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Volume 24, Number 46c
November 17, 2017
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Mooney Delivers First Ovation Ultra
Mary Grady

Mooney has delivered the first M20U Ovation Ultra off its production line, the company announced on Thursday. In a ceremony in Kerrville, Texas, company officials turned over the keys to the new owner. The Ultra comes with a wider cabin, a newly designed leather interior, a pilot-side door, bigger windows and the Garmin G1000 NXi avionics suite. This is also the first Ultra equipped with TKS, manufactured by CAV Ice Protection, the company said. The new Ultra models, both the Ovation and the turbo-charged Acclaim, were FAA certified in March. The airplanes are also available via a MooneyShares program.

Mooney has manufactured and delivered more than 11,000 aircraft worldwide, and today there are more than 7,800 flying in the United States and about 1,000 overseas, the company says. Mooney employs just over 200 workers at its manufacturing center and research and development facility in Kerrville.

Good Students Know Their Weaknesses
Geoff Rapoport

I mostly make my living as a flight instructor, so I often fly with ten or more students in a week. Not all are “student pilots” in the FAA sense of the term, but they’re all flying with me to get instruction of some sort. They're seeking new certificates, instrument ratings, tailwheel transitions or they're rusty pilots, doing recurrent training, new aircraft checkouts, remediation, etc. Some of my students, I adore. I’d feel bad taking their money, but for the need to feed my family. Others not so much.

Why do I enjoy flying with some more than others? It’s great if they’re thoughtful, pay promptly, don’t smell bad and show up on time, but I’ve realized I will bend on all of these in exchange for one particular behavior.

I want to fly with students who tell me the ways in which they suck at flying. When you tell me, “I was too flat at touchdown” or “that was way outside of ACS limits for steep turns” or “my SA in the pattern was super low today,” it brings a tear to my eye. I can trust these pilots to keep learning on their own. When I sign these pilots off, they’re going to come back in six months for recurrent training in better shape than I left them. The other guys come back to me in six months flying worse because they’re forced to by the safety office after getting caught doing something stupid.

The “other guys” are always trying to sell me on how well they flew, which creates a handful of problems. First, my job is to help you improve at the things you’re not good at. If you don’t admit that these things exist, we’ve got a problem. (Some people think my job is to sign them off to rent airplanes without an instructor, which is an awkward collateral responsibility.) Second, I’m going to have to break the news to you that you’re not as good as you say you are, which isn’t fun for me. I don’t care to hear about the magnitude of the sucking. I don’t want a mopey, “I’m a terrible pilot. I’ll never amount to anything.” I need specific things you recognize as a problem with a credible prospect for improvement.

If you’re having a painful moment of introspection and wondering if you’re one of the “other guys,” keep your chin up. We’ve all tried to minimize our mistakes to an instructor whose approval we wanted or needed. Your next lesson is a new opportunity to be the kind of student your instructor adores. I'm a student sometimes too, and I still have fight the urge to minimize my mistakes every time I'm on the receiving end of a training flight.

In retrospect, this should have been obvious to me years ago. A great pilot isn’t one who doesn’t make mistakes. A great pilot recognizes and fixes his or her own mistakes before anyone else notices them. It’s obvious then that a great student pilot is one who calls out his or her mistakes and the fix before their instructor. 

Continental Motors || Angle Wave Cylinders for Lycoming
SureFly's Octocopter
Larry Anglisano

Ohio-based Workhorse Group, which builds hybrid electric trucks for UPS, FedEx and others, thinks it's time to rethink the design characteristics of the traditional helicopter. The first stab at it is the SureFly VTOL aircraft. It attracted huge attention at the Innovations Center at AirVenture Oshkosh this past summer. Aviation Consumer Editor Larry Anglisano took a close look and prepared this product video.

Aircraft Spruce || Yaesu Rebates
Airbus, Boeing Earn $100 Billion At Dubai
Mary Grady

The Dubai Airshow on Wednesday provided the setting for two enormous aircraft purchase orders, totaling billions of dollars for Airbus and Boeing. Airshow organizers called it “one of the most exciting days in recent aviation business history.” Airbus unveiled its largest single announcement ever, a $49.5 billion deal with Indigo Partners to purchase 430 aircraft in its A320neo family. Meanwhile, Boeing completed a $27 billion deal with carrier flydubai for 225 aircraft in its 737 MAX family, the largest-ever single-aisle jet order – by number of airplanes and total value – from a Middle East carrier. Overall, customers in the region announced orders and commitments for 296 Boeing airplanes at the show— including 50 options — with a total value of about $50 billion at list prices, Boeing said.

