AVwebFlash - Volume 13, Number 14b

April 5, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
PowerLink™ FADEC Certified on Liberty XL-2; Is It Right for Your Aircraft?
Liberty Aerospace is the first certified piston-powered aircraft with PowerLink™ FADEC as standard equipment. PowerLink™ FADEC is now also available for several additional certified and experimental aircraft, including the A-36 Bonanza and VANS RV series. Find out how you can bring your aircraft into the state-of-the-art online.

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Pilots Sue FAA Over Age-60 Rule

The FAA is dragging its feet on changing the Age-60 rule, say three airline pilots who are about to see their careers come to what they believe is a premature end. But the trio is doing more than just griping about the situation – they filed a lawsuit against the FAA in a federal court late last week to fight the age rule. The three pilots -- Lewis Tetlow of Bedford, N.H.; Richard Morgan of Charlottesville, Va.; and Joseph LoVecchio of Lancaster, Pa. -- are backed by the newly formed Senior Pilots Coalition, a group about 300 strong that is seeking a change to the Age-60 rule. FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said early this year that the rule likely will change to harmonize with new international rules that allow airline pilots to fly until age 65, but that process could take up to two years. During this period, the pilot group says U.S. airlines will lose about 5,000 experienced pilots thanks to the rule. Blakey has said that pilots who turn 60 before a new rule is finalized will be out of luck -- there will be no requirements for airlines to hire them back. The FAA is aware of the lawsuit and is reviewing it, spokeswoman Alison Duquette told AVweb. According to the lawsuit, the FAA has allegedly refused to consider the pilots' requests for exemptions from the rule, and "the FAA's intentional failure to act on the waiver applications threatens Petitioners with irreparable harm."

Boston Air Taxi Service Expands To D.C.

Linear Air, which has been operating an air-taxi service from Bedford, Mass., since 2004 with a fleet of Cessna Grand Caravans while it awaits delivery of its Eclipse very light jets, is now expanding to Manassas (Va.) Regional Airport just outside of Washington, D.C., the company said this week. Linear Air has ordered 30 Eclipse 500 VLJs and expects to begin taking delivery of them this summer. "With our base at Manassas, we now offer contiguous service from New England all the way down to the Southeast," said Linear Air President and CEO William Herp. "We've seen tremendous demand among business travelers for day trips, as well as leisure travel to second homes and out-of-the-way resorts." The expansion will serve a "pent-up demand for more affordable and accessible short-hop private air service" in the region, said Ann Moseley, general manager of Next Flight Aviation, which is providing a terminal for the operations at Manassas. "Linear Air's Caravans fit this need perfectly."

Report Debunks Tuskegee Legend

The legend that says the escorts flown by the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II never lost a bomber to enemy aircraft fire is just that -- a legend, according to a report by an historian at the Air Force Historical Research Agency. The preliminary findings of the research became known last year, but the final report was coincidentally released last week, just as the Airmen were awarded a Congressional Gold Medal. Historian Daniel Haulman's research was based on reports filed by the bomber units and fighter groups, as well as air-crew records and reports from eyewitnesses. He documented 25 aircraft that were lost on five days. The legend seems to have grown from an unsubstantiated newspaper story that was published in 1945, Haulman said. "All of these records have been here all along," he said. "It was just a matter of putting them together." William Holton, national historian for the Tuskegee Airmen, did not dispute the findings, saying the discovery of lost bombers in no way tarnishes the Airmen's record. "Our outreach is always to younger people," he told the Montgomery Advertiser. "If we're going to get them in to support the legacy that was built up during the war, that legacy should be perpetuated by truthful methods, rather than by believing in myths."

