AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 12, Number 40a

October 2, 2006

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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A Rules And Its Opposition back to top 

FAA's Final Rule -- Replace Those Crankshafts

The FAA on Friday published its final version of a controversial rule affecting crankshafts in 3,774 Lycoming 360- and 540-series engines. The Airworthiness Directive (AD), effective Nov. 3, requires owners to replace the crankshaft either at normal overhaul, when the crankcase is split for any reason, or within 12 years of the time the crankshaft was put into service. Replacement parts will cost about $16,000 per engine. Lycoming is offering to reduce that price to $2,000 for three years. If the routine overhaul is done at the Lycoming factory, the crankshaft will be replaced with no additional charge. But that hasn't satisfied all owners, who note that in a previous crankshaft AD, the company bore the entire cost of repair. And, so, there's the court system. One owner in California has filed a class-action suit calling for Lycoming to do the same this time. Lycoming has declined to comment on that suit.

CPA Suggestions Rejected

The Cessna Pilots Association (CPA) objected to the proposed AD, saying there should be no calendar time mandated and compliance should be determined based on the type of operations for which the aircraft is used. The FAA did not agree. The CPA also said "the FAA has been used by Lycoming to spread out over time the costs to the company for the removal of their flawed parts." John Frank, CPA executive director, wrote, "The crankshafts that the FAA will require to be replaced at owner expense under this NPRM are equally and identically as flawed as those that were replaced at Lycoming's expense under AD 2002-19-03." Frank added, "The FAA's delay in taking action because of the supposed lower risk factor of the lower horsepower engine simply helped Lycoming get out from under a portion of the expense and basically stuck it to the individual owner."

AOPA Thwarted, Too

AOPA also argued that aircraft owners should be allowed to continue to use their engine until reaching time-for-overhaul based on hours, without any "arbitrary" calendar deadline. Some owners may have only a few hours on their engine and reach the 12-year limit well before an overhaul is needed, AOPA said. The FAA disagreed with that one, too. "We re-evaluated the risk that this unsafe condition presents to aircraft and have determined that adequate risk mitigation can only be achieved by establishing an end limit for crankshaft removal based on years since a crankshaft enters service," the FAA said. Variations in the crankshaft anomalies make it impossible to predict when failure might occur, according to the AD. If an owner or operator has data to justify an extension of the hourly limit and/or the calendar end-limit, the FAA said it will consider applications for Alternate Means of Compliance.

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User Fees Examined back to top 

FAA Funding Crisis Questioned By Congress

The FAA position that user fees are the answer to declining resources in the Aviation Trust Fund found little support on Capitol Hill last week, according to AOPA. At a hearing held by the House aviation subcommittee on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) said the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects a growing surplus in the fund. "This new information raises questions about the administration's claims that there is a revenue crisis at the FAA," Costello said. The FAA is saying it expects to need as much as $15 billion over the next 15 years to get the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS) up and running. According to the FAA, that means more money must come from somewhere. But the CBO report suggests that the current revenue streams will cover it. "User fees are the wrong way to go," said Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-Mich.). "It makes it very cumbersome; it gets more expensive. We don't charge user fees to everyone that goes through an intersection with a traffic signal. It's a bit silly to get that specific about the cost."

Modernization Costs Uncertain

Witnesses at the hearing said it's not certain how much it will cost to modernize the system. According to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, "No comprehensive estimate of NGATS costs has been developed." The result, said Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), is that the discussion "is putting the cart ahead of the horse when we don't know what we need." Donald Marron, acting CBO director, testified that based on conservative assumptions, the aviation trust fund will have a surplus of "$2 billion at the end of 2006, increasing to $19 billion by the end of 2016." Costello said he disagrees with FAA Administrator Marion Blakey's frequent assertion that there is a gap between revenue going into the trust fund and the FAA's costs.

In Print & Online, Trade-A-Plane Has Everything That Keeps You Flying
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News Briefs back to top 

737 Crashes, BizJet Damaged

Searchers who parachuted in on Saturday to the crash site where a Boeing 737-800 went down Friday afternoon found no sign of survivors. The wreckage was located in a remote jungle area in the Amazon region of Brazil. The 737, with 155 souls on board, was en route from Manaus to Brasilia when it crashed. Seven people aboard an Embraer Legacy 600 executive jet flying the area felt a jolt, and the pilot found the airplane was damaged. He made a safe emergency landing at Cachimbo air force base. Early reports said the two jets had collided in the air, but later reports said those on board the Legacy saw only a shadow, and the jet may have been hit by debris (we recognize that is an unusual collection of words). An online photo shows damage to the left wingtip and stabilizer on the Legacy.

