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Volume 25, Number 25b
June 20, 2018
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Bell, Safran Team On Hybrid Engines
Mary Grady

Bell and Safran have agreed to work together to develop hybrid-electric power systems for Bell’s eVTOL aircraft concept, the two companies announced on Tuesday. Bell will lead the design, development and production of VTOL systems, and Safran will work on “a disruptive propulsion system,” according to the companies’ news release. “This announcement is another proof point of our commitment to providing transportation of people and logistics in new, innovative and more efficient ways,” said Scott Brennan, Bell’s director of innovation, at a transit conference in Cologne. “Our work with Safran is a historical milestone for future transport solutions.” 

Bell showed a mock-up of its four-seat eVTOL air-taxi cabin concept recently at the Uber conference and also at Heli-Expo. Bell officials have said they expect to start flight trials of their eVTOL by about 2020. Safran said its innovation teams have been working on hybrid solutions for future propulsion systems for several years.

GPS Interference Concerns Revived
Mary Grady

An attempt to launch a high-speed cellular network that raised alarm over GPS interference was squelched by federal regulators back in 2012, but now the same company is proposing a new network, and GA advocacy groups have banded together to oppose it. Ligado Networks, formerly known as LightSquared, claims its technology has improved, and will disrupt GPS signals only within 500 feet of its transmission towers. That’s not good enough, says the GA coalition in a letter (PDF) sent to the FAA on Wednesday. Plenty of aircraft, including drones, on a variety of missions, operate in close proximity to flight obstructions, the letter states, and therefore a loss of navigational accuracy in those areas would have “adverse impacts on the ability to safely navigate.”

The coalition asks the FAA to support further testing and evaluation of the proposed system, to be conducted by an impartial third-party organization, so “we may fully understand the impacts to GPS-dependent systems and to ensure no degradation of safety within the NAS.” The letter is signed by 11 groups representing GA interests, including AOPA, NBAA, ALPA, Helicopter Association International, National Agricultural Aviation Association and National EMS Pilots Association. Ligado said in a statement last month that it will protect certified aviation GPS devices by reducing the power level at which certain of its downlink connections operate. “This change reflects our collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration and honors our pledge to find consensus with government and industry actors,” the company said.

An industry newsletter, Inside GNSS [Global Navigation Satellite Systems], reported on Monday that key federal regulators met three months ago to discuss the issue with Ligado but have not yet released their recommendation on whether or not to allow the development of the service. Subsequently, Ligado modified its license request, making a frequency change the company said would avoid interference with certified aviation GPS receivers. However, testing by the Transportation Department found that the limits set for certified aviation receivers did not protect receivers in all other categories, according to Inside GNSS.

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.”


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.

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.

Study: Full-Stall Training Pays Off
Mary Grady

Researchers at the University of Toronto have developed new simulations that they believe will help pilots to better recover when faced with an aerodynamic stall. “Part of the challenge is that pilots are often trained on simulations that take an aircraft right up to the point of aerodynamic stall but not past it,” said Peter Grant, a professor at the university’s Institute for Aerospace Studies. “Most commercial flight is on autopilot, until or unless the situation becomes critical. Suddenly, the autopilot switches off and we’re putting pilots in a position where they need to take over under the worst possible circumstances.” Grant worked with a pool of 15 professional pilot volunteers, and trained them to recover from four different types of full stall in the flight simulator.

“Once we had trained them on what to look for and how to respond, all 15 were equally capable of performing under stall conditions,” said Grant. “This suggests representative modelling is sufficient for full-stall recovery training.” The FAA had asked researchers to develop new ways to study, simulate and teach pilots about full-stall recovery following the Colgan Air crash and others in which a failure to recover from a stall was a factor. Grant’s research was developed in response to that request. The new simulations for stall recovery are expected to be incorporated into new pilot training programs that the FAA plans to roll out starting in 2019.

Boeing Names Phase I Winners For ‘GoFly’ Prize
Mary Grady

Boeing has announced its selection of 10 designs that will go on to compete for a $1 million prize to be awarded next year in its GoFly competition, which aims to inspire innovators to create a VTOL “personal flying device” that can safely be used by anyone, anywhere. Boeing chose the 10 finalists from almost 3,000 entries from 95 countries. Six of the winning entries originated in the U.S.; the others came from Latvia, the U.K., the Netherlands and Japan. “These innovators are reshaping human mobility and will change the world,” said Gwen Lighter, CEO of the GoFly project. The winning teams, who were selected based on a written report, will each be awarded $20,000.

To win the competition, the prototype must be able to safely carry a person for 20 miles without refueling or recharging, with VTOL or near-VTOL takeoff and landing capability. The winning Phase I designs incorporate a variety of ideas. Harmony, from a team at Texas A&M University, features an open cockpit, with the passenger standing upright above a pair of rotors. Aviabike, from the Aeroxo LV team, resembles a motorcycle, with the passenger sitting astride, amid an array of 16 ducted fans. The competition now goes on to Phase II, which is open to the 10 finalists and also, until Dec. 8, to new entrants. The $1 million winner will be chosen in a fly-off to be held in October 2019. All 10 winning designs can be seen here.

Helicopter Aerobatics To Return To Oshkosh
Mary Grady

When Chuck Aaron retired from the airshow circuit in 2017, he decreased by half the number of U.S. pilots certified to fly aerobatics in a helicopter. This summer, his old job at Red Bull has been filled by a newly trained pilot, Aaron Fitzgerald, who will make his Oshkosh debut at EAA AirVenture in July, flying the Airbus B0-105C. “I was honored to be chosen for the training,” Fitzgerald told EAA. “I wasn’t sure how well I would do because I hadn’t flown a lot of aerobatics. A lot of the training was basically me unlearning the things I had learned for the last 20-odd years. It was a challenge making the transition, for sure, but I’ve really been enjoying it.”

Fitzgerald served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army, and completed civilian pilot training in 1994. As CEO of Airborne Images, based in Los Angeles, he has flown aerial photo missions for a variety of film and photo clients, accumulating more than 8,500 flight hours. He connected with Red Bull through that work. Fitzgerald is now one of only four pilots in the world with the helicopter-aerobatics certification. AVweb spoke with Chuck Aaron about his work as a stunt pilot in “Spectre,” a James Bond movie, in 2015; click here for that podcast.

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.

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
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 Selected stories will be edited—with author approval—and run on our website. Authors of chosen stories will receive an AVweb baseball cap.

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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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