AVwebFlash - Volume 13, Number 5b

February 1, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Blakey: "Time To Close The Book On Age 60"

The FAA will propose a new rule that would raise the retirement age for airline pilots to 65, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said today. During a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Blakey reiterated the history of the age-60 rule, and said, "This is a change whose time has come." Issues of experience and equity clearly support change, she said, as well as the need for "global harmonization" with international rules, which as of last November allow for one pilot on airline crews to be over 60. Safety will be enhanced by keeping experienced pilots in the cockpit, she said. The new rule will apply only to pilots who haven't reached 60 by the time the rule takes effect. Blakey has asked the aviation rulemaking committee that failed to reach consensus on the rule last fall to reconvene and draft a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. She expects it will be near the end of this year before the NPRM is published, then several more months to recieve and review comments. She said the entire process will "optimistically" take 18 months to two years.

FAA Chief: Controller Age Limit "Law Of The Land"

If it's OK for pilots to work until age 65, then why must air traffic controllers retire at 56? "Because that's the law of the land," FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said during a Q&A session after a speech she gave on Tuesday announcing that the age limit for airline pilots would be upped from 60 to 65. "If there is a move on Congress' part to raise the age for controllers, we would be happy to work with them on it." The FAA chief said last year's retirements from ATC were about 25 percent higher than expected, which she attributed to the imposition of the FAA's new contract. But she also defended that contract as "very fair," and said she has no intention to reopen negotiations. She said the agency will hire 1,100 controllers this year, staying ahead of the number of expected retirements. More than 2,000 qualified candidates are "lined up and ready to go," Blakey said. New controllers earn about $96,000 after five years, she noted, and the FAA is not having any problems filling those jobs. Blakey also said the FAA's new budget plan will be released in about two weeks, and the plan is widely expected to include a user-fee system. "We'll look forward to the debate on the Hill," she said, anticipating that changes in how fees are collected to support the system will be controversial.

New AOPA Web Site Monitors FAA Funding Issue

AOPA President Phil Boyer makes no bones about it: "There is no bigger issue facing general aviation today -- our future is hostage to the FAA funding decision. If we choose user fees or radical new taxes, America's unique personal aircraft transportation system will die." In case it's not quite so clear just how this issue affects you as an airspace user, AOPA has launched a new Web page to explain it all. "We explore the arguments for change and objectively demonstrate why our current tax system is the best choice," notes AOPA Executive Vice President of Communications Jeff Myers. The site features short videos to help people visualize the issues. Additionally, the site details the positions of the FAA and the airlines, identifies the various players in the debate, summarizes the issues and shows the timeline. AOPA says it will keep the site continuously updated as the FAA funding debate progresses through the legislative process. The existing FAA reauthorization bill enacted in July 2003 will expire Sept. 30.

 
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BRS Testing Next-Generation Parachute System

Ballistic Recovery Systems (BRS) has completed a series of successful development tests of the Next Generation Parachute System, which could operate on aircraft weighing as much as 5,000 pounds, BRS spokesman John Gilmore told AVweb on Wednesday. The system would work on aircraft such as the Diamond D-Jet, which is expected to have a BRS parachute as standard equipment. The system now being tested consists of a single landing parachute, which could be deployed once the aircraft had slowed down to about 180 knots or less, Gilmore said. Other designs still being considered could include a two-stage system that would deploy a drogue chute to slow the airplane down, then a larger chute for landing. "There's still more testing ahead, but we're making progress," Gilmore noted. At this point, he said, "We're months, as opposed to years, away" from having a system prototype. Tests of the new system were recently performed in the southwestern U.S. using a former military aircraft to drop the new, larger canopies with heavy payloads. Canopy strength tests will continue over the next several months before the parachutes will be available for integration and entire system testing. Additional tests and further development will be required before the Next Generation Parachute System is commercialized.

