World's Leading Independent Aviation News Service
Volume 25, Number 5c
February 2, 2018
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AD Affects 14,653 Cessnas
Russ Niles

The FAA has proposed an AD involving 14,653 U.S. Cessna 172, 182, 206 and 210 models after cracks were found in the lower area of the forward cabin doorpost bulkhead. That’s where the wing strut attaches and the AD requires repetitive inspections of the area. After one owner reported finding cracks, more inspections revealed them in about 50 more aircraft. “It has been determined that the cracks result from metal fatigue,” the AD says. A list of affected aircraft is here:

The cracks appear in a somewhat tough-to-reach spot and it takes about 90 minutes to do the inspection. The FAA is going with Cessna’s recommended intervals for the inspection and they don’t start until the airframe reaches 4,000 hours. The initial inspection has to be done within a year of that milestone or after 200 hours, whichever comes first. After that, it’s every 1,000 hours. If cracks are found, the repair will cost about $3,000 and idle the plane for a few days.

An earlier story didn't clarify that the AD is proposed and that there is a comment period that ends March 19, 2018.

Electronics International 'Aviation Alert! Short video on how EI saved this pilot's life
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.

Living Through The Pearl Harbor Attack (Last Month)
Evelyn Greene

Our Stearman, otherwise known as the Queen, has been around awhile. An open-cockpit biplane built in 1941, there's quite a bit of anachronistic hardware on her that I find every once in a while. The latest bits that required urgent replacement were all the old pre-World War II fuel line fittings.  

Someone in the past couldn't tell the difference between these old fittings and the modern style and forced them to fit together. Remarkably, the mismatched fittings didn't leak even with differing geometries. However, it did result in a bunch of connections involving aluminum and steel, a recipe for disaster in our environment of heat, humidity, salt and sulfur.  

Eventually this stuff starts to revert back to the form it was in as it came out of the earth, in other words, rust. Unfortunately, rust is a pretty poor substance to use for fuel lines. I got all the new hardware and tubing together, removed all the fuel, and fabricated new lines. I used all modern fittings with some regret. The old style is obsolete, but its reminiscent of an earlier era. As my buddy Tim said when I told him the Queen still had these old fittings, "How cool is that?" Pretty cool.

After finishing up all the clamping and routing of these lines, I put 10 gallons of fuel in the tank and checked for leaks. I still wanted to fill up the tank and make sure everything was nice and tight before I went flying, so on Saturday morning around 8 a.m., I taxied over to the fuel tanks to fill her up. The fuel farm also has a fuel truck available for remote fueling, and when I got over there, it was apparent that the fuel truck driver had been filling up the truck from the tank and for some reason had simply run off. The grounding cable was still attached to the truck and the fuel hose and nozzle was just lying by the side of the truck. But the fueler was nowhere in sight.

My friend Rick came running out from the nearby hangar and asked me if I'd "gotten the text." I fly a 1941 airplane, ride a 1972 motorcycle and have a flip phone. So of course the answer was no, I hadn’t gotten the text. He showed me the message that had come over everyone else's phone with a screeching alarm, "BALLISTIC MISSLE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL." Whoa. That explained the missing fueler.

Several of us gathered around the picnic table in front of the hangar. We speculated on whether this could be true or not. We heard what sounded like an alarm in the distance, or maybe it was just the whistle of the old sugar cane train that does rides on the weekends. The wind took a shift, dampening the sound, and we agreed that yep, that's just the train's whistle, no worries. Another wind shift brought the sound back. Although we found out later that the Civil Defense sirens did not sound, this alarm came from one of the two oil refineries in the state, right next to the airport.

I looked at the Queen, empty of gas, and decided not to fill her up. My husband Harry, safe in Alaska, would have to pay off my credit card bill including a good 35 gallons of gas that I never got to use. Rick knew something about this. A friend of ours recently bought the farm in a helicopter crash and left the world with a goodly amount of credit-card debt. Apparently the credit-card company doesn't come calling to collect from the surviving spouse, but the debt forgiveness is considered to be income by the IRS and taxes must be paid. I left the Queen empty. So this is what we talked about when we thought we were all going to die in the next 20 minutes.


