Pilot Briefing

July 1, 1996

Wilcox protests loss of WAAS contract

Wilcox Electric has appealed FAA's cancellation of a $483 million contract to build the GPS Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS). The contract was subsequently awarded to Hughes.

Wilcox officials said that the FAA has given Hughes 10 more months to complete the project than Wilcox had in its contract, and also eased technical requirements. For example, Wilcox officials said in a protest letter, the FAA is requiring only two geostationary earth orbiting satellites rather than the three required in the FAA's 1995 contract with Wilcox.

Wilcox also announced that it has reassigned former president and CEO Don Welde and has replaced him with William P. Marberg, a former senior vice president with the company.

Blue Angels leader quits

July airshow performances of the Blue Angels were in jeopardy at press time following the resignation of the group's leader, Cmdr. Donnie Cochran. The Blues, now celebrating their fiftieth anniversary, are based at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, where they are known as the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron. Their close-formation performances in F/A-18 aircraft are seen by millions of spectators each year.

Cochran resigned in late May, saying that he felt that his flying skills were not up to par. In one show at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, Virginia, he had missed his mark — a runway — used to align maneuvers performed by the team. He terminated the performance in mid-show and later scheduled additional practice for the team, including himself.

Cochran has been replaced by Capt. Greg Wooldridge, who commanded the Blues in 1991 and 1992, and also returned to the team in 1993 when Cmdr. Bob Stumpf was reassigned after he was accused of failing to take action during the Tailhook scandal.

U.S. Air Force Secretary Dr. Sheila Widnall recently flew the Beech MkII military trainer that will be used by the Navy and Air Force as primary trainers. Widnall said that the airplane was "very, very peppy" after she reportedly pulled as many as 4 Gs in light aerobatic maneuvering. The MkII has a 1,100-shp Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68 and climbs at 4,500 feet per minute.

Statute of Repose aiding general aviation manufacturers

The General Aviation Revitalization Act, passed in 1994 to protect general aviation manufacturers from the uncertainties and costs associated with long-term liability (beyond 18 years), appears to be working.

On April 6, 1993, a 21-year-old Mitsubishi MU-2B operating as an air ambulance crashed into a mountain while attempting an approach in darkness and a snowstorm into Casper, Wyoming. The accident killed the pilot and all three passengers. In April, the Federal District Court in Wyoming dismissed a wrongful death action brought by the estate of the pilot, saying that it was barred by the statute of repose in the General Aviation Revitalization Act.

The suit alleged that the aircraft was defective and that the manufacturer concealed design imperfections.

Ashtech builds Russian/U.S. GPS receiver

Ashtech of Sunnyvale, California, has developed a global positioning satellite receiver that integrates signals from both the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Russian Global Navigation Satellite (Glonass) system.

Since Glonass signals are not degraded for military purposes, and because of the expanded number of satellites received, the position and speed information provided by Ashtech's new GG24 receiver is more accurate than present standalone GPS receivers. The GG24 improves GPS navigation even when part of the GPS satellite constellation is obscured, such as when the aircraft is banking. At present the receiver is on a circuit board designed to be incorporated into avionics. No partnerships with avionics manufacturers have been announced, but such deals are expected late this year.

More than 5,000 guests are expected to attend Cessna Aircraft Company's dedication of its new Independence, Kansas, plant on July 3 at 6 p.m. The plant will be used for construction of the new 172, 182, and 206.

AMW Cayuna Engine Company of Beaufort, South Carolina, has announced a price reduction on its experimental and ultralight aircraft engines. Engines range from 20 to 100 horsepower and are air-, fan-, or liquid cooled. For more information, call 803/846- 2167.

Progress report: VisionAire Vantage

The VisionAire Vantage, a 347-knot, $1.6-million, single-engine business jet that made its official debut at last year's National Business Aircraft Association convention, has taken one more important step toward the assembly line. At a May 20 press conference, VisionAire founder, chairman, and CEO Jim Rice announced that all funding for the Vantage proof-of-concept prototype airplane has been secured. Rice said that the company has received 37 firm orders for Vantages, and he expects that number to rise to 50 by the end of the year.

Designer Burt Rutan, aviation's guru of composite construction and another principal player in the Vantage project, was on hand to explain that the all-composite Vantage will be built using a single- cure process that, compared to earlier sandwich-type layups, requires fewer mold tools, takes less time, allows better access during the installation of control runs and other subassemblies, and cuts construction costs by as much as one third compared to earlier composite technologies. According to Rutan, the fuselage will be built in three sections.

