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Volume 25, Number 15b
April 10, 2018
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Air Force Scrambles To Replace Thunderbirds At Sun 'n Fun
Tim Cole

Last week’s fatal accident of a Thunderbirds F-16 outside Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, has led to the cancellation of the aerobatic demonstration team’s appearance at the Sun ‘n Fun fly-in in Lakeland, Florida, which opens Tuesday. The training accident claimed the life of Air Force Maj. Stephen Del Bagno. Sun ‘n Fun President John “Lites” Leenhouts told AVweb the Department of Defense may instead send a demonstration team consisting of an F-16 Viper and an F-35 Lightning II.

"The Pentagon doesn't like to break promises so they got right on it and we'll see what happens," Leenhouts said.

In other Sun ‘n Fun news, Leenhouts said more than 500 exhibitors have been spending the past few days setting up. Reps from tried-and-true airframers like Beechcraft, Cessna, Daher, Pilatus and Embraer are in full force. Gyrocopters, amphibs and light sports are here representing the fun side of flying. Bose is expected to make a major new product announcement.

Leenhouts said Sun ‘n Fun this year boasts significant improvements in the site’s physical amenities, including new restrooms and showers. “The campground is really filling up,” he said.

Gate proceeds and other revenue from the annual fly-in help young people pursue aviation careers as pilots, maintenance professionals or engineers.

AVweb will be on the show grounds all week, so be sure to say hello.

Sun 'n Fun 2018 Opener
Tim Cole

Sun 'n Fun 2018 opens this week in Lakeland, Florida. In this AVweb pre-show video, Sun 'n Fun president Lites Leenhouts outlines what's coming up during the week.

Video: Bose Introduces New ProFlight
Paul Bertorelli

At Sun 'n Fun 2018 in Lakeland, Florida, Bose introduced a new in-ear headset called the ProFlight. Bose's Matt Ruwe gave AVweb a detailed tour of the new product, which features noise cancellation and Bluetooth capability.

BRS Expands Cessna Parachute Centers
Kate O'Connor

At a time when changing perceptions about flight safety have pilots more interested in whole aircraft parachute systems, BRS Aerospace is expanding their network of approved installation centers for chute retrofits on Cessna 172s and 182s. In an exclusive podcast, company President Enrique Dillon told AVweb that BRS is looking to increase the number of approved centers around the world.

BRS, which is perhaps best known for providing whole aircraft parachute systems for Cirrus, reports 376 lives saved by their technology, including one deployment on a Cessna 182. The BRS parachute system was approved for the Cessna 172s (1966 and newer) in 2002 and 182s (1964 and newer) in 2004. Since then, Dillon says, hundreds of retrofit installations have been completed. Installation kits cost $17,500 for the Cessna 182 and $15,500 for the Cessna 172. In addition to the kit cost, owners should expect to pay for an average of 40 to 45 hours installation time. The 172 system adds 79 pounds. The 182 chute weighs in at 85 pounds.

The company has added five centers to its Cessna network in the past five months. Shops interested in becoming BRS approved installation centers work with BRS until they have successfully completed a couple of chute installations. Installations don’t have to be completed at approved centers, though BRS says the centers have the advantage of familiarity with both the product and with BRS personnel.

SARSAT Promotes ELT Registration And Testing
Kate O'Connor

NOAA’s Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) division is taking steps to promote the registration and testing of 406 MHz emergency location devices with a special awareness day. #406DAY18 was held Friday, April 6. In addition to government organizations, the awareness push is being supported by device manufacturers and partner groups across aviation, boating and outdoor adventure communities.

Federal law requires that all emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs), personal locator beacons (PLBs) and emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) be registered with NOAA SARSAT. Registration is free and can be done online or by contacting the NOAA SARSAT Beacon Registration Database at 1-888-212-SAVE (7283). Registration should also be updated if the aircraft or device is sold or when owner information changes.