The Legacy was on a transfer flight to be delivered to a new owner in the U.S. The 737 was operated by Gol, a low-fare airline, and had just been delivered a few weeks ago. The crash is the worst air disaster ever in Brazil. "The jungle is so dense that we're going to have to open it up" to recover the wreckage, the president of Brazil's airport authority, Jose Carlos Pereira, said. "It's a very complex operation, it's extremely humid there, and there are millions of mosquitoes." The Embraer Legacy is a corporate version of the ERJ-135.

Prediction Of Solar Flares, GPS Disruption

As GA pilots become increasingly dependent on GPS signals not only for navigation but for instrument approaches, it now appears that it may be possible for the signals to be disrupted by solar flares. Right now that's not a problem because the sun is in a quiet phase, but it's expected to get active again in 2011. That seems a long way off, but it will be here before you know it. The intense solar flares could cause GPS signals used by aircraft navigation and emergency location systems to degrade by up to 90 percent, for hours at a time. GPS has become ubiquitous during a quiet solar period, and no easy fix for the problem is immediately apparent. The disruptive effect was discovered accidentally by a grad student studying the ionosphere, and was later verified by numerous sources. So far, it seems the only way to cope with the interference is to have a backup plan for when it happens.

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News Briefs back to top 

DOD: Wind Farms' Impact On ATC Radar Minimal

In a long-awaited study that was released last week, the Department of Defense said its tests have shown that large wind farms degrade the effectiveness of military radar if they are located within the line of sight of the installation. However, Air Traffic Control radar systems used by the FAA are much less prone to such interference. According the report, "ATC radars can rely on both primary radar returns and [transponder] returns to ensure safe airspace operations. ... The presence of a wind farm does not appear to significantly affect the performance of [those] systems." However, the report notes that decisions about wind-farm impacts on ATC radar are up to the FAA.

And the FAA seems to be OK with wind farms. The agency recently approved 614 applications for turbines across Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Illinois, the American Wind Energy Association said last week. The wind association also said it was "disappointed" in the DOD report. "The report remains incomplete, and only cursorily mentions existing and emerging ways to mitigate wind turbine radar interactions," said executive director Randall Swisher.

Adam A500 OK'd For Night, IFR, And Pressurization

Adam Aircraft, of Englewood, Colo., last week received an amended Type Certificate from the FAA for its A500 piston twin. The TC now OKs the airplane for night and IFR operations, for single-pilot operation, and for cabin pressurization up to 12,500 feet. Operating altitude expansion to 25,000 feet is on hold until de-icing certification tests are completed over the winter. The TC was originally handed over in May 2005, but with numerous limitations. Adam was recently awarded an FAA Production Certificate, allowing it to ramp up its production process. The company has a two-year backlog of orders for the airplane.

Mike's Mechanic Must Be a MENSA Member
Mike says that multi-grade Exxon Elite is mandatory for a Mooney's motor. But can one brand of oil really work more effectively than another to combat rust? The answer is "absolutely" — and by a large margin. But to arrive at that conclusion, you need to disregard intuitive myths to examine some hard evidence that has come out of "humidity cabinet" testing protocols. To learn more, click here.
News Briefs back to top 

SpaceShipTwo Gets Its Curtain Call

Richard Branson, the U.K. airline mogul who has joined with Burt Rutan to build spaceships for tourists, unveiled a mockup of SpaceShipTwo last week at the Wired NextFest event in New York City. The ship, as expected, is a larger version of SpaceShipOne. It's designed to carry six passengers and two pilots. It will be carried aloft to about 60,000 feet on a carrier named White Knight Two, then detach and rocket into space at about Mach 4. Virgin Galactic has also launched a spiffy new version of its Web site, with lots of new movies and information about the project. According to the site, flight testing of the prototype is expected to start next year. It was also reported last week that Branson is negotiating with British TV networks to develop a reality show where six contestants will compete for a spot on a ride into space. Branson's first commercial craft will be named the VSS (Virgin SpaceShip) Enterprise, and is expected to be ready to go in early 2009. Space tourists will undergo three days of pre-flight preparation. Seats will cost about $200,000 each.

