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Volume 25, Number 27b
July 4, 2018
 
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Report: FAA Needs To Improve Runway-Incursion Efforts
 
Mary Grady
 
 

The FAA has completed only 10 of the 22 initiatives it proposed in 2015 to address the problem of runway incursions, according to a report published last week by the federal Office of Inspector General. The OIG report said the FAA reported an 83-percent rise in incursions between 2011 and 2017, including serious incidents when two aircraft came within a few feet of colliding. The investigators found the FAA had achieved its goals of educating pilots on signs, markings, and other visual aids at high-risk airports, and updating a best-practices list for airport surface and movement areas. However, other initiatives have stalled, due to lack of funding and the slow implementation of new technologies. 

The initiatives that are incomplete include efforts to mitigate fatigue among controllers and pilots, and testing new NextGen technologies to issue taxi instructions, such as DataComm. The investigators made three recommendations to the FAA to revise its 2015 plan and improve runway safety. The FAA should be sure all initiatives have target dates and update the targets for those that are still in progress, develop quantifiable metrics to measure the effectiveness of each initiative and consolidate duplicate initiatives within the plan. The FAA concurred with all three recommendations. The FAA defines a runway incursion as any incident involving an unauthorized aircraft, vehicle or person on a runway.

ALPA: Space Ops Create Airspace Challenges
 
Mary Grady
 
 

As private space launches increase and diversify, those activities are causing “significant impacts” on commercial aviation, according to a white paper (PDF) published by ALPA last week. Those impacts include flight delays, flight-plan alterations, increased distance flown, longer flight times, flight cancellations, crew duty cycle changes, gate slot management and added fuel burn. As one example, ALPA said the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch in February affected 5,000 square NM of airspace, causing 563 flight delays averaging eight minutes each, and an additional 34,841 NM flown due to diversions.

As spaceflight becomes more diffuse and routine, ALPA said, both the space and aviation sectors must cooperate to create policies, regulations and procedures to manage shared national aerospace resources safely and efficiently. ALPA said it is concerned that as demand for access to airspace increases, that demand may place pressure on regulators and operators to reduce the size of the airspace protection zones, so as to minimize commercial space’s operational impact on commercial aviation. “Without proper mitigations in place, the elevated levels of risk may not be acceptable,” ALPA said. “The FAA needs a comprehensive plan to integrate commercial space operations and avoid major disruptions for the other users of the NAS.”

Evolution Flight Display System Angle of Attack Indicator (AOA) || Aspen Avionics - Technology That Matters
Mixed News On The Refurb Trainer Front
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

The cost of new aircraft keeps going up and the number produced keeps going down, so it’s really no surprise that people have begun looking for other ways to get the benefits of a new airplane without having to pay increasingly unreachable amounts for them. Taking old planes, stripping them down and rebuilding them seems like it might be a feasible answer. As tends to happen, several businesses in recent years saw the potential and began offering like-new refurbishments.

For companies like Nextant, Basler and others, refurbishing business and commercial aircraft has proven quite successful. But on the training aircraft side of things, refurbs have experienced a bit more of a good news/bad news scenario.

Cost and Options

Generally speaking, training refurbishments fall into two categories: full commercial refurbs and custom/partials. Refurbishing an aircraft typically starts with finding an airframe. For trainers, a decent airframe typically costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000-$50,000. The aircraft is usually disassembled and checked thoroughly, with any worn parts replaced and all airworthiness directives brought into compliance. Cost for all of that (plus reassembly) typically falls in the $8,000-$12,000 range. Getting a low-time, overhauled or new engine comes next, to the tune of about $15,000-$30,000.  The commercial refurbs all include avionics ($40,000-$60,000 if you want to go for partial glass), paint ($16,000-$25,000) and interior ($8,000-$12,000). A refurbishment project, particularly a full tip-to-tail deal, can easily take several hundred hours.

Although refurbishment costs can vary significantly from airframe to airframe, its fairly safe to say that a fully refurbished trainer will run approximately $150,000 less than a new plane of the same type. Those kinds of savings for like-new quality seems like a recipe for success and, beginning with the highly touted introduction of Redbird’s RedHawk diesel 172 in 2012, several other companies began offering fully refurbished trainers targeted at flight schools and flying clubs.

Unfortunately, our recent status check on these refurb projects revealed that the savings haven’t made enough of a difference to stimulate the market for total trainer refurbs. Of the four programs we surveyed, only about 35 fully refurbished training aircraft have been delivered over the last six years. Here’s where those programs currently stand.

