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A New Generation Of Headset…
Move over, James Bond, we’ve got you covered with the latest set of gadgets that are especially designed with the technically savvy aviator in mind. While noise-canceling headsets are nothing new, a Maryland company is promising huge improvements with its next generation of communications technology. Ellicott City-based TechnoSys Inc. will use fiber optics in the headsets and, it claims, improve communication in airplane cockpits. [more] The company says cockpits are not only noisy in the audible sense, they also have all kinds of ambient electronic interference from radars, navigation systems and panel displays. The company was recently awarded $50,000 to help commercialize the fiber optics-based aviator’s headset it has been developing over the past several years. The money, awarded by the Maryland Technology Transfer Fund, will help the company develop a production prototype headset for use in military and commercial applications. Last year, the company received another $50,000 grant from the Naval Air Warfare Center to create technical drawings for the product.
…High-Tech Weather Briefings..
While DUATS pioneered online weather services, it’s hard to keep up with all the new computer-based products coming out these days. For example, PDA users can now get graphical weather products right in the “Palm” of their hands. TurboWx — available as a Palm OS Web Clipping and a browser-based PDA and SmartPhone application — is a server-based subscription service that delivers commonly available free, non-copyrighted weather information, available on the Internet, into a presentation specifically designed for these devices. This subscription will set you back between $40 and $70. Don’t have a PDA? How about checking the weather on your cellphone? WAP protocol provides aviation weather codes, worldwide airport information — including navigation aids, fuel and oil data, daylight saving schedules, runway dimensions and even nearby hotels — at your fingertips.
…Reach Out And Weigh Someone
Cellphone technology is also helping out with one of the least-favorite preflight chores. Smartsoft, a Norwegian software company, just released its new aviation weight & balance software, Flight WTK 1.0 (Flight Wireless Tool Kit). The software enables pilots to perform weight and balance on their mobile phone even as the aircraft is being loaded. The company hopes the versatility to change calculations on the ramp will be a big plus for pilots. Very handy on those trips to Oshkosh, where everything seems worthy of buying.
GARMIN’S 196 GPS HAS THE MOST UTILITY AMONG AVIATION HANDHELDS! WAAS-capable, the Garmin 196 has advanced mapping and logbook capabilities offering more utility as a cross-platform navigator than any aviation portable on the market. On land the GPSMAP 196 can navigate along roads or waterways. For details on the 196 and other Garmin GPS models go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/garmin
Experienced May Have False Sense Of Security…
AOPA’s Air Safety Foundation (ASF) just released a report on spins and stall accidents, and while some of the results aren’t surprising, it challenges some pretty well-entrenched perceptions of one of the most deadly types of in-flight mishaps. The ASF reports stall and spins have a fatality rate of about 28 percent, and account for about 10 percent of all GA accidents. “Fatal stall/spin accidents most often begin at or below traffic pattern altitude (generally 1,000 feet above ground level), well below the altitude necessary to recover from even a one-turn spin,” the report reads. The report challenges the sales pitch touted by some aerobatic flight schools by claiming that stall/spins encountered at traffic pattern altitude are virtually unrecoverable, even by pilots with some aerobatic training under their belts. This ASF investigation of GA stalls and spins is the first in a series of Air Safety Foundation Topic Specific Studies based on research using the ASF Safety Database.
…Flight Experience Is Examined…
What might be surprising to some is that the thickness of the logbook and number of endorsements held by a pilot do not always equate to stall/spin immunity. “A common misconception is that student pilots are most likely to suffer fatal stall/spin type accidents,” said ASF Executive Director Bruce Landsberg. “ASF’s research shows that’s completely untrue. Pilots with commercial pilot certificates are far more likely to be involved in such accidents, and private pilots aren’t far behind.” So, why the distinction between experience levels? ASF concluded some commercial and private pilots may become complacent in their skills, or “lack proficiency or understanding in aircraft operations at the corner of the flight envelope.”