Rutan explained that the Vantage's carbon-fiber structures will be laid up and fabricated with the help of automated layup and milling machines. "The VisonAire approach will make use of both straightforward and advanced technology," said Rutan, referring to the merger of the Vantage's tried-and-true Pratt & Whitney JT15-D engine with the composite airframe.

The Vantage is on an extremely ambitious development schedule. Assembly of the proof-of-concept prototype began in March 1996. VisionAire expects its assembly plant in Ames, Iowa, to be built by August, and the Vantage's first flight is planned for November. Aerodynamic tests using a scale model will examine the airplane's stall behavior, center of gravity, and controls. — Thomas A. Horne

Exec jet to hire 80 pilots by year's end

To feed the growth of its NetJets fractional ownership program, Executive Jet Aviation (EJA) expects to hire an additional 80 pilots before the end of this year.

EJA currently operates a fleet of 46 straight-wing Cessna Citations, 17 Raytheon Hawker 1000s, and (through Executive Jet International) six Gulfstream IV-SPs. As more aircraft are added to the fractional-ownership plan, the company expects to add more pilots to its current roster of 213. EJA plans to buy seven more Citation V Ultras in 1996, in response to customer preference over EJA's older Citation S/II fleet.

EJA requires an airline transport pilot certificate, 2,500 hours total time (500 multi), and turbojet experience. To apply, call Julie Deen at 800/829-4992.

Cessna's Citation X was certified by the FAA on May 31 after more than 3,000 hours of flight testing. Touted as the world's fastest business jet, the Citation X has a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.92. The first delivery of a Citation X was to go to golfer Arnold Palmer in late June.

Datalink traffic information demonstrated

A joint project of the FAA, Experimental Aircraft Association, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory is demonstrating the capabilities of a Mode S-based automatic surveillance and traffic-avoidance system. Using GPS-derived position and encoder-supplied altitude, the system, labeled CDTI (for cockpit display of traffic information), could give pilots a TCAS- like presentation of nearby aircraft.

The partners in the demonstration program offered rides in specially equipped aircraft to show how the system works. In the cockpit, the pilot is greeted by either a laptop computer running the CDTI software or a panel-mount Arnav MFD-5000 display with similar programming. An onboard GPS receiver supplies position information to a modified Bendix/King KT-70 Mode S transponder that has been altered to allow for a longer data segment in its digital output. Under the ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance- broadcast) setup, each airplane broadcasts its position and altitude. A separate custom-made receiver in the airplane picks up the Mode S broadcasts and sends them to the display or laptop, which then compares the position and altitude with that of the host airplane.

Using the ADS-B hardware, traffic is presented in TCAS- standard form, including relative altitude. In a demonstration in the Los Angeles basin, the system worked well, with reasonably few dropouts and good resolution of distance and bearing. Several screen scales are offered, down to 2 nm, although airplanes at less than a mile would still remain in proper orientation on the display. Much finer resolution would depend upon the accuracy of the GPS information, say the developers.

The greatest shortcoming in the ADS-B concept is that every airplane must be so equipped to be seen. The CDTI is oblivious to airplanes with standard ATCRBS transponders. One carrot the industry is trying to dangle in front of pilots is the additional capabilities of the Mode S datalink, including weather and air traffic control information. However, datalink could be carried via VHF frequencies, eliminating the need for a Mode S transponder. — Marc E. Cook

FAA revokes Cuban rescue leader's certificate

The FAA has revoked the pilot certificate of Jose Basulto, the president of the Miami-based Hermanos Al Rescate (Brothers to the Rescue), for twice violating Cuban airspace (see "Pilot Briefing," April Pilot). Basulto's group was formed to aid Cuban refugees escaping across the Florida Straits.

Two aircraft on patrol with Basulto on February 24 were shot down by Cuban military aircraft, killing four. Basulto, flying an aircraft that escaped, told AOPA Pilot that he never intended to violate Cuban airspace. However, FAA officials said that Basulto had flown over Havana and dropped leaflets on two previous flights.

