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With little fanfare, Lycoming has dramatically rolled back prices on major engine parts, including crankcases and crankshafts. The price reductions on some parts are as much as 70 percent, according to the company, and have reset overhaul decisions for many owners who may have unserviceable cranks or cases. Heretofore, those replacement parts would have been drawn from the overhaul or repair pool and owners would have been charged accordingly. Now owners can opt for new crankcases and crankshafts at prices comparable to what they might have expected to pay for repaired parts.

Lycoming’s Steve Palmatier told us that the company routinely reviews production costs and selling prices on all of its parts and determined that it could boost parts sales by drastically reducing prices. One way they did this was to unbundle crankcase sales. The company once sold crankcases only as kits, which included such accessories as through bolts and spacers.

“A lot of shops don’t want those parts,” says Palmatier, so the company broke the package into discrete parts. Prices vary by part, but as an example, one case—an IO-360 with flat tappets—was dropped from $17,501.63 to $4979.65, a decrease of a whopping 72 percent.

These price decreases have already rippled through the industry. “Just overnight, the industry lost about a million dollars on that deal,” says L.J. Warren, president of Zephyr Aircraft Engines in Zephyr Hills, Florida. Many shops maintain inventory of repaired cases and crankshafts for Lycoming engines and now new parts sell for only a few hundred dollars more than the repaired parts do. Other shops told us owners who don’t have serviceable cases and cranks are opting for the new parts.

Could Lycoming’s price reductions portend 70 percent cheaper aircraft engines? Not likely, Palmatier said. The rollbacks apply only to select products. Although Continental’s purchase of ECI in 2015 changed the competitive landscape for Lycoming on many parts, the company says the price rollbacks were in response to internal cost and sales reviews. For a full report on this topic, see the April issue of our sister publication, Aviation Consumer.

One Aviation will stop building Eclipse 550 aircraft this year as it gets ready to replace that design with the code-named Eclipse Canada. CEO Alan Klapmeier told an event in Hammond, Louisiana, last week the company will make about four new 550 models before switching back to upgrading legacy Eclipses. According to the Hammond Daily Star, Klapmeier told the meeting the Canada model (its final name still isn’t being used) will be certified by early 2019 and be a much more capable aircraft than the existing models. “It’s a much better airplane than I expected,” Klapmeier was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

One Aviation announced the Eclipse Canada project at AirVenture 2016. The cabin will be 14 inches longer than the current design and the aircraft will have bigger engines, beefier landing gear and longer wings to carry more fuel without tip tanks. "So that's a basic original idea: more power and more fuel for more speed and longer range," he said. "The beginning concept was that we can do better.” The event was held at Pierce Aero, a designated Eclipse service center.

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AOPA President Mark Baker has written the aviation authorities of three countries whose airspace borders the U.S. asking that they accept new BasicMed medical requirements that will cover some private pilots. BasicMed goes into effect in May 1 and is expected to be adopted by many U.S. pilots but Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas don’t have parallel regulations so BasicMed pilots will not be able to fly in those countries. “Many of our members continue to contact us hoping to visit the Bahamas under these new rules,” Baker said in the letter to the Bahamian Ministry of Transport and Aviation. All three countries require an ICAO-recognized third class medical and BasicMed will not be approved by ICAO. Canada has a Category 4 medical that shares some of the features of BasicMed, including the family doctor declaration, but is much more restrictive in terms of aircraft type and operation. It is not recognized by the U.S. or ICAO.

Baker is appealing to the leading officials of the three countries to “officially recognize” BasicMed to allow holders to exercise their U.S. privileges on visits. While Baker doesn’t ask the other jurisdictions to adopt a BasicMed system themselves, he does list its selling points. “The new law was enacted by Congress because it reduces costs, bureaucracy, and most importantly maintains safety,” Baker wrote in the letter to Transport Canada.

