AVwebFlash - Volume 12, Number 39a

September 25, 2006

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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The Post-Crash Fire Factor back to top 
 
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Canadian Officials Want Tougher Fire Standards For GA

The Canadian Transportation Safety Board is recommending the FAA and Transport Canada beef up certification standards for small aircraft in light of a study that shows many crash victims survive the impact only to be killed or horribly injured by fires that start after the crash. In a report issued, ironically, a day after Comair Flight 5191 crashed in Lexington (at least some of the 49 who died were believed to have been killed by fire), the TSB says occupants of small airplanes are potentially more at risk from what it calls post-impact fires (PIF) because of the close quarters of the cabin and the proximity of the occupants to the fuel. It wants regulators to impose fuel-system safety standards on light aircraft similar to those adopted for helicopters in 1994. The TSB report says fuel-system technology has come a long way and a lot can be learned not only from the helicopter industry but from the fire prevention systems employed on race cars and on newer vehicles available through the dealer. In the TSB's ideal world, new fuel system standards would apply not only to certified aircraft, but to homebuilts and ultralights. But it also recognizes that it won't be easy. "The implication of design improvements on new aircraft will be significant, and even more significant on existing designs," the report reads.

Alaskan Safety Study: Crashes, Fires, Fatalities

A Johns Hopkins University study looked at the same issue, from a slightly different perspective, and came up with similar conclusions in 2001. The institution's School of Public Health and Hygiene revealed in its study of Alaskan accidents that the biggest difference between crashes in which the occupants survived and those in which they were killed was whether or not there was a post-crash fire. "Postcrash fire was the strongest predictor of fatality for pilots in this study," the paper concludes, noting that "fuel systems that could withstand impact forces more effectively and keep from igniting when a crash occurred could lessen the number of post-crash fires, improving survivability." The Hopkins study also revealed some interesting facts about the Alaskan data that might affect its application elsewhere. For example, your chances of surviving an aircraft accident in Alaska are significantly better if you're an Alaskan, which the study surmises has to do with experience and local knowledge. The report also says that flying for a living is the most dangerous occupation in Alaska. The report states, "Between 1990 and 1999, aircraft crashes in Alaska caused 106 occupational deaths among workers classified as civilian pilots. This is equivalent to 410 deaths per 100,000 pilots per year -- approximately 100 times the mortality rate for US workers as a whole."

Anti-Fire Foam In The Fuel Tank

Foamex, a Pennsylvania company whose main business is making cushion material for beds and furniture, is in the final stages of an FAA-funded research project to come up with an affordable way to make aircraft fuel tanks more fire- and explosion-resistant. As we described in our Sept. 22 Audiocast, Foamex Technical Products has developed a special type of polyurethane foam that, when installed in fuel tanks, slows or prevents the rapid spread of fire within a tank and shows promise to "reduce the effects of post-crash fires" according to a Foamex news release. Dr. Chiu Chan, Foamex's director of research and development, told AVweb the foam is mostly air and displaces only three percent of the available tank volume. And, although air and fuel flow freely through the foam, it acts as a three-dimensional fire screen, preventing the spread of a fire. It also acts as a "plug" in the case of a fuel tank rupture, slowing the escape of fuel. Company spokesman John Galbraith told AVweb the military has been using Safety Foam, as it's called, for 30 years and the FAA-funded study ($729,000) is focused primarily on making the product more palatable for bottom-line-sensitive air carriers. Galbraith said the study is focused on commercial aircraft and estimates the cost of filling the tanks of a Boeing 737 with foam at less than $40,000. The foam weighs about 1,100 lbs. and the study is trying to reduce that "payload penalty."

 
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New Airplanes, Old Designs back to top 
 

MICCO Back In Business

The driving force behind a native American bid to enter the small aircraft business has decided to go it alone. James E. Billie, who went by Chief Jim Billie when he was chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, has taken over all the assets, including type certificate, of the Micco Aircraft Inc. He's renamed it MICCO Aircraft Company Inc. and is moving the operation from Ft. Pierce, Fla., to Bartlesville, Okla. "I just couldn't see this aircraft not being built," Billie said in a news release. "It hurt after all the effort of the MICCO team and the funding of the Tribe, to see it 'thrown away.'" Although the SP26, a fast aerobatic two-seater base on the 1950's era Meyers 200, was certified in 2000, it never really made it into significant production. Billie has diversified the Oklahoma operation by including a TECNAM light sport aircraft dealership and flight school as well as an FAA-approved repair station. He said many of the people, mostly native Americans, who worked on the Micco in Florida will make the move to Bartlesville and Billie said he hopes to involve local native Americans in the Oklahoma project. F. DeWitt Beckett, who was president of the Florida operation, will resume that post in Bartlesville and his wife Decki will look after marketing.

