AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 3a

January 15, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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U.S. Sport Aviation Expo 2007 back to top 

LSA Show Continues To Grow

The four-day U.S. Sport Aviation Expo at the Sebring (Fla.) Regional Airport ended Sunday, and this year's show was well attended. This, the third year of the expo, drew record crowds and sold 120 exhibitor slots. More than 100 aircraft were displayed, and probably half that many were flying. Nearly all exhibitors reported solid sales, and every one AVweb asked said they’d be back. The best slogan came from INDus, whose new LoPresti-developed speed mods were teased (with drawings but not hardware) at the show: “If it flew any faster, it would be a federal offense.” Attendees ogled over the many fixed-wings, trikes, powered parachutes, motor-gliders and gyroplanes on display. The daily schedule also allowed visitors the opportunity for flight demonstrations of almost every aircraft on display. EAA also held free forums that focused on LSA, sport pilot certificates and related topics such as training programs and insurance.

New Light Sport Aircraft Abound At Expo

New airplanes were everywhere at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo. The undisputed star of the show was the proof-of-concept Cessna LSA. Expect some changes if it goes into production -- the wing is slated to move down and rearward and engine cooling will be refined (there were a new cowl outlet and NACA inlet duct in evidence at Sebring). Cessna will announce whether it will join the LSA market before Sun 'n Fun. Avia brought its A-16 Sport Falcon tandem-seat trainer and said an amphibious version is in the works. LSA America was there showing its Czech-built Mystique, which is now available in 80- or 100-hp 912 versions. Jim Stewart (S-51 Mustang) showed his new metal twin-boom S-LSA pusher design dubbed The Horizon.

The Dynamic WT-9, in its familiar retractable version, was being shown by Sport Aircraft Works. It will be available later this year in a stiff-leg S-LSA version at $84,000. FK Lightplanes had its new-version FK-9, which now sports a foldable wing, allowing hangar sharing and easy storage. RANS showed refinements to its S-LSA S-7 ($80,000 with a Garmin or King moving map GPS and transponder) and E-LSA Super S-6, which comes complete with battery, clecos and pliers, pre-drilled struts and added comfort and trim. The least-expensive E-LSA at Sebring was the fiberglass-hull Corsario from Brazil. Sport Air Aviation has just introduced the light sport aircraft to the U.S. market, and buyers will certainly be happy with its price -- $41,000, including the Rotax 912S and three-blade prop ($1,500 less with the 80-hp engine).

New LSA Propellers And Engines, Too

Two new engines debuted at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo. Vulcan Aircraft Engines displayed its Vulcan concept powerplant, which is close to being flight tested. President Kevin Sweeney said the four-cylinder horizontal-inline diesel will be in the air by Sun 'n Fun, with demo flights in the company's CH701 scheduled for Oshkosh. It's an all-new design that fits within the profiles of the Rotax 912 "not accidentally," said Sweeney. Meanwhile, UL Power brought its UL260i, a Belgian product that is ready for delivery. UL Power’s John Pescod said the first 25 customer engines are in production now, with delivery expected in February. Four refined prototypes are flying, and the fleet has logged more than 250 hours while the test-cell engine has more than 1,300 hours. Specifications of the 2.6-liter, direct-drive engine include 95 hp at 3,300 rpm; 82 hp continuous at 2,800 rpm; 160-pound gross weight; and 4 gph burning either mogas or 100LL.

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Drones To Start Canadian Border Patrols back to top 

Can TFRs Be Far Behind?

That fall fishing trip to Canada might have some unprecedented complications. According to a report in the Winnipeg Free Press, U.S. Customs and Border Protection plans to start patrols of the border between Canada and the U.S. (the longest undefended border in the world, by the way) by Predator unmanned aerial vehicles in September. The Predators will be based in Grand Forks, N.D. And, unless something changes between now and then, that could mean that large blocks of airspace along the northern border of the U.S. will be under temporary flight restrictions when the drones are flying. Because UAVs lack autonomous collision-avoidance capability, similar flights over the Mexican border in Arizona resulted in a TFR that closed a 300-nm stretch of airspace above the U.S.-Mexico border between 14,000 and 16,000 feet. That TFR was canceled last April after the only UAV operated by the border patrol crashed in Arizona. AOPA has been stridently opposed to the UAV operations because the aircraft lack “see and avoid” capability to prevent collisions with other aircraft. AOPA spokesman Chris Dancy said the organization will similarly oppose TFRs on the northern border. “As a general principal, that is something AOPA opposes,” he said. AOPA said the Predator crash proved its point in that an aircraft flying legally under the TFR could have been hit by the disabled UAV. Drones are supposed to fly a pre-programmed flight plan to a designated airfield if they lose communication with their controllers. However, in the Arizona crash, the remote control operator inadvertently cut off the drone’s fuel supply and it descended until line-of-sight communications (and control) were lost.

