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Volume 25, Number 3b
January 17, 2018
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ELT Manufacturer Offers Ameri-King Solution
Mary Grady

In 2016, the FAA terminated its certification of certain ELTs manufactured by Ameri-King, and this week, Orolia announced it has developed a new version of its Integra model that has been specially adapted and packaged to make it easy to replace the affected ELTs. The new Kannad Ameri-Fit pack is available through Aircraft Spruce, Mid-Continent and other avionics suppliers. “We’ve produced more than 65,000 ELTs through the years,” said Christian Belleux, aviation product line director at Orolia, in a news release this week. “The Integra, with its 10-year warranty, is one of our most popular models, and now we’ve made it even easier to install as a replacement for the affected Ameri-King models.” 

The FAA terminated its certification of the Ameri-King units after it determined that the manufacturer, based in California, had manufactured, sold or distributed parts for installation on FAA type-certificated aircraft that did not conform to an approved design, but were otherwise represented as FAA-approved. In September, the FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive  stipulating that the affected units must be inspected once a year until they are replaced by an FAA-approved unit. The FAA estimated about 14,500 aircraft are affected by the AD.

JP International 'Trust Your JPI
Is Stupidity An Art, A Skill Or A Talent?
Paul Bertorelli

“Why do you get so mad?” It was my wife, Val, asking the question in that incandescently irritating tone that only long-term spouses can summon because they absolutely already know the answer. We had been stuck in stop-and-go traffic on I-75 for seven hours (really 15 minutes) north of Tampa. The cause of it, when we finally got there, was an SUV rollover in the median which, in Florida, counts for just another version of parallel parking. Three lanes of interstate, two response vehicles in the median, not even on the shoulder; no lane blockage.

Yet everyone was slowing to a near stop to take in the spectacle. “What the &^% is wrong with you people?! Just drive!” Of course, I slowed to get a closer look, too. This is because the urge to view train wrecks was baked into our DNA long before trains were even invented. I’m sure the first homo sapien to bash another with a rock had an audience. And this is why, half a million years later, we write articles about airplane wrecks. Oh, make no mistake, as editors, we’ll use high-minded phrases like “lessons learned” and “raising safety awareness,” but really, accident articles are just SUV rollovers by another name. There has always been and always will be an inexhaustible supply of these essentially because, as Albert Einstein was purported to have said, “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

Having been both a student of and a participant in stupidity in airplanes, I’ve come to believe it actually requires a certain kind of numb-minded effort to achieve truly stupendous and inspirational acts of sheer idiocy. And here, let’s delineate simple mistakes from what I’ll call stupidity in depth. Everyone, I think, is capable of both, but all of us make simple mistakes on every flight. Let’s say you lose control on a crosswind landing and clip a runway edge light. That’s not stupidity, but a momentary lapse in judgment or skill, unless you fished around in the TAFs looking for a 35-knot crosswind. That would be stupidity in depth, because it requires planning, forethought, cognitive processing and a willful decision to ignore that little voice we all have. Well, most of us.

Another thing we all have in our logbooks, I’m sure, is an example of when we’ve done just that: piled up a bunch of obviously bad decisions into a towering, streaming heap of why-the-hell-did-I-ever do that? I have several and I invite you to share yours. But one stands out. It had everything: denial, ignorance, arrogance, even a barely controllable urge to pee.

This occurred right around the time Garmin introduced the GNS 530. I’d flown our Mooney 201 to Olathe to report on the new box and was homeward bound back to Connecticut against a tight magazine deadline. It was late winter or early spring and part of the forecast was perfect for eastbound flight: about 60 knots of tailwind, I recall. I could non-stop the 1000 miles in a little under five hours with 1:45 in reserve. It doesn’t get any better unless you own a jet.