Besides registration, SARSAT says it would also like to educate the GA community about how to prevent false alerts—which also includes proper test procedures—and what to do if a device is accidentally activated. According to SARSAT, false alerts from accidental activation of 406MHz ELTs by aircraft operators is a major issue, with more than 8,500 false alerts recorded in 2017. If a beacon is accidentally activated, the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center should be contacted at 1-800-851-3051. They’ll need the beacon’s ID to cancel the false alert.

Since the first Cospas satellite went up in 1982, SARSAT reports that more than 43,000 people around the world have been rescued with the Cospas-Sarsat program. Cospas-Sarsat —of which NOAA-SARSAT is an integral part—includes 41 nations and two independent search & rescue organizations.

Guardian Intros New Tablet Mounts
AVweb Staff

As commonplace as flying with a tablet has become, you still have to put the thing someplace. At Sun ‘n Fun this week, Guardian Avionics is showing off additions to its line of panel-mounted racks for the popular iPad and iPhone. On Tuesday, Guardian’s Ash Vij will conduct a forum on using tablets and smartphones as capable EFISs.

New to the line are mounts for the iPad 10.5 and iPhone X, both of which can be installed under the FAA NORSEE approval provision. This allows them to be installed legally in the panes of Part 23 aircraft, to include power connections. Guardian’s line of mounts also include cooling fans to address the iPad’s tendency to overheat and shut down. Check out the company’s line at Vij’s forum is scheduled for Tuesday at 9 a.m. in CFAA-1. For more information, see AVweb’s exclusive podcast on Guardian products.

FAA Seeks Drone Airspace Contractors
Kate O'Connor

The FAA is looking for a few companies to supply near real-time processing of airspace authorizations for drone operators. The idea behind the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) system is that it will streamline the approval process for routine Part 107 drone flights below approved altitudes in controlled airspace. So far, LAANC has only been operated as a prototype system at a few select airports.

According to the FAA, that is about to change. The agency is planning to institute a nationwide beta test during which it “will incrementally activate LAANC at nearly 300 air traffic facilities covering almost 500 airports.” The beta test is scheduled to begin rollout at the end of April and be active across the country by mid-September. “We want to enable technology and remove barriers so that’s why we’re simplifying the authorization process,” said FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell.

With LAANC service set to expand, the FAA anticipates enough new UAS Service Suppliers will be needed to merit twice-yearly application periods. The next open application period will be April 16 to May 16, 2018. The FAA says the application and onboarding process for potential LAANC suppliers takes about five months to complete.

Qantas Seeks Cure For Jet Lag
Kate O'Connor

Now that Qantas has airplanes that will safely make the 17-hour hop from Perth to London, the airline has turned its attention to keeping passengers healthy and comfortable on those long-haul legs. Using innovations in lighting and temperature control, lower cabin altitude and meal selection, Qantas aims to reduce one of the biggest complaints of the world traveler: jet lag.

With the airline’s plans to establish even longer nonstop flights from Sydney to London, New York, Paris and Rio, passengers are going to need all the comfort they can get. Those flights would clock in at about 20 hours in the air. Qantas calls the next phase of its long-haul travel plans Project Sunrise and has asked both Boeing and Airbus to come up with a plan (and a plane) to meet those goals. The airline hopes to have those routes open by 2020.

According to Qantas, quite a lot has already been done to make the 7,800-nautical mile trip from Perth to London easier on passengers. For a start, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner used for the route has a lower cabin altitude than many aircraft—6,000 feet instead of the more common 8,000 feet—and higher humidity, both of which help reduce passenger fatigue. Also, to give long-haul travelers more space, Qantas has the cabin set up for a maximum of 236 passengers instead of the 290 possible for the 787-9.

On the human physiology side of things, the airline worked extensively with sleep specialists, nutritionists and metabolic scientists from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre. Together, the partnership regulated cabin lighting and temperature patterns, devised menus and planned meal times to try to improve passenger health and comfort and reduce jet lag. The team will also be collecting data from volunteers on sleep and eating patterns, mental state, activity and hydration before, during and after their flights.