CopyCubs Proliferate

While the Sport Pilot rule was originally aimed at inspiring new aircraft designs and manufacturing, it's also spawned a renaissance of popular old designs that meet the weight and performance limitations. And it seems like the design many credit with starting the modern GA movement, the Piper J-3 Cub, is leading the LSA charge. There's fierce competition between Cubcrafters, of Yakima, Wash., and American Legend, of Sulphur Springs, Texas, for the CopyCub market. American Legend is holding a homecoming for about 100 Legend Cub owners and pilots Oct. 20-21. It's been building them for 15 months. Cubcrafters is celebrating its first two Sport Cub customer deliveries after three years of development efforts. And in Alaska, a company is reviving one of the most popular bushplane designs. Airframes Inc. of Big Lake, Alaska, and Dakota Cub, of Brandon, S.D., have teamed to create the Super 18 Corp. to build modern versions of the PA-18 Super Cub. This is no LSA, though. With a 180-hp engine the Super 18 will carry 1,000 lbs for a MTOW of about 2,400 lbs. It's a little wider than the original and it comes with the military version's wing, which has a slotted leading edge that further improves the design's legendary short-field and slow-speed performance. The company is aiming for FAA certification by the end of the year.

 
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Once An Airport, Always An Airport? back to top 
 

Bakersfield Airport Closure Request Denied

The FAA says Bakersfield Municipal Airport (California) will remain an airport "in perpetuity" despite the current city council's development designs. The city asked the FAA to relieve it of its obligations under the Airport Improvement Program so it could sell off the airport for housing and commercial development. The FAA could have simply said no, citing the agreements it has in place with Bakersfield as part of the city's acceptance of about $10 million worth of federally funded improvements. But, according to AOPA, Catherine Lang, the agency's acting associate administrator for airports, took the time to spell out the reasoning and to debunk the city's position that it's dangerous and a drain on its coffers. The city had claimed that it's underutilized but the airport sees about 30,000 operations a year and is home to about 100 GA aircraft. Allegations that aircraft using the municipal strip could conflict with commercial traffic at nearby Meadows Field were dismissed as "unsubstantiated" and Lang also pointed out that despite the uncertainty created at the airport by the city's lack of support, the airport still makes about $42,000 a year in profit. The real legal clout behind the FAA's position is the fact that federal funds were used to buy the airport and that means, under current FAA policy, that it will always be available for aviation.

Field Of Dreams Shot Down -- Rural Airport Closed

Build it and they will complain? Tiny Culleoka, Tenn., doesn't face the same urban pressures as fast-growing Bakersfield and, ironically, that's why Harry Askey has been forced to close the private airstrip he's been using for 13 years. Askey claims that when he asked Maury County officials if an airstrip was allowed on his 80-acre property, he was told it was fine with them. "They said, 'You're in a rural area. You can do what you want to do. You can have a private strip,'" Askey told the Columbia Daily Herald. However, Askey never thought to check that assurance and it's come back to haunt him. Newcomers are trickling into the area in pursuit of a quiet country lifestyle and a neighbor recently lodged a formal complaint against the airstrip. That's when county officials determined that Askey's property was in a zone that doesn't allow airstrips. Askey's been through the local hoops but the FAA can't help even though it's a federally approved landing strip. "It's a legal airstrip from the air up, but the Zoning Board controls the ground," Askey said. "The FAA says I have to settle with them." And it would appear the majority of residents and the local mayor would prefer Askey and his friends do their flying at the local airport. "We've got our own airport down here, which is a regionally approved airport with a lot of federal and state aeronautical funds in it and local tax dollars that we are very proud of," said Maury County mayor Jim Bailey.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Warbird Restrictions Lifted

Locally imposed restrictions on the operation of experimental exhibition aircraft, most of them warbirds, have been lifted at airports in the Los Angeles basin. EAA says the relaxation came after three years of lobbying by the group. In 2003, the Van Nuys Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) decreed that experimental aircraft were effectively banned from four local airports. Although the existing aircraft could continue using the airports where they were based, if they moved or were sold they weren't welcome. Van Nuys FSDO officials reasoned that experimental aircraft, by their classification, posed an increased risk to the densely populated areas surrounding the airports in question (Van Nuys, Santa Barbara, Burbank and Whiteman). In an EAA news release, the organization says it's been lobbying the FAA relentlessly since the memo was written and on Sept. 8 the effort bore fruit. Another memo has been written that supersedes the old memo and "any airport limitations or restrictions on EE aircraft developed by field offices based on that [old] memorandum, are rescinded." EAA says some pilots were told they couldn't fly over populated areas [including takeoffs and landings] even though their airworthiness certificates and operating limitations allowed them to.