The rest of the weather was, well, not that great. The entire route was covered in cloud, but the highest tops were only 5000 feet and the lowest bases in the 500-foot range. I’d be in sunshine for the entire cruise portion of the flight. Icing, as always, was in the forecast and there were numerous PIREPs indicating it was there, too. But all of them were trace to light, the little whiskers of frost you expect in cold-weather flying. Like the good scout I am not, I checked METARs, TAFs and PIREPs hourly enroute and conditions sounded stable. I tuned out those inconvenient reports of moderate icing and I’m going to guess I completely missed several tops reports that clearly showed the tops were rising the further east I flew. I know this because after I landed, I examined the PIREPs carefully … a little late, but then isn’t that a requirement for stupidity in depth?

I’d planned to fly at 9000 feet, but over central Pennsylvania, I was already skimming the tops at 11,000 feet and picking up splotches of rime with just a few seconds exposure. At the time, I had a lot of instrument experience in the northeast and had seen plenty of icing in both protected and unprotected airplanes. As long as the layers were thin and I knew I could climb out of it or the bases were high with above-freezing temps on the surface, I didn’t get too rattled.

I asked for and got 13,000 feet and checked the AWOS at my destination, which was Oxford, Connecticut. I don’t recall exactly what it was, but it was something like 300 and a mile, just about at the ILS mins. For the briefest moment, wisdom intruded in the deafening cacophony of bad decisions when I elected to fly past Oxford and land at Bridgeport, 20 miles south. Oxford is on a hill, Bridgeport is on the coast so it often has better weather. And it did. About 1000 and five and 40 degrees on the surface. Piece of cake.

But cake with thick icing, as it turned out. Bless New York Approach which acceded to my request for a pilot’s discretion descent starting around Poughkeepsie, New York, 40 miles out. I was planning on a more or less hair-on-fire dive to the initial approach fix at Bridgeport. To this day, I don’t believe I have ever encountered severe icing, but I’m sure I was in the robust middle of moderate that day. Within a minute or two, the windshield was thickly opaque and the wing leading edges had lost their shape under a thick layer of mixed rime. If you’ve ever encountered this kind of icing, you can actually hear it accrete. It makes a sort of hissing sound.

I encountered the freezing level around 4000 feet and the ice stopped building, but by then the airplane was a cotton ball and the wing leading edges were just getting that ram’s head shape that you just never want to see. Ever. It took nearly full power to maintain 100 knots in level flight. Just as I broke out on the ILS, the windshield ice sloughed off in one loud gush and banged against the tail. Much of the wing ice went, too, but I landed with some of it. The runway was water covered and, I’ll never forget this, there were chunks of congealed snow sailing around on the puddles in a stiff crosswind, like little icebergs. And here comes the Titanic with Captain Smith at the helm.  

But I landed OK and made the third turnoff. Didn’t have to retract the flaps since I hadn’t dared use them. When I came to a splashy stop, the tower controller, in a moment of sheer understatement, laconically asked about braking action and any icing on the approach? “Umm … moderate,” I replied. (Perhaps that was post-stupidity stupidity. I think all pilots tend to under-report icing for various reasons, one of which is they don’t want to admit to themselves that they actually willfully flew into it.)

I don’t think another pilot can learn much from my narrative here any more than a passing motorist can learn much about driving from seeing an upended SUV. I place it here merely for edification and entertainment. The experience didn’t scare me away from winter flying, even with ice afoot. But it did remind me to be aware of seeing things in forecasts and reports that aren’t there and of not seeing things that are. Ultimately, that’s what defines stupidity in depth and anyone who claims to be immune to it is practicing something else: self-delusion.

Icom A25N Portable Transceiver
Larry Anglisano

Icom introduced the new A25N portable transceiver to replace its flagship A22. It has a variety of modern features, including Bluetooth connectivity for interfacing with a tablet app, a GPS receiver and more transmit power. In this video, Aviation Consumer Editor Larry Anglisano offers a look at the radio on the Aviation Consumer test bench before heading to the airport to go flying.

