World's Leading Independent Aviation News Service
Volume 25, Number 7c
February 16, 2018
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FAA Issues Cessna Twin AD
Mary Grady

The FAA has published an Airworthiness Directive affecting an estimated 2,147 Cessna twin-engine airplanes, requiring the owners or operators of high time aircraft to inspect the spar caps, and if cracks are found, replace the carry-through spar. Sixteen models in the 400-series are listed in the AD, along with serial numbers for each type.  If no cracks are found, the inspection must be repeated every 50 hours. If cracks are found, the airplane is grounded until the spar can be replaced. The FAA estimates the inspection will cost about $1,020, and the replacement of the spar, if needed, would cost about $73,000. The AD was prompted, the FAA said, by a report of a fully cracked lower forward carry-through spar cap. The cracks could cause the spar cap to fail in flight, resulting in a loss of control, the FAA says. The AD is effective Feb. 28.

The time allowed to do the inspection varies with the particular model and time-in-service for each airplane. The inspection cycles are triggered at 11,000 hours for some models, 12,000 hours for others and 15,000 hours for the rest. Operators are required to report the results of each inspection to the FAA. The FAA said it considers this AD an “interim action.” Textron Aviation is evaluating the inspection intervals, the FAA said, and also is designing a replacement carry-through spar cap from an improved material. “After the evaluations are complete and the design modification is developed, approved, and available, we may consider additional rulemaking,” the FAA said. The FAA also is accepting comments on the rule.

How Cirrus Builds Aircraft
Paul Bertorelli

When AVweb visited the Cirrus factory last summer, it was in the process of reorganizing to ramp up production of the new Cirrus SF50 VisionJet. In this detailed video, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli reports on how the factory builds its popular piston and jet aircraft.

Friday Foibles: Back To (Stupid) Basics
Paul Berge

Pilots still can’t land in crosswinds. These accidents are euphemistically labeled “loss of directional control,” or “pilot can’t land worth a hoot.” Rebuild shops stay busy replacing gear legs and props from everyday (every stinkin’ day) bad landings that usually don’t cause bodily harm. 

Tailwheel pilots are always aggressive on the brakes resulting in numerous prop-curling nose-overs. I’ve personally experienced the glory of flying a 70-year-old Aeronca from a hay field, but one Tennessee accident reminds us that it might be wise to make sure the hay bales have been removed. The Aeronca pilot was cautiously watching a bale on his left but missed his wing approaching a bale on his right. Substantial damage resulted. To the Aeronca, that is, not so much to the hay bales.

Scores of pilots recognized that an approach—or departure—was trending sour but delayed the curative go-around or abort, only to encounter the trees, fences and subdivisions located at runways’ ends. A great many loss-of-directional-control events terminated in nearby ditches, which makes one wonder: Why are runways always built beside ditches? 

A Lear 60 crew attempted to taxi from a poorly lit ramp in Indiana when their nosewheel dropped off the pavement. Undeterred, the crew shifted into four-wheel-drive and crossed a grassy knoll toward the taxiway. Anyhow, they tried, until the jet struck a drainage ditch, thoroughly trashing the delta fins beneath its fuselage. Moral: The four-wheel-drive mode in a Lear 60 sucks.

Ag pilots stayed busy in 2011, but such high-stress flying down low resulted in a string of ag-craft clipping power poles, cell towers, the very crops they were treating and, in California, one ag pilot bagged a propane truck and lived to tell the FAA about it. 

Speaking of propane, hot air balloons—you know those over-heated gas bags not on AM radio—tangled themselves in treetops, power lines and just about any obstacle available, ejecting passengers like apples from the basket short of the intended landing site. They’re quite popular in June for weddings and graduations, so book early.

Hand-propping is routinely done safely to start antique airplanes. An Arizona pilot even successfully prop-started a Piper Arrow, only to watch it taxi away and drop like Wiley Coyote over a cliff.

Avgas Quarantine Disrupts GA in Canada
Russ Niles

FBOs and local airports across Canada have been affected by a quarantine of avgas following a quality control problem at the only refinery that makes 100LL in Canada. Imperial Oil’s Strathcona refinery in Edmonton issued a directive Wednesday to its wholesale customers saying any avgas they obtained from the refinery from Dec. 28, 2017, shouldn’t be used or distributed because it “may cause interference with onboard fuel gauge sensors.” Jet fuel is not affected. The problem apparently relates to the conductivity of the fuel and was discovered in the quality control process, according to the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association.

