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Volume 25, Number 28a
July 9, 2018
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Mixed Decision For Second AOPA FBO Pricing Complaint
Kate O'Connor

The FAA ruled in favor of Key West International Airport on three of the four issues noted in a Part 13 complaint filed last August by AOPA that alleged that pricing practices and ramp access rules at the single FBO on the field violated the airport’s grant obligations. The agency found that airport sponsor Monroe County violated one of those obligations by not providing an area for aircraft owners to service their own aircraft but found no issues with the FBO’s pricing practices or control of transient parking. The decision also noted that current operations did not create a scenario where the FBO had exclusive rights to provide services at the airport.

“While the self-service aspect of the decision is a step in the right direction, it certainly does not solve the problem in terms of access and transparency,” said AOPA General Counsel Ken Mead in AOPA's response to the decision. “GA deserves a seat at the table, and the FAA needs to stop engaging in the fiction that monopoly-position FBOs equal a fair market.” The FAA's decision (PDF) said that the agency will address the self-service compliance issue directly with Monroe County.

AOPA filed a two additional Part 13 complaints against Asheville Regional Airport in North Carolina and Waukegan National Airport in Illinois at the same time as the Key West complaint. All three airports have a single FBO on the field owned by Signature Flight Support. The complaint against Waukegan was withdrawn after the airport announced it would be providing free tiedown and ramp access for transient aircraft and the FAA rejected AOPA’s complaint against Asheville in its entirety last month.

Bonanza AD Fix Uses Cessna Part
Russ Niles

The FAA says owners of certain Bonanza models can use an exhaust clamp made for Cessna aircraft as an alternative means of compliance for an AD that has grounded some Bonanzas. According to AOPA, the agency issued the AD requiring replacement of exhaust v-band clamps on A36TC and B36TC Bonanzas after one failed and led to a fatal accident. Textron didn’t have any of the required clamps in stock.

The American Bonanza Society Air Safety Foundation pitched the idea that similar clamps, which have a Cessna part number, be used instead. Textron apparently has plenty of those in stock. The alternative means of compliance has been approved and the list of approved parts and models is here.

Lycoming 'When can an engine give you 200 extra flying hours?'
Slim Goes to Paris
Paul Bertorelli

My friend and fellow blogger Paul Berge revealed what a sheltered life he has led when he confessed in last week’s blog to not knowing the significance of Sidney, New York. At the expense of appearing a boorish know it all—as opposed to just a boor—I can say that I most certainly did know the significance of Sidney.

Because … the Sidney Scintillas. It’s easy to remember, but I got a refresher as I was reading The Flight: Charles Lindbergh’s Daring and Immortal 1927 Transatlantic Crossing by Dan Hampton. I think I turned the last page just as Berge was releasing that expensively flown fly to the jaws of certain death.

Hampton’s book isn’t new; it was published in 2016. It showed up on my Kindle list and looked interesting. Is. Sidney merits a mention because Lindbergh’s Wright J-5 Whirlwind was sustained by a pair of Sidney-made Bendix Scintilla magnetos and upon their reliability, he staked his continuance on the mortal coil.

Hampton is a retired Air Force F-16 pilot and drawing on Lindbergh’s extensive notes, his book is a minute by minute account from inside the cockpit. Contemplating Lindbergh’s flight from the comfort of the couch causes me to consider that, sure, Lindbergh was a shy, intense man and a steely eyed aviator, but also a bit of a wild-eyed lunatic. It may be silly to view Lindbergh’s flight through the lens of modern risk assessment, but it’s just as impossible not to. If you plug in the various risk factors into what we belovedly call aviation decision making, the machine would buzz and click and nothing would come out.

Let me elaborate on just two points: navigation and instrument flying. The former was in its infancy for aviators in 1927, the latter was barely a sperm cell. Indeed, after the fact, Lindbergh pioneered I Learned About Flying From That when he conceded that the next time he charged across the Atlantic, he’d damn well take a navigator. Yet, while success in the early trans-Atlantic race was elusive, cruel ironies were not. In Francois Coli, famed French World War I aviator Charles Nungesser had a superb navigator. The pair vanished without a trace attempting a westbound Paris to New York flight 10 days before Lindbergh succeeded. Slim paid his respects to Nungesser’s grieving mother in Paris.

By the time he left New York, Lindbergh had been through military flight and navigation training, but he had no oceanic experience. When he departed from St. Johns for Ireland, his overwater experience consisted of the leg he’d just flown from Cape Cod. As Hampton and other authors have explained, Lindbergh was obsessively laser focused—or whatever the 1927 equivalent of that was—on endurance and hence, fuel. If he accepted that his navigation would be, to be generous, rudimentary, he could adjust by carrying a ton of fuel—literally, and then some.

