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Airbus is in the electric airplane business for at least the medium term and the next few years could see the first flight of a BAE 146 regional jet converted to fly on electric power. Ken McKenzie, senior VP of strategy and corporate development for Airbus, said what started with a quirky rear-engine ducted fan demonstrator called the E-Fan could be headed for full-scale development into a product line of electric aircraft. That, he said, depends on shareholder support and regulators but he noted that “fossil fuels aren’t going to last forever.” In the immediate future, the company plans to fly a pilot-flown single-seat tilt-rotor and an autonomous four-place quadcopter.

The E-Fan project, which flew on about 30 kilowatts of power, managed a carefully orchestrated crossing of the English Channel two years ago. That project ended in favor of an electric-powered Extra 300 with about 300 kilowatts of power. Next is the regional airliner with a fuselage-mounted generator putting out two to three megawatts of power to energize wing-mounted motors. McKenzie said the company doesn’t know where it will all lead but it intends to be a player in electric propulsion.

Airbus believes electric aircraft, including airliners, are the future and it's taking a leadership role in their development. Ken McKenzie, the company's senior VP of strategy and corporate development, discussed what that future might look at in an interview at AirVenture 2017.

The pilot of a Beech Baron involved in a highly publicized ditching in the Gulf of Mexico in 2012 has been indicted for insurance fraud. Theodore Wright and two other men, Shane Gordon and Raymond Fosdick, have been charged with several counts as part of a larger investigation that also involved an old Citation, an exotic car and a boat. The Baron ditching garnered national headlines when Wright posted a video of himself bobbing around in the Gulf after the ditching. An edited version of the video, shown below, was turned into a promotion for the case protecting the iPad that he shot it with. He told authorities he was flying from Texas to Sarasota, Florida, and was forced to ditch by smoke and fire in the cockpit. The indictment, filed in Tyler, Texas, in May, alleges it was all about the insurance money. 

The indictment says Wright bought the airplane for $46,000 and insured it for $85,000. He took a water landing course immediately before the ditching and was accompanied by Fosdick on the flight. According to the indictment, the associate allegedly sued Wright for injuries suffered in the mishap as a way of settling a debt Wright owed him. Wright’s insurance company paid an out-of-court settlement of $100,000. Wright and his accomplices are also alleged to have crashed a $76,000 Lamborghini (insured for $170,000) into a flooded ditch and setting fire to a $190,000 Citation (insured for $440,000) in deliberate acts of insurance fraud. They’re also alleged to have sunk a boat in Hawaii.

 

 

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An Air India flight was diverted last week because the crew didn’t raise the landing gear. There were apparently lots of clues that something was terribly wrong but the A320 crew pressed on, climbing to 24,000 feet instead of the normal 35,000 to 37,000 feet and reaching only 230 knots as the plane gobbled huge amounts of fuel to beat the drag of the wheels. About 90 minutes into the flight from Kolkata to Mumbai, the fuel state demanded a diversion to Nagpur. They reportedly didn’t realize their error until they went to drop the gear for landing.

The pilots have been suspended pending an investigation by the airline. The aircraft was carrying 99 passengers who got to their destination after refueling in Nagpur.

Continental 'Factory new CM Magnetos at near-rebuilt pricing'

At AirVenture 2017, Trig Avionics introduced a budget-based WAAS GPS receiver that meets the FAR 91.227 position source requirement for the FAA’s 2020 ADS-B mandate. Priced at $389, the TSO'd TN72 remote GPS receiver is compatible with Trig’s TT22 or TT31 TSO'd 1090ES transponders.

The TN72 GPS doesn’t have an STC, so it’s intended as a solution for LSA and experimental applications, although Trig said the solution can be used in certified aircraft as a means of obtaining reliable ADS-B In traffic while in non-ADS-B airspace (this will require an ADS-B In receiver, of course). The GPS also requires the $345 TA70 antenna. Including the TT22, a mandate-compliant system has a list price of $3029. The GPS will be available this coming September. 

Trig also introduced lower-cost VHF comm radios that don’t have 8.33 channel spacing, which are aimed at U.S. operators. The 760-channel TY96A (14-volt) and TY97A (28-volt) radios are 1.3 inches tall and have a 200-frequency database that can be customized via a USB port, an emergency button and a “say again” feature for instant playback of the last received transmissions. It also has a two-place intercom with stereo entertainment input. The TY97A/TY96A radios have a list price of $1895.  

Contact www.trig-avionics.com

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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.

April 10, 2017, Livermore, Calif.