“This has been a very successful show for Boeing,” said Bernard Dunn, president of Boeing’s regional office. “We signed agreements with key airline partners including Emirates, flydubai, Azerbaijan Airlines, ALAFCO and Ethiopian Airlines. In addition, Egyptair became a new customer for the 787.” The 430 new Airbus aircraft will be allocated among Frontier Airlines (U.S.), JetSMART (Chile), Volaris (Mexico) and Wizz Air (Hungary), Airbus said. Also at the show, Boom CEO Blake Scholl said in a news conference on Monday his company is in discussions with about 20 airlines around the world that are interested in his company’s supersonic jet. Boom is working to bring to market a 55-seat supersonic airliner, with the first flight of a piloted scaled test aircraft expected next year. Five airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, have placed preorders for 76 airplanes, according to the company.

Electronics International 'Aviation Alert! Short video on how EI saved this pilot's life
A New Wind Tunnel For MIT
Mary Grady

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is going to build a new wind tunnel with all-new technology to replace its current 79-year-old facility, the university announced this week. It will be the largest and most advanced academic wind tunnel in the U.S., MIT said in a news release. The new $18 million tunnel will permit test speeds up to 200 MPH, an increase from the current 150 MPH; use half as much power as the current 2,000-HP fan motor; nearly double the volume of the test area to 1,600 cubic feet; improve the ability to test drones as well as aerodynamic components such as wings or fuselages; and will support new MIT classes in advanced aerodynamics and fluid mechanics. The new facility will retain the historic Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel name.

The new tunnel will be constructed on the site of the current one, which will be dismantled. The MIT Museum will preserve artifacts from the 1938 tunnel. Renovations also will be made to MIT Building 17, which houses the control facilities, and a direct connection will be made to workshops in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2020.

New Aviation Media: Nalls On YouTube, O’Brien On iTunes
Mary Grady

Pilots who just can’t get enough of aviation have two new media options to choose from this week. AARP Studios has launched a new video series on YouTube called “Badass Pilot,” an original unscripted series that features Art Nalls, age 65. Nalls, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, owns a British Sea Harrier fighter jet, the only one owned and flown by a private citizen. He flies it at airshows around the U.S. The five-episode series follows Nalls as he travels to England to purchase the Harrier, transports it home in more than 5,000 pieces, and then relies on his team of retired pilots and aircraft mechanics to help rebuild it. And with his own flying career coming close to an end, Nalls hunts for a highly skilled younger pilot who can one day replace him.

Podcast fans can find a new offering from Miles O’Brien on iTunes, titled “Miles To Go.” O’Brien, a private pilot, has long covered aviation and aerospace for CNN and PBS, and is now an independent producer with a variety of clients. In the first episode, he and guest Lars Perkins discuss the recent incident in San Francisco when an Airbus crew nearly landed on a taxiway by mistake — “the worst airline accident that nearly happened.” Future episodes will focus on science, technology and space, as well as aviation. AVweb’s Paul Bertorelli spoke with O’Brien last year about drones; click here for the podcast. AVweb’s Russ Niles visited with Nalls and his Harrier at EAA AirVenture back in 2010; click here for the video.

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Textron Continues Top Hawk University Program
Mary Grady

Textron Aviation announced this week it will continue its Top Hawk program for 2018, providing a new Cessna Skyhawk 172 to five university programs for use in their flight training and recruiting efforts. “As the Top Hawk program enters its fourth year, we’re proud to build on a program that has allowed us to support general aviation and contribute to the enhancement of student pilot training,” said Doug May, Textron’s vice president for piston aircraft. The new Skyhawks will go to Middle Tennessee State University, in Murfreesboro; University of Dubuque, in Iowa; Lewis University, in Romeoville, Illinois; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, in Prescott, Arizona; and California Aeronautical University, in Bakersfield.