Honeywell/Pelorus GPS landing system ready

FAA certification is expected this summer for the Honeywell/Pelorus Satellite Landing System 2000 now installed at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Flight testing of the SLS-2000, which allows Category I precision landing approaches using differential GPS, is in progress. Honeywell has demonstrated the system around the world for several years and conducted demonstrations at last year's National Business Aircraft Association convention in Las Vegas. Another SLS 2000 system will be tested by Continental Airlines at Newark International Airport.

The system employs three remote satellite measurement unit antennas at various fixed, surveyed sites in the terminal area. The SLS 2000 then compares locations provided by GPS data with the true (surveyed) position, to determine errors resulting from atmospheric and other effects. The technique is called differential GPS and has been demonstrated at AOPA's headquarters airport in Frederick, Maryland.

A key inventor of the instrument landing system (ILS) died recently in Colusa, California, at the age of 86. Sidney Pickles held 42 patents on the system that revolutionized landing guidance in poor weather. Pickles was commended by two presidents for his 50 years of contribution to U.S. air navigation.

David Sisson has resigned as president and chief executive officer of Superior Air Parts. Gerry Roberts, former president and CEO of Airmotive, will become the interim CEO. Sisson has joined Heads Up Technologies of Carrollton, Texas, in aviation sales. Heads Up Technologies makes audio checklist computers, cabin briefing systems, audio warning systems, and annunciator panels.

Apollo systems approved for GPS approaches

GPS approach operations for the Apollo Navigation Management System (NMS) have been approved by the FAA under Technical Standard Order C129, category A1. Additionally, a supplemental type certificate has been issued for installation of the equipment. Covered under the TSO are II Morrow's Apollo 2001GPS and 2001NMS panel-mount systems, and Apollo 2001D and 2101 Dzus rail-mount configurations. Pilots using the systems can fly direct to their destinations under instrument conditions from takeoff to landing.

UND wins third consecutive National Championship

At the National Intercollegiate Flying Association's forty-eighth annual Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (Safecon) in Daytona Beach, Florida, the University of North Dakota's flying team took top honors for the third consecutive year. Teams from Western Michigan University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona Beach, the host of the competition, came in second and third place respectively. The four-day event brought more than 200 young aviators from 26 universities and colleges. Safecon tests nine separate skills, from planning to message drops.

The Alfred L. and Constance Wolf Aviation Fund has awarded $10,000 to the Air Care Alliance of Venice, California, for contributing to the public understanding of aviation and air transportation. The alliance, founded in 1990 by Bill Worden, is a national league of charitable general aviation pilots providing free medical flights. The alliance also sponsors seminars and produces written materials to help new groups to organize. For information, call 800/296-1217. The Wolf Aviation fund was established in 1986 by the estate of Alfred L. Wolf, who is a Philadelphia aviation attorney and a founder of AOPA.

AccuWeather has released AccuWeather for Windows, a graphical user interface for accessing the AccuData weather database. AccuData provides real-time weather information for the entire world. Nexrad Doppler radar and satellite images, as well as current and forecast weather maps can be viewed or downloaded for printing. AccuWeather claims there are more than 35,000 products available on AccuData. For more information, call 800/566-6606 or E-mail from the AccuWeather web site at www.accuwx.com.

Starkraft 700 sets records

Since its introduction at the National Business Aircraft Association convention last October, the StarKraft 700 prototype has logged about 100 hours and has set a few speed records while doing so. Powered by two liquid-cooled Continental TSIOL-550s, the StarKraft set two point-to-point speed records, topping out at 303 knots groundspeed between Phoenix and El Paso, Texas. According to test pilot Dave Morss, the StarKraft's true airspeed is about 240 to 250 knots in the low 20,000-foot range. The company hopes that it will soon increase the airplane's cruise speed by 80 knots with the installation of two Orenda V-8 engines. StarKraft is currently looking for investors to fund the three- to four-year certification and testing process. For more information, call StarKraft at 316/223-1900.

Minimum landing fees at Denver International Airport for Part 135 aircraft have been reduced by 50 percent, to $20 from $40. However, minimum landing fees for Part 91 aircraft remain unchanged at $40. The fee per 1,000 pounds of maximum gross landing weight for both Part 135 and Part 91 aircraft has been reduced to $3.331, down from the previous $3.682.