 
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Chaos Continues In Brazil's ATC System

Talks between air traffic controllers and the Brazilian government broke down Tuesday when the controllers refused to say they wouldn't strike, Reuters reports. The controllers had walked off the job over the weekend, and thousands of passengers were stranded when the government closed down the airports. They were back at work the next day, after the government finally agreed to negotiate. The civilian controllers, who are employed by the air force, have complained that they are underpaid and their jobs should be under civilian control. Brazil's president was expected to sign an order this week to create a new civil aviation agency to oversee the country's airspace, which would have addressed one of the controllers' main concerns. That change now is uncertain. The strike over the weekend was prompted by complaints from controllers that the air force had transferred workers to remote facilities to punish them for taking part in work slowdowns that have been part of recent protests. The system has been dealing with an ongoing crisis since last September's fatal midair collision between an airliner and a corporate jet. It was the nation's worst air disaster.

More Brazil Midair Lawsuits Filed

At least 16 lawsuits filed Friday in federal court are seeking financial compensation for the loss of 154 people killed when a Gol airlines 737 made airborne contact with an ExcelAire Legacy business jet over the Amazon rain forest last September 29. The suits filed in Miami name New York-based charter provider ExcelAire and the U.S. pilots of the Legacy -- Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino -- who were previously detained for more than 70 days in Brazil following the accident. It claims the pilots did not maintain proper altitude, failed to properly maintain communication with air traffic control and didn't operate the aircraft properly. Defects in the air traffic control system, which was developed and maintained by Honeywell, Lockheed Martin and two other companies, also factor into the crash and the lawsuit, according to the Associated Press. A lawyer representing affected families said they would be asking for millions of dollars, though no exact dollar figure has yet been released.

Socata Tries Hand At Composites

EADS Socata hopes to revolutionize its manufacturing processes through the use of new advanced composites manufacturing techniques that could provide it lighter parts, for less money, built in less time. In partnership with other private-sector entities it would provide 32 percent toward a EU$9.3 million FUSCOMP, short for fuselage composite, program for the manufacture of a composite fuselage demonstrator based on the turboprop-single TBM 850 fuselage design but developed through vacuum infusion. The research-and-design-focused program is based on using vacuum pressure to inject liquid resin into dry fiber in a closed mold -- as opposed to working with pre-impregnated fiber materials cured in an autoclave. The new manufacturing method will allow for use of new materials and reduced production cycles, materials and manufacturing costs. The program's approval this week by the French Government paves the way for backing by government and local funding, which would make up the remaining 68 percent of the program's cost.

 
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FAA, NATCA Debate SoCal ATC Staffing

The airspace in Southern California is busy and complex, and according to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), a staffing crisis is eroding the margin of safety to "dangerously low levels." A shortage of qualified staff is forcing many controllers to work overtime and six-day weeks, while more controllers are retiring and new hires are not being trained quickly enough, NATCA said on Tuesday. FAA spokesman Ian Gregor disputed NATCA's claims, telling NBC4.tv that the agency is actively training new recruits and planning for retirements. He acknowledged, however, that Long Beach controllers are working overtime. He said the FAA will bring five new hires on board in the next year. NATCA said continuing staff shortages could cause delays at Los Angeles International Airport, as well as result in higher numbers of runway incursions and controller errors. NATCA says the rate at which new hires can qualify as fully trained is inadequate to replace the coming wave of retirements of veteran controllers.

New CEO At Liberty Aerospace

Melbourne, Fla.-based Liberty Aerospace promoted Keith Markley to the president and CEO position. Markley formerly was the airplane manufacturer's chief operating officer. "Liberty Aerospace has grown significantly over the last two years, moving to a full production Part 23 aircraft manufacturer," said former CEO Anthony Tiarks, who founded the company in 2000. "This appointment, which has been planned for some time, will now allow me to strategically focus on Liberty's growing presence in international markets, an area the company sees as high growth." Tiarks will remain on the company's board of directors. Liberty sells the two-seat XL2. The airplane has recently been certified in Indonesia and Australia.

 
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Expedition Will Seek Resolution Of Earhart Mystery

A diary that was kept by a journalist who was covering Amelia Earhart's round-the-world flight when she disappeared has recently resurfaced and is fueling new speculation about her fate. Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, vanished over the South Pacific 70 years ago in July 1937. The diary raises questions about the early hours of the search and what transmissions were sent from the aircraft. The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) is planning an expedition this summer to return to Nikumaroro, a tiny island where they believe Earhart and Noonan may have landed when their Lockheed Electra ran out of fuel. The investigators will search for artifacts, and they also hope to find human remains that could be used for DNA testing.

