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Lycoming says it’s not ruling out labor charge allowances for engine shops and customers affected by the mandatory rod bushing service bulletin announced earlier this month. In this podcast recorded at AirVenture on Friday, Lycoming general manager Michael Kraft told AVweb that shops need to first do the inspections, then contact Lycoming about support.

As we reported two weeks ago, Lycoming issued the service bulletin calling for inspections of an unknown number of small-end connecting rod bushings that are incorrectly manufactured. The off-spec bushings allow connecting rods to move side to side and the resulting loss of tolerance has caused several partial or catastrophic engine failures. Lycoming says about 1300 factory engines are affected and an unknown number of engines overhauled by field shops. Owners with new engines or factory overhauls will be covered under warranty.

However, Lycoming previously said field shops who used the company’s rod bushings would not be reimbursed for labor charges to inspect and/or replace the bushings. Lycoming said it would provide parts. “They really need to call us on that and get that dialogue going. I think there’s going to be a lot of … what were the circumstances on that. But I really encourage the shops to take care of the consumer and make sure we do these inspections,” Kraft said.

The bushings are a bulk item and not every shop would have received or used them, Kraft added. The factory has limited traceability on specific bushings. The service bulletin identifies a serial range of factory engines affected by the suspect bushings and some complete rod assemblies are also impacted. The bushings were manufactured in a one-year period between November 2015 and November 2016.

“The reason we put a 10-hour limit on this is that usually these things are detectable in a filter check. In this case, sometimes those particles off the bushings are so fine you can’t see them with the naked eye. We just want to get ahead of it and take care of it,” Kraft said.

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Image: fox11

Stan Lee, known as the creator of comic-book heroes Spider-Man the Hulk, and the X-Men, arrived at Oshkosh on Friday to announce a partnership between his charitable foundation and EAA. The Stan Lee Foundation promotes literacy, education and the arts. Lee announced in a news conference on Boeing Plaza that he will work with EAA’s Young Eagles program to encourage young people to explore aviation and aeronautics. “I’ve always believed in encouraging children to read, think, imagine and do,” Lee said. “Nowhere do these positive actions come to life more than in EAA’s successful Young Eagles program.” He also introduced a special guest, Aviar, a caped superhero devoted to getting kids interested in flight. “We’ve got to really excite young people about aviation,” Lee said.

“Our Young Eagles volunteer pilots and ground support people have created a unique legacy over the first 25 years of Young Eagles – one that has created a new generation of aviators and changes young lives,” said EAA Chairman Jack Pelton. “We cannot express deeply enough our appreciation to Stan Lee and The Stan Lee Foundation for their support of Young Eagles. With their commitment announced at Oshkosh on July 28, we will bring Young Eagles even more visibility and participation in the next quarter-century.” Lee, who is 94, later met with fans at the show to sign autographs and take photos.

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ATP Flight School, in Florida, has ordered 15 Skyhawks to add to its training fleet, which already includes 115 of the airplanes, Textron Aviation announced this week at EAA AirVenture. Deliveries of the new Skyhawks, each equipped with Garmin G1000 NXi avionics and an angle-of-attack display, will begin in the third quarter. “With demand for airline pilots reaching unprecedented levels, increasing training capacity is vital to ensure a stable pipeline of pilots to the nation’s regional airlines,” said Justin Dennis, vice president at ATP. “These new aircraft will provide airline career pilot program students with the platform they need for successful, efficient airline career training.”

ATP’s career program prepares pilots for airline careers from zero time to 1,500 hours, building time with CFI jobs and airline employment. Airlines will help out with a portion of pilots' loan repayment for the flight training, ATP says. ATP said it operates 300 aircraft that fly more than 185,000 hours annually, and students earn nearly 5,200 FAA pilot certificates every year. ATP's order supplements its 2016 purchase of 15 similarly equipped Skyhawks.

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Last year at EAA AirVenture, Textron Aviation unveiled a mock-up of the cabin in its all-new Cessna Denali single-engine turboprop (click here for the AVweb video tour), and this week at the show, the company provided an update on its progress with the airplane. Manufacturing of the first full-airframe test article has begun, the company said, and the team has started to build tooling for production. “The team began propeller test runs and component tests with GE’s new advanced turboprop engine,” said Brad Thress, senior vice president of engineering. Additional test articles have been completed and testing has begun of the fuel system and the doors. First flight is expected next year, Thress said.

Thress said the company is seeing “tremendous interest” in the airplane from potential buyers, among both competing turboprop owners and piston owners looking to step up. The airplane will cruise at 285 knots and carry a full fuel payload of 1,100 pounds, with a range of up to 1,600 nautical miles. The panel will feature Garmin G1000 touchscreen avionics.

