World's Leading Independent Aviation News Service
Volume 25, Number 30a
July 23, 2018
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It's On In Oshkosh
Russ Niles

The weather is looking great, the grounds are filling up and aviation’s annual reunion is officially underway at AirVenture 2018 in Oshkosh. As outlined by EAA Communications Director Dick Knapinski in this podcast, there will be a lot of big iron on Boeing Square this week as the event recognizes the tactical airlift and air-to-air refueling arms of the military and National Guard, and the aircraft attending include a KC-135, KC-10, C-17 and a good representation of fighters and special-mission aircraft. Just for context, there is a de Havilland Mosquito and even a Pitcairn autogyro tucked in with the other olive drab. The daily airshow starts at 2 p.m. and the best performers in the business are here.

The business of aviation is also flocking to Oshkosh as always to put their products and services at the forefront. There are new aircraft and new technologies on display and ready to perform. Point-to-point multicopters are being billed as the next big thing in aviation and they’re here in force. A drone show will highlight the night airshow and there will be plenty of discussion about how the airspace will be shared with unmanned aerial vehicles. The acting administrator of the FAA, Dan Elwell, will be on hand to do the traditional Meet the Boss session and answer questions about the many initiatives and issues facing aviation in the U.S. Bring sunscreen and water and watch for the AVweb golf cart. If we have room, we’ll give you a ride.

Lindbergh Foundation To Hold Innovation Forum
Kate O'Connor

The Lindbergh Foundation will be holding its first Innovation Forum featuring talks by industry innovators at AirVenture 2018. Topics include artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, electric flight and autonomous aircraft. Each of the nine presenters will give a 12-minute talk, with question-and-answer sessions and lunch to follow. The talks, along with longer interviews with each presenter, will be posted on the Lindbergh Foundation website after the event.

The forum will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Tuesday, July 24, at the EAA Aviation Gateway Park forums tent. The foundation hopes that this will be the first in a series of similar forums to be held at airshows and events around the world. Lindbergh Foundation Chairman John Petersen shared further details about the development and future plans for the forum with AVweb in an exclusive podcast.

The Lindbergh Foundation was founded by Neil Armstrong, General James Doolittle, Sir Edmund Hillary and other friends of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh in 1977. The nonprofit organization works to support projects that balance technological innovation, flight and the environment.

13 Survive C-47 Crash
Russ Niles

Thirteen people aboard Bluebonnet Belle, a well-known Commemorative Air Force C-47, escaped after the aircraft crashed on takeoff at Burnet Airport near Austin, Texas, on Saturday. The aircraft was on a flight to AirVenture 2018 when it seemed to struggle to get airborne from a three-point attitude (C-47s normally take off tail high), banked right and slewed left before crashing on the infield. The aircraft caught fire and was destroyed.

At least one person on the plane suffered severe burns, seven were slightly injured and the rest were unhurt. The aircraft served most of its life with the Royal Canadian Air Force, which retired it in 1970. It was used by a variety of operators in Canada and the U.S. before it was purchased by the CAF in 2002 and based at Burnet.

C-130 Goes Inverted At Farnborough
Russ Niles

Big airplanes have been putting on increasingly dramatic performances at the Farnborough Airshow in recent years but it might be some time before anyone tops the loop performed by the civilian version of Lockheed Martin's C-130 on Thursday. After doing progressively aggressive climbs and half inverted turns, Lockheed Martin Chief Pilot Wayne Roberts dipped the nose, gathered some energy and pulled into a full loop at show center.

The aircraft is properly known as the LM-100J and shares the same airframe, beefy Rolls-Royce AE 2100 D3 turboprop engines and six-blade Dowty R391 props that the military version has. It sells for about $60 million.

Lycoming 'When can an engine give you 200 extra flying hours?'
Superior Offers Extended Cylinder Warranties
Paul Bertorelli

With the engine overhaul and aftermarket parts business growing ever more competitive, Superior Air Parts announced this week that it’s extending the warranty on its Millennium cylinder line to 37 months. A longer warranty will also apply to other components Superior markets into the field overhaul segment.

“We feel like we’ve made some significant strides at making our product better, so why not put our money where our mouth is from a warranty perspective,” says Superior’s Scott Hayes. On piece parts, Superior is increasing its warranty to 24 months, up from 12 months, Hayes said.