Tim thought I should take off in the Queen and re-create the movie Tora, Tora, Tora, which dramatized the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. After all, this wouldn't be the first time that Hawaii was bombed in a manner that started a major war. There are many people here that remember it. Going to church on Sunday morning and seeing planes with a brilliant red ball is a troubling experience. Taking one's normal outing in the morning to pick opihi (limpets) in Pearl Harbor and finding too much blood in the water to continue is something no one would ever forget. Apparently there are a lot of folks on the mainland questioning why we took this alert seriously. But we either remember or are one generation away from those do who remember the Pearl Harbor attack. It's pretty close to home.

I suggested that we turn on the radio in someone's vehicle to see what was going on. Unfortunately, the only thing we heard was from Danielle Tucker, DJ in Hawaii for 25 years, saying "this is not a drill." We looked at each other blankly. Our position was three miles as the crow flies from Pearl Harbor. Someone decided to try and hide in one of the Army tanks that are on static display at the local museum. Someone else decided to attempt to drive home. Another suggested that unless the blast was larger than your thumb, you'd be OK. Rick mentioned that if you heard the blast you weren't dead yet. No one's cellphone could get through to anyone. 

I taxied the Queen back to the hangar. She'd been through all of this before and didn't seem concerned, starting up nice and easy. I grabbed my handheld radio, and tuned to the tower frequency. There was a Cessna in the pattern who had been circling the entire time, tower not allowing him to land during the alert in case the runways were needed I guess. I figured tower would have the latest information. I didn't want to die just yet.

A few minutes later, tower told the Cessna that they'd been told from Civil Defense that it was a drill and he could land. I started shaking and couldn't stop for a while.

I drove back to my friend's hangar and we all looked at each other again somewhat blankly. Rick said now we'd have to go back to just thinking about high blood pressure and heart attacks as a way to die. We all agreed that this was the most f%^$^d up 40 minutes we'd ever been through.

I decided to fly my Cessna, Honey Girl, around for a bit to clear my head. On the way out, I saw my hangar neighbor ground loop his aircraft on the crossing runway. Ground loops are unintentional and possibly catastrophic near crashes that occur during landing in a squirrelly aircraft. He was OK, but the aircraft was toast. Nothing seemed right. I had to take Honey Girl up to a high power setting and lean her out in order to clear the spark plugs and get a smooth running engine. 

I went out on the west side of the island until just past Waianae where I saw two humpback whales playing at the surface. Usually they hear my plane and take a dive when I circle them, but these two kept at it, showing their flukes and slapping their fins. Of course it's ridiculous to attribute any meaning to a couple of humpbacks relieving themselves of barnacles by slamming their flukes on the water, but I decided they were telling me to go out and have a good time, just like they were.

The next day I got to the airport early to fill up the Queen and finally check all those new fuel line fittings. Everything looked tight. I don't have any lights on the Queen, so I waited till sunrise to take off in this big box kite of an airplane. At sunrise, I was out there doing bumps and circuits telling myself "tall gear, tall gear, tall gear" ...  blam! Oops, there's the ground. Thankfully, it was just another normal morning in paradise.

Report: Airline Safety Record Analyzed
Mary Grady

For the first time in aviation history, in 2017, not a single person died anywhere in the world because of a jet airliner accident. One man died in the crash of a Canadian ATR42 turboprop in December.  The chance of dying in an airline crash now is about 1 in 50 million, according to a recent analysis in The Wall Street Journal. “It’s just stunning,” safety consultant William Voss told the Journal. “I hope that we can sustain it, but that’s hard to do.” The flawless safety record can be attributed to a lot of hard work by many people over many years, but luck also played a role. Several analysts noted that a few close calls last year, notably the Air Canada incident in San Francisco, could have dramatically changed the outcome.

