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AIRCRAFT READY TO FLY Among the many intriguing sights at EAA
AirVenture last month was an array of four brightly painted little RV-3s, just off
Aeroshell Square, each with the word "ethanol" on its empennage and tail
feathers. Nearby, a Mooney 201 also sported ethanol livery. The RV-3
E-Squadron has been flying for 13 years on corn-based ethanol fuel, and
the Mooney is part of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council's AGE85 aviation-grade
ethanol research project. That project has been working for 11 years to
determine how to burn ethanol fuels in general-aviation engines, in the
event that 100LL becomes unavailable. As the market shrinks for leaded
fuel, the concern is that it will become harder and harder to get, more
expensive, and perhaps go away altogether. More...
COST, AND ENGINE WEAR Jim Behnken, chief test pilot for
AGE85, told AVweb yesterday there's no need for pilots to be
anxious about that scenario. "100 low-lead might be available for
another 100 years. But if it does go away, we do have an answer."
Behnken said his group's research shows that ethanol can do the job. "I
can take you flying in our test aircraft, and switch back and forth
between ethanol and low-lead, and you can't tell the difference in
performance," he said. The biggest drawback with ethanol is fuel
economy, which is about 20 to 30 percent less. An engine that burns 5
gallons per hour of gasoline would instead burn 6 or 7 gallons of
ethanol. "But the engine wear is less," Behnken said, "so overall, on
operating costs, it's pretty much a wash." More...
WAIT FOR ALTERNATIVE FUEL? The main advantages of ethanol
fuel, Behnken says, are, number one, it's produced domestically, and
number two, it avoids the environmental and safety issues of the toxic
components of 100LL. Although it's true that the U.S. can't produce
enough ethanol to fuel the entire auto fleet, it could supply the GA
fleet several times over. So if overall performance and cost is pretty
much on a par, why wait for the end of 100LL? Why isn't the changeover
already under way? "Because nobody's asking for it," says Behnken. If
the demand isn't there, the fuel won't be available at your local FBO,
and it's too much trouble to custom-order it. He said in the last year
or two, though, with volatile gasoline prices and more concern over
supplies, he's seen "significant change" in the interest level. So will
ethanol soon be a viable alternative? More...
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BIZJETS -- WHY WAIT IN LINE? When the Concorde quit flying,
it seemed like the end of an era for supersonic passenger aircraft --
but more likely, it was a blip in what will be a continuing story.
Working on that next chapter are several companies laboring quietly
away, hoping to build the transport of the future within the next 10
years. Most are aiming not for mass transport, but for the high-end
business and fractional market, with seating for just 12 to 24 or so
passengers. Aerion, based in Reno, Nev., and backed by
billionaire Robert Bass, is testing its supersonic laminar-flow wing
this month in New Mexico. More...
NOISE, VIBRATION One problem for future SSTs, though, is
restrictions on supersonic flight over land. Aerion says it will comply
with the current rules by cruising at Mach 0.98 over the U.S. In other
parts of the world where rules require that the boom can't reach the
ground, Aerion can comply while flying as fast as Mach 1.1. Over the
oceans, the ship can max out at Mach 1.6. Another contender, Supersonic Aerospace
International, has a different plan, apparently hoping that the
rules will evolve as technology improves. The company says its design,
which it's working on together with Lockheed Martin's "Skunk Works,"
will be quiet enough to fly at Mach 1.6 and up anywhere in the world.
RESEARCH CONTINUES, WORLDWIDE A federation of French and
Japanese aerospace companies agreed in Paris last month to begin research on the
development of a civilian supersonic transport airplane. The French
group includes Airbus, EADS and Dassault Aviation, and the Japanese
group comprises 98 companies, including Honda, Mitsubishi and Kawasaki.
In Russia, Sukhoi has been working since the 1980s on SST
technology, while keeping a low profile. Gulfstream is reportedly
working with NASA to test a patented telescopic nose spike that would
reduce the sonic boom of a supersonic business jet. The spike extends
from 14 feet to 24 feet to reduce the shockwave intensity, Flight International reported last month.