More Aircraft, Bigger Operating Area

While the Arizona operation was restricted to a relatively small area, it appears the Canadian border patrols will be larger in both scope and frequency. According to the Winnipeg Free Press, “at first one drone, with more to follow, will span much of the 8,900-kilometre [5,500-mile] frontier Canada and the U.S. share between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.” The newspaper doesn’t give a source for that information. It does, however, quote Scott Baker, the chief patrol agent for Customs and Border Protection in Grand Forks, as saying his small community’s choice as the UAV operation’s home base was strategic. “We're dead center on the northern border," he told the Free Press. "So, they can go either way and they're equidistant pretty much." The Department of Homeland Security is beefing up manned aerial surveillance of the Canadian border, too. Baker said the Grand Forks base will also get 22 pilots to fly airplanes and helicopters on patrols over the border. Similar operations have been or will be set up in Bellingham, Wash.; Great Falls, Mont.; and Plattsburg, N.Y.

And The Threat Is?

The University of North Dakota is also helping out the effort, and Doug Marshall, director of Project Development at the university’s Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, told the Winnipeg Free Press the human tide of economic refugees crossing from Mexico to the U.S. is less important to security officials than potential terrorists "finding a way to get into Canada and then finding it relatively easy to get across the [U.S.] border." He added: "And it is easier. That’s just a fact." Canadian officials have, in the past, taken issue with allegations from south of the border that Canada is a breeding ground for terrorist factions just waiting to waltz into the U.S. unchecked. The Canadian government hasn’t reacted to the UAV deployment, but it did announce a plan of its own to beef up border security last week. It will spend C$432 million on the program, the bulk of which will pay for an electronic manifest system to pre-screen commercial shipments crossing the border. More than 18,000 trucks cross the border each day.

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News Briefs back to top 

Controllers Ignored Alarms Before Fatal Collision

A review of audiotapes and computer records from the Gillespie Tower and Southern California Terminal Radar Control Center shows controllers failed to warn the pilots of two Cessnas of a potential collision even though the alarms sounded and displayed visual warnings for 51 seconds before the planes collided over La Mesa, Calif. All three occupants of the two aircraft died when the Cessna 182 and a 172 collided in midair, erupted into fireballs and rained burning debris over a square mile last Feb. 8. NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker released a letter outlining safety concerns arising from the accident in July and the San Diego Union Tribune recently obtained copies of the audiotapes and computer records through a freedom of information request. In his recommendations, Rosenker urged the FAA to fix the tendency of equipment to give false alerts and to make sure controllers are actually responding to the alerts that do come in by warning pilots of potential danger. The NTSB found 11 crashes in which pilots did not get "safety alerts" even though the alarms were going off in the tower or center. Rosenker said in his letter that controllers said they tuned out the alarms because they went off so often with no justification. The same day of the crash, the FAA issued an order to controllers that they provide safety alerts to pilots when the equipment says they are too close to the ground or each other, but it's not known if the order came before or after the crash.

ADS-B Airspace In Place By 2020

Your airplane will have to be equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) gear by 2020 to have full access to the National Airspace System. According to Flight International, Nicholas Sabatini, the FAA’s associate director for flight safety, told an agency workshop last week that the FAA will soon issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will make ADS-B a requirement to “assure access to certain airspace.” It’s not clear exactly which class, or classes, of airspace will require ADS-B or whether a new airspace designation is in the works. FAA officials have been publicly touting the benefits of the system for a couple of years, and it’s believed to be the pivotal technology for modernization of air traffic control. ADS-B was pioneered in the Alaska Capstone program. It uses an onboard datalink transceiver to report position and altitude to ground stations and to other aircraft that have ADS-B gear onboard. It can also be used to upload data, such as weather information. The catch, however, is that for the purpose of maintaining separation, all aircraft have to be equipped with the gear. The first approved ADS-B units for GA cost about $8,000 but industry sources say that as they catch on, the price will drop significantly to about the same price as a typical transponder.

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News Briefs back to top 

Flight Services Suit Against FAA Proceeds

Flight service specialists whose jobs were outsourced or eliminated when Lockheed Martin won the contract to take over the FSS system will get their day in court after all. According to the Federal Times, on Jan. 8, U.S. District Court Judge Ronnie Roberts denied the Department of Transportation's application for dismissal of the case, ruling that his court does have jurisdiction over the age discrimination issues raised in the suit. Roberts is the same judge who, in 2005, refused to delay the transfer of the FSS system to Lockheed Martin pending the outcome of the suit, saying the employees “are not likely to succeed on the merits of the age discrimination claim.” But whether he thinks they'll win the case or not, Roberts ruled they should at least have the chance to try. In the ruling, Roberts said he couldn't judge the merits of the case until he's heard the evidence. “Because plaintiffs have not had an opportunity to adequately develop the facts, no fair determination can be made as to whether a genuine issue of material fact exists,” he said. Both sides have until Feb. 7 to put their cases in order so discovery can begin. About 800 employees were affected by the outsourcing, which is the largest example of contracting ever undertaken by the government. The FAA estimates the Lockheed Martin deal will save taxpayers $2.2 billion over the 10-year life of the contract.

