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Volume 25, Number 5b
January 31, 2018
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“Undetectable” Defect Blamed For Engine Failure
Mary Grady

An internal defect caused an uncontained engine failure, leading to a fire, during the takeoff roll of a Boeing 767 in October 2016, the NTSB said in its probable-cause hearing on Tuesday. The subsurface defect led to cracking in a turbine disk. The cracks were undetectable using current inspection methods, the investigators found. “Even though there have been significant advances in the safety performance of passenger airplanes over the last few decades, this accident shows there are still improvements that can be made,” said NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt. “Current inspection methods – those that can fail to uncover a defect in a safety-critical component of an airliner – need a closer look.”

The American Airlines flight, bound for Miami, was on its takeoff roll at Chicago O’Hare International Airport when a turbine disk in the right engine failed, sending metal fragments through a fuel tank and wing structure. Leaking fuel fed a fire. The flight crew aborted the takeoff and stopped the airplane on the runway. All passengers and crew evacuated and survived. One passenger was seriously injured after encountering jet blast from the good engine, which was still running. The NTSB found several problems with the evacuation procedures, including a lack of communication between the flight crew and cabin crew. The airplane was damaged beyond repair.

The NTSB made one recommendation to American Airlines, one to Boeing, and seven new recommendations to the FAA. The NTSB also reiterated two recommendations to the FAA on emergency evacuations because that agency has yet to favorably act upon them. The complete accident report will be available in a few weeks. The findings, probable cause and safety recommendations, as well as Sumwalt’s prepared remarks and the PowerPoint presentations given on Tuesday, are all available online.

AVweb Builds An Airplane (Part)
Paul Bertorelli

At the 2018 Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Zenith Aircraft invited AVweb to build a rudder for its new kit, the CH 750 Super Duty. Two hours later, we were done. Here's Paul Bertorelli's video report on the project. After pulling rivets, we flew the airplane.

Continental Motors || Angle Wave Cylinders for Lycoming
The Power Of Stories
Mary Grady

The other day, when PBS announced they will air a Nova special about Solar Impulse on January 31, I typed “Solar Impulse” into AVweb’s search engine to see how we’ve covered it. I found 73 hits, dating back to 2003. We covered the project pretty thoroughly, from inception to completion, yet the goal of the project wasn’t really about aviation at all — the organizers aimed to promote clean energy technologies. Nonetheless, it involved an airplane, and a challenge — it personified the age-old story of obsession in pursuit of an elusive and unprecedented goal.

Stories like this might seem irrelevant to some pilots, compared to articles about new airplanes, or avionics, or regulations, nuts and bolts kinds of things that we all need to know. But I think adventure stories are essential to the whole experience of aviation. Take someone for their first flight in a small airplane, and they might decide to become a pilot, but lots of folks enjoy the ride and never come back. Movies, books and museums can communicate to people that aviation is part of something bigger, and they can be part of that story. Stories have the power to inspire people to pursue the challenging sport or vocation of aviation.

So besides the Nova special, I was glad to read about the plans in Colorado to open a new Exploration of Flight museum, at Centennial Airport. The project’s Blue Sky Gallery will provide interactive exhibits and activities about aviation. Visitors will get to try out a flight simulator, and learn about famous aviators of the past. The programming is designed to “educate, entertain, and inspire,” according to the museum website. All this aims to help to recruit new workers needed in the aviation sector, from pilots to mechanics to flight attendants. Russ Niles wrote recently about the death of ultralight pilot Bill Lishman, who taught Canada geese to follow him in flight. His story inspired the movie Fly Away Home, a fiction version of the event, but it captured the spirit of ultralight flying. I’ll bet that movie planted a seed in at least a few people who got out there and tried ultralights for themselves.

I wrote about the inspiration of books a few years ago, and readers weighed in with their own favorites. Do you have any to add? What about movies or museums?

Boeing Invests In Batteries
Mary Grady

HorizonX, Boeing’s innovation team, announced this week it has invested in Cuberg, a Berkeley-based startup developing next-generation battery technology for aerospace applications. "Cuberg's battery technology has some of the highest energy density we've seen in the marketplace, and its unique chemistries could prove to be a safe, stable solution for future electric air transportation," said Steve Nordlund, vice president of HorizonX. The funding from Boeing will enable the company to hire more staff and expand its research and development facilities, according to Cuberg CEO Richard Wang. Those resources “will help customers integrate our batteries into their products, while also scaling up our technology to fully automated production,” Wang said. The company hopes to test a prototype later this year, according to CNBC.

