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Volume 26, Number 14b
April 2, 2019
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MAX Fix 'Weeks' Away
Russ Niles

It will likely be more than a month before Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are cleared for flight after the FAA announced it will be weeks before Boeing finishes testing its proposed software update. Boeing had earlier said it hoped to submit the proposal to the FAA this week but has put that off. “Time is needed for additional work by Boeing as the result of an ongoing review of the 737 MAX Flight Control System to ensure that Boeing has identified and appropriately addressed all pertinent issues,” FAA spokesman Greg Martin said in a statement. Boeing said it will take the time necessary to "do it right" with the update and offered no insight on a potential timeline.

Although Boeing could have its plan ready by the end of the month, it’s not clear how long it will take the FAA to test and vet the upgrade. The FAA has said it intends to conduct a thorough review of the software update, which will link the two angle of attack sensors for redundancy and limit the influence of the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which is a stall-prevention system installed to counter the aircraft’s increased tendency to pitch up in low-speed, flaps-up manual flight. After the update is accepted, it's likely MAX crews will have to be trained. More than 350 aircraft are grounded worldwide, forcing airlines to adjust schedules and reduce frequency on some routes to minimize potential disruption. Southwest is building its April and May schedules without its MAXes. Air Canada has leased additional aircraft until July 1 at least.

To the Moon, Alice
Paul Bertorelli

This being the year of the 50th anniversary of that one small step, you’ll be seeing a lot of nostalgic babble about how great it all was and what a shame it is that we sorta stopped serious space exploration in 1972.

What you won’t hear as much is that the entire moon thing was just a geopolitical stunt. President John F. Kennedy admitted he wasn’t that interested in space, but he was interested in national prestige, favorable election positioning and seizing the high ground against the malevolent Soviets.

Last week, in even more nakedly strident language, Vice President Mike Pence called for a return to the moon by 2024, with landings on the lunar poles. And yes, it’s once again just another geopolitical stunt, but at least Pence made it more obvious.

In the famous 1962 Kennedy speech in which he set landing on the moon as an end-of-decade goal, his writers dressed it up with reaching-for-the-stars glory, but it was really all about the national spectacle. Then a funny thing happened. Science stuck its thumb out and got a lavishly funded ride to the moon that yielded more knowledge about lunar physics, chemistry and geology than had been accumulated in recorded history. By the end of the Apollo program, we plopped a genuine geologist—Harrison Schmitt—on the lunar surface. (Plopped is the right word, too. During training, when Gene Cernan and Schmitt were driving the lunar rover across an alluvial fan in the Southwest, the geologist was tossed overboard when they hit a rock. “The Schmitt,” Cernan couldn’t resist observing, “hit the fan.”)

Whether this can be done by 2024 is questionable, in my view, as is whether it can be done at all. Kennedy somehow summoned a national will—and the funding—to put the country on an aggressive program to develop lunar-capable technology. In 1966, NASA’s budget was 4.4 percent of the total federal budget. Most recently, it’s 0.49 percent, or about one-eighth of the mid-60s levels.

As Pence noted, the Space Launch System booster is behind schedule and will need to be accelerated, if that’s possible. SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy is a contender, but it lacks the payload to carry the equivalent of the Apollo stack and would need a second launch, at least, to put crews on the moon, plus the stuff necessary to accommodate a longer stay of a week or more. The next lunar missions aren’t envisioned as short stays. The SLS is supposed to have greater lift capability than the Saturn V that boosted Apollo, but not so much greater that a lunar mission could be done in the single launch elegance of Apollo.

Lockheed is developing a multi-crew lunar lander with an eye toward an eventual Mars mission. For comparison, the contract for Apollo’s Lunar Module was awarded in 1962 but the first flight didn’t occur until 1968—almost six years, and it was continually delayed. Of course, the new lander builds on what Grumman had to learn on its own and with more powerful analytical tools, design work ought to go faster … even though it somehow doesn’t seem to. And a reusable lander carrying four astronauts is a much more complex undertaking than the rather quaint LM Grumman built for one-time use. Multiple launches for such missions increase cost and complexity.

The overarching question is whether repeating the geopolitical stunt is worth it. My view is that it absolutely is, because once again, the science will tag along in the glare of the spectacle. And eventually, we’ll fly humans off to Mars.

I don’t care what the nattering nabobs of negativism* say, we’re gonna do that some day. Might as well make it sooner than later.

*Extra points if you can identify the quote.

