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As Hurricane Irma bears down on what may be a landfall somewhere in Florida, aircraft owners across the state are considering whether to move their airplanes or just lash them down and hope for the best.

Insurance companies may or may not be willing to help. AIG, for instance, will reimburse owners for a portion of costs incurred in moving the aircraft out of harm’s way. Jon Doolittle of Sutton James Insurance Brokers said owners should check with their underwriters to see what’s covered—and when. Most underwriters don’t off the reimbursement option. Agents have been receiving calls and emails to cease binding coverage for Florida owners until the storm passes.

A spokesperson for Avemco, the largest direct writer of small aircraft aviation insurance, told us it does not reimburse owners for removal expenses. However, it does cover losses incurred in hangars including liability if an aircraft is blown into other aircraft or structures.

Florida is behind California and Texas for having the most aircraft registered, according to the FAA. More than 21,000 aircraft of all types are registered in Florida and many are located at threatened coastal areas.

Texas-based NavWorx has announced it is back to shipping its ADS600-B ADS-B transceiver system after the FAA slapped an unapproved parts notification and an airworthiness directive on earlier versions of the system. This was the first ADS-B product hit with an AD. The replacement system—the ADS600-B NexGen 2.0—has an FAR 91.227/91.225-compliant internal WAAS GPS, ADS-B In/Out capability, plus integral Wi-Fi.

The issue with old versions of the ADS600-B centered around the WAAS GPS engine, which according to the FAA weren't certified per the governing TSO C-154c specifications. The FAA also said the earlier ADS600-B/EXP systems (with part numbers 200-0012, 200-0013 and 200-8013) had an unapproved software revision that rendered them non-compliant with the ADS-B TSO and could communicate unreliable position data to other aircraft and ADS-B ground stations. Last November, sources estimated that close to 800 U.S.-registered aircraft might have been affected. Despite the situation, NavWorx said its customers have been patient—and vocal—in their support.

"This is a significant step in our progress with certification of the ADS600-B and we have found a viable solution to the long-delayed actions with the FAA," said company President Bill Moffitt in a press release earlier this week. While this is a significant achievment, the latest ADS600-B 2.0 can only be installed in experimental aircraft because NavWorx hasn't been awarded final FAA approval of the system for certified aircraft.

The company said the new 2.0 system—which is intended as an upgrade path for the older prohibited systems and for new installs—is being installed in a variety of experimental aircraft including Van's RV, Kitfox, Lancair and Searey models, to name a few. Moreover, while the company waits for final approval, NavWorx said in the brief that it recommends customers apply for the FAA's $500 installation rebate for the ADS600-B 2.0 system on Sept. 16, 2017, as the rebate reservation deadline is Sept.18, 2017. Older systems can be upgraded to the 2.0 version, and new systems have an introductory list price of $2020.

Visit www.navworx.com and call 888-628-9679.

Garmin - GDL 5l Portable SiriusXM Receiver

A Boeing 747-400 SuperTanker whose owners have been disputing a rule of the U.S. Forest Service that keeps them from flying fought a fire in the U.S. for the first time last week, contracted by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The SuperTanker can drop more than 19,000 gallons of water or retardant at a time. “In six days of firefighting, the SuperTanker has flown 14 sorties, and made 22 drops of 248,025 gallons of retardant on four fires in California,” company spokesman Lewis Lowe told AVweb on Wednesday. “By comparison, it would have taken a DC-10 26 sorties to drop that much retardant and a C-130, or BAe-146 or an RJ-85, over 82 individual sorties.” The SuperTanker is fighting the Ponderosa Fire, 10 miles east of Lake Oroville. Lowe said the flights are continuing and could go on for several weeks.

The SuperTanker is based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and operated by Global SuperTanker Services. It uses a patented system that can deliver single or multiple payload drops aggregating over 19,000 gallons of water, fire retardant or suppressant. The fluids can be released at variable rates from the plane’s pressurized tanks. This allows it to make as many as six drops in a single flight, according to Global. With a flying speed of 520 knots, the 747 can reach any part of the globe in 20 hours or less, and virtually any part of North America in less than 4.5 hours, the company says. The SuperTanker has previously fought fires in Chile and Israel. According to Global, the U.S. Forest Service won’t use the airplane because its standard contract limits firefighting aircraft to 5,000 gallons of fire suppressant. The Forest Service has declined to comment, noting that the issue is under dispute.