F-14 Tomcat's "Final" Flight

It was perhaps an appropriate scenario to end a storied era in military aviation. The Navy, quite wisely as it turned out, had a spare airplane waiting in the wings for the ceremonial final flight of an F-14 Tomcat at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia last week. Sure enough, the first airplane failed to perform and it was a spare that took off to the cheers and applause of about 3,000 people attending the ceremony. In practical terms, most of the remaining F-14s have at least one more flight left as they get dispersed to air museums around the country but their days as Cold War air superiority fighters and, later, ground support aircraft are officially over. The F-14, a big fighter with variable sweep wings, was deployed in 1972 to defend aircraft carrier groups against Russian bombers carrying cruise missiles. When that threat collapsed, it was converted to a ground support aircraft covering troops in Bosnia and Kosovo in the late 1990s and, as late as last year, in Iraq. It's been replaced by the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Plane Hits Car -- Car Owner Pays First

A Montreal man whose SUV was damaged by a Piper Cherokee making a forced landing last week says he can't believe the spin his insurance company is putting on the mishap. Allstate says Bill Mack must pay the $1,000 deductible on the $4,000 in damages his Dodge Durango sustained when the Cherokee dropped in on him. There were no serious injuries in the crash. Quebec has a no-fault type of system in which insurance companies cover their clients' losses with no deductible. But that only applies to car crashes and Allstate spokesman Derek Tupling told the Montreal Gazette the company has to investigate cases like this to determine who's at fault, something Mack found hard to take. "It's pretty obvious it wasn't my fault," Mack said. "It's not like my car jumped too high or something," he said. Mack said Allstate officials have told him he'll eventually get the money back when the aircraft insurer pays but he said he doesn't think he should be out of pocket in the meantime. His car won't be released to him without the payment. Perhaps adding insult is that the Canadian Transportation Safety Board's initial report faults the pilot for moving the plane's fuel tank selector to the wrong position and starving the engine of fuel. The plane put down on a Montreal street and hit three other vehicles. The plane, with two people on board, was a write-off but no one, including Mack's 82-year-old mother, was seriously hurt.

Graves Divert Airport Expansion

While it's doubtful any airplane is loud enough to wake the dead, Craven County Airport Authority, near New Bern, N.C., isn't taking any chances. The county is giving back $204,000 in federal funding after Civil War-era graves were found near the proposed site of new hangars and right where the new taxiway was supposed to go. The army leveled the cemetery during the Second World War to build an airstrip and the dearly departed from historic days gone by were all but forgotten. But they came to light in a 1970s battle against a runway extension and, to date, 522 graves have been identified on the airport land, not including the unknown number found recently. The new (old) graves were found by an archeologist and their discovery means the airport expansion plan is being scaled back. The county had hoped to add 10 hangars and the taxiway but the taxiway will be cancelled and only five hangars can be built.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

"Dumbo" The Aerocar For Sale -- $3.5 Million

As a car, it can charitably be described as ugly. As an airplane it's almost beyond description but one of four Aerocars left in the world (one crashed) is for sale in Grand Junction, Colo. Carl and Marilyn Felling say they don't want to sell the machine they call Dumbo but it's part of their divorce settlement. Ironically, they obtained the extraordinarily rare contraption through a divorce sale 20 years ago. "I wouldn't say it's cursed by divorce," Marilyn Felling told the Grand Junction Sentinel. The Molt Taylor design was actually certified by the Civil Aviation Authority in 1956 but it never went into production. It did fly, however, and was made famous by TV personality Bob Cummings who owned one and featured it on his show. The Fellings' Aerocar was actually used commercially. A Portland radio station racked up more than 1,000 hours on it as a traffic report aircraft. It carried Raul Castro, Fidel's brother, as a passenger. Felling said she and her now-ex husband had plans to restore the plane to flying condition and eventually donate it to a museum but the divorce ended those plans.

DC-10 Firefighting Tanker Busy

A DC-10 converted to drop firefighting retardant helped crews battle a stubborn fire near Santa Paula, CA Sunday. The aircraft dropped 12,000 gallons of retardant on the fire, which has been burning for three weeks and is threatening homes. "It's been very, very effective and very impressive," forestry agency spokesman Matt Streck told the Los Angeles Times. "Each drop looks like it covers more than half a mile of terrain." As AVweb reported in 2004, the plane was quietly developed by a company called 10 Tanker Air Carrier, of Victorville, Calif. The aircraft made a splash (sorry) at the 2005 Paris Air Show with a demonstration drop and it's been busy since July, helping to snuff fires from Washington State to California. The California Department of Forestry caught it on video on a fire in July. More information, including video and still images are available, here.