Note to Readers: No, it's not something you said. Because of persistent denial of service attacks against AVweb, we're moving the site to another platform. The commenting section will be unavailable for a time. We apologize for the inconvenience, but the site will be better for it in a week or two. In the meantime, if you have a comment, email us and we'll append it to the blog.

Hey Paul, you're showing your age! Only those over 60 will have much chance at understanding that title. Luckily(?), I'm way over 60, so loved the title.
Bob Dillon

Always enjoy your commentary. The quote is from Spiro Agnew, but he's not a household name these days.

Ted Spitzmiller

They have formed their own 4-H Club — the ‘hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history.'” Spiro Agnew.

Sandy Munns

Vice President Spiro Agnew. I am REALLY old!

Joel Ludwigson

It has been stated by NASA personnel, "We do not have the current technology to make a flight to the moon and land." Because this is true, then it follows that NASA never did make a trip to the moon and land on it! It is only the infinitely gullible that give credence to such fake news! Make sure this information is given wide coverage!

A faithful pilot for the past 60+ years who received all of his initial flight training in the USAF.

E. W. Mickey

"The SLS is supposed to have greater lift capability than the Saturn V that boosted Apollo, but not so much greater that a lunar mission could be done in the single launch elegance of Apollo.”

I have a feeling you were referring to a stay on the lunar surface longer than 72 hours but your remark along with the drifting references of being both for and against future manned space flights including lunar surface missions makes it a bit challenging to keep up.

Perhaps you should allow others like Aviation week and space technology handle the manned space aviation corner and Paul covers air shows and new product releases.

Michael Atkinson

Video: Sun 'n Fun 2019 Underway
Kate O'Connor

The annual Sun 'n Fun fly-in and expo opens on Tuesday in Lakeland, Florida. Sun 'n Fun president John "Lites" Leenhouts talked with AVweb before the show about some of this year's events as well as the organization's year-round efforts to support flight training and the aerospace industry.

Non-ADS-B Compliant? The FAA's Got A Reg For That
Tim Cole

Operators who fail to have ADS-B out equipment installed by the January 2020 deadline will get a very cool reception from air traffic control according to an FAA policy statement issued yesterday.

The rule, published in the Federal Register, says both scheduled and unscheduled operations with ADS-B equipment missing can receive rarely issued waivers to transit ADS-B airspace. But those exceptions will be few and far between and cannot be relied upon on a routine basis. Operators of unscheduled aircraft—most of GA, in other words—will receive a cold ATC shoulder at so-called “capacity-constrained” airports including Class B metroplex facilities like JFK, ATL, ORD and LAX, among others.

The rule states: “… scheduled operators may request an authorization to deviate from ADS-B Out equipage requirements ... however it is very unlikely to issue an authorization to a scheduled operator on more than an occasional basis, and is most likely to issue an authorization only when a compelling need exists.” The FAA makes it clear ATC may not be able to grant every authorization request.

Operators of unequipped, unscheduled aircraft may request an ATC authorization to transit controlled airspace under 91.225(g), but “operators might not be accommodated for a variety of reasons.”

In summary, the rule states that to operate in ADS-B airspace, an operator who has chosen not to equip with ADS-B Out must obtain a preflight authorization from ATC for all ADS-B Out airspace on the planned flight path. However, the FAA will be unlikely to issue routine and regular authorizations, especially near high-density airports.

GAMIspec Engines Get Cool Upgrades (Literally)
Paul Bertorelli

Blueprinting engines used to be—and still is—a thing in automotive hot rodding and that’s a bit of what General Aviation Modifications is doing with improvements to its GAMIspec Continental engines. They'll include taperfin cylinders, needle bearing rocker arms and upgraded cooling. The engines perform better, but GAMI intends them to be more durable. The mods are also available separately for many Continental engines.

Both Continental and Superior Air Parts offer taperfin cylinders, which have a reduced cross section in the fins in the steel barrel portion of the jug. That allows reallocation of more air to the aluminum cylinder heads, where cooling is most needed. The GAMIspec engines include upgraded Liquidair cooling baffles configured to work with taperfin cylinders, thus improving overall cooling efficiency, according to GAMI President Tim Roehl.

