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Volume 24, Number 52c
December 29, 2017
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GE Tests 3-D Printed Turboprop
Russ Niles

GE Aviation announced Thursday it had successfully test run its partially 3-D printed Advanced Turboprop engine, which is set to power the Textron Denali single turboprop. Details of the test were scant in the GE press release but “early indications show that we will meet or exceed all the performance numbers we have quoted for the engine,” said GE spokesman Brad Mottier. “We’re developing a real catalyst for the BGA market and we’re executing on plan. The integration of proven technologies has expedited the design, development and certification cycle of the engine.” The engine is a direct challenge to Pratt & Whitney Canada’s domination of the small-to-medium turboprop engine market and is scalable from 1,000 to 1,600 horsepower.

The engine was developed in concert with the Denali and by the time the new airframe, a direct challenge to the Pilatus PC-12, is ready the engine will have 2,000 test hours. Certification for the engine is planned for 2018 and the Denali is expected to fly by the end of the year. The engine was run at GE’s facility in Prague, Czech Republic. The engine is an outgrowth of GE’s purchase of the former Walter Aircraft Engines two years ago. GE has re-engineered the rugged and dependable design and introduced a lot of advanced manufacturing, including 3-D production of some main components that cut the parts count by more than 800. AVweb Editor-At-Large Paul Bertorelli had a look at the 3-D production of the engine in the following video.

Friday Foibles: Down Low And Stupid
Paul Berge

They live and fly by different codes in the 49th state, and what might seem stupid in the lower 48 doesn’t move the needle in a place over twice the size of Texas. Consider the De Havilland Beaver that nosed over in the Noatak River. The NTSB heard about the event—word spreads fast in Alaskan bars—and called the pilot, who reported that the nose-over occurred during taxi—not flight—so no need to get all federal about it. 

The pilot claimed he’d landed safely on a gravel bar, parked for the night and returned in the morning, finding the mains and tail submerged by rising waters. He fired up the engine to taxi—not fly—it out. By his account, “the tires were lurching, and the tail was underwater.” The plot increased power to raise the tail from the water while applying “heavy braking action to control the airplane as he taxied downstream and downwind.” That’s when the airplane nosed over—while taxiing, not flying, so no accident. Or so the pilot claimed.

The National Park Service ranger who responded to the crash took photos that supported, instead, the NTSB’s conclusion that the pilot had actually attempted to land on the gravel bar but undershot the touchdown and nosed over in the water. Further deflating the pilot’s story was the ranger’s statement that “the pilot asked him not to notify the NTSB or the FAA about the accident.” Tip: If you opt for the Don’t-Call-The-Feds dodge, make sure you’re not actually talking to one. 

While vacationing in Alaska if you want to see bears from the sky, remember to fly the airplane while looking. A Citabria pilot was at 400 feet when he spotted two bears in a swamp and found that so intriguing—since bears are apparently rare in Alaska—that he circled for a better view but promptly stalled and crashed. Although the pilot walked away uninjured, the bears remained unimpressed.

Ag pilots make their livings down low and routinely bump into fences, trees and wires. But a spray pilot in Nebraska shot himself down when he reversed course after the first pass on a field and dropped “a little too low” only to encounter his own wake turbulence, tossing him into the corn. 

Another Nebraska ag pilot wasn’t spraying but was heading home. At cruise above the trees, he adjusted the engine controls as usual, except the engine quit and into the corn he went. It seems the airplane recently had an engine conversion, with a new throttle quadrant putting the mixture where the propeller knob had been. You know the rest. Probable cause: Yeah, corn.

Many antique airplanes lack electrical systems so are routinely started by hand. It’s fun and safe, you know, like juggling chainsaws. Electric starters debuted on more modern engines, because Darwinian selection was causing too many pilots to be nicknamed Stubby. Despite these technological advances, batteries die, and strong-armed pilots can’t resist the chance to spin the prop by hand and save the flight, often with no experience in the subject.