With four months to go until AirVenture 2017, EAA announced this week that Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt of Apollo 17 joined a list of five other previously confirmed Apollo astronauts who will attend AirVenture to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the program. “This will be a rare, unforgettable gathering of the people who met the challenge of flying to the moon and safely returning, representing hundreds of thousands of individuals who contributed to its success,” said Rick Larsen, EAA’s vice president of communities and member benefits. Conventions vary on the exact start date of the Apollo Program, but 1967 saw publication of the official Apollo mission numbering scheme as well as the first fatalities during the Apollo 1 fire that killed Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee.

EAA also announced this week that the Air Force has committed to providing an F-35 Lighting II and an A-10 Thunderbolt II for a heritage flight demonstration celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the U.S. Air Force. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels demonstration team is also scheduled to perform. EAA AirVenture will be held July 24-30 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

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The National Weather Service says straight-line winds, not a tornado, caused millions of dollars in damage at Johnson County Executive Airport in Olathe, Kansas, last week. It estimated winds of up to 85 mph were responsible for the damage or destruction of up to nine hangars and 45 aircraft, along with other property. The wind burst was associated with a storm system that surprised officials on the evening of March 6. No warnings had been issued because no tornadoes were seen. More photos below.

Ironically, county officials were set to hold a disaster drill at the airport the following day. The airport was closed to the public for several days while unstable buildings and debris were cleaned up but limited operations resumed by 9 a.m. on March 7. Most of the damage occurred to buildings and aircraft on the east side of the field but the west side was also affected. Airport tenants reported that aircraft were blown over the top of buildings and smashed on the concrete by the winds.

Photo Gallery: Storm Damage At Johnson County Executive Airport

Dozens of aircraft and several hangars were damaged by high winds in Olathe, KS last week.

While the number of accidents involving member airlines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) dipped slightly in 2016, from 68 to 65, the number of fatalities climbed from 136 to 268. “Last year some 3.8 billion travelers flew safely on 40.4 million flights. The number of total accidents, fatal accidents and fatalities all declined versus the five-year average, showing that aviation continues to become safer. We did take a step back on some key parameters from the exceptional performance of 2015; however, flying is still the safest form of long-distance travel,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. On a percentage basis, 0.000007% of all commercial airline passengers died in accidents last year. The rate of fatal accidents on U.S. carriers remains essentially unmeasurable since the NTSB reports there has not be a passenger fatality on a U.S. air carrier in over eight years, since the Colgan Air crash in February 2009.

Accidents were not evenly distributed around the globe. The rate of hull losses per million departures of jet aircraft averaged 0.35 globally, but for carriers based in the Middle East or North Africa that figure rose to 2.49 per million departures. Even larger variations appear in turboprop airline operations. For turboprop aircraft, the hull loss rate per million departures was 1.15 globally, but the figure for the Commonwealth of Independent States (Russia plus eight former Soviet Republics) was 10.03 hull losses per million departures, which puts those operations on comparable footing with general aviation in the United States. The fatal accident rate for U.S. general aviation flights was 1.03 per 100,000 flight hours, according to the most recently available FAA data.

B-29 Doc has been cleared for takeoff at airshows across the country. Doc’s Friends announced last week the FAA has granted them a special airworthiness certificate for the enormous Second World War bomber. The new status means the end of the first phase of flight test operations and removes many of the accompanying flight restrictions. “We’ve been working for the past several months with the Wichita FAA office, along with the FAA team in Washington, D.C., and we are pleased that we have satisfied the requirements for ‘phase one’ of flight test operations,” Jim Murphy, Doc’s Friends Restoration Program Manager, said on the organization’s website. “The FAA’s approval means we can begin the next phase of our restoration and flight operations plan, and that includes sharing our historic warbird with airshows around the United States.”

Heading the list of possible airshow dates is AirVenture 2017. Since the Commemorative Air Force often takes its B-29 Fifi to Oshkosh, it could mean the only two flying B-29s in the world will meet there. The group says it’s looking at shows in at least six states and the schedule will be announced later. In the meantime, the airplane is being woken up from its winter hiatus. "We have a few more minor winter maintenance items to complete and we’ll begin running engines before the end of March. If everything goes as planned, I expect us to be back in the air in early April,” Murphy said.