Superior has a strong market presence in the Continental engine cylinder market, but it also has a selection of jugs for Lycoming engines, plus a range of overhaul parts used by field shops. In this podcast recorded ahead of AirVenture, Hayes said Superior continues to sell cylinders at just under prices asked by the OEMs and that it intends to hold those price points. Continental Motors has also exerted fresh competition into the market by adding Lycoming cylinders to its market mix following its purchase of the assets of ECI.

As in other manufacturing sectors in both aviation and automotive, the penetration of less-expensive five-axis machinery has pushed quality up and costs down, making it possible to build higher quality parts at the same or lower prices than just five years ago, Hayes says. 

Pilot Killed In Jet Warbird Crash
Russ Niles

The pilot of de Havilland Venom jet warbird was killed, two people on the ground were injured and about 50 calves had to be euthanized when the aircraft crashed into a calving barn on a dairy farm near Sheboygan, Wisconsin, on Friday. The aircraft, owned by the World Heritage Air Museum in Detroit, was one of dozens of warbirds taking part in the Great Air Clinic, a gathering of antique aircraft held at Sheboygan County Memorial Airport. The aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff and came to rest on the farm less than a half mile from the airport. The pilot was killed instantly and has not been identified.

Witnesses said the aircraft was one of two aircraft that took off from the airport as part of the clinic. Hundreds of spectators line the airfield at the clinic each day. The event culminates with a departure for AirVenture Oshkosh, which begins Monday. The clinic also trains pilots to take part in the mass arrival of T-28 Trojans to AirVenture. A total of 865 Venoms were built in the late 1940s and early 1950s and there are a handful left flying. AirVenture lists a Venom as part of the event marking the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force but it hasn’t been confirmed that this aircraft was to be in the show.


How Not To Use A Drone
Russ Niles

Well, we can’t say enough that no one should be doing this but the fact that it does happen results in coverage like this. Someone on the French protectorate of Mauritius, off the coast of Madagascar, has figured out the exact altitude and spot to position his drone (speculated to be a Parrot Anafi by various drone websites) to catch some truly spectacular footage of aircraft, including this Emirates A380, taking off from the airport there. Some commenters on the site are calling it fake but it’s a pretty good one if it is. People who care a lot about this stuff think it's real.


Oshkosh Spotlight: Basler Flight Service
Kate O'Connor

Regular attendees at AirVenture know they’ll be seeing the latest wares and offerings from the industry this week—with a healthy dollop of aviation history just to keep things in perspective.

Right across the field, however, Basler Flight Service combines both cutting-edge technology and aviation’s rich history in one big, highly successful package.

Since 1988, the company has been finding and refurbishing decades-old DC-3s and C-47s—bringing these stalwart airframes into the 21st century with turbine power and updated avionics.

The Basler Turbo 67 (BT-67) conversion expands the DC-3 fuselage for a 35 percent increase in space, adds all new fuel, hydraulic, electrical and avionics systems in a package that yields a 43 percent increase in payload. The conversion increases maximum takeoff weight from 26,900 pounds to 30,000 pounds and lowers approach and stall speeds. The BT-67 is, according to the company, designed to be a robust, reliable and versatile transport aircraft.

Basler’s conversion project had modest beginnings.

Warren Basler was born six miles south of OSH airport in 1926. He started flying early, soloing at 17 in a Piper Cub. Basler Flight Service was founded by Warren and his wife Pat, opening at Wittman Regional Airport (OSH) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in 1957, a dozen years before the EAA fly-in that would become AirVenture found its longtime home at the field.

Warren and Pat’s FBO offered a nice array of amenities—fuel (both full- and self-service), ramp and hangar space, flight planning and conference space, pilot’s lounge and free transportation to the EAA museum. Warren and Pat ran the FBO together for almost forty years. For his contributions to aviation, Warren was inducted into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame in 1993.

Sadly, Warren and three Basler employees were killed in a midair collision on a photo flight in 1997. He had logged more than 26,000 flight hours, more than 10,000 of which were in the DC-3. Pat stayed active in the business until her retirement in 2002. She passed away in 2007.

Basler Turbo Conversions

Where most people saw nothing but corroding hulks in the aging fleet of DC-3s and C-47s, Warren saw a business: “The DC-3 was a beautiful, stable and virtually indestructible airframe going to waste,” he is quoted as saying. “We realized that by turbinizing and modernizing the airplane it would go on for many years.” He received STC approval for the conversions in 1990 and production began the same year.