Unriveled range of cylinders unbeatable list of benefits, only from Continental

Lilium, a start-up aviation company based in Munich, announced on Thursday they have raised $90 million in investment to develop the five-seat Lilium aircraft. The funding, which brings the total capital raised to $100 million, will enable the company to grow its staff to more than 70 and work toward a first manned flight in 2019. The new investment “makes Lilium one of the best-funded electric aircraft projects in the world,” said CEO Daniel Wiegand. No other company is promising the economy, speed, range and low noise levels of the Lilium Jet, Wiegand said. A remotely flown two-seat prototype flew in April, showing that it could take off vertically and then smoothly transition to horizontal flight.

The Lilium Jet will be able to travel for one hour at up to 162 knots on a single charge, the company says. Although the company refers to the powerplants as “electric jet engines,” they’re not traditional jets. According to the company website, the engines work like jets in that they suck in air, compress it and push it out the back. But the compressor fan in front is turned by an electric motor instead of a gas turbine. At the Uber Elevate conference in April, Wiegand described the engine as consisting of two bearings, a shaft and a rotor, with just one moving part.

The new investors include Tencent Holdings, a giant internet company based in China; LGT, which invests money from Lichtenstein’s royal family; Atomico, a venture firm founded by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström; and Obvious Ventures, whose co-founder Ev Williams is Twitter’s co-founder and former CEO. The company also announced recently they have recruited new senior staff from Airbus, Tesla and elsewhere to lead their growth efforts.

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Fostering a good pilot/examiner relationship is essential to overcoming test-day jitters, and knowing a little about aerodynamics, FARs and weather forecasts will help you ace any checkride and this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

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Controller: Cessna 123, traffic, opposition direction, five miles, at 4,000 feet

Cessna 123: Looking for traffic, Cessna 123

Controller: Cessna 123, Love Field, six miles, 12 o'clock.

Cessna 123: Cessna 123 looking for Love.

Pause

Cessna123: That didn't come out right, did it.

Controller: No but we hope you find Love, ... and the airport.


Allen Werner

 

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At Reno 2013, Andy Chiavetta asked me if I would be available in the coming months to help him with a bunch of work he was hoping to finish. During the winter and spring of 2014, Andy would be delivering two Lancair Super Legacys—both clones of Darryl Greenamyer's champion aircraft. These fire-breathing monsters would need to be tested, and while Andy has the pick of the litter when it comes to test pilots, he wasn't sure he would have enough pilots to get him through the coming year. I had dreamed about this moment since I was a boy lying on the living room rug listening to Reno On Record, and cradling my brother's plastic P-51.

The Legacy

The Lancair Legacy was designed in the late '90s as the next iteration in the line of Lancair touring aircraft. From the Lancair 200 to the Lancair 360, Lance Neibauer built a name and customer base on high-performance, two-seat, kitbuilt aircraft that would take you and a friend to your destination fast, and look good when you got there.

Photo: Andy Chiavetta

At a distance, the Legacy looks similar to the preceding generations, but is in fact a whole new airplane. With a new Greg Cole wing, a bigger tail, a roomier cockpit, more baggage space, and of course, more power, this airplane was a step change in expectations for the industry. The airplane was barely on the market when Darryl Greenamyer hatched a plan to turn a Legacy into a dominating force in the new Sport Class at Reno. He recruited a then budding fabrication talent, Andy Chiavetta, to shoehorn twin turbos and intercoolers into the airplane. Darryl's Race 33 went on to dominate Reno for four years. The Super Legacy, as they ended up calling the final version, has become the staple of a line of services offered by Andy's company, Aerochia. To date, seven copies of the aircraft have been built.

A couple weeks later, Justin Gillen and I flew to Thermal, California, to check on Andy and the fleet of Legacys he needed tested. I looked over the recently modified Race 77, the recently completed N357AW, and the champion itself, Darryl's Race 33. After seeing the airplanes, it was even clearer that this was an opportunity I couldn't let slip by. In lieu of time in type, I tried desperately to find some way to prepare for the ride. We are very lucky in Mojave to have access to quite literally the best in the business, so I asked everyone for their thoughts. Pete Siebold, Dick Rutan, Matt Jackson, Darryl Greenamyer, Lee Behel, Will Whiteside, Len Fox…the airplane became a great excuse to ask technical questions of heroes.

