AVwebBiz - Volume 9, Number 11

March 16, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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AVflash! Results of Our Fuel Survey back to top 
 
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Owners Want 100-Octane: Fuel Survey

With 100LL threatened by environmental regulation, what do owners think should replace it? An unleaded 100-octane equivalent fuel is the most popular choice, according to a recent survey of more than 3100 AVweb readers. Moreover, many owners also want mogas as a second choice, offering some downside protection against escalating fuel prices that have already curtailed flying for many.

The survey, which began in late February, revealed that there's not much support for lower-octane dedicated aviation fuels, such as 94UL, nor are owners particularly supportive of engine modifications that would make it possible for many aircraft engines to burn lower-octane fuel without detonating.

Of the 3151 readers who took the survey, 97 percent were pilots and 96 percent were based in the U.S. or Canada. AVweb also asked if readers owned airplanes which require 100-octane fuel and 86 percent of those who responded said they did, with 16 percent reporting that their airplanes were approved for lower-octane fuel. This is the mirror opposite of the accepted estimate that 30 percent of the fleet requires high-octane fuel while 70 percent can operate on lower-octane fuel, such as 91 AKI mogas, 80/87 or other aviation fuels. Judging by reader comments, the high response rate may be due to owners of high-performance aircraft believing they have more at stake if a replacement fuel isn't found.

When asked which future fuel approach made the most sense, 51 percent said they favored a single, 100-octane drop-in replacement, 33 percent favored 100-octane, plus mogas as an option, 7 percent said they liked 94UL and another 7 percent thought a dual aviation fuel system such as 100-octane and 94-octane should be put in place. But the vast majority of readers recognized that dual fuel isn't practical: "We need a drop in replacement for 100LL. There's no way to have two separate fuels. The infrastructure can't support it," one reader told us. Not too surprisingly, owners whose airplanes don't require 100-octane fuel chaff at the prospect of having to buy it just for the sake of having a single fuel and these owners tilt strongly toward mogas. But there's also strong support for mogas on airports among those who need 100-octane. Nearly 30 percent of these owners said they wanted mogas available, either because they own a second airplane that can burn it or they're looking forward to owning or flying an LSA.

But owners aren't naïve about the difficulty of finding reliable mogas supplies not blended with ethanol, a periodic problem for some of the 100-plus airports that carry it now. We asked our survey takers if they believed it was likely mogas would be part of the fuel solution. Twenty one percent considered it likely, but nearly half—48 percent—told us it was not likely at all; a non-starter.

We also asked readers if they would be willing to modify their engines to burn a lower-octane fuel, such as 94UL. There's evidently not much sentiment for this. Only 8 percent said they would very likely to modify their airplanes, while another 25 percent said they would be somewhat likely. More than a quarter said they would be unlikely or simply wouldn't not buys mods of any kind to accommodate lower octane gas.

When asked about which mods they would consider, the most popular choice was an electronic magneto or ignition system that would provide detonation margin. Readers reacted far less warmly to operating at reduced power (9 percent), installing low-compression pistons (8%) or installing a full-up FADEC system (14 percent.)

Judging by our e-mail, many owners are concerned enough about the lack of clarity in the fuel market to forgo upgrades or new aircraft purchases, at least those that require 100-octane fuel. Our survey put some numbers on this. Exactly one third—33 percent—said they wouldn't delay purchases over worries about fuel, but 31 percent said they were on the fence and 22 percent said they definitely won't do any upgrades until they know what's going to happen to 100LL.

"I fly a Beech Bonanza with an IO-470N TCM. This engine requires 100LL. I am concerned that the $70,000 for the new engine and airframe upgrades may become useless if 100LL is pulled from the market," one survey participant told us.

Last summer, the EPA said it has no timeline for additional regulation on lead emissions and if this was supposed to allay concerns among owners, it may have little effect. A quarter of the survey respondents said the EPA pronouncement made them more confident in future fuel supplies, but 48 percent said it made them less confident. Said one reader: "The intrusion of EPA into the life of the free enterprise system, with their onerous growth and stifling regulations will continue...to the destruction of innovation in aviation. Regulation limits the progress to a real solution."

A strong majority of survey takers told us the industry shouldn't panic over a fuel solution, but that it needs to be solved soon. Nearly an additional third (28 percent) said the industry needs to be more aggressive in finding the replacement fuel.

 
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In the Spotlight: Bizjets' Role in Trying Times back to top 
 

Private Aircraft To The Rescue

In the wake of airline chaos in the burgeoning number of trouble spots around the world, private aviation is filling a void and British company Air Partner, which can arrange aircraft that can carry up to 650 people, has been especially busy evacuating expatriates from places they and their families would rather not be. As we reported in February, evacuations began with the political crises in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt and in recent weeks Mother Nature has shifted the focus to New Zealand and Japan. "In a period when far-reaching and unprecedented political upheaval has coincided with devastating natural disasters ... Air Partner has been working around the clock to organize humanitarian aid flights and to evacuate more than 12,000 people from across the world in just six weeks," the company said in a news release.