FAA To Oceanside: Hands Off That Airport

Oceanside Municipal Airport in California must stay open indefinitely, the FAA has told the city. A recent economic study by the city proposed several alternate land uses in 15 to 20 years' time. "The obligation to keep the airport open as an airport does not expire," officials at the FAA's Los Angeles District Office wrote. But city officials said they had never expressed any "formal" intent to close the airport anyway, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported on Tuesday. The FAA also said the city should move forward with plans to build more hangars on the field. Last year, the city council voted to study what their options would be if the airport closed. At the time, AOPA said the vote was "surprising," given other local efforts to expand airport capacity in the region. "Oceanside's location, adjacent to the I-5 corridor and the Oceanside Marina, makes it a critical part of San Diego County's aviation transportation network," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. AOPA encouraged local pilots to support change in last year's elections, and the new city council has shifted to a pro-airport majority.

 
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Thielert Announces Centurion 2.0 Release

Thielert Aircraft Engines of Germany on Wednesday announced that its new diesel engine, Centurion 2.0, is ready to hit the market. The engine evolved from the Centurion 1.7, which is sold in the U.S. in Diamond Aircraft's twin-engine DA42 and in a version of the DA40 single. According to Thielert, the new engine will replace the 1.7 for all installations from now on. "In launching our new engine, we are demonstrating that our proven concept is also upwards compatible," says company CEO Frank Thielert. "As already seen in the Centurion 1.7 and the Centurion 4.0, we have also utilized tried-and-tested technology in this development step and have allowed the ongoing improvements and innovations from automotive volume production to flow into our own development." Product enhancements include a flatter FADEC, a lighter cast gearbox housing, interfaces for glass cockpits and a new service tool that allows the FADEC to be programmed in the field, Thielert notes. [more] The engine has already been certified by the European and U.S. aviation authorities, and is certified for installation in all models of the Cessna 172. Customers whose aircraft are currently equipped with a Centurion 1.7 can replace it with a 2.0 and the systems will be fully compatible. The company also said it is continuously expanding its service and sales network, especially in the U.S

NTSB Seeks Lost Engine Debris

If your travels will take you anytime soon into the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the NTSB wants you to keep an eye open for stray GE CF34 engine pieces. On Jan. 25, an America West Express Bombardier regional jet en route from Denver to Phoenix was climbing through 24,000 feet when it experienced an uncontained engine failure. The left engine cowling, fan and other forward components separated over sparsely populated mountainous terrain in an area beginning just south of Woodland Park, Colo., and running south-southwest to 10 miles southwest of Cripple Creek. Anyone who finds debris shouldn't handle it but should contact the Teller County sheriff's department (719-687-9652) and relay the location, estimated size and description of the parts. The twinjet's flight crew declared an emergency and immediately returned and landed uneventfully at the Denver International Airport. There were 50 passengers and four crew on board, and nobody was hurt. The aircraft sustained minor damage to the fuselage, left engine pylon and tail section during the uncontained engine failure. A team is working to correlate radar records with data from the airplane's flight recorders in an effort to pinpoint the potential locations of the engine parts.

 
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EADS Socata Revenue Soars

Sales of Socata's TBM 850 are up 35 percent compared with last year as the company pits the economy of its 320- ktas (at FL260) turboprop against a fledgling very light jet (VLJ) market and rides a 21 -percent rise in revenue. Socata aims to deliver 50 of the turboprop singles this year, with a current backlog of 40 aircraft. The company's coffers are bolstered by a freshly won contract to retrofit avionics for a fleet of Embraer Emb-110 Xingu at the French Military Air Transport Flight School. Socata last year increased production of subassemblies for other companies like Airbus, Dassault and Eurocopter by 13 percent. It has also extended for eight years its contract to maintain the TBM military aircraft fleet and announced a new technology development program for composite fuselage research.