Picture the Ercoupe pilot in Washington taking a passenger for her first ride only to discover that the battery was dead. “Oh no,” you’re thinking. “Not the old the-battery’s-dead-and-we-have-to spend-the night-in the-pilots-lounge routine!” Not at all.

The pilot elected to hand prop the engine. He had so much faith in the brake that he elected not to chock the wheels or tie down the tail. The engine started easily, but RPMs ran higher than expected, and the parking brake held less so. Off the Ercoupe rolled with the non-pilot passenger attempting the basics of steering as the pilot vainly attempted to re-enter the cockpit, leaving his passenger to taxi through a fence, over an embankment and, we assume, out of the pilot’s life forever.

Continental Motors || Angle Wave Cylinders for Lycoming
Jim Peitz's Aerobatic Bonanza
Russ Niles

After decades of beating himself up in extreme aerobatics in an Extra, Jim Peitz traded up to the leather and cross-country comfort of an aerobatic Bonanza. His airshow fans and his wife Cathy approve. We spoke with him at the 2017 Abbotsford International Air Show.

JP International 'Primary Upgrade EDM
SMO Reopens With Shorter Runway
Mary Grady

Santa Monica Airport has reopened after a 10-day closure, with its sole runway shortened to 3,500 feet, a loss of 1,500 feet. The change is the latest effort by the city to reduce traffic at the urban airport, an effort that has long been opposed by the aviation community. “This is a great day for the City of Santa Monica and our residents,” said Ted Winterer, the city’s mayor. “We stayed the course and kept our eye on delivering a shortened runway just in time to usher in the New Year with reduced noise and pollution from large jets.” NBAA says the shorter runway will make it harder for pilots to comply with the city’s noise ordinances.

Aircraft departing the shortened runway will start their takeoff roll about 735 feet closer to the noise monitors at either end, NBAA says. Also, aircraft flying standard departures will pass over the noise monitors at lower altitudes than before. These changes could result in measured noise levels that exceed the city’s 95-decibel limit, even for aircraft that previously flew within the limits. Violators are subject to penalties ranging from a fine of $2,000 to suspension or exclusion, NBAA says. "NBAA is continuing its fight against curtailing access to SMO by challenging in court the settlement agreement between the FAA and the city that allows the runway shortening,” said Alex Gertsen, NBAA’s director of airports. “Should we prevail, this runway reduction will be temporary.”

SureFly Passenger Drone To Launch
Mary Grady

Workhorse Group, whose concept for a “manned drone” attracted lots of attention last summer at EAA AirVenture, announced this week the SureFly aircraft will fly for the first time on Jan. 8, at the CES consumer technology show in Las Vegas. SureFly says its two-seat vehicle will be safer, easier to fly and more affordable than a conventional helicopter. It’s driven by eight contra-rotating propellers fixed to four propeller arms. It can carry a payload of 400 pounds up to 70 miles at about 75 MPH, the company said. Early models will be pilot-operated, but future models will be capable of autonomous flight. The company is working toward full certification of the vehicle by late 2019.

The design leverages the battery packs developed by Workhorse for its electric road vehicles, the company says. A gas combustion engine generates electricity, and a parallel battery pack provides a redundant backup power source, eliminating the need for long charging periods between flights, the company says. It’s controlled by a single joystick. Workhorse Group also said this week it is spinning off its aviation division, which includes the SureFly aircraft, into a separate publicly traded company named SureFly Inc. “SureFly has been one of the most exciting products we've ever developed,” said company CEO Steve Burns. “We believe the decision to spin off SureFly into a separate entity will better facilitate the long-term growth of both companies.”

EHang also recently flew a public demo if its one-seat drone, flown by a remote operator. Click here for the video.