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OF THE YEAR": TWIN STAR, GARMIN GPS Aviation Consumer (AVweb's sister
publication) named Diamond Aircraft's DA42 Twin Star as its "Airplane
of the Year" in the August 2006 issue. The magazine was impressed with
Diamond's use of Theilert aerodiesel engines, especially with the price
of 100LL reportedly peaking above $7 per gallon in some areas. According
to Aviation Consumer, the aircraft addresses the "head-in-the-sand blind
hope that fuel prices will somehow decline again." The Twin Star "has
decent cruise speed [172 knots], a comfortable cabin and exceptional
economy [12.5 gph of Jet A]. If the future of GA lies in more efficient
airplanes and powerplants, Diamond is leading the way." Product of the
Year was the Garmin GPSMAP396, and other favorites were chosen from
airport bikes, EFIS displays and more. More...
"FIX" A THREAT TO GPS, SCIENTISTS SAY The tax dollars that
fund the U.S. Air Force and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)
are not for nothing ... the brains there are hard at work finding ways
to deflect threats most of us didn't even know existed. The trouble is,
according to some New Zealand researchers, their fix might cause
problems of its own, disrupting GPS signals and aircraft radios
worldwide for up to a week. DARPA says it could protect Earth-orbiting
satellites from nasty charged particles by clearing them out with
very-low-frequency radio waves. But according to researcher Craig
Rodger, "Earth's upper atmosphere would be dramatically affected by such
a system, causing unusually intense [radio] blackouts around most of the
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NEEDS A MILLION POUNDS, NOW No, not Mr. Spock's home planet,
but the giant Avro Vulcan delta-winged bomber, formerly of
Britain's Royal Air Force. Despite widespread support and some
£2.75 million already spent, the restoration of the retired
airplane is "on the brink of failure," Robert Pleming wrote to
AVweb on Monday. The impressive-looking aircraft was one of three
British V-Bombers designed to drop nuclear weapons during the Cold War.
The fleet fought in the Falklands War and was retired in 1993 -- none
have flown since. After more than seven years of work, Vulcan XH558 is
almost ready to be rolled out of its hangar, with the goal to return to
the air next year. But the project has run out of funds, and now is
trying to raise a million pounds by the end of August.
EXPEDITION'S TRAGEDY The Flight of
Discovery will go on, its organizers say, despite the loss of three
members of the expedition on Sunday morning, when their Robinson R44
helicopter went down off the foggy Oregon coast. Two helicopters were
flying together from Washington state, with 100-foot ceilings and about
a half-mile visibility reported. The pilot of the other helicopter
called the Coast Guard after losing contact with the R44. The crash site
was found about a mile offshore. The Flight of Discovery is a team of
general-aviation pilots and scientists who will fly the route of the
Lewis and Clark expedition during the 200th anniversary of their trek,
in an effort to inspire an interest in history and science.
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TOWN NOT READY FOR POWERED PARACHUTE The powers that be in
Nacogdoches, Texas, have decided to look a gift parachute in the mouth,
and told the local sheriff to keep his Buckeye
Dream Machine on the ground, at least for now. The sheriff got the
powered 'chute for free last month from the Bureau of Justice
Assistance, funded by a federal grant to test the usefulness of the
craft in crime fighting. But when three deputies started practicing in
the aircraft, working toward a Sport Pilot certificate from the FAA,
questions arose about liability and insurance. "I haven't really
achieved a high level of comfort with this," said County Judge Sue
Kennedy, quoted in The Daily Sentinel. "I have some concerns that we
are being rushed into something we haven't had time to look at."
LAPTOP'S TERRORISM PLOT? We've written before about snakes on a plane, and bees, too, but with this week's recall of 4.1
million Dell laptop batteries because they might suddenly burst into flame -- the biggest such recall ever --
pilots may be wondering if it's a good idea to allow laptops on a plane.
Last month, an NTSB hearing about the onboard fire that destroyed a
UPS DC-8 in Philadelphia in February focused on lithium-ion batteries.
And a Wall Street Journal story earlier this week, prior
to the Dell recall, explored concerns about the batteries, citing 60
incidents since 1991 logged by the FAA. In the last two years, five
known battery fires have occurred on aircraft, the Journal reported. So
should you leave your laptop out of the cockpit? More...
Introducing New AeroShell® Oil W 80
The newest member of the AeroShell® family, AeroShell®
Oil W 80 Plus is designed to provide excellent protection for pilots who
fly in colder weather or less frequently. With the same anti-wear and
anti-corrosion additives found in AeroShell® W 100 PLUS, new
AeroShell® W 80 Plus provides pilots with a lighter
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OR STORMSCOPE? In the span of just a few years, NEXRAD
weather datalinked to the cockpit has become all but standard equipment.