New Materials Could Lead To Better Engines

A team of researchers in the United Kingdom and India won an award last week for their work on new alloys that can change shape or position at a particular temperature. The team hopes these materials could take the place of mechanical moving parts in aircraft, leading to reduced engine weight and increased energy efficiency. The project is being developed by researchers at Imperial College London, the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. Rolls-Royce is also a collaborator. Additionally, the project might aid the aerospace industry's development of "more-electric" airplanes -- next-generation aircraft in which hydraulic and pneumatic systems are cut to a minimum, according to The Engineer Online. The UK-India Education and Research Initiative Major Award will provide the team with £204,000 to support collaborative research workshops between the institutions. David Clarke, head of technology strategy at Rolls-Royce, said: "This new research collaboration builds on our existing industrial relationships in India and marks the start of a new long-term partnership between Rolls-Royce and India on advanced technology development."

 
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Performers Confirm For AirVenture 2007

This July 23 to 29, EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., will host aerial performances from Sean D. Tucker, Patty Wagstaff, the AeroShell Aerobatic Team, Kirby Chamblis, Matt Younkin and Kyle Franklin; all (and more) have already signed up for the EAA show. The performers "come together at EAA AirVenture to make an all-star roster of the 'best of the best,'" said Tom Poberezny, EAA president and AirVenture chairman. While display booths and seminar tents showcase every major aviation innovation, renovation or contemplation, the AirVenture air show begins each afternoon (weather permitting) following flight demonstrations of aircraft old and new.

Navy Seeks Collision-Avoidance System For UAVs

The U.S. Navy published a request for proposals this week with the objective to develop a radar sensor compatible with small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that would allow them to operate safely and reliably in civilian airspace. The Navy noted that UAV flights currently are "severely restricted" because of concerns they could collide with other aircraft. FAA regulations require that UAVs must demonstrate "an equivalent level of safety" comparable to see-and-avoid for manned aircraft before they can be allowed into the National Airspace System. The Navy is looking for an anti-collision system that would enable small UAVs (those with wingspans under 11 feet) to avoid all other air traffic, whether or not those aircraft are transponder-equipped. The see-and-avoid system shouldn't require any modifications to the air traffic control system, according to the requirements. The Navy is looking for a computer simulation, then a flying prototype that could obtain FAA certification for autonomous flight in civilian airspace. Ultimately the anti-collision system could also be used for civilian applications such as pipeline monitoring, firefighting, traffic surveillance and sky-based communication networks.

Super Bowl TFR To Be Established In Miami

The FAA has issued a Notam restricting flight in the Miami area during the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 4. There will be a 30-nm-radius TFR centered on the FLL VOR's 214-degree radial at 8.4 miles, extending up to FL180. It will be in effect from 4 p.m. until 11:59 p.m EST on Sunday. Also, there will be a smaller 10-nm-radius GA no-fly zone in effect within the larger TFR during that same time.
 
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On The Fly

Cirrus Design on Wednesday announced that its SR22 Turbo received STC approval from Transport Canada. The company unveiled the turbo-normalized SR22 at AirVenture 2006, and obtained an FAA STC for the airplane in November...

The FAA recommends owners of some older Cessna models watch for cracking of plastic control wheels. The Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin applies to about 12,500 Cessna aircraft built between 1960 and 1964...

A Wisconsin pilot whose Stearman crashed while he was giving free rides during a fundraising event faces a charge of negligent homicide and up to 10 years in prison. His passenger, a 39-year-old woman, died when the airplane hit power lines and crashed...

"Airspace for Everyone," the newest publication from AOPA's Air Safety Foundation, is now available free online. You can get a 16-page pamphlet, plus an Airspace-at-a-Glance quick reference card, an intercept procedures card and a flight plan sheet...

A new tower and TRACON opened Tuesday at the Fort Wayne, Ind., International Airport, after three years of construction...

Aviation Technology Group, builder of the Javelin Jet, has appointed Action Aviation the exclusive distributor for Africa, India, the Middle East and western Asia. Action Aviation has placed orders for 40 copies of the two-seat jet...

Sonex Aircraft is now offering two new AeroConversions baffle systems that it says will provide dramatic improvements in cylinder and head cooling for AeroVee and Jabiru engines. It claims the larger "fence baffle" design reduces maximum cylinder head temperatures by up to 80 degrees on the LSA engines...