Premature loss of compression has been a recurring problem in Continental engines, a shortcoming that’s addressed with needle bearing rocker arms that replace the standard bushed arm. “The needle bearing rocker arms have demonstrated significantly reduced wear compared to the standard rocker arm bushings. The wear on conventional rocker arm bushings tends to aggravate valve-guide wear in those big-bore Continental engines by side-loading the top of the valve during operation,” said George Braly, head of engineering for GAMI and Tornado Alley Turbo.

The rocker arms are approved for use on specific models of IO-470, IO-520 and IO-550 engines, both naturally aspirated and turbonormalized. GAMI/TAT says availability is targeted for the summer of 2019. These new mods, exclusively available from GAMI and TAT, are designed to improve performance and durability in the 300-HP engine used in many Beechcraft Bonanzas.

See GAMI/TAT at Sun ‘n Fun in booth A65.

Schumer Demands FAA Suspend Boeing From Regulatory Committee
Paul Bertorelli

New York's Senator Chuck Schumer wants the FAA to exclude Boeing from the agency's standing advisory committee on rulemaking. Schumer said that companies involved in active investigations shouldn't also be involved in regulation writing. Schumer was, of course, referring to the aftermath of two crashes of Boeing 737 MAX 8 airliners, now the subject of intense international investigation.

"It makes no sense for Boeing —or any company for that matter— to be involved in an active investigation surrounding questions of safety while also retaining ‘membership’ on a federal committee that recommends airline industry regulations,” Schumer said in a statement. “That is why I am demanding the FAA both suspend Boeing from this committee and any others until the formal investigation has ended, and to also answer serious questions I have raised.”

Schumer sent a letter to acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell demanding that the agency should “suspend and/or update the public on Boeing’s membership” on the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee. Such ARCs routinely include industry representatives. Schumer said Boeing should be excluded until the MAX 8 investigation is complete.

Wife Of Epic Owner Confirmed As Crash Victim
Russ Niles

It was a somber start to Sun ’n Fun for Epic Aircraft officials with confirmation that Natalia Fileva, the wife of the Bend, Oregon, company’s owner, Vladislav Fileva, was killed in the crash of an Epic LT in Germany on Sunday. Fileva was co-owner of S7 Airlines with her husband. S7 owns Engineering LLC, the parent company of Epic. Filev’s father was also killed, as was the pilot. There is so far no word on a possible cause for the crash, which occurred just after noon on a clear and warm day. “It was an isolated incident,” said Mike Schrader, VP of sales and marketing for Epic. “They’re just trying to wrap their arms around it.”

German officials said there were no distress calls or any indication anything was unusual before the plane disappeared from radar while heading to Frankfurt. The crash occurred about 10 miles south of Frankfurt. Fileva was flying to Frankfurt from France for medical treatment. European and Russian authorities are investigating. The LT is a kit-built aircraft in the U.S. but it's not clear under what circumstances it was flying in Europe. It was registered in Russia. The Russian company bought Epic in 2012 with a goal of certifying the Epic LT.

Airlines Suffer Delays Due To Data System Outage
Paul Bertorelli

A glitch in third-party software that provides airlines with critical operational data caused brief delays and some cancellations Monday, according to the FAA. Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines reported delayed flights Monday morning and a number of flights were canceled.

The disruptions were caused by the failure of AeroData, a vendor for many airlines, to deliver aircraft performance and weight-and-balance calculations prior to departure, the FAA reported at around 7 a.m. Monday. The fault was cleared by about 8:30 a.m., but not before the busy morning rush was disrupted.

“AeroData is currently experiencing a technical issue that is impacting multiple carriers,” American Airlines said on Twitter. The airline reported that the outage “impacted a few of our regional carriers” and was resolved. Southwest Airlines, along with several other carriers, imposed a ground stop for about 40 minutes and some flights were canceled.

Are You WX Self-Reliant?
Rose Marie Kern

As a flight service specialist, I was trained to understand National Weather Service charts, radars, satellite pictures and data. My job was to stay on top of how weather would affect flights primarily in my own geographic area, and in general throughout the country. I studied how terrain and upper air movement would affect weather patterns and learned to forecast based on the raw data.

In days past, pilots could depend on talking to someone experienced with weather and with a detailed knowledge of the geographic area the pilot was flying.

Flight Service Specialists are still given weather and aviation training, but this four-month course at the FAA Academy is now done in about four weeks. Although they are assigned one area of the country, busy phone lines may result in a call routed to a specialist not intimately familiar with the caller’s area of interest.

