AVwebFlash - Volume 13, Number 42a

October 15, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Fire the Starting Gun on Columbia Bidding War back to top 

Cirrus Launches Bid for Columbia

Cirrus Design filed a motion on Thursday to try to buy bankrupt Columbia Aircraft. The company is also alleging that the bidding process gives arch-rival Cessna the inside track, according to The Associated Press. Cirrus representatives appeared to welcome Cessna's proposed acquisition of Columbia two weeks ago. After Columbia declared bankruptcy, Cessna said it had a letter of intent to buy some of the assets and liabilities of the Bend, Ore., planemaker. Cirrus was unable to provide a comment before our publication deadline. The addition of Cirrus to the mix makes at least four companies interested in Columbia.

Versa Capital Management Inc. and Park Electrochemical Corp. are also in the fray and each has filed motions saying Cessna is getting preferential treatment in the process. "The playing field is not level," TradingMarkets.com quoted Versa's filing as saying. "It is tilted in favor of Cessna." Versa and Park have listed about a dozen points that they claim give Cessna the edge. The bidding will be done Nov. 21. Columbia is quoted as saying in its filings that it wants the process wrapped up as quickly as possible because it's losing about $1 million a week.

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Crossing the Air Border back to top 

AOPA Asks For More Time On Cross-Border Flight Rules

AOPA has asked U.S. Customs and Border Protection to extend the comment period by two months on a proposed rule that would require general aviation pilots to electronically file passenger manifests at least an hour before departure on flights headed to the U.S. from outside the country. As AVweb reported last week, the Baja Bush Pilots, who promote air tourism to Mexico, first raised the issue at last week’s AOPA Expo in Hartford, noting that it’s sometimes difficult to find a phone that works, let alone an Internet connection. Andy Cebula, director of government affairs for AOPA, said in a news release that actually being able to file the manifests is only part of the problem with the new rule. The purpose of the exercise is to allow border security officials a chance to compare names on the manifests to the no-fly list that bars some people from boarding airliners. Cebula notes that if the name of a passenger on a GA flight originating in a remote location is incorrectly flagged on the no-fly list, it could be a nightmare resolving the issue from a distance. “[E]xtending the comment period is essential to provide the general aviation community the opportunity to develop possible alternatives to address specific concerns within the rule such as the proposed electronic-only submission of passenger and other data to CBP prior to border crossing flights,” said Cebula in a letter.

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Antiques Caught in TFR back to top 

FSS Error May Clear TFR-Busting Pilots

The FAA says it will likely clear the records of 12 pilots who violated a temporary flight restriction (TFR) near Camp David last weekend on their way to an antique fly-in at Hagerstown. According to the Federal Times, a Capitol Hill news magazine, the pilots may not have been told about the TFR when they checked for NOTAMs with flight service before heading to Hagerstown. "Generally, if we determine they were not properly briefed we don't take enforcement action," FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told AVweb on the weekend. The Federal Times quoted Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Ill., the chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, as telling a hearing on the performance of flight service since its takeover by Lockheed Martin that the errant pilots in Maryland weren't told about the TFR because flight service lost their notification of it. "We can and must do better," Costello said.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command scrambled F-16s to intercept at least four of the aircraft, some of which did not have radios and couldn't be notified of their incursion that way. What followed was the usual verbal pat-down from Secret Service agents and the looming specter of sanctions by the FAA. Although Lockheed Martin has said recently it is doing better at providing the level of service it promised when taking over the system, an Office of Inspector General spokesman told the hearing the company missed 13 of 21 performance parameters when the takeover was completed in August.

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Regulation and Technology back to top 

Airlines Threatened With Scheduling Restrictions

Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters appears to accept that general aviation is not to blame for flight delays at major airports and says her department will impose scheduling restrictions on airlines, if necessary, improve on-time records. The first target could be JFK in New York. Peters has called a meeting between airline representatives and the FAA for Oct. 23-24 to discuss the problems. “Our first choice is to find market-based incentives to fix delays so we can preserve passenger choice, but we will consider imposing scheduling restrictions as one option to avoid a repeat of this summer’s delays,” Peters said in a news release. As part of their campaign to create a user-fee system for FAA services, the airlines have alleged that general aviation traffic is largely to blame for airline delays but Peters doesn’t mention little airplanes in her release. She notes that in the 18 months ending in August, airlines boosted the number of scheduled flights into JFK by 41 percent and the number of arrivals being delayed by more than an hour went up 114 percent. The airport’s overall on-time record dropped to 59 percent. Last month, Peters formed the Aviation Rulemaking Committee, which will report to President Bush in December on ways to reduce airline delays. At the same time, she said, her department is monitoring chronically delayed flights and looking at ways to improve consumer protection, such as requiring increased compensation for passengers who are bumped.