Not all the flights are one-way out, however. The company dispatched a Boeing 767 to earthquake-torn Japan on March 12 that carried rescue personnel, search dogs and specialized equipment for freeing trapped victims. Meanwhile, a group of German companies was able to evacuate 477 of its people on a Boeing 747. Air Partner is just one company providing these services but it's the one AVweb has heard from. Do you have airplanes helping with the crisis in Japan? Let us know at newstips@avweb.com.

Help For Aviators Helping In Japan

Relief organizations and business aircraft operators working in the aftermath of Japan's earthquake and tsunami need to navigate a maze of airspace restrictions and airport closures, a challenge that is made a little easier with a list of resources and updates compiled this week by the National Business Aviation Association. Tokyo International Airport is closed to general aviation traffic until Friday, but many other airports are open, NBAA said. Rumors that Japan plans to close all of its airports "have not been confirmed with Japanese authorities," the FAA told NBAA on Tuesday. Aerobridge, an NBAA-sponsored volunteer aviation group that coordinates disaster response, is working to make space available on GA passenger and cargo jets to Japan. The group is also assisting with transportation of small search-and-rescue teams and medical assessment teams.

NBAA asked any member flight departments traveling to Japan with empty seats to contact them and consider donating those seats to personnel who need to reach the disaster area. In addition, there is a need to transport relief workers to Los Angeles, Seattle, and Phoenix to take advantage of transport offers from airlines. Any aviators planning to fly to Japan should plan carefully. "Conditions on the ground are changing quickly and operators are reminded to contact their international service provider for the most current information," NBAA said.

 
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The NTSB Reports back to top 
 

NTSB Cites Fatigue, Poor Training In Fatal Crash

Pilot error was to blame for the crash of a Hawker Beechcraft 125-800A in July 2008, the NTSB said on Tuesday. The airplane, operated by East Coast Jets, crashed when the crew attempted a go-around after landing on a wet runway at Owatonna Degner Regional Airport, in Minnesota. Both pilots and all six passengers were killed. The captain's decision to attempt the go around late in the landing roll with insufficient runway remaining was the probable cause of the accident, the NTSB found. Contributing factors were poor crew coordination and lack of cockpit discipline; fatigue, which likely impaired both pilots' performance; and the FAA's failure to require crew resource management training and standard operating procedures for Part 135 operators.

"This accident serves as a reminder that aviation is an unforgiving environment," said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. "No detail is too small to be overlooked -- not the winds, or the communication between crew members, or even how much sleep they get. The small things do matter and in this case they accumulated to result in tragedy." The flight was a nonscheduled passenger flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The NTSB investigators looked at several other safety issues, including go-around guidance for turbine-powered aircraft; Part 135 preflight weather briefings; inadequate arrival landing distance assessment guidance and requirements; Part 135 on- demand, pilot-in command line checks; and cockpit image recording systems. The safety board issued several safety recommendations to the FAA regarding training, operating procedures, and sleep disorders. Those recommendations, along with a synopsis of the accident investigation report, are posted on the NTSB web site. The complete report will be available on the web site in a few weeks.

 
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The Wind at Their Backs — And Then Some back to top 
 

Cirrus Rides Jet Stream To Record

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Thanks to the jet stream and the Cirrus SR22T's ability to find it, the speed record between Ontario, Calif., and Phoenix was shattered in late December by Airshares Elite pilot Justin Beitler. The Cirrus (a top-of-the-line airplane donated by the company for the flight) caught a big kick from the shift in the jet stream to average 271.2 knots on the trip (normal cruise is about 180). The previous record was 207 knots in a Mooney M20K set by Lee White and Larry Randlett in 2000. "The XM weather system helped me find the best winds, and the efficient turbocharged engine allowed me to cruise on less than 17 gallons per hour at over 270 knots," said Beitler. "At that speed, our offices in L.A. and Phoenix are only an hour and eleven minutes apart." The flight originated in L.A. but even though Beitler beat the previous mark for a flight to Phoenix in that category, he didn't claim the record. (Watch the video.)

The southern sweep of the high-altitude winds that made the Ontario-Phoenix record possible also brought horrible weather from the North Pacific with them, and the deluge of rain caused widespread flooding in California. Weather scrubbed his first attempt. There were some airspace issues, too, since Beitler wanted to cut directly across one of the main approaches to LAX. By Dec. 19, the weather and the FAA found overlapping windows and the flight was completed.

