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Volume 25, Number 10b
March 7, 2018
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NTSB To Address Loss Of Control
Mary Grady

Loss of control continues to be the leading cause of general aviation fatalities, and the NTSB is working to change that. On April 24, the board will host a meeting of experts to discuss the problem and explore solutions. The program, set for April 24 in Washington, D.C., will comprise three roundtable sessions on pilot training, cockpit technology and the next steps needed to address the challenges identified. The event is open to the public and also will be webcast live online, from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Speakers will include airshow pilot Patty Wagstaff and Foreflight CEO Tyson Weihs, as well as staff from AOPA, EAA, Embry-Riddle, the FAA, the NTSB and more. The program will be moderated by NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt.

NBAA also recently cited loss of control as the top “safety focus area” on its 2018 list of the most critical safety-related risks facing operators of business aircraft. Other risks listed by NBAA were operations with a single pilot, distraction management, runway excursions, procedural compliance and more. “The identified focus areas represent the most critical safety-related risks facing business aircraft operators in 2018,” said David Ryan, chairman of NBAA’s Safety Committee. The committee aims to not only identify potential hazards, Ryan said, but also “to provide the business aviation community with the most effective mitigation tools and strategies.”

JP Instruments 'Primary JPI EDM 930'
GA Advocates Urge Contract-Tower Support
Mary Grady

Nine advocacy groups representing general aviation interests wrote to members of Congress this week urging support for the FAA’s contract tower program. About $172 million in funding is needed for the 254 towers now in the program, plus several new towers that are expected to be added in the next fiscal year, according to the letter. These towers now handle about 28 percent of all ATC tower operations, and because they cost less to operate than FAA towers, they save taxpayers about $200 million every year, the advocates said. Among the groups signing the letter (PDF) are AOPA, NBAA, NATA and the Regional Airline Association.

“FAA contract tower controllers do an excellent job of handling ATC services at hundreds of our nation’s smaller airports in rural communities,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “We believe funding for this program is essential to secure aviation safety and promote economic development. We encourage bipartisan support of this cost-effective government/industry partnership.”  The program supports towers at small airports in 46 states.

WAI Conference In Reno, March 22-24
Mary Grady

The 29th annual conference of Women in Aviation International is coming up March 22 to 24, at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada. The event includes hiring briefings all three days, when companies in search of new employees will spend 45 minutes to outline their application procedures and discuss positions available and their requirements. Each session also will include a question and answer period. “Briefings are open to all attendees – no advance registration necessary – just come with your conference badge,” said WAI President Peggy Chabrian. Companies are looking to hire maintenance technicians, pilots, engineers, software specialists and more, WAI said. All events are open to both women and men.

“Our conference has always been an active place for making contacts for a job and sometimes even getting hired,” said Chabrian. The hiring briefings aim to help applicants “get off on the right foot” when applying for jobs, she said. Companies confirmed to participate include Alaska Airlines, Aurora Flight Sciences, Delta Air Lines, FedEx, Southwest Airlines and more. Other events during the conference will include a roster of speakers, educational sessions, an exhibit hall and the annual scholarship awards, when 103 scholarships totaling $569,965 in value will be awarded. The scholarships fund both flight training and scholastic studies, with specific scholarships earmarked for a wide variety of pursuits in aviation and aerospace. Registration is open online.

Eviation Chooses Battery Supplier
Mary Grady

Eviation, based in Israel, has announced they will work with Kokam, a South Korean company, to supply batteries for their all-electric aircraft design, called Alice. Kokam also supplied the custom batteries used by Solar Impulse 2 in their record-setting global flight. The Alice commuter airplane is designed to carry nine passengers up to 650 miles at 240 knots, according to the company. Eviation showed a mock-up of it last month at the Singapore Air Show. It’s scheduled to fly before the end of this year and enter service by 2021, according to the company, with a market price of about $2 million.

Kokam says its batteries feature a compact design and an industry-leading energy density of 260 Watt-hours per kilogram, and are also light and safe enough for aviation use. This will be the company’s first product for a regional commuter aircraft. Zunum Aero, of Seattle, also is working on an electric-powered commuter plane that would seat up to 12. Zunum says its airplane will be ready for first flight next year and first deliveries in 2022. That project has funding from Boeing’s HorizonX investment team. Airbus also is working on an electric-powered regional airliner, the E-Fan X.

AOPA Offers Flight Scholarships
Mary Grady

AOPA is accepting applications for three scholarship programs that will help fund flight training. Two of the scholarships help student pilots earn their private pilot certificate, and the third program helps current pilots who are working toward an advanced certificate or rating. The deadline is May 2 for all of the programs. Twenty scholarships of $5,000 each will help high school students, ages 15 to 18, to pay for an initial pilot certificate. Sport, private or recreational certificates all are eligible. A number of Primary Certification Scholarships also will be awarded, providing $2,500 to $7,500 for applicants age 16 and up, who are AOPA members.

The Advanced Rating Scholarships, new this year, will provide $3,000 to $10,000 to help fund advanced training for AOPA members working toward an instrument rating, commercial pilot certificate, flight instructor certificate, instrument flight instructor certificate or multiengine flight instructor certificate. The winners will be announced in early June. Application details are posted online.