The EAA Pilot Proficiency Center (PPC) is now a regular feature of AirVenture, with presentations and simulators available for an hour of free, loggable dual instruction. The 23 different scenarios are posted on eaapilotproficiency.com, with all the briefing materials, so pilots at the show can arrive prepared. Pilots not at the show can download basic resources and a lesson plan to try on their own sim or with an instructor. The National Association of Flight Instructors used AirVenture for the launch of a new professional development program for flight instructors. In addition to talks aimed specifically at instructors, the center has a set of aviation training devices (what most people call simulators) with scenarios targeting human-dynamics skills instructors must deal with but are rarely taught.

While flying the virtual airplane, the CFIs will have to handle sick students, hostile clients and other human dynamics that are a part of flight instruction. “Flight instruction is about getting inside someone’s head and passing on experience and information,” says NAFI Chairman Bob Meder. “But I don’t think we focus enough on the soft skills.” There’s also a lounge area to pair experienced instructors with new ones. NAFI will make all the talks available on FAASTeam TV and hopes to replicate some of the simulator and mentor efforts at other venues. It’s also hoping to reach pilots retiring from flying careers and bring them back into instruction. “Schools are going begging for instructors right now,” says Meder.

Image: EAA

Inspired by the sight of two flying B-29s at Boeing Plaza this week, EAA said it’s ready to launch another bomber-restoration project, for the North American B-25 Mitchell in its museum collection, the Berlin Express. The aircraft, built in 1943, served during World War II, and later flew as an executive transport. In 1970, it appeared in the film Catch-22, then was bought by a collector. When the collector died a year later, the B-25 was donated to EAA. It was restored in 1975 and flew for several years, till it was damaged after a gear failure during a landing. Since then, it’s been a non-flying part of the EAA Aviation Museum collection.

A volunteer crew has been working on the airplane since January 2015, EAA says, stripping paint, repairing and fabricating parts and replacing all the airplane’s glass. There’s still a long way to go to first flight, and to boost the project along, EAA launched a new fundraising campaign this week at AirVenture. The ultimate goal is to not only get the B-25 flying again, but also to send it on tour, offering flight experiences to the public. Ken Strmiska, EAA’s vice president of philanthropy, said he hopes to raise $400,000 by December, which would put the project on track to fly by next summer. “This project really embodies the spirit of EAA,” Strmiska said. “We’ve already benefited from people giving thousands of hours of their time toward the restoration, and now they’re giving financial contributions to get Berlin Express back in the air.”

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Attendees at Oshkosh headed over to the NASA pavilion and try their hand at docking the Orion spacecraft, NASA’s next-generation space vehicle. The simulator at Oshkosh is a simplified version of a system Lockheed Martin uses to test all the functions of Orion. Larry Price, Orion deputy program manager at Lockheed Martin, says the simulator also shows which simple changes work best, even down to the angle the screens appear to each crew member. Other fun facts include that Orion uses surplus maneuvering thrusters from the Space Shuttle, and the capsule is designed for ten uses. Eventually, one of those uses might be a flight to Mars and back.  

Lockheed Martin’s complete Orion spacecraft will be mounted on top of the super heavy lift Space Launch System (SLS), which is a cooperation between Aerojet-Rocketdyne, Orbital ATK and Boeing. The Orion capsule is about five feet wider in diameter than the Apollo capsule, but it can carry six instead of three. Orion also carries more advanced heat shielding, radiation shielding, life support, avionics and radiation shielding—essential for the long exposure of a trip to Mars—than previous spacecraft. “We’ve learned from the past, and we will continue to revise the design based on early missions to moon, and earth orbit,” said Price. The capsule is also slated for asteroid research missions, the trip to Mars and even maintenance missions such as servicing the Hubble Space Telescope.

Kitty Hawk, a California startup that made a splash—literally—with a man-carrying multi-rotor, recently brought its machine to AirVenture this week for demonstration flights. Although the first demo was winded out, Kitty Hawk co-founder Todd Reichert told AVweb in this video that the company views the Kitty Hawk as transitional technology. "This is step one in a much bigger vision. We are crossing this threshold, with computing, with battery technology and small lightweight sensors, this is now physically possible," Reichert said. "The use cases in the next five years are going to be incredibly diverse," he added.

Although Reichert discourages the comparison, the Kitty Hawk is essentially a multi-rotor similar to small unmanned drones scaled up. It uses similar technology and Kitty Hawk believes it will be the simplest aircraft ever created to learn to fly. At under 254 pounds, the Kitty Hawk will be marketed as an ultralight, thus requiring no license or specific training. Kitty Hawk intends the aircraft as a recreational vehicle similar in concept to fixed-wing ultralights. Reichert declined to put a price tag on the aircraft or even to speculate if it will be competitive with existing ultralight aircraft. As currently construed, the Kitty Hawk is on straight floats, although it can operate and land on solid ground, too. Reichert said Kitty Hawk pursued the water-only approach because it believed it to be safer until the aircraft gains more flight experience. The Kitty Hawk's software limits its altitude to under 40 feet.