Garmin (Europe) Ltd., has introduced the GTX 328 Mode S transponder to meet the European regulation for Mode S implementation for VFR aircraft.

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Say Again? #71: Weather Radar

[IMGCAP(1)]

You may think it's the wrong time of year to write about thunderstorms but that is what I've chosen to write about. My reasoning is that there is much to learn -- and much I can't teach you. I'm going to talk about various things but my goal is to get you to do some research on your own. I want you to have time to prepare before the next thunderstorm season.

I worked with "weather radar" my entire career. I suspect I've spent more time watching thunderstorms on radar than virtually any pilot flying. I don't mean to brag; it's just the nature of the job. My point is that, after 25 years, it's amazing how much I don't know about thunderstorms. The biggest point I want you to take away with you is that thunderstorms, for our purposes, are unpredictable. Just when you think you're getting a handle on how they act, a thunderstorm will do something unexpected.


Raw Radar

When I first started out as a controller, we still had the "raw" feed available from our radar sites. You could flip a switch and the display would change from the digitized, mosaic image (called narrowband) to the broadband image. This was the same image that controllers used back in the days of "shrimp boats." Nobody wanted to push those little pieces of plastic around on the radar scope after we didn't have to, but the weather display was still quite useful. There were even a few guys around who still knew how to use the controls at the sector to tune up the image. I never learned how to do that, but I did learn how useful broadband was in displaying thunderstorms. I remember many days spent flipping the switch back and forth between narrowband and broadband: narrowband to work the airplanes, and broadband to get a better picture of the thunderstorms.

I don't want you to think this is just a trip down memory lane. I want you to think about the differences in the radar. The broadband image was from a single site. Like all radar, it had the limitation of not being able to see through, or around, a storm. Narrowband (the digitized image) is a mosaic image. It uses multiple radar sites and it can see on the back side of a thunderstorm (by using another radar site.) Do you see the correlation to today's environment? Your typical airline pilot has his own radar that he can tune to his liking. The typical general aviation pilot has a mosaic image (NEXRAD) that can see the back side of a thunderstorm but the user is at the mercy of whoever "tuned" the radar image. Keep that thought in mind. We'll come back to it later.

Y'All Come

[IMGCAP(2)]

I've been inviting y'all to the Communicating for Safety Conference for years now. I know some of you might think I'm shilling for NATCA but I don't work for NATCA now and I'm still inviting you. Take it for what it's worth. It will be in Atlanta this year and I plan on attending.

At last year's Conference we had one of the most fascinating speakers I've heard yet: Dr. David Strahle. His presentation was, "Basic Principles and In-Flight Use of Datalink NEXRAD Radar." Unfortunately I missed the beginning of the lecture -- a long story I won't bore you with. Anyway, I gather that Dr. Strahle was in on the very beginning of using NEXRAD for in-flight weather avoidance. I got a lot out of the lecture but, as usual, it was something odd that grabbed my attention. Dr. Strahle was relaying a conversation he had with a controller as he was flying around some thunderstorms. The gist of it was, the controller was a lot more nervous than Dr. Strahle was. The controller didn't know what NEXRAD was and he just wasn't used to seeing any GA pilots fly around in weather that bad.

That sentiment fit in with a theory I have. Well, it's more of a guess than a theory. In case you haven't noticed, there has been a sharp increase in the number of GA accidents in thunderstorms. I believe that is due, in large part, to the fact that GA pilots are flying around in weather in which they used to stay home.

Safety Alert

The situation has lead the NTSB to issue a Safety Alert. AOPA has put out its own warning. (Both are Adobe PDF documents.) Both say the same thing about the area I want to concentrate on. AOPA says, "In 2004, nearly 25 percent of all fatal weather-related accidents involved encounters with thunderstorms. Amazingly, in all those accidents, the pilots flew into extreme conditions despite being in contact with Air Traffic Control (ATC). The NTSB's alert says, "These accidents have all involved aircraft operating under instrument flight rules and in contact with air traffic controllers."