Once Basler acquires an airframe, it is inspected, re-engineered and strengthened to achieve “zero accumulated fatigue damage.” The old 1,200-HP Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engines are switched out for 1,424-HP P&W Canada PT6A-67Rs and five-bladed Hartzell propellers are added. The result is an aircraft with a maximum cruise speed of 215 knots, a 24 percent improvement on the piston DC-3.

On the avionics side, the typical package includes a Garmin GTN 750 navcomms, GWX 70 weather radar, BendixKing KN-63 DME and KCS55A compass system, Sandel SN3500 navigation display and NAT/AMS 43 audio panel. The avionics can also be customized to customer specifications.

Basler offers plenty of other options for the BT-67 as well. In addition to comfort choices like a lavatory and air conditioning, the company can outfit an aircraft for military missions including cockpit armor, 40-place troop seating and covert ops lighting. On the science mission side, they offer zone specific climate control, multiple high capacity operator stations, and nose and tail booms. For general use, long-range fuel tanks, a cargo winch and autopilot are all on the list of possibilities. The BT-67 can also be outfitted with retractable skis and heat blankets for polar operation and certified for flight into known icing. Given the wide array of possibilities, it's no surprise that BT-67s have been sold all over the world.

When the remanufacture is complete, Basler says that every component, assembly and system on the aircraft is either new or like-new. The work takes about six months and 35,000 to 45,000 man-hours to complete. The company has produced more than 50 BT-67s in its nearly three decades of operation.

Notable Events

AirVenture service and turbo conversions aren’t Basler’s only claims to fame. The FBO saw use as a film set in 2008, when scenes from Public Enemies (2009), starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, were shot there. For the film, the Basler hangar was transformed over a five-day period into a 1930s version of itself.

Basler Flight Service also got significant attention for a three-year legal battle over fuel pricing, which was resolved in 2006. A second FBO, Orion Flight Services, opened on the field in 2002. In 2003, Orion sued Basler, alleging that the company had violated Wisconsin’s minimum markup law on vehicle fuel, which requires that motor vehicle fuel prices must include a profit of up to 9.18 percent. The case went to the Wisconsin Supreme Court and was decided in Basler’s favor. Basler acquired Orion in 2014.

These days, things change a bit when EAA’s annual AirVenture comes to town. Every available parking space at Basler is filled, with the company taking parking reservations as early as January. Self-service fueling is closed. And traffic at the FBO goes from an average of 200 aircraft per month to roughly 4,000 in a single week. Event service makes up about 30 percent of the FBO’s annual business. Basler says they typically hire as many as 50 additional employees just for AirVenture.

So when that Basler fuel truck pulls up to top your tanks prior to departure, it’s nice to know the company is part of AirVenture history that reaches back to a time when the DC-3 was the pinnacle of aviation technology.

The folks at Basler continue to prove it still is. 

TQ Avionics at AirVenture
Paul Bertorelli

At AirVenture 2018, a German company called TQ Avionics introduced a new line of aviation comm radios and transponders. This brief product video explains what TQ is offering.

AirVenture Gallery, July 23, 2018
AirVenture 2018 is underway. Here are a few sights to be seen from early events.

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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.

Industry Round-up, July 20, 2018
AVweb Staff

This week, AVweb’s weekly news roundup uncovered reports about a new Oshkosh panel, a head up display (HUD) from MyGoFlight, and some management changes at LightHawk. AeroInnovate will be holding a panel discussion at EAA AirVenture called “Funding Your Dream.” The topics covered will relate to understanding of what it takes to start and fund an aerospace company. The panel will take place on Monday, July 23rd from 4:00 to 5:15 PM at the Aviation Gateway Park Forums Tent. Also at AirVenture, MyGoFlight will be demonstrating its SkyDisplay HUD -LCD180. The SkyDisplay is designed for use in general and light business aviation aircraft. The HUD will be available to be flown in a simulator in Hangar C, booth #3135, from July 23 to July 29.

Aviation-oriented conservation company LightHawk has announced the appointment of James R. Becker to the company’s board of directors. Becker has held a pilot's license for almost 50 years and spent eight years flying C-130s for the U.S. Air Force. LightHawk also announced that Lawrence Sittig has been elected chairman of the board. Sittig has been with the company since 2013.

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