Embry-Riddle: Flight Training Continues After Christmas Storm

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University on Thursday announced students will return to classes on Jan. 16 at its Daytona Beach campus, following Christmas Day tornadoes that destroyed or severely damaged a number of aircraft, leveled a maintenance hangar and rendered unusable the main administration building. All the aircraft lost to the storm have been replaced "with others of the same high quality" and flight training has already resumed. "The best way to describe the spirit on campus is: onward and upward," said John P. Johnson, president of Embry-Riddle. Some classes and more than 120 employees have been displaced while repairs are made to the administration building. Aircraft maintenance has been moved off campus to another facility at Daytona Beach International Airport.

Carter Aviation Enters Fly-From-The-Driveway Sweepstakes

Carter Aviation Technologies says it has developed a gyrocopter that will land and take off vertically. The company says the gyro, based on a commercially available kit-built aircraft, will evolve into the Personal Aerial Vehicle (PAV) the world has been waiting for. “We feel the [gyro] can now visually demonstrate that the age of true personal flight is at hand,” said Carter President Jay Carter Jr. “We now have a vehicle that can safely take off from your driveway, fly 200 miles and then safely land and take-off from a truck stop to refuel, or a restaurant to eat, or a hotel where you can spend the night.” Carter adapted technology from its CarterCopter gyro to create the CarterGyro and the result was a rotor system, which, when spun up to 490 rpm, will vault the vehicle and occupant 150 feet straight up before the stored energy in the rotor is bled off and the gyro returns to its normal cruise configuration. Carter plans to apply the technology to a four-place aircraft, with enclosed cabin. It hopes to fly the four-place model by the end of this year.

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News Briefs back to top 

American Airlines Passengers Trapped On Diverted Plane

American Airlines says it will apologize to 138 passengers who spent nine hours stuck on the ground in Austin and ended up with overflowing toilets, no water to drink and only pretzels to eat. And the ordeal could have lasted even longer if the captain of the crammed MD-80 hadn’t defied company orders and taxied to an open gate without permission. "The stewardesses desperately tried to keep the tempers and the temperament of the passengers down,” passenger Kati Hanni told NBC News. By the time passengers got off the plane, they’d been on it for 15 hours and they weren’t at their final destination of Dallas yet. Flight 1348 took off the morning of Dec. 30 from San Francisco packed with holiday travelers. A line of thunderstorms in the Dallas area forced a diversion to Austin. According to the news report, the pilots were told to wait on the ramp for the weather to clear in Dallas. At least 10 other diverted flights came and went but Flight 1348 was told to stay put until the captain finally took matters into his own hands. The airline now admits that something went wrong, but Hanni says the apology is too little, too late.

Air Force Officer Wants His Airmen Back

A senior officer at a key strategic bomber base says he hopes the Army can stop using his personnel as cannon fodder and let them concentrate on their real job of "putting bombs on target from B-1s." In a commentary that appeared in Air Combat Command's Web newsletter on Wednesday, Lt. Col. Gerald Goodfellow of the 28th Operations Group at Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota says that while he's proud of the job Air Force personnel do when they are assigned "light infantry" positions in the Army, it's not what they signed on for and he's worried it could sap the Air Force's strength. "In America's current wars the Air Force has found itself in a situation where it, in effect, has to pay for and train its Airmen to serve ground duty (a form of 'light infantry,' to quote Gen. Ronald Keys, Air Combat Command commander) and then pay to supply that light infantry with items from bullet proof vests to armored vehicles to keep them safe," Goodfellow wrote. "I believe the Air Force should spend its money on capabilities that will ensure future air dominance." Goodfellow says that since 9/11, Air Force personnel have been required to take "in-lieu-of taskings" to fill gaps in Army ranks in war zones. He says people who should be helping to ensure air superiority have "taken part in harrowing firefights and missions in support of ground (mostly Army) forces." Goodfellow says he understands the current needs of ground forces and the Air Force has been happy to help out, but he hopes it doesn't go on indefinitely. "I personally hope that all the services are currently striving to organize in a way that will largely prevent Air Force personnel from conducting 'in-lieu-of' taskings in the future," he wrote. "This is because I do not believe the Air Force should be in the business of fighting combat operations on the ground."

