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The FAA said Tuesday that it withheld $3 million in payments to Flight Service Station contractor Lockheed Martin in the first
quarter because of poor performance. "There's evidence of dropped calls and pilots not getting information," FAA
Administrator Marion Blakey told Bloomberg. "There are penalties in the contract and we'll apply
them." In October 2005 Lockheed took over the 58 previously FAA-run FSS facilities under a $1.7 billion award. Since the beginning of this year pilots have complained about being on hold for extended
times while waiting for briefings -- in fact, several pilots recently told AVweb that they had to wait on hold for an hour or more to get a preflight weather briefing. FAA spokesman Paul
Takemoto is unsure if more penalties are in store for Lockheed Martin in the second quarter, which is when pilot complaints have increased sharply. Lockheed spokesman Keith Mordoff told Bloomberg that
Lockheed has taken steps to fix "intermittent service issues" while it is consolidating the FSS facilities.
Aircraft icing, runway incursions and fatigue are among the "Most Wanted" aviation safety improvements for 2007 cited by the NTSB at a hearing Wednesday
on Capitol Hill. NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker told the House Subcommittee on Aviation that items on the list tend to be those that are among the most complex and difficult to implement. However, he
said, "While the FAA has made some progress, I am disappointed that there are so many recommendations on this list that are in an unacceptable status." The FAA's icing certification for aircraft is
inadequate, the Board said, and the agency should conduct further research and revise its standards. Progress is being made to improve runway safety, but the FAA is moving much too slowly, according
to the NTSB. The Safety Board also cited work rules and schedules imposed by airlines, charter operators and others that require pilots, air traffic controllers and mechanics to work without adequate
time off to rest. Also on the "Most Wanted" list are improvements in audio and data recorders, fuel-tank flammability in transport-category aircraft and Part 135 crew resource management. The Board
has issued the "Most Wanted" list since 1990 to focus attention on issues it believes would have the greatest impact on safety.
Lancair's calling it "an aircraft that will be faster and safer than any other single engine aircraft in existence today." And when we
spoke Monday with Lancair CEO Joe Bartels, he sounded excited and only slightly less vague than his company's press release. He did say, however, that "it's not a jet; it's a turboprop," and that the
company is now working with all-computer-generated components that will cause customers to "be amazed at the degree of sophistication"
of the design and "marvel at how little work will be required" to finish the aircraft. But Bartels stopped short of telling us what the new aircraft would be and whether or not a flying example would
make it to Oshkosh. The company already produces a four-seat pressurized propjet kit, but there currently is no two-place turboprop offering.
Whatever is coming, expect to see a fully outfitted mockup of the design at AirVenture next month, and maybe (but not certainly) more. "We don't want to have the flying aircraft used as a display
model," Bartels said. That would either compromise flight demonstrations or close-up viewing by a larger audience, he noted. As for the kit, Bartels told us that his engineers estimate a builder could
see his or her fuselage ready for panel and engine installation after about
15 weeks of work. Customers will be able to choose between instrument panels (probably one of two, he said) and one engine choice that will give builders the quoted performance, while others
powerplants may be fitted to allow for lower overall project costs and lower performance. Builders can expect to be involved mainly in sanding and the application of structural adhesive and involved
in "very, very little wet layup" work, according to Bartels. Of the numerous sources we contacted to gather the little information currently available about the project, one very clearly intended to
lead us to believe we should be looking for a two-place turboprop kit design from Lancair.
