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Volume 25, Number 25a
June 18, 2018
 
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Privatization Fight Continues
 
Russ Niles
 
 

To no one’s surprise, those in favor of splitting air traffic control from the FAA are busy planning their next move. After a last-minute grassroots lobbying effort blocked an amendment snuck into the FAA reauthorization bill passed last month that would have laid the legal groundwork for such a move, the CEO of one of the U.S.’s largest airlines was musing about the next steps in front of a friendly audience at the Economic Club of Washington earlier this month. EAA caught a story in Politico that quoted United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz as saying it’s already a topic of conversation when CEOs meet. “The airline industry is trying to formulate what the next plan would be,” Munoz told Politico “There's an outline coming together, but it'll be some time before we all get aligned around it.”

He further said that once the airlines decide what they want they’ll “provide that input and then work with the government to make that move forward.” Well, forewarned is forearmed so EAA says it’s not going to be that easy. “As EAA noted when the ATC privatization proposal in the House was withdrawn earlier this year, any celebration should be tempered with a guarded eye toward efforts by proponents to revitalize the effort in the future,” it said in its recent story. The plan that has so far been thwarted involves setting up a not-for-profit corporation that raises its funding directly from those using the national airspace system. The “user pay” model is opposed by general aviation groups that say the resulting corporation will turn over control of the system to the airlines. “EAA and other GA organizations support the continued modernization of the national airspace system, but not at the cost of equal access to the airspace or minimizing GA’s important role within the nation’s aviation infrastructure,” EAA said in its report.

FAA Tracking Down 11,000 Non-Compliant Aircraft
 
Russ Niles
 
 

The FAA says it’s tracking down the owners of up to 11,000 aircraft operating in the U.S. that may be noncompliant or have expired registrations. The focus of the operation appears to be commercial aircraft but the FAA didn’t make any distinctions in its comments on the topic. “When the FAA does not know the location of an aircraft, the owner of an aircraft, or whether the owner might be deliberately attempting to circumvent safety regulations, that’s a serious problem,” Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner said in a release.

A whistleblower came forward in September of 2017 to report that hundreds of aircraft might be operating illegally with interior doors between passengers and emergency exits, suggesting that business aircraft might be involved. The walls are allowed in privately registered aircraft but can’t be there if the planes are used in commercial operations. The agency said most inspectors weren’t aware of the rule. A task force was formed to review interior door exemptions on 1,000 aircraft and the registration records of 11,000. It expects to be finished in September.

Last Call For What?
 
Paul Berge
 

Aviation has never lacked for dumb ideas. It’s what drives innovation.

“Hey, Orville, wanna jump off a sand dune strapped to these really cool wings I made in the bike shop?” What seemed stupid in 1903 is recognized as pioneering genius today. Likewise, countless other notions such as flying inside clouds without reference to the ground seemed impossible at first. But, in 1929, aviation hero and guy who’s smarter than anyone writing this piece, Jimmy Doolittle, proved that humans could survive flight solely on the gauges. Implicit was that it’s really stupid to try IMC without instrument flight savvy. VFR humans, though, routinely test this concept with predictable results.

In 1965, when my father took me to see Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines, I laughed at the newsreel footage of ridiculous early aircraft crashing in time to vaudevillian music stings. Great stuff. I knew I had to become a pilot, preferably in something that didn’t crash. And, mostly, I’ve succeeded, thanks to better aircraft design and buckets of dumb luck.  After 45 years of exploring the frontiers of my personal idiocy in flight, I’ve earned the position of airport old guy, certificated to grouse about the failings of others.

For instance: Twenty years ago, I was an air traffic controller. Sweet gig, that. The FAA paid me to sit inside an air-conditioned glass box watching airplanes fly and witness more than a few crashes, usually with non-fatal, head-scratching results. Chief among the inevitable prangs were the pilots with the focus of suicide bombers and little grasp of the gentle art of the flare on landing.

These pioneers of failure were determined to prove that Cherokee 140s can land safely after twice bouncing. Only, they can’t. You get two free tries, but on the third attempt to plant the accident arrival unit (AAU), something will break. Seen it too many times and not just by Cherokee riders. Remedial training might limit recidivism, but I doubt it. In close competition is loss of directional control—meaning feetless pilots have no idea how to handle crosswinds—which keeps repair shops in business, and there’s no cure for this malady, either. Sorry, I’m jaded.