 

 

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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.

Cessna Model 340

December 1, 2016, Fargo, ND

The airplane impacted terrain at 1629 Central time. The solo pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. Visual conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan was in effect.

After taking air samples at various altitudes, the airplane was returning to its base and overshot a turn to the Runway 36 localizer. Shortly thereafter, the pilot reported an on-board fire. The airplane, which was at 1700 feet, lost altitude rapidly and radar contact was lost. The accident site was consistent with the airplane striking the ground at a high velocity, low angle of impact in a left wing slightly low attitude. There was a ground fire after impact

Cessna Model 500 Citation

December 4, 2016, Gunnison, CO

At about 1855 Mountain time, the airplane sustained substantial damage during a hard landing and runway excursion. The solo pilot not injured. Night visual conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan was in effect.

While en route, the pilot reported to ATC that the airplane was low on fuel. Subsequently, the flight was vectored to a divert facility and was cleared for the GPS-B Rwy 24 approach. During the approach, the pilot reported that he had the runway in sight and ATC cleared the flight for a visual approach. While touching down, the airplane’s left main landing gear and nose gear collapsed, and the airplane veered off the runway, resulting in substantial damage to the left wing. Surface weather included wind from 340 degrees at four knots.

Fairchild SA227-AC Metro III

December 5, 2016, Camilla, GA

The airplane was destroyed during a descent and subsequent inflight breakup. The solo airline transport pilot was fatally injured. Night instrument conditions prevailed and an IFR flight plan was in effect for the Part 135 on-demand cargo flight.

As the flight neared its destination, ATC advised the pilot of moderate to extreme precipitation along his planned route of flight and suggested a diversion of 70 nm. The pilot responded that he did have enough fuel for such a diversion, but concluded he would “see what the radar is painting.” Shortly thereafter, the pilot advised ATC he intended to divert to Tallahassee, Fla. The airplane then descended from 7000 feet msl to 3700 feet before radar and radio contact were lost. The debris field was about 2640 feet in length and 1500 feet wide. The first components located along the debris field were the outboard sections of both wings, which exhibited damage and paint transfer consistent with contact with the fuselage. Additional components located along the debris path included the empennage and the mid-span portions of both wings.

Piper PA-31T Cheyenne

December 5, 2016, Missoula, MT

At about 1300 Mountain time, the aircraft made an unscheduled landing after the left windshield fractured and separated from the airplane. The private pilot and passenger were not injured. Instrument conditions prevailed; the flight was operated on an IFR flight plan.

The pilot reported that he was in cruise flight at 23,000 feet when the left windshield fractured and departed the airplane. He immediately performed an emergency landing at the nearest airport and landed without further incident. Examination revealed the windshield’s periphery remained attached to the airframe; however, a majority of it separated and has not been located.

Bellanca 7GCBC Citabria

December 7, 2016, Fairbanks, AK

The ski-equipped airplane was substantially damaged at about 1043 Alaska time when it impacted snow-covered terrain. The solo airline transport pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The flight was intended to conduct post-maintenance testing for recently installed vortex generators, the skis, a new throttle cable and a new alternator. At 1026, the pilot took off. At about 1310, two U.S. Army helicopters heard an ELT and subsequently identified the wreckage. One of the helicopters landed and discovered the occupant with fatal injuries. All of the airplane’s major components were found at the main wreckage site. Preliminary data from a portable GPS receiver indicate the airplane performed three full turns at various altitudes between 1500 feet to 1700 feet, followed by a long descending flight path to the southeast that included a groundspeed of 26 knots at about 400 feet agl, prior to ground impact.

Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee 180

December 7, 2016, Port Alsworth, AK

At about 0935 Alaska time, the airplane is presumed to have sustained substantial damage during impact with the open waters of Lake Clark shortly after takeoff. The noninstrument-rated private pilot and three passengers are presumed to have sustained fatal injuries; all were missing at the time of this report. Visual conditions prevailed at the airplane’s point of departure, but reduced visibility was reported along the flight’s anticipated flight route, including low-lying ice fog over Lake Clark.