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News In Brief back to top 

On The Fly

Physicist Stephen Hawking will get a firsthand opportunity to observe weightlessness. The renowned scholar and author has been offered a free seat on one of Virgin Galactic’s suborbital space flights in 2009…

Snakes On A Plane might be just a movie, but scorpions are the real deal. At least two incidences of scorpion bites were recorded on airliners last week, one in Vermont and another in Toronto. Neither of the passengers, both men, were seriously injured…

An open nose-baggage compartment door may have contributed to the cause of the crash of a Cessna Citation at Van Nuys (Calif.) Airport on Friday. A witness, an experienced corporate pilot, told ABC News he saw the door “wide open” and the aircraft verging on a stall before it banked to the right and crashed…

The turbine wheel from an engine of a landing cargo aircraft crashed through the roof of a house in suburban Chicago on Friday. The hot chunk of metal missed Dorothy Gohn’s bed by a couple of feet and burned a hole in the carpet. The aircraft in question landed safely but the FAA is investigating why the aircraft owner didn’t report the engine failure.

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

AVweb's Business AVflash

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New On AVweb back to top 

CEO of the Cockpit #66


CEO of the Cockpit #66: Night Flight, Direct Rome
The amazing art and science of navigating an airliner didn't always dwell in the clicking CPU of a black box. Even AVweb's CEO of the Cockpit sometimes has to fly IFR -- I Follow Roads.

AVmail: Jan. 15, 2007


AVmail: Jan. 1, 2007
Reader mail this week about a three-engine 747, paper or plastic (certificates) and more.

AVweb Daily News Coverage

You can now get the latest general aviation news from AVweb -- the world's premier independent aviation news source -- as it happens at AVweb.com. Or sign up for our news feed and have the most recent headlines pushed directly to your RSS-based news reader. Either way, you'll be able to read the same concise, but comprehensive, news stories that you've come to expect from AVweb. And for major breaking general aviation news, AVweb will send out news alerts via e-mail to keep subscribers informed. Don’t worry -- you'll also continue to receive AVwebFlash every Monday and Thursday.
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AVweb Audio News back to top 

AVweb Audio News

AVweb posts audio news on Mondays, plus a new in-depth interview each Friday. In last Friday's podcast, you'll find an interview with Mikel Boorom at Maule Air. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Professsional Aviation Maintenance Association president Brian Finnegan; aviation forecaster Richard Aboulafia; NORAD; Bill Lear, Jr.; NATA President Jim Coyne; Eclipse Aviation's Vern Raburn; Honda Aircraft's Jeffrey Smith; and Cirrus Design cofounder and CEO Alan Klapmeier. In today's news summary, hear about how the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo drew record crowds and exhibitors, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's planned use of UAVs along the Canadian border, a midair collision that controllers failed to prevent, an upcoming ADS-B mandate and more. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

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FBO Of The Week back to top 

FBO Of The Week: Copeca Inc.

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Copeca Inc. at TJBQ in Aquadilla, Puerto Rico.

AVweb reader Tami Bream said the FBO makes you feel right at home.

"We have been flying to Puerto Rico for more than 10 years and always land at Aquadilla Airport (BQN/TJBQ). We never found an FBO there, until now. Copeca is first rate and really knows how to treat GA pilots. Upon our arrival, they met our Bonanza with umbrellas due to the rain. This is a rare event, even in the States when arriving in a single-engine piston. Once we got out, they pushed the plane directly into a hangar so we could unload and stay dry. Their facilities are beautiful and clean, and we felt right at home. They should be recognized for their courteousness and knowing how to really treat GA pilots."

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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Video Of The Week back to top 

Video of the Week: Barb MacLeod & Max Bell's 52-1/2-Turn Aerobatic Spin

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

In the wake of aviation instructor and spin king William Kershner's passing, we thought this would be a good time to share a video AVweb editor Jen Whitley had on hand from a few years ago. In this incredible clip, aerobatics pros Barb MacLeod and Max Bell perform a 52-and-a-half-turn spin in Austin, Texas during the winter of 1994.

Sit back and be amazed:

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If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it, there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."

The Lighter Side Of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Overheard recently at BWI:

Baltimore Tower: Cirrus 123, your remarks section says you're an Indy fan.

Cirrus 123: Well, no not really, I'm originally from Baltimore, and you know how that story goes.

Baltimore Tower: You're a Ravens fan then?

Cirrus 123: No.

Baltimore Tower: Ah. A Colts fan, wherever they happen to be?

Cirrus 123: Yeah, that's a good way of putting it.

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 Contributing Editors Russ Niles (bio) and Glenn Pew (bio) and Special Contributor Tim Kern.

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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