There’s another realm of aviation silliness that first came to my attention as an air traffic controller, and that’s the weird things we say on frequency. Most instrument pilots—at least the ones who read IFR magazine—sound cool on the air. They know that key to good communications is to not key the microphone. What you don’t say is more valuable than what could be said before the brain’s engaged. The yakkitive pilot who tries to dominate an ATC frequency with “ahs” and “ums” or the stinky transmission starter, “And,” as in “And … Cirrus Eight Niner Blah Blah is with you at …” No, you’re not “with” the controller. She’s miles away flipping off your target on the radar display, because you’re clogging the frequency. Experienced controllers know how to nip excessive verbiage in the larval stage, but there’s no sheriff to clean up CTAF.

CTAF means Common Traffic Advisory Frequency or Clown Talking Aviation Fest. The tonnage of verbal hijinks on these community chat frequencies is immensely annoying. Recently, I was in the pattern with a tailwheel student, while 30 miles away, two chuckleheads on 122.8 discussed their various positions like pre-teens on one of those, you know, cellphone things:

“I’m, like, over the freeway, where are you?”

“Like, over the lake.”

“OMG!”

And it devolved from there. There really should be an app that automatically silences anyone making more than two transmissions inside of 30 seconds.  Granted, I don’t completely understand apps but am told they can do anything.

The mouthful of uselessness phrase, “Traffic in the area, please advise,” lingers in the aerial lexicon with the tenacity of Army-issue VD.* Can’t be killed, despite the FAA itself stating years ago in AIM 4-1-9(g) that—and I’m paraphrasing, “It’s thoroughly stupid! Don’t say it … ever!” And yet, it slips into the CTAF conversation, much like your Uncle Jake who brings up his colonoscopy at family reunions.

Here’s the latest entry into the Creative Earsore category and it may be new to some of you. “Last call.” As in the Twin Cessna pilot who announced his every intention from, “Taxiing from the ramp to runway one-five …” to “Taking runway one-five …” then, “Taking off runway one-five (and, of course adding, “Traffic in the area, please advise”). The play-by-play continued with several updates on his altitude, headings and SAT scores. Closing this CTAF-blocking podcast was the phrase, “Clear to the north. Last call.” Full disclosure: I used to be a bartender—a really bad one—and last call meant, “Hey, rummies, it’s 2 a.m., lift your faces off the bar and order one for the road.” Sorry if that toys with your sitcom image of Cheers-like bartenders.

Who cares if this is your last call? Unless, of, course, you’re announcing that you’ll never speak on CTAF again. In which case, you’re welcome back anytime. Thinking I was alone in my pique from this newfound phraseology, I was surprised when a designated pilot examiner contacted me to ask, “Have you been hearing ‘last call’ reports on CTAF?” And, like two old granddads who can’t understand why kids nowadays listen to rap, we vowed to give these last call offenders stern looks whenever we heard it.

Yeah, that might be a dumb idea, but there’s a linguistic moral imperative in play here best expressed in the cinema classic, Animal House: “This situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture on somebody’s part,” and we who are without fault are just the ones to do it. So, wherever there’s a pilot beatin’ up a CTAF or confusing “hanger” with “hangar,” I’ll be there, muttering to myself in righteous superiority while refusing to advise when requested to do so.

Who’s with me?

Anyone?  No … ?

Last call ….

*Long-time reader Mike Palmer writes to say that in the latest version of AC-90-66B, the FAA actually officially recommends against trolling for traffic on CTAF in section 10-3.1 “Note: Pilots are reminded that the use of the phrase, 'ANY TRAFFIC IN THE AREA, PLEASE ADVISE,' is not a recognized self-announce position and/or intention phrase and should not be used under any condition. Any traffic that is present at the time of your self-announcement that is capable of radio communications should reply without being prompted to do so.”

Not that anyone would possibly pay attention to it.

Lycoming 'When can an engine give you 200 extra flying hours?'
The Airplane That Led the D-Day Invasion
 
Paul Bertorelli
 
 

A historic World War II C-47 that was nearly scrapped is again flying and readying to return to Normandy next year. In this AVweb video, the Commemorative Air Force's Keegan Chetwynd tells the remarkable story of That's All Brother, the airplane that led the D-day invasion.

Transport Canada Rules Out 'Blue Ice' Reports
 
Russ Niles
 
 

Transport Canada says the suspected human excrement that has landed on cars, people and property in British Columbia over the last six weeks didn’t come from airplanes. About a dozen incidents in which a foul-smelling substance has fallen from the sky have been reported but Transport Canada says its investigation ruled out aircraft involvement. The department said it interviewed owners, operators and airport staff and reviewed radar tapes and found no aircraft connection to the reported incidents. “The department’s review has concluded that these incidents do not meet the description of blue ice and are therefore not aviation-related,” it said in a statement.