Lycoming 'When can an engine give you 200 extra flying hours?'
The Business Of Blimps
Mary Grady

A few days ago I posted a story about a new French company with a plan to build an airship, a story that brought on a feeling of deja vu. As a fan of lighter-than-air flight, I seldom miss a chance to report on a new LTA design — but having been at this reporting gig for about 20 years now, it’s hard not to see the trends. The designs are beautiful, the airships perform, but the market never materializes. The Zeppelin factory in Germany now supplies the Goodyear fleet, but the company that flew their very capable ship for tourist flights in California has folded. Unless you’re at a football game or a parade, or at Oshkosh, you’re unlikely to ever see an airship in the sky, which is kind of a shame.

The French folks say the 500-foot-long airship they plan to build will be able to harvest wood from virgin forests where there are no roads, using slings to load the cargo without having to land. The company has some notable partners and substantial funding, but they’re a long way from operational. The Airlander company in England has suffered a couple of accidents with their huge airship design, endlessly delaying its entry into service. They’re working on developing a VVIP version that would provide luxury travel in remote and spectacular places — it sounds like an amazing way to explore the world, but it’s a long way from implementation. Rumors say some tech billionaire is building a giant airship inside one of the vintage hangars at Moffett Field, near San Francisco, but if it’s true, we haven’t seen it.

We’ve had the technology for a long time, and these startup companies seem able to find substantial financial backing, yet we still can’t book an aerial LTA cruise anywhere in the world. When Airship Ventures launched their sightseeing flights in California, I was hopeful they would make a go of it. I got to fly with them, and it was just as you’d imagine … low and slow above the California coast, with the windows open, free to move around the cabin … every flight was spectacular. But despite a great crew, a high-tech aircraft and world-class scenery, they never really caught on. If you happen to be in Friedrichshafen, Germany, you can book a flight in a Zeppelin, for up to two hours, but that’s about it.

Over the years, I’ve seen lots of proposals for airships that would fly around the world, or across the Atlantic, or hover low above coral reefs with glass-bottom cabins, or provide luxury travel in remote and spectacular places. The technology seems up to the task, yet these ventures never materialize. Are people really still afraid to fly LTA, because of the Hindenburg? Could one crash have such a long-term effect? Or maybe folks just want to get there as fast as they can? Yet cruises and trains still manage to attract those niche travelers.

It’s a mystery to me why we don’t have more airships in the world. Still, every new plan and prototype gives me hope. Everyone else may be waiting for their flying car to whisk them everywhere at top speed, but I’m still looking for my aerial equivalent of a sailboat, to travel low and slow above the treetops.

Picture of the Week April 9, 2018
A collection of cool shots from recent AVWeb Picture of the Week contributions.

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General Aviation Accident Bulletin

AVweb’s General Aviation Accident Bulletin is taken from the pages of our sister publication, Aviation Safety magazine, and is published twice a month. All the reports listed here are preliminary and include only initial factual findings about crashes. You can learn more about the final probable cause in the NTSB’s website at Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more about Aviation Safety at

January 1, 2018, Lynchburg, Va.

Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam P2006

At about 1725 Eastern time, the airplane sustained substantial damage following a landing gear separation during landing. The flight instructor in the right seat and the pilot receiving instruction in the left seat sustained no injuries. Visual conditions were present.

As the flight turned onto final approach, and with the flaps fully extended, the aircrew verified verbally that all landing gears were down and locked. The pilot maintained about a 500-fpm descent on final and verified verbally with the flight instructor that the airspeed was 70 KIAS. The pilot flared and executed a normal landing. Immediately after touchdown, the left main landing gear assembly separated at the axle. Subsequently, the airplane skidded for about 100 feet, departed the runway to the left and came to rest on the grass. The pilot performed a shutdown and the two occupants egressed without further incident.