AOPA members in the news

Shane Williams, AOPA 1224912, appeared on CNN and the BBC, as well as in numerous newspapers, after rescuing the occupants of a smoldering Bellanca Super Viking before it exploded. The incident occurred at Fulton County Airport near Wauseon, Ohio — 14 miles west of Toledo — where Williams is part owner of S&P Aviation. He was flying in the pattern behind the Bellanca. During the Bellanca's landing attempt, which Williams said followed an unusually fast approach, the Bellanca ballooned and attempted a go-around. Williams said that the Bellanca rolled side to side before plunging to the ground. Williams landed and ran to the smoldering Bellanca, where he lifted the partially detached engine from the broken leg of 14-year-old Lauren Malhoit and dragged her to safety. He then raced back for her father, Christopher Malhoit, and dragged him out a back window and 20 feet to safety before the Bellanca exploded. Williams was not injured. "The explosion looked like something staged for a movie," Williams said. Christopher Malhoit was released from the hospital on May 7, and his daughter has improved from serious to fair condition.

Sen. James Inhofe, AOPA 238902, was presented the Distinguished Service Award from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association for his dedication to general aviation and for assisting in the passage of the General Aviation Revitalization Act. Inhofe (R-OK) is an active GA pilot and flies a 1968 Piper Aztec.

Shannon Lucid, AOPA 283741, a NASA astronaut, is spending a little quality time aboard the Russian space station Mir under a United States/Russian joint program.

Barrie Rokeach, AOPA 627678, an aerial photographer operating out of Berkeley, California, has authored the Kodak Guide to Aerial Photography, available from Silver Pixel Press in Rochester, New York, for $29.95. To order, call 716/328-7800. It is part of the prestigious Kodak Photography Books series. For a sampling of his work, see American Eagle Insurance ads in December 1995, March 1996, or May 1996 issues of AOPA Pilot. E-mail him at 72102.2525@compuserve.com.

Airshows contributed more than $13 million to charities, service groups, and community nonprofit organizations in 1995, according to the International Council of Air Shows in Jackson, Michigan.

The FAA's Technical Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey, has been renamed the William J. Hughes Technical Center after the Panamanian ambassador, who has been a longtime supporter of the Tech Center.

The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., is planning to open a new interactive gallery called "How Things Fly," which will house a Cessna 150, a section of a Boeing 757 fuselage, and a model of the international space station.

Justin M. Winfield, now 13, was riding as a passenger a year ago in a Piper Cub flown by his dad, Robert M. Winfield, AOPA 1121268, when he discovered a mathematical relationship among the compass headings used in an airport traffic pattern. He wrote down his observations and placed third in the Gallup, New Mexico, school science fair. He went on to the state science fair, where he won an FAA award. He then won an Air Force Gold Medal Award for school science projects. His discovery allows pilots easily to verify proper headings while in the pattern. For example, let's say a pilot takes off on Runway 23, left traffic, and that winds are calm. Since the heading is 230 degrees, the pilot adds the first two numbers together and comes up with five. The pilot turns crosswind and discovers that the heading is 140 degrees. The first two numbers, one and four, add up to five. Turning downwind to a heading of 050, the pilot notes that zero plus five equals five. A turn to base results in a heading of 320, and three plus two adds up to five. Justin proved that you don't have to fly an airplane to make a contribution to aviation.

Charter aircraft customers have a new way of finding available seating on aircraft through InterJet Online, a free site on the Internet at www.interjet-osi.com. The Internet site keeps track of charter aircraft locations and destinations for 18 charter operators. Customers can also call 800/789-7826.

Sino-Swearingen Aircraft Company has broken ground for a 180,000- square-foot manufacturing plant in Martinsburg, West Virginia, to build the SJ30-2 business jet. Plans to build the smaller SJ30 have been scrapped in favor of the stretched -2. The plant will be located at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport. The building is scheduled to be completed in July 1997, with aircraft production starting the following September.

Squawk sheet

The hubs of some 24,000 Hartzell propellers, installed mostly on light turboprops and some piston-powered aircraft, may have to be replaced within 10 years, according to a recent notice of proposed rulemaking (95-ANE-30). Affected models are the HC-A3V, -B3M, - B3T, -B4M, -B4T, and -B5M three-, four-, and five-blade propellers. The FAA estimates the average cost of compliance to be $2,415 per propeller if accomplished at the time of normal propeller maintenance. Hartzell will probably run a half-price special for hubs affected by the NPRM, and they will be redesigned to avoid repetitive replacements.

A new airworthiness directive (AD), applicable to Diamond DA 20-A1 Katanas, requires an inspection in the aft wing cavities for debris that could inhibit aileron travel.