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All three aboard a Piper PA-34-200 Seneca twin (N4463T) registered to a Van Nuys, Calif. business were injured when the aircraft,
which departed Van Nuys at 9:47 a.m. on Monday, crashed about 15 minutes later into homes before coming to rest atop a garage not far from the approach end of Cable Airport, roughly 45 miles east of
Los Angeles. Weather was clear, there was no post-crash fire, no one on the ground was injured and injuries suffered by those aboard were initially reported as minor. FAA spokesman Ian Gregor told
local news that "they were on approach when the pilot reported engine problems." Flight track history depicted by FlightAware indicates an indirect flight path that heads just south of Cable, turning
farther south within about 10 nm of the airport, then nearly reversing course and ending short of the airport. FlightAware listed two prior flights of the aircraft in the preceding two days, both from
Van Nuys to Cable, both flying more direct routes and lasting 21 and 22 minutes Sunday and Saturday, respectively. Monday's accident flight was listed at 15 minutes in duration. N4483T was very active
-- FlightAware listed more than 30 flights for the aircraft in the preceding 30 days. (Photo: ABC News)
A Cessna Citation 550 twinjet that was carrying donated organs and a medical transplant team crashed in Lake Michigan late
Monday afternoon, killing all six people aboard the airplane. The crew had reported an emergency less than five minutes after taking off from Milwaukee and requested a return to the airport, FAA
spokesman Tony Molinaro told the Associated Press. On Tuesday, the
NTSB indicated that the pilot radioed that he was experiencing "trim runaway" before the jet dropped off the radar screen. Witnesses to Monday's crash said the airplane rolled inverted before it hit
the water. "The condition of the aircraft debris and human remains found indicate a high-speed impact," Coast Guard Capt. Bruce Jones said at a news conference. "We believe this to have been a
non-survivable crash." The jet was leased by the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, Mich., and there
were six people on board -- two pilots for Marlin Air, two surgeons, and two transplant specialists. The team was returning from Milwaukee with lungs for transplant to a patient in critical condition
in Michigan. It was scheduled to be a 42-minute flight.
In a previous incident involving a Citation 525 in 2003, the crew reported that following the loss of elevator trim authority the airplane
was "extremely difficult to control and the elevator control forces were extremely high," according to the NTSB. In that incident, the crew was able to ditch the airplane into a cove and they
survived. The NTSB said runaway trim was the probable cause of that accident, and cited as contributing factors
"the manufacturer's inadequate design of the pitch trim circuitry that allowed for a single-point failure mode, and the absence of an adequate failure warning system to clearly alert the pilot to the
pitch trim runaway condition in sufficient time to respond in accordance with the manufacturer's checklist instructions."
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Pilots have long been frustrated by the FAA's Notice-to-Airmen
system, which conveys vital safety-of-flight information formatted
for teletype machines, cluttered with archaic acronyms, distributed
via hard copy and lacking graphics. Now the FAA says that by 2009, NOTAMs will be reorganized
into a single federal system that is compliant with international
standards. It will take another decade for the system to incorporate
full digital and graphic capabilities, the FAA said on Monday. Those
capabilities will be required for the Next Generation Air
Transportation System, FAA officials said. According
to the Aeronautical Information Management (AIM) unit, which is part
of the FAA's Air Traffic Organization, NOTAM users have complained
that the notices include too much data with not enough meaningful
information, they should be easier to read and to find, they use too
many data formats, local NOTAMs are not electronically distributed,
and the messages are not always distributed in a timely manner. Barry
Davis of the AIM unit said there is "a lot of work" to do, and
appealed for continued customer feedback. He can be reached at (202)
A cinematographer who died when a Cessna 206 ditched off Key West, Fla., in August 2004 had tied himself to the seat with a rope, the NTSB reported last week. Neal Fredericks, 35, who previously filmed the cult hit "The Blair
Witch Project," and his crew had chartered a Cessna 206 for aerial filming off the coast of the Florida Keys. Fredericks asked to have a rope tied around his waist and to the seat, even though there
was a seatbelt available, according to the NTSB report. During the flight, the engine quit and the pilot ditched the airplane. The pilot and the other three passengers were able to escape, but
Fredericks was unable to disentangle himself and drowned when the airplane sank. The assistant cameraman told the NTSB that when the airplane hit the water there was a rush of water into the airplane.
He unfastened his seatbelt, took a gulp of air, and was soon outside the airplane. The cameraman said, "The rope," and he answered, "Cool dude, I got it," but the rope was ripped from his hand as the
airplane submerged. He said he tried to dive for the rope and free the cameraman, but he could not reach it. The NTSB found the probable cause for the accident was the loss of engine power, but the
reason that the engine quit was undetermined.