Lindbergh planned a great circle route—150 miles shorter than a direct rhumb line—90 minutes of duration in the Ryan NYP. He maintained the circle with a series of 100-mile straight legs, with a compass correction at the end of each leg. The oft-discussed earth inductor compass helped with the headings, but the first time he used one of those was the morning he departed. Even Lindbergh admitted his remarkably accurate landfall at Dingle Bay was due as much to uncommonly good fortune as to heading discipline.  

As Hampton reveals from Lindbergh’s notes, Lindbergh had the barest notion of winds and although he had a drift meter, he didn’t use it. His dead reckoning strategy required periodic position hacks, but he had no accurate estimate of how far east he was, nor of crosswind drift. He realized his landfall could have been anywhere from the Bay of Biscay to Scotland. If it had been north of that—improbable but not impossible—he’d of landed in Oslo.

The instrument flying part gives me sweaty palms. Lindbergh flew into darkness—and weather—about 12 hours into the flight. That far north and flying east, night was short, but the NYP was minimally equipped to handle heavy cloud cover, rain and icing, by any standards, much less modern ones. It encountered all three.

Lindbergh had a turn-and-bank indicator for roll, airspeed for pitch and a clever device called a Rieker P-1057 Degrees Inclinometer. It’s a variation on the slip-skid indicator that also includes a bubble for pitch. In this photo of the NYP panel, the Rieker is the large T-shaped device in the center of the panel.

Radium being high tech in the 1920s, these instruments would have glowed enough to read them—probably. Despite a diligent search, I can’t find any description of cockpit lighting in the Spirit of St. Louis, although some photos seem to show old-school shielded lamps at the top of the panel. These could have been added later. Lindbergh had at least one flashlight, but probably not the six most of us carry these days.

Either way, Lindbergh had a thousand miles of needle-ball-and-airspeed flying, much of it in utter blackness, turbulence and with no radar to pick the soft spots. At least he didn’t have to worry about in-trail restrictions. As with his oceanic navigation, he was learning on the fly. Despite a couple of years in the airmail service, his instrument experience was minimal. Private pilot applicants may have as much.

Jimmy Doolittle’s seminal blind flying experiments were still two years away and it took the FAA another 50 years to dream up six hours and six approaches. For Lindbergh, it wasn’t so much keeping the greasy side down, but doing it hour after hour with no help from an autopilot following a sleepless 40 hours.

Lindbergh’s flight put Ryan on the aeronautical map. But the company soon faded, existing today as an echo of the founder’s name in Teledyne Ryan. Wright Aeronautical, maker of the J-5 Whirlwind, became Curtis Wright. It failed to make the transition to the jet age, but exists yet today as an industrial conglomerate. In little Sidney, New York, Bendix thrived, employing nearly 9000 during World War II, building mags for aircraft, tanks and PT boats.

Before the Lindy Hop was a thing, the Scintilla Shuffle was the happening dance in Sidney, according to a company history. It’s what you did when you grabbed two magneto leads and gave the rotor a spin. Somehow, I think an apprentice’s first day on the job in the QA department would have been just a regular barrel of monkeys. By the way, the dictionary defines scintilla as a “tiny trace or a spark.” But this does not describe the output of a Bendix magneto. It is, in fact, a fat, blue knock-you-on-your-ass discharge capable igniting fuel/air mixture squeezed down by 50 atmospheres. If you’ve ever ruminated on this from an unintended repose on the ramp, you know what I mean. To this day, Continental Motors still makes the evolved Bendix magnetos, although the Bendix identity dissolved in a series of mergers and acquisitions. And yes, the Bendix in BendixKing has bits of Sidney DNA.

The interesting one is Rieker Inc., a little company you never heard of. Last year, the company celebrated its centenary and in an age when pilots think rudders are foot rests for the brake pedals and finding a slip/skid ball on a glass panel evokes needles and haystacks, the company still makes mechanical inclinometers. These are mostly ground bank and pitch indicators and boom angle devices for crane operators who, as YouTube videos will attest, aren’t always as successful at keeping the shiny side up as Lindbergh was.

Reiker’s Skip Gosnell sent me a nice photo of the P-1057 Degrees Inclinometer Lindbergh used. They no longer manufacture it, but more than 90 years later, they can still repair one if you happen to need it for that long-planned trip to Paris. There’s more to it than meets the eye. In that housing behind the instrument is a triangular tube with a pinched orifice that damps the fluid flow—something you’d really appreciate if you were bouncing around in a pitch black cockpit over the Atlantic.

Reiker is in Aston, Pennsylvania, west of Philadelphia. New Garden Airport, 20 miles west, has a turf glider runway one could probably stuff a Citabria into or certainly a Cub. I feel a field trip coming  on.

Levil BOM Wing-Mounted ADAHRS Trial
Paul Bertorelli

Last year, Levil Aviation showed off its wing-mounted portable ADAHRs called the BOM. It kinda looks like its namesake, too. In this video, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli reports on how the gadget works.