Maule M-4-210 and -210C aircraft equipped with a model 5230F dual exhaust system are the subject of a new AD that will require relocating the gascolator and electric fuel pump farther away from the exhaust system.

AD 95-03-02, regarding loose or deteriorating gaskets of Brackett air filter assemblies, has been superseded by AD 95-CE-61, which includes additional affected air filter assemblies and an improved gasket that terminates the repetitive inspection requirement.

Following two accidents and two incidents in which the landing light retainer support seal broke apart and entered the carburetor, the FAA has issued an AD requiring owners of Piper PA-28-140, -150, - 160 and -180 Cherokees to replace the landing light support.

AD 90-12-08, regarding repetitive inspections of the tailplane main rib of de Havilland DHC-3 Otters, has been superseded by AD 95-CE- 47, which contains a terminating action for the repetitive inspections required by AD 90-12-08.

Piper PA-28, PA-32, PA-34, and PA-44 airplanes are required by a new AD to have the flap lever assembly inspected and modified. Reports of worn flap handle attach bolts and elongated holes in the lever to the cable mounting attach point prompted the AD.

After three reports of cracks in the flange of the upper V-belt sheave in Robinson R22 helicopters, a new AD that will require replacement of the sheave has been adopted.

McDonnell Douglas Helicopter models 369, 369A, -D, -E, -F, -FF, -H, -HE, -HM, -HS, and 500Ns are the subjects of an AD requiring initial and repetitive inspections of main rotor blade roots for cracks within the next 10 hours in service.

FAA lightens up on some Part 135 operators

Responding to a large number of exemption requests, the FAA has opted to allow pilots to perform simple maintenance tasks on aircraft operated under FAR Part 135.

The ruling will allow pilots of emergency medical missions, for example, to reconfigure their airplane's cabin to accommodate changing needs while on a mission, instead of summoning a mechanic, as previously required.

The FAA received more than 250 petitions for exemption, mostly from smaller, non-helicopter air-taxi operators. The petitions explained that, among other things, operators in remote areas can't find mechanics at many isolated airstrips when conversions need to be made.

David Assard was recently named the new president of Textron Lycoming. Assard, 62, replaces Phil Boob, who will now become a consultant to Lycoming parent Textron Inc.

SimCom International has expanded its Beech King Air recurrent training curriculum to include the 300 and 350 series of the venerable turboprop. Initial training for the 300/350s is expected soon. Cost for the recurrent course is $3,100; it can be taken at the company's Orlando, Florida, or Scottsdale, Arizona, facilities. SimCom is offering a special summer pricing program through August 1, in which a second pilot can train for 75 percent off the regular price of any initial or recurrent training. For information, call 800/272-0211.

Following the in-flight breakup and subsequent crash of a Bell 206L- 1 helicopter owned by the West Virginia State Police, the National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that the FAA issue an emergency airworthiness directive to install doublers in the gearbox fairing attachment area. Investigation of the crash by the NTSB revealed that the tail assembly had separated from the tail boom while the aircraft was in level flight at about 300 feet agl.

As a result of the October 31, 1994, ATR 72 crash in Roselawn, Indiana, the FAA has pinned airworthiness directives on nearly 30 aircraft, mostly commuters and turboprops. The AD requires revisions to the airplane flight manuals, including recognition cues and procedures for exiting severe icing conditions and limiting or prohibiting the use of various flight control devices when encountering severe icing.

Scott Gifford, AOPA 750936, has written How to Make Your Airplane Last Forever. Published by McGraw Hill, it is available from pilot supply companies for $21.95.

The Operation Blessing flying hospital, a converted Lockheed 1011 cargo aircraft, is ready to provide services and medical training in troubled areas and developing countries around the world. Believe it or not, this aircraft is part of general aviation and will be operated under FAR Part 91. The founder and chairman of Operation Blessing is Pat Robertson, a religious broadcaster who also founded the Christian Broadcasting Network. The aircraft contains three surgical stations, a dental treatment and ophthalmologic care suite, trauma/triage facilities, and a recovery area for 24 patients. The lower deck of the aircraft contains a pharmacy, a patient check-in station, the aircraft galley, and an in-flight crew rest area. The modification process took 10 months and was performed at the Lockheed Aeromed Center in Tucson, Arizona. Foster-Edwards of Addison, Texas, installed the interior.