But has it displaced the previous standard in storm avoidance, spherics
devices such as Stormscope and Strike Finder? For an upcoming issue, our
sister publication, Aviation Consumer, is preparing an article comparing
the two technologies. If you've been using both systems and you have an
opinion on the topic, the editors would like to hear from you. Contact
for a survey form. The editors would also like your views comparing
onboard weather radar with datalinked NEXRAD. More...
THE FLY... FAA and LAX at odds over ILS
breakdowns... NTSB reports on the crash that killed Wal-Mart heir
John Walton... Silverjet to compete for high-end trans-Atlantic
traffic... Flight Aware's archive now totals more than 25 million
flights... What happens when a plane is struck by lightning?
Garmin 396 vs. Flight Cheetah with XM Weather
Comparison How does the Garmin 396 really compare to the
Flight Cheetah with XM Weather? Check out this link to find out. (866) 443-3342
NEWS Online Now: Listen to, or take AVweb's
no-iPod-requiredaudio news with you. We post fresh audio news issues
each Monday and Friday. Tomorrow, we're with the group working to
restore the Avro Vulcan delta-winged bomber.
Find exclusive interviews
featuring Cessna's Jack Pelton on his company's LSA, 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 online, now. You'll hear
things you won't find anywhere else.
Join AOPA: The Real-Time Flight Planner Is
Worth the Dues Alone! AOPA membership can be an invaluable resource at an incredible
value. Join AOPA for $39 a year and take advantage of the benefits
exclusive to members, including: a year subscription to AOPA
Pilot magazine; 24-hour access to the "Members-Only"
section of the web site; and AOPA's Real-Time Flight Planner with
up-to-the-minute flight restrictions, routing images, weather info, and
more! As the largest aviation organization in the world, AOPA is
a tireless advocate for over 407,000 members, protecting their right to
fly. Click here to become an AOPA member today.
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/More...
If You Think "Bargains" Are Something
Alien to Aviation Think Again!
Spending hard-earned money on your aircraft and its avionics can be
expensive. But don't think good deals aren't available in today's
marketplace. Bennett Avionics provides pilots with quality
avionics to meet their needs and maintain their budget. Before you buy
anywhere else, check out Bennett Avionics at (860) 653-7295 or online. You'll be glad you did!
Join NAA and Help Shape the Next Century of
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.
specials must really be hot this week. It's the only thing we can
think of to explain why "POTW" submissionhave dropped a mere sixty-odd
photos. (Heck, we had almost thatmany in the running for "top ten"
status last week!) Not to worry. We won't take it
personally. No, instead we'll soldier on bravelyand entertain
ourselves with the top-notch photos that did rollin over the past
At the very top of our pile is an eye-catching paint job
from Mike Pastore of
Illinois. Congratulations to Mike, who'll receive an official AVweb
baseball hatin the mail next week. For a chance to win an AVweb
hat of yourown and, more importantly perhaps, the chance to
ooh and ahha hundred thousand of your fellow aviation
enthusiasts submit your photo
AVWEB APPRECIATES YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT OF
WHO BRING YOU TODAY'S NEWS AND FEATURES AT NO COST TO YOU
Award-Winning VFLITE Computer-Based
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Now in use at FSDO's nationwide for FAA Inspector training, the
VFLITE standard and advanced GNS 530/430 eLearning programs are
the ideal solution for both initial and recurrent training. Featuring
scenario-based, guided simulation; get the most from your GPS the quick,
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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.
AVweb's Flight Explorer 5.0 Available
at Same Low Price! Version 5.0 is now available at the same low price! New features
include FAA Airport delays; enhanced terrain/elevation map depictions;
updated Airways, NAVAIDs, Fixes, Special Use Airspace, and Flight
Service Stations; and more. Click here for more information and to
Flying Magazine's August Issue
Reviews the Mooney's Acclaim Flying finds the Acclaim quick, solid, and smooth. Plus: Expert advice on pre-take-off
strategy and in-flight avoidance tactics for thunderstorms; Richard
Collins is impressed with Columbia's 400 with G1000 autopilot; and much
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Have You Seen Aviation Consumer's
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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).
here to send a letter to the
editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not
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