Jet Damaged In Indiana Overrun
Mary Grady

A Cessna CJ2 jet was badly damaged when it ran off a runway at Michigan City Municipal Airport, in Indiana, about 6:45 Wednesday morning. The jet hit a 10-foot-high metal fence, crossed a four-lane highway and slid more than 100 yards across a snowy field before coming to rest, with one wing and its landing gear shorn off. The pilot and passenger exited the airplane on their own. They were treated at a local hospital for minor injuries and released, according to local news reports. About 300 gallons of fuel leaked from the aircraft, but there was no fire, the local WNDU News reported.

The jet had taken off from DuPage Airport, near Chicago, at 6:22 a.m., according to the Northwest Indiana Times, and arrived at Michigan City about 6:44. The pilot told local police they were coming in to land but touched down too far down the runway. The pilot tried to take off again but ran out of room. Officials said there was no ice on the runway, but it was covered with a light dusting of snow.

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B-29 ‘Doc’ Will Return To Oshkosh
Mary Grady

The restored B-29 ‘Doc,’ which made its debut at Oshkosh this summer, will be back at the show in 2018, Doc’s Friends have announced. The partial tour schedule, released last week, also includes stops in Pennsylvania, Kansas and Missouri. Meanwhile, volunteers are about 60 percent through the planned winter maintenance program that began in early October, and no major issues have been reported. This year, in its public debut on the airshow circuit, the airplane logged more than 45 hours, with stops at five shows in five states, covering 4,750 NM.

The preliminary schedule for next year includes World War II Weekend, in Reading, Penn., June 1-3; EAA AirVenture, Oshkosh, Wisc., July 23-29; McConnell Air Force Base Open House, Wichita, Kans., Sept. 15-16; Tri-Annual Airfest, Great Bend, Kans., Sept. 28-30; and Spirit of St. Louis, St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 13-14. Doc’s Friends also are making progress with plans to build a hangar and education center for Doc at Wichita’s Eisenhower National Airport. They broke ground on the $6.5 million, 32,000-square-foot facility in September, and major construction is expected to begin next month. The nonprofit group is raising money for the project through commemorative brick sales and other donations.

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Vulcanair Four-Seater Now FAA-Certified
Mary Grady

Vulcanair, based in Italy, brought their V1.0 four-seat trainer to EAA AirVenture this summer for its U.S. debut, and said it would be FAA certified by the end of the year — and this week, they made good on that forecast. The airplane, certified in the utility category, features an all-metal airframe, three doors and a 180-HP Lycoming IO-360 engine paired with a Hartzell constant-speed prop. The standard avionics package includes a Garmin G500, Mid-Continent's digital backup package, an angle of attack indicator and more. A full IFR cockpit is available as an option. It sells for about $260,000, while four-seat trainers from Cessna and Piper run in the $350,000 range. First deliveries are expected early next year.

Vulcanair CEO Remo DeFeo told AVweb at Oshkosh the company sees a market for the aircraft not only with flight schools, but also with private owners and flying clubs. The airplane cruises at about 135 knots, with a range of 550 NM. Vulcanair was founded in 1996, and purchased all the assets and type designs of Partenavia, including type certificates and tooling. The company now offers a line of seven GA aircraft, ranging from 4 to 11 seats. The V1.0 was previously certified in Europe.

Picture of the Week
Some of the busiest airspace in the world was the setting for a video shot by Karl Klingebiel and Gary Winterboer as Mujahid Abdulrahim flew the camera plane for them over LAX. Nice work everyone.

See all submissions

Short Final

Heard at ILG (Wilmington, DE) on a Sunday. ILG is a training site for ATC, and also has very, very patient controllers.

Tower: Cherokee XYZ, let me explain how we do things. When I give you a clearance, you need to read it back so I know you understood.

Cherokee XYZ: OK, I understand.

Tower: OK, but you haven't read back the clearance.

Cherokee XYZ: Oh, I'm sorry.

Tower: No need to apologize, but I need you to read back Cherokee XYZ cleared touch and go, Runway niner. 