NTSB Cites ‘Adverse Feedback Loops’ In Bell Crash
Mary Grady

The NTSB issued its final report on Tuesday following its investigation of the Bell 525 crash in July 2016 that killed two pilots during a test flight in Texas. The board cited a “severe vibration” of the helicopter, “which was not predicted during development,” as the probable cause of the crash. The vibration led to the crew’s inability to maintain sufficient rotor rotation speed, leading to excessive flapping of the main rotor blade. The rotor blade contacted the tail boom, leading to the inflight breakup. The board said its investigation was hampered by the lack of cockpit audio or images, which made it impossible to determine exactly what actions the crew might have taken to try to cope with the vibration. The NTSB also issued a safety recommendation urging the Flight Test Safety Committee to issue guidance for the use of recordings during flight tests, and asking Bell Helicopter Textron to share its “lessons learned” with other manufacturers.

Other factors contributing to the accident, according to the NTSB report, were the collective biomechanical feedback and the attitude and heading reference system response, “both of which occurred due to the lack of protections in the flight-control laws against the sustainment and growth of adverse feedback loops when the 6-hertz airframe vibration initiated.” Contributing to the crew's inability to maintain control in the severe vibration environment were the lack of an automated safeguard in the software used during flight testing, and the lack of distinct and unambiguous cues for low rotor rotation speed. The 525 test program was grounded for about a year after the crash, but test flights resumed last July. Bell has said it expects certification sometime this year. The 525 is equipped with fly-by-wire controls and Garmin G5000H fully integrated touchscreen avionics.

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Virgin Galactic Back In The Air
Mary Grady

Virgin Galactic is ramping up its test-flight program in Mojave, with a goal to bring tourists to space later this year. Late last week, VSS Unity, the passenger-carrying part of Virgin’s space vehicle, completed its seventh glide flight, after a break of several months. During that downtime, Virgin’s engineers worked on testing and analysis, and made some small modifications to the vehicle, to ensure its “readiness for the higher loads and forces of powered test flight,” according to the company blog. A crew of two test pilots checked stability, control and transonic performance during the test flight, which topped out at Mach 0.9.

“At this stage of the glide flight programme, each flight is essentially a dry run for rocket-powered test flights,” according to the blog. “Where possible, the team replicates those powered flight conditions by, for example, adding water ballast to simulate the weight and positioning of the rocket motor. As during previous flights, the water ballast was jettisoned at around 22,000 feet, allowing the pilots to complete the flight and land in a lighter configuration, again simulating the conditions which will apply during space flight.” Virgin founder Richard Branson said recently that he expects Virgin Galactic to launch its first paying passengers into space by the end of this year. The tourism operations will be based at New Mexico’s spaceport.

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Discovery XL-2 Gets An Upgrade
Mary Grady

Discovery Aviation has started production of a new version of the XL-2, a two-seat trainer first FAA-certified in 2004, the company announced last week. The IFR-certified XL-2 features a Garmin G500 dual-screen flight display, as well as DME, ADF and an option to add an autopilot. The XL-2 runs an IOF-240 engine from Teledyne Continental, with FADEC, burning 4.5 gallons per hour. The fuselage is formed from carbon fiber, with a welded steel chassis. Discovery, based in Melbourne, Florida, acquired the rights to the XL-2 from Liberty Aerospace in 2014. To date, 135 of the airplanes have been built, according to the company.

The XL-2 flies at 125 knots for up to 500 miles, the company says. The cabin is four feet wide, and panoramic windows provide 270 degrees of visibility. The company says it has an order for three aircraft from a current XL-2 operator in Seoul, South Korea. The business plan calls for production to ramp up this year, with full production capacity by the end of the year.

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Bob Hoover Academy Adds Full-Motion Simulator
Mary Grady

The Bob Hoover Academy, an aviation-themed nonprofit youth outreach program based in Austin, Texas, has partnered with Redbird Flight Simulations to add a full-motion flight simulator to the curriculum. “As with any program, time in our aircraft and with our instructor is limited,” said BHA chairman and founder Sean Tucker. “Simulation helps our students make the most of that time.” The program is designed to engage local at-risk teens in science, technology, engineering and math, and offers a full ground and flight school, with a single instructor and one airplane.