Photo: Jenn Whaley

The backbone of the Super Legacy is the hybrid engine that Andy and Darryl worked out through years of long summer nights building up to Reno. Larger aftermarket turbos replace the stock Continental ones. The oil pressure regulated wastegates are replaced with automotive-style pneumatic wastegates. The propeller governor is cranked up to 3000 rpm, as opposed to the more conventional 2700 rpm. Spray bars cool the outside of the engine and anti-detonation injection (water/methanol) cools the inside of the engine. There are fuel cocktails, obscene manifold pressures, and in general, enough motorhead voodoo to get any race freak through a week of Nevada sunsets. It's a true fire-breathing dragon.

Hired Gun

I flew Race 77 in March of 2013. It was the first time I had flown an Experimental aircraft in Phase I as a hired gun test pilot. The airplane is a madman. With flaps, gear, and full rpm, it would glide at 4/1. That's about half of SpaceShipTwo's L/D.

The takeoff acceleration is distractingly rapid. The brakes will not hold the airplane with more than about 200 horsepower on the crankshaft, which forces final power application to happen on the roll. That will keep you busy. And, oh man, will it go! For the engine setup on Race 77, we had domesticated the turbo package to less than 400 horsepower, but that was enough power to climb at greater than 3000 fpm and cruise at over 300 KTAS. As I taxied the airplane back to Andy, I tried to act like it wasn't a big deal, even though, in fact, it was so freaking cool.

After Race 77 was delivered, we started on N357AW. Known internally as The Green Dragon, 57AW is the economy Super Legacy, built to be cheap and simple. The airplane has no interior, and a simpler panel than all the preceding Super Legacys. The airplane's owner was on a busy schedule in the military and wanted someone to do the Phase I flight test program for him, including first flight. This was my third first flight and my first on someone else's airplane. It ended up being a gentle and friendly introduction to the airplane. By the time we delivered 57AW, we had run a dozen fuel/turbo setups on it. We had hydraulic pump failures, autopilot runaways, and plenty of other "real flight-test events" to tell at the bar. I started to feel like I knew something.

Miss Karen

The spring and early summer with The Green Dragon was in a lot of ways a ramp-up to the last Super Legacy I got to test in 2014, the belle of the ball, Lynn Farnsworth's Miss Karen, Race 44. Back on another Sport Class race team, we had run against this airplane, but over the winter and spring, the masters at Pacific Continental had torn down the engine and incorporated some new whiz-bang go-go bits, all of which needed to be tested before racing at Reno.

From the first engine run, Race 44 intimidated me. The modified motor had a different growl, and you could see a change on Andy's face when he moved around the airplane. Andy is always a blur of focused activity, but with Race 44 and the races drawing near, Andy's whole demeanor changed. You could see him hunker down and bear the load of the coming months. After spending more time than expected getting the engine on 44 ready for flight, we got through enough engine runs that Andy was ready for the airplane to fly. By this time, I had flown for Andy enough times that we could start to anticipate each other's moves, but his cadence was changing, and the change of pace told me that this was getting serious—this was the big dance.

Photo: Andy Chiavetta

First Flight

As I taxied out for my first flight in Race 44, the first flight of the new engine, I could feel the weight of the Chia/Greenamyer name. I could see that Andy needed me to be a test pilot at the level of Darryl, and while I knew I was nowhere near that level, I'd be damned if that was going to get in the way.

I added power and did a last-chance engine check. Brake release and set 400 hp, enough power to get a good climb going without taxing the engine too much. Once we got above minimum bailout altitude, the card was relatively low risk: Set power for engine break-in and orbit the field watching the hot-rod engine run. Dick Rutan chased the take-off roll in his modified Berkut; but at those power settings, he couldn't keep up, and soon I was alone at altitude, king of the airport.

Photo: Andy Chiavetta

Twenty minutes into the flight, at 10,000 feet, four miles south at 300 knots, the engine sputtered and fell flat on its face. Forty inches of manifold pressure became atmospheric, and I found myself out of the glidecone and headed away from the airport fast. The shoulder straps indicated deceleration as I pulled the throttle out. I pointed the nose uphill and dragged the nose around to point back at the airport. I called Andy and told him that we had experienced a significant loss in power.