The analysts also said there have been substantial improvements in the developing world, which has long trailed behind in airline safety. Some of the improvement, the Journal says, can be attributed to changes at banks and leasing companies that have made it easier for airlines in less-developed countries to afford new airplanes. That has reduced the number of old, poorly maintained aircraft in the air. Also, the European Union began publishing a list of “blacklisted” airlines in 2006, the Journal says. That pressured the offending airlines to improve safety if they wanted to attract customers. Other key changes: The International Air Transport Association in 2003 began requiring members to pass a safety audit; self-correcting safety systems in aircraft; a 90 percent drop in runway incursions due to improved technology; and cockpit systems that warn pilots of unsafe runway conditions.

First Flight For Airbus A321LR
Mary Grady

Airbus has successfully flown its new long-range single-aisle jet, the A321LR, for the first time, the company announced on Wednesday. The first flight launched from the Hamburg-Finkenwerder airport in Germany, and lasted 2 hours and 36 minutes. During the flight, the crew tested the aircraft’s flight controls, engines and main systems, including flight envelope protections, at both high and low speed. “The A321LR will allow our customers to perform flights of up to 4,000 NM, allowing them to open new routes – for example trans-Atlantic — and conquer new markets,” said Klaus Roewe, head of the program. The new model includes extra fuel tanks to stretch the range. Certification is expected by this summer.

During the first flight, the airplane reached its maximum altitude of 39,000 feet, and the crew tested handling, trim, and pressurization systems. According to Airbus, the jet is the world’s longest-range single-aisle aircraft. The aircraft is powered by two CFM Leap-1A engines. The cabin will be equipped with 206 seats and lie-flat beds. The flight test regime will continue for about 100 hours of flying, including flights across the Atlantic.

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Three Killed When Helicopter Hits House
Mary Grady

A Robinson R44 helicopter crashed into a house in a gated community in Newport Beach, California, about 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, killing three of the four people on board. A person on the ground nearby also was injured by debris from the crash. A witness who spoke to CBS Los Angeles said he saw the chopper "drop like a rock." Another witness told The Associated Press it looked as if the pilot was trying to land in the street, “but clipped the roof across the street and didn't make it." The pilot and two passengers died, and the third passenger was seriously hurt. The bystander was treated for minor injuries and released from the hospital. One person was in the damaged house, but was unhurt, according to local reports. The NTSB is investigating.

The helicopter was based at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, which is about a mile from the crash site, and had taken off from there. The four-seat R44 was operated on lease by Revolution Aviation, which offers flight training and sightseeing tours. It was heading for Catalina Island, a resort area, about 40 miles away. It’s not yet clear what was the purpose of the flight.

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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

Rusty Pilot? Rehoning Your Skills, Economically
Rick Durden

One of the side effects of the implementation of BasicMed and the longest-running period of economic growth in our country’s history has been that quite a few pilots who stopped flying because of medical and/or economic concerns have decided they can return to the sky. For those affected, it’s splendid news. But the good news may come with mixed feelings: “I can start flying again! I’m pumped! Uh, now what do I do?”

How does someone who has not flown as pilot in command for a while—several weeks or several years—get back into the cockpit safely and do so without running up a bill that approximates the national debt? As it turns out, it’s not all that difficult because there is a huge amount of free stuff out there you can take advantage of to flake off the aeronautical rust.

We’ll start out with the best news—if you hold a pilot certificate, there’s no checkride involved. You will have to fly with a flight instructor and complete a flight review (those things that used to be called BFRs)—something you can’t fail. It may take a few flights to complete, but that shouldn’t be surprising.

Do the Cheap and Free Stuff

No matter how long it’s been since a pilot has been current and comfortable in an air machine, the first step is to get the aeronautical synapses firing in the brain. That means spending time thinking about flying. While that sounds incredibly basic, one thing that instructors complain about when they get together is the number of pilots they fly with who don’t do well because they apparently don’t think about flying for any length of time between visits to an airport.

To get back into thinking about flying do the free stuff first. At the organized training level, AOPA has excellent free resources for rusty pilots, including three-hour seminars it puts on regularly around the country. Your local FAA office also puts on free seminars and training programs through its FAAST Team. There are also numerous, very good, videos for rusty pilots on YouTube.

