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Volume 25, Number 9c
March 2, 2018
 
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Vashon Aircraft Launches Ranger R7
 
Mary Grady
 
 

Vashon Aircraft, a new company based near Seattle, Washington, said this week it’s ready to offer to the market its new S-LSA, the Ranger R7, which will sell for $99,500. Led by CEO John Torode, who is also the founder and CEO of the Dynon avionics company, the staff has been developing the aircraft for the last five years, company spokesperson Amy Bellesheim told AVweb on Wednesday. She said there are two copies now flying, which they plan to keep as demonstrators, and four airplanes on the assembly line that will be ready for sale in April. The base model, dubbed the Yellowstone, includes a Dynon SkyView panel and is powered by the Continental O-200-D engine. The airplanes are built in an assembly and delivery center at Paine Field.

Vashon uses pre-painted metal to save manufacturing cost, time and weight, the company said. This technique eliminates the need to paint the aircraft after assembly. Vashon also manufactures the vast majority of its own parts, reducing its supply chain, which further reduces the cost of the airplane as well as build time, the company said. Both seats fold forward 90 degrees, which transforms the cabin into a camper for adventurous flyers. The Ranger has a useful load of 445 pounds, a maximum cruise speed of 117 knots, and range of 430 NM. The airplane will be officially launched and introduced to the public this July at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, the company said.

Video: SamsonSky Switchblade
 
Russ Niles
 
 

For eight years, SamsonSky has been at the major shows, promising a high-performance flying car that is practical in both environments. It intends to fly the prototype this year.

Friday Foibles: And The Winners (Losers?) Are:
 
Paul Berge
 

With pilot friends like this, who needs Comedy Central? The pilot of an experimental RV-6 in Michigan told a friend to get to the beach and watch for his flyby. As promised the sleek two-seater buzzed at 100 feet, made three passes—one is never enough—pulled up in a steep turn, stalled and hit the water, securing the 2012 Bronze Stupid Pilot Tricks Award.

Earning silver with a display of star-spangled patriotism was the helicopter pilot who on July 4th attached a flag to the skid of his experimental Rotorway and lifted it so all could see, but O, say could they see the flag rip lose, entangle itself in the tail rotor and bring Old Glory to an inglorious end.

Taking home the gold was the non-certificated “pilot” in Georgia who’d recently purchased a Destiny XLT powered parachute—picture a swamp buggy with a canopy—and tried to impress his neighbors with his ability to learn on the fly. Spectators in the cul-de-sac watched the “pilot” unpack the chute, start the engine and begin the takeoff roll. It was then, this non-certificated “pilot” aborted the flight, concerned that he might hit nearby houses.

This sort of responsible aeronautical decision-making gets you lost to history, so our hero loaded his Destiny onto a trailer and relocated to a nearby elementary school to re-enter the competition. He was back in contention.

After unpacking the rig, the “pilot” took the front seat, started the engine and flew. Once airborne, he decided it wise to fasten the seatbelt while making two circuits of the elementary schoolyard. It was then that he realized he’d never checked to see if there was any fuel in the tank. There was, but not much. The engine quit, and the non-certificated “pilot” glided into phone lines and crashed.

For persistence in stupidity, with added points for choosing an elementary school venue for displaying said deeds, we present the coveted Stupid Pilot Tricks Knucklehead Award. Although the FAA was powerless to take action against the certificate the “pilot” did not possess, it did revoke his playground privileges for a month.

Dassault Launches 6X Business Jet
 
Mary Grady
 
 

Dassault Aviation announced its next business jet on Wednesday, the 6X, which will replace the 5X project that was abandoned in December after its new Safran Silvercrest engines failed to meet development deadlines. The 6X will be powered by a new variant of Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PW800 engines. P&WC says the new variant of the engine is “ready to enter service,” and offers the “highest level of technology available on the market combined with the reliability of a proven core [and] sustainable technologies.” The PW800 engine delivers improved fuel efficiency and lower exhaust emissions, compared to earlier models, plus less noise and low vibration levels for a quieter cabin, P&WC said. Dassault said the new aircraft will make its first flight early in 2021 and begin deliveries in 2022.

The 6X is largely based on the Falcon 5X aerodynamics and system features, Dassault said. Those features have already been validated during the 5X preliminary flight test program. The 6X is equipped with an ultra-efficient wing that minimizes the impact of turbulence, Dassault says, and a digital flight control system that controls all moving surfaces, including a flaperon. The 6X is the first business jet to use a flaperon, Dassault says, which considerably improves control during approach, especially on steep descents. Textron also is planning to use the Silvercrest engine in its Hemisphere jet, which is scheduled for first flight next year. Textron CEO Scott Donnelley said in January that program is on hold until problems with the engine can be resolved.

RCAF Life Raft Lands In Woman's Bed
 
Russ Niles
 
 

Authorities in Canada and Florida are investigating after a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) helicopter’s emergency life raft fell through the roof of a house in Miami. A woman in the house was slightly injured when the 80-pound raft smashed through the roof and ceiling of the house onto the bed where she was sleeping about 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday. News footage shows a large hole in the roof of the house in northeast Miami.