Redbird RedHawk

The Redbird RedHawk—a tip-to-tail 172 refurbishment that includes a Continental CD-135 diesel engine—was one of the earliest training aircraft refurbs available. At $249,000, it was also one of more expensive refurb options, in part due to the diesel conversion. The RedHawk refurbishment started with 172M or P models for which Redbird says they generally paid about $35,000 to $40,000 per aircraft. The refurb itself included stripping the airframe down to bare metal, cleaning and repairing any corrosion, replacing worn structural components, adding a firewall doubler and swapping out the fuel tanks. The aircraft also got new paint and interior, new avionics including a Garmin G500 and touch-screen GPS and a new CD-135 diesel engine.

Status: The company pulled the plug on the RedHawk in 2016. According to Redbird, although they felt there was market demand for something like the RedHawk, they “just couldn’t squeeze enough cost out of the components to hit the right price point.” They delivered 13 aircraft in the four years the program was active, usually as fleet deals of 3-4 aircraft.

Yingling Ascend 172

Yingling introduced its Ascend 172 remanufacture in July 2015. The initial list price was $159,900, although that rose to $230,000 - $330,000. The Ascend program offered a wider array of options than most of the others, with separate VFR and IFR packages and an array of options for additional avionics, interior design, paint schemes and the choice of a 180-HP Lycoming O-360-A4M instead of the standard 160-HP Lycoming O-320-H2AD. The Ascend refurb included complete engine and propeller overhauls, all new interior and flight instruments, rebuilt landing gear and a new windshield, along with a host of other component inspections and replacements.

Status: Yingling has recently suspended Ascend, although the company has said it will still refurbish planes on request with the cost to be determined based on the work to be done. Over the life of the program, Yingling remanufactured seven Ascend 172s including one for the AOPA sweepstakes.

Sporty’s 172LITE

Sporty’s gave refurbs a try with their 172LITE model. The rebuild included replacing the original Lycoming O-320-H2AD engine with an overhauled O-320-D2J, an overhauled propeller, airframe inspection and repair, window replacement, and inspection and adjustment of control cables. The interior got new seat coverings, floor and panel coverings, and trim. On the instrument panel, a new metal panel was installed along with a simple communications radio and transponder, and all switches replaced. LED lighting was added and the aircraft got a new paint job. The rear seats were also removed.

Status: The company refurbished two 1976 Cessna 172Ns in 2015 and 2016 with the idea that they could come up with a stripped-down aircraft that would be more cost effective for primary students. On that level, the plan was a success. The two aircraft were rebuilt and are still being used by Sporty’s Academy for that purpose. However, Sporty’s said that when they asked around to see what outside interest in the project might be like, they couldn’t find enough of a market to justify going any further with the idea. Retail price for a 172LITE was estimated at $135,000 at the time they were built.

Aviat 152 Reimagined

Aviat’s 152 Reimagined program is about three years old. Aircraft are rebuilt on demand and have been from the beginning of the program with wait times between six and nine months. As the name implies, they rebuild Cessna 152s (and some 150s as well). The process begins with disassembling the airframe for a detailed inspection. Aircraft are then rebuilt with an overhauled Lycoming O-235 (152) engine, new or overhauled prop, replacement of pretty much everything forward of the firewall, new paint, new or reconditioned windows and interior, and a new panel with new, refurbished or overhauled instruments.

The program is closely tied in with AOPA. Aviat’s President, Stu Horn, said that the Reimagined program began when AOPA requested a rebuilt 152 for its annual raffle and at least eight of the refurbished aircraft have gone to the organization since. AOPA also offers financing and insurance for Reimagined aircraft. At the beginning, due to sponsorships and deals with manufacturers, Reimagined 152s were going for $80,000. The base price has since risen to $129,000, with some additional options available.

Status: The 152 Reimagined is one of the only full training refurbs still being offered. Aviat reports that they have completed between 12 and 15 refurbishments and have orders for a few more, including a two-aircraft request from a university flight school.

Full Refurb Failure

It’s safe to say at this point the market for fully refurbished training aircraft never really made it off the ground. Almost all of the companies we asked reported that refurbishing aircraft took more time and money than they initially planned for. In most cases, prices were either raised significantly from the original or never made it as low as the company intended. Everyone we spoke with said that profit margins are very slim on refurbs.

In addition, it seems that while significantly cheaper than a new plane, fully refurbished trainers are often still too expensive for small flight schools. On the flipside, many of the larger schools (such as ATP Flight School with its recent—and second—order for 100 Piper Archers) want—and can afford—new aircraft, which they often use as part of their advertising. That leaves the commercial refurb market with a small section of midsized schools that have the money but don’t want to be bothered with overseeing the refurb work themselves, plus private customers who find the idea of undertaking a refurb project attractive. This is not a prescription for a booming business.

