AVwebFlash - Volume 21, Number 4b

January 22, 2014

Jet Deliveries Power Cessna's Fourth-Quarter Profit Increase

The Wichita Eagle is reporting that Cessna Aircraft Company’s revenue increased $22 million and profit rose $10 million in the fourth quarter of 2013 because of an increase in jet deliveries. Cessna delivered 62 new Citations in the quarter, compared to 53 in the fourth quarter of 2012. Revenues for the fourth quarter of 2013 totaled $923 million, compared to $901 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. Profits totaled $33 million for the fourth quarter, up from $23 million for the same portion of 2012. For the year, however, deliveries were lower, 139 Citations in 2013, compared with 181 in 2012. Cessna recorded an overall loss of $48 million in 2013, well down from its $82 million profit in 2012.

In a conference call, Scott Ernest, CEO of Cessna, said, “The market is still challenging. Growth at Cessna in 2014 will be driven by new products, including the Citation M2, Sovereign and Citation X. New products matter a lot.” Cessna’s backlog at the end of the fourth quarter totaled $1 billion, down $54 million from the end of the third quarter. Cessna's parent company, Textron, reported revenue for the quarter of $3.5 billion, compared to $3.36 billion a year ago. It recorded net income of $167 million, compared to $148 million in the last quarter of 2012.

Pilot in Unusual Nashville Crash Had .081 Blood Alcohol

The Canadian pilot who crashed a flying club Cessna 172 on the Nashville International Airport on Oct. 29, 2013, had a blood alcohol content (BAC) above state and federal limits, according to the Tennessee Medical Examiner. Pilot Michael Callan’s blood alcohol level was 0.081 percent, more than twice that allowed by the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs). The maximum allowed under the FARs is 0.04 percent. Tennessee law has a maximum for operating an automobile of 0.08 percent. Callan launched from Windsor, Ontario, Canada on a flight plan to Pelee Island, canceled his flight plan and then flew undetected across the international border, proceeded 500 miles south and circled Nashville for some time before crashing on the airport.

Besides flying into the middle of the country undetected and then crashing on a major airport, no one even knew that there had been a crash on the airport for several hours. The crash was sometime after 2:45 a.m., and the wreckage was found when the runway was inspected at 6:00 a.m. There was heavy fog in the area. According to USA Today and the Tennessean, the Medical Examiner’s autopsy report said Callan died of blunt impact trauma, including multiple fractures and massive internal injuries. AVweb reported that the pilot was believed to be the Michael Callan of Windsor who had a criminal record dating back to the 1990s and included a number of violent bank robberies. Adding to the strangeness of entire event is that Callan had listed pop star Taylor Swift as his next of kin—yet Swift’s publicist said the singer did not know Callan and no evidence has emerged that the two had any connection.

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Valdez STOL Airplanes Coming To Oshkosh

Photo: Valdez Fly-In and Air Show

If you've seen videos online of the annual STOL competition at Pioneer Field Airport in Valdez, Alaska, you know the amazing capabilities of these bush planes and their pilots -- and this year, for the first time, you can catch their demo flights at EAA AirVenture, in Oshkosh, instead of traveling all the way to the great North. At the Valdez fly-in, held in May, bush pilots compete in rugged, often modified or homebuilt STOL aircraft, to see who can land and take off in the shortest distance -- sometimes under 100 feet. At Oshkosh, the STOL airplanes will fly during the afternoon airshow, Monday to Wednesday, July 28-30, and will stage a "fun flying" demo from the grass ultralight runway on Friday evening, Aug. 1.

In addition, more than a dozen of the STOL aircraft will be on display in special parking areas and on the main showcase ramp. Pilots and builders of the bush planes will participate in forums and evening programs throughout the week. And at Oshkosh, visitors can enjoy the airplanes without having to brave the Valdez weather, which, according to the Alaska Dispatch, can be expected to include "overcast skies, wind, rain, freezing rain, fog, and sunny periods" during the two-and-a-half days of the fly-in. The Dispatch shared this video of Josh Pepperd, of Wasilla, who made a 30-foot landing in his experimental Piper Pacer/Producer. "Two bounces and a stop, and the crowd went wild," says the Dispatch.