"The bottom line is pilots can continue using their IFR GPS units like before," according to Randy Kenagy, AOPA's senior director
of strategic planning. Background: When the FAA revised policies that instruct pilots on how to use GPS units under instrument flight rules, AOPA saw in those changes reason to question IFR use for
many GPS units. AOPA's aggressive action to defend against any potential (and apparently unintended) problem caused by a combination of changes to the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), an
Advisory Circular on terminal and en route area navigation (RNAV) operations (AC 90-100A), and an associated list of compliant GPS units has borne fruit. The FAA has provided a letter that "makes
clear that the current operational approvals will be in place for a long time to come," according to Kenagy. However, there is one caveat: "The letter makes clear that as [the] system evolves to RNAV
and required navigational performance (RNP), certain older units will not be allowed to be used for RNAV standard instrument departure and arrival routes (SIDs and STARs)," Kenagy said. "AOPA will
work with the FAA to ensure that members are not penalized for not having RNAV SID/STAR-capable equipment." Meanwhile, Honeywell said it is "actively involved in AC 90-100A with the FAA. Honeywell is
confident that AOPA and the FAA will resolve their difference in interpretation of the navigation aid substitution section of AC 90-100A and that all currently certified Honeywell GPS/FMS systems will
continue to have access to en route and terminal navigation procedures as they do today."
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Ballistic Recovery Systems (BRS) has installed its unique safety system
on a piston single used by the U.S. Department of the Interior, the company announced on Tuesday. The Cessna 182 will be flown by pilots in the Fish and Wildlife division on low-altitude,
long-duration missions over inhospitable terrain. "If the BRS system is used in an emergency, it will give the pilot another safety option in the event of any unscheduled off-airport landing,
said BRS spokesman John Gilmore. This installation was the 55th by BRS in a Cessna aircraft, the first in a federally operated aircraft and the first in a Garmin G1000-equipped airplane. BRS says its
parachute recovery systems have been credited with saving the lives of 201 pilots and passengers.
Czech Aircraft Works (CZAW) has added a new 120,000-square-foot facility to
its manufacturing site in the Czech Republic, the company announced on Monday. The plant increases CZAW's production capacity to more than 500 light sport aircraft (LSA) per year, it said. This
new capacity also increases our efficiency," noted CZAW President Chip Erwin. "Nearly a million dollars worth of new state-of-the-art [machinery] significantly reduces assembly time while
simultaneously improving quality." The company has also added more trained workers to staff the facility. Meanwhile, CZAW invited representatives from the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association
(LAMA) to visit the plant last week and conduct an audit. The audit process ensures that the company is in compliance with light sport aircraft standards. "The audit doesn't guarantee an aircraft is a
'good' aircraft," says LAMA Chairman Dan Johnson, "but it can assure buyers that the airplane is what the manufacturer says it is. LSA pilots should be pleased this occurs and should start looking for
the LAMA decal on the airplane of their choice."
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PCs. The situational awareness afforded by XM WX Satellite Weather allows pilots to enjoy their journeys with more confidence and comfort than ever before. For more information, please visit
Linear Air, which calls itself "the leading very light jet (VLJ) air-taxi operator" -- although so far it is flying only Cessna
Grand Caravans while awaiting delivery of 30 Eclipse 500 jets -- on Wednesday announced it is expanding its route
structure again. The air-taxi firm is adding a new scheduled by-the-seat private air service between Manassas, Va., and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Manassas Airport is about 15 miles south of
Washington Dulles International Airport. Linear Air has successfully run similar routes from its original base near Boston to nearby popular weekend destinations. The new service aims to attract
vacationers and second-homeowners in the metro D.C. area who prefer a 90-minute flight to six to eight hours of driving. The new service will launch June 29 and continue through Labor Day weekend.
Introductory pricing has been set at $219 per person each way.
Responding to pressures to curb pollution from airliners, especially in Europe, the International Air Transport
Association (IATA) on Monday set a goal to develop an emissions-free airplane within 50 years. "The first target is to
replace 10 percent of fuel with low-carbon alternatives in the next 10 years," said IATA CEO Giovanni Bisignani. "The second is to begin developing a carbon-free fuel from renewable energy sources.
The final challenge is for airlines to implement green strategies across the business. Its time for governments and the oil industry to make some serious investments. Bisignani said some
of the potential "building blocks" for a carbon-free future include fuel-cell technology, solar-powered aircraft and fuel made from biomass.
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A rare Carvair modified DC-4 crashed in Alaska last week, the crew was unhurt but the
airplane broke apart...
Plans to expand a runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood
International Airport in Florida will go forward, airport commissioners said this week, despite local opposition...