French Jailbreak Pilot Laments Lost Helicopter
Russ Niles

A French helicopter pilot who was beaten and then forced at gunpoint to help pluck a convicted bank robber from a maximum security prison said the worst part about the ordeal was watching the vintage helicopter he was flying go up in smoke. Stéphane Buy, 65, was working in his hangar when two men approached him initially inquiring about flying lessons. Within a few minutes he was hovering the 1950s Alouette helicopter over the courtyard of the Réau prison south of Paris for a total of 12 minutes while the two men in the hangar and another picked up along the way used smoke bombs for cover to break out Réal Faïd, a nasty piece of work who had previously escaped from another prison by blasting his way out with dynamite. He spent six weeks on the lam before being sent to Réau where he was to spend the remainder of a 25-year sentence for a robbery in which a police officer was killed

Now he’s France’s most wanted man and Buy is missing the old Alouette, which belonged to a collector friend and was the oldest flying example of the type. After Faïd was bundled into the helicopter Buy was ordered to head for the countryside and land by the ringleader. “He told me, ‘Get lost—it’s going to catch fire,’” and despite two attempts by Buy to get his captors to spare the antique aircraft, they set fire to its interior and it was gone in minutes. Buy said he was given a beating just after the first meeting with the jailbreak team and again when he had a hard time getting the helicopter started after picking up the third accomplice, a hooded fellow carrying a Kalashnikoff. Far from being scared off of flying, Buy said it’s part of his personal therapy to recover from the remarkable incident. “It frees my spirit. It’ll allow me to forget a little.”

Electric Amphib Flies
Jason Baker

Norwegian amphibian manufacturer Equator Aircraft has completed its first runway hop of the P2 Xcursion electric amphib prototype. The aircraft was flown by test pilot Eskil Amdal. The aircraft reached a speed of 100 knots and was flown at about 30 feet above a runway before being landed again. Amdal reported the aircraft to be stable and it was flown twice more the next day. A full pattern flight is planned for the coming weeks.

The aircraft is equipped with a Engiro M 97 electric motor developing 90 horsepower. The current prototype is a fully electric test bed with an endurance of 35 minutes. Production models could fly for more than 90 minutes. A hybrid version with endurance of more than five hours is also envisioned. The aircraft uses its low wing for flotation on water. The company is looking for investors to continue testing and reach production.


Top Letters and Comments, July 6, 2018
AVweb Staff

Mixed News On Refurb Trainers

I think the key issue is what you said in your next to last paragraph: The cost of replacement parts is out of control. I can't speak for Piper, but Cessna parts have skyrocketed in the past 5-6 years, making a full 172 refurb prohibitively expensive. Add to that, the high amount of hand labor required to disassemble and reassemble an airframe and it is small wonder the companies can't make a profit. Private owners have some ability to control costs because they can do upgrades in phases to spread out the expenses and throw some sweat equity into the project. And, with the advent of STC'd avionics from the experimental world, they can reduce the panel upgrade costs even more. Without a ready source of cheap labor and affordable parts, the commercial refurb concept is DOA.

John McNamee

Unless one of these refurb companies can get authorization to "zero-time" the airframes similar to what Basler does with the Turbo DC3 or Viking with the old Twin Otters I can't see any of these being successful. Any reasonably competent aircraft owner can replicate these refurbishments and not have to pay for someone else's profit margin.

Tom Kovac

Not Doing The Lindy Hop

Reading your article was like listening to a threnody. (finally get to use that word legitimately). I too feel that as society evolves, what is "new" seems to displace what is “old,” perhaps that is why older persons treasure what was once "new" to them but in the eyes of others has become “old.” Seems like old cars and old airplanes, and probably old boats and motorcycles are treasured objects. Me? I am still absolutely in love with Beechcraft Super 18’s, which in my mind’s eye is the ultimate escape vehicle. The mini airliner I discovered when I was 11 years old. Its glorious leather and fine wool interior and the marvelous sound of its radial engines rumbling at idle and rumble-roaring at full power. Of course in the real world I’d rather fly in a Beech Premier and for longer distances a Dreamliner. Enjoy your Citabria, and maybe get a bunch of geezers together and go cut the lawn at that abandoned airfield!

Richard Katz

Those of us who have been around for a while remember those simple, grass rural airfields well. How sad that learning to fly is economically beyond the reach—or interest—of most folks these days. I often think of all the sights that people miss when they're driving. Sounds like an interesting trip.

Larry Stencel

New Rule Targets Proficiency and Training Costs

The new FAA rule should be just a beginning. Integrating flight sim into initial training should lower the cost of getting the first license (ASEL or glider). My peeve is that most sims fail to provide the side view that is essential for flying a close landing pattern. I aim to fix that in the simulator I am putting together in an old Blanik cockpit.