Cuberg was founded in 2015. One attraction of its technology, according to TechCrunch, is that its manufacturing process is compatible with existing large-scale battery factories. That would mean a lot less upfront investment required to scale up manufacturing for the new batteries. The HorizonX Ventures portfolio was created last year. So far, the project has invested in autonomous systems technology, wearable-enabled technologies, augmented reality systems, hybrid-electric propulsion and artificial intelligence. The team also invested in Zunum Aero, based in Kirkland, Washington, which is pursuing the development of electric-powered aircraft.

JP International - Video Library
Deadline Nears For ADS-B Rebate
Mary Grady

Aircraft owners who have gone through the process of upgrading for ADS-B, and applied for the FAA’s $500 rebate, must submit all their paperwork by Feb. 15 to complete their claim. After the equipment is installed, the aircraft must be flown in ADS-B-controlled airspace before receiving the rebate. That flight must last at least 30 minutes, including 10 minutes of maneuvering flight. In Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and Puerto Rico, the flight must take place above 10,000 feet MSL and in an area of ADS-B coverage. No extensions will be granted, the FAA says. According to AOPA, however, the FAA may consider extensions under certain circumstances — if weather made it unsafe to fly, or due to maintenance delays.

The deadline to equip with ADS-B is Jan. 1, 2020. After that date, unequipped aircraft will be banned from most controlled airspace. For more information about the rebate program, go to the FAA website. The site also provides information for owners of certain NavWorx avionics that the FAA says are non-compliant. Owners with questions about rebates or extensions can email the FAA for help.

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C-47 First Flight To Be Webcast
Mary Grady

The C-47 that led the Allied invasion into France on D-Day in 1944 is scheduled to fly for the first time in 10 years on Wednesday, Jan.31, and the flight will be webcast live. The airplane, named That’s All, Brother, had been abandoned in a Wisconsin junkyard, till it was found by the Commemorative Air Force. Historian Matt Scales uncovered the airplane’s history, and the CAF led a fundraising effort to restore the airplane to flying condition. “We estimate that we have put more than 22,000 hours into this restoration project so far,” said CAF President Bob Stenevik in a news release this week. “The aircraft, once flying, will become a valuable tool for our organization, helping to tell the story of D-Day and the great efforts and sacrifices made on the shores of Normandy.” 

After the initial flight tests, That’s All, Brother will be flown to its new base in San Marcos, Texas. Volunteers with the CAF Central Texas Wing will complete the interior and detail work and will maintain the aircraft. They also will restore the aircraft exterior to its 1944 appearance. In June 2019, the airplane will participate in a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, flying along with several other WWII aircraft across the Atlantic to England, and on to Normandy. Live footage of the first flight is set to be broadcast via Facebook on Wednesday, at 1 p.m. CST. The flight is subject to maintenance and weather, so the date or time could be adjusted. Updates and video will be posted at the “That’s All, Brother” Facebook page.

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Picture of the Week
Europeans know how to have fun with their airplanes and a motorglider on skis looks like a really good time. Thanks to Joerg Praefke for reminding us why we do this. Great shot.

See all submissions

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Podcast: Niloofar Rahmani, Afghan Woman Pilot Pioneer
Paul Bertorelli

The most improbable hands to ever handle the controls of an airplane belong to Niloofar Rahmani. She was born in Afghanistan just as the Soviet Union was departing her country as the repressive Taliban became dominant. A captain in the Afghan Air Force, she was the first woman in the country's history to become a pilot. Rahmani spoke at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring this week. AVweb recorded this exclusive podcast with her during the show.

Short Final

On Aug 22nd, 2017 while flying near Myrtle Beach, to Triple Tree Aerodrome, SC to watch the total solar eclipse, there was the following exchange.

Experimental: Florence Approach, Experimental NXXXX Request.

Florence Approach: NXXXX go ahead.