As you can imagine, that is somewhat painful for an ex-ATC safety rep to read. I'm going to talk about some of the reasons -- some of the psychology -- behind it, but I'll start off by saying something controversial, just to get your attention: If you are using an air traffic controller as your primary thunderstorm avoidance tool, you're making a mistake. That statement needs to be qualified in about 16 different ways, but I want you to take the statement itself to heart.

Who?

[IMGCAP(3)]

First and foremost, you need to understand what type of controller you're dealing with. Is it a Center controller or an Approach controller? If it's an Approach controller, which Approach control? There are about a half-dozen issues to deal with in this area alone. Pilots can't imagine how removed Center controllers are from the rest of aviation. Most of them don't even work near an airport. Unless they have some outside interest in aviation, many don't even know what most airplanes look like, much less what kind of deicing and weather equipment they have or don't have.

As the FAA tries to consolidate more TRACONS into Large TRACONS (like Atlanta), the condition will creep into some Approach Controls. This "removal" from the rest of aviation is subtle but it is also very real. The target of a Cirrus looks just like the target of a 747 on radar. In the rest of aviation, they look nothing alike. In a radar controller's world, they do.

Back to what kind of controller you're working with. Is he a new guy or an old guy? Does he have much experience working with thunderstorms? How does set up his radar scope? Does he trust his equipment? (That one is huge.) Is it set up so he can see the thunderstorms or is it set up so he can see the airplanes? You don't get to ask these questions and you don't get answers to them. But I assure you that every one of them is important to your safety.

It all comes down to this, from the ATC "bible":

2-1-1. ATC SERVICE

The primary purpose of the ATC system is to prevent a collision between aircraft operating in the system and to organize and expedite the flow of traffic.

A controller's primary job is to separate airplanes. He will set up his equipment to accomplish that primary job, even if it means turning the weather display off so he can see the traffic. I cannot overemphasize this point. If he can't accomplish any other task, he will accomplish that one -- separating airplanes. And if he gets that busy, he's not going to stop and tell you that he's too busy to tell you about thunderstorms.

Altitude Squawk

Thunderstorms don't have transponders. "Knock, knock. Hello in there." Just seeing if you're paying attention. Controllers see targets in the middle of thunderstorms every time they see a thunderstorm. They might be over the storm or under it, but it's displayed in the same place on the two-dimensional radar scope. A target headed toward a thunderstorm doesn't ring any more mental alarm bells than anything else. And that is what I want to talk about for a little bit: The mentality -- the psychology if you will -- of working with thunderstorms.

I'll have to stick with the Center aspect of it because that is really all I'm familiar with. In general, you'll get better handling around thunderstorms from Approach controllers. The most obvious reason for that is airspace. Approach controllers only own (and work) the lower altitudes. Let me explain.

[IMGCAP(4)]

If you'll remember way, way back to Say Again? #8: Air Traffic Chaos, I showed you what precipitation looked like on our radar scopes at the Center. I'll need some nomenclature for all these different displays so I'm going to call this the "stick figure" weather display. I'm also going to call it "weather." Just keep in mind it is actually precipitation. We don't paint any weather (or clouds) until there is enough precipitation in it to show up on radar. So the figure at right is a typical stick-figure thunderstorm.

Can you tell me what altitude the first line (_________) is? How about the altitude of the first "H"? The lines (________) represent moderate precipitation. The "H"s represent "Heavy" precipitation. The truth is, controllers don't know what altitude the thunderstorms are active. Hey, I've got an idea! Let's ask a pilot. But which pilot? Well, the one you're working, of course. And here's the kicker if you're a Center controller: Where you're working determines what altitude you're working and, usually, what type of pilot you are working.

"Delta one twenty three, Center, radar indicate moderate precipitation at 12 o'clock and 10 miles. Do you see anything out there?"

"Nothing out here, Center, but blue sky."