American Legend Expands Into Restoration Services

American Legend Aircraft Company of Sulphur Springs, Texas, manufactures and sells the popular Legend Cub Light Sport Aircraft. Now the company has formed a new subsidiary, American Legend Aircraft Services, that will restore vintage tube-and-fabric airplanes. The new company will offer repair, overhaul, upgrades, annual inspections and showroom-quality complete restorations. Aircraft that can be worked on at ALAS include the Piper J-3, PA-11 and Super Cubs; Aeronca Champ, Chief and Citabria; Luscombe Monocoupe through 8 series; Taylorcraft; Waco; Stearman; and more. The company offers upgrade options to vintage aircraft owners, including avionics, engines, interiors and a wide range of STCs. Repair and overhaul services can include mechanical systems, top-quality upholstery, airframe structural work and new cover and paint.

 
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FAA Improves Polar Oceanic Routes

Aircraft crossing the Arctic Ocean can now fly more direct routes, save fuel and achieve better on-time performance, the FAA said this week. The Alaska Air Route Traffic Control Center has completed the installation of Advanced Technologies and Oceanic Procedures (ATOP). The technology enables controllers to safely separate aircraft in areas outside radar coverage or direct radio communication. The system has already been deployed at FAA centers in New York and California to provide enhanced air traffic service over the Atlantic and Pacific. "As we move toward the Next Generation Air Transportation System, we will continue to introduce procedures and technologies that help system users better serve their customers while maintaining the highest levels of safety," said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. ATOP detects conflicts between aircraft and provides satellite data link communication and position information to air traffic controllers. With greater transoceanic capacity, more aircraft will be able to fly preferred routes, the FAA said.

Canada Targets Aerospace For Growth

The Canadian government will invest about $800 million in aerospace and defense research and development over the next five years, Industry Minister Maxime Bernier announced on Monday. Companies based in Canada that are expected to benefit from the project include Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney Canada and training provider CAE Inc. The government will require companies to invest three to four dollars of their own capital for every federal dollar received. "Aerospace is a major contributor to wealth and job creation," said Don Campbell, chairman of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada. "Government partnerships with industry serve a valuable purpose in stimulating technology development which would not otherwise occur." Canada's aerospace sector employs more than 75,000 workers, with annual sales of about $19 billion.

 
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On The Fly

Fuel selectors on Diamond DA40 aircraft must be modified under a new Airworthiness Directive proposed by the FAA...

A new lightweight four-stroke engine for sport aircraft has been successfully tested and will go into production this year, says AirScooter Corp....

Some Columbia airplanes must be inspected to prevent jamming of the ailerons and elevator, according to a final FAA Airworthiness Directive issued this week...

FlightSafety is now offering simulator training for the Cessna Mustang at its Wichita, Kan., Learning Center...

A former FAA safety program manager must pay $1,000 and serve three years probation for failing to report disqualifying prescription medications on his 2004 airman medical application.

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Pelican's Perch #84: Don't Set Mixture with CHT

Some pilots think the "new wave" in engine management is not to use EGT to set the mixture but instead to keep the CHTs under some generic maximum. Their engines won't last very long.

Click here for the full story.

instantly pulled the MP back to 23" (from 30.9), killing the preignition event. Well done, but too late to save the engine.

To repeat: Use 380 °F to avoid nuisance warnings at 400 °F and set your warning to 400 °F so you have time, precious time, to take action before reaching 420 °F, so that you don't get end up where you really don't want to be on CHTs.

Now here's the disconnect. This is not a blanket suggestion that it's OK to run all these engines at 380 °F CHT all the time. These issues up to this point have largely been related to material properties of the cylinders (metallurgy).

Cooler Heads

There are some engines out there that apparently run very cool, and it's not clear if that's because they are truly cool, or because of some artifacts in the CHT measurement process. Many of these engines are capable of producing very high power, and thereby very high internal cylinder pressures (ICP) at very low CHTs -- especially during cold ambient conditions!