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Scholarships For Maintenance Careers

AWAM 2013 scholarship winners

The Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance said this week it has several scholarships available for anyone interested in careers in aircraft maintenance. The opportunities include free tuition for a Learjet 45 maintenance course, sponsored by Bombardier; a scholarship for attaining inspection authorization from the Baker School of Aeronautics, including hotel and exam fees; and a $500 scholarship from DME Services of North Florida to pay for the final oral and practical exam for the A&P certificate. AWAM's Louisville chapter is also offering an all-expense-paid scholarship to the Women in Aviation Conference in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., in March.

Applicants for the scholarships must be members of AWAM, which is a nonprofit organization. Membership is not restricted by gender. Many of the scholarships are open to all applicants, but some are for women only. The deadline to apply is Jan. 29. Women in Aviation also awards dozens of scholarships every year. "There is an award for nearly everyone," says WAI, "from the college student to the woman or man returning to the workforce, from managers and dispatchers to pilots, engineers, technicians and mechanics." This year's scholarship application period closed in November, and the awards will be announced at the March conference.

Think Global Flight Schedules Aviation Science Broadcast

As part its international youth program encouraging Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, the Think Global Flight (TGF) LiveTV team is presenting a Jan. 27 broadcast showing how aviation uses STEM in the real world. The broadcast is one of several LiveTV events leading up to Think Global Flight’s scheduled April circumnavigation of the world in a Cirrus SR22 while linked to classrooms around the planet. During the broadcast, students will have the opportunity to text questions to the TGF team, which includes pilot Judy Rice and members with extensive experience in aerospace science and technology.

The purpose of Think Global Flight is to promote the importance of STEM education in a world that is becoming increasingly technical and demonstrate the opportunities in aviation and aerospace. Student Command Centers, made up of educators and students, have been set up in numerous countries around the world and have been connecting with TGF to learn about and help solve the problems pilots deal with in flight, including planning, navigating and weather. During the circumnavigation, the SCCs will remain connected with the flight crew—pilot Judy Rice and navigator Fred Nauer. TGF founder Judy Rice is a commercial-rated pilot and flight instructor who was a teacher for 16 years and has an extensive background in youth education in aviation, including serving as Executive Director for Youth Education for the Experimental Aircraft Association, where she developed the wildly popular KidVenture section of AirVenture.

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The Weekender: Fly Ins and Airport Open Houses

The Fly In for food season has already begun. As we kick off our Friday Weekender spot, we're highlighting breakfast fly ins in Florida and Texas, a coffee and doughnuts gathering in Arizona and airport open houses in Florida, Oklahoma and California—all taking place this Saturday or Sunday. Thank you to Social Flight for collecting the events on your website. The first event that caught our attention is a WWII Airborne Demonstration Team Open House at Frederick Regional Airport, Frederick, Okla., this Saturday where there will be 1940s style military parachute demonstrations, military flybys and vehicles. We also spotted the Borges Clarksburg Airport's 26th Annual Airport Open House in Clarksburg, Calif., (CN13) occurring on Saturday and Sunday. It's an opportunity to see an airport that is largely unchanged from the 1940s and 1950s. It is a private airport, so call for a briefing and permission to land before you fly in--contact details are on Social Flight. 

We noticed two fly ins in Florida this weekend, the Fourth Annual Palatka Municipal Lt. Kay Larkin Field Open House and Fly In, with warbirds, an auto show and RC aircraft in Palatka, Fla., and the Flying W Air Ranch Airport, EAA Chapter 1489, January Breakfast Fly In at 9FL1 in Bushnell, Fla., on Saturday. Further west, in Granbury, Texas, there's a fly in pancake breakfast Saturday from 8:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Saturday morning at the Cottonwood, Arizona Airport, the Verde Valley Flyers will be flying in for coffee and doughnuts from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. It may only be January, but the fly ins are happening; check Social Flight for what's going on in your area.