Can you see what a huge difference the pilot's perspective would have on his report? That Delta pilot was at FL370. How different would it be if he was at 7,000? How different would it be if he was in a C172? Seriously, try it again with a Skyhawk.

When the controller said "see" to the airline pilot, you were thinking about radar, weren't you? With a Skyhawk, nobody -- no pilot -- is thinking a Skyhawk has radar. But what about a first-year controller? And as soon as you say, "Well everybody knows that Skyhawks don't have radar," some Skyhawk pilot will chime in that he just bought himself a brand-new gizmo with a NEXRAD display.

The NEXt Big Thing

Speaking of NEXRAD, as I told you in Say Again? #36: Spring is Sprung the Centers now have a NEXRAD image displayed on our radar scopes. I personally think it's a great improvement over the stick-figure display and even over the old broadband display. It comes with a couple of really big "buts," though. The display isn't fast enough to be considered real-time. It's close, but not close enough. And as I mentioned earlier, I believe trust is a huge issue in figuring out why we're having so many accidents.

The cold, hard fact is that many, many Center controllers just don't trust their equipment when it comes to displaying weather.

Let's go back to my earlier scenario.

"Delta one twenty three, Center, radar indicate moderate precipitation at 12 o'clock and 10 miles. Do you see anything out there?"

"Nothing out here, Center, but blue sky."

Let's pretend you're a Center controller with a NEXRAD image showing a little blob displayed. Which is right, the NEXRAD radar or the pilot? How about both? Let's think about this.

A plane at FL370 is 7 miles straight up. Add in the 10 miles for the distance and figure out the slant range. Considering the murk that passes for "clear" here in the East, is it any wonder the pilots can't see the thunderstorm? But what about their radar? We all know that radar is "line of sight" so let's think about line of sight. Just as the pilots can't see over the nose, the radar isn't looking straight down. It "looks" out at an angle too. Can you see how an airborne radar could look over a developing thunderstorm?

I've seen this happen. Three airliners all told me nothing was out there. So did the fourth one. But he ran into moderate turbulence right when he went over the thunderstorm. After that, everyone suddenly started "seeing" the thunderstorm.

While I want you to take note of the technical aspects, I want you to look deeper into the psychological aspects of this. I "cried wolf" to three airplanes and no one saw anything. If the story had stopped there, how confident would you be in your NEXRAD presentation if you were a controller? Confident enough to vector a pilot without radar around thunderstorms with it?

Again, let's go back to the Skyhawk:

"Skyhawk one two three, Center, radar indicates moderate precipitation at 12 o'clock and 10 miles. Do you see anything out there?"

Do we really expect him to see anything when the visibility is not even 10 miles? Maybe. It might look a little darker. That's if he's even in VFR conditions. The only way a controller can know that is to ask.

Look! Up In the Sky!

How about up? Up there around 37,000 feet ... you know, 7 miles up. Let's return again to how things work -- thunderstorms and NEXRAD. We all know that thunderstorms start with warm air rising. It rises straight up until it runs into some wind. Your typical line of thunderstorms in the Southeast moves from the northwest to the southeast as the fronts pushes through. It gets even more complicated as a single cell moves to the northeast along the line. The point being, the wind blows. When you're on the edge of a thunderstorm at 7,000 feet, where's the edge at FL370? Now factor in NEXRAD.

A NEXRAD image can be five to 10 minutes old and it gets really complicated when you try to figure out just how old it can be. Or where it came from. Some areas are blessed with coverage from multiple radar sites. Some areas don't have any coverage below certain altitudes (think mountains).


Doppler Weather Radar Coverage

Let's say you're on the backside of a thunderstorm that is moving east and the heavy rain is three minutes east of you. To a controller using NEXRAD, it could look like you're still in the heavy rain. Conversely, on the other side of the same thunderstorm, he could be showing an aircraft that is in the clear but is actually 3 minutes into the heavy rain. Can you see how a controller gets to where he doesn't believe his weather display?

There's one more piece of the puzzle I want to throw in. It's a quote from "Frequently Asked Questions" page from the National Weather Service's Web site.

