AVwebFlash - Volume 13, Number 9a

February 26, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Eclipse, Avidyne To "Go Separate Ways"

Eclipse Aviation and Avidyne have decided to terminate their relationship, Eclipse spokesman Andrew Broom told AVweb on Sunday. The troubles between the two companies go back to December 2005 when Eclipse announced a three-month delay for its Model 500 very light jet due to problems with an avionics vendor, which last summer was identified as Avidyne. Since then, the relationship soured further and the delays became longer. "Avidyne will no longer supply components for the Avio Total Aircraft Integration system in the Eclipse 500. We have agreed it is in the mutual best interest of both companies, and our customers, to wind down our relationship and go our separate ways," Broom said. An announcement revealing Eclipse's new suppliers and detailing its specific plans for Avio will be made within the next two weeks, he added.

"This change has no effect on Eclipse 500 production or delivery. All near-term customer aircraft will have the Avidyne components installed, and Eclipse will be retrofitting these early deliveries with the new components," noted Broom. "The exact timing of the production cut-in is currently being finalized. Avio will continue to be an integral part of the Eclipse 500, and we are confident in our ability to deliver all of the promised functionality to our customers on an aggressive schedule. To this end, we have partnered with an impressive new team of proven, reliable suppliers to deliver Avio functionality. Our team has been working closely with this group behind-the-scenes for a number of months, and has already made significant progress. We expect the change to be seamless for our customers from a standpoint of Eclipse 500 functionality, look and feel."

DFW Controllers Botch Emergency Handling

Controllers at Dallas-Fort Worth International's regional TRACON have been given a refresher on the meaning of the words "we need to get on the ground right away, please" after they denied an American Airlines 757 priority handling, despite the fact that the crew declared an emergency. According to ABC News, which broke the story last week, the incident happened on Aug. 31 when the crew reported a fuel shortage, possibly due to a leak. When the crew asked for a straight-in approach to runway 17C to get the airplane and its passengers on the ground quickly, the TRACON controller twice denied the request. In the end, the aircraft circled to Runway 31R and landed uneventfully. But the tape–which we review in today's podcast has been used as a training aid to remind controllers of the nuances of pilot phraseology. According to FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown, the controller in question was unclear just how sweaty-browed this pilot was. "This was a situation where there was confusion about the term 'minimal fuel' and 'fuel emergency,'" Brown told the Houston Chronicle. "The controller was confused about the distinction."

Debunking The Cirrus Accidents Myth

An article recently printed by the Examiner.com takes critical aim at Cirrus Design, picking from a recent NTSB report regarding the Cory Lidle crash in New York city and citing crash statistics it says give the SR20 and SR22 a "spotty record." While the article notes that Lidle had time in type that most insurers would find anemic and that the NTSB cited he was not trained by nor was he flying with a Cirrus qualified instructor, it adds that the SR20 and 22 have suffered "more than 40 incidents [in sum] since 2001." As is often the case in the popular press, the Examiner’s article fails to put its reporting in context. Exhaustive research by AVweb sister publications Aviation Safety and Aviation Consumer found that the Cirrus fleet has a relatively good overall accident record – 4.1 accidents per 100,000 hours versus 6.2 for the entire GA fleet. The Cirrus fleet fatal accident rate is 1.4 per 100,000 hours, only slightly higher than the GA average of 1.2. In its upcoming March 2007 issue, Aviation Safety reports that the Cirrus fleet accident pattern is quite different from airplanes of like performance and it also finds that the Cirrus owners group is having a profound effect on improving training for new owners.

Referencing a recent promotional mailer sent by Cirrus to Maryland residents, the Examiner article also states, "Despite at least 42 deaths involving these planes, the company continues to market the aircraft as if they are as easy to drive as a car." When contacted for comment, Cirrus Vice President of Business Administration Bill King told AVweb, "We have made a business out of designing and manufacturing the safest aircraft in the world in our class." He didn't stop there. "When our aircraft are used in accordance with the proper training and within the design standards, we believe they represent a new standard for efficient and safe flight," said King. Regardless of either position, there are more than a few people who attribute their lives to the full-plane emergency parachute system provided aboard Cirrus' aircraft. And speaking specifically of the Lidle crash, "The NTSB is the only entity that should be commenting upon the probable cause of any incident and they will in time use the information … to derive a probable cause," said King. "We clearly understand this role of the NTSB and await their comments."