There has so far been no explanation from the RCAF about how the raft came loose from the CH-146, a militarized Bell 412. The Canadians are in Florida on a search and rescue training mission because the weather is too cold in Canada to conduct the training. The aircraft was on its way back to its temporary base at Opa Locka when the incident occurred. The RCAF says its Directorate of Flight Safety is investigating and the injured woman is being looked after. The RCAF "intends to support the affected resident with immediate accommodationsand other support."

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Air Force One Deal Sealed
 
Mary Grady
 
 

Two new Air Force One aircraft will be delivered to the White House for $3.9 billion dollars, the White House and Boeing announced on Tuesday. The customized 747-8 airplanes will replace the two aging 747-200s that currently serve as the presidential fleet. “President Trump negotiated a good deal on behalf of the American people,” Boeing said in a tweet announcing the sale, and a White House spokesman said the contract will save taxpayers “more than $1.4 billion.” However, some observers noted that it was unclear whether there had been any substantial change in the price since negotiations began. A month before his inauguration, Mr. Trump told reporters that the Air Force One program was estimated to cost $4 billion, and added, “I think that’s ridiculous.” Aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia, of the Teal Group, told reporters this week, “There’s no evidence of a discount,” and described the claim as “political theater.”

The 747-8 is faster, emits less carbon dioxide and adds 1,000 NM in range, Boeing says, compared to the 747-200. It’s also 18 feet longer and adds 75 tons to the max takeoff weight. The aircraft’s 4,000-square-foot interior will include a conference room, a presidential suite and quarters for advisers, Secret Service officers and the press corps, according to the BBC. Various reports estimate the delivery date between 2021 and 2024.A medical suite includes facilities for surgery, and a doctor is always on board.Each airplane will be equipped with two large galleys that can prepare food for up to 100 people at a time, a Boeing official said.The airplane also features military avionics, advanced secure communications, in-flight refueling capabilities, armored windows and a self-defense system. The current Air Force One airplanes entered service in 1990 under former President George H.W. Bush, and they are nearing the end of their planned lifespan, according to CNN.

New Technology Symposia Coming Up
 
Mary Grady
 
 

If you’re interested in drones, electric aircraft or other types of new aviation technology, three events coming up soon might belong on your calendar. The FAA is co-sponsoring a symposium on unmanned aircraft systems that will take place in Baltimore, at the convention center, March 6 to 8. Pre-registration is open until next Monday, March 5. The third annual event is co-sponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Speakers and workshops will address issues such as using drones in emergency and disaster response, air traffic automation and remote tracking. Passes range from $479 to $769. Also coming up are the annual events held by the Sustainable Aviation Foundation and the CAFE Foundation.

The Sustainable Aviation Foundation will hold their SA Symposium May 11 and 12 in San Francisco. “Our goal is to be the meeting place for visionaries and practitioners committed to improving human life with aviation,” according to their website. The symposium will explore “topics critical to a safe, sustainable on-demand aviation.” Registration is $499 through April 2, then goes to $699. The CAFE Foundation will hold its annual symposium in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the weekend before AirVenture, July 21 and 22. The theme is “The Future of Flight: Electric Aviation Technologies and Opportunities.” Registration details and a speaker list will be posted online at a later date, the organization says at their website.

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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.

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Short Final
 

ATC: Cessna XXXX, traffic is going to be an HH-60 departing to the North at 1,700.

Me: Roger, we are looking for the traffic now.

Pause:

Me: Tower, we have the traffic in sight and we are turning to avoid.

ATC: If I were in charge, I would paint all aircraft blaze orange.

My instructor: Sounds good to me!!


Jarrett Moss

Home Shop Machinist
 
Bob Hadley
 
 

Ford Motor Company recently advertised their new line of truck frames as being made of military-grade aluminum. It’s a new twist on the old hype: made of aircraft-grade aluminum. I suppose the salespeople figure: What could be better than aircraft-grade (or military-grade) aluminum, right? After all, you wouldn’t want a truck frame made of beer-can aluminum, would you?

Actually, beer cans are made from 3000 series aluminum, which is an alloy that is commonly used in many aircraft/military applications. In fact, look in any reference book, technical specification, or aluminum application guide, and you’ll find almost the entire spectrum of aluminum alloys are used, one way or another, in the aircraft or aerospace industry. Wheel axles are made from 2024, wingspars of 2024 or 6061-T6, hydraulic fittings from 2011. The alloys 2017, 2024, and 2117 are used to make rivets. Got a piston engine? The pistons were likely forged from 4032 or 2618. 7075 is a favorite for structural components because it’s as strong as many steel alloys and machines beautifully.

The properties chart in Machinery’s Handbook lists the strength and hardness for each alloy and temper/heat-treat condition. You’d think the higher the number the alloy, the greater the strength, but that is not the case. You also might think that within a particular family, the working characteristics would be the same or similar, but that is definitely not the case.