Cherokee XYZ: Oh, I understand. I'm cleared.

Tower: I don't think you're understanding. When I clear you, I need you to read this back: "Cherokee XYZ is cleared touch and go, Runway niner."

Cherokee XYZ: OK, got it.

Tower: You haven't read it back, though!! Please read back.

Cherokee XYZ: Cherokee XYZ cleared to land, Runway niner.

Tower: If you want to do a full stop, I can clear that instead of a touch and go.

Cherokee XYZ: I'd prefer to do a touch and go, though.

Tower: OK, then you need to read back clearance for a touch and go. Let's try this one more time: Cherokee XYZ cleared touch and go, Runway niner.

Cherokee XYZ: Cherokee XYZ, Cleared touch and go, Runway niner.

Tower: Excellent! That was perfect.

I had to stop laughing before reporting in.


Joshua Zide


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:

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Russ Niles

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Larry Anglisano

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Healthy Pilot #4: Hampered By Hay Fever?
Tim Cole

A stuffy, runny nose, burning eyes and a nagging headache are bad enough on the ground. But when you’re flying in the system—and can’t just pull over at a rest stop—allergy problems become compounded. If you follow the IMSAFE mnemonic, you should be OK. But if allergies are a constant issue and you need to go places, putting up with allergies are just a part of life as a pilot.

First, what are talking about? "Hay fever" is defined as “seasonal allergic rhinitis” by the National Institutes of Health. It’s characterized by the well-known symptoms of runny nose, bleary eyes and headache, and common responses include allergen avoidance, antihistamines—even injections in severe cases.

The “seasonal” part of this seasonal allergy syndrome is important. If you suffer attacks during peak pollen season you’ve probably got classic hay fever and you’ll have to soldier on ‘til the season changes and allergens in the air begin to dissipate. If your condition is chronic, causes can range from sinusitis to bronchitis. Close collaboration with your physician to find a cause and a solution is paramount.

The real challenge for the seasonal allergy sufferer is what to take and what to avoid: Consulting our sister website University Health News, we learn that there is no such thing as a non-drowsy antihistamine, despite overly encouraging advertising claims.

Antihistamines block the effects of chemical histamines that produce symptoms, but most medications offer solutions that are almost worse than the hay fever: meds-induced drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness, blurred vision, even nausea. Commercial products like Zyrtec and Clarinex tout their non-drowsy attributes, but a 2014 study of International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice casts some doubt on any antihistamine’s ability to squelch allergy symptoms without causing drowsiness.

If you are a pilot and you suffer from seasonal allergies, University Health News offers these helpful take-aways:

  • Reduce exposure to allergens by showering off pollens and irritants every night.
  • Use a neti pot with saline solution twice a day to rinse allergens from your sinuses.
  • Equip your home with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters.
  • Take other steps to allergy-proof your home, such as using dust-mite-proof pillow and mattress covers, keeping windows closed, using air conditioning during high-pollen days, keeping pets out of the bedroom and vacuuming twice a week.
  • Take fish oil (1000 mg EPA/DHA per day), quercetin (500 mg twice a day), and n-acetyl-cysteine (400 mg twice a day) to boost your body’s ability to fight allergens.
  • Eat foods from the sulforaphane-rich Brassica family (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage) daily.
  • Try taking an extract of the herb butterbur (50 mg three times a day). Comparisons of butterbur to prescription drugs such as fexofenadine (Allegra) and cetirizine (Zyrtec) have reported similar efficacy.

If your head is pounding, your nose is running nonstop and you feel the shakiness that comes with fever, listen to that Aunt Jane in your head and stay on the ground. Just like you wouldn’t penetrate IMC when you’re VFR, you want to avoid pushing into a situation that will cause nothing but grief.

Here are some more helpful links:

Confronting Your Nasal Allergies

Your Diet and Allergies

How to Get Through Allergy Season

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