 
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FAA Approves ADS-B Deployment

FAA brass have approved nationwide deployment of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast as the cornerstone of the Next Generation Air Transportation System. The agency’s Joint Resources Council (JRC), which reviews major acquisitions, believes full implementation of ADS-B will give pilots the in-cockpit information they need to play a role in maintaining separation from other traffic and that, combined with the more accurate position data available to controllers, will, theoretically at least, allow more airplanes in the same amount of airspace. "With real-time situational awareness in the cockpit, aircraft will be able to fly closer together, resulting in a significant increase in airspace capacity," the FAA says. The JRC decision sets in motion the second phase of the NGATS deployment and covers the years from 2009 to 2014. In addition to installing the system in the Lower 48, it guarantees that the Capstone Program will continue in Alaska. Capstone also uses ADS-B as part of a suite of avionics aimed at reducing accident rates. The accident rate has fallen but not because of separation issues, which aren't much of a problem in the sparsely populated areas. The GPS and synthetic vision systems that go along with them are credited with most of the accident-rate reduction.

ADS-B: Devil's In The Details

ADS-B deployment will be a massive undertaking, requiring new gear to be installed in ground facilities all over the U.S. But while the FAA is big on sweeping statements about how the government and the successful bidder will create this entirely new way of doing business, it’s short on detail about a key component of the plan. To work, every airplane using airspace under ADS-B control must be equipped with the avionics that receive and transmit the position data. That gear currently costs thousands of dollars per installation, and so far all that has been offered to mitigate those costs are unverifiable assumptions that the price will drop as demand increases. It also appears that not all airspace will require ADS-B equipage, at least not at first. As AVweb reported last month, the FAA is contemplating what looks like a phase-in of ADS-B, starting with the busiest areas. There has also been discussion that some airspace will be set aside for wind-in-the-hair operations but details have been sketchy. The agency’s Joint Resources Council has also determined that the backup system for ADS-B will be 50 percent of the current secondary radar system.

The ADS-B undertaking is so massive that only three companies have been selected to bid on the contract after an initial proposal screening. ITT, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin have been invited to throw their hats in the potentially lucrative ring. With all other things being equal, the inside track would have to be given to Lockheed Martin, which now runs flight services in the U.S. outside of Alaska. The successful bidder for ADS-B will build and maintain the system and the FAA will be its customer, paying “subscription” charges. The three bidders have been told to finalize their bids in anticipation of “negotiations” in July that will lead to the award of the contract. In the meantime, the FAA itself is installing the first phase of ADS-B deployment with more coverage on the East Coast, and new coverage in the Southwest, North Dakota and at Philadelphia, Louisville and Juneau airports.

New FSS Hub Goes Live

As preparations continue for modernization of the airspace system, the recently privatized flight service station (FSS) system reached a milestone last week when the switches were flicked at the first of three "hub" FSSs at Dulles Airport near Washington, D.C. The others will be in Prescott, Ariz., and Dallas. The hubs will act as regional command posts that will allow Lockheed Martin to reduce the number of actual field stations from 58 to 16. In fact, with the opening of the Washington hub, a so-called heritage site in Oxford, Ala., was shut down and communications shifted to the Dulles site. Within minutes, according to Lockheed Martin, the 20 flight service specialists in Washington were handling routine requests, including one that would normally have been fielded by the Alabama station.

 
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Certain Superior Jugs Pulled

The FAA has issued an Airworthiness Directive that takes effect March 12 and covers 1,354 Superior Air Parts cylinder assemblies used in new Superior engines and as replacement parts in Lycoming four- and six-cylinder mills and Continental sixes. The affected cylinders didn’t get proper heat treating and can come apart, as nine have done so far. Since that would ruin your day in a hurry, the FAA has gone straight to final rule on this AD and it becomes effective in two weeks. Compliance is pretty straightforward. If you have any of the documented cylinders on your engine and they’ve accumulated more than 150 hours of service, you either have to pull them immediately or take up to 10 hours to fly to another location to have the work done. Even though the rule will become effective March 12, comments are invited until April 24.