Future of Weather Briefings

This situation is probably going to become more problematic as Flight Service reduces to only two briefing facilities by the middle of 2019. The FAA states that the Future of Flight Service is automation...with human backup. Personal interaction is not as necessary as in the past since most pilots now have access to a computer or a smartphone can access a plethora of websites, which allow them to file flight plans and review weather.

The majority of pilots, especially those who achieved certification within the last fifteen years, embrace this alternative to calling someone for a briefing. The numbers of calls into flight service has dropped dramatically in the last decade as pilots exercise their option to self-brief.

Pilots who have been talking to flight service for many years know that a complete standard briefing contains both current and forecast weather and wind data. It’s logical for pilots to assume that because flight service personnel spend eight hours every day looking at weather data, they’ll give advice and guidance based on long term familiarity with weather patterns, especially over a specific geographical region.

Local Weather Variation

The obvious problem is that a pilot flying through unknown terrain can make inaccurate assumptions. A pilot from the Midwest heading into the Rocky Mountains may not appreciate the impact that mountains can have on local weather—especially because of wind flow. Pilots from the dry southwest can get into difficult and unpredictable icing situations in the Great Lake states when they enter foggy conditions not realizing that actual freezing levels may be up to 3000 feet different than forecast.

Regional variation in weather patterns is something that doesn’t always translate well in NWS forecast data. For example, in the southwest there is a summer rainy period from mid-July to mid-September, which they refer to as the Monsoon. Mid-level moisture hangs at 15,000 feet invisibly giving the appearance of clear skies. Heat rises up around noon everyday creating towering cumulus, which rapidly become severe thunderstorms. Most of these storms are singular rather than in the lines associated with fronts. The weather service doesn’t try to predict exactly where they will form—they just draw a big convective SIGMET around several states.

At sunset the storms start to dissipate with a few intense ones holding out until midnight, when everything quiets down. Where the storms took place there is usually enough water to form fog in the early morning that can encompass hundreds of miles.

Pilots who access only METARs and satellite data may be discouraged from flying into an area when the conditions are reading IFR, but a flight service specialist who knows the behavior of monsoon weather in that region can tell them the fog will dissipate about nine a.m. and clear skies again until at least noon.

This is the difference in how most pilots self-brief using available tools versus how a flight service specialist was trained to brief. Today’s pilots have access to the same weather charts, forecasts and information, which Flight Service uses daily. The trick is to look at, and understand, all of them rather than just skimming the METARs and Adverse conditions.

Self Reliance

In training yourself to understand weather, the traditional Flight Service Standard Weather Briefing format is a checklist that ensures a pilot at least looks at all the basic information. The Standard Briefing always contains:

  • Adverse Conditions: Any weather or NOTAM data, which may keep the pilot from completing a flight.
  • Synopsis: Why the weather is doing what it is doing, and how the atmosphere is expected to move and change.
  • Current conditions: Observed weather reports from both ground based weather stations and observers and from airborne pilots.
  • Forecast Conditions: How the NWS expects weather to change on the surface in the local area, in the broader areas, and aloft.
  • Notices to Airmen: The last part of a standard briefing are the NOTAMs.

Becoming Weather Wise

How can you achieve a deeper understanding of how weather will affect your flight? There are several avenues available to new and experienced pilots. The FAA Safety team frequently advertises free pilot briefing webinars every month. The National Weather Service aviation website is always available to glance through.

The Flight Service website is packed with good interpretive data and they have a plethora of YouTube instructional videos available.

The biggest factor in all of this is taking the time, every day, whether you are flying or not, to access one or more aviation weather websites and just look at the information and graphics, which are available in your region and nationally. This is the real secret to understanding how the atmosphere moves at all levels of flight. Become comfortable with opening up the various tools and seeing what they mean.

If you are planning a trip to a new region with which you are unfamiliar, start watching the weather patterns there as far in advance as possible. Look at the terrain, restricted airspace, and Minimum Enroute Altitudes as recommended on the charts.

One of the least used tools is the upper air data—yet it is what affects conditions at the surface over the long haul. In the depth of Winter and Summer the jet stream tends to be a stable westerly flow across the continental United States. It is when the jet starts to swing wildly from pole to equator in spring and fall that you can expect major changes in weather patterns to begin happening.

The jet dips down from the arctic regions infusing moist surface low pressure systems with cold air creating fog and severe icing in the Midwest. You can predict this a week in advance when you see a strong low pressure system on high altitude charts over Alaska being pulled southeast.