Read. Read all you can in aviation publications. Read all the stuff in AVweb—especially in the archives—it's free and there is a tremendous amount of good information. If you can afford to subscribe to aviation how-to magazines such as Aviation Safety and IFR, do so, as information is power when flying. Subscriptions to those magazines include digital access to earlier issues—and they contain masses of excellent information. Go to the library and read the aviation magazines and books—it doesn't cost a cent.

Don't be spring-loaded to buy stuff. Want the FARs and AIM? They're free, on the FAA's website. 

Keep a notepad handy. You’re going to have a lot of questions. Write them down. If the answers haven’t appeared during the course of your reading, attending seminars and watching videos and webinars, you’ll have them handy to ask the instructor when you start taking dual.

If you have access to a computer flight simulator, take advantage of its capabilities.

Go out to the airport when the airplane you want to fly isn't scheduled to fly or when the weather is lousy. Sit in the airplane, pull out the POH and start reading it while sitting in the left seat. It's amazing, but the POH seems to read differently when you are sitting inside the airplane than it does when you are elsewhere.

Read the emergency procedures section and touch each of the controls as you do so. Then read and do it again. And one more time. I don't know how many recurrent sessions I've given where the pilot takes three or four or five times to get an emergency procedure correct. In the real world you may only get one chance, so sit there in the airplane and practice. Again, it doesn't cost you anything and it significantly increases your chances of getting it right when it matters.

During quiet time, create "what if?" scenarios for yourself. You've been around the block enough to know many of the things that can go wrong on a flight. Imagine you are flying to visit someone about 150 miles away, on a route you fly from time to time, and that the weather rapidly drops below forecast, to the point where the ceiling is about 800 feet and visibility about 2 miles. OK, what will you do? Come up with strategies. Having thought about a potential problem during quiet time, before it blows up on you, suddenly, in flight, means that your chances of dealing with it successfully when it happens for real go way up.

Want to make it more enjoyable? Team up with a friend or three and go over airplane systems and emergency procedures over a cup of coffee or a beer. The last time I went for a type rating, the other guy in the program and I stopped at a stationery store and bought a package of 3 x 5 cards and made about 100 flash cards on the airplane systems and procedures. Each evening, over dinner, we used the cards to quiz each other. As a result, we knew the material cold when it came checkride time. All it cost was the price of the cards.

Plan the Flight

Whether you are going out solo after a few weeks layoff or dual after a few years, the moment the Hobbs meter starts running in the airplane, clicking away the dollars you are spending for the flight, is probably not the moment to start deciding what to do on that flight.

Before the flight, do a little thinking and decide on the minimum ceiling and visibility and maximum wind that you are willing to put up with. That way you don't go through the "maybe so, maybe not" exercise, or, worse yet, launch and realize that the weather just won't cut it and you get one takeoff and one landing, for which you get to pay, and nothing else of much benefit.

Consider what it is that will help you nudge those skills up as rapidly as possible. Write down the maneuvers you want to do so you can go from one to another with a minimum delay. In the process, think about the risks you face in the type of flying you do, such as crosswind landings, weather problems leading to possible low flight, terrain issues, short runways, low-performance airplanes and high terrain, low-speed handling of the airplane and the kinds of maneuvering you expect to do inflight, to name a few. Spend a little time on how you would handle weather deterioration and how low you are willing to fly, especially nowadays when the proliferation of towers of all sizes has made scud running far too dangerous in most areas of the country. (If you haven't done so, maybe it's time to schedule a little dual when the visibility is 3-4 miles and the ceiling 1,000 feet—legal VFR, but marginal—so that you can see just how lousy it is and make a decision as to what weather you are willing to accept in the flying you do.)

If you are going to fly with an instructor, call him or her up some days prior to the flight, discuss what you want to do and come to an agreement on what you will do on the flight so that it can be done as efficiently as possible. Then, put those things into order so that you aren't wasting time climbing and descending, so you do the high stuff together and the low stuff together.

To get you started with the process, here are some suggestions as to what you might want to do during the session with your CFI when you scrape off the rust.

On the Ground

Review the information on TFRs and airspace generally. In my informal review of things that trip up rusty pilots, both are high on the list. Make sure you know how to find out where the TFRs are and what you’ve got to do to be legal in the airspace you’ll penetrate on a given flight.