One of those who complained is not accepting Transport Canada’s assessment. Susan Allan said she and her 21-year-old son were stopped at a traffic light in Kelowna, B.C., when they were splattered with a bluish-gray substance that came through the open sunroof. Allen later needed treatment for eye infections caused by what her doctor concluded was contact with human excrement. “It was a beautiful day. It was pure blue sky and if I had looked up and seen a flock of birds, it would have been a different story. All that was there was an airplane …,” she told Global News. Allen’s encounter happened May 9 but a man in Lumby, about 50 miles northeast of Kelowna, reported on June 14 his car was covered in a similar substance while it was parked in the driveway of his rural property. There have been other reports from Kelowna, Armstrong, Williams Lake and Abbotsford, B.C. Armstrong is about 60 miles north of Kelowna but Williams Lake is 300 miles north and Abbotsford 200 miles west. There was also a report in Saskatchewan, about 1,000 miles east.

Blackhawk Offers New King Air 350ER Upgrade
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

Blackhawk Modifications has announced that its subsidiary, Vector-Hawk Aerospace, will be offering the company's Blackhawk XP67A Engine+ Upgrade STC kit for the Beechcraft King Air 350ER. The kit is aimed at special mission applications and was recently approved by the FAA for aircraft at up to 17,500 pounds maximum allowable takeoff weight. Blackhawk is offering the 350ER XP37A upgrade in partnership with Sierra Nevada Corporation.

The upgrade includes two new Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67A engines, new five-bladed composite propeller assemblies and spinners from MT and a True Blue Power lithium-ion battery. According to Blackhawk, the XP67A Engine+ Upgrade provides a 25-30 percent increase in power. “The new Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67A upgrade gives the aircraft an amazing increase in performance, especially for aircraft operated in special missions roles at 17,500 pounds gross weight,” said Blackhawk Modifications CEO Jim Allmon.

Installations will be done primarily at Sierra Nevada Corporation-authorized installation facilities, although the company says field installations are also available. The kit comes with training, support and a five-year/2,500-hour enhanced new-engine warranty.

737 Firefighting Aircraft Under Testing
 
Russ Niles
 
 

Wildfire fighters may soon have a new aerial attack weapon in the in the form of a retired Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-300. Coulson Air Tankers, the Canadian company that displayed the last flying Martin Mars flying boat at AirVenture 2016, bought six of the airliners from Southwest and has finished converting one to a multipurpose aerial tanker. The Fireliner is currently in San Bernardino, California, undergoing FAA certification tests, focusing on the flight performance of the plane with the 4,000-gallon water/retardant tank installed. “This is part of the certification program that every air tanker must go through and as we are the first firefighting B737 in the world, it’s key that we understand the limitations of the aircraft,” the company said in a Facebook post. The next step is “grid testing” by the U.S. Forest Service to assess the drop pattern from the aircraft.

The company says one of the selling points of the aircraft is a new delivery system that pumps water or retardant at the rate of more than 2,000 gallons per minute. That compensates for the higher speeds of the jet to concentrate flow on the fire. The aircraft can also carry 63 passengers when the tank is empty so it can be used to ferry ground crews or other personnel. In an earlier interview, company President Wayne Coulson said there’s also an option for an executive interior so that countries or states can use it year-round. The plane also sports a new Garmin 5000 panel. Meanwhile, Coulson is still looking for “respectful” homes for its two Martin Mars aircraft, which will likely never fight fires again. He’s hoping museums will be interested in acquiring the planes, which were originally built for the U.S. Navy as troop carriers.

 

Transport Canada Rules Out 'Blue Ice' Reports
 
Russ Niles
 
 

Transport Canada says the suspected human excrement that has landed on cars, people and property in British Columbia over the last six weeks didn’t come from airplanes. About a dozen incidents in which a foul-smelling substance has fallen from the sky have been reported but Transport Canada says its investigation ruled out aircraft involvement. The department said it interviewed owners, operators and airport staff and reviewed radar tapes and found no aircraft connection to the reported incidents. “The department’s review has concluded that these incidents do not meet the description of blue ice and are therefore not aviation-related,” it said in a statement.