New Material Lighter, Stronger Than Carbon Fiber

Next to advances in engine technology, new materials to make the rest of the aircraft are critical to improving performance and durability of aircraft and Dutch scientists say they’ve hit on a winner. The researchers at the Delft University of Technology said in a recent news release that their CentrAl reinforced aluminum, which is a sandwich of aluminum and composite materials, is not only stronger than carbon-fiber composites, it’s 20 percent lighter and virtually impervious to fatigue. The news release says use of the material could save $100 billion in maintenance and fuel costs in the world-wide aviation industry. The material was developed by the university with help from the Dutch company GTM Advanced Structures and aluminum giant Alcoa. It was unveiled at a conference on the damage tolerance of aircraft structures in Delft last week. The researchers say its main use will be in aircraft wings where weight, strength and fatigue issues are paramount.

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Weather News back to top 

Weather Radars Get $43 Million Upgrade

Forecasters will be able to see the size, type and intensity of precipitation much more accurately after a system-wide upgrade of NEXRAD radars. Baron Services, an affiliate of WxWorx, and L-3 Communications were awarded the $43 million deal to upgrade 171 weather radars with something called dual-polarization Doppler capability. According to WxWorks, the new capability will allow forecasters to predict snowfall amounts and even events like flash floods with more accuracy.

Most radars emit a single horizontal scan beam but the new systems will emit both horizontal and vertical beams, which provide twice as much information. This allows the gear to show not only where precipitation is falling, but how much and how big it is, which WxWorx says forecasters can use to more accurately predict the weather. The upgrades will occur over the next five years.

Airship Flight Will Measure Arctic Ice

A French explorer says the best way to measure the effects of global warming on the Arctic environment is from the comfort of an airship. Jean-Louis Etienne intends to fly an airship more than 6,000 miles from Spitzberg, Norway, over the North Pole, to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska from April to May of next year. He told a news conference that the airship can cover a lot more area than surface ships but are much more stable platforms for scientific equipment than other types of aircraft. "The airship will allow us to fly over vast areas and it will give our measuring equipment the stability that a helicopter cannot give," he said. The airship is being built in Russia and is about 175 feet long and 50 feet in diameter.

Arctic ice is reported to be shrinking at unprecedented rates, not only threatening the Arctic environment but also wreaking havoc with weather patterns in the rest of the world. There are also fears that enough ice will melt to raise ocean levels, potentially inundating low-lying coastal areas. Etienne won't be the first to fly over the area in an airship. Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen did a similar trip in 1926.

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Pilots Behaving Badly back to top 

Sightseeing Helicopter Pilot Charged with Drunk Flying

A Naples, Fla. helicopter pilot is being held without bail in Virginia after police allege he was giving rides to families while under the influence of alcohol. Police were called to the Suffolk Peanut Festival after a family that had taken a ride with the 50-year-old pilot complained that he flew erratically and that they could smell alcohol on his breath. The family also said he muttered curses when he landed the Bell 206 L1 helicopter.

Police confronted the pilot and then shut the helicopter rides down for the day while they took him into custody. He was being held at the local jail awaiting an appearance before a judge.

Airline Pilot Suspended for Long-Distance Joke?

The "victim" in this bizarre tale says there's more to the story than meets the eye … and there would probably have to be. A 30-year-veteran Singapore Airlines pilot is alleged to have essentially thrown it all away for the teenage prank of fraudulently ordering fast food for a fellow pilot who lives near Vancouver. At least four times over a two-day period last November, Looi Kang San is alleged to have had pizza, burgers and fried chicken delivered to Steven Gillis, who lives in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey. The Vancouver Province newspaper contacted Gillis, who didn't want to comment, but the paper did say he suggested there was something else going on. Regardless of what may have sparked the intercontinental prank, Singapore authorities don't seem to think it's funny.