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At AirVenture, the din of airplanes starts early and builds to a deafening crescendo about the time Jeff Boerboon launches his Screamin' Sasquatch jet-powered Waco. It’s just stupefyingly loud, to the point of causing minor trickles of blood out of exposed bodily openings. But I’m pretty sure the B-1 passes were even louder than that and there’s nothing like a touch of four-engine heater to trim out 110 db of skull crushing overpressure.

Not that I’m complaining. I’ve always believed that if it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing. However, compared to those noise makers, my contribution was rather more delicate. Wednesday morning, Dan Gryder called up and asked if we wanted to fly his DC-3 for some passes over Wittman. Sure, I’ll sign up for that. What could be more over the top than putting a DC-3 newbie in the left seat and flying 50-foot passes down Runway 18 in the misty morning?

Unbeknownst to me, this year’s sponsor of Gryder’s Douglas, Gold Seal Ground Schools, live streamed the whole thing, replete I suppose with my foul-mouthed cursing. I’ve really got to clean that up. I’ve got some video of the flight that I’ll post as soon as I get caught up.

I told Gryder that flying the DC-3 was about what I expected; it’s a big dump truck of an airplane with control forces that require both hands, both arms and three feet. I thought Gryder was pushing against me on the rudder, but no, it’s just that stiff. We strafed the runway three or four times and Gryder kept hectoring me to push the thing lower. He said we were at 100 feet, but I thought closer to 50. When an airplane that big gets into ground effect, it’s like flying into a big sponge; you have to forcibly push it lower.

In the midst of a busy Oshkosh morning, we were essentially doing pattern work for 40 minutes. Kudos to the tower controller who took all this in stride. We were weaving past the lumbering Tri-Motor, Cherokees and Ercoupes, all the while sweeping the thing inside of Runway 9/27, which had a steady stream of arrivals who I'm sure were wide-eyed at the green-shirted maniac barreling at them in a 25,000-pound classic twin.

From the cockpit, it looks like the airplane can’t possibly turn that tight, but it’s only going 100 knots, so the turn radius is surprisingly compact. If it looks stately and effortless from the ground, it ain’t that way from the cockpit. I’m pretty sure the audio will reveal me grunting to roll the beast over and put both feet on the yoke to get it to dive.

What great fun! And only at AirVenture.

Who Are These People?

Everyone I talk to, but especially the vendors in the hangars and the outdoor booth dwellers, seems to think there are more people at AirVenture this year. I’ve been doing this too long to rely on my own perceptions, so I’ll wait until EAA releases some final numbers.

Nonetheless, as I was driving out of the press parking lot on Thursday afternoon, an absolute sea of humanity streamed in front of the car, pinning me in place for what felt like 10 minutes. They were dragging folding chairs, bags full of food and drink, cameras, funny hats, kids in strollers and all the rest of the paraphernalia people haul to airshows. I was in a hurry, but it was at least entertaining.

Then this thought occurred to me: Who the %$#^ are you people and why aren’t you buying airplanes? If this many people are interested in coming to the spectacle of an AirVenture airshow, why aren’t they interested in participating and what will it take to get them to do that? Or maybe everyone who’s really interested in being a pilot is already here. But that can’t be it, because we’re getting all sorts of wish-I-was-there emails. Hey, it’s not too late. Today’s Friday and there are still three more days left. I was planning to leave today, but no way. There’s still too much stuff I haven’t covered. Today, I’ll hump my camera gear on foot; it’s faster. Maybe I ought to borrow one of those strollers. I long ago got over the fear of looking ridiculous.

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Lockheed Martin brought their simulator for the vehicle they hope will transport people to Mars and maybe farther. We talked with their Deputy Director for Orion about how a sim shapes the design of the real article.

At AirVenture, a California startup called Kitty Hawk rolled out a unique new multi-rotor aircraft that's essentially similar to a large drone. It will carry a single person and be manufactured under ultralight standards. AVweb interviewed Kitty Hawk's Todd Reichert for this AirVenture video.

Lycoming says it’s not ruling out labor charge allowances for engine shops and customers affected by the mandatory rod bushing service bulletin announced earlier this month. In this podcast recorded at AirVenture on Friday, Lycoming general manager Michael Kraft told AVweb that shops need to first do the inspections, then contact Lycoming about support.

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