When the airplane failed to arrive, family members and friends reported the airplane overdue. The FAA issued an alert notice at 1501, and an extensive search was launched. On December 8, searchers located personal items floating in Lake Clark that were later positively identified as belonging to the missing occupants. Also recovered were three airplane landing gear wheel assemblies, a co-pilot seat and cargo from the missing airplane. The rest of the airplane has not yet been located, and it is presumed to have sunk in the deep waters of Lake Clark.

Cub Crafters PA18

December 7, 2016, Basin, WY

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1015 Mountain time when it impacted terrain while maneuvering. The commercial pilot was fatally injured and commercial-certificated crewmember was seriously injured. The airplane was operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a public use flight. Visual conditions prevailed for the wildlife management flight.

According to the ground crew supporting the flight, the airplane arrived in the area around 0820. Crew members had visual contact, radio communication and/or could hear the airplane operating until about 1000. At about 1015, the ground crew attempted to contact the airplane to change the area of focus, to no avail. The airplane was located at 1330 by aerial search and rescue teams. The wreckage was located within steep hilly terrain, just below a ridge line extending from northeast to southwest, and included the fuselage, empennage, both wings, and the engine and propeller assembly. The airplane came to rest nearly vertical with the right wing uphill and the left wing downhill.

Beech Model A36 Bonanza

December 11, 2016, Shoreham, NY

At about 1300 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged following a total loss of engine power during cruise flight and subsequent ditching in Long Island Sound. The private pilot and passenger were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

While en route at 5500 feet msl, the engine started running rough. The pilot adjusted the mixture, propeller and throttle controls but the engine was still running rough and getting worse. The pilot turned to return to his departure airport and noticed oil was covering the windscreen. He then declared an emergency and asked ATC for vectors to a nearby airport.

A few seconds later, the pilot saw parts separate from the airplane. The engine then lost all power and the pilot told ATC they were going to ditch the airplane. Once they ditched in the water, the pilot and passenger opened the door and swam to a nearby rock. Examination of the engine revealed several holes in the crankcase. A front section of the crankshaft was fractured and the propeller was not recovered.

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

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Concept vehicles are a staple of auto and motorcycle shows. These sometimes dingbat creations aren’t meant to be serious design efforts, but flights of fancy intended to create buzz and garner press attention. Aviation shows rarely have the equivalent, at least from major manufacturers.

The last one I can think of is the Cessna NGP. Remember that one? It was to compete in the Cirrus space with the SR22 as an updated version of the 206/210 idea. It differed from automotive concepts in that it seemed to be a serious project and actually did a much-written-about flyby at AirVenture in 2006, only to disappear into the warrens of Cessna’s Wichita works.

This week, Airbus launched a concept of its own, which we reported on in this story. The Pop.Up is yet another take on the flying car, this time envisioned as a hybrid modular system in which a quadcopter latches onto to a pod-like car with roller skate wheels and transports it hither and yon automagically. Just whistle it up on the inevitable app. Listening to the promo video leaves the impression that the idea emerged from one of those meetings where a bright young MBA announced that Airbus isn’t an airplane company, but a transportation company. The full-circle outcome of such things is sometimes a grizzled old corner office dweller saying, “How about we stick with what we know? Airplanes.”

Will this one be any different just because Airbus is involved? Do the designers think it’s serious or are they just feeding the buzz machine? You can rarely tell by looking from the outside in. But what’s undeniable is that the flying car concept car will not, despite the limits of physics, aerodynamics and a fickle market, go gently into that good night. The shimmering promise of breakthrough technology just over the horizon has always sustained the idea and continues to.

Personally, I have always been doubtful—I’m being generous with that term—of the flying car idea because as an opinion writer, I have a binary choice. I can write about it as though I think it’s serious or I can dismiss it as yet another sketch pad flyby. I’ve tended toward the latter because I’d rather be proven wrong as a doubter than rudely brought to back to earth as a starry-eyed acolyte. It’s just coded into my DNA.