Experimental: N7XXXX requests vectors to where the sun doesn't shine.

Florence Approach: Now that's funny.


Martin Heller

Tax Cuts: What Do They Mean For Aviation?
Rick Durden

While the recently enacted tax cut legislation has economists and deficit-hawks scratching their heads because it came during a time of full employment, at the height of the longest economic growth period in our country’s history, is expected to bump the economy by 0.08 to 0.12 percent annually for the next few years and drive up the deficit by $1.5 trillion in the next ten years, the really important question for most Americans is, of course, “What’s in it for me?”

Since we’re as self-centered as the next American, we took a look at the question from the perspective of aviation. And, the answer is: At least in the short run, with one exception largely mitigated by another benefit, it ain’t bad.

Like-Kind Exchanges

We’ll get the negative news out of the way first. Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code (The Code) has long allowed deferring the gain on the sale of an aircraft if that aircraft is held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment and it is exchanged solely for another aircraft of a like kind that is also held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment.

For aircraft, that method of tax deferral vanished as of Dec. 31, 2017 (there is a transition rule in the legislation). Like-kind exchanges will only apply to real property. An owner will pay income tax at “ordinary income” rates on any gain realized on the sale of an aircraft, even if she or he replaces it.

Bonus Depreciation

On the very good side of the equation, the new legislation provides for 100 percent expensing (bonus depreciation) of new or used aircraft (if used, it must be the buyer’s first use of that aircraft) in the first year of use. It allows immediate write-off of the entire cost of property placed in service after Sept. 27, 2017, and before Jan. 1, 2023. The big news is the amount of the purchase that can be depreciated and the fact that it applies to used, as well as new, aircraft.  

To offset the revenue loss from bonus depreciation, the legislation phases down the percentage that may be expensed in the first year starting on Jan. 1, 2023. Through Dec. 31, 2026, the level of bonus depreciation that may be taken drops in increments of 20 percent each year, although for certain properties with longer production periods, including certain aircraft, the last day is Dec. 31, 2027.

Ticket Tax

Section 4261 of the Code was amended to provide that owner flights on managed aircraft are not subject to the Federal Transportation Excise Tax (FET) imposed by Section 4261 and Section 4271. Instead, they are subject to the non-commercial fuel tax. This change confirms that the law is now consistent with the common understanding in the business aviation industry.

Payments by the aircraft owner (or lessee of a qualified lease) for aircraft management services related to maintenance, support or flights on the aircraft are not subject to the FET. The owner or lessee does not need to be on the flight as long as the owner (or lessee of a qualified lease) pays for the aircraft management services. The term “aircraft management services” is defined broadly. However, lessees who lease an aircraft from a management company or person providing aircraft management services for a term of 31 days or fewer do not qualify as “lessee” for purpose of the FET exception.  

The FET exception only applies for flights paid by the owner or lessee. If an owner leases the aircraft to a management company and an affiliate of the owner pays for the flight, the exception may not apply.

Disallowance of All Entertainment Expenditures

For those in the business of selling aircraft, the legislation disallows deduction of all entertainment expenses, regardless of their connection to the tax payer’s business activities. We can’t help but think of the movie The Aviator and the scenes depicting the lavish parties thrown by Howard Hughes for those who were in the decision-making loop to buy his incredible H-4 Hercules and shed a tear for times gone by.

No Deduction for Transportation and Commuting Benefits

While not commonly applicable in the aviation world, the legislation eliminated deductions for any expenses incurred for providing any transportation, or any payment or reimbursement to an employee in connection with travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment, unless it is necessary to ensure employee safety. 

It Looks Good

In our conversations with those in the aircraft sales world over the last week we heard a lot of optimism about the new and used aircraft market. It's been steadily improving over the last few years and those we spoke with said they thought the new tax legislation would add to the growth. We’re certainly going to be watching to see what happens next.

Rick Durden has an undergraduate degree in economics, is a CFII, holds an 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:

Tom Bliss

Russ Niles

Paul Bertorelli

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Geoff Rapoport

Rick Durden
Kevin Lane-Cummings
Paul Berge
Larry Anglisano

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Karen Lund

Executive Vice President, Editorial Director
Timothy Cole


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