…And Aircraft Are Scrutinized
Because aircraft design is the primary factor in how an aircraft will behave in a stall or spin, the report went on to list some of the aircraft that show up more often in the stats. For example, the ASF claims Piper Tomahawks were involved in roughly double the number of stall/spin accidents per 100 aircraft as the Cessna 150/152 or the Beech 77, but again, the data needs qualification. “An estimated 43 of the Tomahawk accidents occurred at a low altitude, where recovery, regardless of aircraft type, was unlikely,” the report read. “Does that make it unsafe? No, it only means that the PA38 must be flown precisely in accordance with the Pilot Operating Handbook and with instructors who are proficient in stalls and spin recovery in that aircraft …”
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If you’ve read our recent coverage on Burt Rutan’s White Knight/SpaceShipOne combo, you’ll know that the fertile minds at Scaled Composites were working overtime on this dynamic duo. Now, the top contender for the X-prize competition has taken flight and moved one step closer to winning the $10 million prize money. Last Thursday, the first free flight of SpaceShipOne took place over the desert testing area near Mojave, Calif. The space ship was carried to its release altitude of 47,000 feet via the White Knightcarrier craft, then allowed to glide under a pilots control to a smooth landing. The post-flight report states “an initial handling qualities evaluation was very positive” with the flight providing data for “60 percent of the expected subsonic flight envelope from stall to 150 knots.” Before Thursday’s flight, Scaled Composites, Burt Rutan’s laboratory of much that’s unusual and innovative in aviation, performed a series of captured carry flights of SpaceShipOne on the launch aircraft. Next up will be a series of powered flights to a landing. After that, well, it appears the sky might not be the limit. Click through for a short video montage of these aircraft from AirsideTV.
Crossing the Atlantic Ocean is a challenge for any light aircraft, but for something weighing in at less than some passengers, it’s nothing short of astonishing. A model aircraft called The Spirit of Butt’s Farm conquered the Pond last weekend, departing Cape Spear, Newfoundland, on Saturday, landing on the west coast of Ireland Monday morning, and setting a world distance record. The distance covered was reported as 1,888 miles (3,040 km), more than triple the previous record of 531 miles (855 km). The aircraft, which cruised over the waves at around 55 miles per hour, gave the flight team a scare for a few hours on Sunday after some of its tracking signal was lost. Things eventually returned to normal as the airplane neared the Irish coast.
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While the aviation industry continues to recover, some unemployed CFIs may wonder when things will turn around for them. Perhaps they should be checking in with the folks at Daniel Webster College. The Nashua, N.H.-based institution recently began training 13 new flight instructors in preparation for the arrival of the incoming 2007 graduating class. Doug Joyce, director of flight operations for Daniel Webster, says the college is acting on hiring plans set in motion about three years ago. To date, the school has 50 instructors on staff. Other organizations, including some specialized Part 61/141 flight schools, are hiring instructors on a limited basis. A quick search revealed Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is hiring instructors for its Daytona Beach and Prescott campuses, while Lewis University, the University of North Dakota and Parks College don’t have any openings. So, finding that CFI job may be difficult but some opportunities are popping up if you know where to look. Joyce recommends finding an institution with a proven track record of placing graduates with flying jobs. “You’ll find a constant turnover rate and some job openings at these schools,” he said.
Aside from the Countdown To Kitty Hawk’s massive touring pavilion and marketing machine, there are other great opportunities for aviation enthusiasts to learn about the Wright Brothers’ work toward that historic day in 1903. Wright expert Darrell Collins will be at this year’s NBAA 56th Annual Meeting & Convention, to be held October 7 – 9. Collins will appear at the event’s venue in the Orlando/Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., and give a special presentation during the opening general session on October 7. Collins, who has worked for the National Park Service in educating audiences on the Wright Brothers’ achievements, was named the 2003 recipient of North Carolina’s highest civilian honor, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, which is presented to individuals who have a proven record of service to the State of North Carolina. Stay tuned to AVweb’s BizAv monthly feature to stay abreast of the upcoming NBAA Convention and other pertinent business aviation news.
