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Owners of certified aircraft could soon have affordable access to a wide range of cutting-edge technology now reserved for the amateur built market thanks to an emerging joint effort by EAA and the FAA. FAA officials from Washington, Oklahoma City and Chicago went to Oshkosh last week to discuss ways to expand on the success of a groundbreaking move that granted a supplemental type certificate to EAA that allows those who purchase rights to the STC to install a non-certified Dynon primary flight display in their certified aircraft.

EAA’s VP of Safety and Advocacy Sean Elliot told AVweb in a podcast interview that the FAA, with its new risk-based approach to regulation, is enthusiastic about finding ways to get low-risk non-certified safety- and performance-related equipment on certified aircraft through the Parts Manufacturing Process (PMA). It appears the result will be a “tiered approach” to the PMA process where items that really enhance safety, situational awareness or even performance but can’t interfere with the aircraft’s core systems get an easier and less expensive approval process. “This is really significant,” he said. “It will lower costs. It will bring more safety-enhancing and performance-enhancing products into the cockpit for all general aviation pilots that we in the experimental world have appreciated for some time now.”

Since last year’s announcement at Sun ’n Fun of the Dynon STC on some Cessna models, more than 100 owners have bought the STC and the list of applicable aircraft has been expanded. The next STC application will be a TruTrak two-axis autopilot that Elliot describes as a “known safety enhancement.” The key to the process is presenting items that supplement the required gear on certified aircraft that don’t interfere with those systems if they fail. So, primary instruments and other essential equipment will be left out of the process but that still leaves a wide range of products that have been developed for the experimental world that could benefit the owners of certified planes. He said engine monitors and fuel flow monitors might be the next targets of the program.

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The pilot of the Cessna Citation that crashed into Lake Erie in December had received his type rating in the jet three weeks before the accident, according to the NTSB’s preliminary report. The 2012 CJ4, owned and flown by Columbus, Ohio, businessman John T. Fleming, crashed on the night of Dec. 29 shortly after takeoff from Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport, killing Fleming, his wife and two sons, a neighbor and his daughter. The NTSB’s initial findings, released Thursday, show Fleming, a private pilot who also held Citation Mustang and helicopter ratings, passed his CE-525S (single pilot) checkride on Dec. 8 after training in the accident aircraft. He then completed a FlightSafety International recurrent training course in a simulator on Dec. 17.

The group was returning to Columbus after attending a Cleveland Cavaliers basketball game. Fleming’s communications with ATC at KBKL show he obtained an IFR clearance for a route to Ohio State University Airport at 10:47 p.m. local time and received a taxi clearance to Runway 24R. About ten minutes later, the pilot received a takeoff clearance with instructions to turn right to a heading of 330 degrees and maintain 2,000 feet, according to the NTSB report. He did not respond to a handoff to Cleveland Departure. ADS-B data indicates the CJ4 began a right turn just past the departure end of the runway to a heading of 310 degrees and climbed to about 2,925 feet. “About 5 seconds later, the airplane entered a descending right turn until the final data point” less than two miles northwest of the airport, the report said. The aircraft remained missing for days after the crash as rough weather hampered search efforts. Investigators continue to examine remains and pieces of the wreckage that have been recovered from the lake, and the cockpit voice recorder is under analysis.

Airbus will begin test flights of its flying taxi prototype by the end of the year, the company’s chief executive said this week. Speaking at the technology industry’s DLD Conference in Munich, Tom Enders said the company’s Silicon Valley arm is developing a multi-rotor, autonomous vehicle that would ease traffic congestion in the world’s major cities. The Vahana project, announced by Airbus last year, is part of a company division called Urban Air Mobility that also is working on multi-passenger autonomous vehicles for city commuting. The Vahana has been described in the media as a “flying car,” but drawings of the prototype indicate it does not have wheels, but skids, twin tails and multiple sets of propellers in the front and rear.

“We are in an experimentation phase, we take this development very seriously,” Enders said in a Reuters report from the Munich conference. “One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground.” The electrically powered vehicle also would provide environmentally friendly transportation and reduce the need for more roads, Enders said."With flying, you don't need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads," he said. While the concept seems futuristic, Airbus believes the vehicle it will fly within a year marks the start of a new industry incorporating unmanned vehicles for the masses. "If we ignore these developments, we will be pushed out of important segments of the business," he said in the Reuters report.