Doppler Radar FAQ

Composite reflectivity displays the highest reflectivity of all elevations scans. So, if heavier precipitation is higher in the atmosphere over an area of lighter precipitation (the heavier rain that has yet to reach the ground), the composite reflectivity image will display the stronger dBZ level.

This occurs often with severe thunderstorms. The updraft, which feeds the thunderstorm with moist air, is strong enough to keep a large amount of water aloft. Once the updraft can no longer support the weight of suspended water then the rain intensity at the surface increases as the rain falls from the cloud.

(The link is there so you can read the whole page in context.)

Remember back at the Skyhawk scenario I asked, "How about up?" If you use NEXRAD in your airplane you might want to think about that when your NEXRAD says "bad" but your eyes say "not so bad." What happens when that "large amount of water aloft" runs out of lift?

Comfort Zone

Getting back to my point, I can tell you from experience, it's just another situation that appears confusing to a Center controller and degrades his trust in the weather display. NEXRAD for a controller is a two-dimensional representation that updates slowly -- independent of his traffic display. Think about that for a moment, too. His traffic radar updates every 10 seconds and he knows it is correct. His NEXRAD updates every ... he doesn't even know. And it appears incorrect on numerous occasions. By the way, it isn't even NEXRAD. It's WARP (Weather And Radar Processor). Does this look like your NEXRAD image?


DSR NEXRAD-WARP

I can't tell you how much the FAA manipulates the data before it reaches the controller's scope but they change the colors ... at a minimum.

Having detailed all these problems, you might have forgotten that I said I liked NEXRAD better than the old "stick-figure" presentation. It helps to remember that I was a safety rep and very experienced before NEXRAD/WARP was deployed. I studied NEXRAD when it came out more than most controllers and I had the experience to compare and interpret what I was seeing. Which is the reason I didn't depend on it alone.

I ran my scope with WARP looking from the ground up. (Sorry, I didn't have room to explain it has altitude-filter limits.) I also never ran it alone. I always turned on the "stick figure" display too. The clutter of so much information bothered a lot of controllers but I found the fast update of the narrowband display filled in a lot of gaps inherent in NEXRAD. But the biggest difference between me and the way most controllers operated was that I vectored for VFR conditions. If you wanted me to vector you around a thunderstorm, I vectored you around it. For general aviation airplanes, that meant a vector out of all the rain displayed and that almost always put them in VFR conditions. It's amazing how your comfort level goes up when you can see. Yours and mine. No one ever complained. And I never lost one.

Have a safe flight.


Want to read more from Don Brown? Check out the rest of his Say Again? columns.

Welcome To The New Face Of AVweb

AVweb.com, the world’s best Web site for general aviation news and information, is now even better thanks to a redesigned home page that was unveiled this weekend. The revamped home page has more content, easier navigation, a more user-friendly podcast interface and better graphics to complement AVweb's real-time general aviation news, incisive commentary and unparalleled feature reporting.
 
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AVweb Audio News -- Are You Listening? 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 NATCA's Paul Rinaldi. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with AOPA's Kathleen Vascouselos; Maule Air's Mikel Boorom; Professsional Aviation Maintenance Association president Brian Finnegan; aviation forecaster Richard Aboulafia; NORAD; Bill Lear, Jr.; NATA President Jim Coyne; Eclipse Aviation's Vern Raburn; and Honda Aircraft's Jeffrey Smith. In last Monday's news summary, hear about Tiger Aircraft's bankruptcy filing, staffing problems at contract control towers, TSA security ramp checks for GA aircraft, the FAA's imminent decision on the age-60 rule and more. In Monday's special-edition podcast, hear an exclusive interview with Stephen Brown, the private pilot who went from Continental passenger to temporary copilot. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

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Question Of The Week back to top 
 

Question of the Week: The Age-60 ... Er, Age-65 Rule

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers

PREVIOUS RESULTS ***

Last week, AVweb asked readers just how effective they thought the new Cirrus multifunction display checklist will be in boosting safety.

