C also features pressure altitude display with hold alert, along with three independent timers with audible alert. For more information, visit Narco Avionics online.

   Visit Narco Avionics at EAA AirVenture Booth #2115

New Articles and Features on AVweb

The Pilot's Lounge #102: The Last 10 Feet
The dreaded 709 ride -- it's just the FAA "here to help you," but your ticket could be on the line. AVweb's Rick Durden helped one pilot brush up on his skills and remind himself the best way to land.


Online Now: Listent to, or take today's news with you. Find exclusive interviews featuring TCM president Bryan Lewis, NATCA president John Carr, New Piper CEO Jim Bass, Hal Shevers for Sporty's Pilot Shop, Light Sport guru Dan Johnson, 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 and receive AVweb's podcasts automatically for listening on your computer, iPod, or while traveling with any MP3 player.

ASO Is Giving Away a Week of Advertising!
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AVweb's Business AVflash

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb’s NO-COST twice monthly Business AVflash? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash also focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the Business of Aviation. Business AVflash is a must read. Watch for a Business AVflash regular feature, TSA WATCH: GA IN THE "SPOTLIGHT". Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/ .

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Short Final

Seeing is believing... Overheard while in the pattern at FNT:

Tower: N12345 traffic at your one o'clock.

N12345: Looking for traffic.

[long pause...]

Tower: N12345 traffic now ... your traffic at three o'clock.

N12345: Still looking. I only see birds over there.

Tower: Well, look close. One of them has a transponder in it.



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Bonanza & Baron Owners: Learn to Save Thousands on Maintenance
The 10,000-member American Bonanza Society is sponsoring a weekend-long Savvy Owner Seminar by maintenance expert Mike Busch November 4-5 in Mobile, Alabama (BFM), including a TCM factory tour. Seminars are open to all GA aircraft owners! In one information-packed weekend, Mike teaches how to save literally thousands on maintenance costs, year after year. For details and to reserve your space, go online.

AVweb Flight Explorer Personal Edition 5.0 Online Now!
New features include: FAA airport delays; enhanced terrain/elevation map depictions and updated Airways; NAVAIDs; Fixes; Special Use Airspace; Sector boundaries; Flight Service Stations; and more. Current subscribers will need to download and install the new version of AVweb Flight Explorer. For more information about the AVweb Flight Explorer upgrade, check out the FAQ page.

IFR Refresher's July Issue Brings Some Summer Refreshments
"Building Blocks" — breaking down the complicated approach procedures components; "Copying Clearances" — plan well, learn to anticipate, and you'll be ready for changes; "Standardizing for Safety" — to be a safer, better, and more proficient pilot; "VOR/DME to Bay Bridge" — planning makes a perfect landing; "Learning from Mistakes" — more than once; and a Quiz on Lost Comm. Make IFR Refresher a part of your summer flying. Order online.

Need a Ride to Oshkosh? Have an Extra Seat Flying to Oshkosh?
PilotShareTheRide.com is the perfect site to share the ride with someone — in your plane or in theirs. Like AVweb, the site and services are at no-cost to you — ever! So go share a ride to Oshkosh. With the price of fuel, it's a win-win! Click here.

Comm1 Radio Simulator — Special Offer to AVweb Subscribers
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Aviation Consumer's July Issue Reviews Include:
"Chelton FlightLogic Is Top EFIS Display"; "What a Gear Up Costs" — costs are up since there are fewer shops capable of doing the work; "The Bulb's Life: Landing Light Duration Test"; "Lowrance 600c" — a new bargain-priced product with excellent terrain depiction and warning features; "Wheels at the Airport: We Like Go-Peds"; and the "Used Aircraft Guide" for the Mooney M20. You'll make up the subscription costs — plus — in buyer savings! Order Aviation Consumer online.


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 Russ Niles (bio).

Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team.

If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your PDA or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

Freedom, independence, responsibility.