RYAN ANNOUNCES NEW MULTI-HAZARD DISPLAY (MHD)! This high-resolution full-color 3ATI Multi-Hazard Display is designed to give pilots what they need most: easy-to-read, easy-to-interpret real time information on the most immediate flight hazard. By isolating hazard information onto a dedicated display, pilots don’t have to wade through the clutter of information on an MFD to find the information they need immediately. To learn more go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/ryan
There’s nothing like an airport expansion to foster debate, and the controversial $6.6 billion expansion of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is getting some additional heat from U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, who’s questioning United Air Lines’ ability to pay for its share. The senator accused United of planning to use proposed federal legislation allowing deferment of pension contributions as a way to pay off its share of bonds for the airport project. “United employees have had to make many sacrifices and concessions in order to keep the airline flying,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s time for United management to get its priorities straight — pensions before pavement,” he told Reuters. United denied the senator’s claim, saying the O’Hare project has no bearing on the airline’s work regarding its pensions, including its support for the legislation. Meanwhile, half a world away in Australia, debate is boiling on whether to build a second airport in the Sydney area. The Mercury News reports Federal Transport Minister John Anderson is against such a project and claims a premature construction could be characterized as “a white elephant.” Anderson and Prime Minister John Howard say the current Kingsford Smith Airport can cope with passenger numbers and aircraft movements at least until 2020.
AEROSHELL FLIGHT JACKET PRODUCTS SHINE AIR FORCE ONE TO A SPARKLE AeroShell Flight Jacket line of aviation appearance care products contributed to the Centennial of Flight by completely refurbishing the original Boeing 707 Air Force One first flown by President Eisenhower. Seattle’s Museum of Flight was to repaint the aircraft, but with AeroShell Flight Jacket products the aircraft was brought back to its original beauty without new paint, saving the museum over $50,000. See what Flight Jacket products can do for your aircraft. Buy the entire line at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/shell
A helicopter owned by Indian oil company crashed with 29 people aboard on Monday. The aircraft, which had been chartered by one of India’s largest oil companies, crashed into the Arabian Sea near Bombay. The helicopter took off at 12:15 p.m. from an offshore rig about 22 miles from the coast, and plunged into the sea three minutes later…
A recent study indicates the growth in UK aviation could speed up global warming. The reports also states this growth could destroy the governments recent commitment to a 60-percent cut in carbon dioxide by 2050. The inquiry was prompted by the Treasury and Department for Transports discussion document, Aviation and the Environment, which demonstrates environmental costs would wipe out the economic case for an expansion in runways…
The FAA plans to publish a new Advisory Circular on Certification and Operation of Amateur-Built Aircraft. The proposed AC 20 27F provides information and guidance on the fabrication and assembly, airworthiness certification, and operation of amateur-built aircraft of all types. More information is available here (pdf file)…
Today, American Eurocopter will celebrate the groundbreaking of a new manufacturing facility in Columbus, Miss. The event, commemorating this latest addition to the company’s U.S. bases., will feature a flying display at 11 a.m….
Two unidentified occupants of a Cessna 175 survived the crash of their aircraft onto the roof a local policeman’s house in Princeton, British Columbia. The male pilot suffered facial injuries and his female passenger a broken arm in the crash, which occurred while the aircraft was on final to Princeton Airport. No one was home at Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Michael McVicar’s home when the plane plowed into the roof.
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*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
We received over 90 pictures last week. Congratulations to this week’s winner, Col. Mike Horner, of Garland, Texas. His winning photo, titled “9-11 Flyby” was taken over Lancaster, Texas on September 11 2002 as Col. Horner was riding in the back seat of a Vultee BT-15. Along with other members of the DFW Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, he participated in a tribute to those who lost their lives in the tragic attacks of 9-11. Great picture, Col. Horner! Your AVweb hat is on the way.
To check out the winning picture, or to enter next week’s contest, go to http://www.avweb.com/potw.
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
We received over 200 responses to our question last week on the overall AirVenture experience. The results were quite mixed with 27 percent of our respondents enjoying every aspect of the event, while 18 percent felt the food prices seemed higher than ever. Nearly one-third (29 percent) indicated AirVenture’s commercialism is getting way out of hand, while 2 percent didn’t enjoy the event at all.
To check out the complete results, go to http://www.avweb.com/qotw.
*** THIS WEEK’S QUESTION ***
This week, we would like to know your thoughts on following noise-abatement procedures. Our thanks to Jim Lawliss for suggesting this week’s topic. Please go to http://www.avweb.com/qotw to respond.
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to email@example.com. Note, this address is ONLY for suggested QOTW questions, and NOT for QOTW answers.
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Let’s all be careful out there, okay?
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