Beech A36TC Turbocharged Bonanza

At about 1030 Pacific time, the airplane landed gear-up after the pilot experienced a flight control malfunction. The commercial pilot was not injured; the airplane sustained minor damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

Approaching for a landing, the pitched up steeply after the pilot disconnected the autopilot. After some oscillations, the pilot reduced engine power, set the landing gear selector switch to down, and extended the flaps. He stated that he heard the landing gear extend, and confirmed that the three green landing gear lights had illuminated. Control forces were so great, however, that he needed to use both hands and his knee to keep the yoke forward. Given the need to maintain strong nose-down force on the yoke, he was unable to reach the autopilot circuit breaker and the elevator trim wheel would not move.

He continued the approach, regulating pitch with engine power, and holding the yoke fully forward. At some point during the approach and ensuing struggle, he inadvertently knocked off his glasses and headset. Although the tower controller made multiple calls during the final approach warning the pilot that the landing gear was not extended, the pilot did not hear those calls. The airplane came to a stop on its belly. First responders noted the landing gear switch was in the down position, and the landing gear and auxiliary fuel pump circuit breakers were both tripped.

Further examination revealed the pitch trim system indicated “18U” (up), and the elevator tabs were in the tab down (airplane nose-up) position. With the dual-yoke control bar in the full-forward position, it obscured elevator pitch trim indicator and left-seat access to most of the circuit breakers, including the autopilot and trim breakers.

April 11, 2017, Houston, Texas

Cessna 172 Skyhawk

The pilot of the float-equipped airplane reported that prior to takeoff, the windsock showed “no significant wind.” During takeoff on the waterway, the airplane initially accelerated as expected. He added that “it became clear that the take-off run was not progressing as anticipated” and decided to abort the takeoff. He brought the power to idle and applied back pressure to the control yoke. The airplane slid onto the grass embankment at the end of the runway and came to rest on the adjacent taxiway. The airplane sustained substantial damage to its fuselage.

Weather observations showed that from about 20 minutes before the accident to 60 minutes after the accident, the wind varied in direction from 360 to 050, and its speed varied from four to 11 knots, with a peak wind of 360 at 30 knots. The pilot departed waterway 17W.

April 12, 2017, Hartsville, Ind.

Temco GC-1B Swift

At about 1310 Eastern time, the airplane impacted trees and terrain shortly after takeoff. The solo commercial pilot sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was substantially damaged. Visual conditions prevailed.

Maintenance had recently been completed on the accident airplane as a result of a ground loop event. After the accident pilot and a mechanic inspected the repairs and reviewed the airplane records, the accident pilot completed a brief engine run-up and then performed what appeared to be a normal takeoff roll. Shortly after rotation, at about 35 feet agl, the airplane entered a gradual left roll. The left roll continued until the airplane impacted trees in a near-inverted attitude adjacent to the runway.

April 12, 2017, La Porte, Texas

Cessna 152

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1115 Central time when it nosed over following a forced landing. The solo commercial pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed for the post-maintenance test flight.

According to the pilot, “there was a noticeable lag in the response of the engine” during a low approach, and the engine lost power. Attempts to restore power were unsuccessful. With no runway remaining, the pilot turned the airplane to avoid a ditch; it ended up nosing over. Examination revealed water contamination in the engine’s fuel lines, fuel bowl and carburetor. No water contamination was noted in either fuel tank. According to the pilot, the preflight inspection did not show any evidence of water in the fuel, and there was no engine hesitation or sputtering during the run-up.

April 12, 2017, Monongahela, Penn.

Howard Aircraft DGA-15P

At about 1430 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain during a go-around. The solo commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

According to witnesses, the airplane initially touched down left of the Runway 26 centerline, but then became airborne and its engine noise increased. The airplane then yawed and banked left, perpendicular to the runway, and the nose pitched up. The airplane then appeared to stall and roll inverted before impacting a ravine about 400 feet left of the runway. One witness had landed earlier in a Cessna 172, noting that a wind gust lifted its right wing and caused it to drift left. Red paint chips consistent with the airplane’s wingtip were observed in ground scars about 200 feet left of the runway and about halfway down its length. Local weather included wind from 280 degrees at six knots, variable from 240 to 320.

April 15, 2017, Williston, Fla.

Cessna 170

The airplane impacted terrain at about 1523 Eastern time, shortly after departure. The commercial pilot and the three passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. Visual conditions prevailed.

Security-camera video showed the airplane immediately after takeoff as it climbed to about 600 feet agl. The airplane leveled off just below the clouds, and then its nose pitched down. The airplane descended about 100 feet and leveled off again. Several seconds later, the airplane again pitched down and disappeared from view. The airplane came to rest 543 feet left of the runway, near the departure end. Evidence is consistent with a nose-first impact with the ground.