It’s still not known how many fuel sellers are affected. All have to check their inventories to see if the flawed fuel got into their systems. Many were able to confirm they had the fuel quickly and NOTAMs advising that avgas wasn’t available were issued by some Canadian airports. The issue has already interrupted business and personal flying at some airports. It’s also not known what Imperial Oil, which markets under the Esso brand but sells to Shell and independent distributors, will do to fix the issue or how long that might take. It's also not clear whether the fuel actually damages aircraft components. “Imperial will make arrangements with [distributors and sellers] regarding future handling of this product and will provide more information as it becomes available,” its message stated.

Electronics International 'Aviation Alert! Short video on how EI saved this pilot's life
Utility Drone To Start U.S. Testing
Mary Grady

A company in Wyoming has secured FAA approval to start flight tests with a large twin-engine drone, the Flyox Mark II, built by Singular Aircraft of Barcelona, Spain. The amphibious drone has a 35-foot wingspan and can carry up to 4,000 pounds of water for dropping on forest fires. According to Singular, it’s the world’s largest amphibious drone, and can be used for agricultural work, freight transport, border surveillance and rescue missions. Unmanned Aircraft International, headquartered in Casper, Wyoming, will conduct the flight tests. “Getting authorization to fly an 8,800-pound drone is very challenging,” UAI operations manager Chuck Jarnot told the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle. “The previous record was a 200-pound drone for commercial use.”

The drone can be broken down to fit in a standard 40-foot cargo trailer, and then can be re-assembled in less than four hours, according to Singular. It burns 95-octane fuel and can fly day or night, and can take off or land on snow, water or hard surfaces. It has an internal GPS control system that enables it to take off, complete its mission and return for landing, all autonomously, with no human input. The Mark II has an endurance of up to 28 hours aloft, according to the company’s website, and a range of 2,515 NM.

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FAA To Invest $100 Million For Cleaner Airplanes
Mary Grady

The FAA said this week it plans to spend $100 million in Phase II of its CLEEN (Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions, and Noise) program, working with industry partners to develop new aircraft and engine technologies that are more efficient and quieter, and advance the development of alternative jet fuels. The program aims to enhance environmental protections and also allow for sustained aviation growth. The initial phase, from 2010 to 2015, helped to produce several cleaner new jet fuels, and helped develop technology for the LEAP (Leading Edge Aviation Propulsion) engines now used by Boeing, Airbus and Comac.

The industry partners for CLEEN II are Aurora Flight Sciences, Boeing, Delta TechOps/MDS Coating Technologies Corp./America’s Phenix Inc., GE Aviation, Honeywell Aerospace, P&W, Rohr Inc./United Technologies Corp. Aerospace Systems, and Rolls-Royce North America. The partners are expected to match the FAA’s $100 million investment. Phase II launched in 2015 and will continue through 2020. The FAA said it expects that aircraft technologies developed in the CLEEN II phase will be on a path for introduction into commercial aircraft by 2026.

Airbus To Expand Voom Helicopter Service
Mary Grady

Voom, the on-demand helicopter service that Airbus launched in Sao Paulo last April as part of its A^3 incubator program, is now officially part of Airbus Helicopters, the company announced on Tuesday. Voom has flown thousands of passengers, and the company plans to expand its operations this year. “Urban transportation on and below ground is reaching its limits, and naturally Airbus is looking to the skies to redefine a third axis for public transportation solutions,” said Matthieu Louvot, a vice president with Airbus Helicopters. “Voom will allow us to grow the usage of existing helicopters for the benefit of urban citizens and operators.”

The Voom platform connects travelers with licensed helicopter operator partners, providing air-taxi flights from crowded urban cores to outlying airports. Voom air taxi flights can be booked online as little as 60 minutes in advance, and travelers can arrive at the heliport just 15 minutes before their boarding time. Voom CEO Uma Subramanian said the company is “thrilled” to join Airbus Helicopters. “Our services provide convenient, reliable and affordable air transit to urban areas that so desperately need an alternative to traditional ground transportation,” she said. The service will soon expand into more cities, starting with Mexico City early this year, Subramanian said.

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ERAU Offers Free Online Course
Mary Grady

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is offering a free, two-week online class focusing on aircraft maintenance, running from Feb. 26 to March 11. The course, which is open to the public, will be taught by ERAU faculty as well as experts from the aviation industry. “Our students will get a real-world look at the industry, from multiple perspectives,” said Bettina Mrusek, lead faculty member for the course. “We are not only focused on the maintenance technician, but also on those supervising and leading them.” Coursework will be available for students to watch lectures and work on assignments on their own timetable, the university says, with lots of peer-to-peer interaction outside of the online classroom. Registration is open now.