The flight instructor reported there were no wind gusts during the approach and landing, and there was no side loading at touchdown. The flight instructor further reported that in his experience, he did not feel the landing would have caused any damage.

January 1, 2018, Nampa, Idaho

Cessna 150

The pilot later reported becoming disoriented on a dark night. He circled over a nearby town for about an hour, but was unable to find any visual references to aid in navigation. The pilot then called a family member on the ground, who provided guidance to the destination airport via a cellphone app. He spotted what appeared to be the destination airport and maneuvered for an approach but realized in the landing flare he was not at the airport. Instead, the pilot landed on a road about six miles from his intended destination. During the landing, the airplane struck trees, landed on a road, veered left and impacted a light pole.

January 2, 2018, Aurora, Ore.

Cessna T210L Turbo Centurion

At about 0920 local time, the airplane was substantially damaged when its right main landing gear collapsed during landing. The solo private pilot was not injured; visual conditions prevailed.

After failing to obtain indications that the landing gear was down and locked, the pilot flew a low approach, after which tower personnel reported that the landing gear appeared to be down. During the landing, the right main landing gear collapsed, followed by the airplane veering off the right side of the runway. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the right elevator and right horizontal stabilizer.

January 3, 2018, Gulf of Mexico

Cirrus Design SR22T

At about 1800 Central time, the airplane was missing over the Gulf of Mexico and presumed sunk. Visual conditions prevailed. The flight departed Oklahoma City, Okla., at about 1419 with Georgetown, Texas, as its destination.

As the airplane approached the destination airport, ATC cleared it to turn right and descend to 13,000 feet msl. Instead, the airplane turned left. Controllers made multiple attempts to communicate with the pilot, but without success. Radar tracked the aircraft to its last known position about 220 miles north of Cancun, Mexico.

January 11, 2018, Elko, Nev.

Piper PA-23-250 Aztec

At about 1800 Pacific time, the airplane collided with mountainous terrain. The solo commercial pilot was fatally injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

While en route, the pilot reported encountering clouds and asked for the nearest airport, saying, “Alright, I’m getting super turbulent over here I’m going to head over there.” Shortly after, communication and radar contact were lost. Search and rescue efforts ensued, and aerial photography was used to identify the crash site January 19, 2018, on the east face of mountain peak, near its summit. Onsite examination by ground personnel identified the wreckage as the accident airplane.

January 13, 2018, Longmont, Colo.

Beech K35 Bonanza

The airplane experienced a loss of engine power shortly after takeoff. The pilot sustained serious injuries, the passenger sustained minor injuries and the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

A witness heard “a popping noise” coming from the accident airplane during takeoff. A few seconds later, he heard the engine “shut off” with the airplane in a nose-up attitude. The airplane rolled to the right and then descended in a “steep dive” toward the ground. When the witness arrived at the accident site, he observed smoke and smelled fuel near the airplane. He stated the ground near the airplane was wet and fuel was leaking from the wing where it had separated from the fuselage. The pilot later told the owner that after the second consecutive touch-and-go, the engine lost power so the pilot pushed the nose down and made a forced landing in a field off the end of the runway. The pilot added that the landing gear had already been retracted and there was no remaining runway available to land.

January 17, 2018, Raton, N.M.

Bell UH-1H Helicopter

At about 1800 Mountain time, the helicopter impacted terrain; a ground fire and explosion subsequently occurred. The commercial pilot, pilot-rated passenger and three other passengers were fatally injured. One passenger sustained serious injuries. The helicopter was destroyed. Night visual conditions prevailed.

The surviving passenger indicated the helicopter was in level flight and recalled a big bang as the helicopter hit the ground. The helicopter rolled forward, coming to a stop upside down with the passenger hanging from a seat belt and jet fuel pouring on her. The passenger released her seat belt and evacuated the helicopter. The helicopter was on fire and subsequent explosions followed. The passenger called 911 and waited for emergency responders.