Press Releases: Latest Aviation Developments

Our Friday review of recent press releases uncovered an announcement that former AOPA President Craig Fuller has joined the board of directors of the Lightspeed Aviation Foundation. The Foundation was created to promote a vibrant and growing pilot community and annually awards grants to nonprofit aviation organizations through its Pilot’s Choice Awards. Craig Fuller brings a distinguished career in senior positions in business, association leadership and executive posts in the federal government, most recently five years as president of AOPA. On a solemn note, we learned of the death of Henry Ogrodzinski, president of the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), through a tribute from the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). A long-time champion of general aviation, Ogrodzinski had led the NASAO since 1996. Prior to that he had held a number of senior management posts with the Experimental Aircraft Association and Gulfstream Aerospace, among others. Aviation companies and organizations can upload their press releases to AVweb's new press release service.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott, Ariz., campus announced that it is launching what it refers to as the nation’s first College of Security and Intelligence (CSI). Students will get hands-on experience with courses in computer and forensic sciences, offensive and defensive cybersecurity operations intelligence and counterintelligence analysis and operations, foreign policy and international law, as well as counterterrorism and other related subjects. Finally, for pilots who want the latest in electronic logbook technology, Coradine Aviation Systems announced the rollout of its LogTen Pro 6.5 for Mac, iPhone and iPad with iCloud Sync. The new software has over 200 new features and performance improvements including the ability to sync data across mobile and desktop platforms.

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Podcast: Air Boss for Super Bowl

Wayne Boggs is best known for keeping the performers and spectators safe at some of the world's biggest air shows, including AirVenture.  A week from Sunday, he and his team will be orchestrating the safe and timely arrival and departure of about 600 business jets filled with spectators for one of the world's biggest sports spectacles.  AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Boggs about how he helps make that happen.

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Each week, we poll the savviest aviators on the World Wide Web (that's you) on a topic of interest to the flying community.

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Picture of the Week

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AVweb landed on the World Wide Web in 1995. Since then, we've amassed a huge archive of advice, analysis and inspiration. Travel back with us for a look at a classic article from AVweb's past.

Want more? Visit our advanced search page and enter a topic that interests you. You may be surprised at what you discover.

Too Laid-Back?

Aviation lore is full of heroes like Chuck Yeager, who saved the day while calmly muttering on the radio something about “some little fire going in them engines” or such. The quiet, unflappable, laid-back flyer has been the role model for young pilots since the days of the Lone Eagle. But, is there such a thing as “too laid-back?”

The answer, undoubtedly, is yes. Psychology describes this in terms of “defense mechanisms.” As with most things in life, you don’t want too much or too little. This can be tested and is, in fact, a requirement by some airlines and aviation authorities. It is an area certain to be analyzed in conjunction with the tragic recent airline accidents.

When the Asiana Boeing 777 crash occurred in San Francisco (SFO) it quickly became obvious that a perfectly qualified crew of three had flown a perfectly functioning airliner into the ground on a sunny day for no good reason. The resulting chatter in my corner of the airline pilot world was stunned disbelief quickly followed by lots of opining as to the quality (or lack thereof) of some foreign crews.

It Couldn’t Happen Here

Well, looks like it did—just days later a well-qualified crew of a reputable domestic freight air carrier flew a perfectly functioning airliner into the ground under benign conditions.

Accident investigations last months and often years. Yet there is a reason why the NTSB, in its findings, calls it “probable cause.” In spite of black boxes and the ubiquitousness of surveillance cameras and iPhones, in many crashes all factors may never be known—which brings forth the disclaimer to not rush to conclusions.

Landings are a phase of flight described as critical, and every layman understands why. Airspeed is of necessity slow with a small margin above stall. Altitude is of equal necessity low, decreasing the margins for error. It follows that the crew must exert their maximum focus on the approach and landing—the most difficult part of the flight’s profile— when the crew is most affected by fatigue, sleep deprivation or plain boredom.

Most readers of IFR Refresher will probably agree that a low ILS approach is no piece of cake. Add a lurking thunderstorm that may require quick thinking, drawn from a deep pool of experience and knowledge, and a burst of fancy stick and rudder work may be necessary to make it safely to shore.

Others may see it differently. If all you typically do is coupled (autopilot flown) ILS approaches to multi-mile long runways, day-in and day-out, a strictly visual approach may seem intimidating. Regardless of the circumstance, vigilance is required as is command of, and control over, the aircraft.