The program uses aviation as a means to engage students and provide a positive outlet for their energy, with the goal of helping them to succeed in school and in life, whatever field they choose to pursue. Each student must first excel in ground school before moving on to flight training. “Ultimately, they develop the skills and confidence to launch themselves out of their current orbit towards a course as a dynamic and contributing member of society,” according to the program’s website. Redbird President Charlie Gregoire said his company is proud to support the academy’s mission. “Sean and his team have created an incredible program worth replicating throughout the country,” he said. “We believe that our partnership will make growing that mission a reality.”

Picture of the Week
Robert L. Burns wins this week by combining two of our favorite elements, air to air photography and great historic aircraft. That's a Beech AT-11 Kansan on its way to the annual Beech Party in Winchester, Tennessee.

See all submissions

Brainteasers Quiz #239: Have A Little Fun, Already

The FAA can be so serious when discussing regulations and safety of flight -- which are important -- but many of us began flying simply because it was fun. To keep it safely enjoyable, simply ace this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

Short Final

It was one of those days where the winds were very gusty, and the pattern was just a mess at ILG (Wilmington, DE). It's a training site for controllers and downwinds were being extended by miles, clearances were changing, and everything was just a bit messy. Combined with the gusts, it wasn't a fun day. 

My goal was landing practice since I was new to the plane. After three unimpressive efforts I threw in the towel.I cleared the runway and the following exchange took place. 

Tower: Skyhawk 65R, are you going to do another? 

Skyhawk 65R: No, I don't think so. Today's not my day. 

Tower: (Very loud audible laughter in background) Yeah, that's true for a lot of us today. Taxi via H, remain this frequency.


Joshua Zide

Dynon Skyview HDX Glass: An Update
Rick Durden

Dynon effectively stirred the avionics-for-certified-airplanes pot at EAA AirVenture 2017 when it announced that its experimental-only Skyview HDX glass suite would be available for certified aircraft—with the first STCs expected by the end of the year. As an integral part of the program, it was launching an entire product line called Dynon Certified. The first airplanes to go through the STC process were to be a Cessna 172 and a Beech Baron. One of the goals of the program was to be able to price the Skyview HDX for certified aircraft as nearly as possibly the same as for experimental aircraft. If Dynon could pull it off, the savings to owners of CAR 3 and FAR 23 aircraft for a glass panel retrofit could be measured in the tens of thousands of dollars. 

As we left 2017 astern, we hadn’t received word that Dynon had received the first STCs. Having followed the certification of just about everything in aviation that can go through the process, we’ve found that few time predictions prove accurate. Even with the new, somewhat streamlined Part 23 rules, the process is staggeringly complex and even a key individual being sidelined with the flu for a week can create bottlenecks that take more weeks to straighten out. We also cringe just slightly when we hear that certification is hoped for by year-end as we’ve personally observed that when the holiday season rolls around, everything in the aviation development and certification world tends to come to an abrupt halt.

"Weeks Away"

We called Dynon last week to see if we could find out where things stood. Michael Schofield, Dynon’s marketing manager, told us that, as we suspected, there had been some delays, however, they “. . . were closing in on certification of the installation of the 172. It should happen early this year, it’s weeks away.” He went on to say that certification will be the start of an AML (Approved Model List) STC—the basic certification data for the Supplemental Type Certificate is approved for the first airplane and then used as the basis for the STC to be applied to additional aircraft. Dynon will not have to reinvent the glass panel for each type of airplane, just adapt it for the specific differences of each type. It’s nothing new for Dynon; when it and the EAA obtained the Accessible Safety AML STC for the Dynon D10A EFIS, it was eventually expanded to encompass most of the Cessna 100 and 200 series, the Piper PA-32 line and Beech and Mooney singles.