Garmin and Bose also will contribute to the Top Hawk program again this year. Garmin will provide a G1000 NXi database subscription and a Garmin Pilot subscription, and Bose will provide two A20 aviation headsets for each Top Hawk aircraft. The Top Hawk program began in 2015, with four universities. Students that year logged more than 1,300 flight hours in the airplanes.

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Picture of the Week
Only a few entries we could use this week but they're nice. Ray Albright got this nice image of a Fleet Finch at Old Rhinebeck. Very nice from all perspectives, Ray

See all submissions

Brainteasers Quiz #237: Become Worthy of The Air

Determining who and what is worthy of the miracle of flight is determined by the Universe's highest authority ... yes, the FAA. And to prove your airworthiness, simply unmask these universal secrets and ace this quiz.

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Aviation Consumer Engine Shop Survey
Overhauling an engine is a big investment, with downtime, reliability and confidence hanging in the balance. The editors at Aviation Consumer magazine want to know about your engine overhaul experience and the experience you had dealing with the shop. We'd appreciate you taking a couple of minutes to answer these questions. Take the survey here:
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Meet the AVweb Team

AVweb is the world's premier independent aviation news resource, online since 1995. Our reporting, features, and newsletters are brought to you by:

Tom Bliss

Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Geoff Rapoport

Rick Durden
Kevin Lane-Cummings
Paul Berge
Larry Anglisano

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Karen Lund

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Preparing for Your First Flight
Dave Prizio

As construction of your project nears its end and you start thinking seriously about your first flight, there are some important things to consider. Paperwork comes first. You just can't do anything that involves a government approval without the proper paperwork. Next, the plane must be truly ready to fly. The question is, what does that really mean? Lastly, but certainly not least, you, the pilot, must be ready to fly your new plane safely. Since this is the least regulated aspect of first flight preparation, it sometimes also gets the least amount of consideration—but in many ways, it is the most important.

You Are Not Alone

The good thing about being an Experimental aircraft builder and pilot today is that there is a lot of help available to make the first-flight process easy and safe. The FAA has some pretty good advisory circulars available online or in print for your reference to explain their processes and suggest ways to do things safely.

As a builder you are likely already familiar with AC43.13-1B, Acceptable Methods, Techniques, and Practices, Aircraft Inspection, Repair & Alterations. This book is the gold standard for how to properly work on an airplane and should have been guiding you throughout the building process. If you have done things grossly out of line with this book, your designated airworthiness representative (DAR) will likely object. By the way, you can find a DAR by calling your local FAA MIDO or FSDO. Your local EAA chapter will also likely have a name or two for your consideration.

An advisory circular more closely aligned with first flight preparation is AC20-27G, Certification and Operation of Amateur-Built Aircraft. It covers such things as designing and building your aircraft, registering it, getting an airworthiness certificate, FAA inspection, flight testing, and operating your aircraft after flight testing. If you built a kit that was not on the FAA-approved list, there is a checklist in Appendix 8 that will help you determine whether or not your project meets the requirements for being majority amateur-built. To summarize, there is a wealth of information in this advisory circular that is very valuable to any Experimental amateur builder.

Another good, if rather long, advisory circular is AC90-89B, the Amateur-Built Aircraft and Ultralight Flight Test Handbook. As the introduction says, "This AC attempts to make you aware that test flying an aircraft is a critical undertaking, which you should approach with thorough planning, skill, and common sense." This is your guide to what to do during your Phase I flight test period. It also looks at fuel system testing and flight testing after a major modification. Fuel system testing in particular has become a real hot-button issue with both the EAA and the FAA. You should expect your DAR to insist on a fuel system test prior to issuing an airworthiness certificate.

A more recent addition to the list of must-read FAA advisory circulars is AC90-116 Additional Pilot Program for Phase I Flight Test. This circular tells you how to take advantage of a qualified, additional pilot during your first flight and flight testing. The EAA and a number of Experimental type clubs worked very hard with the FAA to get them to allow this. It can be a great safety enhancement to those pilot/builders who are a bit rusty or simply lack time in make and model. There are lots of qualifications that go with this program, and it is entirely optional, but it is an option worth exploring. If you are at all interested, be sure to talk to your EAA flight advisor about it.