Brazil’s New Air Force Chief Tackles ATC

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has named Brig. Juniti Saito to take over the country’s air force, and along with that comes the unenviable task of sorting out its increasingly troubled air traffic control system. The air force oversees ATC there and, since the collision between a Gol Airlines Boeing 737 and a U.S.-bound Embraer Legacy last Sept. 29, problems with the system seem to be escalating. Flight delays are common and the controllers, who are civilian, are complaining about workload and conditions as the government investigates the role of controllers in the crash, which killed all 154 people aboard the 737. The two American pilots of the Legacy are also under investigation. They were able to land the damaged business jet, with five passengers on board, safely at a military base in the Amazon jungle. The accident seemed to be the flash point for controllers, who have apparently been complaining about their jobs for a long time. There were some work disruptions, resulting in hundreds of flight cancellations, shortly after the crash and the system is reportedly still plagued with problems. The former head of Brazil's air force, Lt. Brig. Gen. Paulo Roberto Cardoso Vilarinho, was fired in late November for not fixing the problems.

 
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Grob Resumes Jet Testing

Flight International says Grob Aerospace conducted a test flight of the first prototype of its SPn light business jet last Friday, marking the resumption of a program halted three months ago when the second prototype was lost in a crash in Germany, killing the sole-occupant pilot. German authorities have since speculated that the crash was caused by elevator flutter, which led to separation of some of the control surface and part of the horizontal stabilizer. Test pilot Gerard Guillaumaud, 45, a former French air force pilot, was killed. The first test aircraft, which has flown about 300 hours since 2005, has been fitted with a belly fairing and larger ailerons and a third prototype is under construction. This third airplane will be a copy of the crash airplane and will fly in May. A fourth and final prototype has been started, and the first production model will follow it.

Comair Sues FAA Over LEX Crash

As expected, Comair has filed suit against the FAA for alleged negligence in the crash of a Bombardier regional jet that killed 49 people last August in Lexington, Ky. After the crash, in which the pilots mistakenly took off on a runway too short for the CRJ, it was revealed that only one controller was on duty at the time instead of the required two. The controller cleared the aircraft to the correct runway, but had turned away from the windows to do other work as the CRJ rolled. The airline has not specified damages sought in the suit. The accident was enough for Forbes to put LEX on a list of the U.S.’s 21 most dangerous airports. The magazine analyzed data for ground incursions at 452 airports and, based on the editors’ criteria, decided that North Las Vegas is the country’s most dangerous, followed by Long Beach and Charlotte, N.C. The story didn’t say where LEX landed.

 
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Young Eagles Protected From Air-Tour Rule

EAA and the FAA have reached a deal that will allow Young Eagles flights to continue unhindered by the new rules affecting sightseeing flights. Some parts of the rule (like the one that bans charity flights in uncertified airplanes) naturally raised concerns at EAA but it all got ironed out in meetings in Washington, D.C., that included FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. "Everyone we met with at FAA assured us that there was no intent to harm the Young Eagles program in any manner through the air-tour rule," EAA President Tom Poberezny said. The crux of the resolution to the issue was the FAA's declaration that Young Eagles flights are “non-compensation flights” and therefore exempt from the air-tour rules (assuming, of course, that no money is changing hands). The FAA has put it in writing and that comfort should be in EAA hands by March 15. Poberezny said the FAA understands the value of the program, which has introduced more than 1.3 million kids to aviation, and continues to be a supporter.

Guard Pilot "Reckless" With Lt. Gov. On Board

The pilot of an Ohio Air National Guard two-place F-16 with Lt. Gov. Bruce Johnson as a backseater broke several FAA regs in his high-speed tour of Columbus last summer. According to the Columbus Dispatch, the unidentified pilot buzzed the city at speeds as high as 500 knots and altitudes as low as 2,100 feet last Aug. 17. FAA regs restrict speed in that area to 250 knots and, according to the agency's report on the flight, the pilot did not have clearance to fly below 10,000 feet. That, says the FAA, means the pilot violated a regulation banning careless or reckless flying. But the report will likely be the end of the matter. [more] The FAA has no jurisdiction over military pilots and the Guard has already dealt with the pilot, although it's not saying how. The flight, billed as a demo flight for Johnson to show him the capabilities of the aircraft, sparked calls to 9-1-1 and a few complaints to the FAA.

 
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News In Brief back to top 
 

On The Fly

New Zealand planemaker Alpha Aviation has hired former Mooney CEO Gretchen Jahn as general manager to take resurrection of the French-designed Robin series to the next level. The Alpha 160, a low-wing trainer, is made in Hamilton, N.Z. and recently gained FAA certification...