Looi has been suspended by the airline, his passport has been seized and he posted more than $5,000 in bail. If he's convicted, he could be fined more than $7,000 and jailed up to three years. A pre-trial conference is scheduled for tomorrow.

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In Brief ... back to top 

On the Fly ...

Seventeen whooping cranes began their ultralight-escorted migration from Wisconsin to Florida last week. The journey will take about 23 flying days but weather can extend the actual length of time it takes ... .

Gen. David Lee "Tex" Hill, one of the famed Flying Tigers, died Thursday at 92. Hill was played by John Wayne in the Flying Tigers movie. In real life, Hill amassed 18.25 kills and, among other distinctions, was the first commander of an all-jet unit in the Army Air Force ... .

A passenger died after being hit by a taser shortly after arriving at Vancouver International Airport Sunday. The man, who apparently got off a flight from Poland, became unruly in the airport and when he refused to calm down, he was tased. He died short time later.

AVmail: Oct. 15, 2007

Reader mail this week about AFSS, ADS-B, LEDs, TFRs, QOTW and much more.

Click here to read this week's letters to the editor.

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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New on AVweb back to top 

Leading Edge #10: Fly It Again?

We don't know how many people shoot multiple instrument approaches at an airport with bad weather, but we do know how many people die trying.

Click here to read.

Fog shrouded the Northwest airport. A single-engine, retractable-gear airplane, with three aboard, was arriving from a routine, cross-country flight. The experienced pilot set up for a GPS approach. At the missed-approach point, the ground was still obscured so the pilot powered up and began a climb; but as the aircraft crossed directly over the airport, he could see runway lights.

Fog creates unusual visual cues, where runway lights are obscured when looking nearly horizontally toward the runway at the missed-approach point, but visible looking downward directly through a thin layer of fog. Seeing the lights during the missed approach may embolden a pilot to try again, and make the pilot subject to landing expectation and a temptation to go "just a little lower" on the next approach.

Encouraged by the runway lights, the pilot asked for and was cleared for a second attempt. Perhaps locked into that landing expectation and subject to that temptation to go a little lower, the pilot flew the airplane into trees about 1-1/4 mile short of the runway on the second approach, aligned on the inbound course. All aboard the airplane died. During the time of both approaches, the reported weather was 100 overcast, visibility 1/4-mile with a temperature/dewpoint spread of zero degrees -- far below minimums for the GPS approach.

In the dark of night, the piston twin departed under visual flight rules (VFR) but picked up a clearance for an instrument flight rules (IFR) approach when the weather at the destination was 800 overcast and visibility 10 miles. Around one o'clock in the morning the pilot flew the instrument approach but for some reason "missed," despite the reasonably good weather.

The pilot requested and was granted another shot at the same approach, only to miss a second time. On a third attempt, during the missed-approach procedure, the airplane departed controlled flight and crashed into a garage, bursting into flame about three miles from the airport. All aboard the airplane perished.

All too often reports of accidents in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) include reference to flying the second, third, fourth or even fifth attempt (the most I've ever seen in a report) at flying the same approach before ending up in the mishap record.

Theory And Practice

In theory the risk of mishap remains the same with each approach no matter how many times it is flown: Fly headings and altitudes and either you see the runway and land or you don't and you go on the missed approach. The record suggests, however, that in the "multiple-approach" scenario, risk increases with each failed attempt. Flying the same procedure over and over again may lead to complacency and sloppy flying. Under stress, the temptation is to try to go "just a little bit lower" or "a little bit longer" on each subsequent attempt. The pilot's focus becomes less and less on instruments and the procedure, and more and more on straining to see objects outside the aircraft.

The success orientation of most pilots -- the strong desire to get where they want to be, with the corollary that having to miss and go somewhere they do not is somehow "failure" -- works in direct opposition to safety in multiple approaches. Pressures become cumulative; pilots want to "succeed," passengers get more vocal, fatigue builds and fuel burn is making fewer and fewer alternates to the planned destination available. History shows that multiple attempts at the same instrument approach can bring distractions and deteriorate a pilot's judgment until they become contributors to a fatal crash.

Fly It Again ... Or Not?

How can you better manage the risks and temptations of flying multiple instrument approaches? First, you must commit to flying procedures precisely as published. Human factors, not the procedure itself, makes multiple attempts progressively riskier. Second, remember that complacency, building pressure and temptation nearly always accompany multiple attempts at an approach. Everyone is subject to these human failings.