But, personally, this Airbus idea has reached the stage of gaslighting. This is a term much in fashion that involves a level of clever psychological manipulation that causes one to doubt one’s own sanity. Maybe Airbus is the sane one here; the rest of us are either nuts or lacking in enough vision to see past our noses.

That said, the technical challenges of Pop.Up actually are not deal breakers, in my view. The batteries aren’t quite there yet, but will eventually be, either as next-gen storage devices or some form of hybrid drive. The autonomy and swarming control is also doable and you saw an example of that during the Super Bowl halftime show in January. We may be some years away from perfecting this for human transport, but it seems technically feasible, including approvals from regulators. Eventually. Airbus and its design partner, Italdesign, say as soon as seven to 10 years. That sounds optimistic to me.

Stipulating that technical issues can be resolved, I think this idea’s bigger challenge is economics. Such projects require huge investments to develop and if they’re to be profitable, or at least not lose too much money, they require a certain market density that’s more than just early adopter uptake. My guess is you need volume in the thousands, not the multiple dozens, to make a viable business case. I see it as a complex set of metrics related to whether an idea like Pop.Up has just the right mix of range, cost, comfort, speed and intrigue to customers tired of stewing in traffic to reach critical mass.

And remember, even though it may be a “mobility concept,” the damn thing still flies. My observation over 40 years of doing observations is that when people get within 50 feet of flying machines, their brains turn to mush and they lose the normal ability to reason, especially with regard to how much things cost. That means even the smartest MBA—and maybe especially the smartest MBA—underestimates cost by more than half and overestimates market interest by four times. If you graph this out, the line probably parallels the inverse proportion of drag vs. speed. It’s not a physical law, but it should be. It’s also possible that this is just a throwaway trial balloon meant to give people like me something to write about.

Nonetheless, ideas have to come from somewhere and to get a few good ones, you have to advance a lot of bad ones. Will Pop.Up be the former or the latter? Beats me. I feel my sanity draining away as the sheer number of these flying-car-cum-mobility concepts, driven by emerging electric drive ideas, wear down my normally robust skepticism to the size of that odd period between Pop and Up.   

The Cirrus SR22T G6 is the sixth-generation SR22, which was originally introduced in 2001. For 2017, the G6 SR models are equipped with the new Perspective+ integrated avionics, new interior appointments and new Spectra wingtip lighting, which was designed exclusively for Cirrus by Whelen. For this flight report, Aviation Consumer Editor Larry Anglisano flew the flagship SR22T (equipped with a twin turbocharged 315-HP Continental TSIO-550-K engine) on a round-robin trip from New England to the Cirrus Vision Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, where Cirrus's Ivy McIver gave a product overview.

Picture of the Week
Picture of the Week

We've had a lot of floatplane winners lately but we are unapologetic. The aquatic crowd is exploiting something we all know and that flying floats can get you into some truly beautiful circumstances. Congratulations to Rusty Eichorn for this nice image of a Supercub at the seaplane base in Grand Rapids.

Discover the Exciting World of Today's Homebuilt Aircraft! Take to the Air with a Subscription to 'Kitplanes' Magazine and Receive the Annual Homebuilt Buyers Guide as a Gift

Peggy Chabrian, president and founder of Women in Aviation International, just wrapped up the organization's annual event, in Florida. She provides an update on the work they are doing to inspire and support women in aviation careers.

Not many controllers away from the northern border of the U.S. are familiar with Canada’s alphabetic aircraft registration system and it can cause confusion. 

C-ABCD: XXXX tower this Canadian Civil  Charlie Alpha Bravo Charlie Delta. Request runway in use.

No response

C-ABCD: Again XXXX tower Canadian Civil Charlie Alpha Bravo Charlie Delta requesting runway in use.

No response

C-ABCD: Wichita tower,Canadian Civil Charlie Alpha Bravo Charlie Delta requesting runway in use.

XXXX Tower: Canadian alphabet soup aircraft calling XXXX tower please say again.


Pete Simpson

 

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