Local weather at 1519 included 10 miles of visibility and wind from 080 degrees at eight knots, gusting to 17 knots. Apparently, no data on cloud presence, height or coverage were available.

April 17, 2017, Loyalton, Calif.

Socata TB20 Trinidad

At about 1600 Pacific time, the airplane departed Truckee-Tahoe Airport (KTRK) in Truckee, Calif. Since that time, the private pilot and passenger have not been located, and the airplane is missing. Radar contact was lost about 16 nm north of Truckee, and the airplane is presumed to have crashed in remote mountainous terrain. Search and rescue efforts were suspended April 23.

April 20, 2017, Goodyear, Ariz.

Diamond Aircraft DA40 NG

The airplane lost engine power at 0719 Mountain time during a takeoff. The solo student pilot was not injured, but the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

Preflight actions included a check of the airplane’s engine control unit (ECU), with no discrepancies noted. The takeoff was normal until about 400 feet agl when the pilot noticed a change in engine sound. The engine load indicator read 35 percent, and annunciator lights illuminated for ECU A FAIL and ECU B FAIL. The student pilot decided to go under power lines but struck the bottom wire. The airplane touched down, bounced and eventually struck a ditch.

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

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Given the rules of idle conversation, I'll be asked this week: How was AirVenture? Or, if by pilots, the universal shorthand that identifies the world’s most important airshow by its venue: Oshkosh. (The locals invariably call it “EAA,” with the vowels drawn out in that nasal Scandinavian-influenced lilt of Wisconsin.)

I have an answer. It was the best AirVenture. Ever.

That’s bold talk for a pixel-addled, bleary-eyed cynic with a penchant for complaint, a refined sense of contrarianism and a bull^%$# meter that’s been stuck on off-scale high for at least a decade. But I have my reasons and they won’t be the same as yours.

I am long past the misty romanticism of flight and, to be blunt, I don’t care to be the leather-jacketed acolyte trying to entice the next generation into the world of airplanes. Here it is kids. Take it or leave it. This year’s AirVenture framed for me why I got into journalism in the first place. And that was mainly because I love a spectacle and for one shining week in July, AirVenture is a spectacle like no other.

My reporter’s notebook—and now a camera and a recorder—have served as a ticket into the world of surprisingly common unapologetic excess and, even better, the existence of less common uncompromised excellence. That’s the part of AirVenture I most admire: a crazy, unlikely thing done almost as well as it’s possible to do. 

Any judgment of AirVenture has to be extracted from the background noise—the informational kind and the psychic kind, if not the acoustic variety that more or less defines the thing. The food is expensive, but at least it’s terrible. This year, the crowds were stupefyingly large and for a guy who basically hates being around people, this requires the discipline of a monk. I make do. And EAA managed to cram so much into the programs that it had trouble, at least from our perspective, of promoting everything that was available. We never did get an advance view of what the Apollo astronaut program was about or who would be there. Even our colleague, KITPLANES editor Paul Dye, who is a genuine NASA rocket scientist—engineer, really—was in the dark. Same for the Lindbergh anniversary flight and a few other events that would have made good stories.  

But the core around which all this was built was the airshow and static displays in Boeing square. The days tend to run together, but I think it was Wednesday that I’d set up a 360 camera in the square and skulked away to hide under the wing of an A10 so I wouldn’t be in the footage. While I was standing under the wing looking east, pummeled by the screech of a power unit somewhere, there was an unending loop of aircraft streaking by. I swear I saw what looked like three Mig 17s trailing smoke go by in a perfect finger three sweep. Or were they F-86s? If such things exist in the wild and three pilots had the time and resources to actually practice, Oshkosh is the only place you could expect to see it. In the distance, a gaggle of bombers were flying in the opposite direction.

Against perfectly painted clouds, it looked like one of those 1940s war photos printed on Velox. In masterful understatement, I heard a voice in the crowd say, “This is %^&@ing awesome.” And it sure enough was. Far beyond any other AirVenture show I’ve seen. Completely oblivious to my camera in the square, two people walked right up to it and talked for a few minutes. I wonder what they said. I’ll know when I review the clips.

The bombers pushed everything over the top. A formation of B-25s? It was here. A B-29 two-ship? That, too. A B-1 and a B-52 nearly old enough to qualify for Social Security? All there and surrounded by people in funny hats and tasteless slogan t-shirts. Where the hell else are you going to get a selfie in front of a C-123 named Thunderpig?

