AVmail: Apr. 10, 2006

Reader mail this week about anti-missile systems, ATC contracts, Lycoming crankshafts and more.


Airliner Anti-Missile System

In regards to Ed Connely’s assertions that an explosive bullet fired into a full tank of fuel would cause an explosion (AVmail, Apr. 3), I was once present at an incident where a pencil flare was accidentally fired through the deck of a helicopter and into a fuel tank full of JP-5. The fuel put the flare out.Remember that in order for a turbine engine to function properly, the jet fuel must first be atomized, and then introduced into an environment of compressed, heated air in order to sustain combustion. It is the atomized fuel (or fumes, in the case of an accident) that explodes. A bucket of jet fuel merely burns. There is a big difference.For those who are not conspiracy theorists, the TWA 800 explosion was caused by an electrical short in a mostly empty fuel tank. A guy with a rifle is only a threat to an airliner if he aims for the cockpit.Neal Lawson

NATCA, FAA Negotiations Impasse

Are seven years of insanity coming to an end? I certainly hope so! FAA and NATCA reached impasse Wednesday (NewsWire, Apr. 7). That means the FAA refused to fold to the union’s demands that the agency (read taxpayers) keep hemorrhaging money and entitlements to controllers while everyone else in the aviation community tightens their belts. Those of you who are outsiders looking in, don’t be fooled by rhetoric and demagogy. You’re smarter than that. Every word of every press release Administrator Blakey has issued (from last summer until now) about entitlements run amuck is true. Here’s one radar controller who wishes the FAA Godspeed!Name withheld by request

Lycoming Service Bulletin

I read the Lycoming interview in today’s AVweb (NewsWire, Apr. 7), and the following quote prompted this letter:

“We learned yesterday that Lycoming seems to believe owners will, for the most part, be understanding of these complications.”

In my case, Lycoming could not possibly be more mistaken! I own a Beech Sierra with a factory remanufactured engine from 2001 with 185 hours on it. I paid a premium for the aircraft because of the new engine and now I’m facing having to spend about $5,000 to $6,000 to “retire” the crankshaft. Not only that, but after spending all that money, the engine will have been reassembled somewhere else than the factory, so it will never be worth as much in the eyes of a potential buyer. Understand? Hell no!If my company made 5100 bad surgical headlight systems and then told the hospitals to buy new parts and fix them on their nickel, how far do you think we’d get? I wish I’d had time to make some t-shirts for Sun N Fun, with a crankshaft on the front, and “I got Shafted by LIEcoming” on the back. I bet I could have sold enough to make back some of what I’ve now lost on the value of my Sierra.Keith Knowlton

Younkin-Franklin Accident

The April 7 NewsWire article on the Masters of Disaster accident says,

… Masters of Disaster aerobatic team, which also included Jim LeRoy, executed a modified version of a maneuver called the Dairy Turn …

Perhaps you meant a Derry turn, created by, I believe John Derry, ex RAF. This is a rapid direction change halfway through a turn, often unloading to near zero “G” to effect a 180 degree roll to resume the turn in the opposite direction – see this Web page for a diagram.Thanks for the excellent news service!Bill Gunn

AVweb Replies:

The spelling was taken straight from the TSB report and we weren’t aware of the information you’ve provided. Sounds like it could be the same maneuver you describe, though.

We’ll query the Canadian authorities and see if Derry is what they meant. Thanks for writing and for using AVweb.

Russ Niles

Ten Things Every GA Airport Needs

USA Today had an interesting article in the Life section of the March 23 issue titled, “Piecing Together The Perfect Airport” that contained a list of “10 features not widely available that all should have.” Naturally, the article and list are completely geared toward the commercial passenger and what they “need” at a busy airport terminal. Rocking chairs? Napping pods? Day spas? Wine bars? Live music? You gotta be kidding me. What a bunch of sissy, foo-foo, whining, pampered wimps.However, the article did get me thinking about a list of 10 things that every GA airport needs. Here’s what I’ve come up with thus far:

  1. Clearly marked transient parking spots … with tie-downs. Don’t ya’ hate it when you pull into an unfamiliar airport after a long trip of fighting the afternoon turbulence only to find that you have no idea where you’re supposed to park your bird, and once you do there is no way to secure your most prized possession to terra firma?
  2. A pilot lounge or other building that is open 24/7 … with a bathroom. Arriving late at night to a dark and locked building with no apparent way out of the airport sucks … as does peeing in the bushes when it’s 10 below zero outside.
  3. A couch. Despite spending the last three or four hours sitting in my airplane, it still feels nice to sit down (or lie down) in a comfey couch for a few mintues.
  4. Vending machines. I’m not picky … just as long as there is a cold soda and a bag of some salty snack waiting for me.
  5. A flight planning area with some sort of graphical weather service, DTN terminal, or internet access. Sure, we all learned how to do flight planning with nothing more than a map, a ruler, an E6B, a piece of string, three paperclips, a stick of gum and a call to the nearest FSS. However, as the old saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” I’d much rather be able to see with my own eyes the national radar images painting the squall line that the pre-flight briefer was talking about.
  6. A (working) phone. There are many places around this great country where cell phone reception just sucks. You’ve got to have some way to call those nice folks at FSS (and my mommy to let her know I have landed safely and cheated death once again …)
  7. Self-serve fuel, available 24/7. ‘Nuff said.
  8. A courtesy car. It doesn’t have to be a 2006 Mercedes Benz, really. I personally prefer something more like the car from the Blues Brothers … an old retired police cruiser. (St Johns, Ariz., has one of these … it’s fun to drive … vroom, vroom!)
  9. A windsock … at both ends of the runway. Sure, AWOS, ASOS, ATIS is all very nice … but do you really trust those new-fangled electronic gizmos to tell you what the wind is doing at the approach end of the runway?
  10. And last but not least … an animal. I don’t know why, but a GA airport just isn’t the same without some dog, cat or hamster running around with a cute name like “Piper,” “Spinner,” “Sparky” or “Max”.

However … I certainly wouldn’t turn down a nice rocking chair, day spa, and wine bar at a GA airport.Dane Spearing

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