Brian Kissinger, a brain-cancer survivor, has launched a cross-country flight in a vintage 1942 L-4 Cub to raise money to fight the
FAA's Wings pilot-proficiency program has changed to an Internet-based system, go to the Web site for more
Brian Terwilliger, who produced and directed the aviation documentary One Six Right, will host the annual dinner for the National Aviation Hall of
Fame in July. He replaces actor and pilot Michael Dorn, who was previously announced as the emcee but withdrew due to a schedule conflict...
EAA AirVenture has listed the aviation film classics to be shown at Oshkosh next month.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
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AVflash also focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the Business of Aviation. Business AVflash is a must read. Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/.
be continued in operation forever without being torn down for overhaul. That's obviously not true.
What I am suggesting is that when a "mature" engine (beyond its infant mortality period) ultimately does develop a problem that makes a teardown necessary, that problem is extremely unlikely to be one
that results in a catastrophic in-flight failure that makes you fall out of the sky. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the event that ultimately necessitates an engine teardown will be a spalled
cam, a cracked crankcase, worn or contaminated bearings, a worsening oil leak, or some similar old-age disease that may cause serious impact to the owner's bank balance but not to life and limb.
Show Me The Data!
Over the years, I've often wished I could get my hands on enough actual data about catastrophic engine failures to create a definitive risk-to-hours curve that would prove this. TCM and Lycoming
investigate almost every catastrophic in-flight failure of their engines, and have a lot of good data that could be used to plot such a graph.
Unfortunately, both TCM and Lycoming have been stubbornly unwilling to make this data available to anyone ... undoubtedly on the advice of their corporate attorneys. On some occasions, they've made
such data available to the FAA in support of a petition for an Airworthiness Directive, but in such cases they've always demanded that the FAA treat the data as proprietary and keep it confidential
(and the FAA is required by statute to do so). So we've never been able to get our hands on this data and see what the risk-to-hours curve actually looks like.
About the best we can do is analyze NTSB data on aircraft accidents and incidents attributed to engine failure. The NTSB's data isn't nearly as complete as TCM's and Lycoming's, because lots of
catastrophic engine failures don't result in reportable accidents or incidents, and also because many NTSB accident reports don't include information on engine time. Nevertheless, it's probably the
best data we can actually get our hands on.
Recently, a brilliant friend of mine named Dr. Nathan Ulrich undertook such an analysis. Dr. Ulrich is a Ph.D. mechanical engineer who has spent the last 20 years designing, building, testing , and
performing failure analysis on highly stressed parts and systems, including very high-performance internal combustion engines. He also owns and flies a Beechcraft Bonanza V35.
Dr. Ulrich recently searched the NTSB's accident data for the five-year period from 2001 to 2005 (inclusive) to see what he could learn about the correlation of engine failures and engine
time-in-service. He examined all the accidents during that period that the NTSB attributed to engine failure.
He limited his analysis to piston-powered aircraft weighing less than 12,500 pounds, and further eliminated accidents involving crop dusters and air show/race aircraft. Unfortunately, the NTSB
standard accident report format lists airframe hours but not always engine hours or years, so he further limited his analysis to engine-failure accidents where engine time was reported. (Presumably,
reports that didn't mention engine time were ones where the NTSB did not consider it relevant to the cause of the accident.)
Dr. Ulrich found 180 accidents that met these criteria. Here's how they were distributed with respect to engine hours and years in service:
Small piston airplane accidents in 2001 through 2005 attributed by the NTSB to engine failure, by hours (top) and years (bottom) since engine overhaul.
It's important to understand that the NTSB data can't tell us much about the risk of engine failure beyond TBO, because relatively few piston aircraft engines are allowed to remain in service beyond
TBO (and we don't even have good data on how many are). What the data does show quite clearly is that engines fail with disturbing frequency during their first few years and few hundred hours in
service after manufacture, rebuild or overhaul.
Of the 180 engine failure accidents that occurred during 2001-2005, only about 15 of them involved engines beyond TBO. Analysis of those 15 past-TBO engine failure accidents revealed that 80 percent
of them were attributed by the NTSB to something other than high engine time -- most commonly inadequate or incompetent maintenance. In one case, for example, several cylinders had recently
been replaced and the crankcase had been split and then reassembled improperly. In another case, the engine failed catastrophically 30 minutes after a new vacuum pump was installed incorrectly. In yet
another, the mechanic tasked with replacing a bad cylinder immediately prior to the accident flight replaced the wrong jug. In one case, the engine had 4,605 hours since major overhaul (SMOH) and
turned out not to have had any inspections or maintenance during the preceding 530 hours!