One of those who complained is not accepting Transport Canada’s assessment. Susan Allan said she and her 21-year-old son were stopped at a traffic light in Kelowna, B.C., when they were splattered with a bluish-gray substance that came through the open sunroof. Allen later needed treatment for eye infections caused by what her doctor concluded was contact with human excrement. “It was a beautiful day. It was pure blue sky and if I had looked up and seen a flock of birds, it would have been a different story. All that was there was an airplane …,” she told Global News. Allen’s encounter happened May 9 but a man in Lumby, about 50 miles northeast of Kelowna, reported on June 14 his car was covered in a similar substance while it was parked in the driveway of his rural property. There have been other reports from Kelowna, Armstrong, Williams Lake and Abbotsford, B.C. Armstrong is about 60 miles north of Kelowna but Williams Lake is 300 miles north and Abbotsford 200 miles west. There was also a report in Saskatchewan, about 1,000 miles east.

Picture of the Week, June 14, 2018
 
 
This photo was taken on a C-182 flight from Alabama to El Paso. All in all, it was a 10.1 hrs adventure. We skirted just south of Guadelupe Peak, entering ELP from the east at 12,500 feet. Copyrighted photo by Robert Wannenburg.

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Industry Round-up: June 15, 2018
 
AVweb Staff
 
 

When it comes to this week’s news roundup, AVweb found reports on Superior Air Parts’ 2018 Oshkosh AirVenture forum series schedule and a new opportunity for U.S. pilots from Emirates airline. Oshkosh events continue to take shape and Superior Air Parts has announced that it will be hosting 18 forums over six days at its OSH tent (#257) this year. Forums will run for 45 minutes each and cover an array of topics including Engine Leaning Made Simple, Compression Testing Aircraft Engines and Maximizing Cylinder Life, Engine Longevity and Reliability, Propeller Care and Maintenance, and Owner Inspections. The forums are free for attendees.

For pilots looking for an airline career, Dubai-based Emirates airline is holding a Pilot Roadshow to recruit U.S. pilots for their operations. The company will be holding open recruitment sessions in Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Houston and Seattle. The events in Boston, Fort Lauderdale and Houston will take place from June 18- 22. The event in Seattle will be held on July 18. No registration is required.

Sponsor Announcement
ALT
Over 25,000 Happy GAMIjectors Customers Can't Be Wrong!
GAMIjectors have given these aircraft owners reduced cylinder head temperatures, reduced fuel consumption, and smoother engine operation. GAMIjectors alter the fuel/air ratio in each cylinder so that each cylinder operates with a much more uniform fuel/air ratio than occurs with any other factory set of injectors. To speak to a GAMI engineer, call (888) FLY-GAMI, or go online for complete engineering details.
Short Final: Ludicrous Speed
 

This past September I overheard this:

King Air 12345: “Potomac, King Air 12345, do you still need us to hold back to 190 knots?”

Approach: “King Air 345, yes I do. There’s a Pilatus about 50 miles ahead of you, same altitude, and we need to maintain separation while I hand you off to the next sector. You’d have to go really fast to get ahead of him before the hand‑off.”

King Air 12345: “Potomac, King Air 345 could push it up to 238 knots. Would that work?”

There was a pause while the controller digested this option.

Approach: “King Air, 345 that works. Turn 10 degrees right and speed your discretion.”

King Air 12345: “Roger, Potomac, King Air 345 cleared ‘ludicrous speed!’”

Mike Jones
Southern Pines, NC
Subscribe to 'IFR Refresher' Magazine
Top Letters and Comments, June 15, 2018
 
AVweb Staff
 
 

100LL Replacement Fuel

I am glad GAMI is putting all the time and effort in this endeavor. However, with an option that costs MORE than what we already pay I'm not at all interested. Sorry but I'll stick with the lead. The GA world is trying to desperately save itself by finding options to allow GA to fly less expensively. Adding MORE cost to flying does not help us. It only hurts us. We want an STC so we can burn high octane motor vehicle fuel. Just allow us to burn MOGAS and most of our problems will be solved and because GA will cost less we will get more flyers again.