Even within the particular alloy groups, some are bendable, some are not. Some are readily weldable, others not. Some have really good machinability, some barely tolerate machining, and some don’t machine at all with traditional machine tools. Heat treatment can dramatically alter the working characteristics of an alloy. 6061 is a great example. In the non-heat-treated state (6061-TO), it is quite bendable. But it is so soft, if you try to machine it, it will gum up the gullets of your saw and clog the flutes of your drill bits and end mills. It’s like trying to drill taffy. But when heat-treated to T4 or higher (such as 6061-T6 or 6061-T651…T651 being T6 temper plus stress-relived), it responds fine to any machining operation.

The temper/heat-treat designations range from -O to -T10. The dash T numbers (-T) denote the specific process used to treat the material. For example T1 is “naturally aged,” and T5 is “artificially aged.” T6 is “solution heat treated and artificially aged.” 6061-T6 is heated to the critical temperature, then quenched. Unlike steel, which is hard and brittle after quenching, aluminum is soft. To increase the strength and hardness to the T6 spec, the material is then baked at a low temperature (around 350F) for several hours and then allowed to gradually cool. This is the “artificial aging” process. If you skipped the baking step, the material would, over time, age to T4 on its own. There’s a lot more to explain, and even if I had every page of the magazine, it would not be enough! There are plenty of online resources if you are interested. Just Google “heat treating aluminum,” and you’ll be entertained for hours.

So, when you see an ad that says “made of aluminum” without telling you the specific alloy and heat-treat or temper, it’s a bit like answering the question, “What are you eating?” with “Food.”

If you’re working on a project from a well-documented set of plans, or a kit that requires some fabrication of parts from aluminum, the instructions should call out the material specification in detail. The exception might be a part that is not structurally critical. For example, if the plans say: “1 x 1 x 1/8 angle aluminum,” you could source that size angle at a hardware store or home center. What you will likely get is 6063-T5 “architectural grade” aluminum. Compared to 6061-T6, it’s close to same strength and could be a reasonable option. But if the plans specifically call for 2024-T3, there is no option. 2024-T3 is more than three times as strong as 6063-T5 and almost twice as strong as 6061-T6.

So why would anyone use 6061-T6 if 2024-T3 is so much stronger? Cost is one factor. 2024-T3 is twice the price of 6061-T6. Weldability is another. Welding 2024 is generally not recommended. Also, for parts exposed to the elements, 6061 has better corrosion resistance than 2024. These factors and others are considered by engineers when they specify what goes where in your airplane. Engineers will often use 6061 over 2024 and get the same strength by making the part thicker or by gusseting. That’s why it’s important to pay attention. If the plans call for 6061 and you use 2024, it could result in the part being too strong and overstressing an adjoining component. When in doubt, stick to the instructions.

That brings us to buying aluminum stock for shop projects and parts. For non-airplane project material, you might browse local metal suppliers for good deals on surplus (tubing, rectangle bars, plate, or solid rounds, etc.). These are often remnant cutoffs (marked “rems”) that are tossed in a discount bin. Most aluminum is marked by the manufacturer. Anything that is unmarked should be considered “mystery” material. 6061-T6 will be the most common and lowest-price material. A selection of solid round bars one foot long (more or less) from -inch diameter to 1 inches, in -inch increments, would be a good starting inventory for turning stock. Some random angle, hex, rectangle, and plate material are always useful for making do-dads like fixture plates or miscellaneous work-holds.

Your first choice for flying-project material should be an aircraft supply house such as Aircraft Spruce or Wicks Aircraft and Motorsports. In addition to offering the commonly specified grades and shapes, they carry certified material. That is, they get the manufacturer’s test certification that proves the material is what they say it is. Normally you would never need a copy of these “certs,” but you can request a copy with your order. They will charge a fee, but you will get the certification that came with the batch of the material you receive. Both Wicks and Spruce understand that homebuilders aren’t buying for mass production, so they have a “per-foot” price structure. They also offer bargain bags of random sizes and shapes. This is an inexpensive way to practice welding, drilling, riveting, etc., on certified material.

Many aluminum parts can be utilized raw and unfinished. Untreated aluminum that is exposed to the elements, such as a polished fuselage or wings, panels, etc., should be kept clean, waxed, and inspected regularly. The need for corrosion-proofing depends on the alloy and the application. If the part is to be painted, it usually needs to be treated with an Alodine coating or processed with a chromic acid or sulfuric anodize treatment. Pure aluminum and some alloys resist corrosion due to naturally occurring aluminum oxide forming on the surface. In order for paint to adhere, Alodine treatments and the anodize process chemically etch the aluminum oxide away and replace it with a film (Alodine) or surface treatment (anodize) that is compliant to paint.

Bob Hadley is the R&D manager for a California-based consumer products company. He holds a Sport Pilot certificate and a Light-Sport Repairman certificate with inspection authorization for his Jabiru J250-SP.

This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Kitplanes magazine.

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