In addition to these important publications available online or in print from the FAA, EAA technical counselors and flight advisors can provide in-person assistance, both during construction and the flight planning stages. Talk to your local EAA chapter or the EAA office in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for the name of a technical counselor or flight advisor in your area. Also, don't forget the support that may be available from the type club or online forum dedicated to your particular make and model of airplane. These groups are a very valuable resource that usually requires nothing more than joining and answering a few questions. Even though there can sometimes be some dubious advice coming from these forums, they can still be great sources of hard-earned knowledge from those who have gone before you.

The Paperwork

The first question your DAR is likely to ask you when you call to make an appointment is, "Do you have your permanent registration?" If your answer to this isn't yes, you need to get busy applying for your registration. Your application for registration, Form 8050-1 is not available online. You must get an original form from your local FSDO or by mail from the FAA Aircraft Registration Branch. This form should be submitted two to four months before you want to have the permanent registration in hand. Along with this you will probably want to select your N-number, which you can do online through the FAA web site. There is a $10 fee for reserving an N-number, and you will have to pay an additional $10 fee if you hold it without using it for more than one year. The registration fee is $5, plus another $10 if you request a special (reserved) N-number.

Before you apply for your registration you will need to get an Aircraft Bill of Sale, Form 8050-2, from your kit manufacturer or from whomever you purchased your kit. If you did not build from a kit this is not required. The seller will cross out the word "aircraft" and write in "kit." If you have a registration number, you can include that, but it is not required for a kit. Be sure to allow time for all of this.

The next form you will encounter is the Affidavit of Ownership for Amateur-Built and Other Non-Type-Certificated Aircraft, Form 8050-88. This is where you certify that you are the owner of the assembly of parts that is about to be issued an airworthiness certificate, and that you did the majority of the work putting them together. This form is available online, but it has to be notarized.

The final form for you to complete is the Application for U.S. Airworthiness Certificate, Form 8130-6, which is also available online. Be sure to talk to your DAR about how to properly complete this form. There are detailed instructions in FAA Order 8130.2H, Chapter 8, but a few minutes of talking will save a lot of time trying to figure all of that out on your own.

You will also need to present your weight and balance calculations to the DAR when the plane is inspected. You will, of course, need to determine the actual empty weight and center of gravity to do this, and not use a sample calculation from the manufacturer. Don't forget that if you wish to remain Light Sport compliant, you are limited to a gross weight of 1320 pounds unless float equipped. If you ever present paperwork to the FAA with a higher gross weight, you are forever barred from regaining Light Sport eligibility for that plane.


In addition to the required FAA paperwork, you should have some logbooks. The first is a builder's log. It details the building process and should include lots of photos, at least a few of which include you. In addition to building progress, this is a good place to note EAA technical counselor visits and your fuel system test. Your builder's log will be very important to prove to your DAR that you actually built your airplane. Similarly, the local FSDO will want to see this when they issue your repairman's certificate.

You will also need logbooks for your aircraft, engine, and propeller. The propeller often comes with a logbook as part of the owner's manual. You will need to buy the other logbooks from your favorite aviation vendor. Your DAR will want to make some entries in your aircraft logbook when he or she issues your airworthiness certificate. In addition, you want to log your initial condition inspection, first flight, and if appropriate, your pitot/static and transponder checks. Your engine logbook should have the date of your first engine start and your first flight. Your aircraft logbook will also be where you note the completion of your Phase I flight test and yearly condition inspections.

The Plane

The assembly instructions for your kit may include a final inspection checklist to be completed upon finishing your plane. If not, a condition inspection checklist is a reasonable substitute. If none is available for your airplane, 14 CFR 43, Appendix D gives you the framework for a condition inspection. You can also check the October and November 2014 issues of KITPLANESŪ for a pair of articles on condition inspections. However you get there, you need to certify as the builder that your airplane is in a condition for safe operation.

Some big items that you need to check carefully include these important ones: Make sure all flight and engine controls are properly rigged, have the prescribed travel, and work freely. Verify that all instruments, both engine and flight, work correctly and are properly programmed to give accurate readings, including upper and lower limits of operation. Be sure that the required passenger warning sticker and an EXPERIMENTAL decal are installed and readily visible to any passenger. Place your N-number on the aircraft in 3-inch tall numbers and letters in the proper place, unless your cruise speed exceeds 180 knots, in which case you will need 12-inch numbers and letters. For a more detailed description of how and where to place your N-number see AC45-2E. Have a metal data plate installed showing the name of the builder, the model designation, and serial number as it appears on your Form 8050-88.