The Red Bull Air Races will return to San Diego this year with an early spring date. The second race of the year will be held in the southern California city April 15-16. San Diego was a popular stop when it hosted races from 2007-2009. Las Vegas has been dropped as a stop but Indianapolis will host its second Red Bull race with the season closer Oct. 14-15. The season opens Feb. 10-11 in Abu Dhabi, which has been the launch point for 10 race seasons. Races will also be held in Chiba, Japan (June 3-4), Budapest (July 1-2) and Kazan, Russia (July 22-23).

There have been some roster changes for this year’s series. Cristian Bolton, of Chile, and Mika Brageot, of France, move into the Master Class bringing the total number of aircraft in each event to 14. Bolton flew in the last two races of 2016, filling a void left by the death of veteran Red Bull racer Hannes Arch, who died in an unrelated helicopter crash last September.

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Often the hardest part of flying into a big Class B airport is finding your way around on the ground. After landing at Washington Dulles, I heard this exchange on the ground frequency.

Hawker: "Ground, Hawker xxx, uh, we're having some trouble finding Foxtrot"

Ground: "Hawker xxx, where are you?"

Hawker: "We're at Zulu and Zulu 2."

Ground: "Go south on Zulu."

(delay)

Hawker: "Ground, Hawker xxx, sorry, but we still can't seem to find it."

Ground: "OK yeah, just keep going, you have another two miles to go."


Jonathan Wang

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AVweb’s General Aviation Accident Bulletin is taken from the pages of our sister publication, Aviation Safety magazine and is published twice a month. All the reports listed here are preliminary and include only initial factual findings about crashes. You can learn more about the final probable cause in the NTSB’s web site at www.ntsb.gov. Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more about Aviation Safety at www.aviationsafetymagazine.com.

Beechcraft Model D95A Travel Air

October 4, 2016, Dickinson, Texas

The airplane was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and terrain at about 1827 Central time. The flight instructor was fatally injured and the pilot receiving instruction was seriously injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The airplane was maneuvering at about 4800 feet agl when it slowed and began descending rapidly. A witness about one mile south took cellphone video showing the airplane descending rapidly in a fully developed spin. The airplane did not recover from the spin and impacted an abandoned tree-lined canal next to a fallow rice field in a remote area.

Cessna Model 172K Skyhawk

October 4, 2016, Wilmot, Wisconsin

At 1511 Central time, the airplane impacted a cornfield during a forced landing following a partial loss of engine power while maneuvering. The solo private pilot was not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage to its right wing. Visual conditions prevailed.

When the engine began to lose power, the pilot switched fuel tanks, applied carburetor heat and richened the mixture, but the engine remained at reduced power. The pilot attempted a landing at a nearby airport but overshot the runway. The pilot then executed a forced landing to an adjacent cornfield. Inspection revealed the engine oil filter contained heavy deposits of metal material. Upon disassembling the engine, technicians discovered the number 1 cylinder piston pin plug was destroyed. The engine crankshaft and connecting rods displayed discoloration and heat signatures consistent with oil starvation. The number 3 and 4 connecting rod bearings were extruded and melted from the rod journals.

Cessna Model 182T Skylane

October 9, 2016, Toone, Tennessee

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1050 Central time during a forced landing in a field following a partial loss of engine power during cruise flight. The solo private pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

While in cruise flight at 4000 feet msl and nearing the destination airport, engine instruments advised of low oil pressure. A few minutes later, a light “clanging” noise was heard from the engine. The pilot attempted to divert to a nearby airstrip but the engine lacked sufficient power to reach it. The pilot performed a forced landing in a field. During the landing, the airplane encountered uneven terrain, which collapsed the nosegear. Examination revealed the engine’s No. 3 cylinder had suffered a catastrophic failure.

Rockwell International 112A

October 12, 2016, Phoenix, Arizona

At about 1011 Mountain time, shortly after takeoff, the pilot reported to ATC that he had an engine problem and was unable to maintain altitude. The airplane subsequently impacted terrain in a train yard. The pilot and passenger were seriously injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual examination of the engine revealed a hole in the crankcase at the number 4 cylinder.