For those, like me, who came up through the school of hard knocks of flight instructing, the notion of not closely monitoring speed and glide path on final is almost impossible to fathom. As an instructor, you’ve endured many occasions coiled in the right seat ready to pounce on the flight controls should the student deviate to an unsafe degree. It is expected that the beginner is “unreliable” and it is equally expected that the teacher will occasionally take over and save the proverbial bacon.

Contrast this with the atmosphere in the typical multi-crew airliner: Here it is expected that the pilot flying will reliably perform the seemingly simple tasks associated with holding speeds and altitudes, be this through automation or manual hand-flying. They have done so thousands of times and there is no reason to assume that this approach will be any different.

A Set Up For Complacency

The Pilot Monitoring may not be “monitoring.” The Pilot Flying may, for whatever reason, have given up the flying part to gravity. The rest, as they say, is history. There are lessons in all this for the general aviation pilot.

With the increased sophistication of modern avionics, a perverse trap has been set. Back when the top-of-the- line was the round dial six-pack, a couple of radios and some wildly swinging needles, it was subliminally communicated that this flying business was indeed serious and that it took significant skills, attention (and maybe even a certain amount of luck) to provide a safe and desired outcome.

With flat screens, keypads, advanced autopilots and all sorts of fancy accouterments it may be common place to believe that instrument flying has become “easy”—mostly a matter of correctly programming the equipment. I further believe that these square, glowing screens, the similar to those used with TV or video games, have—on a subconscious level—removed the pilot one level from the experience of flying itself.

What those screens and stuff have done is present us with a different view of our flying environment when in fact that environment, and the need to react to it, has not in itself changed.

These are considerations the light airplane pilot now shares with airline guys. The Cherokee that once sported a wing-leveler with a simple on-off switch may now have a full-fledged flight management system with many different operating modes to achieve one desired outcome. The equipment that was meant to simplify has now complicated. The old nav head with the ILS needles may have been harder to fly and less intuitive to interpret— but at least there were just two simple needles to chase around. Today’s electronic HSI and flight director presentation overflows with information, much of it of no use for the current phase of flight and thus a distraction. We have seen this on far too many accidents where the CVR conveyed confusion on the part of the crew.

In this, as in so much else in aviation, we thread a fine line. There is only so much mental capacity, only so much knowledge, only so much flight currency and skills any person can muster. The area between being too relaxed and laid back and pure paranoia is a gray and murky one.

On a check ride in a light twin some years ago, the pilot saw me slightly tense up in preparedness for the required single-engine air work. “Don’t you trust me, Bo?” was her comment. And in spite of this being one of the best pilots I have ever flown with, I guess the answer was not what she wanted to hear: “I don’t trust anyone if I can avoid it. And it seems to have kept me safe through 35 years of flying” Call me paranoid, but I’m still here.

Bo Henriksson is a Captain with a major carrier and has more than 10,000 flight hours. 

This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of IFR Refresher Magazine. 

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YouTube Wisdom and the Runway Turnback

The stick-and-rudder component of flying airplanes, while challenge enough, is the lesser difficulty compared to learning to make decisions that won’t kill you or at least rend metal. Teaching it or learning this has everything to do with recognizing risk and hazards for what they are and preparing accordingly. In fairness, I think most pilots do this well enough because even though the accident record is peppered with stupid decision-making, in the vast majority of flights, the airplane remains usable after the last landing.

Teaching judgment, like pitch versus power or less filling versus tastes great or liberal versus conservative, is a point of contention that must be coded into the human DNA. Some people think you can teach it, some think you can’t. I’m in the latter camp. While I think stupidity is a gift that you can’t take away from some exceptionally talented individuals, I also believe there’s a certain percentage of the pilot population that is reachable—call them the impressionables. But I still think people who are capable of learning risk analysis have to get there on their own after being shown a few sign posts. And that attitude guided my thinking when I was doing this video on the runway turnback maneuver last month.

I long ago concluded that the last thing I should do as an instructor is to use my personal risk tolerance model as a template for people who don’t have their own. I wouldn’t encourage others to take the kind of risks I’m okay with regard to weather assessment, for example. Nor do I particularly relish being second guessed by someone with a more conservative outlook than my own.