In addition to your final construction inspection, have someone familiar with your type of airplane do their own inspection. Some people like to turn this into something of a party, inviting several people to find anything wrong with the plane they can. That is certainly not a requirement, but it is surely a good idea to have another set of eyes check your work. It is way too easy to miss something after years of working on a plane. In any case, don't get defensive. Everyone has missed something, even after they think their plane is perfect.

If you haven't already done so, do a fuel system test in accordance with AC90-89B and note it in your builder's log. Your DAR will most certainly ask for this. Then, when you are sure everything is 100% ready to go, start your engine, always being aware of all necessary safety precautions. Your DAR must see your engine run before issuing your airworthiness certificate, so it is a good idea to be sure there no problems in that regard. You should do a full-power run-up before your first flight if at all possible. Be careful not to overheat your new engine with too much ground running.

High-speed taxi testing should not be done until after your airworthiness certificate has been issued, because way too many high-speed taxi tests turn into unexpected flight. Even if they don't, high-speed taxi testing carries risks, among them running out of runway while still taxiing at a high speed. Low-speed taxi testing should be kept to a minimum to avoid engine break-in problems. If your plane is properly assembled and thoroughly checked, there should be no reason for a bunch of taxi testing at any speed.

The Pilot

The most important part in any airplane preparing for its first flight is the nut holding the stick—that would be you! Actually, you may have already decided to use an experienced test pilot. If so, good for you. Unless you are very familiar and current with the particular make and model of airplane to be tested, there is probably a better-qualified person than you to make the first flight. That said, most builders want to be the first person to fly the plane they built. If so, you need to prepare yourself for the task with as much attention to detail as you gave to your plane. Do you have the proper endorsements and currency? Have you had enough recent transition training? Have you met the minimum requirements for coverage set out by your insurance company? If you are not answering yes to all of these questions, you need to be thinking about employing a competent test pilot, or at the very least to be accompanied by a qualified pilot as outlined in AC90-116. The first flight is probably the riskiest flight you will ever make in your plane. The pilot-in-command, whoever that may be, needs to be up to the task. Be honest with yourself if that isn't you.

As you are nearing completion of your project, look for opportunities to log some hours in planes similar to yours. A fellow builder or someone in your EAA chapter may be willing to let you fly with them and get some experience. Don't miss the opportunity to log hours whenever you can. Most insurance companies want to see at least 10 hours in make and model before they will extend you coverage, especially for your first flight. Plan ahead to get those hours. You may also have an instructor near you with a LODA (letter of deviation authority) allowing them to charge you for flying their Experimental airplane while they instruct you. It is not easy to get a LODA, so there are not nearly as many instructors with them as there should be, but they are out there if you seek them out. Check with your kit manufacturer or your type club forum for more information on this option. In any case, your first flight is not the time to knock the cobwebs off your flying skills. Prepare yourself as you have your plane.

The First Flight

When your paperwork is complete, your plane is ready, and you are ready, it is time to get serious about planning your first flight. You will want to idealize the conditions. This means really getting to know the airport and its surroundings. Where are you going to go if something goes wrong? Next, wait for good VFR weather with little or no wind and a good ceiling and visibility. Minimize spectators. More people make more pressure to fly whether conditions are ideal or not. Make contingency plans for each stage of the flight. Pick your emergency landing spots. There is no time to sort this out in the air if something goes wrong.

Lastly, think about using a chase plane, or not. There are pros and cons. I've never used one despite having offers on all three first flights, but there are also good arguments to be made for one. It adds a new level of risk if your chase pilot is not very experienced in formation flying and you are not well-briefed on how to work with him or her.

Look to your operating limitations for where you can go during your first flight and during Phase I flight testing. You should never deviate from your operating limitations except in case of emergency. Ask an EAA flight advisor for help to plan your first flight. Make a good plan and then follow the plan. That is the best way to make sure your first flight isn't also your last flight. It happens. Don't let it happen to you. This should be one of the best days of your life. Be sure to take the necessary steps to ensure that it is.

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

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