Here's my personal standard operating procedure (SOP) regarding multiple attempts at the same approach. You may adopt it yourself, or choose to modify it for your needs. The key point is to decide now, in the low-stress comfort of your chair, what your SOP will be, and show the discipline to stick with it without change if you find yourself in the clouds in low IMC with a plane-load of nervous passengers.

If I miss on an instrument approach, I do not attempt the same approach a second time unless:

  1. I have good reason to believe, based on observations or my knowledge of meteorology, that weather conditions that required me to miss were temporary and that they'll improve in time for a second attempt; or
  2. I can identify a specific technique or part of the procedure I flew incorrectly that caused me to miss, and that I can honestly say I'll get right the next time; or
  3. I'm facing a true emergency and because of my poor planning, systems failures or completely unforeseen weather conditions, I have no better options within the remaining range of my aircraft, and I must try again before running out of fuel.

If none of the conditions above apply and you attempt a second approach anyway, I say you're wasting time and burning off the fuel you need to get somewhere with better conditions or lower approach minimums.

If You Miss A Second Time

If you thought the weather would improve but it didn't, or you thought you'd fly the approach more precisely the next time but ended up flying a missed approach again anyway, go somewhere with better weather or lower approach minima. Do not fly a third approach unless you're truly in a fuel emergency and have no other options. The mishap record shows multiple attempts at the same approach tempt pilots to violate safe altitudes and proper procedures. The results are almost always fatal.

Pilots must show discipline to fly approach procedures as published every time, and to abandon attempts at getting into a particular airport long before adverse stress, fuel or fatigue become issues. Historically pilots are not good at maintaining this discipline, and for those who do not, the survival record is abysmal. Develop and stick to a personal SOP regarding multiple attempts at the same instrument approach.

Fly safe, and have fun!

Thomas P. Turner's Leading Edge columns are collected here.


What's New for October 2007

This month AVweb's survey of the latest products and services for pilots, mechanics and aircraft owners brings you Skyhawks with diesel engines, voltage regulators, GPS screen protectors, gift cards and much more.

Click here for the full story.

AVweb's Monday Podcast: Sporty's Head Hal Shevers Debriefs After NBAA and AOPA

File Size 10.1 MB / Running Time 11:06

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

At any convention, a lot of the real business is done in the hallways, the reception rooms, and the quiet corners that movers and shakers find when they need to talk turkey. The National Business Aviation Association meeting in Atlanta and AOPA's annual get-together in Hartford provided plenty of opportunities for the kind of informal discussions that often lay the groundwork for future projects. Someone who seems to be everywhere at these events is Hal Shevers, president of Sporty's Pilot Shop. AVweb's Russ Niles talked with Hal about what was seen and heard at these two major events.

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Best Videos from Around the Web back to top 

Video of the Week: Bob Hoover's Show-Stopping Aerobatics

This week's viral video clip comes to us from AVweb reader Brady Zaiser, who found this clip of the incredible Bob Hoover demonstrating a few aerobatic tricks on Snotr. (Brady, we'll be sending you an AVweb hat for tracking this down — and we'll do the same for anyone else who recommends a video that becomes a future "Video of the Week," so be sure to let us know when you find cool flying videos around the web.)

Click here to watch.

Firefox/Opera users: Note that the video will autostart when you click through.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Aviation Facilities, Inc. (AFI) (KFUL, Fullerton, CA)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Aviation Facilities, Inc. (AFI) at KFUL in Fullerton, California — a family-run FBO that celebrated its 40th anniversary at KFUL last week.

AVweb reader Ray Stratton gave us a little history:

Starting with a C-150 and using the airport motel lobby as an office, [AFI] ... has grown to a fleet of eleven aircraft and over seven instructors. Still owned and operated by the same family, it has accomplished over 250,000 hours of flight instruction.

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!

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry. Business AVflash is a must read. Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/.

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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

August 30, 2007

Piper Arrow pilot was on a 1/4-mile final, making a late-night emergency landing at MSP due to a faulty nosegear indicator, with fire trucks and emergency vehicles lining both sides of the runway.

Wow, not even [U.S. President] Bush gets this kind of treatment when he lands!

(The nose wheel held up O.K.)

Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

AVwebFlash is a weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

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.

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