It just so happens that there are some engines that can use 380 °F as a "cruise CHT" and maintain ICPs within reasonable limits. However, even these engines shouldn't be operated at 380 °F in seriously cold air.

"Waitaminnit," you say. "Cooler is better, so how can this be true?"

Think it through. You take off from Florida with 70 °F weather, and you set up the mixture on a "large-displacement" engine at high MP and 380 °F on the hottest cylinder, with about 17.5 GPH fuel flow. For some engines (mine is one) this is an "aggressively good" high power setting and nicely lean-of-peak (LOP) EGT with reasonable internal cylinder pressures. We call it the "Go Fast Mode" at about 260 HP, which is about 84 to 87% of rated power on a 300- to 310-HP engine. (When an engine with a compression ratio of about 8.5 is flown LOP, fuel flow times about 14.9 equals HP. Warning: This calculation is good only when lean of peak!)

Now, you launch from Minneapolis, where it's -10 °F. You do the big mixture pull to your usual 17.5 GPH, and you notice, "Wow, the CHT is only 305 °F!" The colder air flowing over your engine is giving you more cooling, but the HP is still the same. For those who may have been taught "The Target 380 Method," the temptation is to increase fuel flow to bring the CHT up closer to the 380 °F target. You might end up with 21 or 22 GPH, nearly 330 HP, out of your 300 HP engine. You just became a test engineer. That is not a good idea. But it sure illustrates this is not a trivial issue.

Here's a graph of this condition:

Engine Monitor Plot -- winter, high-power condition. (Click here for larger version -- 207 KB.)

The vertical yellow line at about 08:08 is the EGView sliding marker that points to the data shown at the right side of the chart. The power is very high (about 94%), cylinder pressures are probably 800 to 900 PSI, and the airplane is bumping up into the yellow airspeed arc.

Why are the CHTs so very low? Well, first, we're a very low altitude, where the air is dense, and maximum cooling is available. Second, the airplane is haulin' ... er ... going very fast, also good for cooling. Finally, that cooling air is very cold.

I'm not so sure this is a good thing to do to our engines. We've become very comfortable with 85% when 80 to 100 °F LOP. We've run our own engines there a lot, hundreds or thousands of other pilots are running their engines there, many have gone to and beyond TBO, and we've got pressure data from the test stand that shows ICPs well within our "comfort range." We are not so sanguine about higher power settings. If you choose to do this, please report back in a few years!

The real point here is that any attempt to bring the CHT up to some mythical "target" will result in HP beyond 100%, and ICPs over 1,000! We know that's harmful; we've seen the test stand engines pop spark plugs right out at only slightly higher pressures!

So what good are all these EGTs and CHTs, then? Just why did you get an engine monitor? Glad you asked. While some engines under some conditions may peak at 1400 °F EGT, and others at 1750 °F, and CHTs may peak at 280 to 450 °F (just grabbing numbers here), there is one number that will serve you well: the difference from peak EGT. No matter what inaccuracies there may be in the absolute value of the measurement, no matter what the conditions are, if you know peak EGT today, under these conditions "right now," then some incremental number of degrees from that peak EGT value will be a repeatable and reliably useful parameter for a large number of different engines under all conditions for routine operations.

What are these numbers? They're not quite as simple as a flat, fixed, "universal" number like 380 °F CHT, but they're quite usable. At and below 60% of rated power, no mixture setting will harm your engine, and 10 to 20 ºF LOP EGT is very close to the most efficient setting (best brake specific fuel consumption -- BSFC). The more power you set, the further from peak EGT you need to be. At 85% power, best BSFC is found across a broad range of LOP mixtures (think "flat curve," and see the charts in my last column with the big, red boxes), but keeping the EGT at 80 or 90 ºF LOP works really well to both keep the engine cool and to mitigate the peak internal cylinder pressures.

So, use 20 ºF LOP at low power (60%) and 90 ºF LOP at high power (85%).