Dayton, Ohio, is the heart of a new aviation tourism marketing program. Although the Wright brothers achieved their goal in North Carolina, Dayton lays claim to the title because it was where much of the development work was done…

The Big Bear, Calif., Airport Board is being urged to buy a park off the end of the runway so the local park board can buy property for another park. The park has been largely unused and unmaintained for more than 20 years following a plane crash there…

The Department of Homeland Security is considering basing a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle in Puerto Rico to keep an eye on the Caribbean. Other potential locations include San Diego and somewhere along the Gulf Coast…

The U.S. Air Force has chosen Columbus, Ohio, as the location of its Air Force Heritage Week celebration marking the 60th anniversary of the Air Force. The event will be held in conjunction with the Gathering of Mustangs and Legends Sept. 27-30.

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.

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Pilot's Lounge #110

COLUMN INDEX

The Pilot's Lounge #110: Bad News Coming? Refuse Delivery
When the future of GA looks bleak, go meet up with fellow pilots, fly planes you haven't tried and get your groove back.

AVmail: Feb. 26, 2007

AVMAIL INDEX

AVmail: Feb. 26, 2007
Reader mail this week about fuel taxes, new charity rules, and still more concern about user fees.

Welcome To The New Face Of AVweb

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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 Eclipse's Vern Raburn on aviation user fees. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with B-29 restoration program manager Cliff Gaston; NBAA's Ed Bolen; Alaska pilot Cable Wells; NATCA's Paul Rinaldi; AOPA's Kathleen Vascouselos; Maule Air's Mikel Boorom; Professsional Aviation Maintenance Association president Brian Finnegan; aviation forecaster Richard Aboulafia; NORAD; Bill Lear, Jr.; and NATA President Jim Coyne. In today's podcast, Aviation Safety's Paul Bertorelli examines an August 2006 botched emergency handling at Dallas Fort Worth Airport. 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: Executive Flight Center KMDQ

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Executive Flight Center at KMDQ in Huntsville, Ala.

AVweb reader Breck Hopkins said the personnel at the FBO made his literally messy situation better.

"Executive offered the best and most helpful service I have experienced in 49 years of GA travel. I had a bird strike en route, and though it was frigid and gusty, they cheerfully spent more than a half hour scrubbing the remains off the windshield and wing. We met someone there to look at an airplane, and they offered to put the airplane in a hangar to make the inspection more comfortable, shuttled us back and forth to the hangar and let us use the crew car. The facilities are first rate, too. I will go out of my way to stop at MDQ."

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: The Flying Lawnmower (And This Time It's Not a Figure of Speech)

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

There are two videos we receive (and stumble across) more often than any others on the web. Both videos are testaments to human ingenuity and technical achievement — and they never fail to raise a giggle when we see them. We've held them in reserve for a while, just in case we needed them to brighten a particularly rough Monday morning. (Plus, we were afraid that it we ran these videos, people would stop sending them to us. And that would ruin the pleasant surprise of watching these videos at 4:00 on a Thursday afternoon and laughing our heads off.)

But the time has come, at last, to unveil the first of our Two Most-Submitted Videos: the flying lawnmower!


Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Originally posted by YouTube user KIor — but we never tire of seeing new videos of this contraption, so please don't stop sending them.

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 in IFR Magazine's 'On the Air' Section
Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"

Heard at Gainesville, Florida Airport:

Cessna: Gainesville tower, Cessna Three Four Five, seven west with Tango.

Tower: Cessna One Two Three Four Five, cleared to land Runway six.

Cessna: We'd prefer Runway one zero, we have some passengers to drop off at the terminal.

Tower: Cessna Three Four Five, you can't do that, you have to use the general aviation FBO.

Cessna: We called ahead and they said we could drop them off as long as we stayed clear of the gate.

Tower: I don't know who told you that, but I'll ask the airport manager.

Tower (a short time later): Cessna Three Four Five. I'm sorry, but you can't taxi to the terminal. However, if you'd like I can clear you for a low approach, and your passengers can jump out as you fly by.

Cessna: (Laughs) How about I just use Runway six?

 
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 Editor Russ Niles (bio) and Editor In Chief Chad Trautvetter.

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.