- Steve LaCrosse

The STC route is smart albeit constrained. But of the available possibilities for using a new fuel it's probably the least of all evils given the current regulatory framework. One can only hope one is covered and the fuel is widely distributed. 40 to 80 cents more is mouse nuts compared to everything else. The real problem is a regulatory one more than an engineering one. The FAA have painted themselves into a regulatory corner with the whole type certification structure. When the current certification process was established, nobody ever thought of the possibility that aviation gasoline as defined for existing type certificates might one day go away. The rules were designed to prevent change and be intentionally inflexible to avoid the possibility someone might do something that was not thoroughly tested (hence permitted) and therefore cause an unsafe condition. As the rules are written all aircraft are obligated to use the fuel which appears on their TCDS. If it says aviation gasoline then it includes TEL. To change this broadly without using the STC process would require a change in the definition of aviation gasoline, which would require the FAA to make a change to FARs. This would make them responsible for what happened, and that is anathema. Heretofore, the certification process put the liability for everything on the manufacturers of aircraft and fuel. That's not something the FAA wants to take on. The regulatory framework is the entire reason technology has leapt far ahead of aviation, and within aviation the experimental world is far ahead of the certificated world. From a regulator standpoint, the question is "How do you keep every hayseeing knumbknut from turning their aircraft into an unairworthy piece of grabastic junk while still allowing aircraft operators to upgrade critical components like engines and avionics from technology that predates the lawnmower." While I am no big fan of what I believe is somewhat excessive and limiting regulation I will also concede there are more than enough idiots out there quite willing to do something stupid with an aircraft that realistically might get you and me killed.

- Fill Cee

FAA Rejects AOPA FBO Pricing Complaint

Buyer beware. If you don't like it, don't go there. The competition is to choose a different airport/FBO. Total AOPA overreach.

- Tom O'Toole

I make it a point, and I think it would go a long way in solving the problem; upon landing and when the FBO gets on the UNICOM asking about how long you're staying, do you need any fuel etc. etc. Just simply say "I need the public ramp". Do you need fuel? "No. I need the public ramp." Do you need tie down? "No, I need the public ramp". Do you need ground transport? "No, I need the public ramp." Do you need an overnight? "No, I need the public ramp." Make it perfectly clear you're not asking for services. If the person on the other end insist that there is no "public ramp" ... that's impossible. It's a public airport; therefore, there has to be some sort of public space available to .... the public. Of course, the whole "landing fee" sometimes comes into play and at my local field, the de facto airport manager IS the FBO (now there's a conflict). If the State/Local/County has determined the need for a landing fee, and further determined that the local FBO should be the one to collect it, make it a point that 1) It is a county fee that is being collected and not an FBO fee, 2) That the transaction taking place is with the county and the FBO is simply representing the county; you're not asking for services or "tie down" from the FBO.

- Robert Ore

I don't need a fancy lobby, 24-hour services, and an air-conditioned hangar. In many towns, the FBO is the only place to park and the only way to get through the fence. I simply have no choice. "Go to another airport" doesn't make any sense; all of our taxes paid quite a bit to provide the field on a public use basis. I'm a member of the public, but I cannot use the airport unless I fork over to the local FBO operator who is given a license to charge whatever he wants to everyone. I don't mind FBOs charging whatever they feel like, but if the airport is public use, it should not be a *requirement* to pay a private company for services I do not need or want. What services? Facility, Handling, Ramp, Security are just some of the fees I've been charged. Often without even setting foot into an FBO facility. I think AOPA did the wrong thing by conflating "charging too much" with "charging for public access."

- Steve Miller

Hybrid Airplanes

I think some may be missing the point on hybrid aircraft. Our current engines are designed the way they are because they need to direct drive a propeller. Quite a few aircraft have inconvenient RPM restrictions because of torsional vibration issues. All this would go away if the propeller was driven by an electric motor. The generator could incorporate the modern high-revving low-maintenance engine everybody has been wanting and it doesn't need to be mounted anywhere in particular. How about mounting the engines at the wingtips in pods like tip tanks? This would give a serious structural advantage and keep the noise away from the cockpit. There don't need to be any batteries, but a few could give tremendous takeoff performance and a bit of emergency power in case of engine failure.

- Richard Jones

Hybridization is most effective when smoothing out power demands, as in stop and go vehicle traffic. Aircraft, like boats, tend to operate at high power levels for long periods of time making hybridization much less effective. I'd prefer full electrification for its relative simplicity, though it would be limited to local training flights until battery price and density improve.

- Matt Walton

Do You Have An Aviation Dream Job?
 
AVweb Staff
 
 

Do you have an aviation dream job? AVweb wants to hear from you. From flying to fixing, we’re looking for stories about fascinating and unusual GA jobs. Surprise us with the rare aircraft you instruct in, specialized maintenance you do, or anything else beyond the average aviation industry workday. Please submit up 500 words about what you do and a photo of you in your work environment to editor@avweb.com. Selected stories will be edited—with author approval—and run on our website. Authors of chosen stories will receive an AVweb baseball cap.

Brainteasers Quiz #244: Symbokinesis -- The Truth, The Myths
 

Embedded in the shaded areas between what we're supposed to know and what we're likely to forget after the checkride are the nuggets of aeronautical truth that might prove handy for acing this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

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