Use a straight-line variation to connect those two points for all your LOP settings. If that mixture setting drives the CHT up near 380 °F, then lean a bit more. It usually doesn't take much. Leaning by an additional 0.5 GPH will normally drop the CHT's by 10 to 15 degrees after five minutes or so.

Here's a different view of those dangerous mixture settings that illustrates this:

Mixture Setting "Red Triangle." (Click here for larger version -- 105 KB.)

The lower (light green) line is where we'd suggest you should operate when LOP with the normally-aspirated engines (no turbo). The darker green line represents a more aggressive mixture setting that might be used when needed. Remember, all these lines and numbers are a bit "fuzzy!" We can argue all day over the precise placement of the lines, and the red triangle, and where the breakpoints are, but in the end, this is just an illustration of the general idea.

With a turbo-normalized engine, the engine thinks it's at sea level all the way to its critical altitude, so most of the chart goes away, like this:

Mixture Setting "Red Triangle" for Turbonormalized Engine.

The turbonormalized engine is so much easier to manage! Either run it full rich, or 90 ºF LOP (or a bit leaner if CHTs go above 380 °F).

The TSIO (and TIO) engines can attain much higher manifold pressures for takeoff and climb, but if the manifold pressure is limited to about 32" in cruise, the rules for the turbonormalized engines work pretty well.

How Much Power Is This, Anyway?

One common mistake is that people will check the POH and find the MP and RPM for a given percent of power, and then they'll lean from there to some LOP setting. That doesn't give you that same percent of power, it will be somewhat less. The chart in your POH is almost always drawn at "Best Power" (usually specified in very tiny print). As mentioned before, for any given MP and RPM (LOP only!), you can calculate horsepower by multiplying fuel flow in gallons times 14.9 for most normally-aspirated and turbonormalized engines, and 13.7 for most of the TSIO and TIO engines. There is some engine-specific variability on some of those engines, but you won't go seriously wrong with these numbers.

Remember, no one can specify any power setting with MP and RPM alone. All three parameters must be known and mixture is arguably the most important.

(For real engine-heads, the big variable is the compression ratio [CR]. 14.9 is based on the usual TCM normally-aspirated [and turbonormalized] engines at CR of 8.5 and 13.7 is the number for many of the TCM TSIO and the Lycoming TIO engines, with superchargers and CRs of about 7.5.)

On the other hand, if you are operating at high power and rich of peak (ROP, as in climb), you want the mixture set so that the EGT is 250 °F ROP (normally aspirated, sea level) or even as much as 350 °F ROP (for turbocharged engines). This will give you a bit more fuel flow than the charts and manuals call for, and that's good.

Once you've gone through the above drill a few times in a specific airplane, you will have a pretty good idea of the fuel flow that works. This is another number upon which you can hang your hat. On my engine -- a TCM IO-550 with Millennium cylinders and the Tornado Alley Turbonormalizer -- 17.5 GPH is my magic number. That's very close to 260 HP, a good, aggressive, "go fast mode" power setting. I've got about 600 hours on that engine now, all of it at that power setting. Compressions are fine, borescope looks great, and the engine is running smoothly and well. There have been no issues, no cylinder work.

What percent power is that, anyway? Ah, now we get another "slippery number." Nominal HP on this engine is 300, so that would be about 87%. But we know the Millennium cylinders move air just a bit better than the factory cylinders, so full power is probably 310, or 315, so that number could be 84%, or 83%, depending on which "max. HP" you use in the calculation.

In summary, 380 °F is a useful number to keep in mind for metallurgical purposes. It may not be a good number upon which to fixate for a cruise mixture setting for the long term.

Be careful up there!


More from AVweb's Pelican is available here.

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Probable Cause #29: Freezing Up On Approach

Ice claims another victim as a twin Commander crashes miles short of the runway. But could the accident have been avoided?

Click here for the full story.

Runway 5R approach. Aware of the altitude deviations he had seen earlier, the controller also provided vectors requiring turns of less than 30 degrees. Radar data retrieved after the accident indicates that the airplane's speed and altitude remained constant during these vectors.