 
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Bizjet Luxury, Asian Style back to top 
 

Asian Cabin Concept From Airbus

Club seating and couches are the epitome of business aircraft luxury, unless you want to play mahjong. With the Asian market predicted to be the most important for all types of aviation in coming years, business aircraft designers are making sure customers there actually like the ride. At the recent Asian Aerospace Expo and Congress in Hong Kong, Airbus unveiled cabin designs on its big business jets aimed squarely at the Asian market. Instead of the long, low couches and pairs of facing reclining chairs, the interior looks more like a games room than a lobby.

Asian business people like gathering around a table to eat and talk business and when the briefcases and laptops are put away they enjoy games like mahjong or a rousing karaoke session. The Airbus design caters to those customs and features a round table that folds into a rectangular surface to accommodate the different uses. Airbus says it has already sold 25 corporate aircraft in the Asia-Pacific region.

 
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Opinion & Commentary back to top 
 

AVweb Insider Blog: Fire in Flight — Give It a Thought

Fire in flight is such a universally horrible thing to think about that most of us probably just don't think about it much. But two recent accidents highlight how important it is to spend some time taking basic precautions. In the latest installment of the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli (again) stresses why you need a Halon extinguisher and why you need to keep it close in the cockpit.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Engine Design — No Talent

If there's a single motorhead bone in your body, you've heard this complaint before. Have Lycoming and Continental, through a lack of innovation, put us in this mess we're in over avgas? Or should fickle buyers share the blame instead of decrying the death of engine innovation? AVweb's Paul Bertorelli has met with enough engineers, policy-makers and complainers to have an opinion on the subject — and he's happy to share it in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Should Wrecks Be Recovered?

We've all stood in museums and gone slack-jawed at the site of a historic airplane — but in the latest installment of the AVweb Insider blog, Mary Grady wonders if dragging all these wrecks from their final resting places and restoring them (at great expense) is the best way to connect with history.

Read more and join the conversation.

 
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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 
 

Associate Editor Opening

One of our sister aviation publications is looking for an associate editor. If you are a savvy, motivated layout master and wordsmith, they would love to hear from you. (There's a link to contact them beneath the following job description.)

Job Description: Associate Editor

Associate Editor will provide primary editorial support to Editor of consumer aviation magazine, which may include rewriting press releases for publication, web postings, copy and substantive editing of articles, departments and columns, preparation of galleys for review, writing articles, sizing and color correction of photos, enterprise reporting, proofreading and packaging of layouts for offsite production staff.

Qualifications

  • Two years of magazine or similar experience
  • Strong copy editing/substantive editing/fact-checking skills
  • Skilled in using CS3 Suite/Mac, MS Office
  • Interest in aviation
  • Ability to work both independently and collaboratively from a home office
  • Intellectual curiosity and willingness to learn
  • Strong work ethic and self-motivation
  • Clear written and verbal communication skills
  • Solid organizational skills
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Sensitivity to and ability to meet deadlines
  • Ability to internalize and adhere to publication's style guide/style sheets
  • Willingness to travel occasionally

Desirable Skills

  • Experience in building things
  • Experience leveraging social networking/web to encourage product visibility and reader interaction
  • Digital video/still photography, video editing
  • Pilot's license

This is a telecommute position. To apply, submit a cover letter, resume and three clips to BelvoirJobOpportunity@avweb.com. (Resume and cover letter should be Microsoft Word attachments; please attach clips as PDFs.)

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 255,000 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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Who's Where back to top 
 

Who's Where? You Tell Us

Get a promotion or a new job? Your colleagues want to know about it, and AVwebBiz can get the word out. Drop us a line about the staff appointment, with a nice recent photo, and we'll do our best to include it in our new section, "Who's Where." The items will be permanently archived on AVweb for future reference, too.

 
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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 
 

Video: A Look Inside the Cessna Factory

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

Facing ever-growing global competition, Cessna has to find way to make airplanes more efficiently. In this video, Terry Clark explains how the company has done that at the company's Independence, Kansas plant.

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Video: Bell 407AH Helicopter Unveiled

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

Bell Helicopters bypassed the usual military procurement procedure and adapted a 407 for "law enforcement and paramilitary" use. With a 3,000-round-per-minute machine gun, a rocket launcher and FLIR, it's a potent adaptation of a proven airframe that's already attracting attention.

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
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Video: World's Fastest Helicopter Pilot

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

Kevin Bredenbeck took the Sikorsky X2 technology demonstrator to 250 knots and beyond last September. He spoke with AVweb about the aircraft, the program, and what it's like to go that fast in a helicopter in this interview at the 2011 HAI Heli-Expo in Orlando, Florida.

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Names Behind the News back to top 
 

Meet the AVwebBiz Team

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

The AVwebBiz team is:

Publisher
Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Webmaster
Scott Simmons

Contributors
Jeff van West

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 AVwebBiz. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.