And one thing I really can’t stand is instructors who co-opt certain kinds of decision-making on the basis of assuming their charges are too dimwitted, too slow of hand and foot or too dense to make their own judgments. Once the ink is dry on your private certificate, you’re not just licensed to fly, but to learn and decide, too. For yourself. Slightly different advice applies to students, of course.

And that gets us to the wisdom of YouTube phase of the discussion. When we post our vids to the freckled-neck masses of the triple-W ranch, we never know what kind of comments they’ll generate. One that caught my eye was this, in reference to the impossible turn, which the runway turnback is sometimes called: “It may not be impossible for you as a veteran AVweb test-demo reporter…extraordinaire, but 25 hours-a-year Joe Schmuck taking little Johnny and his dog for a Sunday afternoon jaunt in a beat-up rental C172…this is bad advice.”

I see the point but I also assert that the decision is up to Joe and the point I made in the video—rather carefully—is that I can’t make the decision on something like the turnback maneuver for you. You have to examine all the risk points in the context of your own skill at the moment the decision needs to be made. One-size-fits-all advice is exactly the wrong way to encourage people to analyze risk on their own, to think and to learn.

Having said that, I’m agnostic on the turnback myself. When I was experimenting while shooting the video, I was surprised to realize the level of discomfort I felt, and I’ve done this practice many times. Perhaps it has to do with age; creeping conservatism would suggest that bravado recedes as the calendar advances. I’m not sure if I’d do it or not. It just depends on the situation, I suppose. That’s also the advice I pass along to others, if asked.

Although the inherent risk of the so-called impossible turn is obvious, the relative risk is unknown. For an article I wrote on the topic about 10 years ago, I searched the NSTB database for outcomes on turnbacks. This research was inconclusive for two reasons. First, there weren’t that many of them and second, there’s no way to know how many were pulled off successfully because so many engine stoppage reports don’t get into the NTSB records. For all we know, the success rate is 90 percent.

But when one ends in spectacular failure, it’s human nature to extrapolate that to the whole and use it as a cudgel to beat the unsuspecting pilot who has the temerity to think he might want to try it himself. In fact, here’s one that went entirely bad. (Viewer discretion advised; it’s a dual fatal.)

Of course, in that case, we don’t know what the pilot saw over the nose so we can’t say it would have been better to stick with the straight-ahead strategy. But hasn’t that always been the case in aeronautical decision-making? You can’t do it from the comfort of your armchair, before or after the fact. And definitely not through the view finder of a video camera.

Worth mentioning is that the Navy took this topic on as a research topic in 1982 and you can read the full report by Brent W. Jett (then a midshipman, now an astronaut) on that project here. (PDF) The project was simulator based and included pilots of all experience, some with as few as 40 hours. I suggest having a look, for it's as thoroughgoing an analysis of the turnback as I've seen. The report's final sentence is worth reproducing here. "If there is no suitable landing area ahead, the pilot who has practiced and mastered the turnback technique will immediately know whether or not turning back to the airfield is possible (by the minimum turnback altitude) and will be able to perform the maneuver successfully."

Funny, that doesn't make it sound impossible.

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Video: World Aircraft Starts Up in Tennessee

World Aircraft is starting production of two light sport aircraft at its base in Paris, Tennessee.  The company exhibited at U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida.


Video: RANS' New S-20 Raven Debuts at Sport Expo

RANS Designs is out with a model called the S-20 Raven, an evolution of its popular Coyote series.  At the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring on Thursday, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli took the Raven for a demo flight, and here's his report on the airplane.


Video: Flying Platform

In the 1950s there were various designs for flying platforms, but the technology wasn't quite good enough for a practical design.  Flying Platform, LLC displayed the beginnings of an updated version of the Hiller Flying Platform at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida and hope to have it flying by June.  After that, they'll be offering kits for sale.


Video: Skyleader 600 Makes U.S. Debut

Before the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the former Eastern Bloc countries supplied the Soviets with sophisticated aerospace products and services.  Now those industries have turned to civil aircraft manufacture.  One of those companies, Skyleader, showed off a new LSA at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring this week.  Here's a brief video report on the new Skyleader 600.