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Pal-V Displays Production Version
Mary Grady

Pal-V unveiled the production model for its “flying car,” the Pal-V Liberty, at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland on Tuesday. “The production model is the moment of truth,” said CEO Robert Dingemanse in a news release. “All certifications required for commercialization will be granted on the basis of this production model.” He said the company expects to receive full certification next year and begin deliveries shortly afterward. The aircraft is driven by two Rotax engines. It meets EASA and FAA safety requirements, the company says, and also complies with road regulations in most countries of the world.

The Pal-V can operate from paved or grass runways as short as 650 feet, the company says. It has two seats and can cruise at speeds up to 86 knots. It has a range of about 215 nautical miles. The effort was first announced in 2007 and flew in 2012. Last year, the company began to take orders, and offered a price of about $600,000.

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Things I Might Not Do Again
Paul Bertorelli

I just pulled down from a dusty shelf in my office a plaque awarded to me for an important aviation achievement. It was presented to me personally by none other than famed flight test pilot and Collier Trophy winner Scott Crossfield. More on that in a moment.

The reason I retrieved it relates to something I saw on the evening news last weekend. A Piper Malibu, having landed undamaged on the median or maybe the lanes of the 101 freeway near San Jose, was being towed to a nearby airport. As the camera scrolled the airframe, I thought to myself, hey, that looks just like my friend Chuck Kissner’s old Malibu, the one we flogged across the continent several times with me in the right seat. When I saw the N-number, it sure enough was the same airplane. This is not something you want to see on the evening news. Or at all.

Dredging my memory, I was thinking this was the airplane’s second engine failure. Well no, Chuck informed me by email, it was actually the fifth partial or full failure, at least that we know about. Chuck had three—two turbo hose departures and a fuel pump failure. His then-partner had a broken crankshaft and now this failure. The airplane is an early Malibu and has north of 5500 hours.

Even experienced vicariously via a 15-second news clip, such a development causes one to, shall I say, rethink one’s decisions. Chuck was more whimsical: “Ah, the power of rationalization,” he wrote me, reminding me that even after his mechanical mayhem, he continued to fly the airplane over the Rockies. At night. Sometimes in weather. Sometimes with me along.  

Readers of this blog know that I’m fond of measuring risk numerically so even if the airplane had five failures in 10,000 hours, that’s not what I would call low risk. If you explained this to a non-aviation person about to ascend the airstair into the cabin, would it cause pause? Logically, it should, I suppose. On the other hand, the airplane made it down safely every time.

In addition to being a serial quitter, the airplane had another unnerving habit. Being pressurized, it oil canned a little in the form of a robust bang at random moments. Chuck had warned me about it, but I still nearly soiled myself when it did this over the mountains in weather. At least it was daylight.

The Malibu was—and is—one of the great GA airplanes. Big, fast and comfortable. But Piper was further along with the airframe than Continental was with the engine. The TSIO-520-BE did the job of pressurizing the cabin with a pair of turbos and driving the thing into the flight levels, but it didn’t have much to spare and the early airplanes could be maintenance hogs. What the Malibu really needed was the IO-550 series, but by the time that was available, Piper had switched to the Lycoming TIO-540 for the Mirage.

Chuck is off flying piston airplanes at all now, but I’d still get in that very same airplane for a long trip. But I’m no longer interested in traversing the Rockies or Sierras in weather or at night. I’d still fly night IFR, even in the winter, considering the airplane has boots and handles icing effectively. We did one such trip westbound from Rhode Island to California into the teeth of a winter gale. When the groundspeed drops to 120 knots in a 200-knot airplane, the discussion naturally turns to things made by Pratt & Whitney bolted on to things made by Boeing.

Now, about that plaque. We were awarded it by the National Aeronautic Association for “speed over a recognized course from San Jose … to New York … for Class C-1d, Group 1 on May 4, 1992.” According to the plaque, the trip took 10 hours and 56 minutes for a speed of 234.16 mph. It’s an impressive plaque with a bespoke raised gold seal. I don’t have it hanging up because I don’t have the wall space and because if someone asked about it, I’d have to explain what “vanity record” means.

These so-called city-pair records seemed to be a thing in the early 1990s and may still be, for all I know. But it’s about as significant as the record my personal parachute packer, Kyle, awarded me over the weekend: the most number of skydives without dying. I like that guy. He keeps packing them and I keep unpacking them.

I went to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, where the late Scott Crossfield handed out the awards. What a gracious man. When one of the recipients told Crossfield that he was a personal hero, Crossfield replied: “Well, tonight, you’re mine.” Maybe I’ll withdraw that crack about the vanity record. For a brief, shining moment, the awards made us feel like we were participants in the larger world of aeronautics, even if strutting across the stage for an eye blink.

Crossfield asked me what the unrefueled range of the Malibu was, but damned if I could remember. But I do know it has a hell of a glide ratio.

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Tecnam Astore Flight Trial
Paul Bertorelli

Tecnam has enjoyed brisk sales with its new Astore LSA. AVweb's Paul Bertorelli recently took the airplane for a flight trial and shot this detailed video report.

Short Final

A couple of relevant PIREPs from the East Coast noreaster on March 2: 





Brainteasers Quiz #241: Now What?

In the fast-moving world of flight, the pilot needs to think ahead, anticipate ATC's next transmission and what might happen if you lose, say, an engine. Do that, and you'll fly smart and ace this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

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