Cessna Model 525 CitationJet CJ3+

October 13, 2016, Pawtucket, Rhode Island

The airplane was substantially damaged during a runway excursion at about 1030 Eastern time. The commercial pilot, an airline transport pilot and four passengers were not injured. Instrument conditions prevailed.

The flight crew subsequently reported descending below clouds at about 800 to 850 feet msl. The airplane was flown at about 130 to 135 KIAS on the final approach. Witness interviews and airport surveillance video revealed the airplane touched down about halfway down the 5000-foot-long runway. About 2000 feet of intermittent skid marks were observed until the airplane exited the end of the runway. After exiting the runway, the airplane impacted the localizer antenna, located about 300 feet from the end of the runway.

Cessna Model T210L Turbo Centurion

October 18, 2016, Pflugerville, Texas

At about 1015 Central time, the airplane sustained substantial damage after the right main landing gear collapsed upon landing. The private pilot and one passenger were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Upon approaching the destination, the pilot lowered the landing gear but did not receive a down-and-locked indication. He used the emergency gear extension handle to lower the gear. He did a fly-by with the tower, which told him that the landing gear appeared to be extended. The pilot circled and landed. Upon landing, the right main landing gear collapsed and the airplane skidded off the runway to the right. Inspection revealed a hydraulic fluid leak when the system was pressurized and the emergency gear handle was activated. The hydraulic pump circuit breaker was found tripped.

Cessna Model 172C Skyhawk

October 19, 2016, Cedar Key, Florida

The airplane was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain at about 0725 Eastern time during an attempt to return to the airport immediately after takeoff. The pilot was not injured; the two passengers received minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

According to the pilot, the airplane wouldn’t climb “out of ground effect.” At an altitude of about 100 feet agl, he attempted to turn around and land in the opposite direction on the departure runway. The airplane then descended and impacted a swamp about 600 feet short of the runway.

The pilot reported that the fuel tanks were nearly full. The airplane was equipped with an 18-gallon auxiliary fuel tank installed in the baggage compartment. An estimated 25 pounds of baggage was in the rear seat. After recovery, the engine was rotated by hand via the propeller, and compression was confirmed on all cylinders with the exception of No. 4. The exhaust valve on the number 4 cylinder was found stuck in the open position. According to FAA records, the pilot’s certificate had been revoked.

Nanchang CJ-6A

October 21, 2016, Blackshear, Georgia

The airplane impacted terrain at about 1600 Eastern time after a midair collision while maneuvering with another Nanchang CJ-6A. The airplane was substantially damaged; the private pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed. According to witnesses, the purpose of the flight was to practice formation flying with two additional Nanchang airplanes. It was the third formation flight of the day.

The accident airplane was approaching the formation to join the No. 3 spot on the outside of a turn. Witnesses stated it approached slightly below their altitude and overshot the approach. The accident airplane flew under the lead airplane and appeared to pitch up before colliding. The lead airplane’s propeller sliced into the accident airplane’s horizontal stabilizer, then through the fuselage just forward of the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer. The accident airplane’s tail separated and the airplane entered uncontrolled flight, impacting terrain. The lead airplane sustained minor damage and landed without further incident.

Beechcraft Model A36 Bonanza

October 25, 2016, Nortonville, California

At about 1230 Pacific time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted powerlines and terrain in a steep descent shortly after departure. The private pilot/owner and the flight instructor (CFI) received fatal injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

The airplane had recently undergone installation of a new avionics suite, and the purpose of this flight was for the CFI to assist the pilot in becoming familiar with the new avionics. After takeoff, the airplane made a left turnout and continued to climb out to the east, at about 800 fpm. About 3 minutes after takeoff, the airplane reached its maximum radar-indicated altitude of about 3600 feet and then entered a left turn of about 20 degrees and a steep descent. Radar data indicated a descent rate of about 5000 fpm.

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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For the past week, we’ve been running a survey on what readers think about the just-announced BasicMed program from the FAA. I’m gonna guess here, but maybe I shouldn’t have dived into the data so soon because doing so caused me to have several revelations. One is what a largish crapshoot this whole thing is, the second is that many pilots are, how to put it, not impressed and the last is how much this entire thing will turn on how doctors many of us don’t even know will react. I’m just hoping whether intended or not, the FAA hasn’t stuck a poison bill in this thing.