As the pilot neared KPVD, the controller issued a descent to 2,000 feet and told the pilot there had been wind shear of minus 10 kts reported at 500 feet on the approach into Providence. The pilot responded normally and for the moment it seemed like everything was under control.

At 5:48 p.m., the controller said, "Aero Commander 99N, six miles from RENCH [the final approach fix], turn right heading 020, 2,000 until established on the localizer, cleared ILS Runway 5R approach, Providence. Report established." He then called the Providence tower on the landline and advised the controller to "keep an eye on [the aircraft]. He diverted from Newport and gave us a bit of a scare."

A minute later the pilot contacted the controller to say he had the localizer. When the controller asked the pilot if he was established, the pilot replied, "I sure hope so." At that point, the controller observed the airplane descending below the glide slope intercept altitude. He instructed the pilot to climb and maintain 2,000 feet until intercepting the glide slope, adding that he was still outside the outer marker, when the pilot came back and said, "Son of a [expletive], I got problems." The controller asked the nature of the problems to which the pilot responded, "I'm all over the place, I have no idea I (unintelligible). I think I'm iced up."

The controller then issued a low-altitude advisory, telling the pilot to climb to 3,000 feet as his radar indicated that the airplane had descended to 1,200 feet. At that point the airplane made a tight left turn and began descending again.

The controller called the pilot again urging him to climb to 3,000 feet. The pilot responded, "Hey, I'm trying like hell." At that point, Mode C data indicated the aircraft was at 1,000 feet.

A few seconds later the Mode C read 800 feet. The controller told the pilot that the Quonset State Airport (KOQU) was off to his right at three miles. The pilot said, "Give me something, would you?" The controller instructed the pilot to fly eastbound. He wasn't sure what heading the airplane was flying because of the turn he had seen it make to the southwest. A few seconds later, the Mode C readout dropped off the radar screen.

The controller's supervisor, who had been nearby throughout the incident, called the Quonset tower and asked the controller there to turn the runway lights to full bright and watch for the airplane. At one point, the tower controller thought he saw the airplane in the darkness to the west of the airport, but he later realized that he was looking at the lights of a construction crane.

There was no further contact with the Commander. It crashed 11 miles south-southwest of the Providence airport in the town of Exeter. The airplane impacted trees and small boulders before coming to rest upright. The front left portion of the fuselage was crushed, and the pilot, the sole occupant of the aircraft, was killed.

Findings

[IMGCAP(3)]

Investigators sifted through the wreckage for anything that would give them an indication as to what had happened. There was no mention of finding any ice on the aircraft, but it is possible that the NTSB investigators did not arrive on the scene until the following morning.

The airplane was equipped with de-ice boots on the wings and tail. The switches for the de-ice boots were found in the "auto" position. The switches for the propeller de-ice and windshield anti-ice systems, which used alcohol, were found in the "off" position. The reservoir for the windshield anti-ice system was empty. The right hand pitot heat switch was in the "on" position, while the left hand pitot heat switch was in the "off" position. It is not known if any of the switch positions were changed due to the ground impact.

Investigators examined the aircraft's directional gyro and found that it functioned within tolerances even though it had sustained some minor impact damage. The de-ice distributor valve and boot timers were also examined and found to be operational.

The NTSB blamed this accident on the "pilot's failure to maintain control after encountering icing conditions while on approach for landing. Factors in this accident were the night conditions and pilot's failure to select the airplane's propeller de-icing switches to the 'on' position."

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for single-engine aircraft, multiengine aircraft and rotorcraft. The pilot's logbooks were not recovered, but six months prior to the accident, when he renewed his medical, he claimed 860 hours of flight experience and 47 hours in the previous five months. When the pilot obtained his multiengine rating in December 1999, two years and two months before the accident occurred, he reported 656 hours of flight time, 435 hours in airplanes and 142 hours of instrument time. Investigators estimated that he had about 200 hours in the Commander, but his proficiency and currency were not established.

There were several witnesses to the crash who observed the airplane at an extremely low altitude "wobbling" from side to side before turning and descending in a left turn into the ground.

