AVwebBiz - Volume 10, Number 9

February 29, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Controversial Bid Cancelled back to top 
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Air Force Cancels Embraer Light Attack Contract

The Air Force Tuesday cancelled its contract for a Light Air Support aircraft with Sierra Nevada Industries and Embraer, will reopen competitive bidding, and has announced an investigation into the way the previous bid was handled. The Air Force raised eyebrows in December when it kicked Hawker Beechcraft's AT6B out of the running for the $1 billion contract. That left only Sierra Nevada's assembled-in-Florida version of the Embraer Super Tucano in the competition and the contract was awarded a few days later. "While we pursue perfection, we sometimes fall short, and when we do we will take corrective action," Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley said in a statement. Donley would not say why the contract was overturned, only that senior officials were not satisfied with the documentation supporting the award. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., said a sudden reversal like this is rare and significant. "The Air Force does not do that lightly," Pompeo told The Washington Post. "This is highly unusual, which suggests that there is going to be a very broad re-look of the entire process."

Of course, Hawker Beech welcomed the news. The company took the government to court to challenge the procedural process of the bid and that case is still ongoing. Hawker Beech Corp. Chairman Bill Boisture has been vocal in his battle with the government over the bid and said Tuesday's decision was welcome news. "We commend the Air Force for this decision and we believe strongly it is the right thing for the Air Force, the taxpayers and the people of Hawker Beechcraft," he said in a statement. Embraer, meanwhile, seemed taken aback by the move. "Embraer remains committed to offer the best solution to the U.S. Air Force and will await further clarification on the subject to decide next steps, in consultation with its partner, [Sierra Nevada Corporation]," the company said in a brief statement. Sierra Nevada spokesman Taco Gilbert told the Post the decision was a "big disappointment."

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Aspiring FOs, Take Note back to top 

FAA Proposes Change In First Officer Rules

The FAA said on Monday it wants to substantially raise the qualification requirements for first officers who fly for U.S. passenger and cargo airlines. The proposed rule, which the FAA said complies with a law passed in 2010, would require first officers flying in Part 121 operations to hold an ATP certificate, which requires 1,500 hours of flight time. Currently, first officers are required to have only a commercial pilot certificate, which requires 250 hours. Also, first officers would need to log at least 1,000 flight hours in air carrier operations before they could serve as pilot in command in those operations. And if first officers are flying an airplane that requires a type rating or a multiengine rating, they must log 50 hours of multiengine flight experience and complete a new FAA-approved ATP Certification Training Program for those ratings, which would include classroom and simulator training.

"These proposed requirements would ensure that pilots have proper qualifications and experience in difficult operational conditions and in a multi-crew environment prior to serving as pilot flight crew members in air carrier operations," says the proposal. The changes reflect a commitment to safety, said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This proposed rule [would ensure] our pilots are the most qualified and best trained in the world," he said. Under the proposal, pilots with 750 hours of military flight experience could obtain a "restricted privileges" ATP certificate. These pilots could serve only as a first officer, not as a captain. Graduates of a four-year baccalaureate aviation degree program also could qualify for the "restricted" ATP if they have 1,000 hours of flight time and also have a commercial pilot certificate and instrument rating earned at a flight school affiliated with the university or college. The proposed rule is posted online here. The public has 60 days to comment on the proposal after it is officially published on Wednesday. The 2010 law cited in the proposal was enacted in response to the 2009 crash of a Colgan Air regional airliner in Buffalo, N.Y., that killed 50 people.

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Living Large back to top 

Biggest Private Aircraft Delivered

Boeing delivered the first passenger version of it new generation 747 Tuesday, but it left the factory without the 467 seats most of its stablemates will carry. The first 747-I is going to an unnamed individual, but he or she won't actually get to fly on it for a couple of years, long enough to turn it into "the jewel of the sky" at a completion center in Germany. However, the delivery makes the aircraft the biggest private aircraft in the world, at least until Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal gets his A380.

Lufthansa has ordered 20 of the more mundane versions of the stretched and modernized jumbo jet, but Boeing has not announced when those deliveries will start. Speculation is the passenger version will go on a diet to shed some of the 15,000-20,000 pounds it's believed to have gained during development. Boeing announced a 14,000-pound increase in takeoff weight last month but concerns linger about payload and fuel burn. Boeing says it expects to have the aircraft performing to its original specs by 2014.

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Charging the Batteries — By Landing? back to top 

Researchers Work Toward Quiet Taxiing

The heat energy produced by the friction of a passenger jet's braking system during landing could be captured and converted into electricity, according to recent research by an engineering team in the U.K. "Taxiing is a highly fuel-inefficient part of any trip by plane, with emissions and noise pollution caused by jet engines being a huge issue for airports all over the world," said Paul Stewart, a professor at the University of Lincoln, who led the research. Motor-generators built into the landing gear could capture the wasted heat and convert it into electricity, which would then be stored and supplied to the in-hub motors in the wheels of the plane when it needed to taxi. An Airbus A320, for example, could potentially produce up to 3 megawatts of power, Stewart said.

"We explored a wide variety of ways of harnessing that energy, such as generating electricity from the interaction between copper coils embedded in the runway and magnets attached to the underside of the aircraft, and then feeding the power produced into the local electricity grid," Stewart said. "If the next generation of aircraft that emerges over the next 15 to 20 years could incorporate this kind of technology, it would deliver enormous benefits, especially for people living near airports. Currently, commercial aircraft spend a lot of time on the ground with their noisy jet engines running. In the future this technology could significantly reduce the need to do that."

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: User Fees -- The Usual Blather from Both Sides

The administration's proposal to charge $100 per flight for all but piston aircraft is meeting expected -- and deserved -- opposition from all segments of aviation. On the AVweb Insider, Paul Bertorelli opines that it's less the principle than the practicality. Why is the government coming at us for more money without demonstrating that it's not wasting what we already give it?

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Aviation Consumer Engine Cylinder Survey

Cylinders are the big-ticket item during an engine overhaul, and the market has changed substantially during the last five years. Our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, is surveying owner experiences on engine cylinders.

If you'd like to participate, click here to take the survey.

The results will appear in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. For subscription information, click here.

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

Video: Dynon SkyView Product Tour

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

Dynon's SkyView big-screen avionics suite brings sophisticated automation to LSA and experimental aircraft cockpits. Aviation Consumer's Larry Anglisano offers a detailed look at the system's features.

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

Video: Helicopter Shakes Self Apart

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

Some observers speculate that a bad episode of ground resonance may be to blame for the violent self-destruction of a medevac helicopter as it landed in a field in Para, Brazil. Few details are available about the incident, which reportedly took place Wednesday -- the same day video of the accident began spreading, online. The helicopter appears to be a Eurocopter A-Star AS350BA. Some reports state that there were four aboard -- two pilots, a doctor, and a nurse -- and all escaped serious injury in spite of the helicopter engaging full-flail mode. Several accounts repeat that the aircraft suffered excessive vibration while airborne and that vibration developed into destructive ground resonance after the aircraft landed. Generally, ground resonance will resolve itself if the pilot is able to respond quickly by returning the aircraft to hover.

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If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

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In the Soup?
Whether you fly in the system daily or just IPC check rides, IFR magazine helps you be the best instrument pilot you can be.

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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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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 world's premier independent aviation news resource.

The AVwebBiz team is:

Tom Bliss

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Scott Simmons

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Jeff Van West

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