In other space news, Rutan is working with Transformational Space Corporation to build a two-stage vehicle that could reach orbit and would act as a taxi to the International Space Station. And also last week, Jim Benson, founder of SpaceDev (the company that built the rocket motor for SpaceShipOne), said he is starting a new company called Benson Space Co. and aims to be the first to offer space flights for tourism. His Dreamchaser ship looks similar to the space shuttle. It would take off vertically and glide to a runway landing.

FAA Will Examine Age-60 Rule

The FAA last week established a forum of airline, labor and medical experts to review the long-debated rule, established in 1959, that requires airline pilots to retire at age 60. The forum will recommend whether the U.S. should adopt the new International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standard, due to take effect in November, that will allow one of the two pilots on the flight deck to be over age 60. The forum also will determine what actions would be necessary if the FAA were to change its rule. "The FAA must ensure that any future rule change, should it occur, provides an equal or better level of safety to passengers," said FAA head, Marion Blakey.

"I'm looking forward to hearing from the experts so the FAA can make informed decisions as the ICAO standard is implemented and Congress considers this issue." Capt. Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, which has long opposed changing the rule, will serve as co-chair of the committee. He said he will ensure that the review is based on "sound science and safety risk." Air Transport Association President James May was also appointed as committee co-chair. Many changes over the years have come about due to FAA efforts to be in sync with ICAO, from adding a "K" to airport identifiers to changing the vertical separation rules in the flight levels. Those who want to keep the age-60 rule status quo may have to mount a strong resistance and rationale to buck the ICAO tide. The committee has just 60 days to complete its review.

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News in Brief back to top 

On The Fly...

A supervisor at the Denver Center had inappropriate relations with female subordinates, including having sex while at work, and has not been disciplined, according to local news reports...

The FAA last week chose Lockheed Martin to help introduce unmanned aerial vehicles into the National Airspace System...

UP Aerospace has recovered the rocket and payloads that failed to complete the inaugural flight last week from New Mexico's spaceport...

Richard Branson last week proposed efficiency measures that could reduce pollution from airliners by 25 percent within two years...

Who needs an airplane? The First Annual Rocketbelt Convention, held in upstate New York last weekend, featured talks, exhibits, demos, and a ukulele.

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something that 130,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. 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

Reader feedback on AVweb's news coverage and feature articles


AVmail: Oct. 2, 2006
Reader mail this week about crushing the tweeties, copycubs, airline reregulation and much more.

Columbia Simplifies Buying & Selling All Aircraft Brands
Selling an aircraft can be a challenging odyssey. Aircraft owners need to: locate a broker with national resources to sell for top dollar; select and utilize the most effective advertising; access no-cost, no-obligation finance pre-qualification; consult aviation tax experts; and obtain insurance quotes with higher liability limits. Columbia Aircraft has created a tool to assist pilots and aircraft owners of all brands. Check out their web site.
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Regent Aviation

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 Regent Aviation at KRST in Rochester, MN.

AVweb reader Mervyn R. Broadway offered excellent marks and simple praise for the service and facilities.

"This has to be the best FBO I've visited in years."

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!

ASO — A Better Way to Sell Your Aircraft Share
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Features back to top 

New Articles and Features on AVweb


Probable Cause #16: Peer-Pressurized
A VFR-only Bonanza pilot succumbs to peer pressure and launches into marginal conditions.

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.

WingX 2.0 Now Available — With NACO Approach Charts, SmartTaxi™, Online Weather, and Podcasts!
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AVwebBiz back to top 

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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The Lighter Side Of Flight back to top 

Short Final

The sound of cooperation.

Departing out of Edmonton AB, CYXD, Friday 27 Sept 06 I was talking to departure and after getting north a way...

City Center: Grumman RGG, I see you over [pause] I forgot the name of the town.

RGG: Morinville

City center: Right. Cleared enroute, radar service is terminated.


City Center: Everybody on frequency pretend they didn't hear that.

Unknown: Roger

RGG: Wilco.



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Flight Explorer Personal Edition® Is a Real-Time Decision-Support Tool
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Ensure Yourself and Your Passengers' Safety for Under $149!
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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 Mary Grady (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.

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