Just over half of those who responded said that yes, the checklist is a good idea, but its effectiveness could be diluted as it becomes just another MFD screen for the pilot to scroll through.

For a complete breakdown of reader responses to last week's Question, click here.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***

The FAA plans to raise the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots from 60 to 65. Do you support this change, and should there even be an age limit for Part 121 operations?

Click here to answerer.


Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to qotw@avweb.com.

NOTE:
This address is only for suggested QOTW questions, and not for QOTW answers or comments.
Use this form to send QOTW comments to our AVmail Editor.

 
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For contact information regarding this ad, to view more ads, and to post your no-cost ad, click here.
 
FBO Of The Week back to top 
 

FBO Of The Week: Taylor Aviation of Elizabethtown

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Taylor Aviation of Elizabethtown at KEYF in Elizabethtown, N.C.

AVweb reader Eddie Smith said the FBO is a shining example of Southern hospitality.

"Oscar and Mitch Taylor go beyond the required service. They have Paymaster self-service pumps, but are there to service your aircraft anyway. They just cannot do enough for you. Their fuel prices are extremely low, and I noticed many others landing there – some even going out of their way to return. Enough cannot be said about the service at this facility."

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!

 
Pictures Of The Week back to top 
 

Picture of the Week

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past Winners

Each week, we go through dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of reader-submitted photos and pick the very best to share with you on Thursday mornings. The top photos are featured on AVweb's home page, and one photo that stands above the others is awarded an AVweb baseball cap as our "Picture of the Week."

Want to see your photos featured? Submit them here!

A quick note for submitters: If you've got several photos that you feel are "POTW" material, your best bet is to submit them one-a-week! That gives your photos a greater chance of seeing print on AVweb, and it makes the selection process a little easier on us, too. ;)

*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***

Maybe it's the winter weather, but "Picture of the Week" submissions dipped again this week, with just over 50 pictures finding their way to our inbox. (!) We have to ask: Is everyone O.K. out there? Is the flu going around, or were you just keeping busy last week? Not to sound like ingrates, but getting upwards of 100 photos in our submission box every week has spoiled us. If you have time this coming week, please — feel free to lavish your amazing photos on us!

medium | large

Used with permission of Gary Glenn

Glasair III Climbing from Shepparton, Australia

Gary Glenn of Shepparton, Victoria (Australia) made our stomach drop with this great angle-of-ascent shot — and in return, we're naming Gary's photo our "Picture of the Week."

Watch your mailbox, Gary — we'll be sending an official AVweb baseball cap your way in the next couple of days!

medium | large

copyright © Daniel Valovich
Used with permission

Freeze-Frame

No, it's not the J. Geils Band. It's occasional "POTW" contributor Daniel Valovich of Hot Spring, Arkansas, justifying all that dough he's dropped on camera equipment with the assertion "this is where those long lenses pay off."

Daniel could be right, too. Check out the Blue Angels in higher resolution, and you may just find that you've got a new desktop wallpaper image.

medium | large

copyright © Lee Hogan
Used with permission

Close Formation — Or a Really Good Telephoto Lens?

Speaking of the larger versions of "POTW" photos, we almost didn't run this shot from Lee Hogan of Addison, Illinois — but then we read Lee's note and realized that Ripper here isn't on the ground at all:

If you really want to see how close this was, just enlarge the picture and take a look at the photo plane (a 172) in the reflection of the gold lens. Smooth air really helps!

A steady hand doesn't hurt either, Lee! Great work on the photo, and thanks for sharing.

(If the spirit of sharing has overwhelmed you, cruise on over to our submission page and send us a couple of photos. We're anxious to see 'em!)


As always, you'll find more photos to slake your thirst for airplane photography in our POTW slideshow at AVweb.com. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!

To enter next week's contest, click here.

A Reminder About Copyrights: Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or send us an e-mail.

 
Names Behind The News back to top 
 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

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 Mary Grady (bio) and Glenn Pew (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.

Aviate, navigate, communicate.