What Went Wrong?

We don't know for sure what took place in the Rhode Island sky that evening but there are a few possibilities that we can point to in our efforts to prevent a similar accident from happening again.

The reservoir for the airplane's alcohol system was found dry and the switches for the windshield anti-ice and the propeller de-ice systems were in the off position. While it is possible that one or both of the switches were knocked into that position as a result of the impact, let's suppose for a moment that they were not.

What if the pilot switched off both of the switches when the alcohol in the tank ran dry? Perhaps turning off the propeller de-ice system was inadvertent, but he probably would have switched off the windshield anti-ice system to save the pump. If he was distracted from the instruments when he attempted to do that he might have hit both switches at the same time.

The altitude deviations that were observed on radar appear to be more in line with the pilot losing control of the aircraft as a result of instrument failure or misinterpretation rather than ice building up on the wings and tail. If it was the latter, it is doubtful that he would have been able to climb the aircraft back to 3,000 feet, which he did after the first deviation. So, what if the left pitot heat was off while the aircraft was in flight?

The facts seem to back up this theory. If the pitot tube iced up while the pilot was being vectored into Newport he might have been having a hard time controlling the airplane or making sense of what he was seeing on the panel. The temperature on the surface was above freezing, and it is possible that when the aircraft descended the first time to 1,100 feet that the air was warm enough to clear the pitot tube. If that was the case that would explain why the pilot was able to climb to 3,000 feet and fly the assigned headings until it iced up again. Then the trouble repeated itself.

There was only one PIREP in the vicinity of the Providence VOR that afternoon and evening. At 3:25 p.m., about 2-1/2 hours before the accident occurred, a regional jet reported a trace of rime ice between 4,000 and 4,500 feet while on descent into Providence. The crew reported that the temperature was 3 C at 3,000 feet.

A trace of rime ice on a jet can mean more coverage on a smaller airplane that stays in icing conditions longer. It also is possible that the conditions deteriorated further as time went by so there was more ice in the clouds by the time the pilot arrived in the Providence area.

Another possibility is that the pilot's pitot heat did not work. That and the potential icing conditions may have acted in concert and perhaps the pilot never did understand what was happening. A couple of his transmissions could be interpreted to suggest this scenario. Or, it is possible that his comment about being iced up referred to the pitot tube rather than the airframe.

The lessons from this accident are clear. Before you begin any IFR flight make sure your equipment is functioning properly. If you have an alcohol anti-icing system, make sure it is full and use it sparingly. Not only do you not want to run out in flight, but alcohol may be hard to get at smaller FBOs. I flew a Baron that had an alcohol propeller and windshield system. Every fall the aircraft owner would order a stock of alcohol that he would keep in his hangar locker, because the FBO he was based with did not sell it.

Check your pitot tube to make sure it is heating up before you take off into IFR conditions. Just turning on the switch and looking for a bump in an ammeter might not be sufficient for some systems.

Don't forget that you have to maintain currency on partial panel operations. Practice recognizing instrument failures that result from a blocked pitot tube or static system. Know which is which so if you encounter that type of problem you will know which instruments to believe and which should be disregarded.

Finally, don't fly in conditions your airplane is not equipped to handle.


More accident analyses are available in AVweb's Probable Cause Index. And for monthly articles about IFR flying including accident reports like this one, subscribe to AVweb's sister publication, IFR Refresher.

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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. 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.
 
It's Not What You Know, but Who You Know that Can Save You Money!
Avionics. Next to your airframe and engine(s), avionics are the most expensive items you will purchase for your aircraft. Don't spend more than you need to! Before you buy anywhere else, call Bennett Avionics at (800) 653-7295, or visit online. It's not rocket science, just good business!
 