What About Partials?

Partial refurbishments are an entirely different story. Quite a few flying clubs and flight schools looking to pick up an aircraft report plans to do some work on them once they bring them home. It’s still perfectly possible to find older trainers for reasonably cheap and, with a good strategy, putting twice as much as you paid toward refurbishment to decent standards.  

As an example, an Arizona-based flying club started by AVweb publisher Tom Bliss bought a 1976 172N for $33,000 and spent an additional $40,000 to refurbish it. For that amount, the list of upgrades included a zero-time rebuilt Lycoming engine, Lynx 9000 ADS-B, Garmin G5 attitude indicator, new TKM MX300 radio and TMF80 DME. They also added new hook and hold harnesses and new AeroLED landing and taxi lights.

“I wanted a trouble-free engine, which was a zero-time factory re-man, a very capable ADS-B and the Garmin G5 for attitude information,” Bliss said. “We may replace the G5 with an Aspen E5 including the full HSI features because this airplane is not only a primary trainer but a basic instrument trainer as well.” The aircraft currently rents to club members for $125.00 per hour wet.

The State of the Refurb Market

Total nose-to-tail refurbs in the training market are likely to remain limited. Also contributing to refurb complications, the cost of aircraft parts is rising, sometimes substantially. Refurbishers are increasingly looking to salvage yards for hard-to-find parts including flight controls, small engine parts, seats and cabin accessories.

On the bright side, although numbers are much harder to track on aircraft being refurbished outside of established programs, based on the reported sales volume of new engines, engine components, retrofit avionics (including ADS-B), tires, batteries and accessories, the refurb market for owner-flown aircraft appears steady.

JP International 'Primary Upgrade EDM
GA Spark Conference Aims To Inspire
 
Mary Grady
 
 

In August, the inaugural GA Spark conference will kick off in San Carlos, California, with two days of seminars and events designed for the people who run flight schools and flying clubs. “The purpose is to bring great minds together to share ideas on how to build energy in general aviation,” says the project’s website. “If you run a flight school or flying club, and you want ideas for building your organization, then GA Spark is for you.” The event is hosted by the San Carlos Flight Center. The organizers say they decided to host the event “because no one else is,” adding that they “love seeing other schools and clubs have great ideas, and are happy to share what we’ve learned with others.”

The organizers say they’ve been planning to launch the event for four years, “and this year we finally had the right people and the skills to do it.” The program offers a slate of seminars on Thursday afternoon, Aug. 23, plus dinner, and continues all day Friday with seminars, workshops and a group flight to a dinner destination. Saturday is open for optional aerial tours of the Bay Area. The events will be held at the flight center and at the Hiller Aviation Museum, both sited at San Carlos Airport. The cost is $210, with a discount of $120 for additional members from the same organization. The aerial tour on Saturday is $80. More information and registration is available at the event’s website.

How PT-6 Turbines Are Overhauled
 
Paul Bertorelli
 
 

Pratt & Whitney's venerable PT-6 turbine is one of the marvels of aviation. But like everything else in aviation, it requires overhaul. In this engaging video, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli gives us a tour of Continental Motors' United Turbine division, which specializes in the PT-6.

 

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 www.ntsb.gov. Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more about Aviation Safety at www.aviationsafetymagazine.com.


April 2, 2018, Marion, Ind.

Cessna 150/Cessna 525 CitationJet

At about 1709 Eastern time, the airplanes collided at the intersection of two runways. The Cessna 150, which was taking off, was destroyed; the private pilot and passenger aboard it sustained fatal injuries. The CitationJet was landing. The airline transport pilot and the four passengers aboard it were not injured. The CitationJet sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

Witnesses reported the Cessna 150 had just gotten airborne when it struck the CitationJet’s empennage. Two witnesses heard the Cessna 150 pilot on the CTAF. The CitationJet’s pilot stated he did not see the departing Cessna 150, nor did he see it during the landing roll. He did not recall making a position report but his airplane’s TCAS did not show any traffic on the airport.

April 4, 2018, Daytona Beach, Fla.

Piper PA-28R-201 Arrow V

The airplane collided with terrain at 0953 Eastern time following an in-flight breakup shortly after takeoff. The airline transport pilot and private pilot were fatally injured; the airplane was destroyed. Visual conditions prevailed. The flight, which departed at 0927, was the private pilot’s commercial pilot practical test.