Pushing the nose over the top of the recovery at best glide speed (125 KIAS), Andy called and asked for temps and pressures. Temps and pressures were good, but without power it was going to be tough to make it back to the airport. I was about to screw the pooch and put the airplane on a dirt road, ending the program or worse. I reached up and slowly fed the power back in. Full throttle gave me 150 hp, enough for a gentle climb back towards airport.

Photo: Jenn Whaley

With a second to think, I decided I had likely failed some part of the turbo system. If it was the cold side of the turbo, the biggest issue would be the lack of power. If it was the hot side, the exhaust leak in the cowling would likely start the airplane on fire soon. I had two choices: assume the engine was on fire and bail out, or assume it was the cold side and start working toward a landing. In the meantime, the engine was making enough power to make some time, and I nursed the airplane back toward the airport, toward Dick, Andy, and therefore external eyes on the airplane.

I arrived over the airport at twelve thousand feet, listening to the airplane. If I wasn't going to bail out, I needed to shut the unhealthy engine down and start descending, after which I would quickly be too low to bail out and a fire would be worse. Dick called that he was waiting for me at low key, and Andy couldn't see me yet. It was time to make a decision. I really liked this airplane and didn't want to jump out of it, but I didn't have a whole lot else to go on. So I decided to take the risk and try for a landing.

Pulling the throttle back to idle, I extended the gear at altitude to confirm the change in configuration didn't make the airplane unflyable with whatever damage might have been done to the lower cowl. Handling checked good, and as I flew over the airport, Andy caught a glimpse of the airplane. He called that he saw the plane and it was smoking.

There are a lot of different kinds of smoke. This was the light wispy smoke that happens when oil hits the breather and streaks the belly on its way out of the airplane. I was, of course, immediately presented with the mental image of the other extreme, big black billowing smoke with licks of yellow and orange flame. Is that what Andy meant? Luckily I spent too long thinking about it and quickly was below minimum bailout altitude, and I needed to get set up to land. Dick met me as I reached low key for 26. He confirmed I was still smoking as I turned final and started the pre-flare. I landed and rolled down to Andy at the end of the runway.

Debriefing

Fifteen minutes later both airplanes were in the hangars, Andy and I were tearing into the airplane for a peek at the engine, and Dick showed up. Dick walked into the hangar and I immediately started talking about the airplane, about what we had found since we started tearing into the airplane, to which he showed no interest. I saw a side of Dick I had never seen before, and it stood out because I was still amped from the mayday.

Dick walked slowly, but firmly, and pulled me away into a corner of the hangar. He wasn't talking much, but I could tell he wasn't in the same place I was. He calmly asked me to tell him about the emergency. We talked through the whole flight, every decision I made on the way up and on the way back down. We didn't talk about the airplane; we talked about the flying, about risk, and decisions. We talked eye to eye as test pilots.

As a part of flight training, we all spend a lot of time being instructed, so the posture was very comfortable, but the topic was different. Dick Rutan was instructing me on being a test pilot, not based on some hypothetical, but based on the events that had just happened. We walked through each decision, what was known at that time, and what was not known. He brought real criticism based on his broad experience as a test pilot, criticism that was tough to hear.

Dick asked why I had let myself get out of the glidecone in the first place? Why had I swung the gear so early? Why did I not secure the engine as soon as I was back in the glidecone? I gave my reasoning, and he responded with cold facts and figures of what could have happened, and where I had been very lucky. It was the other side of the dream occupation, and the other side of the hero suit and magazine covers. It was pure flight-test gold in a cold and painful package.

As the program went on, I had that exact emergency two more times, and I never made those mistakes again. I made different ones, but not those.

Reno

The high point of the program was during Reno when Lynn asked me twice to test the airplane during evening sessions over Stead. In that moment, as I put the airplane on that magnificent high-altitude left-hand orbit over the race course, running race gas and ADI, I was in a small way similar to what I had seen Lockwood, Darryl, Penny, Skip, and so many other hired guns do. It was what I had dreamed about as a boy, lying on the living room floor listening to those recordings.

I was living the yarn. But even now, when I think about that triumphant moment over Nevada, I get that feeling in my gut, the feeling I got when Dick laid down the law. I think about the cold lessons I learned on that program, lessons I learned eye to eye with other test pilots, heroes turned into colleagues. This is good work that we do—cold and unforgiving, but good.