Does TBO Make Sense?
Why should we overhaul at some fixed TBO? That's a tricky question, because engine overhaul at TBO is a two-edged sword. On one hand, overhauling at TBO presumably helps to ensure that the engine is
retired before it wears out (although the data suggests that a worn-out engine seldom causes safety-of-flight issues). On the other hand, overhauling puts the engine right back into the infant
mortality window, where the data tells us clearly that the probability of engine failure is highest.
Do we really want to do that before it's absolutely necessary? I don't think so.
Or as my scholarly friend Dr. Ulrich phrases it, "There is no engineering basis for assuming a correlation between aviation piston-engine unreliability and high time in service."
Learn From Other Pilots' Mistakes!
Check out the AOPA Air Safety Foundation Accident Database, a no-cost online database that can help improve your flying skills. By reading about other pilots' accidents, you can focus your
training to improve on those areas. Search the database by aircraft make and model, keyword, state, or weather and light conditions at the time of the accident.
Visit the no-cost
ASF Accident Database now.
AVweb posts audio news on Mondays, plus a new in-depth interview each Friday. In last Friday's podcast, you'll hear Eclipse Aviation
president and CEO Vern Raburn. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Xwind's Brad Whitsitt; BoGo Light's Mark Bent; DayJet's Ed Iacobucci; Pogo
Jet's Cameron Burr; Teal Group's Richard Aboulafia; Air Journey's Thierry Pouille; Epic Aircraft's Rick Schrameck; Cessna's Jack Pelton; Embraer's Ernest Edwards; LAMA's Dan Johnson; Piper's Jim Bass;
AOPA's Andrew Cebula; Hawker Beechcraft's Jim Schuster; and Avfuel's Craig Sincock. In Monday's podcast, hear Ed Shipley talk about the
P-38 called Glacier Girl. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.
At the Sun 'n Fun Fly-In a few weeks ago, AVweb's Russ Niles got to left-seat in Herpa's DC-3, courtesy of Incredible
Adventures. Join us for what some would call the experience of a lifetime, as Dan Gryder guides us (carefully) through the flight.
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
It's not rocket science, just good business!
Last week, we asked AVweb readers which outside factors (i.e.,
things aside from price and feature set) are the most important to them
when buying a new headset.
34% of those who responded said that actual demonstrations,
such as seeing a product demo at an air show or testing it out in the
cockpit, made the biggest impression on them. Previous
experience with the same-model headset or its manufacturer was the
second most popular factor, pulling in 30% of the vote in our poll.
A complete breakdown of the responses can be viewed
here. (You may be asked to register an answer, if you haven't already.)
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.
Attention, LSA Builders & ROTAX 912 Engine Operators BASA, the industry's leader in aviation supplies, software, and publications, offers the ROTAX Engine Introduction DVD with tips and techniques for trouble-free operation of Light Sport
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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 photo on AVweb.com?
Click here to submit it to our weekly contest.
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
As the days continue to lengthen across North America, "POTW"
contest submissions are starting to dip a bit. Not to worry,
though the AVweb readers who are making time to contribute when
they could be out flying are submitting some terrific images.
Case in point: Ken Wilson, whose submission is the first powered 'chute (that we can recall, at least) to be named "Picture of the Week"!
If our breath weren't already taken away, this entry from
Donald Reid of Bumpass, Virginia
would have done the trick. Fresh from the Lumberton Fly-In, Mr.
Reid brings us a spectacular fireworks display dwarfing the DC-3
And we sign off this week with a reminder of the darker side of
summer wild fires.
Michael S. Whaley of Melbourne,
Evergreen's Sikorsky S-64E Skycrane (N6979R) air tanker has been based
at the Melbourne, FL airport (KMLB) for a couple of weeks to help out
with our brush fire situation. Here, it is returning from a local fire
shortly before dark. The S-64 is a truly MASSIVE helicopter... watching
one land is much like witnessing the arrival of a gigantic mechanical
insect from another world... you almost expect to see little green men
jump out! (Or would that be little Evergreen men?) My wife and I both
agreed that this was well worth the nearly two-hour wait for the
Skycrane to arrive home.
Want more? As always, there are a dozen (or more) bonus
photos online at AVweb's home page
as part of our POTW slide show.
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,
send us an e-mail.
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) 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
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.