After maneuvering away from the airport, the Piper returned and executed a touch-and-go landing. Radar data indicate the airplane climbed to 900 feet MSL at 80 knots of groundspeed before radar con-tact was lost. Witnesses observed the airplane flying normally, then saw the left wing separate from the fuselage, which impacted a field. Preliminary examination revealed the left wing main spar exhibited cracks from metal fatigue extending through more than 80 percent of the lower spar cap, and portions of the forward and aft spar web doublers. The right wing also exhibited fatigue cracks in the lower spar cap at the same hole location extending up to 0.047-inch deep. The 2007 airplane had accumulated 7,690 flight hours since new. Weather at 0953 included wind from 260 degrees at seven knots, 10 statute miles of visibility and few clouds at 25,000 feet.

April 4, 2018, Bozeman, Mon.

Piper PA-12/Diamond DA42NG

At 1229 Mountain time, the Piper struck the Diamond’s tail during taxi. Neither the student pilot and flight instructor aboard the Piper nor the flight instructor and pilot receiving instruction in the Diamond were injured. Both aircraft had just landed after local flights and both sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

After landing on Runway 11, ATC cleared the Piper to turn left onto taxiway C2, and then taxi back to the approach end of Runway 11 and hold short. While the Piper was taxiing, the Diamond landed on parallel Runway 12. It cleared at taxiway A3 and held position. After reaching the approach end of Runway 11, ATC cleared the Piper to cross the runway and hold short of Runway 12 at taxiway C3. After reaching Runway 12, the Piper was cleared to cross it and contact ground. The Piper crossed Runway 12, entered taxiway A3 and struck the Diamond, which was still on the taxiway.

April 6, 2018, Petaluma, Calif.

Mooney M20J 201

The airplane was destroyed by impact and a post-crash fire when it collided with terrain at about 1715 Pacific time, shortly after takeoff. The solo private pilot sustained fatal injuries. Instrument conditions pre-vailed; an IFR plan had been filed.

The pilot received an IFR clearance at about 1700, which included a void time of 1710. The airplane departed Runway 11 and climbed to about 300 feet AGL before initiating a shallow left turn and disappearing into the fog. A witness reported the engine sounded “strong, smooth and normal.”

The wreckage was located about two miles northeast of the departure airport at an elevation of 307 feet MSL. The airplane impacted a soft, muddy field in a near-vertical attitude on a heading of about 200 degrees. All major components were located at the main wreck-age site. Weather observed at the departure airport 20 minutes before the accident included calm winds, ¾-mile visibility in mist and an overcast at 600 feet.


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

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

NASA: Drones Can Fly Solo
 
Mary Grady
 
 

A recent test flight in the National Airspace System with a drone that was operated remotely showed that a chase aircraft is not needed for safety, NASA reported last week. During the June 12 flight, the Ikhana research aircraft used its own detect-and-avoid technology as an “alternate means of compliance,” NASA said. Previously, flying remotely operated aircraft below FL 180 could only be done with a chase aircraft because of the FAA’s “see and avoid” requirement. The Ikhana aircraft, based on the Predator drone, is about 36 feet long with a 66-foot wingspan and a gross weight of 10,500 pounds. During the test, the aircraft flew for about two and a half hours at altitudes up to 20,000 feet, and covered about 415 miles outside of restricted airspace, according to NASA.

The flight took off from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California and flew into Class A airspace just west of Edwards at an altitude of about 20,000 feet. The aircraft then turned north toward Fresno, and air traffic control was transferred from the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center to the Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center. “The transfer was smooth as if the pilot were onboard,” according to NASA’s report. On the return trip, the UAS headed south and back to Los Angeles Center control, then began a gentle descent above Tehachapi into Class E airspace, at about 10,000 feet. Transiting Class D airspace, the remote pilot initiated an approach into Victorville airport at 5,000 feet, coordinating in real time with air traffic controllers. After successfully executing all of these milestones, the aircraft exited the public airspace and returned to its base at Armstrong.

Air-to-air radar, TCAS and ADS-B technologies are the three main technologies that enabled Ikhana to accomplish this mission, NASA said. Ikhana was the first aircraft to use these sensors and a detect-and-avoid algorithm as an alternate means of compliance to FAA “see and avoid” rules. 

EASA Takes On Drones, Expands FAA Cooperation
 
Jason Baker
 
 

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has announced it will expand its mandate to include authority over drones and urban air mobility vehicles, and will develop flight rules for these types of aircraft. EASA also plans to expand its role in areas such as environmental protection, research and development, international cooperation and cybersecurity. “This new mandate consolidates EASA’s scope to cover the full spectrum of the aviation landscape,” the agency said. “[The mandate] reinforces the European aviation system as a whole, with the possibility for EASA and European Member States to work closer together in a flexible way.”