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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 Jim Schuster at Raytheon Aircraft. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Avfuel's Craig Sincock; Comp Air's Ron Lueck; Expedition Aircraft's Andrew Hamblin; Eclipse Aviation's Vern Raburn; NBAA's Ed Bolen; Open Air's Michael Klein; Air Excursions' Cable Wells; Stephen Brown; NATCA's Paul Rinaldi; AOPA's Kathleen Vascouselos; Maule Air's Mikel Boorom; Professsional Aviation Maintenance Association president Brian Finnegan; aviation forecaster Richard Aboulafia; and Bill Lear, Jr. In Monday's special podcast, Jeff Simon talks with AVweb about synthetic vision systems for general aviation airplanes. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

 
Michael Maya Charles Fans Unite!
Artful Flying, Michael Maya Charles' new book, will show you secrets to becoming a better pilot — and enjoying it more! This is no ordinary text — of course not! It's written by an extraordinary pilot and writer. Order online and receive ground shipping at no cost.
 
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Question of the Week: Now That You've Seen the Eclipse (or a Few of Them), What Do You Think of It?

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers

PREVIOUS RESULTS ***

Last week, in light of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee report identifying "widespread fraud" in the pilot medical certification system, AVweb asked if any of our readers knew of anyone who had concealed a health issue on his or her medical application form.

Most of you said that no, you didn't know of anyone who had willfully omitted health information — but 35% of those who responded to our anonymous survey said that yes, they did know of an omission committed by a friend, colleague, or perhaps even by himself.

How did those omissions break down?  For the actual results of last week's poll, click here.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***

Now that Eclipse has delivered five Eclipse 500s and released preliminary performance data for the final configuration of the $1.55 million very light twinjet, how would you classify the airplane overall?

Click here to answer.


Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"? Send your suggestions to .

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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FBO Of The Week: Phazar Flight Support

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Phazar Flight Support at KFTW in Fort Worth, Texas.

AVweb reader James Knox says the facility staff are attuned to customer's every need.

"Phazar is a relatively new FBO, and they are just puppy-dog eager to please. (Or else it's a plot to make you feel guilty about asking for anything.) They parked my little plane under the wing of the biggest Gulfstream and gave me the same treatment they gave them. Everything is done quickly and on time."

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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Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

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."

*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***

Aw, we knew it was too good to be true.  After a month or so of living the high life (visually-speaking), we're starting to see a dip in "Picture of the Week" submissions.  With Sun 'n Fun barely two weeks away, we can only guess that the shutterbugs among you are cleaning your lenses and making hotel reservations.  (That's what we're doing.)  But, thanks to the generous spirit of this week's 70-some-odd submitters, we don't have to spend the next two weeks in an artistic drought.  On with the pictures — !

Let's get those numbers back up!  Share your favorite aviation photos with us by submitting them here.  We'll examine them carefully and (after much scientific scrutiny) run the best of the bunch right here on AVweb.

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copyright © Aerochutes SW
Used with permission of Steve E. Rambo

Early Morning Preflight

Ready for a fresh desktop wallpaper image?  Try this one, courtesy of Aerochutes SW's Steve Rambo in Chehalis, Washington.  This stark image was hard to resist, and we can only hope an AVweb hat will look as good on Steve as his image does on our monitors.

 

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Used with permission of Charles Mueller

Happy Pilot

Charles Mueller of Chico, California is the titular pilot in this photo — and who wouldn't be happy, flying a 1928 GL over the Sacramento Valley on a sunny summer day?

 

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Used with permission of Dale Schneider

New Zealand Helicopter Travel

Dale Schneider (and wife Kathy) of Durham, North Carolina offered to send us a version of this photo without them in it.  Don't worry, guys — that may be a pretty whirlybird, but we can still peek around you (and it) to appreciate the gorgeous New Zealand coastline.

We've spoken with several New Zealanders this week, further cementing our conviction that we have got to get down there sometime!

 

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copyright © Dean Heald
Used with permission

Dusty Takeoff for Barney

Dean Heald of El Segundo, California had us coughing up dirt in the wake of this C-17 Globemaster's take-off.  "I don't think that it will be invited back next year," writes Dean.

That may be the case — but you, Mr. Heald, are always welcome here at "POTW."  Great photo!


Like what you see?  You can find more bonus pictures in the "POTW" slideshow on our home page.

To enter next week's contest, click 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.  ;)

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.

 
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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.