 
Cessna Offers to Cover $15,000 in Fuel Costs
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News in Brief back to top 
 

On The Fly...

The now-former pilot of an Onur Air A321 resigned by telling his passengers not to fly on the plane because it wasn't safe. He then walked off the plane. Most of the 180 passengers flew back to England from Turkey aboard another Onur plane but some made other arrangements. Airline officials said there was no risk to safety...

The pilot of a helicopter caused a stir in Ft. Lauderdale last week when the aircraft disappeared off radar screens. But the chopper was located in the back yard of the owner's waterfront home. He'd stopped in for moment and took off again, raising curiosity but not breaking any rules...

Chalk's International Airline hopes to resume service to Bimini, Caribbean and Florida locations using Beech 1900s. The airline has been grounded since last December when the wing on one of its turboprop Grumman Mallards broke off and it crashed off Miami. The Mallards are grounded for a safety review but the airline hopes to get them flying again.

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.

Find all of today's stories in AVweb's: NewsWire

Audio News

Audio news, plus a new in-depth interview are posted online each Monday and Friday. Check AVweb's audio news index to hear news directly from the newsmakers.

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.

 
Doc Blue's Emergency Medical Kit — Don't Leave Home Without It!
Do you carry a first-aid kit in your airplane or car? AVweb's Dr. Brent Blue says drugstore first-aid kits are packed with mostly useless stuff. Dr. Blue has assembled a traveling medical kit for dealing with all sorts of medical problems, based on his long experience as an emergency room doctor, frequent traveler, pilot, outdoorsman, and dad. It would cost more than $500 to duplicate this kit, but it's available on sale from Aeromedix for $333. Order by calling (888) 362-7123, or go online.
 
Features back to top 
 

New Articles and Features on AVweb

COLUMNS

CEO of the Cockpit #62: Garden Party
It's really easy to get into the mode of complaining and bemoaning the state of aviation and, in particular, the airlines. Get a bunch of recently retired CEOs of the Cockpit together and it's downright maudlin. Until someone comes by with a new perspective

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/ .

 
DA40 Diamond Star a Fleet Favorite
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Your Favorite FBO's back to top 
 

FBO of the Week: Henderson Executive (KHND, Henderson, NV)

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.

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Henderson Executive at KHND in Henderson, Nevada.

AVweb reader Thomas Okerlund offered his praise for the service and facilities.

"The Line and Customer Service staff are top notch and match the new facilites just opened at Henderson. On a recent after hours late night trip, the Line Staff came into assist with parking and luggage. To accomodate the crew, they took everyone to their hotel and then turned down a tip when offered. Wow!"

Keep those nominations coming. For complete contest rules, click here.

AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!

 
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VOTW back to top 
 

Video of the Week: Kirby Chambliss at Red Bull Air Race, Longleat, U.K.

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

This week's video arrives, courtesy of the folks at the Red Bull Air Races and Freecaster.com. You'll need the QuickTime plug-in to view this one. (There's a link to download it if you don't already have it.) And after you've watched Kirby Chambliss strut his stuff at the Red Bull Air Race in Longleat, U.K., use the embedded menu to watch more clips from Longleat. Please keep sending your video links!



For those who asked, the song featured in last week's Video was "Treetop Flyer," recorded by Stephen Stills and found on the album Stills Alone.

Click here for this week's video.

 
AVweb's Flight Explorer 5.0 Includes Enhanced Services
AVweb's Flight Explorer features include FAA Airport delays; enhanced terrain/elevation map depictions; updated Airways, NAVAIDs, Fixes, Special Use Airspace, and Flight Service Stations; and much more. Click here for more information and to subscribe.
 
The Lighter Side Of Flight back to top 
 

Short Final


Remind me, again. What did I just say?
(Heard at KRFD the other day as we turned to final in a King Air.)

Cessna123: Cessna123 ready to go Runway 19.

Tower: Hold short for traffic on final.

Cessna123: Ready to go 19.

Tower: I already told you to hold short.

Cessna123: Do you want me to take the runway?

Tower: If killing yourself and others is at the top of your agenda today, I'd rather you did it somewhere other than Runway 19, just now.

Cessna123: Hold short Runway 19.

 

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Names Behind the News back to top 
 

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).

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