Elliot Seguin is a homebuilder, engineer, and test pilot based at the Mojave Civilian Flight Test Center in California. He is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and each year he competes in Wasabi, the IF1 racer he designed, at the Reno National Championship Air Races. He is also a Test Pilot for Aerochia Performance Aircraft and is a project engineer and flight test engineer at Scaled Composites, founded by Burt Rutan.

This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Kitplanes magazine.

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AVweb Insider

Every few years, airplane owners in Florida are confronted with the unsolvable conundrum: A hurricane bears down on the state and they have to decide whether to move their airplanes out of harm’s way or just button up the hangar and ride it out.

Thirteen years ago, when Hurricane Charley threatened, here’s what I thought about moving an airplane to dodge a hurricane. My world view of what a powerful hurricane can do was formed by Hurricane Andrew, which roared into South Florida in 1992. I didn’t experience the storm firsthand, but was there shortly after it passed. A vivid memory at Homestead Airport: The chain link fence was peppered with thousands of what looked like paper scraps. But they weren’t paper, but bits of shredded aluminum from airplanes. Some still had shards of N-numbers and sundered fittings. It left an impression.

So when my turn came with Hurricane Charley in 2004, I moved our then-Mooney 231 to Georgia, smack into the path of another tropical storm. The airplane was hangared, so no damage was done, but the decision illustrates the danger of moving airplanes out of Florida to avoid a storm. It’s a little easier in Texas or the coastal Carolinas because the directional choices are better defined. I moved the airplane twice more that season, once to New Jersey and once to Pennsylvania, combining the move with business trips.

So what would I do today? The Cub makes the choice a no-brainer. It’s too slow and too lacking in capability to move anywhere and, not to be too harsh, it just doesn’t have the hull value to justify the effort. If I owned a $150,000 airframe, I might feel differently, but I’m not so sure. If you’ve never done it, preparing for a big storm is among the most stressful things of routine life. First, you have to think about physical survival, then property protection—housing, mainly—then everything else.

For me, the airplane is everything else. It’s far down the list of things I’m worrying about as it I get storm shutters up, check food and water supplies and get the generator ready to rock. If there’s any time left after all that’s squared away, I’d think about the airplane if it could do 140 knots and there was room for the dog.

If you’re pre-thinking this decision, I think what it distills to is this: The insurance company will pay for your loss, but most of us have more tied up in an airplane than just money. There’s some emotional investment, too, especially if you did a custom upgrade or refurb work. If the airframe is destroyed, you’ll face the prospect of replacing it and repeating all the work you did on it in the first place. That may not be particularly appealing. It wasn’t to me, which is why I was willing to relocate the airplane and drive back to Florida (once) to weather the storm. The investment in time and money was worth it to avoid the work and nuisance of replacing the airplane if it were lost in the storm.

A decade hence, I have learned another lesson: A decision like this is intensely personal. I can no more advise you of what to do than I could suggest what you have for breakfast tomorrow. The decision to evacuate Florida in the face of these strong storms is similarly personal and driven by complex variables that are different for everyone. Just in the past 24 hours, I’ve had people tell me to get out; it’s a no brainer. While others have said they would stay. I appreciate the counsel, but everyone has to make the decision for themselves and live with the consequences.

Composite props may be the latest shiny object to make airplanes go, but most of them have wood cores, and the basic wooden prop is enjoying somewhat of a resurgence.  AVweb's Paul Bertorelli took a tour of Sensenich's prop factory in Plant City, Florida to see how these products are made.

Electronics International 'Aviation Alert! Short video on how EI saved this pilot's life
Picture of the Week
Picture of the Week

Not a single sunset but there is a rainbow in this batch. The AVweb hat goes to Bob Shaw who caught this BAE 146 converted to an air tanker that we're sure the manufacturer never envisioned in this attitude and role when it designed the regional airliner. Nice shot, Bob.

Aircraft Spruce - 'Trans-Cal Altitude Encoder

Heard anything funny, unusual, or downright shocking on the radio lately? If you've been flying any length of time, you're sure to have eavesdropped on a few memorable exchanges. The ones that gave you a chuckle may do the same for your fellow AVweb readers. Share your radio funny with us, and, if we use it in a future "Short Final," we'll send you a sharp-looking AVweb hat to sport around your local airport. No joke.

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