I think the presence of the Blue Angels also kicked up everything a notch; or maybe 10. You haven’t seen these acts much at AirVenture for the very good reason that these teams require massive logistics paid for by the hosts and at Oshkosh, many houses have to be evacuated during the show. Oshkosh Corp., a 24/7 major defense contractor, had to shut down entirely for 90 minutes. EAA Chairman Jack Pelton said the association doesn’t like to wear out its welcome with these cooperative folks.

The restored B-29, Doc, left an indelible impression on me for the care and skill lavished on its restoration. I didn’t even have to imagine what it must have looked like right out of the factory at Wichita in 1945. It almost looks like that now. I got into the cockpit three times and never expected to find any chromoly tubing to mount a camera. But there it was, running vertically inboard of each pilot station. I’ll publish that once I get caught up.

For many who attend and participate in AirVenture, the passion for flight and airplanes is the animator. For me, it’s less that and more the richness of telling their stories and trying to explain why the CAF would raise and devote millions to restoring That’s All Brother, the C-47 that led the Normandy airborne operation in 1944. Keegan Chetwynd, the CAF’s curator, let me into the airplane for 15 minutes of shooting and then showed his profoundly deep knowledge of World War II history during the interview that followed. I’ll post that soon, too.

At AirVenture, these stories flash by like an express train, more so this year than in any other that I can remember. It creates an event intensity that’s exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. I collapse into bed every night, but I’m up at 4 a.m. to start the cycle anew. I should probably take up crack instead. It would be less addictive.

While AirVenture is considered a commercially important venue for showing new products and technology, we in the press tend to overstate how much this matters. Or how crowds in the booths somehow measure GA's rocky health. Buyers find out about things through the web, social media and smart marketing. Only a small fraction of people see it at Oshkosh and it’s an illusion that those who don’t attend hang on every online news item. We know they don’t. Still, anyone who is anyone waves the flag at AirVenture, just to show they’re players.

I’ve already written about the avionics trends and while these are significant and commercially important, they’re not game changers, to revert to the marketeers' hackneyed all-purpose adjective. They push the ball another few yards forward but don’t spike it through the uprights, if that’s even possible in an industry as mature as ours. Dynon’s Skyview announcement may be the most significant of all the avionics developments. It seems to confirm that the trend for less expensive avionics is gaining ground and has legs. But throttle back your enthusiasm. Things like this won’t change the face of aviation. They enhance its survival and for that, be grateful. I thought the most important avionics innovation was one that got the least attention: uAvionix’s self-contained ADS-B Out product. More on that later. You can see the video here.

Engine and airframe wise? Meh. I wasn’t expecting much so I wasn’t disappointed. For those who relish complaining about the high cost of airplanes, delve into Vulcanair’s four-place trainer/cruiser. It costs $150,000 less than the Skyhawk it would purport to rival. It’s faster than a Skyhawk and it’s refreshing to see a company make selling price a key goal. But Cessna retains the advantage of momentum and nameplate. Flight schools will pay for this because they’re less constrained by price and more worried about support and dispatch reliability. As soon as the airplane is available in the U.S., we’ll take a look. And stand by for absolute eye-glazing detail on all these new autopilots, plus all the stories we simply couldn’t get published during the week.

AirVenture 2017 will, I think, be a hard act to follow. EAA deserves big props for pulling it all together without the scars of its birth showing, thus further assuring that Oshkosh will remain the center of the known aviation universe.

Possibly the most extravagant flying display ever mounted at AirVenture took place on Bomber Day. AVweb's Russ Niles was there.

Blue Origin plans to ferry paying tourists on short trips to space in its Shepard passenger space capsule. What better place than AirVenture at Oshkosh to show off a mock-up of the technology? AVweb interns Baxter Van West and Ashley Anglisano took a tour of the capsule and prepared this video report from the show.

Before beginning a flight, the PIC must become familiar with all available information concerning that flight. Tall order that, but, honestly, you'll be closer to fulfilling the FAR 91.103 mandate after you ace this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

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On the Saturday night before AirVenture opened, I was listening on my iPhone to KOSH tower for 27, wishing I was there instead of doing yard work. Evidently, weather was not great so traffic was slow when I heard a pilot tell tower he was turning final. 

 Tower:  Low wing cleared to land 27

 Pilot:  Cleared to land 27, did you give me a dot?

 Tower: Traffic is light so no dot, land at your discretion.

 Pilot:  Wow, I have been coming here for 40 years, and this is the first time I didn't get told a dot.

 Tower:  [chuckling]: Well, I can give you one if you want.

 Pilot:  No thanks. Just good to be here.

 I hope I can claim just one tenth of that in years to come!

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