To begin your self-study for long term weather understanding, consider the following websites:


Regardless of how you obtain a weather briefing make sure that it is a method that records your access so you are covered from a liability aspect.

The more you know about weather, the less dependent you will be on Flight Service. Use your favorite weather briefing site frequently, even when you are not flying, so you develop a sense of what is happening in that part of our world you love the most—the air above.

Rose Marie Kern began working for the FAA in 1983. She has written books and over 400 articles on all aspects of ATC and Aviation weather. To contact her website

This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of IFR Refresher magazine.

For more great content like this, subscribe to IFR Refresher!

GAMI: Higher Gross Weights Approved For Bonanzas
Paul Bertorelli

If you own a 33- or 35-series Bonanza, you could probably use more payload and it’s now available from General Aviation Modifications Inc. and Tornado Alley Turbo, two Oklahoma-based mod businesses. The gross weight increases range from 180 to 300 pounds, variable with model and engine.

To qualify for the higher weights, the airplanes have to be configured with an IO-550B and two of GAMI’s STC'd mods, including GAMIjector calibrated fuel injectors and components of the company’s LiquidAir Baffle kit. The models eligible include the S35, V35, V35A, V35B, F33A, C33A, E33A, G33, 36, A36 and G36 aircraft equipped with normally aspirated or 300-HP turbonormalized IO-550B engines.

“This is the first time a gross weight increase of this magnitude has been available for Bonanzas not equipped with tip tanks,” said George Braly, head of engineering for both companies. "The combination of consistent fuel flow and improved cooling from the baffle kits provides good cooling margins at the increased takeoff weights, even on hot days," Braly added.

GAMI and TAT will be at Sun ‘n Fun this week in hangar A, booth 65.

Simulated Engine Failure Led To Crash
Russ Niles

The NTSB says a simulated engine failure on takeoff that turned into the real thing led to the crash of a STOL Aircraft UC-1 Twin Seabee into a house in Winter Haven, Florida, Feb. 23. The crash killed instructor James Wagner while student pilot Timothy Sheehey was slightly injured and a young woman in the house was seriously hurt. Sheehey, a commercial pilot training for a mult-engine seaplane rating, told NTSB investigators that before takeoff, Wagner said he was going to reduce the power on one engine. When he chopped the power, the engine quit, the prop feathered and the engine couldn’t be restarted.

The report said Wagner headed for an emergency landing spot but determined he couldn’t make it and turned left to land on a lake instead. He lost control and the airplane ended up tail-up vertically in the house. The impact knocked the woman in the house through an interior wall. The aircraft is based on the original single-engine Seabee but equipped with two wing-mounted Lycoming IO-360 engines.

Video: Trig Introduces TX56/TX57 NavComs
Kate O'Connor

Trig Avionics officially introduced its new TX56 and TX57 Nav/Coms at the 2019 Aircraft Electronics Association Convention. Company CEO Andy Davis went over some of their key features with AVweb at the show.

Lycoming 'When can an engine give you 200 extra flying hours?'
FlightSafety International Launches Textron Training Company
Kate O'Connor

FlightSafety International and Textron subsidiary TRU Simulation + Training have jointly launched FlightSafety Textron Aviation Training, a new company that will offer training services for 48 Cessna, Cessna Citation, Beechcraft, Beechjet, King Air and Hawker aircraft models. FlightSafety Textron Aviation Training will operate out of 16 locations using 89 simulators.

“Our main goal in establishing FlightSafety Textron Aviation Training is to further enhance the training and services our customers receive,” said FlightSafety International Co-CEO David Davenport. “Combining the strengths and resources of FlightSafety and TRU Simulation + Training will also increase efficiency, promote innovation, and ensure the extension of our high-quality training programs into new and upcoming Textron Aviation aircraft.” The CEO of the new company will be Brian Moore. Moore has been with FlightSafety International for more than 20 years, most recently holding the position of executive director of operations.

TRU Simulation + Training is headquartered in Goose Creek, South Carolina. Its services include pilot and maintenance training, military mission training, and aviation training services and support. In addition to providing training for pilots, technicians and other aviation professionals, FlightSafety International supplies flight simulators, visual systems and displays to commercial, government and military organizations. The company employs more than 2,000 instructors.

Picture of the Week, March 28, 2019
This shot was taken on a ferry flight from KWVI to KCCR as the Liberty Aviation museum Trimotor passed over the Golden Gate Bridge. Photo by Steve Lambrick.

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