“As the industry changes and adapts to new environments, we have to educate ourselves on how to successfully navigate those challenges, to make the most out of potential opportunities,” said Mrusek. ERAU also offers a free online course, “Introduction to Aviation,” with nine lessons that cover the basics of aerodynamics, airspace, weather and more. Students can enroll anytime and work at their own pace.

Brainteasers Quiz #240: Make Informed Go/No-Go Calls

If you cancel a flight because weather is forecast to deteriorate, it will improve. But if you ignore warnings and go, weather will turn stinko. In either case, your best call is to ace this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

Short Final

Heard on Denver departure

XXXX: "Just off Centennial"

Center: "Squawk 6666"

Center: "Umm, do you want another? We could give you a different one."


XXXX: No, it's okay, we'll keep that one."

John C. Lamb


Healthy Pilot #6: Controlling Your Blood Pressure
Tim Cole

Symptomless and pain free, high blood pressure is an insidious condition that can cause serious havoc to your body systems if left unattended. It’s item 18h on the Basic Med checklist.

Even though you won’t be able to tell if your blood pressure becomes elevated, you’ll certainly know about the consequences of high blood pressure if left unchecked.

For instance, high blood pressure has been attributed to damaged, narrowed arteries that contribute to atherosclerosis, itself implicated in heart failure, heart attack and stroke. High blood pressure can cause a weakening in the artery walls of the brain, leading to a catastrophic aneurysm.

High blood pressure can also lead to damaged arteries feeding the heart, which can set up arrhythmias, chest pain or heart attack.

The ills of high blood pressure don’t stop with the heart. It’s the central culprit in transient ischemic attack (TIA) that causes mini-strokes leading to major strokes, dementia or, at the very least, mild cognitive impairment.

Kidney failure, damage to the blood vessels of the eye, fluid buildup under the retina, damage to the optic nerve—and, oh yes, erectile dysfunction—can all be laid at the doorstep of uncontrolled high blood pressure.

Causes and Controls

AVweb turned to its sister website University Health News to get a better handle on high blood pressure and what to do about it. It helps to begin with an understanding of what causes it. Actually, your kidneys play a central role: They are tasked with maintaining the proper balance between sodium and fluid in the body. If the kidneys don’t excrete fluid efficiently, the resulting fluid buildup could elevate blood volume which in turn places additional pressure on the interior walls of blood vessels.

The hormones angiotensin and aldosterone could also contribute to high blood pressure. Angiotensin influences the widening or narrowing of blood vessels; constrictions lead to higher blood pressure. Aldosterone affects the kidneys’ ability to balance fluid and sodium levels.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Maintaining your pilot privileges, even with a diagnosis of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, should be a straightforward matter for you and your doctor. So don’t worry. It will only make matters worse.

Your blood pressure is expressed as two numbers in mmHg or millimeters of mercury, with the top number conveying your systolic pressure and the bottom number your diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure occurs when the heart contracts and diastolic when the heart relaxes following a contraction.

The guideline was recently lowered from 140/90 mmHg to 135/80 mmHG, which means many more people who thought they were in the clear now have high blood pressure. But that’s a good thing if you can get it under control before it does too much damage. At this stage you and your doctor will likely test your blood to determine your cholesterol levels, as managing blood pressure and cholesterol are the twin pillars of heart health.

According to University Health News, your doctor will discuss several different types of drugs to handle your hypertension, with the final choice typically determined by what causes the most benefit and the fewest potential side effects. Expect to hear terms like angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, even renin inhibitors.


One good way to deal with hypertension (and you’re not alone) is to not get it in the first place, or at least lessen its severity.

A heart healthy diet focuses on fruits and vegetables, healthy fats from olive oil or avocado, plant-based proteins or non-fat dairy. Needless to say, weight loss is recommended. And if you’re still smoking after more than a half century of bad news on that subject, there’s not a lot we can say.  Bottom line: Cut back (way back) on sodium, animal fat and red meat, walk more and get some sleep.

Our friends at University Health News have some excellent heart health information that’s quick and easy to read. The free report on Heart Health is excellent.

And check out these important links:

New Hypertension Guidelines: Rethinking Blood Pressure Standards

Natural Remedy for High Blood Pressure: Vitamin D

What Causes Hypertension? Diet Plays a Huge Role

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

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

Executive Vice President, Editorial Director
Timothy Cole


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