For legacy aircraft with round gauges, the Dynon HDX will replace the flight instruments and allow the owner to 86 the vacuum pump. The HDX suite includes a 10.32-inch (total width) display designed to incorporate a full primary flight display and can be split to show a PFD on one side and a multi-function moving map on the other. It’s mostly self-contained in a package that’s 3.1 inches deep, so fitting it into all but the tightest panels should be doable without outrageous modifications to the panel. A D10A EFIS will be the backup attitude indicator.

HDX screen resolution is 1280 by 800 pixels, according to Dynon’s spec sheet. The display has a 37-pin and 9-pin connector for main wiring harnesses and interfaces and also features USB connectors. It also has onboard wireless capability. Functions are controlled via touchscreen or knobs—which we appreciate having been willing to cheerfully throttle designers of touchscreen-only systems when flying in turbulence.

The HDX control set has two knobs at the lower corners of the bottom bezel with eight keys for various functions that change with context. These are labeled along the bottom edge of the display. While the HDX can be paired as two displays, it can also provide full function in just one.

The PFD can also be configured to show virtual steam gauges rather than what has become the traditional HSI and tape view. The display is loaded with information, including true airspeed, density altitude, outside air temperature, wind and an angle-of-attack indicator.

The engine instruments, which will vary by aircraft, are placed along the bottom edge of the display and in addition to the required power instruments and temperatures, fuel quantity is also displayed. There’s also voltage and amp info and visual flap and trim-state indicators. A unique addition is a percentage-power indicator and a leaning function.

Complete Package

What may be the Skyview’s strongest selling point is that it’s a complete package that includes the display itself, plus Dynon’s autopilot servos controlled through the virtual panel or dedicated hardware. ADS-B In and Out are also included.

The autopilot is controlled through a virtual panel or a dedicated hard panel and offers altitude hold, vertical speed and altitude pre-select. A separate virtual subpanel controls the Mode-S transponder Dynon supplies for ADS-B Out.

The system will be approved for IFR when paired with approved IFR navigators from Avidyne and Garmin as the onboard GPS is not approved for IFR.

At Oshkosh, Schofield said that the HDX Skyview for certified aircraft was expected to be priced at $16,000 for the hardware. In our telephone conversation, Schofield told us that the $16,000 number has not changed—Dynon wants to price its boxes for certified and experimental aircraft the same. There will be one difference: Because Dynon had to expend a great deal of money obtaining certification, it will have to charge for the STC for a certified aircraft. For the Cessna 172, Schofield told us that he expects the price of the STC to the buyer to be $2000. That number may be different for follow-on airplanes, depending on the cost to obtain the STC and the expected demand for units for that type of airplane. According to Schofield, Dynon has been nearly overwhelmed with owners contacting it to say they want their type airplane to be the next STC: “Thousands of people are saying ‘I want this,’ and hundreds are telling us that they are ready to buy now.”


Initially, Dynon plans to approve individual shops to do installations, for quality control and to keep costs down. Schofield said that they want to keep the total cost for the HDX suite, STC and installation in the low- to mid-$20,000 range.

Schofield said that the STC for the Baron will be completed after STCs for some other airplanes. He told us that decisions as to which airplanes will come first have not been finalized but talked about the Cessna 182, Piper Cherokee series, Mooneys and the Bonanza line (“those guys are really organized”). Reading between the lines, while Dynon wanted to show that the HDX suite will be viable throughout the general aviation piston world with simultaneous certification in the 172 and Baron, it makes economic sense to first go where the highest demand is expected to be—piston singles used by flight schools and owners who use their airplanes to travel.

We think a $16,000 glass panel suite that includes an autopilot and engine monitoring for a certified airplane is a big deal. Dynon has made it work and become a force in the experimental world for some time. It’s a big step to the certified aircraft world. We’d like to see Dynon pull off bringing high-quality glass at a competitive price to a world that hasn’t had much competition. We’re hoping to hear an announcement of STC receipt from Dynon before the end of March.

Rick Durden holds a CFII and ATP with type ratings in the Douglas DC-3 and Cessna Citation and is the author of The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual or, How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It, Vols. 1 & 2.

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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