First the survey. I’ll get into a more detailed analysis of it next week, but for now, I was most interested in learning how confident readers are that their doctors will sign the FAA’s checklist—the one that we haven’t even seen yet. As of Sunday, 1946 people had responded to the survey which is, as these things go, a lot of interest.

This was the survey question on finding a doctor: “In your opinion, how difficult will it be to find a non-AME doctor to complete and sign the required BasicMed checklist?” Twenty eight percent said they thought it would be easy, 36 percent said it will be a little difficult, 14 percent said it would be impossible and another 14 percent had no opinion. You can interpret this as you will.

The sunny day view would be that 63 percent of the respondents think it will be easy or just a little difficult to find a doc. The cynic’s view would be that half think it will be difficult to impossible to get a doc to sign. Reading the comments kind of tilted me toward the cynic’s view. Rather than being happy about this, many pilots are really quite angry about it, not seeing much benefit and predicting difficulty in getting other than AME doctors to go along. Personally, I’m neutral on this because no one has seen the checklist. That led to revelation one: If that checklist is too detailed or demanding or gives the doctor the impression he’s taking on more responsibility than he (or she) otherwise might, there will be pushback, in my view. How much of that we see could make or break the whole idea.

Pilots live in a world of liability and lawsuits and, judging by the comments, they believe doctors do, too. “Why would a doctor or medical group expose themselves to this kind of litigation? If one does, I expect it will not be for long,” wrote one commenter. But to be fair, many respondents don’t see a problem at all. “I think my personal physician will be glad to do it,” wrote commenter Joe G. Many respondents said they want to see the actual checklist before opining on this topic.

I asked AOPA and EAA about this, and both said they’re providing information and guidance for docs and members to deal with the BasicMed checklist. EAA has a board of AMEs working up a new medical policy. Several people in the survey said docs should be given a hold-harmless or waiver agreement to encourage them to approve the checklist. “A hold harmless document may or may not have any great standing, if you talk with attorneys about those. So those people who leap to that as a solution may be premature,” says EAA's Dick Knapinksi.

Perhaps. But that led to revelation two. Why would I depend on the alphabets to see this through? Guidance is appreciated, but ultimately, I’m more inclined toward self help. While a waiver may or may not hold up in court, that’s less the point than giving a reluctant doctor a way to sign the checklist. It’s possible that it won’t be the problem we think it could be and a waiver won’t be necessary. On the other hand, it could just as easily go the other way. For what it’s worth, we sign these waivers all the time in skydiving and they almost universally withstand challenges.

Regardless of how the checklist is viewed by the non-AME medical community, one thing is certain from the survey thus far: Readers view it is one massive and irritating charade. “The BasicMed is such a compromise I do not think it will help me as much as it could have had AOPA and EAA done more to stay closer to the original plan. My doctor filling out a form is very governmental and unnecessary. I believe I will still mostly do what I have been doing under my AME-assisted special issuance; just will not have to send it in to the FAA,” wrote one commenter.

On the face of it, not having to deal with the FAA is a plus and an improvement. It’s just not the one we were all hoping for.

Tuesday addition: Several readers chided me for saying the checklist isn't available. It is available in AC 68-1. However, this is clearly labeled a draft and may or may not resemble the final version. Here's a clickable link.

With roll rates of more than 400 degrees a second and generous power-to-weight ratios, modern aerobatic aircraft make today's spectacular performances possible. But there's a school of thought that suggests training in old, slow aircraft actually produces better pilots. Aerobatics instructor Kevin Maher shares his theories on the topic.

EAA and the FAA are building on the STC awarded to EAA allowing installation of experimental Dynon avionics in certified aircraft. EAA's Sean Elliott spoke with AVweb's Russ Niles on a Jan. 17 meeting that could set the course for more affordable access to new technology by certified aircraft owners.

Although only a fraction of the aircraft that will need it have been equipped with ADS-B Out, the Aircraft Electronics Association is confident those who really need and want the upgrade will be ready for the FAA deadline of Jan. 1, 2020. Ric Peri, AEA's VP of government and industry affairs, spoke with AVweb's Russ Niles about how he thinks it will play out.

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