Go over emergencies and emergency procedures for everything in the POH, plus anything else you can imagine. For obvious reasons, this is a high-priority item. It's the one area we never practice in normal operations, so our skills and memory as to what to do atrophies here first and worst. Keep in mind that some emergency procedures are pretty generic, but some are airplane specific, such as whether you close the cabin air vents in the event of a fire.

Make sure you know the avionics in the airplane cold. They are often the most complex of the airplane systems, requiring the most study to operate. So, get to know them on the ground, and confirm that you can do so in the air, with a minimum of head-down time.

Finally, before you go out to the airplane write down or tell your instructor what you will consider to be acceptable altitude, heading and airspeed tolerances—objective completion goals for the flight (make sure he or she agrees with you). Challenge yourself. If you get into the habit of flying precisely, the less likely it is that you will ever ding an airplane.

In Flight

On the flight itself, why not do a precision takeoff, tracking right down the centerline, rotate at the book speed and perform the initial climb at Vx, with a transition to Vy? At altitude, level off but immediately transition to slow flight on the way to the practice area. Select the speed ahead of time, but the stall warning should be on all the time. Spend lots of time in slow flight, get comfortable, make turns, and change the airplane configuration a few times. Get the feel for how the airplane behaves and get comfortable enough that you know you can control the airplane precisely, even though it may take some large inputs.

Transition to cruise flight within the altitude limits you have set for yourself and get to an appropriate practice area. Then do clearing turns and start right into steep turns, with 45 degrees of bank, and hold the turn for at least a 360 in each direction—better still, a 720. Do a few until you can reliably hold the bank angle and your altitude as well as roll out on heading. Then, while still at altitude, do a few power-off, full-flap stalls and some full-power stalls. Do them in a shallow turn to simulate approaching to land or climbing after takeoff. Make a solid effort to feel the airplane as you do the stalls, listen to the airplane and the messages it gives you as you approach the stall, and work on burning the information into your psyche with the goal of never stalling the airplane unless you desire to do so.

Now review the emergencies that you can while up high: electrical fire, engine fire, jammed controls and any other ones you have outlined. Can you steer the airplane with the rudder and door(s) if the yoke locks up on you? Can you fly it with the trim tabs? Give it a shot. Remember, if the elevator is jammed, the trim tab will work backward. With an instructor, do some unusual attitude recovery; it's not just an IFR exercise. Pilots have lost control of airplanes in VFR conditions.

If circumstances and traffic allow, starting near an airport, do a simulated engine failure to a forced landing from at least 2000 feet AGL. It sounds like something that shouldn’t be too hard, but I’m amazed how many pilots I’ve flown with that couldn’t do it the first try.

Now do crosswind takeoffs and landings to a full stop, so that you get the full benefit of dealing with the wind at all speeds. Remember that the most common problem and cause of accidents in crosswinds is coming in too fast. Work on flying the airplane on speed, even if it does feel mushy. Abort a takeoff. Make landings at varying flap settings to assure you are comfortable doing so.

After you taxi in and shut down—whether you are with an instructor or not—write up an evaluation of the flight (have the instructor do so as well) and write down your opinion as to what is the minimum runway length you would accept for that type of airplane, with and without obstructions, what is the maximum direct crosswind you would tolerate in it without an instructor and what is the minimum ceiling and visibility in which you would fly in a 200-mile radius of home base. Then compare the evaluation with your instructor's and see if they are a reasonable match. If they aren't, it's time for a long heart-to-heart talk with him or her, as someone has a perception problem.

The written evaluation is a judgment-enhancing tool for you. It takes those general ideas you have had floating around and forces you to reach some conclusions and make a somewhat public statement about the parameters under which you feel you can safely make a flight. It may also give you a very good reason to cancel a flight when someone is applying pressure for you to go, even if that someone is you.


Be creative. Take advantage of free stuff: Go to the FAA safety seminars, and use computers, the library and the internet to stimulate your aviator's brain. Then plan your flights to get the most out of every moment. You'll land pretty pooped from the intensity of it all, but you will be able to feel the rust coming off and your skills will love you for it.

Rick Durden 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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