Weather at the departure point 10.7 nm from the accident site included wind from 030 degrees at 10 knots, visibility of 10 sm and clear skies. The fuselage came to rest on a flat mesa at the top of rising terrain. The elevation in the area of the main wreckage was about 6932 feet msl. The initial observed point of terrain contact was a parallel pair of ground scars, consistent with the width of the helicopter’s landing skids, which led directly to the main wreckage on a 074-degree bearing. The distance from the start of the parallel ground scars to the wreckage was about 474 feet.

January 17, 2018, Skyforest, Calif.

Mooney M20E Super 21/Chaparral

The airplane collided with rising terrain at about 1130 Pacific time. The private pilot and one passenger sustained minor injuries; two other passengers were not injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot reported departing with 20 gallons of fuel aboard. About five minutes into the flight, the airplane approached terrain that rose from about 1800 feet msl to 5700 feet over about 5.5 miles. The airplane was about 1000 feet agl as it neared the top of the ridgeline. The pilot stated he encountered a downdraft and the airplane aerodynamically stalled. Seconds later, the airplane impacted terrain.

This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

For more great content like this, subscribe to Aviation Safety!

Reader Comments and Letters: April 7, 2018
AVweb Staff

Electric Airplane Lessons

Would I take lessons in an electric airplane? I might take initial instruction for a private pilot ticket or instrument rating in an electric airplane. The basics of angle of attack and so on won't change because of the power plant but I simply cannot see advancing to cross country work in an electric airplane or trying to use one as an actual form of transportation; at least until battery technology improves.

Battery life is too short and charging rates too long. The same problems exist with electric cars. They are fine for tooling around town, but you can't set off on a road trip with a fuel source that is only good for an hour and a half or so without some means of getting a quick turnaround. Waiting for two hours to charge my battery is not practical.

Don Purney

Learning to fly in an electric aircraft with the aim of achieving an single-engine rating is currently impossible. The electric aircraft didn't qualify as a "single engine piston" aircraft since it has no pistons!

Mike Ellis

 Helicopter Ditching

The USCG does specialized training for helicopter ditchings  These can be more complex and dangerous than fixed-wing ditchings.  

Depending on the outcome of the investigation of the East River crash, the FAA may want to look at the safety and effectiveness of the restraint systems and the briefing/training provided to passengers.

Doug Armstrong

Natural Resources Pilot Blog

I would love to get a job doing the type of flying you describe. I am a 3000-hour pilot with about 1700 hours of tailwheel time, most of it in Huskys.   I live in New Hampshire and fly out of Portsmouth (KPSM).

There are probably fewer jobs in the East, but I only need one.

David Murphy

ADS-B April Fools Spoof

AVWeb has become a go-to piece for me so to read some readers are flaming you? Hey... lighten up and have a sandwich! It was funny, although my first reaction was to have a cow, which made it funnier 
Thanks to all at the AVweb team. 

Tom Wilkinson

ADS-B joke for April Fools? Really? Way to lose credibility.

Patrick Johnson

While I do appreciate gags and jokes, this article is in poor taste. In my personal opinion, April Fools/ gags should be posed in a sense that they have no ill-intent whether it be intentional or non-intentional.

Your article/post has potentially misled individuals on government directives. In general, I feel like your joke, while I'm sure it was intended no harm, was in poor taste.

Thomas Miller

Good one.  Read it four times, went to FAA and never thought of clicking links. Knew it was possible, but FAA working on a weekend? Good one!

Matt Near

Hey idiot! I really thought AVweb was a good thing until the sick joke about the ADS-B extension. Bye and good riddance!

Frank Acuff

While the article title alone was enough to tell me this was an April Fools joke, your name confirmed it. I just couldn't stop laughing while looking at the diagram! But I must admit, I laughed even more at some of the outraged comments while, at the same time, suppressing the urge to cry.

My belief that all pilots, except myself, are near the top of the intellect scale has been shattered. Paul, please keep it up. I read your blogs first including all the comments you generated!

Harvey Muehl


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