Michael Mayo

Airline Seat Size

There is a reason I refer to the FAA as the "Friendly Airline Agency." They always side with the airlines and aircraft manufacturers over the general public. The current close spacing poses health risks in addition to the evacuation issue. Just ask any cardiologist about the hazards of DVT from sitting immobile for extended periods. But, the FAA ignores that as well. It would be interesting to take a bunch of average citizens off the street and see how they would fare in an evacuation drill as opposed to the athletic kids the manufacturers use for their videos.

John McNamee

Thanks for nothing, FAA. If you are offering a public carrier conveyance service for hire, there should be a requirement for some kind of a safe accommodation for taller people (otherwise, clearly state up front No Six Footers Allowed). I have a 25 inch femur length and literally cannot sit straight in these ridiculous28" pitch seats while facing forward. A few rows of longer pitch seats allocated for this purpose would be sufficient ... but no, FAA is more concerned with promoting bureaucracy than actually doing something to help the public.

A Richie

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Picture of the Week, July 5, 2018
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels fly in formation. Photo by U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Schumaker.

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Industry Round-up, July 6, 2018
AVweb Staff

AVweb’s news roundup this week includes reports of a new Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Dynon, a collaboration between Derichebourg Atis aéronautique and Hi-Fly Marketing and a special Oshkosh deal from Aerox. Dynon announced on Friday that Randy Lervold will join the company as their Vice President of Marketing and Sales. Lervold is coming to Dynon after nine years with highly successful backcountry aircraft manufacturer CubCrafters, where he worked as general manager and then president of the company. He previously held senior leadership roles at several consumer electronics companies and brings more than three decades of executive leadership experience and brand building to Dynon.

Overseas, French aeronautics subcontractor Derichebourg Atis aéronautique has announced that it will be working with Hi-Fly Marketing, a South African aviation services firm. The companies will be collaborating to offer improved after-sales support services—including airworthiness management, customer representation and delivery assistance, and technical assistance—to African airlines. Finally, Shaw Aerox Aviation Oxygen Systems will be offering 20 percent off of list prices for all Aerox portable oxygen systems and components purchased during the EAA Air Venture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, July 23 - 29, 2018. The company will also be displaying its latest technologies and products at the event.

Airbus Launches CSeries Marketing Push
Russ Niles

Airbus says it will change the name of its newly acquired CSeries airliner program and launch a major marketing push that will include order announcements at Farnborough Air Show in mid-July. The company took a majority stake in Bombardier’s CSeries on July 1 and seems to be wasting no time ramping up sales and production. “Our top priority is selling the aircraft like crazy,” Airbus CEO Tom Enders told reporters last week. On the near horizon is a change of name to fit the current naming convention of Airbus aircraft. It’s been widely reported the CSeries will become the A200 series under Airbus.

To increase sales, the company will also have to substantially ramp up production. There are only about 35 CSeries in revenue service against a backlog of more than 300 aircraft. Part of the problem has been ongoing issues with delivery of the Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines, which has also been a problem for Airbus’s A320 Neo program. Airbus is building a new assembly line at its Mobile, Alabama, facilities to augment the current line at Mirabel, Quebec, and intends to be producing airplanes there in 2019. In response to the Airbus/Bombardier alliance, Boeing announced last week it was acquiring Embraer’s commercial aircraft unit. Embraer is Bombardier’s chief competition in the under-150-seat airliner market.

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Short Final: Squawk Altitude

Back in the days when Pueblo, Colorado, still had a TRACAB (terminal radar in the tower cab), I was visiting with the controllers when the following took place.

A Cessna pilot, who hopefully was a student, was on a flight from Colorado Springs, field elevation of 6,172 feet MSL, to Pueblo, elevation 4,725 feet MSL. After being handed off from Colorado Springs Departure to Pueblo Approach, the Pueblo controller made contact with the Cessna but was not receiving the mode C readout. The transmissions that followed went something like this:

Approach: “Cessna 567, squawk altitude.”

Cessna 567: “Roger.”

After a short pause...

Approach: “Cessna 567, do you need assistance?”

Cessna 567: “No, sir.”

Approach: “Cessna 567, do you need emergency equipment standing by?”

Cessna 567: “No sir.”

Approach: “Cessna 567, what is the nature of your emergency?”

Cessna 567: “No emergency, sir. Just heading to Pueblo for touch and goes.”

Approach: “Roger, Cessna 567, please squawk 1200.”

Aircraft from Colorado Springs to Pueblo quite often fly at 7,500 MSL. Any guesses as to what code the pilot had entered in his transponder when asked to “squawk altitude”?

When reality struck, everyone in the tower was doubled over for quite a while.

Alan R. von Ahlefeldt
Parker, CO


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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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