The new regulations will be published by the end of this month, according to EASA. “In a sector facing unprecedented technological transformation, it was important to provide EASA with the proper tools and legal foundation to support the development of the aviation industry, in particular in domains like drones and digitization,” said Patrick Ky, executive director of EASA. “At the same time, we need to preserve the EU's societal aspirations for a safer and environmentally friendly world.” Also, EASA and the FAA issued a joint statement last month saying they will seek to further streamline certification systems, to make it easier for U.S. manufacturers to sell their products in Europe.

FAA To Minimize Circling Approaches
 
Mary Grady
 
 

The FAA plans to shut down circling approaches wherever feasible, and last week the agency published its selection criteria for deciding which approaches will be cancelled. The changes are part of an effort to “right-size” the National Airspace System, and eliminate redundant and unnecessary procedures, the FAA said. Input from AOPA was taken into consideration. AOPA said they urged the FAA to take into account that some approaches are needed for training purposes, and recommended that the FAA should also have a policy in place to be sure pilots are notified of the changes. The FAA agreed with both suggestions.

“This final policy is a good example of how a close collaboration between industry and the FAA can have a positive effect on progress toward our shared goal of a NextGen National Airspace System,” said Rune Duke, AOPA’s director of airspace. “The FAA's criteria identify redundant procedures for cancellation while still ensuring local pilots have an opportunity to comment before a final decision is made.” Duke encouraged pilots to use the FAA’s Instrument Flight Procedures Information Gateway, a centralized data portal, where they can provide feedback to the FAA as the agency continues to transition to a predominantly satellite-based navigation system.

NBAA also commented on the proposed policy, asking that changes to the approaches should be put on hold until issues with updating the databases of Flight Management Systems could be resolved. The FAA said the delay would not be “practical.”

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Things Change, But Not Everything
 
Mary Grady
 

A few weeks ago I got a call from my old friend Noah, looking for crew for a morning balloon flight. This used to be a common occurrence around here back in the ‘80s, when we had maybe 10 balloons based in Rhode Island, but these days it’s pretty rare. Noah mainly flies his small homebuilt experimental balloon, with just a harness for the pilot, but on this weekend he had out-of-town guests and was inspired to bring out the big Aerostar, with the wicker basket and the trailer and the whole works, so he needed a chase crew.

We met in a schoolyard, dragged out the envelope, checked the winds, started up the fan, got the big balloon standing up, and Noah and his friends climbed in. So far, it was all the same as ever. I waved to the folks as they drifted off and vanished behind the trees, and I was left to chase solo, with the SUV and the trailer. In the old days, we’d have a pile of maps in the chase vehicle, and a contact number to call in case we got lost, with change for a pay phone. It dawned on me, as I drove out to the main road, that we all had phones in our pockets now, and all I had to do was wait for Noah to land and text me a map with his location.

I headed off in the general direction they were drifting, hoping to catch a glimpse of the balloon as they crossed a road. I searched the sky above open fields with wide vistas, drove down tiny one-lane roads through the woods, and pulled over by our local “desert,” a wide-open space with sandy soils where I could watch a huge swath of sky—but no sign of a balloon. For an hour or so I poked along, and while it wasn’t the more challenging chase of the old days, it was a relaxing way to spend a Sunday morning in the countryside. When I got the text from Noah, I wasn’t too far away, and headed to the farmer’s field where he’d put the balloon down.

And here’s where I found that despite the decades passed, and the changes in technology, the balloon experience was timeless after all. Noah and his friends had already gifted the landowners with a bottle of champagne, and were making plans to meet later in the day to buy fresh oysters from their aquaculture site nearby. The passengers were brimming with smiles and enchantment from their first experience aloft. We all piled into the truck and headed off to a local diner, where I got to know Noah’s friends over waffles and coffee, and heard their stories about the magnificent flight.

Decades from now, our next generation may be gathering on a weekend morning to go exploring in their autonomous eVTOLs. The technology will be different, but hopefully the experience will endure—friends sharing an adventure, and finding new friends along the way.

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Picture of the Week, June 28, 2018
 
 
On June 14-17 there was a STOL competition on the beach in Knokke, Belgium. Photo by Peter Snoeckx.

See all submissions

Question of the Week
 

Each week, we poll the savviest aviators on the World Wide Web (that's you) on a topic of interest to the flying community.

Visit AVweb.com to participate in our current poll.

Click here to view the results of past polls.

Brainteasers Quiz #245: A Pilot Walks Into an Isobar
 

A good day aloft begins with a look at weather, because no matter how sharp you think you are at the controls, the sky has something to say about who flies and who aces this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

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